Happy 40th Anniversary, Panorama!

As many of you know, Panorama is my favorite Cars’ album! It was released 40 years ago today, on August 15, 1980. To celebrate, I’ve got stickers to give away!

panorama stickers

If you’d like one, please mail me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I’ll send a sticker your way! A small envelope with a single stamp will do; the diameter of the circle is only 3 inches. Because I have a limited quantity, it will be first come, first served.

Here’s my mailing address:

sweetpurplejune

P.O. Box 925

Priest River ID 83856

Some quick facts about this album, and a few links:

  • It is The Cars’ third album, and Roy Thomas Baker continued his streak as the band’s producer.
  • It was initially recorded at Power Station Studios in New York. Roy was unhappy with the situation there so they packed up their stuff and moved to Cherokee Studios (where they had recorded Candy-O) and started over. Man oh man, how I’d love for those initial tapes to surface!
  • The photography for the cover art was done by the amazing Paul McAlpine. The flag on the front was mistakenly believed to be a painting done by David Robinson, but that has since been debunked.
  • Panorama was reissued as an expanded edition in 2017. You can read my review of it here, if you like: https://sweetpurplejune.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/review-panorama-expanded-edition/
  •  “Don’t Go To Pieces” was recorded but ultimately left off the album, though it did show up on two B sides. Read more about that little gem here: https://sweetpurplejune.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/dont-go-to-pieces/
  • Lots of info about the song and video for “Touch And Go” in this article: https://sweetpurplejune.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/touch-and-go/
  • I did go ahead and upload the audio of John Lennon talking about “Touch and Go” to YouTube to make it easier for people to hear.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been sitting on an interview I did with Gerald Casale since around February. He directed the videos for “Panorama” and “Touch And Go,” and he was so gracious to speak to me at length! It’s kind of a stupid story as to why it’s not done yet but no excuses; it’s on me. I’ve got it in the queue and hope to get it published soon!

Here’s the official video for “Panorama.” I LOVE THIS!!

Oh, and of course, Dave and I dissected this album for the podcast back in 2018.

Whew — okay, I think that’s it for now! Don’t forget to send me an envelope if you want that sticker. And now? Time to crank my favorite Cars record!! Enjoy this full-album playlist from The Cars Official Youtube channel. ❤

The time has come for Turbocharge!

movie posterIt’s finally here, people: Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of The Cars is available on Amazon Prime! Regular followers of the podcast will know just how much my co-host Dave Curry and I have longed for this day! The journey goes back over a decade…

Dave remembers when this film was completed in 2008, and there were posts popping up on social media about some screenings in New York. For many Cars lovers, the thrust of the movie was perplexing and unclear. A website to promote the film was also launched, featuring some bizarre clips and puzzling images that could only serve to mystify fans even more. Dave’s curiosity was piqued and never quite subsided, even as chatter about the movie eventually cooled. In time, it seemed the reality of this little film was sinking into the depths of Fanorama folklore, with only odd blips of its existence evidenced on its equally fading website.

But like Gage coming back to life in Pet Sematary, awareness resurfaced when the writer of the film, David Juskow, brought up Turbocharge on his personal podcast in December of 2017.  Its revival spurred Dave into action, and he began a little Twitter campaign prodding Juskow to dust off the film and share it with us for review on our NiGHT THOUGHTS Podcast. His efforts were successful and Dave and I were allowed a private online screening. We were electrified by the movie, recognizing it as a hilarious and wonderful tribute to The Cars, and we strongly encouraged (begged?) Juskow to reconsider releasing it to the rest of the world. And so here we are!

**Before I get into my review/history of Turbocharge I am going to issue a DISCLAIMER: I know there’s been lots of recent discussion about who we would cast in a serious movie about The Cars. Let me state unequivocally that this movie is NOT a serious movie about The Cars! While much of the band’s true history is represented, this is a parody, an exaggeration, and at times a downright fabrication of events for comedic purposes. As Dave Curry said on our podcast, “In order to enjoy this film, you have to set aside what you know about Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, and David Robinson, and you have to accept them as these characters in this film.” If you can do that, you will love this movie!**

badassbenjamin

Created more as an act of rebellion, New York comedian, writer, and filmmaker David Juskow was fed up with the stereotypical ‘serious’ rock biopic. One night in 2005, after nearly gagging on the cheesy dialog and overbearing drama in Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story, he had had enough. It was the final push he needed to pursue his own project.

“I made Turbocharge out of spite, let’s just say that. It is completely spoofing the genre of any biopic that’s been made of a music band. That is exactly what it is,” Juskow told me with finality.

It’s no secret that The Cars were crazy-popular throughout the late 70s and on into the 80s, but intuitive fans recognize that they were never ones to really push themselves into the spotlight. No exhaustive merchandising, far-reaching world tours, or relentless appearances on the late night television circuit. As a whole, they were a low-key and private band, holding the media at arms’ length and creating an air of mystery about their deeper identity. Did they have a story to tell?

Juskow believed they did.

Exaggerated personalities, terrible wigs, and an unorthodox plot make this hilarious film the breath of fresh air the genre needs. Narrated by a snowman a la Rankin/Bass, the story revolves around The Cars’ reputation for being robotic and boring during live shows, and their supposed determination to correct that perception with the fans. Running alongside that thread is the assertion that bassist Ben Orr was secretly plotting to wrest the control of the group from co-founder and songwriter Ric Ocasek. In an unexpected twist, Phil Collins is delightfully in the middle of it all.

