Gina Vivinetto’s Greatest Hits

Archive for the tag “River Phoenix”

Who was your embarrassing early childhood crush?

The Onion‘s A.V. Club has a fun piece called “Embarrassing Early Childhood Crushes”. The article mentions some great 1970s, ’80s and ’90s crushes, everyone from Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors to Who’s the Boss‘s Alyssa Milano.

In the interest of being totally open with you guys, I am going to attempt to recall my major crushes from kindergarten to adolescence, in order. This is no small feat, especially considering my sexuality in my formative years was, seemingly, all over the place. It’s interesting to note, too, that when you work in the media as an adult, you sometimes awkwardly cross paths with your former crushes.


In, the beginning, when I was a tiny tot, it was pretty little Shaun Cassidy. The Hardy Boys was must watch TV for me. Looking back, it might have been peer pressure since all the girls on my block were into him. (I once forced Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney to admit to me that Shaun was her first crush, too):

At the same time, I had a pretty bad crush on Linsday Wagner as Jaime Sommers in The Bionic Woman. Jaime was so pretty when she jumped high and ran fast and pushed her hair out of the way to use her bionic ear. And why did she have to push hair out of the way if her ear was so bionic?:

Next, I got a little ballsier with my first rock star crush: spooky, bell-bottomed Jimmy Page. I would stare at the pictures of him playing his pretty Les Pauls and SGs (the double-neck!) on my brother’s wall-sized Led Zeppelin poster:

That was followed by both Danny and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta) in Grease. Admittedly, this movie confused me and set a tone for the next ten years or so. I was so attracted to both of them. I met Olivia Newton-John a few years ago and although I was dared to, I did not tell her she played a pivotal early role in my choosing (proverbially) stuffing over potatoes:

Peter Criss. Everyone in my neighborhood was a KISS freak and you had to pick a favorite so I picked Peter Criss. I don’t know that I had a crush on him, he was just the one I fixated on (and the one I pretended to be when my friends and I would “play” KISS).

KISS was quickly bumped for Blondie. My attraction to Debbie Harry was immediate and thrilling. I wanted to simultaneously be her and marry her:

By 5th or 6th grade, all the little baby lesbians were getting their mandatory crush on Kristy McNichol, but I fell hard for Tatum O’Neal, her pre-cracked out co-star in Little Darlings.

Ah, the Nick Rhodes years. I loved Duran Duran‘s resident girly man from grades 6-8. I met him, too, years later. We hugged. He was still beautiful.

The mid-1980s saw my whirlwind affair with Jodie Foster. My crush on Jodie marked the first time (that I know of) I ever got a crush on an actual lesbian. My mom, who had impeccable gaydar used to tell me, “I wish you could find a nice girl like Jodie Foster.” Meaning a girl who wasn’t goth or moody or a ward of the state  — basically not like the girls I was running around with in high school — and for once I agreed with my mom’s dating advice:

High school also brought one of my last hard-core boy crushes: River Phoenix. I liked River’s long hair and his veganism. I never spoke to him, but those of us involved in the music scene in St. Pete/Tampa got to see and play with his Gainesville band, Aleka’a Attic, quite a bit. I once danced on a dance floor next to River (the song was “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly & The Family Stone) and another time I ate lunch next to him in a Gainesville vegetarian dive.

Also during high school: Lisa Bonet. I watched The Cosby Show just to look at her (and I was militantly anti-TV back then). I loved Lisa’s bohemian attitude and clothes.

Okay, it’s your turn. It’s no fun unless you play, too. Name your crushes.

Time for a list! 29 songs about actors and actresses

We haven’t done in a list in a while and life seems empty.

How about “29 Songs About Famous Actors and Actresses”? I’ll start:

Elton John, Candle In the Wind (Marilyn Monroe)
10cc, Somewhere In Hollywood (Marilyn Monroe)
Elton John, Roy Rogers
Gorillaz, Clint Eastwood
Nirvana, Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
Madness, Michael Caine
Serge Gainsbourg, Intitals B.B. (Brigitte Bardot)
Russell Crowe‘s band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, Other Ways of Speaking (Jodie Foster)
James, Fred Astaire
Bertie Higgins, Key Largo (Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman)
Roxy Music, 2H.B. (Humphrey Bogart)
Lou Reed, City Lights, (Charlie Chaplin)
Lenny Kravitz, It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over, etc (Lisa Bonet)
Bree Sharp, David Duchovny
Woody Guthrie, Ingrid Bergman
The Eagles, James Dean
Sonic Youth, Madonna, Sean and Me (Madonna and Sean Penn)
R.E.M., Man on the Moon (Andy Kauffman)
Toto, Rosanna (Rosanna Arquette)
Bauhaus, Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Bananarama, Robert DeNiro’s Waiting
The Clash, The Right Profile (Montgomery Clift)
Nine Inch Nails, Starfuckers, Inc (Rose McGowan)
Matthew Sweet, Winona (Winona Ryder)
R.E.M., River (River Phoenix)
Natalie Merchant, River (River Phoenix)
Peter Murphy, Marlene Dietrich’s Favorite Poem
Kim Carnes, Bette Davis Eyes
Alanis Morissette, You Oughtta Know (Dave Coulier)

Now it’s your turn. Add more! Why stay at 29?

