Thierry Muller-RARE AND UNRELEASED 1974-1984 CD (Fractal France, available via Volcanic Tongue the last time I looked)
Richard Pinhas-SINGLES COLLECTION 1972-1980 CD (Captain Trip Japan)
This is part two.
You probably already remember the first part. If not, just scroll down one post (or better yet click here) and read my very opinions regarding French rock & roll and just how much I believe that our freres Francaise have been generally abused and misunderstood for quite a longer time than any of us Amerigans would imagine, or admit for that matter. And in keeping with the tone of the previous writeup, here are two more platters of Franco origin and they're all whatcha'd call interesting if not pseudo-mandatory platters for the smart set to tingle toes in. While they might not be of 100% rock & roll origin per se they do have their basic rockism instincts firmly embedded into the shiny aluminum layer from when their sounds emanate. Even a stickler for the high energy rock style like myself got at least some satisfaction listening to both of these Gallic gompers that I probably woulda sneered at even a good twenty years ago, so don't go sayin' that this is just "more" lousy French music because no matter how hard you squint your ears and let your feelings rise to the top of the toilet this music is good stuff and only a rabid bigot would say otherwise!
Of course my appreciation of both disques might only mean that jamz are getting harder to kick out these days, but then again maybe it means that I am "maturing" as a music listening/discerning individual and that even I can find enough rock & roll worthiness even in the most cyborg, electronic-laden areas imaginable. Probably the former much more than the latter, because either way I'll still take the Flamin' Groovies over the whole lot of 'em, but that ain't to say that these offerings ain't without their natural charm and ability!
I mentioned Thierry Muller (forgive the lack of umlauts above the "u") about a month or so back in relation to his appearance on the (probably top o' the year...forgive me if I neglect to mention it) Ruth single, and that slice of late-seventies avant-churn was so good that I just hadda give this recent collection of rare recordings the proverbial go at it! As far as "go at it"s go, it's a fairly good go at that, an pleasant-enough collection of electronic music created by the Ilitch of well reknown whose career was obviously more than the TEN SUICIDES album that seemed to populate more than a few Renaissance/Systematic Music mailorder catalogs I received throughout the years. The material done as part of the electronic group Arcane from '74 is amazingly a good decade ahead of the rest of the punk electronic crowd, sounding like a missing channel from that Hawkwind release we've always been wanting to hear with its feral drones and surprisingly enough a flute weaving in and out of the general destruction. The Ilitch tracks from a year later are mystifying in their utter cyborg buzz, and it's a shame that this kinda adventurous music hadda devolve into some mighty sad whackoff sounds once everybody got their own synths to play around with (and their own records labels as well). Thankfully the Ruth single re-appears complete with the outta-focus topless shot resplendent in the enclosed booklet plus the fine electronic punk that makes 'em a Euro Ubu bar none, and while the eighties-vintage Crash material didn't quite excite me the way the earlier tracks do it all made for good middle-of-the-night kinda FM college radio zone out sounds, only without the wonderfully nasal back announcements of the previous hour's worth of music.
For more French electronic blare why not give Richard Pinhas' SINGLE COLLECTION 1972-1980 on the Captain Trip label a try. Not that Pinhas or his electronic music is anything that I'd run out and mortgage the farm to hear (I always had him pegged as one of the guiding lights the late-seventies progressive rock movement, and not being quite the follower of that sort of soundscapading it wasn't like I was going to forsake the primal pastures of the Rough Trade catalog for that stuff!), but the inclusion of some early rare single sides from the guy had me thinking that a worthwhile dunce-thud attitude might be inherent in these early-seventies tracks that certainly would not come up to the standards of the usual seventies prog rock fanatic. These sides do exude a fine sense of Gallic trash-appeal not unlike those bands that appear on the TETES LOURDES sampler of early-seventies French heavy metal, and I gotta admit that it's a nice change 'o pace listening to Pinhas and his band Schizo mixing crass and technical on these early platters whilst the wah-wah guitars battle it out with electronic swirls for rockism supremacy. Of course by the time we travel further throughout the seventies the music does tighten up resulting in more "serious" synthesized drones and middle-of-the-night 1978 college radio fodder but hey, even I can appreciate the sterile French electronic-prog attempt at a cover of "Telstar" even if it comes nowhere near the Fans' take!
OK, there's nothing end-of-the-world earth-shattering on either of these disques, but I like both of them enough not to have then linger at the bottom of the pile amidst all of those latterday Pharoah Sanders and Lexicon Devil disques (the ones I haven't smashed already, that is!). Although I probably WON'T be buying any other items by either Muller or Pinhas in a billyun years I can at least say that I now have at least a tidbit of appreciation for what both bonzos were doing during the seventies and dang it but the call of the classic import bin does tug at my shattered spirit from a good thirtysome years all the harder...somebody gimme a Jem catalog, quick!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thierry Muller-RARE AND UNRELEASED 1974-1984 CD (Fractal France, available via Volcanic Tongue the last time I looked)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Various Artists-LES PLUS GRANDS SUCCESS DU PUNK.II. CD (Skydog France)
A lotta Amerigans like to get their jollies bashing the French, and even though you would never call me a Francophile as you would Russell Desmond I should admit to you that I find such behavior mighty objectionable. True there are a good number of lousy French antecedents which would account for such an animosity towards the nation dating back to the Huguenots and French Revolutionaries, plus any nation that could produce the Marquis de Sade maybe should bow its head in shame once in awhile. Then again, who are we Amerigans to "talk" especially since we've given the world such watermarks of gulcher as the Ku Klux Klan and J. Neo Marvin, and yeah I remember a whole buncha people over here getting all mad at France when they wouldn't let Amerigan planes fly over their nation on the way to bomb Libya as well as for not wanting to participate in any Mideast warfare even to the point where "Freedom Fries" were becoming the new "Liberty Cabbage" in family eateries nationwide. Frankly, I would have expected the exact same behavior from the French that I would have from any nation that went through two destructive world wars that were more ruinous than anything that mighta happened here in the U. S. of Whoa, but unfortunately clearer minds were not being listened to at the time. Well, after a good five years I guess the anti-interventionist French do look better'n alla those anti-Frogsters woulda given 'em credit for and so what if they sneer at furriners trying to speak their lingo...didja ever hear the jokes and revulsion being tossed at Vietnamese boat people trying to utter just one English word correctly???
And what I say about the French goes double for their rock & roll music! I remember hearing people for years complainin' that the French can't play rock & roll, as if these people really had an opportunity to hear enough of it to make a valid judgement. Heck, even I from the foggy haze of three decades remember that exchange between Lester Bangs and Lou Reed in CREEM's METAL MACHINE MUSIC article where even Mr. Reed mentioned that they couldn't play rock & roll even though the French loved him to bits. Well, lemme tell you that I've heard enough French rock to come to the conclusion that these guys sure do know how to be rock & roll maniacs just as much as Amerigans (even more so...dunno if the cult of the "Classic Rock" station lives on there) or even the English, and if the reams of bands that have appeared on this Skydog CD I pulled outta the compost heap called LES PLUS GRANDS SUCCESS DU PUNK.II. are any indication of just what kinda rock the French can play on a regular basis then bands like Rotomagus, Mahogany Brain, Metal Urbain and Soggy are the norm rather than the exception and it would seem as if Mr. Reed has a little apologizin' to do to an entire nation that put out more than its fare share of high quality rockism back when the world was headin' into the dark ages of hippie belief systems and other affronts against the name of good 'n honest jamz kicking out!
