Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don Henley is Suing Again

Don Henley's lawyers must love him. He's at it again and I never tire of these stories.  TechDirt  points out that he is suing a retailer for this ad: 

He is possessed enough to trademark his name, but only for recordings and live music, so it rules out clothing.  What was not mentioned in the article is that he didn't write Take It Easy,  Jackson Browne did.  His band recorded the song, but has no claim on ownership of the song, only their recording. I'm sure he doesn't have that either, it's in the hands of the record label.  To misquote Styx, I think Henley has Too Much Time On His Hands

Monday, September 29, 2014

Which SNL Alum do you think has the biggest box office appeal?

According to Bloomberg Business Week, it's Eddie Murphy.  His 38 movies have grossed $5.79 billion dollars.  Rounding out the top 5 are Dan Ackroyd, Robert Downey Jr, Ben Stiller and Bill Murray.

The female with the highest score and this is not really a surprise as she has had support roles in tons of successful movies:  Joan Cusack at #10 with $2.81 billion. 

It does seem like their is a Saturday Night Live alum in almost anything you watch these days.  What a training ground. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

C'mon Get Happy

On this Day In History: 1970 - The Partridge Family premiered on ABC and I watched every episode.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Any Song That Borrows From Wichita Lineman Is Ok With Me

Pacific State is duo singer songwriter Berri Farley and writer-producer Simon Marlin.  They seamlessly use the unforgettable strings/horns from Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman in their first musical offering Coming HomeThe bastard child of Adele and Massive Attack is their self-description of the music.   Morcheeba also comes to mind.  Simon sent out a demo of the song desperate to find the right singer.  Berri ran with it.  Simon was the mastermind behind The Shapeshifters aka Shape:UK.

According to their Facebook page, the band name:  It references the eponymous classic rave track from 808 State but it also encompasses the American music the pair love, from Crosby, Stills and Nash to Sly and the Family Stone: “It’s 808 folk,” says Marlin with a grin. 

They have recorded an album's worth of material so let's assume they'll be a lot more to hear in a short amount of time. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Unpracticle Tips From A Bachelorette

A guilty pleasure:  The Bachelorette/Bachelor TV show.   Besides being a ridiculous scenario, it is a fascinating unreality to watch.  Can't be called reality TV.  There is nothing that relates to reality in the 8 or so weeks spent sifting through 25 or 26 people to find your forever mate.

Courtney Robertson, was chosen by Ben Flajnik to be his wife in season 16.  The wedding never took place.  According to her, the relationship went sour minutes after he proposed.  Ben invited some crew members to join them for dinner several times during the few days they had to spend together.  She just released a book (with Deb Baer) I Didn't Come Here To Make Friends, which chronicles her time before during and after the Bachelor. It's dishy and it's informative-if you're a fan of the show. 

Courtney gives the reader insight into what a day is like for a contestant. It doesn't sound that pleasant.  For every one-on-one date a contestant might get (and those are few,  Courtney had 4 or 5 and she was the "winner"), there are way more times she/he is held up in hotel rooms with no communication.  No cell phones, no newspapers, no internet, no books  are allowed. Why no books?  She recalls a story where a few of the ladies were psyched to go to the gym in the hotel as there were TVs and they could watch the news.  Towards the end of filming, to Courtney's surprise, she got a dial tone on the hotel phone.  She immediately called her father and said she was cheating.  His response was no you're not and he hung up the phone. Turns out he was in the presence of a Bachelor producer who was setting up the hometown date. 

The producers and editors make most of the dates look glamorous.  Courtney points out that the helicopter ride around the Matterhorn was terrifying.  There were endless picnics.  Courtney said Ben planned dates around things he wanted to do, not taking into account what his date might like to do.

Courtney owns up to her mistakes. She played the game, which is what this was and was crucified for it.  She made an interesting season out of what could have been as bland as Ben's personality was portrayed.  She realized she was cast as the villain after she watched the first episode.  She thought she was being funny at times and it didn't come off that way on TV.  She was no saint, but the editors are the real storytellers of this show.  She did love Ben. From her accounts, she was trying to hold on to a relationship that never really was there. She highlights their night in the fantasy suite. 

The book is filled with useless tips unless you want to be a model or a Bachelor contestant. 
  • For newbie models  Tip #1 Keep a nude thong, nude strapless bikini and heels in your car at all times in case of last minute casting. 

  • Filling Out The Bachelor Application:  Be heartbroken.  A good breakup story in which you've been dumped cruelly and callously helps your chances. 

  • Questions For The Bachelor:  Do you have a good relationship with your Mom?

Bottom line:  It's a fun, quick read for fans of  The Bachelor/Bachelorette.

