Getting close to the action

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Miami Vice cast

I was talking about “old” Miami Beach, which to me was the 1980s. This was before all the glitz and glamour and before they called it “South Beach.” It was just Miami Beach.

We used to watch them film Miami Vice often. And we really got up close. Years later I would watch them film Burn Notice around town, but we couldn’t get as close, but I managed at times, I would take pictures and write about them here, and here and here). And this is a funny story called, The Accidental Extras, how we were mistaken for extras while they were filming.

I remember one time in the ’80s we were watching Miami Vice film and there was a car chase on Ocean Drive and we were standing right there on the sidewalk watching. Cars were speeding and spinning mere feet from us and there we were, watching the action.

Once I left the beach, the actual beach with the sand where I was laying out, and I got in my car and as I drove down Collins Avenue, I was stopped and asked if I wanted to be in a movie. I said, ok and was told to drive when they said, “action.” I did, but I never made in the movie. You can see the scene they were filming on the opening credits of “The Making of Mr. Right,” the 1987 film with John Malkovich and Ann Magnuson.  It’s where Ann is driving down Collins as the film titles roll at the beginning. You can see a lot of the Miami Beach I hung around in at that time, raw and not made into the pink and purple and neon place it is now.

Back to Miami Vice. Once my friend Jack and I were watching them film at the Hare Krishna hotel. Were were right up close and personal again. As we watched, my friend said, “Isn’t that Karen Black?” She was a big actress at the time. I asked, “Where?” And he says, “You’re leaning on her chair!” And so I was. She was sitting in a director’s style chair and I was leaning on the back of it, while she was sitting watching the scene. You could literally get up that close in those days.

I always remember in that episode, “Victim’s of Circumstance,” how they screwed the Hare Krishnas out of their moment on film. In the last scene, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas are walking from the hotel, down a walkway/alley type thing and behind a wall were the Krishnas. As the two men reached that spot, the Krishnas came out from behind the wall and did their thing with drums and tambourines, you know how they do. Well, that was the final scene in the episode and on tv, as the two guys walked, the credits rolled. As they reached the wall, the scene froze, it just froze and the credits rolled over that. So the Krishnas were never seen on the show.

Years later, the Krishnas moved from that hotel to a church in my neighborhood and I got to know them on a first name basis.

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Is this the first animated cartoon?

This is the first animated cartoon, released in July 1913, heck, it’s one of the first movies period. No, it’s not “Steamboat Willy.” That was 1928. And Gertie the Dinosaur was done in 1914.

It’s called ” The Artist’s Dream; The Dachshund and the Sausage.” It shows a live cartoonist, J.R. Bray, drawing the cartoon and then shows the animation.

Where do you go to my lovely

I saw two great movies yesterday – Mama Mia, which I saw so many times on tv and I think two or three times in the theater when it came out in 2008. And the Absolutely Fabulous movie. I had never seen that before. I enjoyed that.

At the very end of AbFab, during the credits, they play this song that I loved, I looked it up. It’s called, “Where Do You Go To My Lovely,” it’s by Peter Sarstedt.


The lyrics are so great. It was released in 1969 and hit number one in the UK, where it stayed for four weeks. It only hit number 61 in the US, which is surprising.

It’s about a girl named Marie Claire who grew up in poverty in Naples, Italy and then became the height of jet set society, speaking many languages, jetting around the world, being the “it” girl. People thought it was about Sofia Loren because she grew up in poverty in Italy and became a famous jet setter, but Sarstedt claimed he had no one in mind when he wrote the song. Year’s later he claimed it was about his wife.

Mama Mia always makes me feel sort of how the Sarstedt song does – melancholy. Not because of the story, but because of the music. The Abba songs being back so many wonderful memories, starting, I think when I was in junior high school. When I hear the song “Waterloo,” I can picture myself in my mother’s car, with the song playing on the radio, like it was yesterday. That song was released in 1974, so it was 1974 I am remembering.

