Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Bells are Ringing": The Original Movie version of "Monkees On The Line" Episode #28

A classic movie musical Bells are Ringing (1960) had enough impact on the culture of the early 60's that by the late 1960's, it was crying out to be spoofed.  It came out the same year that answering machines started to be sold in the U.S.  The play had been a smash hit on Broadway for 3 years prior.

It's set inside a business called SusAnswerphone.  The movie is one of those marvelous examples of a whole career and job that doesn't exist anymore. Real people answering phones when other people aren't at home.  (And before anyone thought to invent an Answering Machine).  Note, they are still called Answer-Phones in England.  Note also the "phone numbers" she sings about: Plaza-04433, includes a word to identify the exchange.  Throughout the 1950's and early 60's, other TV shows sprinkled this jargon as if you could actually dial a neighborhood.  In fact, the first three numbers were punched in, using the word as a mnemonic shorthand. (Quite a disappointment, indeed)

The line that The Boys point to during the show ("Don't get Involved With The Clients") comes directly from the main plot of the movie. Judy Holliday saves Dean Martin, an alcoholic playwright, from depression and writer's block. Judy pulls a cup of coffee out of her purse (very Monkee-like) as well as a prune danish.  Near the end, Dean Martin does an impression of Al Jolson, of Jazz Singer (1927) fame.  You've heard of it as being famous as the first talkie, but did you also know it came from a story originally written by Rafelson's uncle: Samson Raphaelson ?

The storyline about Peter and the racetrack bets being placed in code also comes directly from the movie.  In the movie, there's a con man who goes around humming classical music and acting like a bad actor playing the role of a PR guy: "Titanic Records; The Highest Fi there is!"  The gambling con gets ruined because a clever delivery boy (who knows his music) overhears a popular bet for Beethoven's 10th Symphony.  (He only wrote 9!!)

They have a scene in an old fashioned subway entrance, a glass enclosure, and copper gilding.  If you look for one in NYC, there is still one in existence in Astor Place, in the East Village, across from The Cube.  The Village being famous for hosting Peter Tork during his developmental period as a performer.

Other Connections including actors & writers:
Dort Clark: (Inspector, Sergeant, Policeman) Monkees A La Carte (#11), Picture Frame (#34) and Monkees on the Wheel (#46).  As soon as he appears on screen, you might have a strong sense of dejavu!

Jean Stapleton before and after she was Edith Bunker, there was quite a stage career for her.  This movie is years before she met Archie, but her physicality is already recognizably in place.  Note also how Judy Holliday is not afraid to use the "screechy" part of her voice, which may or may not have influenced Jean's vocal work for Edith.

Frank Gorshin known as the Riddler on Batman, is the guy who does the Marlon Brando impression in a beatnik coffeehouse!

For extra credit read the lyrics of "Drop A Name" and see how many names you can recognize. Hint: Vincente Minnelli is the director of the movie!

"Bonjour Tristesse Brasserie Company": is a reference to a French novel published in 1958 about a young girl jaded in romance by seeing her father's many girlfriends . There is also a scene where she heads into a party and feels out of place because her dress has a bustle.  It's a running joke about the change of style from 1950's full skirt to a more sleek 1960's look.

Comden and Green!!  Betty Comden & Adolph Green, are some of the best Broadway songwriters from the Great American Songbook.  Apparently very funny in person too. Their pianist was Leonard Bernstein, btw.

The Broadway show was directed by Jerome Robbins, and choreographed by Robbins and Bob Fosse. Their names might sound a little familiar if you are familiar with Broadway.  If you are not familiar with Broadway, start with them.

The Broadway show also starred Sydney Chaplin, Charlie's son. He was also romantically involved with Judy.  In case you wonder if this guy had any talent or not, he won a Tony for his performance.  He was later nominated for another role, starring a girl who could sing a little. Funny Girl, starring Barbara Streisand.  He broke up with Judy before the movie was filmed, and was replaced by a singer in the movie version.  Dean Martin.  He is famous for having a daughter on the Monkees, and maybe for having a singing/movie career too.

And when Judy was out on vacation, who filled her shoes? Mrs. Edna Babish from Laverne and Shirley, Betty Garret!!

And then there is the setting, the Loneliest Brownstone in NYC, where Susansaphone is located. No direct Monkee connection, other than taking advantage of a wacky location.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Naked Persimmon Validity of Fans' Experiences

I Love that Naked Persimmon just posted this to their FB Page.  A long, thoughtful discussion about "Long-Running" Fans vs "Newer" Fans.  Brilliant.

Happy Sunday, folks! We here at NP would like to take just a moment of your time to address an issue that has been coming up quite a bit recently, and share our thoughts on it.

It's come to our attention, via a few messages we've received from our fans, that some newer Monkees fans have found themselves the target of ire of some of the older (meaning longer-running) Monkees fans. One such fan even said to us that they felt they didn't deserve to be a Monkees fan or to feel like the Monkees' music and TV show had helped save their life because the Monkees had bee saving other people for much longer.

As many of us know, one of the things Monkees that sets the Monkees apart from many other groups is the wide age range of their fans. From “first generation” folks—people who watched the TV show when it first aired in the ’60s; to “second generation” people who watched it when MTV re-aired the show in the ’80s; to “third generation” fans who saw it on Nick-at-Nite in the ’90s; and now “fourth generation” digital-era fans who are finding the Monkees through all sorts of ways.

