Monday, June 29, 2015

"Eight Miles High": Saturday Music Club on Monday

The Byrds: "Eight Miles High" (perhaps their single best recording, a wonderful fusion of their folk, jazz, Indian raga, and other influences) 

The Byrds in 1966:
Gene Clark, primary songwriter, vocals, misc. instruments
Roger "Jim" McGuinn, lead guitar, vocals
David Crosby, rhythm guitar,  vocals
Chris Hillman, bass guitar, vocals
Michael Clarke, drums


Gene Clark:


Acoustic Desert Rose Band:


Hüsker Dü:


Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3: (incomplete)


Maura and Pete Kennedy:


The Ventures:


Rufus Harley Band:


The Soulful Strings:


The Bob Thiele New Happy Times Orchestra with Gabor Szabo:


Index:


Roger McGuinn and Crowded House:


The Byrds at the Fillmore East closure concert, 1970: "Jesus is Just Alright" and "8MH":

(music begins at 2:23)

Friday, June 26, 2015

FFB/M: MIMOSA edited by Nicki and Rich Lynch

wrap-around cover of issue 19 by Debbie Hughes
Mimosa hasn't been the only fanzine published over the decades to be about the history of  science fiction and fantasy fandom, and the offshoots from that diverse grouping, or to take the long view of fannish matters, but it might be one of the most diverse. Most of the earlier fannish publications that have attempted to deal with the history of fandom itself have striven to be reference works (such as the Fancyclopediae) or have been collections of usually one or a few writers' work in the fannish press (such as the giant Walt Willis issue of Warhoon or the various collections of the likes of Terry Carr's or Lee Hoffman's or others' fannish writing, etc.) Even such ambitious efforts since Mimosa folded (and had nearly all its contents posted online as well as cherrypicked for "fanthologies"), such as Earl Kemp's eI, have both taken on other matters as well and haven't exceeded the scope of what the Lynches managed to put together...winning six Hugo Awards for best fanzine while doing so. The magazine emphasized first-person accounts of various sorts of behavior, famous incidents and notable people who have been in the social and often scholarly (if usually informally so) whirl that is the fannish subculture, which has managed to spin off crime-fiction fandom (and, among other things, the Bouchercons), comic-book/graphic storytelling fandom, media fandom and "slash" fiction (so is responsible, indirectly or not so much, for Comic-Con, Grey and other similar fiction, and, of course, Trekkers and their fellow-fans), folk-music and punk-rock fanzines to a great and very
cover for #11 by Steve Stiles
influential degree, and to cross-pollinate with the likes of mail artists and the zine culture and the blogs that are often the heirs to zine culture. Meanwhile, Mimosa wasn't afraid to range a bit beyond the obvious, either, as with Richard Brandt's fine exploration of how Manos, the Hands of Fate was made and why, a piece that would've fit comfortably in any film or sophisticated humor magazine (as was its sequel). But nearly any article one dips into might be an education, and a fun read, about the 60+ years of convention, fanzine and related history or some small or not so small part of it...one might skim the best-of collections online at the link at the top of the article, and it's a pity the earliest issues haven't all been posted, though articles from them are included in the best-ofs. You'll even find a few letters from me of comment in the full issues posted, but despite being graciously asked if I'd contribute an article at one point or another, I (reasonably) modestly declined as too fringy a fan to have too much to contribute beyond perhaps recounting the thwarted attempts to get a 1982 or 1983 HonCon (in Honolulu) up and running since we tried to go through such channels as a University of Hawaii student government liberally sprinkled with evangelical Christians of a certain stripe, and frat/sor folk, neither of which blocs were too much in favor of that attempt (that I ran and won election, as part of the Green Slate, to the Associated Students of UH Senate in 1983 in part to hamper some of the more reactionary activities of the former group didn't make my pet project any more popular--Honolulu conventions eventually happened without me at hand).  It was, however, being reminded of music critic Linda Solomon's minor involvement in an incident between  jazz critic/editor/lots more Ted White and jazz critic/writer/lots more Harlan Ellison, in writing up the June Underappreciated Music post yesterday, that put me in mind of Mimosa, which, of course, published White's account of a jazz-fan's bet between the two men.


