The Girl Most Likely To… is a much-loved TV movie from 1973 that managed to become a cult film over the years. This black comedy stars a young Stockard Channing in one of her first roles as “Miriam Knight,” an ugly, unpopular girl who becomes a raving beauty after a freak automobile accident requires that she undergo extensive plastic surgery.
The ugly duckling now reborn as a decidedly homicidal swan, Miriam decides to get her revenge on every guy and mean girl who ever mistreated her. A detective (played by Ed Asner) is hot on her trail.
A comment on the superficiality of beauty, it’s interesting to note that The Girl Most Likely To… was co-written by future plastic surgery addict Joan Rivers. Familiar 1970s faces like Jim Backus, Larry Wilcox, Fred Grandy and Annette O’Toole round out the cast.
Whilst writing the Yellow Submarine blog post, I noticed that a fellow named Lance Percival was one of the voice over artists and I wanted to share this delightful Calypso novelty record Percival released in 1965 called “Shame and Scandal in the Family.”
Lance Percival was well-known in Britain in the 1960s as part of the cast of That Was The Week That Was (he’s in the back in the shot above) where he’d perform improvised topical humor to a Calypso beat.
“Shame and Scandal in the Family,” his only hit record, originally appeared on the soundtrack to the 1943 horror movie I Walked With A Zombie. A young Peter Tosh also covered the song in 1965 and it was later recorded by both The Stylistics (a disco version from 1977) and Madness.
After playing a series of house parties using whimsical handles like Rabbit Kingdom, Peppermint Majesty and Cookie Mask, Poor Moon finally settled on a name taken from an old Canned Heat song. The band consists of lead vocalist/principle songwriter Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls), Casey Wescott (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls) and brothers Ian and Peter Murray. Poor Moon began in the form of a long distance collaboration when Christian and Casey were touring the world with Fleet Foxes and the Murray brothers were living in the Bay Area, gigging as The Christmas Cards.
They are joined by Jonas Haskins on bass and Jason Merculief who is playing a floor tom and percussion.
The contribution of their audio engineer, Jared Hankins—who came to the session armed with two road cases of reverb units and other assorted mysterious electronic boxes—needs to be pointed out. The delicate, echo-drenched gossamer that you hear on this recording is not, I repeat, not what was audible to the naked ear in the studio. Each member of the band was plugged directly into the soundboard (no amps, they wouldn’t have fit!) and then into Jared’s gear. Only he knew what the actual sound was like during the recording as he had the only headphones that were plugged into the sound board. Poor Moon’s Christian Wargo told me “Jared brings so much to live sound I wouldn’t consider letting anyone else twist knobs for me. I write music taking into consideration what Jared can do to it live. What he brings to the table really affects the whole experience. A lot!”
In the video below, the six members of Poor Moon and their instruments, audio wizard Jared Hankins, plus our own crew crammed into our bus-housed “TV studio” at SXSW (which was about the size of a large elevator). The songs are “Phantom Light,” “Clouds Below” and “Come Home.”
Poor Moon’s debut EP, Illusion, is due out March 27th. Poor Moon is currently touring with Lost in the Trees.
“What’s good about crack? Do you want to know? Do you want to know?” [You’ll have to watch the videos to find out].
Old school New Yorkers will remember Washington Square Park’s raunchy master of ceremonies, street comedian Charlie Barnett, who died 16-years ago from AIDS complications and drug addiction. From the late seventies onward, several times a day, Barnett would jump up onto a park bench and shout “It’s showtime!” and do a 20-minute stand-up set that had the whole park in stitches. Roaring. Crying with laughter. I must’ve seen Charlie Barnett do 30 such performances over the years. I was in the Washington Square Park area a lot back then and I’d always stop to watch his act. The guy was one of the best stand-ups I’ve ever seen in my life. Spontaneous. He said whatever came into his head. Breathtakingly fearless performer. Shocking, even. No topic was off limits, which is why Barnett was perhaps better suited for street performances than the comedy clubs.
When he was on the mic, the man simply owned Washington Square Park. Truly, he was a fixture of NYC life in the 1980s. At one point, it came down to Barnett or Eddie Murphy who would become a cast member of SNL, but Barnett’s inability to read—he was a functional illiterate who read very, very slowly—saw Murphy get the nod. Barnett did have some notable roles (“Tyrone Bywater” in D.C. Cab, “Noogie” on Miami Vice) but he never really made it and died in 1996.
I haven’t thought about Charlie Barnett in years, but there’s an interesting short essay about him over at the Splitsider comedy blog by College Humor’s Conor McKeon:
On any given day hundreds surrounded the fountain. Barnett circumnavigates the makeshift oblong stage — his cocksure strut somewhere between that of preacher and prizefighter — and bellows, “I love a New York audience” in a voice as gravelly as the rural Appalachian roads he once travelled just to get here, to this fountain. With most comics, “I love a New York audience!” suggests a trite attempt at audience appeasement, but crowd work is not necessary for Charlie Barnett — they’re chanting his name before he’s said a word — and in his voice there is a palpable sincerity which implies he really truly means it.
His act, an array of outsized characters and one-liners (“I took an AIDS test — I got a 65”), doesn’t contain the underlying sensitivity of Bruce or Pryor’s social consciousness, but instead serves as a modern re-imagining of the blue-tinted Vaudevillian raunch of Foxx and Rickles.
Of course, in Charlie Barnett’s case, the material is more or less immaterial, secondary to the mesmerizing physicality of his performance, with its perpetual motion and jutting limbs and rubber faces. He simply possesses a mindfulness on stage that you are either born with or you are not: One gets the impression that he could perform for an audience of the hearing impaired and his act would lose not an ounce of potency.