In a perfect world, these different generations of fans would harmoniously coexist and be supportive and encouraging of each other’s love for the Monkees. Of course, we are dealing with human beings here, and sadly there are people who feel a sense of “ownership” or “entitlement” toward the Monkees, and who are also threatened by the younger/newer fans.

For whatever reason, these fans seem to believe that they are superior to others for being a fan longer, and from what we've seen, they tend to come down hard on others who don't fit their personal specific "criteria" for being a fan. But what they’ve so obviously forgotten is that we were *all* new fans once, and none of us would ever have wanted to be treated like that.

Being a Monkees fan is not a contest. It is *not* a competition. No one wins an award for being a fan longer, the Monkees won’t marry someone or anoint them “Big King/Queen Kahuna Monkees Fan” and hand them a crown and scepter, and no one will be worshiped for being.a longtime fan, especially if they act like a raging douchecanoe about it.

The Monkees have never and will never “belong” to anyone, and therefore there should be no way that anyone could ever "take them from someone." Everyone has the right to their personal experience, and anyone who would try to make someone feel bad or less deserving of it has well and truly lost sight of what it means to be a fan. If someone feels that the Monkees have saved them, in no way whatsoever means that they have saved other people *any less.*

In the end, it doesn’t matter if someone has been a fan of the Monkees for 40 years or 4 years. Time does not equal credibility. What *does* matter is what is in someone’s heart. And if the Monkees have made a person happy—if their music or TV show has made them smile, laugh, or otherwise touched their life—then they are a Monkees fan, and nothing can ever change that.

Selected Comments:
Jeane Simpson as a side bar to this..there are also the folks who have 'met' all or various Monkees dude who seem to think they are superior to those who haven't met all..or ANY of them. i've been attacked by these types quite often. I don't envy them...i just don't understand their need to throw it in people's faces that they are better than anyone else cuz they've seen so and so 58 times and went to every meet and greet/convo whatever in the last year and a half.....nobody needs to feel like they're anything less because they've not been into anyone(Any musician, actor or artist)its just that we all discover things at different times. Hell, there are probably people in their 40s and 50s who weren't into the dudes when they were young but have discovered them now. (and honestly, i find it kinda fun and interesting to meet teens who are into the monkees as either young dudes or old dudes...i kinda feel like Yoda;)....well without the green skin or wrinkles!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: All Ye Faithful!!

Have faith, all ye Monkeefans out there!!  Britton Payne has done it again with his loving tribute/live theater concept called "Here We Come . . . All Ye Faithful".  All your favorite characters and actors return to bring more Monkee merriment to the C.O.W. theater on the Lower East Side.

Yours truly, Tammy Rose, with Gretchen Poole in her Micky Monkee garb (circa 2nd Season)

It's The Boys again and their old trope & plot points, trying to get money to pay the rent and going through wacky adventures to do so.  This time, in addition to including being caught between feuding families and enduring a cross dressing battle of the bands, they get stuck taking care of Melvin and trying to bring the Christmas spirit to the world.

Davy is played enthusiastically by Timothy Charles Browne, who is a knockout in fishnets and velvet. Dana Angelo plays Mike the Explainer, and with additional co-writing and costume duty, she deserves incredible applause for attention to detail.  Shandi Sullivan brings in Peter's delightful bewilderment; in a twist that gives her performance a layer of deeper meaning, she knows what it is to be a young innocent in the spotlight.  She was on America's Next Top Model, how's THAT for research?  And while we loved Lauren Sonnen as Micky (who is somewhere in the Cayman Islands now), MUCH LOVE and MAD PROPS go out to Gretchen Poole who gave a SOLID performance of "Goin' Down".  As in, a delivery that Micky Dolenz should be envious of.

Being an Xmas themed version, you might think that the show might get stuck in Episode #47, but somewhere in "New" Mexico it takes a wild detour.  And this is where some of the most clever and new stuff happens, showing off the versatility of the ensemble.  Instead of the Wild West, they wander into the territory of someone known only as "Chris" (Louie Vitiello) .  Things get bizarre as we watch the Monkee characters in a whole new turn; it's the Christmas Episode from the lost 3rd Season!!

Highlights of the show include Alice Delaney who plays Melvin (the Butch Patrick role) and is a delight from the moment she/he enters as a kid in a 3 button suit!  The attitude & personality are pitch perfect.  Adam Luke returns to play several roles, including Jerry "The Geater" Blavat. He steals the show, and from Davy, no less!! Veronica Osorio is chimerical as the white-haired Joy and later, the role that made Deana Martin famous.  They are backed up by David Boyd, Adrienne Rhodes and Erich Collins Carey, who exemplify the sheer joy of play by donning costumes and characters with gleeful abandon.

Another standout includes "Crazy Eyes Elf" played by Madison Comerzan, an actress whom I suspect added some fancy & excellent choreography in places.  When she pulled me up out of the audience during "Let's Dance On", she warned me about the "freeze" when the music stops in the middle of the song.  Ya gotta LOVE a show that cares enough NOT to humiliate its audience members!

For those of you who are really into the obscure songs, you'll love the full version of "Christmas is My Time of Year", released in 1976 under the band's name, but with only Dolenz & Jones.  If you've never heard it before, it's the production number in the show that sounds like it belongs on the Brady Brunch.

"Riu Chiu" is performed by battery-powered candlelight which brought me chills when the performers started.  My biggest fantasy is to have this performed at the Monkee Convention with everyone singing in 4 part harmony.  But even with the lyrics projected on a giant screen, it would be hard to outdo the original Monkee version.

