Hey Arnold Stang!

This piece was originally published January 25th, 2010.

Arnold Stang IconIf ever there was a legend worthy of writing about here at The Mystery Box, then Arnold Stang is one of those legends.

On December 20th, 2009 Arnold Stang left the world for that great comedy club in the sky.

I grew up with such admiration for Stang that I felt the indebted to include Arnold Stang, the 2nd selection for this installment of a regular Mystery Box feature called Great Comedians Of The Past.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you:

GREAT COMEDIANS OF THE PAST #2: ARNOLD STANG

Arnold Stang migrated from his 1918 birthplace of Chelsea, MA to Brooklyn and grew up as as a young kid chasing showbiz, stardom and everything else that a lifestyle in the big city could offer him. He was savvy from the get go, winning an audition for a children’s radio show at the age of nine.

Unlike say, the naive child actors who would become the Brady Bunch kids, Stang had drive, focus and adult ambition.

 

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DAVID BOWIE’S SPACE ODDITY: 40TH ANNIVERSARY REISSUE!

This piece was originally published November 30th, 2009.

Major Tom Icon1969 was a banner year for momentous historical and cultural events.

This was the year of Woodstock’s “…3 Days of Peace & Music” festival, and its parallel universe/evil Captain Kirk, the Rolling Stones’ Altamont festival.

The Manson Family cult went on their murderous rampage in L.A., Nixon was elected President while the Vietnam War continued amidst home-front demonstrations and William Calley’s My Lai Massacre

The Beatles gave their last ever live performance on a rooftop and Led Zeppelin’s first album was released.

In television, The Brady BunchMonty Python’s Flying Circus and Sesame Street all premiered.

Yet, in this tumultuous year, which many saw as the end of the optimism that grew from the counter-cultural youth movement of the past decade, no greater single event optimistically captured television viewers the world over than one in particular. No other trip was quite as spectacular or fantastic as the wonder, imagination and positive vibe of where the future of civilization could be headed, then the July 11th United States’ NASA Apollo11 lunar landing in the Sea of Tranquility (or Mare Tranquillitatis if you prefer the beautifully named Latin version).

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The Film That Rocked

This piece was originally published November 16th, 2009

Radio Caroline IconRenowned Director Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and A Funeral to name only a few) brings to life the exciting, colorful and often madcap world that was revolving around the zeitgeist of mid sixties Britain in his latest feature, Pirate Radio (U.K. title: The Boat That Rocked).

Forget the usual tepid remakes, uninspired adaptations, disappointing ideas and lousy sequels to films that were never so hot to begin with, this is easily my favorite original fun film of the year.


The story takes place during 1966.
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SKY SAXON AND THE SEEDS: A Tribute.

June 25th, 2009 will doubtlessly go down in popular culture as a momentous day of loss.

This piece was originally published July 13th, 2009

Flower Girl IconJune 25th, 2009 will doubtlessly go down in popular culture as a momentous day of loss.

For the majority of the world’s citizens, it was a day that meant the end of the life for one of the world’s singular, biggest record selling— and to put it mildly—more eccentric entertainers of recent times, Michael Jackson.

Concurrently, it was a day of losing another talent. An actress with charisma, beauty and an affable demeanor, not forgetting an impressive body of acting work, Farrah Fawcett.

An actress whose best known role—while only appearing for one season—boosted a show into a multi season iconic smash hit series that was never as good after she quit. Her pin up poster is still the biggest selling ever, and the profits from sales of the posters were far greater than any salary she made from acting, regardless of how huge the series.

Coming in third on this day of loss, and understandably, relegated to a much smaller mention on that day’s gargantuan news headlines, was another entertainer. Perhaps an unknown to most, or a low level blip on the radar of the stars, but for others, myself included, just as important and as colorful a character as anyone who ever chose the arts as a means of self expression.

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LUAU HUT PART 1: Chasing the Polynesian Dream…

This piece was originally published June 22nd, 2009

Tiki Mug IconWelcome to a recurring new Mystery Box series: The Mystery Box Luau Hut — my ongoing look at all things from the world and history of Tiki Culture and Exotica music.

Since childhood, like many other fans, I too have fallen under the spell of all things Polynesian themed a.k.a. Tiki.

Never a month goes by that I don’t rekindle that fondness in some way.

So I am happy to report that Tiki style not only manages to still exist (if you seek it out) but also continues to inspire newer artists, designers, and musicians who wish to escape into its dreamy world of imaginary exploration.

First, a look at the origins of this colorful style.

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TREK WEEK: 13 Things I Obsessed About On Star Trek, The Original Series a.k.a. Just Where Are the Bathrooms On the Starship Enterprise?

This piece was originally published May 4th, 2009

Vulcan Man IconAh, classic 1966 Star Trek. We know it all too well: William Shatner’s inimitable Captain James T. Kirk; Leonard Nimoy’s half Vulcan, half human Mr. Spock; and Sulu. Not to mention, an immeasurable amount of fodder for discussion, trivia, merchandising and collectibles.

1966 Star Trek, in its endless cycle of syndicated reruns during my teenage years, was my very first foray into any type of a full blown obsessive, deep fan-trance, geeked out, collector type mentality.

Call it the beginning of my lovable/sick desire to collect memorabilia, toys, books and to actually go beyond that of merely absorbing something as just entertainment.

Sure, I had other loves before and spent any money I had on courting them as well. There was James Bond and all things spy; monster movies; music; models; MAD magazine and comic books (I was a proud member of Marvel’s FOOM); Saturday morning animation, and other groovy syndicated tv shows like Batman (Adam West),The Green Hornet, The Munsters and The Addams Family. Yet, Star Trek is where my young brain skipped a therapy session and decided to dive into things. I needed the toys, the books and devoted my pondering thoughts to all things Star Trek in a way that I not yet experienced.

Where no “I” had ever gone before.

Now, a small sampling of these as I list 13 things about Star Trek: The Original Series that I heavily obsessed about. In no particular order of importance, as they were all important…

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Little Steven’s Underground Garage: Celebrating 7 Years (So Far, and So Far Out) of Garage Rock Radio Greatness

This piece was originally published April 6th, 2009

Mop Top IconThe Little Steven’s Underground Garage syndicated weekly radio show began 7 years ago and is currently celebrating a seven year anniversary of playing selections from the ever growing umbrella of Garage Rock’s creatively wild, brilliantly defiant and just plain freakin’ good music from the ’50s to NOW. The current program is listed at show #366 and there is definitely no sign of slowing down.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better music radio host at the moment (ok Bob Dylan might be an equal, but he’s the subject of a future column) than the gravely voiced, street smart Dead End Kid who is Little Steven…

Steven Van Zandt a.k.a. Little Steven, was born at the beginning of the rock and roll decade, in 1950, to an Italian American family in Winthrop, Massachusetts. Moving to New Jersey when he was 7, his life as a musician will forever be one for modern music’s history books. Even an incomplete list of accomplishments is staggering: founding member of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, several early pre fame Bruce Springsteen bands, twice (and currently) a key figure in the legendary Springsteen E Street Band, activist and leader of the ’80s all star “Artists United Against Apartheid” Sun City benefit ensemble, and infamy as an actor in The Sopranos as the memorable Silvio. Hell, most folks would probably lounge on an island doing nothing else between recording albums and nightly four hour plus shows of touring with The E Street Band alone.

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Thankfully, for those of us who live, love and breathe cool music, Mr. Van Zandt seems to be a workaholic, and number one fan of all that he programs on his radio show.
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