Monday, November 17, 2008

Camp Comes Alive

Camp comes alive! (JRC)!!

When I say the words Groovin’ Gary, someone outside either Salt Lake or Beaver Utah may have no clue who I am talking about. Likely most people inside those cities are just as miffed on the reference. Utah’s Trent Harris, whom I believe occasionally teaches a screenwriting class up at the U, met this young man back in the late 70’s maybe early eighties and brought him to annuls of the Utah subculture. He made a documentary about this young man, and then a movie based on Groovin’ Gary staring a young Sean Penn. Groovin’ Gary is what many fans attribute as the basis for the legendary slacker Jeff Spicoli. Harris made this film for about a hundred bucks. Later after building up a bit larger budget made the Orkly Kid, another re-interpretation of Groovin’ Gary; this time staring 9th and 9th frequenter and one of America’s favorite eccentrics, Crispin Glover. Trent Harris went on to create almost his own genre, the Utah Cult film.

Some may remember the Gilgal Gardens, and when it was off limits. We in our years of teenage riff-raff had to drive down to Salt Lake at midnight with our dates and park behind a Chuckarama. I know! Perfect, Right! Then we rip our cargos hopping a fence by an old shed or stable like structure and suddenly your mind would be blown. Instantaneously you fell into a world of strange scriptures and biblical references carved into every stone. In every direction oddities like giant stone carved doctrines and covenants and immense stone beehives, metal-formed crickets and an ominous large statue with no apparent identity. Then, there it was, a Joseph Smith sphinx.

We had an obligation to spread the rumor of crazy people who owned it and lived in the surrounding homes. We were risking our lives to experience that. If we weren’t careful they’d come out with shotguns, they believe this is sacred ground. Are they polygamists? Hard-core fanatics like Heavens Gate? This could never be like any other roadside attraction in Anytown, USA. This is truly an only Utah. The sphinx again enters the realm of Trent Harris’ Utah cult film “Plan 10 from Outer Space” in an odd religious slash sci-fi mystery.

So why talk about Trent Harris so much? Have I forgotten the killer brine shrimp? What about John Babtiste? Porter Rockwell? Did you know that Ted Bundy abducted young girls at cottonwood mall? Then here we are daring people to walk down by Pedersons alone. Aren’t we still seeing the ghost image of his VW at Veiwmont High? What about Mark Hacking? This is Utah. This is why we are who we are; we are seen either on the far right or just plain far out.

So this brings me to the music. Finally right. Mr. Trent Harris, may I introduce you to (JRC)!! You may thank me for your new muse. Groovin’ Gary is reincarnated in the form of a Christian hard-core act, as (JRC)!! calls himself.

Legend has it, that (JRC)!! is a resident of somewhere west of Ogden, married, has a couple little ones. He is said to be like a modern day James Dean, a rebel without a cause, only without the model looks. Similar to Freddy Krueger’s sweater, regardless of the weather, he wears a dark brown leather jacket; ala “Maverick” from Top Gun, like he’s his own motorcycle gang. Often he can be found lurking around outside the nearby clubs and local venues without the five dollars to actually go into the shows. (JRC)!! needs a miracle people! If you stumble upon a genius of this description outside your show, put him on the guest list, invite him backstage, and if at all possible let him open. It’s my theory that he has his stuff ready in a 1988 black Dodge Caravan somewhere nearby.

In the great joke of rock and roll we find the classic novelty songs and then there is genius like the Ramones. Are they brothers? They all share the last name Ramone. This album may be that same genius, or maybe not. Either way you lean on this one you will be entertained through and through. Really in comparison, the only thing that comes to mind is a strange combo of part “You’ve Got the Touch” by Dirk Diggler and Chest Rockwell, part Magnetic Fields, and partially the joy ride music of Wesley Willis.

To be honest I was handed this CD as a joke and was told this is so bad; it is everything wrong as music. I didn’t think so, not at all. (JRC)!! may be to some the worst string of noises and tones ever to be put on record, maybe it’ll become the world’s joke of bad music. Maybe. However, I recommend that everyone listen to this album if they can find it. You decide for yourself. Is this comedic genius, a gem of the Utah cult collection, or a just plain horrible?
Let’s not tell him either way, let’s just hope he continues to make this music without being affected by what people think. Like “I believe in a thing called love” by The Darkness they were not only a hilarious take on all hair bands it was really, really good. But they got full of themselves and forgot to not take it so seriously with the sophomore effort, let’s face it; they forgot that they were partially a joke.

We cannot let that happen to you (JRC)!! If you are out there, just know I am recommending you to the Utah listener. Whether my recommendation is as a joke or in an effort to spread your genius is not the issue. Just and keep on rocking and rolling, shredding on that guitar, overdubbing those Casio’s and unearthing your “Sacred Passions”.
Groovin’ Gary would be proud, and so am I.

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