– this post is largely a reaction to episode three of the “Henry & Heidi” podcast wherein the titular Henry (Rollins) talks through the history of Rollins Band, a welcome discussion considering how often this group is neglected
– Rollins Band is a great example of how working hard and sticking to your guns always pays off in the long run, by which I mean you can play dissonant funk metal in your boxers and if you’re honest and don’t cop out eventually they’ll put you on MTV and the Grammys and Dennis Miller’s talk show
– during this oral recap Henry does not even give passing mention to the handful of years at the tail end of Rollins Band where Mother Superior was his backing group; this must mean the two albums from that period, Get Some Go Again and Nice, are to be considered non-canon
– re-evaluating the entire RB discography, End Of Silence has my favorite textures and moods, and overall it’s one of the most solid rock albums of its era, but when the urge to hear this unit strikes me the gut reaction is to reach for Drive By Shooting b/c it’s looser, darker, more “out there” (in filmspeak: Scorsese is the master but the slapdash of Tarantino is a bit more fun)
– interesting to learn about the heavy stuff going on circa Come In And Burn; you’d never know it from their 1997 “SNL” appearance, which belongs in the pile of that show’s legendary musical performances; first time I saw them rip through “Starve” in 8H I thought they were gonna melt the studio’s walls
– surprise: Rollins Band didn’t even want to record “Liar,” their biggest hit; it was just some goof song they did at practices until some industry person heard it and said, “That’s your next single!”
– when I saw Rollins Band in ’02 they were in a period where they weren’t playing “Liar,” which bummed me out, but they did encore with a handful of Ramones songs; if you think Rollins is intense normally you should see the guy doing “Blitzkrieg Bop” (Henry’s preamble to “BB”: “If I’m ever elected president, this will be the new national anthem”)
– trigger warning: if you listen to the podcast ep linked above, before you hear anything about Rollins Band you’re gonna hafta endure a somewhat gross story about Rollins having a hernia and not realizing it
– watching this special you’d never know exactly how rebellious “Saturday Night Live” was at its inception or various other points in history; every clip package was a parade of smash cuts set to a steady beat, like a home run highlight reel, which robbed many classic moments of the comedic tension that made them so memorable in the first place; three and a half hours and they didn’t even show the very first “SNL” sketch in its entirety (“I would like to feed your fingertips to the wolverines”), the program’s mission statement, still one of the weirdest things that’s ever been on television
– there was so much hoo-ha about Eddie Murphy making an appearance, finally burying whatever cold hatchet he had with “SNL”/his “SNL” legacy, but he didn’t do anything, he just came out and expressed some gratitude while making very awkward clapping gestures; maybe Eddie does have a disease that prevents him from being funny these days
– Joe Piscopo seemed as stiff and unhappy as the real elderly Sinatra; I’m sure he was hoping for a tearful on camera reunion with Murphy; I’m sure he burst a blood vessel during Chris Rock’s monologue about Murphy being “SNL’s” Superman (Rock wasn’t wrong, though)
– Wayne’s World remains the most profitable “SNL” spin-off so we’re going to have to endure Wayne and Garth reunion sketches (no matter how pointless or meandering) until Mike Myers and Dana Carvey are both dead (if Carvey dies first I’d put major cash on Myers replacing him with Bill Hader); I wish they’d let the characters age, I’m far more interested to see Wayne at fifty
– Kanye seemed pretty excited to be caught in Wayne’s World
– the best part of “SNL 40″ was of course an unscripted moment: Norm Macdonald trying to swerve the Chevy Chase introduction into the nearest ditch, a fine reminder of how brutally unsentimental the show can be (times like that are when “SNL” is tops) and how you can always rely on Norm
– related to that last point: it was wild to see the varying levels of talent on display, in the sense that you have to give Fred Armisen some kind of prop or character but Norm or Bill Murray can just come out and be themselves and everyone’s delighted
– it was cool to see Jane Curtain Weekend Updating with Tina and Amy
– it was cool to see Ellen Cleghorne
– it was not cool to see famous people “covering” their favorite characters
– I don’t know how to feel about Miley Cyrus as an entertainer or a human but she clearly has talent, by which I mean she made me give a shit about a Paul Simon song; I’d buy that rendition on vinyl
– the audience kept the applause at fair levels throughout the dead person montage; doesn’t feel like anyone was slighted, and they chose really wonderful/wonderfully evocative photos of each figure
– all those fucking montages and not one devoted entirely to the rich history of musical performance on “SNL”; sorry, legendary artists who so often were the only bits of the program worth watching, this “Californians” sketch has to be eight decades long
– ego probably prevented a lot of great comedy from happening
– “SNL” has constructed a successful enough business model that it may never go off the air; I’d like it to, only to see if another comedic incubator of its caliber would ever come along
– what a shame [obscure cast member] didn’t get any shoutouts
If you’ve ever caught an interview with Marky Ramone you know he tends to sound a little rehearsed, like he has stock answers he’d prefer to substitute for in-the-moment emotion. Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life As A Ramone reads a lot like that. It’s less heated than Johnny’s Commando or any of Dee Dee’s volumes, working hard to cram in the most superfluous exposition (OMG, we know what the fucking Berlin Wall was). That said, our self-proclaimed Chicken Beak Boy manages to add a tiny bit of fresh perspective to the Ramones legend while additionally owning up to his own bonkers alcoholism.
