Naoko Zen Japan Trip 2014

September 14th, 2014

Naoko and Zen went to Japan for 10 days, I think they had a nice time! Here are a few pictures abot their trip.

Zen and his cousin

IMG_2279

Great Odin’s beard – that looks like some lovely sashimi!!

 

IMG_2280

Fooooood!!!

 

IMG_2285

Zen in a yukata!

 

IMG_2286

Fooood!!

 

IMG_2287

Zen and his grandparents!!

 

IMG_2288

Zen and his grandparents!

 

IMG_2289

Zen and his cousin!!

 

IMG_2290

At Awaji in Japan.

 

IMG_2312

Naoko and Zen at the moon festival at Himeji Castle.

 

IMG_2321

Zen’s decked out in Hanshin Tigers gear for the big game!!

 

IMG_2322

Hanshin playing Hiroshima – but they lost, 17-5!!

 

IMG_2323

They had very good seats, and lunch was served!!

 

IMG_2324

What a cool view of the field! A bit different than the outfield bleachers…

 

IMG_2326

Our little Hanshin Tigers fan!

 

IMG_2328

They got pretty close to their heroes!!

 

IMG_2330

That’s what the outfield bleachers look like from the OTHER side…

 

IMG_2338

Zen too this great shot!!

IMG_2338 - Version 2

… and here’s the close-up…

 

IMG_2339

Zen took another great shot!

IMG_2339 - Version 3

… and here’s the close-up…

 

IMG_2339 - Version 2

… and here’s the ultra close-up!!

IMG_2340

In the bleachers!!

 

IMG_2341

Having fun!

 

IMG_2349

Getting ready for fun…

 

IMG_2350

Release the bats (I mean… balloons…)…

 

Probably the funniest YouTube video ever

August 29th, 2014

Tree planting!

June 28th, 2014

Today, Zen and I went to a tree planting exercise in Sengkang Riverside Park with some company colleagues. I’d been the main organizer, and was happy to see that we had just the right number of people out to plant our 11 trees (actually, there was a spare tree, since we had 10 units of tree diggers, so Zen and I took the second one). We posed for pictures, and the photographer said “one, two, tree…” That’s the local accent, but it could also have been a pretty hilarious joke, considering, ha ha ha…

The Sengkang area is somewhat far flung (by Singapore standards), and I’d never seen that heart of town before. There’s a lot of new development and they’re building housing for what looks like at least 500 thousand people.

There’s also a light rapid transit line there, with just a single car zooming around. After our one hour exercise, Zen and I went out to the LRT and took a tour around the area. It’s a funky little roller coaster of a buggy, and we had a nice time. After that we went to Jing Hua Chinese food restaurant in Tanjong Pagar, where we’ve been many times before, and had a great little lunch. Went home, had a beer, napped, woke up, set up the new iMac, and just generally got things done. Going out tonight to a “drinks wedding reception” for a guy who was once an intern at my former place of employment. Sighhhh…

Orientation

 

IMG_4122

This is the way we plant our trees…

IMG_4127

IMG_4129

IMG_4130

Getting started!

IMG_4133

Our crew at work!

IMG_4151

Zen getting some assistance.

IMG_4155

IMG_4157

Watering the new tree.

IMG_4161

Getting started on our second tree.

IMG_4173

Watch out, earth!!

IMG_4176

Talk to the hand!

IMG_4180

Our handiwork!

IMG_4183

On the LRT.

IMG_4186

Sengkang New Town.

IMG_4191

Some day, this will be a bustling street…

IMG_4192

 

Nice “river” view.

IMG_4198

I went to Canada! Yay!!

June 15th, 2014

I had such a great visit to Canada when I went there from May 30th to June 8th! Here are my pictures!!!!

 

Weird that there’s a queue at Changi Airport runway!!
IMG_3593

Ships, off Singapore

IMG_3595

Wow!!

IMG_3601

Business class food!

IMG_3602

IMG_3608

Nice island, behind the clouds there… maybe somewhere off Vietnam?

IMG_3609

Took this picture in the Hong Kong Cathay Pacific flight lounge… love the reflection off the floor…

IMG_3623

Very simple toilet!

IMG_3625

Burger in the evening…

IMG_3630

 

Me and my jet helmet…

IMG_3635

My home town, from the sky…

IMG_3636

IMG_3641

First view of Canada – the airport at 8:00 PM on a late May evening.

IMG_3642

Entering the Northlands at night.

