Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Peter plays in a Brecht show!! Good Person of Thorkelson

For all you theater nerds out there, Peter is currently in a production of "Good Person of Setzuan" written by Bertolt Brecht (in 1943), adapted by Tony Kushner (who is that guy who wrote the movie "Lincoln" and "Angels in America").  He is playing the part of a guitarist in the pit, supporting a piece of musical theater.  I am almost 100% sure he is playing his own instrument (although maybe he did borrow it from someone else).

If you are ANYWHERE close to Boston, go check it out and report back!

His brother Nick Thorkelson, noted cartoonist, artist and all around cool & creative person is the COMPOSER and Music Director on the production.  Composing for a Brecht piece puts him in the same company as Kurt Weill! They collaborated on a little musical show you might have heard about, "The Threepenny Opera" (1928).  (Which was based on "The Beggar's Opera" by John Gay, first performed in 1728)  And for you Louie Armstrong or Bobby Darin fans out there, it's where the song, "Mack the Knife" came from.

If you REALLY love both Bobby Darin and the Monkees, there just so happens to be another connection.  Steve Blauner.  (The guy that Micky names as the guy who drove the getaway car in #25, Alias Micky Dolenz) He just so happens to be the S in "BBS Productions", Bert and Bob's new venture to produce movies after Raybert.  In his hagiographical Wikipedia Entry, he was Darin's "manager and very close friend".

Personal note:  I am a HUGE fan of Brecht and I Stage Managed the premiere of the English translation of one of his more obscure plays, "Puntilla and His Servant Matti" (1948) in Soho in 1998 at the Ohio Theater.

Last 4Kees Concert Footage?

Here is a link to 97 minutes of the Justus Tour in Bournemoth, in the United Kingdom in 1997.


I'm never one for concert footage, especially shot from the audience.  But it IS important to have.

Naturally, being there live is best.  Professionally shot, edited and recorded is 2nd best.  Having a record at all is incredible.  Makes me wonder what experiences we all have awaiting us in the future.

Somewhere recently, we have hit some kind of tipping point about recording events.  Now that we ALL have cameras in our phones, and thus in our pockets, we can GET everything.  What we DO with all this data is another thing entirely.  This blog is a way for me to curate, comment and discuss all Monkee material available. Frankly, I'm MUCH more interested in hearing the fan's stories.

What was going through the heads of everyone there?  What do the Monkees mean to you & what do you associate with them?  Why is everyone so happy to see ALL FOUR MEMBERS onstage?  (Reunion of family, friends, happy memories all back in place?)

Talk to me.  Post a comment.  Or allow yourself to think about it a little.

Whatever you do, don't take it for granted.

Monday, February 25, 2013

#53, Race Again, aka "Leave the Driving to Us"

"Enough gags in this show already."

Coming near the end of the run, the comedy is more obvious and less funny.  There is no laugh track, ad unfortunately Peter openly laughs at gags (warning to comedians: this does not make the joke funnier).  At least the British name is a pun,"T.N.Crumpetts"; however, it seems about as subtle as Baron von Klutz.

Another indication that the show is not even trying is the gag, "I can't move b/c you are standing on my foot", used 3 times in the first 6 minutes.  This might be funnier if the 2-shot was tighter.  We can see that the actors' feet are nowhere near each other.

London Mist Spray, also comes in "roll on". Like a deodorant.  They do a comparative smell test of different smogs including Liverpool, Manchester and LA.  Davy does a Liverpudlian accent (see Beatles). All of the cities mentioned were known to have high levels of pollution.  The funniest part of this joke being that they could tell the difference and that what they are smelling is "Knockout Gas".

Novel uses of materials:
Note the absurdity of the Monkees as mechanics, using "highly unusual techniques".  Hammer, saw, needle& thread.  This calls to mind the unusual use of materials by Surrealist artists, including this Fur Covered Cup.

"Open End" was the title of the David Susskind show (1958-1986), one of the most famous interviews was with the Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev.

Once upon a time, there were things called telephone books. They were people's addresses and telephone numbers, listed alphabetically.  The books were used as doorstops or for highchairs for children.  And is that a Moog synthesizer by the entryway to the garage?

