Friedman Relaxes Upstate...
Vol. 1, Issue 6. August, '95
Friedman Relaxes in Luxurious Upstate Compound After Successful UK Tour.
Yeah, right... Would you believe "Friedman Recovering from Injury After Tripping Over Dogs While Luggin' Suitcase and Guitars into House"? Well, anyway, I'm back home and I had a great time. Just a couple of things we need to discuss though...
Here's the thing... All my UK fans, for who's support I am enormously grateful for, don't get me wrong... I know the United Kingdom has contributed immeasurably to modern culture and the arts and government and law and the whole gamut of human endeavors. (Probably some animal ones as well.) I mean, after all, you gave us the Beatles, Twiggy, Monty Python, Lady Di, Hugh Grant... But, forgive me, I'll just never get used to the fact that the whole lot of you persist in driving on the wrong side of the road. Is this just stubbornness on your part? Is it genetic? Religious? Lack of sunshine? You know, too much cloud cover can lead to a vitamin C deficiency, ultimately effecting the central nervous system and the higher level thought processes. I suppose it's not that horrible. It's not as if you go around walking backwards, or writing upside down, or drinking tea with the wrong pinkie extended.
Anyway, aside from the minimal stress of having to ride 100's of miles, hurtling down the wrong side of the road, my recent UK tour was a blast (read: a lot of fun).
I started off in Brighton, made my way Wales-ward into Swansea, and from there played Manchester, London, Stoke, Portsmouth, Cambridge, Nottingham and Glasgow, finally ending up in beautiful downtown Birmingham. The weather was especially sunny and the countryside was beautiful to look at. I saw an awful lot of sheep.
All of the gigs were terrific. Everybody was really nice. And I had a great time performing after what seemed like a long time. (I even managed to remember most of the words to my songs and only played a few bum notes.) After careful consideration here are the results of my personal road survey:
Best Highway Food: Mushy Peas - M5 Foodstop
You just can't get good mushy peas in the US. Actually, you can't get any mushy peas in the US. We never heard of them over here. They sure are delicious though, let me tell you, a real delicacy. Maybe I can start up an import business and introduce them to my fellow Americans. Mmmmmm, good. Question: How do you get the peas to be so mushy?
Best Dressing Room Decor: The Wheatsheaf - Stoke
Well, actually, it was the only one with a TV that worked, otherwise they were all pretty drab.
Rowdiest Crowd: The Renfrew Ferry - Glasgow
Glasgow's unbridled enthusiasm reached a climax when I was spontaneously joined on stage by two lovely Glasgow lasses for an impromptu rendition of Lucky Stars. I would have thrown them off but they looked pretty tough.
Best Singing Audience: Ronny Scotts - Birmingham
Excellent three part harmony on "Ariel".
Most Peculiar Comment: "Hearing you sing again is as good as watching old "Cagney and Lacey" reruns" (huh?) I was delighted to meet many fans from my earliest tours, who've remained faithful listeners and have spent untold hours searching for my records in shops. (One guy said he actually paid £200 pounds for a brand new copy of "... Rocking Chair".) At least six guys complained of having lost my records in a custody dispute when their ex-spouses/girlfriends split taking their collection of Dean Friedman records with them. Sorry guys. Next time, I guess, you'd better buy two copies of each. Fortunately many people have finally managed to track down the reissued records on CD (Ace/Chiswick and MCI) and I was surprised to realize how many people were familiar with the bonus tracks on the Rumpled Romeo CD including Nookie in the Mail and the Lakelands. Also really neat were the number of supporters who brought their kids to the shows to indoctrinate a whole new generation.
Funniest Interruption While Eating: "I just wanted to meet the man that Half Man Half Biscuit wrote the song about!" Some of you may be familiar with the infamous Half Man Half Biscuit recording entitled, "The Bastard Son of Dean Friedman" (No, I'm not kidding, this is serious). This is an actual track featured on one of their best selling EP's. Just after my soundcheck in Nottingham, a young man approached me while I slurped some tasty potato soup and offered the above quote. Hey, celebrity has its costs!
