History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1989's "Lobster Man From Mars" a refreshing film

"Lobster Man From Mars" has the low-budget charm of "Bubba Ho-Tep." You remember "Bubba Ho-Tep," don't you? It was about those two men in the nursing home, both believing they were celebrities as younger men. One critic said the low-budget nature kept the movie from being as significant as it might be.
"Lobster Man" seems right on the mark for what it was seeking to attain. It was a spoof of movies on the lower end of the budget spectrum. I hesitate using words like "spoof" or "parody." I'm not sure it was consciously done that way. Some of those '50s 'B' movies of the sci-fi genre stand as parodies unto themselves. Let's say "many" of those sci-fi movies. This is how we got "Mystery Science Theater 3000." That ground has been covered. "Lobster Man" reminds me more of a college student sense of humor. It's very impulsive and direct. "Let's put a film noir detective in the movie." Why not, because then we can have fun with those cliches. It's not as if such a character fits neatly into the movie. He doesn't. But he's definitely funny.
I have this 1989 movie on VHS tape. I dusted it off to watch it again the other day. I found it refreshing. The '80s were the last decade with no Internet. So, we see a world where people adapt to their environment with none of that digital wizardry. Somehow people got by. The detective uses a reel-to-reel tape recorder.
"Lobster Man from Mars" had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. A movie like this must have intrigued Tony Curtis. The big-name Hollywood guy not only directs the movie, he stars in it. He plays big shot Hollywood film producer "J.P. Shelldrake." He is arrogant and feels he needn't be distracted by the boring matter of paying taxes. So he constantly tells his exasperated accountant to "just take care of everything." Phil Proctor plays the accountant.
The accountant decides that Shelldrake needs to release a flop movie so the expenses can be written off. Shelldrake owes millions in back taxes. Onto the scene comes young aspiring filmmaker Stevie Horowitz. Stevie is to moviemaking what I am to songwriting. I write songs because I have a passion for it, but I certainly wouldn't mind monetizing it at some point. I try not to be delusional. People like us can get our eyes glazed over and start thinking we really have a shot. We love what we do. That kind of passion can give you blinders to reality.
Stevie Horowitz has repeatedly tried to get Shelldrake's attention. So much so, he has real rapport, a flirting type of rapport in fact, with the young female office assistant. At the end we see these two breaking the shackles of their mundane, insignificant existence.
Stevie's newest cinematic adventure is "Lobster Man From Mars." It might be just another unfortunate effort by a deluded soul. Of course, there's nothing wrong with Stevie's passion if he recognizes its limits. People like us have trouble doing that. Stevie gets a break in an oddball way, though. Shelldrake needs that flop movie. Shelldrake agrees to screen "Lobster Man From Mars." The two sit side by side in the screening room. We occasionally see them exchanging comments.
"Lobster Man" appears to fit Shelldrake's aim of releasing a movie that bombs. The aim is thwarted when the movie does the opposite of that! At the end we hear a radio report of how the movie climbs the heights of success. It's like seeing a songwriter like me suddenly turning out a chart-topper. Maybe this is why I have a special affection for the movie. There are so many souls like Stevie and yours truly out there. We love our art. We don't expect financial reward but we would certainly take it. We plow forward. It's so endearing to see someone who is immersed in his art.
In the end, Stevie realizes in real life what stays mostly in our wildest dreams. It's exactly like winning the lottery. And not only that, Stevie appears about to consummate his flirting relationship with that charming office assistant. She too realizes her dreams of maybe "becoming someone" albeit as an extension of Stevie. It's an inspiration for all the faceless souls who toil daily in anonymity.
Shelldrake's conceit has caught up to him. His chutzpah overcomes him. He's powerless in the face of the awesome IRS. We see no IRS people in the movie. It's just this cloud of threatening authority, the way all of us see that agency.
Stevie, pulling himself up by his bootstraps, got funding for his movie from his jailed con man uncle, "Joey." We see parallels with the Mel Brooks movie "The Producers." Oh, and "Mars Attacks" comes readily to mind too. "Mars Attacks" had budget limitations that stood in the way of stop-motion special effects. We got CGI instead. "Mars Attacks" was no quirky or obscure "film festival" type of movie. Most of us remember it.
An "acquired taste?"
"Lobster Man" stayed on the fringes for popularity, which is unfortunate. Maybe it's an acquired taste. I definitely had the taste to enjoy the movie from beginning to end. You can imagine the filmmakers simply having fun with it. They aren't cynically crafting a movie that will make the cash register go ka-ching. They are clearly having fun. They aren't desperate to make special effects work. I absolutely love the weird space bat creatures. They have a cackling laugh. The special effects are on the level of what we might see in "Gilligan's Island."
As a songwriter I loved the theme song that reflects the campy quality of the movie. Let's savor the lyrics: "He came from the stars, Lobster Man from Mars. Earthmen beware, he's after your air! No place to hide, Lobster's right outside!"
Some people might not like "Lobster Man from Mars." Maybe they don't remember movies like "Robot Monster." You have to hand it to many of those films: they had imagination. Yes, even "Plan 9 From Outer Space." Many of these movies could have been done on a higher budget basis and become quite legitimate.
The robot in the sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was barely good enough from a special effects standpoint. I would assert that black and white was a "cover" for many marginal special effects, and I think the moviemakers in Hollywood were well aware of this. Color was not totally a step forward. The WWII movie "The Longest Day" was made in black and white at a time when color had completely taken over. Color is much more revealing. There are some things, like the bleak nature of WWII combat, that are best obscured.
It has been written that "Lobster Man's" unapologetic low-budget look is a "translucent veneer." An apt characterization. We see an over-the-top melodrama. The detective hardly fits seamlessly into the movie. He seems impulsively added in by someone who was just amused by the cliche aspects of film noir. "I'm just a passer-by from Palookaville" is intoned with a sax player in the background.
"Lobster Man" has an in-film narrator. I love Deborah Foreman in this movie. She's such an attractive sweetheart. Her significant other is played by the equally perfect Anthony Hickox who shows a special earnestness. Tony Curtis knew what he was doing in selecting these two. Is Deborah Foreman still working? She and Anthony play "John and Mary," a young and innocent couple. They find the hiding place of a flying saucer in a dark cave. They strive to warn authorities but are ignored.
We get a haunted house. It's surrounded by boiling hot springs. Get it? Maybe the evil "Lobster Man" can be coaxed into the boiling water. Enter "Colonel Ankrum," the chauvinistic military guy. We see stock footage of soldiers firing mortar weapons. Ankrum has the house destroyed. The Lobster Man is in possession of Mary and flees to his cave. In an absurd and funny scene we see Mary promising not to escape and Lobster Man believing her. Of course she escapes. Lobster Man pursues.
The movie reaches its climax at Yellowstone Park. Mary lures Lobster Man to walk over the Old Faithful Geyser, and you know what happens. A lobster's death!
We see Bobby Pickett in this movie - remember, from "Monster Mash" - as the king of Mars. The plot premise is that Mars is afflicted by a shortage of air. I guess it's "leaking." Pickett commands the unsavory "Lobster Man" with his assistant, "Mombo," to fly to Earth via flying saucer. Oh, "Mombo" is a gorilla wearing a space helmet. The two have a mission: to "steal our air." We never see how this would be done, but it's no matter.
Lobster Man has a weapon that turns his victims into smoking skeletons. At the end the victims are all restored or cured like the victims in "The Brothers Grimm."
Lens to an earlier time
We meet John and Mary along a lonely road. The plot unfolds. We see quaint aspects of life before digital communications. Small businesses operate in a slow-paced, small-scale and boring way. People are in no hurry to make money - they just do what they have to do. There are aspects of this lifestyle I miss, like the gas station attendants that would befriend you. You'd "send in film for developing."
The heroes of this movie are imbued with goodness. The Lobster Man is evil incarnate. Remember the days of drive-in movies? Our town of Morris had its own drive-in out where the Hosanna church is located. One can easily see "Lobster Man From Mars" on the screen of such a place.
If you're a sci-fi purist and feel such stories must be taken totally seriously, you'll have problems with "Lobster Man From Mars." I remember the short-lived '70s TV series "Quark." It was an all-out parody of movies like "Star Wars." Remember the series star? It was Richard Benjamin. Didn't he direct the significant movie "My Favorite Year?"
At least one of the "Star Trek" movies gave us some parody. We see the Star Trek heroes go back in time to the 1960s. They are warned: "These people are primitive and they can get excited." Sure enough we see a hyper motorist. Spock walks around San Francisco, a tall man wearing a robe and with pointed ears, and no one cares. It's San Francisco. What a hoot.
I definitely got a hoot out of "Lobster Man From Mars" and its space bat creatures! I'd love to watch this flick again in the future. Maybe I'm just in love with Deborah Foreman, I don't know. Let's do a Google check on her:
Stevie Horowitz is played by Dean Jacobson. What a story: a young man is impassioned by an avocation, filmmaking, and he makes it big at the end. Maybe this is an appeal of the movie. We all have hobbies in which we overestimate our abilities. Dave Barry has written "there's a fine line between having a hobby and mental illness." Barry's assessment is spot-on.
What we see in "Lobster Man" is the likeable and unpretentious Horowitz character who fulfills every hobbyist's dream. He becomes the studio's new boy wonder. Not only that, he "gets the girl." Perfect plot resolution. Me, I'll take Deborah Foreman.
To those of you who found this post doing search, please listen to my songs! Here's a link to the YouTube page that has my songs. Please share any foodback. God bless.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Gong Show with Chuck Barris was mirror to 1970s

Chuck Barris on "The Gong Show"
"From Hollywood. . .almost live (laughter). . .it's the Gong Show!"
The Gong Show paralleled the Jimmy Carter presidency perfectly.
The 1970s were an incredible decade. That's not a compliment. Then again, let's see the glass as being half-full. Maybe our maker thinks it wise we have a pause sometimes, a pause in which we can just be thankful to be alive. Never mind we have a presidency unraveled in a pathetic, predictable cadence. Never mind the "pet rocks." Remember the 1970s version of "King Kong?" Remember the name of the petroleum company in the movie? It was "Petrox." Del Sarlette and I picked up on the humor immediately.
"Pet Rocks" were a frivolous distraction in that '70s decade. We would eventually get the "International Star Registry" which seemed like an extension. Get a star named for you. Our attention was grabbed by an assortment of things which really seemed harmless. But they also seemed pointless. The entertainment we consumed was not inspiring. We were entertained and we laughed along with stuff that seemed to diss our long-held high ideals. The attitude seemed to be "what's the use?"
One commentator has said that anything that could go wrong, did go wrong in the 1970s. Seems almost astrological or paranormal. But again, God himself might ordain such periods in American history. Jackie Gleason played a law enforcement figure that was absolutely created to be scorned. Clint Eastwood came out with his oddball "Bronco Billy" that had the exact same type of law enforcement character. These guys had large middle sections - what we used to call "beer bellies" - and they came from the Archie Bunker mold. This was the older end of the celebrated "generation gap" of the mid-20th Century in this great country. The oldsters watched Lawrence Welk. The kids sought to be hip. We watched "Happy Days" and "Kung Fu." We listened to Grand Funk Railroad and Uriah Heep. The Lawrence Walk aficionados might as well have been space aliens, such was the contrast.
Seriously, the generation gap was 100 percent real - no mythic aspect. I'm troubled as I recall it.
Television entertainment was handicapped by having to be homogeneous. No real "niche" programming yet, although there were some hints or signs of what was to come. Tom Snyder wasn't the best but he was the first. His "Tomorrow" show, beginning at the then-unthinkable hour of 12:00 (midnight), was a precursor. He was spontaneous much of the time. His show debuted in a more conventional way, with much "scripted" material, but then he fell into an informal format. It was refreshing.
Johnny Carson was in his prime. Johnny's show met a need, or it wouldn't have existed, but it was shallow beyond description. You couldn't expect to learn anything watching that show. And while we're on that subject, let's get back to the Gong Show. Truly this was a time capsule type of show representing the 1970s. It was farce, irreverence and tripe all for their own sake. It had all the nobility of picking your nose.
Young people of today would say "well, why did we watch it?" Look, logic has nothing to do with understanding the bell bottom decade. It was something we all just experienced. We got through it just as we knew we would. Our higher ideals returned. True talent shows would get traction.
The Gong Show only had a premise of being a talent show. The show reflected all the mendacity of the 1970s. We were beleaguered by our failure in the Viet Nam War. We had taken for granted that we would win wars. Kids grew up in the '60s watching the "Combat!" TV series. Surely our gallant GIs would install virtue all over the globe, right? We did it in the '40s. In the present day we send our troops to face those Mongol hordes or whoever they are.
Sobering events as backdrop
In the '70s we saw the air go out of the balloon of both Viet Nam and the Nixon presidency. Economic inflation was pernicious. We were dazed. We marked time. We assumed America could still be a great place. We just needed some time to get on our feet again, to pound our chest. In the '70s we were just examining our naval. The Gong Show was on the level of examining our naval. It was the brainchild of Chuck Barris. Chuck is as much a symbol of the '70s as Euell Gibbons (the guy who did those Grape Nuts commercials, saying the cereal reminded him of "wild hickory nuts").
Legend has it that Barris first envisioned a serious tone with this "talent show." I don't buy that. I think the TV whiz saw potential more or less immediately in the pathos component - the idea that bad acts were a hoot. I'm reminded of Monday Night Football and its success. There's another 1970s phenomenon. I have read that Monday Night Football got much of its success from being able to "make a bad game hip." We see none of that today. Fox Sports North tries putting a totally positive sheen on everything. Even the Timberwolves. This approach wouldn't pass muster with the likes of Patrick Reusse. Reusse is a throwback. Sportswriters once itched to be able to publicly mock struggling teams.
The Gong Show and American Idol are as different as Superman and Bizzarro. The analogy is really quite spot-on. A judge panel would use a gong to send the signal that an act was so bad, it had to stop. The public really caught on. Even our nursing home in Morris did an annual takeoff on the Gong Show.
We ate up the Gong Show and the Match Game. The competition seemed rather incidental in both. The Match Game panel was once asked to fill in the blank in "half-blank." A prevailing response was "half-drunk." Years later I heard a sociologist comment on that, on a C-Span show. He said Match Game answers were like a window to our culture at the time. Would "half-drunk" be the prevailing answer today? We were all quite amused by inebriated humor then. Young people got this horrible message that alcoholic drinks were fashionable. Many probably ended up with DWIs that had long-lasting consequences for them.
Alcohol and cigarettes were a release mechanism for men who fought in WWII. Our society gave them a pass for such vices. Such vices should have passed after these gallant souls headed into the sunset. I remember in 1974 how Olympia Beer came to Minnesota. We thought it was a big deal. "Hello Minnesota" was the company's catch line for a time. Why did we pay any attention? Could we have really distinguished the taste of this beer from any other? Of course not.
Jaye P. Morgan was the most popular panelist on the Gong Show. Her trademark? She emitted a string of double-entendres. She supposedly had once been a popular singer. During her Gong Show heyday she was a guest on the Muppet Show once. I was struck by how unimpressive her singing voice was. Yes, age can take a toll on one's ability to carry a tune.
Barris was a magnet for attention as the offbeat emcee. Manic energy? To say the least. He'd intone a sarcastic intro for an act, remember? "I really like this next act, but then again, I like botulism." We'd see Barris with his goofy hat pulled over his eyes.

Gong Show "regulars" win a following
The show developed with some "acts" that weren't really acts, they were part of the regular routine on the show. Such as, "The Unknown Comic," bag over his head. A thin gimmick? Of course, but this seemed to feed the appeal, just like those bad games on Monday Night Football.
Larry Spencer came forward to sing an elementary call-and-response song, telling us he was going to "play his trumpet" (or any other instrument), except he would never play it. Ah repitition, as in Ed McMahon saying "I hold in my hand the last envelope." (Audience cheers.)
Who can forget "Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine?" Del Sarlette reminds me that Gene didn't appear in the final year of the show - evidently he was just a stage hand whose union guidelines didn't allow for performance. Actually I think Barris had an agenda of just trying to show that "common" employees at the show's headquarters could get ratings just as good as the union-affiliated performers. He was "trying to show them up," as it were, and it worked.
"Scarlett and Rhett" reportedly just worked in the wardrobe department. "Oh Rhett Butler, you can't say that on television." Then Rhett would say: "Well, Scarlett, can I say this?" And for several seconds we'd hear the bleeping censor sound. Ah, this is what made us laugh in the 1970s. "Matt Idol" would come out and sort of pretend to sing, while the audience was all coached on how to just go absolutely wild, Beatlemania-style.
Gene Patton as "Gene Gene" would dance to "Jumpin' at the Woodside," a big band classic. Virtually everyone would join in dancing. When all else failed in the 1970s, we could dance.
Oh, and Gene has just recently left us for that stage in the sky. Gene Patton RIP. Here's the article from the Hollywood Reporter:
Pushing the envelope? Most certainly
The act that really took the cake, or should I say popsicles, was "The Popsicle Twins." A whole exhibit in a TV museum should be devoted to this: two quite innocent looking girls coming out to - ahem - consume popsicles. It was done in a quite suggestive way while the audience went wild. Barris doubted the act would survive the censors. Eureka, it did, at least to an extent. The horrified network brass deleted the bit from its West Coast feed. Lest you be disbelieving about this act, click on the link below to view from YouTube.
I have read that Ike's Chicken Shack of the Browns Valley MN area could never come back today. The Gong Show likewise seems like a fossilized insect in amber. It rests in place in the 1970s along with "Smokey and the Bandit," Studio 54 and the spinning ball of light at disco dance floors. I remember dancing at the Persian Club in St. Cloud, surrounded by all the famous trappings of disco. There are worse pastimes.
But all in all, we need to stretch to find justification for all we sought and experienced in the '70s. Time moved like molasses. We learned to accept that. Eventually the negative residue of the '70s, chiefly Watergate and the Viet Nam debacle, got swept aside, to where in the go-go '90s, we absolutely brimmed with optimism. It was a night and day difference.
Remember how Jimmy Carter tried to rescue the hostages in Iran? The equipment broke down. A perfectly symbolic event of the '70s. Our armed forces can spend money on musical groups touring to promote themselves, but our equipment breaks down for an essential rescue.
Remember how the Comet Kohoutek was supposed to turn night into day, such would be its overwhelming brightness? That scenario had a '70s finish to it also: the comet barely appeared as a weak speck, perhaps requiring a telescope even. Oh, and wasn't there a scientist announcing he had photos of the Loch Ness Monster? The photos looked like mud and algae.
Unlikely icon of decade: Gibbons
Then there was Euell Gibbons, the senior citizen expert on getting by in the wild, eating wild things. He touted a breakfast cereal. Johnny Carson made hay with jokes about him. Eventually Gibbons appeared on Johnny's show. Legend has it the commercials had to be yanked from the air because kids were going outside and experimenting with eating wild things. So, Gibbons went the way of the Three Stooges eye poke. Kids would emulate. I suspect there's a reason we haven't seen a sequel to the Three Stooges movie of the recent past. The moviemakers fear lawsuits in the wake of kids hitting each other on the head with a hammer.
Times change. We cannot predict the future. A '70s-like decade could come along again. I'll be ready. Ready to dance like "Gene, Gene the Dancing Machine." But, not so ready for a Burt Reynolds type wearing a cowboy hat.
Addendum: Remember Chuck saying "take it away Tampa Bay?" Was that a reference to the football team? Also, remember him talking about "raccoon on wheat toast," with the illustration of a raccoon's tail protruding from a couple slices of bread? Only on the Gong Show, a surreal but endearing (in a weird way) world.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, March 9, 2015

Country music of today reflects changed world

I dedicate my song "Country Lovin' " to Cyrus MN.
Say "country music" and certain images arise in your mind. Shall we quickly add "certain sounds" too. I think of Buck Owens on "Hee Haw." Buck was a terrific musician who seemed to be sadly cheapened by that TV show. The show connected with long-held images and sounds of the country genre. Let's put all that in a time capsule. It's definitely a part of Americana. But as with all institutions throughout the American fabric, it has been subjected to vast change. Technology is of course the catalyst. Rural electrification was an example of tech impact. I have always heard this was miraculously transformative. We can only imagine.
Country music used to reflect a sort of self-pity among people living in non-metropolitan regions. They lacked amenities. They promoted music that sought to defy that handicap. It was a rough-hewn music that sort of proclaimed "we like it here," like that sign that was so visible in the early years of the Metrodome in Minneapolis, remember? "We like it here." I remember listening to an interview with Bill James and he brought it up. James is the baseball statistical guru. James said of that sign that it projected a sort of defensiveness. It was like we were saying "we don't care what everyone else thinks," James said.
Being distanced from the cultural mainstream was long an underpinning of the art form known as "country music." The TV show "Hee Haw" made a pathetic stereotype of that. It had these little segments where the name of some small town would be recited, then we'd hear "salute." The most telling part of that segment was the canned laughter that followed. Just imagine, citing the name of some small (read hayseed) town as if it might actually be special.
I remember a display of area community ("small town") newspapers at the St. Cloud State U library. The name of each paper was followed by an exclamation point. The thrust was the same as for that "Hee Haw" segment. "Just imagine, these towns thinking they're so special."
The residents of these towns, i.e. the whole broad swath of middle America, would shrug their shoulders at this. They might laugh along. Today you would never see those exclamation points. Young people today would wrinkle their foreheads at those exclamation points. "What's that all about?"
I remember an article in the Minneapolis newspaper covering something in the St. Cloud area. The article's writer took sort of a subtle potshot at the area's residents. This was by suggesting that those residents considered St. Cloud the "big city." The quote marks for "big city" said a lot. "Ah, those rubes who might consider St. Cloud to be a 'big city.' " Well, St. Cloud really is a big city.
Fact is, the old dichotomy of big city vs. rural town has broken down in a number of ways. Technology advancement is the big reason. It predates the Internet. Technology has steadily erased the disadvantages we have traditionally associated with living in rural areas. Cars have improved to where a trip of an hour or two is not at all daunting - it can be done for a mere shopping trip. Alexandria was not such a huge shopping lure for Morrissites when I was a kid. A trip out to the Pomme de Terre Lake chain might be considered major. You'd fear a flat tire.
There are no truly "remote" places anymore. Manhattan of New York City is no longer the highly privileged enclave for culture. You can get virtually the same access to culture and the arts from anywhere in America - from the vast openness of Montana if you'd like. And of course it's a huge blessing. It has changed the nature of so-called "country music."
The term "country" will always be with us. It will just have different nuances. It will be about the universal frustrations and aspirations we bathe in, whether in the small town or big city.
I wrote a song called "Country Lovin' " back in the early 1980s. I wrote it when the small family farm was still viable. That model would be assailed in the 1980s. Our society went through some spasms. There were vigorous outbursts of anger. The emotions got us nowhere. They never do. In the end we all move on, as we have to. We're left with memories.
Farming has become corporate whether we like it or not. Rural America has moved on. The mom and pop main street business has faded at the same time. We're told that we're all rewarded with "efficiency." No one can argue re. that outcome.
We used to go to church on Sunday and see all the men dressed in suits and ties. If you didn't, you might get whispered about. Today the church has to be thankful for everyone who comes in the door.
I write in my song about how "Dad's gettin' old and wants me on the farm." Those are dated lyrics from 35 years ago.
Consider my song sort of a museum piece. At any rate I'm proud of it. I had it put online just recently. I dedicate the song to Cyrus MN. Click on the link below to give a listen, from YouTube - thanks.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

My song about Bridgegate reveals pathos of it all

The fabulous George Washington Bridge (wikimedia image)
The Bridgegate story has fallen from day-to-day conversation. Word is, the story could be revived at any time. Results of investigations will be made known. We'll be hearing about indictments.
I have been fascinated all along by the power of a simple one-sentence email. One sentence! "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." I hope the email is archived somewhere. For a fee, maybe we could have it forwarded to us.
So simple was the emailed statement, I saw potential for a song "hook." I wrote a song in which the statement, repeated, makes up the whole chorus. I invite you to click on the YouTube link below to give a listen. I had the song recorded in Nashville TN, home of my favorite music people.
This is a simple guitar/voice "demo" recording. There's a lot to be said for a simple guitar/voice or piano/voice recording. If it's a good song, it can make a very favorable impression in this format. I plan to have more songs done this way.
You might want to describe my song as "quirky." It is definitely satirical. Maybe a better word would be "pathos." "Satire" indicates the words aren't to be taken at face value. Frankly, the words do ring with authenticity. Truth can be stranger than fiction. There's a comic effect even with the facts laid bare. What a tangled web we weave.
Why are politicians guilty of such excesses? Chris Christie had a clear path to New Jersey's governorship. Scorched-earth hardly seemed necessary. Sometimes, politicians who are in the driver's seat are the worst for chutzpah and aggressiveness. It must say something about human nature. The more power we have, the more we seem to crave for it.
Think of the title of my song: "Bridgegate." Where did the "gate" come from? You millennials might need a little primer. It's kind of embarrassing to share. "Watergate" was "my" scandal in terms of being the scandal of "my" generation. Not only did it reflect chutzpah, it was incredibly stupid. The movie "All the President's Men" shows up on cable TV occasionally. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played the newspaper reporters. Watergate was defined in part by the role of newspaper reporters. Print media had its primacy then.
Media analyst Paul Gillin has argued that Watergate was the worst thing to ever happen to journalism. Gillin observes that Watergate resulted in reporters/writers feeling they ought to be celebrities. My own approach to the field may have been influenced by this.
Today, of course, writing is hardly a specialty anymore. We're all "writers." Watergate would have unfolded through the world wide web, probably much quicker. Revelations about the Viet Nam war would have unfolded quicker too. All that would have been a blessing. War protesters had to disrupt normal life. Today they could just sit down and type.
The Viet Nam war made many of us ashamed to be Americans. By comparison, Bridgegate seems hardly a blip on the radar screen. It's mere pathos - fodder for my songwriting avocation. The Port Authority closed down two of the three access lanes connecting Fort Lee NJ to the George Washington Bridge. You can imagine the commuter delays.
The whole thing was payback directed at Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. I refer to the mayor as "the hero" in my song. His sin was to be a Democrat. He felt he ought to endorse his party's nominee, Barbara Buono. Yes, I'm able to work Buono's name into my song. She's an attractive and vivacious woman.
Democrats these days are defensive, everywhere. That will change. That was how the Founders intended it.
Bridget Kelly was the person who sent the notorious email, arguably the most famous email ever. "Time for some traffic problems." The email recipient was David Wildstein.
Governor Chris Christie has pleaded no knowledge of the shenanigans. I don't hold back making light of Christie's physique in my song. I realize this is politically incorrect. It's just a song - parody, pathos, whatever. It's a "topical" song. Anytime I write a topical song, I feel there's potential for a "viral" following. No guarantee, just potential. And, what would this gain for me? Well, fulfillment I suppose.
Journalists have the raw material of words. I have long been a journalist. Now I'm seeking to parlay that into music. Whatever happens, it's fun.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com