The subtitle of the episode refers to a slogan for the Greyhound bus company.  There is also a reference to "Put A Tiger in Your Tank", a high octane gasoline ad by Esso.

German References:

The "villan" in the episode is Baron Von Klutz, who is pitted against Davy and his British Uncle's team, an allusion to WWII.  Oddly enough (and probably to confuse us later generations), the Baron wears a WWI helmet.  At one point, they have gas masks, used to protect against Mustard Gas.  Also note the square mustache, also known as the toothbrush or philtrum (named for the location on the upper lip.  It was popular between 1900-1945, first adopted as a more streamlined reaction to the handlebar style.  Chaplin used it and Hitler stole it.  (Note the end date of its popularity).

Micky turns on the radio and a generic 60's dance track plays, then a waltz (see #14) then an instrumental version of "Deutchland Deutchland Uber Alles" (German national anthem during WWII).  Note the earlier pun about a car being "in tune" and using a tuning fork.

There is a joke about trading Micky & TNC for "Wernher", meaning Wernher von Braun, a German rocket scientist who had come to America. Micky turns it into a joke about baseball.

Micky mentions the Blue Max, which was Prussia's highest honor,  Pour le Mérite.  There was a movie called "The Blue Max" (1966, starring George Peppard).  Von Klutz is also prominently wearing a pin which looks similar, the blue Iron Cross, which dates back to 1219.  It has always had a Teutonic, Prussian or German association, but is also now known as the shape of the Bikers Cross.  In the 1960's, it was used as a symbol of rebellion by bikers and surfers or in the car enthusiast culture as a point of pride of their car's country of origin. Note the decoration on the Klutzmobile. Volkswagen was originally designed and translated as "the people's car" in Germany in the 1930's.  By the 60's, the VW Beetle and Van were a ubiquitous (and cheap) choice for the hippie on the go.  They are still popular today, especially among Dead Heads (Grateful Dead Groupies).

By the late 60's, bumbling and overly serious German characters (in uniform) were popular.  Coming out of the horrors of WWII, Hollywood had essentially reduced the idea of the Nazis to a caricature.  Take note of the movie, "The Producers" (1968, Mel Brooks). (You should take note of the movie anyways).  A serious study could be (and probably has been) made of the portrayal of Germans post-WWII.  Compare the attitude in the 60's to 2009's "Inglorious Basterds".  They have transitioned into terrifying movie villains, with no sense of ineptitude about them.  (Whether or not this is accurate is another discussion entirely).

Note: In another blog post, I have recorded a Facebook exchange with someone who posted "We are studying the Nazis, and this episode popped into my head".  I thought it warranted further discussion.
Even if the show is not a primary educational tool, I remember that when I was in high school, *anything* that helped reinforce a History lesson was beneficial.

The Periscope gag is a reference to German U-Boats, popular during both WWI and WWII.  "U Boat" is the Anglicized version of the German "Unterseeboot", which means "undersea boat".  Note the inherent absurdity of using a periscope in, of all places, their garage in LA.  It does help to bring in different shots as an unusual technique to "advance" the plot.  If it's not a great joke, at least it's a bizarre setup.

Davy, while driving, says, "Curse you, Red Baron".  Which is an allusion to Peanuts, Snoopy's catchphrase and 60's song.  Which is an allusion to WWI and Baron von Richthofen.  When the Baron gets into the car to race, he is wearing a white scarf and leather helmet of a WWI fighter pilot.

If nothing else, the Monkees will teach you to count to 10 in German.  Not just in this episode, but Peter can also be heard counting on the beginning of the recording of the song, "All of Your Toys".

#53, Facebook Exchange: Discussing Nazis

This page on Facebook ("Monkeemaniaheads") sounds as if it is being written by a young British teenager.  Many kudos to the activity on this account, especially the amount of postings of videos from the entire history of the group.

I am including the below exchange as an example of how people free associate, and how references to various time periods (in something like a history class) can conjure up an episode.  Personally, that instinct acted as an infinite loop for me.  As evidenced in this entire blog.  (And frankly, I am driven to demystify every unknown reference in my everyday life as well!)

I didn't know how to begin a discussion about "Nazis" here, but I dove right in anyway. I couldn't let the association go unremarked.

