Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Dry Monkee

Dolenz, Jones and Tork were infected with enough neurosis to keep the darker, more brooding
Nesmith darker and more brooding.
The lanky Texan's testosterone dial seemed to be at a different setting, which, at the time, translated to me as... just not as funny or maybe, not-as-funny-as would be more appropriate. But I was a young putz at the time so what did I know.

All it takes is some time for a little history to develop to realize the Monkee with the red fatty Gretsch may have had a bit more brewin upstairs than what we had imagined.

A few of Mike Nesmith's more notable accomplishments are:
-Penning the Monkee's She, Mary-Mary ( which was actually a prior hit for the Butterfield Blues Band)( I didn't know they ever had a hit actually) and The Stone Poney's Differrent Drummer.
-Was the executive producer for the film Repo Man.
-Winning the first Video of The Year Grammy for Elephant Parts.
-Many say he's The Father of Country Rawk
-Created the concept for the first all day video program, Pop Clips, which was later sold as MTV
-His signature wool cap was a staple on The Monkees tv show. Why? Though he was hired for his dead-pan demeanor, he wore this cap during his audition not so he would be distinguished from others but because it was what he was wearing to keep his hair out of his eyes while he rode his motorcycle. That's notable isn't it?
-He was paid $450 per episode. That too is notable...isn't it? Or just kinda side-bar interesting?
-Having a mother who created the type-o savior, Liquid Paper. Nuff said there, Right?

The cruise pictured is not your daddy's Catalina. The Monkeemobile was a souped-up, '66 Pontiac GTO ala George Barris. But I can't be sure George Barris had anything to do with its creation other than it being parked in front of his Kustom Shop in North Hollywood.
I suppose I could have/should have done more research on the topic but I have dial-up so please, don't get me going on that or we'll be here all day...much like dial-up.

Finally. Even though Peter Tork played a shit hot, fatty red Gretsch 6073, there was just something about his fly-away hair that always fell back into place no matter what that kinda bugged me a little. My wife's hair is like that too. She could walk out of a hurricane and right into the Bow Tie Bar on Ten Mile, she's that hot!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Hoky Pete and Hubba-Hubba

Much, much and even plenty more research was preformed and documented to bring you, the people, the most comprehensive, slightly condensed but giddy peek into the world of
nearly-neked-women in turmoil. Most likely displayed on calendars best kept in the garage, basement or dark place that probably requires a flashlight or candle.

Gil Elvgren not only worked along side, but was also a disciple of Haddon Sundblom at the
Stevens/Gross Studio in Chicago. Elvgren was eventually designated to take over for Sundblom at the end of his tenure in ad work for the House of Coca-Cola. He would then go on to contribute 25 years of landmark, American Realist style illustration for the company.

But Before Gil Elvgren landed in Chicago, he was already a much sought after illustrator producing pinup art for Brown and Bigelow and Louis F. Dow, specialty calendar companies out of St. Paul, Minnesota, the artist's hometown.

Through the years evolved a composite Elvgren Girl: wide set- astonished eyes, pursed lips, prominant forehead, gorgeous hair, pert nose and a pinched waist all wrapped up in a natural state of grace and poise (I'm a stayin away from other elements of the Elvgren Girl, as my wife will forever raise the odd eyebrow, if ya get my meanin'). This ideal was thought to belong to one of Elvgren's most popular models, 1954 beauty queen and MGM studio actress, Myrna Hanson. Other notables who passed through the Elvgren studio doors were Myrna Loy, Donna Reed, Arlene Dahl, Barbara Hale and Kim Novak.

I could easily be persuaded to share more from this incredi-cool cat. Lets just chillax for a spell and see where this goes.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Or, How The Dude Abides

Have yourself a merry little christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little christmas
Make the Yule-tide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away

Here we are in the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years
We all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Kudos go to cool cat, Frank Sinatra for settin this holiday bummer on the right path. Ol' Blue Eyes loved the melody but not the melancholy feel of Hugh Martin's original lyrics. So much so that Martin was asked to come up with something more uplifting, less a-bummer-ish (mine) so that the song could be included on Frank's album, A Jolly Christmas, which is now the version best remembered.