Other songs from later years remind me of being out in the clubs, when I was young and it was my first experience going out, so the memories are special for that reason. So as I listen to the songs in Mama Mia, I can almost remember where I was during certain periods of my younger life, it’s like going back in time. It’s exactly in my head like one of the Abba songs in the movie, Slipping through my fingers, which says, “Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture, And save it from the funny tricks of time.” When I hear the music in the movie, I can almost see a photograph in my mind of that time period. Weird.

Harold Lloyd, Master Comedian

I bought this book on Harold Lloyd called “Master Comedian.” Harold was one of the top three comedians in the silent film era along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The book has such great stories of his life, his time in the movies and there are so many great pictures. The cover has a still of the famous clock scene, which I’m sure you have seen some time in your life.

I always read that Harold did his own stunts, there is another famous scene where the front facade of a house falls on him and he’s standing there and the windows go through his body, protecting him from the fall. (Correction – that was Buster Keaton). When I saw that the clock scene from the 1923 film, “Safety Last,” was “not real” in that he wasn’t hanging from a building as shown, that was only partially true, check it out here. He was hanging from a building, in Los Angeles, just not the way I had always thought. So this iconic scene that’s stuck in my head was sort of real and all done by Harold himself.

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This 1923 story from the Boston Post explains the stunt.

lloyd4Harold Lloyd was an excellent comedian and filmmaker. The book explains how he came up with gags for the films and explains what a great businessman he was.

Also, his famous 44-room estate, “Green Acres,” is a part of the book. The house is part of Hollywood legend. And his eye glasses, the book explains why he started wearing them, which ended up becoming his famous trademark.

My favorite new app – VideoCam

I found this cool new app, which is now my favorite iPhone app. It’s called VideoCam.

I was looking for something that would allow me to video different scenes without having to edit them together. For instance, I was interviewing artists at a local art show this past weekend and I wanted to string the very short interviews together, without having to edit the videos at the end. I looked for two hours and finally found VideoCam. It’s so great in that you can start and stop the filming like you would do with Vine, only there is no time length. So you can pause and resume – you film one thing, stop it, then go off somewhere and film something else and so on and at the end, you have one long movie without any editing involved.

By accident, I learned of another feature which is truly amazing. You can edit out the segments you don’t want by just clicking an X box in the corner of that segment. The whole film is “raw” until you save it as one long piece. So each segment is its own short movie. What happened was, I was with friends and we were having lunch and for some reason, the camera starting filming in my pocket. So I had 11 minutes of us ordering lunch, with the black from my pocket on the screen and the sound. All this right in the middle of my artist interviews. I thought I had ruined the interviews, either that, or I needed to defeat the whole purpose of the app and learn to edit. But to my amazement, I found that feature that allowed me to just X-out the lunch footage and no one was the wiser.

The app is free, but for the extras, like this editing feature, you have to buy the app for $4.99, well worth it.

The other advantage to this is that you can film various takes and just X-out the ones you don’t want. I just love the app, I’ve used it every day since I downloaded it. You can always edit the films later in other apps, but the whole point of VideoCam is that you don’t have to be bothered with any of that.

Below is the first film I did. It’s a bit rough and it was before I realized I could redo takes and just use the ones I liked. But you’ll get the idea. I had cut the pocket filmed part out, so you don’t even know it was there.

I can’t wait to use it next weekend at the Street Painting Festival in Lake Worth where I can go from artist to artist and show their work in a single movie; and also Comic Cons and things like that will be a lot of fun to film.

Am I bored by high culture?

I was asked today to be a judge at a local Film Festival. I turned them down. I can’t sit through all those movies in one day, it would drive me insane. I’ve also turned down judging arts events, as they take a day or two of looking at non-stop art and then making decisions on who and who wouldn’t be part of arts festivals and shows. Guess I just don’t have the patience.

But Breaking Bad, Real Housewives, Naked and Afraid. I’m in. I’ll sit for hours on end watching these shows and their marathons. Not sure what it says about me but the high culture events bore me. TV doesn’t.