Sure, Juskow pokes fun at the band, but he’s not vicious. He respects all five members very much.  “Nothing about the movie is mean-spirited,” he assured me. “I can’t make a movie like that. It’s always got to have goodness in it.” And it’s not like he had to make a bunch of stuff up; Juskow would soon discover that The Cars’ own history easily leant itself to comedic treatment.

79423416_1228562430677576_83295135449743360_nOn the whole, David Juskow is a man of strong, immediate emotions paired with a very thin verbal filter, pretty standard on the streets of Brooklyn (“People either love me, or they really, really dislike me,” he laughs). Fortunately he grew up in the riotous era of late 1970s television and he generally sees the world through sitcom lenses. Juskow takes timeless gags and bits from those classic shows and weaves them into his standup act. His penchant for spotting the ridiculous moment, his ironic delivery, and his spot-on celebrity impressions soften his edges with his friends and fans. Those talents also lead him to create great comedy.

The idea for Turbocharge actually materialized in the mid-80s during Juskow’s college days. The Heartbeat City album took his ears by storm. He remembered, “I thought it was the greatest album I had ever heard in my life, and ‘You Might Think’ – the song itself – just completely spoke to me. I went backwards from there and started worshipping all of their stuff. The videos made no difference to me, it really was the music, and I just really got into that Heartbeat City album. Greg Hawkes’ influence in that stuff really worked for me and that’s why I really liked them. They just had such interesting melodies and electronic keyboards. And then I was just obsessed with everything they did.”

Lightning hit in the summer of 1985. Juskow’s voice escalated with emotion as he explained, “I remember exactly where I was during Live Aid. I was at this party in Rochester, New York, and I was waiting and waiting for The Cars to come on.  Everybody was outside but I’m just waiting for them to be on, and then they get cut off by Phil Collins! And I was like, ‘What?! How could you do that to my boys?!’

“Being a huge fan of The Cars at that time I was so angry that they got shafted that it turned to comedy in my mind. I was like, ‘Someday I’m going to depict that!’”

Two decades later, the time had come. The 20th anniversary of Live Aid unearthed Juskow’s earlier grudge over the Phil Collins fiasco, and that, coupled with his disgust over the Def Leppard movie, prompted him to approach his good friend, television industry veteran Memo Salazar. “I said to him, ‘Let’s just do this. It will be stupid, but it will be brilliant… in a way,’” he laughed.

Memo said he might do it if Juskow wrote the script, and so it was on. Juskow spent the next several months researching The Cars’ history, confirming things he already knew and then going deeper. And the further he dug, the funnier it became. The peculiarity of Ric and Ben’s early partnership, The Cars ‘trashing’ a hotel by leaving pictures askew, the perceived disaster of the Panorama album… it was the oddities in the band’s journey that propelled everything forward with the movie.

1984 by Brian Brainerd backstage at McNichols Arena
The Cars by Brian Brainard, 1984

Not only that, but the band members’ public personas were ripe for humorous distortion. David Robinson, the consummate ladies’ man – you just had to have that character brought out. And Ric’s exaggerated awe of anyone who does anything ultra-creative, Elliot’s stony seriousness that was masking his sharp wit, and the sweet-faced Greg, who surely must have been hiding a side of snark behind that smile.

“You couldn’t even make a serious biography about these guys. It would have to be hilarious. They are a true rock and roll band who are a bunch of nerds, and I knew I must tell this story in a nerdy way… and yet we all know they rock.”

Juskow does take an obvious amount of creative license, but many of his conjectural elements are a weighty mix of fact and thoughtful contemplation. He fleshes out underlying fan controversies… questions like why didn’t Ben sing more? Was Ben ambitious? Did Ric and Ben reconcile before Ben passed away? Juskow speculated about what might have been bubbling up in Ben. “It’s weird. He clearly has a better singing voice. He’s clearly more attractive. And in my mind I’m saying, ‘what’s going on behind the scenes? Why don’t I do a movie just saying how angry this guy is? He doesn’t have any songwriting talent so he gets screwed.’”

“Everybody takes liberties for drama purposes,” Juskow went on. “What would you have if you didn’t have a fun antagonist? C’mon, you need someone to get mad about Andy Warhol: ‘You hired this guy? Are you kidding me?’”

And there’s the difference: Juskow’s forays into embellishment are not designed to evoke emotion with the cookie-cutter ‘climb to fame’ struggles of the typical rockumentary… they’re just damn funny.

The cast is largely made up from Juskow’s comedy family and ‘friends of friends,’ including Kevin Kash, Rachel Feinstein, Jonathan Katz, Irene Bremis, H John Benjamin, John Samuel Jordan, David Engel, Tom Shillue, and Dave Attell. Juskow himself plays Ric Ocasek. Out of necessity, the lines were few and far between for his character. “There was no way I could direct and be in the movie; it was too complicated. It was way easier to just be silent and ‘tortured.’”

The soundtrack includes music from Eric Barao, The Cautions, Frank Stallone, and a couple of Cars-flavored tunes written by Juskow himself.

As I mentioned above, the film originally opened in 2008 with a few private screenings in the New York area, but Juskow didn’t pursue much more exposure than that. He felt it was a bit of a niche film and was afraid there wouldn’t be much of an audience out there, but we know there is! The playful humor and witty references will hit home with Cars fans and lovers of 80s culture alike. You can check it out on Amazon Prime by clicking here: Turbocharge! Watch it, and then find me on Facebook or comment below to tell me what you think!

To learn even more, visit the Turbocharge Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/turbochargethemovie/, and check out David Juskow’s comedy podcast on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/davejuskow

ONE

Boston in Pictures

Boston in Pictures

Here’s my photo journal of my time in Boston celebrating Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars. The event itself was a sold-out-smash filled with rocking music, incredible surprises, and a guest list that sent me over the moon. Surrounding that, I had the time of my life in the same city where my Benjamin lived and worked.

