Of Bluegrass and Barbers

Where else but in Bristol, Virginia, the birthplace of country music, would you find a fiddling barber? Where else would you find a barber often featured in Jim Scancarelli’s comic strip “Gasoline Alley”? In what other barber shop in America can you find a barber with over 50 years’ experience in both cutting hair and making bluegrass music?

Every Thursday morning, a group of some of the most talented musicians this side of Nashville gather amid the Vitalis, Osage Rub, and Pinaud Clubman Talc to give Star Barber Shop patrons a free concert. They even take requests.

Gene Boyd began the Star Barber Shop business in 1950, and his relationship with music goes back even farther. He began playing bluegrass around age 10 and performed with such local groups as the Holston Valley Gang, the Boys from Hickory Tree and Leon Kiser and the Holston Mountain Boys. Mr. Boyd has performed with Bill Monroe, Jim and Jessee and Roni Stoneman. Fellow Bristolian Ernie Ford was a disc jockey when Mr. Boyd played bluegrass on the radio. Mr. Boyd was awarded a BCMA Lifetime Achievement Award by the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance in 1998. He also appears in an English film company video titled “Crawdaddy-from Bristol to Bristol.”

Music provides a strong bond between the musicians who frequent the Star Barber Shop and their families. On the Thursday morning that I visited the shop, one guitar player’s daughter had accompanied him to the shop and proudly declared to me, “That’s my daddy!”

Another Star Barber Shop regular player showed me a guitar that had been handmade by his son. The guitar featured beautifully inlaid tiny mosaic tiles around the base and down the neck.

“Does he do that for a living?” I asked.

The man laughed. “Nah. He works at Eastman.”

Mr. Boyd’s own fiddle is a lovely piece of his own craftsmanship. The only place some of the cherry finish has worn thin is where Mr. Boyd’s left hand holds the neck. This is a fiddle that has been played often and with a great deal of love and respect for the instrument and for the music it emits.

If you’re ever in Bristol, Virginia, on a Thursday morning, go by the Star Barber Shop at 1003 West State Street. You’ll be welcomed with a cup of coffee, a song, and a haircut, if you want one.

Everyone Welcome…Except Maybe Big Maude

You might think that Floyd’s City Barber Shop with its homespun charm and “two chairs, no waiting” exists only in The Andy Griffith Show reruns. After all, who can run a successful business and still take time to shoot the breeze with passersby? Well, don’t tell anyone that you heard it from me, but Russell Hiatt can.

Want a good haircut and all the latest gossip about the fine folks from Mayberry? Then stop in at Floyd’s City Barber Shop on Main Street in Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. I did. I didn’t get a haircut, but I did get a few interesting tales. Now, here again, you didn’t hear any of this from me, but Andy recently came home to dedicate a stretch of road named in his honor. It’s officially called The Andy Griffith Parkway, but some people are already calling it “Andy’s Road.” They’re not really ones to put on the dog in Mayberry, you know…er, I mean, Mount Airy. And you know Hal Smith who played Otis the town drunk on the show? He confessed to Mr. Hiatt that he’d never drank in his life. And Ernest T. Bass? He isn’t a nutty little troublemaker at all. He’s a really nice guy named Howard Morris who has visited Floyd’s City Barber Shop a number of times. Helen Crump (a/k/a Aneta Corsaut) came for a visit once and brought along about 500 people from a tour in Winston-Salem. That visit provided the inspiration for Mr. Hiatt’s “Wall of Fame.”

It was about fourteen years ago that Ms. Crump paid that visit. Since then, Mr. Hiatt has put 23,000 photographs on his wall (and has another 1,800 ready to be placed, though finding 1,800 empty spaces might pose a problem). These photographs include everyday people (like me), a Cleveland, Ohio woman (who was the first to be photographed for the “Wall of Fame”), governors, major league ballplayers and officials, Oprah Winfrey (whose father Vernon is a barber in Nashville, Tennessee), and even “The Incredible Hulk” Lou Ferrigno.

“Now that one fills up a barber chair,” observes Mr. Hiatt, pointing out the photo of Lou Ferrigno.

It’s true. I’ll bet even Aunt Bee and Clara peeped around the corner from Snappy Lunch in order to get a better look at the muscle-bound, smiling actor.