On a series note, I've got my money on Andi picking Josh.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Getting the Perfect Concert Photo

Everyone has a camera on them at all times, which makes it that much harder to get a perfect concert photo. 

There are phones and cameras blocking views pretty consistently.  I was guilty of that today in Central Park.  Not that this shot was during the middle of a song, but the timing of the woman whose hand graces my photo could not have been better.  She completely blocks out Keith Urban.  Well not completely, you can see his elbow if you look close.  It made me laugh. 

Keith Urban's performance  on GMA today was as always A-1.  Hearing him live in Central Park was the perfect kick off to the weekend.  He performed:  Somewhere in My Car, Even The Stars Fall 4 U, You Gonna Fly and Long Hot Summer

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bowlmor Not in Union Square

In the 80's/90's a night of bowling at Bowlmor meant a good time and filthy hands.  They never cleaned a bowling ball or a lane then.  It seemed that way.  Despite that, we still went back. It was one of the few, if only places to bowl in Manhattan at one point.  I remember it as the site of work parties, friends birthdays and late night ridiculousness. 

Like many remnants of classic New York, Bowlmor has lost out to the "luxury condo" crazy. The building was bought. There is much more money to be made in housing than bowling alleys, so Bowlmor's Union Square flagship anchor had to exit. 

Here's  a few trivia nuggets:
According to WNYC Bowlmore was the longest continuously running bowling alley in the Northeast.
Bowlmor has operated on University Place since 1938.
In 1958 Vice President Richard Nixon played a game or two. 

The last frame was played last night.  It's a strike for NYC.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Your Dad Did

Forget Cat Steven's Father and Son (I know that might be sacrilegious to most people).  In honor of Father's Day here's John Hiatt's Your Dad Did. It's a classic.  Love Sonny Landreth's guitar work on this performance. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blondie @40, The 92Y at 140

Debbie Harry and Chris Stein are laid back.  The founding members of Blondie took the stage at the 92 St Y last night, talking, not performing, but letting us in on what's gone on in the past 40 years.  Yes, the band started 40 years ago which is really hard to believe. 
Early photo of Blondie taken by Chris Stein

Here's what I took away from their chat:

Debbie said she knew at 5 years old that she was going to do things her way. 

The band had success in Europe first. Debbie attributes that to two things:  Their record label was based there so they knew how to work the market and the Europeans have always been open to pop music. 

Their early style came from raiding thrift stores.  At the time, the cheapest clothes were the 60's discards.  It's hard to say that she created a look because her style was so eclectic.  No matter what she wore, whether it was a garbage bag or a boy scout uniform, she always looked amazing.  I remember seeing the band at My Father's Place, Halloween 1978 and was astounded by how cool Debbie was and thinking there is no way I could pull off what she does. 

Andy Warhol used  Big Shot Polaroid Cameras to shoot photos.  The band would pick them up while on the road the bring them back to him.  The cover of their latest album features Andy Warhol's portrait of Debbie.  Chris pointed out the irony of Andy using cheap equipment and selling the art for millions of dollars.

September will see the release of Chris Stein's book of photos and anecdotes, Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk.  We saw a few of the photos last night.  There was a wonderful shot of Clem and Debbie on 14th St.  As Christ pointed out an onlooker looked like Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. 

They always wanted to be successful and therefore were prepared for their rise to rock star-ness. 

Clem Burke (the original and still drummer) is immersed in music.  He has no alternative reality.  He knows everything about every band.  Blondie played Hammersmith Odeon at the time Keith Moon died.  As a tribute, Clem threw his snare drum into the audience that night.  Clem was upset that one of their road crew retrieved the drum. 

Debbie thinks of herself as a feminist. 

The band has a new album, Blondie 4(0) Forever -Ghosts of a Download/Deluxe Redux:Greatest Hits.  They rerecorded their hits, which is part l of the package.  They don't own the original masters, so I'm sure licensing them would have been a nightmare.  Part ll is new material including Sugar on the Side which the band performed on GMA. 

Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone writer) dropped the ball as the interviewer.  Was he so enamored by Debbie and Chris that he couldn't keep track of the conversation?  He asked questions that had already been answered and poised many questions that only required a yes or no.  He would have failed interview class.  Debbie has never been gregarious in interviews, so DeCurtis' questions did not solicit an elaborate answer from her.   The audience questions made for a more captivating evening.  As I left the theater I thought if only Lenny Kaye sat between these two immensely talented people....  I'll have to wait for the duo to hit the Howard Stern Show.  I can hope. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Victoria Grayson: The Evil Morticia Addams

In watching an episode of the Addams Family (Pugsly and Wednesday have to attend school), it dawned on me that Madeleine Stowe is channeling Carolyn Jones' Morticia Addams in her portrayal of Victoria Grayson on the show Revenge.  Her cadence, her pauses and her demeanor all scream Morticia.  The big difference: Victoria is evil and Morticia is good.