I admit to siphoning a few photos from my friends’ Facebook posts. I hope no one minds! I was too hyper and/or forgetful to capture all I wanted. Photographers include Joe Milliken, Natalie Gaber, Kurt Gaber, David Curry, Eric Barao, Ralph Fatello, Peter Van Ness, Denise Fields, Christine Coughlin, and Mike Baratta. I appreciate you all!

Okay… here we go!

01

Leaving for the airport Wednesday night, my daughter Liz surprised me with some encouraging words and sage advice. Oh, and snacks, too. Such a sweet kiddo!!

On my way to the airport I stopped to pick up my new business cards, featuring a great design by @night_spots. I love them!

02a

Arrived Thursday morning, got my rental car and made my way to the hotel, where I was able to check in early. First thing I did? Got Turbocharge plugged into the big screen and mourned the fact that one of my heroes, David Juskow, wasn’t coming to Boston. I also found out that I was going to miss seeing my dear friend, Dante Tomaselli. I had to take a few minutes to absorb those disappointments. I showered, changed my outfit, and painted my toenails before meeting my dear friend, Nicole, for the first time! I wish I had snapped a photo of us when we first met; we were both so very excited! We talked a mile a minute and had to explain to the waitress why we still hadn’t decided on our orders when she came by for the umpteenth time.

03
L-R: Joe Milliken, me, and Nicole Wong

After a brief but tasty lunch and chick chat, I headed back to the hotel to meet Joe, and then guess what? Nicole treated me and Joe to an elegant dinner at The Top of the Hub! What an amazing time we had! The conversation just flowed as we talked about Boston, the book, and the pros and cons of letting our kids play sports. We missed out on most of the view as it was very foggy outside, but we hardly cared, we were enjoying each other so much. The one blemish on the evening was that Nicole’s love, Mike, couldn’t come due to an unexpected meeting at work. Fortunately, I knew I would finally get to meet him on Saturday night.

06
L-R: Eric Green, Joe, and me

Fat and sassy from our scrumptious dinner with Nicole, Joe and I met filmmaker Eric Green (writer and director of the documentary Live on the V: The Story of V66) at The Pour House for drinks and an interview for Eric’s pop culture blog. It was an honor for me to hang out with him, and we all had a blast! We chatted for a bit, recorded the interview between him and Joe, and then chatted some more. He is so interesting, intelligent, and funny, I felt like I could have talked to him forever.

07

Friday morning was busy with visiting and prep, but in the early afternoon Joe and I were able to find the former location of The Rat (before determining that we were at the wrong location for dinner with Judith Orr. Haha! Luckily she wanted to change restaurants anyway, so it all worked out.). As you see, I’m wearing my red pants in honor of Ben.

08
Inside Eastern Standard

Inside the Eastern Standard there is a very cool poster commemorating the former Rat venue. It was a surreal feeling to be standing on the ground where so much rock-and-roll history took place.

09
L-R: Me, Judith Orr, and Joe

Joe and I enjoyed a yummy dinner at Bertucci’s on Friday night with beautiful Jude and her sweet friend, Christine. We shared stories and laughs and lots of huckleberry taffy, and it was really a precious time for me. I like Judith SO much; she’s hilarious and open, and such a happy person. I had hoped to get together with her at least one more time before I left but aside from seeing her at the book event, I wasn’t able to meet up with her again; time just got away from me. She lives in my timezone, though, so I’m optimistic we’ll see each other before too long.

10
L-R: Joe, me, Alan Fields, Dave Curry, and Kurt Gaber

After dinner we headed back to the hotel in time to catch the screening of Turbocharge with this group of crazy kids! I never get tired of watching this hilarious film. I couldn’t help but miss David Juskow, though; he had been wavering on whether to come to Boston to join us for the weekend but in the end, he just wasn’t able to make it. Still, our little group had a great time hanging out together (Alan’s wife, Denise, was there, too; she took the pic for us).

IMG_6658.jpg
Me and Dave… oh, and the Marriott dudes.

Thank goodness my podcast partner-in-crime and I met for coffee in the mornings so we could make time to act like ding dongs. Dave and I found ourselves going separate ways much of the weekend so it was great to have that daily check-in. I am eternally grateful for our easy, funny, relaxed friendship. I don’t know what I’d do without him! 

11

On Saturday morning during coffee, Dave invited me to head to Rockport with him, Kurt, and Natalie, and I convinced Joe to come, too. I’m so glad we went! Here I am outside of David Robinson’s shop. We parked nearby but the place was closed when we walked past, darn it! Oh well. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was eager to explore the area and see what Rockport was all about.

12

Boats aplenty at Rockport Harbor!

13

Lots of cute art galleries, jewelry shops, candlemakers… and a stinky lobster place! Haha!

14

Stopped to enjoy the street action with Olive and Ash, the ‘brother and sister Juggle Crew.’ Heck yeah! I have a soft spot in my heart for kids who take the initiative and put effort into carving their path.

15

The view of the Atlantic Ocean from Bearskin Neck.

16

The view of Back Harbor.

19
Natalie Gaber and me

Perfect day! Kurt’s wife, Natalie, is an absolute treasure. She’s so patient with all of us Cars fans and always has her camera snapping away for us. She’s witty and observant, and so very kind! It was a treat to hang out and do some casual shopping with this sweet, quiet, lovely lady.

20

Rockport is such an adorable little town. We walked out to Bear’s Neck and back, grabbing some yummy ice cream on our return stroll. Mine was chocolate peanut butter. Mmmm!

