Saturday, May 05, 2007


As you probably already know, I've named this on/off again oleo of whatever's twisting my tweaker at the time after a now-long-gone similar-minded blogpost-title, namely the "High Five" series that Dave Lang ran in his now-viscosity-less weblog whose title escapes me at the moment. Originally I felt I could deliver more to you, the anxious BLOG TO COMM reader, than the likes of Lang could ever dream of which is why I decided to go the extra mile Lang never could conceive and titled my posts "High Six," though with the arrival of his progeny such a title would actually pay Lang homage, given how his offspring has six toes on all four 'peds thus making an actual slap of such sorts a reality in the Lang abode. I knew that families were close down in Australasia, but not this close! Now don't go saying that I'm not the kinda guy who tries to bury the hatchet with my former foes 'n offer the ol' olive branch, or olive pizza t'boot!

1) The Velvet Underground-THE PSYCHOPATH'S ROLLING STONES bootleg CD (Futuristic Blues)

And speaking of boots (notice the sleek segue that I learned from Russell Desmond of CAN'T BUY A THRILL fame), I'm positive that most of you readers out there're smart enough to realize that most of the then-classic bootlegs of the seventies, eighties and nineties have been made obsolete through upgraded material, better presentation and ln a few cases legal reissues, but dad gum if I don't think that a lotta those old insert-sleeve bootlegs that I drooled over in the bins way back in the seventies have a special sorta cheap-o class all their own! And many of the early Cee-Dee bootlegs that seemed like such rare archival artyfacts back in the day suffer from such unplanned obsolescence as well, THE PSYCHOPATH'S ROLLING STONES by the Velvet Underground being no exception though I gotta admit that the selection of now-familiar tuneage lifted from throughout the group's career makes for fine driving music as songs and quality take a roller-coaster ride from familiar loft rehearsal tracks and Max's Kansas City outtakes to seventies Cale/Nico/Reed acoustic deca-cool and it all settles inside you just like it did when you first heard the stuff during your young 'n impressionable days. And what makes it even neater is that the only previously-unheard-by-me trackage here was the "Star-Spangled Banner" numbuh which I guess was supposed to have been used as the opening for the '93 reunion tour but nixed...actually it does make for a fine addition to the Velvets mystique because if there was any band that epitomised the Amerigan sense of trash rock culture it was the Velvets. (A NUDGE-NUDGE HINT TO EDGAR BREAU: maybe you and your Simply Saucer should swing "Oh Canada" for your upcoming would show a bitta patriotic pride on your part even though I kinda think that you think your native land has gone to hell inna handbasket at this point in time 'n if you nix the idea, frankly I don't blame you!)


By the mid-sixties, it was more'n obvious that the big gamble that Stan Lee had instigated at the Marvel (formerly Timely/Marvel/Atlas) Comics Group had paid off in spades with perhaps the biggest comics putsch in the industry since EC's manic sweep a good decade earlier. Of course you as well as I can and maybe have already read about it in the iffy-yet-informative book TALES TO ASTONISH amongst other places, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that even with all of the hype going on at Marvel during those years that they certainly had a thing going. And I'm sure that with their characters being licensed out on products galore, tee-vee cartoon series in the can and even the phony-intellectuals gobbling up Dr. Strange that there was some sorta joy abuzz at Marvel that I'm sure wasn't there five years earlier when Martin Goodman was threatening to pull the plug on the entire affair!

You can see that hipster joy overflowing on just about every Marvel cover of the day, and nowhere was that overbounding sense of happyhappy more evident than on the covers of Marvel's two Giant Size reprint titles MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS and "sister" pub MARVEL TALES. These books were godsends and relatively cheapo catchups for the come-latelies who, like most, missed out on the earliest days of the Marvel Age of Comics, and (getting boringly autobiographical) even I hafta admit that they sure came in handy during my early-teen comic collecting days because not only were they easier to find, but they were cheaper that obtaining the originals which were going for humongous buckskins even a hefty ten years after-the-fact!

I can't seem to locate any or all of my recent b&w collector's editions featuring these old-time faves right now (though the Dr. Strange one, which I had neglected to get all these years, should be heading my way very soon), but these reprints just happen to be handy enough here at the ranch and have been helping me fill my just-pre beddy-bye hours with loads of joy both nostalgic and just downright plain entertaining. It's not hard to see just why Marvel became the chic mid-sixties camp trip with these stories, most all of which hold up rather well (even with the outdated Cold War imitation Castros lurking in every other story!) and perhaps more for me than you because...frankly I can see the cultural benefits of the early/mid-sixties a lot more than some hidebound radical punk (the same kinda bozo who would have been flocking to the newsstands of the day for these very comics!) who has a deep loathing for the past to the point where he has come to embrace all of the facets of the same hippiedom that he, in saner times, would have rightly eschewed.

