- Jeffrey James Ircink
- Greendale, Wisconsin, United States
- Ex-producer of THE REALLY FUNNY HORNY GOAT INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, playwright, actor, singer, outdoorsman, blogger, amateur photog, observer & bitcher, Beach Boys groupie, Brett Favre fanatic, lover of everything Celtic and forever a member in the Tribe of HAIR. Spent most of my life in the Village of Waterford, a small town just outside of the Milwaukee suburbs. After 12 years in North Hollywood, Bel Air and Culver City, Cali, I moved back to Wisconsin in September 2009. No regrets - of moving to LA OR moving back to WI. Have traveled to Belfast, Ireland, Dayton (OH), Manhattan, Seattle, Cedar Rapids, New York, Miami and Sydney, Australia with my plays. Moved back into the Village of Greendale where I was born. Life is good.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Halloween means watching scary movies. And, at least in my opinion, there is no scarier movie than The Exorcist.
Watch the movie if you get a chance. Turn the volume up. And leave a night light on - just in case.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:04 PM
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:03 PM
That, according to Linus of Peanuts fame, is the deciding factor on whether or not The Great Pumpkin will make an appearance in your pumpkin patch.
But here’s the real reason I’m bringing this show up. You know the part when the kids go trick or treating…
“I got five pieces of candy!”
“I got a chocolate bar!”
“I got a quarter!”
“I got a rock.”
What’s up with the rocks? It’s the same thing at every home Charlie Brown visits. Why? Did the neighborhood band together after having a collective aghast over Charlie Brown's ghost costume faux paux (too many holes) and decide - rocks? What was Charles Schultz trying to tell us? Did he have a point? It’s not like I lose sleep over it but after watching this cartoon for I don’t know how many times since the mid-60’s, it gets me thinking. It’s sort of cruel, in a way - this little boy getting rocks instead of candy while trick or treating. How traumatic for a child. Halloween's version of Christmas' lump of coal. Was Charlie Brown bad behind our backs? I never saw one comic strip of television show that showed him misbehaving. Was Schultz trying to tell us through his cartoon that life isn’t all fun and games? That life can be cruel? That we don’t always get what we want? Was he trying to show how strong of character Charlie Brown was/is – with the rocks and the drawing the pumpkin face on the back of his head and the constant berating and laughing at and pulling of the football just as he’s about to kick it??
Perhaps Charlie Brown was asking for it - for getting the football jerked out from under him – time after time after time. Maybe he asked for everything he got because he was an easy target. Maybe Charlie Brown is representative of the common man – facing struggle after struggle – and yet, enduring in the hopes that one day he will overcome.
Or did our loveable Charles M. Schultz have a devious, teasing side that he was only able to illustrate through his beloved Peanuts?
I went on the official website for the show and scored 11/12 on the trivia contest. That makes me an expert on the show – good for me. Watch the video if you haven't already. Who's been giving you rocks lately? Well - Halloween's getting close. Maybe it's time for a little payback.
The biography of Charles Schultz, Schultz and Peanuts, by David Michaelis, is out on bookshelves and reinforces what apparently was already known about Schultz - that "cranky" was his normal state. The response of the Schultz family is not good. “Preposterous,” and “not true” are the verdicts of Monte, one of the late cartoonist's five children. It's no secret that the characters in the Peanuts strip were based on real people in Schultz's life, or that the endless travails, frustrations and disappointments of its main character, Charlie Brown - unrequited in love and never able to kick that darned football - were largely his own. Michaelis paints a picture of a consistently depressed and bitter Schultz, a man who held back affection from those who loved him, especially his children and his wives.
No matter. My love for The Peanuts and Charles Schultz is unrequited. Schultz passed away in 2000. It would have been nice to see Charlie Brown kick that football...just once.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 9:59 PM
Brett Favre is again nominated (4th nomination, 2 wins) for FedEx Air Player of the Week for games played in Week 8 of the NFL season. Brett led the Packers to an overtime win last night against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football at Denver - in dramatic fashion, I might add (see post below). See Brett's highlights here: http://www.packers.com/multimedia/video/recent/
Look under Denver game, October 29 - Favre highlights. Two really nice TD bombs you have to watch.
And James Jones is nominated for the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week for his TD and reception yards for the same game. Jones caught a 79 yard TD pass and ended up with 3 receptions for 107 yards.
"He's old. He should retire and quit embarrassing himself. He's selfish - he's just doing it for the records. He has no arm strength left. He's hurting his team (which is 6-1)."
- Everybody but Green Bay Packer fans (Ok, there's a few Packer fans who thought that as well - but they're idiots, too)
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:52 AM
Favre? Shucks, that's just Huck Finn doin' what he does best. Havin' a little fun. Yee haww!
(Brett also had a 79 yard pass play for a TD earlier in the game. And both passes were 41 and 50+ yards in the air before being caught.) So much for losing any arm strength, hey critics?
Jennings with the Pack, after his 82 yard TD in overtime.Next Week: Pack (6-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (4-3)
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 3:15 AM
Monday, October 29, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
This is an excerpt from the essay, "To the Person Sitting in the Darkness", which Mark Twain wrote in 1901 - in response to the U.S. involvement in the Philippine-American War. The "person" was the country, The Phillipines. It was Twain's tongue and cheek way of protesting United States' imperialism and its annextion of the Phillipines. Twain had previously written:
"...I have read carefully the treaty of Paris [which ended the Spanish-American War], and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land."
The exact excerpt you're seeing was placed in the programs of the musical HAIR when it was running in New York City in the late 60's...undoubtedly to call attention to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Click on it to enlarge it. Read it. Sound familiar today?
If you're wondering where I stand on the issue - I'm not entirely sure. I believe the U.S. needs to protect its interests overseas and be the "Big Brother", in a way, helping to keep other countries in check, sort of say. I also think that we often stick our nose in places it doesn't belong - for whatever the reason. With all due respect to President Bush and the Office of the Presidnet of the United States, I don't believe he's as effective as a leader as some of his predecessors. We have problems with our country that need dealing with. Yet, we're spending billions of dollars on a war in Iraq that the American people, as a whole, DO NOT WANT; a cause our soldiers are dying for and a cause where a mutual resolution between Iraq and the U.S. seems as far-fetched as my worker's compensation suit getting settled in my lifetime. The U.S. sends millions of dollars to countries overseas who need our help for this disaster and that conflict and whatever else, yet we can't seem to get our own house in order - the city of New Orleans isn't where it should be since Katrina; millions of Americans don't have proper health care; we have an immigration crisis that is not getting fixed - something I blame as much on our politicians and Corporate America as I do on the illegals themselves. And yet illegal aliens come here to have anchor babies and get free healthcare and other benefits and that's allowed by our government because it's the humanitarian thing to do.