21
L-R: Kurt, Joe, me, and Dave

There’s just never enough time to spend, you know? But I am so grateful… It’s amazing to me that I have actually met these amazing friends in person, and on multiple occasions! I truly love these guys (and Nat, too, who is behind the camera!).

22
Do I even need to label this? David Robinson and me. ❤

So, when we walked back toward the car and passed David Robinson’s shop, guess who was sitting out on the porch, shooting the breeze with friends? That’s riiiiiiight! THE David Robinson! Dave, Kurt, and I all tell the details of this ultra-cool turn of events on episode 55 of the NiGHT THOUGHTS podcast, but suffice it to say, I was so very happy to spend time with him. And he remembered meeting me in Cleveland! It still makes me all quivery with delight to think about it.

23
Me, David, and Joe

Though we knew beforehand that David would be coming to the book event with friends, it was great for me and Joe to confirm plans with him in person and make sure he was all set. I know Joe really enjoyed getting to connect with him, too, since it had been a few years since he interviewed David for the book.

20190706_205318

This is the beautiful piece I bought, a necklace handmade by David Robinson.

24

A sample of David Robinson’s favorite music. Can you even imagine how cool it was to talk tunes with him like just a bunch of friends hanging out? I mean, when we first came upon him my knees were weak, but by this point I was pretty relaxed because he just put us all at ease. I don’t think it was until we were buckling in the car to head back to Peabody that the full force of happiness really hit me again.

25
L-R: Dave, Joe, me, David, Natalie, and Kurt

We spent about an hour and a half enjoying David’s company. He was kind, cool, and funny, and said very nice things to us (and yes, his hands were warm!). Terrific memories with some of my favorite people in the world.

26

The event poster outside of 9 Wallis. I’m pretty proud of my design, if you don’t mind me saying. I’m thankful to Joe for giving me so much creative freedom, and for my son, Nick, who pulled Ben out of that Robert Post photo for me. Since it’s about 3 feet high and on stiff signboard there was no way I could fly it home with me, but Joe’s holding mine with his. Yay!

27

Our little merch table. I love the items Joe and I put together. We’ve got a few leftover; we’ll be making them available for purchase on Facebook.

28

It was an honor to have the incredibly talented Kathy Sullivan join us at the party, and we were thrilled to have her set up her fabulous artwork, including two amazing portraits of Ben… and a third one that I didn’t know about yet. I’ll definitely do a separate post about her just for this blog, but I did have the pleasure of interviewing her for an SRO article and writing an abbreviated review for my sister blog, Read~Rock~Review.

29
Brett Milano and Joe Milliken

Many of you might know of Brett Milano from The Cars’ final interview in 2000, or from the liner notes he’s penned for a couple of the band’s post-heyday releases. He is also a long-time journalist and author of four music-related books, too! The moderated discussion he led with Joe to kick off the night was a nice, relaxed conversation. These two were great together! Our dear friends, The Covinos, filmed this part of the show and I’ve uploaded it to the book’s YouTube channel. Link below!

DR with MIS.jpg
L-R: Bob Heazlit, Matt Fuller, David Robinson, Danny Ayala, Lars Altvater, and Noah Patera

Before Moving In Stereo took the stage, I had the privilege of introducing them to David Robinson in the green room. Again, he was so low-key and funny, and took his time chatting with everyone, joking around, and wishing them luck. David’s girlfriend, Nancy, was so sweet, too. I wish I had thought to get a picture with her. As a side note, before I escorted David and Nancy back to their seats I did show them my Panorama shoes — David loved them!

31
L-R: Noah, Bob, Matt, Danny, and Lars

Moving in Stereo – The Ultimate Musical Tribute to The Cars! These guys rocked the club for 75 minutes — and I do mean ROCKED. I received so many compliments from people during and after the show about the band’s performance, not just from Cars fans, but from Ben’s family and friends as well as from the other notable musicians that were in the audience. I’m so proud of our boys!

32
Bob, Matt, and Danny

The whole band delivered a high-energy, tight, magnetic show!

33

Powerhouse trio!

34

I was totally taken off guard when Joe called me up on the stage before the band’s encore, and even more surprised when he revealed for the first time publicly how I came to be involved with the book. I’m not always aware of my facial expressions; thank goodness David Curry reminded me to SMILE.

35

Joe had a special gift for me as his way of thanking me for my dedication to the book project. You can’t imagine my shock and pleasure when he presented me with a stunning portrait he had commissioned from Kathy Sullivan just for me: our beautiful Benjamin from Musikladen. My sweet friend, Nicole, was in on it, too, and knew it was coming, so she captured it on video. Check out the link at the end of this article!

36
Benjamin Orr by Kathy Sullivan, 2019

Kathy Sullivan’s remarkable portrait. And see the purple wave of spirit and stars behind him? It’s a beautiful inclusion of the ‘sweetpurplejune’ connection. This treasured gift moves me every time I look at it, which is about 100 times a day.

37
Nicole and me!

Me with my beautiful and treasured friend, Nicole! It was a dream come true to finally meet her face to face after nearly three years of social media connection!

38
Me with Brett Milano

I was thrilled to meet and spend time with author Brett Milano, whom I have long admired. I even remembered to have him sign my copy of his book, The Sound of Our Town.

39
Me with Hirsh Gardner

I’m afraid I was a little starstruck when I saw legendary drummer and producer Hirsh Gardner making his way across the venue. What a treat to meet him! And he was nice enough to rock out with me and even share his yummy drink. Haha!

