Now this is how I like my songs sung! Mr. Nagatani’s Kindergarten class sings my Friends theme to ensure maximum focus on mom on her special day.
Now this is how I like my songs sung! Mr. Nagatani’s Kindergarten class sings my Friends theme to ensure maximum focus on mom on her special day.
All the hits you can stand to hear!!! And the last time in an architectural treasure.
So as I was saying yesterday, this last weekend at Willis Wonderland we aKitschionados from The Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch saw the light of Fluff!
For a quick recap if you were too lazy to click on that link, many of us are converging on Somerville, MA. September 24th to attend the fifth annual Fluff Festival to celebrate the marshmallow food topping in the city it was invented in. aKitschionado Rusty suggested that we first convene at Willis Wonderland in LA, the physical arm of AWMOK.com, and spend a day cooking with Fluff. Bear in mind that many of the aKitschionados in attendance had never met before and only knew each other by commenting on the kitsch they’d submitted to AWMOK. So everything served had to be a real icebreaker. As such, the first course was Fluff inspired sandwiches…:
… accompanied by Goldfish in sea foam dip vegetables:
All of which was washed down with Flufftinis…:
…an original recipe by aKitschionado iamfluff, a.k.a. Susan Olsen, a.k.a. Cindy Brady of the Bunch:
Extra points were earned for color-coordinated food, dishware and clothing:
Even more points racked up for color-coordinated lamps and other sugary Fluff alternatives:
aKitschionado Mark Blackwell scored even more bonus points for coordinating his jellybean tribute to The Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch with the aforementioned lamp and M&Ms.
I hope anyone reading this appreciates the importance of color-coordinated meals and accoutrements. If there’s any question at all about the importance of food and furnishings color-coordination, please refer here.
The main course was delicious and nutritious Fluffernutter cake. I know this photo’s blurry but so was my vision after the day’s 21-gun sugar salute.
If you think that cake is gooey, let me tell you that as the party hostess who had to clean up – actually I didn’t clean up at all as the aKitschionados are a very conscious and esthetically tidy breed – there were vestiges of Fluff everywhere. Like on Mark’s pants:
Slightly less lava-flowish-of-Fluff were the fried S’Mores made by akitschionado Snappy P.
Technically, there’s no Fluff in this recipe but as its fraternal twin, marshmallows, are a key ingredient the Willis Wonderland stove did not discriminate.
Many aKitschionados came bearing gifts. Doug Wood, for example, brought me a lovely kitsch-filled basket:.
One of the gifts was a practical Hostess Twinkie holder:
Many aKitschionados were jealous of my acquisition:
Just as important as protecting your Twinkies is protecting your Pringles. Thank you, aKitschionado Windupkitty, for the lovely Pringles protective case.
By the way, a practical party hint: name tags are essential. Even if your guests know each other for a hundred years it gives them an opportunity to express what they’re feeling in name, which acts as much of an icebreaker at a party as food no one has eaten since they were 11 years old.
It also saves the host or hostess time in making introductions.
As I said, the bulk of the day’s festivities centered around cooking and eating. But aKitschionados were free to wander around Willis Wonderland to enjoy the artifacts they’ve been seeing in my posts since I first launched AWMOK.com in 2009. Many of them also enjoyed the fine reading materials scattered around.
That book deserves a close up:
In fact, my whole Soul kitsch collection deserves a close-up. Here’s but a few of the shelves of it:
I think Fluff is a soulful food. It recalls one’s childhood and brings feelings of peace to the mind if not the blood vessels, as aKitschionado John Zenone experiences here:
Off in my recording studio, I was showing some of the aKitschionados some more of my Soul kitsch collection:
You might want to see the front of that picture frame:
As much as I covet my James Brown autograph, I covet this bit of Soul kitsch almost as much, Sammy Davis Jr’s last stash of marijuana:
Slightly easier to see than the cannabis in that last photo are the edges of the round circle rugs that cover the floor in my recording studio. They’re there to protect the plastic that’s actually the floor surface that scratches as soon as you breathe on it. Here’s what the floor looks like in real life:
Despite signs posted all over begging aKitschionados to carefully step on the rugs, several of them found it necessary to defy their leader’s command. Bad girl, kookykitsch!
And Meshuggah Mel!
Although it was close to 100° and muggy, we also spent time outside. That’s where my over 200 pieces of bamboo dinnerware are.
And for anyone who missed the sugar inside, there was plenty of cotton candy floating in the pool.
Food that floats is something every party chef should consider when throwing summer parties.
So all in all, a good and Fluffy time was had by all! Come back again soon, aKitschionados. See you all in Somerville in “September” one way or the other.
Photos: Allee Willis, Prudence Fenton, Mark Blackwell, Rusty Blasenhoff, Ken Dashner.
