P.C.Pop with Pablo

Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

WHERE DO WE LIVE? — I want MORE

In Movies, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Uncategorized on January 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

I Want MORE — Critically Claimed Movies & the Ocassional Woody & Spike Film


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In the ongoing series – Where Do We Live? – I am baffled by our local movie theater company/monopoly (Goodrich Quality Theaters). My latest frustrations – during the week of the announcement of the Oscar nominations – are as follows:


BIRDMAN — from even before it was released the Oscar buzz surrounding this movie was pretty loud. I posted my

birdmanposterfrustration on the Goodrich Facebook page — and the reply was basically, “we applied for a copy of the film and didn’t get it and now it’s too late, oh well.” To this date Birdman has not screened in any theater in Lafayette/West Lafayette. Michael Keaton won the Golden Globe — and is a front runner for the Oscar — and still no Birdman in my town. This is unbelievable.


TOP MOVIES of 2014 — Critics around the world have published the top movies of the year — and a majority of them never ever were screened here. It is an absolute cultural void. BTW — most of the “worst” movies of 2014 landed here (Tranformers: Age of Extinction, for one). To name a few of the BEST of 2014 we missed:

  • BIRDMAN
  • Under the Skin
  • Whiplash
  • Ida
  • Nightcrawler
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Force Majeure
  • Snowpiercer
  • Life Itself
  • Gloria
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  • Starred Up
  • Elaine Stritch: Shoot Mearticle-2586316-1C7B738700000578-459_634x881
  • The Babadook
  • Pride
  • The Overnighters

OSCAR NOMINATED MOVIES — While the rest of the world rushes to the theaters to see all of the movies recently nominated for an Oscar – we can’t — because THEY AREN’T HERE!! Some are but most aren’t. Here are the movies, I wish came to my town:

  • BIRDMAN
  • Wild
  • Still Alice
  • Two Days, One Night
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Ida
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Lastly, not to put too fine a point on it…

WOODY ALLEN & SPIKE LEE — I know this might sound selfish or at the very least “specific” — but I expect to seespikewoody the newest Woody Allen and Spike Lee films at my local movie theater. For my entire life — until I moved here — I made a point of seeing all Woody Allen and Spike Lee movies on the first night of their release — opening night, if you will. Goodrich has denied me this pleasure — and to make it worse — Woody & Spike’s movies typically don’t ever screen here — ever. BLUE JASMINE, Woody Allen’s most recent critically acclaimed, Oscar nominated movie starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, & Sally Hawkins — NEVER ever screened here. Suffice it to say — we didn’t get his latest MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT either. And I’m ashamed to say — we didn’t even bother asking about. We are getting too tired.

Spike Lee has a new one out this weekend — DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS. And guess what — it ain’t here and probably won’t ever be screened here. Please, for heavens sake — give us some Woody Allen and Spike Lee.


AmpasLogo


Indianapolis is 60+ miles south of us and not a convenient excursion when you have two teenage kids — one who doesn’t like movies and the other that enjoys anything superhero. I just can’t believe that this community with a major university with over 40,000 students cannot sustain at least one screen for what used to be called “art house movies” — let alone Oscar nominated movies.

Why is there no market for culture? Why is this town in a cultural void? If I am right (which I am sure some of your screaming right now) — then why don’t you demand better?


I am greedy and selfish to want MORE? Is there hope? Where the heck do we live, people??


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WHERE DO WE LIVE? — I want all 3

In Movies, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Uncategorized on December 1, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I Want All Three — Frozen, 12 Years a Slave and Blue Jasmine


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In the ongoing series – Where Do We Live? – I am baffled by our local movie theater company/monopoly (Goodrich Quality Theaters). Two frustrations we experienced during just one visit yesterday. They are as follows:

FROZN_014M_G_ENG-GB_70x100.indd

* FROZEN — was only being screened in 3D at 9 p.m. Really? Wouldn’t there be more people wanting to see a Disney movie at an earlier show time than 9 p.m. PLUS — all reviews say this movie should be seen in 3D; if not for the Frozen movie itself, but more so for the opening animated short which has groundbreaking animation — and Mickey Mouse.

* 12 YEARS A SLAVE — Arrived Friday, November 22, Gone Wednesday, November 27. Reason given they needed as many screens as possible for Frozen and Catching Fire. REALLY?? Only 4 days and 5 nights? Why can’t I have all three movies? The manager suggested we go to Indy to see it.

Lastly, not to put too fine a point on it…

* BLUE JASMINE — Woody Allen’s latest movie starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard,Blue_Jasmine_poster & Sally Hawkins — NEVER ever screened here. We’ve asked and asked to not avail. Yesterday we didn’t even bother asking about again. We were too tired.

Indianapolis is 60+ miles south of us and not a convenient excursion when you have two teenage kids — one who doesn’t like movies and the other that enjoys anything superhero. I just can’t believe that this community with a major university with over 40,000 students cannot sustain at least one screen for what used to be called “art house movies.” BTW — 12 Years a Slave which has raked in millions and will undoubtedly garner several Oscar nomination and Blue Jasmine with Cate and Alec are hardly “art house.” Even the Butler took forever to come to town and did not stay long — and that one has Oprah for goodness sakes.


12-years-a-slave-poster-copy


Why is there no market for culture? Why is this part of the world a cultural void? If I am wrong (which I am sure some of your screaming right now) — then why don’t you demand better? And since the closest IMAX is also in Indianapolis then 3D needs to be offered at least for movies which we filmed for 3D.

I am greedy and selfish to want all three? Is there hope? Where the heck do we live, people??


Superheroes — Lessons about Power and Leadership

In Avengers, Batman, Comic Books, Dark Knight, Exploring Leadership, Harry Potter, Justice League of America, Komives, Leader, Malavenda, Movies, Nance Lucas, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Robert Greenleaf, Servant Leadership, Spider-Man, Timothy McMahon, Tuckman Stages, Uncategorized on July 3, 2012 at 7:22 pm


This summer you can’t escape Superheroes. From the Avengers movie which is smashing all box office records to The Amazing Spider-Man (reboot) to The Dark Knight Rises (big screen’s 7th Batman actor so far) — not to mention Dredd (Judge Dredd reboot) and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance — superheroes are saving the world in teams, with side-kicks, and alone on multiple, multiplex screens.  Even Broadway in New York City is currently smitten with a superhero — Spider-Man — Turn Off the Dark.

