Thursday, June 16, 2016

DSOTR - IN THE VERY THE BEGINNING: The Charles Savage Article

Originally published August 1, 1995
Copyright 1995, The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The Dark Side of the Rainbow:
Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The film version of "The Wizard of Oz." Two profoundly successful pieces of pop art you would think are completely unrelated. Yet there exists a connection - no, really a synchronicity - between the two that escapes logic or understanding.

Let lapse, momentarily, your reason and your belief in a sense of order to the universe. (Suspend, too, your belief that we might be doing some very serious drugs.)

Then rent "The Wizard of Oz," turn off your television sound, put Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon in your CD player and press play at the exact moment the MGM lion roars for the first time. (Some people advocate the third roar.)   The result is astonishing. It's as if the movie were one long art-film music video for the album. Song lyrics and titles match the action and plot. The music swells and falls with character's movements. Don't expect to be overwhelmed. But do expect to see enough firm coincidences to make you wonder whether the whole thing was planned. And expect to see many more coincidences that would be definite reaches if it weren't for other parts lining up so well.  

If you're not really familiar with The Dark Side of the Moon, it will help to have a lyric sheet handy. But always keep an eye to the TV, lest you miss something. (Don't try the pause-play-pause game; being three or four seconds off would really neutralize the effect.)   Half the fun of exploring this marvel is watching with a group of friends and shouting out the correlations as you make connections. So we won't spell out all the details. here, however, are a few major examples just to get you started:
  • During "Breathe," Dorothy does a tightrope-like walk along the holding pen to the lyric "and balanced on the biggest wave."
  • The line "no one told you when to run" from "Time" is sung just as the scene switches to Dorothy running away from home to save Toto.
  • "Home, home again" from the "Breathe" reprise is sung as the fortuneteller tells Dorothy to go home.
  • "Don't give me that do goody good bullshit" from "Money" comes as Glinda the Good Witch of the North floats in as a bubble.
  • "Black... and blue" from "Us and Them" is sung as the Wicked Witch of the West appears dressed in black. That is shortly followed by "and who knows which is which" (witch is witch) as she and Glenda confront each other.
  • "Brain Damage" - which begins at almost the same time as the movie's "If I Only Had a Brain" - contains the lines "The lunatic is on the grass" and "Got to keep the loonies on the path." This is just as the Scarecrow flops around like a madman on the grass and then on the Yellow Brick Road.
The numerous lyrical coincidences between the movie and the album are only part of the story. Often, the actions seems choreographed to the music.  

For example, the wordless moan-singing of "The Great Gig in the Sky" is almost perfectly matched with the tornado scene, rising as the storm gathers, falling to a lullaby when Dorothy is knocked out by the window, rising again as the house spins up in the sky, then falling again as the house returns to earth.   The song begins with the gathering storm and ends just as the house hits the ground. Dorothy gets up in silence, walks through the house, and then just as she opens the door to reveal Technicolor Munchkinland, the opening sound effects of "Money" startle the listener. (Moreover, "Money" was the first song on the LP's second side; Munchkinland is the opening of part two of the film.) And then there is the clincher: The album's dramatic ending heartbeats sound as Dorothy listens to the Tin Woodsman's empty chest. It's bizarre, uncanny. And it's more than a little puzzling.  

There is no obvious reason why a classic art-rock album recorded in 1973 would be even remotely related to the 1939 film, which is based on the story by L. Frank Baum. After all, it's hard to imagine Roger Waters, Dave Gilmour & Co. painstakingly writing their music to the movie's timing. It's even harder to imagine that a band so gimmickry-minded (it stuck a blinking LED light on the CD packaging of its latest release, PULSE, for example) would keep quiet for 22 years if it had done it purposefully.

And at least for now, no one is talking. Several calls and a faxed request to a Pink Floyd publicist at Columbia Records were unanswered.   A slightly less inside source, Fred Meyer, the secretary of the International Wizard of Oz Club, said this: "What? I don't know anything about that." He added that he had never even heard of Pink Floyd. All of which makes the origin twice as shrouded in mystery. Why would anyone just randomly play the album over the the film, timed with the MGM lion's roar?  

In April [1995], someone posted about it on the Internet Pink Floyd newsgroup, saying he or she'd heard about it from "some people down in Los Angeles." Most users told the poster to go back to his drugs. And a recent posting on the newsgroup asking for help in the mystery produced no clues to the origin of the oddity.   In the end, the synchronization was either intentional or a cosmic coincidence - the musical equivalent of the "Infinite Monkeys on Infinite Typewriters Eventually Producing the Complete Works of Shakespeare" effect.   Perhaps all it means is that when everything under the sun is in tune, including two peice of cult-status entertainment seemingly completely separated by time and genre, it will seem as strange as when the sun is eclipsed by a moon.

