Category: essay

psychojello:

Since we’re talking about it, I’m gonna go on a bit of a tangent about More of the Monkees. Many years ago I wrote a very brief ranking of the songs on the album and gave some facts about it, but I think this album represents a lot more than just a collection of pleasant yet often banal pop songs written by a coalition of the alleged best songwriters of the 1960s.

It’s very fitting that the cover is a putrid green shade, the color of dirty money. It featured the Monkees in “groovy” clothes from a JC Penney campaign they were forced to participate in. Not even the cover photo was real, it was spliced together between two separate photos.

Released at the apex of the Monkees popularity, this album was #1 for 18 weeks straight and has sold over 5 million copies in America alone. At that time, the Monkees could have released “happy birthday with a beat and it would have sold a million copies” (a quote attributed to Nez) or an album of various fart noises and it would’ve been a hit, that’s how hot they were at the time (keep in mind this album knocked of their first album off the top of the charts– where it had been #1 for 13 weeks). 

This album represents everything critics hate about pop music, and the Monkees as “manufactured pop stars” and the worst part is the Monkees had nothing to do with it. They thought they were recording songs for the inclusion on their TV show. They thought they were wearing the hideous clothes on the album cover for a JC Penney campaign (both were true). What they didn’t know is that Kirshner was planning to release this album while they were on tour without their approval.

“A manufactured image with no philosophy” 

This album was made to get as much money out of teenagers pockets and into the pockets of Kirshner and the NYC coalition of writers that he oversaw. On the back of the album he thanks the writers first– before the Monkees. No secret where his loyalty lies. Also on the back cover, his name is so prominently displayed it’s only slightly smaller than the name of the band. This is not a Monkees album; it’s a Don Kirshner album.

Now to delineate from the history lesson from a bit, I will say, despite the gross way in which it was assembled and released without consent, this album has some bops. Obviously “I’m a Believer’ and “Stepping Stone” are classics by any estimation, “Mary Mary” contains killer drumming that is so iconic it’s been sampled numerous times in hip hop, “She” is great dirty garage rock, and Micky’s vocals on “Sometime in the Morning” slay. But every time I hear this album I feel dirty. I feel bad because it sounds like greed and betrayal. The Monkees first album, made with the same coalition of writers and some contributions from Nesmith, has an innocent, carefree tone, much like the symbolic “we’re the young generation” refrain from their theme.

This album just feels cynical and fake. At one of the sessions when Nesmith brought in “Mary Mary” to record, someone in the Kirshner posse scoffed at it but said “well think of how many Mary’s there are,” implying well at least it will make them more money because it has a girls name in the title. This was not about music for them, this was about money. And control.

“There were some tracks that were brought in by producers from New York.  The guys, they didn’t like that at all,” says recording engineer Hank Cicalo of The Monkees’ involvement in these East Coast matters.  “I didn’t blame them; that was kind of
underhanded.  A lot of that was Donnie: they wanted to do it in New York
with their musicians.  [The Monkees would] come in, and we’d put vocals
on and percussion, stuff like that.  Some of them were very basic; some
of them were full.  You’ve got to remember that they were tired.  It
was a horrendous schedule with a lot of pressure.  So there were times
when a tune would arrive, and it wouldn’t be their tune, so there was
always that bit of intimidation.“

This album simultaneously ruined and helped their career. This album reaffirmed the belief of those in the mainstream press who had started to go in after the Monkees for being a fake band, mere puppets controlled by Kirshner in it for the money.

But Kirshner turned out to be the ultimate loser, when Nesmith and Tork, enraged about being lied to and cut out of the Monkees musical process, only became more outspoken in their desire to have musical control. Eventually they got Micky and Davy on their side and infamously went head to head with Kirshner with a single wall punch (and the blessing of Bert and Bob.)

So while this album discredited their talents at the time, in the end it’s what ended Kirshner’s reign as the Colgems music supervisor. 

Peter Tork: “The second record was so angering because Donnie Kirshner was almost militantly out to cut us out of the
process,” says Tork.  “It was like he was angry at us.  On the back
[cover] of it is nothing but Donnie Kirshner congratulating himself for
having hired all these other good musicians.  We were playing our music
on stage, and we were righteously pissed.”

