Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Madison- Felix Awards: The Categories of Oddity



The Madison-Felix Awards was an awards show in Buffalo New York, which ran from 1995-2005. It was put together by my friend Big Brian and I. In reality it was a parody of an awards show mixed with an open bar drinking contest. Still it was fun and irreverent and some of the best parties I've ever had. But like all good times, they eventually drifted off to the land of nostalgia. The next several blogs are dedicated to their memory.
         The categories of the Madisons-Felix’s varied over the years, but they were what set the show apart. It was the one aspect I always loved working on. Now several of them were your standard lot- Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Actor, Best Makeup/Special Effects, Best Musical Score, Best Animation, Best Dialogue, and Best Picture .
          But we never filled them with nominees one would consider to be conventionally Oscar material or which even made much sense in the context of the category. Such as one year we gave Best Makeup/Special Effects to My Dinner with Andre. Another time we gave Best Dialogue to The Wild Bunch and showed the blood soaked finale where the only discernable dialogue was William Holden yelling, “Bitch!” at a woman before shooting her in the face. And, of course, Best Picture was always reserved for the foulest clip that we had scrounged up that year. Ones that a person would need a few drinks to laugh at.
          But, to us, these were minor categories. The ones which were expected from a fake/real awards show. Our true joy was all the others we came up with.
          Traditionally we started the show with three non-categories. Ones that didn’t mean anything to most people. Best Best Boy, Best Gaffer, and Best Key Grip- later to be replaced with Best Executive Producer. These were the slots where we decided to show great bits and pieces of films. They were the final hold-overs from the high minded notions with which Big Brian and I started the Madison-Felix’s. Great scenes from good films. 
          The categories which most interested Big Brian and I were the ones that are never seen in an awards show, not even The Razzies or Golden Turkey Awards, and perhaps with good reason.
          Awards such as:
Best Unintentional Cameo (small parts played by actors before they became famous, such as Denzel Washington in Death Wish, a fat Richard Simmons in Satyricon or John Ratzenberger in Ghandi)
Most Predictable Plot (Usually went to something obvious like Titanic or JFK or La Bamba)
The Overacting Achievement Award (Take your pick on this one)
Most Stilted Performance of a Rock Star in a Film (The whole band in Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, Madonna in Who’s that Girl, Paul McCartney in Eat the Rich)
 Worst Sequel (I’m sure everyone can fill in the blank here. It’s actually more valid now than when we first came up with it)
  Most Annoying Person in a Film Award (Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Franklin in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre- everyone clapped when he got skewered.)
The William Shatner Award for Acting Excellence (where William Shatner was nominated for every category. We did this for a few years before the joke wore thin. He first won it for Judgement at Nuremburg)
Most Annoying Use of a Child in a Film (Why were we the first to come up with this? It’s something everyone complains about!)
Most Embarrassing Skeleton in the Closet for An Established Actor (Some shit stain of a movie that an actor took to pay the bills. Ala Russ Tamblin in Cabin Boy or Henry Fonda in Tentacles. We later shortened this to the less cumbersome Most Respected Actor in a Bad Film)
 Most Smoking in a Film (The novelty of this one wore off quickly and it only lasted two years.)
Best One-liner (Bits and pieces which struck us as funny, but we canned this one after four years as the lack of context would yield little more than a chuckle.)
Pretty Boy Actor You’d Most Like to Whack (Whatever talentless collection of duckface-posing nonentities where cluttering up Tiger Beat that year)
Ditzy Actress You’d Most Like to Strangle (The sister of the previous category. Same criteria, just switch genders)

          Looking over this list fills me with such schadenfreude. The last of the regular categories were our favorite and the ones which Brain and I had the most evil joy. Most Deceiving Title might sound innocuous, but when we nominate The Greatest Story Ever Told or It’s Good to be Alive: The Roy Campenella Story you can see the cynicism bubbling over.

          Same for the next one, Best Comedic Performance in a Non-Comedic Role and we showed such wonders as Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker, Christopher Reeves in Superman, Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot and so on. We perhaps got too much joy from coming up with the nominations.

          The next category requires a bit of explanation. In the third year we can up with the Best Plot of a ____ award. The blank would change each year and represented a genre of film (or sub-genre, or whatever) which were pretty much exactly the same. For example the first year was Best Plot for a Zombie Film (of which at the time there was only a limited selection the Romero trilogy and Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things).

