Scratching the sacred itch of secular mysteries

We’re big appreciators of Tom Waits around here. H.o.p. as well. He’s been an avid listener since he was little. When he was two or three he listened to “Bone Machine” non stop for a year.

Back in 2004 when he was, what, 6, he did the below picture as a tribute to Waits’ “What’s he building in there?”


H.o.p. listens to not only the music, he keys into the lyrics. A few weeks ago he admitted that some of them used to frighten him but he said he gets it now that he “understands poetry”. And we knew that some of the imagery used to frighten him–yet he was fascinated, he loved the music, he just had to listen. A kid and his magnet, there was no drawing him away from the music of Wait.

So after he said that he gets the music now that he “understands poetry”, I asked him why he would repeatedly listen to the CDs when he was younger, though some of it was frightening, giving H.o.p. the ten-year-old the opportunity to think about it and explain. “Because I loved the music,” he replied.

I also suspect it was scratching the sacred itch of secular mysteries (or the secular itch of sacred mysteries, it’s all the same). He would listen and for weeks and months would question us on the lyrics of every song, what they meant. He would also ask about instrumentation. He was eager to learn about it all.

I may be a writer, but Tom Waits, and his co-writing wife, Kathleen Brennan, have been H.o.p.’s big window on the art of telling a captivating story that drags universal meaning from the incidental.

Marty was the one who first brought the music of Waits home many years ago (he was a household name before 1979) but I didn’t start listening to Waits until about 1995.

The last U.S. stop for Tom Waits on his present “Glitter and Doom” tour is Atlanta. Walking distance from here. When I first tried for tickets, none were available. Not only that but the tickets are paperless and only two are sold per household.

They had sold out in 30 minutes.

Late in June and I was still thinking about it, how H.o.p. and Marty had to go see this show, which I’d read was incredible. Late one night, on a whim, I looked the Atlanta show back up on the off chance that someone had canceled their tickets…and this time, by some insane miracle, two were available.

I promptly bought them for H.o.p. and Marty.

Marty and I argued about it the past couple weeks. He wanted me to take H.o.p. I kept saying no, I wanted him to take H.o.p. He’s a musician. He can relate a lot to H.o.p. about the show that I can’t. Tell him things about the band and the performance that I don’t know. It would be a memory that they can talk about together for years, each ever augmenting with an intellectual musical appreciation that is beyond my ability.

I really wanted H.o.p. to see Waits, the performer (and just plain wanted Marty to finally see him).

This evening I walked them up to the Fox Theater. Accompanied them inside. I needed to as I made the purchase and the paperless tickets are only available to the individual who purchased them. My bag was checked for the camera I didn’t bring along because I knew they’d be checking bags for cameras. Identification properly made, I told Marty and H.o.p. I hoped they’d enjoy the show, gave each a kiss, and Marty and H.o.p. progressed on inside to see Tom Waits in his last U.S. show of his “Glitter and Doom” tour, while I weaved my way back out through the crowd, against the tide, and walked on back home.

I read that the wonderful Lucinda has been played at every show. I put on the new album, “Orphans”, on which the song appears.

H.o.p. will be likely hoping they play “First Kiss”. He is fascinated by the image of the woman who, through holes cut in the back of her dress, wears scapular wings covered with feathers and electrical tape. He plays that song over and over.

I instead play “Dog Door”.

I’m playing it now.

No sacrifice. I did the right thing on my summer vacation.

Update: The Atlanta setlist is now up at The Eyeball Kid’s blog.

Forget music appreciation night, H.o.p. was suckered in by the disco ball bowler Wait wore during the Eyeball Kid, he thought it was great. 🙂

I’d wanted H.o.p. to see the performer, the theatrical element. I thought it would teach him something about the music.

When he got home and I asked him about the show and the hat was the first thing he went on about, pretty much overshadowed everything else…except for his wanting to find out the name of a song that he didn’t recognize and that he really liked. Turns out it’s “9th and Hennepin” off “Rain Dogs”, which we have but is an earlier vintage than what is usually playing of Waits around here.

