High Times Going Through Hard Times

Just read this incredibly good investigative piece in Politico about the slow and steady downfall of magazine High Times, not by the Feds, not by the police or informants, but by greed. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/09/04/high-times-hard-times-404419 Once upon a time I worked for the man who started it – Tom Forçade as his executive assistant. He’s rolling over (and rolling one up) in his afterlife. ‘Tis a sad state of affairs.

Anyone else thinking about “War of the Worlds”?

Never in my career have I experienced anything like the rapid shut-downs of events, places and spaces due to the COVID-19 (Corona Virus). I was amazed when UCSB shut down all its winter quarter classes this past Monday and are going online. Alright I thought – that’s a campus with more than 10,000 kids – that makes sense. A virus was doing this. Never thought of that possibility.

It was then the thought struck me – this is how HG Wells took down the Martians in ‘War of the Worlds’ with a virus. ACK ACK!

Around 12:30am Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom posted online a request for all events or gatherings of more than 250 be shut down. The NBA shut down, No March Madness either the players will play, but to no one in the house. No fans. No cheering, just the squeak of sneakers, grunts and a few names called between players. Surreal. A virus is shutting us down. A virus! Not in my lifetime.

Thursday, the gala events started dropping like tiaras from Princesses heads, as the local British gossip columnist would say, one after the other. In fact, he ran down the whole list to me while asking about an art show I was working on. ‘Could be you’ll be the only game in town. That could bode well.’ in his ever so perky Brit accent. Of course, he was jesting. Even the infamous 75th SB Orchid Show set for this weekend was cancelled and they had everything in place. My pal who works in radio said as he pulled into the parking lot at Earl Warren Showgrounds for a story, they had just decided to call the show off. Saw the KEYT TV senior reporter – John Palminteri – do a story from inside the hall with all the orchids on display. He was emcee for an auction they were due to have.

This morning around 9:30 am I got a call from my client with the film festival who said, ‘I’m telling you something now, but you can’t say anything yet. We have to postpone. We’re working on dates with the venues. I’ll get back to you soon.’ Sure enough in an hour I had an official statement and dates to announce for its reschedule in the fall. All-Access passes purchased for the film fest will be honored then. I called my pal, the radio reporter, left a message, sent a text in case. Shipped out the statement about postponement to my media list and the news was picked up as the outlets started to keep running lists of cancellations and postponed events. This I want to go viral.

Meanwhile the day is moving along. I’ve sent a couple e-mails to the art show folks. No reply. They were still holding on, hoping to let it go on, but it just was not smart. Finally, someone put their foot down, put in my need for a 5pm deadline to get the news to the media so it could be included on their outlets. I called them around 4, and said we need to get out there with at least 24 hours’ notice that the art show will not happen. (That’s to the reception not the opening time either). It was a very narrow escape. They got it, and by a little before 5, I had a statement.

Had my head down with another client’s work when I got a call back from the Radio Reporter. He’d been running all day, but thought he saw a note from me that the film festival was not happening. Yeah, I confirmed. The team feared we could screen the films and there could be a no-show effect. Roll film, to no audience. Like the NBA and college ball. People are self-deciding to not go out. And they aren’t letting the venues know. It would be awful for the artists and the beneficiary to not be able to reap the accolades and funds from this event. Grateful to the venues leaders for their willingness to find a time to re-schedule the fundraisers.

I’ve been shut down by cold & snowy weather back east. I would describe it as very serious weather. White-out weather. Nothing moving weather. Cancellations make sense for those. A virus? Never thought about it frankly.

Out in CA, the multiple day, heavy rains of the mid-to-late 90s I experienced up here shut down a show I was working on – rains! Ha, but it was no laughing matter. Glad my roof was water-tight because the velocity the rain hit with was impressive. I kept saying, rain has bumped my dance company out of a couple performances. A virus? Still never thought about it.

This one is total sci-fi – a virus. LA Times and NY Times calling it a ‘novel virus’ – novel indeed. We could be having this state of high anxiety for a few more months. That’ll get old soon. Most who get it don’t die from it unless they’re systems are already compromised – think COPD, asthma, I’m lucky to not have anything like these. The symptoms are like the flu – nausea, sore throat, coughing, aches. But it’s the older population with compromised health who are in the gravest danger. Younger people recover. That’s my single biggest take-away.