This country has problems - and still it's the best country in the world. But this country has serious problems and unless we do something now...unless our politicians (who I believe are a pustule this country can't do without and that's why I believe the party system as we know it is archaic) quit playing party politics and do something that's for the good of the country and not their own legacy, this U.S. will resemble every poor, 3rd world country we're helping or have ever helped - only who will help us when we need it?
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 7:18 PM
My exclusive interview with James Rado, co-author and creator of the legendary musical, HAIR, can be read below (October 25th post) AND you can listen to the audio on GABCAST, located on the right panel.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 4:28 PM
Friday, October 26, 2007
* John Travolta set to star in the remake of the 1974 flick, The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3. He'll reprise the role originated by Robert Shaw (Jaws, A Man for All Seasons) as the leader of a foursome that hijacks a Gotham subway and ransoms its passengers. I'll take the Shaw version over Travolta's any day. You gonna argue with "Quint" from Jaws?
* Robert DeNiro to star in Frankie Machine, the story of a retired mob hitman who runs a bait and tackle and is pulled back into the business (Michael Corleone, sound familiar?). I love DeNiro but a mob guy - ain't that a stretch??
* AskMen.com conducted a poll and one million people voted on the "manliest" men. The soccer play Beckham was voted #1. Justin Timberlake was #5. Really? "Manly" and "Justin Timberlake" have never been in any sentence I've uttered, so I'm not sure who voted. Suffice it to say I would never "ask Men" anything about being a men. Ever (I never did anyway).
* Two television shows in fear of losing me as a viewer: Grey's Anatomy and Heroes. Never cared for Sandra Oh and it's the same shit every week and my attention is waning. I find myself fast forwarding to all the Katherine Heigl scenes anyway. Same with Heroes - I hate the villian (I know you're supposed to hate the villain, but I don't like that actor) and I read that Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) is joining the cast as a new hero. Don't like Kristen Bell either. And I'm fast forwarding to all the Ali Larter scenes.
* If you're not watching Californication on Showtime (and you have Showtime), you're missing out. Smart writing. Clever plots lines. David Duchovny (X Files) is excellent and the supporting cast is just as good. It's filmed on location right down the street in Venice, CA.
* Mad Men need to learn how to smoke. I enjoy watching this new show on AMC, about the ad biz in NYC during the early 60's - I spent some time in an in-house ad agency and loved it and have always been fascinated by that industry. As you can imagine, there's a lot of smoking throughout the show - it was a reflection of the times and the agency represents a cigarette manufacturer. Problem is there's smoking in just about every scene which gets very annoying AND a number of the actors look like they've never smoked, particularly the lead, John Hamm, who plays Don Draper. Not knowing how to hold or smoke a cigarette is good for your health - not for the credibility of the characters these actors portray. Just an FYI, John.
* The walls have ears. Halle Berry is the lastest celeb to speak off the cuff. She made a comment on Jay Leno that could be considered (probably) offensive by many Jews. Not sure what backlash, if any, will come of it, but it's just a matter of time before the Anti-Defamation League (Jewish) admonishes Berry (and she's black and should know better). Is it just me or can't a guy take a piss anymore without first getting permission from the Jews and the NAACP and the Mayans and PETA and whomever else deems my words or actions (or yours) as either appropriate or offensive. The Anti-Defamation League has recently published a report expressing its concern over various groups who are targeting illegal immigrants, afraid their tactics and rhetoric too closely resemble those of the KKK and other Nazi factions/hate organizations. One of the groups the Anti-Defamation League listed is Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee. The first two lines in their platform read:
ALIPAC supporters have a diverse range of opinions, yet we are united in the belief that more should be done to reduce illegal immigration.
ALIPAC supports those that legally immigrate, but we DO NOT support any amnesty, visa expansion, or "Guest Worker" program designed to reward illegal aliens or legalize their presence in the US.
Not sure what the Anti-Defamation League sees there that's wrong, but - well, they're the Anti-Defamation League...they can say anything, can't they.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 1:56 PM
Twenty Major is an Irish blogger in Dublin. This is a recent post:
“Here, Twenty”, said Dirty Dave, “why exactly do they go on about California being such a great place to live? I mean, it strikes me that it’s a bit shit.”
“Well, look at those old forest fires at the moment. Not even Lloyd Cole himself could have forseen forest fires like those. A million people being evacuated, thousands of homes being burnt. It’s not good, is it?”
“It is not.”
“And with so much wealth in California you’d think they’d install some kind of sprinkler system to help when things like this happen. It’s not exactly the first time, is it?”
“So you have an administration that knows there’s a problem but doesn’t nothing to prevent it. And as we know prevention is better than The Cure. Even Robert Smith would agree with that. Then there’s the earthquakes. That there San Andreas fault is a cunt of a fault. The whole place could fall into the sea any minute. Yet people still want to live there.”
“They are quite rare, in fairness.”
“So are eruptions on Mount St Helens but you wouldn’t find people living on the side of it. Don’t they also have problems with rolling blackouts?”
“I think the things have calmed down since the Rodney King incident”, said Pete.
“No, you jamrag. The electricity goes off all the time, like someone has forgotten to feed the meter.”
“Then there are celebrities everywhere you look. There’s a celebrity as governor. Arnold fucking Schwarznegger of all people. What the fuck is that about? You can’t turn around with bumping into some blonde actress or wannabe film star. And as we all know these are the most insipid, vapid people on earth. It’s good that they’re all in one place, like some kind of leper colony, but you wouldn’t go live in a leper colony, would you Twenty?”
“No, I don’t suppose I would.”
“The main cities. LA is a smoggy hellhole where you could be drive-by-shooted any minute and San Francisco is no place for anyone who likes to get around by bicycle.”
“It’s a compelling argument.”
“So why would anyone go live in a place on the brink of natural disaster inhabited by cunts?”
“They have some nice weather, I suppose.”
“Oh yeah, forgot about that. That explains everything.”
Twenty Major's blog can be found at: http://twentymajor.net/
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:46 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Finally! The other HAIR interview I've been promising - James Rado, co-author and creator of HAIR! For the backstory on HAIR, check out my earlier post: http://jeffircink.blogspot.com/2007/09/blog-post.html. And coming soon - listen for my interview with Jim in its entirety on GABCAST (see right panel)! Now, let's talk with James Rado:
Hey - Jeff again. As you might already know from previous posts, this month – October – marks the 40th anniversary of the Broadway opening of HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical –
– the Off-Broadway opening…
– the Off-Broadway opening, thank you – James Rado, who is my guest. He is the co-author of HAIR, which became a smash hit, running on Broadway for six years and I’m honored to be speaking with Jim from...are you in New York?
