Cool Things

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Everything I Learned About Arenacross from Miss Arenacross, Lindsey Alkire

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 3:30 PM

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The Internet makes everybody a know-it-all. But not your Pesky Fly. Because I know I'm clueless about so much stuff, I sometimes ask experts to enlighten me.  This is what Miss Americross, Lindsey Alkire had to say about her favorite motorsport.

Fly on the Wall: I can't lie to you Lindsey. I don’t know anything about Arenacross.

Lindsey Alkire: I can tell you anything and everything you want to know about Arenacross.

Can you tell me what I’ve been missing?

Right now?

Yes. Sell me on Arenacross. Make me a believer.

Well, Arenacross is the most intense motocross racing on the planet. We take the world’s fastest Arenacross competitors and we bring them into hockey-sized arenas like the Landers Center down in Southaven. What makes it exciting is it's condensed. We bring the thrill of outdoor motocross inside, so we bring the intensity up like 16 levels. Outdoor motocross tracks are about 2-3 miles. When you condense that down to an arena you go from 2-and-a-half minute laps to something like 20-to-25 second laps, but still keep all the same action. We have jumps, and turns, and a starting line and a finish line. You have a winner that's declared. And part of what makes it awesome is there are 16 riders out on the track at one time. A lot of racing that goes on, but no race is ever the same. There are always different competitors, and there's always gonna be different occurrences that happen — different crashes. These riders have a win-at-all-costs mentality. Because everything is a little bit more condensed there's minimal room for error. There's not a lot of places to make passes sticks so that's why passes can get a little aggressive.
So it gets pretty aggressive?

You have to make your pass count and don't have a lot of time to do it because we have a 20 to 25 seconds a lap. You're only talking a couple of minutes for the main event. These guys’ adrenaline is through the roof. They have a very high heart rate when they're doing this. And one of the cool things about being inside these arenas that you can actually hear the fans cheering you on. As a fan, what I like most is you feel so close to the action. It’s right in front of your face. You can see absolutely everything is happening out on the track, and sometimes you wish you actually had three sets of eyeballs just to maintain every proportion of the track because there's so much happening.

I always wish that, actually. So what's your Arenacross story?


My story is pretty awesome. This is my life. I don't know anything other really then Arenacross. I started riding when I was eight years old. I'm 28 now, so it's been the majority of my life. 20 years, I've been involved. For me, it started off as a hobby. My dad and I both entered our first race when I was 11. I started traveling to amateur national races when I was like 14, then turned pro when I was 16, and toured the country racing in the women's professional series. When I was 19, I saw there was an opportunity to become the next Miss Arenacross. She’s the official spokesperson for the series. She did interviews. She was the floor announcer, and technically just the face of Arenacross. So I applied for that, and I got the job. I’ve been involved with Arenacross ever since. I'm so passionate about it.
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Arenacross Racing at The Landers Center in Southaven.  Friday, March 3, Saturday, March 4, Sunday, March 5 – Amateur Day
Tickets start at $15. For details, here you go.


Friday, February 10, 2017

16 Magicians Can't Be Wrong

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 2:10 PM

Magical people.
  • Magical people.
Fly on the Wall had to share this photo from a recent meeting of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 16. Apparently everybody showed up with their very own copy of the Flyer from the week when clown/comedian/magician and all around entertainer Larry Clark was on the cover.

I can't say for a fact that none of them disappeared later, or were used to pour milk into, or any of those other things magicians do. Magical either way.

Little Joe Gives It Away: A Conversation with Joe Dallesandro

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Joe
  • Joe
So you're not that into Warhol, and the name Joe Dallesandro is unfamiliar? That's his crotch on the cover of The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers LP. More of a Smiths fan? That's his torso on the cover of the band's first record. Lou Reed called him "Little Joe" in his hit song, "Walk on the Wild Side." You know Joe, or parts of him anyway.

Dallesandro, the only Warhol superstar to have any significant film career outside the factory, is coming to the Brooks Museum of Art to talk to fans. Fly on the Wall talked to him first about the Warhol/Morrissey trilogy Heat, Trash, and Flesh. working with Louis Malle, and Serge Gainsbourg, and what it means to be told you changed male sexuality on film forever. .

Fly on the Wall: When you first started working with Paul Morrissey, part of the allure — as I understand it — is Paul told you these films would still be shown in museums in a hundred years. I know it’s not been that long, but what’s it like living through the hype, and watching that promise, more or less prove true.

Joe Dallesandro: No, no surprise as it started appearing in the way he had said. It was kinda for me something I believed to be true back then, and it was beginning to happen. There was nothing I thought was real special because I always expected it to be that way. Having seen all the different work Andy had. And even back then he was doing tours at universities and things.

I felt that what he told me was the truth, and they were already doing tours at universities. So the next step was these things went to museums.


I read somewhere a quote by John Waters. Something about how you changed male sexuality on film forever. And so much else has been said in that regard. What’s it like living with those kinds of comments?

I always thought of Paul Morrissey as my mentor. Paul told me early on, I can't look at the press because if I take to heart the good and the appreciation, I have to take to heart the bad things, too." It was enjoyable to hear all that. But it was just the many opinions and sayings of people who were out there. I love John Waters. Anything he said was appreciated. I look at him as a personal friend. It’s not like I’d expect him to say something bad about me like Paul or Andy.

Why were they talking bad about you?

Back in those days, after I finished the trilogy with them I was pretty much kind of fed up for a while because they started to say bad things about me. I was being looked at in productions that were bigger and different than there’s in the real world. I remember reading somewhere that Andy’d said, “Oh, I think he does drugs.” And Paul told someone, “I don’t believe he could learn a script. So, when I went to do Frankenstein and Dracula with them, I made them write every line I had to say. Because it pissed me off they didn’t think I could do a script. I was never offered to do a script with them before.


But you hadn’t had experience with that kind of film. Or any kind of film, you just fell into it. Unlike a lot of the others who started this way, you put together a career.

It was Paul’s saying, he thought I’d be good at it. And just to do it. And everything he’s telling me— He’s like a book on cinema. He knew everything about actors and the movies. You could call him up and ask him anything and he had the information on it. So, when he’d say he thought I’d be good at it, I trusted what he was telling me was the truth. Back then I was a real young kid so people made impressions on me back then. Back then I wanted to be a cook and make pizzas. I wanted to own my own pizza shop one day. That was my big dream back when I was a kid. But things change.
I trusted what Paul was saying to me was the truth and I was getting a lot of press.