Peter Tork: “We had to buy the album to hear it.  Somebody went across the street to the mall and bought the album.  We
were on the road at the moment.  We were so enraged about it.”

So for me, it’s really hard to assess this album without putting into context the situation that was brewing during its release. This album represents the nasty side of pop fame. So many people think pop stars are just soulless people, controlled, in it for the money. To me that’s what this album represents, at no fault to the Monkees of course, who as we all can see, had no control over their music at all.

It was released to make a quick buck, with no thought for the Monkees or their vision, no thought to even make the recordings that great. Jeff Barry (a producer and Kirshner ally) even said years later, “The guitar
sounds out of tune,” he says.  “Now that I’m hearing all of this, it was
kind of like a little hodgepodgey.  As I recall, there wasn’t time.  I
don’t remember picking these songs.  I think [the powers-that-be said],
‘Here, cut these.’  Kirshner being the main supplier of the songs – he
published everything.  I always remember urgency.  Today you take six
months or a year.  Don Kirshner just had all these writers going in and
making demos.  The only difference between a demo and master was the
label.”

I think in retrospect this album represents the end of an era. This album represented the past; the Brill building stable of writers that wrote so many hit songs in the early 1960s, the nameless faceless backing band that Kirshner never gave credit, the cynical appeal to teenage girls without any heart behind it.

Mere months later the Monkees would be back at #1 for one week (and #2 the entire summer of love) with their own artistic statement: Headquarters. An album that somehow combined banjos, mantras, psychedelic freakouts, pedal steel guitars, sparse arrangements, songs about hippie ideals. It was an album that represented the now. It represented them. A week later it was replaced by Sgt. Pepper and pop music was finally allowed to be taken seriously as art and not music for kids. Old farts in suits weren’t dictating culture anymore, it was the teenagers. And they were tired of the bullshit.

sources: “More of the Monkees Deluxe Liner Notes” by Andrew Sandoval and “#1 Albums of 1967,” Wikipedia/Billboard

psychojello:

Since we’re talking about it, I’m gonna go on a bit of a tangent about More of the Monkees. Many years ago I wrote a very brief ranking of the songs on the album and gave some facts about it, but I think this album represents a lot more than just a collection of pleasant yet often banal pop songs written by a coalition of the alleged best songwriters of the 1960s.

It’s very fitting that the cover is a putrid green shade, the color of dirty money. It featured the Monkees in “groovy” clothes from a JC Penney campaign they were forced to participate in. Not even the cover photo was real, it was spliced together between two separate photos.

Released at the apex of the Monkees popularity, this album was #1 for 18 weeks straight and has sold over 5 million copies in America alone. At that time, the Monkees could have released “happy birthday with a beat and it would have sold a million copies” (a quote attributed to Nez) or an album of various fart noises and it would’ve been a hit, that’s how hot they were at the time (keep in mind this album knocked of their first album off the top of the charts– where it had been #1 for 13 weeks). 

This album represents everything critics hate about pop music, and the Monkees as “manufactured pop stars” and the worst part is the Monkees had nothing to do with it. They thought they were recording songs for the inclusion on their TV show. They thought they were wearing the hideous clothes on the album cover for a JC Penney campaign (both were true). What they didn’t know is that Kirshner was planning to release this album while they were on tour without their approval.

“A manufactured image with no philosophy” 

This album was made to get as much money out of teenagers pockets and into the pockets of Kirshner and the NYC coalition of writers that he oversaw. On the back of the album he thanks the writers first– before the Monkees. No secret where his loyalty lies. Also on the back cover, his name is so prominently displayed it’s only slightly smaller than the name of the band. This is not a Monkees album; it’s a Don Kirshner album.

