Cher Museums, Musicals, Endorsements, Coachella, The Milken Institute, Toons and Ads

NyorkerSo…my trip to LA was good. I went to two conferences, the Los Angeles Time Book Festival at USC and a Google Analytics workshop for CNM. But I got sick the first day with the stomach flu and that was pretty much my week. Then everything-and-his-Uncle fell apart when I got home. Oh, and I got sick again with a nasty head flu. C’est La Vie.

Cher has been a tweetin' and a hollarin' in the meantime. Here’s a recap:

 

 

Election Tweets

The celebrity endorsement of the week (Washington Post)
Funny that the Washington Post should call this the celebrity endorsement of the week, considering it’s actually a celebrity re-endorsement after a deep, dark night of questioning of the Bernie soul.

By the way, it makes me crazy that people send hate tweets to each other. As one woman put it to Norman Goldman a few weeks ago, “Sending angry tweets isn’t political activism.” So it was enlightening to come across this great Guardian article on hate comments.

Cher keeps the heat on Trump

Cab-n-cakeCher tweeted the above New Yorker cartoon this month and this Cabernet and Cake sign.

Movies

This is an absolutely a great piece (don’t miss the trailer at the bottom) on Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean and celebrity obsession.

Cher Scholarship Abroad

There's a new Cher museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Coolia sent this to me. Sounds like a good time for a road-trip Cher quest!

I also found this video footage of another Cher museum! Someone should develop a Cher museum app for these things!

Cher tweeted about being scheduled to speak at the Milken Conference:

Proud,my frnd Karen(Flint mayor)is coming 2stay.We'll speak at Milken confrence 2 tell story of FLINT,to 3500 MAJOR LEADERS,IN ALL FIELDS

I used to work for Mike Milken. In fact I worked at his Prostate Cancer Foundation, (upstairs from the Milken Institute), when Cher performed for his PCF fundraiser during her Farewell Tour, in between those many faux-final shows. Here's detail about the event. I hope some think-tank braniac attends this and tells us how it goes.

A Coachella breakfast at Sonny & Cher's former estate:

http://wwd.com/eye/parties/rebecca-minkoff-smashbox-lunch-coachella-2016-lunch-sonny-and-cher-10412504/

http://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/gallery/rebecca-minkoff-and-smashbox-host-coachella-2016-lunch-at-sonny-and-chers-former-estate-10412618/

Outfits

Bob Mackie talks Cher and Carol Burnett

Biography Musical News

The Cher musical is continuing to make news like it just might grow up to be something someday.

 


Recycled Cher Products

VhsnotebookAnother thing I got from the late Christmas exchange was a Mermaids Cher notebook not unlike this Moonstruck one! Both were made from recycled VHS boxes.

Getting it make me take stock of other Cher recycled  products that have gone functional out there.

Including record album cover notebooks:

  Notebook4 Notebook3 

 

 

 

 

And record album tote bags:

Bag Bag2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People are so crafty!

While I was looking for these I came across this awesome bit of fan art for Stars:

Awesome!


Cher for H, Cher or Jaden Smith, 15 Facts, 1975 Tabloid

HAgh! I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. And I'm ridiculously exhausted. But I....must....blog.

I’m in an Infinite Jest reading group (we do only 100 pages every two weeks but it’s a challenging novel so that’s not saying much). I’m taking a New Mexican art history class. I’m in the middle of a whole survey of American poetry online courses with HarvardX and the new class starts Friday. I’m in physical therapy for my knee. I'm attending a Google Analytics training workshop next week. I’m still trying to fart out some chapters for a novel. I'm planning trips to help my parents who are moving. And on top of everything else it’s already National Poetry Writing Month challenge again and I'm trying to keep up with the poems! (This year my theme is election angst.)

Speaking of which, Cher threw her support behind Hillz last week in a very interesting logo graphic mashup. I myself will be also throwing in for Hillz (and am enthusiastic about it) but I also like and would vote for Bernie in the general election.

On another Cher note, here is a website that challenges you to guess whether tweets are written by Cher or Jaden Smith: http://www.gq.com/story/cher-jaden-smith-twitter. And here are "15 Interesting Facts You Don’t Know About Cher" from ppcorn.com. But who are they kidding because Cher fans already know all these things.

There's also more news on an upcoming bio-musical, the title announcing that something is confirmed. Is that meaning the rumor is confirmed or the progress of the work has been  confirmed? This is a far cry from the theater space at The Ethyl Barrymore being confirmed. Just the plans is all. You wonder how many news stories plans can generate.

