Nov 132020

Hello: Meet the Vandals (Part I)


Furry Murray, also known as the Murray Man, nicknames courtesy Kevin Luhpotto, because he most probably didn’t have the equipment upstairs to come up with anything better (just for the record, at age 8, Kevin introduced me to the whole concept of junking via a visit to a car graveyard where we found unopened flat top cans of Budweiser underneath the seats of an early ’60s Ford Falcon. Nice! After that find, we went back to his house where his mother served us pancakes drenched with Ms. Butterworth’s syrup. Being a Log Cabin man, I couldn’t take that, so I called my mom to pick me up asap. I mention all this to let you know that my picky dick credentials were already formed and firmly established)/age 17/plays varsity baseball/musical equipment: Cortez Strat copy/major influences: the Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Costello.

Furry’s Cortez Strat. (Photo courtesy of the Rock ‘n Roll Foyer of Fame.)

Jo, also known as Jojo, nicknames courtesy me for no specific reasons whatsoever/age 17/plays varsity basketball/known for his good looks and strut/musical equipment: kick drum, kick pedal, snare, floor tom, and a 16-inch crash cymbal, manufacturer unknown/major influences: the Gap Band and Styx.

E. Pluribus Gergely, also known as Weed, sarcastic nickname courtesy Furry Murray (Why? Call me the cautious Paul McCartney of the power trio. I didn’t want to waste my entry into the world of ganja via a keg party with a bunch of rednecks in a cornfield. I was looking forward to some arty kind of thing I thought might happen when I got to college)/age 17/ class clown/musical equipment: Fender Duo Sonic guitar and Peavey Classic amplifier/major influences: Beatles, Stones, and thanks to the Murray Man, Elvis Costello.

And let it be said that there would be no Vandals if there was no Elvis Costello.

Allow me to illustrate.

Setting: Junior year at Boiling Spring High School, Boiling Springs PA, spring 1982.

While making a pit stop at my locker where the stench is ungodly (within the locker are uneaten paper bag lunches piled under damp gym towels, books, papers, half assed completed projects for art, home economics, industrial arts, etc.), Murray comes up to me with two albums in his hand: Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True and This Year’s Model. Very unsettling. First off, Murray’s a sports guy. Sports guys don’t listen to that stuff. The Cars, Petty, the Greg Kihn Band…that was all fine and dandy, but not Elvis Costello. Elvis Costello was punk rock. Second, Murray doesn’t seem to care one whit about showing the albums to me, even though he’s surrounded by his sports posse. “Weed, ya gotta listen to …” 

No way in hell was that going to happen. On the album covers, Costello looked not unlike one of the Sex Pistols, a group I heard about on late night news, who continually threatened the livelihoods of just about everyone in England. “That’s really not for me.”

“Hey man, I always listen to the stuff you give me to…”

He had a point. “Alright, alright, just give me the albums. I’ll call you later tonight.”

Up in my bedroom, around 9 at night or so, after a glass of wine and a chapter of The Case of the Drowning Duck, by Erle Stanley Gardner (my taste for Perry Mason and booze happened around the same time), I give in, flop This Year’s Model on my Dual turntable, crank up the volume on my Pioneer receiver, and get walloped by the sound blasting out of my JBLs. (Money well spent from my first job washing dishes at Rillo’s.) Jesus Christ Almighty! All it took was about 30 seconds of “No Action” and I was ready to begin my new life as Costello’s most devoted apostle. 


  73 Responses to “Hello, Goodbye”

  1. Great vignettes EPG!!

    I can only wish I had some similar musical experiences to share; never having been in a band I have nothing to add to this. The only thing I have in common with your story is having read The Case of the Drowning Duck along with another 80 odd Mason novels (ah, teenagers have so much time to waste!).

    What did you think of the recent HBO Mason series?

  2. Sorry, all! This was an E Pluribus Gergely piece that I loaded for him. I forgot to change the byline to his. I have just done so and edited Al’s comment to give credit where credit is due! I, too, love this piece.

  3. Al, I was also a big fan of the original Perry Mason TV series which went south around the time Lt. Tragg (always a Mason arch-nemesis along with attorney Hamilton Burger) was replaced by his younger partner Andy something or another. During my teen years, I used to watch Perry Mason in the evening on either channel 48 or 29. I think it was actually 48. 48 had a great evening line up that was something like the following: 10:00 Best of Groucho / 10:30 Best of Groucho /11:00 Make Me Laugh (and for the record, neither Bobby Van, Gallagher, nor any of the show’s other comedians, ever made me laugh) / 11:30 The Honeymooners / 12:00 Perry Mason.

