Remembering Jim Valvano ‘s moving eulogy for Jimmy V.

North County 5/5/93

REMEMBERING JIMMY V

Jim ValvanoWhen word came over my car radio last Wednesday that Jim Valvano had succumbed to cancer after a two-year battle that ended in a room at Duke University hospital, I immediately stopped to notice my surroundings. It just so happens that I found myself in a neighborhood much like the one in which Jimmy V grew up. I rolled to a stop across from a school yard where some kids were shooting hoops behind a twenty-foot fence.

As I watched them play, I thought about Jimmy dribbling around a similar school yard years ago. How he put his first shot through the orange cylinder, snapping the net.

How his father, already a successful coach, must have tutored him in the nuances of the game. The hours of practice that turns casual interest into a fanaticism that convinces a young man that life would no longer be worth living without it.

As the cool breeze of the day swept through my car window, I was frozen by the thought of all the impressionable minds a coach or teacher touch by handing down the love and passion for a sport; not just the nuts and bolts of it, but the way it feels to impart the knowledge of experience. To push a little farther ahead than perhaps even the student thinks he may go. To win the battle within, before the battle with the opposition can be won.

What Jim Valvano realized in the last weeks of his 47 years among us is that he had been hugging people all along. After all, isn’t that what teaching is all about? To embrace the eager mind, and mold it into a sculpture that reflects the devotion of their spirit.

In the last two years of his life, Jim Valvano was even better at touching us with his love and passion for life. Basketball was merely his metaphor, a vehicle to make us stand and take notice of his extraordinary personality. He cajoled us to witness his suffering while he smiled and joked his way through endless antidotes the way he always had before cancer had taken hold of his body.

He took on the fight the way he took his North Carolina State Wolfpack miracle team all the way past the powerful Houston Cougars in Albuquerque to win the 1983 National Championship.

It was not only the finest example of coaching in the history of the sport, pro or otherwise, it solidified the NCAA Tournament into the second biggest sporting event behind only the Super Bowl, but what we remember most about that night is the image of him running helplessly around the mass of elated humanity looking desperately for someone to hug.

What Jim Valvano realized in the last weeks of his 47 years among us is that he had been hugging people all along. After all, isn’t that what teaching is all about? To embrace the eager mind, and mold it into a sculpture that reflects the devotion of their spirit.

Books by James Campion are available on this web site or at Amazon & Barnes & Nobleclick to order

It was then that I realized what Jimmy V was saying when uttered, “Never give up,” his rallying cry those last few months. “Cancer can take my body, but it can’t take my mind and my heart and my soul.”

Jim Valvano is gone now, but his soul lives on in every kid who may pick up a basketball, or a bat, or a pencil. And even though they may never know his name, like those kids who were playing just outside my car on that cool spring afternoon, they will pass it on forever.

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Bob Klapish vs. Bobby Bonilla ‘s report on a baseball beat writer’s clash with N.Y. Mets player.

North County 4/14/93

CLUBHOUSE ETIQUETTE

Bob Klapish and John Harper were beat writers covering the pitiful 1992 Mets for rival newspapers in New York. Through years of work, and a network of contacts, they decided to jot down the various daily unmentionables a good reporter is normally privy to. Their combined efforts are documented in a new book entitled, “The Worst Team Money Could Buy.”

Fortuitously, Harper moved from the Post to the Yankees beat at the Daily News while Klapish was promoted to baseball columnist at the very same paper this off-season. Immediate retribution for the book from angered ball players was postponed.

As luck would have it, my co-host, Tom Ragone and myself welcomed Mr. Klapish as one of our many guests on last week’s “Sports Nite” radio program. After discussing the varied sexploits, back-stabbing, and name-calling mentioned in the tome, I posed this question: “When you cross paths with the gentlemen depicted in your book, what do expect from them?”

Having spent a considerable part of the past four summers in Major League locker rooms, I’m here to tell you it is no picnic. The players can be intimidating, and their humor and antics can often seem mean-spirited to an outsider. But you’re there to do a job, so you get your interview and move on.

“Believe me, they’re well aware of what’s in the book,” Klapish answered. “And as you can imagine, some of them are taking it pretty hard. But John and I didn’t write the thing to win any popularity contests.”

As fate would have it, Kaplish was pressed into Mets beat duty subbing for Steve Serby last Saturday, and while attempting to appropriate a quote from Dwight Gooden, he went toe to toe with Bobby Bonilla. Fresh off his own personal season in hell, Bonilla was extra surly, and decided to bodily threaten the writer on his turf; the clubhouse.

Having spent a considerable part of the past four summers in Major League locker rooms, I’m here to tell you it is no picnic. The players can be intimidating, and their humor and antics can often seem mean-spirited to an outsider. But you’re there to do a job, so you get your interview and move on.

When you look at this from a matter of trust, you probably side with Bonilla. Let’s face it, when players smile at us, and tell us that money has nothing to do with their motivation for playing the game while they rake in the dough, we rip them good. So what’s fair is fair, and Klapish and his buddy took trusted relationships built from off-the-record quotes and outside-the-lines activity and turned it into a profit-making proposition.

Is it wrong? Absolutely not. Is it a standup nice thing to do? Probably not. But Klapish doesn’t care either way. Can you blame any player for becoming a bit perturbed?

This, of course, does not absolve Bonilla from childish act of threatening another man with bodily harm, but just like when the Mets’ right-fielder strikes out with the bases loaded, Klapish must face the music.

The prediction here is that Bobby Bo and his tormentor will kiss and make up. Klapish is a fine baseball writer with great influence, connections, and a foothold in New York sports; and Bonilla, who is obviously overwhelmed by the pressures of playing for big money in the Big Apple, won’t be around nearly as long.

Which illustrates once again that the pen is mightier than the bat.

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DogVoices, The Nerds and the Jersey Shore Rock Scene – Author of Deep Tank Jersey, James Campion tells all!

Press

More Sugar 7/98

ROCK N’ ROLL SURVIVOR TELLS ALL

by Jonathan O’Brien

JCLocal author, James Campion has been hiding out in his Putnam Valley residence for some time now, claiming safe refuge from the “harmful and disconnected” and recovering from his summer trip into what he has often described as the “core of insanity.” Luckily he lived to write it all down and it appears unabridged and all-too real in his book, “Deep Tank Jersey,” an underground bestseller that has recently found its way into book stores.

Campion began writing his story as a “fly on the wall” through the New Jersey Club Circuit; a haven for rock bands, vampires, wild women, and the cream of the lunatic fringe, but before long he was dragged into its vortex and came out, by his own admission, a changed man. The tales along the road with Dog Voices, a successful cover band and monsters of the party highway, range from bizarre to sublime to often times touching. His honest account of the subterranean world of the night life will open the eyes of even the most grizzled veterans of any bar-hopping experience.

Mostly “Deep Tank Jersey” studies the people who make this world run: club owners, patrons, bouncers, roadies, bartenders, bar maids, sound engineers, and the musicians who lay it on the line every night for a cheer and a buck. To date it is the only book of its kind which delves into the true grit; stumbles and triumphs of a struggling band cashing its weekly check. No one is spared Campion’s satirical wit and the best perk is that it is all true. Anyone who has been in a band, worked in, or frequented any rock club will enjoy Campion’s jaunt through a circus life of crazies and big hearts who have called the edge home.

