Movie dialog that’s Effed Up

My Father was offended by foul language.

He considered it low class and was fond of quoting Cole Porter’s lyrics from Anything Goes: Good authors too who once knew better words now only use four-letter words, writing prose.

Anything goes.

My Mother, who is less put off by cursing, spent the weekend at my place because her condo was being painted. We watched several movies on Kodi/Exodus and Netflix and it was on the latter that we found Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

Mom was familiar with Zac Efron. I mentioned Anna Kendrick had been Oscar nominated for Up in the Air so we settled on what critic Leonard Maltin might have called an “okay time waster.”

And every second line of dialog seemed to be, “We fucked up” or “fuck that shit.” Or some variation on those not-so-better words.

WE NEED A GOOD LINE HERE…AHH, SCREW IT

I’m no fuckin’ prude and, while I will cut the screenwriters some slack, it came across as very lazy script writing. Maybe Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (who penned the 2014 comedy Neighbors, with Efron and Seth Rogen) imagined the characters as illiterate lowlifes. That’s they way those people talk, I can hear Cohen and O’Brien saying.

And maybe Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates was marketed to teens and millennials, and the writers and producers figured clever dialog and somewhat realistic characters weren’t necessary to get that demographic into theatres.

I have a feeling audiences of any age want more. Tell me I’m right. Please.

FOUL-MOUTHED, BALL-PLAYING KIDS

Four decades ago, I sat in the Elane Theatre to watch The Bad News Bears and, of course, many lines from that film would be considered very un-PC today. Shortstop Tanner Boyle complained the Bears were laughing stocks because all the team had were Jews…Hispanic word, N word and a booger eatin’ moron.

 

And, when Amanda Whurlitzer is introduced as the new team pitcher, Tanner repeats the same list and adds, “And now a girl!” Amanda shuts Tanner up by striking him out in batting practice.

 

ANNA, BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME

Mike & Dave and their dates had their moments, and the movie was amusing at times, thanks to the charisma of Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. My dear Mother has a female friend who often refers to her ex husband as a “mindfucker.” Mom sat through Borat, in a theatre, with an older, now deceased male friend. My nearly 91-year-old Mother also has Wedding Crashers on DVD (she likes Vince Vaughn).

Even so, her reaction to Dave, Mike and friends was, “Why do they have to swear so much?”

I didn’t have an answer for that. I curse more than I should, mostly out of anger and frustration (I’d love to chuck my work computer out the door and see it flattened by a steamroller). But expletives are most effective when used sparingly. They have more sting that way.

Every Quentin Tarantino film is loaded with fucks, motherfuckers and such, but those bad words punctuate entertaining monologues. It’s almost poetic.

“TOOTS, MEET TITS”

George Carlin and Richard Pryor turned the use of profanity into an art form and if you’re old enough, you can rhyme off the “7 words you can never say on television” (back in the ’70s, some are uttered today)…

shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

ALL I NEED ARE SOME TASTY WAVES AND A COOL BUZZ AND I’M FINE

Every generation becomes more permissive and less offended. I get that. I have zero problem with that. Even though Fast Times at Ridgemont High…

Phoebe Cates, pool scene…

Where was I? Oh yeah, Fast Times was pretty racy for 1982, but it would have been unimaginable for surfer dude Jeff Spiccoli to make jizz jokes. Today, semen is mentioned frequently in the routines of Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings and is no longer a movie taboo.

Back to Mr. Cohen and O’Brien. There’s Something About Mary featured a memorable jizz scene, and The Hangover set new levels of  R-rated movie raunch but both had original stories and well-written characters.

The less than dynamic duo’s next film is The House, with Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and another Oscar nominated actor, Jeremy Renner. Guys, please give them more to say than “We fucked up.”

 

 

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advice for aspiring radio students

My radio show runs on 97.7 the Beach in my home of Wasaga Beach, and on a high school station in Middlebourne, West Virginia.

WRSG. Knight’s Radio.

The adult volunteer who oversees the operation (and the guy who added my show) is a wonderful human being named Greg Goodfellow. He posted this on the WRSG Facebook page and was looking for advice to pass along to his senior class.

Many of us who are still in radio would say with a touch of cynicism and a dose of reality…

Choose another career.


