Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Florida Rocks Again! #11: Florida Freak Out

FLORIDA ROCKS AGAIN! #11: Florida Freak Out!

Host Mal Thursday takes you on an hour-long trip to the psychedelic side of the Sunshine State, as a series of ’60s garage combos turn up their fuzz-boxes and wax poetic about blowing their sun-bleached minds. This episode includes such long-lost classics as We The People’s “When I Arrive,” the Kollektion’s “Savage Lost” (Florida Rocks Again! co-producer Jeff Lemlich named his essential book about Florida garage bands after this regional hit), and the Birdwatchers’ “Mary, Mary (It’s to You That I Belong),” described by lead singer Sammy Hall in his autobiography Hooked on a Good Thing as “a love song to marijuana.”



THE BITTER IND: Hands Are Only to See
THE BIRDWATCHERS: Mary, Mary (It’s to You That I Belong)
WHITE WITCH: It’s So Nice to Be Stoned
WE THE PEOPLE: When I Arrive
MOUSE & THE BOYS: Xcedrin Headache #69
ECHO: Sunshine of Your Love
PAINTED FACES: Blackhearted Susan
THE SHY GUYS" Black Lightening Light
THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF LOVE: Miss Blue and Three-Quarter
THE UNDERTAKERS (Orlando): Love So Dear

Series Hosted by Mal Thursday
Written & Produced by JM Dobies
Co-Produced by Jeff Lemlich

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Brilliant Early Work of Mimsy Farmer, Vol. 1

When looking at the career of Mimsy Farmer, it is the brilliant early work that stands out.

From her fresh-scrubbed turn in 1963's Spencer's Mountain to her good girl gone bad roles in such drive-in exploitation classics as Hot Rods to Hell to international productions like Road to Salinas and More, Mimsy always delivered.

In the first of several entries taking a loving look at Farmer's greatest performances, we examine Mimsy's role as a troubled teen in 1967's Riot on Sunset Strip, one of my all-time favorite films.


"Meet the Hippies...the Teenyboppers with their too-tight capris...and the Pot-Partygoers - out for a new thrill...a new kick! See for yourself their Mod, mad world... without law or license, morals or manners, God or goal!....The most shocking film of our generation!"

Mimsy plays Andy, the disaffected teenage daughter of LAPD sergeant Aldo Ray and his ex-wife, a whiskey-swilling hag, played by producer Sam Katzman's wife, Hortense. We must assume that Andy is adopted, as there is no way such a knockout could result from the coupling of these two gargoyles. Anyhoo, Andy goes to live with her father and transfers to a new high school, where she falls in with a gang of swingin' teens who are out for kicks. They congregate at Pandora's Box on the Sunset Strip, where they are serenaded by the Standells and Chocolate Watchband. Andy draws the attention of creepy rich kid and would-be hippie mystic Herbie, who invites her to a party, where he doses her with LSD. Andy freaks out, then does a wild interpretative dance. Herbie and his pals then guide her upstairs to the master bedroom, where they have their way with her.

When the cops bust the party, Andy's father discovers what has been done to her. Mayhem, and the riot of the title, ensues.

Farmer is tough but tender, alternately shy and sultry in the part, and beautiful throughout. She's got all the right P's: pretty, petulant, peroxide blonde. When she does her freak-out dance, her bouffant comes undone and she moves like a wild animal. Incredible.

The film's neanderthal attitude toward sexual assault is somewhat apalling, of course, but it is a product of its time.

Next: HOT RODS TO HELL (1967)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Recent Reviews at

Books & Magazines
Jimmy McDonough - Big Bosoms And Square Jaws... - jmdobies says "Wild Bio of Sexploitation King..."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Big Bosoms and Square Jaws

I discovered the films of Russ Meyer during my college days in the mid-'80s, when I studied quality lit by day and immersed myself in low culture by night. Musically, I went for '60s garage; I was reading a steady diet of '40s and '50s paperbacks, especially the work of Jim Thompson; and in terms of cinema, I loved '60s sexploitation, especially Russ Meyer movies.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was, and still is, my favorite. Although it contains no nudity, it is the ultimate RM flick, with over-endowed superwomen kicking ass, taking names, and spitting out hilariously hardboiled dialogue. I proceeded to work my way through the Meyer oeuvre, seeing everything the man directed, with the exception of some of his early "nudie cuties" that followed in the wake of his first big hit, The Immoral Mr. Teas. The Wall Street Journal dubbed Meyer "King Leer," while Charles Keating and others called him a "smut peddler."