Sent a note to my friends in Italy – they live in Northern Italy, the Liguria region. Where they’ve been locked down in their homes. Did you read the Op-Ed by David Unger in today’s LA Times? https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-11/coronavirus-italy-quarantine-infectionShe said it was a very good example of how they are living right now.

Be careful. Wash your hands – (I can hear you, ‘oh Mo, I know’) Find the humor in this because that will get us through it. Two fucking months of this? Maybe the world needed to learn a little patience. It’s certainly dialed the rhetoric down on the political front. For that I am grateful. Can’t watch the news for very long, I get enough pings and dings on my phone about breaking news, so it’s as if I had the TV on all day.

A few days have passed since the Thursday closures started happening. Swinging back to the perennial Orchid Show – Nancy Melekian, president of the exotic flower show said in this story linkthey would take a huge hit. But they must have insurance I thought? Nope. The answer came out in this story – “We’re not covered for viruses.”

Gatherings have been brought down to 10 or less. I’m staying put at home. I can call younger friends to help if need be. I can order online where possible. I did have a month-long homebound experience a few years ago when I broke my leg. Since I have theatre background, I look at it as a rehearsal for this COVID-19 reality. A virus? I never thought about it frankly.  I will now.

BTW if you haven’t seen this seven-minute video on the COVID-19 virus… Here’s the link.  PBS Digital Show “It’s Okay to be Smart” hosted by Joe Hanson.  Brilliant.  https://www.pbs.org/video/what-this-chart-actually-means-for-covid-19-ybsbtd/


Calling All Hearts & Minds Who Love Our Gaviota Coast

Important public fundraiser for GCC

Recently I was hired to work on an event for a local environmental/conservation non-profit that I have admired for many years – The Gaviota Coast Conservancy (GCC) has been doggedly protecting the last 20 miles of rural coastline in Southern California for more than 20 years.  My first brush with the people who volunteer at Gaviota Coast Conservancy was through a local painters group that donated 40% of all its sales for a show dedicated to showing people the incredible landscapes we have in our backyard called “Visions of the Gaviota Coast.”

My heart beats loud and strong for environmental and conservation causes – like Audubon and the Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).  Now that last group has become a part of the fabric of Santa Barbara county with its’ stewardship of The Jack & Laura Dangermond Reserve – better know as The Bixby Ranch to most who live here.  It’s a hot bed of bio-diversity.  The Dangermond’s plopped down $165 million for the parcel and then donated it to TNC. Their personal story to this land is the thread that brought them back after 50 years to do something so generous and lasting.  On their honeymoon they camped on the Gaviota Coast and never forgot the beauty of the land.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llZcin6AulU

Come join us at the Coastal Legacy 2019 event on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 21 at the Music Academy of the West.

Here’s the details:

You are invited to the Gaviota Coast Conservancy special event on Saturday afternoon, September 21stat Santa Barbara’s gorgeous Music Academy of the West

Gaviota Coast Conservancy(GCC) is a Santa Barbara based conservation organization that has been actively protecting 76 miles of coast stretching from Coal Oil Point Reserve to Point Conception for more than 20 years.  The Gaviota Coast is a globally significant bioregion with features qualifying it as a National Seashore.

In 2017 the biggest privately-owned ranch on the Gaviota Coast was preserved in perpetuity by philanthropists Jack and Laura Dangermond. The Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve, now under the direction of Michael Bell, protects 24,500 acresof the Cojo-Jalama Ranches (aka Bixby Ranch), with spectacular, undeveloped and largely undisturbed lands. We are thrilled to be honoring these two outstanding conservation heroes at our upcoming September event with the Coastal Legacy 2019Award. Michael Bell, Director of The Dangermond Preserve, will be accepting the award in their honor.

GCC has been holding the line on Gaviota Coast development since our inception in 1996, working with farm and ranch owners to keep land in productive agriculture, and keeping the coast open for the public to explore and enjoy for generations to come.

Join us at this fabulous event to protect the last rural stretch of undeveloped SoCal coastline.

Live and Silent Auction items so far:  Chris Potter original painting, “El Capitan Panorama,”;Jack Johnson personally signed Ukuleleand songbook; three nights in San Francisco Pied-a-terre; Plethora of Patagonia gear; GCC Guided Hike for eight;Dogtown-The Legend of the Z-Boysby CR Stecyk III, Glen Friedman, signed by alumni Zephyr Skate Team, donated by Team Member Peggy Oki; and more.

