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!**

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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

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Episode 46: Cleveland Connection

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“Yin and yang: complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.”

Our first episode of 2019 is such a happy one!

Here’s the set-up: Dave and Donna connected through Twitter back in 2016 through their mutual love of The Cars, and they became fast friends. After months of gabbing about the band together, Dave created the podcast so the two could share their thoughts with the world, and off they went. Largely due to their perfect yin-and-yang chemistry on the show, many people do not realize that Dave and Donna had never met in person!

Well, that little factoid became null and void over the weekend of January 11-13, 2019, when fans from all over the country converged on Cleveland, Ohio, to celebrate the publishing of Joe Milliken’s wonderful biography, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars. Joe’s incredible event set the stage for Dave and Donna to be in the same room together for the first time ever.

In this episode of the podcast, the two relive their adventures together (and apart and in-between) during those whirlwind few days in Ben Orr’s hometown, including:

  1. tracking down Rock Hall Robyn,
  2. visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Archives (brilliantly pre-planned by Dave),
  3. sharing Saturday breakfast,
  4. geeking out over their private screening of Turbocharge, 
  5. gawking over Kurt Gaber’s abundant swag and surprise slideshow of Ben pics,
  6. partying at the big event: the book celebration at the Music Box Supper Club!
  7. gushing over Joe’s terrific interview, the badass concert with Moving In Stereo, and all of the beautiful people in attendance,
  8. then even more gushing about the book event — haha!,
  9. describing what it was like meeting each other for the first time,
  10. reveling in the deliciousness of a Rascal burger at 2 a.m. (for Donna, anyway!),
  11. recounting the emotions, the thrills, and the regrets of the weekend, and
  12. landing back in real life.

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From there they move into The Midnight Scroll, where listeners’ questions spark a discussion about why Ben sometimes affects a British accent, and if there is a future possibility of the other members of The Cars appearing on the podcast as guests.

Be sure to listen all the way to the end where you’ll hear Ben talking like the Fonz — and the new outro featuring our exclusive voice talent, Miss Lizzie!

Now it’s your turn: Get in touch! There are lots of ways to do it. You can email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com, or come find us on social media; join 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!

Time to click below to join the party:

2019… What more could there be?

2019… What more could there be?

Two thousand eighteen has been SO good to Cars fans! Can you believe these delights?

The band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ♥ The Cars playing together again live ♥ new interviews and memories shared by all four of the guys ♥ the release of two more expanded editions with their yummy bonus material ♥ vintage audio unearthed from The Grasshoppers, Mixed Emotions, Richard and The Rabbits and Cap’n Swing ♥ the publication of Joe Milliken’s biography of Benjamin Orr ♥ a whole crop of unique photos surfacing from fans and rock photographers…

WOW! It just seems like the whole year has been a big pile of gifts for us to unwrap, one at a time!

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And then for me, on a personal level, there is this whole other layer… a thick flannel blanket of memories I keep wrapping around myself:

Being invited to partner with Joe on the publication of his book ♥ driving into Cleveland for the first time ♥ bawling my eyes out after the induction ceremony ♥ David Robinson’s warm hands holding mine ♥ getting to hug SO many Fanorama friends (without using emojis!) ♥  having Greg Hawkes call my house in preparation for our podcast ♥ the shock of seeing my writing on big-screen display at the Rock Hall’s Foster Theater ♥ connecting with all of the wonderful people I’ve met this year ♥ finally getting to view Turbocharge ♥ being published in Rock Cellar Magazine

You guys, I feel like the list might never end. I’m so unbelievably grateful!

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After all that … is there anything left? Can anything possibly compare to 2018: The Year of The Cars?

To be honest, in some ways I do think these past twelve months were the pinnacle. I believe the curtain has closed with a gentle swoosh on our boys. I mean, I have to face the fact that there will likely be no new material from The Cars, and probably not from Ric as a solo artist, either. And no more live performances as a group. Though I am disappointed, I am not shaking my fist at the sky… I mean, these guys had a great run. A GREAT run! How can I begrudge them riding off into the sunset after all they’ve done?

However, they still leave their legacy for us and the generations to come, and I do believe there is still more to be revealed.

So what hope do we have for excitement in 2019?

Some sure things:

  1. We know we will still have the joy of hearing Elliot play. His current band, The Empty Hearts, is working on a second album, and I am optimistic that it will be released in the coming months. Always a busy man, Elliot seems to show up on a variety of stages, playing charity shows and jamming with friends. He also mentioned that he will be starting up a Youtube channel  in the coming months. How cool is that?
  2. Greg, too, continues to delight us with his musical talents. He has been having a blast touring with Todd Rundgren during the last year, and will continue to play with him through the months of 2019 as Todd embarks on an author event/concert series to promote his new book, The Individualist – Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations. I believe that Greg will record another episode of Night Thoughts, too. Can’t wait!