ChergreggMy LA friends and I celebrated a late Christmas two weeks ago and one of my gifts from Coolia was a Motion Picture Magazine. The magazine looks like a tabloid and possibly was considered a tabloid back in 1975 but the strange thing about these old rags is that the articles are actually more legit and quoted than you would think.  The titles are actually more tabloidy than the features. Gregg Allman was quoted heavily here and the article catalogues the time between Cher’s first divorce announcement from Gregg Allman to her appearance on The Tonight Show with Sonny (Sonny's swath of chest hair never gets old) after rumors Allman had beat her up (there were rumors like this too when she divorced Sonny) to her return to Gregg in New York state and their marriage.

After unwrapping the magazine I kept starting at Gregg's unruly hair and commenting about how young Cher looks on the cover. It was only later when I took the magazine into another room I even noticed the watermark overlay of Sonny & Cher on Allman's head. What a bizarre photo layout. Sonny doesn't even look like Sonny when you see it closeup. How did I even miss it? The magazine is also a bizarre collection of weirdly sexist cigarette ads and vibrator classifieds.

Ah, the nostalgic 70s.


The Bloids and Celebrity Abduction

Normal_fotos1979prisoner_10aCelebrity Prisoners!

Sooo…a tabloid story did come out, I guess, although it wasn’t The Enquirer. It was Radar.online claiming that Cher has been brainwashed, drugged and put “under the spell” of someone close to her. And then there was this denial story which seemed as implausible for some reason as the original story.

But the stranger part was that last week a similar story cropped up that Richard Simmons was similarly being held hostage in his own house because he hasn’t been seen in public in over two years. In that story Richard Simmons phoned in to tell Entertainment Tonight that he was fine and had recently had knee surgery. Interestingly he refrained from including a photo.

So here are a few takeaways for us:

  1. Richard-betterIs anyone else out there outraged that all these 1980s fitness gurus (Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons, both whom I followed and still do) have had knee problems in their old age? I mean, as I start doing physical therapy on my own knee this week, the thought does occur to me: did we ruin our knees doing too many high impact aerobics?
  2. What is going on with all the celebrity abduction mythologies? These aren't even the first two! Remember the conspiracy of celebrity napping perpetrated by Randy Quaid and his wife before they hightailed it to Canada? A few more stories like this and even I might start believing in Star Whackers.

Cher seems to be feisty and fine, however, as these Twitter stories suggest:

Here's Richard Simmons back in the early 1980s. I wrote him a letter about my eleven-year old dreams of distinction in grade-school chorus.

Read these "35 Incredible Richard Simmons" quotes.

 


Sonny & Cher on the Newsstands

Sandc-coverI received a message from Cher scholar Robrt last Saturday while out shopping for next weekends family reunion, (my third in so many years). He said it was suddenly 1975 on the newsstand again!  And sure enough, Sonny & Cher are sitting by the checkout stacks right alongside Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. Do the millennials even know who Sonny is?

It's a brief story in Closer about the history of their relationship. It's pretty well summed up for such a short piece. With all the hubub going on with Cher's Twitter posts last week and talk of nasty tabloids, those hemorrhoids of journalism, I was confused about whether I should even purchase a magazine called Closer. Was it a tabloid? Closer Weekly in UK sure seems to be by all accounts of my Google searches.

But my perusal of Closer so far leads me to think it's made up of mostly soft-stories about celebrities. There's nothing erroneous in this S&C piece. Nothing new either. Just some quotes from biographer Taraborelli, and old co-worker Hal Blaine. They even dug out Cher show producer George Schlatter commentary. The story that follows is a equally soft piece about Dolly Parton, the boon there being an elusive picture of husband Carl Dean.

If you pick up a copy and read it, you'll surely come to see what an amazing art newsstand cover copy really is.

The Daily News also ran a roundup of shocking celebrity couple breakups that included Sonny & Cher.

Music

Top 40 website also did a list of Top 10 Cher songs. I beg to differ with some of these.  It feels more like a reshuffling of her hits. 

More Posts on the Twitter Thing

It seems like tabloid web pages are the only outlets really running on this Twitter story. Although Cher did do some cryptic tweet ranting last week so who knows. It feels like a personal story (Twitter release all the same) and I debated even bringing it up here except that it bears commentary on how creepy fandom can be. In that it's creepy to be an uber-fan, even a well-behaved sort and when you read stories about creepier fans, unhinged fans or entitled fans, or even just the roach-ridden underbelly of show business, it's so not fun and makes you question whether or not you should be reading Infinite Jest faster (I've started a reading group!) or devoted more of your life to poetry. That is until the poets and their back-biting competitive infighting starts to depress you and you begin to question maybe whether you should be listening to more Cher records and working to finally launch that Chersonian Institute.


Chaz on OWN, The Leopard Moment, Feminist Anita Sarkeesian

ChazChaz on Own

Mr. Cher Scholar and I have been home sick for the past two weekends. So it was a home-bound surprise to find that my DVR had taped Chaz on Oprah’s Where are they Now? show (first air date: 2/6/206) a few weekends ago. Chaz looked good, talked about new ventures including a clip from a new movie. Orpah and Chaz also had further discussion on life before and after transitioning and whether Chaz’s experience reading as a woman gives him any insight into that gender (spoiler: no it did not). There was also an update in regard to his relationship with his mom (sounds much better).

Disappointingly, I find Chaz can be kind of Sonny-ish on the topic of women. Interviewers probably set him up for this, as if to say “you’re a man now…say something sexist!” For instance, his example about not understanding women involved a comment about how they are so mysteriously offended all the time. He still doesn’t have any more insight into that.

How many stoic women do I know in relationships? A lot. How many men do I know who get easily offended, much more so than their wives and are uncommunicative about why? A lot.  I’ve never heard Mr. Cher Scholar say anything like this. I rarely, if ever, hear my contemporary male friends say this about their spouses. I don't think I've even every heard my Dad make a comment like that. But I have heard some of my friends with same-sex partners complain about it with their partners. The issue seems to defy sex and has more to do with character and relationship dynamics. So it’s kind of an guy trope, this thing complaining about how sensitive women are, and an old-man trope at that.

Having read as a woman for so long should have provided Chaz with some insight into the idea of, shall we call it, female hysterics, simply for the fact of possibly once being erroneously accused of it. I simply don’t buy the idea that you’re born with male prejudices. You opt to have them. Maybe I know some extraordinary guys. Chaz has the option to be an extraordinary guy.

The episode also included an awesome update on Linda Blair where she revisits her feelings about The Exorcist. As you know, William Friedkin is one of our peripherals here because his directorial debut was the Sonny & Cher epic Good Times. In just over a decade he would go on to make his most iconic classic. I still maintain that if you carve out all the gore and bugaboo from this movie, the scenes are quietly and delicately constructed. It would seem Linda has made peace with that movie and is also working an adorably furry charity venture. Her eyes still creep me out a bit though! Watch the show’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31SUgyocMZo.

Cher History

LeopardRemember the scene in Cher and Other Fantasies  where they tie Cher's hair and outfit up into a tree? A good tribute to that popped up online last week.  I love how Cher specials are getting some well-deserved revisionist love.

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

There's also a great new interview/dialogue between Cher and Zendaya where they talk about girl power and fashion as empowerment. Great candid and friendly tone from Cher.

Relative?

Every few years my nieces or nephews will solicit me for magazines subscriptions for school fundraisers. I always purchase Time Magazine for a year and then spend three years reading it in the privy. In one issue from 2015 I recently came across a familiar name in their most influential people list: Sarkeesian. It’s only one letter away from Sarkesian! Amazingly I’ve been reading about this woman for years but have never put a name to a story! From Time:

SarkeesianAnita Sarkeesian, 31 year old activist  and gaming feminist advocate, one of Time’s 2015 most influential people. She became the “target of vicious, misogynist harassment, death and rape threats and pornographic vandalism on her Wikipedia page and an effort to have her Kickstarted flagged as terrorism. All of this because she wanted to have a conversation about the way women are portrayed in video games. Anita is just the latest women writer to prove the law coined by journalist Helen Lewis: that the sexist comments onany article about feminism justify feminism…Anita has refused to back down…As her detractors grow increasingly unhinged, we have proof that her efforts are working.” Written by Wil Wheaton.

Anita is actually Canadian but she went to college at Northridge in the Los Angeles area. She is the other Sarkesian you should be following. Wow. I never thought I’d have occasion to say that.If you don’t think we are still in need of feminists in the new millennium, just read her Wikipedia page.

  


Snuff Garrett and the Cher Brand

GuitarsMy parents had this album in their 70s record collection! It's one of his "50 Guitars" series that features Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Todesco.

Tommy Garrett (known as Snuff) died in Tucson December 16 or 17 at the age of 77. Some sites erroneously list his age as 76 but he was born July 5, 1938 according to The New York Times. Another one down in the last few months from cancer.

Garrett gained prominence as a radio DJ in Lubbock, TX, where he was the first to play a new artist local named Buddy Holly. Eventually he made his way to Liberty Records in Los Angeles and became a “pivotal producer.” His obit accolades include Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Del Shannon and Cher, although he had left Liberty Records by the time he started working with Sonny & Cher on Kapp Records.

Best Classic Bands website also claimed he was responsible for hiring Phil Spector to work at Liberty and first employing Leon Russell. He also produced the movie scores to Smokey and the Bandit II and Cannonball Run.

Cher has often said she doesn’t much like these Snuff–era songs. Bob Dylan didn’t like them either according to the story about the “Dark Lady” listening party of 1974. And Snuff Garrett himself didn’t sound too proud of anything he ever made. Or take much effort to defend it anyway. But luckily for me I am not Snuff Garrett or Cher or Bob Dylan and am perfectly free to like this music. In fact I would argue here is some of the most creative Cher music of all time, some of the most articulately original in tone, production and flourishes of instrumental inspiration. There is plenty of filler around as well. I can’t defend it all but the best is right up there with anything Cher has done.

AlliConsider the first guitar strums of All I Ever Need is You, the heartbeat of the muffled drum. This is the inaugural moment of Sonny & Cher in the 1970s. Consider that Garrett managed to get Sonny to sing better than he’d ever sung before. Garrett unveiled a comparatively pristine sound for Sonny & Cher with violins and horns. They cleaned up good those two. Garrett could have taken them down a completely dull, adult contemporary path; but the songs here are infused with western elements and Cher’s beautiful honey-flavored voice is pulled forward. There are some unforgettably well-crafted songs on this album including "A Cowboy’s Work is Never Done" (who else could invoke comparisons to Enni Morricone?) and "Somebody." More on the album.

According to Garrett he worked fast and kept his eye on the dollar. Allegedly, nothing else mattered much . And all while dealing with Cher’s broken manicures. Are we to believe he stumbled his way into some of Cher's most iconic songs? Was he being disingenuous or subtly self-abusing? This from an obsessive hit-maker who, like everybody else, could never deconstruct or predict the elusive formula of a hit single. Most of his songs for GypCher were hit-less, all told. How then can we explain how "Gypsys Tramps and Thieves" has become the timeless, enduring track it has? You don’t need to add a symlin in there to get a hit record. Ask anybody, "Gypsys Tramps and Thieves" doesn’t stand the test of time because it has a hook or was a gimmick record. Who’s still delighting over "Monster Mash" or the "Surfin Bird" besides Elvira or Peter Griffin?

Not only is hit prediction practically impossible but cynical hits drop away from public consciousness pretty fast. We could argue this was the fate of maybe "Half Breed." But not "Gypsies." I would argue not for "Dark Lady" either. Garrett’s version of “He Aint Heavy (He’s My Brother)” is also a lovely and subtle rendition.

But it was “The Way of Love” that took Cher to a whole other level and has become her definitive example of torch. What’s so hit-sure about that big to-do of a song? Those heartbreaking strings and the soft-build execution? But what an opening to an album!

FoxyThe Foxy Lady album sounds like it was a drama-filled experience behind the scenes. This seems reflected in the mishmash of its song lineup. But "Living in a House Divided" is another breathtaking opening to any album. The first cascading note unlike anything you’ve heard on a single anywhere. Shakers, horns, Cher’s anger at the end. What is formulaic here?

HbOf all Garrett’s albums for Cher, “Half Breed” has the most inexplicably subdued entrance with a Paul McCartney ballad (“My Love”). This strikes me as her most feminine album. “Carousel Man” is a thrill of texture. Garrett could have overplayed the carnival sound but he made the song more adult, more sinister than cotton candy and tilt-a-whirl music. Cher’s voice does the hard work of expressing life on the carnival grounds.

And I’ve always found “Chastity’s Song” better and more sincere than the original. Decide for yourself.

The "Dark Lady" tracks, like much of Cher’s work with Garrett, are not perfect but they are always ambitious and flavorful, much more so than either have ever admitted.

We’re back to a creative opening track here with that train whistle of the blues-pop sounds of “Train of Thought,” Cher singing through cigarette drags. The song is a suicide by gun, manic desperation, the keyboard sound evoking train travel, the backups doing the train’s horn. Truly delightful! And then the spiraling end. Who does all that work for a quick-off single?

