Tag Archives: music

UPDATE: Ariana Grande’s Latest Response. One Week Later.

29 Aug

BRAND NEW UPDATE (08/29/2014) – ONE WEEK AFTER THE ARIANA GRANDE INCIDENT.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESPONSE FROM MS. GRANDE AND HER REPRESENTATIVES?

THE ORIGINAL POST, THAT SOMEHOW BECAME A NEWS ITEM, IS RIGHT BELOW THIS ONE.

How has Ariana Grande responded to the disappointed MTV contest winners?

That is the question I have received most over the past week.  There have been a lot of questions, and I’ll try to answer them all here at once. This has actually become too big to even handle by a family without the power of a public relations army working for them.

I never imagined that our little blog post would be read by hundreds of thousands of people, in almost 200 countries, but somehow, it has.  Many of these people have asked if Ms. Grande has reached out to the fans she walked out on one week ago. These are the most popular questions:

“Has she invited everyone to re-do the meeting?”

“Has she mailed the explanation letter she talked about writing?”

“Has she tweeted any of the fans who were there?”

“Has she called anyone on the phone?”

We have waited a week to answer these questions, as we didn’t want to rush into anything, and my daughters had faith that she would maybe just make a two minute phone call, so they could all explain their side, get past the whole thing, and the girls could concentrate on buying and enjoying her new album.

Our family has been bombarded with interview requests all week – and up to this point have granted NONE.  We had no desire to make this a bigger issue. Those few who have labeled us as “fame hungry” may not realize that we wrote a post, out of frustration, on a blog that used to get maybe 3 hits a day. We didn’t follow up until now, and we didn’t sell any interview to anyone. We just wanted to speak out for fans everywhere – even those who now hate and harass us.  Treating contest winners as an annoyance is not really cool.  This was not a case of interrupting a celebrity on the street, or in a restaurant, and it was not a large scale meet and greet of hundreds of people.  It was three contest winners, with one guest each. That’s it.

Ariana has tweeted that she was saddened by the contest-winning artwork that featured a drawing of her and her departed grandfather.  We do not dispute the fact that she may well have been so affected, but this is important to note, please:

EVERYTHING in the original blog post occurred BEFORE she saw the artwork that featured her and Mr. Grande.

EVERYTHING.

The “only a selfie allowed” warning.

The confiscation of any gifts intended for her, including one fan’s contest-winning CD of violin versions of Ariana songs.  That young man poured his heart into that, and traveled across the country to hand it to her.

The lack of banter with anyone – not even asking their names, or if they were the contest winners (as opposed to the guests).

The ordering of security to be sure all non-selfies were DELETED.

Heading off to leave after spending just seconds with each winner.

ALL OF THIS OCCURRED BEFORE ANY ARTWORK WAS PRESENTED TO ARIANA GRANDE.

She was already walking away from her fans when my daughter Jen mustered up the courage to approach her with the artwork.  Jen and her sister Kelly had recently lost their own grandpa, and their intention was to tell Ariana that they loved her and that they felt her pain because they knew what she was going through. They wanted to say “We feel you as a person right now, not as a superstar, because we know the pain in your heart.”

They assumed Ms. Grande was aware of the artwork because it won the contest for Jen, and, as with the other young man’s violin CD, it came from a place of love. Jen wanted to give Ari the originals to keep.

The other piece of artwork featured Ariana and Iggy Azalea, and it was this drawing that Ariana was looking at when she ordered all pictures deleted. She had not seen the grandpa drawing yet.  When she did see the grandpa drawing, she walked out.  Remember, she had been on the way out already, before Jen walked up to her with the artwork. She had taken the fan selfies and was on the way out.

We believe that Ariana was affected in some way by seeing the artwork, we are not challenging that. It’s just that nobody knew it at the time, and it doesn’t really explain everything that went on before it.  The fans were treated horribly before that final few seconds.

So, to answer the above questions, there has been no contact at all from Ms. Grande to the fans in the week that followed.

We received a midweek phone call from Mr. Joseph Carozza, vice president of Ariana’s Republic record label.  The girls looked at me as if to say “We knew Ari would make this right.”

Here was the sum total of the phone call: Mr. Carozza asked me to update the blog by writing that we now understood why Ariana acted as she did – because of her being in mourning.

When I asked him why I should do that considering that everything noted in the blog occurred BEFORE she saw the drawing, he responded that this post had become a legitimate news story and that it was Ariana’s album release week, and the story was making her uncomfortable.

I told him that I was sorry for all that, but that my girls had been affected too – as they were receiving death threats.

He reiterated the notion that Ariana had wanted to contact the girls after she had walked out on them, but that MTV had no way to deliver the “letter” she talked about.

I reminded him that MTV knew exactly where the contest winners were staying for all three nights – as they had placed them in that hotel.  They also had everyone’s phone number (that’s how Mr. Carozza got it to call us in the first place), home address, email address, and quite literally – their picture IDs and social security numbers.

Perhaps the Ariana letter could have been sent over to the hotel when MTV had the VMA passes driven there two days after the meet and greet?

I suggested that maybe Ms. Grande could phone the contest winners personally, for two minutes, just to have each side make nice, put it all behind them, and I could update this blog with a happy ending saying how Ariana reached out and acted like a true star. I could then write that the girls were excited to buy the new album.

He refused.

We still waited several more days, in the hope that, within all of her promotional fan interactions, she might still call, tweet, or send a note to the original winners, as part of her weeklong album release fan experience.

Didn’t happen.

I called Mr. Carozza as a final reaching-out gesture to see if any contact might happen soon, before writing this follow up.

No, it will not.

There is a happy ending to this, though. The happiness is not with the spurned contest winners, but with the fans who have met Ariana Grande since this blog became news.  She has gone out of her way to meet many fans, with cameras rolling, surprising them at America’s Got Talent and the Today Show. Giving them VIP passes – on national television, singing happy birthday to one, hugging them all, taking Vines with them, doing repeated live chats, and telephone Q&A sessions. She also has tweeted several of them personally, and posted repeated tweets about how she loves all of her fans.

The ones who earned a meeting with her through difficult contest entries, and follow up phone interviews, have received none of that.

They have been forgotten by Ariana Grande and her huge publicity machine.

They have no voice in this world except for this tiny blog page. I’ve been asked why I wrote it to begin with – well, Ms. Grande is famous for (rightfully) defending her family when they have been wronged. I chose to do that for my daughters, and the other contest winners. It’s that simple.

But the happy ending is that, at least for now, some fans are being treated as actual human beings.

That was the point from day one.

For the few who call our family “liars” regarding all of this, I put this offer out there: Every one of us will take a public polygraph exam if Ms. Grande will agree to do the same.

Every word I have written has been the absolute truth.

We don’t have a corporate spin machine to twist the story, we don’t have the power to tell magazines and websites that we will refuse future interviews with them if they don’t slant the story our way, and we don’t have millions of fans who believe everything we say.

We just know that if we tell the true story, there will be no guilt in our hearts.

Say “Hi” – of course we’ll follow back on Twitter:

JEN: @HerNamesJen

KEL: @KellyyPatricia 

DAN (DAD): @DanOVegas 

JO (MOM): @JoanneOVegas

Meeting Ariana Grande, Then and Now.

26 Aug

PLEASE READ NEW POST (CLICK PRIMAL SCREAMING HEADER ABOVE) FOR ARIANA’S LATEST RESPONSE (08/29/14) – Thank you.

****NEW – 09/12/14 CBS RADIO INTERVIEW WITH A CONTEST WINNER. KLUC LAS VEGAS 98.5****
PLAY “ZOO PODCAST 9/12” AND FORWARD TO APPROX THE 60% MARK. THANK YOU.
http://kluc.cbslocal.com/2014/09/12/september-12th/

“Oh, Dad – I might be able to meet Ariana Grande today!”

That’s what my 14 year-old daughter, Jen, exclaimed to me on a January day in 2011.

Both Jen and her older sister, Kelly (then 19), were such big fans of Ariana. They enjoyed her in her role as “Cat” on the Nickelodeon show “Victorious”. Thought she was so charming and funny. But what they enjoyed even more was her singing. She wasn’t a pop star back then. She was a funny and talented supporting player on a comedy show. But my daughters watched Ariana’s homemade Youtube videos of her using her beautiful voice while singing other people’s songs. They showed the videos to my wife and I, and we were naturally impressed as well. We also watched “Victorious” with our girls. We knew Ariana Grande was destined for stardom.

On that day in 2011, Ariana tweeted that she was excited that she would be visiting the Titanic exhibit at the Las Vegas Luxor hotel.  We live 20 minutes outside of Vegas, so Jen practically begged me to drive over to the Luxor and wait outside the Titanic exhibit – for however long it took – so that she might see her idol.  Kelly wouldn’t be able to come because she was already at work. Of course I said “yes”. The one rule I had was that, if we saw Ariana, we had to wait until she finished enjoying the exhibit and was ready to leave. I’m not one for intruding on anyone, celebrity or not.

If Ariana were to tweet something like that today, there would likely be hundreds, maybe thousands, of fans waiting for her.  On that day, before she was a superstar, there was only Jen.

Jennifer O’Connor was an “Arianator” before it was even a term.

We waited on a bench near the Titanic exit for hours. I read a book while Jen kept her eyes on the gift shop.

“Oh gosh. There she is,” said Jen. She was actually shaking.

We watched from a distance as Ariana, her mom, and one or two other folks paid for their purchases and began to exit. First Ariana stopped to slip on a hoodie she bought in the shop. Then they moved toward the exit. Ariana spotted Jen smiling at her. Jen didn’t have to say anything.

“Hi,” smiled Ari, “Do you want a picture?”

“Yes, please. I’m such a fan of yours. I saw your tweet and hoped I could come down and meet you.”

“Aww, that’s so cool,” replied Ariana, “What’s your name? Check out my new hoodie! Do you like it?”

They chatted for a minute or two, and then posed for a photo. Ari threw up a peace sign. I took the picture.

“Can we do that again, please?” asked Ariana, “I think I probably looked terrible in that one.”

Of course I re-took the photo. Ariana never asked to see or approve of either picture. Jen deleted the first one, without being asked to do so. She did it out of common respect. As they said their goodbyes, Ariana hugged Jen, and Mrs. Joan Grande actually thanked us for coming to meet her daughter. It was a wonderful experience, and Jen has told the world about it for years.  Ariana Grande was one of the nicest celebrities we have ever encountered – and between originally living in New York, then Vegas, and our frequent trips to L.A., we have come across a lot of them.

Flash forward to August, 2014. Ariana is a superstar. But surely she is still the same sweet girl where it matters most – in her heart. Maybe, maybe not.

“PEPSI, MTV, AND VH1 ARE GIVING YOU THE CHANCE TO WIN AN AMAZING TRIP TO LOS ANGELES TO HANG WITH ARIANA AND WATCH HER PERFORM LIVE AT THIS YEAR’S (MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS).”

That’s how the contest was advertised.  Contestants had to produce some art and say why they loved Ariana so much.  They also had to follow and hashtag MTV, VH1, and Pepsi, label it as #ArianaNOW, and a few other things.

Jen spent days working on artwork of Ariana, wrote why she loved her, and amazingly, became a finalist. She was then interviewed via phone by an MTV rep for the second stage of the competition, and a few days later was announced as one of the two MTV winners (there was another winner through VH1). All winners were permitted to bring a guest to L.A., so naturally Jen chose her older sister (another Arianator).

The winners were placed at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood. They were told to get to the L.A. Forum in Inglewood for a 5 PM meeting with Ariana. They had to provide their own transportation. Jen and Kel arranged for a taxi to take them. They know that Los Angeles traffic is horrific so they left extra early from the hotel so that they wouldn’t miss the event that they were so excited for. Jen brought her winning artwork because she wanted to give it to her idol. She also wanted to remind Ariana of their prior meeting by the Titanic exhibit, when it was just Jen, Ariana, and that cute hoodie.

Jen and Kel got to the Forum early, as traffic wasn’t as bad as they had been warned. They were not allowed inside, or even permitted to wait in the safety of the parking lot. Fair enough – though probably not hospitable or decent, it was never promised that they’d be let in early. At least they knew they wouldn’t be late, and miss the chance to “hang” with Ari.

Turns out, they were never permitted in the building at all.  An MTV staff member in a big tent said “You can’t stay here. I don’t know where you can go, but it can’t be on the property. Also, this neighborhood is unsafe so be careful out there.”  At some point later, they were allowed into the parking lot, where all the winners and guests stayed, being shuffled from table to table as more “important” people appeared.  They waited till around 7:30, outdoors, for the meeting with Ariana. They were all hungry and cold, and despite a huge party barbeque going on in the tent beside their benches, they were offered nothing but a bottle of water the entire time.  Still, no problem – that’s life sometimes.  Some folks care, some don’t.

Here’s where it gets shady:

Jen and the other MTV winner (a young man of 16 who traveled across the entire country for this meeting) were interviewed on camera by MTV to be broadcast at a later date. Before the camera rolled they were told they would be asked what it was like meeting Ariana, and they had to PRETEND that they had already had said meeting – even though the interview was taped BEFORE Ariana ever appeared. They were told what to say, almost word for word. I know Jen feared that if she refused to do this, she would not meet Ariana (though she was not told that).

That, my friends, is known as a RED FLAG.

After the bogus interview, Ariana was set to appear. First, she did an on-camera interview. We don’t know what it was about, but I’m wondering if she also faked that the meeting had already taken place.  She then approached her fans without a smile – just an icy look as she toyed with her hair.  She was surrounded by 8 to 10 assistants.  Ariana stood by, with a blank stare, as the rules came fast and furiously from a staffer:

“You are not to present Ariana with any type of gift or anything. Give them to security and they will get them to her. You can take a selfie with her, but nothing else.”

Remember, these are not kids who interrupted Ariana during dinner at a restaurant, they are pre-screened contest winners who poured their hearts into their winning entries. The 16 year old boy had recorded a CD of beautiful violin cover versions of Ariana songs. It won the contest for him, and he wanted to present it to her.

It was taken away by security.

Ariana Grande, the superstar, then walked toward her three contest-winning fans.

She spent perhaps 15 seconds with each of them. That is not an exaggeration. They took an approved photo with her and that was it. No small talk. No banter. No “I can pretend I care a slight bit for you because you support me, you tweeted about me and my projects thousands of times, you buy my music, and you traveled so far, while paying for your own taxis, three days of meals, new outfits to meet me in, and federal and state taxes on this prize. Let me hear the one sentence you’ve always dreamed about telling me.”

Nothing. That was it. Don’t be fooled by the sweet smile in the photos below.  Ariana gave that grin for each picture, but then it was gone again. She never bothered to even ask anyone their name. She didn’t inquire as to who the contest winners were, as opposed to their guests, or what they created to win the right to meet her. Shocked by all this, Jen, whom Ari had been so kind to in 2011, walked up and said “Ari, here’s a photo we took together in Vegas at the Titanic…”

Ms. Grande glanced at the photo on Jen’s phone and said, “Let’s redo that picture.” She said nothing else, so Jen retook the photo. No peace sign from Ari this time.  Then Jen took out one of the drawings that won the contest for her.  Kelly snapped a photo of her smiling little sister giving Ariana the drawing.

“Delete those pictures, please” was all Ariana said.

“Can I just keep the one of my sister showing you the drawing?” asked Kel.

Ariana turned to her security and ordered, “Make sure she deleted those.”

Then, Ariana Grande walked away from her prize-winning fans without even saying goodbye.

That was it. That was HANG WITH ARIANA GRANDE, as the contest ads had screamed.

The MTV reps on scene seemed startled, but at a loss for what to do.

“Sometimes celebrities are like that,” was all they could muster, “So what are you guys doing for the rest of the day?”

CRYING would turn out to be the unspoken answer for most of them.

What did MTV, VH1, Pepsi, or Ariana Grande do to rectify this disaster? So far, nothing.

The weekend continued. On Sunday, the winners received passes to the MTV Video Music Awards (which was part of the prize all along). They were seated three rows from the back of the top balcony, possibly closer to the sun than the stage. I had told them to expect that, though. The fact that one of the winners was somehow awarded better seats than the others, seated among industry insiders, and given wristbands for he and his guest for free food and drink during the show is a mystery that was not specified as a prize, and was likely just another MTV oversight – along with letting all the contest winners out of the car that brought them to the show in a Sizzler parking lot several blocks from the Forum. They were told to hoof it to that same lot after the show, in their new outfits and shoes. How glamorous.

Do you think that MTV might have offered to place the winners up close in the pit in front of the stage with hundreds of radio contest winners? You know, to make up for the terrible meeting experience? Nope – they stuck ‘em up in the rafters.

Polite texts were sent to several MTV reps, and tweets to both Ariana and her mother, desperately asking for something to be done. Some type of re-do, or perhaps a meet n greet with some other, more fan-friendly, celebrity.

All were ignored.

It is understood that this was a meet n greet. Nobody expected Ariana Grande to become their best friend, or to even spend 15 minutes with the group of contest winners (though that wouldn’t seem to be an insane request), but 15 seconds each, followed by barked orders to delete photos, and an abrupt exit, doesn’t seem to really epitomize such an event either.

Jen and Kelly have encountered many celebrities, just passing on the street, that have spent more time with them than Ariana did with her contest winners.  These include Ashley Tisdale, Chris Kirkpatrick from *NSync, Brandon Flowers of the Killers, Brad Garrett, Nicolas Cage, Weird Al Yankovic, Ariana’s “Victorious” co-stars Leon Thomas and Mikey Reid, and many more. Every one of them kind and engaging.

Jen met Ari’s “Sam and Cat” co-star, Jennette McCurdy, at an event and was knocked out by how sweet she was. She asked Jen questions about herself and chatted about a variety of things. Jen tried to move along to give time to other fans, but Jennette actually called her back to talk more about her artwork.  Same with Miranda Cosgrove – a complete sweetheart.

In 2003, Jen and Kel received an opportunity to meet a superstar even more famous than Ariana Grande. They met Britney Spears. Wanna know how that went?

Britney invited our two girls into her dressing room at MTV’s TRL. She spent between 12 and 15 minutes with JUST THEM and her assistant Felicia.  Then Britney invited my wife and me to come in as well.  We all took a bunch of pictures, from any angle, while Britney chatted with the girls, looked through pics of their memorabilia, happily personally accepted a gift bag they had brought for her, answered any questions they had, gave them each a signed copy of her CD (which was released that day), and personally made sure that Jen and Kel could watch the live taping of TRL in the studio, even though they were both too young according to MTV policy.  Neither Britney, or any member of her staff, ever asked to see any of the pictures we took. In fact, her security guard remained OUTSIDE the entire time we spent with her.

That is a true superstar who loves her fans.

We did not expect Ms. Grande to be as gracious as Britney, but 15 seconds and a silent walk-off?

Jen also once won a contest to spend the afternoon with Disney star Ryan Ochoa (“iCarly”, “Pair of Kings”…) at Knotts Berry Farm. We expected that Ryan would be there for an hour, maybe two, and that would be fine.  He showed up with his dad and his brother and they stayed with Jen for EIGHT HOURS.  They wanted to stay longer but I insisted that they had done more than enough and I was actually embarrassed at their kindness.

Then they set our whole family up with front row seats to a taping of “Pair of Kings”. We met the entire cast after the show. They were all amazing and friendly.

Ryan Ochoa and his family have become our friends now. We see them whenever they are in Vegas, and sometimes when we are in L.A.

We did not expect Ms. Grande to become friends with any of the contest winners, or to spend eight hours with them, or give them any type of tickets for anything.

Some might say she was having a bad day.  But what about the day after, and the day after that? The fans were all still in Hollywood, awaiting the VMAs.  All involved knew that very well. Could Ariana have met them again? Could she have just sent them a personal tweet, or had a letter driven to the hotel?  A signed CD? Could she have sent out a general tweet about meeting some huge fans?

None of that has happened.  The contest winners have been completely ignored.

Nobody expected Ariana Grande to spend a whole hour with them, or give them her phone number, or even follow them on Twitter.

But 15 seconds and a silent walk-off?

We’re waiting to see if Ariana, her mom, MTV, VH1, or Pepsi will do anything at all to rectify the injustice done to these disappointed fans and their guests.  It’s a terrible thing to be treated that way by your idol.

They deserve something.  Maybe five minutes with a celebrity who cares.

Say “Hi” – of course we’ll follow back on Twitter:

JEN: @HerNamesJen

KEL: @KelleJansky 

DAN (DAD): @DanOVegas 

JO (MOM): @JoanneOVegas

Jen and Ariana. Titanic exhibit, Las Vegas 2011.

Ariana blog 3

Jen and Ariana. L.A. Meet n Greet. 2014

Ariana blog 2

Kelly and Ariana. L.A. Meet n Greet. 2014

Ariana blog 1

Jen and another contest winner being interviewed by MTV, BEFORE they met Ariana.

Ariana blog 7

Our entire family with Britney Spears at MTV studios, NYC, 2003.

Ariana blog 5

Jen with Ryan Ochoa at Knott’s Berry Farm, 2011.

Ariana blog 4

Who Says A White Guy Can’t Like Funk Music?

25 Feb

I have been enjoying Black History Month in the way that most excites me.

Sure, I appreciate the African-American scientists, inventors, civic and political leaders – but the innovators who pluck my strings the most are the musical masters. Yes, my 3 favorite bands of all-time are the pale, but prolific, Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin – but I know quite well that they all formed out of a love for black music. Most everything we listen to today has come by way of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.

Right now, though, I want to express my thoughts on one particular genre;
BIG, FAT, BONE-RATTLING, FUNK.

There are many sub-genres within funk. I want to focus on the nasty stuff from the early 1970s through the early 1980s.

Full disclosure: On the outside, I am very white. An Irish-American former New York police officer. About as far from Rick James as a person can get.  However, funk is all about the feeling.  It’s inside you. I feel I am qualified to write a few words on the subject because
A) I have yet to meet a person who owns more funk CDs and vinyl than I. They number in the thousands.  You, the reader, may indeed have more, and if so, I can only hope we will meet someday.
B) I can name a whole lot of folks who have been members of Parliament/Funkadelic, and not just the obvious ones.
C) I am well aware that the Commodores could bring some of the ugliest (in a good way) funk to ever fill a wax groove, yet most of the world knows them for the syrupy ballads. I still own my original 45rpm single of “Machine Gun”, and it is in mint condition.
D) I have been retweeted by George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Freekbass.

I also will not be trying to gain false credibility by peppering this blog with terms like “thang”, “dat”, and “y’all”. I feel the funk, but I don’t really write the funk.  To do so would be disingenuous.

Over the past 25 years or so, I have heard very little “new” funk of the type I like, the aforementioned Freekbass being a notable exception. Not sure why this great musical monster has all but vanished, but I hope that somewhere, some kids are listening to the classics and putting their own spin on them.

For those kids, I humbly offer a few tips on what would get this funk lover (and countless others) to give their songs/albums a listen.

What follows is a bit of goofy fun, but is also oddly true. So, let’s get “on the one”, shall we?

SONG TITLES. Featuring some of the following in your song names, would have me greedily snatching up your music:

Use parentheses. A song title that follows this theme: “This is our song (but this is what you probably call it)” is pure gold.

Toss in a title that ends in “A-Zoid” or “Zilla”.

Mention creatures such as worms, maggots, birds, mice and dogs.

Use the wonderful apostrophe. Movin’ – not Moving.

Exxtra letters are funkalicious. Toss in a “Bbam” or a “Ffloor”. Bonus points for multiple Z and X use. “Foxxy” tops “Foxy”, and the triple X “Foxxxy” is the nastiest of all.

Name a dance after your song.

Have a part 1 and part 2. Pure brilliance.

Make a song a “Theme From” record. There need not be anything tangible that the theme is actually from.

Toss an abbreviated year in your title. “Mudd Splatter” is not nearly as cool as “Mudd Splatter ’74”

Don’t limit yourself to “funk”. “Fonk”, “Funck” and “Fungk” are just the tip of the iceberg.

Write a song about the tip of an iceberg.

Exhaust all possibilities of outer-space references. Name things after planets, stars, galaxies, basically anything celestial. When you run out of space junk, start on the underwater stuff.

In addition to aliens and aquatic life, fill your record with munchkins, elves, chipmunks, grannies, and clueless, straight, bean-counters. Every creature in your funk world should be able to speak.  The voices will range from the deepest bass to shit only a dog can hear.

The following words are like precious metals: Sticky, Sweaty, Nasty, Greasy, Gooey, Chunky, Fat, Hot, Smoke, Jam, Thump, Stuff, Robot.  Add additional letters as desired.

Instruct your listener to do something.  It can be Dance, Work, Ride, Jump, Hump, or another thousand different things.

Incorporate any variation of traditional Universal Studios monsters into your song/album/band name. Dracula, Frankenstein (or his Bride), Wolfman, or Mummy.

Make a song title one long word. “Can’tgetmyjamoncauseIgotnobread”. Feel free to use that one.

Multiple exclamation points make for bad prose, but hot song titles. Use them!!!

Name a song after a Disney character.

OTHER STUFFF: Wear colorful clothing; from African-inspired garb to Martians on acid – just bring the color! Black cowboys are good too.

Consider donning something along the lines of a long dinosaur tail, big yellow chicken feet, pastel hair and/or a gargantuan hat.

Have a guitarist who sounds like he could comfortably play in a major rock or metal band.

Have a bassist who sounds like he has at least 12 fingers.

Individuals might consider a single, descriptive name.  Bootsy, Sly, and Sugarfoot have already been claimed.

ADVANCED CLASS: Create a large family of side projects.

WHEN YOU HAVE “MADE IT”: Have two identical groups, with all of the same members, recording brilliant albums for two different record labels, under different band names, at the exact same time.

Well, there you have a list of funk tips from a white guy who can’t play a single instrument. You’re welcome.

It is also important to remember that, before anyone was “Gangsta”, they were “Gangster”. The latter term was proudly used in song and album by funky masters such as George Clinton, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and the man who broke down all barriers, Jimi Hendrix. Hell, even Heatwave used “Gangster” in their groove!

Your pallid funkateer (me) knows a little about Gangsters too, and I’ve written a book about them. You can grab a FREE peek, and see some great reviews and big name praise by following the link below. If a book can have the funk, I promise you that Sons of the Pope has it.

It’s on the one.

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-of-the-Pope-ebook/dp/B00ALI11WM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1357272093&sr=8-2&keywords=sons+of+the+pope

Hey, thanks.

21 Nov

You, my cyber friend, are super-smart. Congrats!

Well, at least you are probably more intelligent than the average person. I once read that people who read blogs regularly are supposed to be in the top 15% of brainiacs or something. I’ll take any positive reinforcement I can get. There is likely some study somewhere that says those who stare at tree bark all day are on the verge of wizardry, so the grain of salt has been swallowed as well.

Regardless, I thank you for stopping by this blog. As I write this, it is the season of Thanks here in the U.S.A., so I’d like to mention something for which I am quite thankful.

Naturally, I am grateful for all the usual suspects: the health and well-being of my children, the contributions of teachers, cops, firefighters, nurses, our brave military, wonderful volunteers the world over etc. I am thankful for all of that every day, as are most of us, so this Thanksgiving I also want express gratitude to some other folks who have enriched my life.

People who actually give a shit.

Now, your list might be different than mine. Doesn’t matter. There is no right or wrong answer.

Do you know when you read a book, listen to an album, or watch a movie or TV show and you just know that those involved really gave it their all? You can tell, right in your gut, that they covered all the angles, sweated the details, hashed out all the minutiae (even if they hashed it out internally – losing sleep in the process).

I want to thank all of those people for having the pride and determination to not cut corners, hurry through the process, or simply rush out product.

As your list is possibly flowing through your above-average brain and hopefully giving you some happy thoughts, here’s part of mine:

Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, the Beatles, Bob Marley, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Ben Foster, and the entire cast and crews of Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Also, everyone involved in The Beatles’ LOVE by Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

There are more, but since statistics show how smart you are, you are also more likely to bore easily, and if I’m nearly as smart as you, I wouldn’t want to be the cause of that.

I would love to know if any of my list overlaps with your own.

These folks have brought me such joy over the years, and I have such confidence in their genius and work ethic, that just the thought of any of them can bring a smile to my face. Yes, most of them have had some lesser moments, but probably not from lack of effort. Perfection seems impossible to me, but the goal of it should be what drives us all.

When I was growing up in Brooklyn, I knew kids who were always under the spell, and the hoods, of their cars. I was never much good with my hands (other than in sports), but these kids – wow! For every minute I saw them actually driving their cars, there was an hour of me seeing them under them, feet protruding, then emerging smelling like pit row.

They weren’t millionaires, award-winning novelists, or musical geniuses.

They were giving it their all, busting their asses, and striving for perfection.

I thank them.

I thank the kid who stays in the batting cage after hours because, though he has almost mastered the line drive, he can’t get that bunt to hug the line.

The landscaper who angered his buddies in the truck because he went back for the ladder at the last minute to even out that misshapen palm tree?

Thank you.

Though I don’t pretend to be Richard Matheson or Ray Bradbury, I do strive to be like those Brooklyn kids under their cars, and the proud landscaper, when it comes to the stories and novels I write. I can’t guarantee that you would like them, but I can unequivocally promise that I put everything I had into them.

Here’s what both encouraged me and knocked me silly: My first full length work, a 5 decade Brooklyn suspense novel called Sons of the Pope, was published by a wonderful indie house called Blood Bound Books. It became their fastest and biggest seller ever. No, not Stephen King numbers. Probably didn’t sell what one of his does during his lunch break, but it did mean that someone liked it. My hard work had paid off – not in dollars – but in the fact that I brought people – complete strangers – enjoyment!

Here’s where I nearly hit the tiles: Some of the folks who praised my book include writers and directors behind Dexter (yes, one of the shows mentioned above as my idea of brilliance), True Blood, the V.C. Andrews novels, Nurse Jackie, Sleepy Hollow, the Donovan Creed novels, Rectify, Red Widow, Unspeakable, Terrified, Only Son, Sister Sister, and The Devil’s Advocate. I even got a 5 star review from Rock Over America! To a frustrated musician like me, who can’t play a lick, having a music magazine review a book was more than I could ask for.

A man who has sold over 100 million novels, Andrew Neiderman, said, in writing, that my career was one to watch.

Whaaaaaat?

John Locke, who was the first author to sell over one million self-published e-books, actually ran an online contest for his readers to win copies of Sons of the Pope. My book!

Double Whaaaaaat?

Me – a kid from Brooklyn, who had lost both parents by the time he was seven years old, and all grandparents by the time he was eleven – had somehow, in some odd quest for that perfection we can never grasp, managed to receive kudos from some of the most talented people in the world.

Dean Koontz – Dean Freaking Koontz – recently sent me a note saying he was going to be reading my short story, The Binding, from the anthology, Blood Rites, because an Amazon review compared it to his writing.

No matter what happens from here on out, I will always have that note. For that, I am thankful.

To you, the reader of this (probably overly long) blog post, I am just as thankful. You could have been doing any number of things, from reading one of those books from the cast of Jersey Shore, to working on a cure for Arachibutyrophobia* (if you don’t have to Google that, you’ve just joined the Beatles and Alfred Hitchcock on my Awe List).

So then, I am thankful to you, dear blog reader. I am thankful for anyone who bought, borrowed or read any of my books or stories. I am thankful to those well-respected creative types who’ve had kind words for my work, and I am thankful to those, on my list and yours, who really, really care about the work they do.

If you celebrate it, please have a wonderful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! If you don’t, just have a joyous and uplifting NEXT THURSDAY!

* Arachibutyrophobia – Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth.

Books, albums, and DVD/Blu-rays have always been my favorite holiday gifts.

My AMAZON author page: http://www.amazon.com/Daniel-OConnor/e/B00B7N4USM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1359501792&sr=8-3

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-of-the-Pope-ebook/dp/B00ALI11WM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1377620004

Amazon 4.9 stars
Goodreads 4.4 stars

Double Dipping In The World’s Largest Small Town

10 Aug

I love living in the Las Vegas area. Wouldn’t trade it for anything that didn’t involve a time machine. I may not LOVE when it’s 112 degrees, but it doesn’t really bother me, and I like it much more than rain, snow, humidity or dark clouds. This past week, we had the good fortune to visit family and friends in Florida, and then in New York – on Long Island, and back in our hometown of Brooklyn. I’m going to touch on our visit to that Borough of Churches – population 2.5 million – and break it up with the titles of some of the songs that enriched our visit (thanks mostly to Sirius XM’s “Rewind” “Vinyl” and “70s” stations).

The weather was great – much better than our prior stop in rainy, humid Florida. Loved seeing our family there, but every time we journey to the self-proclaimed “Sunshine State” we are drenched. The Brooklyn weather was perfect and we saw none of the event-ruining precipitation that played a large part in sending us out west.

“Walk Away” – James Gang (Heard while driving up Gerritsen Avenue).

I’ll admit it right now; I ate like a pig. There’s Brennan & Carr, L&B Spumoni Gardens, Drakes Cakes and Entenmann’s (which are like black market contraband in Las Vegas) – not to mention a trip out to East Islip to Yong Wang Kitchen, which has the best Chinese takeout I’ve ever had. The Chinese food here in Sin City leaves a lot to be desired – even in our Chinatown. So as a result of my adventure in gluttony, I expect to be living at Fitness 19 for some time now.

“Rosalita” – Bruce Springsteen (Heard on Belt Parkway toward Brooklyn)

Not 30 minutes after hearing that Springsteen classic, my buddy Chris informed me that he would be seeing the Boss live for the 4th time on this tour. I tried to hide my jealousy as I have STILL never seen Bruce in concert.

We went to Brennan & Carr twice. Sunday night just myself, my wife, and our two daughters. I ordered what I always order: Cheese Beefs, Cheese Fries and a Cheese Coke (okay, not that last one). Beefs double dipped. The following afternoon we had lunch there with about 15 of the greatest people I have ever known – our childhood friends. It was one of the happiest days I’ve had in years. Oh, and I steered away from my usual Cheese Beefs to try a Gargiulo Burger. It was fantastic. You may have seen it on “Man Vs. Food”.

“Livin’ Thing” – Electric Light Orchestra (Heard on Southern State Parkway)

The cool thing about hearing that song was that I was wearing my ELO shirt at the time. Las Vegas connection: Brandon Flowers of LV’s The Killers once said that “Livin’ Thing” was his favorite song ever.

Our daughters are always amazed at how my wife and I might see an old friend for the first time in 20 or even 30 years, and there is never any awkwardness. It all just picks up very naturally. Never fails. We tell the girls that is what true, lifelong friendship is all about. As they get older, they’re starting to understand.

“Hello Goodbye” – Beatles (Heard on Avenue U)

When that Fab 4 song was on I reminded the girls to listen to the clever backing vocals.

After our lunch we all headed over to spend some time at the childhood home of four of the nicest girls on the planet. As kids, we’d be there – at least on the front stoop – just about every day. This turned out to be the best part of the afternoon!

Then it was time to go out back and visit The Alley. Known to many adults back then as the Community Driveway, The Alley runs the length of the block between two streets and a pair of avenues. Though, as kids, we’d all go to the park or the beach, the movies, bowling etc, The Alley was basically home base. It was really our world. Wiffle Ball, softball, football, basketball, boxing, soccer, and even hockey were played in The Alley. Sometimes all in the same day. Then there were non-traditional “sports” such as Manhunt and Hide-The-Belt. Meals were eaten there on laps or album covers. Sometimes it was just nice to sit in The Alley sun and listen to music on someone’s boombox. Could be rock, soul, or disco – depending on who had control of the radio, but it was always a nice mix. It always involved laughter, and sometimes tears. Each day could bring maybe a surprise kiss, a brand new friend, or an unwanted nickname. I’ve seen windows, bones and hearts broken there. I’ve learned of births and deaths in The Alley. Mostly, I learned about friendship. I have a hard time making friends these days, because the bar has been set too high.

“Brown Eyed Girl” – Van Morrison (Heard on Knapp Street)

I’m not sure how The Alley wound up with most of the nicest and prettiest girls in New York, but I’m not complaining. Hey, I was lucky enough to marry one of them! You know how guys are always searching through so many girls who are kinda fun to be around but probably not marriage material? Somehow, every single girl from The Alley was, and is, a keeper.

Why do I consider Brooklyn and its nearly 3 million people to be a “small town”?

Let me put it this way – I recently wrote a novel (setting: Brooklyn) that will soon be released by a small, but excellent publishing company called Blood Bound Books. It’s not a blockbuster with a load of publicity by a major conglomerate, but I know it is heartfelt and suspenseful, and some highly respected professionals have told me that it ain’t chopped liver. Not one person in the communal development in which we live in Nevada knows I’ve written this thing. Most don’t know my name, or if I am a butcher, baker or candlestick maker. That’s just fine with me. But I went back to that small town of Brooklyn and my old pals, and their moms, acted as if I (Dan, Danny, DOC, O’Connor, even Johan or Kippy Pratt – don’t ask) was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The book isn’t out yet, none of them have read it, they don’t know if it stinks (I promise it doesn’t), but they don’t care. They feel that one of them has made good on a dream. That’s all that matters. A couple of the moms have been talking about my book in their church group! We have another friend who is truly a Hollywood big shot now and all we want to do is support him in all he does. He’s someone who came from humble beginnings and is living his dream. That makes us all happy. The best part – he’ s still the same guy. I want all of those friends to make good on their dreams, no matter what they are. My dreams? The real ones that I have when I’m sleeping? They are usually populated by the people we visited last Monday in Brooklyn.

As we were heading back to the rental car, after that wonderful visit, we saw an older man walking his dog. His name is Bill and I hadn’t seen him in many, many years.

“Is that you, Danny?” he asked with a smile, “I heard you’re an author now!”

“Small Town” – John Mellencamp (Heard while leaving Brooklyn).

Sons of the Pope will be released in December

The Binding will appear in the anthology Blood Rites in January



http://www.amazon.com/Sons-of-the-Pope-ebook/dp/B00ALI11WM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1377620004

Backspace (Pts 1 and 2)*

3 Feb

A wise man in a long, flowing robe (dressed in this manner more due to laziness than as an indicator of social or historical stature) once mused that if one were to simultaneously play the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus” backwards while playing anything by Parliament/Funkadelic forwards, they might be empowered with the ability to alter the past.

They also would undoubtedly be in possession of one hell of a nice stereo system.

Sidestepping the temptation to launch an audiophile rant, I will focus on my all-too-frequent thoughts about what I would do with the gift of time travel. I’d certainly follow my conscience (and satisfy Stephen King) by showing up in Dealey Plaza. I’d get my ass to the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis and outside the Dakota in New York City, too. I’d try to enlist help, but as I am of ample size and have two decades of police experience, I’m confident that my supernatural journey to these places would result in the desired outcomes.

I would also make sure that my friend Richie Aceto, and over 3000 other folks, would live to see September 12, 2001.

What I would do with that bulky, damp bag of terrorist heads is a problem I’d give just about anything to have.

After stops in Oklahoma City, the Ambassador Hotel in L.A. and some other areas of rectification, I might have a little time to myself. That would be when I’d address some extraordinarily lesser items of personal significance.

I’d try and uncover whomever it was that started ending sentences with the word “AT”. I’d do whatever it took to discover where he, or she, was “AT”. I initially thought this phenomenon began on the TV show “Cops”. I have yet to see an episode whereby a shirtless criminal hasn’t ended a sentence, and usually his freedom, with a preposition. In 40% of the episodes, the cops do it too. Hey, I’m often guilty of the preposition crime myself – just not with the word “AT”.

I’d go back and find my dear parents, who I lost in childhood. After some hugs, I’d ask them to please befriend somebody in the publishing world, so that in my future I’d have an easier path to getting in print (while “print” still exists) – you know, like Stephen King’s kid. Then I could also help the friends I have who are brimming with talent but low on the connection pole. I know some incredible geniuses who drive trains and police cars, bang nails all day, teach and so on, but they have no connections. If these types of people were part of the In-Crowd, then Snooki would not have published a novel and “Hot Tub Time Machine” would have never littered a movie screen.

I might do what I could to put an end to Mp3 and e-publishing before they ever got started. I love the internet, but I also loved music stores, bookshops and mom & pop video stores. I’m not a fan of the faceless society of hand-held everything instruments. We are becoming ALL THE SAME.

Trying to rein in my rambling now – please don’t judge my writing based solely on this blog. I don’t do much in the way of editing or second drafts – this is just a stream-of-consciousness blog. Don’t believe me? Read on.

I could never decide on a clear favorite Darren on “Bewitched” – if you younger types don’t know what I mean by that, please Google it, or if you are involved in time travel yourself, and will be lurking in the BG era (Before Google) – BGE for you non-religious types – you can phone that friend who knows all the trivia. Remember them? There’s a talent that has gone the way of the passenger pigeon. I wonder where all those fantastic trivia wizards are currently “AT”?

I was more of an Uncle Arthur fan.

Well, I just want you all ( if there are any of “you”) to think about something, please. Envision the majesty of Buckingham Palace or the beauty of the Vatican. Picture the East Wing of the White House or the top floor executive offices at Microsoft. Each and every one of those places has someone who cleans the toilets.

And I bet they have a special security badge that says so.

*There really aren’t parts 1 and 2 to this blog, it’s just that I have been listening to a lot of Isley Brothers.

http://www.amazon.com/Sons-of-the-Pope-ebook/dp/B00ALI11WM/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1377620004

My first blog

23 Jan

Not sure if anyone will ever read this, but that is also a freeing thought.  Nevertheless, I will intersperse  my thoughts with a list of some of my favorite funk songs in order to stave off monotony and keep the page looking clean.

When I was 6 months old I was carried out of a burning building.  Just after I turned 4, my mother died of cancer on her wedding anniversary.  Two years later my dad died too. Cancer again.  I went to live with my granny, who became my second mother.  She passed away when I was ten.

“It’s Your Thing” — The Isley Brothers

I then lived a bunch of other places, with a bunch of other families, I might get into all that some other time.  Don’t want to dwell on the negative.  One thing though, if you have, or if your children have, the true, unconditional love of a parent, be grateful for it.  I’ve often wondered what that is like to receive. I do know what it is like to give – and that is fantastic.

“Love Rollercoaster” — Ohio Players

This is an odd thing to live on as a lingering memory, and I’ve always wondered why it survives in the back of my brain:  When I was about ten I had asked an Aunt if she could possibly buy me a set of these little Marvel action figures.  You know, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America etc.  There was this really cool set of them and it was all I really wanted.  She kept telling me the store was out of stock, yet I would see my friends getting the same set.  For the longest time I thought I had terrible luck with the toy store stocking schedule, when it turns out my luck was probably lacking in the aunt department.

“P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” — Parliament

All these years later, whenever I’m in Target or some such place, I can’t help but notice the Marvel action figures.  I almost want to buy them for myself, but they never, ever have that full set that I saw as a child.  I bet that original set is worth a small fortune now, like all the comic books that my aunt threw away when I was at school.  I don’t think mom and dad would’ve done that.

“Shinin’ Star” – Earth Wind & Fire

See you (if there is a you) next time!