    48 also had Creature Double Feature on Saturday afternoons. Great stuff, especially when you’re recovering from a hangover!

    As far as the new HBO Perry Mason is concerned, reliable sources tell me it’s great! I haven’t seen it yet because I don’t have HBO.

    One more thing, been listening to Carole King demos from the 60s: “Crying in the Rain”, “Stage Door”, “Just Once in My Life”, etc. If you haven’t heard any of these, go to You Tube and give ’em a listen. They are unfrigginbelievable!

  4. I’ve heard much of that early Carole King stuff. The talent in the Brill Building was staggering. There are the Ace songwriter series as well as some other UK labels with comps of Goffin-King, Ellie Greenwich-Jeff Barry, and Mann-Weill that blow me away. Known and unknown songs and the works by the writers themselves and others. Really amazing!

  5. Hey Al,

    I thought these were especially great:

    Crying in the Rain

    Stage Door:

    Just Once in My Life

    Am I missing any that I absolutely and positively have to hear?

  6. There are a lot of great tracks/hits on this album

    but check out Greenwich’s own cuts, really fine stuff.

  7. The “Cryin’ in the Rain” one illustrates the thing that I think was so amazing about a lot of these demos. She didn’t just write songs for folks to work with, she imagined them with specific artists in mind and copped their stylistic tricks to demonstrate exactly how they could be done. She doesn’t just give the Everly Brothers a song to harmonize, she demos how that’s going to sound.

    So many of these demos include not only the melodies and chords, but also the key arrangement elements that wind up on the final produced hits.

  8. Pleasant Valley Sunday is worth checking out.

  9. I’m going to catch up on these Carole King demos, thanks. It is cool when people write for the artists who may end up covering that song.

    To EPG’s thread question, I think I’ve written about this before, but the other guitarist in The Zone, the proto-version of my longtime band with Andy’s and Sethro, wrote his ticket out when he got too into learning the jamming version of “Sparks” from Live at Leeds. Too. Much. Jamming. For a band that was established to do away with jamming. It was sad to set a friend free over the live version of a fairly fun instrumental, but it had to be done.

  10. Al, thanks for the link. That looks pretty good indeed!

    Moderator, what else was on the Zone set list? Anything embarrassing? Anything that was stretched out for twenty plus minutes to accommodate for lack of material?

    George, has there ever been a song you’ve refused to play?

  11. Embarrassing material on Zone setlists began with many of our originals. “Armageddon Never,” in particular, makes me want to go into a witness protection program.

    It’s funny you mentioned your band playing “What I Like About You.” We played that, or at least the three quarters of it we could figure out. The break/solo was a little beyond our reach. If memory serves, this was the first time I remember my bandmates getting way more enjoyment out of playing a sing than I did. I liked that song, but it felt beneath me, despite the fact that I was beneath playing it properly. Come on, man, I had songs like “Armageddon Never” that needed our attention!

    One of our first gigs was a middle school dance at the Baldwin School, a private school on the Main Line. We got paid $600! The payment made it worth my high-minded while to cover the Stones’ “She’s So Cold,” a song our soon-to-be deposed other guitarist pushed hard for inclusion. Yikes!

    I think I still have the cassette recording of that entire show. Maybe it’s time I burn it and share it will the world. Perhaps it will help us shake free of the clutches of COVID-19.

  12. Actually I try to be accommodating when someone brings in a suggestion, although I sometimes push back a little if I think something is a little too rote or over exposed. For, last week at rehearsal “Feel a Whole Lot Better,” which we did a million years ago, was requested. Now I like the song fine, but a band that plays in our circle already does it, and it doesn’t add much in the repertoire and I don’t think we have anything specific to add to it. I will however review it and try it out just for kicks

    On the other hand, I have frequently been frustrated in trying to get covers that I want to do. They are usually not obvious, and I’m often looking for some weird approach to make it work for the band. It can take years to get them going but, not infrequently, when we do get them, people enjoy playing them once they hear how to it works. But to get to that point is a long, painful, uncertain journey.

  13. George, I think the problem might be that you’re suggesting things like the Airplane’s “Ballad of You, Me, and Pooneil”, “Lather”, “Martha”,etc. That’s a hard sell.

  14. EPG: Now, you funny too!

  15. George missed his calling as one of those guys who eventually found themselves helping the Slick, Kantner, Balin. Kaukonen, Cassidy musical think tank chart undiscovered musical territory and alternate universes. I actually had a dream a couple of months ago that I was on board some kind of Star Trek Enterprise like space craft in which Kantner and George were sitting in the cock pit area, wearing headsets, working controls, and talking about which planets, besides Earth, might be habitable with denizens who might have a willingness to accept the therapeutic power of rock.

