ENTER INTO THE BLOG TO COMM READING ROOM!
Yes dear readers, there is much more to life than just listening to music (if I have used this exact same come on before please foo-give me...after all, I have been called repetitive!). There's reading about music as well as other sundry things this blog is well noted for. Anyway here are just a few of the books (as well as a coupla magazoons) I've been giving the ol' eyeball to since this past spring that I thought I'd dish out atcha just so's to prove that there is a shard of literary pretension to this otherwise pretty front stoop blogger's main reason for etre 'r whatever the French call it.
UGLY THINGS #25 (still not a fanzine anymore!)
I gotta admit that getting the latest (#25) issue of UGLY THINGS has been quite a thrill. In fact, it's been about as much thrilling getting this newie ish into my clammy mitts as it was back inna distant past when I'd latch onto the latest issue of THE NEW YORK ROCKER (at least before they went totally gnu wave, as Bill Shute might have put it) or TROUSER PRESS even, or better yet those feelings I continue to get whenever I receive some Golden Age of Fanzine offering, much of which has been reviewed in the pages of my own fanzine homage as well as on this very blog. And with the demise of such all-important fanzines (back when such a creature really existed) as KICKS and FORCED EXPOSURE, it looks as if UGLY THINGS really is the king of the heap as far as great down-to-earth rock & roll-related/inspired reading goes, and having issues popping up in the here and now is truly a miracle of some great Biblical magnitude especially considering how much the taste police and other arbitors of nice and ginchy kultur have been trying to suppress the likes of editor Mike Stax and his hip opines for nigh on twennysome years already! (Well, if I were as paranoid as people make me out to be, I would tend to believe that if I were he!)
Of course, this mostly-six-oh-oriented mag does have its detractors, which truly is a pity especially in these more enlightened times. Just read this piece of fetid "journalism" passing for a review to see just what I mean. Talk about fan mail from some flounder! But despite the heaping hunks of derision emitted from the buttholes of comparative wankers such as the author of that slab o' hokum, I gotta say that UGLY THINGS #25 is a wowzer of a mag that has given me the same sorta warm 'n bubbly thrills that reading those later issues of BOMP! had for a guy who was mostly discovering the wunnerful world of garagedom for the very first time. Of course I'm now a much older and jaded fanabla, but it's a completely enthralling plunk down onna bed buttside up EXPERIENCE reading this issue learnin' about a whole slewwa groups ya never heard about before while pouring over the expansive review section wishin' you could hear a good portion of the spew discussed...gee, it's sure good to be mentally retarded, especially when you're stuck at age fifteen like I am!
So, what's in this neat-o 224-page issue anyhoo??? LOADS OF STUFF THAT'S WHAT including a wild behind-the-history history of the Music Machine written by a guy named Ritchie Somethingorother which rings a bell somewhat, but whaddeva it's still a whacked out piece which I really liked to osmose to even if I've only digested about 25% of the whole thang. There's gobs loads of other goodies too from things on the Light, the Namelosers, Freedom's Children (South African psych!) and more bands hardly anyone's heard about until now...and boy do I mean more as in articles on the reformed Radio Birdman (a CD-R review forthcoming!), the saga of the Kingsmen and their "Louie Louie" as told by organist Don Gallucci, the Rubber City Rebels part two and of course the usual book, DVD, record and Cee-Dee stuff which gets me drooling about as much as when FORCED EXPOSURE was helping me to drain my bank account to nil back in the fuzzy memory eighties. Naturally there's the obligatory Pretty Things and Downliner Sect pages too which would figure, after all, not having them in an issue of UGLY THINGS would be akin to having an issue of PLAYBOY without nipples!
I could go on but I don't want to get all frothy and foaming over this issue to the point of hagiography, not that there's nothing wrong with that (just read an early issue of my old hagiozine, a name that was aptly fitting for a guy who was very obsessive/compulsive about a wide range of underground rants!) but UGLY THINGS is certainly deserving of more. And of course I could nit pick and bring up a few things that I thought were lacking in the latest, like not enough Velvet Underground mentions (gratuitous or otherwise) and the sad inclusion of too much hippy drivel like Sweetwater (?!?!?!?!?!!!!, or is it "#*$&@*^$*+~#*!!!!"), but that would be like complaining about a Happy Meal after ten days of starvation because you didn't like the prize. All I gotta say is that I'm still reading this latest ish, and it's still continuing to enthrall me to the proverbial hilt to the point where I'm gonna hafta figure out where I can latch onto some dinero so's I can obtain the goodies that are now being made available for my listening pleasure even this late in the game! Anyway, after you've bought and read all of the BLACK TO COMMs that are now available (after all, how else can I get hold of some much-needed loot to buy these items? I mean, I've been kicked off just about every promo list extant!) buy yourself an UGLY THINGS and worry yourself about getting the dough to buy the records and Cee-Dees that capture your fancy the most!