Monday, June 13, 2016

DINNER & A MOVIE - Why Dinner & A Movie?

During my time at The Mystic Theatre as Production Manager & Chief Engineer, I put the concept of serving dinner and watching a movie on the big screen (30'x40') in the theater on the desk of owner and booking agent Ken O'Donnell a number of times, but I never could get him to agree to the concept. I think it created a conflict for him, even on one the off nights. At the last moment a big name band may pop up at the last monthly moment and well... no movies! There were of course a few adventure films and film festival events and of course my annual urban legend screening of "The Dark Side of Oz" that I produced there for 8 years, but sadly through the years very little was done with the movie theater aspect of The Mystic Theatre.

I did my best in the 15 years that I was there to treat The Mystic like the grand old movie house that it was by making my own theater trailers and eventually own music/video syncs as live pre-show door time entertainment just to push the movie house vibe and give the patrons something to point at (think Gene Kelly in "Singing in the Rain" mixed with Billy Idol's "Dancing by Myself".) Those experiments with the pre-show audio & video entertainment taught me a lot about audience interaction with the screen and also taught me a few good lessons about having a captive audience.

This feature that I developed for The Mystic led me into a full time artistic path, producing and releasing original Music/Video Syncs as well as having the good fortune of being able to feature my original art work nightly in front of hundreds of unsuspecting people! During this period I was also very busy setting up multiple youtube channels for the viewing of my syncs on-line. It just made sense to be able to pass my card along to curious patrons and say "most of my syncs are right here."

Those youtube sites are still up and running today and attract viewers from all around the world daily. It's precisely for that reason that I will be featuring my "Best Of Syncs" at my new "Dinner and a Movie" Series that I'll tell you more next.




Dinner and a Movie... I've been wanting to do this for years...


1st, you have to be optimistic and find a large room that will seat and hold a few hundred people, one that has a full dinner menu, good service and a large drink selection. The venue has to have proper sound and lighting and of course a large big screen or at least a location to place one for movie viewing. I haven't even mentioned one of the hardest elements to find, the requirement of a long term, like minded venue owner that has the community's best interest at heart.

I was recently contacted by Andre de Channes at KRSH Radio in Santa Rosa about a local venue in Cotati that was planning an expansion and wanted to know if I was available to come down and give the new system and stage a once over and offer any advice. Many of you are aware that I've had my hands and ears involved in quite a few of our County venues through the years, namely "The Studio KAFE" and "Magnolia's" in Santa Rosa as well as "The Inn of The Beginning" in Cotati and of course "The Mystic Theatre" in Petaluma. Apparently the rumors of my retirement are greatly exaggerated and of course I was very interested in the prospects of helping with the upgrade of yet another County treasures, "The Redwood Café" with long time owner Michael McCullaugh. As with any good venue, it's a work in progress and the results of that discussion are now the expanded stage and a re-designed sound and video system currently in the works, in a town that I dearly love... Cotati.

As The Professor, I'm looking forward to staging my "Dinner and a Movie" night once a month at The Redwood Café. The 1st of the series will feature "The Big Lebowski" on Tuesday June 28th followed by "Spinal Tap" on Tuesday July 26th from 6-10pm. This not only gives me the chance to dawn on my Professor robe but also offers you the opportunity to see some of the very best Cult/Classic movies and a way to introduce you to my illegitimate art of music/video syncs.

The Redwood Café is set up for dinner table seating and will feature a full menu and beverages for the entire evening as well as FREE POPCORN for everyone! A minimal $5 cover is requested (dinner not included.) Dinner seating @ 6pm - The Professor @ 6:30 - followed by our feature "The Big Lebowski" (Adult content warning) @ 7pm sharp - Costume Contest @ 9pm - Syncs till 10pm.
I've planned a costume contest for the best "Dude" or "Stranger" with a generous $30 gift certificate from The Redwood Café to the winner, followed by The Professor's music/video syncs until 10pm.

Well there it is and I'll leave you with this thought... A venue is only as good as the community that attends it. Get out more often and support live music and live entertainment. Put down your devices and connect with faces and maybe, just maybe we'll see you at the 1st "Dinner and a Movie" night on Tuesday evening June 28th at The Redwood Café in the colorful town of Cotati...

      Bon Appetite' - THE PROFESSOR