IMG_3643

I ordered a bunch of indie band patches. They arrived while I was away…

IMG_3658

The view from my window at home.

IMG_3674

Selfie in the mirror (jet-lagged… but this is how I see myself, actually…).

IMG_3676

Normal selfie…

IMG_3678

Great book!!!

IMG_3679

Mom and Dad, glorious, in the sunlight. Photo by me.

IMG_3680

IMG_3681

Too flaky to buy, even for $0.33.

IMG_3685

Take off, you hoser!!

IMG_3686

Mom and dad’s porch… barbecue-free after a long hard winter…

IMG_3694

Thriving Midland on a Sunday afternoon!

IMG_3718

Rabbit burlesque.

IMG_3723

IMG_3724

Awas!!

IMG_3731

Photo by dad.

IMG_3736

Photo by mom.

IMG_3737

 

Little Lake, man!

IMG_3739

My taxi into Toronto!!

IMG_3740

BRAD IS THE MAN!!!

IMG_3742

Live at the Horseshoe!

IMG_3743

Pete ‘n’ Struts, live at the Horseshoe!

IMG_3745

IMG_3749

IMG_3752

Queen Street at night is gorgeous!

IMG_3757

Oh yeah!

IMG_3766

The view from my hotel window… I work in one of those buildings…

IMG_3767

IMG_3768

 

 

Renovation, Canada-style… the pool was closed ,but who knows why?

IMG_3769

There’s a frog in there somewhere…

IMG_3771

This movie was playing in the pub that our gang partied at. Dialogue unnecessary.

IMG_3774

Me ‘n’ my posse…

IMG_3776

With a cowboy guitar gal…

IMG_3779

Toronto from Spadina.

IMG_3780

John Shoesmith – poet.

IMG_3781

The poet ‘n’ the cowpoet.

IMG_3782

Sloan at the AGO!

IMG_3786

A Toronto… thing!!

IMG_3790

IMG_3795

After the Sloan show – let’s rock at the Rex!!

IMG_3799

View from my team’s office space in Toronto. I love how you can see the reflection of the Royal York Hotel – where I once worked – in the PwC Tower glass. IMG_3800

Another view from my office space – can see the logos of four of Canada’s top six banks off in the distance.

IMG_3801

Goin’ green!!

IMG_3804

Big Fat Burrito, in Kensington Market, in Toronto.

IMG_3805

My ‘n’ my new buddy, James C, of Malhavoc fame. We spent 45 minutes talking outside his apartment discussing Ministry, Monster Magnet, Motley Crue and Malhavoc. Good times!!

IMG_3809

Later that night at the Bovine Sex Club.

IMG_3811

Even later that night at the Cameron House.

IMG_3813

IMG_3814

Wow – Freddie Blassie!!

IMG_3817

IMG_3820

What is an “old cummer”?

IMG_3821

Me and Mr Bidini. Wow!!!!!!

IMG_3825

IMG_3827

Memories…

IMG_3828

My old home…

IMG_3831

Another old home…

IMG_3832

Wow… old friends…

IMG_3833

The real world.

IMG_3835

Friends walking the old road.

IMG_3838

IMG_3840

Lots of love and memories here.

IMG_3841

IMG_3842

Back in the old school yard!!!!!!!!

IMG_3843

IMG_3846

IMG_3852

Seriously… nothing’s changed in nearly 40 years!!!!

IMG_3853

 

Yeah………….

IMG_3855

Yeah!

IMG_3856

The Credit River. Love it!!

IMG_3857

Touched by the hand of Ozzy!!!

IMG_3860

Yes… I am!

IMG_3862

The man!!!

IMG_3865

Jamer’s throne!

IMG_3866

Shelly Jameson – sheer awesomeness!!

IMG_3867

Train keeps a movin’ all beer-drinkin’-session-long…

IMG_3873

Shuriken-shaped vinyl!!

IMG_3877

Merry Goddamned Christmas, EnGarde Records, 1992!!

IMG_3878

Wow!!

IMG_3880

IMG_3883

IMG_3884

IMG_3886

On the road!!!

IMG_3888

Pride!!

