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November 2012 • Vol. 2, No. 1 www.themodern.us
your life in retro
(Tomorrow, the world)
Jakob Dylan Up Against The Wallflowers MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Twilight of the Elites Tony Danza Who’s The Boss Now? Speed Racer • The Ginsu Knife • Comic-Con NYC
Matthew Perry Goes On
Matthew Lillard Rules the World 30 Rockers’ Final Tour
Candace Bailey Talks Retro
c ntents T h e M o d e r n — Yo u r l i f e i n r e t r o In this issue:
The beloved actor finds a project worth his talent and our attention.
The actor spent a lifetime in front of the camera – but he always wanted to teach.
A Wallflowers reunion album means the boys are back in town.
Chris Hayes MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explains the decay of authority in America, and why you’d better step up.
Candace Bailey The host of Attack of the Show talks retro.
Jack McBrayer A final tour of 30 Rock with Kenneth, your NBC page.
Keith Powell His 30 Rock character gave us two for one; now he’s going for the whole nine yards.
Nerds Nuke New York: Comic-Con 2012: if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. Independents
Matthew Lillard:You know him from Scream and Scooby Doo. Matthew Lillard now debuts as a director. Model Citizens
We’re loving on you, but what are you lovin’ on? Photo Essay
Jamison Scott: As DJ Stoags, he’s building a following in the hot club scene of Tallahassee. What could possibly be next? The Great Forgotten
LA Songs: We go la-la-la in LaLa Land. On Off-Broadway
The Best of Everything: The classic novel and film now come to the stage. Girls Were Girls & Men Were Men
Sylvia Kristel: The soft-core actress yearned to break out of her box. Modern Fashion
I Melt With You: Global warming. Diesel and the ironic message. Wish You Were Here
Maui Through Retro Shades: Desiree Dymond takes up the ukulele. Dig This DVD Internalize This
Adventures in Modern Sound Retro Merch
Before They Were Stars Retro Sports
Parting Shot: Dig Dawn! Our little Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island is not in Kansas anymore, or on the island, or safe from danger.
letter from the editor
Remember what the Dormouse said: feed your head. I recently took my daughter to see Hotel Transylvania. And by that, I mean we went to the movies. No DVD or streaming or Netflix. We actually saw the film, on opening weekend, at an actual movie theater in Manhattan. Talk about your life in retro. I had not been to an actual movie theater in eons. During these fast and furious days, the term “went to the movies” suddenly feels nostalgic. However, there were aspects of this outing that didn’t feel retro at all. For example, the price of admission. Tickets for one adult and one Sweetie: $23.50. You heard that right. And while sitting through the pre-coming-attraction-commercials, my eyes beheld an eerie sight: parents focused on their Smartphones. A thousand points of light, all over the dark theater. This I found horrifying and sad, even more so than the on-screen reminder to turn off your phone and quiet your baby. You know who else finds this horrifying? MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle, who just wrote an insightful book called Alone Together. Here’s basically what she says, and listen up: our children are now competing for our attention. With our eyes on our smartphones, our eyes are not on our children. Not at the movies. Not while pushing them on the swing. Not at home. Technology is now allowing us to work from anywhere, but it is also draining, overwhelming and depleting us. The more we feel connected online, the less intimate we really are. Back in the day, we went to the movies to escape reality, but to also connect with a bunch of strangers in the dark. I remember seeing Airplane in 1980, and to this day I never heard a theater crowd laugh so loud and so hard. It was liberating. No texting. No checking
e-mail. Everyone’s eyes were focused on the screen. No longer. Even phone calls are falling away, replaced by texts and Twitter posts. I hear it all the time now: “I don’t have time to call you. E-mail or text me. I’ll get back to you.” If you think this technology is connecting the world in bold new ways, you are only partly right. It’s also disconnecting us. Facebook is not authentic communication. A Facebook friend can never replace a real one. An emoticon can never replace a real emotion. Everyone claims to hate Facebook, to claim to be above it, but hundreds of millions of people are on it, throughout the day. In 1983, Apple introduced a one-time commercial called “1984,” in which it was hinted that liberation and freedom will come from your Mac. Now, ironically, the urgent thing to do is to turn off your smartphone to liberate yourself. Put your devices aside when you are with your child. Call a friend instead of texting them. See how long you can go without checking Facebook. Don’t tweet for a day. Don’t totally give up the technology, but get your mind back before it’s too late, and it will be too late before you know it. Live in the moment. Clear your head. Feed your head. Ron Sklar Editor
Contributing Writers: Mark Doyle • Desiree Dymond Mitch Gainsburg • Eve Golden • Jay S. Jacobs • William Shultz Jacqueline Stewart • Art Wilson
Editor • Ron Sklar Art Director • Jennifer Barlow Copy Editors • Patty Wall, Jay S. Jacobs
Director of Photography and Video Harley Reinhardt • Harleyhallphotography.com Video Editor • Rich Kortz
Yo u r l i f e i n r e t r o .
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Watch the people who people are watching.
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Don Gator video
Modern model mom. Baby Maya too.
MTV bro makes us laugh.
Dig Don. Secret Agent Man lives a life of danger.
Dennis Hirdt channels superspy Don Gator.
p r e s e n t e d I n C o lo r
Simply click on the TVs to screen these joints!
Jackie Stewart Girlfriendâ€™s all about it.
Goes On The beloved actor finds a project worth his talent and our attention.
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R o n a l d
S k l a r
Forget about the Seinfeld curse. How does one go on after the once-in-a-lifetime Friends experience? The “other” ensemble sitcom became a cultural icon and launched its cast into superstardom. The Must-See-TV juggernaut set high bars for what’s funny, but as the century turned and entertainment choices expanded, viewer patience shortened considerably. Memories are short too. The days of a network allowing its new series to find its audience are long over. In the case of Matthew Perry, he carried with him his natural talent and instant likability — simple qualities as life got more complicated for all of us. After Friends ended, he continued to work steadily, but two projects that sported high hopes, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Mr. Sunshine, failed to connect with audiences. The national debate was on: was Matthew Perry forever bound to be Chandler, or is it just that the man’s super-charismatic screen presence trumps the writing? “I did Studio 60, which everybody thought was going to be amazing, and it was pretty good, but it didn’t work,” he says. “Then I took my hand at trying to write something and to create a show myself, which was Mr. Sunshine, which worked to a certain
The Modern | November 2012
degree creatively but audiences didn’t really follow it. Then I learned that there was somebody else that could create a show for me, better than me. That’s what happened with Go On.” This new series, written and produced by former Friends writer/producer Scott Silveri, is giving NBC a much-needed ratings boost. Audiences are getting comfortable seeing a Perry with more gravity, a Perry who comes from darkness. Here, in Go On, he plays a sportscaster who joins a therapy group in order to come to grips with the recent death of his wife. And yes, it’s a comedy. “Yes, that — well that’s the very tonal challenge of this show and nobody knew whether it was going to work,” Perry says. “Nobody knew really whether people were going to laugh at these sad situations. There were a lot of funny things but at the base of it is a very sad story. “[My character] had said, ‘it’s hard to tell people that my wife has passed away. I should just get vanity plates that say it. Then everybody starts pitching on what those vanity plates could say. You know, like ‘deadwife’ or ‘nomowife’ and things like that. And that was a really risky scene and people loved it. So, then, we knew that people were going to laugh at this stuff.” Pretty heady for an actor best known for a classic character who lives off the cuff and whose snarky riffs became the stuff of TV legend. “One of the tenets of Chandler was that — given any kind of serious situation — he will divert it by trying to make it a joke. And it makes for a very good character in a sitcom because it’s a built-in excuse for someone to be funny. Ryan King, my character in Go On, is certainly like that, but by Episode 3 or 4, for the most part, he has realized that he needs this group of people in spite of himself. So he’s less apt to make fun of it now and more apt to take part in it. But, he’s a character just like myself that’s a little older — or a lot older — and is less in need of doing that.” www.themodern.us
Perry has a lot to draw on as an actor. He was born in Massachusetts and raised in Canada. His mother was a journalist and a former press secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. His father, John Bennett Perry, is an actor and former model, perhaps best-known for playing a sailor in an Old Spice commercial in the Seventies. Perry was raised in Ottawa, and he grew up admiring sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show (not surprisingly) and The Honeymooners. As far as movie influences, his answer is a cinch. “My favorite actor was — is — Michael Keaton,” he
I like to play people that say things that
normally people don’t say, that they’re sort of feeling or thinking but that they
says. “Certainly in the movie Night Shift, he did something brand new that I hadn’t seen before that we all sort of steal from now. Then he did the movies Clean and Sober and Beetlejuice in the same year. That was when I said, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do.’” It seems that he has indeed done this — whatever this is — in spades. What’s the secret to Perry’s ability to keep coming back? “It’s a wearing-his-heart-on-his-sleeve kind of [character] that I’ve played a lot, and I think people can sort of relate to that journey. Maybe not the openness about it, but that journey. I like to play people that say things that normally people don’t say — that they’re sort of feeling or thinking but that they wouldn’t say.” So far, the ratings say that the Go On will go on. That means we will continue to have our Perry fix. He says, “When I read Go On, it was almost like, ‘this is Chandler 10 years later, if something really bad had happened to him.’ And, you know, hopefully both characters look the same, except one looks a little bit older.” But wiser. Click on the screen to watch John Bennett Perry — Matthew Perry’s dad — in an Old Spice TV commercial from 1971. He’s the square-jawed, confident sailor, not the nerd boy (as if we needed to tell you). www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBeP8yc5P64
November 2012 | The Modern
Jakob Dylan A Wallflowers reunion album means the boys are back in town. By Ronald Sklar Wallflowers roll call! Ready — and: Jakob Dylan (lead vocals), Greg Richling (bass), Rami Jaffee (keyboards), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and Red Hot Chili Peppers/Pearl Jam drummer Jack Irons. And they’re back. The band recently wrapped their long-awaited album, Glad All Over, at Nashville’s Easy Eye sound studio. To date, they’ve recorded six studio albums and won two Grammys. Their biggest hit, “One Headlight,” seems like it was recorded yesterday, but the birth date was 1996. Frontman Jakob Dylan is the youngest of Bob and Sara’s four children, and has four children of his own. Through what seemed like impossible odds, he was able to emerge from his father’s shadow and forge a successful career and a unique story for himself. Here, he gives us a bit of that story. Was it as easy getting The Wallflowers back together after so much time away? It was. The band has always gotten along for the most part. We were all anxious to. We have a strong connection. We were looking forward to it. It was like no time had gone by. What was it like being in the studio with the old band again? We hit pretty fast and hard when we made the record. We had to work backwards, almost as if we had none of the experience that we had gathered in twenty years. But I think we knew what we were doing. I listen to what we did and it doesn’t sound labored at all. It’s not a labored record. We trusted ourselves and trusted the moment. Everybody’s energy was pretty much in synch and we moved pretty quickly. Do you feel different artistically since you were with the group last? I don’t feel different. I got to do all the things I wanted to do. The Wallflowers is something that I can’t do if they’re not there. There is something I do with the Wallflowers that is the core of me and the essence of who I am as a songwriter. It’s a backdrop that I feel very comfortable in, that I can lean on — that I can depend The Modern | November 2012