There were the movies I did with Paul and the movies that I did with Andy. Andy’s movies, whoever talked the fastest and the most was the lead in the movie. There was no story to it, it was just whatever was interesting to Andy that went in the movie. The first time I met him he was sitting behind a camera reading a newspaper and we couldn’t see him because he had the newspaper up. And he was turning the camera on and off. And you’d hear a giggle or a laugh from behind the newspaper, and then his hand would come out and he’d switch the camera on and off. Really strange, peculiar guy.

And an odd artistic partner for Paul, a number of people have noted.

Paul always was trying to shift him in a different direction in the way he made his films. To put more of a story to it. To use the people in a more interesting way. This is back when Paul had the greatest eye for casting, because he’d pick these peculiar people, and they were very interesting, and they had a knack for being able to tell stories and stuff. Until we went to Europe and he’d get people who just spoke to him briefly in English. Then, come to find out, they didn’t speak well enough to improvise their lines. So it was kinda good I said I wanted things written for me. They had to write things for the other people too.

And he’s shooting in an environment he doesn’t approve of.

He was always trying, in some way, to change those people. Get them to go in a different direction than what they were doing. He’d get really upset with Andrea [Feldman]. He wanted her to be normal. But Andrea was just Andrea.

And Andy...

Andy wouldn’t know my name when I came into the office. My brother was his chauffeur and drove him around all day long. Would come back telling me all these stories and conversations they talked about in the car. He chose who he talked to, who he spoke to and listened to. People I guess he thought were entertaining. And there were people that he didn’t. I was one of those people he didn’t speak to very much. I used to think he was just afraid of me. That’s why they had me up there guarding the door or something. I always got the impression they wanted me almost like a bodyguard, or somebody that scared people away: “Andy’s not here today.” When he’s here in the back.

But of everybody, you kept on making movies.

I went over to Italy with the idea I’d come back Clint Eastwood, but it didn’t happen that way. I was too short for a horse.


But you made some action movies.

I made all these shoot ‘em up films.

Did you know you were going to stay in Europe when you went over to do Frankenstein and Dracula, or did all that happen while you were there.

They were already offered to me by the time I finished Frankenstein and Dracula. Paul set it up so I’d do movies over there.

And I don’t know a thing about them— about the Italian films. They were like gangster films, right?

Bad boy gangster films. I’m the guy who was selling cigarettes for the higher ups, but then wanted to take over and do it for myself. They made a bunch of those lower budgeted ones over there. They would shoot them pretty fast. They were all like that, back to back. I swore off artists when I got to Italy. But the manager who helped me over there because Italian wasn’t my language, and I had to have somebody to interpret for me. I remember telling them I didn’t want to work with art directors. I just wanted to do shoot-em-ups/And he said, “No, no, no, no, you came from working with Andy, you have to continue working with art directors. So I continued working with art directors in France.

Louis Malle. Serge Gainsbourg.

Who?

Serge Gainsbourg.

Oh, yeah, Serge.

He was already established as a musician, but Je t'aime moi non plus  was his first film, and he’s writing, and directing. And it just looks like everybody is comfortable, and having a great time. Is that just my impression, or is that accurate?

That’s accurate. I believe it was Serge. He had an openness about him. I didn’t know if it was because he drank a lot or what, but we all had a really great time doing the film. I became a good friend of Serge after that. I don’t usually stay connected, I move on. It’s family when you’re doing it, then you move on. That’s how it is in a film, you’re family. But Serge was a great guy.

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Do you have a favorite film.

Oh, Je t'aime. When it was done, Serge wanted a bigger showing here [in America]. Not sent out to some odd theater. He wanted a big release. I believe it was a little too early. People weren’t there yet. But the material was great material. And it was beautiful to look at.

Yes, with the aerial shots. A really playful camera.

When I did Louis Malle film it was great to work on that too. When I saw the film, my son, who was still young, loved the it. He just loved it. So I saw it a couple of times. But I didn’t see the colors. We spent a lot of time with the lighting, and it wasn’t what I expected from his talent. But it was a fun film.

Je t'aime  was certainly colorful. I think of the truck.

They asked if I drove a truck, and I was thinking a little pickup truck. I get there and it’s this big Mack truck with two gear shifts and air brakes. Holy shit. And the first shot they want me to drive up to a plate glass window with her behind and stop. And I thought everybody’s gonna run away because they don’t know if I’m going to stop in time. Our cameraman was one of the craziest, bravest guys I ever knew. There was a shot he wanted to do from a plane and he was hanging outside the plane to get the shot. That was just his way of doing things. And I loved Gerard [Depardieu]. He was doing a movie in Italy and would fly in on the weekends to shoot these small scenes with us. And he was so much fun. Everybody walked the extra mile to make the film look good, like it was in the midwest and shot in America.

It would be wrong of me to not ask something about. Sticky Fingers. The Smiths. Lou Reed and “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.” You didn’t even know Lou when he wrote about “Little Joe,” is that correct.


That’s correct. None of those things had nothing to do with me. With the Smiths album, [Smiths singer Morrissey] was a fan, and I don't think he asked anybody for permission. He just used the picture. Sticky Fingers, the crotch shot could have been anybody. The only reason I know it was me is because of my belt. With "Walk on the Wild Side," that was Paul Morrissey telling Lou he should watch some films they'd been doing and write about the people in them. He wrote about the character he saw on screen. It wasn't like he was socializing with us."


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Vicki Lawrence Talks Carol Burnett, One-Hit-Wonders, Miley Cyrus, and Touring with Mama

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 2:25 PM

Mama and Vicki
  • Mama and Vicki
Vicki Lawrence doesn’t want Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show to be just a retrospective. The Carol Burnett Show alum, who had a hit single with, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” and a hit show in Mama’s Family wants to bring her most famous character into the 21st-Century and let her comment on current events. She also wants to give fans everything they expect from Mama, and maybe a little bit more.

Fly on the Wall: I was a tour guide at Graceland, and know what It’s like to be asked the same questions over and over again. Are there questions you get so often you want to answer, “Can’t you just ask Google?”


Vicki Lawrence: Ha! Maybe. But maybe it’s like your kids wanting to hear the same story over and over again, you know? Or maybe they don’t believe it, so they really want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, if you will. That said, what’s the question?

Oh, that WAS the question. As an interviewer, I’m a little bit obsessed with how people experience interviews, particularly the questions that come up again and again. And between The Carol Burnett Show, which is iconic, Mama’s Family, which is ubiquitous, and having this career anomaly one-hit-wonder with “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” I suspect you get a lot of repeat questions.