Hundreds of copies have been sold in clubs, word of mouth and on the Internet and the feedback has ranged from positive to outright mortified, especially from people who appear in the book. Campion did not change the names to protect the innocent or guilty and claims that the mail he receives through DogVoices mostly centers around religious or AA groups who pray for his soul. He has repeatedly asked the concerned for help finding his soul which he says was left somewhere in Hoboken.

Deep Tank JerseyMore Sugar caught up with Campion recently and could not help but ask the obvious…

More Sugar: We have Jersey figured out, but what exactly is the Deep Tank?

JC: I’m only now starting to figure that out. I think it’s a Zen thing, but I can’t be sure. People come up with a lot of strange things when sober.

MS: What affected you the most in the experience of writing this book?

JC: I marvel at the true nature of these people who go to work at 5 PM and saunter home at dawn. This is their job! And not just a night watchmen or convenience store clerk, these people are working in the most insane of atmospheres, especially at the Jersey shore where no one sleeps. It was a nice place to visit, which we all do occasionally, some more than others, but to live there and make a living there is a whole other animal.

MS: Why did you choose the Jersey Circuit and a band like Dog Voices?

JC: I just went for a magazine article, ‘Life on the Road’ or ‘Inside the Club Scene’ type piece. A friend of mine is in the band and I’m close with their manager. But after hearing their personal stories and seeing the way a ‘normal’ evening develops I knew there was a book there.

MS: What does one learn in the atmosphere you described?

JC: It’s hard, man. For the working musicians, at least. The road gets to you. I can’t imagine what a touring band must go through, this was difficult enough. But it’s also rewarding in a way. Every performer has an appetite for such a life and not always the same meal satisfies it. The performance is two fold. I was most impressed with the expression of human emotion, really. I think when people are at their most crazy they let loose the best and worst of their personalities.

MS: And you?

JC: No sleep, too much drink, and a real sense of danger. Listen, if you put hundreds of pent-up people who’ve been grinding through life daily, shove them into a club with swirling lights, cranking music, and swell their heads with alcohol and sexual frenzy you tend to get interesting situations. I can now say I know what it’s like to be at the very edge of anarchy. It was an experience.

“Deep Tank Jersey” can be purchased at any Barnes & Noble, B Dalton, Main St. Books in White Plains, The Mount Kisco Book Company in Mount Kisco and The Bookstore in Pleasantville. For excerpts of the book log onto the Dog Voices web page at www.dogvoices.com James Campion can be read weekly in his Reality Check column in the “Aquarian Weekly.”

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The Word Is Out! – All summer long everyone at the Jersey Shore was talking about Deep Tank Jersey.


Press

10/96

THE WORD IS OUT!

All summer everyone at the Jersey Shore was talking about the new book, Deep Tank Jersey. Author, James Campion’s tale of four months on the burning road with DogVoices. The true, sordid, and insane stories of a rock band surviving in the smoky heat of Clubland. It’s the book the inside scoop about each member of DogVoices and the people who make them run. Move along the music trail and meet bands like The Nerds, Good Girls Don’t, and more! Read about the type of Monte antics that has single handedly changed club policiy, pissed off newspapers, and kept police on alert all summer long! Read about the mysterious Nadine, the crazed Brian Dead Bob, and the people you stand next to on any given night. Maybe even YOU. Get your copy of Deep Tank Jersey at a DogVoices show this fall or look for it at local book stores. And coming this fall check out the DogVoices web site for excerpts.

 

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INSIDE SPORTS ON WFAS


Press

9/97

BIO:

Jim Campion has been a major voice on the subject of local and national sports in the greater Westchester and Putnam counties for nearly a decade. Appearing as a newspaper columnist, and television and radio personality since 1989, he’s combined a bizarre wit and keen knowledge of the subject to his many projects.

With the inception of his weekly one-hour produced and hosted television sports talk format, The Sports Club Live on Cablevision’s Channel 34 (1989-’96) he’s either hosted or co-hosted a live sports oriented show for 8 years running. Included was WLNA Radio’s weekly 3-hour Sportsnite show with co-host Tom Ragone (1993-’95) covering local and national sports with reports from area sports writers, High School and College coaches, and personalities from the front office to the locker room in every professional sport, and Channel 6’s most popular show, Sports Talk Live (1995-1997), a weekly one-hour rant and rap with callers from northern and southern Westchester and Rockland counties.

In 1990 he created, produced, edited, and hosted an on-location baseball interview show called The X-TRA Inning (1990-94). The pre-recorded half hour program which always opened with the statement, “The show that investigates and celebrates America’s passion with its national past time,” aired on both Channel 34 and Continental Cablevision’s Channel 6. Featuring such notable guests as the late Mel Allen, All-Star, Ken Griffey Jr., then commissioner of Major League Baseball, Fay Vincent, lauded author, Roger Kahn, and several N.Y. Yankees and Mets, it provided fans with an inside look at their heroes while attempting to return the otherwise crass business to baseball back to the brilliant game it has always been.

During his tenure on the air waves Jim has followed his childhood dream of writing by serving as weekly columnist in the North County News. Sports Shorts (1993-1995) provided readers with a more indepth and often serious foray into a wide spectrum of issues. He recently penned a full page column called The Last Shot (1995-1997) for the New Jersey entertainment magazine, The East Coast Rocker.

Jim met co-host Rob Astorino in 1990 when the duo became the play-by-play team for Continental Cablevision’s award winning High School Football Game of The Week. For 6 years, including a few years of H.S. basketball, the broadcast was the most slick and comprehensive coverage of High School sports in New York State. In essence Rob and Jim became the voice of local sports together, calling the action of every big game including Bowls and Championship contests, while bringing a generation of fine, young athletes to thousands of homes.

 

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The Future of Comedy By The Numbers – Gonzo author, James Campion dissects underground comedy of late 90s’ local access television.

Genesis Magazine 1/98

PAST IS PRESENT(The Future of Comedy by the Numbers)

The world of comedy television is not unlike several other corners of the entertainment business. From music to radio, commercial literature to Broadway shows, the influence of one amalgamates into the other to form hybrids of unique art to which theme and style begin to fade into several like colors in the wash. However, the origin and destiny of their movements often lie in the darkest corners of America, and develop in the obscurity of a cult world bubbling over with the kind of originality networks could only dream about.

Today, a large portion of the comedy seed is grown in the garden of local and public access television, where the fantasy guffaw of Wayne’s World comes alive nightly throughout the fruited plain. Starving entertainers fill the free air space with the bizarre slant of life that longs to leap out of their heads. In the two biggest media sponges this country has to offer, New York and Los Angeles, the irreverent and the wise-cracking emerge from literally nowhere to gain notoriety.

Two classic examples of the type of programming that may seem frightening to network executives now, but will probably be the flavor of the 21st century are West L.A. Cable’s Colin’s Sleazy Friends and Time Warner Cable of Manhattan’s Exactly 29 Minutes.