Follow us on Facebook to discover more auction items and other announcements as they come in.



When Trigger Had Pop Culture Status

End of workday yesterday, I went into the parking gargage to go home.  Two young men in their 20s were walking away from their car, an SUV of some nondescript make.  The owner of the car pushed the auto lock and it beeped.  No surprise there, I’ve used that beeping lock sound to find my car in a lot when I can’t recall exactly where I parked.  I’ve often called the lock beep my personal Trigger.  Well, the next thing that happened is why I titled this post what it is…the SUV started up!  I laughed and the guys looked at me.  I said “it’s just like Trigger, it’s ready to ride!”  That’s when the blank look on their faces clued me in.  I said, “you aren’t familiar with who Trigger was or Roy Rogers?”  And went on to explain how the Roy only had to whistle and his horse Trigger would be there.

I used to fantasize I was in harm’s way – usually stranded in some desert complete with the saguarro cacti on the landscape –  Roy would come in and swoop me onto his horse, Trigger, to save me when that show was in its heyday.  His wife Dale could ride as well as her man Roy.  She would, of course, welcome me into their ranch home to recuperate.

Maybe the exchange made those guys search for more info on Trigger but probably not.

The name Trigger always brings a smile to my face and I bet more than a few horses must’ve been named after him. If I had a palomino it’d be my first choice.

Do you have a special memory about that TV show?  I’d like to hear from you.


2017 Marks 25 Years for McFadden & McFadden Entertainment PR

Time flies when you’re having fun and it sure has flown by for me looking back on 25 years in business here in Santa Barbara.  Where it all began, my office location at El Centro building is coming to an end I’m sorry to say.  It’s the only address I’ve had in SB that has not changed over the years.

The Lippincott Family who owned it since 1948 went and sold it to a land baron and his investors for …$8 million dollars.  Do ya think the rent will go up?  Oh yeah.  Mine is increasing nearly four-fold.

Top shot is Siam Carving Academy work in Bangkok, Thailand – friends who make my business logo look delicious!

Second is inside my suite – the great large red knot I rec’d from the Chinese Opera Co. for the great PR work I did for their show at the Lobero.  I gave the knot to Lovejoy’s Pickle Room when it opened in October 2013 for more good luck.  It looks even better in the new location.

Third down – Paul Wellman photographer for the SB Independent took this of me on the front steps of El Centro for a story on how I made it in SB a few years ago.

Fourth down – Back in the 90’s I was Communications Director for the Lobero Theatre. Santa Barbara Magazine wrote this little item up on me for it’s “Around Town” section.

Five & Six are Shots of the Lobero stage house, and shadows on the walls of the theatre on the dressing room side.

Last shot is the press and ads for the newly opened El Centro in 1929.  Caught with a Model T Ford of what might be the same year.  My good luck!

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I am going to relish the time I have left on my lease – through the end of February 2018.

If you’ve never seen my office, well, it’s not like any other pffice in SB.  Been described as a “Tin Pan Alley” office by which I take as a very high compliment.  Every inch of wall space is covered with posters from shows I have worked on or people I have worked with at the Lobero as well as other places.  Sweet sweet memories!

Even though my downtown era is coming to a close, I’ll still be working.   Ready to help you out.   Same phone number 805 689 5053 and same e-mail mcmpr101@gmail.com for business inquires.


Live Jazz @ Pickle Room Wed. March 18

For years, Willy Gilbert created one of the coolest soundtracks with his extensive collection of jazz CDs and coming in Wednesday night 6:30 – 11 pm, the soulful jazz duo of John Schnackenberg & Cougar Estrada are going to be “Willy’s live juke box” as Schnack said to me… they’ll be playing with vocalist Liz Barnitz too — she’s a jem of a singer.  Stop in and catch the jazz groove and enjoy a classic cocktail.

keyboard player Cougar Estrada and Sax player John Schnackenberg
keyboard player Cougar Estrada and Sax player John Schnackenberg

What a week!