Now to delineate from the history lesson from a bit, I will say, despite the gross way in which it was assembled and released without consent, this album has some bops. Obviously “I’m a Believer’ and “Stepping Stone” are classics by any estimation, “Mary Mary” contains killer drumming that is so iconic it’s been sampled numerous times in hip hop, “She” is great dirty garage rock, and Micky’s vocals on “Sometime in the Morning” slay. But every time I hear this album I feel dirty. I feel bad because it sounds like greed and betrayal. The Monkees first album, made with the same coalition of writers and some contributions from Nesmith, has an innocent, carefree tone, much like the symbolic “we’re the young generation” refrain from their theme.

This album just feels cynical and fake. At one of the sessions when Nesmith brought in “Mary Mary” to record, someone in the Kirshner posse scoffed at it but said “well think of how many Mary’s there are,” implying well at least it will make them more money because it has a girls name in the title. This was not about music for them, this was about money. And control.

“There were some tracks that were brought in by producers from New York.  The guys, they didn’t like that at all,” says recording engineer Hank Cicalo of The Monkees’ involvement in these East Coast matters.  “I didn’t blame them; that was kind of
underhanded.  A lot of that was Donnie: they wanted to do it in New York
with their musicians.  [The Monkees would] come in, and we’d put vocals
on and percussion, stuff like that.  Some of them were very basic; some
of them were full.  You’ve got to remember that they were tired.  It
was a horrendous schedule with a lot of pressure.  So there were times
when a tune would arrive, and it wouldn’t be their tune, so there was
always that bit of intimidation.“

This album simultaneously ruined and helped their career. This album reaffirmed the belief of those in the mainstream press who had started to go in after the Monkees for being a fake band, mere puppets controlled by Kirshner in it for the money.

But Kirshner turned out to be the ultimate loser, when Nesmith and Tork, enraged about being lied to and cut out of the Monkees musical process, only became more outspoken in their desire to have musical control. Eventually they got Micky and Davy on their side and infamously went head to head with Kirshner with a single wall punch (and the blessing of Bert and Bob.)

So while this album discredited their talents at the time, in the end it’s what ended Kirshner’s reign as the Colgems music supervisor. 

Peter Tork: “The second record was so angering because Donnie Kirshner was almost militantly out to cut us out of the
process,” says Tork.  “It was like he was angry at us.  On the back
[cover] of it is nothing but Donnie Kirshner congratulating himself for
having hired all these other good musicians.  We were playing our music
on stage, and we were righteously pissed.”

Peter Tork: “We had to buy the album to hear it.  Somebody went across the street to the mall and bought the album.  We
were on the road at the moment.  We were so enraged about it.”

So for me, it’s really hard to assess this album without putting into context the situation that was brewing during its release. This album represents the nasty side of pop fame. So many people think pop stars are just soulless people, controlled, in it for the money. To me that’s what this album represents, at no fault to the Monkees of course, who as we all can see, had no control over their music at all.

It was released to make a quick buck, with no thought for the Monkees or their vision, no thought to even make the recordings that great. Jeff Barry (a producer and Kirshner ally) even said years later, “The guitar
sounds out of tune,” he says.  “Now that I’m hearing all of this, it was
kind of like a little hodgepodgey.  As I recall, there wasn’t time.  I
don’t remember picking these songs.  I think [the powers-that-be said],
‘Here, cut these.’  Kirshner being the main supplier of the songs – he
published everything.  I always remember urgency.  Today you take six
months or a year.  Don Kirshner just had all these writers going in and
making demos.  The only difference between a demo and master was the
label.”

I think in retrospect this album represents the end of an era. This album represented the past; the Brill building stable of writers that wrote so many hit songs in the early 1960s, the nameless faceless backing band that Kirshner never gave credit, the cynical appeal to teenage girls without any heart behind it.

Mere months later the Monkees would be back at #1 for one week (and #2 the entire summer of love) with their own artistic statement: Headquarters. An album that somehow combined banjos, mantras, psychedelic freakouts, pedal steel guitars, sparse arrangements, songs about hippie ideals. It was an album that represented the now. It represented them. A week later it was replaced by Sgt. Pepper and pop music was finally allowed to be taken seriously as art and not music for kids. Old farts in suits weren’t dictating culture anymore, it was the teenagers. And they were tired of the bullshit.

sources: “More of the Monkees Deluxe Liner Notes” by Andrew Sandoval and “#1 Albums of 1967,” Wikipedia/Billboard

psychojello:

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline’s first public date, April 23, 2004

If you want to see a visual that represents the early-to-mid 2000s, please look no further than Britney’s iconic outfit in these photos from 2004.