After that it was Best Plot for a Mind Transfer Film which is always the exact same movie over and over again (Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, 18 Again- refried crap shoveled in a new package). We then moved onto Best Plot for an Ernest Film (which really dates us a lot). It was given away by our good friend Frank, who delivered a heartfelt non-ironic speech on what the Ernest franchise meant to him and how it brought joy into his life. The next two years we did a few obvious ones Best Plot for a Police Academy Film and Best Plot for a Friday the 13th Film.
This is the one Rob hated, which is why I'm showing it.

Next was a flash of genius from Rob Leftwich- Best Plot for a Talking Pig Movie (there was a plethora of them at the time), in which he delivered a heartfelt speech on the wonders of Babe: Pig in the City. We began running out of ideas for this and it wasn’t until two weeks before the show, in a fit of adrenaline fueled inspiration, I came up with Best Plot for a Pregnant Man Film. There were exactly four at the time- The Pregnant Man, Rabbit Test, Junior, and Enemy Mine. The last one won.

The last year, completely out of concepts, we came up with Best Plot for an Awards Show- We nominated Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammy Awards, and The Madison-Felix Awards. Guess who won?
          Finally we come to the Lifetime Achievement Award. Initially Brian and I floundered with this, not really knowing what we wanted to do with it. Hence the first three winners: Mike Horner a proliferant porn actor from the 80s and 90s, who always played his roles with a comedic bent. If there is a comedy porn niche, he should be considered its Charlie Chaplin. And Monkeyhead, Brian’s brother. For his clips scene- every winner got a montage footage bit with a song playing in the background- we showed a bunch of monkey’s doing horrible things to each other, of one sort or another, to the tune of I’m an Ape Man by The Kinks. And then Marlon Brando where we showed clips of him interspersed with those of Jabba the Hut, with the Mr. Yuck song. I must say here that these three were all chosen by Big Brian. He thought they were a laugh riot, while I, and everyone watching, got only the mildest of chuckles.
So for the next year I put my foot down. We would only give the Lifetime Achievement Award to someone who was well known, having had a long career, but who you would never think to give an award to. Boom, we had our criteria and I must say that the audience received the award with much more applause and enjoyment as it went on.
 For the fourth year we gave it to Don Knotts to the tune of He’s Got the Look by Roxette. The fifth it was George Peppard to the tune of Duke of Earl by Gene Chandler. The sixth was Bob Newhart to He’s Got Personality by Lloyd Price. 7th was Alan Hale Jr. (The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island) to I’m Too Sexy for my Shirt by Right Said Fred. 8th, our most evil year, Christopher Reeve to the tune of Walk Like a Man by Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons. And last, but not least, Charles Bronson to the tune of I Think I Love You by David Cassidy and the Partridge Family.
          We spent a lot of time putting these together. And reading them over on paper, it scans as just kind of cute. A novel idea, but the execution always made the crowd roar. As in a lot of these things about the show, you had to be there.



                      

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Madison-Felix Awards: Turning Crap Into Fabulous Prizes



      

