Paint-happy bastards

For Christ’s sake, tomorrow’s the Fourth of July.
And we will be open for business.
This will be the best summer we’ve ever had.
lf you are concerned about the beaches, do what you have to to make them safe.
But those beaches will be open for this weekend.

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Forget the date – we dropped the bomb; that’s what counts

One of the inspirations for Quint’s characterization in All That Jaws is the fact that Robert Shaw’s version in the movie got the date of the A-Bomb delivery wrong. So we figured that ATJ’s Quint should lay claim to being a part of every piece of recent nautical history.

According to Quint in the movie, The U.S.S. Indianapolis delivered the bomb to the South Pacific atoll of Tinian on June 29, 1945. The Indianapolis actually delivered it over a month later for its use on Hiroshima on August 6.

Here’s the text from the movie (credited to John Milius, Carl Gottlieb, and Robert Shaw):

Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. It was comin’ back, from the island of Tinian (Delady?), just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. Thirteen footer. You know, you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. Well, we didn’t know. `Cause our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. Huh huh. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief. Sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know it’s… kinda like `ol squares in battle like a, you see on a calendar, like the battle of Waterloo. And the idea was, the shark would go for the nearest man and then he’d start poundin’ and hollerin’ and screamin’ and sometimes the shark would go away. Sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he’s got…lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high pitched screamin’ and the ocean turns red in spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’ they all come in and rip you to pieces.
Y’know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men! I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand! I don’t know how many men, they averaged six an hour. On Thursday mornin’ Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player, boson’s mate. I thought he was asleep, reached over to wake him up. Bobbed up and down in the water, just like a kinda top. Upended. Well… he’d been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us, he swung in low and he saw us. He’d a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper, anyway he saw us and come in low. And three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a life jacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water, three hundred and sixteen men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.

Show Me the Way to Indianapolis” is the most literal of all the songs in the show:

Chief, have a drink and I’ll paint ya the scene
Two torpedoes, one Jap submarine
Zero hour, we took a dive
June 29th, 1945

Just like corks we bobbed, tryin’ to keep warm
We’d just delivered Hiroshima bomb
‘leven hundred men watched her go down
In half an hour first shark come around

’twas a tiger shark some thirteen feet
Wanna know how I figured that, Chief?
You look from the dorsal to tail
With that method you’ll never fail
You’ll always hit right on the nail

Well, we knew we was all up shit’s creek
Weren’t listed overdue for a week
Our bomb mission was such a secret
No distress signal was sent!

Sharks come cruisin’ at very first light
So we formed into groups wicked tight
We’d kick and we’d holler and punch
Then come that sickening crunch
Six men an hour became lunch

Come Thursday morn I bumped into a friend
I said, “Herbie, mate, please make me laugh!”
Slap on the back and I watched him upend
He was missing his whole lower half

On the fifth day some pilot swung by
Three hours later a fat PBY
One by one plucked us out of that sea
I thought that they’d never get ‘round to me

‘leven hundred men into drink!
Three-hundred sixteen were fished out, I think
You’d have to check the amounts
But we dropped the bomb, that’s what counts
Yes, we dropped the bomb; that’s what counts

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"All That Jaws" debuts at the Westside Eclectic

“All That Jaws” debuted Friday, May 25, 2007 at the Westside Eclectic Theatre in Santa Monica as part of the Out of Bounds West Improv Festival. The show was so good that no recordings of it exist, but here are some photos from the last month of rehearsals.

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The process, pt. III

We are getting ready to debut this thing for producers and some friends, and the rehearsals are crazy.

Because “All That Jaws” is a rock opera, we’re paying special attention to the music, which means 180 miles round-trip to the mountain town of Wrightwood, CA from Los Angeles. In Wrightwood lives most of the musicians and Wrightwood is the location of The Analog Cabin where the band rehearses.

We also rehearse the actors, most of whom live in L.A., at the Reseda Jawserie of Duke Santos. I think there is no other construction like the previous sentence anywhere on the Internet.

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The process, pt. II: The Cast

We got the cast and crew from a variety of sources, from personal calls to Craigslist.

Brittan Egnozzi plays Ellen Brody. She was sort of familiar with the movie. One of her lines is “You’re gonna need a bigger tote” and it was fun explaining it to her. To Brittan belongs the show’s only power ballad, “Eating Me Softly”. We knew we needed one and we knew we wanted to femme-up what was essentially a boys-only production. Brittan sings like an angel. A lambrusco-drinking angel.

