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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #280  (Vol. 6, No. 31)  This edition is for the week of August 1--7, 2005.

"The Dukes of Hazzard"
 by Mike Smith
In Theaters Now: "Land of the Dead", "The Devil's Rejects"....Coming Soon
 by Drew Reiber
Get Current With Bored White Kids....Cluttered Desktop Begone!...Fall TV Sneak Preview
 by Vinnie Blesi
Northeast High School (NEHI) Class of 1985 Reunion....'90s-Bashing Part 1,006: "Whatever" Boxed CD Set....Newsflash!
 by Andy Lalino
"Sky High"
 by John Lewis
Raffy....27%....See This Movie Now!...Happy Birthday....Passing On....One Man's Trash....Jaws: The Story, Part 28
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Northeast High School (NEHI) Class of 1985 Reunion
Yes, 2005 was the year when yours truly celebrated, along with my classmates, our 20 year high school reunion! Being (almost) a Florida cracker (I was actually born in The Bronx, NY), I attended Northeast High School from 1981-1985 after my years at Holy Family Catholic Church (1975-1981) and Lynch Elementary School (1972-1975); all were located in my St. Petersburg neighborhood.

Toward the middle of spring I was getting concerned that no one was going to pick up the ball and get a 20-year reunion going. Before too long I received a call from classmate Peggy Joseph notifying me that she and other classmates were planning the event, and I must say everyone did a fantastic job organizing it.

I made calls to some of my good friends, namely Kevin Bailey and Mike Dewberry (both still Honeymooners!) to see if they would be attending. Unfortunately, both were not able to. My wife Sandy and I would have to go stag!

The NEHI reunion actually lasted for nearly two whole days. Festivities began on Friday, July 29th at the Castaway restaurant in Tampa's Rocky Point area. Peggy and co. had organized a mixer for the class. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but heard from many that it was a great outing. I'm sorry I missed it because it included many classmates who weren't able to make it to the actual reunion. Many pictures were taken at the Castaway, which surprisingly made it into the reunion slide show the following day (now that's a fast graphics turnover!).

On the following day, Saturday, a get-together for families was planned at Fort DeSoto park in St. Pete. Wouldn't you know I couldn't get to this event either, but heard it was a lot of fun. A good time for everyone to show off their kids!

That same night it was time to get ready for the big night. Best of all, the reunion was being held at the Italian-American Club in Clearwater - less than a mile from our house!! For once I didn't have to trek 45 minutes to get to a Tampa Bay destination. The Italian-American Club is also where Sandy and I had our wedding reception in 1998. Another piece of useless trivia: Sandy and I live across the street from the Sam Ash music store in Clearwater (formerly the Kapok Tree restaurant, an old Florida tourist attraction), the location where we were married!

The reunion was at 7pm, and Sandy and I arrived about 5 minutes late on a wet & dreary Saturday evening. I immediately ran into a few people I recognized while in the will call line, and once inside we mingled with those we knew, and even made some new friends with those I didn't know that well.

For most of the night we sat with Bill and Jen Peters. Bill is one of my oldest friends; we are (of course) of equal age and grew up on the same block on 17th Lane in St. Pete in a subdivision called Meadowlawn. As we got older, we used to see each other frequently at Goth/New Wave clubs in the late '80s. Before they were married, I worked with Jen (who's a 1987 NEHI graduate) at the Home Shopping Network when she was a Supervising Producer and I was a Graphic Designer. Nowadays, I can always count on Bill and Jen to attend "old wave" concerts such as The Fixx at Jannus Landing. They have a beautiful 13-month-old daughter named Sidney, whose pictures I saw for the first time. Congrats again, Bill & Jen!

We also caught up with charismatic actor Pat Curran, who's been a popular stage and screen presence in the area for years. Pat and I have maintained a good relationship since the filming of my horror featurette "Filthy" and Pat's feature film debut "Shadows of Doubt" (in 2002 and 2003 respectively) and keep each other informed on our stage and film projects. It was nice to be able to have the time to hear about his theater work; typically we're both rushed for time at other functions.

I also caught up with lots of people I hadn't seen in a while, some for 10 years! To those who couldn't make it - maybe you'll be able to attend the next one.

A big nod to Scott McGowan, who DJ'd the event. Scott is a classmate, and the last time I saw him is when fellow horror filmmaker Rick Danford and I acquired his services for the 2003 Halloween Horror Picture Show at the now-defunct Florida Expo Center in Pinellas Park. I thought Scott played some great tunes (including a live version of Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" - one of the biggest hits of 1985); but let me give Scott some advice: Please let "The Electric Slide" die a slow, painful death!

As long as we're on the topic of music, can the NEHI class of '85 ever be forgiven for choosing "The Best of Times" by Styx(!) over Simple Minds' "Don't You..."? I don't think so! Someone should have informed the voters this is 1985, not 1978.