The show started a little late. 45 minutes or so. By about that time H.o.p. needed to visit the restroom but he was scared to go because he didn’t want to miss the opening song. So he waited and he didn’t miss the opening song and eventually made a break for the bathroom about four songs in.

Marty said it is the show of the decade.

Updated update: I see people writing about powder ghosting up around Wait’s feet as he stomps his two leagues’ legs in the show’s opening, but Marty described the effect as coming from a smoke machine underneath the riser on which Wait’s was standing.

Dancin' Fool

Shorty’s has great pizza.  And Key Lime pie.  I know because we went out there tonight to see King Johnson.  That link is to their myspace page where they have some songs up off the 2005 album that Marty mixed.  Great fun, funky band. This was one of  of their two reunion shows. I love Oliver Wood’s playing and was really looking forward to this.  And some good pizza and good Key Lime pie.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Shorty’s is a good place for kids.  H.o.p. went.  We stuffed ear plugs in his ears.

For the second set, at the request of the audience, they cleared a space for a dance floor, pushing tables out of the way.

H.o.p. drug me out on the dance floor.  Marty (who can’t dance) held the table.

H.o.p. was a dancin’ fool.  Had a grand old time.  Around five songs into the set he finally tired himself out and we left.

He likely would have been up dancing to Heston’s music at Center Stage Friday night if there’d been a dance floor, but there wasn’t.   

Heston was opening for Liz Wright and had a standing ovation all around at the end of his show. He’s a fine showman. A sincere singer and showman whom Marty’s worked with for a while and the CD, “StoryTeller”, is finally coming out August 19th. He’s getting some nice advance reviews. writes (in part):

On Storyteller, Heston proves he is a soul original. After so many recent misfires by heavily marketed, but underwhelming “soul” singers, it’s nice to finally witness a debut artist fulfill the hype. For that, Heston, we thank you. Highly recommended.

In March, Heston broke SoulTracks’ one month download record with “Brand New U”.

I love taking H.o.p. to see people he knows perform. And he loves going and is one of the best young fans anyone could have. Attentive in earnest and appreciative. He loves a good show and is eager to reward with enthusiastic applause.

And, when there’s a floor, he’ll dance with a wonderful kind of gently tethered abandon, and what I mean by that is a mix of youthful disjointed funk, disco arms, ballroom twirls, walk-like-an-Egyptian hands and country square dance liberally punctuated with pogoing.

You can’t ask any more out of a fan than their showing what a good time their having, and H.o.p. delivers.

And the band played on

Was talking with a sister last week about her eldest daughter’s engagement to an Australian and she brought up the song “Waltzing Matilda”, how she was unfamiliar with it and he’d introduced her to the song during his Christmas stay with the family. My mind went immediately to “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” done originally by Eric Bogle, later by the Pogues and others. I forget there’s any other version. But no the one she’d heard was the anthem, not the anti war song.

I texted myself so I’d remember to find and download “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. Both the recordings by Pogues and Bogle, which I used to have.

I did today.

And I choked up as I listened to Eric Bogle sing. And the tears rose up out of the choked throat and sat at the edge of my eyes, for I nearly always cry when listening to this song. But I managed to not cry and I thought it was over as I sat to write this post, the song playing again…

I was caught unawares, cracking into a sob. Then another. I had to stop writing.

It’s just the kind of cry I needed after reading last week about Bush’s remarks on the war on March 13th.

“I must say, I’m a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed,” said President George W. Bush in a Thursday video conference.

He was responding to civilians and military personnel who gave him an earful about the problems in Afghanistan where the war has dragged on for over six years.

“It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You’re really making history, and thanks,” continued the 61-year-old Bush.

You can download the Bogle version of the song I was listening to here. The link is down toward the bottom of the page.