They even sit in a chair the same way!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Seeing Oneself in Print For The First Time

Musicians always get asked where they were the first time they heard themselves on the radio.  It's always vivid and that thrill will never leave them.

The author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away yesterday at the age of 87, recounts his early years as a writer and what it meant to see his work in print. The New Yorker has unlocked his personal history from the October 6, 2003 issue. 

His best known works in the US are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Those Wonderful New York Apartments

Watching Designing Woman with Lauren Bacall and once again I am struck by those fabulous 1940/50's bi-level apartments. Lauren has one 

Doris Day had one and more recently, Don Draper.  They always have a long outdoor terrace.  I wonder if apartments like that still exist?  I'd find it hard to leave an apartment like that. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Blown Kisses for Jim Lange

The Dating Game was like no other game show.  Of course it makes sense that Chuck Barris created it.  Jim Lange was its gracious host.  Jim passed away at age 81.  I still make references to it's crazy questions to this day.  If you could be any tree, what would you be and why?

Long before the Bachelor/Bachelorette, there was the Dating Game. If you won, you went on a chaperoned date (according the the NY Times the chaperone might be Jim or Chuck), usually for a dinner at Catalina Island.  Groucho Marx daughter won the grand Kahuna, a trip to William Holden's African safari resort. Groucho asked the questions and picked the date for a father's day edition of the show.  

The list of celebrities that appeared on the show is a 60's who's who.  Some were celebrities already, others had yet to break through.

Steve Martin twice. He got picked by the ladies both times
Karen Carpenter
Farrah Fawcett
Pee Wee Herman
Arnold Schwarzenegger
John Ritter
Suzanne Sommers
Andy Kaufman
Yvonne Craig
Michael Jackson
Richard Dawson
Bill Bixby (was on 4 times) He and Dawson appeared on an episode together
Groucho Marx (he interviewed the guys for his daughter) Hilarious. 
Maureen McCormick
Barry Williams
The Grassroots: Warren Entner and Rick Coonce
Robert Vaughn

Jim was poised yet retained just the right amount of sarcasm to make him the perfect host for the show.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Writing From Photographs

The closet archivist in me was sucked in by the title of Casey Cep's article in the New Yorker, A Thousand Words:  Writing From Photographs.  She is a writer who has abandoned physically writing, meaning putting pen to paper.  She uses her photo stream to dictate her prose.  Being someone who retains the trivial facts (Paul Reiser once commented that he read that Vanna White starred in a production of Brigadoon and it never left his head-thanks Paul, it hasn't left mine either) , but seems to let the others drift, I love having documentation of everything. I love research and details.  I love have something to look at and interpret. 

My husband whether he knows it or not, is a great visual archivist. I think he has the largest collections of the gates of the Hamptons.  He has amassed a drove of favorite gates we've seen in our dog walks through the Hamptons.  We're finally going to tackle building the gate using one of those photos as our inspiration.  Taking photos is easy now.  Using photos to create is a gift. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014


After seeing this article about friend Alex Stais in the WSJ, I was inspired to search for "The Morning After".  Alec is the producer of Disaster, an off broadway play that is an homage to the Poseidon Adventure. It's ladened with cheesy 70's songs. Expect to hear "Torn Between Two Lovers" and "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight".  Since "The Morning After" will not be heard, I felt the need to post this.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Things To Do In NYC and Some are on the Upper East Side

  • Tonight Keith Urban is at the Garden with Little Big Town.  He's a consistently good show.  I'd put him up there with a Springsteen, Cheap Trick or Tom Petty any day. 

  • This one came to my attention because Vincent D'Onofrio's name was attached to it.  He reads from his journals at Joe's Pub on January 31st.  while serenaded by Dana Lyn.  Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of show.  I can imagine it will be an intense evening. 

  • Feburary 6th at the 92Y It was Fifty Years Ago Today...Celebrating 50 years of The Beatles in the USA.  Paul and Ringo won't be there but Peter Asher, Donovan and Freda Kelly (one of the few Beatles employees that stayed with them throughout their 10 year career) will be joining Martin Lewis for conversations. The Beatles arrived at JFK on February 7, 1964 and music was changed forever. 
  • Armistead Maupin will be in a discussion (also on) February 6 at 7pm at Barnes & Noble on East 86th St.  His latest Tales from the City is titled The Days of Anna Madrigal: A Novel. 
  • If you want to venture to Times Square, Super Bowl Blvd is in full swing until Saturday night when Blondie closes it out with a show at 8pm on Broadway between 39th & 40th streets.   The Bacon Brothers are there tonight.  Can't imaging it's easy to perform in the weather we've been having. Parka Up. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Taking Photos For The Village Voice: Documenting NY

Before today I was unaware of Fred McDarrah.  After reading an article in the NY Times, I found out he was the first photo editor for the Village Voice and for many years, it's only staff photographer.  He must have had a sixth sense of where it was happening in NY. He has captured everyone from Dylan and Warhol to Robert Kennedy and Robert Moses. These people mostly appear against the gritty backdrop of the city in the 1960's and 70's.  The city is also depicted in all it's gritty glory. 