Well, you know, when I put this show together I knew all the questions people asked me over and over again, so I made my half of the show — because I call it a two woman show — I made my half largely autobiographical, because it’s the questions everybody always asks. I know if we turned up the lights — I do questions like Carol — this is everything everybody would ask. So, the first thing I answer is how I met Carol and how I got started, and how I became a natural red head, how I only had one huge hit record, how I met my husband, how Mama happened. I think by the end of the Vicki half of the show people know more about me than they probably ever wanted to know. I don’t know what they’d ask.

That was my sense of the show.

Well, I also think my life has been pretty comical, and pretty serendipitous, so it’s kind of a funny half of the show. It’s pretty incredible what happened to me. It’s nothing I ever intended. And it’s funny, because I grew up in very close proximity to Hollywood, my dad worked in Hollywood, at Max Factor, the entire time I was growing up. That’s where I hung out and went to dance classes and worked. I was lucky enough to go see the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl when they first came around. It’s where I hung out. But it never occurred to me to go into show business. I was going to go to college, study dental hygiene, learn to clean teeth, marry a rich dentist. I kind of feel like I got kidnapped by show biz.

But you were always a performer, weren’t you? How old were you when you were doing [teen singing group] The Young Americans?

High school. And yeah, I do have all that too. I auditioned when I was a freshman. End of Freshman year and sang with them all through high school.


So it was always there but just for fun?


It wasn’t anything that ever occurred to me as something I might do for a living. Or maybe I didn’t think I was good enough. Or, I don’t know. So the whole thing has been a wonderful, strange adventure.

Thelma Harper is such a complete character. So distinct from you, and you have shared a body for a long time now. Do you turn Mama on and off like a light, or is she always lurking? I’ve always thought it would be great to have a little Mama — like a cartoon angel — that just rode around on my shoulder, complaining about things.

I know her so well. It’s very easy to pop in and out of that character. And I do find, as I get older that I probably think a lot more like she does. You earn the privilege to not waste as much time anymore so you just say what’s on your mind. And I kinda understand that as I get older. It’s like everything that’s going on in Washington right now. Do you think I’m going to live long enough to see the movie? It’s going to be a helluva movie.

I feel like I’m not as prepared for this interview as I should be because instead of doing my homework I keep having to check the news to make sure all of that’s real and not the result of a bad potato before bedtime.

Right?


But back to you. You do get sucked into Show business young. Were you doing Carol Burnett while you were going to college, is that right?


My dad was a UCLA grad, and it was always his dream that I would go there. We lived near UCLA and the deal was, “Of course you can go to college as long as you’re at the studio by 11-o'clock in the morning. So I took everything I could take at 7 a.m. and didn’t have much of a college life. I made it through two years and had to declare a major. Decided I’d declare theater arts because it looked like that was what I was going to do. Started studying that, but once you sign up they expect a quarter of crew work, and they expect you to audition for shows when they come up, and that’s when the Burnett show was the busiest. In the beginning we blocked on Friday, pre-recorded Friday night, shot on Saturday. So I couldn’t do it. I was hiding from everybody. I was the kid who would dash around the corner when the professor would say, “hey you!” So I went to my parents and said I needed to change my major, and so I changed it to dance. And that was so depressing in college compared with what I’d been learning in Hollywood. I used to take jazz classes from guys who were the Jets in West Side Story. It was cool. So I dropped out of that. So I went to my favorite theater professor and said, “What am I going to do?” He said, “You’re where every kid in this department would give their right arm to be. My advice: Get a pad and pencil and go learn from the best people in the business.” And that just broke my parents’ hearts. My mom never went to college so it killed her. Till the day she died she said I needed to go back to college and get a degree so I’d have something to fall back on if show business doesn’t work. But I felt like I had no choice. And it was hard not to learn from Harvey [Korman] and Carol just by osmosis. Just sitting and listening.

I bet. Was it unusual to everybody that you were doing school and the show at the same time?

Well, I didn’t do a whole lot on the Burnett show when I first started. Going to school and getting to the studio wasn’t a problem. People do it all the time now. You hear about movie stars that went to Harvard and Yale — I guess they weren’t doing a weekly television show.

Yeah. Time off between movies is a whole different dynamic.

But in the beginning I was hired to play her kid sister, and that’s really all I did for at least a season and a half. Then they slowly broke me into other sketches. So it’s not like I had a ton to do.

And Carol and Harvey were your mentors. They took you under wing.

Well, Carol had a show to run, so she had a lot to do. But Harvey, just being the team player he was, took comedy very seriously. And he was a trained dramatic actor. So he decided he would take me under his wing and make me a comedian. He would say, you can’t find stage right, stage left, you can’t even find the toilet. So he set about to train me. He’d work with me on dialects, and my props. And he’d explain to me who I was in those movie takeoffs when I didn’t know. It was great to have Harvey Korman for a tutor.

People make so much of Tim Conway’s antics. But the secret weapon was Harvey…

He made it work.

So you were 24 when you start playing Mama?

Uh-huh.


A Hollywood youngster, playing a much older Southern lady from circumstances very different from your own. How did you find her?


First, I played a lot of older women on Carol’s show. Mama wasn’t the first, she’s just the one that stuck. But you’ve got to remember, it was Carol’s show. So, when Carol was playing Shirley Temple, I was playing the mean old school marm. And, while she was playing Rebecca, I was the wicked old housekeeper. She was Snow White, I was the wicked witch. She was Red Riding Hood I was… I don’t know. Who was I in that? Anyway, I played a lot of older women on that show. So Mama wasn’t the first. She was written for Carol, and I tell this story in the show. I call it another gift from Carol. Because she didn’t want the part. She said, “It doesn’t speak to me, I want to be Eunice.” The writers were very upset. She went to Bob Mackie and said, “Don’t you think we should make Vicki Mama? He said absolutely and the writers were doubly upset. Then we got to rehearsals and she said she wanted to do it Southern. The writers literally walked out the first time they saw it. They said, “You’ve ruined it.” This was their baby. They came from dysfunctional upbringings, and they wrote this beautiful homage to their families and Carol ruined it. Of course, what we know is Carol really didn’t ruin it, she was right. Carol and I were doing an interview together, for extended features on a DVD, and, because some of our sketches could get pretty dark, she said she always thought it would be a good exercise for an acting class to take one of our sketches and play it seriously first, then go back and add the accents. I think that’s why she added the accents. She always said it was like Tennessee Williams on acid.