Big Bosoms and Square Jaws by Jimmy McDonough is as definitive a biography of Russell Albion Meyer as we're likely to get, and is certainly more informative than Meyer's 1500-page autobiography, A Clean Breast. I'd read The Ghastly One, McDonough's bio of skid row filmmaker Andy Milligan, but not Shakey, his massive biography of Neil Young. McDonough writes slangy, hipster prose that tells the story of RM and his obsession with big tits in an intoxicating, compelling way.

The book is chock full of hilarious and wonderfully bizarre anecdotes and observations from a wide range of RM associates, including many of his incredible leading ladies. Erica Gavin, who starred in two of Russ's greatest hits, Vixen and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, offers this insightful summation of Meyer's character: "Russ was just a big old teddy bear - a teddy bear who liked to watch you undress through a window and masturbate."

Things don't end well for Meyer, as he slips into senile dementia and spends much of the last several years of his life as a prisoner in his own home.

If you're a fan of '50s cheesecake photography, or '60s and '70s sexploitation "sinema," you're probably already a big fan of Meyer's work. If so, you should read this book, the hardcover of which can be had cheap at or stores like Half Price Books.

It's buxotic!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cedar Fever

Folks round these parts call it cedar fever.

This time of year, the cedars release tons of airborne allergens, and Austin is in the epicenter of a region-wide pollen cloud. I have never been all that susceptible to allergies, but this one's a humdinger. My head feels like it's in a vise, and if the locals weren't constantly reassuring me that it's just the fever, I'd be at the nearest hospital right now.

I slept 12 hours last night and feel no better today.

I'm on the job instead of at the ER, because I get paid to be here and I'd have to pay a lot of money to go to the ER. My insurance doesn't kick in until February 1st.

Gotta love the health care system in this country. Don't get me started.

Anyway, I took an antihistamine and it's not helping a whole lot. That cedar pollen must be some bad stuff. I got the fever, and I got it bad.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

JMD on "Friday Night Lights" This Week

Don't blink or you'll miss me, but the first of several episodes of Friday Night Lights in which I appear as a featured extra airs Friday night at 9 ET on NBC. I'm playing one of the local press.

Look for me when the opposing coach goes mental. I'll be that indiscernible blur on the sideline.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Jags Go For It

Although I moved away from NE Florida during week one of the 2007 NFL season, I am still a diehard Jacksonville Jaguars fan. I didn't get to see them play on TV all that much this season, but I followed them nonetheless.

The Jaguars fit the profile of many of my favorite teams in various pro sports, in that they are a small market franchise. The smallest market in the league, in fact. So the Jags are a bit like my beloved Montreal Expos, except for the fact that they are still in existence.

In the last days of my Florida residency, coach Jack Del Rio made a bold move and named David Garrard the starting quarterback, and gave former #1 draft pick Byron Leftwich his walking papers, putting an end to number 7's disappointing tenure. Leftwich signed with Atlanta in the wake of Michael Vick's dogfighting indictment, and I got to see him play a few series in a mid-season game against Tennessee, and man, he stunk up the joint. Even if Garrard hadn't played as well as he did this year (QB rating over 100, only three interceptions), making him the #1 was the right move. Getting rid of Byron was genius.

Despite injuries to several key players - Mike Peterson, Marcus Stroud, Garrard - the Jags finished with a record of 11-5 and made the playoffs for only the second time in the last seven seasons. Saturday night, they held on to beat the Steelers 31-29 to advance to the next round.

Unfortunately, they have to go to Foxboro to play the Patriots, who only went 16-0 during the regular season. So, in order to earn the right to play in the AFC Championship Game, they have to beat the undefeated Patriots, one of the greatest teams in NFL history.

Unlikely, but not impossible.

And then, if they can pull that off, they would have to get by either LaDanian Tomlinson and the San Diego Chargers or Peyton Manning and the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

Again, not probable, but I think if they can beat New England (and they have as good a shot as anybody), they will win the Super Bowl.

