Wednesday, March 22, 2017

No more "stuff"

Maybe the cue card guy wasn't there.  Maybe Chuck couldn't see it.  Maybe he couldn't remember.  But he looked in the camera and said "We'll be back with...more STUFF...right after these messages."

Chuck Barris' production career might have been labeled as such now, but then, when the shows were on?  Oh, he heard it all...almost all negative.  He soldered on: the shows (by and large) were hits.  When it all got to be too much (some of which his own doing, he'd later admit) he retired to south France, just as he promised himself he would.

Two books came from that time, one about "himself" and another about himself.  When he returned from France to write even more, he often did the rounds on book tours.  For the book The Big Question (a fiction goof that, in my opinion, was a bit of a letdown) he spoke at Book Soup in an event that turned out-of-control by the end with surprise visits from Milton DeLugg and Rip Taylor.  Answering his own questions at the start, he again pleaded that he did not do drugs during The Gong Show.  He also wanted to be remembered as a great writer, but resigned himself that he'll probably be remembered as the wacky host who finally got gonged.

(And, in an interview 6 years before The Big Question, he said to himself: "My epitaph in real life would be ‘The Man Who Thought of The Gong Show .’ What a horrible thing! But when I was in the hospital, what bothered me was that I had to do something, that the years left in me were going to be a big zero …. I mean, what’s going to happen? Do you take a slow American Flyer ride out? That seems boring as shit!”")

So, Chuck, while your memory is being celebrated as this:

 I'll indulge you, and instead present this:

I do this not as a fan, but out of respect.  Respect for an innovative producer, a fine writer, and giver of advice to me.

Back in my early college days, I searched for career advice low and high, high and low.  I found what was reported to be Chuck's address, so I went for it.  I told him I was toiling away in general classes, waiting to take the fun stuff.  I purposely peppered my letter with phrases from "The Game Show King" such as "star-fucker" and "hero worshiper" while blending the advice demand with a heavy helping of praise.

To my amazement, less than a month later, I received a letter in return.  It was my own, with a small gem of advice from the "King" himself:

A true original, Chuckie Baby.  You were a true original.  This is me saying bye-bye.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Ol Bess hits 100 (thousand)

I had just left the house when a momentous occasion occurred.  I had sensed it coming, and was hoping I wouldn't be stuck in traffic or doing something mundane.  But there it was:

 17 years with ol Bess...and it finally makes the milestone.  I said it early in its life as a goal, later as an excuse, and now as a necessary part of getting by in a perilous time.

In the early days, I remember it being new enough (hell, just from this century) that it occasionally impressed, if for nothing beyond its "new-ness."  I was happy, more so because I didn't have a bad commute.

The first oddity was a unique sound when it idled after the gas was pushed for a while.  It confounded mechanics all over town, changing belts (that didn't do it), changing fluids (a rip-off), or inspecting and leaving confused.  I put up with it, but it wasn't much fun to have a car where everyone can say "here comes Trip" 100 feet away.  That followed with a front mount which seemed to be ever-so-slightly disconnecting, leading to a low-level "hummmmmm" as the car moved along.  Again, I put up with it. 

What I couldn't have possibly known or foreseen was that I'd keep the car in the same condition with same, well, everything, for its first 10 years.  There were a lot of "I should have" moments toward the latter part of last decade, and using my stash for a new car was one of the ideas.  But...what?  And why?  So, I didn't...and Bess didn't meet the "cash for clunkers" threshold, either.  So, we were doing fine, surviving...

Until a morning in the winter of 2010 when, simultaneously, as I was driving, the following happened:
1. The right front tire split
2. The right back tire split
3. The engine frame then got multiple holes in it from...what?  Old age?  Who the fuck knows.

I've never ridden a live bull, so I can't say the comparison is completely accurate, nor have I flown a private plane in a thunderstorm, but it's close.  By the grace of god, I make it to a nearby service station, and it's one of those moments where everyone stops what they're doing to take a look.  All other mechanics pitch in because, well, this is an all-hands-on-deck moment.  I appreciate their technique, but can't help thinking...for this car?!

It's 2nd decade saw trips to the bay area (even sitting in a median while I quickly scanned my phone to figure out what freeway took me into The City, and which one was a direct shot to Mill Valley) and Las Vegas.  The Vegas trip was noted particularly for the shock so many in my family had seeing it.  "Wow, it still works?"

For the next few years, there were large/larger repairs that made me question keeping this going, furthered by the make itself no longer around.  But then, glory be: I get a job 1 mile from home!  Those 2 years bought me more than time, giving Ol Bess plenty of time to rest and store its energy.

Moving over the hill has, for the most part, kept a close commute (back when there was one), but a repair of a giant coolant leak gave me a serious lesson: that's the last time, Bess.  That's the last time I'm forking out that kind of dough to keep you going.  It's too much.  Sorry, but it's true.  When mechanics tell you to just rent a car for the weekend instead of push it to Las Vegas, and you know they're being honest, we have to start to have "that conversation."

But just as that began, I checked the odometer to see 95...then an oil change last October told the truth: the next one will be 100k plus.  Now, it's just a matter of time.  And here we are...

Ol Bess...I don't know how much longer we have, but I hope it's all good.  We hit cruise control, roll down the window forever tainted by apartment building sprinklers, and let you do your thing.  You know these roads as good as I do...where to now?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Face Value

I'm more than willing to admit that I lost interest in the NBA over the past decade.  I'm also willing to admit that, as such, I shouldn't be the one to give advice to a pro team.