On something. I remember being young and seeing those sketches and they upset me. Everybody seemed so unhappy and angry. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I got how funny they are. I remember sitting down with the family to watch Carol Burnett — this was family entertainment. But in retrospect, a lot of it was pretty dark. Like a dwarf crushed by an elephant during an act of lovemaking. It was pretty adult stuff.

It was. And those were arguably Carol’s favorite characters. The writers couldn’t write those sketches fast enough. It was al very close to real life. Much more than anything else we did.

Mama’s costume — it’s almost like a uniform — is there one part you put on that makes you feel complete? I’ve always guessed the support hose.

The socks I rolled down because it reminded me of my grandma whose socks were always sagging. It is like a uniform. I can’t imagine not doing it in any part of it. I did go out without my glasses one time though. I reached up to touch them and was like, “Holy cow!” I didn’t say anything and the audience didn’t say anything. Maybe nobody noticed. But I felt naked after that.

I bet. These characters — Chaplin’s tramp, Groucho’s Groucho — you take away the cain or the cigar — you take away part of the identity.

Yeah, I know. And I get pictures every year of people who dress up like her for Halloween.

Did you feel right away, when you started doing this, that it was special?

We did. The writers walked out and did not. Said we ruined it. But you can tell when something’s really rolling when you’re doing it and it’s funny. They wrote it as a one time sketch, but it got so much positive fan mail.

Over time did the writers warm to the changes?

I’m not sure. I guess they did. We took the writers when we went to do Mama’s Family and they didn’t warm to those changes at all. We did two episodes and I said, “This is not funny.” This doesn’t feel right.” And I shut the show down and said, please, please bring Harvey in. And so we did and I asked Harvey, “How do we fix this, it doesn’t feel funny?” He said, “Well, it’s a sitcom now, sweetie. It’s got to be silly. You can’t expect people to pop a beer, come home every week, throw up their feet and watch this old lady scream at everybody for a half-an-hour. She’s got to become a sitcom star. She’s got to laugh.” I said, “But I don’t think she’s ever even smiled.” He said, “What have I taught you — you ARE her. She is YOU. Anything you can do, she can do.” He was really responsible for turning her loose, and turning her into the peacock she became. And there was nothing the writers could throw at me that she couldn’t do, anything. From running for mayor to learning to drive to dirty dancing to falling in love. Anything. She did it all.

I’ve got to talk about “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” I’ve got a friend who’d be upset if I didn’t. A 51-year-old man. Works out to your record— The first one. Knows every word to every song.

Oh. My. Well, you know I was married to the songwriter for like 10-minutes and “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” was the only good thing that came out of it. That and I got to keep the dog.

Does the fact that it was a troubled relationship change your relationship to the song?

No, the song took on a life of its own and was the ultimate demise of an already doomed marriage. It became this big huge juggernaut of a hit from the 70’s and you know— If you have one of those you have to sing it. And I feel okay. I got the last word, I was right. It WAS a huge hit. And I lobbied long and hard for the guy that arranged that record. His name was Artie Butler and he was on the charts with a number of other songs that I loved at the time. He was not the producer’s go-to arranger and they didn’t get along so great. But he was totally responsible for the way that song ended up sounding, but wasn’t called back in to do the album. I look back and think, “You don’t break up the winning team!” So the album I’m not proud of at all.It got done because it had to but it wasn’t the great experience of doing, “Georgia.”


How did you fit the music career in around the TV show?

I didn’t really have a music career. Back then, when this happened to me, you didn’t cross pollinate like you do now.

Unless you were like the Brat Packers.

But record stars didn’t really do Television, Television stars didn’t make records. Movie people were never on the small screen, ever.

And most of the ones that did happen, didn’t work.

Right. Now, if you’re not doing it all, and a line of makeup and clothing, you’re not doing it. Back then I’d do interviews in conjunction with the record and people would say, “Vicki Lawrence, where have you been?” I’d be like, “On the Carol Burnett Show for six years.” Or I’d have people call me Vicki Carr. “No.”

It seems so very separate. I wondered if, even then, people didn’t make the connection.

People come to the show who say, “I had no idea that was you.”


You mention that nowadays you have to do everything or you’re not doing it. You’ve obviously done the Disney thing working on Hannah Montana with Miley Cyrus. As a former youngster who had such incredible mentors, did you feel the urge to step into that kind of role?


Those producers on Hannah Montana set about to surround her with actors who were really good. Brooke Shields. Dolly Parton played her other grandmother. There were a lot of big stars on that show. And they would say. “She’s like a little sponge. We want to let her learn, so please impart your wisdom. It was a very nurturing environment. I remember the first day on the set we had a kitchen scene with a lot of props and we had to get something done during the scene. I used to love those scenes on Mama’s Family because our director would choreograph them like a dance. By the end of the kitchen scene you’d have something made, or in the oven. I’d associate my lines with my props, and it made it so much easier to learn. So we were having trouble getting something sorted out and I said, “Make your props your friend, Miley.” The first thing Harvey ever taught me. So we made it a little dance and it worked fine. Flash forward, four years later, I’m doing the last episode of Hannah Montana I ever did. And Mamaw and Miley are at a Tea Room and we’re all dressed up in our high heels. And I set my purse down in the middle of the table, and it just wasn’t working. I asked Miley what she did with her purse and she said, “I hung it on the back of my chair Vicki. Make your props your friends.”

We haven’t talked much about your show.

I'll share one of my favorite stories. When we first started doing it, we got booked in Laughlin, Nevada, which is about 90 miles from Vegas, and a world away. It's on the Colorado. Mobile homes. A much older crowd. So we're working this big casino there, and the fella that booked the show came down on the second or third night to say hi. We were all sitting in the dressing room talking — me, my husband, who produces the show, and my son, who directs it — and he asks, 'Would you like to know what the word is out on the casino floor?' And I said, 'Sure, what is the word on the casino floor?' He said, 'The word is, wear your Depends.' That's probably the nicest compliment I've ever gotten.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Memphis Gets a Shout Out From Joss Whedon and a Beautiful Artist's Diary

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 12:47 PM

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Thumbing through Twitter last night I noticed a tweet from Mr. Avengers director, Joss Whedon that read, "this THIS this." It linked to a graphic essay about the contemporary political landscape, and lessons that might be learned from Memphis. So I clicked.

You'll want to click too.

Artist Christopher Noxon wasn't prepared for what he found at the Civil Rights Museum and was moved to share his experience.