IMG_3889

IMG_3891

I’m With The Band: Confessions of a groupie, by Pamela Des Barres

May 12th, 2014

PDB IWTB

I’m With The Band: Confessions of a groupie, by Pamela Des Barres – A great coming-of-age story of a young groupie-musician-actor, who witnessed the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and eventually hung out with, bedded, and married some of the most influential musicians of this incredible era. The first half of the book is (as always) the most interesting, and she describes the arousal of her teenage passions – in particular her early encounters with the Rolling Stones – with great color and enthusiasm. The middle of the book chronicles her adventures in her own pioneering girl band, GTO, and her affairs with rock stars, before slowing down a bit and becoming all about the hunt for a long-term relationship and marriage (around page 188 of this 300-page book she says “I am sweet, delicious, and a juicy 21! Somebody claim me!!”). She even starts to get discreet, hiding the names of the stars she was shagging! But among the people she sleeps with are members of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Byrds, Michael Des Barres, Lane Caudell, a pre-fame Don Johnson and Woody Allen. Crazy! But nothing is as nutty as the bizarre Marlon Brando obsession that emerges in the last pages of the book, as she goes off to see Last Tango In Paris, has butter fantasies, and calls Brando’s personal line repeatedly (and you have to wonder if Brando – or McCartney, or any of these people who didn’t really know her all that well – dug her book and all her freaky groupie fantasies, or were simply freaked out).

This is the updated edition, with an afterword, an after-afterword, as well as a little foreword by Dave Navarro, who was born in 1967, right around the time that events in the book are taking place. Navarro’s intro is okay, but he never loses his fanboy approach.

Now there are always lots of hot women around rock stars, and there always have been, historically speaking (I pray every night tat there always will be). What makes Pamela so special and intriguing? I would say her mind – she is fucking brilliant (as I typed that, I actually felt myself become aroused – that’s how brilliant she is!).

Pamela also adds a new intro, which is funny:

I was unprepared, however, for the reaction to I’m With The Band when it was initially published. When uptight women on talk shows chided me for being too free-spirited and sexually open, I told them I was sorry they missed out on the good times and didn’t get to sleep with Mick Jagger. It caused an outrage, but I had a ball shaking things up once more.

(Nice pun, by the way Pam.)

The book gets into the young Miss Pamela’s journeys through life, starting with her family background, her parents, her middle-class upbringing, her school life, her extreme Beatlemania, her first adventures with boy crushes, her protection of her virginity (!!!), her first experience shaving her legs (her finally relented and let her shave them below the knees), and extensive experience giving blowjobs. We get excerpts of diary entries, letters, and poems that she had written over the years, some good and some not-so-great. Bad boys in school, first boyfriends, and the eventual onset of massive horniness.  Beatlemania was the big passion for her early on: the young Miss Pamela was a Paulgirl (for whom early girlfriend Jane Asher was a “creepy freckle-faced bow-wow”), in a Beatle girl-gang with three others.

Even here she demonstrated her randiness:

I collected Beatle bubble-gum cards, and one of them was a shot of Paul playing his bass, sitting on a bed in a hotel with his legs apart. You could actually see the shape of his balls being crushed by the tightness of his trousers, and I carried that card around with me in a little gold box with cotton covering it like it was a precious jewel. I peeked at it reverently once a day, and lifted the cotton gently, holding my breath as I stared between his legs at the eighth wonder of the world.

Years later, she met Paul when he was with his second wife Heather, and she had to contextualise for him that they actually hadn’t slept together.

She “wrote with a Beatle pen, slept on a Beatle pillowcase, and breathed with Beatle lungs,” composing plays “in which Jane Asher dies many grisly, horrifying deaths. The Pam Miller character was always around to pick up Paul’s pieces.” Pamela includes one of her poems to him in the book, it’s actually pretty good. She even describes the obsessive rituals that she would go through every day, such as writing Paul’s name down every time she farted (!!!).

Later, when the young Miss Pamela broadens her vision to allow admiration of the Rolling Stones in addition to the Beatles, her friends are aghast, and write her a hilariously petty letter!! “You had better watch out before you become completely friendless. Why on earth could you even start to like Mick over Paul?” She leaves her friends in the dust, and starts a new approach to life. “My brief sexual encounters with [my boyfriend] had opened up new vistas of turgid, twisting thoughts, and Mick Jagger personified a penis. I took my new records and my glossy steaming photographs into my rock and roll room, where I scaled new heights of tortuous teen abandon, wriggling in my seat with newfound throbbing ecstasy.” Wow!! This is all, of course, personified by the Rolling Stones song “I’m A King Bee”.