Fingers crossed for:

  1. Expanded editions of Door to Door  and  Move Like This. The odds are not in my favor on that, I know. The general feeling is that the band has exhausted its store of extras, but I can’t help but hope that when Ric takes a break from his art he’ll go through that vault one more time and turn up some goodies for us.
  2. And when he does sort through his stuff…  perhaps he’ll also turn up some old videos of live performances and interviews, audio recordings of the same, or a photo album he wants to share, or even just memorabilia he’d be willing to display on social media. I always want more of that kind of stuff! Or course, it’s not only on Ric. We are discovering all sorts of things floating around that fans and people ‘in the biz’ are digging up, and I am optimistic that we’ll be treated to more of that along the way.
  3. Joe has been kicking around the idea of doing a companion book to share more of the pictures Ben’s friends and family so generously gave him — and he’s had lots of encouragement!  It’s probably not feasible for that to be a done deal in the next twelve months with Let’s Go! still on its honeymoon, but I would love to at least hear that it’s an ‘official’ project.
  4. On that subject… With Let’s Go!  on bookshelves now, I can’t help but wonder if any of the other guys will be inspired to have their stories penned and published? That would be amazing. And if I may say so… I do have some experience in that field now, you know… so uh… call me? Hahaha! Wouldn’t I just DIE?

On my own agenda?

  1. “It’s my party, have some fun!” Okay, so it’s not technically MY party, but I am so excited for the upcoming book events for Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars! Being involved in the organization and promotion means I have the perfect excuse to attend them. I’ll be leaving for Cleveland in less than two weeks (hooray!), and I’m looking forward to Boston a little later on. Woot woot!
  2. Sunshine and Rainbows galore! NiGHT THOUGHTS: The Cars Podcast is still going strong (45 episodes in the can!) and Dave and I are eagerly looking forward to what 2019 holds for us. We have some exciting special guests coming up, a whole pile of topics, and more goofy shenanigans, guaranteed. Who knows how long we will continue this little hobby, but we’re having a blast!
  3. Typing Frog GIF - Muppet KermitTheFrog Type GIFsWriting, writing, and more writing!  With my book responsibilities winding down I anticipate being able to turn my focus back to my own little scribblings. This blog is definitely in need of attention! Haha!  I have many drafts in various stages of completion (including a Standing Room Only article that I promised Joe back in March – yikes!) and a whole list of research ideas collecting dust. Outside of that, I have been offered some more freelance work from a publisher who hired me for a piece earlier this year, and I am eager to take him up on it.

All in all, I am convinced that the next 365 days will be filled with fun and frolic in the Cars world, and I can hardly wait to share it all with you! What about you? What kinds of happy things are YOU anticipating in 2019? Comment below or find me on Facebook!

Episode 35: Turbocharge!

This episode has been on the bucket list for a loooong time, covering a topic we weren’t sure would ever be fully explored! But 2018 continues to be “The Year of The Cars” in all sorts of crazy and unexpected ways!

my writing at the rrhofIt kicks off with Dave giving an update on his recent trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “Cars Car-ma” swooped in and made it possible for Dave to attend a special listening party of The Cars Live at The Agora 1978 in the Foster Theater, and what he reveals to Donna prompts her to utter her first swear words on the show ever!

Once she recovers herself, Dave and Donna dive into the details of the elusive-but-highly-sought-after film Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of The Cars. Created by comedian David Juskow back in 2008, the film has been sitting on a shelf… until recently. Dave got it in his bonnet to convince Juskow to make it available to the Fanorama. Juskow was gracious enough to allow Dave and Donna a private screening, and to give them permission to podcast about it and promote the film while he figures out how and when he’s going to release it (hopefully SOON).

ep35aDave and Donna go over the background, plot, cast list, and highlights of this hilarious film, while doing their best not to spoil anything for future viewers. They also discuss the amazing and varied roster of musical artists that contributed to the soundtrack. Truly, this movie is just so funny, and SO relevant to the Cars’ fandom, that we want everyone to be able to view it! To show your support for getting it released, please like Dave’s Turbocharge Facebook page. Follow this link:

 fb.me/turbochargethemovie

Heck, you can even tweet to David Juskow and let him know you’re eager to get your hands on it! Hit him up at @davejuskow and give him the word. While you’re there, follow him and listen to his podcast. He’s pretty funny. 😉

The episode closes out with the Midnight Scroll, where

  1. David gets challenged to a Gilligan’s Island trivia showdown by sweet Sherry through the blog,
  2. Superfan Judi gives some love to Katrina’s rocking band, The Debutantes,
  3. new listener Donna connects Panorama with West Side Story,
  4. and faithful friend of the show B.B. shares some Ric-esque new lyrics. Fun, fun!

You can be on the Scroll, too — 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

Enjoy —

and don’t forget to LIKE that Turbocharge page on Facebook! fb.me/turbochargethemovie.