An amazing evening, don't wait to see them perform at the Monkees Convention, just go as a Christmas present to yourself!

And hug the guy in the Green Hat wearing a headset.  He's the guy who brings the Monkees out of the TV set and into real life.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Finally, A Hall of Fame!

Okay, it's not the R&R Hall of Fame, but they suck.  (And so does that jerk who runs it, not that we are biased)

It's BETTER.  This is a DEMOCRATIC PROCESS where people could vote online (granted, this leaves out people who don't have internet access-but no system is perfect)

America's Pop Music Hall Of Fame is our new favorite group because they've announced the inductees this year. Not just Our Boys, but also the Carpenters, Carole King and the Supremes!  We are big fans of women in music, and they happen to include some of our favorites.

PS The Monkees got the MOST votes this year!

PPS Carole King has a musical based on her life now on Broadway called Beautiful. She has had such a great career, her story must be a fun ride!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Here We Come . . . All Ye Faithful!!

The Brilliant Britton Payne is at it again, doing a Christmas version of his Monkee-Tribute (parody-but in a sweet way) Off Off Broadway show.  5 performances, Dec 12-14 and Dec 20& 21st, ALL at 10:30pm on the Lower East Side.

You can get more info & tickets here.  Opening Night is $5 off the regular prices, I plan to be there with my other Monkee fan friends!!  Come join us!!

And be sure to watch the Xmas Episode ahead of time so you'll be all warmed up!! For extra credit, go to the entry about Show "#47 The Christmas Show" on this blog!!

Riu Chiu-the ONLY Christmas Song that you can listen to a million times and still love Christmas!!

Merry Holidays and Happy Monkeemaking!!

Full lyrics below, so you can start practicing!!

Riu riu chiu, la guarda ribera;
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera,
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera.
El lobo rabioso la quiso morder,
Mas Dios poderoso la supo defender;
Quiso la hazer que no pudiese pecar,
Ni aun original esta Virgen no tuviera.
Riu, riu chiu...
Este qu'es nacido es el gran monarca,
Christo patriarca de carne vestido;
Hemos redemido con se hazer chiquito,
Aunqu'era infinito, finito se hiziera.
Riu, riu chiu...

River, roaring river, guard our homes in safety,
God has kept the black wolf from our lamb, our Lady.
God has kept the black wolf from our lamb, our Lady.
Raging mad to bite her, there the wolf did steal,
But our God Almighty defended her with zeal.
Pure He wished to keep Her so She could never sin,
That first sin of man never touched the Virgin sainted.
River, roaring river...
He who's now begotten is our mighty Monarch,
Christ, our Holy Father, in human flesh embodied.
He has brough atonement by being born so humble,
Though He is immortal, as mortal was created.
River, roaring river...

Read more: Monkees - Riu Chiu Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nez's REAL Thanksgiving Post

I have yet to read the Sandy Hair novel, but there are times when I'm glad that Nez offers us all insights into his mind that we can grow & evolve into.  Or just learn to appreciate that he can communicate them so well as his own unique vision.

Nez's FB post as of 3:30 EST today:

"I had a dreamvision not too long ago. I call it a dreamvision because it happens in that moment just before being fully awake and yet still asleep -- a state in between states. In this particular dreamvision I was talking to a friend and we were discussing our future plans and I enquired about his. He said “I am going with a group of people to Venus and we are going to settle there” “Venus?! Isn't that the planet that has an atmosphere of mostly gas and no water and wild temperatures? How can you survive there?” I asked “Oh, no!” he said. “You don’t understand. All planets are inhabitable and become fully supportive of whatever life is there. Venus will turn into a blue water planet and be as beautiful as the Earth is to humans in only a short while. Humans are the culture, you see? We are the spores that travel from planet to planet and cause them conform to whatever supports life.” I woke up with a big smile. I loved the idea that as humans we are the “culture” Kind of like a yogurt. I could see how true it is that all the mind touches it transforms. Heisenberg’s ideas about uncertainty point here. As does art and humanity itself. We are the tools that transform our environment and create beautiful spaces to live and to be. One doesn’t need to look very far in any direction to see that mortality and materiality are motivated by the opposite idea. This is the soil that is transformed. Be that as it may – the dreamvision friend made me smile and think about what adventure might await me if I looked for the opportunity to “be the culture” – to share and utilize the thoughts and ideas that would uplift and benefit and promote life and love and well being. One of the more powerful ideas I am aware of is appreciation. It means gratitude and it also means increase. What a lovely combination that is – such power to put into an idea – increase and gratitude. I have found dreamvisions to be slightly formed and a bit distant – but if allowed to reside in thought the best sorts of things come from them. In this one –“being the culture” has given me a new look at our Thanksgiving holiday. Taking the time and the focus to acknowledge increase and be grateful for it. To discount loss and sadness as the passing shadows they are and to look to the future with the light of love behind us so that all we see is a reflection of the continuous unfolding of the good and the true. To populate Venus – the love planet – and to make a home for ourselves and our loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving everyone."

*Above turkey photo stolen off Naked Persimmon's FB page. They are awesome.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nez's Thanksgiving

Quoting his FB post today, this is what he does the day before Thanksgiving, works on compiling his live album.  (Semi-advertising, semi-insight into his editing process)  You can't take a full evening performance, but he at least tries to use a whole song straight ("minimum meme" which sounds more profound than it is).

