I never took a trip on drugs and got turned on for crime, anarchy, alcohol, drugs and immorality because I took a trip down the aisle of my church in 1932 and got turned on for God.
-Lester Maddox, quoted on the back cover of God, Family & Country
I remember the first time I laid eyes on him. It was the summer of 1974, and Lester was on the campaign trail once again, preaching the gospel of states' rights and peddling a bicycle backward around the Jones County courthouse. It was the closest thing to a circus I had seen come through the little town of Gray, Georgia, and I was enthralled. I couldn't understand why my parents despised this little man. He wasn't a a threat, he was a clown, a flop-shoed circus sideshow performer. I begged my father to let me buy one of the little wooden souvenir axe handles he was selling.
-John T. Edge, Southern Belly
We kick off this new series with a record bought at a Georgia flea market, showcasing the talents of Lester Maddox, the segregationist governor of Georgia. There's a pretty extensive biography of the man on the back cover, laying out his philosophy and beliefs, but there's no mention of the issue of segregation (or even the euphamism "states' rights"), the issue which precipitated his entry into politics (when those big city yankees tried to tell him he had to let niggers eat in his restaurant), which won him the governor's seat, and with which he will forever be associated. The back cover bears the title "Lester Maddox Sings, Whistles, Speaks and Plays Harmonica." True enough, and the whistling is especially impressive on "Count Your Blessings." Here's the whole thing, in a .rar file:
I used to get really psyched about Entertainment Weekly's seasonal movie preview issues. I remember getting my first glimpses of Dazed and Confused, Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, Mars Attacks! and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues in those things, and even though some of those turned out to be duds, it was always a cool thing to look out for. Then the internet came, and by the time one of those preview issues came out, you'd already heard all about the cool movies coming up.
But maybe that's not entirely true. This morning I started flipping through the new Summer Movie Preview issue, already two weeks old, and discovered several cool movies that I'm now looking forward to. One is Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control. Combining the above picture of Tilda Swinton with a misunderstood quote Gael Garcia Bernal, I at first thought that this would be Jarmusch's superhero movie (God, that would be so cool!), but it's more of a French New Wave crime drama. Still, I'm looking forward to it. Then there's Woody Allen's Whatever Works, starring Larry David. Definite potential in that combination. But the one that jumped out at me was Soul Power!
Soul Power! is something that I've been saying needs to happen for years. If you've seen the documentary When We Were Kings, you know that they've got footage of the concert that Don King organized to tie in with the Ali-Foreman Rumble in the Jungle, featuring James Brown, B.B. King, and a bunch of African acts including Miriam Makeba (I have no idea who else). The most obvious thing to do would be to put this on DVD. But this is even better--it will be in theaters July 10! imdb lists the running time as around 90 minutes, which is a bit chincy, but still, I'm going to make a point to catch this in the theater.
Also looking forward to Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell and of course Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. And would watch Star Trek, Land of the Lost and Public Enemies if the opportunity came up (I'm assuming I'll see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, even though now that the books are over I'm not nearly as interested).
It's ridiculous to even respond to the bullshit on Fox News, but since this one never got as much attention as the Beer Pong Herpes scare, I figure what the hell. The basic idea is that some professor may have done a study (it's not entirely clear, sounds more like a pissed off professor made a comment to this effect rather than any scientific study) that indicated that watching Mr. Rogers gives kids a sense of entitlement because he tells kids they're all special, which gave a whole generation of kids a big ego that makes them think they don't have to do anything. I'm sure most of us of the Mr. Rogers generation can relate. I remember the time my teacher tried to assign me homework, and I told her "I don't have to do jack shit, cuz I'm already King Fuck Dolemite of the Goddamn Universe. Mr. Rogers told me so!" Ah, simpler times.