The Madison-Felix Awards was an awards show in Buffalo New York, which ran from 1995-2005. It was put together by my friend Big Brian and I. In reality it was a parody of an awards show mixed with an open bar drinking contest. Still it was fun and irreverent and some of the best parties I've ever had. But like all good times, they eventually drifted off to the land of nostalgia. The next four blogs are dedicated to their memory.
      There comes a time in every man’s life when he looks around his hovel and thinks, “I’ve got way too much shit.” A body collects these things as he saunters through life, like ticks in the wild. Until a day of reckoning, or a day of moving, where he starts poking through the back rooms of his life and all sorts of odd bits and pieces fall out. Thimbles, wires, inkpads, left handed safety scissors, shot glasses from Pittsburgh: all safely tucked away “just in case.”
      Just in case of what? I don’t know. In case someone’s strangling me with a piece of yarn and my right arm is paralyzed. The only thing I can use to save myself with is my trusty pair of left handed safety scissors.
      The world is filled with such things. Your house is jam packed with oddities. Go through it right now. I dare you. Sweep out the back shelf of your broom cupboard and the dusty corners of your attic. See what bits and pieces you’ve stored away because “it might come in handy one day.”
A cornacopia of fabulous prizes!
     Jars of batteries, spare cables for the VCR, old demo tapes of some local band that never went anywhere (“Druken Puppet Sings”), album covers with no vinyl inside, mismatched socks, “Dukakis in 88” pins, Volume 16 of the Junior Encyclopedia for 1948, old photographs of a guy who might be a great uncle, or crappy Christmas decorations that you made in 5th grade that your parents “just love.”
     If my words don’t ring true in your ears, then there is something the matter with you and you need to reexamine your life. Go back to Iraq Mr. Al-Queda. If this does strike a note of recognition, then let me tell you how I turned crap into fabulous prizes.
     The Madison-Felix Awards, that great tribute to cheapness, vulgar audiences, and alcoholic shenanigans, was entering the terrible twos. It’s infancy was marred by various problems that Brian and I corrected. One task was left, and I decided to fix it solo. At the end of the first year door prizes were handed out to the lucky audience, all twenty of them. This last part had been left in the clumsy hands of Ensign Raiff and Nurse Pam. While their enthusiasm certainly wasn’t lacking, their sense of humor was. They bought cute things that were supposed to be funny, but actually weren’t. People chuckled and said it was funny, but it was more out of a sense that they though it should be funny, without actually being funny.
      They gave away a lot of pink plastic jewelry, gotten from a convenient CVS, spice girl dolls, rewritable plastic pads with Urkel’s picture on the cover (though we got some use out of that), and so on.  These items just didn’t fit into the style in which we were fashioning the show. That of cheapness and with a base of crass. We were the Oscar’s evil twin, with all it’s glitz, glamour, and pomposity stripped away. So the following year I took over the door prizes, and like the Russians who built the disastrous Volga-Don Canal in 1931, I declared that there would be “not one kopeck spent.” It would all be gathered from the generous accumulation of crap which had been stuffed into the nether regions of my closet, and beyond.
      Being of a lethargic nature, I didn’t get to work straight away, but let the idea ferment in my mind for awhile. What spurred off the initial gathering was a pile of junk left at my work. I was employed at Noco Gas Station on the corner of Sweet Home and Sheridan. I worked the midnight shift, as it appealed to my nocturnal instincts and paid an additional 50 cents an hour. Not much happened usually, and I had plenty of time to read and sleep, but we were closely situated to the University of Buffalo Amherst Campus, so there were plenty of head-up-their-ass college punks around (more on this in a later post). The hippie revival movement of the early 90s was starting to catch on in the area and brought around all the usual dregs that such movements dig up. I’m sure you know what I mean: Indecent scruffy types who slouch about with their hands in their pockets, just looking at people.
Rockin!
      One evening a VW van, a vintage classic, pulled up to the store. Two tied-died “people,” stinking of petuli and BO entered and started pooling change to buy a bottle of water. A third remained at the van emptying copious amount of garbage into the trash cans. After purchasing their water and finagling two cups out of me, presumably so they wouldn’t swap their various types of hepatitis with each other, they departed. Leaving the store I found that they had filled 3 of the 4 cans and left a pile of old vinyl albums on top of one. Closer inspection showed that these were just the album covers with no sign of anything else in them. The thought then hit me. These would be great gifts to use at the Madisons. I mean who wouldn’t want the album cover of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “A Song Will Rise”, or The Romanian National All Male Chorus Sings, or Neil Hefti’s “Batman” Scores? The covers, while most people would see them as garbage, covered all three of the criteria I had for the Madison door prizes: They were cheap, they were crap, and they were funny in an odd sense. 
      I was inspired. I rushed home, grabbed a cardboard box, and started to dig, dig, dig. And the wonders I found. Our house, it seems, had become a receptacle for unwanted material from both sides of the family. Older members died and there was always something left behind when the loot was divvied up. They would turn to us and say, “Rex, you like reading and stuff, so here’s a crate of books from your Great Aunt Betty.” This was all on top of my Mother’s and my natural pack rat mentality. We find an item, file it away, thinking “Well it might come in handy,” and then promptly forget about its existence.
You had to be there.
     Handfuls upon handfuls of buttons were dumped in the box, a phone book from 1985, game tokens from a destroyed copy of The Blizzard of 77 board game, a few ratted up copies of The Watchtower, old comic books ("Green Lantern vs The Mind Melter!" A non-classic showdown), and so on.
     Then under my generous loft bed I found the grand prize. An item of singular beauty and attention. By itself it seemed useless, yet I found myself incapable of getting rid of it. No matter how many times I found myself handing it over at the Madisons, I found it back in the box at the end of the night. We had a true love/hate relationship. I didn’t want it, yet could not let the joke go.
      The item was an old scuffed up black Oxford shoe for the right foot, left over from High School. For those who attended private school (3 of the 4 major posters) you remember we were required to wear proper shoes whilst attending the institute, along with a shirt, dress pants, tie, clean shaven face, and short hair. For sneakers, along with long hair, leads to degeneracy and general lapses into moral turpitude. Though, as a side note, one of my class mates, Ralph Maggio, managed to go for 4 years never wearing a pair of shoes. He always snuck the sneakers through.
     Back on topic: Yes, a shoe. A glorious right shoe. Its partner had been torn to pieces by my dog Thor many years prior. For nine years I attempted to give it away and, without fail, it was left behind or tossed back into the box by an ungrateful winner. But each year it gathered bigger and bigger laughs; became one of our standard running jokes, from the people who remembered it from the year before.
      To make a short story even longer, I previewed my low budget door prizes at the end of the 2nd Madison-Felix Awards and was met with uproarious laughter and applause. Filtering out the high alcoholic consumption at such events, I still feel that people appreciated the humor value of such junk over the “cute” prizes handed out the first year. The door prizes remained in this form for the remainder of its decade long run.
       Now as I sit in my apartment looking at the increasing accumulation of “stuff” during my years in the South, I feel like starting the Madison’s again, if only to clear the clutter from my closet. I’m sure my right shoe would agree.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Madison-Felix Awards: Free Beer!