Well, I’m near New York – New Jersey.
New Jersey. Well, hello Jim. Thanks for being here. I really appreciate it.
Yes. You’re welcome.
Above: Jim, Jerry and Galt McDermott, composer of HAIR. Photo courtesy of Michael Butler's website: http://www.michaelbutler.com/hair/.
YouTube has a video of the West Coast cast on The Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour – I wasn't aware this video existed for the public's consumption and watching you and Jerry Ragni – who was the co-author (you guys wrote the book and lyrics and conceived the idea, and Galt McDermott wrote the music) - you looked like you were having a lot of fun in that you were living in the moment. How has HAIR changed in the last 40 years?
Well it seems I’m still living that HAIR moment in a way. It goes on…everyday there’s another HAIR aspect that comes to light or some development that someone such as yourself, who’s calling me to ask some new insight into something that’s so very old. But it seems to have a life of its own and I’m just surfing with it.
People who aren’t former cast members like myself (who did it in 1994) or who aren’t “into” HAIR might not know that you originated the role of Richard in the Broadway play, The Lion in Winter and you and Jerry did a number of other things prior to HAIR, yet all these years later, you’re still associated with HAIR. Is there a downside to that?
No. I think it enabled me to become a hermit, in a way, so – not really, I’m kind of kidding, but I really gave up on the idea of becoming an actor at that point only because I wanted to create scripts and my acting was carried out in creating scenes. Jerry and I wrote another show, besides HAIR, called Sun (an environmental musical about politics, pollution, the rain forests being cut down, and the like), and it’s a wonderful, comic piece, very pertinent to today. I think eventually it will see the light of day…I hope.
I look forward to hearing more about that project, and I have some other questions about projects you’re currently working on besides Sun. Now, the play within the musical HAIR, as well as the lyrics and music, really spoke to what was going on in our country at the time and with the youth culture - what they were experiencing, what they were feeling – you being a part of that. 40 years ago, what in particular, made you say, “We have to tell this story".?
Above: Playbill from The Cheetah in New York, the Off-Broadway venue where HAIR ran in 1967, prior to moving to Broadway. Photo courtesy of Michael Butler's website.
Well, the whole thing that we were experiencing – in the parks, in the streets, meeting the people, seeing the sudden outburst of hair from the heads of men. And this was all extremely exciting and theatrical, we thought, and would prove to be exciting on stage. That’s why we devised a story within this setting and with this hippy philosophy – this root of peace and love and a whole new kind of consciousness that was emerging out of the youth of things like LSD and so forth. It was just a tripped out period and we tried to dramatize it and I guess we were pretty successful at doing it. Recently it was in Central Park –
We had three performances there and 2,000 seats and it was absolutely stunning. The audience was absolutely so very moved by it, it seemed, and – yes, it was brilliant. I was just so amazed – it seems to work today. It worked at an emotional level more than Across the Universe – which I saw recently and which I loved, but I thought that by the end of Across the Universe it was kind of an apathetic reaction by the audience; there didn’t seem to be any kind of welling up of some kind of emotional catharsis the way HAIR, which was created 40 years ago, elicited at the park a month ago or so.
Above: Jim and Jerry. Photo courtesy of Dagmar's site: http://home.flash.net/~akstudio/dagmar.html
When I did HAIR in 1994 – talking about that cathartic experience – I remember being on stage during the finale, singing “The Flesh Failures” and – I’m blanking…
“Let the Sunshine In”.
Yes – and I remember getting choked up on stage and realizing, for whatever reason – whether it was what the play or music was saying or what I was going through in the moment or what the emotion I had hoped the audience was experiencing – I got choked up and thought, “Wait a second, Jeff, you have to sing here.” It was a very cathartic experience. It was very moving.
It’s actually a tragedy. It functions in the real Greek sense of a tragedy, and it’s funny, because it is a comedy in the earlier parts and it transforms into a tragedy; but what I think you felt was the classic cathartic experience of a tragedy.
LA premiere night ticket to HAIR, produced in part by Tommy Smothers (Smothers Brothers fame) and Ken Kragen (We Are the World, Hands Across America), who I know. Photo courtesy of Michael Butler's website.
The collaboration between you and Jerry Ragni and then between you two and Galt McDermott…I had heard that you heard a few melodies he put to your lyrics and immediately decided to work with him. Did you come to Galt with the songs in tow or did you have some songs completed and write some as you worked with Galt?
Basically it was all written. We did create some other things, I’m sure, as we went along, but the things that we heard that we liked (from Galt) were our lyrics that he had set to music.
Publicity photo from 1968-1969. Photo courtesy of Dagmar's website.
Speaking of lyrics, I’m only singing this to you because then I can say before I’m gone that I got to sing lyrics from HAIR to the co-author, so you’ll have to grant me that indulgence. (Jeff sings stanza from Donna):
“Oh, once upon a looking for Donna time she was a sixteen-year-old virgin,
Oh Donna, oh, oh Donna, oh, oh, oh, looking for my Donna.”
Who is Donna?
Donna is Italian, I think, and means, “lady” or “woman”, so she really represents Woman. But Donna was a real person to this hippy that we met one afternoon when we were – well, this is an example of a song that wasn’t written when we teamed up with Galt. We went out for lunch one day at The Public Theater when we were at rehearsals or maybe it was casting perhaps, and – I think we were already in rehearsal actually – and this…little bit older hippy with very long and ratty hair came up to us at the table where we were sitting…he had this gnarly tree branch with him, embedded in it were stones and coins and ribbons from various places he had been traveling around the world and he said that he was looking for his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Donna – “she got busted for her beauty” – that’s an actual quote from his mouth (and a lyric in the song). This is the girl he was looking for – the girl of his dreams. She had a tattoo and it was such a colorful description that we went back immediately and wrote the song.
I wasn’t sure if there was a story behind it but I had to ask and I wanted to sing to you –
It’s a real story.
I was fortunate to have sung the duet, “What A Piece of Work Is Man”, and we rocked the house. It’s such a poignant song and it comes at such an appropriate moment during the show. For those who don’t know, it’s from Hamlet. Did you know that or did you guys scour through Shakespeare and happen upon it?
Yes we knew that. We - I think Jerry pulled that out. It’s from that famous speech and we adapted it to a certain extent.
Well it’s a wonderful song.
And I enjoyed doing it. You know – I remember a lot of the lyrics from the show and I can sing many of the songs by heart. It still resonates with me and you can’t get it out of your head. Four or five of the songs that were in HAIR went on to become Top 40 hits on the radio. So if the public wasn’t aware of the musical, they were aware of some of your via the radio. When you hear one of your songs, does it just blow your mind –
– that they’re still playing the stuff?
