REPOST: I RUINED THE MONKEES

(Entertainer Davy Jones died today, February 29, 2012, in Florida of a heart attack. In thinking about his life and the influence he had on millions of kids like me growing up with the Monkees, I decided I wanted to repost this article I wrote here on March 5, 2011.)

One of the strange components of acting is, well, the basic idea of acting -- accepting pay to spend your days pretending, like being an undercover spy or a hooker. But what happens when the public won’t let an actor leave a role behind? What if you have a ghost that never leaves you? Do you let typecasting ruin your career, do you roll with it and be the ghost, do you try to do anything you can to bury the ghost for good?

Oddly enough, I got to thinking about this in regards to the ‘60s TV pop group, The Monkees, and an announcement this past week that three of the group would reunite for a tour this year. The four original members – Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, and Mike Nesmith – either had the best timing or the worst, depending on your view.  “The Monkees” were developed for NBC-TV by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider as a weekly series based loosely on the Beatles’ sunny/snarky personality-defined pop of “A Hard Day’s Night.” There had yet to be a group that had stepped into the “American Beatles” role, though many had hoped, tried, and failed. Everyone at that point was scrambling to hook into the Beatles’ magic, and millions. So a TV series, which served as a marketing platform, was written and a “group” formed via open call audition.



"The Monkees" TV Show opening and end credits



It was destined to succeed, because of kids like me. I LOVED the Monkees! Their music was very good, adorable import Brit Davy Jones broke the Cute-O-Meter, and the pacing, look, and dialogue of the show seemed fast and fresh. I wasn’t looking into artistic integrity; I was 4 1/2 years old! I watched the program faithfully, and badgered my parents to buy me the 45s as each came out as well as all the products the group was required per contract to pitch me. I bought Monkees coloring books and View Master reels and gum trading cards and comic books. I made goo-goo eyes at on-screen Davy Jones, and wondered if he was worth pitching Paul McCartney for as my future husband. All the little kids, tweens, and teens powered “The Monkees” to success – the mid- and tail-sections of the Baby Boomers.


The show was also destined to fail with a resounding crash within two years. One reason for the demise of the franchise was the year “The Monkees” debuted on TV: Fall 1966. If the show had been delivered a full year or two earlier, it would not have so quickly run into the creative differences and audience turn-around that it did -- once again, because of the Beatles. In 1964 when the Beatles made their iconic entry into the States and “A Hard Day’s Night” was released, the pop music business was still in the hands of the old school Brill Building, Tin Pan Alley type of operation. Most artists were not songwriters, nor expected to be. Many played no instruments. The record company team and agents and managers were expected to find appropriate songs from “pro” writers, bring in session musicians to fill the holes or replace less-than-perfect group members on recordings, and groom the image with rehearsed press quotes. But by ’66, heavy hands-on formulaic pop stars were fading fast, replaced by the growing expectation that ALL groups should write and perform their own material, and “do their own thing,” as the Beatles had. The slicksters in the industry were seen as hopelessly uncool, from another era, and definitely a representation of “The Man,” and The Man was having real generational issues then.

The Monkees themselves, front-end Baby Boomers, almost immediately ran headlong into the difficulties caused by the weirdness of portraying a band, but not being a band, and being musicians and wanting to actually participate with choice in their recordings, but being treated like actors in a very long commercial jingle. Each of them chose to sign a contract to be a Monkee, seemingly with very little foresight into exactly what that would mean. What do you do when you are singing on “Last Train To Clarksville” as “Mickey Dolenz” and not Mickey Dolenz without the quotes? That’s still your name, your voice, your face…but you are owned. You remain “Mickey” even when you aren’t that Mickey. The guys made strong attempts to represent themselves as who they really were on their records, but it was an uphill battle that in the end was too hard to fight.