Back in California. Starting work on the live album. It sounded pretty good from the samples we listened to on the road. I'll start editing the best of all the versions of the songs and it will come out in January. It is only a limited edition and wont be available on Amazon or ITunes for a while.
The Super Deluxe is sold out and the Deluxe is almost sold out but there are a stack of the Standards left.
You can read all about it here.
.Live albums are hard to do -- so many things have to fit together -- and its not like taking a recording of one show and having that be the representative of all the live shows. It is almost impossible to catch all the subtleties and nuances in one show. We did 22 shows on this tour and I think there is a little magic in all of them. But it will be a long and arduous editing process. The band performances and the slight changes in the arrangements and the different reactions of the crowds make editing it all together almost intractable --- finding the one take where everything meets and melds just right.
Nonetheless I am going to try to leave each song as complete in one take as I can and try to use the whole song and performance as a minimum meme.
It may not work.
Then again, it might.
Like all Thanksgiving dinners -- one never knows. Just plenty to be grateful for.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Inspiration of Miss Pamela Des Barres

Hello Dolls!!

I know that a lot of you out there who read this blog may already know about this gorgeous woman's true legend. She has written several books about her experiences as a Groupie/music lover/Muse.  I was lucky enough to attend 4 of her writing workshop sessions over the past weekend and wanted to share the experience.

First of all, she's a brilliant and honest writer.  Secondly, she's led an incredible life and has been close to many musicians from the rock music scene, so the content of her books helps place the reader in the middle of their best rock & roll fantasies.  If you haven't already, take a look at her books:

I'm With The Band (her NYTimes Bestseller, where she shares her honest stories about what it is like to know and love some of the most beloved rock stars in our galaxies)
Take Another Little Piece of My Heart (where she continues to reveal what her life evolves into, a groupie grows up)
Rock Bottom (where she explores the dark side of fame and the sex, drugs & rock n' roll lifestyle)
Let's Spend the Night Together (where she interviews 24 other Groupies and lets them tell their stories)

Another fabulous connection to those times include Cynthia Plaster Caster, who has made many molds of famous people.  She even got Peter Tork to agree to it, but the results have been lost.  Much like the missing arms of the Venus de Milo, the missing makes us wonder even more . . . (Pamela even contacted Cynthia for me.  The full story about Peter's plaster will be in Cynthia's upcoming autobiography.  We can hardly wait!!!)

Note here the difference in approach she (and her confederates have) about telling their stories.  It is the opposite of jealousy or shock-value or "confessional".  This is what it looks like when women decide not to give into the idea of "slut-shaming" language.  Society/media demands that women all be physically beautiful/sexy but then demeans them for being sexual at all.  She is in league with Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues, who interviewed hundreds of women about their experiences of being female (and so much more).  If you haven't seen them live, watch some of the monologues.


Back to Miss Pamela's Writing Workshops; she comes to the East Coast twice a year to run the events. Each class has 2 sessions of roughly 4 hours each; she ran them Thurs/Fri 7:30 to 10:30 (which turned out closer to 11:30) and Sat/Sun 1-5.  I went to 4 sessions in all, and so did others, but there were some who could only show up for one. I'm pretty sure everyone got something out of the time they had there.  They were held inside people's apartments, which adds to the atmosphere of it being a relaxed party.  People are invited to bring snacks & wine.  I did best the night I brought my own coffee (as wine can slow me down).  She sets a great vibe from the beginning.

I'll tell you why these workshops are important:  she is passing on the FREEDOM and POWER to explore your experiences and get them down on paper. If you think that you will be overwhelmed to meet her or intimidated by other people's elegant writing, relax.  She is accepting of all levels of writing, all personalities, all moods.

There is an incredible vibe to her meetings and kind of a creation of a "Safe Space" (where you can talk about ANYTHING and secrets are kept).  She asks women to bring in a quote or paragraph of inspirational writing and that's how the sessions start.  Then she gives a series of prompts (e.g. "Put yourself into a moment in Music History", "Facebook's 11 Things Most People Don't Know About Me", etc) and we are given 12 minutes to write.  Pen/paper or laptop, whatever you are most comfortable with.  JUST WRITE.

Then we all go around and read what we've written; everyone has equal time on the floor.  Nobody is interrupted.  And you are NOT allowed to qualify or preface your writing with any kind of excuse.  This bit is more important than one might think, as women, we are often conditioned to be perfect or modest or we come up with excuses out of our own insecurities.  ("I started one with one idea and then switched", "I'm not feeling very creative right now", "I couldn't really think of anything".  For those of you at home who have heard yourself doing this: STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!)

Nobody can come up with a perfect essay in 12 minutes, but EVERYONE comes up with something unique and distinct.  The writing muscle improves with practice, but also from HEARING your words spoken in front of others. Some stories or details resonate with the immediate audience and some phrases stick out like diamonds for their unique and beautiful qualities.

This is NOT a therapy session, nor a writing technique intensive, nor is it entirely a women's empowerment class.  It's up to you, how deep you go or how much you reveal.  Participants cry, even surprising themselves, hearing their words spoken out loud. People reveal things that haven't been spoken of in years, or maybe they've NEVER talked about them.