The original, made famous by Judy Garland, was taken from the 1944 MGM musical, Meet Me In St. Louis. About a St. Louis father who upsets his family by taking a better paying position in New York. I believe the song's original point of view is that of an older sister to a younger sister that while yes, it is rather shitty that our father is leaving us, but that down the road, when he settles in, we will rejoin him. Sheesh, melancholy is right, and it goes something like this:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last
next year we may all be living in the past

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, pop that champagne cork
Next year we will all be living in New York

No good times like the olden days, happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us, will be near to us no more

But at least we all will be together, If the fates allow
From now on we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Thanks for comin to the rescue on that one Frank, and merry Christmas!

-wikipedia ( where else was I gonna look at 3 o'oclock in the morning)
-art work of Santa by the chimney from Haddon Sundblom for Coca-Cola
-words and music to Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Hugh Martin
and Ralph Blane

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coke Scores A Two-fer

Coke and Santa, if you don't know any better, is really not such an odd pairing when you consider the workload S. Claus had to deal with. His annual record for continually mushing those reindeer from rooftop to rooftop speaks for itself. But wouldn't ya think if he were to send a memo out in advance, say, like a month or two, to have everyone leave their garage door open so that he could just swing in, dump em and go. That chimney entrance has GOT to be brutal...and dirty. I mean, if I've got as much as a cat hair on my Lands End rugby, I'm freakin.

Coca-Cola's red and white imagery and branding, like Marlboro Reds and Budweiser, is as iconic today as ever. Back in 1931, Coke began its new ad campaign using Muskegon, Michigan born
Haddon Sundblom. With travel deemed too much of a luxury still for many post depression and pre-war Americans, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal and National Geographic served as the portals in which to see the world. And within those magazines were the Coca-Cola ads of Sundblom's Santa, the roly-poly, rosy cheeked home invader we know and love. His vision of Santa Claus continues to be my vision of Santa Claus. And he was like from practically down the street for cryin outloud. Sundblom that is, not Santa. I'm relativaly sure Santa is not from Muskegon.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pin-Ups, Pancakes and Santa

Michigander, Haddon Sundblom, illustrated his way into Americana in the early 30's. Giving us the Coca-Cola Santa, Aunt Jemima's Mammy and the Quaker of Quaker Oats. His cherubic Santa style also paved the way for many of the major pin-up artists of the era. More tomorrow...


Monday, December 21, 2009

But Why Is This Important

Many of you have written in asking what TV shows I was watching in 1967, and why? Well, we were really an ABC kind of family. What does that mean? Well... remember how differently your buddy's mom made up tuna sandwiches from how your own mom made up tuna sandwiches, and how you liked your mom's much more. I think it mostly had to do with the pickle relish.
And it was like that with channels 3, 8 and 13. It wasn't good or bad, there was just something different about a family who didn't predominantly tune into ABC.

That said, I offer you a list of shows that ran in the Fall of 1967 with, of course, the occasional remark.

Sunday Nights:
ABC - Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea, FBI, ABC Sunday Night Movie - YES to all
CBS - Lassie, Gentle Ben, Ed Sullivan, Smothers Brothers, Mission Impossible - only ES and SB
NBC - Walt Disney, Mothers In Law, Bonanza, High Chaparral -Nah

Monday Nights:
ABC - Cowboy In Africa, Rat Patrol, Felony Squad, Peyton Place, Big Valley - ABC had it all
CBS - Gunsmoke, Lucy, Andy Griffith, Family Affair, Carol Burnett - Okay, Carol Burnett
NBC - The Monkees, Man From Uncle, Danny Thomas, I Spy - Monkees over Cowboy in Africa. Rat Patrol over Man from Uncle and I Spy over Big Valley ( even though the girl who played Barbara Stanwyck's daughter was a looker, the Coz still ruled).

Tuesday Nights:
ABC - Garrison's Gorilla's, The Invaders, NYPD, Hollywood Palace
CBS - Daktari, Red Skelton, Good Morning World, CBS News
NBC - I Dream Of Jeanne, Jerry Lewis Show, NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies C'MON!