***DAGGER #40 (still not a fanzine anymore either! Available from Tim Hinely, PO Box 820102, Portland OR 97282-1102)
After the big hubbub I've written about UGLY THINGS mebbee I don't have the energy to rant on about DAGGER. But despite the lack o' Wheeties in my system I'll still go off on one of my usual tangents 'n say that I think the latest issue of this long-running (twenny years!) 'zine is a pretty hot deal in itself! Now I gotta say that I've never been totally impressed with this mag...oh, it's a trueblue winning effort for sure, but the fact that I and the moderne-day indie music scene have parted ways sometime in the early-nineties didn't exactly make DAGGER a mag that appealed to my own sense of reactionary rockism. I used to careen through issues of DAGGER and not find one group, record or utterance for that matter which grabbed hold of my psychic cojones making me wanna know more and more like a good review or article would in the old days. Was it me getting senile to new forms and stylings in music, or was it the scene itself sorta edging away from various high energy watermarks of yore? Perhaps it was both, but it's not like I was gonna bicker with DAGGER editor/publisher Tim Hinely about it!
So anyway Tim's just put out his fortieth issue and is brazenly celebrating his twentieth anniversary in the biz, and for that we gotta commend him for doing just that and not slitting his throat in the process. But what makes DAGGER #40 a hands-down winner (at least for me) is that there's actually a whole buncha things in this 'un that I gotta say I sat down and read, and not toilet bowl taking-a-dump reading but serious dig-into-it reading always reserved for the best! What got my attention span stretched beyond that of a three-year-old was the piece on Simply Saucer Reformed written by a Gary "Pig" Gold, a name that I seem to recall from somewhere (yeah, I used that gag already this post but it's sooo good!) as well as the interview with Chuck Warner who's putting out those HYPED TO DEATH/MESSTHETICS Cee-Dee comps which seems interesting enough and I gotta say that I cherish all of the hard work the guy put into selling and making recorded goodies for us all. (Y'see, back in 1983 I bought a copy of the Monks' BLACK MONK TIME, the 1980 German Polydor reissue, from Chuck and since that platter is now worth almost as much as the 1966 original I got the guy to thank in case I'm in quick need of any urgent cash and need to sell my copy, which frankly I hope I'll never have to do!) The interview with Steven Burns from the old Scruffs group was boffo enough for me, and though I didn't find the record/Cee-Dee review section to be as hoppity hooper as I would have liked I found the entire issue rather...enchanting?
***ELECTRIC ROCK by Richard Robinson (Pyramid, 1971)
Interesting enough paperback dealing with the then-current state of rock & roll instrument technohow, written by a man whose articles on the same subject in the old CREEM used to get my mind all boggled after I've read all of the hot Lester Bangs and Richard Meltzer stuff, natch! Of course I got it for the more rock-oriented matter that might have appeared here (like maybe some info on Man Ray, a band that like I said I want to hear to the point where I actually dream about these guys' music in fevered fits of manic obsession!) but the general message regarding what's hip and what's dip as far as picking the guitar best to suit you is heralded fair and square. Written in a great matter-of-fact style without the heavy peace trip vibe hype of the day that used to permeate (and date) just about everything which certainly helps things out quite a bit, ELECTRIC ROCK is a nice enough diversion.
***BORN THIRTY YEARS TOO SOON by J. R. Williams (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1945)
Sheesh, I gotta admit that I still feel kinda strange reviewing these funny books as if they were legendary pieces of haute literature! It reminds me of when I was in like the third or fourth grade and we hadda start writing book reports...of course I hadda get stuck reading all of that "cultured" stuff that was supposed to turn me into a full-grown cube like MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH and TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MESS...stuff I actually sat down to read and enjoyed nary a whit, but at least some of the whackier boys in the class had the good mind to ask the teach if they could do their report on the latest PEANUTS paperback! And y'know what? Those kids had it onna ball because although they got soundly thrashed for even to dare suggest writing a book report on some funny page strip I gotta admit that the comic page (and comics in general) were far more important to one's upbringing and general sense of well being than reading any of those snooty books that were written for girls (yech!) if anything!
I've written maybe not-that-extensively about OUT OUR WAY on this blog before, and if you think that the arrival of those recent softcover collections that have been cluttering up my reading chair hasn't been perhaps the comic highlight of the year then you most certainly don't know what kind of an all-engrossed, comic strip maniac I remain! After all, this panel was just about as much of my growing up as it was for my parents', and it's more'n obvious that OUT OUR WAY reflected this same sorta down-home everyday working guy and family oeuvre the same way Jules Feiffer reflected the neo-Marxist NYC worldview for his rapidly aging VILLAGE VOICE readership. Only Williams seemed to be way more connected with Ameriga's sense of down-home aw-shucksness and, come to think of it, seemed to actually like the concept of the everyday man a lot more than Feiffer ever could. Every time I look into Worry Wart's face I see a true sadness and frustration you just can't get out of a Keane painting, let alone one of Feiffer's agitprop duds aimed at an audience who has such a rabid hatred of the same people they claim to want to "uplift." J. R. Williams had that special talent to transform mid-Ameriga for mid-Amerigans, and sell it right back to them which is no wonder why OUT OUR WAY was perhaps the most clipped-out comic of the day still adorning more scrap books than you can shake a pair of scissors at!
