Wednesday, March 31, 2010

'tis a Vile and Thankless Task

Back in my stand-up days, a fellow comic named Faye Haire had a series of "Your mommma is such a dumb hooker..." jokes I was very fond of. The biggest laugh of the batch was for, "Your momma is such a dumb hooker, she forgets to collect her pay, which means she's just a slut!". Too often, that is exactly what it feels like to be me in this showness we call biz. In the elusive and vain hope of getting visibility and recognition and perhaps that great mythical second cup of coffee, plenty of us know-it-all movie snots do all manner of unpaid work. Not just blogs like these, obviously, but book forewords, screening intros, and especially DVD commentaries. In our heads, we are thinking why, if Gloria Stuart could get cast in TITANIC after her wonderful repartee with Bill Condon and Curtis Harrington on the laserdisc of THE OLD DARK HOUSE, surely one of us thriftstore Eberts could get heard on some low-budget Z-movie release and be hired by one of the big eight to wax eloquently on one of their silver platters, right? WORNG! But we do it anyway. What can I say? While Faye's joke is appropriate, I guess my name is Heuck and I like to feuck.

Now, I have built up a small reputation for being a good talking voice on the genre DVDs. I have also built a reputation for being willing to take on assignments that none of the more respectable moderators in the business would accept. As such, this is why I actively discourage people from labeling me a movie critic or trying to classify this blog as any kind of scholarly journalism. I will freely own up to the fact that I have done commentaries for movies that I know in my heart are irredeemable crap. More importantly, I will own up to the fact that I want people to buy and watch them, both to bear witness to my hard work, and to make money for the companies who hire me so that they will be inclined to hire me again...and maybe next time pay me something.

To be clear, it's not unpleasant to do special features for a bad movie. In fact, it's often fun depending on the demeanor of the participants. When I was enlisted to moderate commentary for the previously unreleased (for good reason) horror comedy NIGHT OF THE DRIBBLER, it gave me the pleasure of trading goofy impressions and corny jokes with veteran comedian Fred Travalena, and it was a thrill to go round-to-round and hold my own with him. In retrospect, as none of us at that recording session were aware of his ongoing fight with non-Hodgkins lymphoma which would ultimately claim his life four months later, I was darned lucky and privileged to have my role in what would be one of his last public speaking events. Yeah, in all candor, the movie is about as funny as a hangnail, but if you listen to my commentary, you'll find yourself laughing for all the right reasons.

And then, there's commentaries like the one I did for this better-forgotten horror film from 1981, SCREAM. The director, Byron Quisenberry, was a nice and sincere enough fella, but darn it if he wasn't dryer than dust in a lumberyard. If you're willing to laugh for all the wrong reasons, listen to me extend to him every possible interpretation of his film, its L.A.-rush-hour-slow pacing, and its near-incomprehensible resolutions, that would exonerate him and justify the artistic decisions (or lack thereof) that have been mercilessly ridiculed by almost every IMDb reviewer and blogger that endured this snorefest...and listen to him just repeat the mantra, "Eh, it is what it is." I mean, I can't be that asshole who rips the movie to shreds in his presence, but when he all but admits on mic that he made the thing because he could get the Paramount Ranch cheap for a week and call in favors from a bunch of old actors, and that he barely had a script, and that it's a miracle it turned a profit in theatrical release, any normal person would crack from the intransigence and call him out. But I'm not a normal person. So if you've ever thought James Lipton was a fawning blower of smoke, listen to this commentary and you'll think I'm Union Fucking Carbide! Then again, if I can make this abuse of guitar picks look like more than "what it is," imagine what I can do for your movie. So how about giving me a gig? A paying one?

Oh yeah, and meanwhile, buy the DVD! Use the $18 you were gonna spend on CLASH OF THE TITANS this weekend; if necessary, tell your brats they can watch the old Harryhausen version and deal with it. And if they keep bellyaching, make them watch SCREAM with you; once it's over, they'll know never to disrespect your authoritah again!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Posthaste and Posthumous