40
Me with Eric Barao

I’m sure I took singer/songwriter Eric Barao by surprise when I leapt into his arms as soon as I recognized him; I was just so happy to finally meet him in person! I feel like I’ve known him forever. And what a good sport he was to bring Ric Ocasek’s jacket for me to try on! LOL

from tracey 4
L-R: Diane Page, Judith Orr, and Kris Orr

It was such an honor to have these three ladies in attendance: Diane Page, Judith Orr, and Kris Orr. Such precious women in Ben’s life, and so instrumental in helping Joe tell Ben’s story. I was thankful to spend time with Diane and Judith but unfortunately I didn’t get to formally meet Kris. Please excuse Kurt’s photo bomb. LOL

41
L-R: Becky Broderick, Marla Blazer, Joe, me, and Kim Murphy

Hanging out with the Babaloo girls, Becky, Marla, and Kim! These ladies came from the far corners to celebrate Ben with us and I’m so thankful!

42
Me with Ralph Fatello

I had the pleasure of connecting with The VINNY Band frontman Ralph Fatello during the planning stages of this event, and I went right down the rabbit hole! His music is great, his photography is stellar, and he is such a kind and gracious man. The icing? He invited a couple of his very good friends to join him and his wife to our little party, and boom! David Robinson was on the guest list! Thank you so much, Ralph!

P.S. Ralph told me after the event that the vibe and venue has inspired him to start planning for something he’s put off for far too long: A reunion of The VINNY Band! Active between 1976 and 1984, The VINNY Band was an all-original group that played extensively in Boston and New England, and toured through South America and the Caribbean. All of their recordings were produced by our very own David Robinson. Follow them on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss the details!

43
Me, Joe, and Paroo Streich

It was such a delight to finally meet Paroo, and she was kind enough to share her beautiful story about her encounter with Ben. SO precious!

44
Kurt and me

I’ve been social media friends with Kurt for so long I feel like I’ve known him all my life. Still shaking my head that we’ve met in person as often as we have — three times now! Just can’t decide if I think of him as my big brother or as my little brother. Haha!

45
L-R: Bob, me, Matt, Joe, Danny, and Lars

We love these guys SO much! Hard-working, hard-rocking, and some of the kindest and funniest men in the business. And the BEST Cars tribute band ever! Moving In Stereo was the perfect choice to join us in celebrating Ben in Boston.

46
Joe, David Robinson, and Ralph Fatello

I was completely aware of the magnitude of this moment for Joe. Incredible. Plus I also love that David is examining Eric Barao’s new solo CD and that he has a print of Kathy Sullivan’s portrait of Ben. Ralph Fatello on the right adds even more coolness to this already epic photo.

47
Me with Peter Van Ness

So thankful Peter Van Ness, the owner of our venue, 9 Wallis, took a chance with this greenie and our little show! He rolled the dice, showed me the ropes, and kept me laughing. I think we’re both pretty happy with the results! Thank you a million times, Peter; so grateful to call you my friend!

48
Me with Vicki Van Ness

Hostess-with-the-mostest, Vickie Van Ness! From crowd control to keeping track of my tab, Vickie kept everything running smoothly all night long! And I think she’s the one that invented the drink special for the night. It was called The Drive, and it was dangerously delicious!

49
Joe and me

As many of you know by now, working on this book has been a life-changing experience, on so many levels. Editing, proofreading, publishing, marketing, organizing events… I’ve learned so much and had so much fun! I’ll forever be grateful to Joe for letting me in on this project, and for sharing Ben with me in a way that no one else could.

50

My sense of style: Ocasek jacket and Panorama shoes. Still hyper and happy at the end of the night. It took me a few hours to come down from the adrenaline high.

51

On Sunday I headed back to downtown Boston to try to capture the views that I missed on Thursday night. From the observation deck at the top of the Prudential building, there are the city blocks where they lived and worked… Ben, Ric, David, Greg, and Elliot making the music that changed my life (and many others’) forever. Boston will always have a precious place in my heart!

52

So many greats have walked in and out of that school, including our own Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes.

54

The ultimate rock-and-roll hotel! Unfortunately the Cars room was occupied and I was unable to tour it, but still a very cool place, nonetheless. Next time!

55

On the Verb’s wall of famous patrons….

56

There’s Greg! Can you find him? I am determined to stay here at least one night in my life!

57

Another Cars mention on the wall of The Verb Hotel.

58

Goodbye, my beautiful Boston! I hope to see you again! ❤

A couple of extras:

Here are those YouTube videos of the book discussion and Joe presenting me with my special gift. Enjoy! ❤

And here’s the link to the podcast episode where I give more deets of the trip:

Episode 48: Brett Basil

episode 48Dave and Donna visit with talented singer, songwriter, and musician Brett Basil — also known as “SuperFan B.B.”! They explore how The Cars influenced his work as they walk through his three solo CDs. But before all that, Dave and Brett conspired to punk Donna at the beginning of their chat, since she had never heard Brett’s voice before. “Sons of biscuits!”

After dispensing with the news (Rock Hall Robyn is a published writer! Ric is working on a new album!), Dave, Donna, and Brett attempt to figure out how in the world they ever hooked up. Once they’ve got that sorted, they weave around through some of Brett’s musical philosophies, his early influences, and his instrumental background. Of course, Brett was hugely influenced by Greg Hawkes of The Cars, and reveals that his whole first album is an homage to Greg’s amazing talent.

