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Johnny Novak

Yes, it's my real name

Category Archives: Pop Culture

MTV Unplugged: Nirvana

Twenty years ago, Kurt Cobain died at the age of 27. 27 is a legendary number among the music community. A number of (in)famous musicians have all died at the age of 27. They form what is known as “The 27 Club”. There are six main members and thirty-eight secondary members in the 27 club. The main six are Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. Even though Jones, Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison all died within twenty-four months of each other, all at the age of 27, the term “27 Club” wasn’t coined until 1994 when Cobain died. Many musicians believe dying at 27 to be a great honour.

What about outside of music? Does dying at 27 in another occupation have the same effect as dying at 27 in music? You be the judge. Here are some of the most well know non-musicians who passed away at 27.

 

Reggie Lewis

ReggieLewis

Reggie Lewis was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1987. He would remain with the team until his death in 1993. During the first round of the ’93 NBA Playoffs Lewis would collapse during a game from heart problems. In June of that year during an off-season practice he would suffer a sudden cardiac death on the court. He was 27.

Jonathan Brandis

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Jonathan Brandis was a child actor from the late 80s/early 90s. He appeared in shows like Full House, The Wonder Years and the 1992 film Ladybugs. Friends of Brandis said he was depressed about his career and that may have been what lead him to take his own life in 2003. He was 27.

 

Joseph Merrick

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Bet you didn’t think the elephant man would appear on this list. Joseph Merrick (often incorrectly called John) led a very tragic life. A lot of it was portrayed in the 1980 film The Elephant Man. Merrick suffered from unknown condition that caused tumours on his skin and abnormal growth of his bones that gave him an elephant-like appearance. His condition would eventually take his life when the weight of his head dislocated his neck while sleeping. He was 27.

 

So what makes the 27 club, “The 27 Club”? There must be some connection the number 27 holds, right?

The type 27 vacuum tube, used in many amplifiers, was used by all the musicians on the list. It was also introduced in 1927. “27 in ’27” does that mean anything? Highly unlikely.

Some people think 27 has a satanic connection. There are 27 books in the New Testament. Could that be it? Nope.

There has to be something that links the members of The 27 Club, right? Let’s stick with the main six. Why did Jones, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Cobain and Winehouse all die at 27?

Drugs.

The reason why they all died at 27 was drugs. Don’t do drugs kids, you’ll probably live past 27.

27Club

 

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BreakfastClub

 

Thirty years ago today, the plot to The Breakfast Club happened.(The theatrical release wouldn’t happen until the next year) In the John Hughes film, 5 teenagers from totally different high school cliques are forced to spend a Saturday detention together. Spoiler alert, they find out they are totally the same. The film has gone on to become a classic, often appearing near the top of lists that feature “best 80s” and “best high school” movies.

Here are 3 things about The Breakfast Club you don’t need to know.

1. John Hughes makes a Stan Lee style cameo 

Way before Stan Lee started making split second cameos in his Marvel superhero mega blockbusters, John Hughes did it first in his coming of age cult classics. You may have missed it but Hughes plays Brian’s dad in the film, picking him up after school. Actually, Hughes’ large glasses and mullet make it more of a “Stephen King” style cameo.

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2. The film was shot entirely in sequence.

Filming began on March 28th and ended in May of 1984. You can see this by paying special attention to the exterior scenes at the beginning and ending of the movie. The trees and bushes are bare in the morning  and when they get out at the end of the day, the foliage is already starting to grow. What a long day indeed!

No buds.

No buds.

Buds.

Buds.

 

3. Judd Nelson was 26 at the time of filming. Molly Ringwald was 16.

This scene is now ruined for you.

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@JohnnyNovak on Twitter.

 

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How many times have you heard someone say that? How times have you wanted to slap that person? “I like all music, except country and rap” is the verbal equivalent of posting a picture that starts with the words “Keep Calm…”. Rap and country music are the two hottest genres of music right now. In the past week, I’ve attended a country concert and a rap concert.

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And they’re two of the best shows I’ve seen.

Here’s why: now country and rap aren’t my favourite genres (I’m more of an R&B/Soul kind of guy*) but if there’s a major country or rap star playing a show in your area, go! They are one of the best places for people watching. The amount of amazing stuff that happens at these shows is unbelievable.

A country show is the only place where you will see an intoxicated grown man run across a stage dressed like a cowboy (outside of halloween) and then get hauled off like a flailing wild animal. I hate to say it but country shows are way better than rock shows. When you go to a rock show these days, all you get is an aging musician lecturing you about the dangers of fracking and an old guy telling you to sit down.

At the Drake concert I saw one of the grossest things ever. Now it’s common knowledge that men tend to not wash their hands after going to the washroom. The young bro-like gentleman standing at the sink next to me in the washroom of the Canadian Tire Centre did in fact wash his hands, but things went horribly wrong during the drying process. The paper towel dispenser was out of paper towels. Most guys would dry their hands off with a “jazz hands” technique but this guy was too much of a man for broadway theatrics. He reached into the garbage pulled out a used paper towel, dried his  hands off and put the paper towel back in the garbage. Drying your hands on the inside of your underpants would have been a more sanitary option. At least the germs are yours.

