Segarini: Bob on Vinyl

Bob Q107 1983

Gadzooks!

According to the first hour and forty-eight minutes of Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger’s poison pen letter to the radio, record, and music industries, people like myself and others who failed to hit the Big Time should thank our lucky stars.

I haven’t seen this many rich, miserable, self absorbed people in one place since the last time I watched Dynasty…and if you are too young to remember Dynasty, well…there’s always Empire, and like Greg Godovitz told me last night when he called me after the final curtain, “It’s Empire for Honkies!” True dat….

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There are LOTS of spoilers in this short (but not sweet) review. I promised my PVR friends I would make sure they waited until after they saw the first episode of this confusing pile of dramatic puffery, by posting a Spoiler Alert even Stevie Wonder could see…and here it is.

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After this, you have only yourself to blame if the show is spoiled for you…

…Although, I can’t see how much more it could be spoiled after most of those involved have done such a good job of it….

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I have met and known some of the people portrayed in this soap opera, and did my time in the music biz during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. I’m not seeing much I remember…and I remember almost everything. Here’s just one example….

Peter Grant

Grant immense

Peter GrantHe was an immense human being. Well over 6 feet tall and around 350 pounds, Grant was an overwhelming presence in real life.

By comparison, watching the actor who portrayed him in the backstage area of Madison Square Garden with Zeppelin, is like watching Finestra being chewed out by a Garden Gnome.

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Yes…some of us were as fucked up as we could get…but the ‘fucked up’ in this series appears to be both on steroids and meth. Like Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Throws a Hissy Fit and Trashes A Hotel Room, the principals in this oater need anger management and a bucket of prozac in order to leave the house. Otherwise, shit is going to be broken and there will be yelling loud enough to wake your dead grandma.

images…speaking of which….

Like most of today’s records, the audio has soft parts and loud parts…as in the music was mixed to shatter glass, and a lot of the dialogue (except for the tantrums)  was whispered so low as to make you wish you had the ears of a Ferengi to hear what the fuck was being said.

…but no worries…much of the dialogue is the aforementioned tantrums.

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The Cast of Vinyl

The Deliriously Happy Characters of Vinyl

As you can see, the joy of being at ground zero in the hippest business connected to Pop Culture in 1973 is damn near impossible to contain. Just look at these happy, smiling faces and tell me that you wouldn’t have wanted to be part of this fantastic era of popular music. All that money, all those parties, all that blow, all that booze, all that fantastic music…why, no wonder these characters are BURSTING with excitement, exuberance, and sheer, unadulterated happiness!

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

The Cast of Vinyl Cropped

Yep…they are STOKED! Wooooot!!!

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Why This Episode of Vinyl Should Have Been GREAT!

AP120426031296.r-1Because it was written by Terence Winter and George Mastras

Terence wrote and was executive producer of Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, and The Wolf of Wall Street. George wrote and produced Breaking Bad.

Why This Episode of Vinyl WASN’T Great!

Because it was written by Terence Winter and George Mastras

george-mastras-breaking-bad-giTerence wrote and was executive producer of Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, and The Wolf of Wall Street. George wrote and produced Breaking Bad.

If you remove the few music business related references,  you still have a story of corruption, illegal business practices, murder, drugs, sex, and violence. …and like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the main plot was about contract negotiations on several fronts.

The Seemingly Irredeemable Characters are…

All of them, with the exception of Finestra’s wife and Lester Grimes. Lester, the only apparent virtuous, scrupulous ‘good’ person in this musical dumpster, gets the shit kicked out of him for being a virtuous, scrupulous good person.

The Amount of Assholes*

*See ” The Seemingly Irredeemable Characters are…”

Fun Facts and Moments

gallery-1454949793-tv-vinyl-pilot-01Not one piece of scenery was left un-chewed

Martin Scorsese had never heard of Everybody Loves Raymond

Ray Romano‘s line, “I got a blow job on a bus once”

The note for note scene from Goodfellas taking a body out of the trunk of Richie’s car.

The coke-fueled scene during Frankenstein…Buck’s insane prattle and Richie’s growing anger

The funny murder murder

James Jagger’s line, “Try to remember that the next time you stick your finger in my ass”

ato-essandoh-727x530The Chris Kenner and Lester Grimes recording session.