Back in 1992, Colin Malone, a struggling stand-up comic, and his friend, Dino Everett, were two young men bored out of their minds working at a video store in L.A. when they decided to cause a ruckus talking about their bizarre personal lives on a half-hour television program of their own devise. The idea began with barely a whimper, then Malone decided to invite porn star, Ron Jeremy with the promise of a free lunch, and Colin’s Sleazy Friends was born. Five years, and a host of porn guests later, the show is one of the most talked about in Southern California, and now with the help of the True Blue Network, and satellite television, it is potentially viewed by millions.

“I’m the most famous poor guy in America, ” Malone laughs today. Every Wednesday at midnight on Channel 3 out of West L.A., a time slot which enables the twisted duo to steal from the Leno/Letterman channel surfers, the show pushes the obscenity envelope with X-Rated film clips and scantily clad porn actresses discussing the inner workings of the genre. But it isn’t just about smut for Malone. “It’s really a comedy show,” he says. “But we’re getting a lot of crap from the cable companies who try and force the obscenity issue.”

Malone, a sloppy, corpulent, long-haired slick talker with a rabid personality and keen sense of audience seduction, has built a mini-entertainment empire. Now mainstream celebrities Drew Carey and Jeanene Garafilo join cutting edge music acts like Danzig and Insane Clown Posse in calling themselves sleazy friends. “We’re hot right now,” Malone notes proudly. “Almost everywhere fans are having these ‘Colin Parties’ and I’ve already taken meetings with people from Fox to HBO.” Malone has even parlayed his infamy into a cameo on an upcoming episode of the number one sitcom on television, Seinfeld.

Exactly 29 Minutes, although no less inventive and determined, is on the other end of the popularity totem pole. Producer, writer, and head nut-case, Al Quagliata’s monthly character-driven romp through themes such as flem, masturbation, and old security guards whining about “the good old days” has been seen in New York homes from Manhattan to Westchester since the mid-80s’. Originally titled Zodiacs, Maniacs, & Just Plain Yaks, the half-hour sketch show has taken a page from the Monty Python-Second City style of featuring bit players willing to take on any character and attack subject.

“The show is a great source of exposure for my other work as an actor and stand-up comic,” says the 32 year-old Quagliata, who sites the late-great, Ernie Kovacks as his main influence. “But although we’re proud of the work we’ve done, dealing with cable outlets and bicycling the tapes all over becomes far too much work.”

Sometimes huge national fame and fortune is not the only legacy for the talented and ignored. Long before there was such a thing as local access, in fact, before cable became a household necessity and satirical comedy sketch shows ruled airwaves, a New Jersey native by the name of Floyd Vivino decided to branch out from his burlesque comedy roots and parody kiddie show format with his wild and wholly entertaining Uncle Floyd Show. Vivino and a cast of crazies worked, as he describes, “like animals” taping five straight hours weekly; sometimes in the middle of the night in order to fill a daily one-hour show packed with music, laughter, and mostly mayhem. “After awhile we realized the kids hated me, ” Uncle Floyd says today. kids, “They were frightened of us, but the adults and the older the college kids, they loved us.”

The Uncle Floyd Show was a pioneering effort in the world of local television. Vivino and his cast rented studio time and air-brokered space on channel 68 out of Newark. “I hate the word local access, ” he says. “We were professional all the way. Booked the time, brokered the space, and sold the time. We did it all.” It’s live to tape format with people screaming off camera and flubbing lines has now become a familiar staple on Saturday Night Live, Mad TV, and even wacky morning radio shows. Hip rock acts like the Ramones and David Johanson along with up-and-comers like Cindy Lauper and Bon Jovi frequented the tiny studio. “We had no idea that we were influencing a whole comedy generation,” Vivino says.”We were just trying to survive.”

Not only did it survive, but when it was all done The Uncle Floyd Show produced 6,000 programs of which only 300 still exist. “The people.at Shaneckie Video found about 84 shows from 980 that they’ve released regionally in two volumes,” Vivino, whose brother, Jerry plays in Conan O’Brien’s Max Weinberh Seven Band, delightfully announces, while remembering what it was like in those chatoic days of near banckruptcy and abuse from his detractors. “At least it was fun,” he chuckles. “It was always fun.”

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

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100 Favorite Films

100 FAVORITE FILMS(and a few additions)

Bloomed from a discussion started on the way to his 1/1999 nuptials with the demented, but well-meaning members of his wedding party, this list has been discussed, argued and playfully enjoyed over many cups of coffee and mugs of beer from New York to Los Angeles with a series of obsessives and shut-ins. It appears together for the first time for jamescampion.com with commentary from the author. This includes only English speaking films or documentaries, and just like the 100 Favorite Albums List jc reserves the right to edit at anytime due to not only new films, but difficult decisions.

1. The Graduate – 1968The Graduate“I want to be…different.”
A flawless work of art. Buck Henry’s screenplay is a masterpiece of generational apathy leaping into the sexual abyss, while also being damn funny. Director, Mike Nichols, a prolific writer and satirist himself, uses the camera as a window into the psyches of three perfectly cast actors; Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft and Katherine Ross, set to the haunting songs of Paul Simon, and tied together with a memorable quilt of visual montages puncturing at the heart of alienation.

2. Oliver – 1968Oliver!“Consider yourself one of us.”

The first film I ever saw, and saw it often. The songs are fantastic and the choreography is mesmerizing, while also being a very worthy adaptation of Charles Dickens’s moving novel. A tale dominated by rogues and villains played aptly vicious and ironically lovable by Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger, Ron Moody as the venerable Fagin and Oliver Reed as the brooding and murderous Bill Sykes.

3. Annie Hall – 1977Annie Hall“Most of us need the eggs.”

If there is a better artistic example of the American male/female relationship in the latter half of the 20th century, you’d have quite a story. The best, most compact soup-to-nuts production by the genius of Woody Allen rolled into a film. If it wouldn’t be totally maudlin I’d put twenty of his films in here, but everyone needs a turn. Diane Keaton is as good as it gets here.

4. The Sting – 1973 The Sting“But my money’s in there!”

Until “Hannah And Her Sisters” and then years later, “Shakespeare In Love”, the finest of movie scripts. Its plot is flawless, while perfectly capturing the period of desperation and survival that was The Great Depression. Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s best work and a world-class soundtrack. I give my father full credit for not only taking me to see this against my prepubescent will, but for figuring out the dense setup before the sting.

5. The Godfather/Godfather II – 1972/1974The GodfatherThe Godfather Part II“I believe in America.”

If you were to put two films in a timecapsule for purposes of explaining the American dream’s foul underbelly, and the endearingly dark subculture of family life in the growth of the American century, then you’ve come to the right place. There is far too little time and adjectives to describe their beauty, but suffice to say Francis Ford Coppolla’s two-part anxiety-ridden opus coupled with his faith in the brilliant performances of the entire cast, including Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert Deniro et al, is a thing to behold.

6. Jaws – 1975Jaws“We need a bigger boat.”

Steven Speilberg has made better films, but none with the concise storytelling and humorous impact of this one. The plot is airtight, if not wonderfully predictable, with its battle between man and nature, but the visual delights buoyed by the film’s fantastic John William’s score and the Hitchcockian subterfuge of the looming villainous shark, make this a perennial thriller. Robert Shaw’s Quint is legendary stuff.