Miss Pamela’s friend Victor had a cousin in the business, named Don Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, this launched her in rock ‘n’ roll, and before too long she was hanging out with Frank Zappa and stalking Jim Morrison. But things really got crazy when the Rolling Stones came to play Los Angeles in 1965:

The month of waiting for the Stones’ arrival increased my wanton desire to feel those gigantic lips on mine. I started writing porno things in my diary for the first time: ‘Someday I will touch and feel him, I know it. Mick, my dear, dear PENIS!’ I brazenly created in pink and red oil colors my concept of what his balls might look like. I turned it in to (my high school art teacher) as a modern-art project and got an A.

Of course, she eventually gets her wish, and Mick’s lips (and other things) all over her, but that would take a couple of years. They search for the band at a recording studio, and then actually bump into them – they look the girls over, ask them for directions to their hotel… but don’t invite them inside. But the girls linger and instead of meeting the Stones, they meet “a wiry black girl with a switchblade prominently displayed on a leather cord around her neck [who] told us that Keith had given it to her so she could keep the fans from bothering him. She led us to believe that she was one of the chosen who did have access to the pink rooms by proudly telling us that the Stones called her ‘the Grand Canyon.’ She did a bump and grind to make sure we didn’t miss the point.”

At one point, Miss Pamela observes Brian Jones “cavorting with two scantily clad ladies of Spanish descent. While I watched, some teenybops banged on the front door, begging him to come out and give them an autograph. He threw open the door in his underwear, holding a broom as some kind of weapon, and shouted, ‘IF YOU DON’T GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE, I’LL DRAG YOU IN HERE AND FUCK YOU!!!’ They ran squealing into the moonlight.” Miss Pamela eventually spends a few hours with Captain Beefheart, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts listening to Muddy Waters. Wow… how cool is that?

At the concert, “Mick was so sexy. I had never seen anybody move like that; it was downright skuzzy, driving the girls in the audience to poke and prod at their private parts. The music was hot and raunchy, my heart was beating below my waist, and my hands were itching to hold something warm. I was a sticky, sweaty teenage girl, squirming my way into womanhood. They only played for about half an hour in those days, so the lights came on much too soon and we were herded out into the night, clutching our Rolling Stones programs and damp, wrinkled ticket stubs, wanting more more more!!” Kind of makes you understand the girls who swarmed and screamed at those early Stones shows in the UK that were so insane.

Eventually we find her auditioning for Terry Southern’s “Candy” – she got the role, but funding fell through – and getting ogled by Tony Curtis and Dennis Hopper, who scared her “with his devilish demeanor and those pop-eyes that seemed to poke at me”.  Next come strange flirtations with the hippies, who were much too earthy for her, and parties with wacky friends Vito and Szou. She also ran into a sad hippy poet called Bummer Bob, who was the first hippy to panhandle in Haight Ashbury, and he bought donuts for Miss Pamela and read her his “scary and beautiful” poetry that he “read from a tattered book by candlelight with such ferocity, I thought he might cry. He read it like I were a huge audience, and seemed surprised when I was the only one applauding.” Turns out Bummer Bob was actually Bobby Beausoleil, the actor (he was to be in a Kenneth Anger film before falling out with the director) and musician who eventually ran with the Manson family and tortured and killed people! Yes, the Sixties weren’t all fun and games, maaaan…  When she saw him on TV being interviewed by Truman Capote about the murders she said:

He had no remorse at all, and even said he would do it again. His eyes had turned into hard, flat, matte  black buttons, like somebody had thrown darts into them, and I tried to remember what his poetry had been about. I could only recall a beautiful, strange boy who was all alone with his poems and an elegant top hat and I wondered what happened to (his dog) Snowfox, the best friend a man ever had.

(incidentally, fellow GTO member Miss Mercy is described as living in the same neighborhood as Charles Manson).

Eventually, she gets very serious about her groupie-ness:

The girls and I spent a lot of time locked up in the vault, making lists of all the gorgeous boys in bands that we wouldn’t kick out of bed. Lucy and Sandra wrote their lists on the wall and crossed them off one by one as they encountered the lucky lads. I kept my list in a little gold loose-leaf notebook in my purse: none of the names had been crossed off yet, and Mick Jagger was number one, written in flaming red.