    One more thing: I find the whole Romantics’ “What I Like about You” phenomenon very interesting. For me, first hearing it was very exciting, most probably because it was so Ripleys that the main FM station in my redneck area, FM 104, actually chose to play the thing and have it in rotation. It bordered on what was considered punk by your average Central Pennsylvanian Joe, and punk was certainly something that wasn’t going to be pushed by your typical FM 104 DJ who rammed Scorpions, Krokus, Rainbow, etc. down the listener’s throat 24/7. I knew there was something sort of wrong about liking the Romantics, much like liking the Knack, but I always enjoyed hearing “What I Like about You” on the radio.

    And like the Zone, the Vandals didn’t know what to do with the break. Our version of the song basically featured the E A D chords over and over again until we got tired of playing the thing.

    The song is actually pretty clever. The sound is clean and energetic and a lot of that is due to how the chords are played on the neck of the guitar. The two guitarists are obviously playing them in different positions to color the overall sound. Eddie Cochran used this same approach for “C’mon Everybody”, “Summertime Blues”, “Weekend”, etc.

    I never owned any of the Romantics’ albums, but a friend of mine had the first one. To these ears, what I heard sounded pretty good. That said, I was not a fan of the “Talking in Your Sleep” Romantics.

    When I was a freshman at St. Joe’s, I went to see them at Georgetown. My brother was going there at the time. They were very good. To this day, it’s still a tad difficulty to own up to my appreciation of the Romantics, but there it is.

  16. Andyr and Sethro had a deeper appreciation for the Romantics than I could ever achieve, but what’s so great about “What I Like About You” is that it succeeds in a somehow fresh way like a new version of the Rascals’ “Good Lovin'” – without sounding like some slavish retro tribute to that song.

    As for the Knack, I may have mustered a little more appreciation for them if the only song I knew was “Good Girls Don’t,” if they never made a video (all that winking Doug Fieger used to do made me think he had some serious skeletons shoved in the closet – I have the same issue with watching videos of my otherwise beloved Ray Davies), and if the lead guitarist didn’t show up “My Sharona” with that ROCK guitar solo. Those guys weren’t true to the New Wave cause, as shallow and insincere as it may have been, the way the Romantics were.

  17. Perfect call with that “Good Lovin'” comparison! Couldn’t have said it better! And regarding the Knack, I actually like the guitar solo in “My Sharona”, although I can’t defend why. It’s against just about everything I believe about what makes for a good pop song.

    So that all can revisit and give their take, please take a look at the following clips:

    The Romantics’ “What I Like about You” :

    This is pretty much how the Romantics looked and played when I saw them in DC, although I think the drummer’s hair was a little more out of control.

    The Knack’s “My Sharona”:

    Mod, I know you have problems with the solo, which is more than justified, but take a look at Doug Fieger’s reaction to the lead guitar player as he pulls it off. Granted, Fieger is indeed a dick, but the moment is not unlike that on the Apple roof when McCartney winks at Lennon in appreciation of his “Get Back” guitar soloing. No?

    And that drummer is to die for.

    The Knack’s “Good Girls Don’t”

    Mod, I agree with all your points on this one, but I give them points for tipping their hats to the Beatles “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” as presented in Help!

  18. Coincident with reading the latest comments in this thread I was listening to The Records. I totally love them and cannot understand why they weren’t more popular. And then I was thinking “Am I happy that they only did a few albums and then were done?” since they didn’t get a chance to spoil things or “Damn, why didn’t they do another dozen albums!”. Maybe there would have been The Records’ equivalent of Get Happy and if that means they would have reached the point of ______________ (fill in the Costello albums where you had enough) sos\ be it. I was even thinking there might be a Rock Town Hall thread in there.

    But then as I read these last comments I was thinking that The Records’ “Starry Eyes” seems like an equivalent of “What I Like About You”. Why do my kids (ages 24 to 31) and all of their friends know the latter but not the former? How did one become a standard and one is an obscurity?

    Or am I wrong in my understanding? Or my assessment?

  19. I LOVE LOVE LOVE “Starry Eyes,” but don’t get excited about the rest of the Records’ output. I think “What I Like About You” stands the popular test of time because it’s got such a kick-ass, danceable beat. I think music nerds like ourselves spend an inordinate amount of time bemoaning the relative lack of popularity of beloved Power Pop classics like “Starry Eyes” while forgetting the undeniable popular appeal of a danceable beat. It’s like tits and ass. So many guys go ga-ga over Marilyn Monroe’s doctored curves, while only women and gay guys tend to melt over a less bombastic beauty, like Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn is adorable, but she doesn’t deliver the big beat.

