Sunday, September 23, 2007

Buckingham Nicks and the Platter Splatter

Most record collectors can proportionate their lives by how many records they have, or had. (I am referring to both the black and silver platters but they will always be records to me.) If you were to ask me where I was when I had 15,000 records I could tell you. That was the purge of 1992 after I had spent 20 years collecting music. Somehow, I managed to corral this amalgam of licorice pizza (no silver yet) into a small single on Miami Beach but when I decided to move back to the West Coast, they were history. I made only $4000 dollars from that purge because no one cared.

There was a smaller, but none less heart-wrenching, purge in 2000 when I left Sonora, CA - the place I had planned on spending the rest of my life with the soul mate I met on Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. We broke up and I loaded my car with records. I made $5000 this time because the merchandise also included CDs and books. (At least I wasn't traveling 3000 miles this time.) Backstory finished, the very important decision I made the other day is not one I took lightly.

I am through collecting records. I am through scouring the record aisles looking for that elusive CD. That one platter, if you will, that will change the course of history. That phenomenal collection of Shirley Bassey 1960s B-sides. Pylon's first album. Lani Hall Classics. A complete collection of Melanie (between LP and CD). Lucille Ball in Wildcat.* No, I'm not through listening to music. And, I'll always buy music. But I won't troll the aisles anymore. I won't go out looking for the Holy Grail of record collecting, the one platter on which I have yet to lay these puppies: a CD of Buckingham Nicks, the record Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham released right before they joined Fleetwood Mac and made music history. I've had the vinyl but it got lost in the '92 purge. It's a beautiful album full of soon-to-be Mac-esque songs. And it's the Holy Grail because it never existed.

Despite the enduring popularity of both of its key contributors, Buckingham Nicks was never officially released on CD. Bootlegs dubbed from vinyl have circulated since the late 1980s. It has become one of the most requested titles for CD release. In 2003, Rhino Records announced the album's pending release as a deluxe CD with bonus tracks; however, the CD was never released. Buckingham and Nicks share ownership of the album. Though Nicks has expressed some willingness for a CD release, Buckingham has not.**

See? Holy Grail. And I was retiring from the game before it was mine. (Oh my lord, record collecting is an addiction.)

In celebration of my decision to stop, I decided to spend a last blow out day. (Don't we all?). I got myself ready, picked myself up, and took a bag of CDs I was selling to Twist and Shout in the city I sometimes call home, Denver. I was hoping for a $50 credit so I wouldn't have to put out cash. That's always a big thrill when stricken with this addiction.

So I start down the rock/pop aisle alphabetically. Historically, I would forget to check Buckingham in the Bs and only remember of the Holy Grail when I get to the Nicks section in the Ns. Too lazy to walk 12 letters back I would laugh to myself that "this was the time I was indoubtedly missing my copy of Buckingham Nicks." Well, here I was flipping the keepers*** in the Bs when I saw a card with the name Lindsay Buckingham.

"Hmmm. At least I remembered to check this time. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha."

(None to pleased with my maniacal laughter, the guy flipping the C keepers moved down to the next letter.)

I reached for Buckingham. "Looks like there is one CD there. Probably that most recent one from '92. I always see that." I pulled the CD up. The Buckingham CD keeper was momentarily stuck. I pulled a bit came loose and...gulp...I always forget my glasses...gulp...I feel light-headed...and...ohmigoooooddddddddd!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!! This is it...

(This was internal. The guy now flipping the D keepers was unaware.)

There they were Stevie Nick's breast and Lindsay Buckingham's hair. Yes, I was holding in my hand a copy of the Holy Grail of record collecting: Buckingham Nicks on CD. When I leave this store, for $19.99 (cheap at double the price), I will be an owner of the non-existent CD version of Buckingham Nicks. As I calmed down, I realized this was the universe telling me something.

"Yes, Michael. It is time to stop. You've got other things to do. And because it's time to stop - here is Buckingham Nicks. There's nothing more to search for. You've grabbed the golden ring of record collecting. You've reached the apex: Buckingham Nicks on CD."

You're right, Universe. Between my guy, my dog, my cat, my house. My health. My job, my plays, and all the other my's that everyone tries to juggle, I have other things to do.

* All in my collection

** Copied from the Buckingham Nicks entry on wikipedia.

*** keeper plastic contraption in which a CD, DVD or video game is put by a store employee before the item is put in the racks to sell; as in "Joe, put this new stock in keepers and get it out on the floor now!" (overheard at Second Spin).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Of Tyra and Britney

I watch America's Next Top Model. (Cycle 9 begin this Wednesday September 18.) Tyra Banks is great, and you can never get to much of Twiggy. I remember the episode of ANTM that someone has now taken and mashed with Britney Spears' NBC interview to comment on her recent performance at the MTV Music Awards. Check out this incredibly funny commercial for a very special episode of The Tyra Banks Show.