The Madison-Felix Awards was an awards show in Buffalo New York, which ran from 1995-2005. It was put together by my friend Big Brian and I. In reality it was a parody of an awards show mixed with an open bar drinking contest. Still it was fun and irreverent and some of the best parties I've ever had. But like all good times, they eventually drifted off to the land of nostalgia. The next five blogs are dedicated to their memory. 
        One of the reasons for the resounding success of each Madison-Felix awards was, apart from Brian’s rapier wit, was the presence of an open bar. Nothing brings a person around for some evil humor like a few pints of free alcohol. The mantra of the Madisons, screamed out over and over again with increasing vigor and violence as the night went on, was “Free Beer!”
            Unfortunately the phrase was not entirely accurate. We had often joked that Madison’s operated on a budget of $5, but in reality the renting of a hall, a buffet, and an open bar, didn’t come cheap. Thus each “invitation” to the Madisons cost around $20. And it was up to the individual to make sure they got their money’s worth. Most people did their damnedest.
            The selection was not a connoisseur’s dream, but a person was given a choice: Wine or beer. What kind of wine? Red, of course. Sometimes there was a blush as well. What kind of beer? The alcoholic kind. The kind you didn’t mind the taste of after the fourth glass. But then to sample a crafted beer wasn’t the point of the exercise, to be pleasantly shit-faced was.
            The essence of “Free Beer” allowed a person to wallow in the guilty pleasure of an extremely nasty film clip or laugh out loud at the nastiest joke Brain could spit out. Perhaps they would have laughed anyway, but the beer gave them the extra excuse. A reason to tell themselves or to a date who was appalled by the show (more than a few of them over the years).
            “Hey baby. I was really drunk. I didn’t really understand what was happening. I was only laughing because everyone else was. Those people have some issues.”
            It would certainly help to explain some of the uproarious cheers, applause, and laughter that some of our winners received. One that struck me was the infamous finish to the 7th Madison-Felix awards. For “Best” Picture that year we presented a putrid gem from the depths of Tokyo called Entrails of a Virgin. I had randomly purchased a copy of the film at a convention and just looking at the cover of it (not the one pictured here) made me queasy. It was a Japanese horror porno flick with no subtitles, but you didn’t need to understand the “plot”.
            The scene we selected occurred at the end of the film and involved a woman, in a dank cement warehouse, masturbating with a severed arm. The limb then grows into a demonic-zombie creature for some reason and inserts the same arm inside of her vagina. The monster then proceeds to pull out her intestines and other sundry organs through the aperture. A horrific sight. The crowd’s reaction? Cheers, clapping, whoops of enjoyment. How much of that was the beer talking?
            Another example is a snippet we dredged up from one of the nastier crags of the internet. It wasn’t from any film or TV show, but was shot on a video camera (this was before every cell had a camera attached). I believe that it was part of some injury insurance scam which went horribly wrong. It begins with a man walking out of a store. The camera follows him down the sidewalk and he steps into the road without looking. Bam! A red Toyota smacks him so hard that he flips over backwards, his leg bent in an odd angle, and his head splatters across the asphalt. Over the audio of the street sounds some joker (not us) had placed a happy little jingle reminiscent of the munchkins from the Wizard of Oz. People’s reaction to this? Outraged mumbling? Finger wangling? A lynch mob? Of course not! There was a colossal roar of laughter when the man’s head hit the pavement. Even my mother let out a grudging bark of humor. Did alcohol have anything to do with the reaction? Naturally. There was a reason why we always kept the worst for last.
            Such as in the case of the banned cartoon Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat a classic piece of early forties racism which contains every old-school stereotype of black people. The paper thin plot revolves around a fashionable young urban black lady who returns to her home of Lazytown to wake them up from their idleness with the hep new beats of modern jazz. This was procured for us by the late Jeff Death and was the last cartoon on a battered VHS tape of old public domain animation he had fished out of the dollar dump bin at his local Blockbuster Video. Howls of laughter from the audience.
            But probably the best example of a booze fueled applause generating piece was the celebrated winner of the 2nd Annual Madison-Felix Awards, Brutes and Savages. This was a little number put out by Gorgon Video, the same people who brought us The Faces of Death series. And like those fine films Brutes and Savages is a hodgepodge of scenes of brutality (some fake, some not) compiled together under the schizophrenic auspices of being a documentary. We showed two different clips over the years, both of which received standing ovations but for different reasons.
       The first was a scene supposedly showing a manly rite of passage of some Indian tribe in the Amazon rain forest. The first thing that strikes the viewer is how the film stock keeps switching. First we see the boys looking around nervously, venturing into a muddy river. Then it jumps to some sepia toned stock footage of alligators running into a river (no doubt lifted directly from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom). 

