Commentary 31 Aug 2008 08:28 am

Richie Havens

– The recent post about Richie Havens by Annulla (who photographed the picture to the left) on her blog, Blather from Brooklyn, brought back a short memory I have from a number of years ago. I think it was 1984.

I’d received a call out of the blue from Mr. Havens. Now, remember I grew up in the Sixties and was a part of the “Woodstock Generation.” I loved the music of the period and Havens was a big part of that – especially to a New Yorker. This call was a shock. I was asked to come meet with him about an animation project he was assembling. No questions asked, I got the date and time and showed up.

It was in the very theatrical (albeit seedy at the time) area of 8th Avenue and 56th Street. I arrived to a very large open space. A very wide open, not-overly-furnished space. After a brief greeting, I was directed to the only other seat in the room – easily ten or more feet away in the somewhat dark room. Richie Havens, dressed in dashiki, was graced with some light that offered a halo around his head, and I sat out of the spotlight.

Apparently, Tommy Chong had decided to make an animated feature. He wanted to film a Kung fu style film in live action and rotoscope this into an animated film. Richie Havens was acting as his representative and was interviewing me for the position of assisting Mr. Chong in any way possible to get this film made. They saw this as a complete breakthrough feature for animation. Nothing had been done like it before.

My alarms went off, and I decided I shouldn’t be too enthusiastic about the project. I didn’t want to turn them down on the spot, but I didn’t want to be involved. Rotoscoping and Kung fu movies were not my – - – interest.
It was a not very long meeting; there weren’t many specifics Mr. Havens could offer at the time. It was the earliest of stages. I left my samples, shook his hand again and still remember the meeting twenty years later. I think it was another of those films that never got made.

Perhaps the film would have looked like this.

3 Responses to “Richie Havens”

  1. on 31 Aug 2008 at 11:18 am 1.Tim Rauch said …

    great story! glad to know that even otherwise successful and intelligent celebrities are capable of crackpot ideas, too. this is the kind of “man on the bus who saw me sketching” idea i’ve seen a thousand times…

  2. on 31 Aug 2008 at 12:54 pm 2.Tom Minton said …

    You dodged a bullet.

  3. on 01 Sep 2008 at 5:18 am 3.slowtiger said …

    I’m glad you decided to do something else instead. Coincidentially, rotoscoped martial arts have been used here recently: – not bad, nicely stylish, and of course short enough.

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