JFK Assassination Song: “Catholic Day” by Adam and the Antz

Before discussing “Catholic Day” by Adam and the Antz, I want to mention one of the songs included on the Turn Me On, Dead Man compilation Conspiracy A-Go-Go, available as a free download on Bandcamp, “Five Bullets” by Eye Ocean, from the 2010 release The Smoke in Your Eyes. The song is called “Five Bullets” because, according to songwriter Pascal Cormier, “John F. Kennedy was shot in the throat, twice in the back and then twice in the head simultaneously.” Cormier sees a broad conspiracy at work in the JFK assassination, “I believe that JFK was assassinated by people he knew, I believe the CIA, Cardinal Spellman and the Vatican were definitely involved, using the Roman Catholic Mafia and some U.S. Military. I believe one of the shots he got to the head was done by the driver.”
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New JFK Compilation: Conspiracy A-Go-Go

November 22, 2013, will be the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Readers of this blog know I’ve compiled a list of every song I can find that references the JFK assassination and I’ve been going into some depth analyzing many of the songs on that list. Earlier this year I got the idea to ask bands to contribute garage, punk and psychedelic tracks for a new compilation of JFK songs. On November 1st, I published a collection of 26 tracks on Bandcamp called Conspiracy A-Go-Go.
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“Paul Is Dead” Clues on Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles’ movie Magical Mystery Tour, originally broadcast on the BBC in 1967, opens with the line, “When a man buys a ticket for a Magical Mystery Tour he knows what to expect. We guarantee him the trip of a lifetime.” Perhaps the Beatles presumed that those who were “turned on” would understand what was going on, but the film was a poorly conceived and hard to follow. More than anything, this film showed that the Beatles were struggling to find their direction in their first major project after the death of their manager, Brian Epstein. Still, the record that accompanied the film, also called Magical Mystery Tour (1967), had plenty of good music to keep fans happy. With all of the nonsense and surreal imagery it was understandable that fans would be looking for clues about Paul McCartney’s rumored death and replacement by a lookalike on this album, particularly when the title song announced, “the magical mystery tour is dying to take you away”.
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Led Zeppelin: Plagiarism? “Since I’ve Been Loving You”

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is a slow blues number on Led Zeppelin III, which was released in 1970. The common perception of Led Zeppelin’s blues tracks is that they were plagiarized from an older African-American artist, but that is not the case with “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. On this track Robert Plant drew on the work of Moby Grape, a roots-oriented psychedelic band from San Francisco who were active in the late 1960s. Moby Grape’s song “Never”, which was on the 1968 album Grape Jam (packaged as a double-LP release with Wow), is an extended blues workout with a tempo and meter similar to “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” More importantly, “Never” features some of the same phrases and lyrical theme that Robert Plant uses in “Since I’ve Been Loving You.”
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Frame of Mind

With a few minor revisions, this is a post that appeared on the old Turn Me On, Dead Man blog on October 24, 2009. With the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination approaching (Nov. 22, 2013) I decided to revisit this topic.

A JFK assassination movie that nearly slipped by me is Frame of Mind. This movie went straight to DVD in 2009, but it isn’t all that bad. Also, the film has a particularly interesting cast. Carl T. Evans, who starred, directed and co-wrote Frame of Mind with Charles Kipps, plays the character of David Secca, a New York City cop who decides to take a job with the local police force in Carlstadt, New Jersey. Secca returns to Carlstadt to take up a quiet life and raise his kids, but as soon as he and his wife move into their new house he discovers a piece of film taken at the scene of the JFK was assassinated that pulls him into a 40+-year-old conspiracy.
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Nazi Drugs on Dig the Now Sound

Dig the Now Sound (Thursdays at 10:00 pm eastern on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio) plays standout recent garage/psych. The featured track this week is “Makin Me Gruesome” by the band Nazi Drugs from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Nazi Drugs is not about the Third Reich or their medical experiments, but rather is influenced more by the sort of retro horror movie garage punk of bands like the Cramps. The image from their first release, for example, comes from the the 1971 exploitation movie Simon, King of the Witches (I hadn’t seen this delightful film before but it is available on YouTube). “Makin Me Gruesome” is the lead off track on Academia, which will be released on cassette on the Godless America label on or around November 13, 2013. Nazi Drugs is a two-piece band and recently I spoke with the band’s members, Adam (guitar, bass) and Jovi (vocals, lyrics). They explained to me that Academia is a place in Pennsylvania with an eerie, haunted old school building where legend has it that terrible things took place. All is explained on the insert card in the cassette (which also contains the download code).