     We see the boys pointing and yelling. Then we see an obvious alligator puppet moving down the river unaware apparently, of the camera directly behind him. There’s a close up of a boy screaming. Then the film stock jumps to a person, who is noticeably not the same boy, being mauled by a rubber alligator head in a crystal clear pool. You can see the alligator’s teeth bend on the man’s arm as he struggles. There’s a shot of a rubber hand floating in the river, then back to the pool where the rubber alligator chomps on a fake human head. And it ends with the smug narrator informing us that 70% of the tribe’s youth did not survive the rite of passage. Which in my book means that they would’ve been long extinct. Everyone loved it for its obvious falseness.
            But the one which caused the most cheers was the (not-faked) scene of llama fucking. Apparently a group of villagers in the Andes Mountains have a yearly fertility ritual where they take turns simulating sodomizing a llama. It is shown… well not in pornographic detail, but enough so that there is no mistake what is happening. This is how the film ends with a view of some villager’s buttocks rhythmically thrusting back and forth into the camera lens. All the while the narrator describes the act as a perfect symbiotic relationship of man and nature, and how the men were showing respect to the earth goddess.
            And as the ass cheeks fade away, the narrator says, “This may seem odd to us, but what if these men came to our culture with our wars, and our crime, and our pollution? Who would then be considered the brute? And who the savage?”
            This rebuke of our culture is rather ironic, as not twenty minutes before, when showing some Incan pottery depicting homosexual acts, the narrator condemns the Incan civilization as a barbarous, brutal culture, which died out because they had degenerated to such foul practices.
            So according to Brutes and Savages bestiality is a noble tradition, but homosexuality… that’s just pure evil. Needless to say the llama immediately became the show’s mascot.
          Stay tuned for more Madison-Felix material. Free Beer!









Friday, April 3, 2015

Origin of The Madison-Felix Awards


           The Madison-Felix Awards was an awards show in Buffalo New York, which ran from 1995-2005. It was put together by my friend Big Brian and I. In reality it was a parody of an awards show mixed with an open bar drinking contest. Still it was fun and irreverent and  some of the best parties I've ever had. But like all good times, they eventually drifted off to the land of nostalgia. The next six blogs are dedicated to their memory. 