7. The Wizard Of Oz – 1939The Wizard of Oz“There’s no place like home.”

After 60+ years this still stands as the most satisfying fantasy in film history. Musically, it has few peers, and visually it not only dwarfed its time, but still influences generations of set designers and special effects gurus. Frank L. Baum’s novel is still the standard barer for satirical depth, but the film has merit in its splendid morality play, not to mention sporting the finest song ever written, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Terrific performances and legendary moments, it cannot be left off anyone’s top ten list without denial or serious explanation.

8. Field Of Dreams – 1989Field of Dreams“Hey dad…wanna have a catch?”

Personally, this may be the finest film I ever saw in the theater. It touched me on so many levels it’s hard to say I’ve fully recovered. It is a magnificent story about the faith of oneself to achieve reconciliation and forgiveness in a world bent on keeping those concepts at bay. Simultaneously, it is a fun romp of commentary and fantasy with chilling moments of recognition for anyone who has missed oneself for even a minute. “Hey dad, you wanna have a catch?” is the best line in the history of American cinema.

9. Hannah And Her Sisters – 1986Hannah and Her Sisters“I cannot fathom my own heart.”

Probably Woody Allen’s best humor/drama effort, it is a plot/dialogue masterpiece infused with metaphor and literal imagery for ten more films. Michael Kane is ridiculously good in his roll as a middle-aged, sheepish lovelorn, stammering through an illicit affair on his doting wife (Mia Farrow). Her sisters, played ably neurotic by Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest run the gamut of Allen’s best female character flaws and strengths, while being author/director’s most accomplished of work on the celebration of life.

10. A Clockwork Orange – 1970A Clockwork Orange“I was cured all right.”

One of the few films, if not the only one, that expands, even improves on a significant novel. Eerily crafted in the best Stanely Kubrick style, this futuristic study of violence inside the fragile human spirit, and the way emotions are swept under the societal rug by the cold hand of progress, has never failed to cull the word “disturbing” from a single person I turn onto it. The use of liberally adapted Beethoven music into an eerie score makes this a timeless classic of contemporary satire.

11. American Beauty – 1999American Beauty

12. Sideways -2004

13. E.T. – 1982

14. JFK – 1991

15. Manhattan – 1979

16. Network – 1976

17. Forrest Gump – 1994

18. Magnolia – 1999

19. Planet Of The Apes – 1968

20. Gangs of New York – 2002

21. Monty Python And The Holy Grail – 1979Shakespeare In Love

22. Broadcast News – 1987

23.Shakespeare In Love – 1998

24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – 2004

25. Do The Right Thing – 1989

26. Goodfellas – 1990Good Fellas

27. Saving Private Ryan – 1998

28. Raging Bull – 1980

29. Night Shift – 1982

30. Schindler’s List – 1993

31. The Great Escape – 1963 Malcolm X

32. Malcolm X – 1992

33. Being John Malkovich – 1999

34. Crimes And Misdermeaners – 1989

35. Elephant – 2003

36. Kelly’s Heroes – 1970Apocalypse Now

37. Immortal Beloved – 1994

38. Apocalypse Now – 1979

39. Pulp Fiction – 1994

40. The Hours – 2002

41. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – 1975One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

42. Barton Fink – 1992

43. Napoleon Dynamite – 2004

44. Modern Romance – 1982

45. Midnight Cowboy – 1969

46. Star Wars – 1977Taxi Driver

47. Lost In America – 1985

48. Taxi Driver – 1976

49. Dummy – 2003

50. Natural Born Killers – 1994

51. The Royal Tenenbaums – 2001

Raising Arizona52. Sweet And Lowdown – 1999

53. Love Actually – 2003

54. Rain Man – 1988

55. Raising Arizona – 1987

56. 2001 A Space Odyssey – 1968

The Virgin Suicides57. Reservoir Dogs – 1992

58. Boogie Nights – 1997

59. The Virgin Suicides – 1999

60. Leaving Las Vegas – 1995

61. Broken Flowers – 2005

The Big Lebowski

62. The Purple Rose of Cairo – 1985

63. The Big Lebowski – 1998

64. World’s Greatest Dad – 2009

65. Dandelion -2005

66. A Very Long Engagement – 2004

My Life Without Me67. My Life Without Me -2003

68. Husbands and Wives – 1992

69. Miracle – 2004

70. Sling Blade – 1996

71. Talk Radio – 1988

My Own Private Idaho72. My Own Private Idaho – 1991

73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – 1969

74. Around the Bend – 2004

75. Criminal – 2004

76. What the #$*! Do We Know!? – 2004

Hoosiers77. Hoosiers – 1986

78. Party Girl – 1995

79. In The Bedroom – 2001

80. Garden State – 2004

81. Straw Dogs – 1971

Straw Dogs

82. Persopolis – 2007

83. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three – 1974

84. O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2000

85. Brick – 2005

86. Dopamine – 2003

Dopamine

87. Bully – 2001

88. Fargo – 1996

89. Defending Your Life – 1991

90. Grand Canyon – 1991

91. Pieces of April – 2003

Pieces Of April92. Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas – 1998

93. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio – 2005

94. American Splendor – 2003

95. Searching For Bobby Fischer – 1993

96. The Station Agent – 2003

Station Agent97. Rocket Science – 2007

98. Frida – 2002

99. Spiderman – 2002

100. The Dead Girl – 2006

101. Breaking Upwards – 2010

Breaking Upwards102. HappyThankYouMorePlease – 2010

103. An Education – 2009

104. Two Lovers – 2008

105. Elegy – 2008

106. In Bruges – 2008

107. The Trotsky – 2010

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

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Elvis Presley – The Bad, The Sweet And The Boogie – Author James Campion Rates the King’s effect on the 20th century

Summer 7/1996 The 25 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century: #5

ELVIS PRESLEYThe Bad, the Sweet and the Boogie

“Before Elvis,, there was nothing.” -John Lennon

The great irony of the twentieth century is how Americans north of the Mason Dixon Line have viewed their Southern brethren as often comical, less-than-hip hicks, far removed from the cutting-edge cultural hub wrestled so vigorously in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Yet, in this subtle bread basket of culture, the lines of musical, and consequently, societal challenge have been repeatedly drawn in the generational sands of America. And the man that will forever rise to the top of the legendary pioneers roll call is an ex-trucker from Memphis Tennessee named Elvis Aaron Presley.

Elvis Presley never wrote a published song, designed a stitch of clothing, sculpted a single hair style or invented one dance step; but the man forever known as The King certainly sang, modeled, coifed and hoofed his way to the pinnacle of fame and fortune the world over. Presley was the package: the swooping, greasy pompadour, sneering smile, the slightest shake of his pant leg and an indescribable, godly voice meshed in sweet tones and snarling grit, all added up to arguably the most recognizable personality in the history of pop culture.

Somewhere on the edge of black and white, male and female, young and old, innocence and evil; the skinny kid from nowhere still sits straddling the fence of genre, style and celebrity. With a name for the ages, and a look of an alien creature sent to earth on a twist of fate, Elvis Presley, by his mere presence, changed everything Americans knew or imagined about iconoclasm.