The players on LES PLUS GRANDE... read like a roster from an issue of ROCK NEWS with such 1976-era French punkers the likes of the Dogs (who were longtime fanzine faves well into the eighties), Electric Callas, Lou's and 1984 popping up on this comp giving even the most unaware of listeners a pretty good idea of just what p-rock meant before a load of limited individuals began cluttering up the landscape with their comparatively pallid take on this once-vital sound. Some of it comes off like the Flamin' Groovies with a French accent (which is alright by moi) while even the early rumblings of a few of these acts show the influence that the up-and-coming English punks were having even at this early stage in the game. There's even some post-fifties rockabilly from the likes of Willie and the Nighthawks that makes evident to all that the French could mess it up just as well as the Amerigans and English, but they can't all be perfect. Still, that Skydog sense of high-energy rockism that's permeated just about everything this label has released since GREASE hit the racks way back in 1973 can be absorbed on this French-only Skydog release which should make you want to drag out alla your old BOMP! catalogs and dream about how much you coulda bought with the pittance you have back in 1979, if you only had that pittance to begin with!
For me, the standouts on this disque are the tracks by Shakin' Street, who more or less represented a French take on Blue Oyster Cult-styled smart-before-the-commercial-tide metal (you older BTC readers might remember their quite-publicized Amerigan debut album which featured the guitar work of ex-Dictator Ross the Boss) and Marie et les Garcons who had more of a Velvet Underground approach to their entire raison d'etre. If their other recordings including an EP on Rebel (the same company that released the debut Mars single) and a 12-inch single on Ze are as good as les Garcons' two tracks here, perhaps a well-annotated collection would be most welcome. That is, unless there's one already out there being ignored by the sometimes-astute record/Cee-Dee on-line businesses that I like to frequent.
Stay tuned for more French reviews heading your way this holiday (at least here inna US) weekend, and to our Amerigan readers happy goofing off day tomorrow!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I just know that some of you more musically-inclined BLOG TO COMM readers are probably frothing at the mouth o'er my posting of two comic book-related pieces in a row, but gosh darn it if your humble blogschpieler is just awash in Golden Age fun and games as we approach this holidayest of holiday seasons! Who knows exactly why I'm all agog over the early days of the costumed hero capers as we head off into a new year, but I'm sure having a swell time combing through my box o' funnies just like I did when I was barely into the double-digits and needed a pretty good reason to exist! And y'know what, given the outright energy and joy that these World War II-vintage titles are bringing me a good sixty-plus years after they thrilled an entire generation of young 'n upstarting mid-Amerigan kids (including my own father), it's sure good to know that such things, like Three Stooges comedies and Bugs Bunny cartoons, sure have a longer shelf life than the tons of drek being produced today that will only be remembered by equally-drekky people yet another sixty years down the line!
I dunno exactly when noted PLASTIC MAN artist Jack Cole (retroactively?) became one of the top names of the forties comic book scene, at least amongst the more analytical comic fans extant, but even before loads of self-important critics of the form like Art Spiegelman began writing books about him I'll betcha that the grubby Saturday afternoon barber shop kids knew he was alright. I wasn't even one of those type of young 'un's (my father gave me my own soup bowls as a kid), but for me Plastic Man was definitely a top ten superheroes of the World War II era contender, and although I never was the brightest bulb in the hardware store at least I knew enough that the artwork that was adorning these already skewered-beyond-belief PLASTIC MAN tales was something quite different from some of the rote rubber stamp drawings being seen in a wide variety of comic books from those then not-so-distant days. And even if some stupid-beyond-belief kid like myself could discern that, imagine what normal readers could get outta Jack Cole's vivid art and bizarro storylines that jumped a whole load of barrels w/regards to comic book development and the general anarchy inherent thereof.
If I'm not mistaken, it was the very late-1971 issue of DC SPECIAL (the cover of which can be seen to the left) that got the PLASTIC MAN revival going after that company first ran the character into the ground sometime in the mid-fifties before reviving him sans any of his original humor and swagger a good ten years later. Unfortunately by the time DC utilized PLASTIC MAN to his his finest capitalistic abilities in the late-seventies I had already long adjourned the comic book world for the safe confines of music, missing out on his ABC Saturday AM cartoon series as well as his very own title that I assume was flying off the shelves at the time. Dunno if I missed much (I don't think so...for some strange reason I think DC turned Plas into some nutcase wisecracking Bruce Willis India Rubber Man), but if the stories that DC were churning out during this time were any equal to Plas in his Quality comics days I probably ignored a totally wild Golden Age revival that will probably be gone for eons to come, especially considering the crevice the entire comic book industry has fallen into o'er the past few decades of utter rubbish being passed off as bold new innovation!
Naturally the very same industry, just like the ones that created movies, television and music, was at its best during its infancy whilst feeling itself out before creating some of the best "art" (in an affects you as a bumbling sorta lout kinda way) that has been seen in quite some time. And these early PLASTIC MAN sagas that appear in this special edition are inspiring enough, maybe enough that I'll continue buying up the various DC ARCHIVES PLASTIC MAN hardcovers even if the price is quite prohibitive. Besides his origin (and that of sidekick Woozy Winks, created as perhaps a Costello to Plastic Man's Abbot?) we're presented with three stories from the forties/fifties cusp that show just how much Cole's style had developed since Plas' debut, with even more of an exaggerated cartoon-y style than the originals yet just the right mix of humor and heavy-duty violence/intensity that I'll bet had the Werthams of the world coming down hard enough on such tomfoolery once the liberal fifties began falling into place.
And while I'm at it, I just flat and plain-out refuse to call Cole's artwork "surreal" as if such a term really would have any value here in the post-postmodern era. Of course since I rarely read anything written these days at least with regards to what the chattering classes consider haute art I dunno what Cole's style would be referred to as. For the sake of argument let's just say that it's something from the mind of an extremely imaginative artist who didn't need drugs or any other stimulation to come up with these vivid images of a man twisting into all sorts of strange conniptions while pitched up against grotesque comic book villians and situations that, like in DICK TRACY, proves that the early-forties were perhaps the apex of cartoons which unfortunately will never be repeated no matter how hard brainiac self-conscious wannabes try their darnedest!
And yeah, I know that some of this material has been reprinted a number of times already or will again be seeing the light of day in the near future, but ain't it nice to have something in yer cruddy mits that reminds you of the better part of growing up a seventies-era suburban slob kid, even if it was created for forties suburban slob kids to peruse in the first place! In order to keep the illusion going I better latch onto the then-current issues of ACTION comics as well as the final chapter of the Kree/Skrull wars in THE AVENGERS and read them all (along with THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES, another much-loved Christmas gift) on New Year's Day at two-thirty in the morning like I did so long ago, if only to conjure up old ghosts so to speak! (Playing "Bang a Gong" should help out, perhaps mixed with some Lee Michaels or whatever else was coming outta my sister's radio in the other room while I was reading these comics in mine!)
If you can't get hold of this particular DC SPECIAL or find the hardcover reprints too pricey maybe THE BEST OF JACK COLE (Pure Imagination Publishing, 2006) will help fill the bill. A 160-page softcover that pretty much span's Cole's comic book career, this 'un cuts a pretty good cross section as to what the guy was up to not only with the appearance of a few Plastic Man sagas but with some of the other titles that Cole was doing for Quality like his SPIRIT swipe Midnight as well as the Death Patrol, one of the strangest World War II series to ever see the light of day not only with one of the characters getting offed by the end of each story (something that Cole had the good sense to discard after awhile) but some of the most outright overly-characterized ethnic and racial stereotypes seen even by early-forties comic book standards! Really, after reading a buncha Death Patrol stories complete with characters such as "King Hotentot" and his "South Pacific" (!) islanders who I guess were transplanted from Africa not to mention some of the most grotesque portrayals of buck-toothed, stupid and superstitious Japanese outside of Timely, it wouldn't be hard to see kids volunteering to blow up Tokyo-area nunneries and orphanages after reading a few of these comics!