             Many moons ago. White Men come to Dennys…
            It was the halcyon days of youth. We were 23 and spending too much time at Dennys and other unreputable spots: smoking, laughing, drinking coffee, and talking lots and lots of shit. An entire nights entertainment for only $1.25 plus tip.
            Those were the days when we were passionate and argued loudly about shit that: 
              A. Didn’t matter, and
             B. Was completely out of our control.
            Still the energy was there. The pumping explosion of adrenaline that coursed through you and gave a souring high. As we spoke and yelled and laughed, the elation was sustained by every drop of coffee and puff of smoke. The mind was razor tight, and words tumbled from the lips without thought or hesitation. You became a vehicle for the divine, an inspired object, and it was beautiful. It was so euphoric that you could barely remember what was said. Later some person would come up and remind you,
            “Hey Rex. Remember last week when you pissed off that Southern Girl, when you asked if her parents met through mail order?”
            And all that remained was the dimmest of recollections. Still the longing for the next night of bullshit and laughter never ceased. This was all done without the use of drugs or alcohol.
            There were many circling through our cabal then. Many who were only half seen at Comstock, many who weren’t. The Dashwood Society was in full swing, and we were legion: Myself “The Reverend”, Big Brian, Jeff Death, Mahatma Nick, Dr. I, Gay Bill, Dr. Harkey, Ensign Raiff “Flying Armadillo Boy“, Nurse Pam, Eric the Martyr, Lint, Withy, Counter Frank, Big Chief Strait-Jacket, Mr. Craik, The Mystery Man, Beldar Boy, Furher Frank, Crazy Lisa, Porno Lisa, Monkey Head, Some Pregnant Blonde, Ranji, Mattress Boy, Loudmouth Dan, Fat Frank, Shark Man, Disco Dan “The Dancing Man”, The Greatful Head, Coffee John, Saigon, Crazy Cooney (Whose ex-wife apparently started Sesame Street), Psycho Carrie, Amy, etc.. (This is excluding Comstock regulars, Rocky members, gaming guys, and the Frank Clan.)
            And out of all of them, I know the whereabouts of, perhaps, 5. I’ve got anecdotes and stories of what happened to them, but nothing within the last 5 years.
            With all of this talent, we had very little achieved to our credit. The Burroughs Show, which I wasn’t involved in, Big Brian put together, and used many Dashwood regulars, the possession of some animal pornography tapes, plus piss and shit eating films, (This was in the days before you could find it so easily on the internet) and that was all. The Madison-Felix Awards were our longest lasting and crowning achievement, and it came by accident.
            The year was 1994. The Academy Awards were over, and we were pissed. The Best Actor category was of particular interest to us. We were rooting for Nigel Hawthorne in “The Madness of King George.” We loved the movie, every second of it. “If there’s any justice in the world. He should win!” He lost.
            Best Actor went to Tom Hanks for “Forest Gump.” A film about a retard who sits on a bench and harasses strangers. We were shocked, appalled, livid, and carried on like, in the long run, it really mattered, or would affect our lives. Which it did.
            The night was waxing on, as we were, occupying a booth at Dennys. Three that night: Myself, Big Brian, and Saigon. Big Brian (for those outside the know) looks like a big hippy Woody Allen. He perpetually wears black on black over his massive frame, a tilted beret on his head, full of curling locks. The smell of nicotine and stale tar constantly wafts about him. A consummate smoke hound. He used to keep a metal bowl full of his butts and when he was low on cash, with no smokes to puff on, he would root through it looking for any scrap of unburnt tobacco, and assemble a makeshift cigarette. One of those bizarre geniuses that bottomed out in High School, and only his natural Irish perverseness kept him from achieving later academic success. He’s the only person that I’ve met that actually learned to speak French in a High School French class, yet he failed the class. 6’4” with a size 15 shoe, and a boxing trainer, he was definitely a person who could intimidate. Yet short skinny guys with toothpick arms always seemed confident that they could beat him. 
            Saigon was a mad scientist in the making. A walking encyclopedia and had a natural intelligence that could give Louis a run for his money. He was studying genetic engineering at the time, and in his odd reserved-yet-gleeful manner, showed off his strain of flies-without-wings that he had developed. He was extremely skinny with a shaved head, and an intense emaciated look with large eyes that just stared. He looked like a death camp survivor who had fattened himself up to 92 pounds a few weeks after Auschwitz.
            The diner was packed that night. Pat Travers had been playing the town, and the place was full of every drunken mullet in North Tonawanda. We ignored this, concentrating on our bitching and whining. Oh the humanity!