  20. Again, well said Moderator. Those observations are up there with one of your other greatest hits: “Enough looking for studs of corn in Costello’s turds!”

    That said, I too love “Starry Eyes.” The other comparable winner is “White Lies” by Grin. No other studs of corn are to be found in either band’s turds.

    Hopefully, we’ll hear from Geo after his NASA like reconnaissance meeting with Paul Kantner.

  21. I know better than to bring a bit of sincerity to an EPG snarkfest.

  22. Happiness Stan

    As neither a woman nor a gay guy, I’m definitely in the Audrey camp. Get Happy was also the point where I believed I’d heard everything I’d ever need by EC, although I wouldn’t be without Veronica and probably a couple of others which don’t immediately spring to mind.

    I never refused to play anything anyone else brought to the party, after all, they all went along with stuff I turned up with, including Honey, Candida and Making Your Mind Up. There were in joke reasons for those, and all were improved by our lack of musical competence, but I’m still unashamed to admit to enjoying such ripe cheese without guilt. The only one anyone refused was Bernadette, which was the favourite song of our best mate’s girlfriend and we heard she burst into tears when she heard we proposed to add it to the set. She was the spitting image of Veronica Lake and just adorable with it, so we all felt guilty and let it go.

  23. Good to hear from you as always, Happiness!! Try to stay cool, calm, and collected during lockdown 2. Looks like we’re most probably headed in the same direction as well.

    With all due respect, count me out of camp Audrey. Can’t speak for the rest of the gang, but uptight skinny white women are the worst. And God bless the men out there that have that and that alone in the bedroom.

    Give me multiuntalented dumb as a rock Marilyn. Actually, don’t give me multiuntalented Marilyn. She’d bore the living beejaysus out of me after a week or so. Give me wise ass Anne Sheridan. Her moniker was the “Oomph Girl”, and there’s good reason for that.

  24. Let it be known that I’ve always thought Geo’s band has the most interesting and best taste in covers of just about any band. Nothing embarrassing on this list.

    Jimmy Jimmy, The Undertones
    Cindy Tells Me, Brian Eno
    Corona, The Minutemen
    Til I Die, The Beach Boys
    Three Girl Rhumba, Wire

    That’s a lot of sharp choices, and they play them well too.

  25. I love when you randomly figure out coincidents like these. EPG, Andy R. and I were probably at that same Romantics show as you and your brother at Georgetown. We were pretty close to the front. What I remember visually is that they all had the leather suits on, and I think they were all wearing mascara. Plenty of girls up front too. They were good.

  26. Wow!!!!! That was some show, right? I think that was right around the time they were trying to figure out what to do, right between “What I Like about You” and “Talking in Your Sleep.” I don’t recall if there was a back up band. Could that have been the A’s? Or Single Bullet Theory?

  27. Ah, EPG, we are brothers!. I have lusted after Ann Sheridan since my early teens. Wrote a song about her 50 years ago. “City For Conquest” – an all-time classic favorite! I’ve hated Anthony Quinn since that movie.

  28. Don’t know that one. My favorite is “They Drive By Night”, featuring George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, and Sheridan. It’s one of those Raoul Walsh Warner Bros. movies with lots of action and memorable one liners. Me and the wife watched it a month or so ago, and it really held up, as did ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice.” It’s a real downer when movies I swore by don’t seem to hold up.

  29. Chickenfrank

    Thank you for that comment. I in fact was responsible for the middle three on the list and, although Cindy Tells Me was a battle to get buy in, once we learned it, we ended up playing it at every rehearsal because folks that resisted it found out it was fun. I loved doing the Beach Boys number, but it was HARD and we I couldn’t maintain the band commitment to carry on with it. I hope it was at least presentable when you saw us do it. It’s a prime example of a great song that I thought our line up could make its own.

  30. The good news is Knife and Fork band have the singing chops to pull off a Beach Boys number. (There is nothing quite like the advantage a band gets when they have family members singing together in a band. The nature and nurture of that just allows their voices to blend better than non-relatives)

    Pick an artist I like; pick a song of theirs I don’t expect to hear; and execute in a way that doesn’t stray too far from the original, but is still done in an original way by the band covering it. Recipe for a good cover! Different approach than an actual cover band has to take when they are expected to reproduce more closely to the original. I forgot you guys do a good Neil Young cover too.

  31. Never got Wire.

    During my elementary and high school years, my family had three Brittany Spaniels. They were great hunting dogs. My father used them to retrieve pheasants. The dogs were kept in pens in our back yard. The oldest dog, Ben, was very selective about what he would eat. At some point or another my father read about some kind of alternative dog food which was supposed to be especially good for older dogs. He tried it out on Ben. Ben took a whiff of the stuff and decided it was not to his liking. My father took it away and tried again the next day. Ben kicked the bowl over. My father decided to try one last time. He brought the food to Ben, went back inside for a while, then came back out, hoping Ben had changed his mind. Nope. Ben had taken a shit right on top of the dog food.

    And that pretty much sums up my short time with Wire as well.

  32. Happiness Stan

    EPG, likewise, lockdown two rumbles on to little apparent effect. Since the rest of the clan never go out, they’re all having the time of their lives, I’m missing the theatre and gigs, but trying to work out what the hell is going on with your election is something of a consolation, entertainment wise.

    I suspect both MM and AH would have eaten me alive, but at least we wouldn’t have squabbled during a lads night out.

    We watched Angels With Dirty Faces a few weeks ago and can hardly argue with your opinion of Ann Sheridan. We’ve been enjoying something of a Katherine Hepburn season. I couldn’t stand her when I was a hormonal teenager but my word she could hold her own. A few years ago I decided to send the postcard I used to have on my wall of Brigitte Bardot to her to ask her to sign it and she did, which pleased me possibly more than any other in my collection. Mrs S might draw the line at that one going up on the stairs next to Roy Wood and David Attenborough, though.

    Haven’t seen They Drive by Night or The Postman ART for decades. Watching old movies has become our go to entertainment for the last few months. A lot of the screwball comedies have stood the test of time and then some. Less so Some Like It Hot, to my surprise, since I’ve seen it possibly a couple of dozen times. This time around, time and metoo felt like they’d finally caught up with it.

  33. Happiness, haven’t seen Angels with Dirty Faces in ages, but that was always one of my favorites from way back when, along with Public Enemy. Love those old Warner Bros.movies. Al mentioned one today that I haven’t seen: City for Conquest. The trailer looked great. I requested it through inter-library loan. Should be getting it sometime next week. Really looking forward to seeing it.

    Can’t handle Katherine Hepburn. Never could, never will. In the slightly altered words of James Elroy, “She’s an acquired taste that I don’t want to acquire.” Again, uptight skinny white women are not my bag.

    I’m also one of the few who never got Some Like it Hot. My wife too loves that movie. Not a fan of campy!

  34. Last night, while dining and playing 500 rummy, the wife and I listened, once again, to an old Ben Vaughn show. Always great. Good mix of obscure stuff, semi-obscure stuff (The Kinks’ “I Need You”), Vaughn’s favorites (Velvet Underground, Mose Allison, Suicide, Fred Neil, The Modern Lovers, etc.), and top 40 hits. As soon as he played “Mustang Sally”, we figured it would be a good idea to check out the movie The Commitments again. Neither of us had seen the movie in ages, but we both agreed we liked it a whole lot when it first came out, even though it had a bit of a cheese factor. It held up well and reminded me of some other things that made the short but sweet ride with the Vandals bumpy but nonetheless unforgettable.

    What’s your take on the movie? Have you seen it? Have you revisited it? Are the screen versions of Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle’s works always better than his books?

  35. I thought you were going to say you looked up an old live recording of Nixon’s Head covering “Mustang Sally,” what was once our self-indulgent “victory lap” of an encore circa 1986-88.

    Even while watching it for the first time, upon its release, I think a part of me was wishing I could be too cool to like The Commitments. I failed. I liked it then, and I’ve liked it the two other times I’ve seen it. What’s that movie that may have been by the same director or writer – and that had some cast overlap, if memory serves – about a young woman in a large Irish Catholic family who gets pregnant? It had a title like The [Blank]er – the woman’s family nickname, perhaps. Man, THAT movie is OUTSTANDING! I’d watch that right now, if I didn’t have a meeting coming up.

  36. cherguevara

    The 2 guitars/bass/drums power pop band I was in was searching for a bass player and with some reticence I agreed on the Berklee grad who played a 5 string. When it was suggested we cover the Rush song, “Red Barchetta,” I saw it as a chance to take the piss and play drums like a spaz. I guess I might’ve seen that as a pivotal moment, if I’d been more serious about the band.