And here's a clip of the original Tyra scream fest from ANTM Cycle 4:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Of Boobs, Barb Wire and Mahogany

In the early 1980s, I lived in Hoboken. For three years I rented a five room railroad for $300 a month. When I moved out of the flat, I unbelievably left behind a paper grocery bag full of movie posters I had bought from the manager of the Jerry Lewis Cinema in Massapequa, a theatre I frequented as a teen. The poster for Mahogany was one of those I had and I lost. I was cruising the internet recently when I came upon an image of the poster. So I decided to watch Mahogany again and relive my memories of this and all the posters I've loved before.

As Mahogany begins: it's not that bad. OK, the shot of ultra successful fashion designer Tracy Chambers (Diana Ross) going back in time to become the girl in the hood is a might cheesy, but there was a nice subtle touch when Tracy is on the elevated train and gets inspiration for a design of her own from a graffiti artist she spies outside the window. Tracy's character is revealed a bit more as the movie continues (home life, work life, studies, meeting future love Brian Walker) but then IT happens: Tracy arrives to work late and is berated by her boss (Nina Foch) as they walk through the workplace to meet photographer Sean McAvoy (Anthony Perkins). The scene ends at the point I've taken the screen shot on the top and the film cuts to a shot of Ms. Ross and Ms. Foch entering the room (screen shot on the bottom).

Did they just change clothes? Ross is wearing a red dress and Foch a blue dress in the first scene. But when they walk into the room, Ross is in blue and Foch in red. The clothes are different but Ross still carries her notebook and Foch seems to be wearing the same necklace. There was no reference to the quick change or to it being a different day. The change was subtle but this was bad subtle. They just walk in the room wearing different dresses? Oh, yes, happens all the time. Please, even bad movies need some semblance of character motivation. I kept rewinding and watching it again. (And I was watching my VHS tape which takes time and precision to rewind.)

OK, all bets are off. In order, here goes:

  • Frame Composition: Tracy (Diana Ross) and Brian (Billy Dee Williams) have a fight concerning the use of poor black people as background in a high fashion photo shoot. The two actors are on opposite sides of a chain link fence during the fight. Between the two, center screen, is an extra that plays the whole scene with tennis match eyes, moving them back and forth from Ross to Williams and back to Ross until Williams ultimately walks off. The extra steals the scene.

  • Classic of the Genre: The photo montage of Ross becoming a huge fashion model is akin to Patty Duke's nightclub singer training montage from Valley of the Dolls.

  • Tracy as a Model: It is absurd for Tracy to decide to wear her own design on a job as a fashion model. She has been hired to wear clothes for photographs. The right thing for her to have done was to ask Sean as a friend to photograph her later in some of her designs, you know, for fun. Her behavior is selfish and ego-centric.

  • Tracy as a Designer: Tracy chooses to wear the most ridiculous design in her collection for her Italian auction 'debut'. Now I've heard of haute couture but who is Tracy of Chicago designing for? Japanese geisha space aliens? Why didn't she surprise everyone with a nice dress like the one she wore to the party afterwards? I guess if she had worn a different dress, it would've been a different movie. Her behavior is selfish and ego-centric.

  • Anthony Perkins Plays a Freak...Again: Sean McAvoy is not sympathetic and that creepy Perkin's smile during the gun fight is truly revolting. McAvoy represents a heterosexual male's fear of turning gay and even when he attempts to kill that side he can't or doesn't. Oh, Mahogany, who knew you had that depth to you?

  • dianipple Alert: Ross's breakdown after Brian no spoiler here is laughable with her dripping hot wax all over her naked body. More importantly though is that, when she later puts on her bathrobe, you see her left 'dianipple' and applicable boobage.

  • Diana Does Diana and...Lucy: The car crash scene with Ross doing her infamous Take the picture, Sean face is frightening in its similarity to the strait jacket shot from Lady Sings the Blues.

    It is also very similar to the even more infamous Lucille Ball spider face.

  • Success is nothing without someone you love to share it with Billy Dee Williams is good as Brian, the up and comping alderman. He delivers the film's iconic line credibly despite its hoakiness. Ross, on the other hand, is initially wooden. Her performance seems to come into its own when Brian arrives in Rome. This and her new found success inspires diva-esque behavior that seems to impel her with energy. And even though Ross twirls great in one scene in the graffiti-inspired dress she designed that doesn't make for a very good movie - even a good 'bad' movie.

  • Do You Know Where You're Going To? You do get to hear the lovely theme from Mahogany twice. It really is the best part of the movie.