Anyway, the point is, I had a great time touring the UK and realized how much I missed performing etc... So, I've decided I'll be doing more of it. I mean, that is, assuming you're not fed up with my stupid jokes already. Nothing's booked yet, but I'll probably be back for a small handful of dates in Nov/Dec of this year and then return for a full-blown UK tour in Feb/March - hopefully with my band. This way I'll have plenty of time to learn the words to all my new songs and, what's more, rack up a lot more of those frequent flyer miles on British Air. Stay tuned and I'll keep you posted!
So, When Is The Next Record Coming Out?
Well, uh... hmmmm... Gee, that's a tough one to answer. Yes, I know it's been over ten years since Rumpled Romeo was released and most of you know I've been working on Songs For Grownups for a while now. How should I put this? One way or another, I expect to have a new record out within six months, maybe sooner. I realize I'm being vague here, but hey... I am talking to a handful of independent labels and while it's still too early to say for sure, I do expect something to come of all this strange stuff that started all over again with the bizarre Big Breakfast phenomenon. Just in case, be forewarned. I do have an emergency backup plan which involves counterfeit currency, secret suitcase compartments, a sultry brunette in dark sunglasses and a forged passport. In other words, don't take the lyrics to Woman of Mine too literally. If I ever do wind up in the hoosgow, bail will be greatly appreciated.
Cool Stuff Update
In 1992, as some of you may know, I was commissioned by the Eureka! Children's Museum in Halifax to design and fabricate a musical playground for kids, called the Music Atrium (also Music Box). I invented six musical instruments; the Booble - a three foot globe covered in rubber bicycle horns; the Honkblatt - three pneumatic, spring-loaded stools that force air through 9 ft. tall golden horns when you sit them; the Boing-D-Boing - a weird misshapen harp strung with nylon weedwacker; Jingle-Lingle Lilies - giant flowers that make music when you touch them; Tone Stones - multicolored stones that light up and make sounds when you step on them and; the Laser Harp - a real laser-driven harp which allows you to strum and pluck beams of laser light, triggering harp sounds.
The music exhibit was installed for the royal opening of the museum along with one of our VR InVideo Systems. Yup, there I was standing along side my purple Laser Harp shaking hands with HRH Charles the Bold. I invited him to sit on our pneumatic foghorn blowing Honkblatt, but he declined. (too undignified) He did, however, strum the light beam strings of the Laser Harp at which he expressed amazement.
Anyway, here it is three years later and we've been selling Music Atrium Instruments to arcades, theme parks and museums all around the world. In the last year we've shipped Honkblatts, Boobles and Tone Stones to places like Mexico City; Kawana, Japan; Lubbock, Texas; Milford, Connecticut; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Busch Gardens, Florida. Our most recent installation was for Barney's Playland at Universal Studios in Florida. In case you've never heard of him, Barney is a giant purple singing Dinosaur that makes more money than Richard Branson and bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Blobby. (For the puzzled US contingent - Mr. Blobby is an amorphous giant blob with spots that makes Barney look graceful and intelligent. Imagine that!)
What's cool is that, even though we're still not doing enormous volume, slowly-but-surely our cool stuff is finding its way into major theme parks, museums and entertainment centers around the world. I still find it somewhat bewildering that I'm manufacturing musical playground equipment. Kids seem to like them though. Meanwhile if you have a large open area in your den and very high ceilings maybe what you need is a Honkblatt or two?
InVideo Virtual News
Meanwhile, as our Boobles and Honkblatts are being shipped to all four corners of the world, we continue producing our InVideo virtual reality games for museums and arcades. Recent InVideo installations include "EAT-A-BUG" at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center '95 in Florida and "Virtual VolleyBall" featured at the Museum of Science and Discovery, also in Florida. For the UK gang, remember, if you happen to find yourself passing through Halifax, check out the Eureka! Children's Museum which houses both the original Music Atrium Instruments as well as an InVideo entitled "Dreams". It's real cool stuff.