Mr. Hiatt has had a lot of fun over the past 56 years being “Floyd the barber.” Who’d have thought that cutting Andy Griffith’s hair when Andy was in college would play such a role in shaping Mr. Hiatt’s life? Howard McNear who played Floyd Lawson on The Andy Griffith Show suffered a stroke in the show’s last year, 1968. Mr. McNear died on January 3, 1969. Thus, the real life “Floyd” attends Mayberry’s reunions and celebrations. When he gets back home, he once again gets out the scissors and the comb and goes back to work.

I have to say, Russell Hiatt is a real Mayberry kind of guy. He faithfully visits his mother-now 98-in the nursing home; and every other Sunday, he helps cook dinner for the entire family (23 in all). And much like Floyd Lawson, you can’t one-up him no matter how hard you try. I showed him photographs of my boy-girl twins, and danged if he didn’t turn right around and point out a photograph of his boy-girl twins (just two of his ten great-grandchildren).

In 2000, Mr. Hiatt was inducted into the Barbering Hall of Fame. “If I’d retired, I’d have missed that,” he told me. “And if I’d stayed home today, I’d have missed you…and I wouldn’t have missed that for the world.”

That said, consider yourself warned about visiting Mount Airy/Mayberry. We watch The Andy Griffith Show, and we get preconceived notions about what these townspeople might be like. Then you go there and find that it’s really better than anything Hollywood could concoct. You go to the Visitor’s Center and Ann and Millie make you feel like a VIP, and then Mr. Hiatt treats you like family. I was almost surprised that no deputy stopped me on the way out of town to give me a jar of pickles…but then again, someone did mention that that particular deputy was mostly on duty on Fridays.

Hollywood Comedy Movies – From Charlie Chaplin To Jim Carrey

Comedy movie started long back in the 1900. The first movie to be produced was by Thomas Edison&39;s kinetoscope of his assistant Fred Ott in Record of a Sneeze. This could also be considered the first to show comedy aspect of the movie.

Comedy films began to appear more during the era of silent films, prior to the 1930s. These comedy movies were originally based on visual humor. The prominent figure that we all know as Charlie Chaplin was one of the famous clown-style actors of the silent era. It was through Charlie Chaplin that the Hollywood comedy movies became famous and soon came the Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

Then in the 1920s came another trend of animated cartoons. They were the most popular Hollywood comedy movies of the time. The several popular characters of that era were Felix the cat, Krazy Kat and Betty Boop. However, the popularity of these movies was hindered due to lack of sound and color.

The end of 1920s, the Hollywood comedy industry marked a change brought about by the introduction of sound into the movies. This has allowed the industry to create dramatic new film styles and use verbal humor. These films were soon replacing silent movies. These films used dialogue of comedians such as the WC Fields and the Marx Brothers. Charlie Chaplin was the last comedian to have acted in the silent films, and his films during 1930s were devoid of dialogue, although they did employ sound effects.

When the United States entered into World War II, Hollywood movies changed its course to themes related to the conflicts and Hollywood comedy movies portrayed more on military themes. The war era experienced a boom, where restrictions on the traveling made nearly a quarter of the money spent was on attending movies.

In the 1950s, the interest shifted where the TV became the focus of adult social situations on family oriented comedies. During this time the release of Hollywood comedy films declined. The 1960s saw an increasing number of broad, star-packed comedies. In 1970 Hollywood comedy movies reflected the anti-war sentiment, which was prevailing then. Amongst the leading figure of this time were Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. They wrote, directed and appeared in their hilariously funny and witty movies.

In the 1980s the gag based comedy Airplane, a spoof of the previous decade disaster film series was released and Hollywood comedy movies paved its way for more of the same including Top Secret and the Naked Gun film. The popular comedian of this time included Dudley Moore, Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. Jim Carrey, the Canadian actor and a comedian came into Hollywood comedy movies in the late 1980s where he won the role in Damian Lee Canadian skiing comedy, Copper Mountain.

The most popular Hollywood comedy movies were of John Hughes, which includes Ferris Buellers Day Off and Home Alone series of 1990s. The later films focused more to family audience, this was a revival in comedy movies. The spoof comedy movies remain popular till date.

Another development in the Hollywood comedy movies was the use of gross-out humor, which is usually, aimed at younger audience in films like, There is Something about Mary, American Pie and many more. This trend of gross-out movies continued with adult oriented comedies picking up the box office till date.

Destiny, Fate, and Hollywood Stars

Fifty Hollywood actors of similar talent toil for years looking for that big break, frequently crossing paths through the same auditions and talent agencies. Eventually, two of them make it to A-list status, yet the others languish in obscurity. We don&39;t call it luck, we call it fate.