The funny part? Most of the idiots on the show talking about it are from the generation that watched Mr. Rogers. So they know that what they're saying is bullshit, but who gives a fuck? It's Fox News! Or I should say, they know it didn't happen to them, but it must have happened to other kids. But not Asians. But that's not the point. The point is that I can't tell the difference between saying someone has value as a human being and saying they never have to do anything. Which is even more idiotic because, if you've ever watched any of these "positive message" kids' shows, you know that they spend a lot of time teaching lessons about how "practice makes perfect" and "quitters never win" and all that jazz. But that doesn't make a good story, because it doesn't say Kids Today Are Rotten Little Brats, which is always a popular chestnut.
Somewhere deep in the YouTube comments someone also starts going off on how Sesame Street fucks kids up because it makes them think that education is supposed to be fun. When you were watching Sesame Street, did you ever make any connection that what you were doing was being educated? I always just thought I was watching a fun kids' show, and the fact that I learned to read, count and spell from it was never even a conscious process. Enough of this. Mr. Rogers, do you have anything to say in your defense?
A really good resource for sorting through the deluge of amazing full-album mp3 blogs out there has been the Mining the Audio Motherlode feature on the WFMU blog. I've been going bonkers over the albums I got from first two links in this post. Shorty Rogers Meets Tarzan is some great afro-exotica jazz, but the A.K. Salim album...Damn! Coltrane-esque free blowing over hard African tribal percussion. I feel like I've been looking for something that sounded like this for years. I kinda felt the same way the first time I heard Mudhoney.
Via Soul Sides, the Soul! archive. Apparantly, Soul! was like a much cooler version of Soul Train on the PBS affiliate in NYC. Check out the amazing Rassahn Roland Kirk episode!!!!!
Basically, what happened was that an old high school friend on Facebook had a fit of nostalgia, and started posting all these really specific details about life in Stuart, Fla. in the 70's and 80's, and one of the things he mentioned was the old Mayfair Theater, which got me on a nostaligia kick of my own, and I started writing out a list of every movie I could remember seeing there. The Mayfair was, for a long time, the only theater in town, located in a shopping center anchored by a Piggly Wiggly and an Ace Hardware. I believe we got a second theater (the Smithfield Twin Cinema in the Smithfield Shopping Center) around 1980, and the Martin Square Mall opened sometime around 1983 with a three-screen theater (by the time I was in college, there were at least 4 more multiplexes in town, which was kind of ridiculous), and I would guess that the Mayfair shut down around 1985 or '86. I think they split the theater into two screens sometime in the early 80's.
So the Mayfair was where I saw most of the movies I saw growing up. It's not where I saw my first movie--that was the drive-in that used to be located just north of the North River Shores development, where I saw Song of the South and Bedknobs and Broomsticks--but it is where I saw what was probably my first "grown up movie," The Man With the Golden Gun (and later, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, and maybe even Octopussy [I have no memory of seeing For Your Eyes Only, although I'm sure I must have seen it]), and it's where I saw many of the key movies of my childhood: Star Wars, Meatballs, Airplane, Disney films like The Rescuers and 101 Dalmations.
One interesting thing is that I never saw any Spielberg movies there. In fact, the first Spielberg movie I saw in the theater was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, long after the Mayfair had closed. This is really weird--I'm solidly part of the Spielberg generation. Some of it is a little understandable. I was 8 years old when Jaws came out, and my parents wouldn't let me see R-rated movies. I was 14 when E.T. came out, and probably had an attitude about going to see "a kid's movie." But how did I miss Close Encounters? I remember wanting to see it. My guess is the family was on one of those long vacations that summer. And how did I miss Raiders of the Lost Ark? I have no explanation for that.
ANYWAY. I've always been a little envious when I hear people talk about growing up watching crazy B-movies, because my own suburban childhood seemed so vanilla, right down to the movies I saw. But when I started really thinking about the movies I saw at The Mayfair, I realized that I had really spent a lot of my childhood watching some seriously weird shit. To wit:
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. This movie absolutely blew me away when I was a kid. It came out just before Star Wars, and I remember actually liking it better than Star Wars. Watching it now, I realize it's probably the worst of the Harryhausen fantasy movies (although the only reason The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is better is because it has the amazingly hot Caroline Munro, see below), but Harryhausen's work is as awesome in this as anywhere else.