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I see on the credits that Adam plays guitar and bass and Jovi does the vocals and lyrics. Who plays the drums or was I imagining things?

Jovi: I do the percussion, but I’m not especially talented so I don’t give myself credit for it. so nobody can give me shit about how bad it is.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Who does your album artwork?

Jovi: I usually do the artwork.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I looked at the list of your influences. A couple stood out. I had never heard of Abner Jay so your list got me to fire up Wikipedia. The other one that stuck out was Wizzard–is that musically or visually?

Jovi: I just like the whole idea of that dude. I’m just a big fan. I like his approach to that thing.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: If you had to pick two or three who would those be?

Adam and Jovi: Cramps, I guess. The Mummies. Suicide. The first Link Wray album from like ’71. That one’s bluesy but it has a groove but it’s not all blues and it’s not all psychedelic. It’s not all one thing but it’s a bunch of different stuff.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: What kinds of experiences did you have in bands that turned you away from playing in bands?

Jovi: We went to high school together and we’re not from the area we live in now. We just have our own stuff that we grew up on, that we like to play and like to listen to. Our bands were a good time and we really enjoyed our bands. But too many personalities and everybody’s got different plans for stuff. We just wanted to do something where we could just do all on our own. Make it the way we want to make it without anybody else’s input.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: So it was pretty much a no-brainer to form a two-piece then?

Jovi: We’re going to be doing some shows and we have a bunch of people who want to play with us, but Adam and me are the only permanent members. Everybody else is just fill-in for shows. The good thing about this band is like, our other band we had so much equipment. This band we can pretty much rent a car, pack the trunk and be ready to go.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: It took you three years to put out Swastifari and then only about three months for I Got a Rite. And now you’ve got a new one coming out. How long can you keep up this pace?

Jovi: I don’t know, man. The well is deep, man.

Adam: Yeah, luckily. The first one was done randomly. I was living in North Carolina.

Jovi: Yeah, that one we did pretty much with him sending me files and editing them. But then he moved back and we started this band that we’re in, Jaw Horse. And then we just lost kinda time and didn’t have time to do it. Then we just got a spurt in between doing stuff with Jaw Horse and we finished Swastafari finally. Then we just got on pace and made an entire record.

Adam: Yeah, got lucky.

Jovi: Then this EP opportunity [Academia] came up and we did those songs in just a few days.

Adam: Less than a week. Which is awesome.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Who is Martian Ambassador Records. Is that your own label?

Jovi: Yeah, we put that on there. We press our own CDs. The first Jaw Horse CD we were on we decide we should put a label on it since we were pressing it, so we made that. There’s actually another band called D-Grade Monsters that we’re going to put out, too. The drummer [in Jaw Horse] is also in that band. So the Nazi Drugs records and maybe a couple other ones from our friends.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Your new one, Academia, is coming out on cassette. Is the cassette your format of choice?

Jovi: I wanted to do a cassette forever. Nobody around here ever got into that. We’re in a pretty rural community [Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania].

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I looked up Selinsgrove on Google Maps. The closest city is Scranton or what?

Jovi: We’re about two hours south of Scranton. We’re closer to Harrisburg.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: You’re in the mountains, aren’t you?

Jovi: Oh yeah, man. We’re in Appalachia. [laughs]

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Where do you record?

Jovi: We record in my house—the attic or wherever we can set up our shit. We record into computer programs from our amps and stuff.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Do you have any plans to tour now?

Jovi: I don’t know, man. Yeah, this cassette–seems like people are actually looking forward to it. I got a bunch of messages asking us to play, especially since we joined garagepunk.com. In our area people don’t give a shit really, honestly. They’re all into like hardcore and stuff. That’s what we grew up on, too, but like, nobody really has time for what we’re doing.

Adam: They only like our stuff because we’re friends with them, but the people on [garagepunk.com] actually dig that stuff, so it’s really cool to get feedback from them.