"It makes me believe in fate. In most cases, the readings where I&39;ve been really bad have usually been the ones where I got the part."
Robin Wright

After reviewing thousands of people comprehensive astrology and numerology charts, our objective findings consistently show those who are fated to become famous do, and those who aren&39;t, don&39;t.

That may sound "void of promise" to you, but we prefer to tell it as we see it to help you save time, money, and avoid heartache. Besides, life is about the journey, not the destination, wouldn&39;t you agree?

Consider these other quotes about fame and predestination:

"Casting sometimes is fate and destiny more than skill and talent, from a director&39;s point of view."
Steven Spielberg

"When I was growing up in Terrell, Texas, I felt that it was not where I was supposed to be. I knew that I was meant for a different destination. I think that the minute I was born, there was something inside telling me where I would go, it&39;s like energy – an intangible destiny. "
Jamie Foxx

"… I didn&39;t know what I was going to do with myself. And then fate reached in and took me in its hands. I was discovered right out of high school and started getting work."
Sally Field

"We are all tied to our destiny and there is no way we can liberate ourselves."
Rita Hayworth

"I&39;m a great believer in fate. I think things happen in spite of, and despite, yourself."
Randolph Scott

"Fate pulls you in different directions."
Clint Eastwood

"Fate gives you the finger and you accept."
William Shatner

Those who deny fate assert that force of will and hard work allow you to achieve anything. Perhaps there are multitudes of aspiring Hollywood actors thinking to themselves, "If someone like Brad Pitt can make it big, so can I."

Do you believe Brad Pitt is just a pretty face and got lucky in his career? We disagree. The patterns symbolizing fame and money success in Brad Pitt&39;s comprehensive charts are beyond stellar, even breathtaking. The aspiring stars that never get a break, despite working as hard as anyone else, simply lack the necessary patterns. In other words, it&39;s their fate to never get that big break, and the unique patterns in their charts represent it. Again, we know this does sound encouraging, but we&39;ve found that being direct is ultimately more helpful to you.

Interestingly, extreme infamy is equally as easy for us to identify in the charts, as is an exceptional fall from grace, significant career beginnings and peak points, and key love life connections, to name a few.

After years of doing this type of work, we&39;ve learned the importance of working with fate and accepting what you can&39;t change, and It&39;s always heartening to see patterns of extraordinary success in an individual&39;s comprehensive charts.

After recently watching on a long flight Ex Machina and A Most Violent Year staring relatively young (36 years-old) Oscar Isaac, we appreciated his talent. We then reviewed his charts and were intrigued with how his overall lifetime mega fame and career staying power is similar to that of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. He&39;s staring in the upcoming Star Wars movies, episodes VII and VIII.

The theory of personal fate (same meaning as destiny) tells us there&39;s a reason for everything and things happen when they&39;re supposed to happen.

However, fate does not mean you should always wait around for things to happen. Get centered, figure out your talents and what you really want, and take action. Fated events sometimes just happen to you, completely out of your control, and other times they occur when you follow your dreams and work toward success.

Copyright ©

True Independent Film – The Iconographer Goes Back to Indie Film Roots With Film Maker Andy Mingo

Remember when Indie Meant Indie?

Remember the first days of independent film? Those were the days of "Eraserhead" and "Mala Noche" and "Crumb" and "Pi" and "El Mariachi" and "Clerks" and even "Roger and Me." Remember how exciting it was to watch the dominant mode of production of our time, film making, be put into the hands of a regular person who might live next to you? Or might even be you?

Remember when ten grand, maybe twenty if you cleaned out your bank account and maxed out your credit cards and asked all your friends and neighbors and relatives and even people you barely knew but bought drinks for? And it was worth it?

Portland independent filmmaker Andy Mingo wants you to know two things about independent film: first, it&39;s alive and well in Portland, Oregon, and second, there is a difference between the history of independent film, the present corporate takeover of indie film, and what he is calling True Independent Film.

Andy Mingo is the director of The Iconographer, a new independent feature film currently under consideration on the festival circuits this year. Written, directed, and edited by Mingo, The Iconographer was made on a budget of less than 20 grand with local actors who worked for cheese and wine and lasagna that his wife baked.

Mingo shot the entire film at locations around Portland, Oregon ranging from a local liquor store, to a beach on the Sandy river, to warehouses, the insides of cars, and strip clubs. Cameras came from equipment grants and loaners from the Northwest Film Center. Actors knew each other from local productions and jobs and bars and the passion of doing something because you just can&39;t not. The music came from people Mingo had known for years. The sound guy had a day job. Pretty much everyone did.