MMH: At the moment in history we are doing about the Nazi's. And randomly I thought of The Monkees Race Again episode. I told Ligia a little about the episode she thought that it sounded like a good episode. Then today in history I said wouldn't it be cool if we could watch the Monkee episode that I told you about yesterday, in class that would be lots of fun. Ligia said yeah why not ask miss. (I have two history teachers, but only Miss Jones let's us watch clips or videos the most out of the two) So I asked Miss Jones if we could watch it. She said that she would look into it and at least she has heard of the Monkees. :) So we could be lucky, we might get the chance to watch The Monkees Race Again in class. I'm really looking forward to it. It might be next week, on tuesday when we have, our next lesson. Fingers crossed. ♥ :D

Me:What made you think of that episode while studying Nazis? Was it the bad German accents and Baron Von Klutz?

MMH:It just came to me, because they Baron Von Klutz dress up as one so, it just came to me./By the way Tamara I have nothing agents Germans. It just came to me.

Me:I didn't mean anything negative. I actually think there are a lot of interesting references to history and "stock characters" or caricatures within the series. I think it is great that you wanted to bring the show into your classroom!// The Baron is wearing a German WW1 helmet, btw. Another good source for something spoofing the idea of Nazis is "The Producers", written by Mel Brooks

MMH:Well I'm glad that you think that Tamara, because I was beginning to regret asking about it.

Me: Not at all. I just think it's important when mentioning Nazis/Germans to understand how to link one thought to another. It's interesting to see how in a lot of American culture, Nazis became "evil yet bumbling" stock characters. How they get portrayed in 20th century entertainment is a whole project itself.

MMH: Okay I understand where just coming from there. Yet I really did start to feel that way. And still do a little.

Other person:I heard this somewhere, if you go to Germany and bring up the Nazis or Hitler they feel really bad about what happened and don't really wanna speak about it// *now a days

MMH:Yes I could imagine that.

Other person: I am 1/4 German and feel guilty

MMH: I see I'm glad that no is taking this the wrong way. It just came to my head at the time. And just really would like it if more people liked them, well even heard of them. Most of them haven't. Sometimes I get asked by others what am I listening to, and if its the Monkees at that time. Say it then they are like the Arctic Monkeys then I'm like no. Just The Monkees.

Me:There were no movies or tv shows involving any Nazi or even German characters for 10-15 years after WW2. People were afraid to discuss it at all. One reason I love the Monkees, is that they reflect their times, the late 1960's. They can only MAKE FUN of them. Now a days, we get to have a more open discussion and can think about how hard it is to have that legacy as a human.

MMH: Yeah I guess your right Tamara.
Thanks to you and Rebecca to help me see the other side of things.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bob Rafelson: The Bad Guy

Happy Birthday!  Born in 1933 (Feb 21), he's the first half of RayBert and one of the B's in BBS.

Born in NYC to a Hat Manufacturer.

Interesting to note: Bob's uncle Sam, (Samson Raphaelson 3/30/1894-7/16/84) was a short story writer.  And playwright.  And Screenwriter. He wrote on "Shop Around the Corner" for Ernst Lubitsch and "Suspicion" for Hitchcock.  He also came up with a little story called, "The Jazz Singer".  He wrote the short story and play behind what would be the first talking movie in 1927.  A rabbi's kid wants to sing popular music, is renounced by his father and it all works out when he's a success.  Note the difference in spelling between Bob and Uncle Sam; it is simplified from "ph" to "f" and the "ae" becomes "e".  This Anglicizing shows that he had taken the lesson of "Jazz Singer" to heart.

Producer of the Monkees (with Mr. Bert Schneider) and collaborator with Nicholson and The Boys (uncredited) on "Head". Essentially, he took the money & prestige from the TV Show and used it to finance "Easy Rider" and the critical success of "5 Easy Pieces".        

Even though it's his birthday, I will take this opportunity to insert a major question into this grand biography. Hollywood is a city of angles, and I believe that he entered and exited the entire TV Show project with the most cynicism and holds the most responsibility for any and all negative publicity and bad feelings arising from the narrative arc of our story.