Leadership and Power — there is no better example than Superheroes.  According to J.W. Gardner (1990), Power is a social dimension; it is the capacity to ensure the outcomes one wishes and to prevent those one does not wish. Gardner (1990) also explains that Leadership and Power are two different things but are intertwined in many fascinating ways. The important questions are — What do you do with Power when you get it? How did you get the Power? How and when do you use it? Why do you use your Power — toward what ends?

Over the past 25 years, I have led many discussions about Leadership. Everyone has an idea of what Leadership is and what defines a Leader. Since I am more interested in engaging individuals I developed a highly interactive session. My goal is to give the participants an opportunity to think rather than be told what to think. I start the conversation about Leadership and Power with a simple yet important question —


Why Be a Leader?


What are the benefits? Why do individuals aspire, work, lobby, and fight to become the leaders of their groups or communities. Being the “Leader” is often not easy. Being the Leader means taking on responsibility, working harder than others, and not getting much recognition or praise. Being the Leader is often unfair. Leaders rarely get credit for the successes and almost always get blamed for the failures. In many cases, the Leaders are hated just because they’ve been given the title or position of authority. Take for instance the President of the United States. As soon as they win the election, they are hated and disrespected by a large portion of their constituents. Often even Superheroes like Batman, Spider-Man, Green Hornet, Blue Beetle and Green Arrow are misunderstood by the public they are serving and vilified in the media. So why would anyone want to be a Leader? What are the benefits and rewards? The audience thinks and begins to offer answers.

  • Because I could do it better than everyone else
  • To Make things better
  • To have a say in what happens
  • To control what is done
  • To learn and grow personally and professionally
  • To determine your own destiny
  • To give back
  • To serve others
  • To make a difference
  • Because no one else will

When the participants start running out of answers, I usually stop and tell them there are two answers they have missed.  I also share that I am not surprised that neither of these answers have been mentioned yet — because for as long as I have been asking this question, these two answers rarely come up.  They usually look at me dumbfounded.  With a few more hints — they finally realize the two mysteriously missing answers to the question, Why Be a Leader? are: MONEY and POWER. In an academic or intellectual setting, it just isn’t appropriate to share that your goal in life is to be a Leader to get a better position with a better salary, incredible benefits and retirement plan. Emile Henry Gauvreay gives an insightful description of our attitude of Money today in this observation:


I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest to make money they don’t want to buy things they don’t need to impress people they dislike.


Pursuing money as a benefit to being a Leader is not all bad unless it is your only motivation.  After all we must live, support our families and feel that we are being compensated appropriately for our work and effort.

And POWER also has a very bad name — individuals in our discussion talked about “control,” “determining the destiny,” and “having a say” — but they won’t use the “P” word for fear of appearing greedy, corrupt and immoral. Power is typically used in a negative context thanks to powerful political leaders and powerful corporate CEO’s who have behaved badly. This quote from Lord Acton in an opinion piece from 1887 says it all:


Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.


As for POWER, again, if it is the sole reason for being a Leader it will most likely bring trouble. But I would argue that POWER is actually quite necessary to make any positive change as a Leader.  Without POWER what really can be accomplished? The key is how you use the power — for good or for evil.

Everyone is with the Justice League. Each member of the Justice League has great power. But unlike the Super Villains, Superheroes use their Power for good not evil. Another example — a bit more obscure — is the Disney movie, Sky High (2005). In looking at Power and Leadership, I love Sky High. The storyline in Sky High is similar to Harry Potter. This 14 year old finds out his parents are very famous Superheroes (The Commander and Jetstream), and he now must attend a special school for Super Heroes kids called Sky High.  The first day of school, the gym teacher has all of the new kids gather in the gym and one at a time they have to show him their super power.  Based on their demonstrated super power, the gym teacher identifies them as Superheroes, Villains, and Side-kicks.  The concept of a side-kick I think is fascinating.  The role is to support and complement the Superhero without ever being in the spotlight. I like this idea because I can definitely see myself more as a side-kick than a Superhero or Villain. Superheroes use their Power for Good — Villains for Evil.

Leaders typically have some degree of Power; but Power can exist without Leadership.  The person who puts a parking ticket on your car’s windshield has Power but not the permission to lead. Parents have Power; School teachers have Power; Mid-managers have Power. Some have power because of their title and position — but they may not be Leaders.  Others get Power because of more intrinsic reasons like their physical appearance and attractiveness, their leadership skills, or ability to persuade others (Gardner, 2003). Superheroes are not Leaders until they can harness and control their Power, understand how their Power may be used for Good, and must commit to using their Power only when necessary and always for the good of others.

Power is essential.  If you read the essays by Robert K. Greenleaf (2002) about Servant Leadership — you see that he acknowledges that indeed little may be accomplished in a community without Power. A wonderful example of an individual whose means and ends were so admirable and so well respected that seeking Power is justified.  The leader is Green Arrow who gained power and used the power to fight crime in his home town. Loki on the other hand used Power to an end that was horrifyingly destructive and despicable. The Justice League of America (JLA) and the Avengers are similar in that each Superhero and Villain acquired their super powers in different ways.  Most gained their super powers because of an accident — like being blasted off their home planet (Superman, Wonder Woman), falling into a vat of toxic goo (The Joker, Poison Ivy), exposed to alien technology (Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, The Thing, Invisible Woman), being exposed to radiation (The Hulk, Captain America), being bitten by a bug (Spider-man), morphed with an animal (The Penguin, Beast Boy), struck by lightning (The Flash), using themselves as  test subjects in an experiment that goes really wrong (Green Goblin).  Others chose to find or create their power like the billionaires who have different identities by day (Ant-Man, Batman, Green Arrow, Iron Man, Wasp).

In Exploring Leadership, Komives et al (2003) affirm that Leaders must have the power to get results. Leaders though must be held accountable. Leaders also must be careful not to hoard power; hence their emphasis on Empowering as a key element of their Relational Leadership Model (Komives, 2008).  Power can be indeed shared and amplified but Leaders should be hesitant to merely give it away (Gardner, 2003). Most of the time Superheroes act alone or with their sidekicks. But this summer with the wildly popular movie The Avengers, we see Superheroes needing to figure out how to work together. Like any group of Leaders who are put together in a team to focus on one task, they progress through a series of stages of group development (Tuckman, 1965).  This is seen in the Avengers — and the success of the movie is that they eventually pass through the “storming” stage, begin to “norm” and ultimately “perform.”  You even see some evidence of them saying goodbye or “adjourning” (Tuckman, 1977).  During the performing stage you can see all of the Superheroes sharing power and in effect amplifying the overall power of the group — of Avengers, who defeated Loki and his alien army. And the DC folks are working on a Justice League of America movie; so, we’ll get a chance to see shared Power and Leadership among Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman soon in a theater near you.