His work will be on exhibit at the Steven Kasher Gallery from Jan 30th through March 8th.  Looking forward to seeing this. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ray Davies Pursues America

Ray Davies pursuit of breaking his band/career in the US is chronicled in his book Americana The Kinks, The Riff, The Road.  After reading his journeys through America, it seems he’s still questioning at what price does success come and what is success.  When did he take the time to make a home? Was his eye on the prize at the expense of a personal life?
Early in the Kinks career circa 1965 they are banned from performing in the US.

The American Federation of Musicians refused permits for the group to appear in concert and it’s widely believed due to their sometime violent behavior and band disputes.  Dave Davies and Mick Avory had it out on stage in Wales and Dave wound up with 16 stitches in his head.  This time period was a prime creative period for the band. In 1964 they released You Really Got Me followed by All Day And All Of The Night, Tired of Waiting For You, Well Respected Man and Sunny Afternoon.  They are all classics. 

After the ban was lifted, Ray was determined to prove the band was worthy of US audiences.  They toured relentlessly sometimes at the expense of other territories. 

In a switch from my reading assumptions, this book got better the second half.  This is Davies second book (the first was X-Ray:  The Unauthorized Autobiography) and his theme is focused.  I didn’t read X-Ray.  Usually musician autobios tend to lose focus the second part when all spirals into a drug induced haze.  Not the case here. It was refreshing not to hear about drug addiction.  He barely touches on the famously documented band member feuds.  It’s about the music, the marketing and conquering the US. 

Characters play a big part in the songwriting and life of Ray Davies.  He comes across as a bit of character himself.  Ray is a great storyteller.  In this excerpt from the book, he sums up his inspirations: 

Some of my songs are sometimes better company than real people.  Many musical characters inhabit my world:  they are good, bad, kind, mean, and sometimes mischievous.  I usually write a theme song in my head for nearly every person I encounter in the real world.  They exist as part of my musical memory so that afterward I cast them in my own musical version of life, which is often more truthful than reality.  Long-term friends are usually accompanied by a good tune.  On the other hand, people that don’t bring a good theme song with them rarely stay in my life.  It’s a form of “musical schizophrenia” that evolved in my childhood; these imaginary musical allies are sometimes more credible than the real people I encounter.  AS a child I was very quiet, very secluded and it was music that helped me relate to and confront the real world- without music I would probably never have interacted with people.

Whenever I see someone from my own musical universe, their unique musical theme slips into my head, a theme that represents my perception of their true character.   After a while the real person I know blends into the imaginary person I have invented.  As sometimes happens in life, often the real person you know disappears-you lose touch, they move on, you move on.  But if I need someone, all I have to do is remember their theme song-and some strange musical voodoo brings them to life. 

Points that resonated:

His relationship with Clive Davis led to great success while on Arista Records. 

When Ray questions whether it’s worth being a musician, he develops his storyteller solo show.  His friends and acquaintances point out to him how important songwriting is to him.  

His relentless quest to find a “home”:  He lived on W 72nd St in NYC, moves back and forth to Europe, eventually lands in New Orleans where he is shot trying to catch a thief and now he lives not too far from where he started his life in North London. 

He ends the book with this passage:

But, as my song “The Getaway” say at the end, it can be a “lonesome train” if you don’t get it right.  Still I live in hope that one day I’ll get it right.  That someday…I’ll find my way home. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

The Influence of the Everly Brothers

Ray Davies and Graham Nash both cited the Everly Brothers as a big musical influence. Graham and a friend stalked them when he was younger and did get to meet them. A thrill of his life was singing with the Brothers later on in his career. 

I find it interesting that the last three autobiographies I’ve read all reference the Everlys which I thought about while reading them . A day after finishing Ray’s book Americana as well as Linda Rondstadt’s Simple Dreams (Linda recorded the Everly’s When Will I Be Loved), I heard that Phil Everly had died.  A death will allow for a string of tributes and I had no idea of the impact this duo had on music.  Looking back, they were pioneers of blending pop and country.  They got so much out of their voices.  They were great songwriters.  They had stories to tell and everyone was listening.