  • VERY ENDING SPOILER: Ross proclaims to Brian at film's end, "Mister, you got my vote." So Tracy moves back to Chicago to be with her man and to whom is she gonna sell her clothes? Who wants horrible dresses that look like the inside of space ships? Or now success will mean something because she has someone she loves to share it with.

After Mahogany, I decided to quench my thirst for the other side of the boobage scale and watch Pamela Anderson (or as she is billed on the DVD, Pamela Anderson Lee) in Barb Wire. Like Ross in Mahogany, Lee gives her audience what they want right off the bat; over the credits, she does a water dance a la Flashdance, with her tits on high. (And they are quite a pair.) A hot version of Word Up performed by Gun plays over the performance. (In Mahogany, Ross sings her #1 hit over the credits. That's what her fans want. Am I the same person?) You might have to agree to being over 18 if you decide to view the Anderson nudie clip below on YouTube. Seriously.

It's two weeks later and I'm still trying to finish Barb Wire. (Boobage is not always enough.) I can't seem to get past the first thirty minutes but today I will - otherwise, this entry won't be published. I'm back where the soldier asks Barb to dance. I never realized until now that the song the goth chick band, Die Cheerleader, plays in this scene as Barb is dancing barefoot is indeed Dancing Barefoot, a song by Patti Smith. Such subtle character development in a comic book movie!

Anderson Lee's prowess as an actress is revealed in the scene where she discovers her blind brother's dead body. (I laughed. I cried. It became a part of me.) Anderson Lee is also suitably droll when her ex-man introduces her to his new wife, a scientist. Barb retorts, "How impressive. I'm sure you'll have very strong, smart children." The best line though goes to Xander Berkeley as Police Chief Willis. After Steve Railsback (as a Congrssional commander) rails, "If Cora D escapes, I will personally rip your heart out of your ass and stuff it back down your throat," Willis deadpans, "That's not very sanitary."

It is also interesting to note that scientist/wife Cora D has had her face altered; the before picture shown to Barb reveals a woman with very Negroid features.

The after of Cora D is very light-skinned black actress Victoria Rowell. Now we can look deeply into this decision and decide that the creators of Barb Wire felt that dark-skinned black women are more intelligent but they needed a prettier, light-skinned black woman to bring in the bucks. Here they use the more mainstream, acceptable light-skinned black woman to propel the movie's story forward while the Negroid actress is relegated to a static picture. Why did the black-skinned actress have to become Michael Jackson? The bad guys made it a point to say that her face doesn't matter as they can tell her identity via a retinal scan. So why change her face at all? Or why couldn't Barb Wire herself be the new Cora D? (Pamela Anderson Lee is delightful as Stephen Hawkings!!)

I finally finished Barb Wire. Of course, all's well that end's well. Except of course for the blind brother, and the dark-skinned actress in the static picture. I haven't seen either since.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Of Music and Membranes

I was born in 1959 and my sister was born in 1961. That makes me two years older than her. (Some of you might want to do the math; the rest of us will move on.) When I was growing up (as opposed to out), I was not considered mainstream in my musical choices. I remember asking Lisa one night in 1980 if she wanted to come with me to see this Irish band I'd heard tell of, performing live.

'Who are they?'


'Nahh. I never heard of them.'

I went to the show, history, of course, was made, and little sister still kicks herself when I mention it. (Sorry.) But, I have noticed over the years that Lisa has become quicker on the ball to new music. She bought and runs a record store, has for almost 20 years. In that time, she has sent me enumerable packages filled to brimming with CDs she thought I might like. I have discovered many a new band within those packages that I wouldn't have if Lisa had not sent them on.

Last week I saw Heart in concert. My heart wasn't in the show because I was away from Max who has been going through a few unexpected medical dramas. (He's recuperating.) But at the show Ann Wilson, Heart's lead singer, mentioned her new solo CD and I thought to myself, "I wonder if there'll be a promo?" Seven days later, without having spoken, that CD was on my doorstep. I attribute that to sibling membranes. (Or the fact that Zoe Records decided to do some marketing.) Even though Lisa and I live on different sides of the continent and see each other only once a year, those sibling membranes are still strong.

And Hope and Glory shows Ann Wilson is still strong. She had performed a beautiful rendition of John Lennon's Isolation at the concert but the CD is equally as beguiling. It is very directly and poignantly Ann's stance regarding the situation this country is in. All, but one, of the songs on the CD are covers, and she has chosen each title specifically and performed them with various partners subtly. From a very original take on Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song to her impassioned plea (with help from Wynonna) on We've Got to Get Out of this Place, Ann has carved a new niche for herself as a protest singer with soul...and heart. If you appreciate her message, you'll certainly appreciate the beauty of this undertaking. If you don't, she sings some really nice songs.

Thanks for a great CD, hon. Oh...pluralize that.

love you