Sunday, April 02, 2006

DON'T JUST SIT THERE...READ SOMETHING!

Reading can be just as fun as listening or watching, that is if you're reading the right sorta thing that's totally in tune with your own personal sense of funtime balance. That's why I hold reading in the same high regards that I do listening to some great high-energy rock or jazz disque or watching a classic comedy or tee-vee show...of course I prefer reading the right things (old timey comic strip/book compilations, classic fanzines with as many Velvet Underground references that can be crammed in...) just like I strive to watch the right movies and listen to the even righter recordings out there because frankly, life is way to short to get stuck looking through old issues of SWELLSVILLE or spinning the Ex (who, in my typically MAD-bred mentality, should've been called the Ecch!!!).

Anyway, this particular post will be devoted to some of the "printed matter" that has been crossing my eyes as of late. I mean, I've got to do something whilst sitting on the commode or listening to music during my evening wind-down from a day at the thumbscrew factory hours, and reading (whether it be onna computer or the old fashioned way) always seems to fill the bill when it comes to a thrill, Lil! (That's the Basil Wolverton influence at work!)

UGLY THINGS #23 (It's supposed to be a fanzine but I think it's outgrown its original roots plentyfold!)

Back in the middle part of the decade we now call the eighties, there were two young boys on opposite ends of the Amerigan continent who were both totally enthralled with varying forms of sound patterns, the one on the left coast being swayed under the spell of early-sixties British bluesmeisters and beatsters (not to mention various new colony hanger ons) and the one on the right manic Velvetisms as well as the varying paths those drones could lead to. Both started up their own fanzines around the same time, although while the kid on the right coast sorta crashed and burned into a sea of indifference and abject hatred (which he either wallowed in or abhorred depending on the situation at hand) the one on the left became world-reknown and a lot more than a just a passing fancy in the realms of garage band aficionadodom. And besides, he managed to keep his hair which is a lot more than I can say about the right-coast dullard!

Of course the left coast fanzine magnate I'm talking about is none other than one Mike Stax, and keeping true to form he's gone and released himself another issue of his now-beyond-legendary UGLY THINGS magazine for us eager peasants to consume, and although I gotta admit that this particular ish is over half-a-year-old I just got the thing which naturally makes me a Johnny-Come-Latelier (yeah, I used that one in my last post but I thought it was so neat I decided to use it again!) but rather you read my opinions on the magazine rather than some disaffected, above-it-all blogger or gosh-it-all lapdog drooling all over the thing complete with that stinky dog breath and stringy-drool drying up all over the furniture looking like Christmas tree tinsel! And besides, when this magazine was originally released back inna Summer of '05 I expressly told Mr. Stax not to send me a free copy because for all intent purposes my own BLACK TO COMM fanzoonie is deader than a doornail (though don't be surprised if the Phoenix doesn't once again rise from the ashes of my crash and burn sometimes in the distant future) but he sent me one anyway nice guy that he is who still cares about us little people even though he is now one of the biggest of the bigshots when it comes to the wonderful world of garage band fandom and can probably afford to throw away his underwear (and maybe his sunglasses!) after wearing them just once.

Nice glossy cover as usual, and even nicer innards too. And although frankly it would take an average person at least three weeks to fully read, digest and comprehend any issue of this mag (and for me at least six months!), I'll make a gallant effort to at least tell you all about what I've perused of this thing! Part 1,403 of the Misunderstood story is presented featuring the time between October 4, 1974 at 1:30 PM and 2:30 that same day (Glenn Campbell's ingrown toenail crisis being presented in vivid detail) and...alright, that's a joke, but in reality the post-Misunderstood saga is pretty interesting even if you kinda wanna upchuck at the idea that member Rick Brown spent a good portion of the early-seventies ramalama-ing in India and Nepal complete with a haircut that seems modeled after my very own only NATURE did it to me! Still it makes for funtime reading even if you're not that keen on the Misunderstood after a certain point in rockism history thinking that all that post-'67 stuff is nothing but hippydippyisms. I skimmed through the parts on the likes of the Pilgrims, that pre-Move Mike Sheridan article and even Mike and the Ravens (though I did "read 'em"...let's just say that I gave these the old quickie perusal like I used to give my algebra and science textbooks back when I was studying for tests in High School which would account for my iffy knowledge of these pieces, as well as my dismal school grades) but then again I always seem to do that because I like to get to my favorite part of the mag, mainly the book, DVD and RECORD (er, Cee-Dee) REVIEWS!!!!

I always like to throw myself full force into the review sections because now I know which new record/book releases there are out there in "buy me!" land and I can send my shekels to a lotta neat places so I can review things on this blog and act like a big shot cluing you ignorant peons in! Unfortunately there weren't that many things reviewed that really would light a fire under my expansive back-issue collection (though the Buddy Holly CD/DVD set looks tasty as does that Sundazed double 10-inch set of Byrds FIFTH DIMENSION outtakes). But still, it's always great reading about these new recordings (of old faves and soon-to-be's) which kinda flashes me back to my barely-into-the-double-digits days when all this great fifties/sixties squall was being presented to me via garage sales and flea markets, and at cheapo prices as well!

