Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pete Fornatale A Radio Legend

The news of Pete Fornatale's passing today affected me the same way when I heard Joe Strummer died.  It was out of the blue, they both had so much more to give and were instrumental in my love of music. 

Pete was a big part of my days growing up. I was a faithful listener of WNEW.  I rode my bike in their Central Park Bike-A-Thons, got the calendar every year and of course faithfully listened to Pete Fornatale.  I wrote to Pete on several occasions about the Beach Boys (this was in the 70's when it wasn't cool to like them) and he responded with hand written letters.  I have a memory of one Easter, Pete playing the whole Pet Sounds album. His love and knowledge of the Beach Boys encouraged my love of their music. 

Pete and I both went to Fordham. We both worked at WFUV He of course was a pioneering rock dj during his college days in the 60's. I heard myself on the radio once and decided I would be much better as a producer.  

I saw him at the World Financial Center with Rosanne Cash not that long ago celebrating the Bottom Line. He was vibrant and his usual musical powerhouse of knowledge.  It's hard to think of radio without Pete. He was a New York institution.  I was just listening to him three weeks ago and enjoying his show Mixed Bag. 

Thanks Pete for sharing your love of music.

Red Beans And Vice

Louie Perez is an unsung modern Renaissance man.  He's a musician, songwriter, artist, writer, the list could go on.  He's talked about having a web presence that would be a hub for up and coming artists and this week he's launched Playpix with a gallery of his own artwork:  The Red Beans and Rice series. 

The six prints are ironic takes on Red Beans and Rice. I just bought two.  Who could resist Red Beans and Vice?

Here's Louie's take on the drawings: We found a great printer in Austin, TX., who did a fantastic job of laser printing on Strathmore 400 80lb acid free paper (laser printing incidentally is quickly becoming a legit printing method amongst fine artists).  Each drawing is hand signed and numbered. When the initial run of 450 prints runs out, he will not reissue. 

The drawings are beyond reasonable at $25 a piece.  How wonderful to own a piece of art that touches your artistic soul and makes you smile.  Anyone can have it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Favorite Vampire Is Dead

Jonathan Frid, the actor who played Barnabas Collins died, ironically on Friday the 13th.  He has a cameo in the soon-to-be-released Tim Burton remake of Dark Shadows, the show that made Frid forever Barnabas, although Johnny Depp has stepped into the role. 

I religiously watched the TV show  after school.  The background music heightened every scene as is evident in this clip of Barnabas' debut in Dark Shadows.  The acting was over the top/campy and I loved it.

Frid was 87. 

Another luminary has left us. RIP Levon Helm. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

America's Oldest Teenager Is Gone

RIP Dick Clark.  

Just yesterday I was reading one of my old diaries from 1976 and on Saturday May 29th I had this entry:  Watched American Bandstand. Jim Stafford has a cocker spaniel named Joe Cocker, which I'm guessing he mentioned on the show and I found it interesting enough to write about it.

Rate a Record was my favorite part of American Bandstand.  Every week I got to hear one of the dancers say some variation of it's got a good beat and I like to dance to it

Dick Clark had the beat. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Three of Life's Greatest Pleasures

Baseball, music and art:  three of life's greatest pleasures.  Friday night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all were celebrated.  Breaking the Color Barrier in Major League Baseball a current baseball card exhibit at the MET through June 17th.  The cards are part of the extensive collection bequeathed to the museum by Jefferson Burdick, a lifelong collector who we were told never went to a baseball game. 

Today Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson.

The Baseball Project sang us through a history of baseball.  
Linda, Scott, Peter, Mike (Steve was too far to the left)
As to be expected, the melodies were catchy, the lyrics ironic, smart, funny and poignant.   Harvey Haddix is a tribute to those who have pitched perfect games (they name all of them) and the one who didn't get the credit.  Why don't we add Harvey to that list they lament.