Faithful readers'll remember the "Born Thirty Years Too Soon" series of nostalgic pokes at the turn of the century which Williams submitted twixt his various Worry Wart, "Why Mothers Get Grey," westerns and machine shop-related offerings. I guess that in the thirties and forties when these panels were done there were more'n a few people who were maybe not-so-fondly looking back at the turn of the century, or perhaps, like many of us would've had we been around then, they looked fondly upon the better aspects of a life that was sorta bludgeoned outta existence by World War I and the Jazz Age. (I recall a western-oriented OUT OUR WAY where Stiffy, the septugenarian cowhand who had roped with Will Rogers, was paying his respects at the makeshift grave of a long-gone old friend telling him that he really wasn't missing much, a sentiment that seemed to echo Williams' own feelings at least if the tone of many of his panels could be taken to heart.) Maybe that's what adds to the charm of these lookbacks through perhaps not-so-rose-colored shades, for these strips seem to echo a lotta the stories I've heard about growing up early-twentieth-century that were related to me by people now long gone, many of whom I would tell weren't missing much if only I could.
My faves: the ones where some foreign farmers start hitting on these puffed-shouldered gay nineties gals thinking that because of their breadth they'd make good farmhands, some girl freaks out over a game of "post office," these women attack (with hatpins!) some guy they mistake as a masher and where the perils of bringing food home from the store tained by either kerosene or the handling of fresh fish is thorougly discussed (and disgusted!).
***THE ESSENTIAL DOCTOR STRANGE VOL. 1 by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Friends (Marvel 2006)
Classic b/w collection of the early Dr. Strange sagas which really never did need any introduction, 'cept to the current crop of comic book readers who are being offered pure manure 'stead of true classic comicdom these sorry days. The earliest stories with all-time fave Steve Ditko at the drawing board are undoubtedly the best, and although the series seems to falter with Ditko's '66 exit they still held up well enough to the point where the Good Doctor actually earned his own title by the time this book is through. For a kid like me (remember, I'm stuck at age fifteen!) who dribbled incessantly at the font of Marvel only to get burned when their product began taking a nosedive in the mid-seventies, this is one I'd certainly like to stash away in the time machine and send back to my former self. And Marvel, while yer at it, how about reprinting those old Dr. Droom stories as they appeared in early '61 w/o any of that seventies redo!
***THE FORD FALCON 1960-1963 by Phil Cottrill (Rigel, 1982)
When I was a kid (really, not spiritually!) my father bought a used 1963 Ford Falcon station wagon (that's "estate car" for you English readers, or "break" for you French) as a second vehicle for an ever-busy family always on the go to the supermarket, extracurricular activities, or (in my case) "special" meetings with the principal. Of all the cars that our family had while I was growing up this 'un was perhaps my fave...most of all it had that classic early-sixties look (and I didn't particularly care for the more box-y late-sixties/early seventies stylings that were pushing the fifties/early-sixties automobiles off the road) plus it was a station wagon which meant I could (along with other sundry same-age relatives) sit in the trunk area while the whole lot of us would go to some shopping center or drive in restaurant. Real mid-Amerigan living, dontcha think? Anyway after awhile I remember the car beginning to fail in certain capacities to the point where the radio died and my father had to install his own home-made choke (taken from an old lawnmower) to help the car start on cold days. Believe-you-me, there were times when Dad'd be working on that Falcon with about as much care as a brain surgeon on JFK! Eventually the floorboards began to rust through to the point where I would be amazed peering through the holes watching the road as it would zoom by. At times slush from said road would splash me, which wasn't quite as fun but when you're young you have to suffer all sorta of indignities. I remember telling my father that if the floorboards got any bigger we could start the car by picking it up on its sides and running with it like they do on THE FLINTSTONES...he was not amused, but I guess it's hard to have a sense of humor when you're staring at the prospect of having to look for another second-hand car for the family.
But anyway, I gotta admit that the early Ford Falcon remains one of my fave cars of the classic late-fifties/early-sixties era, and this book details the history of the original version of this long-lived (at least in Australia) model in a pretty classy way. Besides the usual text which does offer some insight, there are loads of photos showing the development of this compact car from various late-fifties attempts many of which look like the 1963 Australian version of the fabled Valiant, as well as proposed early-sixties facelifts and of course some variants that did make it out like the Canada-only Mercury Frontenac, the Australian variety (though lacking in shots of their '64 and '65 models which kept the early-sixties variety alive in the Antipodes for at least two more years) as well as the Argentine Falcon which used the same basic early-sixties body well into the very early nineties! I gotta give Argentina credit for continuing such a classic style and for so long, but why didn't some bright Amerigan exec think of importing some of 'em up here??? I mean, we certainly coulda used a little more 1962 in 1992, if you know what I mean!
Still, a fine salute to a great car that still tends to wow me with its parallel lined fenders and general pre-hippie cringe/overly flash look. Outside of your nearest faverave car show, this book certainly must be the place to be!