That would be sweet.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Jethro Tull: An Appreciation

Recently, I have, for no apparent reason, been listening to a lot of the early recordings of Jethro Tull. I know that I'm Mr. Garagepunk, Mr. Florida Rocks Again!, but I admit to a fondness for the prog-rock monolith that is Tull.

I listened to them a lot when I was in ninth and tenth grade ('75-'77). I had 8-track tapes of Too Old to Rock 'n Roll, Too Young to Die and their greatest hits set M.U.

The 8-track cartridges were lime green, as I recall.

When I was getting into punk and garage stuff in the mid- to late-'70s, I scorned the work of bands like Jethro Tull for being bloated, overpaid, and out of touch with my teenage angst. Never Mind the Dinosaurs, Here's the Sex Pistols!

When I jettisoned my Jethro Tull albums in favor of punk rock, it was easy, as they were on 8-track, anyway (and I'd just installed a new cassette player in my '74 Pontiac Ventura). It wasn't until almost 20 years later that I rediscovered the Tull. I was working at Dynamite Records in Northampton, and going through a period of listening to a lot of early '70s heavy rock, including some stuff by Tull's touring partners of the era, Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, and the MC5. At the time, there were two different Jethro Tull boxed sets in circulation, commemorating their 20th and 25th anniversaries (this year is their 40th and counting). After listening to these sets, I delved into the band's classic early period of 1968 through 1972, and immersed myself in their unique sound.

THIS WAS (1968)
The bluesy incarnation of the group with Ian Anderson on flute, Mick Abrahams on guitar, Glenn Cornick n bass and Clive Bunker on drums. Recorded on the cheap, the brief but intense debut features "A Song for Jeffrey," "My Sunday Feeling," and "Dharma for One." Abrahams split to form Blodwyn Pig, as Anderson took the band to new heights.

STAND UP (1969)
Kicking off with the foreboding fuzztone of new guitarist Martin Barre on "A New Day Yesterday," Stand Up delivered on the promise of a new Jethro Tull. Fans of the blues-oriented line-up defected, but millions would take their place as the band toured relentlessly and shifted a lot of units for Reprise in the States. Includes the Tull standards "Nothing is Easy," "Fat Man" (allegedly dedicated to Mick Abrahams) and "We Used to Know." One of the band's finest efforts, if not their best. Probably my favorite.

BENEFIT (1970)
Beloved by potheads, the heaviest of all Tull albums features such mind-blowing fare as "To Cry You a Song," "With You There to Help Me," "Son," and "Teacher." Although his songs provided the soundtrack to countless bong hits, Ian Anderson had nothing but contempt for the drug culture, and made no secret of it.

Tull's biggest-selling album, Aqualung was misconstrued as a concept album by the critics. Sure, there are common themes among the songs, including portraits of the downtrodden (the title track, "Cross-Eyed Mary") and critiques of organized religion ("My God" and most of side two), but Anderson maintains the album is "just a collection of tunes."

My first exposure to the Jethro Tull phenomenon was in 1972 at my friend Tom Perdue's house. His brother Rob had a copy of the Thick as a Brick LP, with its package design that featured a 12-page parody newspaper, "The St. Cleve Chronicle" (which apparently took longer to produce than the music on the record). I didn't get a lot of the lyrics, but the graphics blew my mind. Like A Passion Play, the lesser album that would follow in 1973, "Thick as a Brick" is one song spread over two sides of an LP. Although it doesn't all work, it's an audacious piece. Allegedly influenced by Monty Python, Thick as a Brick is full of puns, in-jokes, and references to farting and masturbation.

Honorable mention for LIVING IN THE PAST (1972), a collection of singles, live cuts, and rarities. Originally released as a double album, be sure to avoid the single-disc CD reissue, as it's missing two cuts ("Teacher" and "Bouree"). Highlights include the 1970 UK chart hit "Witches Promise."

These records are the cream of the Tull crop, although there are gems amongst their later albums (a friend of mine swears by Heavy Horses). I'm sure that I will burn out on listening them in another week or so, but for now, they are taking my mind places it hasn't been since the '70s.