Where Is "American Hot Wax"?

by Bob Seidel

So, here is Bob spending a beautiful (well, a bit windy) Sunday afternoon in front of his PC.

I actually wasn't using the PC very much, except to take notes. As my faithful readers are probably aware, I am in the midst of cataloging all my old family videotapes for eventual copying to DVD. Going through the boxes of old VHS tapes, I came upon a tape that I had copied from off the air years ago - Tim McIntire in "American Hot Wax". This is the story of the early rock & roll pioneer disk jockey Alan Freed. Although the movie paints a somewhat rosy picture of the era and its payola scandals, that is unimportant.

It's the sound! To anybody who lived near a great metropolitan city (New York, in my case) and listened to all the 50's rock & roll, the sound and the recreation of the era in the movie will hit a resonant chord. Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis played themselves, and the people used to recreate other groups were great. Even the backup band was terrific. It brought back memories - not only of the music itself, butů

My dad actually never encouraged my technical hobbies much. I think that was because he just didn't have the background for it. But we did a project back when I was 10 or so (1956) - we built a kit radio. The radio was a product from the Remco Company, and it was basically a crystal AM radio with a single transistor amplifier. You could listen to radio through headphones and it had a microphone and speaker that you could talk or sing through. You couldn't play the radio through the speaker, but being an early hacker I figured out how to do that, but at a cost - it burned out batteries much faster that way.

Sure, we had other (tube) radios in those days, but the Remco had two tremendous advantages: it was in MY room, and you could listen via headphones. This meant that I could put the headphones under my pillow and listen until I fell asleep, without my parents knowing. Tuning the band, I noticed sounds that I had never heard or paid much attention to: Rock & Roll! I remember Alan Freed, Cousin Brucie, Scott Muni, Murray the K, Stan the Flan, the stories of humorist Jean Shepard, etc. But more important than the music itself was the rite of passage for me that it represented. If I can think of anything that pushed me from childhood to adolescence, it was that music!

So, anyhow, here I am with a pretty bad off-the-air recording of American Hot Wax, including commercials. What do I do? Of course, I go to my favorite DVD site to order the DVD. Believe it or not, there is no DVD for this movie yet. I can't believe it - you can get a DVD of pretty nearly every piece of trash ever made, but this movie is not out - not even on VHS! Now, I am not one of those people who finds a conspiracy under every rock, but you know that I am not a fan of the big music and big movie industries - and it seems like a movie that deals with the payola scandals of the 50's would be something they would want to suppress. Hmmm?

I'll probably just copy what I have do DVD, sans commercials. But the audio will be terrible, and that is what it is all about!

(Bob Seidel is a local computer consultant in the Southport / Oak Island area. You can visit his website at www.bobseidel.com or e-mail him at bsc@bobseidel.com).