For more traditional book selections, please see Patti Abbott's blog (and congratulations to her on her return from her first remote talk and signing of her new novel, in New York at the Mysterious Bookshop!)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June's Underappreciated Music: the links

The monthly assembly of undervalued and often nearly "lost" music, or simply music the blogger in question wants to remind you reader/listeners of...this month, a lot of bands and performers who haven't been Too terribly overlooked!--but also, even the most influential and legendary artists have produced some work that is easy to miss...even as we will miss a few of those cited below.

And, thinking of Ronnie Gilbert, Patrick Sky, most of the Byrds and others considered below, some folk-music magazine covers, including two from the two different magazines called Hootenanny, one keyed to the ABC television series (edited by Linda Solomon, a friend of then-fellow pro music critics Ted White and Harlan Ellison) and one not (edited by Lynn Musgrave and Robert Shelton, who helped Bob Dylan among others along, but Dylan particularly)...

Patti Abbott: Music

Brian Arnold: Joe Jackson's early work

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Friday Night Videos

Sean Coleman: The Byrds: The Notorious Byrd Brothers

Bill Crider: Abba: Forgotten Music; Song of the DayForgotten Hits: Local Charts

Cullen Gallagher: rediscovering vinyl

Jeff Gemmill: Paul McCartney: Overlooked Gems; Top 5s; River of Time

Jerry House: Patrick Sky; Daily Music+; Hymn Time

Randy Johnson: Joe Bonamassa

George Kelley: The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers

Kate Laity: Drums...Mad Max: Fury Road and well beyond

Laura: James Horner

Todd Mason: Ronnie Gilbert; Ornette Coleman; Third Stream Music;  20th Century Classical; some music my father has liked and loved

Patrick Murtha: Chico Buarque; Carl Nielsen

Lawrence Person: Shoegazer Sunday
Ms. Lee Hoffman's magazine

Richard Robinson: The Gerald Wilson Orchestra

Charlie Ricci: Help Yourself: Beware the Shadow





Lee Hoffman's later fanzine

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links to the reviews

Holy Motors
This week's selections  (reviews and citations at the links below) of undeservedly (and a few deservedly) underappreciated audio/visual experiences...as always, thanks to all the contributors and you readers.

That two posts have some relevance to Kaiser Broadcasting, a notable television station group put together by the same Henry Kaiser whose companies also made automobiles for a while at midcentury, is an amusing coincidence. Even odder that neither was written by Brian Arnold (though Pearce Duncan identified for Brian the latter's selection this week). Somewhat less improbably, two posts mention Garbo this go-'round. Phil Austin and James Salter passed away this past week (and James Horner), as did nine people in South Carolina whose last experience echoes too closely that of the subjects of Cindy Fuchs's selection...

Allan Fish: Black Mirror: White Christmas

Anne Billson: Holy Motors

As Young as We Are
Bill Crider: Hard Times [trailer]

Brian Arnold: The Stranger Within

B.V. Lawson: Media Murder

Colin: The Silver Whip

Comedy Film Nerds: Mike Schmidt on Love and Mercy, etc.