And that's the most impressive power of Miss Pamela's class.  She has made a career for herself, being utterly who she is and sharing her stories with the world.  The music business seems to glorify our rock gods, encouraging us to dwell on even the most mundane questions.  But what about the listeners?  We, the fans, also have stories to tell. Knowing David Cassidy's favorite color is brown is less interesting than the story about you wearing brown since you were a teenager in case you might meet him someday.  (From the novel "I Think I Love You" by Allison Pearson)  Maybe we don't do it in song, and maybe it's not going to make us rich or famous.  But stories of love, hate, experience-those are the stories of OUR lives and they matter.

Do yourself a favor, keep your eyes peeled for her books and events.  GO.  MEET HER.  "Groupie", "Muse", "Writing Teacher" aren't enough to describe her.  There has to be a new term or word coined for "a person who carries a beautiful energy from those she has loved, those who love her and those yet to come".

For right now, the words we have are Pamela Des Barres.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nez on FB-Hesitation

Another Post from Nez.  He takes a simple moment, places it into the context of his life on tour. And then he goes into marketing mode, talking about distribution and limited release.  No hesitation about going on this tour (as opposed to previous years when he couldn't face a cheering crowd).  Have I bought a ticket yet?

(Honestly, I hesitated)

"I asked the waitress at Over Easy in Scottsdale how the latte was? She hesitated a nanosecond and I said I’ll just have a cup of regular coffee. That was the better decision – the coffee was good and the breakfast was really good. I recommend it but I can’t recommend the latte since I didn't have it.

That little pause speaks volumes and I have learned to listen to it.

There was an entire movie made about it in the 30’s or 40’s but I can’t think of the name of it. She is standing on the street level at the foot of the stairs outside a brownstone in New York looking up at him and she says something like, “Do you love me, Johnny?” and there is that pause. Devastating.

Because it’s a movie the pause is longer than real life for dramatic effect – and in that pause her face falls and her shoulders slump. She knows he doesn't love her regardless of what he might say next. It would be even worse if he said “Sure, kid.” Or some horrible flip reply – like Nicholson’s response to Shirley McClain in Terms of Endearment –“I love you too, babe.” Again, devastating.

Fortunately is was only a latte this morning and not a life changer – but that little hesitation brought back so many moments like that in my life. In the blink of an eye everything is known; one of life’s little features to steer us down the right paths by just listening.

I’m in Scottsdale today to perform the “Movies of the Mind” opening show at the Musical Instrument Museum tonight. It is such a great facility. I am going over early to go through the museum with Chris Scruggs. Chris is on tour with me and Joe and Boh and Paul – and he is a real treasure of information about instruments and the history of music –Nashville music especially -- and he is a gifted player. (I hope you get to hear him in this band.) I think he will love the Museum so I am really looking forward to it.

Since tonight is the first night of the tour everyone’s heart is racing. Like the start of a great marathon or something. So exciting.

It’s sold out and that is always a thrill.

This will also be the first time that the Live album “Movies of the Mind” will go on sale.

Not the album itself but a card for it –like a Starbuck’s card or a Target card -- because I am recording every show for archival purposes and then I will select the best performance of each song and each narrative and create the Live Movies of the Mind album in three packages.

It will be a limited edition so I am going to make a total of a thousand copies.

The first package of 200 will be signed and numbered CD’s and have the complete best of the Movies of the Mind Tour 2013 – songs and narratives -- plus a vinyl LP signed and numbered and some other collectibles in a Super Deluxe Edition. (The first ten of those are reserved so the first one for sale will be number 11)

The second package will be another 200 of the CD’s signed with complete music and narrative and a t-shirt in a Deluxe Edition.

The third package, the Standard Edition -- will be a compilation of the all the music that will fit on one CD – also with a t-shirt.

After I select and edit everything I’ll master and produce and ship sometime in January.

You can find out more about it here:
and there will be sales at the merch tables at the shows.

We left Nashville yesterday in 28 degree weather and now we are sitting in the Arizona desert where it is 80. These fall tours leave it so one never knows exactly how to pack. I have gloves, a ski hat, and a bathing suit and flip flops. Austin tomorrow then Dallas – all sold out.

These tours have been great to do. The last Monkees tour was a blast. And now this one – my solo one –is even more fun.

No hesitation about that."

Michael Nesmith, FB post, 10/28/13, 4pm EST

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vito Scotti, Mike Mazurki and David Cassidy's First Wife

I had included Vito Scotti in his appearance in #17, Case of the Missing Monkee.  But I saw him on tv the other night, and I had to look him up again.

His IMDB resume is huge, active from 1949 to 2006.  Which is especially impressive, since he died in 1996.  (Born 1918)

He was Italian, but benefitted from Hollywood's lack of cultural sensitivity and played a variety of roles including Mexican, Russian, Japanese or just plain "creepy villain" accent from the land of evil evildoers.  He was on everything from Adam-12 to Zorro!  Batman to the Brady Bunch!  Gunsmoke to Golden Girls!  And yes, he has enough shows to keep the alliterative jokes coming.

Dr. Boris Balinkoff (vaguely of the Russian persuasion of bad guys) lived on a creepy island in the Pacific and tried to rescue The Castaways from the Isle of Gilligan on "The Friendly Physician" (Season 2, Episode 29).  He made the dog meow like a cat, etc.  The sets and props were probably shared (even though it was CBS, not Screen Gems.  Does anyone know the particulars here?)  He appeared in 4 episodes total, 2 as Boris and 2 as a Japanese soldier or sailor.