on. I need that output. As far as being different, you probably have to ask the other guys. What inspires you? Once you experience the fix of getting into a song, that’s a rush that never gets old to me. Every song you write, you think it’s the last song you are ever going to get, so anytime [the muse] finds me, I’m available and I chase it. I don’t know when it will show up. Sometimes it doesn’t want to be seen for some time. I can write songs on demand too without those kinds of needs, but ultimately, [inspired songwriting is] where the better music is. I imagine that people have a sense of you being like your father; perhaps brooding and cryptic. Dark. Would people be surprised by the real you? I don’t have the responsibility or need to have people see me the way it really is. I have no obligation to do that. In this age, people are revealing everything they’ve got, every ounce, every drop of their personality — begging for love. If some of us don’t fit into that mold, then you appear to be brooding or quiet or reclusive. But I don’t feel that way. I’m not selling me. I’m putting songs out there. That’s what people will hopefully gravitate towards. If their curiosity goes to that place, then what can I do about that? I don’t have a problem with any of those descriptions. There are plenty of comedians out there at the mike stand. You got those too. We need all kinds. There is a role for everybody. What’s your take on the current state of the music industry? Does the demise of the record industry worry you? There are more people in the know than I am. I can only tell you from my experience. There is touring business and there is band business and there is opportunity, but the mold is completely cracked and I’m not so sorry about that. The record business had a tremendous run and made a lot of money for a lot of people — most importantly, the artists and the musiwww.themodern.us
cians. So I’m not feeling particularly bad for anybody. The bands will still survive. We will just go out and play music. And that’s how it all started. The records were just promotional tools so that you would know the songs before you got [to the live performance]. So that’s still intact. The record business itself went away. There is good news and bad news that comes with that. What type of music do you like personally? Anything that would surprise us? I’m always just looking for a good song. Even as a teenager, I was never looking for a pack to be in. I like good songs. I never worried where they come from. I never had to make the decision that many teenagers had to make — you have to like this and not like that. As a teenager in the early Eighties, I liked a lot of the English rock groups. Those were the groups that lifted me up first — that appealed to me — punk music itself, or whatever some people called it. I wasn’t really rebelling against anything in that regard. I just like the good songs from those bands, the English ones. Have you ever considered another vocation? I’m still considering one. It’s never too late. [But music and performance is] something that’s integral to me and part of my existence. I don’t over-pontificate or think too much about it. I’ve been doing it for a long time and it feels right. If I didn’t feel that way, I would have pursued something else. And the right people respond to it, so I just stay at it. LA has been your home your whole life. Did it ever occur to you to live anywhere else? It’s the only home I know. I know people like to rip LA apart. There are great people here. There are great people everywhere. You can find good people wherever you go. Any words that you live by? Patience. November 2012 | The Modern
Danza The actor spent a lifetime in front of the
camera — but he always wanted to teach. B
Tony Danza is quoting Shakespeare to me, and it goes a little something like this:
Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures. Of course, we all know that those are the words of Brutus in Act 4, Scene 3 of Julius Caesar. And, we know whereof Danza speaks. It’s all about choices, and he’s made a lot of them. In his mere 61 years, he chose many lives: actor, boxer, song-and-dance man, father, talk-show host. And now — at last, the vocation he’s always dreamed of: teaching. While we’re at it, add one more vocation to his long list: writer. In fact, he’s writing about being a teacher. His current book has the attention-grabbing but honest title of I Want to Apologize to Every Teacher I’ve Ever Had [Crown Publishing]. It’s a memoir based on his experiences as a 10th grade English teacher in a Northeast Philadelphia public school. The experiment was recently captured in a shortlived A&E reality series called Teach: Tony Danza. “Being a first-year teacher is hard enough,” he tells me, “but imagine trying to do it on camera.” Unlike most people, Danza does more than imagine; he acts. He does. And his difficult teaching
The Modern | November 2012
stint — recorded for millions to see — set off a tidal wave of memories about his own Brooklyn education — or lack thereof. “I look back on my high school years,” he says, “and I wonder — like a lot of people — why I didn’t try harder? Why didn’t I engage more? Why didn’t I learn more? What might my life have been like had I done that?” Not that he scored so badly. While a neighborhood punk boxer, he was scouted and plucked from obscurity to be a part of the legendary cast of the classic series Taxi, starting in 1977. He was hired on his charisma alone; he had not a drop of acting experience. From there, he never looked back. Until now. “I was lucky because I was surrounded by these incredible people,” he says of his castmates, “who were not only wonderful — so great to watch and work with — but they really went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I have a feeling it was making the best of a bad situation. They were getting this fighter who never acted. Let’s help him. And they did. They were so welcoming.” That gig led to another TV classic, Who’s the Boss, where he expanded his acting and comedy chops, but his character was still named Tony. “We tried to do timeless subjects,” he explains. “You know — friendship, loyalty, trust — all of those things that you know are going to stick around in society. I think the clothes date the show very badly, but I don’t think the themes do. I also think that the comedy stands up.” www.themodern.us
Well-suited for a stand-up guy who originally attended college to become a teacher, but life somehow got in the way. “I wanted to be a teacher and I never did it,” he says. “It stayed with me. In Who’s the Boss, the character Tony ends up being a teacher. It’s always been a motif in my mind.” Of course, times have changed a bit since Danza’s school days. Indeed, times have changed, but people haven’t. “Kids are still kids, but they are besieged by a barrage of messages in our culture that undermines an education,” he says. “You tell kids that good behavior and hard work will pay off, then they go home and watch whatever show they want to watch — you name it — and they come back and tell me, ‘No, wait a minute, good behavior doesn’t pay off and I don’t think those people are working hard.’” Answers, Teach? “We are all talking a good game and it’s easy to blame the teachers,” he says, “but in the long run, we all have to be a part of the solution.” For Danza, the path toward solution is to take it personally. “I was always trying to tie everything to students’ lives,” he says, “not just to learn it for learning’s sake, but how does it affect them personally? How come Shakespeare was so hip in 1500? How does he know what we’re feeling right now?” Which leads, of course, to another quote, but this time from the playwright Arthur Miller. “The best thing we can hope for is that we end up with the right regrets,” Danza says. “I got a couple of mine, and I got a couple that ain’t so right, but that’s another story.” In the meantime, his book, with its apologetic title, is scoring big points with the very people he once rejected, and who he now embraces with a full heart. He says, “Teachers are walking up to me on the street saying, ‘I accept your apology.’” www.themodern.us
November 2012 | The Modern
Twilight of the
Elites MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explains the decay of authority in America, and why you’d better step up. B
This first decade of the 21st century has been glorious (think iPod and 30 Rock), but it’s also going down as one giant sorry-ass fuck-up. Let the sad list begin: 9/11, Enron, Iraq, Afghanistan, New Orleans, the housing bubble, the steroid problem in major league sports, the church scandal and The Great Recession. Who’s accountable? Our ruling class, who have failed us big time, that’s who. And yet, despite the traffic jam of tragedy, the ruling class has escaped accountability. Who is being run out of town on a rail? No one. The elite is smart, but they’re also stupid — clueless too. And they let us down. End of story. In his brilliant/scary new book, Twilight of the Elites [Crown Publishing Group], MSNBC’s Chris Hayes neatly sorts out the mess, explaining how the slow decay of leadership and responsibility festered due to greed, smugness and worse. He also offers solutions as to how we need to sweep clean and start anew. Here, he puts it into plain talk just for The Modern readers, explaining how the elites went dark and the country dimmed out. The Modern | November 2012
Hey, Chris, define “elite.” The word elite is a very contested word in American politics. Over the last few decades, the Right has been pretty successful in redefining what the word means. The way that it is often used, particularly by conservatives, is to describe people who have a certain set of cultural attributes or even consumer choices. You drive a Prius. You drink Starbucks lattes. You sip white wine. Or you live in San Francisco or the West Village of New York. You read The New York Times. But that’s a pretty sociologically poor definition. First of all, it grabs too large a number of people to really be meaningful. So my father and Henry Kissinger would be labeled under the same [definition]. And it also deviates in a very important way from what the historical understanding of what the word means — that was shared for over a century by both the Right and the Left. And that is defined by the power they have rather than by their cultural attributions. That is a relatively small group of people who exert a disproportionate influence over society’s direction. CEOs, major media figures. Was the older elite better than the current elite? I want to avoid a certain kind of nostalgia: [the idea that] the previous elite was better because they had a certain set of characteristics that made them superior. I don’t really go for that. I think the last set of elites had their own problems. www.themodern.us
In your book, you refer to meritocracy. What exactly does that mean? Meritocracy is a new name for an old American ideal. It’s an ideal of social mobility and the American dream. Only in America, a place that did not have the feudal inheritance of Europe, did people rise to any station that their talents and drive would take them. Benjamin Franklin, for instance. Meritocracy is a current incarnation of the American dream. It specifically says that we are not going to bar entrance to the American elite based on religion, race, geographic location or sexual orientation. All sorts of people from all walks of life will compete on what’s called a level playing field. Through a series of competitions, they will come to the smartest, most capable members of the elite.