She had cool friends that she’d run into all the time. “Oh yes, I met Gram Parsons last night and I told him I rolled for him and asked him why he quit the Byrds, and he said ‘to do my own thing.’ I can’t wait to see what that is.” She saw him a lot, and described him well. “When he sang about the agonies of love, his heart breaking, tears rolled down his cheeks without his knowledge. The Whiskey-A-Go-Go was unfamiliar with sobbing men in Nudie suits, but I wallowed in his tortured Southern soul, swaying back and forth on the dance floor like a weeping-0willow tree.” They also got to hang out with Pink Floyd, who came over one day…

Eventually, she gets it on with Mick Jagger, who puts her in a limo and whisks her to a show, where she has another Stones concert experience quite unlike the first one. “I was put ON STAGE for the concert, and I got to see the audience FREAK OUT from the Stones’ perspective. Everyone came together: surging like a sea to the stage, thousands of eyes never leaving MJ’s magical being. Such power with a capital ‘P’. How would it feel to have thousands of kids ‘under your thumb,’ ha!” Amazing how things come around eventually, and she gets another one of her wishes (and a name crossed off of her list). “He gave new meaning to giving head, which did not surprise me in the slightest; those lips!!! Please!! But looking down and seeing Mick Jagger between my legs kept me from surrendering with the wild-animal abandon I had anticipated. We made love for hours, but I kept flashing back to squatting in front of my hi-fi, touching myself for the first time while Mick groaned about being a King Bee coming inside, and here he was, right on top of me, doing  just that.” Miss Pamela paints a beautiful picture of being with Mr Jagger; of course, this picture is quite different from the one that Marianne Faithfull paints, or what Keith Richards or Bobby Keys would add, but this is what she had to say about it, and God bless her for that. Later on, when Mick wants a three-way with Michelle Phillips, she’s against it. “I didn’t want to share him, and I didn’t want to share her either.” Rrrrrrrrawrrrr!!!

Funnily enough, she didn’t like Keith much in the end. “Keith scares me, he’s like a foreign object.” She also saw Gram moving too much into Keith’s influence.

Rivalry! Lori Lightning steals Jimmy Page from her one night, and then she gets taunts from other legendary groupies! “The most hideous of these tartlets was Sable Starr. She thought she invented nipples and pubic hair. At an Elton John party on the lot at Universal, she shouted out to me, ‘give it up, you old bag.’ I flipped her the bird right in front of the newest piano-playing wunderkind.”

Eventually, she starts to get a bit crazy with her Marlon Brando obsessions:

I went to see Last Tango In Paris by myself. Me and a bottle of Kahlua. It was better than any of my wet dreams ever were and I massaged my pubic area while Marlon unwrapped the butter. I ached to have it melt in my underpants and puddle under my thighs while he pulled his polyester pants down just far enough so I could feel the crack of his ass. His thin graying hair and slight sexy paunch incited me to a private riot in the theater.

Eventually, she gets together with the already-married Michael Des Barres. “He came back to my hotel that night and gave me head for two hours, but couldn’t consummate anything because his dick was about to fall off form some unutterable thing he had caught in Japan.” Wow!!

Miss Pamela reports a weird conversation with Ringo Starr: “He kept flipping out, saying, ‘Where are the new groups to take our place?’ I agree. Not much happening in rock and roll except the oldie-moldies. It was a drag to see how zongoed they all got.” And yet, the early Seventies produced or was the heyday of so many more of the bands we all adore – Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Big Star, and many many many more.

One of the great mysteries of the book is Miss Pamela’s band, the GTOs, and what happened to them. Despite the fact that great session players like Nicky Hopkins played on their only album, Permanent Damage, along with Jeff Beck, Ry Cooder and Rod Stewart, the album is out of print and the band is near-forgotten! “We saw the films of our Whiskey show, and they made m realize we’re going to make it!” Sorry, not gonna happen! There was so much hope that this was going to be something, and the project lingered and lingered, and then Zappa let it linger some more when he found some of the girls had become junkies (out of boredom? Or was it something else?). Miss Pamela describes jamming with the Jeff Beck Group, and it must have been a lot of fun! Later on, she describes what a nutty GTO show was like, with the inclusion of “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” (an old Nicky Hopkins favorite), and all sorts of hippy granola fun.

With the new edition, Miss Pamela provides an afterword (or aftermath), talking about all of those good souls who are gone, including Bryan MacLean, the guitarist form the band Love, who was the reason she first smoked marijuana. He took the bible literally, and died in 1998 of a brain aneurism. And Daryl DeLoach, Iron Butterfly’s frontman, who died of liver cancer in 2002. Arbitrarily, she reprints stuff from her letters to Cynthia Plaster Caster, which Cynthia shared with her more recently, including things like “I saw Deep Purple last night and can’t dig them in the slightest. They think they’re all Jimi Hendrixes. Miss Cynderella (of the GTOs) was sitting with her legs slightly ajar and Jimi #2 said ‘Will you please close your legs, you’re offending me.’” And later in a letter to her good friend/rival Cynthia Plastercaster “… I’m so glad you threw up all over Deep Purple’s room. I find them so yucky, I don’t even consider them a group. (But I’m so sorry you were sick).”