The country bumpkin image of Lil’ Abner, Hee Haw and the mellow world of Andy Griffith has forever defined the South as a vacuous, backward desert of culture and progress. These images usually followed the alarming pictures of a nation dependent on farms and old-fashioned tradition for life-blood. The core battle for civil rights and religious morals seemed to drag well behind what the times, and the rest of America, dictated. But the fact is for decades before and after World War II the warm simplicity of the American South produced nearly all of the country’s original music; Jazz, Country, Folk, and Rock-N-Roll. In towns like New Orleans, Louisiana, Memphis, Tennessee and Mobile, Alabama, simple “county folk” were tearing down the walls of musical expectation and setting the standards by which the rest of the country would copy for evermore.

The South produced Blues originators like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, who were laying down the lyrical and musical bedrock for the future of modern music, folk legends like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, who began to set the mood of the nation to three-chord ballads with a satirical twist, country icons such as Hank Williams, who wrote the Bible of musical musings, fore fathers of Jazz like Louis Armstrong and John Coltraine, who simply created the genre, and the young pistols of rock-n-roll like Buddy Holly and Little Richard, who influenced a billion-dollar legacy that has dominated the world.

When a 20 year-old Elvis Presley wandered into the now-famous Sun Studios, the eventual stable for rock-n-roll originals and now one of the most frequented tourist sights in America, he was not only unaware of the impact his voice, face, and demeanor would have for the future of modern celebrity, he hardly knew if he’d like the results of the visit himself.

It was the spring of 1955, and the affluent winds of modern America were blowing. The first wave of Baby Boomers were ready and willing to spend their daddy’s money on the Next Big Thing. The only son of Vernon Presley, an out-of-work ex-con, and his overly-affectionate, chubby wife, Gladys, Elvis quickly tired of wading through the sludge of poverty and busting his fragile back in the dust bowl of anonymity. All of his teachers, school mates and fellow Sunday gospel singers down at the local church had told him that he possessed a beautiful voice and a certain boyish, naive charm that could settle a song deep within his chest and pour over the ears like the molasses in their cuppards. So, he collected part of his measly weekly earnings driving a delivery truck and decided to record his untrained, lilting voice onto an actual vinyl disc.

Sam Phillips, owner and proprietor of Sun Studios, fancied himself a producer and manager of unknown local acts. His connection with disc jockeys and larger record companies made him a magnet for talented young boys fed up with their dead-end lives. Legend has it that Elvis walked into the waiting arms of fate by pure chance, that he wanted to record a song for his beloved mother’s birthday. But the young budding star knew full well what a stunning maiden performance could bring him, or more precisely, get him; far away for Memphis.

Phillips was mesmerized by the kid’s raw, yet surprisingly, refined talent. Presley’s impeccable punching of the notes, elastic range, and above all, natural ability to sound like a blues-based, old-time-gospel-hour black man, had the old pro’s wheels spinning. The man knew the goods and the dollar sign when he saw it. The very idea of a young, strange-looking white boy who could croon and bark like a country Negro could set the world on its ear and subsequently bridge the racial gap between the struggling, but eminently gifted, black songsters, and the ultra-conservative landscape of post-war America.

Phillips almost immediately set Presley up with three local musicians; guitarist, Scotty Moore, drummer, D.J. Fantanna, and bass player, Bill Black. Between the quartet and Sun’s cramped, muggy studio with its old microphone hanging from the dusty ceiling, they created a sound dripping with jazzy turns, bluesy riffs and biting country-folk drawl. Yet, the music was as new and compelling as the tightly wound figure of angst and rebellion who would eventually bare its name.

Elvis Presley, and his tight, little group, recorded over twenty songs for Mr. Phillips’ tiny Sun Records, went on small tours of the South and appeared on local television and radio shows for the next year. Presley’s impact was immediate and far reaching. Before 1956 was over, he would hook up with the notorious and pompous Colonel Tom Parker, appear on enormously popular variety network television shows including Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan and sign a lucrative contract with the largest record company in America, RCA.

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Elvis Presley was truly an overnight success story of epic proportions,. the American Dream of fortune and fame unchained. Not only was he recognized as the next teeny bopper pin-up boy in the mold of Frank Sinatra, but his uncanny and innate ability to cause a stir through his constant gyrations while singing, coupled with his long, greasy crop of hair and baggy, colorful clothes simultaneously served as a figurehead for the look of the rest of the decade and the early part of the next.

Although he never expected it, Presley became the quintessential figurehead for the evils of music and frivolity in the young, restless hordes of the post-war generation bloated with dreams and time their parents never knew. The strange, hypnotic rhythms of black country blues and the raw sexuality of the performance literally sent shock waves through the core of a patently conservative America. For the first time since WWII, young Americans thumbed their noses at their parents’ beliefs and ideological foundation. All the freedom provided by the country’s post war boom had given the spoiled, wild youth the avenue to search for figures of rebellion. The solid temple of values and tradition, of growing up, working hard and raising a family, gave way to unbridled, unabashed boogie woogie, “feelin’ fine” mantra of the next generation. And standing in the crossfire as the shining symbol of this uncharted path was Elvis Presley.

It mattered little that Presley spent the remainder of his career defending his old-fashioned, God-fearing, momma’s-boy Southern background. The image of the young Elvis; mean and strong, standing in the defiant spotlight was, by definition, the very essence of the American cultural rebellion experience. James Dean, Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis were all heroes, and in some cases, influences on Presley. But they eventually took a back seat to him. Elvis was the product of a brand new wave of popularity and revolution, one he would eventually come to represent as its most royal participant.

Rock-n-roll, this new and exciting musical amalgamation of sped-up blues and raucous country-folk, sweeping the nation from the streets of Cleveland and Detroit to the skyscrapers of New York and Philadelphia, rode the crest of radio and household record players. Unlike movies or even television, any kid could own a transistor radio, spin a 45 record or run down to the local skating rink or sock hop and dance their adolescent troubles away. It was raucous simplicity coming in compact and movable forms, just like the evolving world all around. Not unlike the power and impact of the automobile and fast food, these quick two-minute songs, singing the praises of young love, lost love, and the frustrations of mommy and daddy’s world succinctly set to dance patterns provided the soundtrack for an era, a generation and the genesis of modern American music. All of these points would have been harder to slip into the mainstream, or might not ever existed in quite the same way or reached quite the same number of people, if not for Elvis Presley.

His contemporaries, especially the talent-laden black artists, who invented and authored the anthems of the time, like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, often complain about Presley’s legacy as the King of rock-n-roll. Berry’s bouncy four-bar blues set in different keys, curved in counter rhythms, and laced with searing solos that surrounded the biting and witty lyrics of good times and wild rides has been adopted as the living primer for modern American music. He was the poet of middle class dreams and fears. However, Chuck Berry, with all his shining smiles and cutesy charm was still an aggressive, egotistical black man with a stud-like aggression. His art was far too alien and threatening for lilly white Johnny Blue Jeans or Lucy Curls, who made up the bulk of the record buying public. If Elvis doesn’t smooth the road and chop down the brush of fear and resentment, ignorance and bigotry so prevelant in the mid-1950s’, brilliant artists such as Berry might have floated in relative obscurity, forced to keep his music within the sociatal boundaries of “his own kind.”

By merely being Caucasian, Presley, like an eager salesman, was able to make his noisy stand by sticking his foot in the door before it closed . The black artists and song writers, who penned a great deal of Presley’s hits were lucky he truly loved their work with an unique passion. Instead of stripping the melodies and rawness of their thump and pop, his interpretations exploded from the depths of its meaning. While Pat Boone and Perry Como were busy “whitening” the kick and bellow of their craft, Elvis Presley was doing it justice.