Cindy Fuchs: Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014

Dan Stumpf: Tip-Off Girls; King of Alcatraz; The Spider (1945 film)

Elgin Bleecker: Suspense: "The Crooked Frame" (1952 tv; based loosely on Wm. McGivern's novel)

Ex Machina
Elizabeth Foxwell: The Clouded Yellow

Evan Lewis: Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome

Gary Deane: I, Jane Doe

George Kelley: Aloha

How Did This Get Made?: The Adventures of Pluto Nash

Iba Dawson: Ex Machina

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Shack Out on 101

Batman Returns
Jackie Kashian: Tommy Ryman on LEGO culture

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Meet Me in St. Louis

Jake Hinkson: Batman Returns

Jonathan Lewis: Red Ball Express (1952 Film); Christopher Lee tribute: The Gorgon; and Captain America II: Death Too Soon

James Reasoner: Turn, Season 1 (latterly Turn: Washington's Spies)

James Salter films: (with some nudity); based on Salter's "Last Night"
How It Ended (18 Minutes, Super-16mm) from Bank Street Films on Vimeo.
Directed and co-scripted by Salter from an Irwin Shaw story: Three


Jeff Flugel: Jonny Quest

Jerry House: The Undying Monster

Search for Beauty
John Grant: Ticket to a Crime; Search for Beauty 

Kliph Nesteroff: John Barbour

Kristina Dijan: The Night the World Exploded; Air Hawks

Larry Blamire: The Dakotas (television series)

Laura: Beau Geste (1939 film); Riffraff

Lucy Brown: The Half-Naked Truth

Martin Edwards: Carlisle Crime-Writing Festival

Marty McKee: Abby; Nashville Girl (aka New Girl in Town)  trailer NSFW, briefly


Mike Tooney: Laramie (television series)

Mystery Dave: Big Top Pee-Wee

Patrick Murtha: Chicago Confidential

Patti Abbott: 10 Favorite Quirky Overlooked Films;  (with Megan Abbott): WKBD (Kaiser Broadcasting Detroit) film package Bill Kennedy and the Movies

Pearce Duncan: Raising Cain

Phil Austin and the Firesign Theatre:



Prashant Trikannad: "A Walk with Death"

Diana Rigg in Women Beware Women
Randy Johnson: His Name was Holy Ghost (aka Uomo avvisato mezzo ammazzato… Parola di Spirito Santo); Isaac Asimov reads "The Last Question"

Rick: The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

Rod Lott: Kiss Me Quick!The Pact II

Ruth: Ninotchka

Sergio Angelini: Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon 

Stacia Jones: The Babushkas of Chernobyl; Desire for Beauty

Stephen Bowie: Diana Rigg

Stephen Gallagher: Rain

Todd Mason: US television in Summer/Fall 1978 (and some Boston-area and Kaiser Broadcasting notes)

Yvette Banek: As Young as We Are; The Adventures of Tartu

Monday, June 22, 2015

US Television in 1978: The Good, the Bad, and...

I'll stick mostly to national programming here, even if (since I lived in the Boston suburb of Londonderry, NH in 1978) there were some definitely local bright spots on the schedules, such as Club 44, a "nightclub" variety show on WGBX, Channel 44, PBS powerhouse WGBH 2's little sibling; it grew so popular that GBH snatched it away, dulled it down, and retitled it The Club. 

I'm also not too sure how widely distributed was the Janus Film Collection package WENH 11 in New Hampshire ran under a PBS Theater banner (Janus had long since relocated to NYC, and would eventually spawn the Criterion Collection laserdisc and dvd label, but cofounder Cyrus Harvey was still running a Harvard Square cinema). 

Kaiser Broadcasting gave up the ghost in 1977, selling most of their stations to their minority-interest partner, though their attempts at even a limited network slate were by then down to the national version of The Lou Gordon Program interview series and the Creature Double-Feature package Saturday afternoons on their Boston and Philadelphia stations; newly solo owners and successors Field Communications continued not to run the latter on their Chicago, Detroit or San Francisco properties. (Kaiser hadn't done anything else as elaborate as their otherwise syndicated weekdaily/nightly, well-received but undercapitalized series Della, a chat/variety show starring Della Reese, since its 1969-70 run)(though the Kaiser group were the first to discover the ratings pull of syndicated repeats of Star Trek in weekday afternoon timeslots, in the earliest 1970s, helping Paramount and a budding fannish subculture enormously) (Field's most elaborate efforts were in a few series of original and newly imported kids' programming, later on).