Three events in five days that were as varied as could be. Lots of press breaks to advance the info – first up was a presentation by an expert in PTSD with a new book out, a luncheon/symposium on the 70th Anniversary of Iwo Jima and the public screening of the documentary on Jimmy’s where I was Mistress of Ceremonies.  Every event was so well-attended.  When I got to Sunday – and really had no idea of how many would show – walking into the house and seeing it full, put the cap on a powerful week for me.  I cried.  Happy tears.  Oh, and I got another client a TV news story as a new business in between the events that just aired tonight in 6pm news.  Not too shabby.

Steve Binder Returns to Plaza Playhouse with Elvis’ ‘Comeback Special’


Don't ya just love those neckerchiefs?

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(Carpinteria, CA) Elvis Presley would have turned 80 on January 8, 2015. To commemorate the anniversary of the King’s birth, the Plaza Playhouse Theater in Carpinteria will screen an extended cut of the Elvis Comeback TV Special on January 10, 2015 at 7pm. The special had a one time only showing on NBC-TV on December 3rd, 1968 and was the highest rated program of its type. This is Elvis at the top of his game and looking great in a sleek all black leather outfit, to match his jet black hair in the traditional pompadour for most of the show. Dancer’s costumes and make-up are vintage 60s. All his #1 hits are included in the show and this screening adds more footage not used on the TV special. Running time is 90 minutes.
At a get acquainted meeting in the spring of 1968, Steve Binder—recently tapped to direct an upcoming Christmas TV Special with Elvis Presley—was asked by the King of Rock N’ Roll where he saw the singer’s career at the moment. Binder, knowing that Presley hadn’t had a chart making hit in a number of years and that his last TV performance was nearly seven years before, jokingly replied, “In the toilet.”
Surprisingly, Presley didn’t take offense to the comment, but instantly took a liking to the honesty expressed by Binder which then launched the two of them into collaborating on what would become a record breaking show by the end of the year. Simply called “Elvis,” the 1968 TV special became better known as “The Comeback Special.” Elvis’ popularity soared and he roared back into the public eye.
As initially conceived by Col. Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager, and several executives of NBC, it was to be a show that would feature primarily carols, hymns and gospel songs. Binder bluntly told Elvis it must showcase the huge hits he had made so popular over the past 12 years and it should be staged in an intimate setting, with Elvis surrounded by the audience. Elvis agreed, but Parker angrily rejected the idea and wanted Binder fired, however, he too came around to accepting the concept.
Proceeds from this show will be for the theater’s “Big Screen” campaign. Peter Bie, PP board member said “This will be the final push for the money to buy the big screen and all the accessories needed to complete the experience.”
Get the inside story behind the making of the special, fraught with all kinds of off stage troubles and his mutually respectful relationship with Presley, as told by Binder in a Q&A that will follow the showing of the special.
When Steve was at the Plaza in August for a screening of “The T.A.M.I. Show” it sold out 24 hours in advance and everyone who was lucky enough to be in the house said, “Bring back Steve Binder!” Find out how TV handled the new craze of rock n’ roll music with the man who broke all the rules and a few barriers along the way.
Tickets for this one night event are $20 and available in person at Seastrand, 919 Linden Ave., Carpinteria during regular business hours (cash or check only). You can also buy online at plazatheatercarpinteria.com.
The Plaza Playhouse Theater is located at 4916 Carpinteria Avenue, Carpinteria, CA 93013. Phone: (805) 684-6380. Free parking nearby. The box office will be open on Saturday, January 10 from noon until the start of the show at 7pm to accommodate last minute ticket purchases. Wheelchair accessible.
www. PlazaTheaterCarpinteria.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_(1968_TV_program) In Steve Binder’s Bio: 1968 would be the year that Steve conceived, produced and directed Elvis Presley in the highly acclaimed ratings winner for NBC, most often referred to as “The Comeback Special.” Legendary record producer Bones Howe handled all the recording chores for the show. TV Guide called it “the second greatest musical moment in television history next to the Beatles debut on Ed Sullivan.” Steve’s 2008 book on the making of the Elvis special, “’68 at 40–A Retrospective,” tells the inside story of how Elvis initially reacted to Binder and the working relationship that developed between the two.




rock n' roll royalty
James Brown and Mick Jagger circa 1964

(Carpinteria, CA)   Brought out of the vault and finally released to DVD after 50 years of sitting on the shelf, the star-filled rock n’ roll 1964 concert film, “The T.A.M.I. Show” will be screened Saturday, August 23 at 7:15pm at the Plaza Playhouse Theater, Carpinteria. The Playhouse will use the one-time only event to raise funds for the purchase of a real ‘big screen’ for the intimate theatre.