Wednesday Night:
ABC - Custer, 2nd Hundred Years, ABC Wednesday Night Movie
CBS - Lost In Space, Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, He and She, Dundee and the Culhane
NBC - The Virginian, Kraft Music Hall, Run For Your Life - must have worked on homework...yeah, probably not.

Thursday Night:
ABC - Batman, Flying Nun, Bewitched, That Girl, Peyton Place, Good Company
CBS - Cimarron Strip, CBS Thursday Night Movies
NBC - Daniel Boone , Ironside, Dragnet, Dean Martin - pretty fluffy for ABC, CBS is moot and Raymond Burr was killin it

Friday Night:
ABC - Off To See The Wizard, Hondo, The Guns of Will Sonnett, Judd for the Defense
CBS - Wild Wild West, Gomer pyle, CBS Friday Night Movies
NBC - Tarzan, Star Trek, Accidental Family - My man James and his man Artimus, they don't mess around

Saturday Night:
ABC - Dating game, Newlywed Game, Lawrence Welk, Iron Horse
CBS - Jackie Gleason, My Three Sons, Hogan's Heroes, Petticoat Junction, Mannix
NBC - Maya, Get Smart, NBC Saturday Night at the Movies - Out drinkin and dronin'
(just kiddin, I wasn't really dronin)

The Flying Nun Courtesy of,, and wikipedia

Saturday, December 19, 2009

By-Tor And The Snow Dog

" MY SNARE," I hollered, craning my neck stage left toward the roadie (a post-Jurassic era term for what's now known as tech, i.e., drum tech, guitar tech, spatial awareness tech etc.) My look of urgency was greeted with a Yeah?...So, gesture of indifference.
But a few seconds later Mr. I Shouldn't Be Lifting A Finger For You must have taken pity on this pimply, country bumpkin who probably had no business being on this stage to begin with, for out it came, Neil Peart's gleaming #2 snare. And seconds after that, I'm poppin on it.

I'll admit, I often fantasized about being mid-song and wacking a boom stand out of place and having a "tech" run out crouching down as if invisible, and repositioning the mic, then racing back off stage like a NASCAR pit crewmember. And I just watched it play out for real, on my rig. What a narcissistic ass I was, er, am?

Just a couple hours earlier that evening, our band was led into an area backstage reserved for "talent" and crew. Nobody from Rush's table raised an eyebrow as we bashfully shuffled around a couple of card tables with thoughtfully arranged party platters brimming with lunch meat, bread, cheese, lettuce, French's mustard and salad dressing beautifully represented. Sorta cool cuz it was just for us. You kinda wanted to pocket some of it as a momento cuz when was this ever gonna happen again. But of course, the stench.

I was never a huge Rush fan to begin with ( not to be sour grapes) cuz they were so not Tequila Sunrise. I just couldn't get passed Getty Lee's shrill, nasal narration of viking lords descending upon the hobbits. But I gotta tell ya, Neil Peart's guns-a-blazin attack and those prog-style time signatures are what made them the ferocious power trio that they are, period.
Plus 2112 is like the college thesis of air-drum work outs.

Amusing Unrelated Photo of Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield at Romanoffs in Beverly Hills From - Just Because

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blix, Pox and Blunder

Busy Busy Busy Shop Shop Shop Sleep Sleep Sleep. Legend is one of my favorite Ridley Scott flics, not to mention one of the best takes on the spirit of evil, Tim Curry's Lord of Darkness. A heroically bland but likable Tom Cruise and the lovely Mia Sara as the women who demurely holds his heart.
Great fantasy flick. Great cinematography. HEY...NETFLIX?

Photo From Photobucket

Monday, December 14, 2009

B. S. A.

I was at the 2 year mark in art school when an instructor of mine told me this is usually the point where fine art students drop out, as it gets much tougher from here.
Well, even though my interests were not in fine art, I took it as an obscure sign and bailed.