In short, he is the Bad Guy of our story. The Bad Father, who eagerly seeded the PR and helped craft the contracts which only gave The Boys $400 a week and little to no profits from the residuals or merchandising.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that he deserted the project around the time of "Head", not fighting to capitalize on publicity or narrative accessibility.  Mel Brooks did a movie called "The Producers" which centered on crazy and evil producers getting a Broadway show to flop, to their financial benefit.  That's what RayBert did with "Head"; they wanted to kill the Monkee project and that movie was essentially received as a public funeral.  (Never mind that today it can be seen as a fascinating experimental film and a lynchpin in the Monkee narrative).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Don't just do something, stand there!


Here is ONE scene from the 1996 Reunion Special, "Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees",  that is moderately watchable.

The Boys (yes, BOYS) are "rehearsing" and end one song and are about to go into another.

The meta joke here is that when they do launch into Clarkesville, it is the 1966 recording.  Even though it only lasts for a few seconds, they don't acknowledge lip-synching or playing along, mostly because they, themselves as actors do not hear the music overlaid when the piece is edited.  That is, there is zero playback of the music, or later the Laugh Track effect.

Ah, the Laugh Track.  It is probably the single most overused piece of sound in television.  Some sources point to one of the longest genuine laughs in the history of television or radio, cheapskate Jack Benny's response to a mugger's question, "Your money or your life?" ("I'm thinking!").  A clever sound engineer (Charley Douglass?) re-inserted the laughter whenever a joke seemed to fail.  By the 60's, when tv had switched to the Single Camera technique and no Live Audience, it was an industry cliche. In short, it was cheaper.  But just watch an "I Love Lucy" next to a "Leave it to Beaver" and you can instantly see & feel the difference in the energy level of the actors.  But it was in The Show from the beginning and did not disappear until late in the 2nd season, and the loss is barely noticeable.   

In the clip above, they all overact to something that they cannot hear.  This condition carries multiple symptoms, one of which being an insatiable appetite for scenery-chewing.  Unlike in the days of vaudeville, or theater going back 4000 years, the actors cannot exaggerate their act to liven up the audience. The audience is literally not there (yet).  The only people actually watching them are the crew. And they would NEVER laugh or crack a smile (See note immediately below).  This also happens during the romps when they are "acting" as if they are "playing" their instruments.  Micky will often stop playing drums to use his hands for a gag, yet the drums keep on playing.  The singing is overacted too, they mouthe the words in an exaggerated fashion.  Few people look as if they are over-enunciating in rock music.

By the mid-1990's, the industry standard was to NEVER laugh at anything.  The definition of "cool" was thought to have originated in New York City, sometime during the "Beat Generation", immediately after WWII.  Nothing was funny any longer and any person caught attempting to make a joke at a party was greeted by a cool stare.  This cultural norm percolated through the entertainment industry to arrive in full force on the sets of all television shows of the 1990's.  The ultimate inside joke was for an overeager comedian to offer the funniest gag in the world to a producer, who would then respond, "I'm laughing on the inside".  ALL technicians, stagehands and set people acquired this condition and to this day, stifle any genuine emotion while all set.  Ostensibly, it is not considered professional to utter any sound which might be caught by the Sound Department.  In reality, it is the way to determine social hierarchy.  The first person to lose their cool by actually enjoying a joke is low monkey on the totem pole and is demoted to Production Assistant in Charge of Traffic.

Micky and Davy are sounding as if everything they say has quotation marks around it, but mostly because at this point in their respective careers, they are performing in front of live audiences.  Micky in particular is and will be going through a Broadway resurgence, in which he will be shows like "Grease", "Aida" (not the opera, go ahead, click, I bet you'll recognize the Truimphal March) and "Hairspray".

So they can be somewhat forgiven.

But Mike's acting is terribly rusty at this point and it is painful to watch his reactions playing with the broken laugh track.  He looks a bit like an executive indulging in his own jokes, which essentially as the writer/director of the show, he IS.

Peter is the only one who is not trying to push.  The camera keeps panning back to him and his low-wattage smile.  He seems comfortable, and his last line ("I'm getting Thought Balloons") is understated and comes across as the funniest in the whole bit.

