Connect with us

Entertainment

John Barbata, drummer for the Turtles, CSNY and Jefferson Airplane, dies at 79

Published

on

John Barbata, drummer for the Turtles, CSNY and Jefferson Airplane, dies at 79

John Barbata, the classic rock drummer who played on era-defining records by the Turtles, Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, has died. He was 79.

Jefferson Airplane (and its offshoot Jefferson Starship) confirmed Barbata’s death in official posts on their social media accounts. A full list of survivors and exact date of death were not immediately available.

Barbata was “known for his exceptional talent,” Jefferson Airplane wrote in its statement announcing his death. “Back in ‘72, during a hiatus for CSN&Y, David Crosby introduced John to the Airplane, who hired John instantly. You can hear John’s drumming skills on the band’s final studio album, ‘Long John Silver,’ as well as the live album ‘Thirty Seconds Over Winterland.’”

Barbata, born in New Jersey, moved to Southern California as a teenager, playing in surf-rock bands — he was a member of the Sentinels, whose “La Tinia” was a local radio hit in 1961 — before joining the Turtles, then riding high after their 1965 cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe.” Barbata recorded on their chart-topper and defining track “Happy Together” and the follow-up smash “She’d Rather Be With Me.”

Barbata stayed with the group through their final three albums, 1967’s “Happy Together,” 1968’s “The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands” and 1969’s “Turtle Soup.” In his memoir, he recalled a wild London trip where he partied with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones, a night that went sideways when a Turtles roadie spilled a pitcher of beer on Lennon.

Advertisement

After the Turtles broke up, Barbata joined CSNY for a run of tour dates that were documented on the live album “4 Way Street,” where he played drums on Neil Young‘s “Ohio,” written in the wake of the Kent State campus shootings.

When that group went on hiatus, Barbata performed on several of its members’ solo albums, including Young’s “Time Fades Away,” Graham Nash’s “Songs for Beginners” and Stephen Stills’ 1970 self-titled record. (Barbata also famously played a 45-minute drum solo to prevent a riot when 1969’s Atlanta Pop Festival suffered a power outage.)

David Crosby recruited him to join the final Jefferson Airplane lineup, and the band later brought him into Jefferson Starship, where he played on hits like “Miracles” over four LPs: 1974’s “Dragon Fly,” 1975’s “Red Octopus”, 1976’s “Spitfire” and 1978’s “Earth.”

Along the way, he recorded and toured with Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Leon Russell, Doctor John, the Everly Brothers and many more. Barbata, as he recounts in his memoir, declined both an opportunity to drum for Elvis Presley and a chance to join the Eagles, telling the Phoenix New Times that “[David] Geffen walked over to me and said, ‘There is a new group forming, and they want you to be part of it. They are called the Eagles.’ I said, ‘Who the hell are the Eagles? I never heard of them.”

A 1978 car accident and long recovery necessitated his departure from Jefferson Starship, and he largely left the music industry afterward. Barbata published a memoir, “The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer,” in 2005. He eventually moved to southern Oklahoma, where he spent his last years.

Advertisement

“It was a wild ride, and one that I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience,” Barbata told the Oklahoman in 2005. “It was an experience, and one that allowed me to make a lot of money doing what I love to do: make music and perform. I met a lot of great people, learned a lot of hard lessons and eventually met the woman of my dreams.

“What more could a guy from New Jersey ask for?”

Movie Reviews

Film Review: Galaxies (2024) by Choi Jung-han

Published

on

Film Review: Galaxies (2024) by Choi Jung-han

“We’re galaxies that lighten the dark stage”

Using music as a plot device, first-time director Choi Jung-han puts dreams and friendships under the scanner in his debut work “Galaxies”.

Eun-soo, Eun-ha and Dong-eun are three friends who form the band Eun-Ha-Soo, literally “Galaxies”. Eun-soo and Eun-ha are a couple who ran away from a music production company to showcase their individuality but, not least because of their age and said individuality, labels find them highly unmarketable and the three struggle to make ends meet. When Dong-eun, who is known to chronically invest in bad stock, takes and invests the band’s savings, loses it all and runs away, the angry Eun-soo and Eun-ha, who had let him stay in their apartment when he fell behind on rent, take an old guitar of Dong-eun’s and sell it on a marketplace. However, when Dong-eun returns with the money, they must trace back the guitar, which holds a lot of sentimental value to Dong-eun, and reunite him with it. 