Darklady“I Saw A Man Who Danced With His Wife” is the movie Casablanca on big band night. Then comes “Dark Lady” where Cher sings the word “laugh" like a cackle. This song is a perfect depiction of French folk/gypsy. And let’s be honest: a song like this would have created a sink hole on the charts if it hadn’t been perfect. The concept is too heavy, too near-cartoonish to bear any misstep. Only a master could have stepped so gingerly over this thing. It’s impressively un-embarrassing. It’s not one of my go-to songs, I admit, but I come back to it from time to time and I respect it. Some critic called it “grimly comedic” but considering its popularity with children in the mid-70s, it’s more like a Grimm’s lost fairy tale.

And THEN we get “Miss Subway” and Cher’s vaudevillian Mae West. And THEN we get the southern ballad Dixie and THEN the R&B cover “Rescue Me” and THEN the Great Gatsby’s Irving Berlin ballad “What’ll I Do” with Cher sounding full-bodied and contemporary compared to the tinny and sad original.

All this variety and no song feeling like it doesn’t belong together in the overall atmospheric and glamorous album set.

For all its faults Cherished even begins evocatively with violins and the sounds of seagulls. An accordion means sailors are about. Nothing feels as sharp on this album as other Garrett albums but there are lovely ballads here (“He Was Beautiful,” “Again”) and that cotton-gal song “Dixie” which always entertains me. This Cherishedis the only Cher album from the 70s that truly devolves into kitsch.

Like Cher, Garrett wasn’t perfect but there are more creative elements in these songs than you’ll find in earlier and later hits. And despite all claims to the contrary, they all feel less formulaic.

Cher’s career is nothing if not ironic on many levels. And the fact that Snuff Garrett gets no cred for his work on Cher music in the 1970s is most problematically ironic. These songs built Cher’s reputation as a gypsy. Garrett played no small part in her success during that decade and in solidifying her eternal image as an icon evermore. It takes more than a Bob Mackie to get there.

 


Cher Reviewed

SparklesMetro Weekly posted an essay of Cher’s best albums. The author, Gordon Ashenhurst, published a similar list as Diva Incarnate back in 2012, another review which Cher Scholar reviewed.

Cher’s Twitter oeuvre was also recently explicated by The New York Times. (Thank you for the heads up by Cher scholars Michael and Robrt). I actually think this piece provides a good theory about the phenomenon we’re seeing with Cher tweetage.

 


Snuff Garrett Dies

Cher SnuffSo I heard a rumor from Cher scholar Robrt that around December 18 Snuff Garrett had passed away. I did a short search for online obituaries that day but couldn’t find anything and then I went on a two-week vacation. I finally rechecked and indeed Snuff Garrett did pass away on Dec 16 or 17 depending upon the article. The New York Times obit says Dec 16 so let’s go with that.

We’ve lost many to cancer in December and January and I’m feeling somewhat soul depleted already; but I'm taking Snuff Garrett's passing especially hard. Over the last few years I've been having a bad feeling that we wouldn't have him around for long to discuss Cher history and this was a most important Cher record producer (beyond Sonny) who didn’t get nearly enough credit for shaping her image in the early to mid 1970s.

Image may be king but music moves the heavens.

However, I want to do a more considered post about Garrett than I’m prepared to do now. More later. In the meantime, here are some of his obits:

The New York Times

Contact Music

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Best Classic Bands

Times Record News

Passings: Producer "Snuff" Garrett (1939 - 2015) ~ VVN Music

  


Cher Sends Water to Flint, Michigan, and Twitter Stumbles

CherviewIf you've been following Cher's tweets or the news, you've been reading about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, (the same town Michael Moore filmed about in his first movie, Roger and Me by the way). Cher has been very vocal in tweets about the mess and Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder. Finally last week she took matters into her own hands and sent truck loads of bottled water to Flint citizens in conjunction with Icelandic Glacial bottled water company (see the water below).

Icelandic water! Yummy. It was huge news.

Cher on The View  (Thanks to Dishy for the heads up on this)

CherwaterdonationABC News

NBC News

The Huffington Post

Vogue

Michigan Radio

The Hill (I love it when she makes The Hill)

Channel 21 Nebraska!

MSNBC

Chertv
The Oakland Press (with talks about how Cher plans to do more)

Despite all the water shipping and governor scolding, Cher did not forget to continue her tweets against Donald Trump.

Pink News

The Huffington Post

In fact last week Cher called herself the “Crazy old Aunt of Twitterin The Huffington Post.

And all this while Twitter seems to be imploding. Cher may soon need to find a new platform for expressing herself.