What happened on Mulberry St. was foundation-shaking. What's grown up in the shadow of tragedy contains a blueprint of dissent — a map to freedom.  

It's still inspiring people.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

George Perez: Cool Things About Memphis Comic Expo Part II

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 5:14 PM

George Perez, Wonder Woman
  • George Perez, Wonder Woman
Man, when it comes to George Perez, where do you start? Avengers? New Teen Titans? JLA? Crisis on Infinite Earths? Wonder Woman? The Infinity Gauntlet? His entirely reasonable reasons for wanting to put the New 52 Superman in his rearview mirror?

(I suppose I could start with he's coming to the Memphis Comic Expo, but that's a little too easy)

As an artist and writer working in the majors, few individuals have done more to refine and redefine the two big superhero universes. He's been doing it for 40-years too, so, even when you think about his greatest hits, there's a lot to choose from. But for me, I think this is a story best told from the beginning. Or, the very near beginning when Perez became a regular artist working on Marvel's Deadly Hands of Kung Fu

I don't know how to rank all the various sub-elements in the SuperOmniVerse. Obviously heroes are on top of the food chain. Then comes magic and monsters, maybe. Then a mix of mainstays that fall in and out of fashion — martial arts, western, war, romance etc. None of it's pure anymore, it's all mixed up. But there have been periods when Marvel Kung Fu was more or less its own thing and some of the coolest pulp around. Hopefully Netflix Iron Fist — an often tertiary hero also getting some play in Marvel animated properties aimed at younger audiences — will show some love for a super comics tradition, diluted in the bigger universe of powers. This a long way of saying, I loved this stuff as a kid, and was a particular fan of a character called White Tiger. He's the first Puerto Rican superhero, with all sorts of crisis and conflict, and his story was forged in a white hot crucible of magic and martial arts. Perez co-created the Tiger with Bill Mantlo.

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The female White Tiger — the best part about the cloying Ultimate Spider-Man animated series (if it has a best part) — is the original Tiger's daughter. But now I'm way off track and far away from the point I originally wanted to make, which is this: The man can draw figures in action like few others. And, to the degree the comics reflected Kung Fu cinema, you can see its influence throughout Perez's work. Particularly in quick, intimate, funny moments in the midst of all out brawls. 
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I don't even know if I could recognize Perez if he wasn't wearing one of his trademark wife-made Hawaiian-style shirts covered in pictures of superheroes or robots or — it's always something. It's so evident that before anything else, he's a big, big geek (in the best way), and a big, big fan. And while I was just praising his smaller moments, he may be best known for arranging a lot of characters in a single frame. If you want the Avengers going toe to toe with the Squadron Supreme: Perez. If you want to write a series that includes every major and minor character in the DC Universe: Perez. 

It's probably worth mentioning his co-invention of the New Teen Titans with marvelous Marv Wolfman. If only because the series was able to do for DC what the X-Men were doing for Marvel. And because it's awesome. 

You can't blame a master for those who came after him. I can hardly bear the animated Teen Titans Go series that just won't go away. But I could probably watch Perez draw Cyborg all day.

All that and I haven't even gotten around to the writing. If you know you know. If you don't, he's well worth your Google search. 

Fun interview with Perez here. And just in case you can watch him draw Cyborg all day too, here you go... 


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Love & Rockets: Cool Things at Memphis Comic Expo Part I

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 3:05 PM

Love. Rockets. Etc.
  • Love. Rockets. Etc.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are now leaving Riverdale... 

You won't be seeing Betty or Veronica or Archie or Moose on any of the clean cut  white bread youngsters once so associated with comic books for readers more interested in ordinary (and not so ordinary) life than superheroes, high adventure, and daring do.

We're on our way to Southern California, and uncharted points beyond America's Southern border. 
Life in Riverdale
  • Life in Riverdale

It's hard to say that the seminal 80's/90's-era alt comic Love & Rockets is unprecedented. As suggested above, in some regards, it's not as big a leap from Archie comics as one might think — although it is a big one. And over time, as characters have come, gone, grown, and diminished, a more direct line might be drawn to one of America's longest running newspaper strips — Gasoline Alley. But with it's punk rock ethos,  a multiethnic, variously sexual, heavily Latino cast of characters, and an odd, sometimes unsettling mix of real life and science fiction, it's also fair to say that Love & Rockets is one of the most groundbreaking  and influential serialized comics in the history of the medium. 

It's only tangentially related, but probably worth mentioning, that the title was also lifted by former members of the pioneering goth band Bauhaus. Sure, they only had one hot 100 hit, but moving out of the punk/goth milieu, Love & Rockets pretty much set at least one of the goal posts for what would become "alt" or "college rock." That's a simplification, of course, but this is a quick hit blog post and I'm okay with that. 


One of the most interesting things about Love & Rockets is how it toys with reader bias and challenges ideas about race and gender. Characters drawn nearly in the style of hyper-sexualized superheroes (but in normal clothes) may elicit eye rolls — until you spend time with the characters' stories, and come to grips with the meaning of these exaggerations. It's complicated, nuanced storytelling that takes place in a fictional America (and not America) where the rules of reality are just a little off — and so right on. Great art, great characters, great storytelling. And the story of the comic is very nearly as compelling as the stories the comic tells. 

And guess what? Both brothers behind this fantastic Eisner-winning title will be at the Memphis Cook Convention Center this weekend for the Memphis Comic Expo: Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez.
Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez
  • Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez
"They have been producing their Love & Rockets comics since 1982 and they were way ahead of the curve," says Expo founder Don Juengling, in an emailed conversation abut the up and coming event. "Gilbert's stories featured a huge cast of characters set in the fictional village of Palomar. Jaime's tended to be set in Los Angeles. The stories featured a diversity of characters previously unseen in comics. These are stories that feature a large Latino cast and they even had gay characters. And often blend magical realism into their dramas. And remember this is an independent comic that started in the early 80's and has managed to survive to this day."

Not only has it stuck around (following some breaks here and there). Love & Rockets, which has mostly been published in the form of graphic novels and collections in recent years, is returning to its original comic book format this week. That's a cool thing if there ever was one. 

For a fantastic interview with both brothers, click here. 
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jerry Lee Lewis is Having a Yard Sale

Killer deals y'all!