Through the story of these three middle-aged friends, Choi Jung-han, who co-wrote the script with Ha Won-joon, partly takes a look at the nature of one’s dreams and the price one has to pay to achieve them. The three are adamant on keeping their originality and identity, such as it may be, even if it comes with a lack of success and financial hardship. Choi, however, keeps things fairly positive and light despite the circumstances, using comedy for this effect. The comedy doesn’t always land though, with a lot of gags just proving a little inadequate for the occasion. The payoff of the irritable bowel syndrome running gag, however, is effective. 

The second half of the feature is dedicated to the trio’s efforts to reclaim the sold guitar and the writing falters a bit here. While their adventures are interesting and often funny in their setup, some key elements are forgotten or disregarded along the way, like Dong-eun taking advance pay from his new job and never returning to it, for example. In addition to the adventures they have to go through to find their guitar, the internal journeys that the three have to go to find themselves as they meet all the various characters on their way to the guitar and, by extension, find their music as well is an interesting element of the story and one that works the most. The feature is in fact at its best when it is about the trio’s music. 

Advertisement

Choi manages to enlist a trio of dependable character actors to play his lead bandmates. Yoon Je-moon, probably the most well known of the three, is always a joy to watch and “Galaxies” is no different. An actor who’s known to do both comedy and even villainous roles convincingly, he gets ample scope to shine here, as Dong-eun has one of the better internal journeys of the three, which Yoon portrays impressively. Kim Ji-hoon, who mostly does bit-part roles but is probably best known for playing Helsinki in Netflix’s “Money Heist: Korea – Joint Security Area”, is fun to watch as Eun-ha, and is called upon the most to provide comedy to the proceedings. Lee Shi-ah, meanwhile, may best best known to K-Drama viewers but is adorable as Eun-soo. The matriarch of the group, her outbursts in her own cute way are hilarious.

Despite being a story about music and musicians, the music in “Galaxies” is somewhat of a letdown. The background score is appropriate, but none of the songs manage to register as impressive, or even hummable. The ones in the beginning of the film are understandably so, as the story demands it, but the couple of songs that appear later on do not leave much of an impression. The bright cinematography, on the other hand, does impress, with the images being vivid and immersive throughout.

Ultimately, as far as low-budget productions go, “Galaxies” is a perfectly cute film and a breezy time as a whole, but it is not without its faults, particularly in the writing department, which do bring the overall enjoyment of it down and are complicit in the feature failing to leave a lasting impression.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Entertainment

In 'The Jinx — Part Two' finale, Andrew Jarecki says Robert Durst was enabled by wife and siblings

Published

on

In 'The Jinx — Part Two' finale, Andrew Jarecki says Robert Durst was enabled by wife and siblings

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki has spent much of the last 20 years thinking about Robert Durst, the notorious real estate heir who was suspected in multiple murders but managed to evade justice until the very end of his life.

Jarecki’s Emmy-winning 2015 docuseries, “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” thrust Durst into the spotlight by revisiting the mysterious deaths to which he was linked: the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s first wife, Kathie McCormack Durst; the murder of his best friend, Los Angeles writer Susan Berman, in 2000; and the grisly killing and dismemberment of his elderly neighbor, Morris Black, in 2001. And it famously led to Durst’s arrest in New Orleans the day before the broadcast of the explosive yet controversial finale in which he muttered, “killed them all, of course” to himself while in the bathroom.

In “The Jinx — Part Two,” a six-episode follow-up that concluded Sunday on HBO and is available to stream on Max, Jarecki looks at the dramatic events that have unfolded since Durst’s quasi-confession aired on national television and triggered a craze for high-end true-crime documentaries. This time around, the focus is less on Durst and his damaged psychology and more on the circle of friends and confidantes who helped him along the way.

“When we were making the first ‘Jinx,’ we would say, ‘How do you kill three people over 30 years and get away with it? It takes a village,’” said Jarecki, in a windowless editing suite in Chelsea, where he was joined by executive producer Zac Stuart-Pontier, who after 15 years in “The Jinx” world has a nearly instant recall of all things Durst-related. The conversation, which was scheduled for a half-hour, instead stretched to 90 minutes, an indication that the documentarians are nowhere near finished talking about Durst, who died in 2022 — or the friends and family who enabled him for years.

Advertisement

“This idea of complicity was for us so fascinating because it broadens the story,” Jarecki said. “Who are these people who see themselves as good, honest, decent people and don’t see themselves as accomplices in anything?”

Sunday’s finale, fittingly titled “It Takes a Village,” takes a critical look at the people who understood Durst — and what he was capable of — better than anyone: his siblings, Wendy, Douglas and Thomas; and his second wife and heir, Debrah Lee Charatan, who did not sit for an interview but is present in the series through video depositions and often riveting prison phone calls with her husband. The series portrays her as a shrewd opportunist, more consigliere than spouse, who helped Durst safeguard his fortune through numerous legal battles, used his wealth to amass a real estate empire of her own, and is now fighting a wrongful-death lawsuit from Kathie’s family, the McCormacks.