Jovi: We weren’t sure it would translate to the people who actually listen to the kinds of records we listen to, but it seems to, so we’re definitely looking to play some shows, for sure. We’re going to try to do this full time, if we can.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: One thing I wanted to ask you about is your name. You’ve hit a couple of taboos in your band name. What kind of reaction do you get to Nazi Drugs?

Jovi: Oh man! People think it’s a cool name, they do, but a lot of our friends won’t friend us on Facebook. [laughs] Like, “I don’t know, man. I’m not really into racism and drugs, so…” They don’t seem to really get the whole thing. Some of them do. But yeah, we get the occasional message from skinheads. But for the most part, the name, the art that’s what draws people in.

You can pre-order a hand-numbered cassette copy of Academia by Nazi Drugs on Godless America Records for $5.

The Orange Drop on Dig the Now Sound

Dig the Now Sound (Thursdays at 10:00 pm eastern on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio) plays standout recent garage/psych. The featured track this week is “Electric Sitar Beat” by the Orange Drop. You can view a couple of different mixes of “Electric Sitar Beat” on YouTube. The Orange Drop has been on hiatus but Marc-Andre Basile says they’re back now and more focused than ever.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I see one of your tags is Phladelphia. Where are you are located? Play often?

Marc-Andre Basile: Yes we are located in Philadelphia. We practice and record in our own Cat Vomit Studio – named after our cat that likes to vomit in the studio. Most of the members of the band live in the area, with the exception of our drummer Mike who comes from Delaware. We have just gotten the band back together with most of the original lineup after a long 2 year hiatus. I was busy playing bass for House of Fire during our break and had a great time playing with those guys. We are about ready to start gigging again (our last show I think was in 2011 with the Sky Drops in Philadelphia).

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I wanted to ask about your hiatus. I was looking at your Facebook page and noticed that many months have passed since your latest event. Glad to hear that the original lineup is back together. What caused the hiatus (if I may ask)?

Marc-Andre Basile: Sure, I don’t mind talking about it since there isn’t much to it. I started focusing on another project (House of Fire) and some of the other band members were busy with their own things. About two months ago, we all decided it was time to focus on The Orange Drop again because we realized it was pretty much the most fun any of us have had playing music. We are super happy to be back in action, with way more focus than we ever had before.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I love the trippy visual images you use, not to mention the music. Who are your biggest influences?

Marc-Andre Basile: Well, I would say Pink Floyd is probably the biggest influence for us. I am personally obsessed with Live at Pompeii, I think it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever recorded. Also, being from France originally, I am big into Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Dutronc. Our new song Electric Sitar Beat is a sort of tribute to Serge Gainsbourg’s sitar freakbeat era. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3, and the Dead Skeletons are other long time favorites.

As far as newer bands go, I would like to give a nod to: The Red Plastic Buddha from Chicago, Francois Sky from Berlin, Chatham Rise from Minneapolis, and the Spiral Electric from San Francisco… if you haven’t listened to these bands yet, do it now, these guys all have the potential to be the next “it” psych rock band.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I also wanted to ask about your French connection (to coin a phrase). What path led you from France to Philadelphia?

Marc-Andre Basile: I moved from France to New Jersey when I was 12. I went to high school and then college in Jersey (the band met at Rutgers in New Brunswick). Our lead guitar player, Blaze, was the first one to make the move to Philadelphia about 3 years ago and a year later I also made the move. Our bass player, Matt, is the latest to have made the move – he just got here very recently.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Some time ago I put together a mix of tracks that use an electric sitar (“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” by Van Halen was the biggest surprise) and I wanted to ask if you use a traditional sitar or an electric sitar for “Electric Sitar Beat”?

Marc-Andre Basile: That is top-secret information that we cannot reveal. It may or may not be a Jerry Jones Electric Sitar.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: What are your plans for the future?

Marc-Andre Basile: We are currently recording an album that we hope to have ready in the next 2 months. We have always been into DIY so we are recording, mixing and mastering everything ourselves – we love working this way because it allows us to spend as much time as we please with each song. I like to play tricks on people’s ears, so you can expect some very trippy production for the album. After this we plan to have a record release party in Philadelphia and spend the next year playing shows on the East Coast. I’d like to do SXSW again next year if possible (we came and played in 2009).

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Glad to hear it. I hope you come to DC soon.

Marc-Andre Basile: You can definitely expect us to come to DC at some point soon, we plan on playing the major East Coast cities regularly.

JFK Assassination Song: “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead” by XTC

November 22, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This post is part of a series that will run throughout this year focusing on songs that address the JFK assassination.

“The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead,” which was released as a single and was the lead-off track on XTC’s 1992 LP Nonsuch, isn’t specifically about the JFK assassination. According to songwriter Andy Partridge, “I just started writing about this perfect sort of Jesusy character who happened to have a pumpkin for a head.” Taking his inspiration from a rotting pumpkin just outside their studio, Andy Partridge was trying to write a song about political martyrdom in the mold of a “Bob Dylan-style epic”. The instrumentation of this track is also inspired by Dylan and features a harmonica. According to guitarist Dave Gregory, “I just came up with some Harrisonesque guitar and we added some Hammond organ to give it that Al Kopper, Blonde on Blonde feel.” Some of the lyrics are suggestive of JFK, such as the line “Plots and sex scandals failed outright”. The song’s reference to the Vatican could also be interpreted as a reference to JFK, as he was the first Catholic president of the United States. Still, each verse of the song remains very general and does not commit itself to a specific historical figure.

The video for this song, however, is another story, as it contains a number of visual references to JFK. The video shows a motorcade in a vintage car with a Kennedyesque figure waving from the back seat and Andy Partridge is shown holding a vintage movie camera, suggesting the Zapruder film. The video also shows a woman who looks much like Marilyn Monroe, with whom JFK allegedly had an affair. Throughout the video a set of guns is shown next to text reading “Both Brothers,” referring perhaps to the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.  In addition, a number of times a little boy is shown looking on, which serves as a reminder of John-John, who famously saluted as his father’s funeral procession passed. According to XTC: Song Stories by Neville Farmer, Andy Partridge was “justly dismissive” of the JFK-themed video. He also expressed jealousy that the Crash Test Dummies had a hit with their version of the song, which was included on the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack. The Crash Test Dummies made no references to the JFK assassination in their version of the song or its video.

The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
by Andy Partridge
performed by XTC

Peter Pumpkinhead came to town
Spreading wisdom and cash around
Fed the starving and housed the poor
Showed the Vatican what gold’s for

[chorus]
But he made too many enemies
Of the people who would keep us on our knees
Hooray for Peter Pumpkin
Who’ll pray for Peter Pumpkinhead?
Oh, my!

Peter Pumpkinhead pulled them all
Emptied churches and shopping malls
Where he spoke it would raise the roof
Peter Pumpkinhead told the truth

[chorus]

Peter Pumpkinhead put to shame
Governments who would slur his name
Plots and sex scandals failed outright
Peter merely said any kind of love is alright

[chorus]

Peter Pumpkinhead was too good
Had him nailed to a chunk of wood
He died grinning on live TV
Hanging there he looked a lot like you
And an awful lot like me!

[chorus]

Don’t it make you want to cry-oh?

JFK Assassination Song: “Bullets For You” by Blurt

November 22, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This post is part of a series that will run throughout this year focusing on songs that address the JFK assassination.

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961, as the Cold War was intensifying. By the summer of 1963 the Berlin Wall completely encircled West Berlin, leaving that city physically isolated. On June 26, 1963, John F. Kennedy gave a speech from the Rathaus Schöneberg near the Berlin Wall to show his support for West Berlin. To declare his solidarity with the citizens of that city he used the German phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner).

The crowd responded enthusiastically but an urban legend has since arisen that the people of Berlin were chuckling to themselves that Kennedy had used improper grammar and had actually declared that he was a jelly donut.

Wikipedia points to Len Deighton’s 1983 spy novel Berlin Game as an “early reference” to this misconception, and they quote the following passage from the book:

“Ich bin ein Berliner,” I said. It was a joke. A Berliner is a doughnut. The day after President Kennedy made his famous proclamation, Berlin cartoonists had a field day with talking doughnuts.

While the narrator of Deighton’s novel was presented as someone who was less than reliable, in his review of the book in the New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt repeated this as fact. “Here is where President Kennedy announced, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,’ and thereby amused the city’s populace because in the local parlance a ‘Berliner’ is a doughnut.” Though Kennedy’s supposed grammatical error has since been debunked it has been repeated by otherwise reputable major mainstream media outlets.

