Friday, March 2, 2012
Flipping through the channels---I don't have cable so the loop isn't long---I land on an episode of the Monkees in which the boys blow the lid off the art world. Liberace performs a dada piano recital, bludgeoning a piano with a sledgehammer while crooks, led by Vic Tayback as a corrupt museum guard, try to recruit Peter Tork to forge art masterpieces. Now these shows today are quaint and obviously low budget but I loved the series as a kid, loved the Monkees albums and how they looked on TV and album covers. Mickey was my favorite. I liked people who were in groups but stood out from the pack--like Mickey with his fro and kaftan and like the catchers on baseball teams with their unique gloves and added padding. My sense of fashion is still informed by the 60's Monkees featuring wide belts and flare pants, butterfly collars on paisley shirts with extra cuff buttons.
There's another episode right after the Liberace. It's a Monkees marathon--Davy Jones died a couple of days ago. Frank Zappa makes a cameo appearance---take that all you who still maintain the Monkees were
Flashback a few years…I vividly recall fighting with my sister over which Monkees album we should buy with our combined allowances---I wanted "More of the Monkees" and I think she was rooting for "Pisces Aquarius and Jones Ltd". It must have been around the same time that we met the Monkees outside of a Holiday Inn in Birmingham AL. Our family was cruising around town--running errands--and then we kids waited in the car while my parents went into the hospital to visit someone infirm. We heard on the radio that the Monkees were in town and my mom and dad figured out that they were probably staying near the arena and sure enough we saw a group of teenaged girls milling around the nearest Holiday Inn. My dad, who could and did talk to anyone about anything, got out of the car to investigate. He returned a few minutes later to fill us in on the lowdown. The boys would be down in about a half hour and if we were waiting by the elevators we'd likely get to see them and maybe get an autograph if we were lucky. We spent those 30 minutes tearing up lined sheets of notebook paper into what we thought were acceptable sized rectangles worthy of TV rock stars' signatures. Which wound up being about the size of a credit card. Every time someone appeared in the corridors leading to and from the motel rooms our hearts raced. It was April 11, 1969.
"There's the guy I was talking to," my dad pointed out the busiest looking person. "He had a silly British accent. Sounded fake." The fact that my dad was wearing a suit--he was always wearing a suit--certainly helped his fact finding mission into the fringe of the entourage. The boys finally appeared and we got our autographs and some witty banter--Davy drew a flower next to his signature and Mike made a funny remark looking down over his shoulder about that---likely a well-rehearsed line but it was spontaneous comedy gold to us. Mickey got in the limo and fluffed his fro. No recollections of Peter (he didn't join this tour, a fact I discovered while looking up the date of this encounter). I like to think that one of us Clarks said something funny, too. We can be a somewhat hilarious family when we're working as a team.
Our cherished Monkee autographs disappeared like ephemera usually does in one of our many moves. Maybe Davy's flowery signature is tucked in a copy of "Pisces Aquarius Jones Ltd" (my sister won), waiting to be discovered by a budding Monkees fan who needs some used vinyl for her
new vintage turntable.