Other Unusual Multimedia Dean Business
Oh yeah, we're in the middle of doing an interactive music exhibit called Band-In-A-Box for the Science Museum of London which should be up and running by September, we just designed a Family Entertainment Center in Poughkeepsie, NY and we're about to start work on Computer Learning Center in Florida. I know, it seems like we're real busy. How do I find the time to do it all? Actually, I don't. I'm learning how to delegate! (That's an impressive word for getting other people to do the work for your.) I'm lucky to have a team of slightly demented but otherwise extremely talented and capable people working with me on all this cool stuff. Neal, Alison, Matt, Mike, Bill, Chris, be patient; pretty soon we'll be able to afford a brand new combination electric coffee percolator/stapler/folding machine for the office.
The First Official Dean Friedman UK Fan Club Launched in Manchester.
For months I've been getting letters and videos and all manner of strange correspondence from this seemingly normal guy named Phil Loftus, an engineer up in Manchester, England and a self-proclaimed Dean Friedman fan. Having determined to my satisfaction that Phil is not an ax murder or compulsive litter-bug (UK translation: litter=rubbish), and after he consented to repave our driveway (not really), I have agreed to confer official status to his proposed fan club/newsletter. Imagine, after a decade long news drought you now can opt to subscribe to not one but two newsletters chock full of tidbits and details about yours truly's hapless and oftimes bewildering life and career. Like I said, Phil seems like a decent guy and his girlfriend Claire who's helping him out seems very sweet, so, I hope you don't object, but, I'm giving them a copy of my mailing list in order to contact you with the fanclub details. In future, I promise to ask your permission, first, as to whether you consent to my selectively distributing your addresses. If anyone would like to limit distribution of their current address please drop me a line and I will restrict it to my own mailings. You can expect to hear from Phil and Claire within a month or so. In the meantime if you'd like to contact them regarding the fanclub you can reach them at:Phil and Clair Loftus
The Official Dean Friedman UK Fanclub
45 Windsor Rd., Droylsden
Manchester, UK M43 6WB
Frankly, I confess to being just a little bit nervous about all this. I mean, I never had an official fanclub before. I never even had an unofficial fanclub before. What if they poke around into my murky past and find all those skeletons in my closet? Like the time I got busted smuggling bootleg Dean Friedman records into Heathrow, or the fact that my dog and good buddy Barker (buried in the back yard last year) still has a working VISA credit card in his name, or even worse, what if they get access to some of my early work and release some of my more embarrassing rhyme schemes. If you think rhyming dumb with glum is hard to live down, believe me, there's worse where that came from. I'm afraid I could be exposing myself to some potentially disastrous revelations.
DEANO FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions):
Q #1: In the song S&M, how do you play Perquacky?
A: First of all, are you over 18? Just kidding, actually, Perquacky is a word game by Milton Bradley, sort of a cross between Scrabble and dice, where you roll the dice and make words out of the random letters. And you thought it was something that consenting adults had to play with the lights out! Shame on you!
Q #2: In the song Ariel, who are the "Friends of BAI"?
A: No BAI is not some strange religious cult. BAI are the call letters of a non-profit radio station in New York, WBAI-FM. My brother, Aram, once worked as a volunteer fundraiser "collecting quarters" for the listener association which called themselves the "Friends of BAI". WBAI is still on the air playing strange stuff.
That's All for Now, Folks!
Anyway, I hope you're all enjoying the summer, that is with the exception of my fans down-under who are enjoying winter at this very moment (Lucky Stars did go to #6 in Australia).
I realize that in my unofficial role as singer/songwriter and informed observer of life's strange permutations I'm supposed to have somewhat of a vague idea about what's going on these days, but I have to confess... I'm totally befuddled. Yes, befuddled, bewildered and perplexed. Honestly, folks, I just try to get up every morning, shower, brush my teeth, pat the kids on their heads as they leave for school and drive off to work to do my job. The problem is I'm increasingly confused as to what my job actually is. I'm not being coy, I just really can't figure it out day to day. This Big Breakfast stuff sure has complicated things. Am I an animator or a songwriter? A programmer or a performer? An international cult figure or a good-for-nothing-lazy-bum? Or all of the above? It's not that I'm complaining, it's just that... well, actually I am complaining. So there! But then, who told me life was fair? In any case, I'll try and figure this all out before the next newsletter so as not to continually bore you with this endless self examination.
So, that said, everybody take care and be well, and don't forget to write!
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