Photo courtesy of James Rado's website.
Yah, I guess it does. Yah, my mind is blown every day. It’s quite a feat, I would say.
Because I always wanted to be a pop song writer. Even before I met Jerry, I was an aspiring pop song writer and I wanted my songs to be in the Top 40 and I wanted hit singles and I wrote a lot of songs and finally when HAIR came along, you know - I never thought in terms of suddenly those songs would become hits but they did and that was really exciting. I had always wanted to have that and suddenly I had it in abundance, you might say.
I especially like The Cowsills' version of HAIR, especially with that drum pitter-patter in the beginning…but I thought it was wonderful.
Yes…I thought so.
Before I forget I wanna tell any listeners that your website is http://www.hairthemusical.com/ and people can go there and read about the back-story of HAIR - there are pictures, videos. It’s really a wonderful site if you want the straight poop from the horse’s mouth, sort of say.
The last thing I wanted to ask you about – earlier you alluded to your musical, Sun – was The White House Haunted –
And Billy Earth?
Billy Earth is The White Haunted House now. I wrote the music for it; my turn had come to write a show in its entirely. My brother has co-authored the book with me.
I wrote music and lyrics.
When can we expect to hear more about that?
As soon as I get a producer who wants to put up the money for it. I think it’s great; it’s strong and powerful and funny and cathartic.
I’m sure it will be and I look forward to hearing more about it. Jim, I just wanted to tell you it’s really been an honor for me to talk to you. I’ve always said – even before I did HAIR – that my top three musicals were HAIR, West Side Story and – I can’t think of the third one, so maybe I’ll just say –
No, no –
That was before your time.
Yah – no, it was Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar).
And you know, oddly enough in looking back at past cast members who did HAIR, there was at that time in the late 60’s a lot of jumping around of actors who did HAIR, Superstar and West Side Story –
Above photo. Jim in the back, and sitting are Jerry and Galt. Photo courtesy of Michael Butler's website.
Well, West Side Story was a decade earlier.
Maybe - no it was Godspell. Godspell, Superstar and HAIR.
There you go. Yah – Godspell. Well I wanted to say it was nice speaking with you.
Yes. Thank you. I wish you the best, Jim. HAIR meant a lot to me – I think about it every day. I’m watching you right sing HAIR with Jerry on YouTube as we speak. It’s just a joy. You made my – I wouldn’t say “day”, maybe “year”, and I wish you the best on all your future projects.
Thank you. I made your century. Great!
There you go!
Alright. Nice speaking with you.
Nice speaking with you, too. Take care.
And I’ll be in touch and get a copy of this to you, OK?
Take care. Bye.
There he is - James Rado of HAIR. What a thrill. I could of talked to him all day (could you tell?). My interviewing skills need a tweek, but I got some cool stuff from Jim. Very nice man - very intelligent and well spoken. And he thought the name of my blog was very interesting. By the way, you can find some of his other plays, as well as some of mine, on the website: http://www.doollee.com/
Peace & Love.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 11:40 AM
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
At a recent Brett Favre press conference in Green Bay (Wednesday, 10/23), the question came up regarding Brett's four long passes that "were short" during the Packer win over the Redskins:
Q: "So what was the reason why you had those underthrows?"
A: "I'll say this on several of those balls, I thought when I threw the ball, I can honestly say that in my career it hasn't happened many times, but several of those balls, and I told Mike (McCarthy) and Tom (Clements) about it, I thought it was actually going to be overthrown and it ended up 10 yards shorter than where I had intended. Why? I have no idea. I know I can throw further than that and I know I can throw harder. But for whatever reason that day, it was, I don't want to say a misjudgment or a miscalculation on my part, I just threw it, thought, 'Boy I hope this is not overthrown.' And did I misjudge Sean Taylor's range? Eh, I still think had the ball ended up where I wanted it to, or where I thought it was going, I think we're OK. But, that's not happened to me very often. Don't write some story that, 'He's at the end of his rope now. He can't throw it.' That's probably what you're getting at - 'Favre's done.' I know where you're going...I understand.
Q: "Well, some people might suggest you don't have the same arm..."
A: "In that game? OK."
A: "It's a matter of opinion. But I challenge you to come out and catch a couple for me afterwards. You make that decision."
Then after walking off the podium, just before he got to the door, Favre said: "It's just one game." And don't think Favre was pissed off - maybe a bit testy - because I watched the video and he was smiling and poking fun throughout the interview. Coach Mike McCarthy was quick to affirm that Favre can still make all the throws. "Absolutely," McCarthy said. "He had a big-time throw just (Monday) in practice, a 55-, 60-yard throw. He has plenty of arm strength left."
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 11:53 AM
Monday, October 22, 2007
She’s an indie singer/songwriter that I hear on NPR all the time.
Finally figured out today that she belongs to this particular song and when I hear it I go ballistic. It’s called Summertime and it’s on her latest album, Kismet.
I hate this song. Hate as in I want the song to die. Now - I have listened to some of Hoop’s other stuff (sampled, more like it) and I enjoy her. But this song – Summertime – it reminds me of a quote from the movie, The Dirty Dozen. Telly Savalas’ character, Archer Maggot yells down to the other soldiers who are listening to a woman singing on a phonograph, I think, and he yells out (and I’m paraphrasing), “You shut that wailing bitch up!”.
I’m not calling Jesca Hoop a wailing bitch. Just the two are three lyric sections where she sounds like “a wailing bitch”. Might also be a result of overdubbing. But the sound makes me wanna wring her neck. Grating. Give it a listen and see what you think.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 2:50 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Former Green Bay Packers receiver Max McGee died late Saturday afternoon following an accident at his home in Deephaven, Minnesota. He fell off his roof while blowing leaves of it. Can you believe that shit?
From 1958 to 1964, McGee was one of the NFL's best wide receivers, but injuries limited him to 10 catches in 1965 and only four in 1966. Following the 1966 season, McGee became famous for breaking curfew and staying out all night prior to Super Bowl I because he didn't expect to play. But starting receiver Boyd Dowler separated a shoulder on the third play of the game, and coach Vince Lombardi sent a shocked McGee into the game. McGee proceeded to score the first touchdown in Super Bowl history on a 37-yard reception from Bart Starr. In all, he had seven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns as the Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.
McGee's a former color announcer for the Packers and co-founder of Chi-Chi's restaurants.