Wildly imaginative worlds of Yannick Puig

A couple of wonderful whimsical offerings. H.o.p. loves the animations of Yannick Puig, such as the below “I Lived on the Moon”.

Another is the delightful “Krapooyo”.

I like Puig’s animations as well.

P.S. “I Lived on the Moon” was replayed over and over here today and probably will be for a while. I showed it to Marty when he got home and even he was anxious to see a larger version.

So I’ve viewed the animation I don’t know how many times and I’m still getting goosebumps when the giant bulb creature starts walking. Well, not just goosebumps. It lifts me out of my chair each time with me appreciatively whooping and thrashing the air and exclaiming, “Look! Look! Look! Isn’t that wonderful??!!!”

P.P.S. I’m back watching the movie again. (We’ve purchased the music CD from Kwoon, by the way. Overseas. Not available in America yet, it seems, except by individual Amazon mp3 download of each song. So, we went with buying the CD from Kwoon.) Amazing how expressive the child and the adult are when their only facial features showing are the eyes and eyebrows.

Wonderful, the mountains, the clouds, the way the stars light up in the sky. Then the appearance of the mask of a threatening blood red sun and the adult plunges down into the frame, the child looking down after him and suddenly there is the adult floating up in the distance, beside the threatening sun (beautiful shadows), seemingly overwhelmed, helpless. He is gone. Gone. What has happened? The boy left alone now in this landscape of pebble moon rocks. A remarkable impression of loss. The single small tree squeaks at him as he walks away. He goes to it and sits at its base.

When VROOM, up into the air, perfectly complementing the music, this whatever, we don’t know what yet, shoots into the sky. The first time H.o.p. and I saw that we did seriously yell in excitement, swept up ourselves. The tree now revealed to be this amazing bulb, soaring up to the moon, the boy propelled through the clouds like an astronaut, you can feel the physical and emotional forces exerted upon him are enormous as he rides the bulb up, ah, through the watery clouds.

The bulb stops. In the rays of the moon he explores what little surface there is. And is taken off guard as the bulb again begins to move. Its one seeming tether separating to reveal they are two breathtakingly, impossibly long legs. The bulb is quite large on these long spindly legs, and as it moves you see and feel the effort to stabilize its walk, reaching out that first leg with also a wonderful earth grappling sense of surety. We watch from afar as it finds its bearings.

There is nothing at all frightening about this marvelous bulb.

Then the boy takes off on the leafed stem of the bulb, flying above the clouds, tries as best he can to cover his head with his short arms as a wave of ocean sky cloud swallows them and WOW what a transition to his riding the flying stingray up up up and over the clouds, through the floating jellyfish.

Suddenly there appears the ship of the blood red sun. “Look at them throw their spears at him,” H.o.p. says. And they shoot at him that blood red sun cannonball on its tether. The boy is powerless to fight it, to do anything but simply ride the sting ray.

For a moment it looks as if he won’t make it, but indeed he escapes that blood red rage, the sting ray ferrying him out of reach just by a hair in the nick of time, and the boy sails on while the ship behind him, split by its own tethered cannonball, breaks in two and descends into the clouds.

* * * * * *

Just last night, after watching the eclipse, when I came back inside with my failed pictures. I looked at Saturn and Regulus (?) on either side of the moon, their spirals of light, and I thought, “Ah, jelly fish in the ocean sky.” So after having watched the eclipse I then took H.o.p. on a web journey looking for which deep sea self-illumining creature most looked like those stars in that deep sea sky ocean. (I am now reminded of the Light Eel we made last year.)

We were well primed for “I Lived on the Moon”.

Monteverdi's Orfeo

How I came across Marilia Vargas was looking up Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” at Youtube.

“Mom, look up some opera for me,” H.o.p. said. He meant something like Mozart’s “Requiem” but he’s never seen Ponnelle’s 1978 staging of “Orfeo”.

Instead I found clips from the Jordi Savall/Brian Large 2002 production. The opening is promising…

Marilia Vargas as a nymph blessing the marriage of Orpheus and Eurydice…

I love Vargas! I believe her. When she turns and retires I want to follow off the stage into that mythic realm, but she conveys the impossibility of doing so, that she’s a nymph…and as nymph originally meant bride, it is peculiarly right that she should leave us as she does, as if the nature of the bride, Eurydice, preceding Eurydice into the Underworld, abiding fate acting unconscious of itself as is sung into being the fearsome cloud which causes the earth to quake and will destroy the happiness of Orpheus and Eurydice, first with the heel-nipping snake when their happiness was so great (and perhaps self-obsessed) that tempering and humiliation were inescapable, and second when Orpheus broke the law, losing Eurydice absolutely…

Or so we are told in this story that purports to do with Orpheus’ loss of his wife and his attempt to revive her, when the Orphics believed the physical body a tomb to the soul, its Titanic nature preventing one from attaining Elysium, and strove to escape from the wheel of reincarnation, drinking deep of the waters of memory.

Bees, for the Orphics, symbolized souls swarming toward the divine unity, and Eurydice was caught by the snake when (seemingly) attempting to escape the bee-keeper.

And what about that snake?

But, never mind. We all suffer loss and can relate to the story at face value. The hero, Orpheus, suffers along with us, and, incredibly, with his song, charms death into giving him a second chance at happiness with Eurydice, an unparalleled victory , only to then forget compliance with the single demand set upon him.

There is some correspondence with the tale of Lot, though it is his wife who is saddled with the sin of looking back and throughout history has been designed as bitter, contemptible, unthankful, undisciplined.

So people are told to not reflect on the past, to not hold too tightly, to look ahead and disdain loss.

If I remember correctly, Jean Cocteau had Orpheus turn intentionally.

* * * * * * *

I’ve not seen Ponnelle’s “Orfeo”, except for several stunning clips about 15 years ago on a VHS recording, and since then I’ve longed for a copy. As I find it is now available on DVD, I have put it in my wish list and hope to buy it soon. Wouldn’t mind getting a copy of the Savall either.

Just Became Aware of Marilia Vargas This Morning…

Marilia Vargas singing Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilerias No. 5. To listen is to breathe more deeply, it is that affecting. Vargas’ voice strikes me as alternative, faithful yet modern, and I’m not even sure yet how so. Something in her expressiveness that is as open to the concert hall as the corner food mart, as if she wants that voice to leap over the seats to the street, bypassing the turgid conceits of the classical/pop bin.

Marilia Vargas sings “Et Incarnatus Est” from Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. An unabashed, unembarrassed joyous marriage of the sacred and mundane in this beautiful, even mesmerizing, performance by Vargas. And though I feel compelled to say that the wonderful performance makes up for the poor quality of the audience member recording, I actually enjoyed it just as it is.

Vargas’ styling and sense of presence make me feel as though I’m in Mozart’s head listening as he realized the music, that this is how it came to him, this is how he meant it to be. This is how it was before performed.


David, H.o.p. and Amy back stage

The other night, H.o.p. was being a real jerk, and what came out of my mouth was, “Yeah, you better hope you grow up to be Pablo Picasso”. He had no idea I was referring to the song, “Pablo Picasso Was Never Called an Asshole”, my preference being the crazed John Cale version. He having no idea what I was talking about, I chalked one up for me and turned on my heel and left the room. On the very rare occasion he’s left speechless–that was one of them. Marty, sitting by, looked up, took a second then went, “Oh!”

Later, H.o.p. having chilled a bit, hedging toward being conciliatory, had me come in with him and sit and go through one of our Picasso books. He’d gone and looked for it and hunkered down in the bed with it to read some before going to sleep, soon calling me in to ask about one of the fairly intense portraits. It’s been a while since he’s done that with Picasso (when he was five, for months he kept another Picasso book open, referring to it over and over again, one of the acrobat paintings in particular). Next, he decided he wanted to go through the book image by image, asking about each one. And we did. Examining every page. I’d forgotten there were two pages of Picasso’s decidedly erotic drawings stuck in the middle of it all, which made explanations a little more complex. Then we went on through the book, to the very last page. About 1/4 of the way through he asked, “Are there any happy paintings?” And we talked about that, too.

H.o.p. is surrounded by music, literature (he watches us read, hasn’t himself developed a taste for reading books yet, but loves being read to, is read to daily, and knows mom writes), movies (the past few days have been spent watching “the making of” Kung Fu films and wire work), and art. We thought music was what spoke to him first and most when he was a kid and his first words were all musical artists because he wanted to listen to their albums over and over again. As a baby he cried when played lullabies but quieted immediately and listened with rapt attention to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.” He was saying “Bob Dylan” and “Thelonious Monk” before he said mom. But then one day H..o.p. picked up a crayon and started to draw on the wall. I took him and showed him my paintings. “You know why you paint on canvas or paper or wood,” I said to him. “So you can keep it or sell it. You can’t take a wall with you. But you can carry paper and wood and canvas.” He nodded his head, totally getting it, and he never ever drew on a wall again. Some things, most things, I’ve told him daily, for years, and they’ve never taken. But all I had to do with the crayons is tell him artists paint and draw on paper and canvas so they can keep it, and he understood immediately, and started going through paper like crazy (and wanting to keep all of it). I lined both walls of the hall from top to bottom and end to end with his drawings.

This was all back at the old art compound we used to live in, with several of the people H.o.p. got to meet again tonight at the big arena pop concert.

I don’t do art shows. I paint on the computer these days, never print anything out, and he sees me writing on the computer but doesn’t know what I write. So in many ways music is more evidenced around him.

He would be better served with parents who are business people, I think. But you get what you’re born with.

When he was two years of age, at the end of all the road tour days came the invitation for Marty to tour with John Mayer playing keys. And Marty said no. H.o.p. won over John Mayer. Time to stay home, focus on studio engineering and production now, be there on a daily basis for H.o.p. growing up. He didn’t want to miss out on those years. Which he would have. Marty was on the road a lot during H.o.p.’s first two years. Some of the time we were on the road with him. H.o.p. learned how to walk on a tour bus.

Then his dad was home and there began the education of listening to music with a studio ear. Who knows whether or not he’ll later have any use for what he learns growing up around it, but he’s surrounded by music. He goes down to the studio. He experiments with his own little sessions. He is partial to no instrument and studies no instrument in depth, but he takes piano (never practices, he just likes taking piano and making sounds and beats) from a long time friend of Marty’s, and this summer he started taking group percussion lessons (Samba) from another friend of Marty’s, because he loves Samba and Marty knows some great percussionists. When he’s old enough, I imagine he’ll start sitting in on sessions and learning the rudiments of engineering and production, if he likes. Just being around it, it’s funny how much you can learn. The ear becomes educated. If he decides he wants to do something with music, he’s going to have years and years head start over these kids that high schools send to Marty to intern with him.

H.o.p.’s been to lots of small shows and some festivals, but not yet to a large arena event.

A good friend of Marty’s has been touring with Mayer all this time and tonight H.o.p. got to go to his first big arena show. After all, these things are loud and he’s not one for LOUD. Several years ago his uncle was working for Howard Shore and was traveling all the time from venue to venue where “The Lord of the Rings” concerts were being staged, and he arranged for us to go to the performance here and instead we just did rehearsal because I suspected it would be too loud and intense for H.o.p. Indeed, he enjoyed it, and enjoyed meeting Howard Shore as he loved the music and listened to it at home over and over, but he sat with his head buffered by my jacket most of the time at the rehearsal and wasn’t anxious to stay.

But he’s been to lots of festivals this past Spring and Summer. His ears are more hardy. And we decided he was ready for an arena show. Marty was comped two tickets and I couldn’t go as we don’t have a babysitter, and then we decided H.o.p. should go and I didn’t want to bother with bothering for a third ticket.

So they prepared to go. With earplugs. (No reason to be ashamed about earplugs. Musicians wear them.)

And with backstage passes.

I spent two days prepping the nine-year-old for his first big arena show. It’s big. It may be loud. (Earplugs.) He’s going backstage. He’ll see his friend David LaBruyere and meet John Mayer.

Which he didn’t, meet John Mayer afterwards. They were sent to the wrong room back stage with a bunch of other musician friends and after a very loud twenty minutes with lots of commotion going on, they realized it was the wrong room and by then Mayer was gone. But at least it was musicians and relaxed rather than a meet and greet. At first it was all pretty overwhelming to H.o.p. though. Not the concert, that was fine. But the back stage commotion was at first overwhelming for H.o.p. as it was a small room with a lot of people in it.

Now, I don’t even like the industry. I hate the big industry end of it all. It sucks. Musicians aren’t the industry. I have always stayed away from parties and from industry people because I hated the industry (I have stood and literally fled the dinner table when seated across from industry PR people–after one sentence out of their mouths I have fled, I can’t handle them) and only liked back stage when it was just musicians and no one but musicians. (Marty, by the way, says the show was great, Mayer did a great job and so did all else, and H.o.p. loved it.) So I wasn’t wanting H.o.p. to meet Mayer for the star quotient. But I had hoped H.o.p. would get to meet Mayer because H.o.p. believes in meeting people. I’ve met Mayer a couple of times but it was years ago, around the time H.o.p. was born, and what I remember of it is Mayer sitting at our table, playing his music on our sound system, and I thought, “Well, he’s going to go places,” because you could see it in his head, that he was going to get there, he was ready to get out and tour 365 days a year, which many people do, travel continually, but you could tell he had the focus and didn’t have anything to detract from that single-minded focus of making it, every step precisely calculated in terms of whether it fit into that big picture of getting his music done, which isn’t easy. And now Mayer’s a star and his image is plastered everywhere. But the reason I wanted H.o.p. to meet Mayer, like I said, is because he’s always wanting to meet people. Every artist and director and musician he likes, he says, “Can I meet them?” He thinks he should be able to meet anyone. And wants to. When I was a kid it never occurred to me to meet someone, just having their work around was enough. But H.o.p., he always says, “Can I meet them? I want to meet them!” He wants to get up close and personal with everyone. The work he likes, he immediately thinks in terms of the person behind it and wanting to meet the person. Which I think is a good thing. He’s not thinking, “That person is a star! I want to meet them!” He thinks, “I like that person’s work. I want to meet them!” I don’t want him to lose that.

He DID get to see David LaBruyere and Chad Franscoviak, which was more important–LaBruyere being an old friend who knew H.o.p. before he was verbal, who’s played bass for Mayer all these years and used to live a couple of doors from us in the old Decatur art compound, and Chad is Mayer’s front of house guy and tour manager and used to live on the other side of our duplex, again, in the old art compound when H.o.p. was pre-verbal. And saw a bunch of other old friends. If they had come home without seeing LaBruyere and Chad, I would have been really pissed.

He got to see again, too, Kevin Leahy, the drummer who was on the tour bus with us when H.o.p. was learning how to walk…

And then H.o.p. saw the WALL MURAL OF THE BIG RED HAWK and THAT was the event of the night and he got a picture of himself standing under that.

And then they got lost trying to get to the car and a Marta cop was real helpful and let them on a train with his pass and they found their way to the right parking lot. And THAT was the first thing H.o.p. talked to me about when he called me, the BIG ADVENTURE of getting lost.

So, H.o.p had a great adventure, and I’m glad he got some back stage pics taken with some old buds from the old art compound.