There is something irresistable about the notion of finding and viewing a "lost" film, though nowadays the label gets bandied about so often as to carry no heft. What constitutes "lost" anymore? To some, it means that the film has always been around, just ignored upon it's first release. To others, it implies an unavailability that has been rectified. And really, you could say if you've never heard of it, it's "lost" to you. Nonetheless, part of the reason for this circumstance is because that damned adjective always gets your attention. And when it is properly applied to the category of a film that has never had any public screening previously, it works every single time, beckoning both casual viewer and hardcore cinemaniac alike. It's been the basis of novels like Tim Lucas' excellent THROAT SPROCKETS, and movies both acclaimed like BROKEN EMBRACES or infamous like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. There's inherent drama in the reality even if the finished product itself disappoints: a troubled production, a stolen negative, a warehouse fire, a worldwide hard target search - it's like getting two narratives for the price of one. And while we wait still for Peter Bogdonavich's promised reconstruction of Orson Welles' THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, and as Jerry Lewis will likely have the footage from THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED buried with him in Forest Lawn, I and other Los Angeles film fanatics have recently been able to finally view two productions that had been on the proverbial milk carton of Hollywood for decades, and with the help of progressive film bookers, they could appear in your city as well. While they couldn't be more different in terms of subject matter or target audience, they are united in their auteur's singular focus and devotion. And, sadly, the fact that neither of them are with us to enjoy their emergence.

Duke Mitchell would have already merited a decent-sized paragraph in Hollywood history solely through his short-lived teaming with comic Sammy Petrillo, which resulted in the infamous B&W quickie BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA and the apparently lifelong ire of Jerry Lewis, and for providing the singing voice for Fred Flintstone in multiple episodes of "THE FLINTSTONES" (one which initally featured the fingers-drawing-a-square gag repeated by Uma Thurman in PULP FICTION). But after seeing Francis Coppola's THE GODFATHER, and influenced by years of performing in nightclubs with criminal influence behind them, he decided to one-up the presiding Italian-American filmmaking hyphenate and single-handedly produce, write, direct, and star in a cheaper, shorter, punchier, and bloodier epic: MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE. In 1975, despite the fact that his first film had not yet received theatrical distribution, Duke and his friends set about making a followup with bigger ambitions.

Perhaps motivated by the changes and heated discussions emerging from Vatican II, or perhaps just surreptitiously stealing from espionage novelist Robert Ludlum's then-just-published comic caper book THE ROAD TO GANDOLFO, Mitchell again multitasked himself to tell a story of Three Wise Guys embarking on a most impossible kidnapping attempt. Shot under the title KISS THE RING, using short ends and borrowed locations, with no complete or organized script, it would gather dust and legend under the title GONE WITH THE POPE. Mitchell shot all that he could afford to shoot, and assembled some rough scenes together, but died in 1981 leaving it unfinished. Almost 15 years later, longtime Sam Raimi house editor (and partner in revival company Grindhouse Releasing with Sage Stallone) Bob Murawski sought out Mitchell's son Jeffrey after becoming a fast fan of MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE, and Jeffrey gave him all the elements for the otherwise-abandoned film. Stealing time away from high-profile jobs like editing the SPIDER-MAN trilogy, and working from notes scribbled on art pads and cocktail napkins, Murawski took another 15 years painstakingly contructing Mitchell's wild vision. And on Friday, March 12th, days after he and his wife won an Academy Award for editing the Best Picture winner THE HURT LOCKER, Bob Murawski, Jeffrey Mitchell, and assorted friends and family came to Hollywood Boulevard and presented the finished product to an excited house of exploitation lovers.
GONE WITH THE POPE is a strange and fascinating film that suggests Abel Ferrara and Martin Scorsese had a distaff uncle not quite ready to drop lounge music for punk rock. Playing like a geriatric predecessor to BOTTLE ROCKET, Mitchell is a contract killer who after a large whacking helps spring his longtime jailbird friends to join him on a deceptively leisurely boat trip to Italy. Once in international waters, he tells them the truth: using one of them as a double, they will abduct the Pope, and demand ransom of $1 from every living Catholic in the world. Naturally, the peaceful Pontiff patiently and politely humors his captors, as the bibically-named henchmen try to keep him comfortable, and Mitchell lets loose with a tirade on all the abuses and crimes of the Catholic Church that have angered him - no doubt inspired by his real-life years in show business among Jewish entertainers who lost family in the Holocaust and among influential Catholic mobsters who could kill their rivals and still go to Sunday services with no sense of guilt. It's a borderline shaggy-dog tale that is held together by the single-minded moxie of its creator, transcending camp and becoming a sincere cri de coeur. Anything this unique and personal is worth the wait to glimpse for oneself, and you have never seen another film like it, I assure you. (Trailer below is Not Safe For Work)

While Perry Henzell would certainly have been appalled at the violence and vinegar of Duke Mitchell's work, he was very much a kindred spirit united with him in their goal of self-expression. A white European born, raised, and ultimately buried in Jamaica, he was fiercely proud of his home country and its people, and looked upon filmmaking as an opportunity to counter what he felt was the inaccurate and patronizing portrayal in mainstream movies of his environment. His debut film THE HARDER THEY COME was the first film made in Jamaica by Jamaicans, introduced Jimmy Cliff and reggae music to an eager world, spawned one of the greatest soundtrack albums ever released, and is noted by critics/historians J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum in their book (and later documentary film) MIDNIGHT MOVIES as one of the six most influential cult films of all time. Its final images of a movie theatre audience watching the conclusion of the protagonist's story sent an important message to the world: We do not need your second-hand heroes and myths, we will make our own now.

