Rock Music… Where have you gone?

Rock Music… Why is it not breaking through to the mainstream anymore? Yes there are a lot of good bands out there…just check on Youtube and you will find many that are really good and some great. That is the problem though…you should not have to search them out. Mainstream rock stations will not play them…they play classic rock (which I love for the most part) but artists today have a bleak way of life. The only way they make real money is to tour and tour and tour. Since downloading began they are left with ticket sales. There are college radio stations and less powerful stations that play new rock but they are not prevalent.

The older rock stars really made the money… Album sales, tours, 8 track sales, cassette sales and CD sales and some download sales. Today’s artist has downloads on Itunes and CD’s that sell at concerts Some are releasing vinyl which is on the rise and that is cool. My son is 17 and he likes some new acts like Jake Bugg, Foster the People and The Black Keys. Mostly though it’s the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Band etc…

I don’t think people take music as seriously as before because there are so many other options to do. When an album came out we would rush to the record store (Cats, Port 0 Call, Tower or Columbia House) and study the album’s artwork and liner notes. Music was a big part of teenager’s life in the 60’s through the 90’s…. With me, I bought a lot of older albums but I would get new ones also. Bands that came to town were announced on the radio and also posters on telephone poles everywhere. It was hard to miss a band or artist coming. We would line up and wait for tickets. I can’t say that I miss that part but I do in a way. I appreciated the concert more because of the effort and the long wait times. We would all talk while waiting in line on how much we liked the artist we were getting tickets for…. Talking face to face and not on a phone or in a chat room…a different feel altogether for all of us kindred souls. It was not a concert…it was an event. An event that you planned for weeks or months to attend and get excited about. After the concert we would wear our concert shirts…bootleg or otherwise like a badge of honor.

We would go to school arguing over rock groups and music in general…. like The Kinks “You Really Got Me” or Van Halen‘s cover of the song….I sided with the Kinks. New Wave vs Rock… Heavy Metal vs just rock n roll.

Yes, some weak music appeared in the 60-90s as in every decade but no one took music from The Partridge Family etc… seriously. Now boy bands or “divas” are embraced with corporate driven muzak. Record companies want a sure thing and will not try anything new….just the proven formula. Why can’t they put muscle behind more talented rock bands? I would like to see a revival of rock bands that you don’t have to search for on the internet.

In high school, there were a lot of bands. The group I was in played more straight rock and roll but we had bands that played heavy metal to punk. Today in that school…no bands exist. We would play in the gym for the entire school and the theater. During the time in high school (sneaking into bars that would let us play being underage on weekends). After we graduated from high school we would play bars and clubs. It was fun, exciting and we made a little money doing something we loved. The customers which included bikers were always great to us because they wanted entertainment. If anyone tried to mess with us they are surrounded by bikers who loved their rock and roll…thank goodness.

Rock music may remain underground but I hope not…

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Paintings and Artists that I like

Painting is something I could never do. I would be lucky to paint stick figures. Like music, it is a great form of expression. If I were an artist I would do pop art paintings and…black light poster art… I would be a very poor artist because the demand for those styles in 2018 would be close to non existent to say the least.

I do get into Art a bit. I’m not an expert nor will I ever be…I like what I like….A friend I have is a great artist and over the years I’ve learned things from him. The art styles that I like the most are Pop Art, Expressionism, and Surrealism… Some of the artists I like are Andy Warhol, Peter Max, Edvard Munch and Salvador Dali. I cannot tell you about their technical skills…which yes they all had but it was the feel or soul they all  had in their paintings. The way Warhol could make some simple advertisement into art. The way Peter Max can take you places by just looking at his work. Salvador Dali taking you places where you may not want to go but enjoy it all the same.

Andy Warhol

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Peter Max

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Edvard Munch

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Salvador Dali

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I also like some vintage commercial art. The art that hung in business offices across the land. A company call Marushka had many that I liked. Art for mass consumption is looked down upon at times but there are many prints that I like from them in the 70s and 80s. Below is one of them

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I also like black light and some think it’s lowbrow but I don’t care. What imaginations artists had when they painted them…sober or otherwise.

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I can also say that my taste in art is the same as in music…having feeling or soul is the reason I never got into progressive rock bands….I could care less if you know every chord in the book and are technically advanced…if music doesn’t have soul…I want nothing to do with it. Just because you can play fast or do guitar gymnastics doesn’t mean anything without soul. Some music I do think is art. A Day in the Life, Bohemian Rhapsody, Overnight Sensation and others.

