If social media are any indication, all the cool kids — including my friends Norb and Brian — are in Madison this weekend.
The Wizard World Comic Con Madison is going on next door to what we used to call the Dane County Coliseum, an aging hockey barn that has also has seen some fairly remarkable rock shows.
Brian rode with William Shatner in a hotel shuttle last night and saw Edward James Olmos and Lou Ferrigno at breakfast this morning. Name dropper.
But Norb saw the Batmobile today. “I think it’s just a replica,” he said.
This is as close as I’m going to get to the Batmobile this weekend.
This Batmobile sits on my desk, just behind my Mac. It is, of course, one of the coolest cars from a childhood filled with cool cars.
Adam West, the guy who sat behind the wheel of the real Batmobile, was to have been at Comic Con Madison this weekend, but he canceled because of what was said to be a scheduling conflict.
I have long wanted to meet Adam West. But I’m not into autographs or selfies — I don’t need proof of such a meeting — so paying upwards of $50 extra just to shake his hand and say thanks seems pointless. It might have been enough just to see him from a distance.
There’s always hope for a random meeting. We once rode in an elevator with Sam Kinison, so anything’s possible.
But I suspect my chances of meeting Adam West are about as slim as another entry on my bucket list.
I would love to have lunch with Paul McCartney. Vegan, of course. No pictures, no autographs, just a couple of guys shooting the breeze.
Here’s another mashup of ’60s icons, one of whom had another cool car, the Monkeemobile.
As Dolenz tells it, John Lennon invited him to listen to his song — “Hey Monkee Man. Want to hear what we’re working on?” — as it was being recorded at EMI Studios in London in February 1967. A year later, a bit of this Beatles song was heard at the beginning of the final episode of “The Monkees,” one co-written and directed by Dolenz.
“I don’t remember how it happened, but I somehow managed to get the rights to play this song,” Dolenz says in the “Remember” liner notes. “To my knowledge, it is the first time that The Beatles let one of their songs be used in such a manner.”
Here’s that episode: “The Frodis Caper,” or “Mijacogeo,” from March 25, 1968. That’s an unknown Tim Buckley at the end, doing an acoustic version of “Song To The Siren,” which hadn’t been released at the time.
Let’s say a new record came out today. All four Beatles are on that record. That would be a big deal, wouldn’t it?
Let’s say some of their pals are on that new record. You might have heard of them. Klaus Voormann and Billy Preston and Harry Nilsson and Marc Bolin and Nicky Hopkins. The Band, too. That would be quite a big deal, wouldn’t it?
But when that new record came out 40 years ago this month, some lamented it for what it was not, rather than celebrating for what it was.
What it was not, was a new Beatles record. As 1973 came to a close, fans clung to the hope that such a thing might still be possible.
What it was, was this.
“Ringo,” the third solo LP by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr with a little help from his friends, holds up quite nicely all these years later.
It rose to No. 2 on the Billboard album chart, driven by three hit singles: “Photograph,” which Ringo wrote with George Harrison; “Oh My My,” a Ringo original; and “You’re Sixteen,” Ringo’s cover of the old Johnny Burnette song.
Yet the deep cuts had something for everyone seeking that next Beatles record.
“I’m The Greatest,” a whimsical look at fame written by John Lennon. It’s basically a Beatles track with all parties except Paul McCartney.
“Six O’Clock.” There’s Paul (and Linda), with a regret-filled love song written by them. It channels the Beatles and points the way toward Wings.
“Sunshine Life For Me (Sail Away Raymond),” written by George. It’s basically Ringo and George fronting The Band with David Bromberg. It sounds like an Irish folk song. Listen closer, consider The Band’s involvement, and you hear another nod to a Beatle’s American influences.
Back then, I had “You’re Sixteen” on a 45. I loved it. I was 16. Some symmetry there. When you flipped it over, you heard this on the B side.
On which Ringo, working without the rest of the Beatles, rocks out on a song he wrote with Vini Poncia. Which, as 1973 turned into 1974, was not necessarily what everyone wanted to hear. But I dug it then, and I dig it now.
It’s been almost two weeks since we saw Paul McCartney at Miller Park in Milwaukee, and I’m still trying to make sense of everything we saw and heard. It was almost surreal.
Buying seats on the field pretty much exhausted our concert budget for the entire year. But it was well worth what we spent. You just don’t get to see one of the Beatles up close every day.
So, a few memories from a staggeringly hot, muggy night at the ballpark:
— “Paperback Writer,” six songs into the show, was the first to give me the chills. McCartney was playing the same Epiphone Casino guitar that he used when the Beatles recorded the song in 1966.
— Really enjoyed hearing “Another Day,” a solo single from 1971, for the first time in a long time. We must have had the 45 when we were kids, because I immediately thought of the flip side, a blistering screamer named “Oh Woman, Oh Why.”
— One of our son’s friends plays “Blackbird,” so I took a close look when McCartney played it. I reported back to Liam that McCartney duct tapes the cord to the side of his guitar, just like everyone else.
— “Back in the U.S.S.R.” opened, of course, with the sound of a jet landing PLAYED AT THE VOLUME OF A JET LANDING and thundered on from there.
— I’ve never been a big fan of “Live and Let Die,” but when you shoot fireworks from the stage and from outside the stadium and ignite more and bigger flash pots than KISS ever used, I’ll buy in.
— As McCartney played the opening chords of certain songs, you’d also hear this: “GACK!” “AAUGH!” “MMPH!” Those sounds accompanied the momentary freakout that came as people recognized those songs.
Yet for all the spectacle on stage, you just had to turn your back to it from time to time and soak in the rest of it. You’re standing in left field in Miller Park, looking up at a sight that only the ballplayers see. There are 40,000 people surrounding you. Multicolored lasers are dancing on the steel framework of the roof, which is open on this hot summer night. It was, of course, a three-hour singalong.
It also was a night on which just when you thought McCartney would go one way, he’d go another. That took me back to one of the first LPs I ever bought. There, following the elegant “Dear Friend” and hidden at the end of Side 2 of Wings’ debut record, was this little surprise, a crunchy 45-second instrumental.
“Mumbo Link,” Wings, from “Wild Life,” 1971. It’s out of print.
Anyone else hear a little “Get Back” or “Helter Skelter” in there?
The set list from Milwaukee on July 16, 2013:
“Eight Days a Week,” “Junior’s Farm,” “All My Loving,” “Listen to What the Man Said,” “Let Me Roll It/Foxy Lady,” “Paperback Writer,” “My Valentine,” “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Another Day,” “And I Love Her,” “Blackbird,” “Here Today,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “Lady Madonna,” “All Together Now,” “Lovely Rita,” “Mrs. Vandebilt,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!,” “Something,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Band on the Run,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Let it Be,” “Live and Let Die” and “Hey Jude.”
First encore: “Day Tripper,” “Hi, Hi, Hi” and “Get Back.”
Second encore: “Yesterday,” “Helter Skelter” and “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End.”