            We reached a crescendo, when finally an illiterate from the next booth turned his boil laden neck and yelled, “Shut the fuck up. You don’t like it, do your own fucking show.” Then erupted into laughter with the rest of the car wash attendants with whom he was sharing his dining experience.
            Inspiration! That was it! We would do our own show. How hard could it be? We would show this person, whom we never saw again. And Toothless Jim, if you can read this, my hat is off to you sir! Without your wit and candor we may have wallowed in obscurity, until our nether days. Yea beyond even.
            We were The Eggmen! The world was our walrus! We descended on the task with fevered impulses. What would we call it? “The Felixes.” Our Felix Unger to Hollywood’s Oscar Madison. And we created categories that people actually cared about, like “Best Key grip”, “Best Best Boy”, “Best Gaffer”, “Most Annoying Use of a Child in a Film”, “The William Shatner Award for Acting Excellence”, “The Alan Ormsby Award for Over Acting Achievement”, “Best Unintentional Cameo”, “ Most Predictable Plot”, “Pretty Boy Actor You’d Most Like to Whack”, “Ditzy Actress you Most Like to Strangle”, “Best Comedic Performance in a Non-Comedic Role” (Which turned into our nastiest category. The Miracle Worker was our fist winner, specifically when Helen Keller learns to say “Waaaater“. Out of context it was hysterical), and the list goes on. Additionally we had our Lifetime Achievement Awards, given to people whom everyone knew, but were never recognized by the industry. You’re welcome, George Peppard.
            And we needed an award, a symbol for our step into the limelight. We always said that the Madisons had an operating budget of five dollars, but we went all out for the award. A faux marble base was obtained from some downtown shack. We took a Kodak VHS cassette (the fancy kind) and liberally decorated it with glittering golden spray paint. Using the finest store bought Krazy Glue, we affixed our golden symbol to it’s base, and viola; history was born.
            We assembled our tapes and, using the magic of two VCRs hooked up to each other, we created the master tape (which has since been lost to the ages). The first year was held in the back of a bar. I forget the name, but it had a TV arraigned around a few tables. Brian and myself presented it, but kept tripping over each other’s feet, so it was decided that Brian should handle it after that. The first show was a mild success. People came, ate and had a few chuckles. The highlight, to me, was Fat Frank, giving away the award for, “Best Plot for an Ernest Film”,  standing at the podium, waxing philosophical about how wonderful and inspiring the Ernest films were to him.
            To be honest, Big Brian and I had initially considered the show a one time joke. We would do it, have a few laughs, and then move on. Then something happened. I’m sure about Brian, but I was unsatisfied with the event. I wanted something bigger. Brian, I figured, thought that the joke could last as well. One day we looked at each other and said, “You know that awards show was fun. We should do it again.” And it turned from a one time joke into an annual event.
            We pressed on and found our home for the next decade, The Screening Room. A place of wonder and enjoyment. The screen filled an entire side of a wall. The tables were cafĂ© style, with candles on them. Beer and wine was served. Smoking was aloud (Always a prerequisite for Brian). It could be had cheap, and the owner was a film buff. It was perfect. We rented it for a night, and made ourselves at home.
            Then disaster struck. I discovered that there was another awards show called The Felix's. Imagine the horror to know someone had ripped off your idea 5 years before you had even thought of it. Brian was informed and we deliberated. The natural solution was had. We changed the name.
            We were now The Madisons. A crisp alluring name, for the discriminating executive. All was right with the world, except for the bad taste in my mouth, I had really liked the name Felix. Another year passed and we discovered that the Felixes had folded. HA! Brian and I deliberated again, this time in confidence, and decided not to drop the name Madison. After all they were both the show. Flip sides of the same coin. So we created an amalgamation, so we were dubbed, and remained, “The Madison-Felix Awards.”
            There is no room here to describe all of the stories surrounding “The Madison-Felix Awards,” but I will tell some in the future. We lasted for 10 years (9 longer than we thought we would). We went through rejection letters from the stars, cease-and desist letters from lawyers, a potential lawsuit from the Academy Awards (how they found out about us, I don’t know), and almost had an honest-to-God celebrity show up.
            The show was more than a show. As we all grew and drifted apart, it was the one time when people who normally didn’t see each other would come together and enjoyed themselves. People I wouldn’t see for another year. I miss it. Good bye old friend, and rest in peace.