Brett Basil | DebutSo into the first album they go, appropriately titled Debut. Released in 2011, Brett had been doing some writing and playing, and was kicking around the idea of recording a record. JD Doyle from Out Radio commissioned him to write “It Gets Better” to combat the bullying of gay teens, and that experience encouraged him to go ahead and get in the studio. The resulting product is a mix of danceable pop hits and inspired anthems reminiscent of a John Hughes movie soundtrack. 

Brett Basil | MeltBrett’s second album, Melt, came out in 2014. It’s a little more rockin’ with heavier guitars, but maintains its bright synth contributions. Like most songwriters, Brett’s songs are largely biographical and reflect the ups and downs of his life’s journey. And, Brett confesses, the process of converting those experiences into musical messages sometimes required WWGD (what would Greg do?) moments. The Cars continued to leave their fingerprints.

Brett Basil | ExceedIn 2016 Brett released his third record, Exceed, and again Brett has transformed his sound. Producer Jordan Egler lures the best out of Brett by widening the vision for his music, and the results are terrific. In fact, Brett dubs the album “the house that Egler built.” Rather than being a punk album, the songs tend toward more of Brett’s early influences: The Cars, Fleetwood Mac, and Depeche Mode, and are infused with a vibrant “live” feel to them.

Before they know it, it’s time to move into the Midnight Scroll. As Brett is a huge Rico Kazzik fan, it’s quite a coincidence that they have a Rico letter to read this week. Who would have thought? Haha!

Woven through the podcast are selections of Brett’s music: “Naked” (from Debut), “Chance” (from Melt), and “Call On Me” (from Exceed), with “Wancha” from Melt playing out the show. Brett has a considerable vault of songs stored up and is hoping to keep putting out records. In the meantime, get up to speed by ordering his current tunes for yourself. You can pick up Brett’s CDs at CD Baby here, or listen to him on Spotify.  You can also find his songs on his Youtube channel.

And hey, be sure to find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. You can also email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

Episode 47: Cap’n Swing

Episode 47 headerBefore The Cars were The Cars, there was Cap’n Swing!

In case you’re not familiar with this “almost famous band,” Cap’n Swing (CS) was Ric Ocasek’s musical effort just prior to The Cars. To read more about them on this blog, Dave created a handy link that will pull up all content with the Cap’n Swing tag. Go to tinyurl.com/capnswing. Easy peasy!

The episode starts off a little fuzzy, but it doesn’t take long for our hosts to get into the ‘swing’ of things (see what I did there??? Haha!). Donna runs down the cool history of CS and Dave recounts how the demos made their way to the ears of the Fanorama. At the time the audios surfaced many people assumed that CS was made up of the same five guys as The Cars; it wasn’t until more information was shared through social media that people were introduced to Todd Roberto, Danny (Schliftman) Louis, and Glenn Evans. Dave had compiled the songs into what he called the “Jezebel” album and made a very cool CD cover to go with it. Back in the day, the music was shared around through the mail before the songs hit the internet.

While the band wasn’t perfect, there is SO much to love about Cap’n Swing! Using their own favorite tracks as springboards, Dave and Donna take some time to discuss the differences and the similarities between the styles of Cap’n Swing and The Cars, and how that can be attributed to the difference in the two bands’ very talented lineups.  They also touch on several songs that have two versions, one sung by Ben and one sung by Ric. And don’t miss their speculation on the true meaning behind “Magic Pants.” It’ll make you want to flow-oh…

Knock knock.jpgJust a warning… There are a few little digressions in this episode, like:

  1. Why do women wear slips?
  2. Did Ben have hobbit feet?
  3. Cartoon Ric and Cartoon Ben: the day that Dave started to appreciate “Magic Pants”
  4. Donna’s impression of the Cowardly Lion
  5. How much would you pay for a Cap’n Swing CD?
  6. Rico’s tips for staying warm during this extra-cold winter

Aaaaand… Donna ends the show with a hilarious Cars joke (thanks to IO). Is it the first in the Fanorama?

Now don’t forget… Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. You can also email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

Episode 45: The Cars Year in Review 2018

EP45“Twenty eighteen… probably the most exciting year we’ve had as fans since Move Like This came out.” ~ Mr. Steel Wool

Another year gone… can you believe it? And this one has been a doozy!  Dave and Donna are joined by dear friends of the show Kurt and Jenny as they revisit all of the amazing happenings in the Fanorama over the last 12 months.

Before they dive in, they quickly recap the latest news in The Cars world: the song “Let’s Go” shows up in the new Transformers movie Bumblebee, a guitar signed by the 2018 RRHOF inductees is up for bid, and Dave reads a sexy letter from Alberto Vargas congratulating Donna on her recently published Atlanta burger article.

From there they start to work through the 2018 calendar. The list of incredible milestones is long and luscious.

  1. The thrill of The Cars’ induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  2. The next installment of the expanded editions
  3. Chris Morris rocks the Fanorama with his incredible illustrations
  4. Reliving the glory of having Greg Hawkes on the podcast
  5. Ric Ocasek’s recent artistic activities
  6. Turbocharge comes to life… sort of…
  7. New audio files that surfaced from Cap’n Swing, The Grasshoppers, and Richard and the Rabbits
  8. Ben’s biography gets published

… And so much more!

Before they close out they attempt to answer the pressing questions: Anything new for 2019? Is there anything left? What can we expect?

You’re going to want to be sure to stay through to the end. This fun episode wraps up with a new recording of “the business” by vocal talent Elizabeth, followed by a Christmas song by our faithful and talented friend Brett Basil, who gives us his take on what it might have sounded like if The Cars ever did a Christmas song.

Now don’t forget… We want to connect with you! Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. Let us know your thoughts — email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Click below to join us in celebrating The Year of The Cars!