Funnily enough, it’s on the last page that we learn that Miss Pamela sings backup on a Flying Burrito Brothers song on Gilded Palace Of Sin, “Hippie Boy”:

And, just for fun, here are a few GTO songs:

Of course, the back cover has great endorsements by Robert Plant (“I couldn’t have done it better myself. I will always love you Miss Pamela, and again a thousand apologies for the premature ejaculation.”), and Gene Simmons (“She knows a thing or two about rock stars… a thing or two. Thank God for Miss Pamela!”), even though he’s not mentioned in the book itself (Plant is).

Some pictures of the stunning Pamela Des Barres (nee Pamela Miller).

PDB 01

PDB 03

PDB 02

The GTOs’ only album, Permanent Damage.

 

GTO PD

Girls Together Outrageously!!

GTO 01

GTO 02

GTO 03

GTO 04

GTO 05

GTO 06

GTO 07

GTO 08

May 4th, 2014

BBJ

Blackboard Jungle is cited so often in rock bios (Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Ron Woods, Bobby Keys) that I simply had to see it. Sure, after a long scrolling introduction set to wild rock drumming you do get the opening sounds of Bill Haley and his Comets doing “Rock Around The Clock”, which is good fun, but you really don’t hear much more rock music in the film after that at all – once more in the middle, in an instrumental piece, and once at the end (the producers had paid $5,000 to use it three times), although there’s a bit of jazz at one point a propos of the book, which cites jazz as the music of the film. The film shows a bunch of creepy juvenile delinquents in class getting tough and nasty, tough yet naïve new teacher (played by Canadian actor Glenn Ford) learning the ropes as a new teacher (and walking them through awful top-down lessons), young thug nastiness, knife fights, and sympathetic character turnarounds who oppose the bad-to-the-bone villains, with the teacher Mr Dadier (daddy-o!) using a Jack and the Beanstock cartoon to impress his students and win them over! Sydney Poitier is good as the only black kid in the class (it seems – a few are seen later on), who’s also the most handsome, and the natural leader (Vic Morrow, as the drunken, crazed gang leader is less “leaderly”). Plenty of tinges of racism, which even back then they were pretending was an old-fashioned way of thinking. Ford, of course, has a winging, scrawny wife who gets frantic and is generally no fun. Jamie Farr, who plays Corporal Klinger in M*A*S*H, credited here with his real name Jameel Farah, played the smiley Santini in the film. Some good action, some great ideas, and some great in-class dialogue! A blockbuster and revolutionary social realism film that really busted things open, and not just about rock ‘n’ roll!