Lastly, J.W. Gardner (2003) cautioned that Leaders must always be accountable. To avoid Leaders hoarding power or using Power for their own benefit, there must be a system of checks and balances.  More importantly, Leaders who are given extraordinary Power must be able to use the Power well. As Spider-Man recalled from his last moments with his surrogate dad, Uncle Ben:


Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words:

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spider-man.


So next time someone asks you “Why Be a Leader?” — don’t be afraid to say for POWER. But don’t forget to explain that like Superman, Batman, Spider-man, and all of the Avengers — YOU will choose to use your POWER for Good not Evil.


References:

  • Gardner, John W. (1990). On Leadership. New York: The Free Press.
  • Gardner, John W. (2003). Living, leading, and the American dream. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Greenleaf, Robert K. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness – 25th Anniversary Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
  • Komives, Susan R., Lucas, Nance, & McMahon, Timothy R. (2007) 2nd Edition. Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make a DifferenceSan Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Development sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384-399.
  • Tuckman, B.W. & Jensen, M.A.C. (1977) Stages of small group development revisitedGroup and Organizational Studies, 2, 419-427.

Mad Men Style

In Fashion, fatherhood, GQ, life, Mad Men, Malavenda, metro, metrosexual, Movies, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, Pop Culture, Rat Pack, Sinatra, TV, Uncategorized on March 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

Growing Up with GQ — Part 2:

Either You’ve Got or You Haven’t Got STYLE!


Robin & the 7 Hoods


This is the second PC Pop blog post in a series called Growing Up with GQ.  As you know from previous PC Pop blog post (Growing Up with GQ), I grew up surrounded by men who took great pride in how they looked, smelled, and were proud to be one step ahead of the latest fashion.  Every man in my family was voted “Best Dressed” in high school; and someone in our family has continuously subscribed to GQ magazine since the early 70′s.  We were metro before there was a word for it.

Robin & the 7 HoodsRecently I have realized that my son is the sole heir of this marvelous legacy.  He’s the only Malavenda male in his generation.  That’s a lot of pressure on him — and me. I have been looking for inspiration in many places and searching for opportunities to make the point without triggering the “oh, dad” so typical these days.  Not sure if you have noticed but men are dressing better in movies and TV — and men and fashion is once again acceptable.  And thanks to shows like Mad Men and characters like Don Draper there is a renewed interest in the classic fashion styles of the past — even the ’60’s. One thing my son and I do have in common is our love of “black and white” movies and TV — classic cinema and television.  He and I (to the dread of my wife and daughter) watch a lot of the Dick Van Dyke Show and movies on the classic movie channels. He loves the George Clooney – Ocean’s movies; so, we watched the original from 1960. Last weekend, we stumbled on a movie similar to the original Ocean’s 11 that featured amazing fashion — Robin and the 7 Hoods starring the Rat Pack.

Robbo played by Frank Sinatra is a mobster from Indiana who is now in control of Chicago’s north side during pre-prohibition times. Robbo and his band of thieves which features Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin are different from the other gangsters (Peter Falk) and corrupt Sheriff (Victor Buono).  With some of his money Robbo with theSinatra, Dino, Bing help of an orphanage director (Bing Crosby) creates a nonprofit social services initiative.  In addition to the orphanage, they run a homeless shelter and soup kitchen. The movie is a great vehicle for the Rat Pack with great music, dancing — and great costume design. The movie score features some of the most memorable Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen songs like “My Kind of Town,” “Bang! Bang!,” “Any Man Who Loves His Mother,” and “Don’t Be a Do-Badder.”

Ole Blue Eyes, Bing, Dino and Sammy are also dressed to kill the entire movie. Mad Men - Men's StyleThe fashion and style of this movie are classic, mobster, glamorous 1910’s style with a Technicolor – 1960’s – Vegas – Rat Pack swagger. More importantly the fashion in this movie has helped me make sense of my family. I forgot about the connection between the appreciation of GQ style with the men in my family — and the Rat Pack. The song and dance routine, “Style,” from this movie says it better than I. As the song goes, “Either you’ve got – or you haven’t got – style.” It would even inspire Don Draper.

Watch this clip from Robin and the 7 Hoods.  I think it speaks for itself.



Today, with the recent fascination with everything Mad Men and Don Draper — perhaps there is hope for my son to be more conscious about fashion and how he looks, smells, and dresses. A father could hope for a kid whose “got it” — yes?

Story Book Leadership – Teaching College Students Using Kiddie Lit

In Big Bird, Books, Cat in Hat, Children's Literature, College Students, creativity, Dr. Seuss, Group Dynamics, Harold & the Purple Crayon, Leader, Leadership, Literacy Month, Lorax, Malavenda, Margaret Hamilton, Maurice Sendak, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, Story Book Leadership, Susan Baum, Theodor Geisel, UConn, Wicked Witch of the West, Willimantic Public Library, Yertle the Turtle on March 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Cat in the Hat's Hat

On March 2, the world once again celebrated the brilliance of Dr. Seuss on the day of his birthday.  Dr. Seuss’ birthday is used to launch Dr. Seuss self portraitReading Month and Reading programs and special events in elementary schools around the country. This year Dr. Seuss’ birthday sparked me to share my passion — teaching LEADERSHIP to college students using children’s leadership. This is the first in a series of PCPop blog posts focusing on Story Book Leadership.  Stay tuned for my first book review in honor of Dr. Seuss — Yertle the Turtle. But first here is the story of how I became so passionate about the power and potential of stories originally written and published for pre-school children.

In the summer of 1997, I stumbled on a class that changed my life – the way I think, the way I teach, the way I approach my life.  The class wasthe University of Connecticut EPSY 5750 – Creativity.  It is a part of the curriculum for the Three Summers Sixth Year Program in the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut. The Three Summer program was developed by the gifted education guru, Professor Joseph S. Renzulli, to give teachers from all over the world an opportunity to join a community of colleagues committed to being the best in developing the talent in each child, take classes and participate in a “confratute.” After three consecutive summers, these professionals earn a graduate level degree – a 6th year certificate.