Warlords of Atlantis. You remember the scene from Flash Gordon, where Ming is removing the memories from Zarkov's brain, and it's all being projected onto a screen, and footage of Hitler comes up, and Ming says "Now this man showed promise?" I swear I remember the exact same scene being in this movie. I'm probably just transferring the scene to the wrong movie. I can't remember anything else about this one.
Star Crash. This cheap Italian Star Wars rip-off starred the beautiful Caoline Munro wearing some kind of space bikini and knee-high leather boots. It also had David Hasselhoff and a robot with a southern accent.
The Black Hole. This scifi flick actually came from Disney.
Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot. This one gets a little scary in the end, with a group of documentarians trapped in a cabin under siege by a tribe of bigfeet.
The Land That Time Forgot. A Nazi U-Boat with British prisoners ends up in dinosaurland or something. Michael Moorcock worked on the script. I have a weird memory associated with this film, must have happened the night after I saw it. I was camping with the family, and apparantly NASA or someone was testing...something. There was this big chemical cloud hanging in the night sky for about an hour. I read about it in the paper the next day, but I can't remember what it turned out to be...weather satelite or something. Weird, but that memory is linked in my mind with this movie.
The Final Countdown. An aircraft carrier goes through a timehole or something, and ends up in 1941, right before the Pearl Harbor attack. Some trippy time travel concepts in this one.
Clash of the Titans. Of course.
Flash Gordon. Another obvious classic. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing this in the theater, but it's hard to recall over the hundreds of times I saw it on HBO, and the dozens of times I've watched it since college.
Time Bandits. This is kind of a vague memory, but I'm pretty sure I saw Terry Gilliam's kiddy flick at the Mayfair.
Xanadu. This one stands out because my friend Tercio went with me, and he later recalled "that was the first time I ever saw a movie and thought it was bad."
Snoopy Come Home. I remember sitting in the theater thinking it was really weird to be watching a Peanuts special in the theater. I also remember crying. It's a very emotional movie.
Gus. Tim Conway and Don Knotts teach a donkey to play football. I was really young when I saw this, but I thought it was the funniest movie I'd ever seen. I was laughing so hard and kicking the chair in front of me that my mom had to shush me.
Victory. Stallone and Pele as WWII POW's playing soccer.Tercio's dad (who was Brazillian, and a huge soccer fan, if that's not redundant) took us to this.
There are a few others I'm not sure about. I swear I remember seeing The Road Warrior there, but it seems really unlikely--I was still not allowed to see R-rated movies at that age. I probably saw Superman: The Movie there. Seems like I saw The Secret of Nimh there. The Muppett Movie? The dates match up that that would be where I saw it, but it just feels like it was somewhere else. I have no memory of seeing either of the Witch Mountain movies, but surely I must have seen at least one of them, right? And stuff like Freaky Friday and No Deposit, No Return, I know I saw those, but I'm not sure it was at the theater. And much later, in the theater's last days, I remember seeing Bachelor Party, and possibly another dumb sex comedy called The Joy of Sex (did I walk out of that one?), and taking a date to see Micki & Maude.
My name is Chris Oliver. I'm a stand up comic, writer and English (ESL) teacher living in Los Angeles. With my wife, comic Bobbie Oliver, I am the co-proprietor of Tao Comedy Studio. I direct the web series Saving Face (starring Bobbie Oliver and Sally Mullins), host the comedy/talk show podcast Psychedelicatessen Radio (with Bobbie) and host the music podcast Sleestak Lightnin!!!. I was born and raised in Stuart, Fla. (Jensen Beach, to be more precise), a small, beachy suburb north of Palm Beach on the Atlantic coast. Went to LaGrange College in GA. Got married after graduating and moved to Athens, GA. In '97, we moved to L.A. Psychedelicatessen is the name of a band I was in in high school and college. You can find links to my comedy videos, podcasts, web series and more right below.