Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Monday, November 13, 2006

Westward Ho

Quad City Times

Mull gets a warm welcome
By David Burke | Saturday, November 11, 2006

IF you were one of the thousand-plus people who were impressed by Martin Mull at the Figge Art Museum two weeks ago, here’s a message for you.
The feeling was mutual.

Kim Montgomery, a Quad-City native who has known Mull for many years and helped engineer his visit to Davenport, sent a lengthy e-mail here after recording some of the observations by the artist and former comedic actor.

Mull apparently received quite a welcome at several restaurants, including the Duck City Bistro in Davenport and the Bass Street Chophouse in Moline — including plates with names of his movies and TV shows spelled out in red bell pepper puree at the former, and watching the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in the latter.

And he was apparently like a kid in a candy store at The Source bookshop in downtown Davenport, where he walked out with a thick stack of 1950s-era Life and Look magazines. It cost him $25 to ship them to his home in Los Angeles, but he told Montgomery that a single magazine in his new collection had a $50 pricetag at a collectible shop in New York.

Most of all, Mull told Montgomery he was impressed by the friendliness of people on the street — those who stopped to say hi as they passed by. In New York, Mull and his agent said, such a greeting would brand that person as a weirdo, or a setup for a robbery.

I talked to Mull twice, once briefly before he talked to college and high school art students and teachers (an interesting and humorous talk, even for art neophytes) and once before we taped a video for our Web site. (It’s still available at

Before we started the video, I sheepishly mentioned that I had a well-worn copy of “Sex and Violins,” his 1978 album. (The whole point of his visit, of course, was to distance himself from his recording, movie and television past, and here I bring up a 28-year-old album.)

One of my favorite songs on the album was called “Westward Ho!” a PG-13 accounting of the pioneers. Mull said he co-wrote the song with friend Steve Martin, as part of a film project. Mull, Martin, Albert Brooks, Penny Marshall and several other comedic minds were brought together by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola to write a satire on American history.

“Then, he decided to move on to a little thing called ‘Apocalypse Now,’” Mull said.

He probably wasn’t ready to tell that story, but between that and his unique pieces of art, he made an impression with me as well.

Quad City Times


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