The story of The Iconographer has one foot in the history of independent film and one foot in the territory Mingo is calling True Independent Film. According to New York Times bestselling author Chelsea Cain, "The Iconographer is personal, funny and incredibly smart, a little story with big waves that resonates on many levels, from its pitch perfect portrayal of family dynamics, to its socio-political allegory .. . And there&39;s enough fake blood to keep things interesting. "

True Independent film, according to Andy Mingo, still works from the ground up, and brings into focus the small and human story. In addition to "The Iconographer," Andy Mingo has written, directed and produced six short films, which have appeared in various national festivals and screenings including the Longbaugh Film Festival, the Northwest Film and Video Festival, the PDX Film Festival, and Northwest Tracking – Journal of Short Film V.11. Mingo is a Professor of Media Studies at Clackamas Community College as well as the author of the novel, East of Elko. He also runs Chiasmus Press, one of Portland&39;s award winning independent literary press. And he&39;s on a mission to advocate for True Independent Film.

Independent film used to exist. Alas, in 2009 "Independent Film" has become just another branding device to make big money films sound … hip. The Sundance Film Festival winners feature Hollywood actors and big money sponsors. Fox uses its "Searchlight" as a hipster mask. And Warner Independent Pictures? Really? Let&39;s face it. The corporatization of independent film has eaten it alive and shat it out as a glitzy mainstream thing consumers with enough money to burn can buy to impress their friends and feel … edgy. True Independent Film, according to Mingo, is both a return and a movement of the future.

2009 Portland, Oregon, well, we&39;re a Petri dish. For instance. Gus Van Sant made "Mala Noche" in 1985 for 20 grand. It earned overnight fame on the festival circuit, and the LA Times named it the year best independent film. It took "Drugstore Cowboy" and "My Own Private Idaho" to nail New Line Cinema, and the rest is history. So by all accounts, Portland ought to be an incredible breeding ground for more Gus Van Sant&39;s, and particularly for Indie Film at its best.

In most ways, it is. Independent filmmakers such as feature filmmakers Andy Mingo and James Westby, documentary filmmakers Brian Lindstrom and Andrew Blubaugh, and experimental filmmakers like Miranda July and Matt Mcormick are keeping it real by, according to Mingo, creating in the fires of True Independent Film.

It used to be that when people talked about independent publishing or music or film-indie art-they mostly meant art that subverted its genre. Not just in terms of content and style and mode of production, but also in terms of publishination to an audience and the interruption of capital. You could hear the best music in a rat hole downtown, music born out of someone&39;s garage or from brave kids squatting in abandoned houses to practice their licks. You could turn yourself on to the best literature by passing it hand to hand on the street or in bars or alleyways. You could witness the rebirth of film in an arthouse cinema for half the price of the cineplex, and feel baptized afterwards instead of covered in butter and chocolate.

But today, even trying to get into the circuit of film festivals that pepper the country means having to compete with corporate backed films made by already established filmmakers on huge budgets with Hollywood actors and distribution going to the highest bidder. Films like "The Iconographer" are basically up against the Hollywood studio industry. And there&39;s no way to bake enough lasagna to compete with that.

Still, filmmaker Andy Mingo insists that True Independent Film is still being made, and in fact, might hold the possibility of something the corporatization of independent film cannot quite absorb:

Look. Independent filmmakers have not gone away or stopped doing that thing they do. They simply have a harder time getting seen than ever before, since "indie," has itself become a market driven genre. Don&39;t get me wrong, there are a number of great films coming out of the corporate independent market. But there needs to be a distinction made between those polished, well financed products and and films that are made in the true spirit of real independent film. I don&39;t think less people should make their own films. I think more people should.

It&39;s a hopeful sentiment just about now. True Independent Filmmakers, just like the people who can&39;t help making music, can&39;t help writing the closet manifesto, survive on close-knit communities and grants and dinners at each others&39; homes. So even while we&39;re paying close to 8 bucks these days to see a blockbuster hit or checking our mailboxes for next Netflix Oscar winner, I&39;m secretly hoping Mingo is right:

There isn&39;t time to despair. In 2009&39;s darkest days, when things have gone to shit, redefinitions are possible. It may be that more, rather than less art forms are available. People are sitting in front of Mac computers. People have more and more access to cameras. With all that money at stake, entire careers grow and fizzle at the speed of light, and films that don&39;t gross, sink. True Independent Films are unsinkable, because they&39;re not tied to anything but the people who make them.