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 6:57 PM

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Okay, it's an "estate sale," technically. But the point remains the same: There's gonna be a whole lotta selling going on in Nesbit, Mississippi.
Just think about it. This may be your one and only chance to own Jerry Lee Lewis' personal George Foreman Grill. Now, I can't say for sure that the Killer actually owns a George Foreman Grill, or that it will be for sale this Friday, but I can say for a fact — and if you doubt me, try me — if Jerry Lee does own such a device, and it is for sale, and there's somebody out there who thinks they're gonna buy it out from under my nose and steal my plan to launch a Great Meatballs of Fire food truck business, well... somebody's gonna get their ass whupped. That's all. 

Now, if we're all clear about Jerry Lee's George Foreman, here's what the Facebook announcement had to say.

"Jerry Lee and Judith Lewis, have decided to sell some of their long time belongings. Furniture, smaller items,kitchenware, personal JLL Memorabillia, and more available

Sale is Friday June 24 8am-6pm and again Saturday 8am-6pm



Some items will be posted to this event page as for sale, but any shipping or handling will be buyers responsibilty.

All items sold on property become the responsibility of the buyer to ship or handle.

Since I have had a lot of personal inquiries into the matter Dad(Jerry Lee) wants everyone to know he is not selling his property or leaving his home. After so many years of traveling the country, furnishing other homes, and then getting said furniture back he and Judith just have to much and would like to let some of it go."
And, here's some Linkage with details. 

Shedding Some Light on an Abandoned Building at 82 S. Main

Do Artists Robin Salant and Terance Brown Hold the Secret to Life Itself?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Terance Brown and Robin Salant
  • Terance Brown and Robin Salant
I've got a mini-feature in this week's issue of The Memphis Flyer about artists Robin Salant and Terance Brown who are turning the abandoned building at 82 S. Main into an interactive, multi-story art installation. Instead of repeating that story here, I'll link it as soon as it comes on line. (LINK) But here's the short version.
Salant and Brown want to give the empty building a pulse. More than that, they want that pulse to respond to external stimulus, like an actual human heartbeat. 
It's great to watch how projects like "Urban Meridians" and Salant's previous solar-powered work at Sears Crosstown, can capture imaginations and change the way people think about and respond to big, empty spaces. It's also fun going into old buildings before they're revitalized, just to see what's left over from its previous lives. 
This Friday night at 8:30 Salant and Brown will flip the switch on "Urban Meridians," and 82 S. Main will start working hard to get your attention by lighting up, throbbing with light, and mysteriously knocking against its own ground floor windows (thanks to industrial fans and ball-pit balls). In the meantime, here are a handful of images from inside one of Main Street's empty containers
Urban decay or Jackson Pollock?
  • Urban decay or Jackson Pollock?
Going up?
  • Going up?
Heartbeats illustrated.
  • Heartbeats illustrated.
Still life with ladder.
  • Still life with ladder.
Corner office
  • Corner office
Hot tin roof. Well, ceiling anyway.
  • Hot tin roof. Well, ceiling anyway.
Solar lighting.
  • Solar lighting.
Rigging.
  • Rigging.
Tile.
  • Tile.
More modern decay.
  • More modern decay.
View from the top part 1.
  • View from the top part 1.
View from the top part 2.
  • View from the top part 2.
Elevator operator
  • Elevator operator
Going down
  • Going down

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New Chemical Element Named For Tennessee

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 at 4:33 PM

Turning the Table
  • Turning the Table

The periodic table of elements has four new entries, and one of them bears the name of the Volunteer State. Element 117 was discovered in 2010 by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR), a collaboration between Russian and American scientists who are trying to create ever-heavier elements. 117 was tentatively named “ununseptium”, but today the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announced that its official name will henceforth be “Tennessine”. Since the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research discovered two different elements at the same time, the Russian team was allowed to name element 115 “Moscovium”, and the American team, based in Oak Ridge, was given rights to name 117 Tennessine. Its chemical symbol is Ts. The “-ine” suffix indicates it is a part of the group of elements known as halogens. 
Like most elements that far down the periodic table, Tennessine is extremely unstable, with a half-life of less than one second. Nevertheless, the JINR researchers believe its existence proves the longstanding theoretical concept of the “island of stability”, a predicted set of superheavy atomic nuclei whose configurations would lead to much longer-lived elements.

The two other elements named today are 113 Nihonium, which was named for Japan where it was discovered, and 118 Oganesson, which was named for its discoverer Yuri Oganessian.

Here’s a delightful video with more information on this late breaking chemistry news. 


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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tony Stark Visits Memphis, Brings Iron Man Armor

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2016 at 3:56 PM

He is Iron Man.
Memphis looms large in American pop culture history, and your pesky Fly on the Wall likes to keep readers informed when the Bluff City’s notably name-checked in movies, TV shows, comic books and other media. For example, the rooftops of Uptown were showcased in Invincible Iron Man #4, which was originally published last December, but just became available to digital Marvel Unlimited subscribers last week.

Here's the shot: Billionaire industrialist/Golden Avenger Tony Stark was supposed to visit sick kids at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital but, in typical Stark fashion, he forgot about the appointment and tried to bail.
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Always the futurist Stark anticipated this craven moment and pre-recorded a video of himself shaming his future self for being such predictable dick. So, of course he goes to St. Jude, brings his Iron Man armor, and has a great time with all the kids. Well, until Dr. Doom shows up and things get weird.

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So yeah, the images aren't all the Memphis-y. Even the rooftop conversation with Doc. Doom is pretty generic. Nevertheless, that happened. 

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Kickstarting a Documentary About the Memphis Country Blues Society

Or, The Best Rolling Stones Concert that Never Happened

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 11:23 AM

Dang
  • Dang

Why does there need to be a documentary about the Memphis Country Blues Society, and the Country Blues Festivals of 1967, ‘68, and ‘69? So director Augusta Palmer can get local treasure Jimmy Crosthwait to tell stories like this one about scolding the Rolling Stones, convincing them to play in Memphis for free, and how the whole thing gets screwed up in the end. That's why.

Jimmy Crosthwait: 
See, the Rolling Stones had recorded Reverend Robert Wilkins song, “Prodigal Son” without giving him credit as a writer. Well, at some point, while organizing the ‘69 festival, [Insect Trust Guitarist] Bill Barth and Chris Wimmer went over to Reverend Wilkins’ house and was able to get in touch with the Rolling Stones from Wilkins’ phone. I think they probably called Stanley Booth who was writing his story on the stones, “Dance with the Devil.” And that’s how they got the number. So, in the end they're talking to Mick Jagger who's apologizing, and wanting to make it all right with the reverend Robert Wilkins. Well, Barth asks, “How would you like to play the ‘69 Memphis Country Blues Festival?” And they said, “Fine." If the city can come up with some plane tickets, and put them up, they’d be more than happy to do that gratis. So then they asked the Reverend Robert Wilkins if he would like to talk to Mick Jagger. And Robert, he says, “No, you tell that boy I'll talk to him in person.” 