Jason Sechrest plays Bruce. At first we conceived Bruce as being like Lenny in “Of Mice And Men”, and on the poster he definitely has an oafish, earnest look about him. But the songs just evolved into Bruce being a more predatory character, like Frank’n’Furter in “Rocky Horror Picture Show” mixed with Joel Grey in “Cabaret”. Jason, who knows his way around cabarets and happens to be the #1 chronicler of the gay side of the porn industry (NSFW) made the part his own from the first rehearsal.

After several trips back and forth to Wrightwood, hitting an unique confluence of Las Vegas and L.A. traffic, Jason remarked: “You know, I’m paying to be in this show.” Welcome to Hollywood, Jason!

David Kaufman is a dark horse. We found him on Craigslist and it was only after he auditioned the Quint song as both Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan that we found out how many lives he leads. He happens to be a leading George Harrison in Beatles tribute bands, the latest being Ticket to Ride. He told us that the John Lennons are traditionally difficult to deal with. We asked him if the Eric Claptons from Cream tribute bands ever tried to steal his wife. Start stalking David online here. You’ll be glad you did.

Marc Antonio Pritchett speaks with a manly baritone. As “All That Jaws” counts as a special influence “Jesus Christ Superstar”, we long ago thought that it would be cool to have a Man of Color play Hooper, in the same way Carl Anderson played Judas (in the rock opera, we have Hooper rising out of the ocean on his anti-shark cage the same way Carl Anderson descended at the end of “Jesus Christ Superstar” … and Hooper’s final song is called “Jesus H. Christ, Hooperstar” after all…)

But we did colorblind casting. It just so happened that the best person for the job was a brother from another mother.

Meet the cast here.

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Other "Jaws"-related news

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"All That Jaws": The process

Brian Descheneaux and I came up with the idea for a “Jaws”-based rock opera called “All That Jaws” independently of each other a few years ago. We’d both lived on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where the first movie was filmed, and we’d seen the film dozens of times. Brian was the one who suggested we write the musical together. This was in 2005.

I quickly registered, thinking a title that good wouldn’t go unclaimed for long. It wasn’t until this month that we found that there indeed had been musicals based on Jaws and a short film called “All That Jaws” dating back to 1988. In this case, it was helpful that we operated in a vacuum.

We got together in June, 2005 at the Red Lion in Glendale, CA, a German bar. Brian was born in Germany; I just drink products of that nation. Every time I go there it seems like the waitresses hate me. They love Brian. Anyway, we wrote a short outline of what the musical should be like. One of the original lines was “You’re gonna need a bigger Croat”. I don’t know how we planned to work that in.

Quint’s song, “Show Me the Way to Indianapolis”, was written immediately. It is a distillation of the most famous speech from the movie. “Don’t Close the Beaches!” came quickly after. We recorded demo versions of both, with my wife, Rebecca, playing violin.

I knew I wanted to be in the show from the beginning. I just didn’t know what part I wanted to play.

Over the next 18 months the website lay fallow, Peter Benchley died, and we did nothing with the show. Then an improv festival called Out of Bounds, at which I’d performed for two years in Austin, announced that it would be launching an L.A. brand. The organizer, Mike D’Alonzo, asked me if I’d perform and I said, “What about ‘All That Jaws’?” and he immediately agreed.

The show was in two months and we only had two songs and an outline that involved Croatians. But it was really important to get the show written, and a deadline torpedoed the procrastination. So our timetable dictated that we would write the rest of the show during the month of April, including the script, and then rehearse it throughout May.

Writing the rest of the show proved to be great fun; we got together several times a week and batted ideas around. We made Hooper into sort of a supernatural character, amplifying his weird Deux ex Machina characteristics in which he seemingly returns from the dead. We were especially keen on comparing the book and the movie at opportune moments, so we threw in references to the novel’s affair between Hooper and Ellen Brody, and that more or less required that Hooper die on the page.

We also realized that Brody was not given much of a reason to hate the water, other than drowning. We toyed with the idea of his having been raped by a duck. Finally we came up with a much more palatable cause of his hydrophobia.

Brian had read and loaned me “In Harm’s Way“, an excellent book about the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the subject of Quint’s monologue. Turns out that The Indianapolis didn’t deliver the atom bomb the day when Quint/Robert Shaw said it did in the movie, and from that we created a character for Quint in which he laid claim to having been on every famous shipwreck, including that of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The show was written by April 30; we now turned to casting and finding a band to perform it. That proved difficult.

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