THE LONG AWAITED FILM OF THE ORIGINAL BUS TRIP OF 1964
INTREPID TRAVELLER AND HIS MERRY BAND OF PRANKSTERS LOOK FOR A KOOL PLACE
(NOW OUT IN VIDEO)
I'VE WATCHED IT 11 TIMES!!
It was 1964. Mercury sold a convertible. The Beatles wanted to hold your hand. Barry Goldwater was running for president. Hud was the best movie. A group of people were getting together in California. One of them, Ken Kesey, had just written, "Sometimes A Great Notion." The publication party was to be in Madhattan the middle of June. The whole group decided to go. They bought a bus, painted it, outfitted it with a sound system, bought movie cameras and tape recorders, their plan: to film and record everything along the way.
When done, they would put out a feature film of the whole trip. Matching the film and the sound was too grueling. There were fits and starts, other attempts, but it wasn't until the digital age that the possibilities smiled and nodded. Now, 35 years later, we have an edit.
This is Episode 1, 'Journey To The East,' which shows the preparing and painting in California, the bus stuck in Arizona's Big Muddy River, the loss of a Prankster in Houston, Texas, the integration of Lake Ponchatrain in New Orleans, plus numerous wild adventures inside the bus, featuring Neal Cassady at the wheel, rapping and rolling.
56 MINUTES. STEREO. VHS. Note: NTSC format, works on newer VCRs in other countries. (Otherwise you have to transfer it to PAL)
Plus 50 minutes of bonus stuff! Last summer's trip to the UK etc etc.
Each box individually painted and signed.
And now, episode 2
"NORTH TO MADHATTAN"
Episode 2 is a little more than an hour,
and it's pretty good. Not beatifically clumsy
and surprisingly inspired like episode 1, but
still pretty good. For one thing it's Cassady's
best driving footage-- two cameras on him
and words finally fitted accurately to his
whirring lips. His face is healthy and tight
and his rap righteous, and his spirit is flying.
And his mind? Terrific. Vintage Speed Limit.
But it's more than his mind. His mind is
like his healthy face, and it's more than that.
More, even, than his spirit. It's, aww... wait, I got
it! Here's a sample of what I mean:
In episode 1 when Cassady first comes
driving over the bridge to our place in La Honda,
you hear him before you see him, jabbering
over the exhausted vehicle and the scratchy old
radio-- talking us stuff that you can't make out
until he turns off the car and the radio. And as
soon as the song stops you realize it was Love
Potion No. 9. A charming little entrance for
Neal at the Wheel-- The 1960's Acid Anthem.
Then in this 2nd episode he resumes this theme,
driving the freeway and slipping into the subject
just as the stuff begins to buzz through our brains.
It's a wonderful frill of words-- "Strict!" he says.
"It's strict! Strict, uh, as they say in 'Arsenic
and Old Lace'-- it's strict-nine...strict-uh-nine...nine...
Look! Sign! ....says it's nine miles to exit nine...
nine... number nine..."
Then he begins singing in that low vaudevillian
voice he used when he wanted to make a profound
pronouncement but didn't want anybody to get
real serious or hung up or brought down-- "And we
mixed up a bottle of-- Love Potion No. 9 doop de
doodle doodle dee...."
Now, I know that isn't exactly gospel. Of course
not. It's just... Cassady behind the wheel, driving
and jerking, spewing words on the world....
But it makes you think.
TO WATCH A PREVIEW OF
The Reviews are coming in on episode 2:
Boys you really cracked the nut with North to
Madhattan. Congratulations. The film color, particularly in The
City were unexpectedly vivid. Getting the Cassady film
and the Cassady rap in Sync was a real achievement. It
looked and sounded great. The film plays very acid
weird - just as it should be. It was Barry great fun.
You got my vote. Thanks for the efforts. This is an
achievement of which you should be proud. I am highly
anticipating and looking forward and backward to
watching Madhattan again forever.
Can't wait for Ho-Ho-Home.
My tape arrived and please tell Ken & company that it is
sensational -- better than episode 1! I split my sides on the visit to NYC (I almost thought I was watching "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"), and the "added attraction" of the World's Fair was a stroke of hilarious genius. That was one tough "Boy Scout" troop -- great intercutting.
Even the cover was marvelous. But it was also truly fascinating to see what a collection of intellectual genius gathered then. Only wish I'd been there.
Congrats to all on a fine effort.
As for Madhattan, I was really surprised at the actual cinematography. Thewhole shower at Millbrook was absoutley fantastic. I also laughed my ass of at the fact you guys could stop NYC. Hell, I've been told I had a face that could stop a clock, but WOW. I really apprieciate the quality of the audio.
I was a little creeped out during the history of Leary segment. A month ago in my Psych class, I gave an aural report on him, even with the moody blues song. I ended up using the "ralph, are you ready..." speech and offering the class Kool-Aid. As my report went on, my partners in crime fired up the fog machine and strobes. My lighting faded to black light, which lit up the UV marker on my face. It probably came off kinda dumb, but we all had a blast.
Thank you again,
Well, we've been getting a lot of questions about TWISTER so I guess I have to so some explaining. Twister is a musical play written and produced and directed by Ken Kesey. It played a couple of years in the mid Nineties. Toured the West Coast, as far east as Boulder, Colorado. Two hours long, its theme is the end of the world, leading up to the Millenium. It deals with the harsh stuff going down.
Act One's theme is weather-- hurricanes, twisters, floods-- and the chief spokesman is the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. The main character in the whole play is Dorothy, and she was onstage for practically the duration. A highlight of this act is the appearance of Thor and his weather map, quite sparkling and explosive in his discourse, climaxing with Scarecrow's big production song: "Starvation."
Act Two is sickness. Viruses that kill, things like that, and the Tinman took the stage to reveal that he is suffering, too. Must have shared an oil can or two. He is joined by Glenda the Good Witch for an unforgettable rendition of "Psychogenic Infestation." Followed by the appearance of Legba, the African god of rhythm who teaches the Tinman the value of syncopation.
Act Three is Earthquakes and other rumblings in the earth and who can better express it but Frankenstein who did the monster boot dance: "Not much rhythm but you gotta dance with 'em. Waves off walls in spinning balls. Stomp on ground make earth dance sound." Then Elvis appears: "Whoa back, big boss man, you're rupturing my eardrums." Frankie and Elvis begin to fight. Cacaphony galore.
Just as everything is going to shit the Angel appears descending in a bright light to let everyone know even though she was trapped in an earthquake cave-in in a mall parking structure, she can still see her Mickey Mouse doll so perk up everyone, gid wid it, all leading to the grand "Gloria" finale number with the goons onstage and the audience and everyone else on their feet boogying and singing and greeting the millenium on the upbeat.
And the video is an improvement. We taped every performance. Kesey bought a computer video editing machine and started in on the reconstruction, employing his vast story-telling abilities and inventions, adding to the original show in a spectacular way. It now exists as a definite literary work but do you think the book people in New York would go for it?
As first they said they would. David Stanford, Kesey's editor at Viking Press, convinced his bosses Twister would sell as a Book/Video package. That beat around the bush for a while and then David got fired. Pissed Kesey off. He said, screw them, we'll do it ourselves.
Here we go then -- Ta da! Ta da! Ken Kesey's musical extravaganza, cast of hundreds, musicians by the score, they know the score, Time's running out, we're behind, we've come to the end. We'll give them the old end run. Oz is calling the signals.
The written script and the two hour video of TWISTER,
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