Dr. Susan Baum, who is a member of the program’s summer faculty, was the professor for this particular class. I wasn’t matriculating as a part of the formal program but somehow I was able to enroll in this class as I was still working on the coursework for a PhD in Higher Education Administration at UConn. In the true spirit of creativity, Professor Baum gave us our project and instructed us to pick a topic that would truly excite us – that we were passionate about – something we always wanted to study in the past but needed permission to pursue.  She was giving us permission and inspired us. After weeks of reflection — my topic and my project was decided — using Children’s Literature to teach college students about LEADERSHIP.

Children’s books have always intrigued me. One of the most popular classes at UConn for many, many years was an English class known by all as “Kiddie Lit.” Francelia Butler was an inspiration. Professor Butler also knew a few famous people who visited our class.  I remember Big Bird, the guy who invented Silly Putty, Maurice Sendak, and the Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton, coming to visit our little lecture hall in Storrs, Connecticut. At some point in my life I fell in love with and began to collect children’s literature.  The lessons found in these seemingly simple publications are powerful  — lessons about values, respect, courage, honesty, loyality, family, hope, persistence, love, service, humility, and yes, LEADERSHIP.  It wasn’t until I embarked on this journey – this class project – that I saw the true power of the word, the written word of Kiddie Lit.

I spent the entire summer of 1997 sitting on the floor of the Willimantic Public Library, in the Story Book Leadership -- Harold & the Purple Crayonchildren’s section, reading and reading and reading story books, children’s books, and picture books. I soon knew that I was on to something.  I found LEADERSHIP in so many stories that I decided to create a booklet which would serve as a directory for me and perhaps other higher education professionals.  My professional goals include teaching leadership by giving students opportunities to develop their own philosophy and skills — and to use any means to reach them and to teach them — including Children’s Literature.

The Children’s Literature Leadership Booklet that I created in this class during the summer of 1997 has become a valuable part of my professional library.  I refer to it often, and it hasn’t failed me yet. The list of my favorite Children’s books – those that have a profound impact on my teaching – have been compiled in a separate blog post.

Rediscovering the power and potential of using Children’s literature to teach leadership is merely one Story Book Leadership -- Yertle the Turtleexample of how this Creativity course has guided me these past 15 years. By the way, I got an A on the project and an A+ in the class but more importantly — that class, that summer, changed my life.

If you too want to use Story Book Leadership techniques with your students, find out how to get started by reading the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Getting Started. To see some of the best Children’s books focusing on various aspects of leadership, read the PCPop blog post: Story Book Leadership – Book List.


For more information on Story Book Leadership, read the PC Pop posts as follows:


I Wish I Was Him — Ben Lee Interview — 1997

In Ben Lee, Brad Wood, Claire Danes, Concerts, Ione Skye, Iron Horse Music Hall, Liz Phair, Malavenda, Music, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture, UConn, WHUS on February 24, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Ben Lee Interview


From 1991 to 1998, I hosted a radio show at WHUS Radio, UConn student-run radio station, called PC Pop with Pablo. For over seven years, every Thursday morning from 8 to 10 a.m., PC Pop was on the air featuring music as well as commentary about pop culture, campus events, music and general absurdities. PC Pop music included a wide range of new, funky, pop, independent, punk, hip-hop music and spoken word.

Anything involving Ben Lee was a part of the musical line up.  It started in the early 90’s with music from the legendary band, Noise Addict.  Soon after Ben Lee’s solo work became an obsession of me and the show.  When Ben Lee announced a tour date in New England on June 18, 1997, I contacted our “person” at Grand Royal Records and arranged an interview.  The tour was in support of Ben Lee’s sophomore solo LP, Something to Remember Me By.

I took the road trip from Storrs, Connecticut to the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Massachusetts with my radio show engineer, Kristin Curry.  Being a radio host and a fan I was excited and really, really prepared.  My goal was to make sure it was a fair interview and that Ben Lee knew that I was no joke.  We got there early, found the club, were able to gain entry, and were escorted to the “green room.”  To our surprise, Ben Lee was with his new “partner” — Claire Danes.  I’ll admit I was excited but also a little bit more nervous now that it was Ben and Claire.  The interview was a wonderful experience.  Ben Lee was as personable and funny as he seems to be in the media.  I was there for Ben so I was respectful to Claire Danes but did not really focus on her during the interview; and she stayed a distance a way from us.  As the interview progressed, Claire Danes became more vocal and became more comfortable being in the room.

Ben Lee and Claire Danes were together until about 2003.  In 2008 in a Hindu wedding ceremony in India, Ben Lee married Ione Skye, best known (by me) as the woman in the movie Say Anything who was serenaded by John Cusack with a boombox blasting Peter Gabriel‘s In Your Eyes in true Romeo & Juliet style.

The interview was edited and produced by Kristin and me and aired with selected songs on June 26, 1997 (one day before my birthday).  The transcript of the interview was posted on my website and was linked from Ben Lee’s website for a few years.  I recently found a copy of the interview and thought it would make an interesting Blog post.  I decided to share the interview again for all of Ben Lee’s fans new and old.  Ben Lee is still recording and producing great music.  In 2011 he released Deeper Into Dream and has a few US tour dates in 2012. I hope you agree that this interview is an entertaining and rare glimpse into the history of Ben Lee’s career and the history of rock-n-roll.  It is a experience I will treasure forever (as a rock historian).

Here is the interview.  Enjoy.


 

Wednesday, June 18, 1997

The Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Massachusetts

 

AIRED:  Thursday, June 26, 1997

on the

P.C.Pop Show, WHUS Radio, Storrs, Connecticut, 91.7 FM

  


Tell us how you got signed by Fellaheen Records.

I can’t even believe you’ve heard of Fellaheen Records, this is my favorite radio station.  There was this record company in Sydney called Waterfront Records — had Sydney punk rock bands.  When I was in the band, Noise Addict, I sent them a demo tape.  At that stage, Waterfront was finishing and one of their guys was becoming Fellaheen.

One of the guys who started Fellaheen….actually one of the guys was from Waterfront, the other guy was running a promotions company called Golden Sounds.  He came to see me play at this library-book-sale gig that my dad hustled me in on.

Have your parents been supportive of your music career from the beginning?

Yeah, pretty much.  In the beginning it was just in a fun way.  Not with anything serious.  Now they are pretty supportive genuinely in good ways.

Do your parents now believe that music is your career?