Mike Mazurki (1907-1990) has an equally impressive IMDB resume, active from 1934 to 1990. His most famous movies are the film noir, "Murder My Sweet" (1944, with Dick Powell, former singer turned heavy tough guy), "Dick Tracy" (1945), "Night and the City"(1950) , and Nightmare Alley (1947, about carnivals!). He was a big guy (6'5") and a wrestler, born in the Ukraine.  He was discovered by Josef Von Sternberg.  Best of all, he was the guy who punches Rod Stewart in the video for "Infatuation" (which is filmed in b&w, like film noir in a 80's LA apartment complex where Rod is your cool stalker in leather).  Wiki reports that Mike had met more famous people on that film shoot than any other in his career, which seem rather inconceivable since on Season 2, Episode 29, he is in a body-swapping lab with everyone on Gilligan's Island at the same time and even switches bodies with Ginger!

To go even further afield, the woman that Rod is Infatuated with is none other than Kay Lenz.  The Emmy-winning actress started as a kid on Andy Griffith, was in American Graffiti.   And was the first wife of  . . . David Cassidy. They lasted from 1977 to 1982.  (Post Partridge Family)

Of course, DC is the guy who is known to Monkee fans as the guy who blew off the 2013 Convention because he "had to catch a plane".  We didn't really want his autograph anyway.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Julie Newmar, Still Upstaging Everyone

"If we don't see the positive picture in aging, it won't be ours to have." 

In the infamous Episode #29, "Monkees Get Out More Dirt", the incredible Julie Newmar comes on.  Just to play herself.

Before she even has a major line, the Boys become enraptured with her (even if the makeup guy went a little overboard).    She has an inner radiance which comes through without her having to do much.

I saw her on Twilight Zone #116, "Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville", and she gets to play Ms. Devlin.  She's always the best thing on the screen.

THIS, I might argue, is the premiere difference between A VISION and an actress.  Lots of beautiful people flock to Hollywood.  Some of that group make it onto film (think of all the pretty faces you've seen).  Some of those are actually liked by the camera & become stars because of it (Natalie Wood, Ann-Margaret).  Some just remain beautiful throughout their lives, whether fame follows or not.  Julie Newmar is one of those.

Aside-The most beautiful woman I have ever been in a room with is Beverly D'Angelo. I am a Production Stage Manager for Independent Theater & Off-Off Bway.  At the turn of the last century, I was working at the Actors' Studio in NYC, doing a "Rehearsal-Version" of Oedipus Rex (I think I got the part because I had taken Ancient Greek in college).  It was directed by Estelle Parsons and Al Pacino was playing the King.  There were lots of other movie stars-remind me to tell you more about it sometime.  Anyways, we were having a room full of "special" invited guests, BD'A walked into the room and there was a sudden hush as everyone turned around.  It wasn't that everyone suddenly "recognized" her (there were people in the audience who were A LOT more famous, including Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward).  It was that she GLOWED.  Everyone was looking at her, as if no human could naturally be that beautiful.  It happens, and I'm here to provide my testimony.

Regardless, I have never seen Julie Newmar in person, but I believe she exists in this peculiar category.

And here she is on FB, alive and well at 80!!  Note how different/similar her post is to Nez.  (Peter's people put up trivia, Micky's FB is about marketing his latest appearance/CD and DJ has various groups that are devoted to his old pictures &/or his horses).  Julie waxes poetic and philosophical.

"ON BEING 80 by Julie Newmar 
It's time to rewrite the rules It was only two years ago that youth left me. Hate me or not, middle age didn't happen to me; a privilege undeserved, or unobserved. In August of this year, I will be 80. It is time to cross the Rubicon and come to terms with the best of myself. There is no more time for "unsuccess". I give myself four seconds to go from a losing to a winning thought, a life giving one. What if Sydney Pollock or Elizabeth Taylor lived to be 80? My hair is mostly white now, but with daily sprits of sheen it gleams almost pure silver. Like Clint Eastwood, I've kept a flat belly. I like the fact he can wear a plain T-shirt and scowl at some pretending offender. My spine is straight. I don't look down on those with their imagined weaknesses. I ignore irrelevance ― poor speech, bad manners and those awful screeching female reporters on TV whose voices sound like they are crunching on a mouthful of beetles. It's curious sometimes how life seems to reverse itself, when what was the strongest virtue in our lifetime becomes our weakest trait. Those dancers who can't walk, singers whose voices croak, a seamstress who can't see. In this fall from grace, from our former powers, we think that nature or God has damned us; this is not so. It is more like a peeling away of consumed fruit revealing our infinite but not yet explored core. There waiting is the next discovery, a new platform or stage to revel in. What's so great about “agefying”? It is the power that having distance gives us. It's the view from the top. At 80, you have patience. Patience is like a magical chess game; the magic part is being able to see six, seven steps ahead. Been there, done that stupid thing. Don't need this strife anymore. As my thinking goes today ― I win and I do, by making sure I always see others as winners. Ask and it will be given. This is easier than you may think. Food, things, the good stuff flow to me. True, I don't any longer race out to the post office and markets. In place I've created a remarkable delivery system. I call it: You do this for me. I am kinder, decidedly, but a lot less tolerant of those who practice life as a soap opera. Maybe it is a safety valve but I chose to live on top of my discomforts as well as diseases. I don't discuss, indulge in, support causes for, join chat groups, war against that which ails and annoys me. It's simply wastes energy. I can discuss unpleasant subjects, but in a less passionate and more general way. Another great virtue of age is to rise above the need to be seen or carry weight in situations of unnecessary stress. Strife is wholly unnecessary. Strife wins you nothing. It is self-inflicted and tenders depression. Being thin is good, though not necessary. You don't see an 80 year old weighing 300 pounds. Nor any 60 year old weighing 300 pounds who are actually healthy. Eat less, it's cheaper. Then you can have, like me, anything you like. The other evening around 8 PM, when the light outside was what cinema photographers refer to as golden, I sat silently for over an hour with my son observing the intense, almost palpitating color of the flowers in my garden. The hummingbirds were still sipping sweet nurture from their favorite tubular blossoms. Bliss, ecstasy and a good garden can extend life. Dance is my art, but the theme of my life is beauty of which a major part is discipline. I listen with the inner ear so that harmony can occupy the higher spaces and let intuition tell me what to do next. So, let us not confuse nature’s progress with lazy avenues of lament. If we don't see the positive picture in aging, it won't be ours to have. Perhaps, if we get out of our own way, we can desire and let be. Yes, that's it. To age successfully one must not be in resistance. Resistance and ill health go together. So there you have it. Now let's have fun."
10/17/13, 8:38am EST

