MY ADORATION OF DANNY ELFMAN
This was not a topic I planned on writing about. But two things got me thinking about Danny Elfman, the famous rock singer/composer/cynicologist, who appeared on the Marc Maron Podcast WTF last week. First of all, I have a personality that tries to look at everything objectively. I can become a ‘fan’ of any form of art (Like Wes Anderson Movies or “Pixies” Songs) but can also break free of my attachment to these artists when their work does not hold up to the standards that my mind has set for them. Since art really is objective, this can come across as terribly biased and unfair especially when I still enjoy 90 to 95% of the work that they create. Hearing Danny Elfman discuss his long career and a new solo album (Sans OINGO BOINGO) triggered that nostalgia drug inside my brain. So much of my blossoming teenage years was spent listening to all eight of his OINGO BOINGO albums as well as a good portion of his early film soundtracks (During this time, his soundtracks were mostly inside Tim Burton movies). There are only a handful of people I have ever idolized in my life. Stanley Kubrick is one, Steve Garvey is another, and the final one is probably Danny Elfman (With the members of the BEASTIE BOYS coming in as a wild card). My memories of OINGO BOINGO shows came flooding back. But what was interesting were the two memories that my mind decided to fixate on. The individuals
mentioned have had their names changed due to respect for their personal privacy. But both these individuals mentioned were absolutely real and these events did happen.
I saw OINGO BOINGO five times towards the end of the band’s run in the 1990s. OINGO BOINGO was formed as a comedy, surrealist musical troupe called the MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO who made a name for themselves by winning an episode of THE GONG SHOW and playing in front of theaters around Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. Their heyday was the early 1980s in my So Cal hometown, but the band broke into my consciousness because of the 1985 film “WEIRD SCIENCE” where they performed the title song to the movie. This film also taught me that putting a beautiful photo of a woman into a computer can reproduce a real copy of Kelly LeBrock. Despite the dozens of times I decided to do this, Kelly never appeared in my house. Another example of Hollywood films lying to me.
Anyway, I followed the band through my Catholic School years into high school. I first saw OINGO BOINGO during their annual Halloween show in 1991, 1992 or 1993 (Don’t remember which year it was), their rebranding as BOINGO in 1994 and the tour for their new album as well as another Halloween show in 1994, followed by their Farewell tour at Universal Amphitheater as OINGO BOINGO during Halloween in 1995. But the performance as BOINGO at the famous Hollywood Palladium during the Summer of 1994 is one of the most memorable. I went on a date with a girl named Gia from my Catholic School that I adored. During our date at the romantic Burger King (Her choice), I could not even eat a cheeseburger due to the incredible self-inflicted anxiety I initiated on myself which led to severe stomach cramps. Always had this problem on dates throughout my life. I never understood why since I have nothing but the highest respect for women. The BOINGO show went off very well. The Palladium did not have seats so a good portion of the show (Which was over 2 hours long) was trying to move around or find a corner to rest in during the concert. During the encore, I was pushed into a crowd surf. While in the air, some asshole pulled one of my shoes off and threw it into the air never to be seen again. After surfing towards the front and getting let down gently by a security guard, my quest to find my shoe began. But like so often is the case with concerts like this, finding my shoe was impossible even though I scoured the Palladium for fifteen minutes after the concert ended. My date got a kick out of this. To make it even more ridiculous, I was now put into a position of completing our date missing one of my shoes. We walked Hollywood Blvd. where people were giving me high fives for losing my shoe at a concert. We ate dessert and eventually, I drove her home. Not one establishment kicked me out for lack of proper “feet coverings” after I explained my circumstances to them. The result of this date is a lifelong memory of a fun but ridiculous circumstance that led to a sympathetic hug from my date and one of the most disgusting socks that has ever been found on a human body which was quickly thrust into the trash can at my parent’s house.
The second memory is more diabolical. Right before I graduated with my Television and Film Bachelor’s degree from California State Fullerton in 1998, I had a film writing class that was mandatory for graduation. During this class, the professor paired you up with a fellow student so you could review each other’s writing. My fellow student, (Let’s call her Abuela), was never in the class. She would show up for tests, quizzes or random lectures but often would be missing from class 60 to 70% of the time. My professor did not seem to have a problem with that. One day, she wanted to meet so I called her at the number she provided me. I called the number and got an answering machine message. But the message absolutely put me into a state of shock. I was listening to what I believe was Danny Elfman’s answering machine. Or, Danny Elfman recorded a message for my classmate Abuela on her machine. I decided to have a close friend of mine, Aretha, call the number and she heard the same message. Intrigued, we started to gossip about it. Was she a gigantic fan? Does she know him? Does she have some sort of affiliation with him which is the reason for her missing so many of the classes? After she called me back 32 hours later, I decided to ask her about Danny Elfman admitting my admiration for his film composition work and OINGO BOINGO. This was a huge fucking mistake! After this, she would no longer meet me in person and got incredibly defensive lecturing me to not talk about this subject (Danny Elfman) any longer. The last time I saw her, we exchanged scripts at her apartment in Fullerton and I noticed that there was a middle-aged man sitting in the middle of her couch. Not thinking anything of it, I said thank you and went on my way. Fast forward to a year later and Danny Elfman’s MUSIC FOR A DARKENED THEATER PART 2 comes out. After opening up the disc, what do I see in the fucking notes? Danny Elfman thanking his “assistant” Abuela, the exact same girl I worked on my script project with. God fucking damn it! My brain starts to activate. What would have happened if I had kept my big trap shut? Would she have asked me to work on the script at Elfman’s house where I could observe and play with his bizarre doll collection? Who knows what could have happened!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this. I don’t know why these memories came flooding back today with such clarity. As a final aside, Danny Elfman is releasing his second solo rock album called BIG MESS on June 11th, his first solo rock project since SO-LO back in 1984. I have heard six songs so far and have a mixed reaction so far. More on this album later in the month. Until next week!
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