The food was great, the company was excellent, and there were memories galore at the NEHI 1985 reunion. I hope we can do a 25-year instead of waiting another ten for our 30th!

'90s-Bashing Part 1,006: "Whatever" Boxed CD Set
Got a kick out of a piece by St. Pete. Times pop music critic Sean Daly entitled "Goo Goo, gag gag" - a review of the Rhino boxed CD set called "Whatever - the '90s Pop & Culture Box". First off, it's hard to believe that Rhino, a somewhat heroic purveyor of pop culture from more mentionable decades ('50s, '60s, '70s, '80s) would stoop so low as to insist that a set of '90s pop is even worth the trouble of chronicling, much less retailing. The project smacks of commercialism, hoping to dupe the late '20s/early '30s crowd in thinking that the Beavis and Butthead decade was one worth revisiting. Oh, Rhino, how low can you go?

Daly starts off by admitting a natural bias as a 1988 high school graduate (and self-proclaimed Duran Duran/Ratt fan). That's okay; so he graduated at a time when New Wave was on the ropes, being replaced by more respectable acts, such as the Bestiality Boys and Run DMC (intended to be a viciously sarcastic comment). At least he was around largely when New Wave was at its prime during MTV's golden years (1981-1986).

He's quick to honestly state that the '90s were "without a doubt the all-time lousiest decade for pop music" (I love you, man!). Can we also say it was the lousiest decade for movies too - especially horror? Just being honest here. His proof lies in Rhino's boxed set, which features such uber-forgettable acts like: C+C Music Factory(!), The Goo Goo Dolls(!!), Hanson(!!!), and M.C. Hammer(!!!!). Gag me with a spoon. After growing up with The Flock, Gary Numan, Sparks, Big Country, Shriekback, etc.; we '80s nuts simply have to scratch our heads and wonder when the car steered off the cliff (it was in 1987; trust me).

Was it the fault of my generation, who were of age when they embarked on artistic and business ventures that would form the pop culture of the '90s, or was it the fault of '90s kids, who didn't know any better? Surely a mix of both. I'm still unable to comprehend how a generation weaned on Blondie, Tears for Fears, and Ultravox could produce such a fantastically forgettable decade as the 1990's.

Believe it or not, this is a 7-disc(!) set. I'd really like to meet someone who shelled out the dough for this turkey; I can picture them sitting in their car grooving to "Gonna Make You Sweat" or "Don't Touch This". Sir, I'd like to introduce you to Blancmange, Thomas Dolby, and China Crisis so you can experience the early/mid 1980's:a time that celebrated the meshing of true art and pop. The "songs" included in this set are meant to be banished to night clubs frequented by denture-wearing singles in their '50s.

No, New Wavers, you're likely not going to find many cuts here by '80s artists who helped get you though this rotten decade (cuts from U2's "Achtung Baby" & "Zooropa" are nowhere to be found - good thinking, Bono; nor is Boy George's triumphant "The Crying Game" or R.E.M.'s "The Great Beyond"); however the set includes one surprising selection: "Ordinary World" by Duran Duran. I guess Rhino has a soft spot (or sore spot) for the '80s after all.

Hey, how 'bout we all steal a copy from the CD mega stores and have a CD-burning bonfire? This way, no one profits from this outrage while we make the statement about just how we feel about a decade that has wreaked such misery on our lives and which shocks us into the reality that it was ten years completely wasted.

Oddservations Newsflash:
Set those VCR's or DVD recorders this Friday night for a special presentation on the Encore network; had I not read it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it: "Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream". In one of only a handful of incidents in my lifetime I can remember experiencing a cable or broadcast show with such intriguing cinematic subject matter.

Snubbing the typical Turner Classic Movies syndrome of Gene Kelley and D.W. Griffith retrospectives, the Encore network sends what may be a very welcome valentine to fans of exploitation/avant-garde/underground/whatever filmmaking. "Midnight Movies..." honors those beloved, nightmarish cinema milestones that have fascinated horror fans for decades: "El Topo", "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Pink Flamingos", "The Harder They Come", and the immeasurable "Night of the Living Dead". I mean, just hearing the title "Eraserhead" conjures strange fantasies of sitting in a rat infested grindhouse on 42nd Street surrounded by fellow incredibly strange weirdos.

It's high time these films (6 of the titles above are highlighted, in addition to clips from "Reefer Madness" and Tod Browning's "Freaks") are given the recognition they deserve, and there's always the possibility a grass roots movement will take off and return the sleazy midnight movie concept to theater screens across the nation, much how it was in the venerable early/mid '80s, when yours truly got the opportunity to catch NOTLD, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Rocky Horror", "Dawn of the Dead", "Apocalypse Now", "The Keep", "Return of the Living Dead", and many other underground features at the local St. Petersburg theaters at the time they were meant to be seen...the Witching Hour.

Catch it at - when else? - midnight on the Encore network this Friday.

"Oddservations" is ©2005 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.