They probably figure it’s a living but they hope it’s not all I do just because our family has a big intellectual history.  They are very interested in that kind of SHIT — so am I.  They are happy for me to do music but they would also like for me to change the world.

Since you just graduated high school, is this year going to be devoted to touring and promoting S.T.R.M.B.?

Yeah, maybe two I don’t know what I am doing.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “8 Years Old” and ”16.”

I find personally, both those songs are pretty defining moments.  I’ve recorded a lot of songs where certain things have been uneasy about.  I really feel for me saying what I wanted to say.  I’m not saying this to be arrogant or anything, I’m the only one that could have written them.   But I don’t think I could have written them any better.  And don’t thing anyone else could either.  Like I think I did something that was the best I could have done at the time and I could do those songs now, either of them.  But “16” I listen to that song and I’m like FUCK, thank God that song was written, by me too.   I’m so proud I wrote that because why don’t people write songs like that anymore and why don’t….  And I think I captured something I’m gonna be grateful for later in life, you know.  And you know “8 Years Old” it’s just a true story.

PLAY “8 YEARS OLD”

PLAY “16”


Tell us how you go about writing a song.

I used to write a lot of songs just all over the place and so now on purpose I’m gonna write less songs and try and write better songs just to change it because I wanted to challenge myself.

How often do you write now?

I am writing once in a month.

Is it more of an intentional process?

Yeah, yeah.

Your producer on Grandpaw Would and your latest S.T.R.M.B., Brad Wood seems to always be bragging about his basketball skills.  Does he always beat you on the court?

He’d have you believe that.  We only really played “H-O-R-S-E.”  He kept spiking my drinks and stuff and there was a ghost in the studio that was throwing off my game.

Was this in Chicago?

No, in L.A.  There is a ghost there.  We had heard all about this ghost, right, ‘cause it used to be a ballroom, this studio, and I went in to record, I went into the corner, and I heard out of the headphones someone go, “Argh, Argh, Argh,” like an old drunk man.  I turned to Brad and I went to the mic and I said, “was that you?”  He wasn’t even in the control room.  I told him about it and he said it was a cheerleader ghost, “Rah, Rah, Rah.”

Did you know of his work with Liz Phair before you began working with him?

Yeah, that is pretty much why we got him because after we heard that record, we were like, “yeah, that will be good for my songs.”

What was it like meeting Liz Phair for the first time?

It was cool, you know.  I’ve never really been like, I mean I’m a huge fan, but I was never really like, I don’t really get intimidated by people.  I was just hoping she was a cool person, and she was, and we hung out a bit and played Scrabble and Hangman.  She used the word “stucco” for the first time in a sentence.  I’ve never heard anyone use that in any reasonable context.

Are you going to work the word “stucco” into a song?

I am planning on it.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Ketchum.”

Ketchum, I was really getting into Hemingway.  This was like last year when Margot died and I just read Across the River and Into the Trees which just blew my mind.  And I was reading and there was this big article about Ketchum.  I wanted to say with that, I don’t know if it came across, some people think I was being sad, you know, being like morbid talking about death.  What I really meant by that song was Hemingway died such a beautiful and tragic death.  He moved to Ketchum to die and he said, “that if life has meaning for you then life can cease to have meaning.”  And he killed himself.  It was so perfect in a way.  Really sad but really perfect in a very romantic way.  And I’m talking like in the whole song, I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna make my life have a perfect end and a perfect beginning.  But then I realize that it’s not in me to do that.  But if the world’s gonna take me it’s gonna have to wear me down.   You know, I’m gonna fade away, I’m not gonna burn out.

PLAY “KETCHUM”


Do you think there is any danger to singing such personal songs?

Yeah, but that is what I do.  It is like saying to a skydiver is there any risk in it.  That is part of the job.  It’s complete exposure, what ever that means.  It is equally thrilling and scary.

Some of your fans feel as if they have known you for years, that you are a close friend.  Does this ever scare you?

It scares me sometimes when like I’m just having a bad mood or I had a bad gig or sometimes you’re not in the mood to really hang out and someone comes up to you feeling like you owe them to hang out because you have been with them for years, you know, and like you owe them something.  I find that hard.  And I didn’t like it when someone came up to me right when I was about to walk on stage with the guitar and I was like, “I can’t sign this now.”  I was just warming up and said I would do it after.  But after, I just didn’t see him, I don’t know what happened.  And they posted this huge thing on the internet saying I was a PRICK and I’m only in it for the chicks and they were all down on my records and stuff.  That really bummed me out because, you know, I mean, the thing is that people in the public eye is that everyone has these ideals, everyone’s got a certain amount of romanticism that they want the world to be like, you know, and when they find that they can’t live up to those ideals in life they project them on other people.  People project these ideals onto you that you’re incapable of living up to all of the time.  So, that’s what depresses me sometimes.  But equally it’s good to be able to connect to so many people in just a short time.

Do you think about how many people you are speaking to and speak for in your songs?

I don’t know, I mean, I know I am speaking for….  You know why — I’m just trying to connect to something that’s human.  So, in a way I am speaking for everyone.  But I’m surprised that people that really like me are quite fanatical about it — that’s cool.  I want it man, I’m ready to speak for the generation.

Sometimes you just like….  You’ve read Catcher in the Rye, right?  You know when he’s talking about how he knows it’s a real good book is when after he finishes it he just wants to just call up the author and just talk about life.  When you feel like you’ve become friends with him, that’s what makes good art.  It’s impractical for the person making it to really, to do that kind of thing because that’s what makes a good thing.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Household Name.”

Searching for immortality through art in a time of pop culture.

PLAY “HOUSEHOLD NAME”

PLAY “A MONTH TODAY”


We just heard the song “A Month Today.”  Tell us about that song.

That’s also pretty self explanatory, that song.

Why did you record it a capella?

I wanted to write an a capella song.  And it just seemed like I just started writing some words and I didn’t need any music.

Do your artistic talents go beyond music?

I mean, I dabble in everything.  I’m a jack of all trades.

Do you think someday you will pursue an acting career?