There is also a reference to Stock Footage, which gets at the heart of why this whole endeavor is so difficult to sit through. There is NO respect for the original show or for anybody's work on it.  The original use of stock footage (of planes, trains and ice skaters) was a delightfully nonsensical, Dadaist and Post-Modern visual creativity.  The character of Mike in this program doesn't get it, and explains a random shot of a lizard as a way to fill time.

Never once was a shot of a lizard used in the entire original series.  The stock footage was dynamic, interesting, full of action, and in retrospect, carries silent film into the modern era as an interesting bit of collage or pastiche.

NB:  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to watch the rest of this program.  It may cause you to lose faith in the Monkees' brand, all past Monkee work, your fellow man and eventually humanity in general.  The ONLY known cure to get the bitter taste of overacting and cynicism is to cleanse the palate by watching an episode from the First Season.  Which you should do now.

Start here.

GO!  Before your mind is forever poisoned by the cynicism of middle aged men trying to do meta-commentary on a phenomenon they are too close to to fully understand!  Hurry!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Questions for the Birthday Boy

I have a bunch of questions for Peter, if and when he ever reads this.  Or if and when I ever get these to him.

I'm sick of all the DULL questions he gets when he has to do publicity at all.  The reporters all seem to crib from EXACTLY the same resource, heretofore known as "The Lazy Version Of The History",

These interviews can be recognized by 2 key flags:

A) The headline is invariably some variation of a pun on the name of the band, usually trapped inside of a pun, idiom, cliche (or some combination thereof).

B) They always seems to contain (and seem to be limited to) the following words:
pre-fab four, Beatles,  the dummy, "didn't play their own instruments", controversy, Struggles, Alcoholism/AA, Reunion tour

If you've read one interview, you've read them all.  Even when he appeared on Rachel Maddow when he wanted to talk about Davy and share memories, they seemed to have to go through the above conversation dance.

MY questions include:

What topics, events, ideas and attitudes would you wish to be included in a biography?  That is, what has been left out of your story?

Do you remember from that family trip to Venezuela before the Monkees?

What hits you about songs that you choose to include in your Shoe Suede Blues sets?

Are there any Monkee songs that you remember recording and thinking, "this is gonna be great" or "this is terrible"?

What lines in Monkee songs have surprised you after years of playing them?

What 8 bars of music that you've written would you wish to be remembered for?

You've publicly stated that you have made love to Janis Joplin.  Give us 3 words to convey the experience.

Where were you (and the rest of the Monkees-if you know) when JFK was shot?  What about 9/11?

The Monkees' phenomenon is almost 50 years old.  Fans have a unique kinship to the show and the music.  How do you make sense of it now?  How has your view evolved over each decade?

You spent 3 years in the 70's teaching kids philosophy and baseball.  What bits of wisdom do you hope your students have retained?

Please relate every single moment you can recall about the folk-music scene in Greenwich Village.  Please include names, venues, song titles and jokes, both successful and unsuccessful.

WHAT was the impulse that made you leave NY and go to California?  Be as specific as possible.

You come from a family of teachers.  What has each one of them taught you?

What initially turned you on to the Blues?

Define Love. Define how you perceive of the emotion that fans may have towards you & "The Peter Character" that they may name as "Love".

Narrate the probable story of your life, if you hadn't been cast.

If you could go back in time and rewrite the contract that you signed, including all the things you know now (that not you or anyone else could have predicted at the time), what would you include?  (ie What would you want to tell yourself before the whole thing began?)

Why did you get the life that you got?  Why was it you?  How do you make sense of it all in terms of Karma?

What is your earliest musical memory?

What do you remember from the 6 week "improvisation training" period with Jim Frawley?

What have the fans taught you over the years?  What have you learned from people who you have known as fans over many years.

(That's a start, anyway)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Micky's Dad, George Dolenz

In memoriam to this terrific actor who gave birth to another terrific actor, let's go through his career and give him his due.  His dates are January 5, 1908 to February 8, 1963.  His heart attack was a shock to his post-Circus Boy and pre-Monkees son, who mentions the event in his autobiography.

First off, he was born Jure Dolenc in Trieste in the city's Slovene community.  Back then, it was a part of Austria-Hungary, but now it is within the boundaries of Italy.  See the link for a great interactive map about pre-WWI political boundaries.  He left Italy in the 1920's, as a great wave of Italian and European immigrants had been doing for a while, hoping to find his success in America.