Money for plane tickets and lodging never materialized so the concert never happened. But even if it had, a Stones appearance would have just been icing on a big, bluesy cake.

The first Memphis Country Blues festival was assembled with almost no money. According to legend it was kickstarted with $50 from Jim Dickinson’s paycheck and a chunk of hashish that ranges from baseball to softball size depending on who’s telling the story.

“I think all the old blues players were paid money, but everybody got paid in red Lebanese hash,” Crosthwait confirms. Barth, he says, wanted to make sure everybody was happy with their compensation.

The festival showcased artists like Slim Harpo, Bukka White, Fred McDowell, Moloch, Johnny Winter, Joe Callicott, Furry Lewis, Albert King and Canned Heat. It attracted huge crowds and was the subject of a 2-hour PBS special hosted by Steve Allen in ‘69.

“Somebody told me [Last Train to Memphis/Sweet Soul Music author] Peter Guralnick and his brother drove in from Philadelphia in a VW bus. That the ‘69 festival really ignited the spark of his love for Memphis music. Robert Gordon shared the clip of Guralnick in my trailer. I didn't shoot that, but hope to interview him.

“I feel like all these people involved in the festival were really seekers,” Palmer says. “Some of that was just following along with the party, of course. It was a very psychedelic time and the tendency is to think that's all just about having a great time and getting really messed up. But I think there was also the sense that they were really seeing the world in a new way and trying to remake the world.”

Palmer tells the story of young white musicians going to older black artists for mentorship. Crosthwait illustrates the point by recalling the 1968 festival, which was held in what is now the Levitt Shell on July 20, 3-months after Martin Luther King was assassinated at the nearby Lorraine Motel.


“We had a complete roster of black and white musicians, and a complete audience of black-and-white people there at the show,” Crosthwait says. Nationally there was division and unrest, but not at the Memphis Country Blues Festival. “I didn't really think about it until until years later. In its own way, that was a very special event, and an interesting unification of black and white participants on both sides of the stage.”

“[The Shell] was a place to create this community that hadn't really existed before,” Palmer says. “It still feels aspirational to have people of all races together celebrating American culture. It happens sometimes, but it doesn't happen all the time.”

If you’re interested in the Memphis Country Blues Society you can read more in this week’s Memphis Flyer cover story. The Levitt Shell has been given another extraordinary (and necessary) facelift. Instead of just cataloging all the fantastic improvements I wanted to present them on the context of an amazing cultural resource that we almost lost more than once. Not to take anything away from the Levitt Foundation — the heroic cavalry of this story. But the Shell’s decline is closely related to a story of shifting cultural attitudes, and we owe a lot to folks who kept it standing when others wanted to turn it into a parking lot.

Also, if you’d also like to help Palmer make her documentary about the Memphis Country Blues Festival, there’s still time to donate to her Kickstarter campaign.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Remembering Rufus Thomas and Prince at the New Daisy

Thank you for a funky time.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Prince, not at the New Daisy
  • Prince, not at the New Daisy
Pictures or it didn't happen. Isn't that what they say these days? But mobile phones didn't have cameras in 1997. And even if they did have cameras back then, I didn't own a mobile, and wouldn't for another five years. I didn't own a camera either, and the phone I answered that sweaty August morning was attached to the wall of my townhouse in the Greenlaw neighborhood, which was three years away from its rechristening as Uptown. My friend Kelly was calling because she had news she thought I'd want to know. 

"PRINCE IS PLAYING A SECRET CONCERT AT THE NEW DAISY TONIGHT OMG!," she said. Well, she didn't say "OMG." Nobody said OMG back then. But that was the gist.

Kelly didn't have details. She didn't know when it would happen, or how much it would cost. She wasn't  100% sure it was even happening, or if Prince was really playing a second show or just hanging out while someone else played. But she was 99% sure something involving Prince was happening, which was good enough for me since he was definitely playing a concert at the Bass Pro Shop formerly known as the Pyramid, and the last time Kelly was 99% sure about something the two of us went to the Peabody Hotel, called the front desk from a pay phone, asked for Tom Waits' room, and Tom answered. So, as far as I was concerned, Prince was absolutely playing the New Daisy at some point in the next 24-hours, and I was going to go stand in front of the theater so I could be the first person in the door. There was only one problem: My mom was in town for a rare visit. 
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Time for an aside: There will be plenty of tributes in the days and weeks to come, where people attest to the genius of Prince Rodgers Nelson, who changed ideas about music, sex, and masculinity every bit as much David Bowie, and brought race, and sonic segregation to the mix. I'm not going to do that here, because if you're reading this, you already know. But "Sexy Motherfucker," was playing on the jukebox at Wolf's Corner (now American Apparel) the night the 500 lb woman fell down. She'd been having a good time (like the rest of us) and shaking that ass (like the rest of us), and then that ass shook (and cleared) the dance floor. This is that kind of story. 

"Go," my mom said, without hesitation or even a hint of mom guilt. She already had a 20-dollar bill rolled up, and was sneaking it in my hand. See, my mom stalked Bob Dylan in New York in the 1960's. She says she wasn't stalking anybody, she just knew all the coffee houses where Dylan hung out to stare at his boots, and sometimes she'd go stare at him. I say "semantics." Either way, when it comes to musically cool moms, she makes Starlord's look like a poser. She grew up in Motown, collected records, and met musicians. She's got stories about Freddy and the Dreamers and introduced me to the Nashville Teens and tons of great garage bands. When other moms were using the TV as a baby sitter, she gave me a stack of Federal singles and a record player and didn't say, "sit still." Now she was giving me Prince — and a little spending money just in case I needed something. "Here you go, honey. Have a good time."

All that remains is the memory of a grin so big it threatened to crack my face. And a similar memory of so many other people wearing the same dopy expression.
And so it came to pass, my wife Charlotte, (who was still my girlfriend Charlotte) and I, left mom at home and headed toward Beale St. where we stood and waited for hours for something that might not happen. We weren't the first to arrive, but we were among the first. We certainly weren't the last, and over the course of the day the crowd outside the Daisy swelled into a mob. Then the mob grew into an impatient crush, pushing at times against the theater doors. It was pretty clear everybody wasn't getting in.