It’s so easy to get discouraged when the bean counters and consultants  fail to recognize that we are in the entertainment business and not bank employees. It’s soul crushing to resign yourself to bottom line thinking even though many of those in charge love telling stories about the colourful characters they worked with. 

AND IN THE MIDDLE EAST (TINKLE TINKLE)

News readers trying to finish their casts after co-workers have set their scripts on fire with a cigarette lighter…or urinated in metal trash cans a few feet from a live microphone.

Now, to my young friends in West Virginia. Don’t do either one. You could set off the smoke alarm or get arrested.

In the ’70s that might have landed you a job and made the program director smile. They saw you as a personality and someone who could boost ratings. But personalities are hard to manage and that PD who drinks the copororate Koolaid views you as a line on a budget.

In the name of Homer Simpson’s Jeebus, I hope I’m wrong about that.

My advice to Greg and his students was to read. A lot. Anything. Blogs, music biographies, newspapers, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and radio sites like Ramsay Media, Jacob’s Media, and Dan O’Day (the greatest consultant of them all. Common sense advice on all things radio).

Google radio legends like Alan Freed, Wolfman Jack, and Murray the K.

TO QUOTE NEIL YOUNG, “PAYOLA BLUES”

Freed is the patron saint of my show. Mister Rock and Roll, and the scapegoat for the payola scandal of the ’60s. Many of them took money or favours for playing certain records. Somehow Dick Clark got away with it while Freed saw his radio career destroyed, and died from alcoholism at the age of 43.

Bummer, I know. But Freed remains an inspiration, as do the Canadian deejays of my formative years. I grew up listening to 1050 CHUM. I lay in bed, earplug connected to my transistor radio as they counted down the TOP 100 songs of the year. Q107 launched when I was in high school and I spent every weekday morning listening to this guy, Scruff Connors.


And, as a young adult, I was captivated by this radio program.


Thanks, Alan. The Rock and Roll Riot features stories about the aritsts and songs in part because the Ongoing History of New Music kept me listening even when I wasn’t that familiar with the band or singer profiled in a particular episode.

 Because…

Telling stories is a major element in great radio. Sharing experiences and opinions. Speaking to the listener as your radio friend and making them feel glad they tuned in, in a way that has them looking forward to your next shift. 
That is why you choose a radio career and suffer though the non-creative types whose only concern is how to save money and please the higher ups.

A few weeks ago, I spent a few hours in the 97.7 the Beach booth at the Wasaga Home Show. I wore my name tag and this year, as in many years past, I encountered people who said, “Oh, YOU’RE Johnny Maraca. I listen to you every week!”

That’s the best part of working in radio, and it can happen, my Tyler County friends, if you read, learn from the greats and say more than, “That was…this is…and checking the weather forecast…”

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

The sincerest form of flattery

A few weeks ago, I played the Rolling Stones tune The Under Assistant West Coast Promotions Man on my show, The Rock and Roll Riot.

The B-side to Satisfaction.

Followed by the story behind the song. Mick and Keith wrote it about the record company exec who accompanied the Stones on their first American tour.

Last week, the Underground Garage spun the same song, followed by the same background tale, and it sounded quite a bit like what I had voiced on my show.

HMMM, THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR

Now…it could be a coincidence.

Thanks to the internet, everyone has access to the same information and, during my research, I often find stories online, in addition to what I unearth from the dozens of music biographies in my collection. Like this excellent autobiography by Bill Wyman.

Okay, some history.

I’ve been a Sirius/XM subscriber for a decade and the UG is my favorite channel. I’m very familiar with the playlist and, truth be told, The Rock and Roll Riot’s then-and-now approach was influenced by Little Steven’s channel.

Mostly for Canadian content reasons, so I could give a boost to modern-day rockabilly bands like Toronto’s  Royal Crowns and my good friends from London, Ontario, The Black Holes. There were no Canadian equivalents to Elvis Presley and I can only schedule The Diamonds so many times.

During the past five years or so, I’ve connected with several of the UG’s personalities on Facebook and Twitter. Michael Des Barres follows me on the latter, and I’ve had some lively exchanges with former Garage DJ Andrew Loog Oldham (he managed The Stones).