All the same, I've seen that they're in the bottom of the Western Conference barrel.  How should they turn it around?

Well, for starters, how about finding players that LOOK like that?

Style cures all in the pros.

Friday, January 20, 2017

More to Come, Part II (The 1960's)

If the analytics on this blog are to be trusted (and it's Google, right?) the most popular individual post here on Pacific Gold is More to Come from April, 2012.  In it, I admired the swank nature of the moved-to LA version of The Tonight Show.  At the time, I only put up 1 bumper card from the New York days.  And, while that era of New York was swank in its own right, what I had as an example doesn't do it any favors.  So why shouldn't that era get its due?

Well, it should...though the further back we go, the harder episodes are to find.  Thankfully, another friendly collector got them from somewhere (who knows if he can't say, won't say, whatever) and I figured this could give another view of the show.

1965.  Middle of the decade, early in John's run, and while not all the famous pieces are in place, it's close.  The show also seems to be an established hit, so the principals are loose as well.  Maybe that's how they were all the time.  Hard to say unless you were there, and I wasn't (as far as I know).

I included this not because it's anything special, but more as a "typical" example for the era.  It didn't have to be anything more than what it said, right?

That's pretty much true, though the show wasn't (or didn't feel) tied to the "more to come" phrase.  View the creativity below:

What's considered the 1960's aesthetic in fashion/design/home furnishing was viable here as well.  Not much art could be done with Johnny or his pictures (especially if he didn't pose for any other photos) but NBC's art department was trying to figure out how to think outside the norm.

Not that the bar was especially high.  See the photo above, which looks like it's already well-worn.  For all we know, this could have been used for Jack Paar, too.  NBC had a vested interest in color programming with RCA as an owner.   CBS and ABC were getting around to broadcasting more shows in color (why, in a round-about way, promote the competition?).

If you had a black and white set, that's how it looks.

With a swing band in the studio and 1 hour and 45 minutes to fill each night, music took up more of the program than usual.  The show also wanted you to stay tuned in case the current guest bored you:

While the bottom photo might seem the kind of art in a jazz club or saloon, the to describe it?  Is it the kind of art that was later in Trivial Pursuit?  Almost early-Trader Joe's?

As we know, the move to Hollywood brought it to another level.  (David Letterman's morning show and then Late Night took it to another, more humorous level)  But in the beginning, the "more to come" cards were as slick and hip as the mid-60s were for Don Draper...and Johnny Carson himself.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Survival of the Smoothest

You know what the problem is with "making it look easy?"  It's that people who don't do it, or know how to for that matter, think it IS easy.

What's going on, Joan?

Look, I've been making bacon all week, it's New Year's.  How bout we let off some steam?  Goof around?  You and me.  Ready?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fighting On

There are no excuses in deal-making, particularly if you do want to make one.  (Wait, is that even a sentence?)  So, in times that are good for seemingly everyone but myself, it lead me back to Hollywood and a discussion of current standings and plans.

I wish I was speaking of Conference USA football bets, but sadly, I am not.  More pressing matters exist.

As a result, I've been looking in unexpected areas...some rarely searched territory.  On other fronts, the "usual" - though not so much to me.  Calls, bribes, so on.  But we're looking for gold, and if cardinal comes with it, I'm not arguing with the decision.  We're also aiming for the future of the biznazz, which was the main topic of the meal.

Sydney kept sending suggestions, I concurred, and they were correct.  The night kept moving, we kept agreeing, and happiness continued for all.  You can tell when effort is made, and while it kept coming, it was a motivator.  We wanted more.

We ambled out up Fairfax stuffed and pleased, but only one of us was satisfied for the future.  It wasn't me, and while I have these plates spinning and things are looking up, the shit monkey remains on my back.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

When days grow short

Sands slip through...feelings began to meander...thoughts became an unpaved road that end without ending...

I'm at arm's length, but I can't help but be filled with wonder: what's going through this mind?  Not what he'll tell me, but what actually is going on in there.  We're in the airport taking what could very well be his last flight.  He's in "fine spirits" for someone who ripped open a tea bag all over the table (for reasons we can't quite place) and later spit up a portion of his lunch.  He then offered up one of his tacos (from the same plate) because he "hadn't touched it."  I politely declined, appetite long gone.

All senses are go in a location like this, but I'm getting nothing in return.  I offer comforting small talk.  Half-smiles, even a look my way.  Minutes later, I'm asked if I just spoke about...well, what I spoke about.  I agree.  He nods.

Once landed, it's an avalanche for him:  He says little, letting the squawking wash over him.  Moving, already complicated, is met with disagreement or a dismissive wave of the hand.  Dinner is a mild complication, as it is these days, but once it's served, ends are met.  I decide to give him space, something he isn't getting much of today.  A few attempts to make conversation don't work.  It's shrugged off.

You learn a lot in situations like this, it's true.  Not only about how to deal in and with such situations, but about yourself.  It seems far off, but I've been writing on this screed for 11 years.  That means I'm over a decade older and you start to see halftime, if you will.  What's your endgame plan?  How do you plan on running out the clock in certain victory?  How much will you let your assistant coaches do at the time?  I've seen bad clock management in life.  I don't wish it on anyone. 

We'll meet again, in a week or so, and if I see happiness, that's a win.  If it looks like stoicism, I'll hope that's what it is; when you can't keep up, how do you respond?