…come see me and my latest piece of technology, this 1960’s wrist transisitor radio, on the “Indie Success: Caching in on Collaboration” panel, Tuesday March 15, 11:00AM at the Hilton, Salon C, 500 East 4th Street. Here’s what me and my wrist accessory will be talking about:
“Since the web began we’ve been talking about artists having a career without a label and going directly to fans. We finally have examples of this working, so what does it look like?
SXSW Veteran Heather Gold sits down with successful collaborating indie artists including: Allee Willis (September, Boogie Wonderland, The Color Purple, Theme from Friends, over 50 million albums sold), Mary Jo Pehl (Mystery Science Theatre 3000, RIfftrax, NPR) and Kenyatta Cheese (Know Your Meme, Rocketboom). The Net links almost every form of artistic making, so it makes sense that we’re in an era of increasing collaboration and creation in many forms. We’ll find out how limitations and openness serve them in an era of “personal brands” We’ll find out how they deal with rights, friendship and creating the best space in which to collaborate. We’ll also dig into their collaborative process in making social experiences, music, video and comedy and find out how they’ve succeeded creatively and in every other way.”
Arriving in Austin tomorrow night. See you there on Tuesday. My biggest message: As much as it’s about technology, it’s about a charming personality…
(Photo with my Royal typewriter, bought with my allowance money when I was 13, by Jennie Warren)
Here’s a video tour of my trip to visit Dona Miller, President of Vogue International, a 22,000 square foot wonderland of mannequin bodies and parts in The City of Industry, CA. You can’t believe how massive this place is and what a science there is to mannequins. Enjoy the video!
Hope you are having a big, bulging mannequin Monday!
I just got back from spending three of the most fantastic days of my life. Seriously. As I’ve been blabbing about for weeks now, I had the great honor of conducting the 300+ musicians in the Marching Band at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, as they played my songs at the Homecoming football game which, btw, we won!
I was completely thrilled to be asked and took it very seriously, if for no other reason that I don’t read music and therefore knew I’d have absolutely no idea how to follow–let alone lead–the band as they played. I rehearsed every night by conducting the actual records as they were originally cut, a bunch of Earth, Wind & Fire and the theme to Friends, and then watched literally hundreds of marching bands playing the songs on YouTube, most versions of which were completely different from each other not to mention the original records. Ultimately I decided I would just have to feel the groove and move my custom-made-by-me Wisconsin red and white glitter drumsticks with bicycle handlebar grips spontaneously and instantaneously catch up with any tempo change or unexpected accents that may occur. Beyond anything, I knew I had to stay cool because I was doing it in front of 82,000 people and my choices were either to be nervous and uptight or hang loose and savor every incredible second knowing that this is something that doesn’t happen to everyone and would be a moment I would remember forever.
One of my biggest dilemmas was trying to figure out how to blog about this incredible adventure in a concise and meaningful way. I take my blog very seriously. I may write about crazy objects that I’ve collected forever but ultimately my feelings about the objects are all a key to myself.
I’ve long been aware that as an artist my primary canvas is myself. My songs, if I have any control of the lyrical content, are completely autobiographical. My art has always explored some kind of situation I was in whether I was conscious of it or not. And as soon as I jumped into digital technology in 1991 I knew instinctively it was all about social connection and that I, as a consummate party host, would learn more about myself through the people I connected with than I ever would on my own. So, I don’t want to just throw bunch of pictures and videos up here that documented my experience so much as use those things to talk about the impact they had on me as a conscious human being and artist.
All weekend I was blessed to have great friends around me who took care of everything so all I had to think about was keeping the glitter on my drumsticks and be mindful of tempo. Anyone who knows me knows I take making friends very seriously because I realize the impact they have on me. Hell, I even wrote the theme song. Here I am with Jon Sorenson, from the UW Foundation, who came up with the idea of me conducting the band in the first place…
… and Mark Blackwell, who I work with in LA and who flew in with me to video everything…
…. and Mike Leckrone, the beyond legendary bandleader/arranger who’s been at UW since I went there in the 60’s.
Even some of my sorority sisters showed up to support me. There were more of my SDT sisters there but we never were all in the same place at the same time for a group photo.
Standing right next to me is Muffin Alschuler. Mark and I stayed at her house and she and her husband, Eddie, were absolutely the best babysitters/ tour guides/handlers one could ever hope for. But in all of the 600 or so photos I got from everyone’s cameras there wasn’t a single photo of me, Muffin and Eddie together. Which is real shame as they’re two of the nicest people in the world and I never would have had this degree of the world’s most incredible weekend had I not stayed with them. But a threesome photo isn’t the only thing that was missing concerning documentation and the Alschulers… All weekend long Eddie had a little Sony digital camera that he was taking incredible photos and movies on. But I asked him to shoot my conducting debut on one of the big HD video cameras I brought with me because he and Muffin were going to be sitting across the 50 yard line from where I’d be conducting and would have a spectacular overview of the band with me facing them. I decided to do this at the last moment right before I marched through the tunnel with the band and out onto the field.