This is sad. He went way before he should have. It's not fair.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:56 AM
For Week 6 of the NFL football season, Woodson made four tackles (three solo) and one interception in addition to the game-winning, 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the Packers' 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:42 AM
Saturday, October 20, 2007
If you don’t know or haven’t read, I’m a Beach Boys junkie. So I couldn’t let this tidbit of news go untouched.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the selection of the individuals who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors of 2007 – one of which is Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. Said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman, “Brian Wilson led not only a spectacularly popular rock group but also an era-defining transformation of the sound of music.”
On Sunday, December 2, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, produced by George Stevens Jr., the 2007 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Bush, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.
The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network on Wednesday, December 26 at 9pm (EST) for the 30th consecutive year as a two-hour prime time special.
Now wait - I'm not done. Along with that news Brian also premiered in September a new piece called, “That Lucky Old Sun (a Narrative)”, will consist of five ‘rounds’ with interspersed spoken word. Brian teamed with Van Dyke Parks, his old ‘sidekick’ and lyricist behind “Smile”, over the past year on the narratives for a new album. The piece features ten songs and five narratives which will be interrupted by That Lucky Old Sun, the narrator telling the story. The five narratives are cameos on life and the heartbeat of Los Angeles, including the song, “Forever She’ll Be My Surfer Girl”...which I heard and it's wonderful.
I've blogged several times on The Beach Boys - you'll just have to hunt and peck to find them (use the category list on the right panel near the bottom). Here's my one of my first posts: http://jeffircink.blogspot.com/2007/03/namedropping.html. In anticipation of the Kennedy Center Honor for Brian – who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and it was a great thrill – here’s what a few artists you may recognize have said about him:
It was Pet Sounds that blew me out of the water. I've just bought my kids each a copy of it for their education in life...I figure no one is educated musically 'til they've heard that album...I've often played Pet Sounds and cried. I played it to John so much that it would be difficult for him to escape the influence...That I think was probably the big influence that set me thinking when we recorded 'Pepper', it set me off on a period I had then for a couple of years of nearly always writing quite melodic bass lines. 'God Only Knows' is a big favorite of mine...very emotional, always a bit of a choker for me, that one.
...Jesus, that ear. He should donate it to The Smithsonian. The records I used to listen to and still love, you can't make a record that sounds that way. Brian Wilson, he made all his records with four tracks, but you couldn't make his records if you had a hundred tracks today.
His music definitely affected mine - the harmonies. I love you, Brian. I'm there for you.
Pete Townsend/The Who
I love Brian. There's not many people I would say that about. I think he's a truly, truly, truly great genius. I love him so much it's just terrible - I find it hard to live with. 'God Only Knows' is simple and elegant and was stunning when it first appeared; it still sounds perfect.
All of us, Ginger (Baker), Jack (Bruce), and I consider Pet Sounds to be one of the greatest pop LPs to ever be released. It encompasses everthing that's ever knocked me out and rolled it all into one. Brian Wilson is, without a doubt, a pop genius.
Pet Sounds is a landmark album. For me to say that I was enthralled would be an understatement. I had never heard such magical sounds, so amazingly recorded. It undoubtedly changed the way that I, and countless others, approached recording. It is a timeless and amazing recording of incredible genius and beauty.
David Crosby/Crosby, Stills & Nash
He was the most highly regarded pop musician in America, hands down. Everybody by that time had figured out who was writing and arranging it all. 'In My Room' was the defining point for me. When I heard it, I thought "I give up - I can't do that - I'll never be able to do that."
Graham Nash/Crosby, Stills & Nash
He was way advanced of what anybody was doing at that point. And I think the Beatles recognized that and I think every harmony group in the world recognized that there was some different thing going on - something very sophisticated.
Pet Sounds became an instant classic when it first appeared…its willingness to abandon formula in favor of structural innovation, the introduction of classical elements in the arrangements, production concepts in terms of overall 'sound' which were novel at the time, all these elements give Pet Sounds a freshness that, thirty years later, is immediately there for the listener.
There is a new song, too complex to get all of first time around. It could come only out of the ferment that characterizes today's pop music scene. Brian Wilson, leader of the famous Beach Boys, and one of today's most important musicians, sings his own 'Surf's Up'. Poetic, beautiful even in its obscurity, 'Surf's Up' is one aspect of new things happening in pop music today. As such, it is a symbol of the change many of these young musicians see in ourfuture.
Pet Sounds is brilliant. Brian Wilson is one of the greatest innovators of my decade or any decade.
I don't think that the California Myth, the dream that a few of us touched, would have happened without Brian, and I don't think Brian would have happened without the dream. They're inseparable.
I think I would put him up there with any composer - especially Pet Sounds. I don't think there is anything better that that, necessarily. I don't think you'd be out of line comparing him to Beethovan - to any composer. The word genius is used a lot with Brian. I don't know if he's a genius or not, but I know that music is probably as good as any music you can make.
Lindsey Buckingham/Fleetwood Mac
I'm not sure I fully appreciated (Pet Sounds) that until years later (when) I started making records myself.
George Martin/Beatles' Music Producer
If there is one person that I have to select as a living genius of pop music, I would choose Brian Wilson. Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened...Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.
John Cale/The Velvet Underground
What Brian came to mean was an ideal of innocence and naivety that went beyond teenage life and sprang fully developed songs. Adult and childlike at the same time. I thought how it was difficult for me not to believe everything he said. There was something genuine in every lyric. That can be a very heavy burden for a songwriter.
Last summer, I heard 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)' played on the cello. It sounded beautiful and sad, just as it does on Pet Sounds. So now you know, if all the record players in the world get broken tomorrow, these songs could be heard a hundred years from now.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 11:29 PM
Can you feel them? 'Course you can't - unless you're living in California. But you might have heard them sung about in the Beach Boys' song Santa Anna Winds:
Here in Southern California there is a weather condition known as the Santa Ana Winds.
Fire wind oh desert wind
She was born in a desert breeze
And wind her way
Through Canyon Way
From the desert to the silvery sea
In every direction
See the perfection
And see the San Gabriel Mountain scene
Santa Ana winds keep blowin' across my eyes
Santa Ana winds keep blowin' across my eyes...
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:53 PM
Friday, October 19, 2007
Althouse: "I'm not going to be threatened by Arianna Huffington!"
I placed a couple comments at the end of this article. Apparently her and George Clooney got into it last year sometime over something he said she misquoted him on. Old news perhaps but I happen to like George Clooney and I have to listen to Huffington's grating voice every Friday afternoon on NPR (I have to shut the radio off), so I wanted to comment on it. I could care less about Huffington. I know - I've met her. She's aloof and she quotes people in her books that don't know they're being quoted.