A similar scenario played out in my youth. Only this time not as student, but as a Webelo.
A Webelo is like the junior high of scouting. You start out as a Cub Scout in elementary school then graduate to Webelos. Then, if you decide to cross that hurdle into geekdom, you're a Boy Scout. Finally, the ultimate in uniforms. The WW II like, Khaki shirt and matching shorts with the thick-knit, knee high socks that can only belong to...the Eagle Scout - the Frat Boys of scouting.
Only I never advanced to Boy Scouts. No, I didn't have a scout leader pull me aside to say "Look son, you either got it or you don't." This was my own undoing.

Two memories emerge from my numbered days as a Webelo. Each one at opposing ends of the enjoyment spectrum. The first one I took as a positive. And could have even motivated me a bit to continue into scouting.
It required me to participate in the making of a meal over a fire at a campsite. One of my 2 directives here, involved me rummaging through the woods for firewood. The other was the careful implementation of the varied vegetables that were destined for the roiling pot and the eventual devouring of said meal, which, as turns out, was a pretty tasty vegetable stew. These two difficult tasks gave me points towards some distant merit badge, kinda like S&H green stamps.

The second was an overnight, father and son camp-out at the Gerber Scout Camp. It is with great emotional pain and scarring that I describe this. Unfortunately, my memory blocked everything BUT the early morning hours just after sunrise when I awoke, as did everybody else in a 1 mile radius to my father's paint peeling, concrete busting, jack-hammer snoring. I sat up horrified, imagining a ring of scouts outside, snickering and elbowing each other as they pointed toward our tent. It never occurred to me to wake him, after all, he sounded like he was gonna inhale his own face inside out. You'd think that would do it.

My scouting Days? Finished. I couldn't bare the potential ridicule. So I bailed.
Besides, I was about to enter the 6th grade and the chicks I knew were definitely not into uniforms.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Lonely Surfer

I ain't but barely scrapin the surface here. These are just a few of his songwriting, production and arrangement credits: "Needles and Pins" for Jackie DeShannon, orchestrated and arranged many songs with Phil Spector, notably Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High", works with L.A.'s Wrecking Crew, keyboards on "Paint It Black","Let's Spend The Night Together", "Ruby Tuesday" and the choral arrangement on "You Can't Always Get What You Want", Production credits along with David Briggs on Neil Young's self titled debut, arranging the London Symphony Orchestra on Harvest's "A Man Needs A Maid" and keyboard work for Crazy Horse, with and without Neil.

Notable film score composition credits: Performance, The Exorcist, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Heroes, Blue Collar, Hardcore, When You Comin Back Red Ryder?, Personal Best, Cannery Row, An Officer And A Gentleman, Breathless, The Razor's Edge, Star Man, Stripper, 9 1/2 Weeks, Stand By Me, Revenge, Mermaids, Indian Runner and The Crossing Guard.

Whoa, my writing hand just cramped up. Why anybody hasn't made a film on the late Jack Nitzche is unforgiveable. It would have to be done in installments much like The Godfather. And much like The Godfather, it would be dark.
This excerpt is nicked from Crawdaddy Magazine, November '74. It pretty well captures Nitzche's contempt for the major record labels.

"Record executives really don't care about the music-they care about 'numbers' " aserts Nitzche.
"They refer to the music as 'product' and the only thing that matters with product is numbers-big sales. Record companies are acounting firms"
So who does this surly studio musician think he is - biting the hand that feeds him! Scoffing at Hollywood's tinsel culture just when camp afficionados and Peter Bogdanovich have proclaimed it art. A kvetch like this the business can do without. Stylish Warner Brothers execs sporting aviator shades and cuffed baggies may assert their uniqueness by proudly displaying Thoreau posters on their office walls, but this Nitzche isn't just marching to a different drummer - he's out of tune with the whole band.
Why not pull the plug on him?
The trouble is, Jack Nitzche knows too much. He arranged everything from "He's A Rebel" to "River Deep" for the legendary Phil Spector. He started banging back-up piano for the Rolling Stones when they were a bad boy, British blues band. He's played with everybody from Elvis to Neil Young. After a point, rock-n-roll held no mystery for him so he ventured into film. Performance, a curious cult film Nitzche scored in 1969 was proclaimed the best integration of music and moving images ever, by golden boy Bill Friedkin.
Nitzche is familiar with all the nuts and bolts in the Hollywood Dream Factory. He's kept around because he knows how it all works - not because of his enthusiasm for management."