I would do it.  Me and Julianna Hatfield went on this tour in Australia and we toured movie theaters because we both like, it was just a way of projecting our failures.  I was an actor.  Have you seen the movie, Salute to the Jugger, a Rutger Hauer movie, have you heard of it?…with Joan Chen and Rutger Hauer.  I was in that movie.  Sa-lute to the Jug-ger.  I was an extra in that movie but you can’t really see me because it’s really dark.  I swear to God that I was really in that movie.  Secondly, I was in this advert for Nutrasweet.  I was a cowboy.  I was in this tree house and there was all these Indians, and one of them was my friend, Pixie, who I wrote, “Away with the Pixies” for.  She was running around the bottom with a dog and another boy.  And I was in the tree house looking with binocular and stuff and that was the end of the ad.  It was really strange and didn’t really boost Nutrasweet’s commercial appeal much through that particular advertising campaign.   Other work I’ve done, I was in an advert for Charge laundry detergent but I also ended up on the cutting room floor on that one.  Another one I also got cut out on, another movie, a movie called Black Rock, an Australian movie where I was actually playing myself and I was basking in the street.  I was playing and these kids come passed me and they go, and I’m sort of serenading this girl ‘cause she’s pretty and it’s making fun of me I suppose.  So, I’m serenading this girl and she turns around to her friends and says, “give him some FUCKING money” and they throw these coins at me.  But I got cut out because the movie was too long, so there you go.  My mom was in Murder, She Wrote.

Tell us about your collaboration with film maker Tamra Davis, Mike D.’s wife.

I’ve done a song for her next movie.  I’ve done it, I’ve recorded it.

Will you be acting in the film?

No, I’ve just recorded a song for it.  It’s called, “You Have to Burn to Shine.”  Yeah, and I’m gonna play it tonight.

PLAY “YOU HAVE TO BURN TO SHINE” LIVE


What happened to your song that was supposed to appear on the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack?

There’s all these politics.  You know the problem, I don’t know if I should talk about this.  Like with record companies, with major labels, they seemed to be a bit less supportive of the people coming up on their roster.  They would just put on Everclear which is cool, they’re a good band.  But I mean I wrote a song.  I personally wrote this song, you know, for that movie.  That’s cool.

Will you be releasing it soon?

No.  No.  It’s not even mine, I’ve forgotten it.  It had one good verse in it:  “I have two fantasies to occupy my head, simply your beauty and the hour of my death.  I heard that death and love never leave each other’s sight but I never knew the meaning ‘til tonight.”  It was from a Keat’s thing, where he said, “I’ve two fantasies that bleed on these walls, your beauty and the hour of my death, oh that I can have possession of these two things at once.  That’s love.”

Do you study literature?

No, I just dabble.  I like it all, I love it all.

What do you think of the U.S.?

I just like it.  It’s easy with sexuality.

I don’t let him make fun of our country (Claire)

Yeah, she’s so patriotic.  It’s like, um, you know what I like about it?  It’s very….you’re in a country…you see, the country I’m from is a bit old fashion in a way.  I’m living in a country where a man can still win over a woman on the dance floor which is a thing I really respect.  If you have a disagreement, you actually shoot each other in my country.  You go out and you do a quick draw.  And we don’t have any property or we don’t have fences, you just like, and we have baby taking day, I don’t want to go into it.  But it’s like, um, this country it’s really backwards and forwards.  I like it here how people are encouraged to excel.

What do you dislike about this country?

I don’t like how people are encouraged to excel…because it makes them like, um, no, really I like and dislike the same thing.  Because everyone thinks they’re going to have an empire here and everyone wants to run a talk show…I say here as I’m holding this mic.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Shirtless.”

That was just a funny song I wrote.  Just during puberty, you know, you have a little problem with showing your body in public places.

It’s just a fun song, you know.  It seems people really like that song because people can really relate to it.  I mean it’s not that extreme, you know, like as I say in the song but it’s just a point I’m making.  I just like that idea of like if you let someone see enough of you physically they can take a lot of you emotionally.  It’s a pretty bad recording.  I like that song.

PLAY “SHIRTLESS”


Do you think that the music industry will ultimately save you or destroy you?

Both.  You know what my problem is?  I don’t even know if it’s a problem but the way I am is I really didn’t have a hard life.  I got things I wanted.  The way in my psychological make up is I need a lot out of life.  I need to take a lot from it and every problem I’ve ever had has stemmed from that.  That I’ve tried to extract more than the world can give me.  It’s not that I’ve been…some people go through things where they get a bad family situation.  I’ve just…I just need a lot to be happy, you know, and so, and I’m very passionate about life, so the music industry gave me something and music gave me something but you also lose so much in it.  I don’t want to get to deep on you.

Talk about your recent collaboration with T-Bone Burnett.

That’s it, “You Have to Burn to Shine.”  How did you know about that?

This is the song for the Tamra Davis film?

Yeah, I recorded that song.  Jim Kelpner played drums on it, who played drums on “Imagine,” and Greg Cohn who plays bass for Tom Waits, he played stand up bass, Money Mark played piano, Ben, I forget his second name, he plays for the ‘Stones now he played organ, and Russell Simmons played percussion.  And we recorded it live in a circle and T-Bone conducted.

It’s just like my song and I just brought in these people to play with me.

Was your work with the Australian band, Gerling, a one shot deal?

I did two shows with them.  Gerling are really funny, right, because they encouraged a lot of the way I handle life.  Like this interview, a lot of this wouldn’t be going down if it wasn’t for Gerling.   Because they really encouraged my whole attitude towards like portraying myself as an individual.  Like I interviewed Gerling, and I interviewed one of them and I said, “tell me some stories about recording” and they told me a story about Jarvis Cocker from Pulp.  He came into the studio and they said they’re going to a rumble and they punched Jarvis Cocker in the stomach and Michael Jackson right hand glove came out.  I mean, if you can’t see the genius in that.  And so after I heard that story my life changed.  So, I played guitar when the guitarist left for two shows then they’ve got a permanent guy now, Burke.

Should we expect to see a U.S. release from Gerling?

They’re not even big in Australia.  No one’s heard of them.  They’re pretty cool though.  They have a song called, “Slut Pinacle” which is my favorite song.  It goes, “driving down the street in your slut mobile, you’re a FUCKIN’ slut and everybody knows.”  It’s so good.  And like for me to play guitar on that was amazing.  And they have another one called “Jimmy Wore a Crowbar” and another one called “Jack Pallance Naked in His Lounge.”  It’s true.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Trying to Sneeze.”

I didn’t remember.  I wanted to write a song that was really abstract.

Claire: I love that song.  That’s one of my favorite songs.

Really?  I had that line in it, “my street filthy as it may be is still my street.”  I don’t remember, man, that was like three years ago.  I was but a lamb.