Hey, old news but new news to me.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 5:08 PM
Here's a blues song I wrote for my play, "Chromosome 21". Del Rey, a guitar player who sings for coins in the street, is the imaginary friend of Joshua Cinrick, who has Down Syndrome and is celebrating his 21st birthday. Joshua's father abandoned the family ten years ago and Del Rey is Joshua's way of coping with his father's leaving - Joshua "talks" to Del Rey and Del Rey serves as a sort of "mentor" toward Joshua, teaching him about playing the guitar and singing 'da Blues'. Sing a-long, if you'd like - just pick any blues melody and you're all set.
Can’t you hear the jingle jangle,
of my cup that’s filled with coins.
Can’t you hear the jingle jangle,
Like a lil’ kid with a brand, new toy.
There’s a lot a people passin' by,
Still my cup ain’t made no noise.
I’m just a tumbleweed, baby,
My venue is the lonely road.
I’m just a tumbleweed, a'tumblin',
Don’t own nothin' save my soul.
I’m a singer with no nightclub, baby,
Playin' the blues, that’s all I know.
I was born a poor, black child, (with no daddy)
outside a’Memphis - some no-good town.
I was born a poor, black child, uh-h, huh,
walkin' 'round with just a frown.
That’s where I cut these teeth on blues,
Lord, that curse done bring me down.
I’m just a tumbleweed, baby,
My venue is the lonely road.
I’m just a tumbleweed, a'tumblin',
Don’t own nothin' save my soul.
I’m a singer with no nightclub, baby,
Playin' the blues, that’s all I know.
Got no one to come home to,
Lie in bed awake all alone.
Got no one to come home to,
My body’s achin', can’t you hear it moan?
It’s the life that I was meant to live,
It’s a song, that’s just a poem.
I’m just a tumbleweed, baby,
My venue is the lonely road.
I’m just a tumbleweed, a'tumblin',
Don’t own nothin' save my soul.
I’m a singer with no nightclub, baby,
Play’in the blues, that’s all I know.
There’s a lot a people passin' by,
Still my cup ain’t made no noise.
I sing about what’s wrong with life,
Lord, it’s sho’ a heavy load.
Got a long road ahead a me,
Lord (Pause) - have mercy on my soul.
© 2005 Jeffrey James Ircink
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 3:04 PM
Thursday, October 18, 2007
As the National Football League season is heating up and my Green Bay Packers are 5-1 going into a bye week, I’ve spent more time than usual getting into the underbelly of some of the more popular sports websites - various Packer sites, NFL.com, ESPN, FOX, MSNBC, etc. I made the mistake of checking out the MSNBC sports messageboard one night and have since regretted it. Perfect strangers get into it over their teams, games, plays, and other issues pertinent to the NFL. If you’re not familiar with messageboards, people pose questions and other people publicly comment on them. Then someone says something somebody disagrees with and the quarreling and name-calling ensue and before you know it the shit has hit the fan.
Here is a sampling of some of the comments I made on the MSNBC messageboard - all having to do with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. You’ll see it’s a veritable mental institution of sports fans out there. At times I include the question posed – mostly though all you need to do is read my comments (in yellow print and in quotes) to know what was asked and what others commented. Wait, wait - couple things. There may be reference in other's comments that may or may not be aimed at me. And any grammatical or spelling mistakes were kept in to illustrate the stupidity and ignorance of some of the people one deals with on the internet - especially sport fans. I'll be the first to admit many of my comments are juvenile - but you're not seeing what I endured on those messageboards and compared to these miscreants I looked like Albert Einstein. Here we go:
Mysundaysareadisaster said: Farve selfishly stayed just to break this record and put his team thru a good 5-10 so-so at best seasons. This time could have better been spent bringing up a new pup. He should have left a long time ago.
"mysundaysareadisaster...why don't you change your handle to 'iamadisaster'? your favre comment is unfounded and stupid. go spread your stink on some other post."
Hayseed said: It just shows, That if you stick around in the NFL, Your sure to break some record, Not that your any good. Farve has never amounted to much other then being a media darling. Take a look at the Terry Bradshaw's, Roger Starbuch's, Joe Montana's and compare these players records to Farve record. Farve is just a average player whom the media puts on a pedastool...He's average and nothing will ever change that.
"what in the hell is this a-hole talking about? i hate people who spew forth nothing to back up their ridiculous comments. i wish death on this hayweed person."
Arthur1957 said: Did they stop the game and have a celebration at Lamblow when ole toe-picker broke the INT record?
"and by the way...that WAS an asinine comment by arthur1957. what are you - 2? go pollute some other message board with your juvenile comments. the world is filled with dipsticks."
"kansas hayseed. you're a dick. get a life. sleep with your sister or your dog, learn to read or write, or tie your shoes, but do something worthwhile instead of being an insect on this board with your blathering."
Johnnymac said: I'd just like to stop by to congratulate media darling/golden child Brett FaVre (how is it pronounced "FARVE" again?) on achieving the all-time interceptions record, and thus becoming the worst quarterback of all time. I also want to touch on how admirable it is to see what Brett FaVre has overcome! What a "tough" man to overcome a painkiller addiction that was his own fault in the first place! (the very addiction which also created the false illusion that he even WAS actually tough...) I feel so sorry for this unfortunate multimillionaire that will never need a real job! What a poor man! If I'm not mistaken, he is also the only NFL player in history to have have a death in the family. The man cries after losing football games and is called tough? Why is the media so in love with him again? What is this conspiracy? The guy is just not THAT good, and hasnt accomplished anything in a LONG time.
"johnnymac - your sister and mother say hello. i'd get them but they're showering together in my bathroom right now. now who's crying - i wanna file a complain against this dolt for misuse of the board = writing and saying nothing pertinent to the subject."
Johnnymac said: …I do know that god hates brett faVre if there is one though - why else would he have thrown so many ints?...Most overrated QB ever.
"hey johnny smac mouth - YOU are mental and need help. if you're so sick of hearing about Favre, it's not gonna stop as long as he's playing. so why don't you do everyone on this board and anyone who knows you a favor and just end it all. i'm sure you won't be missed and then you won't have to listen to any more Favre talk, OK - bilehead?"
Question posed: Why is Favre record not getting attention (TD record)?
My logic is that when a 35 year old QB throws 29 INTs for a 4-12 team, it's time to move on, rebuild, and go with youth. When a QB way past his prime has a retirement discussion every off season and holds the team hostage with this discussion, it's time to move on. Favre is not 2-0, the Packers are 2-0 and that game against Philly was a gift from their punt returners. He did nothing."
"quit referring to us saying Favre is 2-0. we know the Packers are 2-0, you dope. you Favre naysayers are pathetic - Favre has had 2 down years of the 14 he's been at GB and you're saying that he's ready for the retirement home???"
"hey Patton - before you slap Favre in the face, the media started the whole "is Favre retiring" thing - not Brett. get your facts straight before you spout off. you're the w.h.o.r.e. you'll say anything to get your name in print. you know nothing."