Mike also sent me some Cee-Dees straight from his own custom-made Ugly Things label, and I will review those in earnest in a future post (since this is an all-print edition of BLOG TO COMM in case you skipped over the intro). However, the special Mike and the Ravens CD that comes with this issue makes for a tasty cherry on toppa this hot fudge sundae of an issue, with over twelve minutes of great early-sixties vintage garage band crank that makes me wanna go to the nearest shopping plaza and pick up a new copy of MAD IN ORBIT along with the top album of the week for only 99 cents and ten bottle caps...waidaminnit!!! Thanks for nothing, Mike!

BAM BALAAM #'s 11 and 14 (fanzine published by Brian Hogg in the seventies and eighties)

Face it bub, THE NEXT BIG THING wasn't the only fanzine to come out of the land of club/log throwing and men in skirts (that's Scotland to you!) not counting a buncha punk crudzines and the like...there was also BAM BALAAM, a rag that has more than a national identity to share with its still-going strong (at least online) countryman! Y'see, back in the early eighties I actually SUBSCRIBED to BAM BALAAM, a feat I was to repeat a few years later with Lindsay Hutton's own pub though sad to say, right when I skeedaddled my money to editor Brian Hogg the magazine just hadda deep-six, and along with the magazine went my hard-begged moolah as well. And I never got a refund either, which must mean that all of those stories we hear about stingy Scot tightwads must be true (he probably didn't wanna splurge for the postage, though he coulda deducted that and the cost of the envelope and the foolscap and the time to write the note and the pencil outta what he did owe me!) but I'm not going to crybaby and complain about it like I should given I'm such a poor boy who has to crawl through the gravel to do what most people can on a daily basis! I hold no grudges, right Jay???

Anyhoo I happened to come across these two latterday issues of BAM BALAAM via an ebay auction, and although I already owned #14 of the pair I thought an extra one wouldn't hurt especially when the original was somewhere in about thirty years of collected gunk gathering dust or mold somewhere in the abode. I'll get to that one later...now the ish that's all-new to me is #11 from sometime during the dawn of that miserable decade we now call the eighties. Of course it wasn't as miserable then (Madonna had yet to soil the visage and Bruce seemed still enshrined in his cult of mindless sycophants) so the fanzine energies were still running on seventies pow'r and might and BAM BALAAM was no different. In a move to shock the punque hipsters (or maybe sell a few more copies), Hogg slapped the Rolling Stones smack dab on the front cover (albeit the early variety, not the kind that later ended up recording such Highpoints of Western Civilization as "Angie"), and yeah, I'll admit that it's a pretty good piece as is the one on the Who and the Easybeats, concentrating on the wild early days of the sixties and fortunately cutting the cord when it comes to seventies excess (or even before)!

I also gotta admit that I like Hogg's manner of presentation: y'see, he writes about groups we've known about for years, and he tells us things we've known since the beginning as well...however, the way he does it is so matter-of-fact that it's like you're getting a refresher course and you like it, plus he might stick an interesting fact you never knew about or had totally forgotten, which suits me fine because I have a head like a sieve!

As for issue #14, this was the last BAM BALAAM and a beaut as well with the Velvet Underground featured on the cover. Again, I've known almost everything Hogg brings to light here but it's sure nice, even giving you a holy feeling as you read about the experimentations of Cale and the energy and promise they held for way too many people to count (that is, until those same people began playing lousy music in their "tradition"). Also figuring into this issue are Bobby Fuller, the Mockingbirds (Graham Gouldman) and pre-SAHB Alex Harvey, dishing out loads of info and pix for non-haggis types who've only known the man from his latter days in the seventies freak rock arena!

DC ARCHIVE SERIES; ALL STAR COMICS VOLUME 1 (DC, 1991)

I guess this series is popular because they're already up to the late-forties days of the Black Canary and artwork by Irwin Hasen (who later ended up drawing that dumb dago DONDI inna funny pages), and I would be a big liar if I didn't tell you that this series doesn't hold a special place in my comic book loving heart. Y'see, when I was twelve I was a huge fan of comic books both old and new, and considering how many old timey greats like Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott were still active and many old heroes had been either reconstructed (like the Flash) or even reborn (like the original Flash), there still was a strong continuity whether it be character or saga-wise between the Golden Age heroes and the new ones that seemed to satisfy me as a kid who longed for the past I never knew that sure seemed neat enough if my folks could be trusted with their tales of nighlife and excitement. Unfortunately, this series of Justice Society episodes hadda arrive long after my comic book fandom turned to rockism, but I figured that I'd rather be late than never even if these old comics seem to have less and less relevance in my life at least until I reach retirement age and I can spend my waning days reading all the Golden Age comics I want to 'til I burst!

