Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Zeroing in on your Target Market

I was watching the Olympics this weekend with my wife on our Moxi DVR skipping through one commercial after another, when my wife asked that I back up so she could watch a Target ad. She wasn't really interested in buying anything at Target, she just wanted to watch the commercial since our son started working at Target a month ago. My wife started raving about how clever the Target marketing was, the great use of the logo, etc. Me, I'm just pointing to the TV and grinning.

"Listen to the music," I say.

"What about it," she replies.

"Don't you recognize it?" I ask. "It's The Shape of Things to Come!"

She stares at me blankly. "Wild in the Streets!" I exclaim. She still doesn't get it. "The song, It's Max Frost and the Troopers from Wild in the Streets. We saw it just last month?" In her eyes I see the slightest flicker of recognition; sometimes with my wife, that's the best I can hope for.

For the past few months I have been TiVoing 1960's biker movies. Most, but not all, are the work of the great Roger Corman. Wild in the Streets is an exception to that rule, being directed by Barry Shear, a little-known, mostly TV, director who died in 1979.

I started off with The Wild Angels from 1966, a Corman flick starring Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd. It was during the filming of The Wild Angels that Laura Dern was conceived. The Wild Angels is not a great movie, but it is fun to watch and the theme song by Davie Allen and the Arrows is just amazing!

The next film I watched was not really a biker film, but it fits the mold. It was another Roger Corman movie, The Trip, written by Jack Nicholson and staring Peter Fonda, Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper. The movie revolves around the first LSD trip taken by Peter Fonda's character and his friend, played by Bruce Dern, who tries to guide him through it.

This brings me to the last film I saw from this genre, Wild in the Streets, which features the great song The Shape of Things to Come by Max Frost and the Troopers which is used in the current Target ad on TV. The first thing you need to know is that Max Frost is the main character in Wild in the Streets; he's a rock star who becomes President of the United States at 24.

So, there is no band called Max Frost and the Troopers; they are, in reality, Davie Allen and the Arrows. Yep, the same Davie Allen who did the theme to The Wild Angels. You can see the Target ad and listen to the song by going here and selecting the Shape of Things to Come ad.

Wild in the Streets is a fairly interesting film. It foresees the Kent State Massacre years before it happens, though the aftermath in the film is quite different from the effect of the real tragedy. With all the talk lately about the aging of the baby boomers and how this will affect society, Wild in the Streets dealt with the ramifications of the boomers when they were young, when 52% of the American population was under the age of 25 and what might have happened given the overly opportunistic nature of politicians.

Christopher Jones plays Max Frost a young pop star who uses his connections with a young Senator, played by Hal Holbrook, to lower the voting age to 15 and eventually the age requirements for those running for congress and the President. Frost then gets himself elected to President and begins his "final solution" to the problem of aging: anyone over the age of 35 is placed into concentrations camps and given LSD, so that they can spend the rest of their life happy and free.

It's not a really serious film, more of a dark satire, and Jones chews the scenery more than once during the proceedings, but it is an interesting piece of 1960's nostalgia. Besides Jone and Holbrook we get some great performances by the late Shelley Winters as Max's mother and the late Richard Pryor as part of Max's posse. The final scenes in the movie are classic; it's a lot of fun.

More fun than watching a Target commercial, though they both have great music!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

My Favorite Cherry!

I remember it like it was yesterday, the day the October 1974 issue of The National Lampoon hit the newsstands. I was already a big fan of the magazine (which most people only remember as having something to do with Chevy Chase movies) by this time and bought every issue no matter what the topic. But I took one look at their Pubescence issue and grabbed it off the newsstand before anyone else could. Oh, was I in love with this camel-toed cutie showing us her cherry and begging for someone to take it.

I remember years later reading that this was the best-selling issue of the magazine ever. I don't doubt it. I have no idea who the model was or who the photographer was, but they captured a pose that many have lusted over ever since.