FYI Sydney Pollack died at 73, Elizabeth Taylor died at 79

Imagine how lucky we are being in a generation to see the beautiful people we admire from the 60's reveal themselves on FB, rather than published biographies written by ghostwriters and polished beyond humanity.

She offers advice, "Eat less, it's cheaper." and "I am less tolerant of those who practice life like a soap opera".  If you cannot appreciate hummingbirds and beauty now, if you give into "unsuccess", your life will be shorter & more difficult.

Think of yourself at 80, and if you will agree with her.  Do you agree with her at your current age?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nomination Process Still Sucks

Before we get to the current list, let's review why The Monkees Should be in the RRHF, from our beloved Eric Lefcowitz.

Announcements for nominees into Rolling Stone Magazine's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (And Other Ways to Rewrite History) are posted, and the average human can vote for them here.

The nominees are:

Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Deep Purple
Peter Gabriel
Hall &Oates
LL Cool J
The Meters
The Replacements
Linda Ronstadt
Cat Stevens
Link Wray

(Of the above I only even listen to about 7, and really LOVE only 4)

As always, Our Boys are not included and never will be as long as Jann Wenner has power.

Peter has said (and it is on JW's wiki page):

[Wenner] "doesn't care what the rules are and just operates how he sees fit. It is an abuse of power. I don't know whether The Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame, but it's pretty clear that we're not in there because of a personal whim." Tork believes Wenner doesn't like the fact that The Monkees, who were originally cast as actors for a TV sitcom, didn't play their own instruments on their first two records. "Jann seems to have taken it harder than everyone else, and now, 40 years later, everybody says, 'What's the big deal? Everybody else does it.' Nobody cares now except him. He feels his moral judgment in 1967 and 1968 is supposed to serve in 2007. - New York Post June 10, 2007

He's not the only one to feel that it is an abuse of power.  Fans of Chicago and the Moody Blues (and Kiss up until this year) have been rabid about those exclusions.

Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls calls JW out for creating a "Boy's Club" within Rock & Roll.  

TAKE A LOOK AT THE LIST.  Linda Ronstadt is the ONLY woman.  Not the only solo woman, but literally the ONLY WOMAN on the entire list.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE think about where your money goes.  Because every dollar IS a vote.  We do it all the time.  We are ALWAYS surrounded by marketing.  Question authority!

FUCK the R&R Hall of Fame (and Rolling Stone Magazine and Jann Wenner).

That is all.

Go out there and make some music!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Nez on FB: Overhearing Neighbors' Fight

What an old man without his dog thinks about.

Sometimes these background ideas turn into songs, sometimes, they turn into mundane musings about other people.

It's always fun to hear what people in gated (or double gated) communities think about the people they are locked up with.

I live in a gated community. Actually it’s double gated—a main gate and the gate at my house. The gates are open most of the time, closed at night usually.

It’s a nice place, with nice people, pretty homes. One of the more interesting families is just down the road. They have a really big house and a lot of acreage. Lots of kids. I don’t know them well. I say Hi at the mailboxes and that’s about it. But they are so active in the Home Owners Association that most of us here know what is going on with them. Like I say – they have a really, really big house.

She is the arborist for the city and he is in construction; big construction like roads and railways. 

It would seem that they have hit a hard patch in their marriage and some of the neighbors were talking about it the other day at the mailboxes. I mostly listened.

I noticed when the Arborists – I don’t know their names –had started building an addition on their home -- a large addition – several rooms in a whole new wing a while back. They have been in construction on it for a few years now.

They started building right after she got the job as the city arborist. It was a great job for her. One of the neighbors here has a truck dealership and she bought a fleet of big trucks from him for the new tree business. It’s a little city but with a lot of trees. 

The truck dealer – Ford or Chevy I think – maybe Dodge – I can’t remember exactly –said he was really happy with the sale to the Arborists – biggest sale he ever made -- but he was in a real quandary now because the weirdest thing had happened and he didn't know what to do about it.

For some reason the Arborists started fighting about the new addition. Apparently she didn't like it – the way it looked or something – and insisted that he stop building it and tear it down. They got very angry with each other. Shouts and screams – we could all hear it on some nights. I did notice the construction slowing. It didn't entirely stop however.