Trucker hat, check. Feather earrings (we all had them, why???), check. The jam band fan hippie choker, check. Bellybutton piercing, check. Jean short-shorts with the pockets hanging out, check. Last night’s smudged eyeliner, check.

I know perfectly drawn winged eyeliner is the rage with teens now but man, in the 2000s the gold standard of eyeliner was the smudged perfection of whatever you had on when you were partying the night before. It was a simpler time for sure.

Don’t get me wrong, I love when Ms. Spears aka Godney (aMEN) could clean up nicely in the early 2000s (although it being the early 2000s, there were a lot of style disasters, like her ionic #jeandress) but I absolutely love the era when Britney stopped giving a fuck and just did HER. It was a a delightful hodgepodge of country bumpkin rolling around on the floor of a pile of accessories at Wet Seal while hungover from too many tequila shots at the Cadillac Ranch.

Britney’s ability to not give a fuck was not calculated, not like the planned “not give a fuck” aesthetic adopted by so many of today’s pop girls (Miley Cyrus is a good example of this). By that point in her career, Britney truly did not care what people thought about her and just wanted to live her life and make the type of music she wanted. Neither of these things ended up happening for her, unfortunately.

We didn’t know it at the time, but this day lives in infamy as a true turning point in her life. The top shot of the paparazzi filming their every move is very unnerving, and obviously would only intensify the next few years of her life as her dream marriage to Kevin ended in a publicly traumatizing way. And we wonder why she had a breakdown?

It’s so interesting in today’s Instagrammed world with perfect filters and perfect angles and planned outfits and events (ie: the aesthetic of the Kardashians where the lens into their lives is always flawless and to be envied) to see something like this contrasted, this type of aesthetic of just doing you, un-showered and eating Cheetos just like the everyone else.

psychojello:

“Now everyone has to be derived from somebody or something. Nothing new is born without parents. Poets stand on the shoulders of earlier poets and musicians, from the long-hair classicists to the long-hair popists, are also links in a chain of influence”

This is one of the best responses I’ve read about the concept of “manufactured” music being inferior to “real music” (what is real music and who decides, I wonder).

A lot of bands are criticized for being manufactured now, but the Monkees got much of the same critique when they came out. I’ve never understood who it was that decided that in order for music to be good and valued it had to completely break from the norms of what went before, so it’s nice to see a music critic in that era say the same thing.

I believe that nostalgia is just as powerful as something totally new. The Monkees obviously borrowed a lot from the Beatles and other successful British Invasion bands, but they also had an undefinable something that made them seem new and fresh, and stand out. That X-Factor, if you will.

A lot of great bands used nostalgia and derivative imagery and sounds in the development of their music and did it with 100% full intent and purpose.

Roxy Music, is a good example, especially in their image which reflected on 1950s big-screen glamor and teddy boy/greaser gear, but using new technology like synths and having unique song structures and post-modern lyrical themes, and the New York Dolls, who mixed the early 1960s girl group lyrics with garage rock loudness and punk attitude and a gender-bending glam fashion sense. All of this had been “done” before but throwing all of these influences together was what made it new and special.

When we accuse current bands of “stealing” riffs and “copying” bands from other eras, even when these bands are doing it 100% with full knowledge and intent that they are trying to provide links to previous eras of music, we should ask ourselves why? Why are we getting so upset that a current band inspired by older music and trying to subtly bring that into appreciation in the current era?

Anyone that knows anything about post-modern art knows that this pastiche approach is very common and not looked down upon. It used to be the same way in music.

It’s taken decades for some people to understand why sampling in hip hop culture is a positive thing that should be celebrated. Hip hop producers using samples is akin to digging up forgotten treasures out of their parents’ record collections and making new generations appreciate them, but flipping the script by using production techniques that make it new and fresh, and rapping and lyrics that speaks to kids today.