But putting aside such examples of un-hip stereotypes (after all, the mainstream entertainment industry is chock fulla MODERN DAY STEREOTYPES that were offensive ever since day one but...at least their "hearts" are in the right place) one couldn't do much worse than to ignore some of the non-Plastic Man art that Cole had been cranking out until his venture into PLAYBOY magazine and eventually BETSY AND ME before his maybe not-so-surprising suicide in the late-fifties. Cole's earliest work is much simpler yet hints at future glory (and in yet another stereotypical comic about a Chinese detective, a Plastic Man-like ability to stretch is displayed showing the shape of things to come, pun intended!), while all of his Golden Age hero material (even for a title not his own like Quicksilver) is loads better'n some of the hackdom that could ensue even at the best of publication houses. Even the later post-hero era stories (the "Angles O'Day" series as well as Cole's work during the horror era being amongst them) are perfect in their style and execution showing a marked improvement from even the already great early stories, and it's a real shame that Cole's most famous non-PLASTIC MAN work, "Murder, Morphine and Me" (the one with the "damage to the eye" motif that got Cole some anonymous national attention via SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT) ain't here because that one remains a true knockout just as "noir" as any of the best crime comics to come out of EC or anywhere else for that matter!
In case yer curious enough, here's a sample MIDNIGHT story that the comic art obsessive blog Those Fabuleous Fifties ran a few months back. See for yourself the screwball story lines, the striking art which on one hand has the same early-forties mystique of many of Cole's fellow Golden Age masters yet echoes some of the cinematic eye-popping wonder of Eisner. Not to mention Cole's penchant for wild patterns and 3-D effects!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 8:07 AM
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
ANOTHER COMIC BOOK CAVALCAGA!
Last post I mentioned that because of the lack of fresh bedside reading material that helps ooze me into slumberland I've had to dig into some of my long-ignored boxes of old fanzines and whatnot in order to gather up some interesting reading for my pre-beddy-bye time relaxation. Well, this post I must admit that yeah, I'm still on the prowl for some of my old issues of BAM BALAAM not to mention the very old NEXT BIG THING xeroxes I haven't seen in many a year, but in the meanwhile I've fortunately discovered a few well-concealed boxes of old comic books which are also helping me to wind down after some pretty hectic days at the gulag. Which is mighty fine by me...given how I am wont to spice up this blog with occasional non-musical musings I felt that it sure would be a great idea to actually review some of these comic book goodies that are helping to resensify me just like they had back in my very early double-digit days when I was supposed to know better (about comic books and their mind-rotting capabilities) but thankfully didn't! And besides being a nice change o' pace here at the blog, it also frees me from my usual "look what I got, don't you wish you had it?" record reviews which are getting to be so commonplace it even makes me sick!
Besides, can you think of a better mid-week space-waster than a post on a whole buncha comics that most sophisticated BLOG TO COMM readers would undoubtedly up their toffee noses at? What a better way to offend some innerlectual who tuned in by mistake wanting to osmose some of the finer things in life, like perhaps a guide to fine wine and brie or whatever the proper etiquette as we head into the next decade should be (always apologize to the person murdering you for whatever reason he doth be offended)? If you can tell a snob from a slob, then read on, Buster!
***POLICE COMICS #1 (Quality Comics, August 1940)
If you actually think that I have enough of the filthy long green to afford an original copy of this seminal Golden Age of Comics masterpiece then may I deem you screwier than the same imbecile who once said that the only reason I like LEAVE IT TO BEAVER is because the liberals hate it!?!?! Anyone who knows me knows that I would never be able to scrape together the finances to obtain an original copy of the first issue of POLICE COMICS, mainly because I've plunked down my hard-begged on a whole lotta other also necessary to a complete BLOG TO COMM lifestyle goodies like old fanzine collections and megabuck orders to Volcanic Tongue to be able to latch onto some of the finer things like first editions of certain classic comic books. Oh well, I'm sure that after a few reads they'd all crumble unto dust and I could think of a better way to spend ten-thou than on a comic I coulda picked up for a dime almost seventy years back, during the days when I was a li'l kid only I spent all of my hard-earned on Shirley Temple and Freddie Bartholomew glossies!
Naw, the copy of POLICE #1 that I possess actually came out in 1999 as part of the big DC end-of-the-century blowout reprint series where the venerable (or at least I thought so at one time) company reprinted the 100 or so most important issues (as deemed by fans) of their wares, as well as the wares of various companies which DC has gobbled up over the years. This issue of POLICE naturally made the grade along with such other winners as DETECTIVE #27 and ACTION #1 if only because it features the debut of all-time fave Plastic Man, a guy whose appearance obviously didn't phase the minds at the old Quality Comics line (bought out by DC in the mid-fifties) or else they would have featured him on the cover instead of Firebrand, a hero I'm sure a little engine-searching will dig some info up on though not as much as it will Plas. Plastic Man, along with the Spirit and Blackhawk, shares the distinction of being one of the highlights of Quality's fifteen-year history, they being a company that certainly lived up to their name as their unique characters and overall high-grade art and stories have proven. (See my poll in the left-hand column for just a tad expression of my current Quality Comics obsession which not-so surprisingly some of you fans seem to revel in as well!)
This ish of POLICE certainly did "set the stage" for Quality's role in the mythos of the Golden Age, not only with the oft-reprinted origin of Plastic Man but with the appearance of such Quality heroes as the Human Bomb (who has one of the most ghastly powers of the Golden Age heroes as he could merely destroy people by touching them!) and Phantom Lady whose rights, like the Spirit, were not owned by Quality which is why she later jumped ship for a competitor as the forties withered on. One interesting Quality tidbit that I noted while reading POLICE #1 was the appearance of two heroes who, like the Spirit, were merely men dressed in typical forties suits whose mode of disguise was a flimsy mask (and not false face or any total covering thereof!). These heroes, 711 (a lawyer taking the rap for a dead man who escapes and returns to his prison cell at will to fight crime) and the Mouthpiece (secretly a lawyer) owe quite a bit to the Spirit in style and looks as was Plastic Man creator Jack Cole's Midnight, created expressly at the request of Quality head "Busy" Arnold in case Will Eisner decided to go elsewhere at take the Spirit with him! I wonder if the concept of the business-suited crimefighter/costumed hero was some sort of particular trait being cultivated by Quality or just an idea being tossed around there, but in the age of flying costumed characters with special powers the non-powered crimefighter with a swanky forties-styled suit and mask was a nice diversion. (Naturally I should also mention DC's own Sandman who was pretty much a man in a suit whose method of disguise was a gas mask, but since he wasn't that much of a success DC ultimately had Jack Kirby re-fashion him into an actual comic book superhero with the standard long john outfit to equally disastrous effect!)
Naturally you get some of the usual comic filler that could have been put to better use (stupid detectives and LI'L ABNER swipes may be typical of the era, but aren't the things people remember the Golden Age by), but as far as overall style, verve and talent go with regards to putting a comic book line together POLICE #1 was a more than adequate good idea of things that were to come at Quality during the early forties. Too bad that when DC bought them out in the fifties only Plastic Man and Blackhawk managed to survive with the fine folks at National letting the other characters wallow around in limbo until utilizing them in the relatively recent DC Universe brouhaha by which time you pretty much couldn't get me to put on a red-flannel suit let alone read one of their boring titles!