For some reason, this ?archive copy? footage is in black and white, while Della was taped and shown in color: War, with Eric Burdon, is featured:


But a recent post, featuring TV Guide pages from 1978, on Retrospace drew some attention to that year, and I was certainly reminded of a lot of the worst (and often most popular) national programming...and also some good to excellent stuff that has slipped into obscurity, very much including some of PBS's best series of the time...and such others as Second City Television, recently highlighted here.

SCTV does Ingmar Bergman:
1. Scenes from an Idiot's Marriage

2. Whispers of the Wolf


Fall 1978 on CBS featured the final seasons of the diminished All in the Family and Rhoda.  M*A*S*H was also not quite up to what it had been, but Lou Grant and The Paper Chase were doing good work; rather less impressive except for their juxtaposition were the Friday night offers of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk (almost a pity we didn't see an early DC/Marvel video crossover). The White Shadow was first telecast that season,  but more importantly for me, so was WKRP in Cincinnati. Emmy-winning Kaz may've been the best series I've not seen from CBS this year; The American Girls probably was less interesting, as apparently a Lou Grant-flavored Charlie's Angels60 Minutes was coming into its own, even if, as Deanne Stillman pointed out, most of their exposés were of easy targets; CBS Reports was still doing interesting hours irregularly.

In fact, this excerpt suggests The American Girls was even more inane than Charlie's Angels; the similarly short-lived CBS hourlong stewardess sitcom Flying High was about as bad, but with a laugh-track, to judge by online evidence.



("De Duva": the Bergman parody mentioned below.)

PBS had some weekly series I tried not to miss this season, such as the International Animation Festival hosted by Jean Marsh, paired with the relatively new Sneak Previews (the first national Siskel and Ebert film-review series) and a short-film showcase hour I'm still looking for details about (including its title--I was particularly happified by a parody they ran of  Ingmar Bergman's films such as The Seventh Seal, wherein Death challenges others to a game of badminton).  PBS's notable dramatic anthology series in the late '70s was Visions, which might be the most unfairly obscure of the sequence of anthologies KCET produced or co-produced for the network in the first couple of decades of PBS (it followed Hollywood Television Theatre--overlapping a bit--and preceded American Playhouse and the brilliant sitcom anthology Trying Times); I would catch these more assiduously than I would Masterpiece Theatre (and that it featured episodes written by, for example, Jean Shepard and Cormac McCarthy in rapid succession certainly says something).  Of course, there were other anthologies as well, such as The American Short Story (visible on Amazon Prime Video, though they don't have them all and they don't make it easy to find all they have) and repeats of the NET Playhouse (a carryover from National Educational Television, the predecessor network to PBS). I was already a big fan of Nova and the PBS run of the irregular National Geographic specials (though I was surprised how much less I liked The Cousteau Odyssey than I had the earlier ABC series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, both essentially NatGeo spinoffs) and would catch The Dick Cavett Show fairly frequently. 

The Boston-based syndicators to public stations, the Eastern Educational Network, hadn't become American Public Television yet, but they (and BBC's Lionheart office) continued to offer such BBC programming as Monty Python's Flying Circus, Doctor Who and Wodehouse Playhouse and such ITV series I liked as No, Honestly, the latter two starring the married couple Pauline Collins and John Alderton (and the last a kind of UK variation on He and She, the former rather unsurprisingly P. G. Wodehouse dramatizations). I believe, without certainty, that EEN also syndicated the late 1970s package of The Prisoner to US stations, with a (Canadian?) post-episode discussion segment to help make a 56-minute running time for non-commercial airing (as distinct from D. Scott Apel's mid 1980s presentations for PBS affiliate KTEH). And, from SECA (not yet NETA), Firing Line had a certain attraction, particularly when I liked the guest or, as when William F. Buckley debated Ronald Reagan in 1979 respectively for and against returning the Canal Zone to Panama, I could agree with Buckley (Reagan's glare of pure hatred at Buckley when the latter gloatingly made a telling point certainly stuck with me). 