By virtue of his unprecedented rising popularity, the thousands of gold records, millions of dollars in merchandising and image conscious pruning, Elvis Presley stands as the father of all pop stars. Frank Sinatra merely stepped to the beat of the current times, wearing the proper attire of any dapper man of his era. Sinatra fit his world like a glove. Presley looked like someone dropped out of a spaceship. The crossover sexuality of the hot pinks and jet blacks, thin ties, baggy pants and white shoes that would hang from his lithe body like a uniform of peculiarity were the precursor of every pop star who followed him from the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix of the 60s’, to Elton John and David Bowie of the ’70s, to Boy George and Prince of the 80s’, and finally almost every musical figure rounding out the century. Elvis was America’s first male freak– mainstream and macho– yet effeminate and docile. He was the inspiration for a generation of rock stars who took misfit alienation to new levels. Before Elvis there were codes and standards by which unknown acts had to capitulate or be sent back to obscurity. Within months of his explosion on the national scene, Presley became the standard.

He might not have been the century’s only marketable personality, but Elvis Presley was certainly the biggest. His likeness has donned almost every product know to humankind. Toward the end of his short life it was widely understood that Elvis was the most photographed person in history. Even today his face is used to sell more junk the world over than anyone. In an odd way, his image transformed the way celebrities are sold to the public. Today a look or image is imperative to a performer, in most cases more influential than the music itself. For good or bad, Elvis Presley became a legend beyond the reach of his talents. The wave of pretty boys and glamour queens that dominated the record business for the following decades relied heavily on the selling of Elvis.

For all the impact and influence on his time, the future of music and celebrity, Elvis Presley’s star burnt as quickly as it did brightly. By 1959 Elvis was becoming more of a movie star than trend setter or musical force. Within a year he would join the army, followed by the passing of his beloved mother and his doomed marriage to Priscilla. In the process, the young pistol gave way to the savvy, cute Hollywood hunk. He would never again be a significant voice in the landscape of popular music.

By the time Elvis Presley returned to the stage in the mid-60s’, the generation he had borne would be well ensconced in the pop fabric. The Beatles and Bob Dylan had taken the torch of rebellion to another, more intellectual place. They paid homage to his lasting influence by simply admitting that the only motivation for picking up a guitar in the first place and setting their own fates in motion was to simply be the next Elvis.

Had Presley never sung a note he might have still caused a stir, but sing he did. Along with serving as a conduit of musical styles and bridging the chasm between black artists and a hit-dominated record industry, the simple greatness of his original voice puts him at the top of any century list.

Watershed hits such as “Heartbreak Hotel”, “All Shook Up”, “Hound Dog”, “Jailhouse Rock”, and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” were eminately Presley’s from the moment he put his stamp on them. His jagged, bubbly highs and Southern baritone jump from those recordings like spirits from a cauldren. Elvis crooned romantically, then screeched relentlessly; always pouring his heart into the lyric and melody. His blood, sweat and tears are on each and every song he recorded, even those less-recognized for their influence. His range of emotion and excitement speak honestly about the singer. After Elvis, the male vocalist could no longer just sing a song, especially in the new world of rock-n-roll. The “feel” of a performance far out-weighed the perfection of the take.

Moreover, there is a timeless quality to those early songs, and yet they also bring us back to a more innocent age when being wild and free meant that the world was an open book for the young. It was a time when America boomed economically and the rest of the world looked to our shores for support and guidance.

The true measure of Elvis Presley’s impact on society and memory is his indelible link to the expansive decade of the 50s’. All the politicians, inventors and celebrities pale in comparison. Although he was so young, and his time had come later in the decade, Elvis still stands as the defining figure of his time. And his legacy continues to effect and influence the music business today. Every year RCA delivers a new package of his hits, the sound and fury of the performances have a similar ring. Many of today’s artists, even those who write their own material, have learned a thing or two from The King’s passion in expressing the message of a song, and the infinite marriage it holds for its singer.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

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James Campion – Gonzo Journalist for a new century of mayhem

BIOGRAPHY

jc in 1997

Born to James and Phyllis Campion on 9/9/62 at the northern tip of Manhattan, jc spent his formative years on Van Ness Avenue in the Bronx, New York. Sequestered from the swirling chaos of the 1960’s by a loving family, his imagination was fueled by fantasy, comic books and the distant music from passing cars and open windows. Creating fantasy worlds far from the heat and cement of city life kept him from being scarred by stringent Catholic School rules and rough neighborhood wounds. His close relationship to his mom, grandmother and aunt has led jc to often refer to these years as paramount in experiencing the plight of the underdog. This lead to the inevitable questioning and rebellion often displayed by personalities educated in the belief of freedom and expression at home.

Campions
Phyllis and James Campion -1993

“My dad spent much of his time either at work or school trying to make a better life for my brother, Philip John and me,” jc told jamescampion.com. “I didn’t have that constant male presence. Very talented, emotional and brilliant women with an indescribable inner strength raised me to question everything and give your all in the face of any challenge.” jc’s mother noticed his penchant for ignoring the status quo very early in life. “James could never conform to the way things were right from the start,” Mrs. Campion told us. “We couldn’t understand why he didn’t take his first day of school as hard as the other kids. Then the next day when I asked him if he was ready for school, he responded, ‘I already did that yesterday.’ Of course we tried to explain to him that he had to go everyday so he could meet new people and play with their toys and learn new things, but he simply thought it crazy to leave his own friends and toys behind for some group dynamic.”

In his father’s company, jc’s imaginary worlds were transferred to sports or the silver screen. “My dad had this knack for taking me to movies that were incredibly thought provoking,” he remembers. “I developed my love of film and storytelling from those afternoons.”

By the age of ten, jc found himself in the grips of suburbia when his father’s hard work paid off and he was able to move his family out of the city and into a Central New Jersey town called Freehold. Moving again two years later to yet another neighborhood taught jc to adapt quickly to the cruelty and challenges of childhood politics. “When you’re small in stature and the new guy on the block,” he told an interviewer in 1996, “you learn quickly that you have to prove yourself time and again.” Eventually the new kid in town turned to the radio for solace and a source of endless imagination. There, in the din of corny 70s’ pop music, singer-songwriter honesty and the echo of athletic heroes pulsating through its tiny AM speaker, jc developed a nurturing relationship with music and a rabid infatuation with sports. He fell in love with their compact medium of telling compelling stories through song and drama, and with no formal musical training and lacking the body to compete at the highest level of sports, he pined to be the voices who brought those images to him..

jc and cb
jc and Chris Barrera on location of “The Package” – 1997

It was in the bucolic splendor of Freehold that jc also developed his love for reading and began to display an acute aptitude for writing. His budding friendship with neighbor, Chris Barrera, two years his junior, bloomed into a partnership of vivid imagination. Before long, their fascination with comic books and fantasy evolved into their own humble comic book empire. Everyday for countless hours the two would bang out stories of heroes and villains in the basement of jc’s house; Chris sketching the harrowing pictures, and jc penning the dramatic dialogue and plot. Sometimes the kids in the neighborhood would clamor for the latest tale, other times the stories would live and die under a naked light bulb above a black card table where the young team huddled together. “I read Stan Lee’s autobiography on how he conjured up those amazingly complex characters for Marvel Comics,” jc remembers. “The idea that someone sat down and wrote these things from out of their head and the result ended up on my nightstand intrigued me greatly.” In his grammar school year book in the spring of 1976 jc wrote one word under the heading, Desired Occupation: Writer.