***NANCY AND SLUGGO #174 (Dell Comics, January-February 1960)
I never tried, but I'm pretty sure that if I did ask some hardcore NANCY fans what they thought of the various late-fifties/early-sixties NANCY comic titles that Dell put out they'd regale me with a long list of curse words I probably haven't heard since I prematurely tightened the vice on my uncle's knuckles as a confused youth. And frankly I probably would have held the same feelings as these staunch Bushmillerites after having read a few of these comics which were going for not-exactly low prices on the flea market circuit while I was a kid, but a more recent look at the non-reprint NANCY titles of the day proved that these not-quite-forgotten comics did stay faithful to the Bushmiller original artistically and thematically while developing a unique personality which certainly fitted the comic book format almost in a LITTLE LULU fashion. The perennial NANCY/LULU comparisons would come in especially with regards to this writeup considering how both Lulu and the comic book Nancy were drawn by quintessential LULU artist John Stanley and since Lulu was nothing but Nancy redux what more would you expect?
Dell always had their finger on the pulse of the comic strips unto book character market, and naturally their take of Nancy is about as good as the original even with the perhaps not-so-slight variations that would upset the NANCY purists amongst us. The inclusion of such non-Bushmillerian characters as Mr. McOnion (Sluggo's bald 'n chubby next door neighbor who seems to have a mean streak personal vendetta against his youthful adversary) not to mention the Tuesday Addams-esque classmate Oona Goosepimple and her strange family which predates the whole ADDAMS/MUNSTERS tee-vee craze by a few years in a surprising case of reverse deja vu certainly did lend a special, er, air to the various NANCY titles. And, unlike the reams of men who took over the strip in the wake of Bushmiller's 1982 death, Stanley did a good enough job aping the early-sixties Bushmiller aura and if you think the stories have a slight tinge of the LITTLE LULU style of kiddie comic anarchy you would be more'n on target.
As an added bonus, a PEANUTS story shows up...funny, but I remember wondering why there wasn't a PEANUTS comic book on the stands back during the heyday of PEANUTS-mania thinking that such a concept would have been a hit considering how popular that strip had become with PEANUTS products being pushed on just about every level of consumerist culture. Years later when I discovered there was a PEANUTS title albeit dating back to my pre-comics consciousness days, I thought it was strange that this would have been discontinued right when that aforementioned PEANUTS-mania went into overdrive. Well, stupider things have happened in the comic biz so who am I to complain, but I'm sure that any of you reagular BTC readers would have also thought it totally bizarre that Dell, or Gold Key by this time, would have discontinued such a title right when it was becoming one of the big gulcheral hallmarks of the sixties especially when you just couldn't escape the dad-blamed thing!
I always liked the various PEANUTS comic book stories that I've seen ever since my rabid comic collecting days in the early-seventies or so, probably because they were faithful enough to the original strip and the art (by Schulz assistant Jim Sasseville) was close enough for comfort. The saga appearing in this issue of NANCY AND SLUGGO (basically a riff on the stories where Snoopy retrieves soap bubbles, complete with some panels obviously swiped directly from the Schulz originals) does capture the early-sixties feeling of PEANUTS that pretty much appealed to me, if not a few thousand other cartoon buffs who perhaps were also turned off when the strip settled into utter sap somewhere in the eighties, and it is a shame that the series couldn't have been continued if the stories would have been as good as this one. Maybe after they're finished reprinting the entire strip as planned someone'll have the good sense to make these readily available to the public because they sure do make for better reading than the latest issue of GARFIELD (and I don't mean goose!)
***SKULL #5 (Last Gasp, 1972)
Here's one an adoring fan of mine sent my way back in the early-nineties, undoubtedly in an attempt to pay off a debt of some sort. Curious-enough me took the bait...not being familiar with the SKULL title other than from what I read in Les Daniels' ex-cello COMIX I didn't know what to expect, but this 'un (ish #5) was the second part of a Lovecraft special and frankly what better subject matter could you think of for a buncha underground cartoonists doing a horror title to utilize, eh? The artwork by u-ground regs Jaxon, Spain, Irons etc. is of course macabre enough to illio the already gore-entrenched original even though a bitta early-seventies hippie does tend to surface in the artwork when they're not careful. Even if you're one of those people who runs as fast as you can from such comix yet like Lovecraft and horror in general you'll like the way this one electrifies your brain synapses to the point of mama! As far as these u-grounds go, SKULL #5 should be easy enough to latch onto via the usual outlets. I wonder if the first of this Lovecraft series is worth the search?
***MR. A. #2 (published by Bruce Hershenson, 1975)
Can't seem to locate the two volumes of THE DITKO COLLECTION that are stored in some box somewhere here at the hovel, but I did happen to find the second issue of the short-lived MR. A. series which should hold me over until I do find those elusive collections of some of the best work Ditko did for not only the fanzine medium but his own self, which I guess is the point of it all given his personalist philosophy.
Unlike the more fanzine-ish first issue of MR. A. from a good year or so earlier, MR. A. #2 has a look and feel more akin to your standard underground comic of the day with its 75-cent cover price and black and white (what else given Ditko's philosophy?) interior. And unlike the various MR.A. stories that had been showing up in a number of self-published reads for the prior seven or so year, both of the sagas here are fleshed out, plot-filled tales that actually are not that dissimilar to the Question sagas that Ditko had done for Charlton during the late-sixties after he more or less walked out on SPIDER-MAN at the height of its power. Rather than starting out with what looks like a typical comic book saga albeit riddled with his philosophical bent only to end up as a moralistic (and some would say preachy) screed, the stories in MR. A. #2 have interesting plot devices and twists/turns added to the obligatory objectivist commentary that I'm sure "turned off" a good portion of the post-adolescent comic book readership of the day. But no matter what your own take on Ayn Rand may be (frankly, I do not consider myself one of her followers) I find that the actual stories are not too overbearing with worn out philosophical rants and raves like they could be, and personally I find it refreshing to read stories where the powerful forces at work who have created the sickness that is in society today get skewered like I wish they would in real life!
The same folk from the fanzine era stories are here, the primary amongst 'em being Mr. A. and his crusading reported alter ego Rex Grainge with his 40s/50s leading actor masculine look and appeal which I'm sure looked way outta place with him being stuck smack dab in the middle of seventies New York. Also returning are Grainge's typically New York liberal boss who is sorta like a J. Jonah Jameson for THE NEW YORK TIMES, while new to this issue are the likes of Senator Kud, the epitome of the New York pandering politician whose entire philosophy seems to be a 180-degree turn from Mr. A./Grainge with his brotherly attitude towards dictators at the United Nations not to mention pleas to his constituents for them all to sacrifice to the "common good", whatever that may be this week. These stories also feature the premier (and perhaps only) appearance of Forge, the new owner/power that be who seems to be a more level-headed character, perhaps a tad wary of Grainge (and the concept of Objectivism) but who can see through the sham that is left wing demagoguery and is willing to give Grainge free reign in his empire much to the dismay of his underlings. (In one telling scene he greets Senator Kud at his offices and confronts him about the perhaps soon-to-be reinstated Fairness Doctrine, pressing the senator despite Kud's calls for "compromise" leading Kud to privately consider sicking the hounds of the IRS and other troublemaking government bodies on Forge as revenge!)
