Category: Pop Culture Page 3 of 49
Any trends or popular fads may be described, whether it would be something like the hula hoop or the pet rock or simply new slang.
Drive-in theaters will definitely make a “comeback,” if you want to call it a comeback when there were always a few that were still operating.
My birthday was Thursday and, in an attempt to go to a movie somewhere other than my living room, I searched for any operating theaters in a two-state area near me (IA/IL). None of the indoor theaters were operating, but there were a few drive-ins open and operating. One was in Delmar, Iowa. One was in Maquoketa, Iowa, and one was in Blue Grass, Iowa.
Since Blue Grass was the closest to us, we went to it on Friday night. I spoke with the Manager, who said it has been in operation since 2014. It is a 10-acre plot in a field near the small town of Blue Grass, Iowa, and the screen is a ‘cube.’ allowing them to show 3 different sets of double features.(They haven’t gotten the fourth side operational yet). We selected “The Rental” with “The Big Ugly,” which was premiering that night at the drive-in. I think “The Rental,” directed by Dave Franco, is also streaming on Hulu and it featured Allison Brie and 3 other young actors who had rented a lovely remote vacation spot that was, apparently, owned by a homicidal psychopath.
Who was in these movies? Well, “The Big Ugly” was a chance for Malcolm McDowell (“A Clockwork Orange”) to square off opposite Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy”). There were also quite a few “old reliable” character actors rounding out the cast, including Bruce McGill, who was D-Day in “Animal House” and has appeared in any number of films since then, and Nicholas Braun (“Succession”) as Will, plus a promising new-comer, Brandon Sklemar, who played Perlman’s no-good son, Junior.
I took the opportunity to speak with the manager of the complex, which makes most of its money on the popcorn and pizza and other edibles they sell and requests that you not bring your own food. (Plus, no alcohol). The tickets were $10. The large pizza, 2 large (refillable) diet cokes, and a large popcorn were about $36. All together, the cost of the evening was about $50. We took lawn chairs and watched Movie Number One sitting outside and watched Movie Number Two inside the car. The film began at about 9 p.m. and the whole evening took until about 1 a.m.
The manager told us that the owner, when he retired in a few months, wanted to make the fourth side of the cube in the middle of the 10 acres into a fourth functioning screen. Right now, they show 3 different double features. (“Grease” and “Footloose” were on one and “Iron Man” and some children’s film was on a third.) The owner has a perhaps pie-in-the-sky dream of building suites (on stilts) and running year-round, which sounds “iffy” in the midst of an Iowa winter, but this night the weather was perfect, with a slight breeze, extremely friendly employees (all masked), and radios that one could rent for $5 if you didn’t want to tune your car radio into a pre-set number and run your car all night. The only drawback was hearing the soundtrack from nearby screens while watching our film(s).
Tribeca, the film powerhouse, has recently made plans to open 160 new drive-ins around the country. The “big new” thing for touring musicians is having their filmed performance showing on a drive-in screen. One that is coming up in the future is Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, Garth Brooks, and Keith Urban have all used the drive-in system, instead of the normal in-person concerts during the pandemic. At the Blue Grass Drive-in, they have no say over the ticket prices of such shows and the manager wondered, openly, why the cost for Garth Brooks was $100 per carload, versus $115 for Blake Shelton. [He felt it would be better to have a standard price for these “concerts,” but he doesn’t make the rules.]
So, the drive-in is back. I hadn’t been to a drive-in in 40 years, but I’m sure I’ll go again if all the theaters remain closed.
Some of you who hear the Suzi Quatro interview on Thursday, June 25th at 7 p.m. on the Bold Brave Media Global Network (or Tune-In Radio) may be wondering how you can find the documentary on her life and her music.
With theaters closed, Utopia Distribution will host a “SUZI Q” virtual event on July 1st featuring the film and an exclusive Q&A featuring Suzi Quatro and Special Guests TBA (available for 24 hours only) in advance of the film’s traditional release on VOD and DVD on July 3rd. To buy your ticket for the July 1st event powered by Altavod, visit:
Suzi Quatro, rock & roll legend, will be calling in to chat on the Weekly Wilson program of Thursday, June 25th. (Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In Radio; 7 p.m. CDT on Thursday.) U.S. audiences often remember Suzi best for her portrayal of Leather Tuscadero on “Happy Days” and her hit “Stumblin’ In,” which rose to #4 on the United States charts.
The official Suzi Quatro documentary feature SUZI Q, which charts the 54-year career of the pioneering female rocker who burst onto the scene in the 70s, is set to (hopefully) open in theaters July 1st and release on VOD and DVD with special bonus features on July 3rd, courtesy of Utopia. I watched it before the pandemic struck. I wonder, now, if the plans to release it in theaters represent yet another hurdle thrown in the way of one of rock and roll’s trailblazing female performers.
It’s a terrific documentary and very entertaining.