Granted, it’s frustrating the drummer can be so candid about substance abuse while ignoring more interesting bits of his mythology, but I suppose only a fool would have expected a chapter devoted to Mark’s alleged wig wearing. There are also several points where it’s not difficult to read between the lines. Die-hards are familiar with the drama between Marky and C.J. and in this tome the former damns the latter with faint praise, mostly saluting his attitude while offering no adjective above “good” to describe the bassist’s playing. Even more telling: there’s no reference to the half decade Mark spent drumming for the Misfits.
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg covers well-worn ground in regard to the founding “bruddahs”: Johnny was fervently right wing, Joey was severely OCD, Dee Dee never met a pill he didn’t like, Tommy was sensitive. Even the author’s struggles with the bottle have been tackled to varying degrees elsewhere. If there’s any revelation in PR Blitzkrieg it’s Marky’s admission that he believes Phil Spector to be innocent of Lana Clarkson’s 2003 murder. Give him credit for sticking by his pal.
The most fascinating stuff in the book comes before Mark’s time in the Ramones, when he bounced from power trio Dust to country rockers Estus (major label ding dongs who owned a swank mansion in upstate New York) before landing in Richard Hell’s Voidoids. The Voidoids were mastering their debut album the night of the 1977 New York City blackout. On his way home, Mark decided it was time to get his; he picked up a trash can and attempted to hurl it through a bank window. The can bounced off the plexiglass like a Nerf football. Inside, a security guard smiled and waved.
Other interesting snippets: Steven Tyler was nice to the Ramones back in the day, Sting wasn’t, Dee Dee’s rap career was just as much about annoying the other Ramones as it was about a love for hip hop, Marky has a twin brother named Fred, Marky likes the Circle Jerks.
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg summed up in one line: probably the one on the last page where Marky expresses satisfaction with his career because both the Pope and Obama are Ramones fans. I’ve never seen Barack in a Mondo Bizarro t-shirt but I’m happy to take the Chicken Beak’s word.
– answering the question: what if Creature From The Black Lagoon combined elements of Jaws, Alien, and Halloween without managing to be more entertaining than Grease 2 and also there’s a ventriloquist?
– it’s astounding how many dead dogs this movie serves up in the first 15-20
– it’s astounding how this movie portrays ventriloquism as an aphrodisiac
– Doug McClure isn’t the most swashbuckling hero but I was with it until they put him in a hooded rain slicker; suddenly he’s the sad child waiting at the bus stop, fighting back tears because Papa won’t take him to “Barney: Live”
– disturbingly realistic: the gore; disturbingly unrealistic: tie between the dj who cannot correctly pronounce “salmon” in a town whose entire economy appears salmon-based (maybe that’s performance art, who knows) and the kids who go sunbathing at a beach in Washington state mid-Autumn
– you gotta respect the fact that once a character gets a black eye they keep it for the rest of the movie (Anthony Pena takes so many shots to the face by the end he looks like a rotten plum)
– I’m surprised Ann Turkel’s infamous “I’m a professional scientist!” line has never made it to a t-shirt
– Humanoids From The Deep is a dramatic and evocative title but a more accurate one would be Rapist Cabbage People vs. The Noble Indian, Sex-Crazed Teenagers, & Other Cinematic Stereotypes
– it’s a shame this was one of Vic Morrow’s final movies; at least he commits, and I’ll be damned if his perm + creeper mustache combo ain’t happenin’
– this special has a higher rating on IMDb than Home Alone, proof Chris Columbus faulted by not hiring Charo to play Macaulay Culkin’s mom
– Spellcheck knows “Macaulay” but not “Culkin”
– it’s just now dawning on me that despite his physical adultosity Pee Wee Herman is supposed to be a child and therefore lacks the maturity to always make correct judgments or decisions; it helps to consider this when viewing, for one minute PW is telling us that giving to others is the real meaning of Christmas and the next he’s enslaving Frankie & Annette to draw his Xmas cards so he can play in the snow with Magic Johnson
– every celebrity you’d expect to appear on a Pee Wee Herman Christmas special from 1988 does: Cher, Little Richard, Dinah Shore, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Del Rubio Triplets, k.d. lang, and Grace Jones (who arrives en route to a White House visit; because she is Grace Jones, however, she is traveling via the U.S. postal system in an oversized Christmas present box; probably cheaper than a plane ticket)
– similarly, every “Playhouse” regular you’d expect to appear does: Pterri, Randy, Chairy, Floory, Konky, Miss Yvonne, the King of Cartoons, Reba, Cowboy Curtis, Clocky, the Countess, Cool Cat, Chicky Baby, Dirty Dog, Penny, the dinosaurs in the wall (who are Jewish!), and of course Billy Bologna (my personal favorite for reasons I will never be able to fully convey/understand)
– this is the tv special that birthed the famed “Feliz Navi-blah” exchange; Ricardo does a great job keeping his patience as Pee Wee butchers his native language (does PW even go to school or is he just another dirty uneducated backwoods truant?)