In 1984, Ted Milton, leader of Blurt, wrote the song “Bullets for You”  around Kennedy’s “donut” reference, drawing an ironic comparison between the hole in a donut and the hole in JFK’s head when he was assassinated.

Bullets For You
by Ted Milton
performed by Blurt

Bullets for you

I am a donut
There’s a hole in my head
Ich bin ein Berliner
That’s what Jack said
That’s what Jack said
And Jack was not red (?)
That’s what Jack said
And now Jack is dead

Bullets for you

As humorous as Blurt’s song may be, no one has made Kennedy’s Berlin Wall speech as funny as Eddie Izzard.

JFK Assassination Song: Conspiracy Rock

November 22, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This post is part of a series that will run throughout this year focusing on songs that address the JFK assassination.

“Conspiracy Rock” is a parody of the popular Schoolhouse Rock series that aired on ABC Saturday morning children’s programming from 1973 to 1985, and was revived in the 1990s. “Conspiracy Rock” was produced by students at Emerson College in 1992.

 

I recently corresponded with Scott Rosann, who directed “Conspiracy Rock”. As Scott Rosann explains on the “Conspiracy Rock” YouTube page,

This video debuted at Emerson College in 1992, as part of a live show by the Emerson comedy troupe This Is Pathetic. After making the rounds at several broadcast outlets (including SNL, where it is rumored that Al Franken personally savaged it as unfaithful to conspiracy theory canon), the bit finally aired multiple times on Comedy Central during the week of November 22, 1993.

Four and a half years later, Robert Smigel aired a similarly titled bit on SNL’s “Saturday TV Funhouse.” (The producers are content to view this as a coincidence and not a conspiracy.) A remixed version of the film also appeared as an Official Selection in the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.

This silly little film would never have been possible without the brilliance and talent of animator Jason Scott Sadofsky, and of co-writers Michael D’Alonzo, Stephen Johnson, and Eric Drysdale. Thanks also to vocalists Shannon Hart Cleary and Carolyn Forno, and to the cast members (past and present) and supportive audiences of This Is Pathetic.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: What gave you the idea to make this video? It’s a dead-on parody of the Schoolhouse Rock videos.

Scott Rosann: Thanks. From 1989-1992 I was a writer and performer in an Emerson College sketch group called “This Is Pathetic.” The troupe would put up a big show each semester that would run for two or three nights, with a few smaller shows mixed in during the school year.

I’m sure Pathetic had been making videos to play in between live sketches for years (Emerson had really active film & TV programs, with lots of equipment you could steal and talent you could tap)…but when I got in with my writing partner, Mike D’Alonzo, the filmed bits were the main thing *I* wanted to focus on. I was a so-so performer, but I was crazy about SNL-style parodies, so I put most of my obsessive energy into producing those.

We’d just done a really big 10th anniversary show in 1991, and we’d made some pretty ambitious videos for that. Roughly two-thirds of the troupe were set to graduate, and so we wanted to top ourselves for our last show.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Quite a few JFK-related songs came out in the wake of Oliver Stone’s movie JFK (1991). Were you at all influenced by JFK?

Scott Rosann: Almost definitely, yes. At the time, people were reacting to that movie like it was a documentary; it really inflamed people’s passions. So it certainly would have fit our high opinions of ourselves to tap into that for a comedy show.

I want to say I was the one who said, “Let’s make a Schoolhouse Rock of that.” I’d been wanting to do a Schoolhouse Rock about SOMETHING, so I may have sprung the idea…but Mike and the others were on it so quickly and brought so much to it that I hardly think it matters.

Two quick things:

  1. One of our housemates at the time, Jason Scott Sadofsky (now Jason Scott)—who was a preternaturally talented animator and is now a preternaturally talented historian, documentarian, and raconteur—was our one-man animation army on that sketch, and he’s written beautifully on how the film was made: http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/1299
  2. Three guys who are MUCH funnier and much more musical than I am wrote the song: the aforementioned Mike D’Alonzo, Steve Johnson, and Eric Drysdale. All three are geniuses, all three work professionally in entertainment to this day. I probably helped. Two marvelous singers, Shannon Hart Cleary and Carolyn Forno, sang our lyrics to the completely unchanged tune of “A Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing” by Lynn Ahrens. The seven of them are “Conspiracy Rock.”

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Were all of the people involved in making this video college students or were others involved?

