Saturday, June 25, 2005

Tapeheads (1988)

This film starred a young John Cusack (a full decade before "High Fidelity") and Tim Robbins (before "Bob Roberts") as underachievers who lose their jobs as security guards and seize this as an opportunity to "chase their dreams" as... rock video producers. This flick is a perfect time capsule. The pop references and parodies fly fast and furiously.

This Monkeeman/Repo Man/Tapehead was Executive Producer.
"Nesmith then invented and sold the concept 24 hour music television to Time Warner. He produced a proof of concept called "Pop Clips" which Time-Warner aired on the Nickelodeon channel as a test. It was an instant success. From there was developed the MTV network."

He was the "genius" behind UHF...
"TV as it was meant to be seen. In a movie theater."

The Motor City Madman (as himself)...
*Attempted to buy the background-music company Muzak so he could shut it down; his offer was rejected. [1989]

He was the pride of Youngstown and formed his own New Church...

She was one of the original VJs.
"...first gained attention with a delicate love-letter ditty to then-MTV VJ Martha Quinn subtly entitled "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin."'

He played Kevin (the nerd) in Repo Man and bass for the Circle Jerks...

This agent for the FBI was a Dead Kennedy...
"If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve."

"Mo Fuzz" was captain of the Soul Train...
"...was pulled over by Chicago Police officer Don Cornelius. While officer Cornelius was asking him the typical traffic stop questions, Cobb noticed his unique speaking voice and told him that he was in the wrong profession. Cobb suggested that Cornelius come down to the radio station WVON and make a demo tape."

This fresh cat was the original human beat box...

He was Sam of Sam & Dave and Sam & Dan (Aykroyd)...

This Rock-A-Bye Baby fronted the Foremost, who went on to become The Lettermen...
"Warner Bros. signed her up for their hot detective series "Hawaiian Eye" (1959) and she was off. As pert and pretty Cricket Blake, a slightly flaky and tomboyish singer/photographer, Connie became an instant teen idol -- trendy and undeniably appealing. A couple of record hits came her way including "Sixteen Reasons" and the novelty song "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb."'

This "ageless sidekick" was the proto-type (along with Troy Donohue) for the character Troy McClure and is best remembered as Trampas in "The Virginian", "The Men From Shiloh", and the movie "Backtrack!"

He also was a "Virginian"...
"Revitalized his career in the 80's in scores of horror flicks that took advantage of his ever-growing wild-eyed, eccentricities."

This femme fatale was the answer to the existential question of 1980...

She was obsessed with the song "Misty" ...
"...she was the psychopathic fan who terrorized disc jockey Clint Eastwood in the proto-Fatal Attraction thriller Play Misty for Me (1971)."

He was a member of the Dead Ducks, who was kicked out for lack of musical talent...
"He directed his cult classic film "Shakes the Clown"(A.K.A. The Citizen Kane of Alcoholic Clown Movies) in 1991."

She has made a career out of playing sluts...
and played an uncredited role as a spanker in Tapeheads.

Friday, June 24, 2005

With a capital "T" which rhymes with "P" and that stands for "Public"

It is outrageous that Congress would contemplate cutting completely its modest, yet significant, subsidy of NPR and PBS. The $100 million proposed cut for this year alone is LESS than what we are currently spending for a HALF DAY of OCCUPATION in Iraq. The current total federal budget outlay for public broadcasting is LESS than what it is costing us for TWO DAYS of OCCUPATION in Iraq!

Interestingly, this threat to public broadcasting comes at the very same time that the public has become more skeptical of the "rationale" for embarking on this expedition and less confident in the integrity of the major news networks (including the "newspapers of record.") Speaking of PBS and integrity, this week Bill Moyers was a guest on The Daily Show. Echoing Steven Colbert's crack a few weeks ago that "the TRUTH no longer had credibility", Moyers claimed that the truth is diminished, lost, or made irrelevant amidst the cacaphony of news noise.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

In Search of Ancient Mariners

But who was the better actor – Booth or Reagan?? Certainly Morris the Cat was superior to Garfield.

As for Chariots of the Gods, I devoured Von Daniken and Hal Lindsay (“The Late, Great Planet Earth”) when I was an adolescent. I was seduced by In Search of Ancient Astronauts. However, the following review culled from the IMDB succinctly describes my current estimate:

I was fooled... as a child, 21 March 2000
Author: Steve Schonberger from near Seattle, WA, USA
“In his books, von Däniken promoted the idea that the mysteries of the world can all be explained by space aliens, who inspired the ancients to write strange things in their literature, and helped them build archaeological wonders. Of course, his ideas don't stand up to any real scrutiny. As a child, I found the von Däniken fiction-disguised-as-documentary fascinating, because I didn't check behind his nonsense. Years later, I asked an ancient languages scholar to translate the text on an ancient inscription photographed in a von Däniken book. The scholar, lacking a sensationalized agenda, translated it as something like "King [somebody] ruled here. Scribe Gishga wrote this", in contrast to the book's translation about flying chariots of fire. His quotes from materials with well-known translations are distorted by taking selected passages out of context.I'd give the movie a "1" for its academic dishonesty in a movie that pretends to be a documentary, but it deserves slight credit (maybe a "2") for convincingly presenting its indefensible claims. For someone who is aware of the dishonesty of the movie's claims, there might also be some camp entertainment value.”