What are some of the specific ways the elite failed? The two specific monumental crises of the decade — and the source of the feeling of exhaustion and cynicism that the country is mired in — are the Iraq war and the financial crisis. In both cases, what you saw was an elite consensus — not a total consensus, but a lot of elites essentially arguing for and supporting ideas that have proven to be preposterously destructive. We’ve had all sorts of people in high places saying that there was no housing bubble. There is a tremendous amount of false consensus. We as the public use a reliance on consensus as a rough indicator of reliability and truthfulness. If it seems like the people in charge are all say-
The aftermath of people
You also label 2000-2010 The Fail in charge saying x, and Decade. Please explain. We’ve seen an uninterrupted cascade of institutional corruption x turning out to be not and incompetence over the last decade. You start with 9/11, and just false but destructively then go into the largest corporate bankruptcy of all time, representfalse, means that now we ed by Enron. But Enron has been so overshadowed that it almost listen with a much more seems quaint to mention [compared to the war in Iraq], the worst foreign policy disaster in a generaskeptical ear. tion, costing over a trillion dollars, Chris Hayes thousands of American lives and probably 100,000 Iraqi lives. This is followed by the spectacle of an American city drowning live on national television. ing x, there is a tendency to believe x. The aftermath of Followed by the largest housing bubble and the worst people in charge saying x, and x turning out to be not financial crisis in 70 years. And that’s just the short verjust false but destructively false, means that now we lission. We can go on: what happened in the church, or ten with a much more skeptical ear. And it makes it hard with the big three automakers; newspapers imploding to go about forming your beliefs and opinions. around the country. Now we have major American cities that don’t even have a daily newspaper. So, Chris, what do we do? The first thing we have to do is just recognize the Is there no place to go but up from here? profound cost and the negative consequences of this We don’t have a belief in self-correction because social model we’ve adopted. It’s not producing the we have not seen self-correction. And that is at the American dream that we want. So we need to question heart of what I call the crisis of authority in America. that model that we’ve adopted because it’s not working. Because we had such a cascade of uninterrupted cor- The second aspect of it is being more forthright about ruption and failure, we don’t trust the institutions. It’s making the society more equal. The first step is reducradically destabilizing for the way we go about coning the extreme and extremely pernicious form of acducting our public life, when all the sources of aucelerating inequality we have. The question is: does the thority that we look to be anchors for the world don’t political power exist to make that happen? And that’s function that way. the big open question.
November 2012 | The Modern
Candace Bailey By Jay S. Jacobs
What kind of music were you into and have your tastes changed? Cute, funny actress and hostess Candace Bailey My music tastes definitely have changed. Music makes G4’s cutting-edge pop culture series Attack of from the Nineties was awesome. There’s a lot of great the Show a must-see for the tech-savvy viewer. She remusic now too, but so much of it is synthesized. I really cently braved a cold to give us a call and catch us up on like singer/songwriters. James Taylor is my all-time faall things Candace. vorite. When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate classic rock so much. Now, I’m What were you like growing up? like: yeah, that’s the good music. SomeWhen I was I was a gymnast. I did gymnastics six times, I’ll be listening to the radio and days a week, four hours a day. Very comI’ll be like in my Granny voice: What younger, petitive. It was pretty much my life for are the kids listening to these days? eight years. I wanted to be in the OlymI didn’t pics. Then I quit gymnastics and went What do you miss about living in into ballet and modern dance. That was Florida? my life throughout high school. Ballet My family. And we had beautiful appreciate and school. I was a very driven kid. beaches.
Do you still have any things from back then that are still sacred to you? I’m a huge picture person. I have my yearbooks. Not to bring things down, but two of my best friends were killed in a car accident when they were 20. I have a bunch of great memories — pictures and words written by them. I like to keep those very close to me. I have a couple of stuffed animals I’ve had since I was seven years old. I had them on my bed for years and years. I had them in college. I still have them, but I don’t have them on my bed anymore.
so much. Now, I’m like: yeah, that’s the good
What do you miss that you lost along the way? I had a Hello Kitty lunchbox. Also, do you know the little Snoopy Sno-Cone maker? And my Easy-Bake Oven. I loved those things. I wish I still had those. I don’t bake, but I would if I had my Easy-Bake Oven. What was your favorite book? A book called Love You Forever (by Robert Munsch). That was always my favorite one. My mom read that to us all the time, so that one is closest to my heart. The Modern | November 2012
You’ve been hosting with Attack of the Show and your previous Nick series, Pick-It Live. How did you segue into hosting from acting? Do you enjoy it? I absolutely love it. I had done some commercials and a few little guest-star things acting-wise. When I was in college, I auditioned for a hosting job. That was the Nickelodeon job. I got the show and I loved being able to be myself — just being real and getting to do the silly things that I get to do. It’s totally different from acting. Acting I get to be a different character all the time and get to fit into that role. I love both equally.
What kind of things do you look for when picking the crazy videos or old commercials used on the show? Something that hasn’t been everywhere. Every now and then we’ll have one that lots of people have seen, but we like to have newer videos that not as many people know about — something that makes us laugh. Always different videos, from Russian videocams to a squirrel flying out of a window. It doesn’t really matter as long as it catches our attention. www.themodern.us
Your show Jericho had a strong cult following. It did, which really validated everything. When the show went away, it was so nice to have the support from all of the viewers. It was a great show to be a part of. The people working on it are amazing. I met one of my closest, dearest friends on that, Shoshannah Stern. I feel very lucky. We might be coming back to Netflix. I haven’t heard anything lately, but they talked about bringing it back as new episodes. It would be really great to work with everyone again. You were named one of Maxim’s hottest women. How did that feel? I’m totally flattered. I think whoever is picking is crazy. But, I am completely 100% flattered that they would think of me in that category. I see myself as a fun, silly, crazy girl. The fact that people see me that way is awesome. What were the first movies you loved? I always loved The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz. Is there a certain movie that if you are in a bad mood automatically cheers you up? I would say Old School. And every time I’m flipping through the channels and I see You’ve Got Mail, I have to turn it on. Is there something you watch when you need a good cry? Oh, The Notebook. Absolutely. What movie have you seen more than any other? Maybe Pretty Woman. What things make you nostalgic? Fall. It’s my favorite season. I absolutely love it. It always reminds me of growing up. Halloween, going trick or treating — anything fall related, if I smell a pumpkin-scented candle — or Christmas time always makes me nostalgic for those years long, long ago. Jay S. Jacobs is the author of the books Wild Years: The Music and Myth of Tom Waits and Pretty Good Years: A Biography of Tori Amos. He is also senior editor and founder of the pop culture web magazine www.popentertainment.com. www.themodern.us
November 2012 | The Modern
Jack McBrayer A Final Tour of 30 Rock with Kenneth, Your NBC Page B y
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The most amazing thing you learn when you get to speak with Jack McBrayer, a.k.a. Kenneth, your NBC page on 30 Rock, is how much he seems to have in common with his character. McBrayer is a bit overly polite, extremely enthusiastic, very friendly, a touch goofy — basically Kenneth with all the odd
J a c o b s quirks sanded off. With the critically-acclaimed series ending its seven-year run with a mini-season of thirteen final episodes, we were lucky enough to take part in a call with other media outlets, speaking with McBrayer about the close of the beloved sitcom.
What has the atmosphere been like on-set shooting this final season? Jack McBrayer: It’s weird knowing that there are finite episodes. To me it feels like your senior year of high school. You’re having fun and “oh it doesn’t matter, I already got into college.” Things don’t matter. But you know that there on graduation day, you’re going to be choking back tears and hugging people that you never even spoke to. It has been great fun and business-as-usual so far, but towards the end it’s going to get real emotional.
I’m a fan of
up little trick-or-treat things and a fake graveyard. That has been a real marker for me of just seeing how long the show has gone and how long people have been on-board. When people started they had infants. Now you’re watching these seven-year-olds walking around in their Pokémon outfits or whatever seven-year-olds do. It has just been crazy to watch the progression of time from that perspective too. Because time marches on, closer to my death. (chuckles)
What are your plans post-30 Rock? Would you prefer to continue in TV or more towards film work? Jack McBrayer: You know, sir, that is a don’t know what very good question. I have to say I am a fan of television. My concern is, what is the future of the future of television right now? The good news is there’s so much great stuff television is. on all these cable channels. I know that I do prefer comedy and the bar has been set pretty high for me just working on 30 Rock for seven years. So I have to be Jack McBrayer prepared for the next thing to maybe not live up to expectations creatively, but of course make it work. I think in a very general sense, I just want to work on fun projects with What exactly is Bryan Cranston’s character relationship fun people. Whether that’s movie or film, I’m down for to Kenneth? anything. Really and truly I just enjoy the work. I’m a fan Jack McBrayer: Well he does play my step-dad — or he of television, I just don’t know what the future of televiplays my mom’s friend, Ron. It ends up he is the sweetsion is. est, kindest person in the world, but I think Kenneth just has so much baggage with his mom and with his family, Who has been your favorite guest star to work with? Ron can do no right in his eyes. We learn more and more Jack McBrayer: Oh gosh, after seven years it’s going to be about that relationship throughout the episode. It was a tough. With that being said really and truly most recently real treat for me. working with Catherine O’Hara and Bryan Cranston has been a game changer. They’re so talented but just nice What’s your favorite memory of working on 30 Rock? people. That has been a big lesson for me. We’ve had these Jack McBrayer: It is absolutely true that A) we’ve gone huge stars on our show but they’re all such lovely human for seven years, but B) that we’ve gone so long and we’ve beings. That has been a real treat, a wonderful discovery had so many amazing guest stars and storylines and stuff. for me. Working with Tim Conway in season two was a Everyone has been on-board. Everyone has been game. biggie for me as well. I love that dude, we’re buddies now. People you would not expect to say “yes” to this kind of stuff. It’s very flattering for all of us that they would join Was there always a thought to make this a seven season us for this nonsense. But honestly, one more specific show? Were there thoughts of another season? thing for me is we would have this Halloween party every Jack McBrayer: Considering that I have been expecting year. It’s real fun because everybody’s kids would come this show to end immediately since season one, it is a and there would be little costume things. They would set miracle that it’s lasted as long as it has. What impact did Catherine O’Hara and Bryan Cranston have on-set and on you as an actor? Jack McBrayer: I do have to say that it was one of my favorite days of shooting. Catherine O’Hara played my mother and Bryan Cranston played my step-dad. It was an entire day of me laughing and ruining takes. They were both so fun and so funny and so pleasant to be around. It really will go down as one of my sincere absolute favorite days of shooting. They were just amazing.