Scott Rosann: Yes. Everyone involved (except for Ahrens, from whom we stole outright) was an Emerson student.

The sketch first played during our spring 1992 show, entitled “The Concourse of Humanity.” (It had a loose—very loose—theme centered around a Hall of Presidents-style museum ride.) There were some really good sketches in that show…and some clunkers that I KNOW I was partially responsible for…and “Conspiracy Rock.” Which that audience really, really responded to.

Schoolhouse Rock hadn’t been on the air for almost 10 years at that point. There were these shabby VHS tapes of it that you could buy, or that would get copied and passed around. (We had one, which we used to accurately copy the look and feel.) But you had to be a real nerd to have been watching those. But EVERYONE had grown up with it, so I guess the mixture of that childhood memory and all that bloated Oliver Stone nonsense really clicked. (That part I will take some credit for: I figured it would work, and it worked. And I was really relieved and grateful for that response. That was a nice way to go out, sketch group-wise.)

A year after that, in 1993, ABC put Schoolhouse Rock back on the air, and so that rejoined the zeitgeist. But that was also the year of the 30th anniversary of the JFK assassination. All the “Conspiracy Rock” creators had graduated and were pursuing fitful careers in comedy and entertainment…and a tape of some of that Pathetic material made its way to comedy agent Barry Katz. I don’t remember who passed it to Katz, but after a very weird meeting that I DO remember, that tape was sent over to SNL. There was talk of their buying it to air close to the 30th anniversary.

Here’s where it gets hazy for me; I didn’t hear it from Katz, so he must have told somebody who told me. Folks at SNL liked it. Tom Schiller stands out in my mind as someone who went to bat for it. But the crank-di-tutti-cranks around SNL, Al Franken, HATED it. (Turns out he’s a huge conspiracy buff, and the sketch was too loose with the historical “facts” as he understood them. He’s not wrong, exactly…but we all figured accuracy was hardly the point of the bit. BUT…no shoddy conspiracy cartoon was going to get on his SNL, so down it went.)

The other bidder for “Conspiracy Rock” was the still-fairly-new Comedy Central network. They had significantly less money and a smaller audience than SNL, but they were extremely willing. So we agreed they’d air the sketch a handful of times during the anniversary week, in a deal I like to describe as “a couple hundred dollars and some hats…and we never got the hats.” (I do still have an air check of one of those broadcasts, though. God love old-timey Comedy Central.)

There wasn’t really enough money to split between so many dedicated participants, so we threw a party in Times Square on New Years Eve, 1994, with those proceeds. Many, many Emerson comedians reunited in that cramped Best Western hotel room. A very large sandwich was ordered, much of which probably wound up on the sidewalk, whole or partially digested. If any of your readers have photos of that night, I’ll gladly pay them a lot of money—and some hats—to see them.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I’m curious to know if you’ve ever had any correspondence with Robert Smigel

Scott Rosann: I assume you’re asking because in 1998, he produced an SNL sketch under the TV Funhouse banner called “Conspiracy Theory Rock.” It aired once and was pulled from circulation because it dared to suggest that GE unduly influences NBC’s entertainment and news output, up to and including the wrongful firing of comedian Norm Macdonald. (It’s NOT about the JFK assassination…although that gets a mention.) It is a fact that Smigel was at SNL when our tape was there.

I’ve never spoken with Smigel. My pal Eric Drysdale (who, as I noted earlier, is a co-creator of “Conspiracy Rock”) went on to work closely with Smigel, and I’m sure they’re still friends. I’ve never asked Eric whether Smigel was aware of our sketch; I’m sure he never asked Smigel. To me, it doesn’t matter even a little whether Smigel had seen it or not. His bit is really, really funny. I just watched it on YouTube and laughed out loud; you can ask my wife. It had its (brief, interesting) time, and ours had a (brief, interesting) time of its own.

“Conspiracy Rock” did have another pleasant audience experience in 2000, when it was selected for the shorts program at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. I was allowed to represent it and enjoyed a gratuitous director credit…but as I said, it’s really the work and property of the people I’ve mentioned. And now it lives on YouTube, and is fortunate to be remembered on Turn Me On, Dead Man and elsewhere. It’s a silly little bit, from a silly little time, but it meant a lot to the people involved—much like the things and events it parodies.