While his debut was an insider's portrait of Jamaica, Henzell's follow-up NO PLACE LIKE HOME introduced outsiders into his ongoing narrative. Taking advantage of a U.S. commercial assignment, he integrated the participants (including P.J. Soles in one of her earliest film appearances) along with alumni from THE HARDER THEY COME into a half-scripted, half-improvised snapshot of the country in transition, as an American representative of the ad agency filming the (semi-)fake commercial takes a long trip through the cities, accompanied by a wily driver/small businessman and a politically-minded poet. The three of them witness vacationers from all over have just begun to discover the beauty of the country, and the natives are happy to cater to them and earn some money. However, it is clear that the natives are being muscled out by rich hoteliers, corrupt politicians, and heavy-handed militias and gangsters, and that soon the already large divide between the haves and have-nots is going to get even larger.
The production had to shut down and relaunch multiple times due to money troubles. When the East Coast warehouse where the footage was stored went bankrupt, the elements were seized and feared lost until a fan located most of it in the early half of the noughties and notified the family. By this time, Henzell had been diagnosed with cancer, and with the help of David Garonzik, they set about quickly reassembling the film, filling gaps in the surviving negative with dupe workprint material, newly shot cutaways, and some video material, to render it complete. Henzell was able to premiere it at the Toronto Film Festival in summer 2006, before succumbing to his cancer the following November, just before it was set to premiere at a festival in the original location of Negril.
Where POPE was lucky to have a team determined to finish on film and tweak all elements to make the presentation as clean as possible, HOME lacked the time and budget to do the same; the final film is only viewable in the digital realm, and visibly shows many flaws. But while most films' effectiveness can suffer from such technical problems like mismatched footage, bad sound, and print damage, in this film it practically enhances its raw beauty; there is a shot of a Pepsi truck that is clearly from the modern day that should not mesh with the '70's setting, but thematically, it makes perfect sense, because the message is the same, if not more obvious through the time leap, that big business is coming to stay. The lack of polish is overcome through the confidence and depth of the story within.

Grindhouse Releasing is aggressively promoting GONE WITH THE POPE, lining up midnight shows in many markets before its eventual DVD release with MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE. NO PLACE LIKE HOME is in a more difficult situation: its digital-only availability has limited the number of venues that can play it, and ongoing music clearance issues have interfered with any kind of home video release. But if there is a theatre or film society in your town with a sense of adventure, let them know these iconoclastic gems are waiting to light up their screen - and your consciousness.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"The ghosts didn't wait for me to sleep."

There has been much divided reaction to Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of SHUTTER ISLAND, especially among my valued correspondents. Sinamatic Salve-ation's Ariel Schudson praises its authentic recreation of the failure of post-WWII mental health treatment, while Phantom of Pulp's Mark Savage grew weary of what he felt was its overreliance on dream sequences. I will come back to his observations later on, because they inspired my desire to post this essay - not so much a retort but a reevaluation.

For those who have not yet seen the film, I highly recommend it. Though Scorsese's body of work does not openly belie a leaning to what is classified as horror cinema, horror films have always been an influence on his style. And on multiple occasions, he has cited his affection for the steady output of England's Hammer studio, which, alongside their iconic series of Dracula and Frankenstein tales, turned out a steady stream of what were called "mini-psychos": thrillers like PARANOIAC, NIGHTMARE, HYSTERIA, structured to provide the same gamesmanship and surprise of Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece (though in actuality, most of the plots of these films share a closer kinship with Henri-Georges Cluzot's LES DIABOLIQUES, a film that had almost been directed by Hitchcock). SHUTTER ISLAND, on a primal level, captures that grand atmosphere of looming dread, distrust, and disconnection.