His IMDB Filmography starts him in 1941, appearing as an uncredited waiter.  At some point, he met up with Howard Hughes, who signed him on to his studio, RKO, as a leading man.  But he was not put to work very often.  He appeared in a series of movies that are not well known today, but he did finally share top billing in a grand MGM movie.

That legacy role is in "The Last Time I Saw Paris", which is a terrific drama about Americans living in Paris before and after WWll; see the great literary history of expatriots.  The name itself is a reference to a song (Kern & Hammerstein, 1940) and the story comes from an F. Scott Fitzgerald 1931 short story.  In the movie, he plays Donna Reed's husband, and Elizabeth Taylor's and Van Johnson's brother in law.  He had his own tv show, "The Count of Monte Cristo", which lasted 39 episodes and aired throughout 1956.  (Can anyone find any surviving video?)

Digression-Van Johnson is name-checked in Episode 14, when Peter is trying to guess Martin Van Buren's name to win dance lessons.  He goes through a series of names: Van Johnson, Van Heflin, moving van, pickup truck and Dean Martin.

Micky came from good stock indeed.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Top 20 American Tours!

It made it to Yahoo, so it must be big!! ;P


Full text here:

The Top 20 Concert Tours ranks artists by average box office gross per city and includes the average ticket price for shows in North America. The previous week's ranking is in parentheses. The list is based on data provided to the trade publication Pollstar by concert promoters and venue managers.
1. (1) Madonna; $3,637,525; $159.81.
2. (2) Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band; $1,343,105; $93.28.
3. (3) Justin Bieber; $1,184,558; $73.85.
4. (4) Dave Matthews Band; $967,758; $73.76.
5. (5) Neil Young & Crazy Horse; $938,605; $94.94.
6. (6) The Who; $845,015; $85.86.
7. (8) Leonard Cohen; $804,309; $100.16.
8. (7) Rush; $726,662; $77.88.
9. (9) Red Hot Chili Peppers; $716,382; $60.53.
10. (10) Zac Brown Band; $624,017; $56.97.
11. (11) Trans-Siberian Orchestra; $568,771; $51.47.
12. (12) Carrie Underwood; $540,743; $58.62.
13. (13) Bob Dylan; $474,323; $78.04.
14. (15) Jeff Dunham; $308,952; $58.16.
15. (14) Eric Church; $303,655; $40.36.
16. (19) Bassnectar; $174,050; $39.17.
17. (17) The Moody Blues; $160,360; $68.27.
18. (18) Wiz Khalifa; $156,796; $41.16.
19. (20) "So You Think You Can Dance"; $135,972; $56.66.
20. (New) The Monkees; $134,414; $62.93.
You'll notice that 11 of the acts are "oldies/established" performers.  And most of the rest I haven't heard of.

Madonna who?

Who did you say?

Rush to the next concert!!

Do the Blues make you moody?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Rare Footage of Clarkesville Day:1966

I LOVE this rare FIRST PERFORMANCE footage for so many reasons.  It introduces itself in the first few moments as having been shot in La Jolla in 1966, before the premiere of the TV Show.  That was the day the town changed its name to Clarkesville, and the Boys realized just what they were getting themselves in for.  At least in terms of screaming fans.

FIRST of all, the film itself wasn't recorded with sound.  So someone decided to do something VERY creative with the music track.  Listen to it and try to figure out what song is playing and what they did!!*

Second: The film quality is TERRIBLE.  But actually, it is beautiful and completely suits the feeling.  This is what happens when the camera begin to experiment with drugs.  Black and white from the sixties, just as the world was changing.  This is not footage of "Leave it to Beaver".

Third: The spots near the end.  Danny Thomas introduces them.  He's a VERY famous vaudevillian.  From Lebanon.  Who had his own groundbreaking show in the 50's, called "Make Room for Daddy".  Father of "That Girl" Marlo Thomas. (Who was married to proto-talk show host Phil Donahue).  Mostly, for our purposes, Danny starred in a remake of "Jazz Singer".  As we have mentioned, Bert Rafelson's uncle, (Samson Raphaelson) wrote the original short story and play.