Once Suzi Quatro of Detroit City saw Elvis she knew she wanted to be him. In a way, she did become the female Elvis—just not in her own homeland. In the process, she had to overcome some family disapproval, causing her to say, “You’re gonna,’ at some point, pay serious dues.”
Her career was hampered when the man responsible for much of her promotional success, Mickie Most, a promoter who had discovered The Animals and the Yardbirds, quit guiding her career in 1980 with the expiration of their contract. Mickey had urged her to come to England in 1971 when she was just 21 years old. She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star.:1–3
In the 1970s, Quatro scored a string of hit singles that found greater success in Europe and Australia than in her homeland. She reached no. 1 in the UK and other European countries and Australia with her singles “Can the Can” (1973) and “Devil Gate Drive” (1974). Following a recurring role as bass player Leather Tuscadero on the popular American sitcom Happy Days, her duet “Stumblin’ In” with Smokie‘s lead singer Chris Norman reached No. 4 in the US.
Quatro released her eponymous debut album in 1973. Since then, she has released fifteen studio albums, ten compilation albums, and one live album. Her other solo hits include “48 Crash“, “Daytona Demon“, “The Wild One”, and “Your Mama Won’t Like Me”.
Between 1973 and 1980, Quatro was awarded six Bravo Ottos. In 2010, she was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame. Quatro has sold over 50 million albums and continues to perform live, worldwide. Her most recent studio album was released in 2019 and she also continues to present new radio programmes.
This excellent film from Australian filmmakers Liam Fermager (director) and Tait Brady explains, “Suzi was the precursor to Joan Jett.” You could say, “Suzi Quatro was Joan Jett before there WAS a Joan Jett.” This message is driven home by riveting rock & roll footage of Suzi in concert and by such fellow artists as Alice Cooper, Deborah Harry (Blondie), Joan Jett, Cherie Currie (The Runaways), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Donita Sparks (L7), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Kathy Valentine (The GoGo’s), KT Tunstall, members of the Quatro family, and many more.
“Suzi Q” portrays Suzi as the trailblazer and inspiration for a generation of women musicians to follow. As the film says, “It takes a Suzi Quatro to come along and say, to other girls, this is possible.” Suzi is quoted as saying, “I was waiting for my shot” and “As soon as you make it big, they cut you to pieces. At that time, rock was a male-dominated business.” She also notes, of her work ethic, “I’m obligated to be the best I can be. That’s the attitude I take to my shows. You’re gonna’ get all of me.”
“Suzi Q” is the story of the girl from Detroit City who redefined the role and image of women in rock & roll. She broke through around the world in 1973. Since that year, she has sold 55 million records in a 54-year career. She was singer, songwriter, bass player, author, radio presenter, poet and she is still touring and recording music, with a new album, “No Control,” her 24th album, released in March, 2019.
Suzi started playing in 1964, ’65 and ’66, singing songs with lyrics like: “I’m a red-hot fox. I’m a wild one.”
Quatro moved to England in 1971, after being spotted by the record producer Mickie Most, who had by that time founded his own label, Rak Records. He had been persuaded to see Cradle—the group that included Suzi and 2 of her sisters— by Michael, the brother of the Quatro sisters who had assumed a managerial role. Like many in the record industry at the time, Most was seeking a female rock singer who could fill the void that the death of Janis Joplin had created. According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, his attention to Quatro was drawn by “her comeliness and skills as bass guitarist, singer and chief show-off in Cradle.”
When Mickey Most saw Suzi and her sisters—Patti, Arlene and Nancy—playing and singing, he only wanted the cute, petite bass player. That set the family unit on a path of jealous envy. Suzi, herself, says, “You can always look back with regret…It’s important to be validated by the ones you love the most….But when you look at what you have accomplished, you have to realize that the mistake is that people overlooked you. That’s their mistake.”.
Suzi’s look—leather cat-suit—was modeled on the Jane Fonda film “Barbarella.” Suzi had to leave the country she grew up in to make it. Make it she did, but having your record by #1 in Portugal, France, the UK and Switzerland is not the same as making it in the United States. Her self-titled album, although Number One in Australia, only made it to #142 in the U.S. Even today, she lives in Essex, Hamburg (Germany, a country which embraced her), and, sometimes, in Detroit.
In 1974 Suzi came back to tour America, not having been back in 3 years. When she went home, she discovered that all of her clothes and albums in her childhood home had been removed. She played 65 cities in 72 days and opened for Uriah Heep and Alice Cooper on the Welcome to My Neighborhood tour (April 4, 1978). She even made the cover of “Rolling Stone” (Issue #177). But even Clive Davis couldn’t get Suzi’s songs played in the U.S. on radio and, as Joan Jett says in the documentary, “The key to success in the states has always been radio.”
After the Alice Cooper tour of 1974, there was no real push for Suzi’s music and “Stumblin’ In”, which went to #4 in the U.S., was her highest-charting song in her home country.
Suzi spent 3 years (1977-1979) on “Happy Days” as Leather Tuscadero, playing the younger sister of Fonzi’s girlfriend Pinky Tuscadero. In 1980, following the end of her contract with Mickie Most, who had discovered her and nurtured her career, she signed with Chapman’s Dreamland Records. Dreamland Records folded in 1981, leaving Suzi without a record label.
Suzi had fallen in love with her back-up guitarist, Len Tuckey. They were married in 1976, at which point she had spent 5 years abroad. Suzi spent 5 years after their marriage trying to have a child. She succeeded, giving birth to a daughter, Laura, in 1982. Her son, Richard Leonard Tuckey, was born in 1984.
The couple divorced in 1992, after 16 years of marriage. Lenny objected to Suzi’s taking a role in a 1986 production of “Annie Get Your Gun” playing Annie Oakley, saying, “You can’t do that and then sell rock and roll in the United Kingdom.” He added, “She didn’t want anybody holding her back.” Today, Suzi is married to German record producer Rainer Haas, whom she married in 1993.
SUZI Q positions Suzi as the trailblazer and inspiration for a generation of women who were to follow after her in the next decade, but whose trailblazing status was not sufficiently recognized by the music industry and contemporary audiences, especially in North America.
The documentary SUZI Q reminds contemporary audiences of her pioneering influence, white-hot talent and string of incandescent rock hits (CAN THE CAN, 48 CRASH and DAYTONA DEMON) that were the vehicle for her explosion of gender stereotypes in rock n roll. She rewrote the rule book for the expected image of women in rock music and reached millions of people worldwide in the process.
I am currently booking guests for my Thursday night podcast into August.
While my last post addressed the months of May (one week remaining) and June, here are those tentatively scheduled for June, July and August. This week’s author is Anita Oswald, author of “West Side Girl,” a nice companion to last week’s book “Redlined” by Linda Gartz, also about the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago. (Linda’s book was the 2018 Chicago Writers’ Association Nonfiction Book of the Year.)
June 4, 2020: Guest will be Barbara Barnett, Chicago author of “The Apothecary’s Curse” who is promoting the sequel to that book, “Alchemy of Glass.” Barbara is a member of both HWA (Horror Writers’ Association) and SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America).
June 11, 2020: Spike (“at the mike”) O’Dell, former WGN on-air radio personality.
June 18, 2020: Heather Graham, New York Times best-selling author of the Krewe of Hunters romantic/paranormal series, speaking about her newest book, “Seeing Darkness,” the Krewe of Hunters Book #30.
June 25, 2020: Suzie Quatro, prior to the release of the documentary on her life. Suzi was Joan Jett before there was a Joan Jett.
July 2, 2020: Anthony Whyte, owner/editor of www.TheMovieBlog.com, the 3rd most heavily consulted movie blog on the Internet.
July 9, 2020: Lance Taubold and Rich Devin of Las Vegas, Nevada, book publishers and authors at Invoke Books.
July 16, 2020: Tori Eldridge, author of “The Ninja Daughter” from Polis Books.
July 23, 2020: Quad City author Sean Leary, author of “The Arimathean” series and other books.
July 30, 2020: Dan Burns, Chicago Writers’ Association treasurer and Chicago film critic and screenwriter.
August 6, 2020: Iris Waichler, author of “Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents”
August 13, 2020: Jon Land, novelist (“The Caitlin Strong” series) and screenwriter.
Some of the above are subject to change and tentative, but this gives you somewhat of an idea who is scheduled in the future. I was working on an interview with Cathy Moriarty, but her agent has said the pandemic has caused her to “go to ground” and cancel all such appearances. I’m still waiting to hear back from Gary Cole’s representatives.
May 21st – My guest on Weekly Wilson, the podcast, at 7 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday was Linda Gratz, talking about her book “Redlined.” It was a fascinating hour.
May 28th – My guest this coming Thursday will be Anita Solick Oswald, author of “West Side Girl” ad a founding member of the Boulder Writing Studio. Anita and I will talk again about the same neighborhood that Linda Gratz grew up in during the fifties and the sixties, West Garfield Park. Linda’s memoir is a more lighthearted look at what she remembers fondly as a great childhood growing up the changing Chicago neighborhood.
June 4 – My guest on Thursday will be Barbara Barnett, author of “The Apothecary’s Curse” and “Alchemy of Glass.”
June 11 – My guest will be former WGN on-air radio personality Spike (“at the Mike”) O’Dell.
June 18 – My guest is scheduled to be New York Times Best-Selling author Heather Graham, author of the Krewe of Hunters romance/paranormal novels.
June 25 – Rock star Suzi Quatro is scheduled to be with me in advance of the documentary about her life. Suzi was Joan Jett before there was a Joan Jett.