television, I just
November 2012 | The Modern
Keith Powell His 30 Rock character gave us two-for-one; now heâ€™s going for the whole nine yards. B y
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“Deep inside of me somewhere “It really was akin to hitting the there is a Toofer,” 30 Rock actor lottery,” he says of winning the Keith Powell admits. He’s talking coveted role. “And now it’s seven about his TV alter ego, nicknamed years later and I have a career and Toofer by the 30 Rock on-camera a momentum and I have a new writing staff. The reason: with him house. So there is that fear that I you get two for one; a Harvard am going to go back to being that graduate and a black man. The scared regional theater actor when ground-breaking comedy series I walk into an audition. The worry pulls no punches when dealing is that I will never find another with issues of race and sex. ApoloTina Fey again.” gies are not made; soft gloves The worry may be premature; are not worn. For instance, Alec upon the series finale, Powell is None of our Baldwin’s character attended parochial immediately off to other projects, inschool in Boston during the Seventies: cluding a guest stint on NCIS: Los AnOur Lady of Reluctant Integration. The geles, which speaks to the dramatic actor cast expected Toofer character — an Affirmative Acin him. tion dream if there ever was one — takes “It was a chance to do drama which, it to last half of frankly, his ribbing with thick skin, never mind was all I was ever hired for bethe color; the actor, conversely, is gratefore 30 Rock,” he says. “It was a chance the first season. to do a dramatic series, which was really ful for the opportunity to be a part of a historic TV series. Yet in this post-racial exciting. I got to hang out with [series And it kind of nation, where does one go from here? star] LL Cool J. My fiancé is a visual “The role was really important to me artist. She sold a painting to LL about a when I auditioned for the show,” he says. year ago. So he was telling me that it was steamrolled. “In my mind, the reason I got the part hanging up in his office and that he reis I looked at Toofer and realized that ally liked it. So it was a thrill.” he had nothing to apologize for. He is The thrill won’t be gone any time Keith Powell an insanely smart person. And black. soon as Powell gears up for his career There were a lot of people who audi2.0. Still, it’s hard to come down from tioned for Toofer who kind of made the joke that Toofer the Rock. was smart and black. The way that I created it was that “It does feel like it’s an incredibly hard act to follow,” there was no joke about it. He just is smart.” he admits. “When we started the show, no one expected Powell was born in Philadelphia and attended NYU. it to even get on the air. None of our cast expected it to He was a regional theater actor who found his way to last half of the first season. And it kind of steamrolled.” California when he was plucked from obscurity for the The steamroller keeps rolling, as Powell has yet to key series role. Along the way, no silver spoon passed explore every opportunity that awaits. He explains it his lips and no career simply dropped into his lap. this way: “I grew up very poor,” he says. “But everybody I was “On the first day of college, we were asked, ‘Why do surrounded by — my entire family — was smart and you want to be an actor?’ The girl next to me said, ‘I black. And all of my friends were smart and black. It want to be an actor because I get to play different people.’ had nothing to do with class. It had everything to do And I thought, that’s not the reason that I want to be an with that these were educated people. That was the actor. The reason I want to be an actor is because I get world that I knew. That was the only world. There is to be different aspects of me. Deep inside of me, there is nothing to apologize for or be ashamed of.” a Toofer. And it’s fun to explore that aspect of me. Deep His hookup with 30 Rock not only changed his life, it inside of me is a dancer, a lawyer, but it’s all me, and begave him new goals to shoot for — and pitfalls to avoid. ing an actor is finding my way in.”
November 2012 | The Modern
Nuke New York Comic-Con 2012: If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. Stills and Story by Mark Doyle If President Obama or Mitt Romney really considfor twenty bucks. She replied a pic of her with them. ered “getting out the vote,” all they would need to do Strangely enough, just 10 blocks north and 30 years is pay a little visit to Comic-Con in New York City. Yes, back that $20 would have gotten that group something that little geek fair that attracts tens of thousands of different altogether. people every year in October. I mean, couldn’t you just Could I bear the brunt of walking the halls of this see the President dressed as Batman and Mitt Romney event for four straight days? Many people I spoke to dressed as well … Two Face … or vice-versa, depending were going to load up on Red Bull to get through the on your political perspective? walk, panels, screenings and anything else that was The hoopla that has become Comic-Con unraveled thrown in their way. One lady dressed as Catwoman on Thursday, October 11th to a very large and colortold me, “Superheroes never say die.” ful crowd. Getting there early and casing the joint was The con organizers had everything grouped tothe plan. Thursday was just for VIPs, press and those gether in a very attractive fashion. Comics occupied lovable geeks who had no choice but to buy a four-day the back-end of the show while gaming dominated pass. It seemed the tractor beam of comic book hysteria the front section. The amount of activity surrounding sucked them all in. gaming was astonishing. Nerds and geeks did battle But Comic-Con is much more than a comic convenfor the ultimate prize. No, not cash, but to see who tion filled with plastic sword-wielding geeks would be crowned the best in the world. and cute young girls donning elf ears. The eclectic mix of hot chicks and It’s big business. And like all big busioverweight men in full costume ness, the window is narrowing as drew interesting contrast. I mean profit margins have shrunk. where but Comic-Con can you One lady However, you couldn’t tell if see the Scooby-Doo van, The you paid a visit this weekend Batmobile (circa 1960s) and dressed as to the all-things-geek show. the Back to the Future DeLoCatwoman Make no mistake. Comrean parked conveniently in ic-Con is a spectacle. It is one area for mass consumptold me, spread out in the caverntion? At any given time, you ous Jacob Javits Center on could expect to wait on a “Superheroes the West Side of Manhattan. line better than ten minutes never say,‘die.’” I must admit that once I enfor food, the bathroom and tered, I didn’t know which way for autographs of fan favorites to turn first. Lou Ferrigno or Sean Astin. Walking the aisle, I noticed Comic-Con NY can certainly lots of people signing autographs. I rival its San Diego counterpart; caught wind of a Playboy model speaknow if we can just find a way get our ing to a couple of guys in front of her table. candidates there in full costume. One of them was asking what he would get The Modern | November 2012
! M A W! B F! OOO
Hey, there are girls here!
November 2012 | The Modern
Matthew Lillard Rules the World by Jay S. Jacobs Ten years is a long time coming, but for actor Matthew Lillard, the urge to direct had been around long before that. His acting career has kept him occupied. Amongst the roles he has taken were the goofy best friend in the original Scream, Shaggy in the Scooby–Doo! movies, an adulterous real estate agent in last year’s acclaimed The Descendants and a corporate baseball man in the current Trouble With the Curve. However, for a decade now, he has been crafting his directorial debut, the film version of KL Going’s popular young adult novel Fat Kid Rules the World. The film is about Troy, an overweight and depressed high school student who finds new meaning to his life through forming a band and a friendship with a drug-addicted, unreliable, homeless singer. We had the opportunity to have this exclusive chat with Lillard when he was recently visiting New York to promote the opening of Fat Kid Rules the World. How long have you wanted to make the jump to directing? It’s been a part of my life my whole life. When I was in high school, I started to direct there. It just has been a natural progression for me. I optioned the book ten years ago and have been trying to get it made ever since.
Music played a huge part in Fat Kid, as well as some of your older work as an actor, like SLC Punk! How important is music to your life? To be honest, music is not a big part of my life at all. I know there are a lot of people that live and die by what comes out next and have an emotional connection to music. I’m just not one of those guys. I happened to be cast in SLC Punk! and I’m super happy I was. This book is really about an underdog, set in the world of punk rock The Modern | November 2012
Featureflash / Shutterstock.com
How did you learn about the book and why did you think it would make a good film? I was offered [the job of recording] the book on tape. When I was reading it for the first time, I found myself very drawn to the characters and the story. I had a really significant emotional connection to the whole thing. It was the story of an underdog, a kid who is lost. In high school, I didn’t find punk rock music, I found acting. That discovery changed my life. It gave me hope and a direction in life.
music. It’s not about the music so much as the kid IDs with it. Why do you think that young adult novels are a fertile ground for film ideas? It’s exploding because the emotions are high in books like that. A lot of times, adults are a little more pat in their responses. We’re a little more used to the ebb and flow of life. Young adult books are rich in stakes. There is nothing that happens in a YA [Young Adult] book that isn’t of the utmost importance. Those are ripe grounds for telling stories. A large part of Fat Kid Rules the World shows that we are not necessarily the people who others think we are. What about you would tend to surprise people? I’m a father of three. I consider myself a very normal human being, a very down-to-earth guy. My job happens to be acting. I take my craft seriously. I don’t take my celebrity, or notoriety, fame, whatever [seriously]. I take the piss out of myself more than anyone else. Those are not things that I hold dear. I’m the assistant coach of my ten-year-old’s soccer team. I play Dungeons and Dragons every two weeks. What were you like growing up and in high school? I was an overweight kid. I come from overweight parents. That insecurity defined me, in a big way, until I found drama and something that I was good at. It really changed me. I was way more inclined to get in trouble for being funny than to say something intelligent. How did you first get involved with acting? My dad said I could take an acting class or a typing class. I thought I had a way better chance of passing an acting class. What sucked was the next semester he made me take a typing class anyway. What were some things you were passionate about when growing up? I’m a soccer fanatic. I played Dungeons and Dragons growing up — still do. When I was a kid, we would leave at 8:00 in the morning and run around all day. You’d be on your bike, playing with your friends, football, basketball, everything. I started making these neighborhood movies with my friend when I was ten years old. He had this little 8mm camera. He had learned how to make a stop — action film. We made Star Wars films with beginnings and middles and ends. How did you get the role in Scream and what was it like being a relative unknown when your movie exploded www.themodern.us
like that one did? Originally I went in to audition for Billy — Neve Campbell’s boyfriend in the movie. The casting director said, “You’re fantastic, but you’re never going to be this guy. What do you think about this role?” The rest is history. No one expected that movie to be the cultural phenomenon it was. Generations had grown up with Shaggy in Scooby– Doo. How important was it to you to be respectful to that while putting on your own stamp on it? Oh, huge. That defined every choice I made. Nothing about that character wasn’t motivated by how the cartoon was and how to do it right. I don't think there is in general a way to “act right” but for that movie and that character, I took really seriously making that iconic figure into a real person. How does it feel now that you’ve finally hit the point in your career where Hollywood sees you as the kind of guy that women would cheat on George Clooney for? I don’t know if Hollywood sees that, but certainly [Descendants director] Alexander Payne saw that. The reality is if it comes down to me or Taylor Lautner making out with some woman in a movie, it’s probably not going to be me. You have just done Trouble With the Curve. What was it like to work with a legend like Eastwood? You are working with part of the Hollywood pantheon of great actors. Between Clint Eastwood and John Goodman, you don’t want to be the kid in the movie that sucks. What was the first movie you saw that really blew you away? Star Wars defined my life from very early on. The idea of playing with Star Wars action figures really sparked my imagination and kept me going throughout most of my life. What movie do you think you have seen more than any other? The Princess Bride … or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Do you want to move towards directing or to continue to balance between acting and directing? I’d like to move in that direction. We’ll see what happens. The good thing is I don’t think I have to choose. The Modern | November 2012
We’re lovin’ on you, but what are you lovin’ on?
Stephania Hometown: México City Movie: Love Me If You Dare TV show: New Girl Song: Chasing Cars Actress: Taylor Swift Words to live by: “It will be what God wants.”
! ! s s Ki Stephania courtesy of Red Models/NYC
The Modern | November 2012
Andre’ Bona Hometown: Curtiba–Parana, Brazil Movie: I Am Legend TV Show: CQC (Brazil) Song: A Batucada Te Pegousou Muleke Actor: Will Smith Words to Live By: “No pain, no gain.”
Andre’ Bona courtesy of Red Models/NYC
November 2012 | The Modern
Party Over Jamison Scott, aka DJ Stoags, is building
When that merciless sun goes down, Florida’s favorite son, Jamison Scott, does anything but set. He rules the night. As his alter ego, DJ Stoags, he has a knack for forming large throngs of party people in the place. The former international model and Florida A&M student is now taking it off the hook in the wild after hours culture of Tallahassee. Tomorrow: Miami. “It’s a fulfillment of life, man,” he muses about his electronica investment which allowed him to follow this here dream. “I spent the last $300 bucks that I had and I just got hooked.” Brother Jordan creates the sounds and Jamison masterfully pieces them together, working the crowd like a puppet show. The Scott siblings call themselves Mashed Brotatoes. They play everywhere that is anywhere, and at can’t-miss events like GlowRage. They are very sincere. They take their mission seriously, but never themselves. They leave their legions of fans wrecked for more. “I give you one hell of a party,” Jamison guarantees. “I give you all the energy I’ve got. We’re gonna dance until we can’t dance anymore.” Ya heard?
a following in the hot club scene of
Tallahassee. What could possibly be next?
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P h o t o g r a p h y b y A m b e r F l e t c h e r a m b e r f l e t c h e r p h o t o g r a p h y. c o m
The biggest thing is keeping
going. If the energy
stops, it doesn’t matter
if you are a DJ or a producer or anything else;
you’ve failed. It’s just keeping the party going, and that’s basically what I specialize in. Keeping smiles on faces.
I really think with
electronic music, the possibilities are endless, because
you’re not restricted to actual instruments. Whatever is in your head, you can make that sound. The
sky really is the limit.
Working with my brother is absolutely amazing. We have the same energy. We dance the same. Everybody just eats it up.
My little brother is my best friend in the world.
I want to give a shout
out to all my fans
repeatedly see at my events. You all are the reason I keep going. I hope I give you the same feeling you guys give me! And big
ups to Atmosphere aka Episodes in Tallahassee for giving me my first shot. To family and friends, I couldn’t do it with out ya!
Much love 1love!
the great forgotten
We go la-la-la in LaLa Land. All the sweet, green icing flowing down.
There are so many songs about LA that simply doing a group of songs about the city would take forever. Therefore, we’ve decided to take you on a musical tour of the city — a series of songs that honor some of the different neighborhoods and roads that are such an integral part of the city’s fabric. B
“Surfin’ USA” – The Beach Boys
Quite a strong argument could be made that the Beach Boys’ entire career was a tribute to Los Angeles, so it is tough to settle on one specific song. We chose “Surfin’ USA” because it shout outs to so many LA area surf spots, including Manhattan Beach, Doheny, Ventura, Pacific Palisades, Redondo Beach and La Jolla. www.youtube.com/embed/BnEsXR41ON0
“Beverly Hills” – Weezer
The smart nerds of Weezer had their biggest hit with their crunching tribute to the most famously affluent neighborhood in America. www.youtube.com/embed/HL_WvOly7mY
“Celluloid Heroes” – The Kinks
This is a sepia toned examination of the hopes and smashed aspirations of Hollywood Boulevard. The song takes the famous Walk of Fame and the great actors of the past as a seductive symbol of the American dream of fame and fortune. www.youtube.com/embed/yp_QkUVZGPc
“Malibu” – Hole
“Malibu” was recorded back during the extremely short window between the death of Courtney Love’s husband, Kurt Cobain, and her complete devolution into a raving, Twitter-addicted, gossip-column casualty. During the mid-Nineties, Love’s band, Hole, actually released a couple of albums worthy of the title of rockand-roll’s most talented widow. In “Malibu,” she took a pointed look at the beauty and sadness of the famously scenic beach town. www.youtube.com/embed/v0CYB5V9e64
“On the Nickel” – Tom Waits
This heartfelt little ballad is a melancholy tribute to the bums living on the streets of downtown LA. LA’s skid row was on Fifth Street downtown and is called “The Nickel” by locals. The song inspired a respectedbut-little-seen movie of the same name, written by and starring Ralph Waite (Pa Walton!) and using this Waits’ tune as the theme song. www.youtube.com/embed/8055IqijQzo
“Valley Girl” – Frank and Moon Unit Zappa
Famously cranky and wacky cult artist Frank Zappa had his only hit single with this song, a tribute to the stuck-up, vapid girls of the San Fernando Valley. Daughter Moon Unit had her fifteen minutes of fame after introducing the specter of Valley-speak to the world. www.youtube.com/embed/ufYYOXiEtxM
“Ventura Highway” – America
While there is not actually a “Ventura Highway,” Ventura, California is in the northern hills of Los
Angeles. The song was loosely based on a family trip that singer/writer Dewey Bunnell had taken when he was young. They got a flat tire next to an exit sign for Ventura, and while his dad was changing it, young Dewey was fascinated by the strange shapes of the clouds, which he refers to here as “alligator lizards in the air.” Janet Jackson later heavily sampled the tune for her hit “Someone to Call My Lover.” www.youtube.com/embed/Dd2Ch6WBeQU
“Santa Monica” – Everclear
The words “Santa Monica” were never once used in this Nineties alt-rock fave, this darkly desperate song was based on Everclear lead Art Alexakis’ life. When he was young, his girlfriend committed suicide. Soon afterwards, he tried to take his own life by jumping off of the Santa Monica Pier. The song has an older Alexakis looking back at his past and trying to come to terms with it. www.youtube.com/embed/MW6E_TNgCsY
“Dead Man’s Curve” – Jan & Dean
Dead Man’s Curve was a particularly serpentine section of Sunset Boulevard between Westwood and Bel Air. The song follows an eventually fatal street race between a Corvette Stingray and a Jaguar XKE through LA, name-checking several city landmarks. Ironically, two years later, singer Jan Berry was seriously injured in a car crash not far from the curve. After a nearly fatal car crash by famous voice actor Mel Blanc in the Sixties, the city finally tamed dead man’s curve, spreading the turn out to make it safer. It is still a dangerous stretch, though, as demonstrated in a high-speed movie chase down the stretch between Jeff Bridges and James Woods in the Eighties drama Against All Odds. www.youtube.com/embed/Anq4wdZc2Ow
“Hollywood Hot” – The Eleventh Hour
This dirty, disco-fied tribute to Seventies Hollywood was written by Four Seasons’ producer Bob Crewe and disco singer Cindy Bullens. Odd trivia fact: One of the singers in the Eleventh Hour was Kenny Nolan, who went on later in the decade to have huge hits with the sappy love ballads “I Like Dreaming” and “Love’s Grown Deep.” www.youtube.com/embed/41zljLphtAw
November 2012 | The Modern
the great forgotten “Century City” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
This hopping tribute to influence and affluence was one of the lesser-known album tracks on Petty’s breakthrough album Damn the Torpedoes. It almost makes you forget that Century City is really just a little urban jungle of office buildings, condos, car parks and a mall. I wanna live in Century City, indeed. www.youtube.com/embed/kE-F5vuQJjo
“MacArthur Park” – Richard Harris
Jimmy Webb’s famously symbolic love melodrama, recorded many times but probably best known for actor Harris’ rendition, was named after a small park in the Westlake section of LA. The doomed love relationship that is played out in the lyrics re-
before they were stars
Travolta singing in the shower about the joys of Hexachloraphine. If we are to believe all the nasty allegations, Travolta was comfortably in his element here: a men’s locker room shower. Play it safe, boys! Safeguard, that is. And fellas, don’t drop the soap!
ally happened to Webb when he lived by the park, with a lover named Susan Ronstadt (cousin of Linda). After the breakup, he found that the park where he had spent so much happy time with Susan was now full of ghosts and sad memories; therefore, he decided to pour all that devastation into song. www.youtube.com/embed/GHS8hj4TdT8
“Dizz Knee Land” – dada
A grungy and oh-so-ironic riff on the old “I’m going to Disneyland” commercials. This early Nineties alt-rock favorite used the world’s most famous theme park (situated in the LA suburb of Anaheim) as a faux paradise, a place where people at their lowest points could go and create their own unhappiest place on Earth. www.youtube.com/embed/daa9pZDxfIY
“Born in East LA” – Cheech and Chong
Though “Born in East LA” became the famously stoned comic duo’s final hit single (and only real song) before they broke up, it was actually a Cheech Marin solo single. Sung to the tune of Bruce Springsteen’s then-recent hit “Born in the USA,” the song took a comic look at a Mexican-American who is minding his own business when he gets caught in the middle of an immigration raid. When he can’t convince the INS agents that he is indeed a citizen, he gets deported. Marin eventually extended the song to become a movie of the same title. www.youtube.com/embed/LMfYNqJgO8Y
“Straight Outta Compton” – NWA
The Beatles of gangsta rap — a group that spawned such stars as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E and MC Ren — gave a guided tour of their ’hood, the type of area that the tour buses don’t often make it to. www.youtube.com/embed/-MrQtOoQRpc
“LA is My Lady” – Frank Sinatra
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoyBCz30cQM The Modern | November 2012
On the heels of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ late career surge with his Chamber-of-Commerce approved love song to “New York, New York,” he decided that perhaps what his career was missing was more city songs. This follow-up single stopped that quick experiment in its tracks, but it is still fondly remembered for a surreal attempt at a Sinatra-less MTV music video featuring such early Eighties personalities as Donna Summer, David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen and Missing Persons leader Dale Bozzio — none of whom Sinatra would have given the time of day in real life. www.youtube.com/embed/5l-GxpjYN98 www.themodern.us
The Best of Everything The classic novel and film now comes to the stage. By Eve Golden
But as good as the cast and costumes (and set design) are, the script is the star here, and I really must take my Lilly Daché cocktail hat off to Kramer for it. The characters grow and change: April from innocent rube to disenchanted party girl; Gregg (Hayley Treider) from brittle flirt to heartbroken wretch; Mary Agnes from one-dimensional office blabbermouth to someone who will eventually read Betty Freidan cover-to-cover (there is a wonderful scene in which Mary Agnes comes back to visit her old