The stories herein include one where a gentlemanly "Count Rogue" robs society parties while charming his victims thus becoming the darling of the New York radical chic set with rich patrons hoping they will be the next victims in line, while the other (entitled "Brotherhood of the Collective") features two underworld figures who team up with a local respectable citizen's group to help stamp out Mr. A. while ruining their reputations in the process. Throughout these stories, such concepts as the United Nations, collectivism, anti-capitalist/"establishment" values and trendy social concerns come in for a serious ribbing, something you rarely if ever see even in the hands of today's conservative media outside a few worthy sites you can easily enough "dial up" in the left-hand column.
And even with the occasional sledgehammer messages that do come up as well as the lectures Grainge/Mr. A. spouts off either via an editorial or television commentary, the stories are enveloping, just like that issue-long Question classic done around the time Ditko was fumbling around in his post-SPIDER-MAN DC and Charlton period. It sure made for great Saturday late-night reading and suited me fine, at least until I'm able to re-dig up that particular Question story which still seems to affect me in a positive, life-reaffirming way even a good ten or so years after I originally read the thing!
***WONDER WOMAN #60 (a 1977 PIZZA HUT reissue of a 1953 DC comic, probably issued to cash in on any SUPERMAN movie/superhero mania there might have been at the time!)
I should feel indignant that this early-fifties period WW comic was reissued a few years after I vamoosed the comic book scene for more musical pastures, but given that this particular title was long-waning by the time of its original appearance I really wasn't missing that much. The superhero idiom wasn't actually doing gangbusters during those early-fifties days and only a few of the Golden Age survivors were still around in an industry that found more lucre in horror, sci fi, westerns and teenage anarchist titles like ARCHIE. And the stories in this particular WW sure prove that unless your name was Superman or Batman maybe it was time scrambootch for the Old Superheroes Home which is something that I guess never crossed the minds of the folks at DC.
Not that the artwork is particularly bad (standard pre-Silver Age stiff figures stuff but better'n some of the competition) nor the stories pedestrian, but I'm sure even the typical ten-year-old peruser woulda seen this series as being kinda "icky". Maybe even "for guuurrrrls given the two-page "filler" devoted to bridal superstitions...I woulda thought that DC woulda been pitching WW to horny adolescent boys but I guess they felt there was a female market for this kinda adventure title featuring a member of the fairer s-x who could bop any bully on the noggin and make it hurt! And even though this particular WW plays down any lesbian references the likes of Dr. Wertham would have undoubtedly spotted, the fact that Our Heroine actually mutters "suffering Sappho" twice is more or less giving Wertham all of the ammunition he really needs. Obviously, a career man-hater like Gloria Steinem, who wrote the forward to a wimmen's lib (wimmen's lip being more like it!) early-seventies collection of Golden Age stories wasn't too thrilled by what happened to her toned down heroine either. Of course the Wonder Woman saga went through a lot more dirt-dragging in the years since (such as with her "make-over" into a non-costumed swinging spy type in the late-sixties, billed as "the NEW Wonder Woman"!), but these '53 stories were non-there enough even compared to the rest of the surviving hero pack of the just-pre code days. Maybe if she just stuck around serving coffee at the Hall of Justice...
***ARCHIE ANNUAL #13 (Archie Publications, 1960-1961 edition)
And finally for today's trip into adolescent mindless self-abuse (you know what I mean!) comes this moldie from the depths of my rotting box of wares, the thirteenth issue of the long-revered ARCHIE ANNUAL which was an oft-eyed yet elusive treat for comic hunds like myself back during the days when twenty-five cents used to go a lot further than it does today. Really, a lotta you kids wouldn't even stoop to pick up a quarter lying on the sidewalk these days, right? Well, back when I was a young sprout twenny-five penneroos could take you a pretty long way, like to the nearest garage sale where you could score at least three year-plus-old comic books with enough change left over to treat yourself to a gumball! They weren't exactly happier times, but just try buying silver/bronze age comics with a quarter these days!
Being a big fan of the ARCHIE comic strip (which I used to get confused with the FRECKLES comic strip as a mere three-year-old!) the discovery of the Archie Comics Group when I was about twelve was a thrill beyond compare. Unfortunately I discovered that none of the artwork in these books was done by ARCHIE strip creator Bob Montana (nor his ghost) but looked comparatively inferior. I did manage to cultivate an appreciation for the work of Dan DeCarlo (the ARCHIE standard-bearer for many a year) and as far as humor comics went I certainly bought more of 'em from the Archie line even though I was more'n eager to occasionally snatch up some of the blatant ARCHIE swipes of the day, most notably DC's BINKY where ARCHIE contributor Stan Goldberg did a little moonlighting (from what I've heard, the Archie Comics Group weren't exactly top-notch payers!).
Enuff histoire...anyway this 80-page giant is typical ARCHIE tossout fodder that the line had been known to push out onto an unsuspecting clientele back in the day. Not exactly the best that the former MLJ had to offer, with mostly feh artwork (and yeah, I know that one-time regular Harry Lucey does have his fans, but count me not one of them!) coupled with stories that really seem to be skimming the bottom of the barrel. Talk about scrapings...if you compare the material appearing here with some from the mid/late-sixties when DeCarlo was hitting his stride these early-sixties stories come off pretty tepid in comparison. I know that most comic lines have their ups and downs, but by this time the Archie Comics Group probably figured out that they had the nutzo teenage comic market sewn up so well it just didn't matter what sausages they cranked out!
Fortunately that nerk Li'l Archie doesn't pop up, but we do get a nice enough Li'l Jinx one-pager as well as a PEANUTS steal I never knew about called SHRIMPY. From the same Schulz-styled layouts to kiddie jokes dealing with television and baseball nostalgia during the wintertime (with a gag sublimely lifted from an actual PEANUTS strip from a few years earlier), SHRIMPY is to PEANUTS what Stan Lee's LITTLE LIZZIE was to NANCY. If you thought that FREDDIE and TIGER were bad enough PEANUTS photostats just read SHRIMPY and those two strips seem just about as original and fresh air as anyone would imagine!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
GEE DAD, IT'S ANOTHER BLOG TO COMM PUFF-PIECE WEEKEND FILLER!
Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeesh. Been busier than a tattoo artist at a biker chick initiation these past few days, but managed to crank out enough filler to pad out what otherwise would be a measly post created if only to satisfy my own sense of self-importance. Frankly not much has been happening here at BTC central to warrant any major fireworks show...besides the gig at the salt mines and readying up the place for the approaching winter season I haven't had the time to listen to a whole slew of newies let alone buy any. Not that there has been much worth buying as of the past few months...seems that the crucial proto-punk upheaval market has sorta dried up a tad bit, and besides that I've had to resort to rummaging through dozens of boxes of long-stored fanzines and other reading material collected over a good four decades in order to stave off pre-beddy-bye boredom at the hands of a few easy-enough-to-latch-onto items that I've re-read to the point of insanity! Hopefully a few new books won on ebay and/or ordered elsewhere will be heading my way shortly, but until then I'm going to have to survive solely by digging into some old fanzines (as well as the box of comic books I found in my closet) hoping I've forgotten everything I originally read in 'em so's they'll come off new and refreshing to me. Gotta say that fanzines as well as comic books/strips do make for good visual stimulation especially late at night while I'm spinning my longtime faves that never seem to go out of style in this abode (current fave is Amon Duul I's PARADIESWARTS DUUL on the Ohr label, a disque that, in the words of none other than MIKE STAX, sounds like a jam between the Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane and the Manson Family!).