Robert Durst and his friend Susan Berman, who was killed in 2000.

(HBO)

Advertisement

“This is a person who’s really played the long game,” said Jarecki, whose 2010 feature film “All Good Things” was inspired by Durst — and led to his participation in “The Jinx.”

The finale recounts the history of Charatan’s relationship with Durst, which began in the late 1980s, when she was newly divorced and freshly bankrupt, and he was a wealthy eccentric rumored to have killed his first wife. The couple married in a secret ceremony in 2000, shortly after authorities in Westchester County, N.Y., reopened the investigation into Kathie’s disappearance — and days before Berman was shot in the head.

The series concludes with a dramatization of a woman resembling Charatan driving a luxury convertible down a scenic road and arriving at a palatial waterfront estate. It is intercut with deposition footage of the real Charatan, who is interrogated about sticking by Durst as he was accused of horrific things. “Was it worth it?” asks an attorney for the McCormack family. “I think so,” she says.

“I think she thought, ‘Well, I’m gonna make a calculation, that there’s so much value in staying connected to this person [Durst], because he’s going to die with 100-plus million dollars,’” Jarecki said. “By the way, it was hard, what she did — managing Bob for all those years. That was not easy. He’s an incredibly time-consuming, infuriating partner.” (Exhibit A: In one tense video call shown in the series, Durst clashes with Charatan over payment of his legal fees, threatening to write her out of his will. She skillfully walks him back.)

Charatan’s relationship with Durst came under more scrutiny following his death in January 2022. Because of a legal technicality in California, his conviction for Berman’s murder was abated — essentially vacated. This triggered the McCormack family to file a $100-million wrongful-death lawsuit against Durst’s estate, which is controlled by Charatan.

Advertisement
Andrew Jarecki, left, and Robert Durst standing on a street near a planter.

Director Andrew Jarecki, left, and Robert Durst.

(HBO)

Charatan sat for a deposition in the case. In portions that appear in “The Jinx,” she admits to living with another man throughout her marriage to Durst and says that she “respects” the jury’s guilty verdict in the Berman case. However, she says she does not believe that Durst killed Kathie.

“She has had so many chances to redeem herself, including potentially being in the show,” Jarecki said. “She could have explained why she was with him. She could have explained what she really believed.” The filmmaker said he tried to get Charatan to participate in the documentary, even going to dinner with her multiple times to plead his case, but was not successful.

“It Takes a Village” also considers the role played by Durst’s estranged younger siblings, who in deposition testimony say that they feared their older brother and even suspected he may have had something to do with Kathie’s disappearance but did little to assist the investigation at the time. They also reportedly never reached out to the McCormack family to offer support or condolences.

Advertisement

In audio testimony, Thomas Durst says that his siblings Wendy and Douglas never mentioned Kathie again after the disappearance: “It was like she had become a non-person and I decided, ‘You know what? Kathie is not just missing. Kathie’s dead, and Bob is responsible — but I don’t know what I can do.’”

Kathie’s body was never found, and in 2017 she was declared legally dead. Durst was formally charged with her death in 2021, but he died before a trial got underway.

“What would it have cost for them to reach out to Kathie’s family and say: ‘Listen, we didn’t kill Kathie. But boy, we feel terrible about what happened. And we want to make some kind of a contribution for you,’” Jarecki said. “They didn’t have to admit their complicity, but at least it would have been an acknowledgment.”

“The Jinx” also captures the moment when Jarecki receives a phone call informing him that Durst is dead. Though his demise was not exactly surprising — Durst was 78 and had been in failing health for years — it still left him nonplussed, Jarecki said. “He had been in my life for so long, it didn’t feel real that he was going to disappear,” he said. “I didn’t miss him. I didn’t think, ‘Oh, we had these beautiful times together.’ … I just thought, I actually don’t know how I feel about this.”

In the months before his death, Jarecki and Stuart-Pontier said they worked together on numerous drafts of a letter to Durst, pleading with him to come clean about what happened to Kathie. But Durst never revealed what he knew about her fate.

Advertisement

The gist of the letter was that Durst should “just tell people what happened with Kathie,” Jarecki said. “Maybe it was a terrible accident. Whatever it was, even if it’s bad, even if it makes you look terrible … everybody’s going to say, ‘Even though he did some terrible things, before he died he somehow found a way to have a little tiny bit of redemption.’” Jarecki believed that Durst saw himself as fundamentally misunderstood and tried to appeal to that.

A man in a blue polo shirt sitting next to a woman in a pink top.