I wonder if Jack Nitzche ever knew Merle Haggard. Seems like they could've been good friends - or compatriots, even allies.

Did I mention Jack Nitzche grew up in Newaygo, Michigan? Unfortunatley, that association hasn't rubbed off either.

April 22, 1937 - August 25, 2000

CREDITS: - a great site
(also were I found the Crawdaddy piece)

Friday, December 11, 2009

(Pronounced 'Sim-zik')

When you're young and from a small farm town, your association with anything that resembles
greatness, importance or just odd are key to building Rural Credibility.

Muskegon - (Musky Gone) or, poor fishing, lies on the southeast side of Lake Michigan. About a 3 and a 1/2 hour drive around the south end of The Big Lake from Chicago was, at one time, a major industrial port city. But during the 60s and 70s, when manufacturing headed elsewhere, so did the jobs. But the bars were still standing as were some of the unemployed patrons. (Muskegon's always been a tuff gig for an out-of-towner musician, if it wasn't your buddy from the papermill flogging away on Slow Ride, you weren't squat.)

At about this same time, there was thiz guy, from Muskegon, who was putting his own stamp on American music.
Begining with the Navy as a sonar operator, Bill Szymczyk's developed ear led to work at New York's Regent Sound Studios and the Hit Factory as an engineer. But it was his engineering and production work with BB King in the late 60s that provided him with the opportunity to sign and produce his own acts for the ABC label.
One of the first being The James Gang with Joe Walsh. Then came Walsh's solo records, work with The J Geils Band, Rick Derringer and ultimatly The Eagles' cash cow: On The Border, One Of These Nights, Hotel California and The Long Run.
AND, Bob Seger, The Who and our Verve Pipe.
He done good, hunh?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fair Weather King?

I've got a real hankerin' for Fair Isle sweaters, but this one is exceptional. This merino wool hoody is entirely hand knit in Mexico. It's part of the Yuki Matsuda designed, Chamula collection from the Meg Company of Hermosa Beach.
The collection is not only comprised of sweaters for men and women, but scarves, knit tuques, belts and jewelry inspired by the southwest.

Fair Isle sweaters, named for one of Scotland's Shetland Islands, were made popular in the '20s by King Edward the VIII. Ever the playboy, King Edward's eyes found the prize in Wallis Simpson. But for moral reasons and grace, the Royal family forced King Edward to choose between the throne and the divorced, mannish American who was still married to another as she carried on with Edward.
Under pressure, the King gave up the big chair for a broad.
Makes you wonder what it was about this women for a King to abdicate the throne to become the Duke & Duchess. There, I thought about it.

Ryan from Meg Company

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On The Horn With The Randy Mountain Boys

TT:"Gotta tell ya Kenny, till I did some homework, I had no idea this was a homecoming of sorts for a couple of you guys."
Kenny Shriftson:"Yeah, we made Knoxville our home cuz it's right there off I-75 and all and it don't have all the distractions and trappings of, it's just a heck of a lot cheaper. Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of friends there and we've made a lot of records there, though they never really amounted to a hill a beans."
TT: "I bet you get asked where the name comes from alot."
KS: "Not really"..............silence.......
TT: " So, where does the name come from?"
KS: "We're all big fans of 70's Penthouse Forum. We gotta lot of those lyin around so, you know, it was just kinda right there."
TT:"It's gotta be pretty cool to visit home after workin your butt's off on the road and in the studio.I can tell you right now, the town's pretty amped."
KS:" We always look forward to swingin back around home, seein the folks, plus I gotta a couple a kids I think still live up that way. Sometimes, when I come back, I'll sit in my van across the street from the schoolyard for a while to see if I can spot em on the playground."
TT:"I understand your outfit has kind of a swingin-door type membership. Who's onboard this trip?"
KS:"Well there's me, Kenny Shriftson. Hey Folks! Then we have Billy"Big Britches"Sipky. And rounding out the group, we have bar-band veteran extroirdinaire and Ferment native, Van VanderVandenBerg."
TT:"Pretty cool. Hey, thanks for your time Kenny. I know you're busy guys. One more quick question. Recent press has you touring with the Wah Wah Pettles. Will they be joining you in Ferment this weekend?"
KS:"Funny thing, they actually hale from Michigan too so they'll actually be enjoying their own homecoming. I believe they catch up with us on the Northern Mecosta County leg of this run. We're real fortunate to have them along. They're just real neat kids. Sound like shit, but they're neat kids. Then both bands rejoin SPEEDGRASS CAVALCADE with The Toes Of Donner Pass and Homo Safty Pin as it hits Hamtramck, so we're real excited about that."
TT:"Again, thanks for your time Kenny and I hope to see you this weekend, although I've got that groin thing flarin up again. You never know where that'll take me. Take care!
KS:"No prob. Check ya later"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gin Mill

