Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Big Stink Over the Beatles Concert 50 Years Ago

MINNEAPOLIS — The Beatles left Minneapolis this date 50 years ago and never looked back, at least until Paul returned last year for a sold out concert.  The big stink was over girl fans who breached security after the Met Stadium concert and entered the hotel rooms of the Beatles.  (I am sure they were gathering autographs from the mop head singers.)  A representative of the rock group’s entourage said Minneapolis was a “narrow minded town” when police demanded that the girl leave Paul’s room or they would break down the door.  Indeed!
On the anniversary radio special the police chief commented about the welfare of the “kids” and wished the Fab Four would never return to the Twin Cities.  And they never did.  
The anniversary show aired last night on WDGY included the press conference for the concert that was “hosted” by WDGY but that didn’t prevent cross town rival KDWB from horning in on the action.  WDGY DJ Johnny Dollar was the anchor for the radio coverage of the concert. 
Dennis Mitchell’s anniversary show was actually a tape from a Hollywood Bowl concert with screaming Beatle fans who are now grannies. 
The show includes a promo for “Help,” the movie.

I was living in Berkley at the time and not a Beatle fan.

Thursday, August 06, 2015


At first I thought the Jake Gyllenhaal film noir “Night Crawler was a commentary on the sad state of broadcast news, but now I think otherwise.  Writer-director Dan Gilroy actually provides a commentary on our society where a crazed sociopath can swim nicely with the capitalist sharks and profit handsomely in the business world.
I ask myself, who is the greater monster in this sad story?  The bug eyed gaunt zombie news photographer Lou Bloom played by Gyllenhaal is the initial focus of our contempt, but things change moving along.  The aging TV station gatekeeper Nina played by Rene Russo may be the real villain in the film as she aids the demented Lou to provide her with blood and gore video that will boost the news program ratings.  The Nina character resembles Bette Davis as “Baby Jane” with more eye makeup than Tammy Faye ever contemplated.
There’s some kvetching about what she will and won’t do with the photographer sexually, but otherwise they get along swimmingly.
Gilroy, in an interview on the DVD, provides a perspective on the Lou character who spews Management by Objective nonsense and other business school dictums to his homeless sidekick employee.  Gilroy said that Lou is a product of the generation who spends a lifetime glued to the internet with little socializing.  This explains his lack of compassion and humanity in part.  So if it’s a slow news day one needs to stage manage events with a macabre twist and sell it to Channel 6 for the 11 pm news.

The real star of “Night Crawler” may be the 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT that is but a blur of red flashing before my eyes but I love that blur.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Documentary Revives VHS Nostalgia

Sentimental saps like me are holding onto their VHS tapes and that subculture is pictured in Josh Johnson’s engaging documentary “Rewind This!”   I paid $230 for a Hitachi VCR in 1997 and most recently I bought a used Panasonic for $3.  Prices have dropped.
Afficianados of magnetic tape point to classics made by backyard Spielbergs like David  (the Rock) Nelson who claims “Dracula vs Sadam Hussein” as his VHS production. 
VHS attracted fans of chunk blower bootlegs and titles like “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” that are much appreciated by nerds who cruise flea markets in hopes of getting lucky.
I sometimes wonder as well why I persist with VHS given that it takes two players to watch the full array of my limited collection.  
With YouTube I have dispensed with many cassettes but even that’s a problem finding anyone who wants them or has a working VCR.  
One observer reminds us that in a few years 2 out of 10 tapes in our collections will be unplayable.  Since VHS opened a new world of movie viewing for many of us, it’s difficult to break the habit.  And I am aided and abetted by a friend who still records on VHS.

Diehards detect a resurrection of the beloved VHS, with Mongo now selling new tapes.  Whatever.