The amount of drugs everywhere

Max Cassella’s phone conversation

The Brill Building

Smoking EVERYWHERE

Not-So-Fun Buzzkills

Soooo much smarm

The constant yelling

The odd portrayal of Robert Plant

The “Crazy”proto-punk New York Dolls fans

buckThe Incredible Shrinking Peter Grant

Buck

Richie Finestra’s open mouth stare

Trying to do blow off a spinning record

The gratuitous beat down on Lester

The fate of Bo’s guitar

Not having Joe Pesci play the made mob character

The stupid fudging of a factual event, which gets its own headline….

The Stupid Fudging of a Factual Event

This actually happened on August 3rd, 1973….

Mercer Collapse

From Wikipedia: On August 3, 1973, allegedly due in part to illegal alterations on a basement bearing wall, a section of the Broadway facade of the structure then known as the Broadway Central Hotel collapsed onto Broadway, killing four residents of the hotel. By this time the building had deteriorated into a welfare hotel, but it housed Art Bar, a successor for a brief time as a venue for the artists and sculptors who had congregated at Max’s Kansas City. On the Mercer Street side of the hotel there was the Mercer Arts Center, a complex of live theaters operated by Sy and Cynthia Kaback. The collapse occurred just hours before the theaters were due to be filled with hundreds of patrons. The remains of the hotel were demolished, and New York University subsequently built a 22 story student dorm for law students on the site.”

That wasn’t enough for Vinyl, though. In the first episode, the New York Dolls are playing the Mercer and it is made to appear that the volume of the band was responsible for the collapse. Not so. They were not playing there that night. …and it didn’t even happen at night.

image

From the online magazine Vulture: “The Mercer Arts Center was not without successes. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, by Paul Zindel, had its New York premiere here in 1970, won the Pulitzer Prize the next year, and might have kept running indefinitely except the theater leaked so badly, the production had to move out. It was a music venue, too:

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Charles Mingus played the cabaret room, and the New York Dolls, who are on stage when Richie arrives at the Mercer in Vinyl’s premiere, performed here regularly. (Marlene Dietrich is said to have shown up to see them one night. Just imagine that: Weimar glamour gal in gone-to-hell Victorian hotel watching boys in eyeliner and heels play punk rock.) This very magazine suggested that Kaback was giving Joe Papp’s Public Theater a run for its money. 

Still, the Mercer was in a very crummy building, and some questionable renovations decades earlier had silently but seriously weakened the structure. Kaback knew something bad was coming, too — for months, he’d been reporting fresh cracks and alarming bulges in the walls, and after a bunch of foot-dragging, the city had issued some violations. On August 3, 1973, the day of the collapse, Kaback saw bricks fall and heard beams groaning, and over the course of the afternoon he began sending up flares to everyone: the hotel’s owners, its manager, the Buildings Department. “We were expecting 2,000 people that night,” he later told the Times. At about 5 p.m., as the signs grew more ominous, Kaback himself bolted, then ran back in for his wallet, and got out just in time. The south section of the building came down at 5:10 p.m. (In Vinyl’s CGI version, it happens late at night as the Dolls play, and the feeling is that sheer guitar power causes the collapse.) About 300 people got out in time. Four were killed.”

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In a Nutshell….

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They have 9 more episodes to pull this rabbit out of the toilet. On the plus side, they may be able to do it. On the negative side, this isn’t a mini-series, it’s being called the “First Season.”

Like Greg Godovitz said, “It’s Empire for Honkies”, and I agree.

Classic Rock fans who live in the suburbs and still have bellbottoms and bad hair cuts will make this baby just as popular as Empire.

Likewise, there are so many good people involved in this, they should be able to bring it home.

…but all the talent and money in the world can’t help you if the drama and intensity outweighs the story telling. So far, I’d say the interest in telling the story is buried under the desire to embellish it to the point of caricature.

Nothing new here…just another crime/mob/rags to riches to rags etc show, this time set in the music biz.

Yawn….

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Segarini’s column appears whenever Ray Romano gets a blow job on a bus

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Tilda January 2015Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record

5 Responses to “Segarini: Bob on Vinyl”

  1. always entertaining.

  2. I so get you. Fabulous read, Mr. Segarini. Thanks.

  3. […] and am proud to say, I haven’t changed my view one iota since. You can read what I had to say HERE and save me the trouble of repeating myself.  In a nutshell, I said it stunk…and after […]

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