After years of word-of-mouth cult-fandom, Ferrari, the Dutch pop band with the Italian name, is finally getting its critical and popular due. As evidence of this, the first International Ferrari (Not the Car) Fest will be held Saturday March 31 at gazebo 2b in Garfield Park, South Pasadena. I’m truly looking forward to meeting Ferrari fans from around the world and I have a whole slate of exciting events planned. We’ll have a debate tournament where we’ll discover what truly is the best Ferrari song, (I’m working on my points for “You Turn Me On” right now) a Jaap Roubos look-alike contest, (Roubos, of course, is Ferrari’s extraordinary bassist. I’m pretty sure he’s the one in the red pants. Some people tell me I look like him) and a listening session of the The Best of Ferrari. I’m also hoping someone else might have a different record. In addition, we’ll have some outdoor activities scheduled for the benefit of the overweight among us.
Have you not heard of Ferrari? Well, I’m not surprised, they didn’t make much inroad into square society. But, as it says in the liner notes to the 1973 Avan Guard pressing of The Best of Ferrari, “Ferrari belongs to the elite of the Dutch pop groups which succeeded in creating a big reputation on the international record scene.” Of course, if you asked the average obese Joe who the most elite Dutch band of all time is, 9 out of 10 would automatically say Focus. I know you were thinking that, too. Ferrari never had a novelty hit like “Hocus Pocus,” with all its heavy guitar riffs, drum solos and yodeling. Ferrari didn’t need to hide behind cheap gimmicks like that. Again, from the liner notes, “The excellent close-harmony vocals and attractively arranged repertoire made Ferrari a winning team as recording artists from the very start.” Enough said. Their perennial influence is obvious, too. I hear them in almost every new act that comes around. The first time I heard The Weeknd, I thought, “That’s Ferrari. They just added some drum loops and ambient noise samples, and replaced the tight on-the-beat harmonies with more American R&B-type syncopated vocal runs. But other than that, that’s Ferrari.” It’s the same thing with A$AP Rocky and Odd Future–new trim on the classic Ferrari engine.
My introduction to the cult of Ferrari came about ten years ago when I found a copy of The Best of Ferrari at the Sunset and Hillhurst Goodwill. Just seeing the cover–those five thin long-haired lads with the colored pants and the medallions–I knew this was something that was going to change my life. And once I brought it home and listened to it, I found I was right. But I was unable to find anything else about them. Allmusic.com has but the slimmest of information. There are no videos on Youtube, not even a stub on Wikipedia. But on the label of the record, a mysterious name was handwritten–“Oded R.K.” Through help from some associates from my private detective days, I tracked down this Mr R.K. in Holland. I met him at at coffee shop in Rotterdam and asked him about the record. He must have been suffering from some sort of dementia because he seemed not to know what I was talking about. But I knew the memory of the album was locked inside him somewhere because when I sang a bit of “People Smile” for him he started laughing hysterically. Now before you think he was laughing at me, let me tell you that I have been told that I have the voice of an angel. Certainly I’m no Kitty Verboven, but my voice is still quite impressive. Since I was in Holland already, I figured it would be easy to find a few more Ferrari fans. I asked one record store owner, certainly the fattest non-american I’ve ever seen, if he had any Ferrari. He looked at me strangely, so I said “You know, big international hits in the 70s, the premier Dutch pop band of all time.”
“Oh, you mean Focus,” he said.
“No, not Focus, Ferarri, you know– ‘You are Mine,’ ‘Mary-Ann,’ ‘Help Oh Jesus Help,’”
“Yes,” he said, “That was Focus,” And then he began yodeling.
I left The Netherlands frustrated beyond belief that even in their native land Ferrari was unheralded. If they were ever to receive their due, it would come from their international fans.
So I started looking for fans here in the US. I tracked down the person who donated The Best of Ferrari to Goodwill. He turned about to be a repulsive man who, when faced with the decision of where to place his belt in relation to his belly, chose “above”–thus creating the singular appearance of a jello-filled water balloon wearing pants. I started talking to him about Ferrari, and he cut me off and said, “Dude, if I gave a shit, I wouldn’t have given it to the fucking Goodwill.”
But all that is behind me now and we are at the eve of Ferarri (not the car) Fest 2012–surely to be one of the most significant events of my life. Gazebo 2B will be the center of the Ferrari universe. I can not wait. Please come. If you’re not there, I’ll just assume you’re at home eating a whole carton of pocky sticks telling yourself you “deserve it” after all that taxing work you did sitting in your cubicle. Well, let me tell you this, if that’s how you think then you really do deserve that life. Myself, I have Ferrari. See you there!
Lawrence von Haelstrom is a former junior bull-roping champion and street magician who maintains a body fat percentage of 9.8. He explains his long absence from Drunk Monkeys by saying he was busy working on new deep breathing techniques.