In other news...well, as far as the current socio-political clime goes only a fool or a resident of Melbourne (same thing?) would not admit that the idea of Barack Obama as our next prez is pretty heady stuff even for a dyed-inna-wool grouch like myself to comprehend. I guess two weeks later the fact that he's gonna be the next prez of these here United States is finally starting to sink in, which I must admit is a pretty startling enough revelation as the time I found out I hadda go to summer school or fail at Algebra Two! Not that I like or hate our future prez even if I disagree with a good portion of what the Big O stands for (I have a rather middling opinion of him, honest!, even if his denial that selfishness is a virtue kinda made me wonder if he is willing to sacrifice his own beliefs like he'd like us to sacrifice ours), but after the past eight years for whatever good or bad they were with the outgoing George W. at the helm I do have quite a fear of what could transpire, at least if Obama lurches even further to the fringe than even his wildest supporters would have ever dreamed! Gotta admit that, unlike many of you regular BLOG TO COMM tune-ins, I did find a few things to like in the outgoing George W. Bush, his hillbilly persona being the best thing of all not to forget his nomination of both Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court which seems like the move of someone with a modicum of intelligence (I would rather see a case in the court that I support go down on good law rather than one I support win on bad), and his lip service with regards to keeping what little holy and sacred there was in Ameriga seemed gosharootie enough even if I do know better. But Bush's Middle East policy was just about as wishy washy as they come with the odds seemingly stacked in favor of dispensationalists and other useful idiots of the New Order make him the new Woodrow Wilson as opposed to the Calvin Coolidge figure many seemed to think of him as. Naturally this means that he'll, like Wilson, be thought of highly before the next fifty years are up, but considering how all of the most praised ex-prezzes were complete despots or morons what else is new?
However, next to Bill Clinton Bush sure looked a lot less evil so maybe I should give him credit for that! We'll see how Obama fares once he gets his digs into the rotting corpse known as politics and heck, even I'll try to keep my eye and ears wide open and maybe even give the Big O a fair shake at it even if it is against my natural strain of curmudgeonness! But whatever you may think I am beginning to get really nauseated...the hosannas of praise surrounding the guy are even worse than the ones that made John Kennedy our first Hollywood president a good half-century back, and you can betcha bottom buckskin that a biopic about Obama will become the modern-day equivalent of PT 109 a lot more sooner than any of us would think!
But if Obama is going to govern the way I think he is judging from the cabinet picks that are already being floated about I have the sneaking random insect doom feeling that all we really will be getting the next four years'll be the same old same old dressed up in Camelot version 2. I mean, if any of you regular readers of both a pro and anti-Obamaite stand take a gander at his very own pick for chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, you'll see a man who certainly is not a fresh face rooting for change of any sort but a guy who is probably more gung ho than Bush on Amerigan involvement in the Middle East (as long as we turn it into a parking lot) who had a big hand in the recent Freddie Mac kerfuffle that I'm sure swung more than a few votes in the Obama direction! Is this what we have to look forward to in the new administration, not forgetting the Clinton retreads whose names are being bandied about as we speak (anyone for Hillary as Secretary of State?). Sounds like whoever decides to run against Mr. O in the next presidential election should be playing "Won't Get Fooled Again" as a campaign song because it certainly does look like a case of "meet the new boss" as Ron Paul opined the day after the election. Despite any of these (I gotta admit) serious misgivings I must 'fess up to the fact that I think it's kinda cool to have a chief of staff who lost the middle finger on his right hand because he hurt in while working in a fast food restaurant and, because he wanted to go swimming 'stead of to the emergency room it hadda be amputated! True this might be a case of teenage stupidity on Emanuel's part but maybe it's a testament of badass cool, sorta like when that biker ripped David Clayton Thomas' ear off then handed it to him, and all Thomas did was toss it in the trashcan! Wow, I guess I'd want that guy's finger, at least one of the other nine, on the button, wouldn't you???
By the way, one of the brighter spots regarding the past election (not that a whole lot of it wasn't bright already in its own bizarre way) was the passage of Proposition 8 and various other state props nationwide that definitely (until some appeals court overturns the whole shebang) "denies" the "rights" of "gay people" to "marry", (howzat for belaboring points!) pretty much in part due to the heavy turnout of blacks out to boost the Obama vote even more! Not that I believe in the idea of tyranny of the majority one iota, but it sure is heartening to know that people, especially blacks who are most of the time "uplifted" and "patronized" by the same sick white liberals who push Planned Parenthood in their neighborhoods, do have some of that good ol' sense of Western Civ morality that I thought was in such short supply these past few years. And yeah, its also great seeing these same "open minded" libs on the tube complain that blacks have been "taught" to "hate" homosexuals resulting in such a stunning defeat for the gay cause while trying to hide their true loathing for blacks because of it! Even funnier is reading the views and opinions via a certain "blogster" who, in a typical fit of pseudo-libertarian self-righteousness, make such ridiculous claims regarding Prop 8 such as "this is a civil rights issue, and should be treated accordingly" and "if you’d put the federal civil rights legislation of 1964 to a vote of the people, there’s a very strong chance it would not have passed either, but only ten years later virtually everyone, of every political persuasion, was glad we’d officially put institutional racism behind us"! Odd enough things for this faux one to say, especially since back in the day people of the libertarian persuasion were vehemently against the entire concept of civil rights, preferring way-sounder ideas such as individual liberty to the LBJ-bred morasses we still find ourselves wallowing in fortysome years down the line. Contrary to that writer's views, I'm sure that even a good decade after the bill was passed there were many people who prided the idea of freedom of association over people being "forced" to intermingle whether they wanted to or not who weren't that thrilled by Prez Johnson (a die hard racist) and his obvious vote-getting scheme. I thought "self" over the "group" was the basic hallmark of libertarianism, but perhaps the definition has been changed and wrangled with to the point where it can mean anything this aforementioned blogster who's stuck in the middle of New Sodom (which must have affected his thought processes) wants it to mean! And frankly, anyone who would take the vague concept of equality over liberty is not a libertarian by any stretch of the imagination no matter how much the ideals behind it are tampered with. If such ideas as gay "marriage" and any capitulation to the entire sexual freedom cause of the past fifty years is indeed "progress" (as this person states) then please call me a reactionary of the worst stripe because only a dimwit would prefer the general moral/social clime of today to that of the pre-enlightenment times of the oft-loathed forties and fifties!
(And in related news, I noticed how said blogger totally IGNORES the fetid actions of some of his sainted homosexual activists who have been storming church services and harassing parishioners, but I guess his rosy myopic worldview lens just don't detect any actions of a negative "vibe" that his brothers-in-butt might commit. Come to think of it, the major news outlets must be buying their camera lenses from this guy's optometrist as well because I haven't seen any of the action going on at Mount Hope as well as other spots, not to mention the rabid pro-gay venom on the web and elsewhere, on the nightly news either! As Crass once said, evil eats itself but since these guys've been eating each other for years I guess I better come up with a better analogy...zee professor must have heez stoopid leetle jokes agin!)
OK, I know you readers ignored the previous few paragraphs and just skipped down to the meat 'n potatoes review segment of our soiree, so midout further ado...