10th inning down, 11th inning down, he moved on to the 12th
3 straight outs and the fans were pinching themselves
The best game ever pitched and still a scoreless tie
Poor Harvey had to carry on and give it one more try

13's never lucky so you can guess the rest
Harv gave up a hit and then he lost the whole contest
I wonder how he slept that night knowing how close he came

To a most exclusive club that should include his name

There were other tributes such as the one for the 1986 World Series (Buckner's Bolero) , which elicited a yell of "Let's Go Mets" from the audience.  Satchel Page, Ted Freakin' Williams, Willie and Jackie were all honored. 

The performance was a quasi REM reunion.  The Baseball Project consists of , Scott McCaughey  who has been part of REM since 1994, Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Peter Buck  and Linda PitmonMike Mills joined the band for this show and I believe I saw  Michael Stipe siting in the audience.

The evening opened with a panel discussion about cards and baseball's part in breaking the color barrier. Sharon Robinson, educational consultant to Major League Baseball and daughter of Brooklyn Dodgers pioneer Jackie Robinson, talked about her parents fleeing a house in Florida as a lynch mob was headed for her father.  The locals did not want a black man playing with a white team in their backyard.  Jackie was playing with a minor league team at the time and was one year away from joining the Dodgers.

The consummate baseball player Dale Murphy talked about his dad bringing him Willie Mays' glove.  A 9 year old Murphy was skeptical about it actually being Willie's glove.  When he got Willie's baseball card, he counted the stitches on the glove in the card and it was the same amount as on his glove.  The glove was a replica, but it was the same model.  New York Times sportswriter and author William Rhoden talked about practicing Willie's basket catch over and over.  Bill could not believe how easy Willie made the game look.  Sean Kirst, sports columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard and author had a geographical link to two stories.  The collector Burdick came from Syracuse and Jackie Robinson had said "In Syracuse they got on me pretty good, but that didn't bother me."  He mentioned it as the one place that was hard on him.

As The Baseball Project sang (with a nod to Simon & Garfunkel), And here's to you Mr Robinson

Friday, April 13, 2012

Olympic Organizers Want Keith Moon To Play At The Closing Ceremonies

Keith Moon died in 1978.  It seems the organizers of the 2012 London Olympics think he's alive and kicking. 

The Sunday Times quoted The Who's longtime manager Bill Curbishley who said he got an inquiry if Keith would be available to play at the Olympics. 

I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to the Who's anthemic line I hope I die before I get old.  If they have a round table, some glasses and candles, we might contact him

In other Olympic related news, the Times reported that the Sex Pistols have turned down the organizers.  No word on whether they specifically asked for Sid Vicious.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do Female Artists Have A Better Sense Of Humor Than Their Male Counterparts?

I'd have to say yes.  I'll point to two recent examples. 

1.  The Cindy Sherman exhibit at MOMA. Cindy likes working by herself.  She's her own best model. 

Cindy Sherman from the WSJ:
For me, a great portrait is something that combines the familiar with the unfamiliar—something seductive but also repulsive. I want to go "Ew," but then can't stop looking. So there's a push-pull thing to it. I also see the humorous aspect, not just the horrible. It's exciting in its gruesomeness.

2.  Nina Katchadourian's Seat Assignment.  What do most people do on a 14 hour flight?  My guess is sleep.  Nina makes art using only the materials at hand.  She recreated 15th century portraits in the airplane bathroom.  There was probably more time to do this as most of the passengers were sleeping.  The Mail has an article with her photos. Scott Tissue, here's the ultimate sponsorship opportunity!

Nina challenges herself and travels, a lot.  Over 2500 photographs and video were created on more than 70 different flights.  Seat Assignment was first exhibited at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in New Zealand.  She had a 22 hours to get there from New York.  She created 2 galleries of work on the flight there. 

From Nina's website:
I often make art motivated by the mundane, but Seat Assignment has become a vehicle for me to put many of my deeply-held premises to the test. Is there always more than meets the eye? Is there really something to make out of nothing? Is it truly a matter of paying attention, of staying alert and optimistic about the potential that something interesting could evolve when challenged by boredom? Furthermore, what are the limits of my ability to think on my feet (or from my seat)? When will my creativity hit a wall, either from physical and mental fatigue, or simply because I can't care any more at that moment? How far will my own sense of decorum allow me to go in a public situation?