I'd never "camped out" for tickets before. But this was different. It was important. Charlotte and I had both grown up in small towns in the 1980's, without a lot of access to any new music other than what was being played on increasingly corporate radio stations. It's almost impossible to explain to anybody who's grown up with the internet, and instant access to everything, just how fresh the opening guitar lick of "When Doves Cry" sounded, as it squalled through the speakers of my cheap SoundDesign boom box. 

Lots of songs have stopped me in my tracks. But only twice in my life has a new song I heard on a top 40 radio station made me stop everything I was doing and give it my full attention. "When Doves Cry," is the least interesting story, but it's the only one I'm telling. I was in my bedroom doing homework when it played on KQ101, a station out of Russellville, KY. The other song was, "Little Red Corvette."

It was late when the line outside the New Daisy finally started moving.  I don't remember what time it was, but the sun was down. People who were tired of standing cheered because it was really happening. We were all about to see Prince tear a club to pieces.

Rufus
  • Rufus
Words like "magic" are overused, but there was alchemy involved in what happened next. Miracles were wrought. Wearing shiny lavender jammies Prince owned the stage, running through songs like "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker," "Baby I'm a Star," and "1999." He covered James Brown, Parliament, and the Staples singers. The highlight of the show, however, was when Prince — always the biggest star in the room— introduced his special guest: 80-year-old Stax royalty, Rufus Thomas, who made his supremely groovy appearance in shorts and knee socks. Then the unflappable Purple one proceeded to nerd the hell out, saying he didn't want his time on stage with Rufus to end.

There was conflict too. And drama! Thomas, who was grooving along with the band, didn't seem to be clear as to what was expected from him. When Prince encouraged him to cut loose and freestyle, he balked: "Oh no." There was a back and forth. Something was said about "nursery rhymes," and then, with increasing confidence, the two men started improvising together. I wish I could tell you what was said and sung, but the details have slipped (or were possibly sipped) away. All that remains is the memory of a grin so big it threatened to crack my face. And a similar memory of so many other people wearing the same dopy expression.
So, about "
Caption story: I was not quite 16 when Purple Rain hit movie theaters. That meant I was unable to see an R-rated film without my parents. So I bought a ticket for Meatballs 2 and snuck in. To this day I've still never seen Meatballs 2.
  • Caption story: I was not quite 16 when Purple Rain hit movie theaters. That meant I was unable to see an R-rated film without my parents. So I bought a ticket for Meatballs 2 and snuck in. To this day I've still never seen Meatballs 2.
Little Red Corvette." I heard it for the first time on my first ever "parking" date with an older woman (she was 16). Now that sounds like a lie because "Little Red Corvette" is a song about  riding around and "parking" with an experienced (ahem) driver. This isn't a teen bragging story though, because nothing happened. Some kissing almost happened, I guess, but before it could really happen I turned up the radio, and said I wanted to listen. To the whole song. In silence. And that's when I learned  you're not supposed to ignore your date, especially if she has the drivers license and the car. Cue Floyd Cramer.

I really wasn't going to tell the parking story because it sounds too perfect to be true. But I needed a way to wrap this memory up, and sometimes the universe gives you weird little gifts. Sometimes it's "Little Red Corvette" on a first date. Sometimes you find yourself front and center for something amazing nobody else will ever get to see. Like the night the 500 lb woman fell down while dancing to the jukebox at Wolf's Corner. Or the time Prince and Rufus Thomas got funky together on Beale St.

I've got no pictures, but I swear to God, Wendy, and Lisa too, it happened. You'll just have to believe me, and and the few hundred other people lucky enough to be there. 

And that's really all I have to say about that. Goodnight, sweet Prince. Rest in Purple. And if you think about it, say hey to Rufus.  
 
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Monday, April 11, 2016

Vintage Radio Ad for Green Beetle & Frank's Liquor Store: "Old Crow Boogie"

Posted By on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 3:31 PM

"Now looka-here, here's what you got to do. Do me this personal little favor. Stop by Frank's cut-rate liquor store, and get you a fifth of Old Crow, and go right next door to The Green Beetle, sit down and relax yourself, take plenty of time, and drink that fifth of Old Crow."
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These vintage radio spots from the days before liquor-by-the-drink was legal in Memphis, aren't newly discovered. But they're new to me so I thought I'd share.
Both encourage folks to visit a jumping little joint called the Green Beetle, which is still going strong on South Main. 

While visiting Memphis in the 1970's musician and record collector Walter Salwitz found an acetate recording labeled, "The Old Crow Boogie" in a thrift store. It only cost a dime so he bought it and took it home but didn't listen to it for years. When he finally gave the disc a spin he was inspired and both recordings are included on Shake That Mess, a 1999 CD released by Salwitz's band the Dynatones

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The radio spot embedded above appeared at the end of "Memphis Women & Fried Chicken."

A second spot, "Green Beetle Lounge," got its own track. And for good reasons too. Apparently the Beetle jumped so hard it could ruin your career as a preacher!


Enjoy. 

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Memphis Heat Soundtrack is Hot Stuff

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 5:33 PM

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I suppose the Flyer's other Chrises — film editor McCoy and music editor Shaw — will be writing about this in the days and weeks to come. But since FOTW works the local wrestling beat, it seemed appropriate to break the news here. The creative team behind Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin' is celebrating the documentary's 5-year anniversary with a March 24th screening at MALCO's Cinema Paradiso that doubles as an official release party for the film's previously unavailable soundtrack. Serious vinyl nerds will want to know that the handsome blood red platter was the first disc cut on Phillips Recording's newly refurbished record lathe. But that's just trivia. The Doug Easley-produced tracks — often introduced with sound bytes from the movie — are all pretty fantastic too.

The record opens with a clip of Superstar Bill Dundee explaining the meaning of heat: "Heat is when they don't like ya." The Superstar's definition transitions perfectly into "Black Knight," a full throttle scorcher by River City Tanlines. It's an excellent start to a disc as offbeat and entertaining as the film that inspired it.  


"Black Knight," is also the only track on the entire record that wasn't created expressly for Memphis Heat. What follows is a series of punchy instrumentals that will do the same thing for your ass they do for the film: Make it move. 

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This is probably my favorite (mostly) original Memphis movie soundtrack since Impala scored Mike McCarthy's Teenage Tupelo. The tracks, recorded by a clutch of Memphis' finest players, have a vintage feel and walk such a fine line between joyous and sleazy they may remind some listeners of the Las Vegas Grind series. 

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Good stuff. 


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