***Dirty Tricks-NIGHT MAN LP (Polydor)
Here's one-a them enigmas as you'd call it, a group that I had just a slight curiosity about after reading reports that it was actually these guys (going by the name of Dirty Tricks) 'n not the Damned who were the first British band to play at CBGB in January of 1977 (see pic on the right, or maybe better the lower right depending on how this page gets laid out, for visual documentation) in case you're one of those hardcore anal-retentive rock historians like I am. Well, if such minuscule shards of fact as which of these bands was first to play CBGB matters to you, then you'd want to know all about this debut Dirty Tricks elpee, but before we go any further lemme just get a few things straight...first off Dirty Tricks were not from anywhere in the British Isles but Bill Shute's stomping grounds of San Antonio Texas al though they hadda go England to get their career jump-started (which is why they were not only signed to Polydor Records but had a then-trendy Hipgnosis cover complete with a bitta titty to help push sales through), and if anything that makes 'em the seventies equivalent of the Walker Brothers because these Tricksters obviously made a bigger impact over there than they did here! And as far as the Dirty Tricks vs. Damned thing goes, I think when people say that the Damned were the first British group to play at CB's they mean the first British pUnK band which sure makes a whole heckuva lotta difference as far as punkism historical correctness goes!
Whaddeva the factoids, this album's from '75 and it's a typical mid/late-seventies heavy metal disque not unlike the throngs of similar items that have cluttered flea market bins for the past thirtysome years. And as far as heavy metal albums go it's...well, it's a heavy metal album, what more can I say? Nothing special enough here to get my spirits jumping like the better HM aggregates of the early-seventies could with the standard hard rock tracks (and post-Plant-derived vocal epiglottal spew) intermingled with the obligatory per-side ballad complete with synthesizer wash only making this bore me even more. I was hoping that Rodger Bain's production would have given NIGHT MAN a hard edge akin to his work on the Troggs' "Feels Like a Woman" not forgetting his work on various Black Sabbath and early Budgie releases but alas, no such luck occurs. It is ironic that metal as a genre went from some great primitive clunk music to this in a good five years, but then again, look what happened to the spiritual successor to early seventies metal, mainly hardcore, which upped the evolutionary process by at least three years!
***The 2X4's-THE 2X4's; LIVE 4/80 CD's
John Hovorka-1996-2006 COMPILATION CD (all items available via Metal Snowball Records)
While cruising (calm down Dave!) the internet looking for ideas to swipe I came across the existence of two CD's of very-early eighties 2X4's Cee-Dees that I just hadda have adorn my already bulged out collection! Frankly I must admit that I have ignored the collected work (recorded or not) of 2X4's leader John Hovorka...naturally I've read about him ever since the days when TAKE IT! and FORCED EXPOSURE were singing high holy mantras to this Boston local's prowess, but that didn't budge me too much. What did was finding out that Horvorka was a member of the early/mid-seventies Boston-area Velvet Underground/Modern Lovers worshippers the Astrals, a group which also contained none other that Count Joseph Viglione as well as future Bonjour Aviator/Viglione associate Fred Pineau. Considering my obsessive/compulsive nature with regards to groups of the sixties and seventies who have taken the VU credo and molded it into their own somethingorother, I was impressed with the idea of Hovorka's existence for this little historical aside more than anything else that he may have done!
The 2x4's Cee-Dees are rather interesting affairs even if they were both recorded within a month of each other during the spring of 1980, a bit outside of my own self-imposed timeframe but close enough for comfort. But even my own fears were allayed due to the involvement of ex-Modern Lover/Human Sexual Response member Rolfe Anderson as the producer of both disques, and Boston hero Erik Lindgren's presence isn't to be denied either. Musically the 2X4's have ingested a good hunk of the then-prevailing new wave gas fumes that were about to lead us into a decade of art project self-importance, and the fact that Hovorka's vocals do bear a slight resemblance to a load of upper-class artiste wannabe whiners does tend to date these offerings a tad. However, despite the dip into seventies/eighties cusp "experimentation" I find both of these spins rather entertaining with their hard-chunk rhythms and the general craft and talent that went into not only performing, but writing these numbers. And even with the more noticeable elements of post-rock or what-have-you permeating both of these platters at least the proud heritage of the Velvets filtered through the worship that Boston bestowed upon the group starting with Jonathan Richman and Wayne McGuire can easily be absorbed via Hovorka's general talents and musical craftsmanship. Not only that, but the claims of the 2X4's being Boston's answer to Pere Ubu are pretty much validated by their own ode to industrial clankitude entitled "Bridgeport Lathe" which summons up late-seventies industrial ghosts just as well as Tin Huey's "Hump Day" or even that brilliant Baloney Heads track that closed out their 1980 WMMS Sunday night radio appearance!
Hovorka's 1996-2006 comp is just that, selections from his various releases he's done on his lonesome o'er the past decade that are crammed together in order to lure the unsuspecting into buying up the whole kit 'n caboodle! While I'm not quite sold on that yet, I must say that I find Hovorka to have evolved into a mighty fine singer/songwriter (in the classic CREEM sense as Byron Coley would say) with these numbers which probably do recall some of the better masters of that form over the last fortysome years, though I would prefer to do some more studying before I make any more brazen comments. If anything the existence of these tracks and many more might actually make Hovorka the poet laureate of Boston pretty much the same way Lou Reed is of New York, but whatever you do, please don't take a look at the front cover snap of Hovorka which has him looking a lot like Dick Cheney! I guess we all are getting older, and at least he doesn't look like I now do, which some say reminds them of animator Bob Clampett without the Beatle wig!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
BUNALUM CD (Shadocks, Germany, available through Forced Exposure)
The number of music Cee-Dees of a non-Amerigan or British origin that are growing in my collection is probably even more humongous than the marital aids piling up under Dave Lang's bed, but that is to be expected from a connosewer of underground rockism like myself whose ideas regarding music are very similar to those regarding food, automobiles, comics, moom pitchers and wimmen. I find myself a proud member of the INTERNATIONAL ROCKISM CONSPIRACY not only because this globe of ours is shrinking even as we speak (imagine, with a few pecks to the keyboard I can send a message all the way to Lindsay Hutton in Scotland, which he can ignore just as instantly as well!), but because there were so many good rock groups coming out from all corners of the globe back then that ignoring any of them due to phony chauvinistic provincialism would be a crime in the war against the jive! It's not that I'd ever give up looking for all of the undiscovered domestic hootch that's still waiting to be heard by eager obsessives like myself, but given the general lack of jamz that are being kicked out these days I must get whatever I can whenever I can! You just can't afford to be picky.
Which takes us to BUNALIM a group of Turks who were pounding the Istanbul beat back in the early-seventies whose material has been gathered up on this Cee-Dee that was issued by the usually onna ball Shadocks label. Lemme tell you, these guys were no Turkish Delight, yet they weren't Turkish Taffy either! But they were good enough; not as tantalizing as Savage Rose nor as psychedelic as Amon Duul nor were they anywhere as hard-crank splatter as Can but good enough that this coulda been the Pick Of The Week in the Jem Records catalog (South Plainfied, Hew Jersey, as the cover sticker sez!) had it only made it to vinyl back in 1975.