So, yes, I helped to ruin the Monkees. The teens were going along with the Beatles again to the harder and more individualistic sounds of “Magical Mystery Tour” and “The White Album.” It was the little kids like me who were still little in 1968 when  “The Monkees” went off the air, and I was crushed. I still loved pop singles and was totally not OK with the Beatles having facial hair. Little comic-clutching Kool-Aid-stained-mouthed kiddies were not groovy then, unless you were one of The Banana Splits. I remember reading in 16 Magazine how the Monkees’ show was being canceled and how we all needed to write NBC and call our local TV stations to protest, and I asked my brother to write a letter for me while I dictated. I can’t remember now if he did it, but I’m sure I was plenty obnoxious about asking. It stayed on in Saturday syndication for quite some time, but the world had changed. The snappy fun of “A Hard Day’s Night” lived on in “Laugh-In,” and not so much in music.


Peter Tork was the first to bail from the Monkees, buying out his contract at a huge financial price in 1969. The other three continued on for awhile, with Mike Nesmith leaving next, and Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones – the two “actors” of the four – stayed on until the franchise was completely dead. I have somewhat mixed feelings about them now. On one hand, each signed up voluntarily for the Monkees Army, each took some pretty hefty checks home, and each became famous, which we can assume they all wanted. But they have each been so burdened with the criticism of being phony, musically-illegitimate candy floss. It’s not at all fair. Each one of the group were talented, but not in ways that were going to mesh well together in the real world, especially after the series had ended but the contracts for recording were still in force. Take a listen to this performance from Nesmith, Dolenz, and Jones from “The Johnny Cash Show.” After you get over thinking that “Whoa, the Monkees were on the Johnny Cash Show, “ you can hear...it’s lovely.


None of the four were ever able to be bigger than the Monkees, in the same way that Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney will never just be individuals – they will be Beatles first and foremost forever. The Monkee men have come together a couple times over the years, or a few of them at a time anyway, but rancor has seemed to rule the day. Not a surprise. They didn’t come together naturally; why should they be expected to ever gel? Cynics could answer “money,” because there’s a chunk of that in reunion tours these days. Idealists could answer “shared history,” because like the Beatles, only those four guys know exactly what it was like to be a Monkee.

1966 is a long, long time ago now. All the Monkees are AARP-aged. Their hits are still played and played and played on the radio, and people still love them. For all the good and bad of the experience,  however hard it was to haul ghosts around all these years, it would be nice if these gents could remember that music outlasts us all, and brings great happiness and comfort to the world. Wear your idealist Monkees t-shirt proudly, I say! 

Davy Jones on "The Brady Bunch," 1971




DIRTBOMBS, NEON, ELVIS, THEE OH SEES, & ME: BRUISE CRUISE 2012 PART THREE

In Part One and Part Two of Bruise Cruise 2012, I survived (and totally loved) two sweaty, manic garage punk nights of pre-cruise Kickoff Party Shows at The Stage in Miami. But at last...it's time to GET ON THE BOAT! Cabinmates and new pals Rob and Stacy and I packed up our bags on Friday, February 10th for the Port of Miami and the massive Carnival Imagination cruise ship, which would hold 500 of us Bruisers, 1500 regular Cruisers, and 920 crew members on a long weekend roundtrip to Nassau, Bahamas. Holy ship!

It's kind of impossible to take in the size and scope of one of these ships until you are right up next to one.  At 855 feet long, 103 feet tall, and 70,367 gross tons, it's just ridiculously huge and overwhelmingly imposing. With our new passports in hand, the boarding process went smoothly, and we found ourselves on the gangway to the ship peering up into the ship's windows for a first glance inside. None of us had ever been on a cruise ship before.

"Oh, look," I remarked to Stacy, "Neon." You want neon? The Carnival Imagination HAS IT!

















COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH *ZAPPA* COUGH COUGH COUGH

My day was spent like this:

"COUGHCOUGHCOUGHCOUGHCAAAAAAAAAAAACAKCAKCAKCAKRRRRRRPPPPTTCOUGHCOUGHCOUGHCOUGHCOUGHCAAAAAAAAA..."

ad infinitum.

So today my poor phlegm-drenched lungs and I bring you this cool little rock novelty -- a 1967 Ludens Cough Drops commercial with music done by none other than Frank Zappa, who was paid $2000 for his work by the animator. It won that year's Clio Award for "Best Use Of Sound."

I don't know if Ludens is in business now, but if you want to bring me a box of those cherry ones, however old they are, I'll take 'em.



1967 Ludens Cough Drops Commercial

MARTINI SCORSESE, DISINTEGRATING DRUMSET, & ABRAHAM'S ASS: BRUISE CRUISE PART TWO

Continuing on with fab Bruise Cruise coverage from PART ONE, we find ourselves back again at The Stage in Miami for the second night of Kickoff Party shows, and the lineup is KILLAH KOOL: Jacuzzi Boys, The Soft Pack, King Khan & The Shrines, Thee Oh Sees, and Fucked Up. Ohboyohboyohboy!!

























GUEST POST: THE INTERNET FRIEND

(I woke up this morning to find this in my email inbox. I hope all of you are fortunate enough have a friend like this in your lives. Amazing. PS. Stacy didn't mention that I commandeered her son's room, probably gave her entire family a cold, that I take an hour or more to get ready to do anything, and constantly whined about coffee. We must keep some balance here.)


The Internet Friend
by Guest Poster Stacy B.


There are many many reasons why having my internet best friend become one of my real best friends has improved my life, but i thought i would create a stream of consciousness list to eleven about Marianne, so you can understand her better. You see, most blokes, you know would make a list to ten. But for Marianne Sp we need that extra push over the cliff…

1. Within 3 minutes of meeting Marianne she said to me, "Look at my motherfucking hair!" Best Friends Foreva as the kids say.
2. I have witnessed Marianne Sp sleeping in a suspended crib on the Good Ship Bruise Cruise. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen.
3. We have experienced together the joy of the greatest Pina Colada ever made on the Bahamian Island of Nassau. Even as close friends I don't think either one of us would have shared one sip with the other. In fact, if she tried, I would have scratched her eyes out.
4.There is not one hour of the day that one of us is not up. I am an obnoxiously early riser and she never goes to sleep, so, we are watching and taking care of the world for all of you. Sleep soundly knowing that.
5. If you ever fall down drunk near us, even if we only hear you fall, we will both laugh until someone pees.
6. Her children are a dream.
7. She is the hardest working photographer in rock and roll, even as a photographer myself I don't feel the need to bring my gear…she's got it covered.
8. Even though she's a big badass, her midwest comes shining through. We may not cut in line, even when we HAVE TO GET OFF THIS BOAT!
9. I AM the designated driver!
10. We will both never wear a bikini! Also, we are both not into Girls, although I love the band!
11. One day, me and my friend will RULE THE WORLD!

Now go out and find your own internet friend!

(photo by Monica McGivern)


I GOT ON A BOAT & LIVED TO TELL: BRUISE CRUISE 2012, PART ONE

I wasn't exactly the kind of person you'd expect to attend, for a lot of different reasons.

I live about as far away as it's possible to get in the Continental United States from the Port of Miami.

I have three kids at home, a very large dog, and Adult Responsibilities.

My passport expired in 1997.

I'm about double the age of the average attendee.

I can't wear my own old '80s clothes ironically, which excludes me from being a hipster.

I have no tattoos, nor have ever desired to acquire any.

I stopped smoking in 1981.

I have never, ever wanted to go on a cruise before.

Yet, despite all those daunting facts, nothing was gonna stop me from GETTING ON THE BOAT. Yes, kiddies, I'm here to tell you that I did indeed TOTALLY attend the 2nd annual floating garage-punk-comedy-craziness music festival known as Bruise Cruise! Why did I go? Are you kidding me? Look at the musical lineup!

























TOTEM PAL

OK, I'd say MissNine has outdone herself here.


IPHONE PHOTO ROUNDUP: BEACHY KEEN

Progress made today on getting more Bruise Cruise photos processed and up so's I can write about it, but not enough progress so's I can write about it, so's I'm gonna put up some more purty photos from our trip to South Florida. This time, the theme is The Beach, and these pics are from Hollywood and Key Biscayne. I might also inform you that SoFla seagulls are VERY PROACTIVE. The More You Know.












 




SPAM POEMS 16

(Oh, come on, Spambot! Like I couldn't publish this masterwork from you!)