More River (and brother Joaquin) in ads for PETA

I just stumbled upon these PETA commercials made by River Phoenix and, years later, his brother Joaquin. I believe River’s ad was released after his death in 1991, but I’m having trouble confirming that. Joaquin’s was filmed in 2005 for the holiday season, but it was banned from network TV. (Which is odd since it’s no more graphic than a commercial for any restaurant. I guess the networks were afraid to piss off other advertisers)
First, River:

Now, Joaquin:

It’s interesting to note, too, the progression of PETA’s ads, how they got less cuddly and more confrontational over time.

Which approach do you prefer?

Today would have been River Phoenix’s 38th B-day

Those of us who lived in Florida – in my case the Tampa Bay area – while River was alive, had the chance pretty often to see Aleka's Attic, his Gainesville-based band. I know it’s customary to knock Hollywood boys who start bands, but Aleka’s Attic was good.

Maybe because River was my fellow vegan, or it might have been because he was a big crush of mine in high school, whatever the reason, I will never forget the Halloween day I went to my parent’s house and my dad told me he heard on the news that River had died the night before. My heart just sunk. There had been rumors about River using drugs and, frankly, the two or three times I saw him in person – including one day eating lunch next to him in a Gainesville vegetarian restaurant – he looked tired and unwell.

No one that young should die. All I ever heard about River’s character is that he was someone special, kind, generous and enthusiastic. He certainly introduced to many young people the idea that we should extend our compassion to all beings, including animals.

I didn’t know him, but in a way, everyone my age did. Those who find his movies now do, too. Such is the magic of cinema. Anyway, Happy Birthday. My heart goes out to your family – and anyone who’s lost someone they love to drugs.

I bet you think this song is about you

I’ve got a blog post at today concerning famous songs about famous people. It’s inspired by Full House‘s Dave Coulier recently admitting the song “You Oughtta Know” by Alanis Morissette is about him.

I know, I can’t believe she went down on him in a movie theater either. It’s hard to imagine those two in such a passionate relationship that could skid so wildly out of control, right? I mean, Uncle Joey? At any rate, the drama inspired Alanis to write one of the best break-up songs of all time and it put her on the musical map.

I am fascinated by songs about well-known people. I don’t just mean love songs. I mean songs about famous actors and writers. Lots of bands, including the Eagles, have songs about James Dean. Elton John wrote about Marliyn Monroe in “Candle In The Wind.” Seems like half the bands in existence in the 1990s wrote a song for River Phoenix after he died.

Lots of musicians write homages to other musicians. For example, Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” (Click photo to enlarge:)

It’s a tribute to jazz’s greatest composer Duke Ellington. It also namedrops Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Or, Sting writing “An Englishman In New York,” about eccentric British writer Quentin Crisp. The Pixies wrote a puzzling song about the man who created the Eiffel Tower (“Alec Eiffel”) proving even architects can be the subject of a pop song. Although, I guess Simon & Garfunkel proved this first in the 1960s with “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.”

How about these:
Sonic Youth, Madonna, Sean and Me (Madonna, Sean Penn)
The Commodores, Night Shift (Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson)
Toto, Rosanna (Rosanna Arquette)
R.E.M., Man on the Moon (Andy Kauffman)
Bauhaus, Bela Lugosi’s Dead (Bela Lugosi)
Bertie Higgins, Key Largo (Humprhey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Judy Collins)
10,000 Maniacs, Hey Jack Kerouac (Jack Kerouac)
The Replacements, Alex Chilton (Big Star’s Alex Chilton)
Bryan Ferry, Kiss & Tell (Ferry’s ex-girlfriend Jerry Hall)
Joan Baez, Diamonds & Rust (Baez’s ex-boyfriend Bob Dylan)

I’ve done quite literally hours of research on the subject. If any agents read this, I’m ready to pen the book.

What’s your favorite musical homage? Or, maybe it’s a kiss-off song to a well-known somebody?

Post Navigation