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Flash: This Beatles fan didn’t watch the 50th Anniversary Special

I watched The Walking Dead

I didn’t watch the Beatles special last night because, frankly, I’ve seen it.  And so have you.  Many times.

If you didn’t live it (I did), you’ve seen Beatles retrospective after Beatles retrospective on television.  The Anthology mini-series, the documentaries (some good, some awful), and of course, the pirated stuff on YouTube.  We’ve all been treated to the juvenile entertainment reporters breathlessly speculating about a Beatles “reunion” at the Grammies, as well as at every other time Paul and Ringo have been within 50 miles of each other.  Nearly everything by, for, on and about the Beatles together and as individuals has been released, and we’ve sucked it up.  I’ve got it all memorized.  I don’t need to be told for the umpteenth time what a great group of moptop lads they were.  Enough already.

I was, and still am, a big fan of this band that shaped much of my musical sensibility. I show clips from A Hard Days’ Night in my visual communications class.  Their influence on popular music and culture is undeniable. But they were, after all, a band.  A band (not unlike Benny Goodman, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Fats Waller and His Rhythm, and many others) that had a prodigious output for a short period that ended over 40 years ago.  The endless lionizing of the Beatles, no matter how much they have deserved it, has become somewhat comical and tiresome at the same time; it almost trivializes them at this point.

So I didn’t watch.  Many of you will say, “Oh, but Dave, you really missed a good program this time.”  Yes, well, I watched The Walking Dead, and you missed a good one too.

Jekyll and Hyde a pretty good show (shameless plug)

Mr. Hyde (Tony Venable) in his first meeting with love interest Elizabeth Jelkes (Kaitrin Higbee).

Dave is the director of Elkhart Civic Theatre‘s current show, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so there’s a little bias in this review.  But overall, it IS a pretty darn good show, if Dave says so himself.  A great cast, excellent lighting and stage management by Randy Zonker, appropriately spooky music and maybe even a little bit of the Halloween season come together to make this a nice fall chiller.

Interesting twist on this show is that Hyde is alternatively (and at some points concurrently) by four actors, who also play multiple other characters.  The minimal set keeps the action moving along as well.  So far audiences have been very responsive.  Even our normally staid senior-citizens night audience audibly gasped at the Act I closing action.

Anyway, consider this a biased recommendation, but if you’d like tickets, call 848-5853 during the week, or buy online at http://www.elkhartcivictheatre.org. The show ends next weekend.

Ten Worst Beatles Songs

I’m as big a Beatles fan as anyone, but I recently read a couple articles that make the statement: enough already.  The Beatles have been canonized aplenty, and even though I never stopped loving them, I recognize that maybe there were some other pop/rock bands that made some pretty good tunes.  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has appeared at the top of lists of the best albums “of all time,” pretty much since it first appeared in 1967.  But is it? Really?  Depends on who you talk to.  I actually wasn’t crazy about the album when I first purchased it, but it grew on me.  Today, the Beach Boys’ magnum opus Pet Sounds seems to have highest honors, and in many ways, it deserves it.

The point is, there isn’t any “greatest of all time” anything.  In the spirit of fairness, here’s a list of what I would vote as the worst songs the Beatles ever recorded — commenters , you can add your own.

  • Blue Jay Way – Absolute worst thing they ever recorded — boring, snoring drivel.
  • Dear Prudence – From the White Album — just boring and droning.
  • Don’t Let Me Down – I don’t know why I don’t like this — it’s boring, for sure, and not nearly as badly written as some others, but it seems like a throwaway tune to me.
  • Love Me Do – No tune, with harmonica backing.
  • Good Night – Ringo sings this, which is not always a good thing, but that’s not the main problem.  It’s a syrupy, draggy amorphous blob, with too much orchestra behind it.
  • The Long and Winding Road — same problem as Good Night. Phil Spector’s orchestration ruined an ok song, but there’s just no energy in this one.
  • Long, Long, Long — a Harrison song off the White Album.  Weak whiny vocal, and a melody that just drifts around.
  • Dizzy Miss Lizzy — nice energy but boring.  It’s a Little R
  • The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  • Yer Blues
  • Taxman

Elco-to-Lerner transformation continues

YouTube Preview Image

The video here is only a taste of the outside activity.  For a really good look inside, check the project’s photo gallery at its website. Some great photos here  — only problem is you can’t stop the slide show and the pictures change a little too quickly.  But you’ll still get an idea of the scope of this wonderful project for the city of Elkhart.

Shared conflicts

Dave Dufour

Dave Dufour

I’ve been a fan of Andrew Sullivan for a long time.  Recently, and perhaps unfairly, I’ve found his constant drumbeat about torture to be a huge overreaction, given the kinds of people we’re fighting in the war on terrorism.  But I think, perhaps, reasonable people can disagree, and Andrew is one of the most reasonable.  Today he posted this, regarding many of the same conflicted feelings I’ve had about the institutions that continually let us down, to the point that we stop believing in them.

Continue reading Shared conflicts

Triumph of the Audacity of Hope?

Nuremburg Rally, 1934Maybe it has escaped some (not all) observers, but the set for the Obama event tonight looks way too much like some of the scenes in “Triumph of the Will,” Leni Riefenstahl’s Hitler propoganda film.  All that neo-Roman looking grandiosity screams “cult of personality.”  If they go for some low camera angles on the speaker, we’ll know where they got the idea.

Brilliant insights from David Mamet

One of our best, if not the best playwrights writes about his departure from liberalism. In the Village Voice no less.

I don’t agree with absolutely everything here, but 99% of it rings true. A couple of money quotes:

What about the role of government? Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow. Continue reading Brilliant insights from David Mamet

Elco rescue and renovation finally a priority

Today’s Elkhart Truth ran a great story by my friend Marcia Fulmer about the upcoming renovation of Elkhart’s Elco Theatre, along with a nice history of the venerable old building, it’s ups and downs, etc. The announcement of the $13.5MM project is here.

The history piece has some of the photos from the print version, but some of the really rare old historical photos are missing online, and there’s an odd conglomeration of photos from the Elkhart Jazz Festival instead. If you have a chance to look at the printed paper from today, do so. It’s a job well done by Marcia and The Truth.

As usual there are some naysayers who feel as though the Elco is not worth saving, or that the money should go to “help poor people” or some other thing. I say nonsense. Elkhart’s cultural life has suffered a good bit with the loss of companies like Miles, Whitehall and others. Arts funding has not been as strong since the town lost the upper-management types who patronized the symphony and other venues. Jack Boyd Smith and Gaska Tape, as well as Coachmen Industries, the Rex and Alice Martin Foundation and others have provided a lot of great support, but they can’t do everything, especially without a focal point in the community that says “here’s where the arts live — here’s where your money goes.” For years, the Elco (along with the late, lamented EHS Auditorium) was that focal point. With this project, it can be again.

The arts are a tremendous addition to quality of life in any community. When the quality of life is high, more industries and business will locate here, and more quality individual will do so as well. It’s a win-win for everyone. This is a no-brainer, especially when the alternative could be yet a nother vacant lot with nothing in it to attract people downtown.

The city owes a huge debt of gratitude to Jack Cittadine, who headed up the study group, as well as those on the study group itself, for providing some great direction and an actual plan of attack. Long live the Elco.