This was also a time of great awakening for jc on the subject of politics. “I had this incredibly articulate and entertaining civics’ teacher in eighth grade, Tom Antus,” jc told Westchester Weekly in the fall of 1998. “Height of the cold war, hostages in Iran, Watergate fallout, Kennedy assassination conspiracy rumors; this was a fertile time to unload these things to a kid just formulating his way intellectually. I was hooked from the start.” Having spent two summers earlier glued to the television during the Watergate hearings, jc’s curiosity with power, corruption and the system of government soared. It would be an important theme in his thinking that expanded in a social conscience and fueled many rabid debates throughout his youth, eventually becoming an integral part of his writing career.

When his creative partner, Chris Barerra moved away, and high school began, jc took his writing skills to the school newspaper and monthly student poetry collection. Studying the classics as well as modern mavericks in literature, and covering the school sports teams, jc tackled all his favorite subjects. “I was an avid sports fan and spent most of my time in high school reading,” jc told us of his teen years. “Aside from listening to the Rolling Stones, watching the Yankees and reading Kurt Vonnegut or The Great Gatsby, I can’t register most of my time in High School. I was a lousy student and had trouble buying into established rituals.” Through those years, jc began dabbling deeper into poetry and song lyrics, sometimes corresponding through the mail with Chris. The two built a modest song catalog of original compositions. Once again jc provided the words, and Chris, veraciously learning guitar, the colors. When college life began, jc left behind volumes of work published and unpublished, and armed with awards for poetry and journalism, he set off to capture the dream of being one of the voices lucky enough to bring music and sports to the public.

Over the next few years, jc studied the electronic media, spending quality time on the campus radio station at Mercer County Community College and Trenton State University. “I wanted to be heard,” jc says of his time as a student of radio and television. “Having been weaned on radio, that was my best chance.” Continuing to work on school newspapers and penning commercials and skits for campus radio, jc began to branch out to other forms of writing and performing. “I was influenced by 70s’ satire like Saturday Night Live, Second City, and George Carlin,” jc says. “Irreverence as an art form reeled me in.”

It was also a place where he discovered the unusual bending of his favorite craft by the controversial Beat Writers. “Reading (Jack) Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ in college truly changed my life,” he fondly remembers. “I know a lot of people always point to that book as a watershed for many reasons–especially young men–but for me Kerouac, (William) Burroughs, (Kurt) Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thomspon; these were guys who not only wrote, they wrote from the gut. I’d never seen anything like that stuff. It jumped off the page and made me feel somehow more at home with the idea of putting pen to paper.”

It is during this time jc began to teach himself several musical instruments and write more personal songs. Although he worked in radio and dabbled in journalism, he made time to join small bands and was wooed by the seduction of immediate audience gratification. All those years dreaming of being the man cueing up the musical stories and describing sports heroics paled in comparison to being the one getting the cheers. For jc, the bellow of a hyped-up rock and roll crowd beat a lonely radio studio all to hell. He was not only hooked, but not too long after, with his parents moving once again, he was off on his own to chase the footlights.

 

Satyre
Satyre – 1986

By the early 80s’ and entering his early 20’s, jc found himself well ensconced in the Westchester, New York music scene; which wasn’t much of a scene at all. During those years and well into the mid-80s’ jc’s band Satyre played wherever and to whomever would have them; four young men from different places and backgrounds creating original songs and attempting to grab an audience fueled jc’s artistic juices. And while Satyre’s audience wasn’t overwhelmingly large, it was faithful. Its songs of passion and rebellion penned by jc, had a flair for culling the rabid fanatic. His performances as lead singer also raised eyebrows. He was using words to evoke emotions much like the movies and songs of his childhood. “I was so involved in lunatic causes then it was ridiculous,” jc told the Journal News in 1994. “It’s that time in a young man’s life when anger and curiosity take hold. I thought everything was worth writing about and eventually fighting for. That kind of blind commitment, coupled with this internal struggle to reduce all human endeavors to meaningless bullshit, finally turned me into a cynic. By then anything raised my ire, which was everything possible.”

By 1986 Satyre had a single and the financial backing to make a record and go on the road. But money troubles and lawyer squabbles ruined the innocent pursuit of creativity for jc, and although he was personally pursued by several professional talent outlets, by 1989 he was out of the business all together. “A lot of people tried to make me something I wasn’t,” he remembers. “I guess that’s the point of a business based on something resembling art. But that’s not why I went into it.” However, the love of making music remains a major part of jc’s personal and professional life. In 1991 he began a project with local producer and musician, Ken Eustace. The two put together a collection of jc’s songs for a CD called Days that is still circulating around. Since, jc has collaborated with many New York and New Jersey singer/songwriters on various projects including former Satyre band members, Peter G. Stevens and Tony Misuraca.

His appetite for performing, coupled with his original romance with broadcasting, lead to jc resurrecting his career as a respected broadcast journalist in the greater New York area. (See Sports Bio) By the early 90s’ jc drew rave reviews and scores of viewers for his local “Sports Club Live ” call-in television show. At the same time, he began a three-year run as writer, producer, and host of the acclaimed and cable-award winning baseball show, “The X-tra Inning” . These were years spent interviewing the game’s greatest talents like Ken Griffey jr., Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Don Mattingly, the late/great Yankee broadcaster, Mel Allen, and many more. “I spent plenty of afternoons and evenings as a kid in the stands at Yankee Stadium,” jc recalls. “Next thing I know I’m on the field, in the locker room, and chatting with ballplayers.”

jc parlayed his work on local television and radio into a sports column called “Sports Shorts” for the North County News, and during his time there its sports section won annual awards for coverage and quality. Moreover, his continued literary correspondence with friend and foe during his years with Satyre had kept him inside the journalism field. It was through those relationships that jc eased back into the craft of his first love, writing.

 

Sports Club Promo
Promo photo for Sports Club Live -1991

During the early 90s’ jc began research for a book he planned to base on the miraculous comeback of the 1978 New York Yankees. “That was my team,” he said at the time. “I want to put to paper what it meant to a sixteen year-old punk to have heroes come through in an age where everyone seemed to fail everyone else.” Culling interviews with many members of the legendary team, and compiling reams of information, he called it more a “labor of love” than anything resembling a book. Through his constant contacts in the literary world there was some interest in the manuscript, but by early 1995 jc had become wary of making a sports’ book his first published statement. “Pounding my head against the wall for social change and all that crap really made me recoil into the playful world of sports where the most inane detail takes precedence over the terrors of the real world,” jc pondered during a seminar for independent authors in New York City in 1996. “Sports is where journalists go to escape having to make a difference. It feels good, believe me.”

DogVoices at Sea Shell
DogVoices during the summer of Deep Tank Jersey – 1995

It was then jc received a call from one of Satyre’s former band members, Peter G. Stevens. Peter had stayed the musical course and landed in a wildly popular New Jersey club band called Voices. The band was adding Rob Monte, a popular front man of another top Jersey act called Who Brought the Dog to the fold. The harried result called DogVoices would not only set out to expand the success of both bands, but do it on the fly. It would be the band’s first summer on the road in a baptism of fire between a huge fan base and an amalgamation of raw enthusiasm. jc smelled a story, dreamed of a book, and told Pete to save him a spot on the bus. “The writing of Deep Tank Jersey was perfect timing for me,” jc said in a 1996 interview. “I had just gone through an incredibly horrible breakup, there was a goddamn baseball strike, all my closest friends had either moved away or gotten married. I was motivated to do what all my teachers and mentors had been telling me to do since I was a kid; shut up and write. So, I did what any self respecting American boy would do, I packed up and joined the circus, only I brought along a tape recorder and notebook.”

In the summer of 1996, Deep Tank Jersey hit the stands. An independently published rant on self-discovery, while battling the demons of fame and rapture inside the subculture of nightlife, it was read on every beach along the Jersey Shore and beyond. Real stories of real people doing incredibly insane things all in the name of fun, escape and camaraderie spoke to a generation of party animals and music lovers. Even those in the industry gushed about it’s cruel honesty and attention to sordid details. For jc, Deep Tank Jersey was a triumphant marriage of his love for music, artistic expression, obsession with “being heard” and writing “from the gut.”

jc in Jerusalem
At the Western Wall in Jerusalem – 1996

The success of the book was not only the product of timing, it had been the culmination of literary observations made on the move. For jc, the years leading up to the writing of Deep Tank Jersey were spent in the company of women and friends throughout the boroughs of New York, where he channeled a lifelong love affair with Greenwich Village into personal expression. Expanding his literary vision, he began to strategically move about the country for short stints, periodically delving into the lifestyles of Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco. But his dream had always been to travel to the Holy Land. Literally hours after Deep Tank Jersey went to print he was on a plane to Jerusalem and the wonders of Biblical mystery. An avid reader of spiritual tomes with a fascination for their founders, jc spent nearly a month in Upper Galilee and Jerusalem in the hopes that it would become the basis of his second book. But upon his return, and the start of the manuscript, the world of journalism came calling.

 

On the Trail
Covering the George Pataki gubernatorial campaign – 1998

Almost immediately after embarking on his spiritual sabbatical, the offers for jc’s services came pouring in. By 1997 he was firmly back doing what he loved, writing. His work as a freelancer took him from sports and satire to the national magazine scene. Many of the publications learned of jc through the growing buzz around Deep Tank Jersey, which afforded him a new underground audience, but it was in the manning of his infamous, “Reality Check News and Information Desk” that jc found a home. His weekly column for the edgy, and oft irreverent, Aquarian Weekly provided jc the pulpit in which to shine.

“It was always about awareness for me,” jc told a publisher’s conference at the headquarters of BLAZO!! recently. “I was part of that 60s’ radical revisionist movement in the 80s’ when it wasn’t hip to be young and struggling with human rights issues. This was before all that Live Aid stuff. In the time of Reagan, with greed and selfishness run rampant, it was more important to make the grade. But having lived through all that, it’s easier to see that just knowing you’re being screwed by a system or abuse of authority is enough. People mostly know they can’t do a damn thing about the atrocities of this world, they just want to be aware it’s all happening. Don’t tell us everything’s fine. It’s fucked. Let’s come to grips with that and see it for what it truly is.”

jc’s coverage of politics, pop culture and current events in his Reality Check column has brought reaction both glowing and scathing from every faction of society. This period of his work is well chronicled in his second book, Fear No Art. Published in the Spring of 2000 by BLAZO!!, an experience reception network for the new millennium, it catipulted jc into the pantheon of the Gonzo age and helped him share the satirical realm with his mentors and heroes like H.L. Mencken, Mark Twain, Lenny Bruce, Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter S. Thompson. Owner and creator of BLAZO!!, Bo Blaze launched jamescampion.com soon after to allow web surfers a chance to absorb what he called. “The Campion Experience.” Meanwhile Fear No Art helped BLAZO!! signal a maverick age in information dissemination. “BLAZO!! is important for what I’m trying to do now,” jc told us that Summer. “The idea of working with a creative mind like Blaze in an atmosphere of utter insanity and depravity excites me in ways better left unsaid.” The results of which proved fruitful in a host of Internet cartoons including , “Rabbi Blazo Sings the Classics” and “Lil’ Pengy”, both of which jc acted as head writer and co-producer.

 

e
Erin D. Moore pictured with her work at SUNY Purchase College – 1998

In between the long hours of freelance journalism, pounding out a script for an independent film called “The Package” in the summer of ’97, and pulling together notes and essays for Fear No Art in late 1999, jc found time to fall in love with an artist/photographer,Erin D. Moore. A trusted friend and creative soul mate, Erin is an exquisite talent in her own right; with the brash toughness, emotional honesty and a dry wit that would have the two marrying in June of ‘99, shaving their heads and heading West where they camped in the California desert and strolled the wondrous hills of Big Sur. Throughout their romance both have been each other’s creative motivation and often the subject. jc has written several songs and a short story about Erin and Ms. Moore has used jc as a model for her magnificent mosaics, sculptures and was the photographer for the back cover of Fear No Art and his latest effort, the controversial and mystical, Trailing Jesus. She also created the stunning mosaic for its cover. Ms. Moore’s work is available for viewing and purchase at mosaicsbymoore.com.

jc in 1999

Finally completing the six-year opus about his Holy Land journey with Trailing Jesus, jc has accomplished his labor of love and what he now dubs, “the most honest piece of work I’m capable of.” Trailing Jesus is jc’s most ambitious work to date, mixing philosophy, religion, mysticism, politics and revolution in a swirling journal from the edge of the Judean desert. Visions of the Galilean sage come alive as jc follows in the footsteps of the western world’s most enigmatic figure and what he finds is hard to forget.

Today jc’s Reality Check column is bigger and badder than ever. And with the help of this web site it has become an international sensation. jamescampion.com is read in over 20 languages by hundreds of thousands of people every week from all walks of life, gender, race and generation. Its biting and witty prose has infiltrated the very heart of controversy and hyperbole with a style fresh and honest. His critics call him mean and aloof, his fans deem him good and tough. After the terrible events of 9/11/2001, two of jc’s controversial and touching five-part series on the tragedy appear in the charity compliation, Glory: A Nation’s Spirit Defeats the Attack on America. Later that year he followed it up by contributing a stirring account of his generation to the fourth volume of the wildly popular, In Our Own Words collection.

With the release of his third book, Trailing Jesus, published by his very own company, Gueem Books, jc embarks on a new venture that he hopes will touch many more authors. “My hope is that Gueem Books will allow other struggling writers find a voice for independent publishing,” he notes. “It’s all the rage with film, why not literature?” In early 2003 jc signed on with Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists with the hopes of attacking the mainstream media the way his work has succesfully cracked the literary underground. Later that year his first novel was optioned for a film by the Hal and Cheryl Croasman production team. The manuscript is currently in review at several publishers. A street date is not yet known.

“Art is the most important thing left to humans”,” jc told Amazon.com in late 2002. ““It’s our last frontier. So let’s not screw it up.””

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