Jim McCormack, brother of Kathie Durst, and his wife, Sharon McCormack, in “The Jinx — Part Two.”

(HBO)

“One of the reasons why he agreed to talk to me to begin with is that he had applied to get into a co-op building and was rejected,” he said. “And his attitude was like, ‘Oh, I’ve never been convicted of murder. So why are they treating me like a pariah?’”

They decided not to send the letter because “it was inserting us in the story in a way that might alter [it],” said Jarecki, who believes that Durst killed Kathie because she had accomplished so much and thrown into relief how little he’d done despite extraordinary privilege. “Bob is a faker, and Bob knows he’s a faker,” he said. “Kathie comes along and falls in love with him, and at a certain point realizes that he’s a faker. And he’s really humiliated by that.”

Advertisement

The filmmakers began to think about another season of “The Jinx” as they reviewed testimony from conditional witnesses in the Berman case — people like Nick Chavin, the longtime friend turned “secret witness” against Durst. “There’s nothing like friends turning on each other,” Stuart-Pontier said. “That was the first inkling that the people around Bob were going to really play a huge part in the telling of the story going forward.”

“The Jinx — Part Two” makes the case that before Berman became one of Durst’s victims, she was one of his enablers. Perhaps the biggest bombshell of the season is the audiotape of an interview Berman did with journalist Albert Goldman a few days after Kathie’s disappearance, in which she smeared her friend’s character and planted the idea that she’d been the victim of a robbery — all of which suggested she was helping Durst cover up a crime.

The theme of complicity is, if anything, more relevant in the current political climate than it was when Season 1 of “The Jinx” aired in 2015, just a few months before Donald Trump announced he was running for president. It’s difficult to watch Season 2 without thinking about the biographical similarities between Trump and Durst, controversial scions of powerful New York real estate dynasties known for acting with impunity.

“All of this stuff is very current,” Jarecki said, noting how Republicans who once denounced Trump have since fallen back in line. “We’ve talked about why ‘The Jinx’ matters now. But it just feels like this idea of complicity is so important to what’s happening.”

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movie Reviews

Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Part 2 Anime Film Review

Published

on

Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Part 2 Anime Film Review

Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Part 2 is a film I never want to watch again. However, this is not because it’s bad. Rather, it’s a testament to just how incredible this film is.

The film is full of well-developed and memorable characters—especially its lead trio, Ouran, Kadode, and Ooba. It’s wonderfully animated—combining cartoony character designs with ultra-violence to create something shocking and memorable. To top it off, it has incredibly strong themes conveyed with maximum impact through excellent storytelling.

What makes it hard to watch (or want to rewatch) is the simple fact that it feels too damn real. Despite the aliens, UFOs, super-lasers, and Doraemon-inspired gadgets, this is a film that is bound and determined to drag humanity and modern society into the spotlight—to use sci-fi trappings to put our blemishes on full display.

The central conceit of Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction is the idea that humans can (and will) get used to anything. Even when confronted with a world-changing event—like, say, the existence of alien life or a UFO floating above Tokyo for years—humanity as a whole doesn’t change. Instead, we just go on about our lives as usual. If it doesn’t directly affect us, we put it out of our minds.

This film kicks it up a notch from the first by showing that even things like public genocide are passively accepted by the masses. Even those who feel compelled to act do so with things like peaceful protests—basically doing nothing to directly help those in need, all while convincing themselves that they’re heroes fighting oppression. But then again, what is there that they can do? This film perfectly captures the masses’ self-righteousness and utter helplessness in the face of the apathetic, the powerful, and the government.

Advertisement

The movie is a damningly pessimistic look at humankind as a whole. The world is full of things we can’t control. People driven by their zeal or self-interest will crush the weak underfoot—never noticing or caring about those they’ve destroyed. In such a world, our only hope is to find something we care about and do all we can to protect it. That is the beautiful yet horrible message of this film.

While this story is full of villains and innocents, it’s hard to say there are any true heroes. Oh sure, we may sympathize with Ouran and Ooba, but the two of them ultimately have a body count that surpasses government genocide squads and vigilante alien killers alike. Yet, throughout the film, we root for the pair. If nothing else, we can see that they are working for, if not altruistic reasons, then for human ones that we can understand on a deeply personal level. Love is their driving motivation—even if they’re forced to accept the cost of that love by the time the credits roll.

In the end, Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction Part 2 is a powerful film that will leave you depressed about the state of the world. It puts the foolishness of humanity on full display and concludes that there is no easy fix—that no force, internal or external, will appear and make everything alright. All we can do is take our happiness where we can get it—and sometimes, we may find ourselves in the right place at the right time to make things just a little bit better.

…Or maybe we’ll die horribly due to events wholly outside of our control.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending