It began with a friend's status update on Facebook, proudly announcing the imminent arrival of a newly purchased turntable, anticipating the opportunity to play "vinyl records". (Bravo for not calling them 'vinyls'!)
She posted a very nice image of a Crosley turntable - on a shelf in a shop, looking nice and new, despite also looking like the kind of vintage turntable that would have the 'warm' sound of 'tubes'.
So I googled 'Crosley'. And discovered, courtesy of a phonophile's YouTube clip, that it's just one of any number of mass-produced turntables marketed under a vintage brand name, out of China. Affordable. It certainly wasn't this easy when I bought mine, a good 15-0dd years ago. Although, I'm a bit happier, in a smug sort of way, about my one: I bought an authentically old turntable - not as old as these new Crosleys are made to look - that had been reconditioned, along with an amp and pre-amp, from Egg Records. There was an old-age pensioner who used to recondition them. He looked a lot like Hoggle from Labyrinth.
After the phonophile's Crosley profile, I discovered this brilliant paean to the pleasures for collecting records. The best discumentary ever. Simply entitled Vinyl.
No idea if 'being a muso' is accurately portrayed, but the clip below conveys precisely the enormity of blogging about the arts, and a lot more directly than this blog post conveys the way in which the internet has rendered cultural discourse a ridiculous hall of mirrors as I blog about a film about a blog about music.
Maybe someone can write a song about photographing someone reading this?
There's a clip currently doing the rounds about a 'fat news anchor' who delivered a heartfelt reply to a viewer's rather rude and thoughtless - though possibly well-meaning - e-mail.
The viewer happened to stumble on a news broadcast on CBS WKBT and noticed that anchor Jennifer Livingston is full-bodied. The viewer felt it was Livingston's duty to set a better example to her 'community', especially kids - it's always for the sake of the kids! - and so should 'choose' to be thin instead of fat (as though it's a choice, and it's ever that easy).
I'm actually pleased that there's a television station somewhere in the world that has hired someone who isn't the typical pneumatic babe (relax, I'm paraphrasing Aldous Huxley - so it's at least high-class, literary sexism). As comedian Lee Camp has pointed out in a routine, the fact that there's someone on television presenting news who doesn't look like a model, can only mean that person is very good at their job. Which is Jennifer Livingston's only duty, really. The only example she has to set is of being a good news anchor.
Good on her and everything for taking the opportunity to address cyberbullied kids - choosing to define her receipt of the email as an instance of the same, rather than merely thoughtless fan mail.
I'm still fond of a certain other television anchor's response to attitudes towards his girth: comedian Allan Sherman, delivering his 'Hail to Thee, Fat Person' monologue. Comedy is going to trump piety and righteousness every time, particularly when dealing with narrow-minded people who get through life passing shallow judgements of people according to limited criteria.
After an adolescence of knowing about Zappa from the back pages of rock encyclopaedias and the odd reference encountered as a hardcore Beatles fan (John & Yoko jammed with him in the early ’70s, their collaboration forming the majority of record two of the Sometime In New York City album - later released as a section of Zappa's own Playground Psychotics; George Harrison referenced him in the lyrics of the song 'Blood From A Clone', on Somewhere in England; the album artwork to We're Only In It For The Money parodied Sgt Pepper) I started buying and enjoying his music.
I've previously blogged about how much of a mission being into Zappa was, in the late-’80s, when so little of his work was easily available in Australia at the time.
By the time of his death in 1993, almost all of his oeuvre had been reissued on CD and I more-or-less came to own it all - all the while acquiring whatever I could on the original vinyl as well.
An interesting item is the double album Uncle Meat. Its subtitle claims that it contains “MOST OF THE MUSIC FROM THE MOTHER’S MOVIE OF THE SAME NAME WHICH WE HAVEN'T GOT ENOUGH MONEY TO FINISH YET”. I realise now the apostrophe is in the wrong place. Never mind. Dig the artwork: a collage of photography, glass, teeth and who-knows-what.
It was the first album on the 'Bizarre' label - set up by Zappa and manager Herb Cohen, and distributed by Warner Brothers/Reprise. I've read that the name of the label, 'Bizarre', was inspired by the anthology of weird writing that Barry Humphries had compiled, entitled Bizarre. A journalist claims to have spotted it, during an interview, on Zappa’s shelf. (I think it was in a piece in Craig McGregor's 1973 anthology, Up Against The Wall, America.)
The name of the album, however, was inspired by the uncle of Zappa's childhood friend Don Van Vliet. According to Zappa's autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book, Uncle Alan had a habit of exposing himself to Don's girlfriend Laurie. He's go to the bathroom and urinate with the door open, turning around to announce that "it's like a great big beef heart". That was Uncle Meat. The event was also the inspiration for Van Vliet's stage name, Captain Beefheart.
Uncle Meat is a distinctively quirky, mostly instrumental double album. On CD, it's quirkier still: a double disc set containing most of the album on disc 1. Disc 2 includes excerpts of soundtrack dialogue from what would have been the Uncle Meat movie - as well as a ridiculous new song called 'Tegno Na Minchia Tanta' (essentially, Italian for 'I have a big dick' - or, more literally, 'I am holding a dick this big'). Those tracks really break with the feel of the late-’60s album - and have come to be referred to as 'penalty tracks'. A frequent question for fans on the forum of the Zappa homepage regarding the recent re-issue of the entire catalogue, is whether Uncle Meat would be re-issued with the penalty tracks. It has been.
Uncle Meat the movie - in its final release - was part documentary and part cheesy monster movie; like so much of Zappa's filmed work, it didn't know what genre it wanted to be and so attempted to be many things at once. Most obviously - having been completed many years after shooting had commenced - it was part documentary, part cheesy monster movie. Elements seemed to serve as a prequel to sequences that turned up in 200 Motels. And - trust me - make just as little sense, really. Perhaps even less.
A friend recalls me trying hard to make him and another buddy watch it - a good 20-odd years ago. "I remember it being very psychedelic," he says, and attributes to the other mate the phrase "Wow, that was doing my head in," but they appreciated my love of FZ - "like crack cocaine to you, I recall" - even if they didn't share it. I'm not sure if he's recalling the time I made them watch Uncle Meat the movie, the time I made them watch 200 Motels, or the time I made them watch The Amazing Mr Bickford. It doesn't matter. Our respective responses were the same each time, and I'm glad they indulged me. I probably only ever watched each one once - and yet if this were released on DVD or Bluray, I'd buy it the second it was available.
For now, someone has uploaded it, so I'm using Youtube to watch it, and that's pretty cool.
I profiled Blake Mitchell - along with Ash Jattan and the comedy rooms they're involved with - not too long ago.
Blake's exploits continue to be interesting and entertaining, and I know I'll have more to say about this later. For now, rest assured, he is a true visionary. Enjoy this clip fellow comic Joel White put together. Joel - who podcasts with Luke Walding as Waldo & Whitey - has had the genius idea to have his mum read a selection of Blake's recent tweets.
I don't know if you're familiar with the concept of the doppelganger. It comes from the German word 'doppelganger'. Which means 'doppelganger'.
It's just that I have one. A significant one. An actor.
Actually, when I say an actor, he's really more of a p…
Well, let me start at the beginning.
The first time anyone made the connection was on a Saturday afternoon quite a few summers ago, when I'd started growing my hair. (That's such a stupid phrase, 'growing my hair'; I didn't actively 'grow' it. It grows on its own. I stopped getting it cut regularly.)
I used to present a music segment on an afternoon 'magazine'-type radio show. I was on air after the book lady, and before the gardener and the vet. One time, during the introduction, the host suggested on air that, what with my long hair, I'd started to look a bit like… (he paused for dramatic effect)… a porn star.
"Dude!" I admonished him in mock outrage. "My mum listens to this…".
But I had no idea what he meant, to be honest.. How did having long hair make me look like a porn star?
Then, a couple of weeks later, a kid on a scooter called out to me from a across the street, insisting I was Ron Jeremy.
Turns out Ron Jeremy is a porn star. With quite an endowment. And I look amazingly like him. From the waist up.
Around this time somebody at work dubbed me 'Dom Jeremy', and it stuck.
And then I started doing stand-up. Despite writing about it and interacting with the industry just about forever, judging Raw Comedy heats and finals and all of that stuff, I didn't actually start standing up for myself until 2010. And I realised I needed to write some specific material to deal with hecklers. Because often, on stage, the heckle I'd receive consisted of just two words: "Ron Jeremy!"
One time the audience consisted solely of federal police. They were on a night out. Of course they gave me the 'Ron Jeremy' heckle. Only, this time it was before I even started talking. I'd barely taken the stage, and in the split second between my getting to the microphone and opening my mouth,
My friend Hayden Brotchie had suggested I point out that I "get mistaken for Ron Jeremy 9.75 times out of ten" (because that's how big his dick is, in inches).
One time I had the good sense to announce, "Mate, if I had an inch for every time someone called me Ron Jeremy, I'd actually be Ron Jeremy."
And so it went.
Cut to March this year. The NSW Sexpo - a "sexuality lifestyle expo" - is on at Darling Harbour. Ron Jeremy is going to be there.
"No, but you've got to go there and meet him. Have your photo taken with him," my friend insists.
So I go. But my Catholic sensibilities really need pornography to be less out-in-the-open. Self-conscious as ever, just less self-assured. I don't last long. I don't encounter Ron Jeremy. Funny thing is, nobody mistakes me for him, either. I guess Sexpo is the one place where people are going to be so familiar with him that they can't be fooled by someone who happens to look a bit like him.
But I spend the whole time walking around without my glasses, assuming someone somewhere will come up to me thinking I'm Ron Jeremy.
No such luck.
It's the day-trippers who mistake me for Ron Jeremy. The people who deal with him and his product on a regular basis will know full well that I'm not him.
Then I get the phone call.
My buddy Chris North, currently working on the Merrick Watts Highway Patrol drivetime show on Triple M, says they're doing some kind of promo with Ron Jeremy's rum company, and I should rock up to one of the events and be my doppelganger's doppelganger.
So I rock up at Triple M, where Ron's been in attendance, figuring someone's gonna mistake me for him. But nobody looks at me twice. (Clearly everyone there watches so much porn that, like the patrons of Sexpo, that will not be fooled by me. Or they watch absolutely none. I reckon it's the former.)
I end up going to the first bar with Chris. Some heads turn. A staff member approaches, but realises, up close, I'm not Ron.
The rum corps appear: the Aussies importing a new brand called 'Ron de Jeremy' ("the adult rum"!) Dutch people arrive. They are the originators of this particular spirit. Turns out, 'ron' is Dutch for 'rum'. Realising the famous man with the impressive encumbrance is in fact called 'Rum Jeremy', they came up with the idea to make a 'Rum of Jeremy' - or Ron de Jeremy - figuring Ron Jeremy may well be happy to front it. And he is.
When Ron appears, he's amused that I exist, mostly because it seems to drive his minder mad. We chat. I tell him I have a 'Ron Jeremy' routine in my stand-up set. He gives me pointers. He especially gives me comebacks - that would work a treat if I was Ron Jeremy. ("Tell them, 'Ron Jeremy's dick is so big, it has it's own dick. That's bigger than yours.")
Strangers want to get into photos with me because I look like him - they figure I'm his twin brother or something.
The sort of thugs who would normally be trying to beat me to a pulp for 'looking at' their girlfriends are offering them to me. Which is weird.
Beatles Anthologywas a mammoth project begun in 1992 that involved a mutli-part television documentary – later expanded for DVD release – plus three double-CD sets with unreleased songs and alternate versions of Beatles favourites, coming to fruition from 1995. The project actually began in 1970 with a 90-minute documentary entitled The Long And Winding Road. It was constructed by Apple boss (and former Beatles road manager) Neil Aspinall from all the Beatles footage he could get his hands on.
It appeared nothing would come of it until John Lennon referred to it in a court case brought against the producers of a stageshow entitled Beatlemania! in 1980. Lennon claimed that the Beatles were intending to stage a reunion concert that would form the ending of the Long And Winding Road doco. Yoko Ono concurs that it had been Lennon’s intention to return to England after he’d come out of retirement with the album Double Fantasy. His subsequent death put an end to the reunion and The Long And Winding Road.
In 1982, a two-hour documentary entitled Compleat Beatles appeared. It was not just an amazing revelation. At the time – when the remaining Beatles hated being described as ‘former-’ or ‘ex-Beatles’ and were so keen on retelling the story – Compleat Beatles told it through in-depth interviews with the likes of producer George Martin, Liverpudlian contemporaries like Gerry Marsden, Bob Wooler and Bill Harry, snippets of news footage and clips from throughout the ’60s, narrated by Malcolm McDowell. It was brilliant. So much so, it even had a brief cinema release in 1984.
Not that I ever watched it in its entirety. Not in one sitting anyway. Or rather, one standing. Because there was one summer when it was the hot video for Christmas, and was playing on endless loop on the biggest television the David Jones department store at Warringah Mall had at their disposal. It sat at the front of the audiovisual section, near the records (or ‘vinyls’ if must – but I prefer you didn’t) and on my regular pilgrimage – taking place more frequently than weekly, but not quite daily – I’d begin in the David Jones record department and end at the Mall Music Centre (one of the best independent record stores, in its time; my first summer job was at Mall Music, as was my first full time job).
I’d stand there for between 10 minutes and half an hour at a time – always at different stages (though never at the beginning or end, it seems) – utterly transfixed. I remember hearing George Martin divulge the way in which Paul McCartney’s ‘Got up, got outta bed’ interlude was inserted into John’s ‘A Day In The Life’, how the orchestral freak-out part was constructed and recorded to comply with Lennon’s desire that it be “orgasmic”. In a time before the Internet, this information, this footage and this detail was just not available anywhere else.
It was a massively successful video release, is my point, and my family did not have a video cassette recorder and would not, still, for some years. And when it got its limited cinema release, my area (possibly my country) wasn’t so blessed.
But it’s probably why EMI attempted to release The Beatles Sessions – a single album collection of the best completed but unreleased Beatles songs – in 1985.
Eventually, Compleat Beatles (and The Beatles Sessions) were superseded by Anthology. Yet, while Anthology was far more comprehensive, it was the official, sanctioned story, as approved by all the interested parties. Compleat Beatles provided an objective approach and a particular charm.
I know you can still get the Compleat Beatles VHS video from some sources. And I’m sure it’s doing the rounds as a bootleg DVD. But people've ripped their LaserDisc and VHS versions, and uploaded them YouTube, which is much nicer (ie cheaper). Enjoy it in all its un-remastered glory while you can.