I’m not a former structural engineer (and I don’t even play one on TV!) so I naively find it quite plausible, given the “official” analysis I was willing to sit through that was presented on Frontline, that those planes brought down the WTC (vs. WTF!) Oh, I know, that’s what THEY want me to believe… it was really Mossad, with coordination provided by Bush operatives, that engineered 9-11.

And speaking of stardust, what of the connections between Dennis Wilson (of the Beach Boys), Charles Manson, Squeaky Froome, Gerald Ford, Chevy Chase, Henry Ford, and the Ford Theatre??! Don’t even get me started about the connections between Cousteau, Serling, Nimoy, and John & Bob Denver!

Friday, June 10, 2005

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

At the mature age of 3, Van & Elvis are just now being exposed to the strange & curious world of television. Until recently, the boys had only watched Sesame Street, Bob the Builder (watch out for product placement!), Arthur (dreadfully animated), and Thomas the Train (what dreck!) in passing a couple of times (and a little baseball.) They have three videos and two dvds in their collection -- "I Love Big Machines, Pt. 2", "Mighty Machines of the Harbor", "There Goes a Fire Truck!", "Where the Wild Things Are (and other Maurice Sendak stories)", and "The Great Barrier Reef."

Thus, when I discovered late last year that Paul Reubens was finally re-releasing Pee Wee's Playhouse in DVD, I knew I had found my intro. Boy, have I been waiting to share this with the boys. It's been 20 years since "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" (1985), which was followed the next year by his Saturday morning playhouse. But would my playhouse gang "yike" it? They dig it, daddy-O.

Of course I remembered Lawrence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis, but I didn't realize that Phil Hartmann (pre-SNL) had played Captain Carl! In an early episode in the first season, Pee Wee and Cowboy Curtis teach each other how to dance, CC teachin' Pee Wee how to square dance while Herman teaches Fishburne how to pogo (complete with mohawk wigs!) In another early episode, Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo) slips in traces of Mongoloid during a mock "punk look" beauty makeover segment!

This all reminds me of my missed opportunity back in 1991 when I came across a big cardboard box at the Salvation Army full of Pee Wee dolls. The dolls were marked a couple dollars a piece. This was literally days before his infamous arrest for indecent exposure. Needless to say, the value of the dolls skyrocketed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Tony Flare
His “lost year” in 1972 at the age of 18: Tony Flare - The shaggy-Haired Guy Behind the Spacematic Disco!

The sounds of silence ..."begins with the introductory declaration 'This is Chicago,' from the canned voice that announces stops on CTA trains.",1,6055530.column?coll=chi-techtopheds-hed
"For more than two years Frantz collected the ordinary and extraordinary sounds of real life."

Stories of Chicago's Rapid Transit...

Crawling the Kinzie Corridor...
"Free Walking, a 'nomadic social experiment that seeks to explore Chicago on foot,' offers a walk through a part of the city's industrial history. Participants will meet at 1958 W. Walnut, at 7:30pm, for the 8pm walk through the Kinzie Industrial corridor. Melinda Fries will lead tonight's walk. Contact Bonnie Fortune, at lefortune[at]gmail[dot]com for questions." (Thanks to Gapers Block.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Litany of Garbage or Platters From Heaven?

I happened again. I found another stack of LPs neatly tied together in two bundles atop a garbage can on 54th Place in Hyde Park yesterday. The yield this time was 32 platters of mostly classical and folk titles. The highlights include Frankie Laine's "Greatest Hits" and Morricone's "Once Upon a Time in the West." It's really starting to feel like my birthday.

Thinking of my birthday, I, for one, am happy that the Bulls fell out in the first round of the NBA playoffs this season. Throughout the 90's, during the Jordanaires' double three-peat championship performances, my birthday celebration was repeatedly upstaged by el Toros. Most memorable was my 30th birthday (June 12, 19991) when they beat the Magic Lakers for their first title. I remember the city exploding and then rioting for my rite of passage...
"In other words: Looting happens."
"The 1991 Championship was followed by 100 arrests. The 1992 Championship (occurring approximately one month after the Rodney King verdict) was followed by 1000 arrests, hundreds of injuries (including 95 injured police officers), and many burned and looted buildings."

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jack and Jerk

This "Jack" format sounds like a knee jerk to me...
Well, maybe not so knee jerky...
"Listening to Jack is a bit like listening to an iPod set on shuffle."
"And Jack stations often (but not always) use a smart-alecky recorded voice, rather than a live DJ, to make short quips between songs."
"It often felt like I was listening to the soundtracks of several car commercials in a row."

