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.