"true NFL fan...then you alluded to the fact that we (Packer fans) have a cult compound. hmmm. we do actually and your entire family's here and wants to come home but the new tennis shoes we bought for them look so nice."
"fascinating. your take on the game, trueNFLfan. and i didn't ask you about the Washington game (did anyone?) - just the GB game. you're annoying like when you have to poop but can't quite do it. just sorta...stuck in there."
"And don't ever say, 'Favre tried his best to throw the game to Taylor' (Redskins player), you dummy."
"hey, trueNFLfan - my team's 3-0, bitch. what's your team's record right now? you still haven't answered my question…so explain Brett's game performance yesterday if he's our team's weakness."
"good one, Professor. true NFL fan lost twice on Favre and his demeanor is such he won't suck it up and switch his bet around. he'll continue betting against Favre cause he's trying to save face - even if he ends up under a freeway overpass in a medium cardboard box. class-less. why don't you just say you don't like Favre?"
"#15 QB rating at 93.5, QB of one of only 5 teams 3-0. if that means Brett's below average, fine by me. i think Brett's more worried about THE TEAM continuing it's winning ways and working together as one unit. all the factoids and stats thrown up here are accurate. how you reguritate those facts and spin them to fill the void in your unamusing life is your problem. And you're the one who referred to 'us' calling Brett, 'god'. that wasn't us."
These last two are in response to an online column in The New York Sun by Allen Barra(ss). If you wanna read his article, there's a link on my September 14th post, People I Hate. Utterly ridiculous article - and this guy's supposed to be intelligent:
"And let me add how dare you put "dogfighting" and Brett Favre in the same sentence, you asshole, or even suggest anything of the sort. Favre has a stellar rep with the NFL and could most certainly serve as its poster boy. You, on the other hand, are a slob. You write whatever you want because no one there edits your stink. You should be sued for slander, or libel - whichever crime you're committing at the time. Did you get those pills and gun yet?"
..."how can you, in the same article, give Donovan McNabe the benefit of the doubt for his lousy performance, passing it off as 'mitigating circumstances' as he was on the visiting team and had a bad ankle and it was his first game of the season and he ate too much Chunky Soup?"
I no longer post much on the MSNBC messageboard. It's not worth it. I'm having too much fun watching my inept 5-1 Packers right now, along with their old, dried up, selfish, no-talent QB, ole Number 4.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 6:20 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
My favorite portrait of Marilyn Monroe, taken by Milton Greene. Greene's son, Jason, has been in the news as of late, petitioning for more stringent rights that deceased celebrities would have over their own images.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 11:55 AM
Sunday, October 14, 2007
And we had two Favre passes for TDs called back because the refs need to get their fricken eyes checked.
Brett became the NFL's all-time leader in career interceptions during Sunday's victory with #278, moving him past George Blanda for most all-time in league history.
"I could care less, we won the game," said Favre of the record. "I'm glad it's over just like the other records. We're 5-1 so it feels a heck of a lot better than having no picks and being 1-5."
Way to tell it to the media, Brett! Chew us this, "doom-and-gloomers", the pitcher Cy Young had the most wins in MLB history but he's got the most losses as well. That's what happens when you play baseball for 22 years. Enough with the INT crap about Favre - it comes with a Hall-of-Fame career of 17+ years in the NFL, ya schmucks.
Next Week = Bye. Rest. Reevaluate. Rejuvenate...then Packers @ Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football on 10/29.
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 7:59 PM
Friday, October 12, 2007
Here's my exclusive (well it's not really that exclusive - it's not like he only does certain interviews) interview with HAIR producer, Michael Butler. Butler, who served as Special Advisor to Senator John F. Kennedy on the Middle East, Chancellor of the Lincoln Academy, Commissioner of the Port of Chicago, President of the Organization of Economic Development in Illinois and Personal Assistant to Governor Otto Kerner, will share some of his thoughts as HAIR turns 40 this month.
“Good morning, this is Jeff with my special guest, Michael Butler, the original producer of HAIR, the tribal rock musical that he was responsible for bringing to Broadway from an Off-Broadway venue in New York City – The Public Theatre. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael briefly when I was in the cast of HAIR at the University of Iowa (one of three non-students). It was a big thrill for me and he has graciously agreed to talk with me this morning from New York.”
Jeff: How are you Michael?
MB: I’m very well, thank you.
Jeff: Great. When you first saw HAIR at the The Public Theatre what was the impetus for saying, “I want to get involved with this.”?
MB: Politics and the anti-war statement it made.
Jeff: Do you remember when you took it to The Cheetah and then to Broadway if there was a point in time when you said, “Boy, we’ve really got something here. We’ve got something that people are going to remember.”?
MB: I don’t know – I think it was more that I believed so strongly in what I was doing that I really wasn’t concerned whether…that is not what a producer should be. A producer should not be combing the market saying, “This is good for the market”. A producer should produce something he believes in and if the rest of the people believe in it…why, then it succeeds.
Jeff: So often you hear people comment that HAIR is dated. There are musicals that I suppose one could say are as dated as HAIR – Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, Camelot, Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady, West Side Story. Why do you think people say that and why don’t you think it’s dated?
MB: Well, number one I know very few people that say HAIR is dated. The latest HAIR that we’ve done on the West Coast had about nine reviews and everyone one of them has been positive. The interesting aspect of that is that HAIR is dated from the point of view that is a historical piece. But what makes it so lively is that everything that HAIR says in pertinent today, and also the music is timeless. So the music helps to carry it along but the message of HAIR is, unfortunately just changed from Vietnam to Iraq and you're right back in the same place.
Jeff: I agree. So many people don’t realize that if they’re not a fan of the musical, they’ve heard a lot of the songs on the radio – five songs were Top 4 songs on the Billboard charts by other artists so the music is truly timeless.
MB: It’s the most recorded score in the history of musical theater.
Jeff: Is it really?
MB: Yes it is.
Jeff: I wasn’t aware of that. Since 1968 you’ve been involved in producing HAIR all over the world. Most recently you had a 40th anniversary show in New York and you’re involved in the production that’s going on in Los Angeles. Are there any particular things about the show that have changed since 1968?
MB: Not really. Nothing that I’m involved with has changed because I don’t believe that HAIR should be changed. I think HAIR should be done as it was done on Broadway. Now the show that was done in Central Park late September was something done by the Public (Theatre) which was more of a concert than the show itself and that was more pertinent to the Public production, which was quite different than my production.
Jeff: How often do you talk to James Rado?
MB: Not very often.
Jeff: He’s still involved with productions, is he not?
MB: Yes, yes.