Episode 44: “Let’s Go!” with Joe, Part 2

52938327_427611831315096_6576159636771045376_n
The manuscript evolves into a book. Photo courtesy of spj.

One episode just wasn’t enough to cover all of the deliciousness of Joe Milliken’s long-awaited biography, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars. So much more to explore!

Dave and Donna start the episode with speculations about some rumblings in the Fanorama with regard to how much of Ben’s life was revealed in the book and the issue of privacy. Could it be the difference between the male and female perspective with regard to the focus of the book? Take a listen and then tell us what you think.

From there they move right into the second half of Donna’s interview with Joe, talking candidly about topics like:

  1. the reality of Ben’s lyrical abilities
  2. some factors in the increasing tensions in The Cars
  3. was Diane the Yoko Ono of The Cars?
  4. Ben’s moodiness and the changes in his personality
  5. the possibility of a Cars reunion in the 90s
  6. the blessing and heartbreak of Big People
  7. the absence of Ric and Elliot from the book

After the interview ends Dave and Donna pick up the discussion and process the new insights from Joe before reopening the book. They jump into their dissection where they left off in Part 1, with the formation of The Cars, and move through to the end. Along the way they point out their favorite parts and speculate on some of the new information. You’ll have to excuse Donna’s gushing; between the photos, the stories, and the research tidbits, there’s just SO much to love in this book!

The show winds down with the reading of The Midnight scroll: long-time friend of the show Harold and sweet listener Donna E. chime in on the Door to Door dissection episode, while Superfan BB cracks wise with regard to the shenanigans from “Let’s Go! with Joe, Part 1.”

Now don’t forget… Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. You can also email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

Okay, friends, grab your coffee and let’s go with Joe!

Episode 43: “Let’s Go!” with Joe, Part 1

Proofs1.jpg
An early copy of the Let’s Go! manuscript. Photo courtesy of spj.

After eleven long years, the wait is finally over! Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, the first-ever biography of Ben — or any of the Cars’ members, for that matter — was published on November 11, 2018. Now that the fans have the joy of holding the finished product in their hands, your Night Thoughts co-hosts are eager to take a look inside!

Dave and Donna kick off this first installment in the two-part series by zeroing in on the first seven chapters of the book, discussing Ben’s childhood, his early band experiences and teen celebrity, his time in the military, meeting Ric, the Milkwood mess, the formation of Cap’n Swing, and the coming together of the five men that would eventually join forces to become The Cars.

The two share the parts that made them laugh, that connected some dots, and that were just downright COOL. Having had the privilege of working intimately with author Joe Milliken over the last year as he prepared the book to cross the finish line, Donna is now able to give insight into some of the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of the publishing process, as well.

**SPOILER ALERT This episode gets pretty specific at times, revealing details and quotes from the book. If you haven’t read it yet, it will either tick you off or tantalize you further… only you can decide how you might react. Pod wisely, people!**

Next up is the Midnight Scroll, which includes some great feedback from our friends Grace Geek and B.B. on the Door to Door dissection episode. There’s also a letter from our old pal Rico, who, inspired by Joe’s book, has decided to write his own story of how he came to cross paths with NiGHT THOUGHTS, and sends us all the details in his email.

The podcast then moves into the first half of a recorded interview between Donna and the Let’s Go! author himself, Joe Milliken. (Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts prevented Dave from being able to join the chat.) The two spend some time talking about the ins and outs of Joe’s writing process and how critical the “Cleveland Connection” was to his success. From there they go deeper into Benjamin’s life, and Joe is generous with details that go beyond the book. Their candid conversation covers topics like:

  1. Ben’s relationship with his parents and the Mayers
  2. the strength of Ben’s independent nature
  3. getting the significant women in Ben’s life involved in the book
  4. Diane’s statements about Ben’s moods
  5. Ben’s interest in guns

The second half of Donna’s interview with Joe will be included in Episode 44, when Dave and Donna finish up their in-depth review of this terrific book — coming very soon! Until then…

Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. You can also email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

Okay, are you ready? Let’s GO!

Episode 41: Album Dissections: Heartbeat City

Time to return to our in-depth analysis of The Cars’ discography, and here we are at their fifth album, Heartbeat City!episode 41

First stop, though: a bit of a follow-up to the activities of the Orrbots (the topic of Episode 37), some possible explanations for photos of Benjamin wearing an eye patch, and Dave finally wins the ‘suck’ or ‘slug’ controversy about the true lyrics to “Cruiser” with an audio clip debunking Donna’s assertion once and for all (…or does he?).

RTB Obi
Obi Roy Kenobi. Graphic by @night_spots

Now, on with the topic at hand. New information about Roy Thomas Baker’s activities in the early 80s leads into some speculation (real… or not real?) about the possible reasons he wasn’t available to continue working with The Cars when they were ready to jump into the studio for HBC. And jump in, they did!

Donna lays out some of the technical details of this record, which might be the best performing album The Cars ever released, and the two discuss how the band’s sound evolved in the hands of producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Everything with Heartbeat City was BIGGER… but does bigger always mean better? Dave and Donna examine that question based on background vocals, the method of recording the drums, illuminating the synthesizers versus guitar, contemplating Benjamin’s contribution, and the effect the videos had on the band’s internal and external success.

Image result for kenny loggins top gunSprinkled throughout are other ponderings: How did the recording process for this album affect the band’s relationships? Is “I Refuse” forgettable? Will Elliot Easton ever be on our podcast? In the video for “Drive,” are those wax figures or the real guys? And while we’re at it, who was actually on the stage during the SNL performance of “Drive”? And possibly the most pressing question… Is Kenny Loggins the slut of movie scores???

Dave does remarkably well engaging in the conversation considering he is dealing with a migraine and the meds that accompany it, which may account for why he is unimpressed with Donna’s use of the phrase, “It’s all I can poo.” The show closes with the Midnight Scroll and an explanation of Fair Use copyright law as told by our old pal Rico.

Take a minute to contact us! There are plenty of ways to get in touch with NiGHT THOUGHTS:

  1. Follow the podcast on Twitter! @TheCarsPodcast. If you’re looking for the hosts individually, Dave goes by @night_spots and Donna is @sweetpurplejune.
  2. Join the action on Facebook:  http://www.facebook/groups/nightthoughtspodcast/. Lots of fun stuff going on over there!
  3. Drop us a line for the Midnight Scroll! Send it to nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. We love to get mail!
  4. Subscribe and write a review of the show on iTunes: bit.do/itunesnightthoughts
  5. Take a listen through Soundcloud: bit.do/soundcloudnightthoughts
  6. And of course… Youtube! Subscribe and comment –we love it! bit.do/nightthoughts

Click here to enjoy the episode!

Episode 39: Name That Cars Tune

EP39Dave and Donna ‘get in the game’ with a twist on an old musical favorite. Using Lyrics and Prose by Ric Ocasek, the two take turns quizzing each other on their knowledge of Cars lyrics… and both find that it’s harder than ‘you might think!’ [Yep, I said that.]

For some added mental strain (and a healthy dose of badassery), Donna puts Dave through his paces with the first ever “Ric Riff Challenge.” Using some VERY cool audio clips of The Cars’ rhythm guitar parts performed by the talented Ben Fields, Dave attempts to identify just exactly what it is Ric does in a Cars song. As it turns out? He plays some pretty cool stuff!

And about those riffs, let’s all extend a hearty “thank you!!” to the members of Drive: The Colorado Cars Tribute Band! It was their drummer, Alan, who first suggested the game to Donna and stumped her with guitarist Ben’s rocking recordings.  He then graciously granted permission for her to share them with Dave, and generously provided all of the audio files and the answer sheet for her to share. On top of all of that? They rock! Be sure to like their Facebook page and let them know you enjoyed their participation in the podcast!

The ultimate challenge in the show comes when Dave presents Donna with a four-song Cars mash-up and asks her to pick out the individual titles. It sounds sooo wild! Can you name them all?

honey-1089508_960_720.jpgThe Midnight Scroll puts us in touch with Superfan B.B., Pirate Steeb, and the sweet Miss Liz from ‘across the water.’ Rico writes in with his questions about the forthcoming biography, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, which leads into a discussion of an audio book format and speculations about Benjamin’s possible sugar addiction. The episode plays out with Drive: The Colorado Cars Tribute Band’s version of “Cruiser.” Love it!

Don’t forget… Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

And now… are YOU ready to play? Click below and enjoy!

Episode 33: Happy Pod-iversary!

episode33On July 3, 2017, Dave and Donna indulged in a crazy idea to start a podcast all about their favorite band, The Cars, and it’s carried on far longer than either of them thought possible! Join them as they celebrate their first year by remembering how it all got started and taking a look (and listen) back over some of their favorite moments from the first 33 episodes.

daveshirtFrom there Dave takes on the task of interviewing a woefully unprepared Donna, which leads to thoughts on things like huckleberries, her writing, Dave getting slapped by his mom, favorite breakfast cereals, and what Donna would ask Benjamin if she had the opportunity.

donnatshirt

Dave changes things up toward the end by reading some of the crazy comments posted on Cars videos on Youtube before they get to the Midnight Scroll (thank you Liz, Judi, and Harold!), and then they finish up the episode with sincere and hearty thanks to several dear friends of the podcast.

All in all it’s been an AMAZING year! We’ll just keep on doing our thing until we run out of things to say (or until Dave gets lynched), and hope that we can continue to bring people together through a mutual love for The Cars. Thank you SO much to everyone who listens!

Now don’t forget… We want to connect with you! Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, subscribe, share and comment. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

Episode 32: Album Dissections: The Cars’ Debut

episode32aThirty-two episodes into this podcast all about The Cars and we haven’t even gone deep on each individual album! Well, now is the time. Dave and Donna put the band’s self-titled debut album under the microscope and offer their keen (and sometimes gushy) observations about what critics have called “a genuine rock masterpiece.”

Their detailed analysis includes:

  1. Speculations on ‘the real surprise’
  2. The untold story of the “OOF!” on “Don’t Cha Stop”
  3. Hidden meanings revealed: Wisenheimer or Einstein?
  4. Exploring the layers of “I’m In Touch With Your World”
  5. Donna’s interminable praises for “Bye Bye Love”
  6. Discovering a new phenomena: the Benjamin Orr Trifecta.

A quick apology: Donna brings up Dave Raymer’s cover of “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” but mistakenly says that it’s the way he draws out ‘tonight’ that she loves. It’s actually his treatment of ’cause’ that has her addicted. Take a listen here to see what she’s talking about:

From there they move into The Midnight Scroll where we get to meet new listener Susan H, and learn her backstory about how she came to love Benjamin Orr and The Cars. Thank you for the wonderful letter, Susan! We also get to hear from our faithful friend Harold from Florida, who offers some kind words about topics on our recent episodes. In between, Donna can barely hold it together as Dave shares the latest letter from our old pal Rico, who gives us the lowdown on the Staten Island Tribute Rockfest.

Episode32b
Graphic by @night_spots

Don’t forget… Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, subscribe, share and comment. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

And now dive into Episode 32 — enjoy!