 

Ken Stabler: No cooler athlete ever walked the earth. He is missed.

No cooler athlete ever walked the earth than Ken Stabler. He was THE rock star in sports…he was more of a rock star than rock stars. Passing the ball left-handed with deadly accuracy along with the cool nickname… “The Snake”. The way he carried himself with the salt and pepper hair coming out of the back of his helmet while sporting a beard. Always looking like he was having the best time of his life.

He didn’t just exist he lived…and he lived with style. Never saw him panic on a football field.  His teammates said he would never call someone out for not blocking or missing someone to get him sacked. John Madden has said that the more pressure Ken was under the calmer he got.

He did what he wanted to do how he wanted to do it. Yes, there are a lot of bar room stories of Ken Stabler like reading the playbook by the jukebox light. He and his teammates made training camp fun… If that is a possible thing. John Madden had the good sense to let men be men and off they went. The rest of the Raiders all respected Stabler and followed him…they had his back and he had their back.

The Snake should be remembered not just for his cool personality… He was a great quarterback and should have been in the Hall of Fame long before he got in… I heard one commentator say that he would rather have Tom Brady etc… nope not me… I would rather have Stabler because for most of his career he played without the Blount rule and the timing plays that modern quarterbacks do would not run as well without that rule that was enforced in 1978… The receivers could be pretty much be beat all down the field…timing was much harder then.

Plus Stabler was just damn tough… all of them were tough back in the 60s-70s. Ken paid for that in the last few years of his life…

Some of the most well-known games in history he was in the middle of… the Holy Roller, The Sea of Hands, The Ghost to the Post and unfortunately the Immaculate Reception game which went the Steelers way but it may be the most memorable game ever.

The 1970’s team was full of outcasts, free thinkers and characters…also amazing football players. I recommend this book about the 1970’s Raiders called Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders.

Easy read and great stories. Makes you want to youtube and find all of the games you can find of that era’s Raiders.

The NFL would not know what to do with him today. He had a personality…that goes against the game now.

Sadly Mr. Stabler passed in 2015…He is a man I wished I would have had the honor to meet.

New book about Stabler called Snake: The Legendary Life of Ken Stabler

Ken’s autobiography called “Snake” that was published in 1986.

Jurassic Park

In 1993 I went to see Jurassic Park and was blown away. I went back two more times and took my Dad to one of the showings.

I’ve always liked dinosaurs since I was a kid but on film they never looked right. They usually were claymation or men in suits. I really like claymation a lot on most things but the dinosaurs just never looked real. I’m not one who craves great special effects…the original Star Trek is great to me with its red beams stunning people. They were always able to convey the story and that is enough for me…but dinosaurs were not beams of light or the transporter…

When this movie came out it blew the doors off of any other movie because of the CGI and also animatronics. It was a game changer in so many ways and brought CGI to the forefront. Today younger people can not imagine what it was like seeing dinosaurs come to life that actually matched our imaginations. THIS is what we were used to. To see a T-Rex with the then new DTS surround sound in a theatre was frightening…a great kind though.

Was the movie Citizen Kane? Not at all but it was the first movie with CGI that looked and sounded real.

Saying that I do believe that CGI can be overused at the expense of a story but in Jurassic Park it was so new and many people could not believe their eyes. It still stands up today but now we are so desensitized to CGI that the movie doesn’t get noticed as much.

 

Needless changes to the original Star Wars

In 1977 a New Hope (then just called Star Wars) came out. It blew out records and changed Hollywood. The original first 3 came out at a perfect time. Science Fiction was not a sure box office hit then and it’s a wonder George Lucas got it made. Some of the script writing was iffy but as a whole, it was a wonderful saga. Not only were the movies good but the merchandising went crazy.

The prequels I just didn’t like. The feel of the originals was gone. Lucas said he wanted a change but he changed it just to another space flick. Anakin Skywalker played by Hayden Christensen just wasn’t right. Either bad casting combined with a bad script but to me, he was not convincing. He did do better in Revenge of the Sith but still, in my opinion, it wasn’t where it should have been. Ewan Mcgregor was wonderful as Obi-Wan and the standout to me in all the prequels.