*Okay, Steppin Stone.  Played BACKWARDS! Too cool! Like "Strawberry Fields" by "those boys" (aka Beatles)  Here's the song, a clip that someone did with just music and lyrics.  Because they didn't HAVE videos back then.  Hey, the Beatles didn't even have a TV series!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ed Sullivan, February 9, 1964

So, you may have heard of this day before, kids.

LEGENDARY in Rock history.

(No, seriously!)

(And for the sake of historical accuracy, I will admit that when you talk to MOST people, they will tell you it was the day the Beatles Appeared On the Ed Sullivan Show. Which cheered everyone up immensely from the assassination of President John F.Kennedy, which had occurred that previous November.  The Friday before Thanksgiving.  Imagine national shock and mourning.  Plus, there were only 2 tv channels.  A bleak winter indeed.)

But for Monkee fans, it was the day that Davy first performed live on national TV.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to see who was the biggest and best act, you had to wait until a Sunday night, and then crowd your whole family around something called a television set and turn on something called "The Ed Sullivan Show".  From the years of 1948-1971, it was THE variety show to be on if you were an up and coming performer.  Everyone appeared on that show, and it was known for cutting Elvis-the-Pelvis off at the hip, and for making the Rolling Stones sing a song called "Let's Spend Some Time Together"  (instead of "Let's Spend the Night Together").

Davy Jones appeared as the Artful Dodger, a role he was performing 8 times a week on Broadway.  He originated the role there, and got a Toy Nomination for Best Actor Featured in a Musical.  Originally, the show "Oliver!" had started out in London in the West End.  Eventually, the production was  made into a movie in 1968.   There was also the book, Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens.

Watch Davy perform "I'll Do Anything"!!!

So the funny thing is, the number is called: "I'd Do Anything"  (Lyrics here.)

The song in particular was about a pickpocket who was teaching a bunch of kids how to work for him.  And here they are essentially pledging loyalty.

The rest of the story goes that although his number went over well, it could not match the screaming reception that the Beatles got from their fans.  DJ remembered watching from the wings and thinking that he needed to get in on that.  And then Judy Garland took him to the roof and pointed to all of Manhattan and told him that the city was his.  (See his bio).

The song's title seems prophetic for a young man of talent and ambition.  I wonder what associations he made with that performance and his later career.  Based on contemporaneous interviews with those who had known him, he was a gracious performer who was always willing to give a full performance (no matter how many people in the audience) and often stayed after the concert until the last fan got an autograph.  Be careful what you wish for. ;)

Full Links:

DJ's Performance:

Lyrics to "I'd Do Anything"

Oliver movie:

Ed Sullivan Show

Oliver Twist Novel

Charles Dickens

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"The Real Peter Tork" on Facebook

So, I'm finding all sorts of usefulnesses from fan pages on FB.  They post (way too many) videos from Youtube and lots of funny pictures on a regular basis.  (Sorry that I don't, there are already WAY too many fansites that are FULL of visuals).

But Peter's actual online presence has generally been growing VERY slowly.  Glacially, in fact.  (I first saw Shoe Suede Blues in 2005 and back then, they barely had a website.  In fact, NOW, they barely have a website)


So the nice people running his FB page put up a Trivia Quiz to celebrate him getting to 25,000 likes.  (Which seems like a bit of work, rather than a reward)

The questions and SOME of my answers
1. What were the names of Peter’s parents?
2. Who called Peter “the most talented Monkee”?
3. In what year did Peter release his first solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, and on what label?
4. In what year was Shoe Suede Blues created and what was their first show?
5. Derek Lord and Lauren Ellis have performed with Shoe Suede Blues from time to time. In which other of Peter’s bands did they perform?
6. In what year did was the first CD released that included Peter as a member of Two Man Band? Who else was a member? What was the name of the CD?
7. In addition to The Monkees, name 3 other TV shows Peter has appeared on.