Pastiche in art is something that tries to celebrate the things that have come before, not compete with, not replace. It often gives a new way of looking at something that has been forgotten or stuck in another era. So when you criticize, let’s say, One Direction for doing a pastiche of the handclap beat in “We Will Rock You” in their song “Rock Me,” for instance, think about the intent. Think about the intended audience. Think about the fact that music is constantly being built upon and inspired by what has come before and it’s not a bad thing to celebrate the past.

[Images originally from via Swinging Monkees | Datebook, 1967 January, posted by Goodtimemusic]

I haven’t really been in the mood to write essays/analysis lately but last night right before I went to bed I had an idea for a series about unknown models that are unknown by the general public because tragic circumstances cut down what could have been a promising career. The most obvious example is Gia (probably won’t write about her since she’s fairly well-known) but there are many similar stories and great models from all eras that I think more people need to know about. There’s so little actual information/analysis on models in general online except for like the supermodels and even then it’s more just old interviews and whatnot.

I’m mainly documenting this here so I don’t forget:)

psychojello:

The Wild West of the Early Internet: a look at late 1990s-early 2000s Anonymous Groupie Message Boards

This is the first-part of a new series where I look back at what the world wide web and life was like during the early years of the internet.

The ‘very early internet’ (early-mid 90s) was mostly populated by nerds on usenet forums, but once AOL started sending CDs in the mail and anyone could build a simple website on Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire, etc, the floodgates opened and the internet became a refugee for even more nerds, bored teenagers, fandoms, slash fanfic, chatrooms, message boards, a safe place for every disenfranchised or judged subculture in “real life" to congregate, and of course porn.

This was well before Google Image search was invented in 2001, thanks to our true hero Jennifer Lopez and her green Versace dress, so in order to see photos on the internet, for example, you had to go to websites where people had to upload their own photos and whatnot. This was also pre-Wikipedia, so anything that was online had to be put up there by some nerd that had to go to the trouble of building their own website to host that information. It was a fun time, to be honest! Anything was possible! The internet was a blank-ish canvas that we all filled with whatever we wanted the entire world to see and learn about.

One of the coolest things to happen around this time was anonymous groupie message boards and websites started cropping up, and anyone around the world in the comfort of their own homes could read what it was like to bang Bret Michaels (”If you do hook up with him, chances are he’ll keep his hat or bandana on.”) or how how big Trent Reznor’s dick is (According to the famous penis chart “average but a good fuck”)

These boards were very pro-woman, anonymous, and feminist. It was like having many wild older sisters from around the world giving you advice. They just wanted you to have a good time and be safe and know what you were getting into.

The Penis Chart on Metal Sludge, for example, was very open about who was bad in bed, which rockers treated women terribly, and who to stay away from, which dudes had small dicks, which ones gave AND received, and who was into what freaky stuff so ladies could be prepared. Sisters looking out for other sisters! It put some of the “power” back in the hands of women; if they didn’t have a good time or weren’t treated with respect, everyone on the internet knew which band guys sucked in bed….a real ego deflater for musicians.

The late 90s/early 2000s was a sort of renaissance for groupiedom; many of the 80s hair metal bands were finally back on the road after grunge killed their career for a few years in the 90s. They were popular draws again due to the Behind the Music shows on VH1 that had just started airing, which brought them a new/younger audience, and they were easier than ever to access.

There was also a new wave of rock & metal bands who embraced the hedonistic party way of life (top bands/artists mentioned by groupies in this era: Limp Bizkit, Disturbed, Godsmack, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Orgy, Kid Rock, Marilyn Manson, Tool, Korn, Eminem, Kid Rock, Incubus, various pop punk bands, boy bands.)

Eventually Groupie Central and Metal Sludge would see old school groupies and dudes in bands participate and send in messages, and give interviews. Then magazines like SPIN and channels like VH1 would talk about them, which made things a little too mainstream and took away a lot of the anonymity and feeling of community that made them so appealing in the first place. Groupie Central eventually included IP address of posts, which basically killed it instantly. Metal Sludge is still around, but the rest are mainly accessible via archive.org.