But here is the strange part –according to the truck dealer – Mr. Arborist keeps the books for the family while she does the heavy lifting, the chain saw work – I think she makes a lot more money than he does – and Mr. Arborist said that unless Ms. Arborist agreed to keep going with the addition he was going to stop paying all their bills. He hid the check book – something like that.

We all laughed at the absurdity of it – but not the truck dealer – (maybe Toyota?? – I just can’t remember -- if I ever knew) – but not him; he wasn't laughing at all. He was panicked. He said to us “Why would they stop paying me!? I didn't do anything. I made them the loan for the trucks and now he is not going to pay me because she doesn't like the way the addition to the house is going up? What the hell is that about?!” 

I felt very bad for him.

We all stopped laughing. For one thing I had no idea the dealer had enough money to finance Ms. Arborist’s fleet of trucks – and for another thing – I did see his point. 

Mr.Truck dealer didn't know what to do. He said if they stop paying him it will wipe him out – and Mr. and Ms. Arborist can forget about him ever loaning them money again. He simply could not understand why he was being held hostage because of some domestic fight.

I had to leave about that time – I’m packing for the tour today and heading to Nashville for rehearsals – but it started me thinking. 

I don’t know that I ever heard of that kind of domestic squabble leaking over to a neighbor like that before. One would think since the Arborists are married they would want to work together – find some way through the mess but the whole business of breaking trust with a neighbor because your own home has become a battleground just didn't make sense to me.

But –like I say I have to pack for the tour so I will leave it at that. I hope when I come home the Arborists have put their marriage together. They have great kids – and I think they lead a pretty nice life when they are not fighting. I know all of us in the neighbor ---

Wait! I know! The Kenworth guy – that’s it!! He sells those big Kenworth trucks. 

I know he will be happy when the wisdom of good will and understanding comes to the Arborists and that they honor their commitments - if not to each other at least to their neighbors.

Kenworth’s a good truck, I think."

10:20am Eastern time, October 15, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Boyce & Hart "Angels"

Watching TCM, my default network, I am constantly surprised by gems.  Especially when you consider they maintain the entire backlog of movies pre-1980.  For some reasons, a large percentage of movies must be from the past 5-30 years, to even be viewed.

Lauren Bacall once said, "Any movie is a new movie.  If you haven't seen it yet."  Or something to that effect.

Back on topic, the movie  "Where Angels Go . . . Trouble Follows" seemed to be a less than exciting romp about nuns and girls (I've done my time in Catholic School, thanks).  But I watched the opening credits.

And then I heard some familiar voices . . .

Maybe it was the lyrics or some familiar sounding instrumentation.  I had to look it up.  Boyce & Hart sang/wrote the theme song!

Try this video, a clip from the movie, NOT the opening credits, but pretty much the same song as in the opening.  4 minutes here is too long, and it's not their best work. There used to be a limit on song length for radio play, 2:38.  (Which in this case is completely legit.)  The song is perfectly fine & completely serviceable for the movie though.  It does make you glad that Don Kirshner didn't sign them as exclusive songwriters for the Monkee TV show.

Look for the Blue shirt with the Monkee buttons on a dancer and the boots with heels that the singer is wearing.  I don't think B&H appear in the band, but it is nice to know that this production shares a costume department with the The Boys.  Another blogger has happened upon this obscure song as well.

Rosalind Russell had a movie career spanning 1934 to 1972.  She WAS "His Girl Friday" (1940), and "Mame" (1958), Mama Rose from "Gypsy" (1960) and everything in between.  Her costars included Cary Grant, James Stewart and Clark Gable.  Old school, classic cinema.  My favorite works of hers are in black & white.  She played the strong woman and was never seen as a sex symbol, which she argued helped the longevity of her career.

Stella Stevens plays a young, hip nun.  She also has a long resume of films and tv work.  She was one of the most photographed women in the 1960's.  And was Playmate of the Month for 1960.  (Not the first Monkee connection to the Playboy empire, one of the biker chicks was also a Playmate).  Her costars would include Bing Crosby, Elvis, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Grungies (Monkees spoof) - The Ben Stiller Show [For the Love of Gru...

Ben Stiller created "The Grungies", the best spoof/mashup of the Monkees' Show and the Seattle Grunge scene.  It's like an episode, set in Seattle, switched to Gen X, all in under 9 minutes.
Even the opening credits/theme song are a terrific rip-off of the original, down to the "hat trick", Monkee walk, Tarzan swing and rolling bed.
The characters are named Jonsie, Dolly, Tork, Stone.  Tork is essentially a stoned "Cousin Itt ".  Stone is a stoner with a hat. (And it might even be Rob Morrow ?)
Josh Goldsilver is played by "Mickey Dolenz". (Yes, it's really HIM!) 
And their Manager/Landlord "Mr. A. Dult" is played by the familiar face of Paul Dooley (you'll recognize him)
The lead singer of the Goo Girls is played by Jeanne Tripplehorn.  Her father, Tom Tripplehorne, was a guitarist for Gary Lewis & The Playboys ("This Diamond Ring" 1965, written by Al Kooper. The band on the recording was actually made up of the Wrecking Crew, Including Leon Russel) 
Best of all, theme music for "The Ben Stiller Show" is credited to Dweezil, Frank Zappa's talented kid!
And if you are wondering where else such an entry might exist, check out The Monkee Wikia (where any Monkee can add to our collective knowledge of the Monkee Universe!)
You can find many articles written (or just started) by The Creative Tinkerer (me, Tammy Rose!)

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