Another notable aspect of Charilie Barnett’s time on the planet was his nurturing of one of this generation’s greatest comedic talents, Dave Chappelle, who was due to play Barnett in a 2005 feature film about his life that sadly never got made. After a young Chappelle was booed off the stage of the Apollo Theater, Barnett took the bruised comic under his wing and showcased him to the crowd in the park. Roast-master general Jeffrey Ross was also heavily influenced by watching Barnett work the crowd.
Although I would imagine that there must be hundreds, even thousands, of videos of Charlie Barnett that were shot by tourists over the years, few of them have made it to YouTube. This clip from the cult film Mondo New York, captures Barnett working the fountain exactly as I recall him doing it, circa 1986. Comedy dates quickly, of course, but Barnett’s work from 25+ years ago retains an edge that is as sharp as ever. This clip still has something to offend everyone:
This particularly over-the-top performance from a 1993 Def Comedy Jam taping was never aired on TV, but did surface as a “2 Hot 4 TV” DVD extra. By this time Barnett’s health was starting to visibly deteriorate, but his comedy was still blistering, crude and rude.
“Once upon a time…or maybe twice…there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland…”
The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team at Triage Motion Picture Services. No automated software was used in the clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was a job painstakingly done by hand, a single frame at a time. The absolutely stunning Yellow Submarine restoration premiered last weekend at the SXSW festival and will be coming on Blu-Ray DVD at the end of May with a new 5.1 multi-channel audio soundtrack. Seeing the film unspool on the big screen of Austin’s historic Paramount Theatre was like watching a series of moving stained glass windows.
Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and future best-selling Love Story novelist Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine, based upon the song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a basically incomprehensible series of musical vignettes, groan-worthy puns and lysergically-inspired kaleidoscopic eye-candy that sees John, Paul, George and Ringo saving the world from the evil Blue Meanies.
When Yellow Submarine originally premiered in 1968, the film was regarded as an artistic marvel. With its innovative animation techniques, it represented the most technologically advanced animation work since Disney’s masterpiece, Fantasia. Inspired by the Pop Art of Andy Warhol, Peter Max and Peter Blake, art director Heinz Edelmann’s work on Yellow Submarine is now considered among the classics of animated cinema. Yellow Submarine also showcases the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes along with a team of the best animators and technical artists that money could hire. The ground-breaking animation styles included 3-D sequences and the highly detailed “rotoscoping” (tracing film frame by frame) of the celebrated “Eleanor Rigby” sequence. The production process took nearly two years and employed 40 animators and 140 technical artists.
I must say, though, as happy as I was to be one of the first people to see the restored Yellow Submarine, I couldn’t help be to think that—with all of its merits—the film is just a little bit boring. If you responded negatively to the news of the (now shelved) Yellow Submarine 3-D remake, consider that not only did the Fab Four have precious little to do with the actual making of the original film (it’s not even their own voices) but that today’s kids—your kids—won’t have the patience to sit through it. Nor will they even understand what’s being said onscreen. Yellow Submarine, I hate to say it, was ripe for a remake. Sacrilege, I know, but it’s not like I’m suggesting that they remake A Hard Day’s Night or anything!
Below, a decidedly low res version of Yellow Submarine in its entirety. This isn’t really the way to watch it, of course…
Roky Erickson performing “Bo Diddley” and “Two-Headed Dog” with The Black Angels at The El Rey Theater in 2008.
The man who helped launch psychedelic music is backed-up magnificently by a band whose members were born almost two decades after he released his first single. And they’re all from Austin, Texas, where the The Akashic record of rock and roll is on replay.
Now here’s a turn up for the books: last weekend Snoop Dogg dropped a new mixtape via his Soundcloud page called “01 Tekno Euro Mixx”. That Snoop would put together a mix of European techno is in itself surprising—if he did actually mix it himself, and the lackadaisical style makes it seem plausible—but the real surprise here is, in fact, that the mix contains no European techno at all.
What we get instead is a mix of deep house, nu-disco and boogie/disco edits. Artists and remixers featured include Todd Terje, Prins Thomas, Guy Monk, Miguel Migs, 6th Borough Project, Tensake, Crazy P and Michael Jackson (there is no official tracklisting yet.) None of which have much in common with the likes of Benni Benassi or David Guetta, and even less with Dr Dre or Timbaland.
While I wouldn’t have pegged Snoop as a Body & Soul-head, there is a common theme. Back in the late 90s and early 00s, when I was playing a lot of this kind of stuff (hit me up for some mixes, Snoop!), me and my dj friends liked to refer to this type of music as “stoner house”. That did away with slightly tired prefixes “deep” and “disco” while encapsulating the music in simple, understandable terms. This is house music at its most horizontal, yet it remains functional and deeply funky. Snoop gets it, and actually this mix ain’t half bad. Light one up, lie back and boogie:
“All acting is a covering up of inferiority,” says Kenneth Williams in this interview from February 1980. Williams never believed in himself enough to be a great actor, his insecurities made him seek the easy route of comedy to win over the audience’s affection. Even in interviews he would rather undo any show of intellect with coarse innuendo than reveal his intimate, more serious side. People thought him flippant, but he wasn’t - he was like all of us, scared of rejection, scared of being emotionally hurt. Emotions were messy, uncontrollable, and not to be trusted. “That’s why I enjoyed acting,” continues Williams, for performing plays offered him a shield to hide behind. It’s a startling moment of truth, as he sits on the sofa, arms folded, and it almost upends the interview, which then tails off onto eccentricity, homeopathy and disease.