There it is. THERE-IT-IS. It's beautiful isn't it? The clean lines. The contemporary feel.
It really belongs in the front yard for all to see. It just screams WE KNOW AND EMBRACE CURRENT TECHNOLOGY.
But do I really wanna share this art form. Sometimes its way more cool for the public to find know, second hand. So you actually come off somewhat humble.
Yes, yes lets keep it in the basement. Maybe even in the back corner. But we must be careful not to hang too many things from it, stack too many things on it. For we will forget its there.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sea Hunt / The Dave Stanton Story

There was a quiet, eerie calm to the ocean's surface just off Santa Barbara. The fog had yet to burn off, leaving the sea an unsettling, murky black.
I checked my respirator one last time as I sat backward on the tail of the cabin-cruiser. Pushing off tanks first onto the dark, vast living room floor below.
(que Sea Hunt Theme)
The backward plunge was my favored Mike Nelson impression, usually off a small rug onto the greater sea of carpeting,
My Mom must have thought "what the hell" when she happened into the room while I writhed on the floor, grappling with some invisible assailant who successfully cuts my air hose to shreds. The show's ominous music plays against a thick burst of air bubbles shooting upward toward the surface.
This would be a great place to insert one of a couple of the more popular quotes from the show: "By this time, my lungs were aching for air."
"And then I saw it", the other trivia worthy quote could have stemmed from an episode where ex-Navy frogman Nelson stumbles upon one of those ball shaped, anti-submarine mines aimlessly drifting below the surface.
That...or his discovery of the lost flipper, angrily flung overboard in a fit of rage by an inebriated female guest crying out:"Was I just a port in the storm?"

This Just In: Recently, it's been found that the long running rumour of a link between Dave Stanton (possibly the brother just out of frame from Bridges family portraits) and Lloyd Bridges has yet to be substantiated.

Photo From
Back Story Tidbits From And

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cop Car Workhorse / Ford's Crown Vic

When law enforcement agencies converged on Detroit to ask for a vehicle utterly devoid of character, Ford answered with the Crown Victoria. In fact, it is so generic and unremarkable that it has actually become an icon.

If you've put some time behind the wheel on the interstate and happen to find yourself puttzing in the passing lane, chances are you've identified the menacing front end of a CVPI (Crown Victoria Police Interceptor) steadily approaching from your rearview mirror.
It's amazing how quickly you find the turn signal and zip over to the Lane For Retired People, or, LFRP.

It's difficult to imagine the words; "I gotta have one of these" when you stumble upon a row of gleaming, new Crown Victorias at your local Ford dealer. But there is a relatively thriving market for a used CVPI. Why? Most likely for the much sought after, beefed up, Interceptor motors that were well maintained and at the same time, had the shit beat out of. More often than not some of the gear is left on, the push bar, the utilitarian hubcaps and the hand-held search lights. And they're boats. People like boats.

So the potential for travelers to quickly head for the LFRP when you approach them from behind on our nations interstates is pretty great.
Someday I think I'd like to own a Vicky.

Photo From
A Few Details From