If you’re more into Country, Marty distinguished himself nicely back stage in that regard. A woman came up to him and gave him a big hug and said, “Marty, it’s great to see you again!” And he stared at her and she said, “I’m Jennifer,” and he said, “I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to help me out, which Jennifer?”

It was Jennifer Nettles. Jennifer’s husband and Marty are friends, and he’s friends with most of the people in her band (Christian and Brandon Bush, Sean O’Rourke and Scott) but he’s only met Jennifer a couple of times.

Brandon is also an ex art compound resident.

Marty says Jennifer was nice as she could be about it, and that he fully confessed to her that he’s an idiot.

P.S. Must get a new keypad. This one keeps dropping letters.

Kevin Leahy’s arm, H.o.p., John Shofner and Chad

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Wires and penthouses, Atlanta
Penthouses From 14th Street

View On White

Despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage…

Music for the ride. Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet with Butterfly Wings at You Tube.


The truth is the world really does look different from the penthouse, or the mountain top. And the ministers never tell their congregations the truth. I know that, having relatives who were ministers. The laymen leaders of congregations have their own agendas, certainly, which they also don’t disclose to the unwashed masses, and are often powerful enough to lord it over the clergy. Clergy which they choose to shepherd the flock. And the clergy? Whether they’re bitten or biting, they just don’t tell, and don’t tell what the penthouse view is. The congregation is as much an Other to them as the citizenry is to the police. They will smile and embrace you, and you will think you know them and that they serve you absolutely and are your friends, but they will never let on what transpires in the inner sanctum.

Continue reading “THAT MOUNTAIN TOP HIGH”

Waaaaay too much

Way too much Monkees the other day. I woke up from a dream this morning of looking at old black and white pics of them in pot cleaner ads. (I only briefly had to wonder why it was pot cleaner ads.)

But while we’re on it here’s a great Mike Nesmith quote on Hendrix opening for the Monkees.

He was opening in front of us and, of course, you know, he walked into the beast, he walked into the, there were the waving pink arms, you know, 20,000, waving pink arms, like this, so every time he would say, “Foxy!”, they’d be “Davy!” “Foxy!” “Davy!” Oh man, it was some seriously twisted moments.


Nearly 40 years after, here I sit watching The Monkees’ one and only feature film, Head, on a little Toshiba (won’t play on the ‘puter), my mind pretty well blown away by the fact this was co-written and co-produced by none other than Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens) and how bizarre is that. This is my second viewing of the movie, so I could blog about it. The first time, Marty was watching with me and said, “Wait a minute, is that Jack Nicholson walking through?” “Nah,” I replied, still focused on the unexpected appearance of Not-Divine. (Note: Oops! See the comments. Jennifer at Saying Yes saved me on this one. I’d identified initially the actor as Divine but it’s not Divine. It’s T. C. Jones, died 1971, and a good 25 years younger than Divine. No WONDER Divine was sooooooo unexpected.) But it was Jack Nicholson, and I wonder if it was Nicholson or Rafelson who decided The Monkees should play dandruff vacuumed out of the hair of Victor Mature, who afterwards gleefully terrorizes them as the Jolly Green Giant on the back sets of Hollywoodland, laughing as he stomps about and they run. I’m guessing the choice of Victor Mature has something to do with his playing Sampson, but what do I know. Mature’s tyrannical pursuit of the American Fab Four could instead be inspired by his having once remarked, “I’m not an actor – and I’ve got 67 films to prove it!” If there was one thing that would follow The Monkees, purportedly (according to their theme song) the voice of youth, the up-and-coming who had “something to say”, was if these spokesmen were musicians, were even actors, if they were anything beyond an advertising scheme a cut above the Lucky Charms Leprechaun (Kellogs being one of their sponsors), a wildly successful marriage of faces and fast-paced slapstick and accessible voices that took the selling of music from local radio to national television, priming the preteens for MTV, a concept sold by Nesmith to Warner Amex as Popclips.

Continue reading “Head”