The show, conceived as a live-concert-to-tape-to-film event, was shot over a two-day period in late October 1964 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. It featured many of the greatest rock n’ roll acts of the day: Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Lesley Gore, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and the Famous Flames, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, plus Jan and Dean (who were the hosts). Roster of entertainers also included: The Barbarians, Gerry and The Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas. The house band for the T.A.M.I. show was the famous group of studio musicians called “The Wrecking Crew.” In the audience were students from nearby junior and senior high schools who had been given free tickets—including future director John Landis and actor/singer David Cassidy.

This one-time only presentation of the “T.A.M.I. Show” will serve as a fundraiser for the non-profit theater, which is on track to purchase a new, much wider screen for the venue. It will be 20’x12’ and allow for the showing of many of the great wide screen classics of the past 60 years as well as contemporary films.

“It needs to be electrically retractable so we can use the stage, it’s a lot more expensive that your typical static screen,” said Peter Bie, Film and TV Coordinator for the theater, who also serves as secretary on the board of directors. “We’ve received a generous pledge of $10,000 toward the new screen, but our challenge is to match that amount by the December 31, 2014 deadline this year.”

Wondering what the acronym “T.A.M.I.” means? Alternately known as ‘Teenage Awards Music International’ or ‘Teen Age Music International,’ the film was released to theaters on December 29, 1964. It later suffered a serious alteration after the Beach Boys requested more money for their sequence. When the producers declined, the group demanded their set be cut from the film.

“After it was taken off the theatrical circuit, it seemed to just disappear and over the years took on rather mythical proportions, becoming known as the best rock n’ roll concert movie most people have never seen…or heard of,” said Bie.

It took many years of working out all the legal rights, but Dick Clark Productions was finally able to issue a fully restored DVD in 2010 — with the Beach Boys set intact. This is also the version that will be screened at the Plaza Theater in Carpinteria.

“One of the most amazing things about this film is its clarity,” noted Bie, “which is due to the use of a whiz bang technology of the day called Electronovision–a very early type of higher definition process for recording to videotape. And then it was transferred to 35mm film.” Bie said the concert will look great on the theater’s current screen, and added, “It will really rock on our sound system.”

To provide an insider’s look at how it all came together, the Plaza Theater has invited the film’s producer/director, Steve Binder, to give a first person account of what was involved to gather all the acts for a show that would require two days of performances; the best of each then edited into the final cut.

Binder will take the stage at 7:15pm to give some background on “The T.A.M.I. Show” which will roll at 7:30. He’ll return for the full Q&A after the screening so stick around. He’ll also have on hand copies of his 2008 book, “68 at 40,” a retrospective about the making and airing of the highly rated Elvis Presley “Comeback Special” which he produced and directed in 1968.

“This is a great way to end the summer with such a ‘feel good’ movie”, said Bie. “If you lived through the mid ‘60s, this will send you right back; if you’re too young to know the era, this is a great way to see what was happening, musically, at the time. Keep in mind this show was recorded just seven months after the Beatles hit America’s shores. Even the Rolling Stones appear a ‘bit wet behind the ears.’ It’s a piece of musical history never to be replicated and Steve Binder was there to see it all happen. Imagine the stories he’s got to tell.”  With the new film biopic of James Brown about to hit theaters on August 1, Bie said to see that movie and then “come see the real deal in the “T.A.M.I.” Show. “You’ll leave the theater amazed at Brown’s electrifying stage performance!”

411::  Tickets for the “T.A.M.I. Show” are $20 each and available for purchase now on the theaters’ website: www.plazatheatercarpinteria.com. Doors open at 6:30pm and tickets (if available) can be purchased at the box office the night of the show. Located at 4916 Carpinteria Ave. the theatre is wheelchair accessible. Phone number for more info: 805.684.6380 or e-mail us at: info@plazatheatercarpinteria.com. Along with the typical fare of popcorn, soft drinks and candy, the theater also serves beer and wine at the concession stand for your pleasure.