A quick rundown on what's been reprinted here...most all of the MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS feature the early Fantastic Four issues, all of which have a great sense of tension that would only expand once 1963 rolled around. (And I gotta admit that I really liked the original concept seen only in the first two issues where the four fight crime without their patented superhero costumes!) Also featured here are the early Iron Man sagas when he looked more like a tin robot than a superhero...this was long before the vaguely-Errol Flynn-ish Tony Stark's chestplate became more human formed to the point where his two knobs actually looked like nipples which used to make me giggle a lot as a kid! Sagas are half good and pleasing enough, even if Don Heck's art wasn't that appealing at the time (it would get better though many would not think so). The early Hulk adventures keep my attention at least when they don't get too bogged-down as they sometimes could, while I find the Dr. Strange sagas pretty engrossing which is funny because back in the day I kinda thought of them as being fruity with all that mystico mumbo jumbo and what seemed like an unnatural attraction between Strange and the Master. Which is why I purchased that collection which only proves what a good thirtysome years can do to a fella...

MARVEL TALES featured Spider-Man, who was at his height with Steve Ditko at the drawing board in '65 yet the spark and power were still there, especially when Ditko's art had that fine detailed finesse that was evident during the early (1956) Marvel days yet seemed to fall by the wayside as time crept by. The Human Torch solo sagas were also firmly set in that classic jagged Marvel intense fashion and that 'un was a pretty good ride at least until 1964 when someone decided to 1) take Kirby and/or Dick Ayers off the series, 2) introduce the Thing as a regular character thus cluttering up the atmosphere and 3) camp it up in the worst way with some pretty tiresome pseudo-humor sans action and solid storyline progression ever (including a saga where the two of 'em meet the Beatles!) which is one reason the series was soon to be replaced by the much better Nick Fury/SHIELD. The Thors were fine other'n when they got Al Hartley to do that one story and I gotta admit that I liked the Ant Man/Giant Man ones enough even though it started to fiz early on and even a number of power and uniform changes couldn't save that dog. Still, who knew that even this far down the line there'd be a slight tingling of interest in these adolescent wonders? Well, at least """""I""""" (along with a few million other rabid Baby Boomer consumer brats) proved Wertham wrong when he said that NOBODY held a strong affinity for their comic book reading days which ultimately proved their utter worthlessness!

3) SURRENDER #5, 1996 (fanzine published by Brian Doherty)

Sometimes finding an old fanzine is like finding an old friend (I threw that in to show all of you readers that I too can be an old softie sentimentalist and ultimately dullsville writer just like everyone else on the web!) and I find no exception with this one which I came across sorting through a pile of old junk in the basement just the other day. Editor Brian Doherty is a fine writer even when he is going on about things that don't interest you in the least, and even though he does roam off the reservation on more than a few occasions (like in his unabashed pro-Grateful Dead schpiel from a long-gone issue of REASON where he actually has the unmitigated audacity to deem the flaky-hippie Crosby/Stills/Gnash-influenced "Uncle John's Band" their bestest moment extant!) the guy is at least talented enough to keep you on your toes and engage your mind whether he's writing about politics, comic strip/book art or best of all music. And of all of his publishing formats I find SURRENDER perhaps his best, especially this swan-song issue done at the height of the alleged fanzine Golden Age of the nineties which was a time when such self-produced dribble was making many an upstart famous and rich, unless your name was Chris Stigliano and your mag BLACK TO COMM at which point you might as well be pitching hay 'stead of opinions because for all the notoriety and moolah I got for my troubles all I gotta say is...was this trip really necessary?

Anyway, SURRENDER #5 was a marked improvement over the previous, more CONFLICT-inspired effort I've seen (you can see that this poor tortured soul is still smarting from the verbal and mental abuse that was dished out by not only editor/Howard Stern wannabe Gerard Cosloy and but his brother-in-butt Patrick Analream during those days of bitter struggle!), and if I hadda compare it to anything coherent and cohesive it probably would be those early issues of HYPERION I reviewed recently. Political and socially savvy, SURRENDER reads pretty much like what that fanzine of yore might have looked like a good two decades down the line with not only a load of book reviews mostly political or economic in nature (many Milton Friedman and related, in preparation for an article to appear in some swanky newsstand read) but review essays featuring Gregg Turkington of BREAKFAST WITHOUT MEAT etc. fame, and an interview with the bloke as well! Best of all, SURRENDER #6 is saturated with loads of reviews of then-current hotcha amerindie/altie/self-produced swill, most of which dutifully finds its proper place inna trash heap of history like you knew it would. Makes fine bathroom reading even if that Brother-type reminds me too much of my own efforts, albeit not shrunken down to the size of a gnat. Oh, and even the cartoons are a hoot, not preachy like MAXIMUM R&R and best of all funny unlike the ones I've been printing for at least the past few issues!

4) HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED (underground film by George Kuchar made circa. 1965)

Back in the late-eighties, I was talking with Bruce "Mole" Mowat on the phone and somehow the subject of the Kuchar Brothers came up. Not being familiar with these guys, who were big enough in underground film circles back in the late-sixties to the point where they actually got their mugs printed in an issue of TIME, the esteemed Mr. Mole asked me for the names of some of the Kuchars' wares out of what seemed like honest curiosity. Anyhow, after rattling off a variety of well and not-so-known Kuchar titles like SINS OF THE FLESHAPOIDS, HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED, PUSSY ON A HOT TIN ROOF etc., Mowat broke out in an uncontrollable fit of laughter akin to the similar story of when G. G. Allin met up with Flo and Eddie at some restaurant and, after giving them the "I have all of your records" schpiel asked them if they'd like to produce him...of course, after giving them the full and unexpurgated array of titles the two couldn't stop laughing to respond to Allin's request thus a Flo and Eddie-produced disc on his part was pretty much a null and void affair. But for a good reason, mind you!

Anyway thanks to the miracle of (taa-DAAAH!) high speed internet I can now view just about anything on my computer without having to take a bath or mow the lawn while the thing's downloading, so now it's much easier and faster to see this George Kuchar classic on Youtube. Not one of their best, but still nice, striking, campy and seamy enough for my tastes and a whole lot better'n watching the calculated sleaze presented as socially significant and message-laden art one sees these sensitive days. In some ways, the mid-sixties artsiness with those striking colors in the opening credits makes me flash back to my grade school days when us kids would be shown religious films with such a vivid array of color. But believe me, this is no religious film! If you're game enough, just click on parts one and two below!


Yeah, I know that I, along with just about every other smart and self-respecting Amerigan out there should be boycotting Kino for purely aesthetic reasons (mainly that their snobbish upper-crust left wing elitist attitudes don't quite mesh with my homespun sense of values), but frankly, I didn't know... But whatever, it's nice seeing some of these old pre-underground film-era avant garde shorts (many of which set the stage for the sixties innovations of Anger, Warhol and the Kuchars amongst many others) again, plus the newies eyeballed by me ain't that bad either. From those familiar Man Ray and Duchamp shorts to such classics as Watson and Webber's LOT IN SODOM (supposedly the first avant short with a soundtrack, but why did they leave FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER off here?), AVANT GARDE is a representative collection despite/because of the expected duds (such as Orson Welles' directorial debut THE HEART OF AGE which looks like a bad amateur spoof of Eisenstein) but frankly, you can probably get almost alla this stuff from some of those public domain film peddlers and for much cheaper rates as well! Support these mom and poppers and try to avoid Kino at all costs!


CBGB may be gone, but their website is still up and since I've arrived in this world with the acquisition of that aforementioned high-speed internet I figured why not dish out $4.95 and get a week's access to their archives so's I can catch up on a buncha the acts both well known and obscure that I've missed out on the past few years. Yeah, seven months later I gotta admit that I am still suffering from CBGB withdrawal pangs, and I thought that viewing some of the sets by acts who've played the three stages would help ease me into a future of no immediate virtual clubhopping a lot easier. Oh well, at least it was an effort...

Back in the old days CBGB had a grand selection of bands you could eyeball listed in their expansive cybercast archives, and not only that but you could see the entire sets just like they happened onstage! The well-known as well as the obscure were featured as well, and if you saw a group listed who you knew nothing about but they had a neat name it cost you nothing to download the gig and hopefully get a load of what promised to be a rather...I dunno, enthralling musical experience. True a good portion of the bands available were usually aping then-current alternative rock or mainstream moves, but amidst the usual assortment of Mike Stipe crybabies one might dig a truly unique and interesting act like the heavy metalloids Crisis and Karen Black (who used to date Lou Rone!) not forgetting Lucky, that band I wrote about awhile back who still bug the tar outta me this far down the line. Once I decided to catch a group calling itself Clear Light thinking that maybe the sixties Los Angeles psych band had reformed, only to see a bunch from New Orleans with the same name (and with seventies-styled long hair) play psychedelic garage rock that seemed timewarped from perhaps a 1976 CBGB appearance in the Twilight Zone! And believe me, there were many surprises like this to be found if one felt adventurous enough!

However all that has changed, with many of the older archived groups (including the likes of the Fleshtones, Shirts and especially Lucky) jettisoned in favor of newer shows, and not only that, but entire gigs have been chopped down to just one or two numbers making viewing pretty sparse if you ask me! The array of talent available now is rather iffy, and frankly the hotter stuff that I was anxious to catch like avant garde jazz saxophonist Roy Campbell and Pinataland (a long-running folk-y rock-y act often caught at the CB's 313 Gallery) aren't retrievable which certainly busted my chops, as Jillery would say.

Still, it's kinda nice to get a bitta the flavor that was CBGB which is now long gone, and catching the avant garde jazz and flybynight who-knows-what-they-were kinda acts is pretty thrilling in its own way. I only hope that ALL the cybercast shows were archived and saved for historical purposes because you know that ten years down the line someone is gonna ask...howcum?


And before I go...


COMING SOON: Lou Rone Alone CD Album complete for free
to download on his site at no cost, Top Draw Music presents Lou Rone Alone free mp3's, every tune on Alone for free, enjoy...

And a hasta la vista on this Cinco de Mayo!

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