PLAY “TRYING TO SNEEZE”


If you look at rock’n’roll history, there have been individuals like Paul Westerberg, Alex Chilton, Evan Dando, J.Mascus, who all worked in a band and eventually either went solo or took greater control of their groups.  Their solo work never really measured up to their earlier work with their original band.  What about Ben Lee the solo artist?

Personally, whatever.  If they’re happy making their music then, just because you decide to make a mellow record or something, you’re not losing your edge.  I would say that, OK anyway, that doesn’t really matter.  But what I have to say about that is that I don’t think of myself in terms of those guys.  I’m not trying to be a singer/songwriter or whatever.  I’m not trying to be anything.  I’m just trying to like tell you how I feel exactly right now….NOW, you know what I mean, right now.  And I’m sorry, if  I keep doing that, what does it mean “I lose it.”  If I’m actually telling you how I feel right now that’s my mission.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Away with the Pixies.”
I just wrote that for my friend.  Yeah no, she’s a great friend but she is called Pixie.  Her name is Amelia, really.  She looks like a pixie admittedly and everyone calls her a pixie and they still do.  And she went through a bit of a craze where she was like, “man, I’m 16, 17 years old and I don’t want to be called this little baby’s name anymore.”  And I just wanted to write that song like away with the pixies, off with the fairies.

PLAY “AWAY WITH THE PIXIES”


Are you really thinking about writing a rock opera?

It was a joke.  I said two things in my bio.  I said I was going to do a rock opera and I was going to do an album with Fiona Apple covers.  Neither of them are happening.

 It was supposed to also include Tom Waits songs.

And Tom Waits covers.

A rock opera with Fiona Apple and Tom Waits covers.

That was the idea, right.  It was going to be a call and response thing between boy and girl about love in the ‘90’s.

So, you lied.

It was an idea.  I wouldn’t call it a lie.

Would you ever be interested in becoming the next Andrew Lloyd Webber?

I would do that.  And I actually lied to a magazine in Australia who totally believed me.  He asked me about the rock opera and I said I was asked to play the main part in this English rock opera called “Lysergic World” and its about Albert Hoffman’s discovery of LSD.  And he totally believe me.  I guess it’s believable.

Another lie?

I don’t lie, I’m just creative.  I’m just trying to make this interesting for me and you, you know.

Would you ever perform on Broadway, say in Grease?

Which part?  Sandy, Sandra Dee?

Rizzo?

No, I wouldn’t do something like that.

Where would you draw the line?

I’ll do anything if she’s like written in blood.  You know, if people want me to be a part of something, if it’s for real or if it’s like an opportunity for me.  Like I’m gonna go on tour later this year with some people, I can already see it, someone’s gonna find it a little dubious, you know.

 Jewel?

Maybe.  But I’m gonna do some big things like that and it’s like for me I don’t have time for that because it’s just me.  I want to get to play for as many people as possible.  And it’s still me no matter who else is on the bill and where I’m playing, it just still me and my guitar.  Whatever, you know.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Mouthwash.”

That song I really had the line first, “maybe the fields don’t want to play me.”  Because these two people who were friends of mine who were going out, they were talking about getting married and he said I want to go out and play the field a bit.  And she was like what if the field doesn’t want to play you?  I just thought that was a cool line and so I just wrote that song.

Where did the letter in the liner notes come from?

That was a real letter and that girl, my friend, Melanie has, um, I actually…she was out of town when I was doing the artwork.  And I thought I’ll ask her about it but I didn’t I just put it in and she still hasn’t seen it.  And I don’t, I totally forgot about that until you reminded me.  What does that say?  You know what that was, it was an essay for like her SAT equivalent like we call the HSC.  She, um, oh you’ve got it damn.  Me and her, sort of like had a little, we liked each other, you know.  And she wrote about me.  That was her final English essay.  My friend, Melanie, she had to write about, I forget what the subject was, but she chose to write about me.  And then she send it to me.  This was like she had school assignment, it was so weird.  And it bummed me out when I got that, so much.

PLAY “MOUTHWASH”


Are you looking for that big MTV break?

Some people think that.  I didn’t even make a video for this record.  I made one where I just went basking in the street.

You did one video in which you were in a Gulliver type role.

Yeah, that was “Away with the Pixies” but that was my first record so I wasn’t really selling out.

Did your videos get air play?

MTV played a bit of all of them.  But the new one is just me basking in the street with live sound.  For people to talk about that’s like MTV playing it is me selling out, I don’t even give justification to those arguments by responding to them because they’re so retarded by my point of view.   I played a song in the street and MTV chose to play it.

Can MTV give too much exposure too quickly  to up and coming bands?

You know what I say, “If the people like it’s good and it’s good if the people like it.”

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).”

I love the Motley Crue.  That was my first rock concert.

No, I just like that song.  “Girl, don’t go away mad, just go away,” what a great line.

PLAY “DON’T GO AWAY MAD (JUST GO AWAY)”


What was it like working with the members of that dog?

I’d never heard that dog at that point.  I’ve heard their new record now.  It was fun because I think they’re a pretty hard working band from what I understand.  Mainly, I got to work with them because Brad knew them.  He just made their record and they were very, um, talented musically.  For me it was like I felt good about giving them something to do that was that relaxed.  Because I’ve now read interview where they’ve been talking about me saying it was like insane, where I thought it was really normal.  They came in and we were hyperactive and jumped around and played music but I didn’t think that’s how they work.  But for me, it’s like I love working with different people.  They’re so talented, you know, all of them.

Who are some of your favorite collaborators?

I loved playing with Money Mark.  He was really amazing.  I only bring people in if I already love them.

We’re going to go to the music now.  Tell us about “Gramercy Park Hotel.”

If there was anymore of it that would of made it more clearer, I would have said it, but it doesn’t, so I won’t.  It’s just to say that the power of song, you know.

PLAY “GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL”


Does it surprise you how you have been embraced by artists the indie rock scene like Lou Barlow, Julianna Hatfield, and Thurston Moore?

Yeah, it does.  I don’t really think about it much.  I mean, now I’m just trying to do something that no one else is doing, that’s what I’m trying to do.  And what I have ended up doing is something that no one else is trying to do.

What are your days like?

This, This right now.  Just sitting around doing stuff, you know.  Just trying to explore new territory, push the envelop.

You have developed into a powerful singer/song writer, where does performing live fit in?

