Sunday, March 24, 2013

Doors (Paul Oakenfold remix) -- "L. A. Woman" (2007

Well, I just got into town about an hour ago
Took a look around, see which way the wind blow
Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows?

In the previous 2 or 3 lines, I introduced you to Hank Moody, the protagonist of the Showtime television series, Californication.

Hank is portrayed by David Duchovny of X-Files fame.  Duchovny acts sort of dopey most of the time, but it's just an act.  He graduated from Princeton in 1982 -- he was an English literature major who wrote a senior thesis about Samuel Beckett's early novels, and also played basketball and baseball -- and then got a master's from Yale, where he was a student of the famous literary critic, Harold Bloom.  (He was working on a Ph.D. at Yale but got sidetracked when he became a TV and movie star.)

David Duchovny in high school
It's just amazing how the ladies are drawn to Hank in Californication.  In one early episode, a young lovely pulls up next to our hero at a stoplight.  They are both driving convertibles, so they strike up a brief conversation while waiting for the light to change.  Before the light turns green and she drives away, the young lovely throws a little paper airplane with her name and phone number written on it into Hank's car.

It's not clear what it is about Hank that inspires her to engage in such wanton behavior.  Duchovny is good-looking is sort of a sleepy way, but he's also a mess -- his clothes are disheveled, he hasn't shaved, and he's sufficiently hungover to act as if he has a room-temperature IQ.  He is driving a Porsche, but it's a very dirty 1991 Porsche with a banged-up fender and broken headlight.

Hank Moody's banged-up Porsche
Not surprisingly, Hank calls the number on the paper airplane when he gets home.  The young lovely -- a very appealing and friendly blonde -- turns out to be a porn star.  (Eureka!)  Unfortunately, her baby daughter starts crying just as she is unzipping Hank for a  . . . how shall I put it? . . . for a "Monica." 

While the porn star is willing to let her infant cry herself to sleep and continue taking care of business, Hank politely demurs.  "Go take care of your daughter," he says, and then excuses himself.  (Such a gentleman!)

I love Californication, but I can't claim that it's a very realistic show.  Think of it like a romance novel -- but for guys.  

The actress who plays the porn star looks nothing like the typical porn star, but it turns out that she is the very successful porn star, Brooke Banner.  Brooke is a stunning girl-next-door type who has been nominated for AVN Awards (the Oscars of the adult-video business) for "Best All-Girl Sex Scene" (2005) and for "Best Oral Sex Scene" (2010).

Brooke Banner giving Hank Moody the eye
Why in the world would the porn star have picked Hank to proposition when he not only looks scruffy but also looks broke?  And are we really supposed to believe that Hank would have left mid-Monica just because the young lovely's infant was bawling?

In the same episode, Hank is invited to a small dinner party at the house of his ex and the creepy rich guy she is planning to marry.  He's a real wiseass under the best of circumstances, and being with his ex and the creepy rich guy are definitely not the best of circumstances. 

Hank's introduced to a recently divorced woman named Sonja who has been invited by Hank's ex in hopes that the two hit it off.  Hank quickly insults Sonja -- he makes a nasty crack about Scientology, and Sonja announces that she is a Scientologist.  (Don't you just hate it when that happens?)

But Hank's magnetic charm (or maybe his Axe deodorant?) saves the day.  Before the evening is over, she invites him into a bedroom and disrobes for him.  She asks him to critique her body -- her ex-husband left her for another man, which (not surprisingly) didn't exactly do wonders for her self-esteem.

Hank (always the gentleman) comments favorably on her key body parts, and concludes by telling her she is one of the most beautiful women he's seen in a long time.  (That's no exaggeration.)

Click here if you'd like to watch the scene.

By the way, there was a very similar scene in a wonderful little 2001 movie called Lovely and Amazing, which starred two of my favorite actresses, Catherine Keener and Emily Mortimer. 

Emily's character -- an actress -- is puzzled by her inability to get roles, and decides that directors must think there is something wrong with her body.  So she stands buck nekkid in front of a successful actor she is about to go to bed with, asking him to give her his honest appraisal of her body.  This scene alone is worth the price of a DVD of Lovely and Amazing, and the rest of the movie is great as well.

Emily Mortimer and Catherine Keener
(Before you ladies out there assume that the point of this scene was to provide a little gratuitous titillation for the movie's male viewers, I'd like to point out that the director of Lovely and Amazing was Nicole Holofcener -- who just happens to be a woman.)

I later found out that the Sonja character in Californication was played by Paula Marshall, an actress who has appeared in several movies but has had more success on the small screen. 

Paula was born in Rockville, Maryland -- which just happens to be where 2 or 3 lines world headquarters are located -- and graduated from Robert E. Peary High School in Rockville in 1982.  Peary High closed in 1984, and the building is now the home of Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, a coed Modern Orthodox Jewish day school with about 700 students.  (I've refereed at Hebrew Academy several times, and have gotten to know several Peary alums over the years.)

Paula Marshall
I was a little late to the Californication party.  The show is in its sixth season, but I've never had Showtime or HBO, so I'm dependent on my trusty public library if I want to watch it (or The Sopranos or Deadwood or The Wire or Homeland).  That means waiting a couple of years until the shows are released on DVD.   

The second episode of the first season of Californication features a remix of the Doors' classic, "L.A. Woman," by English record producer and DJ Paul Oakenfold.

When I started listening to rock music in the sixties, there was usually only one version of a song by a given artist.  Sometimes other singers or groups covered a song, but there was usually only one version of a record by a given recording artist.

There were two exceptions to this rule.  First, a singer might release a live version of a popular record.  And when rock bands started recording longer and longer tracks, they often released a version that had been edited down to a length that was more suitable to be played on top 40 radio stations.  

Today, anything goes.  Remixes of all shapes and sizes abound.

A remix usually involves stripping out a recorded song's original vocal track or rhythm track and replacing it with a different one, or otherwise enhancing the original tracks in some fashion.  Remixed songs are often lengthened in various ways -- either by repeating existing song elements, or inserting new material.

Master remixer Paul Oakenfold
A mashup differs from a remix by including elements of more than one song -- many mashups involve overlaying a vocal track from one song on an instrumental track from another.  Some combine different songs horizontally (one succeeding the other) as well as vertically (one on top of the other) .

Paul Oakenfold is usually described as a trance DJ, but there are a number of electronic dance music ("EDM") genres and subgenres, and I'm by no means sure that his remix of "L. A. Woman" (which apparently was created especially for Californication) is most accurately described as trance music rather than techno or chill-out or whatever.  Oakenfold tours a lot, and a few years he became the resident DJ at Rain Nightclub, a spectacular 25,000-square-foot dance club in Las Vegas.   

Click here to play Paul Oakenfold's compelling remix of "L.A. Woman":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

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