When Trudy and Mark were alone, Mark confided, 
"You know I've been loyal to my overwhelming. " 
As she approached Mike's place, her heart started pounding wildly again 
An abandoned rhythm to match 
Always on a pedestal above mortals.  


Seething sound of flakes seemed to press in on all sides of the car at was you?


" you." 



PHOTOS: THE 33 1/3S, BLUE BAR, HOLLYWOOD, FL. 2/17/12

Forgive the lateness of my post today -- long day of travel from Florida back to Seattle-ish. All family members are now tucked in to their beddies at this hour of the night, except for Mama, who can be found processing photos and smiling at a glowing laptop. Rob, Kenny, and Pete make up Hollywood, Florida's very own garage punk rock n' roll band, The 33 1/3s, and I had a blast seeing them play in a tiny local bar with family and friends cheering them on. I had rehearsed with them earlier in my trip and was very timidly thinking about singing the Who's "I Can't Explain" as a Guest 33 1/3, but my hacky cold and nerves got the better of me. I got two dedications from the stage, which made me all verklempt and undoubtedly confused the crowd, which is always a good thing. I did bring my camera, if not my nerve, so I bring you these photos, and now will fling myself into my own beddy, with a huge sigh.

(The 33 1/3s Flickr set)






POST-MIDNIGHT CAT FIGHT

When there is no internet to be had in Flo-da and we little people named Dena are already halfway to bed, the only reasonable solution is to share with all of you lovely people this very funny video that showed up in my YouTube recommendations. Because, after all, who doesn't love a good cat fight? The director, Ornsack (Dave Brain) also has a tumblr, here, filled with more pugilistic feline entertainments. You should check it out. I believe Marianne would approve.

MINI-PHOTO ESSAY: VIZCAYA, FLOWERS, & 15-YEAR-OLD GIRLS

Today's outing on our family vacation to South Florida was to the grand and gorgeous Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami. The estate was built in 1916 by Very Rich Person James Deering, and is now owned by Miami-Dade County and is an official National Historic Landmark. On this beautiful President's Day afternoon, we found the grounds not only lovely, but seriously taken over by young girls celebrating their Quincea├▒eras in fancy formal gowns, models, and brides surrounded by packs of pro photographers and their erstwhile assistants holding reflectors and other gear. It was easier getting around the interior of the mansion with all the ropes and gates and no-no touch signs that the huge grounds for trying to avoid stepping in shots! Wild.

Anyway, another no-no was any photography inside the estate, so me and the point n' shoot were relegated to the great outdoors. Click on any photos to enlarge and please to enjoy!





IPHONE PHOTO ROUNDUP: THE FORT LAUDERDALE WATER TAXI DAY

'I wanna get on a boat!"

That was Mr13's response to the question I asked him yesterday, which was, "What do you want to do?" Fair enough -- we'll find you a boat, buddy! Our Florida hotel concierge had a $450 boat rental she wanted to sell us, which we firmly declined, and then she lost interest in us. Fair enough -- our boat experience instead was the much more reasonably priced Water Taxi, which runs from Hollywood to Fort Lauderdale back and forth on the Intracoastal Waterway. So, on a lovely 80-degree day we set out on our modest boat adventure.





GUEST VIDEO: THE POOL

Our family vacation has been immeasurably enhanced by both perfect sunny weather and the wonderful company of new friends. One such friend, young Master Ethan B., took my Panasonic DMC-TS3 for a spin through our hotel pool and I thought his photo/video efforts suited this cool psychedelic groove by White Fence perfectly. Cameo appearances by Mr13 and MissNine included, no extra charge.

Thanks, E!

"The Pool," video/photos by Ethan B., music by White Fence





AS PROMISED...NOW UP ON KEXP...BRUISE CRUISE 2012!

Woo hoo! So excited to share with you the best of my Bruise Cruise 2012 photos with the sweet wordsmithery of fellow Seattle writer/photog Suzi Pratt, now up on KEXP! At this year's Deck the Hall Ball as Suzi and I were in the photo pit getting ready to shoot, I, with many grand gestures and exclamations, told Suzi I'd be attending the 2nd annual garage punk rock Miami-to-Nassau boat concert/extravaganza. I used even more gestures and exclamations to try to convince her to attend as well, and was so thrilled when she told me she gave in to general insanity and booked her passage! She ended up directly across the hall from me on the ship, and we had a blast. Suzi so graciously stepped in last minute to write and format the post for KEXP, and I owe her at the very least a makeshift shrine consisting of a fruity drink, earplugs, a neon tube, and a sparkly Speedo.