For the 2005 50th anniversary DVD edition there’s great commentary from Paul Mazursky, Jamie Farr, the film’s assistant director Joel Freeman and Glenn Ford’s son Peter Ford (Glenn was probably too weak to attend, having suffered a series of strokes at the end of his life – he died in 2006). The commentary starts off with Jamie Farr’s tale of how he came to be cast in the film, Paul Mazursky pitches in, explaining mechanics like how it was all filmed on back lot, gives lots of names, tells studio stories, identifies Jim Baccus’ wife Henny Baccus, talks about how there was dancing in the aisles in Boston when the movie started, had to show the film without the music of the opening, giving personal anecdotes like how the New York actors were picked up from the airport in a limo although they had never seen a limo before, director Richard Brooks was an ex-Marine and very tough, “get my gun, where’s my gun, shoot that man, get him out of here.” Mickey Rooney was wanted for Glenn Ford’s role, but nobody thought it appropriate. Took four hours to convince Glenn Ford to lose his long hair (which he never grew back after that!). Steve McQueen was considered for the Artie West role that went to Vic Morrow – now that would have been great! The boys were excited to see Erroll Flyn, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck in the commissary! American censorship offices like the Legions Of Decency and others were against so many parts of the film, especially the adulterous hints, or how bad the film made American schools look. They wanted to film a school in Moscow to provide negative contrast (!!!), eventually putting in a superfluous scene of a wretchingly “good” American school to provide positive American contrast. Was nominated for Directors Guild awards, but not for an Oscar. After Blackboard Jungle, Bad Day At Black Rock, The Next Voice You Hear, MGM made more stark films with serious themes, less family fare. Mazursky can’t bear to watch the gratuitous “good school” scene, which was not in the book and had to be written in by Richard Brooks at studio urging. Film shot over four weeks for close to $1.5 million (more that what Mazursky paid to do “Harry And Tonto”, he adds) from November 15th to December 20th 1954, and they worked on Saturdays. The film was banned in 15 countries anyway. “This is emboldening the Communists and is making us look bad,” were some of the things said at the time. The movie seemed revolutionary, nobody had made a movie about bad behavior in schools, although  Mazursky knew all of this was real as he was from a tough school in Brooklyn, and his wife worked in a school in East Brooklyn, Maruzrsky had just gotten married, went to the school and did some research. The guy from Naked City, Horace MacMahon, plays the detective in the film also. Rafael says “stinkin’” instead of “fuckin’”, like they did in the book. “Anytime you wanna come by, just come over,“ the guys say to each other in the commentary. “He’s high on Sneaky Pete.” They wanted to film it in colour, but didn’t. Wanted to film it in Chicago, but didn’t have the budget. In the film they used Jack and the Beanstalk, in the book it was the allegory 51st Dragon. Ford was in demand as an actor, but badly needed for this film – he finished Interrupted Melody on a Friday, Blackboard Jungle started on a Monday. When asked who the modern-day Glenn Ford is, Mazursky says it must be Tom Hanks, Farr backs this up by mentioning the Jimmy Stewart stutter and the likability. Paul Mazursky hinted at hanky panky happening at Trader Vics during the shooting, but didn’t give details, pissing everybody else off. Talked about memoirs that everyone’s writing. Had to change the detail about Ann losing the  baby, as in the book, and it’s born premature. The school was named Manual Trades School, changed to North Manual High School for some silly reason, although it’s referenced earlier in dialogue. Had submitted it to Venice Film Festival, but US ambassador to Italy Claire Booth Lewis said she would not attend because she objected to the film, and it was pulled. The guys laugh hard over the following lines from the Jack and the Beanstalk scene:

“The cops would have kept the loot for themselves.”

“Not the FBI!!”

Extras were from a tough school, they needed policing. The crying kid with the tie was Tommy Ivo, who went on to be a famous race car driver. Jamie Farr asks Paul Mazursky if he thought about ever being a writer/director/producer at the time, while he was working in a health food store, and if Richard Brooks influenced him as an artist, says that Brooks helped him get his start with his first agent. In the scene when someone threw a ball at the blackboard, the ball actually hit Glenn Ford in the throat, he didn’t flinch – ex-Marine. Mazursky was close to Vic Morrow. Poitier was 27, Vic was 25, although they were mostly cast to look the same age. MGM was able to make Ben Hur on the profits from Blackboard Jungle. They tell the story of how Rock Around The Clock was chosen for the soundtrack – Brooks and Ford would have planning meetings, they hadn’t picked music for it, because although jazz is mentioned in the book they wanted something more contemporary. They’d heard lots of albums and records from Ford’s son, Brooks brought in Rock Around The Clock, and they both agreed on it. Someone mentions that Glenn Ford got his stage name after the town of Glennford. On other sound stages Doris Day was filming Love Mr Or Leave me with Jimmy Cagney, and It’s Always Fair Weather on the same lot.

Extras include also “Blackboard Jumble”, a 6:30 MGM Hanna Barbara cartoon by Droopy, “cease fire, man!” Hilarious triple apple bomb! Trailer of 2:50 that prominently features “Rock Around The Clock,” incorporates all of the action shots!

 

 

Beth Gibbons, Black Sabbath, “Black Sabbath”, and Black Sabbath (1963)

April 26th, 2014

Check it out – Beth Gibbons (Portishead) joins Gonga to do a version of “Black Sabbath”, from the band’s first album, with a video of images from the 1963 Mario Bava movie Black Sabbath, with Boris Karloff. Brilliant!! Of course, since Beth is singing, they re-name the song “Black Sabbeth“!

Bands in Singapore: Arrogant Moron, Sintoxicate, Truth Be Known, King Parrot, Rudra!