SANDY KOUFAX AND VIDA BLUE

I’ve also traded messages with Handsome Dick Manitoba. He read one of my emails on the air because, as John O’Mara, I had written about how cool it was that Dick named his son Koufax, after arguably the greatest pitcher of all time (if you go with quality over longevity). I also mentioned my favorite, Vida Blue.

Dick is a very cool guy and we share many of the same opinions, including how winter sucks and summer rules.

Anyway, a few years back I blogged about jocks like HDM being your radio friends on those drives home in the dark, on unlit rural highways.

https://johnnymaraca.com/2014/03/11/the-voice-on-the-radio/

I tweeted the link to Maureen Van Zandt, Little Steven’s much better half. She has been very gracious in replying to my tweets. You rock, MVZ!

She retweeted to Mister Manitoba and a few weeks later, on the air, he called himself “your radio friend.” Dick has done that many times since.

WHO THE HELL AM I?

Now…

I would love to get my show on the Garage but Steven prefers celebrity deejays and who am I compared with HDM, Oldham or former UG personalities Joan Jett and Kim Fowley?  Nobody. And if I’m him, would I add  me to the lineup? Probably not.

Sirius/XM has over 30 million subscribers. Mostly due to Howard Stern.

 

I’m on a 700-watt station in Wasaga Beach, and a 900-watt high school station in Middlebourne, West Virginia. The Riot has also been on several internet stations over the years.

So I’m not a big deal. I get that. I receive plenty of great feedback on a local level and that is always gratifying.

I’m not the least bit unhappy about the possibility that my humble little program has influenced a satellite radio channel. I’m flattered. I’m not pissed off, and I don’t want to piss anyone off.

YOU GOT A PROBLEM?

I don’t want this Johnny to show up at my door.

 

By the way, Lilyhammer is a great show. The subtitles can be distracting at times but it’s worth checking out.

If anyone from Sirius/XM or the Garage is reading this, you know what I would like?

Some kind of recommendation or boost. Follow me on Twitter. Give me an on-air shoutout. Just something that says, “Hey, if you enjoy the Underground Garage, check out this show from one of our longtime supporters, and our radio friend, Johnny Maraca.”

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Quality Records, Birchmount Road

I went to school at Immaculate Heart of Mary on Birchmount Road in Scarbrough, then a suburb of Toronto but now part of the GTA.

IMG_0093
And, a short drive north, just over the bridge, was the pressing plant for Quality Records. I rode my bike over the bridge just to the east of Mack Avenue, but never imagined that decades later, what came out of that plant would end up on my radio show (not in the original 45 vinyl version but on a CD compliaton).

Birchmount was actually a subsidiary of Quality Records, though I didn’t find that out until recently.

I was born in 1962. The year many of the artists on this collection cut their tunes and Any Day Now includes early numbers by Glen Campbell and Dobie Gray, and follow-up records to hits by Danny and the Juniors and The Beau-Marks (Clap Your Hands, they hailed from Montreal).

Back in the ’70s and ’80s Quality Records meant nothing to me. What did? This hotel.

Where I caught many performances, and drank many beers, as Lee Aaron, Santers and Goddo shook the foundations. The Knob. It didn’t reek of rock like the Gasworks but I spent many a night watching Aaron and (Santers bass player and current tennis buddy) Rick Lazaroff kicking their way through originals and Zep covers.

IMG_0095

Flash forward to 2017.

I’m at BJ’s Records in downtown Barrie, where Bill brings in very cool collections. The  Rock and Roll Riot has spun many a tune from discs that came from BJ’s (and Rasputin and Amoeba Records in San Francisco and Berkeley).

And, for $9.99, the Quality Records 3-disc set is mine. It’s $13.99 on Amazon (love Amazon, and the Prime deal is a steal with free 2-day shipping and streaming of shows like Mozart in the Jungle).

As a new ball season begins…and this soon to be 55-year-old comes out of retirement after 3 years to play in the Wasaga league…I will always treasure my final year of hardball, pitching at Highview Park.

IMG_0094

Not sure who the Scarborough Stingers were, or are, but if they played at the park where I pitched my final game of hardball, real baseball, cheers.

Highview Park was a short bike ride from Quality Records.

It’s the circle of life, Johnny Maraca style.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments