Pirate Radio Was Disappointing

What I was expecting was the story of the thumb-our-nose station and what it did. What we ended up seeing was a concept in search of a story.

pirate radio poster.jpgHelaine and I headed into New Haven last night to see Pirate Radio. Regardless of reviews I was compelled to see it because of my own radio background. Radio was my calling as much as my occupation.

Disappointment. You don’t have to feel obliged as I was.

Pirate Radio is loosely based on Radio Caroline, one of the seaborne broadcasters in the era before commercial radio (and with it top-40 radio) was established in Britain. Since the movie took place on a ship the photography was mainly ‘tripodless’ and often too shaky for my liking.

What I was expecting was the story of the thumb-our-nose station and what it did. What we ended up seeing was a concept in search of a story. There really was no overarching theme.

I asked my friend Ed Symkus, who reviews movies for a living, to give me his opinion.

I liked the film a lot. I doubt it will be on my Top 10 list — it’s not great. But it has a sensibility that spoke right to me, and I’m sure will to you. More than half the fun is hearing what keeps popping up next on the soundtrack. A freewheeling ensemble film with lots of intertwining stories rather a straightforward one. And it turns into an action-thriller! Really!!! I love radio.

criterion theater new haven.jpgYes to sensibility and soundtrack. Yes to ensemble, though Phillip Seymour Hoffman&#185 was underused in a role where he seemed comfortably toasted and not much more. I would have to disagree with the action-thriller characterization… and I suppose with liking the film a lot. I liked it a little.

Let’s go back to the soundtrack for a second. The movie is loaded with songs you seldom hear played loud anymore. Though it was the era of the Beatles and psychedelia, much of the music was marvelously pedestrian pop. God, I love that stuff.

If there’s any good news here it’s that the story of Radio Caroline and the real pirates of the North Sea has yet to be told. That would be worth seeing.

&#185 – They could have saved big bucks on this movie by using my friend Woody Hoyt instead of PSH. Every time Hoffman was on screen all I saw was Woody–honest.

I’m Feeling a Little Guilty

I just took a look. We’ve barely crossed into the new day and temperatures (7 hours before sunrise) already range from 0&#176 to -8&#176 at the ‘official’ reporting stations in Connecticut. I’m positive there are outlying areas already below -15&#176 – and temps will continue to plunge.

So, where am I? Am I dripping water in the kitchen sink? Am I throwing an extra blanket on the bed? Hell no, I’m in Florida with my folks. And, I’m feeling a little bit guilty.

It would be easy to claim I knew it was going to be this bad and planned my vacation accordingly – which would be a lie. It was just dumb luck.

Normally, I visit a place and the newspapers run banner headlines, “COLDEST SOUTH FLORIDA TEMPERATURES EVER” or “LAS VEGAS DELUGE – FLOODING AT RECORD LEVELS.”

I’m like the character William H. Macy plays in the new movie “The Cooler.” Invite me for rain on your parade.

On the other hand, I have lived through my fair share of Northeast winters. I remember the winter of 1968/69. I was a freshman at Emerson College in the Back Bay section of Boston. From my dorm it was a short walk across Storrow Drive to the Charles River.

The winter of 68/69 was brutal. The Charles River froze up early. I was young and a little crazy.

One day, fellow freshman Ed Symkus and I decided to walk to Cambridge… over the frozen river. From Storrow Drive, Cambridge doesn’t look that far away. Trust me, it is.

What you don’t think about as you set out to cross a frozen river is you’re about to walk on a very big ice cube. Your feet are going to get really cold. And, by the time you find out, you’ll be really far away!

We were around halfway across when we heard the voice. It was an MDC (Massachusetts District Commission) policeman, sitting in his warm patrol car, on his P.A. system.

“You two, on the river (he actually said ‘rivah’). Turn around NOW and return to the Boston side.”

It was about that time we realized we might actually fall in… and, we were probably going to get arrested (though in retrospect what would we have been charged with? First Degree Stupid?). We headed back to Boston.

By the time we got back onshore, the policeman had disappeared.

I guess it’s cold enough now, and has been for a long enough time, that the Charles is frozen again. If you know anyone who is thinking about walking to Cambridge, please tell them it’s already been done… and we recommend really warm shoes.