As for groupies today, it’s probably easier to be a groupie now thanks to social media. Dudes in bands definitely scope Instagram, Tinder, and Twitter for conquests and message girls directly.. Obviously anyone can send a DM on Instagram too. However, as we’ve also learned, it’s much easier for celebs to get caught and for things to blow up and become a trending topic for the entire world. A lot of them have policies where groupies have their phones taken away while they “hang out”, or even sign a NDA. My how times have changed!

Anyway, let’s take a look at much simpler times:

OLD SCHOOL GROUPIE WEBSITES:

Metal Sludge: Originally a site about metal, of course, it became famous for two things 1) The Long and Short of It– The World Famous Penis Chart where mostly hard (ha) rockers were ranked and measured by their shortcomings, bedroom performance, and how they treated conquests, and 2) Donna’s Domain, where “Donna Anderson”, an anonymous groupie who was NOT Nikki Sixx’s then-wife Donna D’Errico (as people mistook her for ALL THE TIME) was a sort of a ‘den mother”/ Dear Abby to all of the groupies and musicians who messaged her. She answered lot of reader mail with very snarky commentary. Donna’s Domain on Metal Sludge contained two other things beside the Penis Chart:  The Groupie Chart & Donna’s Ho Bag archives. This site is still active in some form, tho not much groupie talk happening.

Groupie Central: Besides Metal Sludge, Groupie Central was the most famous site that had information on banging musicians and was billed as the “first web site for groupies.” Like, EVERYONE read this site.

Groupie Central had it’s own message board where groupies shared penis sizes, tips, etc, but it really was known the first place on the internet to have tons of information on actual groupies, including the “Groupies, Wives & Lovers” section that not only had which dudes the girls slept with, but it featured fairly complete biographical information on the women that showed they were more than just the dudes they slept with. Groupie Central also had a comprehensive list of groupie-related movies, TV shows, music videos and album covers that featured the ladies, an advice column, gossip (this section is rad), etc. The Awards Show Reports from 1999-2001 are fun reads, so check them out.

It was the first site on the internet to give groupies their own identity. I mean where else were we gonna find out about this stuff, library books? This was the era when I think the only easily accessible groupie book was Pamela Des Barres.’ The main feature, of course, was the message board, which was pretty active back in the day.

Groupiedirt: I don’t remember much about this site, it seemed to be around during the same era as Groupie Central and unfortunately, the message board isn’t even accessible via archive.org. Bummer. You can see from the archived site that Pamela Des Barres was “looking for a few wondrous groupie girls for her new book, “She’s With the Band…,” so yeah, it was a very cool time when new groupies and old groupies shared stories and info on the regular. Rad.

Rock Groupie.com: Groupie Central had a lot of fights because the forums were “moderated” or “censored” and eventually the mod lost interest and it was turned into Rock Groupie. Fun fact: Model/muse Bebe Buell was an active participant at both forums which of course resulted in a lot of drama.

THE STORIES

I’ve combed the archives of these sites to find groupie stories about guys (and maybe some ladies) that I think my readers would care about, stories that haven’t already been discussed ad nauseum (I think by now we’ve all read many times what Led Zeppelin/Bowie/Steven Tyler/The Stones/Guns N Roses were like in bed, for example).

If there’s someone specifically you want to know about, I might be able to find info so message me.

Keep in mind that none of these are FROM ME, I found them from the deep internet circa 1990s/2000s via the internet archive and all should be taken with a grain of salt since anyone can post stuff on the internet yada yada please don’t sue me, this is all for entertainment purposes and should be considered GOSSIP. Most of these stories are from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s and may not reflect the behavior of any of these people now.

It took a lot of time to research these stories below so if you break them up and repost on Tumblr in your own fandom, can you at least give me credit and link to my blog? THANKS. For each story I have linked to original source so you don’t think I am just making these up.

If you’re under 18 please proceed with caution as clearly below you will be reading sex stories. Trigger warning for SEX. You might also learn info about your faves you that will disappoint you. I am sorry.

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