By now you have likely heard a lot of moaning that the "twists" of the film are easily predictable, especially if you were repeatedly exposed to the too-revelatory trailers. (I personally avoided them for months) Let's get something straight right now: Hitchcock, and his best imitators (Brian DePalma, Neil Jordan, David Mamet), have never made the "twist" the most important part of their story. This misconception was no doubt popularized, ironically, by Hitchcock himself, on his long-running "ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS" TV anthology series, almost every episode ending on a stinger. It is the aftermath of that twist upon the characters and the audience that they enjoy exploring, that is why in most cases, those surprises pop up in the middle of the film, not the end; you start the movie knowing less than the characters, and finish knowing more, wondering how this surprise is going to change them. Let's straighten another detail: if there was ever a filmmaker who is not only sure, but nay, hopes, that you've seen a bunch of movies and know the storytelling tropes, it's Scorsese. He knows you're smart and that you could solve the puzzle, heck he's counting on it. As such, yes, I figured it out early, but I was still engrossed in seeing how DiCaprio was going to figure it out. So regardless of how much you know or think you know about the plot, there will be plenty to entertain you.

In Mark Savage's negative review, I was caught by one of his statements: I prefer waking nightmares. It's a great sentence, and I'm in agreement with it. Now, on the immediate topic, I would argue that one man's dream sequence is another man's unreliable memory bank, so yes, while there plenty of moments where DiCaprio is not getting a proper night's sleep, he's not exactly spending his waking hours with a clear vision either. And it's not like Scorsese is lifting from Nick Reve's style book and gratuitously putting a dwarf into the scene; all the horrific and bizarre images do have a logical, if not quite linear, place in the resolution of the story. But Mark's statement tapped into something bigger that I had been contemplating after seeing the film, an earlier waking nightmare also captured by Scorsese...

And here there be large spoilers...

In 1999, lost among the crunch of outstanding movies released in the fall period alone (FIGHT CLUB, AMERICAN BEAUTY, THREE KINGS, THE INSIDER), was another story of an authority figure trying to do his job while distrusting his partners, surrounded by unstable strangers, wary of doctors, plagued by hallucinations, and carrying guilt for deaths in which he was directly involved, also based on a popular best-seller. BRINGING OUT THE DEAD was Scorsese's first project for Paramount, and more so than any of his other films is the perfect co-feature for the inevitable New Beverly Cinema revival, not just because it will be easy to get both movies from the same studio.
Now, guilt is as constant a presence in a Scorsese film as "See You Next Wednesday" is in a John Landis film. And SHUTTER ISLAND is not the first time Scorsese has paid homage to Hammer or dramatized the notion that the beast what scares us most is us: his terrific "AMAZING STORIES" episode "Mirror Mirror" has that distinction. But there is a unique parallel in the structure of BRINGING OUT THE DEAD and SHUTTER ISLAND that make them special, and both of them waking nightmares.

"Ever notice people who see shit are always crazy?"

Cage's Frank Pierce and DiCaprio's Teddy Daniels are good souls who have been battered by spending too much time in the trenches, figuratively and literally. Frank's reputation as a paramedic was so good he was called "Father" Frank, as if he had powers imbued from God; Teddy has WWII service and was present at the liberation of a concentration camp, so he is a de facto war hero. But they themselves do not believe themselves heroic; Frank because he was not quick enough on the scene to save a young girl from a sudden deadly asthma attack, Teddy even more so because he arrived at the camp too late to save Jewish prisoners from being killed by the Nazis, and in domestic life years later, arrived home too late to save his children from being killed by his own unstable wife. Frank is now only barely functional, given to reckless behavior on his night shifts (though compared to his three successive driving partners, he appears sane). Teddy has completely broken, killing his wife in anguish and in the midst of psychiatric committment, creating a fictional alter ego who can take the blame for all his failings so that he can believe himself still "good." Heck, they each even have their own hard-tack with a badge that's always hassling them, threatening either to take off their sunglasses or bite their eyes out. And that eye fixation in both movies is only slightly coincidental - both protagonists have seen too much to have any chance of normalcy anymore.

"Taking credit when things go right doesn't work the other way."

What contributes to the mental troubles of both men is, bizarrely, the establishment's willingness to forgive them, when they cannot forgive themselves. Frank's partners have their manner of staying detached from the pain of failing to save a life, and the doctors they deal with are practically numb, often turning patients away or coldly pronouncing death over the phone. Teddy has committed a capital crime, but everyone feels sympathy for him because to them, it's so clearly the result of witnessing unspeakable horror in war and at home, and are thus bent to "cure" him so that he can ostensibly start over again. There are selfish motives too - '80's Gotham is short of capable paramedics, '50's Boston would love to have one of their better mah-shalls back on the job - so if they can be kept working, the powers that be will benefit.

"The streets are not like the ER. There's no walls, no controls."

These damaged men, meanwhile, wander about in a damaged environment. Teddy is a literal inmate given run of the asylum, and even in his delusional cop state, he can see that his doctors' notions of how to cure mental problems is failing. Besides, when the most fundamental authority figure in one's life - the mother - cannot be trusted to protect life, it's not hard for Teddy to believe the doctors are betraying him either. Frank's asylum is the whole of Gotham, a topsy turvy place where prostitutes are indistinguishable from housewives, the same old drunk has to be taken to the hospital every night, and a father who should have died peacefully at home has been defibrillated back to vegetative life 12 times in one weekend. And each world offers the men convenient red herrings to assign blame to - Frank repeatedly sees OD cases from a new strain of heroin called, appropriately, "Red Death," while Teddy rattles off paranoid theories about mind control and human experiments - and while these dangers are real, no question, sadly for them, they're not the tidy solution to their troubles; it's larger and messier than that.

"Tell me that's a crazy person! Every move is calculated!"

Finally, both stories tease a non-tragic ending for their characters, but ultimately take an ambiguous detour. Teddy, fully briefed on the extended roleplay exercise the doctors have staged for him, is taken to be lobotomized while leaving his primary handler uncertain to whether he had failed to reconcile his divided psyche, or worse, was cured but chose to be lobotomized anyway to erase his guilt. Frank, on the surface, seems like he has survived his three-day work ordeal, but considering that he has taken his nascent God complex to the next level, by directly choosing who to save (Noel the homeless man, Cy the drug dealer) and who to let die (the comatose father), when he beds down to rest with the now-deceased father's daughter, who does not know he pulled the plug on him, one is also left to wonder if he also has chosen an extreme measure to purge his guilt.

"No one asked you to suffer. It was your idea."

Two outstanding waking nightmares, courtesy of one master filmmaker.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cheap Plugs by a Big Brother who is Having Company

"I wanna date a musician."
"I wanna live with a musician. She'd write songs at home and ask me what I thought of them, and maybe even include one of our little private jokes in the liner notes."
"Maybe a little picture of me in the liner notes."
"Just in the background somewhere."

Yes, this entry is a puff piece, nothing more than me putting some fanboy folderol into the blogosphere for some very talented friends of mine. While I rarely buy albums, and listen more to talk radio (especially because Los Angeles radio stations suck worse than the '57 Electrolux at your grandmother's house), next to movies, a good song takes my soul to places my body will never go, and these four diverse individuals have each been a sort of personal tour guide for those trips. And as such, I'm trying to sell you on the voyage as well, especially because three of these four performers have performances coming up very very soon, so if I can help put a few more culos in the chairs, I've done my good deed for the week. Japonica glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens, and to-day we have naming of artists.


Many moons ago, on an ordinary Thursday night back in 2007, my best female friend lassoed me into coming to the Cat Club on Sunset Blvd. to see a short set by a band called Price that was getting the rub from leading power pop outfit Rooney. I still owe her a steak dinner for this gesture. Fronted by versatile brothers Michael, Corey, and Chris, and anchored by nimble drummer Charles Streeter, Price is the best-kept secret among music lovers in L.A. - a tight combo that delivers strong soulful rock, the kind that maintains a shelf life that outlasts other passing fancies in the Top 40. Commercially confined to one single from the NANCY DREW soundtrack and a still-unreleased album at Geffen (which, seeing how it's the label that supplanted MCA, a/k/a "Music Cemetary of America", means some things haven't changed), they're not the easiest band to find and hear, but once found and heard, cannot be lost or forgotten. Ah luv dese guys!
Price the band is currently on hiatus, but frontman Chris Price has kept extremely busy. He has done frequent local shows with Alicia Witt, Chloe Lear, and Mike Viola (writer of "That Thing You Do") and Bleu of The Major Labels, and this year joined a virtual supergroup fronted by Rooney's Taylor Locke called The Roughs, which also features Charlotte Froom (formerly of The Like) and Mikey McCormack (Everybody Else) on drums. They have just released an album called GRAIN & GRAPE which is available for download at most online sites (Amazon, iTunes, and Amie Street among them), with actual CDs to follow in a month or so. If you're in L.A., you can see them LIVE Wednesday, March 10th at 9:00pm at 3 of Clubs, 1123 Vine St. at Santa Monica Blvd.