What Lucas did to the original three re-releasing them caught backlash from fans. Changing some scenes…where Han shoots first and adding more decoration throughout the films. What made me upset is Lucas only offered a poor quality DVD set of the original three in 2006 without the changes. One dedicated fan Petr Harmáček spent half a decade tracking down high-quality prints of the 3 original films and put them back together and it’s called “Star Wars Despecialized Edition” that you can download. Petr did a great job with these and it shows you how great these looked when they were released.

There was no need for extra CGI decoration when these movies were re-released. I have nothing against CGI but I do like to see the films as the audience did way back when. When I went to see “The Force Awakens” I knew within the first 5 minutes that Star Wars had the same feel as the first ones. I also liked Rogue One and The Last Jedi…The Last Jedi got some complaints but I still liked it. It was a great send off for Carrie Fisher.

 

Clara Bow… The Only IT Girl

My favorite eras in the 20th century have always been the 1960’s, 1970’s and the 1920’s. I was looking through some books in the early 90s inside some a long forgotten book store and a picture of an actress caught my eye. There was something about Clara Bow that grabbed my attention. I had read about her in a terrible slanderous book called Hollywood Babylon by  Kenneth Anger  and I was compelled to get the book just by her stare from the cover. The book was written by David Stenn called Clara Bow”Runnin’ Wild… I finished it in one night. The book impressed me so much that a few years later I tracked down David’s phone number (again pre internet) called Mr. Stenn just to tell him how much I loved the book. After I explained to him that he made me a lifetime fan of Clara he graciously sent me an autographed copy of the book to replace my worn out (loaned out again and again) to my friends.

David Stenn actually had facts about Clara unlike Anger’s book of sensational garbage. Reading that book introduced me to the world of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. From there my interest in silent movies grew. I always thought all silent movies were grainy unwatchable films where all the actors were on speed. I soon was educated that most of those movies where played on the wrong projector at different speeds and that is the reason for the sped up action. The quality of many of those movies from the 20’s are better quality than movies made in the 60s-80s when mastered right. Stunts where not faked and CGI didn’t exist….everything is real.

Clara had a terrible childhood where her mother was mentally ill and tried to kill her. Her father may have sexually abused her on top of everything else. In her movies she sold the tickets. Paramount built movies off of her name and didn’t always give the best scripts but she was electric on film. Your eyes will automatically go to her. She could convey more in one look than actresses today can say in 10 minutes. She was never appreciated like she should have been and that is sad. She was never accepted by her peers and never invited to Hollywood parties because she was straight up and said what was on her mind. She was great with fans but stardom took it’s toll on her. She ended up marrying a western actor named Rex Bell and went into seclusion.

She did some “talkies” and they are enjoyable but nothing beats her silent movies like IT (no Pennywise) and Wings. Call Her Savage was her best talkie film. Check her out when you can… She is worth it.

 

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Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton

Charlie and Buster were two of the best screen comedians ever to walk the earth. They both had similar upbringings. Buster and his family in American vaudeville. Charlie worked in British music halls. Charlie rose to stardom in silent movies in the 1910’s beginning with Keystone, Mutual (where he made his best short comedies)  Essanay and then he confounded United Artist with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and W. D. Griffith. After that Charlie went into full feature films.

Buster started silent shorts in 1917 with Roscoe Arbuckle. After Roscoe broke out on his own so did Buster….he did some more short films which were brilliant. He then went into full features. Buster was just so different than anyone else. He was so still while the world moved in chaos around him. He was a brilliant actor-director and also writer which he often didn’t take credit for doing. If Buster would have just made “The General” his place in film history would be cemented. The same can be said of Charlie Chaplin and his masterpiece “The Gold Rush.”

There was no competition between the two in popularity. Charlie won hands down over Buster and probably everyone else in comedy and drama. His character “The Tramp” was internationally loved. All in all Keaton was a better film maker. They were two different comedians. Chaplin would reach for pathos…sometimes a little too much. Keaton seemed much more real. Keaton’s site gags were incredible and sometimes dangerous to his health…like have a front of a building that weighed a ton (so it wouldn’t twist in the wind) fall on him with the upstairs opening clearing him around 2 inches on each side. He never smiled because it would have ruined his character. Both are worth watching and with Keaton’s films like Sherlock Jr…you wonder how he did some of the things he did with the primitive camera’s they used.

Both were funny men. The other big comedian was Harold Lloyd but he was more of an actor playing a comedian….he was really successful though… second to Chaplin in making money.

 

 

Charlie and Buster older both appear in Charlie’s Limelight.