Below is pulled from last year's B-Day observance (thanks Ricky!):

"So lets drive down I-55 to Harlem, head south to the dumpy canal town, have a starter beer, then head north. If nothing else there is James Joyce in Berwyn south Cermak. I've been there it is very real Irish, and they have Smithwicks on tap. We then have Oak Park and then Elmwood Park and Chicago and into the north burbs.
What better slice of Chicago can ya ask for than Harlem?"

In celebration of my 36th birthday (June 12th, 1997), the original Alkaline Trio played the Newman (my old loft at 1526 S. Wabash.) Of course, they are big stars now appearing on Letterman, Conan, and touring abroad. They have a new album being released this month and will perform a sold-out show at the Riviera June 18th (just in time for my 44th B-Day!) I'm not sure I'm game for the goth-lite schtick for kiddies though...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

smeared a bluish green

"When I was younger/it was plain to me/I must make something of myself./Older now/I walk back streets/admiring the houses/of the very poor:/roof out of line with sides/the yards cluttered/with old chicken wire, ashes,/furniture gone wrong;/the fences and outhouses built of barrel-staves/and parts of boxes, all,/if I am fortunate,/smeared a bluish green/that properly weathered/pleases me best/of all colors./>>>>>No one/will believe this/of vast import to the nation."---William Carlos Williams

The following is culled from an email I received in November, 2000 (thanks to Steven Oppedal and Rachel Reynolds):

"This string of blather, which somehow manages to be simultaneously sentimental and incomprehensible, was created by cutting and pasting the lyrics of the "Loveboat Theme" into the Babelfish internet translation software and translating them from English to French to English to Spanish and back to English. I think we can all agree that this ode to amore is truly alcohol in a new novel."

Loving, captivating and new come on board. We waited to him. Love, compensates it smoother of the life. It lets to spill it, floats again with you. The boat of the lover soon will make with another step the promises of the boat of the lover who something for each put a course for the adventure, its alcohol in a new novel. The lover will not hurt it is plus a smile opened in a comfortable border. Yes He blankets! He is Loving! The boat of the lover soon will make with another step the promises of the boat of the lover who something for each put a course for the adventure, its alcohol in a new novel. The lover will not hurt it is plus a smile opened in a comfortable border. He is Loving! He is Loving! He is Loving! She is the Barco-boat-oh lover! It is the boat of the lover!

And, finally, a recycled email by Lindsay Huge from July, 2002:

Wed. night, July 3, we saw the B-52s play at Ravinia. I did not know what to expect, but they pretty much delivered. The bee-hived girls are a little more ample these days, but can still croon in harmony. I don't know that I've ever SEEN the B-52s before (I've never watched many music videos in my day...) but, as I was watching Fred Schneider through my binoculars (they never give us close seats) I thought 'What a great American act. Some sort of swinging B-movie freak who rocks with joy and HUMOR.' On the way out of the show, I told Lisa: "Don't you think if Curt was a rock star, he'd be Fred Schneider?" Lisa said, "But that guy's flaming!" I said, "Well, yeah, without that part..."

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Eight Track Mind

Live at Quimby's Bookstore -
"We will Rock you"Saturday, June 18th, 8:00 PM FREE. "We will Rock you" will be Chicago's first ever celebration of the mixtape--audience members will each bring a mix cd to swap with someone at the reading. Featuring readings and music by: Joe Meno, Punk Planet contributing editor and author of Hairstyles of the Damned Sean Carswell, Razorcake editor and author of Barney's Crew Mickey Hess, 2nd Hand contributor and author of Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory Anne E. Moore, Punk Planet editor and author of Hey Kidz, buy this book! Liz Mason editor Caboose zine plus music from PAL.

Am I the only one to find it slightly ironic that this "first ever celebration of the mixtape" is asking for mixed discs?
The Best 90 Minutes of My Life --
Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore on the power of the mix tape.

Friday, June 03, 2005

...and the livin' is easy?

The following is a list of answers to the question "What is your favorite outdoor spot in the city?" (drawn from the crowd at Gapers Block):

06.03.05, 07:15 AMcurtsy said:
1. Along the railroad tracks in the Kinzie Industrial Corridor
2. 63rd Street Beach House
3. Picnic table on the side of the Skyway Dog House at the intersection of US 41 & 95th Street
4. Underneath the Red Line in Lakeview
5. Peeble Beach @ 4900 S. LSD
6. Swimming between Promontory Point & the Museum Harbor (5900 S.)
7. My rooftop
8. Northerly Island
9. Wrigley Field (of course)
10.And on inclimate days, Garfield Conservatory

And reminiscent of my radio days as Curt the Jerk, your host of Knee Jerk, desperately trying to give away free tickets to see Decline of the Western Civilization showing at the New Mayfield Repertory Theatre, I am again offering a free and one of a kind mix-tape "Blues, the Mother of Sin/ Cooked." Be the first to reply (I did have an anonymous reply) and the cassette is yours.