Toddy Walters is a veteran who really doesn't need me talking her up, because her resume is already enviable: Multiple voice appearances on "SOUTH PARK" and its theatrical film version...featured roles in CANNIBAL: THE MUSICAL and ORGAZMO...duetting with Better than Ezra on their single "Rolling" and backup vocals with electronica artist BT...her song "La La Love" was heard by millions on MTV's soap opera "UNDRESSED" and in the SORORITY BOYS trailer ("The Christmas Touchstone made" as she laughingly told me). Of course, the fact that I had to remind y'all of that work means that she hasn't quite reached critical mass, or at least not the level I think she deserves. Thankfully, she never rests on her laurels, so there's plenty more on the way.
Currently, she's contributed voice work to "The Mavis and Billy Bob Movie", an animated short by Dan Francis, and contributed vocals to the new album by Paul and Price (no relation to Chris Price). Her songs are available at iTunes. She too will be appearing LIVE Monday, March 8, 2010 sometime between 8:30pm - 11:30pm at Palihouse, 8465 Holloway Dr. in West Hollywood.


In the glory days of MySpace, I received at least one friend request a week from some artist I never heard of, usually working in a style completely at odds with what I listened to. It was usually sent blind with no attempt to talk to me one on one and sell me on the work. Factored with the barrage of "hot girl" spambots and wannabe redneck Romeros, it made me put up a most adversarial greeting at my page, which is still there today catching unsuspecting astroturfers off guard. Jessica Mellott is the only MySpace musician I've encountered who went to the trouble of reading my profile, writing a personal note about herself and her music, and asking me to take a chance on her. Impressed with her professionalism and politesse, I took that chance, and found her music was as good as her manners. Did I mention that she was still in high school when all this took place?
While Jessica Mellott's clean youth-pop demeanor is completely at odds with that of Diane Lane's proto-riotgrrl Corrine Burns in LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE FABULOUS STAINS (which, to her credit, she watched on my recommendation but did not care for), she is the embodiment of one of the choice lines of dialogue in that film: This girl created herself! With no media conglomerate or Svengali producer pulling the strings, she studied her favorite performers, wrote her songs, mounted shows, got herself on the web, and built herself a fanbase at a fraction of the cost and manpower that Radio Disney spends on their teen idols. She's got a voice that's pure and sincere and just wraps around you like a close friend's hug. Her initial body of work consists of the usual simple songs of love and adventure you'd hear from a young girl, but it has the edge of someone coming from a position of experience and not dictation, the same kind of confidence that inspired 17-year old Alex Chilton to growl through "The Letter" like a veteran - and walk away from The Box Tops as a teen idol and enter Big Star as a master. She has the work ethic and the talent to carry her into a national career, so consider this the "I was into her when" bragging period right now. Dipping again into THE FABULOUS STAINS, Jessica fulfills the hope that screenwriter Nancy Dowd wrote into my favorite quote: "Every girl should be given an electric guitar on her 16th birthday."
Jessica's song downloads can be found at ReverbNation and BroadJam and other outlets. For the moment, she's taking a break from live performing to finish college, ahead of schedule and before her 21st birthday no less! But come May, there will be a large number of East Coast shows you'll be able to check out.


And finally, there is the playful enigma of Joseph, lead singer and creative visionary behind Windows to Sky. I've experienced the different manifestations of his ambitions - aerialist, filmmaker, dancer, lighting director, essayist, computer mastermind, public mischief-maker - and I've determined there is nothing he cannot do. But one of the things he does best is make lush, textured music with a singular vision somewhere between Brian Wilson and Glenn Gould. I know of few people who would dare to recreate the entire "Grim Grinning Ghosts" suite from The Haunted Mansion, especially since it was designed as short loops of free-standing score not quite meant to link into a full composition...but he did it, and has done it live for suitably stunned audiences. The recordings are few, but the performances are many, with a warmth and intimacy that inspires repeat attendance.
Windows to Sky music can be purchased at CD Baby. They will be the opening act for the long-running "1920's Pulp Adventure Radio Serial" "Tales of the Extraordinary" LIVE March 21st at 7pm at The Spot,4455 Overland Ave. in Culver City. You'll not only see Joseph do his music, he'll be providing some comical voice support in the main show as well.

So, them's my musician-type friends. I hope any one of them can bring you as much enjoyment as I would like to believe you find in my blogging. Of course, they have an advantage over me: after all, nobody ever counsels you to "Read like nobody is watching..."