You will remember — won’t you? — that a few months ago I did a column in these pages about one of my favorite movies, 1959’s The Best of Everything. Well, now playwright and director Julie Kramer has adapted the 1958 source novel, by Rona Jaffe, into a corking good Off-Broadway play, which recently ran at the HERE Arts center (145 Sixth Avenue, one block south of Spring). The one-act show is a treasure, and I was astonished at how Kramer managed to boil down a long soap opera into little more than 90 minutes. I have to go back and reread the book, but many of the characters cut from the movie have been restored here. The Best of Everything is the tale of young working girls in the New York publishing world of the 1950s. Kramer could have gone camp with it or turned it into a strident feminist treatise, but she really captured the feel of the novel and of the times (one sexual harassment scene was genuinely uncomfortable). The cast runs the gamut from quite good to breathtaking. Particular standouts are Alicia Sable as innocent country girl April (with some of the best comic timing I have Sarah Wilson & Alicia Sable Tom O’Keefe & Sarah Wilson seen, and the looks of a younger, blonder Photos by Leah Michalos Ashley Judd), Tom O’Keefe (who quite ably plays four male characters, managing to make each office after the charm of husband and kids has worn of them discernibly different and believable), Molly off — handled beautifully by actress and playwright). Lloyd (as Mary Agnes, a marriage-mad gossip who The play’s nicely ambiguous ending, by the way, is gets less than she bargained for) and Sas Goldberg (a actually more satisfying and realistic than that of the nice comic turn as a Real Housewives of Lawn Guymovie. land type). The hardest job was handed to Amy WilThe Best of Everything was a limited-run show, son, who played mean boss Amanda Farrow, the role but I hope it gets picked up — and travels. A one-set, that Joan Crawford so brilliantly owned onscreen. small-cast offering, it would be ideal for local theWilson managed to make Farrow her own, without a aters or high schools, and I hope it becomes a nice trace of Joannie, which is no small feat. little cash cow for Julie Kramer. Now, I am off to get I must also praise the costumes to the skies — I my old paperback copy of the book and reacquaint want half the suits and dresses in this show. Costumimyself with these young ladies. er Daniel Urlie has an impressive résumé, and I note, wincing, that he was signed to costume Rebecca — a Eve Golden, who wrote The Bottom Shelf for Movieline show which has since self-destructed in a flurry of in its 1990s heyday, has written seven books on film and theater history. Her biography of John Gilbert will dead, imaginary backers that is more Grand Guignol be published next year. than the show itself. www.themodern.us
November 2012 | The Modern
girls were girls & men were men
Sylvia Kristel The soft-core actress yearned to break out of her box. By Jay S. Jacobs When Sylvia Kristel died at sixty after a long bout with cancer, most of the headlines referred to her as “pioneering adult film actress.” That seems so unfair, such an underestimation of a fascinating, long career in the film business. She never even made any pornographic films, though she was certainly comfortable with on-screen nudity and made her name in a series of soft-core movies about a sexually adventurous European housewife named Emmanuelle. In fact, when the beautiful Dutch actress and model was offered the role in the original Emmanuelle, she was worried about taking on such a revealing part. It was her then-boyfriend, Belgian author Hugo Claus, who talked her into taking the job — after all, he reasoned, what were the chances that anyone would see it? It was a tiny, low-budget film and was sexually frank enough that the censorship board would probably never approve it. Therefore, Kristel would get paid, take a free trip to Thailand, and the movie would never play in the Netherlands so that her mother could see it. At that point, the X-Rated film was in its infancy, and it was still the home for some respected grownup but artistic films — Midnight Cowboy, The Last Tango in Paris and A Clockwork Orange all carried that rating, but no one could doubt that they were seriously creative films. The Emmanuelle films were similarly experimental, strongly sexually suggestive and with frequent nudity, but not nearly as wild as early “adult” features like Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones and Behind the Green Door. The Emmanuelle films are more like an older, less explicit aunt of the films they now show late at night on Cinemax. It shocked everyone — no one more than Kristel — when that tiny little film that she made on a whim became an overwhelming success in the newly sexually-freewheeling Seventies, eventually being seen by over 350 million people worldwide. That success became a blessing and a curse for Kristel. She tried to segue into more legitimate films, though she had become very comfortable with nudity even in Hollywood fare, but she became pigeonholed as a “nudie” actress. Even when she was in high profile literary films like Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Mata Hari, they were often sexually frank. The Modern | November 2012
Kristel never regretted Emmanuelle, but she was a bit shocked that people imagined she was like her character. “People don’t assume John Wayne shoots people and rides a horse on weekends,” Kristel once said. “People think I’m a nymphomaniac.” As her Hollywood career was sputtering, she became involved in drinking and drugs. Finally she moved back home to Amsterdam, where she took up painting and periodically worked on films. She even won a Tribeca Film Festival special jury prize in 2006 for a short animated film she directed called Topor et Moi and acted in two movies as recently as 2010. In 2006, she released her autobiography in France, fittingly called Nue (French for nude). It was later published in the US as Undressing Emmanuelle. She was originally diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001 after a life-long smoking habit, fighting it for years before finally succumbing on October 17, 2012. Here are some of the more intriguing roles of Kristel’s career. Emmanuelle – Emmanuelle The role that made Kristel a star — and then typecast her — was based on a respected Fifties erotic novel by Emmanuelle Arsan, the pen name of Marayat Rollet-Andriane, a French-Thai actress whose bestknown performance was in the movie The Sand Pebbles. (It was later revealed that her husband wrote the book). Emmanuelle told the story of a bored housewife of a French ambassador who has a sexual awakening in Thailand. Kristel ended up playing Emmanuelle on and off throughout the rest of her career — making four theatrical films about the character into the mid-Eighties and appearing in quite a few more Emmanuelle made-for-cable movies and series starting in the Nineties. www.youtube.com/embed/DsOXacenEk8 Private Lessons – Nicole Mallow In the post-Porky’s world of teen sex comedies, this little independent feature became a surpriswww.themodern.us
ingly big hit due to a somewhat controversial story line. Kristel played Nicole, a beautiful young housekeeper hired by an extremely rich family. The family’s wimpy fifteen-year-old son Philly (Eric Brown) quickly falls in lust with the gorgeous older woman, trying a litany of ways to catch her undressing. The family’s evil chauffeur (played by WKRP star Howard Hesseman) threatens the maid, forcing her to teach her young admirer the ways of love — an interesting inversion of Emmanuelle’s teacher and student ascetic — so he can rip off the family. Kristel was able to invest the morally questionable character with charm and compassion. It became such a big hit that this film was blatantly ripped off a couple of years later with the film My Tutor starring sitcom actress Caren Kaye and Matt Latanzi, then the much-younger husband of Olivia Newton-John. www.youtube.com/embed/wpVSlQDyeWw The Nude Bomb – Agent 34
Despite the slightly raunchy title, would you believe that The Nude Bomb was actually an attempt to translate Sixties spy sitcom Get Smart onto the big screen? No? Well would you believe it was a bomb not wearing clothes? No? Well, would you believe it was a football movie? Really, a year after Star Trek: The Motion Picture had become a hit by returning the original Sixties cast for a big screen adventure, Don Adams was hired to revise his character from the nearly-as-beloved series Get Smart. Kristel played a skiing femme fatale agent in a caper to prevent KAOS from detonating a special bomb that evaporated clothes. Despite the title, the movie was rated PG and had no real nudity. Needless to say, The Nude Bomb did not inspire a series of Maxwell Smart movies like Star Trek had, though the character later returned in TV movies and series. www.youtube.com/embed/anROOuqXGqY Lady Chatterley’s Lover – Lady Constance Chatterley This lush and exotic filming of DH Lawrence’s classic novel (well, loosely based on it) was Kristel’s www.themodern.us
reunion with Emmanuelle director Just Jaeckin. When Lady Chatterley’s husband is crippled and rendered impotent, the beautiful and sexual young woman must find someone else to fulfill her physically. Released with high hopes and artistic gravitas by well-known exploitation studio Cannon Films, the movie turned out to be a massive box office disappointment. www.youtube.com/embed/K1B8emmvYHE Private School... For Girls – Ms. Regina Copoletta
After the popularity of Private Lessons, Kristel was brought back for a small role in the next Private teen sex comedy made by the same filmmaking team. However, this time out Kristel only had a supporting role, portraying a Sex Ed teacher over the opening credits. Word is Kristel only appeared in this film at all because she was contractually committed to it for doing Private Lessons. Instead the heavy lifting was done by younger actors, including the just pre-stardom Phoebe Cates and recent Modern interviewee Matthew Modine. www.youtube.com/embed/PMuRFLtR4b8
Airport 79: The Concorde – Isabelle Kristel may have thought that she had finally had her big breakthrough in Hollywood when she got this job. The excitement lasted until the movie was released. The comically bad final movie in the venerable Airport series (which also featured former Modern interview Susan Blakely and “Men Were Men” subject George Kennedy) was so bad that it killed the long-running series. (And I’m not so sure that the eventual grounding of all Concordes didn’t first take root due to the awful feelings this movie spawned.) However, Kristel was able to spend time with lots of venerable American actors and a few other hot young ingénues. www.youtube.com/embed/QdRDrq5zT6U November 2012 | The Modern
Adventures in Modern Sound By Art Wilson Through the years my guitar and musicianship has gotten me in and out of trouble (mostly out). Starting my formal music study at age fifteen, with the contacts through my teacher and studio, I was playing with a local band by my high school senior year. We earnestly practiced in Mike’s house but never earned a cent for our music. Our rare gigs were free favors for friends, but definitely learning experiences. I got us a “job” playing in the massive basement of a high school friend, a member of my high school fraternal group. We played our sets with seeming confidence until a girl approached me and said, “Can we dance to records now?” Just before and after high school graduation I took a busboy job with a newly-opened neighborhood Italian restaurant. The business was very disorganized, and I hated the job and its low pay.