April 26th, 2014

Checked out some great bands last night at the Aliwal Arts Centre here in Singapore. First up was Arrogant Moron. I didn’t see them, because I was outside hanging out with friends and thought that they were sound checking. Turns out that it was their show, and I missed it! Oh well. The other bands were amazing, though, and the crowd was good fun. Ar Boy was doing the sound, talked with him for a while, bought a King Parrot split single, got the first Rudra release/early demo on CD, and a CD-EP from Sintoxicate. Looking forward to the upcoming Truth Be Known release.

Rudra King Parrot Sintoxicate

The audience was cool, with some kids wearing Sintoxicate or Rudra back patches on their jean jackets!! Saw a lot of Sodom patches!! Nearly everybody got picked up for some crowd surfing, from the slightest girls to the burliest ogres/guys. At one point, Truth Be Known invited the audience to climb onstage. I had no idea what it was about, but then the lead singer, bass player and one of the guitarists got into the audience pit and played for the audience from there, doing “we’re not worthy” bowing. Wow! King Parrot were mental, of course, partying Aussie style. The lead singer dragged Theresa  onstage and danced with her a bit, she was mortified of course.

Had a great time talking to the bands between set, met Matt from King Parrot and talked about band stuff. Great show all around, and every band kicked out the jams!! Thanks, Eric, for putting it together and giving us our fix of awesome!!

Sintoxicate!

Sintoxicate

Truth Be Known!

IMG_3067

IMG_3069

IMG_3074

Three of the guys from Truth Be Known invited us all onto the stage and played from the audience area, doing a lot of “we’re not worthy” bowing. Wow!

IMG_3076

Here’s the Truth Be Known drummer, took the pic while onstage.

IMG_3078

King Parrot. These guys were nutso, agitating the crowd to party, throwing water at us, and antagonizing people (like me) who were taking pictures. Each member was such a character, especially the bass player, who was sort of a four-string Bun E Carlos. The drummer is tattooed all over his body, including shaved head and neck!

IMG_3083

IMG_3086

IMG_3087

Wow… RUDRA!!!!!!!!!!!!

IMG_3090

IMG_3089

IMG_3098

IMG_3102

Heave ho!!

IMG_3111

IMG_3115

Been a long time since I’ve blogged

April 19th, 2014

Yes, it’s sure been a long time since I’ve blogged, here are a few recent pics.

CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE A BIGGER VERSION OF THAT PICTURE!

Green Lodge no more!

Green Lodge IMG_2789

With our friends the Pinholes!

IMG_2652

Zen at his first at-bat with his new high school team. He earned their first hit of the year, and made first base!! They played at The Padang, a huge field in downtown Singapore.

IMG_2687

Zen fielding third base.

IMG_2688

Zen and his mom!

IMG_2694

Here’s what it looked like the last time Zen was new to a team – that was the Coconuts in 2008.

Zen and Naoko 2008

Celebrating afterwards with No Signboard Seafood!

IMG_2698

No Signboard Seafood’s famous chili crab.

IMG_2699

No Signboard Seafood’s signboard.

IMG_2701

Bought me some classic vinyl!!

IMG_2712

Nobody on the train with us!!

IMG_2729

Ridin’ the bus!

IMG_2768

Back at No Signboard Seafood with our visitor Mei, from Taiwan.

IMG_2796

IMG_2801

At the movies with Zen to see Captain America: Winter Soldier.

IMG_2810

Zen’s last game as a Coconut

March 2nd, 2014

Today was a happy day, and a sad day. Zen suited up for his last day playing for the Coconuts softball team, where he’s been since he was six years old. Zen was the longest-playing Coconut, since kids tend to rotate in and rotate out with their families on 2- and 3-year intervals, or so, none would typically stay as long as six years. He’s put a lot of heart and soul and dedication into his time with the team, and made a lot of great friends. Naoko and I have also had a lot of great times with the team, the members, and the coaches and families, it’s the end of an ear. It continues, of course, with Zen’s participation in his secondary school softball team, where he’ll end up training more than he ever did with the Coconuts, but it’s still an important day.

Here are some shots of the day, Zen as pitcher and Zen as catcher. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of him as a batter! A great day.

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Pitcher Zen

Catcher Zen

Catcher Zen

Catcher Zen

Catcher Zen

Catcher Zen

Catcher Zen

Zen and his Coco-friends

Zen and his Coco-friends

Last day as a Coconut

Last day as a Coconut

Last day as a Coconut

Last day as a Coconut

Here are some pics from Zen-the-Coconut from the year he started, 2008.

Zen the Coconut

Zen the Coconut

Zen the Coconut

Zen the Coconut