Teen titan Bobby Tyler, former columnist for "Music Emporium" with friend Jake Tipton, has returned to these pages with a new column/blog called "Musical Musings" we hope will be of interest to all music fans. Bobby just graduated from Robinson High (Tampa) and we are grateful to have him here while he's on...er...vacation!
I never agreed with his politics, but I admired columnist Robert Novak (Chicago Sun-Times) more as the contentious right-wing debater on CNN's Crossfire. He was no Pat Buchanan, but he was pretty good. Either one would put on quite a show against whoever was sitting in he "liberal" seat across from them. In any event, Robert Novak lost his battle with brain cancer earlier this week. He was 78.
The shame is his legacy will no doubt be as the guy who "outed" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. As dastardly as this is (and it is), he claims he was led to believe it was no big secret, and he was made a fall guy. No matter, that whole case is steeped in ugly politics anyway. Hopefully, any biographies that come out will put in perspective any and all events surrounding his final years.
Last weekend marked the 40th anniversary of the biggest and most important outdoor rock concert of all time, Woodstock. Taking place on a Max Yasgur's 600-acre pig farm in Bethel, New York (just southwest of the town of Woodstock, NY), thirty-two rock bands played for four days, August 15--18, 1969.
Technically called the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, rock and folk super-luminaries such as Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix (the man who came to symbolize the epitome of the live rock star, and who was the last act to play) were just a few of the acts performing. Also notable in retrospect were some bands who were invited but declined for various reasons: The Doors, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, and Led Zepplin were all invited but either declined or had to cancel.
At the time of Woodstock, I was living in Florida (as I am now), had just turned fourteen, and though I could not attend Woodstock, I was well aware of the social and political implications of what was happening. The broadcast news focused on this "Hippie festival" being a mud-laden swamp of unwashed rock fans (it had been raining quite a bit) with poor sanitation facilities. The promoters were expecting about 50,000 fans, and nearly ten times that many showed up! It was chaos, but it was historic.
My recollections of Woodstock, then, are like most of yours out there: the amazing 1970 documentary film by Michael Wadleigh, edited by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese.
Also, I have always been enthralled by the fact that this peace-and-love gathering of hundreds of thousands yielded no violence whatsoever, the only casualties/fatalities were unrelated to the festival itself.
There have been outdoor festivals since then, most notably "Isle of Wight" and the first "California Jam" just to name two, and, well, there was "Woodstock II" a few years back. But, for baby-boomers, the original seminal event could only happen once.
In last week's issue, I presented you with one of my latest discoveries, the paranormal underground sensation known as "The Gable Film", alternately known as "The Michigan Dogman" film. If you weren't here, or don't remember the story, please review the details before continuing.
I've given the whole thing a pretty thorough going-over. As I see it now, nearly the entire home movie is a legitimate vintage 8mm artifact, including the footage of the strange animal, until the very last few frames. It is my opinion the animal seen is a small bear, but made to look bigger and exhibit shape-shifting characteristics due to the poor focus and use of a telephoto lens distorting the perspective. The close-up flashes of what appear to be a forocious dog's muzzle near the end of the film (and while the camera is shaking violently), I believe, were tacked on to emphasize a feeling of an attack. One frame clearly shows video noise of some sort. I used to shoot plenty of Super-8 in my day and this distortion is not possible in-camera. The final few seconds where the camera comes to rest on the ground on its side, still running, could have been shot anywhere, really. Of course, it could've been from the original film as well, but edited and shifted to the end to follow the "dogman" attack.
The "Gable Film, Part 2" also circulating around the internet, and purporting to show a police investigation of the original incident using a similar camera, is, to me, a total concoction. The car and camera shown as part of the "crime scene" are virtually the same as the first film, but the "victim" is dressed differently and the cops holding labeling placards came off as hokey.
It is worth noting that there is a film production company in Michigan mounting a documentary on the legend of the Michigan Dogman. It is they who seem to be in possession of the film and doing most of its promoting.
My final conclusion may differ from most others. It is this...that the footage you are watching is all real, with the exception of the added-in still frame of the dog muzzle sticking out of a kennel, but it is pieced together from totally unrelated home movies.
The "dogman" in the end is probably a baby bear but that doesn't mean it attacked anyone. The camera shakes, the animal goes out of frame and the film cuts to a dog muzzle. When it cuts back, the camera is on the ground sideways, still running. I believe that the camera on the ground is not faked footage but I don't necessarily believe there is anything ominous about it. I also believe it is edited from another reel and not connected to the bear/dogman footage. So that leaves the dogman or bear.
If it was a baby bear it probably wouldn't have run towards the camera but away from it and scurried off like most wild animals. That leaves me to believe two possibilities: that it was either a family pet or it was a bear attack. If it was a family pet that makes this footage far less creepy and much more quaint. Funny thing is, if this video was simply posted as "family trip" would anyone really have thought the image looked wierd? Answer NO. Amazing what inference can do on the human perception, isn't it?
OK, so let's say it was a baby bear or a small bear and this was an attack.....that's still pretty creepy. And that might make Gable Film pt 2 much more viable. I believe that Gable Film part 2 is also aunthentic, but that it has nothing to do with Gable film one. I just think someone went to their local city archives and got a lot of stock B Roll footage and might have come across some discarded police film documentation.
So, the sum of all this is that I think it is either a bear or a family pet. But I, for one, don't want to know if it's anything so mundane. I mean, why take the fun out of the world?