Paradise in the Large Never Never


The story behind today’s GLP comic could be the history of the band Cingroove, which was not so much a band as dance machine project created in the eighties by Samantha Zivotovsky, known professionally as Sam Zivo. Sam was an art punk (and a blood relative of Warren Zevon) with an abiding love for synthpop electro-boogie fusion, but she didn’t stop there. Sam felt compelled to squeeze several of her erratic musical obsessions into the mix of her soundtracks, including passions for the ukulele, the accordion, and traditional Mariachi string instruments, the vihuela and the guitarrón. When Sam was a child, she had accompanied her Jewish grandmother (who had lived in the same house in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, for sixty years) to Mariachi Plaza to hire bands for parties and weddings. In addition, Sam gave Cingroove a brass section with two trumpets and a trombone, an influence from her mother’s adoration of Earth, Wind & Fire, and Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass.

Cingroove achieved modest success in the eight years of its existence, with several songs popular in dance clubs, and three of them reaching Billboard’s Hot 100. The first was “Acrographinotus”, known as “Miz Lady Goatbug”, which was the popular interpretation of a garbled line in the song’s refrain. Sam never revealed the true meaning of the refrain.

“The tricky thing with my lyrics is that I need people to misunderstand them to get a hit single,” she said in an interview in Spin, May 1986. “Acrographinotus” reached number 38 on the Billboard chart. Cingroove’s second chart hit, “Paradise in the Large Never Never”, from their third album, reached number 24 in 1989, where it stayed for 11 weeks. Cingroove’s last hit, “Whiteface Heroes and Bluesky Gods”, also from the third album, was their biggest hit, reaching number 4 on the Billboard chart.

Cingroove entered the Geranium Lake Properties universe with “Acrographinotus”; Wm. Yost became a fan of the song, and drew several interpretations of the character Miz Lady Goatbug. He collaborated with Sam Zivo on the Cingroove logo, which was based on a graffiti stencil Sam had made of the band’s name. Many years later, after Yost had retired and disappeared, Gralie Bohe wrote Samantha Zivotovsky into her novel, The Boy in the Yellow Leatherette Portmanteau. She appeared as a girlfriend of Yost’s ex-wife.

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