For Mingo, True Independent Film "is exactly like a Petri dish-things that are unique are allowed to grow. Things that regular people make have a way of … dangerously thriving."

Peter Cushing, The Gentleman Of Horror

With his prominent cheek bones, sunken cheeks and aquiline nose, Peter Cushing is undoubtedly one of the most striking and iconic faces in the history of horror films. Coupling his dapper physical appearance with his quiet, well-spoken manner, Cushing has often been described as "the gentleman of horror." As a lifelong Peter Cushing fan, I would certainly agree with that appellation, as I believe he brought a certain kind of class and inherent quality to each role he played, be it a horror part or otherwise.

My earliest memories of watching a Peter Cushing movie go back to the late sixties, when I first saw him in the Hammer horror movies I grew to love so much. As a small boy staying up late to watch Appointment With Fear every Monday evening at 10.30 pm, I was instantly struck by this fantastic British actor with the compelling face, a man who could play either Baron Frankenstein or Dracula&39;s arch nemesis, Dr Van Helsing, with equal charm and charisma. In those far off days, I had to be content with an old black-and-white TV set, so watching Mr Cushing in that context was thrilling enough in itself. But then, when we finally got our color telly in 1975, and I was then able to view all those wonderful Hammer horror movies in glorious technicolor – well, that was an even bigger joy than my initial exposure to them on my old black-and -white set way back in the sixties!

It was just the Hammer movies that I loved Mr Cushing in, for he did make some excellent appearances in the Amicus films too. Amicus were the main rivals to Hammer when it came to producing top-quality horror movies, and my favorite Cushing role in these portmanteau films was that of the tragic ex-garbage man Arthur Grimsdyke in Tales From The Crypt (1972), who is hounded into purchase suicide by the cold-hearted actions of a snooty neighbor, who takes exception to the way Grimsdyke befriends local children and harbor dogs in his house, picking dirt out of what is, after all, just a simple case of a lonely, harmless old man playing the kindly uncle to the local kids. This is, without doubt, one of Cushing finest roles, and I really felt sorry for Mr Grimsdyke when his tormentor finally drives the poor old man to hang himself. But of course, this being a Cushing horror movie, and one where the character has been tampering with a Ouija board, it did all end there, for one year later, the rotting corpse of Grimsdyke rises from the grave to exact a grisly revenge on his ruthless neighbor, ripping out his heart and leaving it for his shocked father to find the next morning, wrapped up in a blood-soaked cloth bearing a Valentine&39;s poem written in blood. Classic Amicus stuff!

Next to all his Hammer movies, the Cushing Amicus films take special pride of place on my DVD shelf. Whenever I look at my DVD collection, I often think to myself that when I used to watch Peter in all those fantastically creepy films years ago, I never once thought that one day I would actually own them all in this format, always there to watch whenever I want to.

It was often that Peter Cushing played a baddie, but when he did, he could really impress, just as unforgettably as he could when he played the kindly gentleman roles. The movie that sees Mr Cushing at his most ruthless and nasty is, for me, the 1969 classic Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed . In fact, of all the Frankenstein films he starred in, this is the one that really portrays the Baron at his darkest, stooping to such shocking acts as rape and murder. He blackmails a young couple to assist him with his ever-fanatical experiments, and when the girl, Anna (played by the lovely Veronica Carlson), inadvertently sets the monster free, he cold-bloodedly knives her to death. Alongside the tragic image of poor Mr Arthur Grimsdyke hanging by his neck in Tales From The Crypt , the scene where poor Anna is lying dead with Frankenstein&39;s scalpel protruding from her stomach in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed certainly ranks high in my list of Cushing movies which have the most shock value.

Of course, everybody knows that Peter Cushing did play many other roles outside the horror genre, and has appeared in countless stage productions portraying such literary characters as Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Oh yes, and who could forget his occasional guest appearances on The Morecambe and Wise Show, where he persistently harassed the two comedians for his "money." However, it is for his awesome performances as Baron Frankenstein and Abraham Van Helsing, along with all his other horror roles, that I shall mostly remember him. He made those parts his own – just as his great friend Christopher Lee did with Dracula and Boris Karloff did with the Frankenstein Monster – and nobody, but nobody, could fill his shoes in that respect.

The horror movie industry of today is, sadly, a much poorer place without Peter Cushing, the "gentleman of horror."