– there’s a scene where Randy, the obnoxious marionette whose usual rap is cruelly teasing Pee Wee/the Playhouse denizens, attempts to make a point about the commercialization of Christmas; PW counters with something like, “Fine, then we won’t give you any gifts!”, which prompts Randy to backtrack; I don’t know why I expected PW to acknowledge Randy’s point or allow the least likable character to engineer a teaching moment, I don’t even know why PW lets Randy live in his Playhouse when all he does is disagree with and shit on everyone else (I have to assume they’re brothers and they were willed into joint ownership of the Playhouse)
– Joan Rivers cameos for a nanosecond from the set of “Hollywood Squares,” the only indication all of this is taking place in “the real world”
– Little Richard should have received an Emmy/Golden Globe/extra pinky ring for his dramatic “I quit ice skating!” speech
– the climax of “Xmas @ PWP” occurs when Santa Claus shows up to basically announce he’s canceling Christmas because Pee Wee asked for too many toys; this could have been the tipping point for PW’s transformation into complete sociopath, but (SPOILER ALERT) the man-child quickly remembers “the true meaning” of 12/25
– at first the fruitcake jokes seem like they aren’t going anywhere, but trust me, they pay off in a marvelous visual gag
– they should have added another hour to this gaudy cheese-fest and released it theatrically in place of Big Top Pee Wee
– if you’re forcing a grade out of me, how about A for vision, B for execution
– speaking of execution, I’d like to see Randy die in the electric chair
– they’ve finally discovered the best way to move a robot around the desert: glue it to a beach ball
– every single film made in this day and age must feature a sequence that takes place in the rear of a cargo plane; if you don’t like it, move to Siberia
– yo, that girl is driving a giant stick of deodorant
– yo, that lightsaber has a mustache
– YOU WANTED THE BEST YOU GOT THE BEST THE HOTTEST SPACESHIP IN THE GALAXY THE MILLENNIUM FALCON [guitar solo]
– can America accept a Millennium Falcon with a square satellite dish?
– no shot of C-3PO clasping hands w/ Chewbacca a la Predator?
– this entire movie might take place in one afternoon on the last day of school (excuse me, the last day of space school)
– overall these table scraps make Star Wars 7 look reasonably exciting; guess I should start working on the Bib Fortuna costume I will wear when I camp out for opening night
– on the other hand, if I find out Max Rebo isn’t in this I’m switching to Battlestar Galactica (the original, with Dirk Benedict)
– following my umpteenth multi-season binge I have to lock “Larry Sanders” in as my second favorite tv program ever; it pulls off the show-within-a-show concept masterfully, presenting top tier Hollywood parody along side deft exploration of humanity’s awkward, painful flashes (Garry Shandling says “Sanders” is really about people searching for love, and he’s right)
– my first favorite tv program ever is “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” which takes the “Sanders” concept and swaps humanity for outer space-themed absurdity (elsewhere in my top five: “The Simpsons,” “Duckman”)
– for a program that ran from ’92 until ’98 it’s hard to sniff out any super dated aspects of “Sanders”; that said, it’s trippy to see the episode where they let a pre-“Daily Show” Jon Stewart take over for Larry and he runs everything into the ground, considering he did the exact opposite in real life
– I’m never prepared for that Garry Shandling/Roseanne make-out scene, and I mean that in the best way; you really get caught up in their attraction (similarly, the Mary Lynn Rajskub/Jeffrey Tambor kissing scene that you expect to be weird turns out very sweet)
– so many great little character flourishes pop up once and are never mentioned again, like Artie’s enjoyment of Pod era Breeders and the fact Paula cuts Darlene’s hair
– watch this show for too long and your head will reverberate with all of Rip Torn’s thunderous growling
– my brain would collapse into its own black hole if you asked me to name my favorite “Sanders” guest star; David Duchovny’s up there, Roseanne’s up there, Bruno Kirby’s up there, Paul Mooney, the Butthole Surfers, Wu Tang Clan, Kevin Nealon…I can already feel neurons dying
– if the holodeck from “Star Trek” was real I’d spend a stupid amount of time lounging around Larry’s office
– my favorite line from this series and possibly from television as a whole is when an exasperated Larry tells Artie, “You know, talking to you is like talking to you”; that’s a top three contender for inscription on my headstone