    I did have a date go bad over a music discussion. I was young, single, shy and not meeting people, so I turned to a dating site and went on a few awkward dates. One of the women I met was a writer, she had a sharp mind and a no-nonsense personality. She wrote erotic stories for an “adult magazine,” which conjured thoughts of possible wild times. She was also a looker I figured was out of my league but hey, maybe stars will align. We had a few drinks, decent conversation, then decided to walk around Greenwich Village a little, popping into a record store. We held up records for each other, “do you like this one” kind of stuff. She held up “Appetite for Destruction.” I said, “I always thought that band was kind of silly.” She recoiled, said, “oooooooh” and I swear the date ended right there.

  37. Moderator, are you referring to the movie The Snapper?

  38. To be honest, I probably would have pretended to be all thumbs up for Axl and Slash until the next morning.

  39. cherguevara

    I know, right? I wanted to go to Paradise City and ended up in Palookaville.

  40. cherguevara, that may be the most RTH-appropriate story EVER! 🙂

    EPG, yes, The Snapper. Please tell me you also dig that movie.

  41. mockcarr

    Been trying to find work, so I haven’t written lately.
    EPG, the misspellings are excellant on that band posterior. Also, big ups for 500 rummy, that’s one of my mom’s go to games along with Oh Hell.
    Mod, I have your back on most of this, even Audrey, but this being a predominantly Philly crew, perhaps Grace Kelly should have been the choice as less curvy icon. The Snapper is a much better book than the movie which is usually the case, except stuff like Huston’s Maltese Falcon where every great line from the book is incorporated and you have peak Bogart at work.

    Cher, I had a girlfriend about 30 years ago who invited some of her friends over to her apartment while I was there one time, I naturally started talking about music, and one of her friends said I only like love songs. I thought at the time, this could be the end of this relationship by association.

  42. Mockcarr, good to hear from ya. Just checked in with Furry. The poster is courtesy Furry’s sister. In regards to 500 rummy, we don’t play the “around the corner” version.

    Just for the record, the Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next, and the Last Picture Show are all better than the books.

    Cher, good story. Next time you’ll know what to say and why.

    Moderator, I’ve never seen The Snapper, which is why me and the wife are watching it tonight. Look for a review tomorrow,

  43. mockcarr

    Hence the carefully placed word “usually”, but the only one of those I’ve read was One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. For instance, The Godfather is a damned good book, but you have to give it to Coppola in that match.

    EPG, the book is no real work of art, but the point where I laughed out loud reading it was screwed up by the movie.

  44. mockcarr

    I mean the Snapper in the last comment.

  45. Understood. Regarding The Godfather, I give it to Puzo, hands down. The book was a page turner. The movie was a yawner, as was Apocalypse Now and the rest of the Coppola catalog. And those who worked with Coppola on Apocalypse Now understand all the problems I have with Coppola.. See Hearts of Darkness, the documentary on the making of Apocalypse Now, and you’ll see what I mean. As a matter of fact, Hearts of Darkness should have been released instead of Apocalypse Now. It makes the same points with a clarity nowhere to be found in Apocalypse Now.

    Coppola’s best movie is The Outsiders. It’s a little cheesy, but at least he finally learned the importance of clean writing and restraint.

    These days, I’ll take Footloose, Cocktail, Roadhouse, Point Break, etc. over just about any art turd. More and more I’m having less patience, finally realizing that art turd usually equals poor craft, especially in the writing department. I’ve had it with all those Robert Altman “I’ve gotta make a few phone calls, just let camera run” so called winners. Where Johnny Utah leads, I will follow.

  46. EPG, this is when I say, “l can see why you wouldn’t like Apocalypse Now.”

  47. mockcarr

    Hearts of Darkness does have the scene where Marlon Brando as Kurtz is making a soliloquy and stops as though he’s pausing for effect, but says “I ate a bug.” Still makes me laugh just thinking of it.

  48. mockcarr

    I can’t agree at all. Puzo’s book is more vulgar than the movie. That could be truer to the mob itself, but not something I’d rather watch. I can watch the scene with Michael protecting Vito at the hospital ten times in a row.

  49. EPG, just a jaw-droppingly bad take on The Godfather movie. Yikes! My advice to you. You can act like a man! What’s the matter with you? Is this what you’ve become? A Hollywood finocchio who cries like a woman?

    I’m going to blame some of the people in this room; and then I do not forgive.

  50. Moderator, The Snapper was super! Love that dad. In some way or another, he definitely put in his 10,000 hours getting that character just right. Hands down, he’s the greatest Irish Dad of all time.

    One more thing, Little Mo fucked up her knee kicking a soccer ball to one her advisory brats. We’re talking serious pain and crutches. Okay if you and Mrs.Slade head to our turf for Friday’s dinner and Tattle Tales workout?

    Charlie Carr, we agree to disagree. That said, I did some research. Turns out there’s a lot more of us out there who see the Godfather as nothing more than a very effective elephant tranquilizer.

    Chickenfrank, I care not one whit about your opinion of me. Honestly, how seriously can I take someone who doesn’t like disco?

    And just for the record, if it’s from Boston, it sucks. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had the following exchange.

    Clueless music aficionado: “This is pretty cool.. Listen to this.” (flops platter on Soundesign turntable)

    Me: “What is this Shit?”

    Clueless music aficianado “It’s ___________________ . They’re from Boston.”

    Me: “Well that explains everything,”

  51. Boston is a big city with lots of people. It has art, culture, sophistication, diversity, schools. Stuff like that. You come from the country. You’re disappointed when a band doesn’t include a guy blowing into a moonshine jug. Or a guy slapping on one bass string connected to a broom handled and a wash basin. Not many Boston bands have guys like that.

    Don’t shame me because I was born missing my groove thang.

    Rough news about the knee injury. Here’s to a quick recovery.

    CMA (clueless music aficionado)

  52. Nice jab, Chickenfrank. I had it and always have it coming. Let’s start all this over. People all over the world (everybody), join hands. Start a love train, love train. Does that help?

  53. Boogie-Oogie-Oogie.

  54. As this thread is ranging far and wide it seems as good a place as any to mention that I found a great Christmas present for my grandsons

    Perfect for a 3 year old and six month old, no?

    Well, at least I would enjoy it.

  55. A Seuss library might be a better option.

    So what’s your take on Godfather I or the other Godfathers for that matter? I’d take Goodfellas and the Sopranos over those snoozers any day of the week,

  56. I loved the Godfather (I & II) and loved the book. The movie is iconic and I don’t know how it can be slagged.

    Certainly part of the appeal to me of Pt I is the Italian-American background. So much strikes nostalgic notes for me – the music, the wedding party, the “characters”, the language.

    I loved The Irishman for much the same reason. Even more so, I knew those places, ate in that restaurant, even met one or two of those characters. Just seeing an old Food Fair truck was enough to make me love it.

  57. Another random fact – this really should be an All Star Jam – The Beatles Anthology premiered 25 years ago.

    Now don’t you feel old?!

  58. Jesus, Al! I don’t mean this to be insulting, but you’re incredibly easy to please. I found the Irishman insufferably slow. The only thing I enjoyed about the movie were a few of the half assed variations on a theme scenes from Goodfellas and Raging Bull. The best of which was the one obviously modeled after the back and forth between Jake and Joey LaMotta regarding whether or not Joey was fucking Jake’s wife.

    Casino (God almighty I can’t believe I actually paid money to see that thing) too is loaded with those retreads.

    Whatever. I liked the Departed. Call me misguided, but I saw that as a return to something within the parameters of real effort.

    One last thing. Kiss is iconic. They can and should be slagged.

  59. One of the best comments I ever heard about getting old was from Ken Cills. Me and the lovely Mrs. were at a party at the Moderator’s place, gabbing with Ken, talking about the benefits of getting old, of which there are none. You slowly fall apart and surprisingly, not much wisdom is gained. Ken said, “It’s weird. In my head. I still think I’m super cool and young, like Bob Dylan looks when you open the gatefold of Blonde on Blonde. When I look in the mirror, I just wanna give up.”

  60. It didn’t bother you, Plurbs – or should I call you by your real name, if that’s what you’re now comfortable doing with some of us – that The Departed was set in Boston? 🙂

  61. EPG, you and I have been over what I see as the important relative merits of The Irishman. I don’t expect you to share the value I ultimately got out of it, at precisely the 6-hour, 23-minute mark. The movie is a celebration of getting old, of things falling apart, of life and nearing death. Over the course of the film’s 8-hour running time, I realized I’d been invited to a wake for Marty, Bobby, Joey, and the whole beautiful Scorsese gang. Al Pacino was invited to give the eulogy. It was ultimately an honor to squirm through the badly CGI-transformed “younger” version of De Niro gamely trying to make his 75-year-old body look like it could still kick the shit out of a shop owner on a street corner. Like our friend Machinery might agree, while looking at that Dylan gatefold, we’re all becoming badly CGI-transformed versions of ourselves. You know what, though? Like that Scorsese crew, we’re still hanging on and we’re still able to celebrate our amazing achievements as a community.

    Twenty years from now, who’s going to be our Pacino – the fitting rock nerd who somehow never rubbed elbows with us in the Halls of Rock all these years – to suddenly show up with enough energy to blabber his way through an occasionally entertaining monologue? Is this when Jon Wurster suddenly takes center stage?

  62. My apologies. I’ll stick with the EPG moniker. Having too good a time up here I guess while I’m taking calls, listing, and making random trips to the post office.

    Yes, the Departed was set in Boston. And that’s one thing I’m wrong about. Boston is the setting for a slew of solid movies. The Departed is one of them as is the Fighter. I think I’d put the Fighter up there in my top 20. I’ve watched it several times, and I never get tired of it.

  63. Good points indeed, Moderator. Your take on the Irishman is clever and well meant. Unfortunately, I don’t see the movie that way. I see it as a sloppy long drawn out affair, not unlike what brought about Let it Be. I’m still waiting for a real homage to all those beloved souls, something on an Abbey Road level, something I think is a little off, but nonetheless well well crafted.

  64. Not sure if I’ll be on an island on this, or get a chorus of Amens. I freaking love the Boston based crime movie, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Like a lot of 70s city centric crime movies, it’s meant to show a once proud city in that urban decline phase. But when I see it, it just reminds me of what Boston looked like in the 70s, and how much I miss that version of the city!

  65. misterioso

    Holy crap: Is rock Town Hall back or has there been some sort of rupture in the time-space continuum? I mean, the last time I looked after Mod held the pillow down over the face of the hall (metaphorically, I mean), it looked like weird bots had taken over and digital tumbleweeds were blowing through the center of town…I thought I was in the wrong place until I read EPG’s tin-eared (eyed?) take on The Godfather. Then I knew that Rock Town Hall was back in session. Glad to see that everyone’s a little older and no wiser.

  66. Misterioso, it is SO GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK! When the pandemic kicked in and we found ourselves in lockdown, the public outcry for our return, in some simple fashion, could not be ignored. Let’s keep this party rolling! Hope you are well.

  67. mockcarr

    Good to have you back Mister, but it’s now called ItalianAmericanDirectorsTownHall.

  68. Good indeed! Know that I also look forward to the return of jungleland, alexmagic, tonyola, berlyant, bostonhistorian, massimo, mwall, i.e. all those other blowhards who kept things entertaining up here!

  69. Good morning everyone!

    Al, I think I can speak for all the members of the hall when I ask that you serve up the lyrics to your song about Anne Sheridan.

    Chickenfrank, I checked out a couple of clips from the Friends of Eddie Coyle. I don’t know how I missed that one. I’ll watch anything with Robert Mitchum. One of my Mitchum favorites is Not as a Stranger. What a cast! Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Olivia de Haviland, Broderick Crawford, and glorious Gloria Grahame. She’s really something in this thing.

    One more thing, me and the wife began Queen’s Gambit last night. Solid as a rock. I urge all to give it a try.

  70. misterioso

    Mr. Mod, you said something about a pandemic? First I am hearing of it. Love Friends of Eddie Coyle. A few months back I immersed myself in the Criterion Channel’s “Columbia Noir” package, which included classics I’ve seen many times (e.g., In a Lonely Place, The Big Heat, both with the great Gloria Grahame!) and some very enjoyable lesser known films. Speaking of Mitchum, recently two of his not-so-well-known films from the early 50s, Where Danger Lives and The Racket, well worth watching if not exactly in the top rank.

  71. Gloria Grahame never fails to deliver. She’s tops as well in It’s a Wonderful Life. And I’m not a fan of musicals, but one of her career highlights is her performance of “I Caint Say No” in Oklahoma. Great stuff!

  72. This isn’t quite the question asked but it’s not far off, I don’t think:

    The singer/rhythm guitarist in my college band wrote this kind of Ventures-like surf-ish instrumental, where the bridge was the full band suddenly rocking out hard for one measure, and then a drum fill for one measure, and back and forth like that for eight bars. We were at a venue that was quite crowded this one night, with most of the other bands in our small town in attendance, meaning there were a lot of drummers there, watching. The singer/rhythm guitarist knew I wasn’t crazy about this spotlight bit, as it’s not really my style—especially at the time, I was all about the pocket—and I really didn’t feel like doing in front of all the other drummers in town, several of whom (the metal and fusion guys) could shred way faster than I. But he started playing it, and at a tempo even faster than usual. I get through the bridge okay but I was hanging on for dear life.

    It came to the second time through the bridge, which is how the song ended, and this time for the fourth measure of improvised drum fill, instead of playing something complicated (or at least fast), I simply played mainly quarter notes on the bass drum while smiling at the singer. 1-2-3 and 4. The rest of the band started laughing…and as these things go, the other drummers in the joint thought it was awesome.

  73. You’re right, that’s not too far off, and it’s a good story. Good example of a mindfuck. I went through a lot of them in one of my previous bands!

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