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Thursday, November 29, 2007


Practice, or know Chan Chandler.

Chan hired me to assist him in stage managing a tribute to Leiber and Stoller at Carnegie on Monday. My job was to wrangle the talent, ushering them from their dressing rooms to the stage.

The event was hosted by Rob Reiner, who was an unbelievably great guy, a total mensch, and featured the New York Pops conducted by Barry Levitt (except where noted) accompanying:

Christine Kwak, violin, conducted by Marvin Hamlisch
Chuck Cooper, vocals
Eugene Flemming, vocals
Ty Stephens, vocals
Donald Fagen, piano, vocals, conducted by Jon Herington, guitar
Corky Hale, piano, vocals,
Ben E. King, vocals,
Natalie Cole, vocals, conducted by Gail Deadrick
Chuck Jackson, vocals
Brenda Braxton, vocals
Rob Reiner, vocals, accompanied by Mike Stoller, piano
Sally Kellerman, vocals, conducted by Chris Caswell
Tricia Tahara, vocals
Nino Tempo, saxophone
B.J. Crosby, vocals
Victor Trent Cook, vocals

Everyone was great, but B.J. Crosby was truly amazing.

Backstage was as entertaining if not more so, with Freddy Roman and Rob Reiner cutting up. I was truly knocked out by how gracious everybody was. Legends like Donald Fagen, and Ben E. King just hanging out, enjoying the night and chatting about music.

I cannot begin to describe how much of a true gentleman Ben E. King is. The man is simply a kind and gentle soul with loads of talent and zero ego. Sally Kellerman was equally gracious, and still sexy as hell.

There's always an exception, and I'm here to tell you that everything they say about Natalie Cole is true. Sure she's a hell of a performer, but she's a cunt. Yep, I said it. Bitch doesn't quite sum it up. Nobody likes her, except maybe her crack dealer.

The highlight of my day was standing next to Donald Fagen at the piano rehearsing his back up singers. The man is a genius. A bit weird, but nice, and uber talented.

I enjoyed chatting with Rob Reiner, dropping Spinal Tap references when I could.

There was a moment when I was standing next to Rob Reiner, Marvin Hamlisch and Mike Stoller as they discussed the decline of the LP in the age of downloads. Mr. Reiner said he wants to hear the entire Doobie Brothers record in the order they intended. Mr. Hamlisch said that the priorities got messed up. I said that I agreed with Mr. Hamlisch.


Yeah, I know, it was weird, but it seems I have more in common with the old guard than the new.

I think I need to bring back the mohawk.........

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The Legal Diva and I took Sally for a road trip down south to Chucktown for the holiday. I love a road trip. You grab a mess of CDs, load up on road snacks (jerky, chips, lil' Snickers bars), and hit the road.

Once you're on the highway you get your head set, and rock out to the tunes. The car is a great listening environment. There are few distractions, and you can really get inside the music.

I fucked up, though. I failed to bring enough listening material, and by the time we got there, we had exhausted our supply. Of course we did the proper thing. We went record shopping.

For the drive home we bought:

Gabriel's third record (Melting Face). I hadn't sat down and really listened to it since I read in the Bible that Gabriel had mandated that there be no cymbals on the record. It's very interesting, all the other instruments really speak out. What a great album.

Duran Duran's hits package 'Decade'. I like the early stuff, but they lose me after the the 'Ragged Tiger' tracks.

The Chili Peppers 'By the Way', the predecessor to 'Stadium Arcadium' is kinda weak. It sounds great, but the songs aren't all that great. Flea has said that John Frusciante was trying to make a Cure record. I totally heard that.

The Legal Diva picked out a great Bossa Nova record by Bebel Gilberto, 'Tanto Tempo'. I loved it. Very groovy, very sexy.

The first of the American Music records that Johnny Cash made with Rick Rubin and TP and the HBs, 'Unchained', is fantastic. I love Johnny's spin on modern rock tunes; Soundgarden's 'Rusty Cage', TP's 'Southern Accents', and Beck's 'Rowboat' receive the Cash treatment to excellent results.

The Police 'Zenyatta Mondatta' is a very good record, there's a couple of fluff instrumentals, but the rest is great. I think they were working together as band the best at that point.

and Yes 'Fragile' a classic, monster album that holds up 35 years on.

We also bought vinyl:

Marvin - 'What's Going On', and 'Let's Get It On'
Parliament - 'The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein'
Donny Hathaway - self titled
Curtis Mayfeild - 'Super Fly'
Aretha Franklin - 'Young, Gifted and Black'
Bob Marley - 'Natty Dread'
Run DMC - 'King of Rock'
Absolute Beginners - the motion picture soundtrack

With the exception of the last two, they are all 180 gram re-issues. I'm psyched to give it all a spin. Might have to have a party.

While we were in town we stayed with Hot J Brown who is a most gracious host, and a great friend.

The Legal Diva's kin are a riot. Never a dull moment, and man, do they know how to put out a spread. Thanksgiving with them is truly a wonder as well as a blessing.

Chucktown is always a good time.

I had a lot of thanks to give.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I wish you all a happy one. The Legal Diva and I are in Chucktown for the Holiday, staying with the gracious Hot J Brown.

Lions over Green Bay
Jets over Dallas
Indy over ATL

I will watch the Jet game with my future in-laws and clan, nary a Jet fan among them.........

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I went 6/7 last week. I will beat that with these:

Tampa beats Atlanta
Cleveland beats the Ravens
Giants beat Detroit
Philly over Miami
Minnesota over Oakland
San Diego beats Jacksonville
Indy over KC
Arizona beats the Bengals
Green Bay over Carolina
Saints beat Houston
Jets beat Steelers
San Fran over Rams
Dallas beats the Skins, sadly....
New England wins by cheating against Buffalo

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

HAMLET - THE MOVIE pt. 2 (the Return of Hamlet)

I'm only familiar with three film adaptations of William Shakespeare's Tragedy of Hamlet. Olivier's 1948 production, Zefferelli's 1990 effort, and Branagh's 1996 heap of shit.

Again, it's about management of language and length.

Olivier gets a passing grade on both accounts. He achieves this mostly through direction, as he's by far the best actor in the cast. He keeps the pace quick, which is the only way to do this stuff, and he trimmed the script deftly bringing it in at 155 minutes. The sets may seem drab, monolithic, and lifeless to the modern viewer, but I'm sure that was done to retain a 'stage' vibe, and to save money; I'm sure the budget was fairly drab.

I love Franco Zefferelli's Hamlet. Granted, I haven't seen in a good many years during which my view of Mel Gibson has been altered. I love the design, the location; I love Wallace Shawn's Polonius. The 'Holywood Actors' don't abuse the language. I hate it when actors think they have to add something to Bill's verse or prose. Every intention is either literally in the words, or dictated by the meter. There's nothing to add but posture. Franco wins the length battle as well, getting it down to 130 minutes. That's just over half of what an unedited production would run.

Like Ken Branagh's Hamlet. For all of Branagh's apparent love for Shakespeare, it's alarmingly clear that he loves Ken Branagh even more. This ostentatious attempt is laughable in how it fails at all levels. The design sucks. Why would you change the period, but not to the present. It's just confusing and awkward. Branagh's acting is as full of wind as the overbearing set design, and his cast seems lost at best, horribly miscast at worse.

If that wasn't enough, he did the whole book. The whole shebang, word for freaking word, and still managed to add lengthy shots of the scenery.

It comes off like a boast.

So, uh, there you have it I guess.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


For as long as people have been making films, they've been trying to get The Bard up on the screen. It's a daunting task. They do it because they love it, and sometimes because they think they're the shit.

It can be done, however, and I enjoy watching them try.

There are two huge hurdles: the language and the length.

The language isn't a concern provided the cast is well seasoned. At the gate you're gonna lose a huge number of people who just won't go see Bill Shakespeare anyway, so you can't worry about that. Just get it right.

Then you gotta make cuts. Bill's plays run three to four hours. You gotta make cuts.


I happened across this film back in 99. I bought a VHS copy on the merit of the cover; it looked up my alley, and it was.

It's safe to say that this is my favorite movie, surpassing all Bond, Apocalypse, The Road Warrior,......well, maybe not Spinal Tap, and that's fitting because Still Crazy is like Spinal Tap with a script.

The fictitious band here is called Strange Fruit, and they are fronted by my favorite actor, Bill Nighy.

Bill's performance in this film is beyond great. It's sublime, it transcends, it's perfect.

Basically, you have a 70's hard rock band trying their hand at a reunion tour in the late 90's. Stephen Rea is the keyboardist, Timothy Spall is the Drummer - again, a superb performance, and Billy Connolly is the road manager.

The songs are decent, but it's the acting, direction, and design that seal the deal - it feels real.

Get on the Netflix people. That's an order.

Friday, November 09, 2007


I've been watching football since 1975. I've seen a goodly number of QBs. Greatness in a QB is less about a monster arm and a shit-ton of passing yards; greatness is measured in wins. Sometimes less than stellar athletes manage to go the distance on pure dedication, persistence, and desire.

Joe Namath, Phil Simms, Ken Stabler.....

Papa Robbie pissed me off throwing Super Bowls in my face, in respect to the Jets and his beloved evil Cowboys. There's really no argument, and I suppose that's what made me mad. He's right. If you can't deliver a win, well.......you lose. That's why you won't see Dan Marino on this list.

Tom Brady also does not make the list. You have to be human, and he's not human. Tom Brady is an automaton in the employ of Dick Cheney.

5) Joe Theisman

I hate him, but hell, he was a hell of a competitor, and he got the job done more than once.

4) Roger Staubach

Repeaters fair well here. He had a great team, that helps a lot.

3) Peyton Manning

You can't deny Peytie Pie. I wonder how he'd do with less talent to work with.

2) Brett Favre

Brett will be remembered much like Untitas. His greatness is in his grit. That's very football.

1) Joe Montana

Not much to say here. He's the Beatles of football.

Honor Roll: Dan Fouts, Jim Plunkett, Bob Greise......

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Is it over yet?

I did better with my picks at least. going 8/6.

My brothers, the Legal Diva, and myself had the pleasure of watching the Jets lose, again, to the Skins at Giants Stadium. It's always great to go to a game.

Shame about them Jets.

Week 10:

New Orleans over St. Louis
Buffalo over Miami
Tennessee oer Jacksonville
Pittsburgh over Cleveland
Philly over Washington
Carolina over ATL
KC over Denver
Green Bay over Minnesota
Cincinnati over Baltimore
Detroit over Arizona
Chicago over Oakland
Giants over Dallas
Indy over San Diego

Monday, November 05, 2007



One of the coolest, and greatest, drummers of the eighties is the man who inspired this post, the incomparable Myron Grombacher.

Drumming for Pat Benatar, Myron won the Stump Joe Peeps Award (Great Look, Great Drummer) in 1981, 1982, and 1983.

Kenny Aronoff put up with John Mellencamp. That alone is commendable. He never won the Stumpy Joe Peeps Award though.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I went 6/7 for week 8.

My week 9 picks:

San Fran over Atlanta
Cincinnati over Buffalo
Denver over Detroit
Green Bay over KC
San Diego over Minnesota
New Orleans over Jacksonville
Jets over Skins
Tennessee over Carolina
Tampa Bay over Arizona
Cleveland over Seattle
Indy over New England
Houston over Oakland
Dallas over Philly
Pittsburgh over Baltimore

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