The Modern | November 2012
I was rescued, though, by a call from the manager of a working young band. I dropped the busboy job like a hot ravioli and joined The Driftwoods. I had adventures while earning some money. Moving ahead a few years, shortly after college and my ROTC training, I entered the Army as a lieutenant. After Engineer Officer training in Virginia, I completed the remainder of my first year as a basic training officer at Fort Ord, CA. Due to a shortage of officers’ quarters on post, I rented a small house in the storybook town of Carmel. I had my original Guild electric guitar and practiced and played for friends. But I had discovered a bar and restaurant near Carmel Valley that featured live entertainment by solos and small groups. One night I sat in for a short set in an open mike kind of situation, and they offered me a job playing. But the timing was bad because I was near the end of my tour there, very shortly, to serve my next assignment in Vietnam.
never materialized. I wasn’t able to bring my Through the years One evening Bob took me guitar overseas, but I bought to a seemingly classy French a nondescript piece-of-junk nightclub, even with a greinstrument, which served me my guitar has gotten nade cage and sandbags at the when I sought out other muentrance. It was a remnant of sicians for jam sessions. me in and out of the past French occupation I served in the US Army of the country. We were in Engineer Construction trouble (mostly out). our fatigue uniforms, and a Agency Vietnam (USAECmaître d’ seated us. A VietAV), which had me serially namese rock group was playstationed in three locations, ing on stage. Bob went over the last of which was Saigon. to the emcee to say something. Before I knew It was the “Southern District Engineer” office, it, he was announcing, in French, that a famous headed by a Lieutenant Colonel who was deAmerican musician was going to sit in with the manding and feared. band. Somewhat embarrassed but proud, I took I was taken under the wing of Warrant Officer the stage, borrowed an electric guitar, and played Bob, who showed me all around town. There was a few tunes, to a nice audience response. a well-known guitar store named My Tin. Bob My R&R leave from Vietnam was to exotic Sinand I visited there and I purchased an acoustic gapore. Many of us stayed at the Newton Tower guitar, brought it back to our office, and sheepHotel. They had a gift shop with great discounts ishly tried it out. A thunderous cry came from our pompous on Asian products. I bought a Yamaha FG-150 guitar, whose quality I enjoyed for many years Major in the middle office: “WILSON, the Coloback in the States, and which took me through nel wants to see you!” I proceeded to the Lieutenmore adventures that I will perhaps relate to you ant Colonel’s rear office and seated myself before soon. him. He said, “I heard you bought a guitar.” I said, “Yes, sir.” He replied, “I’ve always had a hankering to play. Maybe you can teach me sometimes.” Art Wilson is a Philadelphia-based musician, teacher, software specialist and retired chemist. Whew! What a relief, even though those lessons
Some Not-Too-Sweet Folks for Canada Dry Hollywood toughies delight in singing this ditty. The way in which you choose to sing this jingle could be the key to your entire personality. Me? I'm with Broderick Crawford: world-weary, exhausted, and vaguely disgusted. Obsess on this joint — as we do — today! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R2RrgpNI10
November 2012 | The Modern
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The Next Best Thing To Being There Technology is keeping us home. By Mitch Gainsburg Sunday morning. The weather is freezing but the sun is shining. My dad tells me to dress warmly; it’s going to be a long day. It’s 8 a.m. and we are getting ready for a 1 p.m. Philadelphia Eagles game. Seven or eight times a year, my dad and I performed this Sunday ritual, just like a million other football fans around the country. This still goes down on NFL Sundays all over America, but not for me anymore. Technology back in the Seventies did not warrant you to stay home and watch it on TV. Of course, back then, you didn’t get the crowd noise and the type of replay you get now. Back in the day, the NFL would broadcast only one or two games all day. So my pop and I went to the stadium, and we loved it. It was our thing. Once at our seats, the only communication we had outside of the stadium was a big, black scoreboard and the thousands of transistor radios around the area. Can you imagine functioning like that today? Not likely. Now viewing a pro football game live is even more virtual than at home. We have flat screen monitors in every direction, 200-foot HD theater screens over the
field of play. Every urinal has a flat screen above it and God forbid you miss a play while in line ordering that gourmet hotdog. We don’t watch the games live, so why go to them? My dad and I don’t go to the games anymore. We don’t have to; the games come to us. They come to us in every shape, size, sound and the food at home is pretty, pretty good too. We heat up the surround sound, juice up the flat screens and log onto the iPads. We never have to leave the house. Eventually there will be no live audience in attendance at the games. The virtual stadium will be right in your living room. Frankly, it’s already there. People won’t want to spend the money on gas or food and waste time in game-day traffic. Technology and sports have come to a crossroads. A need for the information and precision in what you are viewing has become more important than being there live. Mitch Gainsburg (aka. Cashy the King) hosts the Sports Goombah radio show and webcast. Listen here: www.sgshow.net
Who’s The Boss? Manage to answer all of these questions. By William Shultz
Name the longest serving managers/ coaches in their respective sports (total number of years in the sport, not necessarily with one team):
1. Connie Mack, 53 years 2. George Halas, 40 years 3. Lenny Wilkens, 32 years 4. Scotty Bowman, 30 years
The Modern | November 2012
I Melt With You Global warming, Diesel and the ironic message By Jacqueline Stewart Photography by Eric Ryan Anderson Global warming is an environmental phenomenon that has been in effect for over a century, most notably the past fifty years. However, it is not until recently that this occurrence has made its way into mainstream knowledge and become popularized
through Hollywood. Most recognizably linked to the awareness of global warming are celebrities such as Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio — as well as political figure Al Gore. They have made efforts to inform the public of the impact human activity is having on the increased levels of greenhouse gases. Their attempt to warn the public of this worldwide occurrence is not only to make it known in mainstream culture, but in an effort to keep the earth’s citizens aware of their activities through their celebrity status. Now that people are hyper-conscious of the presence of global warming with the political and celebrity attention it has been given, Diesel, a clothing company based in Molvena, Italy, has come out
The ads grab our attention by shouting at us, global warming is happening… but we don’t need to worry because Diesel is now making global-warming-ready clothing.
with a “global warming ready” campaign. Their ads depict different places in the world once global warming has taken effect. The ads picture locations such as Paris, London, Venice, and South Dakota. The representation of Paris shows an overgrown jungle with palm trees and other tropical scenery in the landscape. A model walks his pet iguana and stops to chat with two other compatriots while the Eiffel Tower stands tall in the background distinguishing their location. Another advertisement shows the rest of the United Kingdom under water and London is left as an island. A model rides away on The Modern | November 2012
her speedboat with the London Bridge and Big Ben trailing behind her. The portrayal of Venice shows two models walking through Saint Mark’s Square, and instead of the usual invasion of pigeons there are parrots scattered throughout the Square. The last one illustrates a model lying out on the beach while a half submerged Mount Rushmore is made to look as ordinary as a jetty. All of the ads are stamped with the Diesel guarantee that their clothing is “global warming ready.” These advertisements are playing off the codes of an environmental disaster and referencing the fun of showing well-known cities under the effects of global warming. It is in no way demonstrating a historical narrative for what actually may become of these cities. Viewers are meant to get the reference since celebrities have pounded global warming into the public domain so heavily. The reference is also made clear by including famous city landmarks. Even if a person has never been to Paris, they certainly will recognize the Eiffel Tower in the background, suggesting that an allusion to Paris is being made. A coexistence of irony takes place in these ads where political edge and a playful message can be integrated. Since everything has been done in the post-modern era, these ads have to catch the attention of the busy consumer, while doing it with a wink. People know global warming is happening, and the ads are parodying the seriousness of it by showing famous cities under its effects. The most ironic theme in the ads is that while a world disaster is taking place, the focus is on consumerism and the presence of fashion. With contemporary attitudes about consumerism, it is being completely integrated into everyday life. The irony lies in the sense of normalcy that each of these models demonstrates in the ads. It is shown with such ease to have a model lying out with Mount Rushmore submerged, or a model dashing off in her speedboat. It is not about the gravity of global warming, but about how consumerism will continue as it always has with or without these world changes. The ads grab our attention by shouting at us, global warming is happening … but we don’t need to worry because Diesel is now making globalwarming-ready clothing. This is where the tonguein-cheek irony stands out. Our society is so accustomed to the presence of consumerism that it can bring light to global disasters.
The most ironic theme in the ads is that while a world disaster is taking place, the focus is on consumerism and the presence of fashion.
Jackie Stewart is a New York based writer, turbo nerd, and life enthusiast. www.themodern.us
November 2012 | The Modern
wish you were here
Maui Through Retro Shades By Desiree Dymond My one goal on a recent vacation to the Hawaiian island of Maui was to take a ukulele lesson from a real Hawaiian, to explore an adventure in my own style for myself. I turned down the concierge’s numerous suggestions for hula dance lessons and luaus available at the resort. My only interest was to learn something important musically while creating an experience for myself that would live on in my head for years to come.
The concierge looked at me funny and informed me that I was the first person to ever make this request as she booked my lesson for the following day. The adventure was on. I had to rent a car for the hour-long trek to the other side of the island — bad news for a public transportation-oriented New Yorker who can barely remember what traffic signals mean. I showed up the next morning at the front desk of the hotel to pick up my keys. They gave me an old-fashioned paper map and explained the directions. After several unsuccessful explanation attempts, I opted for a GPS instead. My anxiety about driving was clouding my ability to hear what was being said. Keeping my panic attack about The Modern | November 2012
driving at bay, I got in the car and headed off. There was no traffic, there were no nearby cliffs, and no catastrophic landslides happening on the road at the moment. With relief, I decided I would most likely live until I got to my destination. I made it to where the lesson was being held — the old Bailey House Museum — with no problem. There was a sign revealing the property’s historical landmark status. The place looked haunted. I noticed a huge, ancient canoe near a wooden building. Pulling up to park the car, I saw a woman in a red 1940s-style hat, parking her car to my left. I recognized her from the internet research I had done in preparation. It was Mele Fong, one half of the local band The Hawaiian Serenaders, who specialize in traditional Hawaiian and hapa-haole songs (Hawaiian-style music with English words) made popular during the Hawaii Calls radio program of the 1930s. When I read that the husband/wife duo have played retro songs on the ukulele and bass for over 15 years while dressed in traditional retro Hawaiian gear, I completely geeked out. This was beyond what I was looking for. As she stepped out of the car, I noticed her elegant black-and-white dress and matching red shoes. She had a couple of ukulele cases in hand. I could have recorded that moment to video just for the coolness of it. “Hi, Mele?” I called out from my car. “It’s Desiree. I’m here for the lesson.” She turned and looked at me with such a delighted grace. I was in awe. Everything about her was a full-on, vintage Hawaiian dream. She was the idyllic image of stylish Hawaiian heritage from another time. I almost lost my shit when she pulled out her six-string tenor ukulele, and this amazing vintage Martin & Co ukulele for me to play during the lesson. While waiting for Mele to set up, I learned from the curator that the house had been a boarding school for girls in the 1800s. I felt transported into another era with the special surroundings of the museum enveloping me with the ambience of time travel. Our footsteps echoed throughout the hallway, back to the old kitchwww.themodern.us
en, which was the room where the lesson was being held. The acoustics bounced off the stone walls with the bravado of a grand opera house. We sat down in old school-house chairs and started playing. I played a couple of songs that I wrote while she observed my skill level. The sound reverberated into brilliant symphonic levels. Whatever we played had the haunting quality of our surroundings, making me feel I was part of the ghostly splendor of the premises. I’ll never forget the moment she just randomly started singing “Today,” by John Denver. It sounded so incredibly
beautiful, with this image of her in her red hat. The expression on her face was priceless. A small group of tourist retirees momentarily stopped to gawk at us. When the lesson was over, I knew I had to explore the grounds. I walked outside where there used to be an old irrigation stream. It was all dried up, but I could still see the crumbled stones where once had been the path that the girls had taken for water back in the day. I walked up and down the faded path, retracing their footsteps, imagining what it must have been like to live in this place and walk up there to get water each day. I stepped onto a stage in the backyard, made of a tier of raised lawn, and imagined myself playing ukulele for an audience of little girls at the school. I could have played them the songs my mother taught me from when she was at her boarding school. The narrative in my head went on like this as I explored the entire place. At the end of my self-guided tour, I stood on the top floor of the house looking out a back window onto the yard, and I knew my wishes for music and adventure had just been realized. Desiree Dymond is a model, singer/ songwriter and blogger residing in New York City.
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Episodes 1–11 (Lionsgate–2004) An anime dream that recurs from childhood into adulthood. By Ronald Sklar It always seems ironic and convenient when your name matches your occupation, as in the case of Speed Racer. Yes, that’s his formal name (even though he wears a “G” on his never-changed shirt and an “M” on his crash helmet). He’s as competent, loyal and true as a Boy Scout, and is so obsessed with car racing that you never see him doing anything else, not even eating or bowling or watching TV. In most cases, he doesn’t even sleep, despite the endless protests of his friends and family, who beg him to rest before a big race. But there’s good ol’ unflappable Speed, burning the midnight oil, turning a socket wrench underneath the car, his anime eyes wide with concentration. Either Speed
The Modern | November 2012
is just simply supercharged and super pumped about tomorrow’s big race, or Speed’s on speed. Living in a quasi-dream of a netherworld that is not quite Japan and not quite America, Speed is — quite literally — driven. It doesn’t seem to be the thrill of the race that motivates him, even though there are still thrills-a-plenty on this DVD that holds up surprisingly well. (You’ll be amazed at how powerfully these compelling stories still grip your heart and get your blood racing, even though you are no longer seven years old.) Simply, Speed seems to be intensely focused, deeply stoic and fiercely determined, which is how we like our cartoon heroes. It’s his weighty one-dimensionalness that keeps us glued to his adventures. We learn from him that winning isn’t everything, or even the only thing — it’s how you get there and how many opportunities you are awarded to help others. Of course, Speed has an exciting (though deadly) career, and perhaps if he were employed in the auto department of a Caldor store or working Bay #3 of a Pep Boys, he wouldn’t be as enthused and more apt to snooze. Even though his family is slightly dysfunctional, they are tremendously supportive. There’s his crusty-butlovable pop (Pops), who arrogantly and illogically leaves his cushy job with a large engineering firm in order to perfect his marvelous wonder car, the Mach 5. Pops is a total fascist to his family, but they tolerate him because he’s got the engineering goods in his whacked-out head — the Mach 5 is their ticket to ride. Unlike the 1989 Ford Escort, which tends to stall www.themodern.us
at high speeds, the Mach 5 comes standard with rotary saws for cutting trees (great for forest driving!), grip tires, an underwater oxygen chamber, special illumination, a periscope and that all-important homing robot for when you need to send for help while you are being held at gunpoint or kidnapped. Pops almost “blows a gasket” when he first learns his son is racing in this precious super machine. However, Speed Racer and the Mach 5 take to each other like STP to an engine; once Pops sees the income the boy could net from winning tournaments, he quickly changes his warped mind. And this is years before NASCAR. Moms Racer is the real curio. Her real name is most likely something like Carburatoretta or Stickshift-Anne. She’s a looker, a glamour-puss sashaying around in a tight pantsuit and a tiny apron with hearts sewn into them. Though the family is immersed in daily danger, she doesn’t seem to care about anything except serving ovenbaked cookies. Call it her protection mechanism; most likely, this obsessive act is just her little way to suppress the horror of her own reality: her oldest son had run away from home and had never come back, her middle son (only 18) risks his life daily in a death machine, and her youngest is under age ten and under absolutely no adult supervision — he eats candy until his teeth rot and tends to stowaway on evildoer’s vehicles and his closest friend is a clothed chimp. There’s Trixie, of course, Speed’s look-alike girlfriend, who is rather accomplished for a pre-feminist gal pal. She can fly a plane and maneuver a helicopter; she can also give a wicked karate chop when confronted with evil. However, she remains perky and upbeat throughout — her trademark is to giggle and wink. Mysteriously, her blouse sports the letter “M,” like a scarlet letter. We’re left to wonder why. Racer X (who is originally referred to as “The Masked Racer,” but the narrator drops that after one www.themodern.us
episode), is really Rex Racer (Speed’s older, normalnamed brother). Years before, Rex left home in a hissy fit after a wicked argument with Pops. Of course, this seems to be a rather lengthy period to hold a grudge against your entire family, but consider the source. Also, it deepens and sentimentalizes the plot lines, as Rex, under the mask, keeps a watchful eye out for his younger brother. Ironically, Rex had moved on to become the world’s best racing car driver (imagine that “most likely to” in your high school yearbook!), but he is known to have bad luck follow him in every race he enters — namely, other racers die! However, he consistently stumps the media by wearing a mask and — even though it’s obvious to anyone with a brain — he gives no information as to who he is and where he came from (put this into context: there was no internet and no Matt Drudge at this time). Every time Racer X enters a scene, we are clued in — the narrator will remind us, “Unknown to Speed, this is his older brother, Rex, who ran away from home years ago.” We wonder if this announcement starts to wear on Rex every time he makes his entrance, yet it doesn’t seem to bruise his ego that he is always referred to in the context of his younger brother. Nevertheless, it must be a drag at parties. The real star of the show, of course, is the theme song. You know it — you love it, but you probably didn’t realize that it was written in one afternoon and recorded in practically one take. The original Japanese version (the show was called Mach Go Go Go!) was an un-zippy, over-long, marching-band-style tune, and it didn’t make the scene. The American team westernized it, and viola: one of the greatest theme songs in the history of television. The jazzy closing credits, featuring a mind-blowing illustrative history of the automobile, with actual models driven by the show’s characters, is iPod-worthy. However, we’re still waiting for those damned flying cars. The voice-over talent works overtime, and the November 2012 | The Modern
dig this dvd overlapping of characters’ voices is both painfully obvious and pleasurably corny. Former child model and struggling actor Peter Fernandez found his niche dubbing Japanese entertainment for American audiences (Astro Boy, Marine Boy, Ultra Man, and several Godzilla flicks). Not only was he in charge of the entire U.S. translation/production of Speed Racer (trickier than it sounds), he was the voice of both Speed and Racer X. Corinne Orr was the voice of Trixie, Moms Racer and Spritel (Speed’s younger brother). You may also know her as the voice of Snuggle, the fabric softener bear. Voice-over vet Jack Grimes played Speed’s friend Sparky and Spritel’s
Adventure’s waiting just ahead. Dig the swingin’ opening and closing credits http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtIu61s2PDo
simian friend Chim Chim. Despite (or perhaps because of) the voice-over talent, the series will turn you as Japanese as it gets. Characters gasp in unison, or exclaim a long, drawn out expression of “ahhh’s,” “awww’s” and “oooooh’s!” Evildoers get punched, karate-chopped and knocked out, but they never die. They say unlikely things such as “Unhand me!” and “Now’s our chance!” and “If you don’t make this jump, you’ll fall a thousand feet into the river. Good luck.” And all evildoers have New York accents — just like in real life. Speed isn’t exactly the “demon on wheels” that the song makes him out to be, and you wonder how the cast can wander around the Alps in the middle of a winter storm without a stitch of warm clothing — and Speed’s insistence on wearing an ascot is distracting — but there is a lot you can forgive here. The original animators were so in love with American culture — you can see how it was absorbed and handed back to us so lovingly and with such care. It’s exactly how you remember it, yet somehow better. Go, watch this DVD. Adventure’s waiting just ahead.
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Jay S. Jacobs
The Ginsu Knife No matter how you slice it, you’ll never forget this cutting-edge commercial. By Jay S. Jacobs In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife. However, the people behind the legendary Ginsu knife couldn’t figure out how exactly to sell hands. And, as they pointed out, that method didn’t work with a tomato. If you grew up watching UHF stations, then at some point or another you were sliced and diced by The Ginsu Knife. However, the actual knife is only a small part of the Ginsu phenomenon. In fact, it wasn’t even a Japanese product. It was actually a product formerly called Quickut knives, created by a small company in Fremont, Ohio. However, when it didn’t sell, an ad company came up with a more exotic back story. Ohio? No, arigato. But, but, but… the Ginsu can cut a slice of bread whisper thin. It could carve a block of wood and still be super sharp. It could even chop a beer can in half, if for some odd reason you needed to do that. And that was an old-school tin beer can, long before they went aluminum. How much would you pay for that? Don’t answer! They’ll also give you five other items you don’t really need. All for $9.95! The Ginsu should be just another piece of forgotten cutlery. However, a hard-hitting snake-oil-patter advertisement not only made the knives ubiquitous in lateSeventies kitchens, but also pretty much single-handedly created the infomercial format. If not for the Ginsu, there would have been no Billy Mays, no Ronco, no Sham Wow guy. The Ginsu ad was a classic oily-used-car-salesman spiel transferred to television — fast-talking hucksterism brought to the masses. As Jerry Seinfeld pointed out in a stand-up routine, you are sure you want them at 2:00 in the morning when you can’t sleep. By the time they are delivered, you realize that you have no real use for the Ginsu. But wait! There’s more! The inspired men behind the Ginsu knife — Ed Valenti (who is widely considered the father of the infomercial) and Barry Becher — went on to reuse their www.themodern.us
hard-sell on such products as The Miracle Painter, The Miracle Slicer and Armourcote Cookwear. Ginsu knives were introduced in 1978. While they are not as well-known as they once were, they are still widely available. And the Ginsu’s original hard-sell ad seems almost quaint compared to today’s ads. As they say in the Ginsu’s homeland — Ohio — the students have surpassed the teacher. However, I sincerely doubt any of
these young pups will have as long a ride as the venerable Ginsu, the original and still champion. Jay S. Jacobs is the author of the books Wild Years: The Music and Myth of Tom Waits and Pretty Good Years: A Biography of Tori Amos. He is also senior editor and founder of the pop culture web magazine www.popentertainment.com.
But wait! There’s more! Screen the classic Ginsu joint here! It’s a modern marvel! www.youtube.com/embed/abLB7aTmnE4
November 2012 | The Modern
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvcezs4R9c Whenever we see any of the castaways in regular street clothes and bopping about in civilization, itâ€™s always as disorienting as it gets. There are a million examples from which to choose, but here is the most disturbing of all the disorienting Gilligan alumsâ€™ post-curricular work. Although she does wind up in a cornfield, Dawn Wells is decidedly not Mary Ann, as she is pistol whipped and then mercilessly chased by a serial killer in The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976). For our poor Mary Ann to be bludgeoned and hunted and bleeding, our disorientation is compounded, even more so than when Bob Denver is not playing stupid or Jim Backus is not playing rich. If you think the town dreaded it, wait until YOU get a look. Depressing dread (and disorientation) is the order of the day (or the night). And somebody shut up that damn dog. Ronald Sklar