Now that’s something you will never see at a rock concert.

@JohnnyNovak

*Miguel opened up for Drake and that dude has some Marvin Gaye level panty peeler slow jams. Look him up, he’s going to be big.

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gta5

With today’s release of the new Grand Theft Auto V video game, comes the same old backlash from parental groups. “The game is too violent, our kids will grow up to be like the characters in the game.” I’m paraphrasing, but these are the complaints that come with every GTA release and as a former gamer I can only say, they are absolutely correct. This is my story as a child who used to play Grand Theft Auto and who I became today because of it.

Fall 2002

I had just turned 13, I was in grade 8 at All Saints Catholic School in Kanata and I had a huge crush on this girl named Steph. Since girls don’t like guys with pimples and prepubescent moustaches, I dealt with my emotions like any 13 year old, by playing video games about murder and hookers (I was seriously 13?!) in my parents basement.  At the time I had been playing Grand Theft Auto III for sometime but a new game called Grand Theft Auto: Vice City just came out. It was exactly like GTA III but it was set in the ’80s and loosely based on one of my favourite movies at the time, Scarface. (Again, great material for a 13 year old. Seriously?!) The storyline was really great but I really enjoyed the part of the game where you could steal a tank and blow stuff up and the police would chase you. It was really fun and the hilarious radio commercials produced by Lazlow Jones and the Houser Brothers made it even more awesome for this greasy moustachioed bandit. Here’s a Rambo parody they did from Vice City:

A few years later Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas came out, it was also an amazing game but by the time I was 16 I had lost all interest in gaming. That’s because my acne cleared and the rest of my beard grew in. Eat your heart out Steph.

2013: What I did with my life

Fast forward to present day. Grand Theft Auto changed my life. It inspired me to get into the radio business, which is where I work today. In college my voice work and production skills won me several awards but success like that, apparently gets you nowhere these days.  Instead I work several part-time and temporary jobs, that some how don’t pay the bills even though I work 6, sometimes 7 days a week. Not where I saw myself in 5 years.

What I should have done with my life

I should have stolen a tank. Then I would have went jail and earned a degree on taxpayers money. Then once I got out, I could have become a motivational speaker. They would have gave me my own national show for sure! I could have been John Tesh, but with balls. But I didn’t.

The Moral of the Story

Don’t buy your kids Grand Theft Auto. They’ll end up thinking they can make money in the entertainment business.

And come see me perform stand up comedy on these upcoming dates.

September 17/Connors Gaelic Pub/Ottawa

September 19/M Bar/Montreal

October 16/Absolute Comedy/Ottawa

October 23/Yuk Yuk’s (Elgin St)/Ottawa

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“Disco Sucks!” a common phrase from the late ’70s, used by everyone from Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati to Geddy Lee of Rush. “Disco Sucks” hit its peak in 1979 with the infamous Disco Demolition Night, because blowing up records with drunk rock fans is always a good idea.

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Once the 80s hit, rock carried on and disco pretty much fizzled out. Rock music has always been the same since the Beatles, 4 or 5 guys, guitars, bass and some drums. Disco was a little more complicated. You’ve got your guitar, bass, drums plus some violins, keyboards and even some backup singers. Disco was basically the dance music of the 70s and has slowly evolved over the years. With the introduction of computers into music, disco lost it’s “human touch” with loops and overdubs. When you add loops and overdubs to disco music it becomes house and EDM. (That’s electronic dance music for those of you over 35) More about this in a bit.

One of the few success stories from the disco era was a man named Nile Rodgers. First known as the guitarist from the band Chic, who had hits such as “Le Freak” and “Good Times”. “Good Times” was a huge hit on it’s own but it was also sampled by the Sugar Hill Gang on their song “Rapper’s Delight” which is commonly known as the first mainstream rap song to chart. After putting up cornerstones in rap and disco, Rodgers then went on to produce albums for David Bowie, Madonna, INXS and more recently Daft Punk.

Nile-Rodgers

Nile Rodgers: Hundreds of hits, one guitar riff.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t believe me? Here’s a comparison.

Chic – “I Want Your Love” (1978)

Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (2013)

Same guitarist, pretty much the same riff, 35 years apart.

So that brings us to the present, May 21 2013. Daft Punk’s fourth studio album Random Access Memories came out and there’s a lot of hype around it, including the numerous collaborators. (Including Rodgers)  The reviews are mixed but they all say the same thing: “It’s an EDM album but it’s recorded with real instruments”. If that’s the case, they’re taking a step back in time. To a time where dance music was made before computers. So if you put the instruments back into dance music…

RandomAccessMemories

That would make the  new Daft Punk album a disco album. But here’s the thing, is disco really that bad?

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