Saturday Odds & Sods: Dead Man’s Curve

Cars and Rocks by Edward Hopper.

I just finished reading Joel Selvin’s wonderful book Hollywood Eden: Electric Guitars, Fast Cars, and the Myth of the California Paradise. It’s a look at the early days of the Southern California rock scene. I learned a lot, especially about Jan Berry of Jan & Dean fame.

I had no idea that Jan Berry was such an important and interesting figure. He was a brilliant man who attended college and medical school while cranking out surf rock hits. For a time, Berry was musically more advanced than his friend and collaborator, Brian Wilson. It all came crashing down on Jan when he had a near fatal car accident in 1966. He lived until 2004 but was never quite the same.

This week’s theme song was written by Jan Berry, Brian Wilson, Artie Kornfeld, and Roger Christian in 1963, three years before Berry’s brush with death.

Dead Man’s Curve is widely considered the height of surf rock and Jan Berry’s masterpiece.

There’s another song called Dead Man’s Curve by the country music duo Brothers Osborne:

I’m done throwing you curves, here’s another song with Dead Man’s in the title. I hope you can handle it.

That is, of course, a train song, not a car song. Nobody handles train songs like Richard Thompson.

We begin our second act with a look back at the 2019 piece my new hero, E. Jean Carroll wrote about her close encounter with Donald Trump.

Hideous Men: I had only vaguely heard of Ms. Carroll when she fired the opening shot in her 4-year-long battle with that ugliest of Americans who Joe Biden and Cassandra call The Former Guy.

Carroll published her piece in New York Magazine’s The Cut and it cut the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian to the quick. It turns out that “not my type” wasn’t such a good defense, after all.

I just gave myself an earworm. It’s a song whose opening line is, “Well, you cut me to the quick.”

Documentary Of The Week: There are times when I consider cancelling my Netflix subscription. I don’t use it as often as some other streamers and don’t care for much of its original programming. The best thing about Netflix is its documentaries. Bill Russell: Legend is their latest triumph.

I was a kid when Bill Russell last played but my father was a former college basketball player who loved the game, especially as played by the Boston Celtics. Bill Russell was the leader of that legendary dynasty and Lou made sure I saw him in action. Thanks, dad.

The documentary has some amazing footage of Russell in action. It was great to see him tangle with Wilt Chamberlain. Talk about a genuine battle of the titans.

Bill Russell was more than just a great athlete. He was an outspoken Civil rights activist who paved the way for today’s players. Thanks, Bill.

My favorite talking head is Russell’s former Celtic teammate Satch Sanders who was a defensive wizard back in the day. Nowadays, he’s a wit.

Larry Bird and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also offer insightful comments as does Lawrence O’Donnell. Lawrence grew up idolizing Russell and became his friend later in life. It’s one of those rare instances in which meeting one’s hero doesn’t disappoint.

There was a clip that took me back to the days of my yute: Bill Russell speaking at my high school. They showed my friend Rob Chamberlain during the Q&A session. Russell had fun with his last name. He was a funny man with a contagious cackle of a laugh.

Here’s the trailer:

Grading Time: I give Bill Russell: Legend 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+.

The last word of our second act goes to Mavis Staples with an anthem of the Civil Rights movement:

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth Casting Edition: I still have Jan & Dean on my mind. On the left, the real deal. On the right, Bruce Davison as Dean Torrance and Richard Hatch as Jan Dean in the 1978 teevee movie, Deadman’s Curve. What else?

Here’s another one of Jan & Dean’s big hits:

We move from adolescent surf music to grown up jazz.

Your Weekly Oscar: If you think the combination of Count Basie and OP is keyboard overkill, you are wrong. Here’s a number the two jazz titans composed and recorded together:

Have I told you lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? That goes for Bill Basie as well.

Saturday GIF Horse: Dr. A and I are grooving on the final season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Here are clips featuring two of my favorite characters: Susie Meyerson and Abe Weisman. I love me some Tony Shalhoub.

Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.

Saturday Classic: In my stock introduction to this segment, I paraphrase a Buck Owens song. Here are two versions of Close Up The Honky Tonks:

I say down, Buck says up. Let’s call the whole thing off for this week.

The last word goes to Bill Russell and his arch-rival Wilt Chamberlain:

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