Jeff: I think that’s it, Michael.
MB: Very good.
Jeff: It was a pleasure – and while I’ve got you on the phone I want to thank you, James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt McDermott for doing what you did with this musical. If you talk to anyone – particularly anyone who’s been in the show – we always say, “Once a member of the Tribe always a member of the Tribe”. We thank you for giving us an opportunity to be a part of HAIR, and it will be with us always – as it is with you. Thank you very much.
MB: Thank you.
(Listen to a portion of this interview on GABCAST - on the right panel of this blog.)
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 10:49 AM
Thursday, October 11, 2007
"I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen..."
How'd you guess?? The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical - HAIR, turns 40 this month, as it debuted Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in October, 1967. And it's a special anniversary for me as I, Jeffrey James Ircink, am a member of the Iowa Tribe, having performed in the show in the fall of 1994 at the University of Iowa (one of three non-students in the production).
Above: And that's me. Whoa!! Long hair, Fu Manchu, indian dream catcher 'round my neck and in my ear, fur vest, suede knee-high boots (trust me, I'm wearing them - they're vintage AND I still have them) and blue eyeshadow - if that ain't hippie-ish then I don't know what is. Look funny? That's cool - I got laid despite it.
Well, that's me (left) in June 2007 - with eyeliner, at Solstice in Santa Barbara, and without - to the right, in Chicago in August 2007. I think I've aged well in 13 years, do you?
Opening night of HAIR at the University of Iowa. Peter Yarrow from Peter, Paul and Mary on my right, and Michael Butler on my left - the original producer of HAIR who took it from Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in NYC to Broadway.
The authors of HAIR - Back - Galt McDermott (music), Front - James Rado and Jerry Ragni (book and lyrics). Rado played Claude and Ragni played Berger in the Broadway production. Photo by Dagmar. Her site is: http://home.flash.net/~akstudio/dagmar.html
There's so much I'd love to say about this musical. Nobody, however, can say it better than two of the primary creative forces behind HAIR's success - James Rado and Michael Butler. Check out their websites that will entertain you thoroughly, complete with news clippings, pictures, video and music. Jim Rado's site (book & lyrics) is http://www.hairthemusical.com/ and Michael Butler's site (producer) is http://www.michaelbutler.com/hair/.
HAIR was revolutionary in many ways - primarily in that it ushered in and defined the "rock musical" and was really the first show that mimicked what was happening on the streets and in society at that time "on stage". People actually thought the actors were street people, hippies - whatever. And I suppose they were hippies, in a way. It was the first show on Broadway with nudity (something about being the "1st" and "nudity") which led to some awkward moments in some cities. In several cities, "the show" was charged with the desecration of the American flag and the use of obscene language. Two cases eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. I suppose with lyrics such as, "Sodomy, fellatio, cunnilungus, pederasty - father, why do these words sound so nasty? Masturbation can be fun. Join the holy orgy, kama sutra, everyone," more than a few people were outraged. (And yes, I was one of a handful of nude actors in my production of HAIR - first on stage, walking hand-in-hand with another woman in an Adam and Eve-esque moment to open the show.)
HAIR opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in NYC in 1967. Michael Butler had the balls and money to moved it the Cheetah in NYC - then to Broadway. He and Rado/Ragni/McDermott have been associated with it ever since. Ragni passed away in 1991. The show opened on Broadway in 1968 and ran for around 1,873 shows. Then it moved to London and Los Angeles. The music? It speaks for itself. Not only were the songs hits within the stage show, but a few of them went on to become smash hits on the radio - HAIR (#2 on Billboard's Top 100 for The Cowsills), Age of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (#2 on Billboard for The 5th Dimension), Good Morning, Starshine (#3 on Billboard for Oliver), Easy to Be Hard (#4 on Billboard for Three Dog Night) - the doozies from the show. Hold it - these renditions (which some of you may remember more so than the versions in the musical) are as equally as good and I love them as much as the musical renditions. Go on YouTube or Amazon and search them out! Now, in my production, I was fortunate to sing the duet, What A Piece of Work Is Man, adapted from the play, Hamlet. And I sang on most of the others as a member of THE TRIBE.
Do yourself a favor and check out this video of the original Los Angeles cast of HAIR on the Smothers Brother's Comedy Hour in 1969 (I think).
That's James Rado in the long blond hair with the indian headband on and Jerry Ragni in the black frizzy hair, singing with him in the song, HAIR. That's your two creators having the time of their lives (I bet). The songs sung in this video are, in order: Aquarius, HAIR and Let the Sunshine In. I never knew this video existed - it's a rarity. And it's fun. Listen and watch. Close your eyes and you'll find yourself floating back to '69. I can't believe it but I was 5 years old. Listen to the words. Do you think these songs have any relevance today? You bet they do.
As I mentioned, I was one of three non-students cast in the university production. Not only did I not know anyone (which isn't a big deal in theater) but there was somewhat of an age gap - 9 years or so. No matter. This was HAIR - and we began to gel as I assume every cast of HAIR before me did and every cast afterwards. And speaking of casts, here's a few of the celebs who were TRIBE members like myself:
Nell Carter, Ben Vereen, Diane Keaton, Ted Lange (Isaac in The Love Boat), Keith Carradine, Meat Loaf, Ted Neeley (originated the role of Jesus in the movie, Jesus Christ Superstar in 1973 and has played the same role on stage since the 1970's), Dobie Gray, Jennifer Warren ("Up Where We Belong", "It's the Right Time of the Night" and "I've Had the Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing), Melba Moore, Shelley Plimpton, Phillip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice), Joe Mantegna, David Patrick Kelly (the bad guy in The Warriors - "Warriors...come out and play-ee-ay!"), Richard O'Brien (Riff-Raff and creator of The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Tim Curry (Frank-n-Furter in Rocky Horror), Elaine Paige (Grizabella in Cats, Evita) and Steven Weber (Wings).
Above: HAIR cast at The Public Theater. Photo courtesy of Dagmar.
HAIR's popularity began to diminish in the late 70's and 80's, and then a revival began in the 90's - which is when I got involved with it. It has played all over the world and is currently performing somewhere as we speak. And why not? With a message of peace and love, why shouldn't that message be as universal today as it was back in 1967?
I am very lucky to have been associated with HAIR. I feel blessed that - today, I am still a member of "the Tribe" - something very few people can say. And whenever I hear a song on the radio from the show or listen to the soundtrack, I smile and sing along. It's one of my fondest theater memories. To all of you - Michael, James, Galt and the late Jerry Ragni - I thank you and I love you all.
This post is dedicated to Jerry - "What a piece of work is man...".
Posted by Jeffrey James Ircink at 9:45 AM