I used to not really be much of a live performer pretty much until about half way through last year.  I just made up my mind.  I’ve seen a lot of people play like Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright who are really amazing live performers and I was just like FUCK I should get my SHIT together.  I should go further, you know what I mean, I should take it further.  I wanted to create magic, you know what I mean.  So, last year I just decided that I was gonna do it and I started.  The songs I was writing, before I even recorded them, I worked them into the set and stuff, so, it became a lot about playing live and, um, I got good at it.

How do you feel about having to perform live to promote S.T.R.M.B.?

I was always interested in doing it, I was just never happy with it because I wasn’t very good at it.  It is just a line you pass where someday, I mean, you just feel confident, and you’re like, “wow, I get it now.”

We’re going to go to the music now.  Do you have a favorite song?

A song I’m sort of getting into again, an old song, is “The Loft” off Grandpaw Would.   I just starting to play that a bit now and then.  And I am really getting back into that song.  Like, it’s so the time I wrote it.  That’s about staying with Brad the first time I went out to, you know, Chicago in his place, the Loft.  And it so sums up the time, exactly.  And it still applying now.  I’ve still got to come to terms with what I’ve found.  That’s the aim of my existence.

PLAY “THE LOFT”


Thank you’s


Retweet from Ben Lee – February 24, 2012

Ben Lee Retweet

HP 7.2 — My Harry Potter Adventure

In Books, Harry Potter, Malavenda, Movies, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture on July 15, 2011 at 4:11 am

For several months, the release of the final movie in the Harry Potter series has been floating around my subconscious mind.  Reality began to creep in about a month before the release when I decided to re-read the final book to properly prepare myself.  Harry Potter is one of those special things that we share as a family especially Max and me.  He and I made a pact that we would see the movie the first weekend in IMax/3D but those plans were derailed.  The weekend before the official release we attended Mosey Down Main Street a local street festival and made a bee-line to the new bookstore in town, Robots and Rogues.  We love bookstores especially locally owned bookstores.  Attending MDMS was just an excuse to check out this new store on Main Street whose Facebook page we already  “like.”  The store was surprisingly nice but small.  I noticed they were sponsoring a drawing and told Max to sign up.  The winner would get two tickets to the midnight show of the new Harry Potter Movie — Deathly Hallows, part 2.  To our amazement, Max got a phone call the next day — he won!  His response was, “I’m going — Who’s takin’ me?”

Even though it made me tired just thinking about it, I agreed to be his partner for this “first.”  His first midnight movie premier.  We rearranged our incredibly busy lives and off we went.  We made it to the theater by 9:45 p.m. even though the car-maintenance-gods were not on our sides.  Our “good” car was making some awful scrrraping noises when I pulled in the driveway aroung 7:30 p.m.  Our departure was delayed because we had to wait for AAA to tow our car to the dealer until we could deal with this ordeal in the morning.  OK…back to Potter.

Attending the midnight show did not disappoint.  People watching, visiting with friends who happened to have the same idea as us, and munching on all-you-care-to-eat popcorn and all-you-care-to-drink soda made the hours fly by.  We met Dobby, were freaked out by He Who Must Not Be Named, were safely sitting in front of Harry’s patronis, and met all of the other characters including Hagrid, Luna, Ron, Hermoine, Draco, Hedwig, Death eaters, Madame Hooch, and Moaning Myrtle complete with a toilet seat.  One of my students was in attendance and was sorting strangers with his sorting hat; and eventually the local TV news station even showed up (slow news night, I guess) to interview the Potter fans.  I also was Tweeting a lot (until my phone died); and made a run to Starbuck’s for a Butterbeer (tall skinny vanilla latte).  The streets were filled with hundreds of Potter characters.  So many so that it seemed like I was wandering around Diagon Alley.  There was a Starbucks there, right?  There was actually moment when I regret not getting dressed up like Dumbledore, the early Tom Riddle version, of course.  (I was told i have the hair for it.)

Although the early reviews were great, I worried that our sacred Harry Potter would not get the brillant movie interpretation it deserves.  The crowd was filled with freaks and geeks, and they were happy and well behaved (unlike the Twilight fans according to the usher).  When the movie started you could feel the giddy excitement heavy in the audience and the sadness lingering because everyone knew that the beginning of the end had just begun. The movie was amazing.  We laughed, we cried, and for most of the movie were we on the edge of our seats wondering if it would all be fine in Potter World by the end of the movie (even though we all knew how it would end — like watching the Titanic and hoping Leo would survive).  Max and I stayed until the credits were over and the “PG-13” screen flashed.  I can truly say this was a great night, a memorable experience, and a movie and story that continues to impact our lives.

I will never forget this night.  I like (and love) a lot of movies but Harry Potter 7 part 2 is something much more special.  I can’t quite describe or explain it and that’s part of it.  I really don’t want to analyze it.  I just want to enjoy it, and I really want to enjoy it as a family or community.  Just like I will never forget reading the books for the second time with my kids — I will never forget sharing this movie experience as well.  Thank you, JK Rowling; and Thank you,Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, and David Yates; and Thank you to all of the actors for taking JK’s characters and making them as human as a wizard or mudblood can be.

Run don’t walk to see HP 7.2.  You will not be disappointed.  Share it with your family and friends — your community. And don’t think about it too much, just enjoy it.  Enjoy the fantasy, enjoy the laughter, enjoy the suspense, enjoy the tears, enjoy the lessons, and enjoy the end.  You deserve it and won’t regret it. I would even encourage you to dress up — it is one of those rare occassions when it might actually be acceptable.  How often do we get to share such a great time with the ones we care about in our own community?  How often do you have one of those really special moments with your teenager?

It may be just tired (it’s 4 a.m. on the night of the premier), or it might be just the “high” of experiencing something special with my boy, Max — but I think this truly was a great movie.  One that I will never forget, that will always be a moment we share as a family, and a movie/movie series that will stand the test of time.  Now I just hope my car will be OK and not cost me too much to fit.  Wow…reality came back pretty quickly…as usual.

As important as the first Harry Potter movie was to help us heal after the tradegies of September 11th — this Harry Potter story means a lot to all of us NOW.  Harry Potter is great for getting people excited about reading and exciting about writing.  Harry Potter has been great for Hollywood and every movie house in the world.  Harry Potter has made many nerdy activities kind of cool.  Harry Potter has given us something positive to share as a community and family.  Let’s face it — Harry Potter has been good for the world.  Sounds corny, I know, but it’s true.

Thank again, Harry.