Unfortunately, I didn’t tell Eddie that the camera is in record when the light is red, not green. So I ended up with lots of footage of Muffin’s crotch as the camera lay on her lap patiently waiting to go into record, red light blazing, only to snap off as soon as you hear my name being announced and my music starting. Here’s what was captured of my performance:
I know, I’ve never looked better. Alas, I believe in synchronicity and so consider the fact that Muffin, Eddie and I never actually got it together to take a photo with just the three of us a matching set to the non-video they graciously took at the game. Throughout it all I remained cool because Mark was right there with me on the field shooting away so I knew I had reliable backup.
Ha ha. Despite my proclivity for a massive overabundance of documentation as well as the fact that I had the time of my life and now want to be a conductor, the video gods were not looking down on me as Mark’s footage was filled with blips, as if someone put their finger on the tape head every few minutes to make it gag. That’s it for me and Sony Mini DVs. I’m sick of all the aliasing too, as if the edges of everything had been cut by one of those scissors with the diamond shaped teeth that people go slaphappy with in their crafts projects. Check out the drumsticks. They’re not striped in real life. Neither am I.
Anyway, I would like to think that I was more reliable than Sony tapes when I taught a couple of classes while I was in Madison. Here I am with The Wisconsin Singers, students who are passionate about singing and performing and most of whom aren’t majoring in either, something I can totally relate to.
I also spoke to students at the Hamel Family Digital Media Lab. They were probably expecting a big visual presentation and lots of tips about how to get into the business but I was there to talk about my belief that anyone can do anything they want to do if they just have the vision and balls to do it. I’m definitely not the one to talk about how to get into the business as I’ve functioned outside of it is a self-funded artist for at least half of my career. If I had to live up to the standards of the entertainment and art businesses I may have had more hits but I’d be a shell of a person for having to club my brain to death so I could stay within the lines. So I just talked about being yourself and and making the absolute best of that.
The only school I ever went to to learn about music was the radio. I like it when people study one thing and do another. I like it when I don’t know how to read music yet can conduct an incredible marching band. At its best, life is about learning to do what you love by whatever means necessary. The last place I ever thought I’d be is in the middle of a gigantic stadium conducting music that I have no idea how I ever really got it together to write in the first place. But there I was anyway. And that’s something that no faulty video tape or green and not red light can ever erase.
Video, complete with blemishes, coming tomorrow!
How happy am I that neither rain, sleet nor snow could keep the Kennett High School Marching Band from playing my song, “September” back in January of 2007?! I’ve been especially aggressive tracking down marching bands playing “September” as in a couple of weeks I have the great honor of conducting the University of Wisconsin marching band at the Homecoming halftime game when they play three of my hits, “September”, “In The Stone”, an Earth, Wind & Fire song that has grown to mythical proportions in marching band repertoires, and ” I’ll Be There for You (the theme from Friends)”, which I have no idea as to why it’s on the program when “Boogie Wonderland” or even “Neutron Dance” would seem more appropriate to drum the spirits up for the big game.
Despite the fact that I (co) wrote everything, I can’t read music and thought that maybe if I watched a few marching bands play the songs it might better prepare me as these arrangements always differ slightly from the records. I’m not sure how much I can really learn from the Kennett High band other than to always wear galoshes in inclement weather and to remember to practice so I can hit the notes. I will say that the rain makes an excellent percussive intro.
For a more through exploration of my “365 Days Of September” mission as well as details of how the song was written, go here. Until tomorrow, ba-de-ya!
The only thing I really understand about this game is that Shari Lewis and Lambchop have absolutely nothing to do with it beyond appearing on the cover. Perfect on the Kitsch scale but less than satisfying as a “game” as there are no instructions enclosed (another excellent sign of Kitsch). I guess you hold the cards up and try and get the answer but if you’re unsuccessful you place the cheap little piece of plastic with holes punched in it over the card and it miraculously reveals the answer.
Although the Bar-Zim company of Jersey City, New Jersey managed to stuff about 30 cards into the compact little box, many of the edges look like they were hand cut. Maybe the person in charge of cutting got a little slaphappy and haphazard as his brain numbed from the monotony of the “game”.
This is the best way a celebrity appearing on a product or endorsing it can achieve Kitsch: Make sure the product has absolutely nothing to do with the celebrity, produce it in the cheapest way possible and don’t include any instructions. Kudos to Shari Lewis and Lambchop Magic Answer Cards for scoring a perfect 10 in all categories!