The late 1970s was not quite the hotbed of first-run commercial syndication that the latter 1950s and early 1960s had been (thanks to Ziv TV, NTA and many others), or the latter 1980s into the 1990s would be, but aside from the continuing run of SCTV mentioned above, 1978 saw the last new episodes of America 2-Nite (which in its first summer season the previous year had been Fernwood 2-Nite) and Forever Fernwood (the continuation of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman after Louise Lasser flaked out and quit the series). The linked talk-show and soap-opera parodies were often great fun (Norman Lear's science-fictional soap/sitcom All That Glitters had died a quick death in 1977). A bit more sober, The Wild, Wild World of Animals also wrapped up that year, a consistently good nature documentary series, narrated by William Conrad and produced and distributed by Time/Life--much better than most such series, before or since. Though I've never been a football fan, I would happily catch the NFL Films occasional syndicated documentaries of this period...they were very well-produced and -written.


NBC was struggling horribly in 1978, as Fred Silverman had spectacularly failed to replicate his success as chief of programming at CBS, then ABC, earlier in the decade. Aside from fine legacy programming such as The Rockford Files and Saturday Night Live there was little worth looking at on the network; the series I completely missed on NBC this season I might've enjoyed was The Eddie Capra Mysteries, which repurposed unproduced scripts written for the too-quickly cancelled Ellery Queen series of several years earlier. One I did mildly enjoy was Cliffhangers, which offered somewhat updated approaches to movie serials over its brief run. Aside from the rather duller primetime form of the fine formerly late-night newsmagazine Weekend, there was almost nothing else I watched nor wanted to on NBC among weekly series.

ABC was luxuriating in the success of some of the most aggressively stupid series of the decade, though of course Roots the previous year had indicated that good television could do even better for them. So, to keep a hand in, they also ran Barney Miller (though Dan Savage has a point when he notes how casually they dealt in some pernicious stereotyping) and added Soap (more absurdist, but ditto). For whatever reason, Family never did much for me (I found it blandly pleasant, rather like CBS's Thursday line-up of the fading The Waltons, Hawaii Five-0 and Barnaby Jones). Angie struck me as slightly better, but not so much I needed to see every episode.

And then there were the Atrocious ones...10 of my least favored series ever were on this season:

ABC:
Three's Company
What's Happening!!
The Ropers (spun off from Three's Company)
Battlestar Galactica (the unoriginal)
Welcome Back, Kotter (standing in for all the other series that also started tolerably, or even better than that,  and just kept tumbling into sewers...of course, some just start bad and stay bad, but perhaps they're usually less enervating. Happy Days was another which had a decent first season and change, and quickly became unwatchable after that.)

CBS:
The Dukes of Hazzard
People (based on the magazine, notable for harassing Greta Garbo)

NBC:
Real People  (Supertrain was to be more pitied than censured.)

Syndicated: 
In Search of...
Hee-Haw 
(...which was notable for how good its music could be, versus how awful everything else about it was [the Retrospace article mentions the spun-off Hee-Haw Honeys, which I managed to miss entirely and no doubt on purpose]. This was a pretty good era for musical programming, even if jazz wasn't too well represented compared to either the '60s or the '80s, and before and since. PBS had Great Performances (which even had a bit of drama in its mix), Live from Lincoln  Center, Austin City Limits and Soundstage (and it still has all four, if only sporadically the last); NBC had The Midnight Special; ABC had had In Concert; Don Kirshner's Rock Concert was syndicated...as was the still occasionally new The Lawrence Welk Show, though that was less likely to be my music...likewise The Porter Wagoner Show, particularly since Dolly Parton was long gone.)