1.  He is the son of Virginia Hope (née Straus) and Halsten John Thorkelson (Wikipedia)
2.  Everyone, but here you may be referring to Jimi Hendrix.  Or Mike.
3. According to my personalized copy, 1994, Beechwood (which has me singing "Beechwood 45789")
4, Maybe 2000??, and I'm guessing California.  My friend, their #1 fan who has been to 99% of their concerts (I will gladly use her name if she wants me to)  who I have dubbed the SSB Unofficial Historian says that "Tadge, John Palmer, Michael Sunday, Richard Michaels & Peter were all living in CA then."
5. Better question:  What do they play?? Derek Lord (drums!) & fabulous Lauren Ellis on Guitar and Repair (PT Project)
6.(Buy the cd!!)  James Lee Stanley is amazing!!
7. (Too obvious)

My trivia questions for PT:
Has PT ever seen "Searching for Sugarman"?
Any extant recordings from Dashboard Saints???
Can the prize be that the winner gets the first copy of Peter's Autobiography?
Or can it be that he writes one??

My real question is: Why are so many of these questions too difficult to find on the internet?
ie No pages for PT's old bands & members, and no links to his former bandmate's pages.  Which is really ironic, because he is a VERY generous performer onstage.

Later that same day:

All answers posted:
1. What were the names of Peter’s parents? 
Virginia and John Thorkelson

2. Who called Peter “the most talented Monkee”?
Jimi Hendrix

3. In what year did Peter release his first solo album, Stranger Things Have Happened, and on what label?
1994, Beachwood label

4. In what year was Shoe Suede Blues created and what was their first show?
1994, benefit dance. 

5. Derek Lord and Lauren Ellis have performed with Shoe Suede Blues from time to time. In which other of Peter’s bands did they perform? 
Derek Lord – The Peter Tork Project
Lauren Ellis – Dashboard Saints

6. In what year was the first CD released that included Peter as a member of Two Man Band? Who else was a member? What was the name of the CD?
1996, James Lee Stanley, Two Man Band

7. In addition to The Monkees, name 3 other TV shows Peter has appeared on.
The Uncle Floyd Show, 7th Heaven, The List, King of Queens, Wings, and Boy Meets World, California Dreaming, The Steven Banks Show, The Bradford Exchange, VH1's The List, Prime Time Country (with James Lee Stanley), The Rosie O'Donnell Show (with The Monkees), Tonight with Jay Leno (with The Monkees), The Mike and Mattie Show, the Today show (performing with Davy and Micky), Behind the Music, Rachel Maddow Show

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Micky wanders around a Junkyard in 1967

For a phenom that's almost 50 years old, there's an amazing amount of new stuff.

Micky in a rare, silent, clip-filmed in a junkyard.  Cars from the 1930's, mostly; him from 1967.  He just hangs around pretending to be a vagabond.  (I muted the music because the style was too incongruent).  Just wandering around, goofing off.

Seeing it now, in 2013, as a fully grown adult, I wonder how many injuries The Boys had.  I'm sure they'd say there were some bumps and bruises.  But in this world today, I can't even imagine the freedom to bounce around like that.  (Tetanus, broken or twisted ankles jumping down from the top of a car).  They did all their own goofy stunts.  But maybe as children and young adults we are much more resilient than we remember.   Young men with way too much courage, trying to show off for the cameras.  I can barely imagine what it would be like to be a young man with new muscles and new energy and new confidence in the present and future.

I love the cheap quality of the film stock and also the palette (oranges, yellows), which might not have been entirely intentional.  Last night I watched "Searching for Sugarman" again about the singer Sixto Rodriguez.  That has some scenes that have a similar glow.  There's something achingly beautiful in the detritus of previous generations.  There are shots of smoke surrounded by an orange haze, that look so visually beautiful-a fluid work of art.

Leonard Cohen's song, Suzanne, (which Peter hates for its dour tone.  It's depressive, indeed, but that's what art is for.  To be true.) "She shows you where to look amid the garbage and the flowers".  I've always been haunted by that song, even when I was young, even before I knew people like that.  Now it seems all the beautiful poets I know wear things from Salvation Army counters.

Really, what is the difference between "trash" and the leftovers from previous generations (think: Monkee set), and the horrible beauty of Detroit's urban decay and the way we live now?  Maybe the stuff in landfills offers us amnesia and everything else, like Roman ruins, offer insights into the past.  And allows us to understand our place on the timeline of history.


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