So what does this premier volume have in store? Well, the first Justice Society story (actually from issue #3) has the gathered DC heroes of the day (excepting Superman and Batman, who as the story says were keeping an eye on things though since they weren't part of the "All-American" branch of the DC empire I guess they needed special permission to appear there!) spinning yarns about their various adventures. Gotta admit that the artwork ain't as top-notch as it could've been (even Sheldon Moldoff comes off as a totally weak Alex Raymond swipe nothing like what he would be able to do in a very short while) but I like the sagas being spun from such soon to be revamped/forgotten old timers as the (original) Sandman, (original) Atom and Dr. Fate, all of which are in that classic Golden Age "suspend a lotta your practical and scientific knowhow and it'll all work out fine" sense. Even the Red Tornado, DC's attempt at a truly engaging superhero spoof along the lines of Supersnipe and perhaps even Plasticman to an extent shows up for a page!

Unfortunately the later JSA mega-stories that pop up in this volume don't quite get to me, but perhaps that's because the Big 'Un was getting in gear at this time and well, the patrotic jingoism of WW II is kinda making me nauseous as of late. Without getting into much controversy or looking like a pacifist geek I gotta say that most all of the propaganda that has been used to stir up hoi polloi Ameriga's pro-war zeal comes off worse than a Sunday School play, and sometimes I gotta wonder about the mentality of people who can suddenly hate others of different ethnicities or races with a drop of a hat (or a bomb for that matter). And yeah, I can goof on watching old Warner Brothers cartoons where Bugs Bunny sells chocolate covered grenades to a Japanese soldier, but milking an entire propaganda war on such banalaties can make one wanna head for the nearest vomitorium. And watching the Atom forcing a buncha fifth columnists posing as students at his college to sing patriotic Amerigan tuneage only sends me in search of Nico's "Deutschland Uber Alles"!

All funnin' aside, ya gotta be careful with these Golden Age reads despite what the Fandom Is A Way Of Neglecting Everything Else In Your Life people may say. Seek carefully, and remember, what mighta seemed like a great idea at twelve might come off like a total embarassment today!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Getting PC in your old age, Chris?

Christopher said...

About as "PC" as Lew Rockwell, Charley Reese, Karen DeCoster or Pat Buchanan.

David said...

I don't know who DeCoster or Reese are but with more reviews like that you would fit in quite well at Maximum Rock & Roll

Christopher said...

I know what you mean...those anti-capitalistic anti-individualist communal college protester types at MRR really would cream their union-made undies over a statement about me reaching for Nico's "Deutschland Uber Alles." But really, do you really think that these same folks who were literally begging Frankie Roosevelt to send troops to Spain to fight for the communist side back in the thirties but rabidly protested against any other military involvements since the sixties are "pacifists" in the truest sense? At least your (allegedly) hated Republicans had a reputation for being the anti-interventionist party for quite a long time (even with Barry Goldwater's sabre-rattling which upset a few antiwar right wingers!), at least until George W. tried to save the world from Sadaam, or the Taliban, or something like that. But hey, I'm not expecting anyone out there to be Political Science majors. Even myself, though I guess I might know a few more things than you do when it comes to polly-tix (well, it seems so obvious...)

But really "David" (are you "thee" David that's all the talk of blogtown these days???), if you would like to educate yourself about "war" and those who really believe against it, why don't you just read some of Karen DeCoster's or Charley Reese's columns (the former has a blog you can latch onto easily enough, the latter pops up on the lewrockwell.com site as well as antiwar.com, which has a great array of intelligently-written anti-war articles from both sides of the aisle and then some) and maybe you won't look like one of those very same neocons that seem to be in abundance these days who called people like Buchanan and Rockwell traitors for their opposing the current debacle in Iraq...at least until it became too humiliating as the months dragged on.

David said...

FYI, I'm from MRR's backyard in
"Beserkley". I never ever expected you to be stooping down to the level of all the lefties here. Who would've guessed - Stigliano as closet left-liberal?

Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christopher said...

Then I guess (using your reasoning) THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE is really the new DAILY WORKER. Really Dave, if you've studied a lotta the right wing/(non-Jay Hinman branch of) libertarian/non-interventionist viewpoints out there (easy enough to find with the aid of a search engine) you'd realize that the current anti-war mob does not consist totally of your usual garden variety of left wing radical leftovers. (Or I guess you'd realize it if you've only read my comments above, but I can't vouch for the intelligence of some of my readers. not necessarily you.) Besides Buchanan et. al., have you ever followed the anti-war speeches given on the floor of congress by Texas Rep. Ron Paul? Wow, there's a flaming liberal if there ever was one! Face it Dave, some of the biggest critics of this administration are right-wingers, as anyone who's followed Paul Craig Roberts these past few years can tell you!

And while we're at it, I dunno how you could even consider calling me a "closet left-liberal" when as you'd admit most of my opines clearly fall on the opposite side o' the aisle! Does someone having a deeply-held viewpoint that might go against the patented "party line" make them traitors to the "cause" whatever it may be this late in the game? If so, then I guess that the late Pennsylvanian Governor Robert Casey was a "conservative" because he opposed abortion, and that Barry Goldwater was a liberal because he was for it! (And does that make me "wishy-washy" for admiring both despite their various faults?) Oh well, if that means I'm "stooping" to the level of all the anti-war commies who live in your burgh then you might as well call me Joe Stalin! It's sure a lot better'n a lotta things I've been called o'er the years!