Over the five days of the event (2 pre-show concerts in Miami, 1 day in Nassau, and 2 days on the ship), I shot thousands of photos. It was challenging, exhausting, and a total blast, with fantastic performances, weirdness everywhere, and great company with old and new pals. As always, YOU are always on my mind and in my heart when I am photographing anything. I want you to see what I see, go where I go, and hopefully feel what it was like to be there, whether you were a fellow Bruiser, wished you could be one, or prefer your insanity from a safe distance! I'll write more about the experience when I return home to Seattle-ish next week, and put up more photos, too.

For now, please to enjoy Bruise Cruise 2012 HERE on KEXP and HERE on my KEXP Flickr set!




IPHONE PHOTO ROUNDUP: SOFLA CHILLIN'

Another mellow day at our SoFla hotel with Sick 1 and Sick 2 (MissNine and myself), but not so sick that we couldn't get out for two lovely meals, and a little pool time. As usual, iPhone cam takes you where I go, but without the cold germs.

Goodyear Blimp!

It was weird to see these seagulls drinking the water...then I figured out it was a saline water pool, derr.
































Cool shirt, bro. Eat your waffle!
































NO PROBLEM.









IPHONE PHOTO ROUNDUP: HOW I SPENT MY SNOTCATION

Well, OF COURSE it would NEVER HAPPEN that I would have a family vacation without someone getting sick! Winding down from Bruise Cruise here in Florida, I immediately came down with a cold, and poor MissNine has an even worse one, fever and all. She even threw up in the rental car parking lot late last night, which I think is totally fair because the company didn't have the car model they SPECIFICALLY GUARANTEED US. Take THAT! So rather than jaunting about all merrily in the sunshine today, we had a very low-key day. I finished up my photos and sent them off to the station (I will let you cats know when they are up), everyone (else) slept late, we went out briefly for brunch and a trip to Wal-Mart (shudder), and ate dinner in the hotel room.

When I opened up the hotel curtains this morning, MissNine, instead of shutting the curtains, put on her sunglasses and went back to sleep, gangsta-style.
























VIDEO: THE ONLY THING I'VE LOOKED AT FOR TWO SOLID DAYS...BRUISE CRUISE SPEEDSHOW!

As planned, I've spent the last two days SOLID processing photos from the wonderful 2012 Bruise Cruise here in sunny Hollywood, Florida. Almost done now, but this site needs to be fed too, so here's a video of ALL the photos on my Lightroom. You can pretend you went to Bruise Cruise in all of one minute and ten seconds! If you are a creative and quick pauser, you might find a few photos that will NEVER be published, just sayin'! 


(Music courtesy of the awesome Mikal Cronin, one of the artists onboard.)




IPHONE PHOTO ROUNDUP: THE BEST POST-BOAT BREAKFAST IN MIAMI

I HAVE RETURNED FROM BRUISE CRUISE! I know, hang on to your nitzels everyone! Excitement Time! My gratitude bouquet goes to Dena for tending to the site while I was on the boat; you were in excellent hands. I will be working here in Flo-da like a diligent pro-feshun-ul person the next few days processing all the photos I took for a very special radio station, but here today you get to see Stop One as we left the ginormous Carnival Imagination sea tank in search of FOOD. My hosts Rob and Stacy said that the S & S Diner, located between the Winwood and Overtown neighborhoods in Miami, had the best breakfast, and a hot delicious breakfast is GOOD when it's 8AM, you are fresh off a cruise ship, and would like to sleep on some large banana pancakes.

I had Eggs Benedict, the creamiest, most yummy grits in the world, two wonderful cups of coffee, and some really big bites of Rob's banana pancakes. MMM MMM MMM!

Back to Photoshop for me! See you tamarah!















Stacy took these two!