What Bunalim were was this hard rock trio that felt it worth their while to switch styles whenever they could, from hard rock psychedelic to proto-heavy metal to even Turkish radio pop complete with a plunky balalaika sound making this group rip and ready for Sunday afternoon Detroit radio. Some of their self-titled Cee-Dee is rather Mideastern-sounding pop with a hard rock attitude while others tend to capture the spirit of various West Coastisms with that typical European attitude firmly in place. In all, BUNALIM is not quite my cup o' tea, but they do have their occasional moments of interest and frankly I would rather listen to this one a few times than be locked up in a prison located in Bunalim's home country.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 5:31 PM
Sunday, November 09, 2008
While trolling youtube, it's amazing to see what one can find now that people are starting to post cinematic rarities (old underground films, comedy shorts...), television presentations believed lost for all time and beyond-belief rock & roll clips from the obscurest of groups imaginable. And, as far as the surviving documentation of the seventies Czech Underground goes, I find it unbelievable that all of those Secret Police survailance films and recordings have not only survived but have been incorporated into a number of Czech television programs documenting that portion of Twentieth Century history that most Eastern Europeans would prefer to forget, but some might want to linger on considering the rock & roll magic that came out of those depressing times. Watching films of DG 307 in performance creating a clank that I would have thought only a Cleveland sheet metal worker would appreciate is pretty astounding, especially since after reading the gigantic booklet accompanying the beyond reproach Plastic People of the Universe EGON BONDY album I would have thought the local gendarmes to have destroyed any shred of evidence than an underground even EXISTED in Czechoslovakia with typical self-righteous zeal!
Here's a portion of a Czech-language documentary that I thought most BLACK/BLOG TO COMM readers who have been in for the ride ever since I started documenting this unique scene (on an Ameriga-based fanzine basis) would want to see, especially for the inclusion of an lengthy interview with former Umela Hmota/Umela Hmota 3/Dom leader Josef Vondruska who is a notable post-beat writer as well as all-out rock kinda guy. Part of the original UH aggregation, Vondruska's the one who was pretty much tossed out of the original group by the other co-leaders Alfred and Dino for wanting to include his odes to heroin usage amongst other things which eventually led to the group splitting into Umela Hmota 2 (basically the original band without Vondruska) and Vondruska leading his own Umela Hmota 3 who were a bit heavier on the Detroit Rock attitude. Note the great photos of Umela Hmota 3 with Vondruska doing his best Ron Asheton impression (strangely enough Umela Hmota 2's music is used here, although it's a nice way to listen up in case you're thinking about buying their 2-CD set!) as well as the current shots of Vondruska's apartment which really puts my own bedroom (even with the Barney Bean drawing!) to shame.
I might try posting some of the documentary footage with classic b&w DG 307 performances (including the show where the entire group wore medieval gowns and Alfred from UH 2 sat in on feedback guitar and vocals), but for now, study up on your Berlitz and enjoy this rare slice of communist-period Czech proto-punk.
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:22 PM
Saturday, November 08, 2008
BLOG TO COMM GRATUITOUS TOSS-OUT, 11/8/08
Maybe I should have had the following disques (and book) ruminate in the fertile soil of my imagination a bit before committing my opinions to type, but since I was so anxious to get a post out to you reg'lar readers I figured that some half-gestated reviews would be much better than no reviews at all. Anyway, here are just a few of the newies that graced my ears (and eyes!) since we last gabbed!
***Various Artists- KRAUT-BLOODY-RAGEOUS! (THE FOURTH INCARNATION OV THEE OBSCURED HUNGRY KRAUT DADDY DEMON) CD (no label info)
Always being on the search for more great proto-whatever early-seventies high energy dig ins to soothe my savage boobies, I decided to latch onto this by-now obscurity to acquaint myself with even more wacky krautrock that somehow didn't make itself known the first time around. And sheesh, what a bunch of no account LOSERS these acts be! Now I know how Andrew Lauder felt listening to the hundreds of tapes sent him by various Teutonic wannabes trying to get onto the United Artists label! All funnin' aside, this collection, like just about any other gatherin' of various scene-related odds and sods, has its good moments, maybe one or two bad ones and of course a whole load of feh. Amongst the former include the b-side of Jo Hamann's single ("Wild Woman") which reminds me of something Lauder would have had the good sense to sign to UA with its pretty hot kraut proto-punk drive and zeal as well as this Can rarity taken from the soundtrack to a German tee-vee special (kinda cheap spy-music-ish, nothing that different from a load of late-sixties euro soundtrack musings, complete with a guest saxist honking away) that probably would have sounded more "in place" on a bootleg devoted to the group. The rest of it ranges from slightly interesting (unreleased Monks!) to aural dribble that passes through you faster than prune juice. Coulda used more of the ear-turning energetic stuff, but I have the feeling that it is all in rather short supply.
***Raven-BACK TO OHIO BLUES CD-R (Owl)
The second Paul McGarry ripped Cee-Dee-Are to hit the laser launching pad, this item had various fans of the seventies local-release brigades skiddin' shorts ever since its recent re-release and subsequent discovery by folks who I guess have nothing better to do than follow the reissue scene for whatever that is worth. Raven was (is?) some Ohio guy who not only made the trek to Columbus Ohio's Owl Studios to make these blues/folk rock recordings but actually got this loner-rock album released on their very own label! Dunno much more about him, other than his album is really nothing much to toss the cornflakes about with standard mid-seventies rock moves backing up his acoustic folk rock cantatas and FM rock blooze chooze which were pretty much overdone by this time these '75 sessions were laid down. Frankly, I can't see why any serious underground rock fan could get excited over this, unless it's because the reissue scene has dried up to the point where just about anything would sound good to even the follower who would've laughed this off the face of the earth twennysome years back. For completists only, if you're into the stoned folk blues bag self-pressed aesthetic I guess.
By the way, the Owl Studios where Raven recorded is the very same one where, around the same time, Cleveland underground legend Mirrors recorded a whole album's worth of tracks which to date have only been released in part. And as you'd probably already know I'd much prefer to hear an album of that than I would this, but as R. Meltzer once said "Wha' th' hey?"
***Slade-PLAY IT LOUD CD-R (Polydor)
Another McGarry burn, and and pretty haute one too as it captures the famed British "glam" band Slade right before they started to make inroads into the local scene during the just-post psychedelic washout days of the very early seventies. Slade were, at least to me, an erratic band but I still find them, at their best, one of the more exciting things to happen (as far as show-offy English poof rock goes) during a time when they had to restrain Greg Shaw from plugging up the cracks and turning on the gas because it sure wasn't "coming back"! After a good six or so years of piddling around with good albeit missout records Slade started to hone their sound on this 'un...they're still in the post-Beatles hard-pop bag of their Ambrose Slade material, yet with more of a working class crunch that sorta separates them from other Beatle wannabes like Barclay James Harvest and even the Move. Nice sublime energy current here, and while this is a far cry from the heavy metal that the group would eventually excel in before making their fiery late-seventies crash it still holds up fine next to most of the British competition of the time. And, as to somehow make a comparison between the Slade of 1970 and the hit-making version of a few years later there are three bonus tracks from the group's infamous funny spelled title days which shows off the hand-stomping mania and obvious T. Rex inspired schmooze these guys would wow the entire continent, not to mention Lydia Laske, with! Well, at least you had good enough taste to make a copy of this for me, eh Paul?
***BARBED WIRE ON THE PRAIRIE (A LUCKY LUKE ADVENTURE #7) book by Morris and Goscinny (Cinebooks England, 2007)
After the Lucky Luke roundup a few posts back, I decided to lasso up this recent English translation which is part of a new series being published over in Merrie Molde. Unfortunately it ain't of one of Luke's earlier adventures when the artwork was crisper but it'll do until some of those make their way into the public sphere. Basically the tale of Luke helping out some farmers in the middle of a cattle war (complete with the standard LUCKY LUKE sarcasm and historical relevance), BARBED WIRE has got enough action packed slam-bang-pow to satisfy any Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kid you'd care to think of and it's a shame these didn't get around in Ameriga back in the day when they really woulda been appreciated on a mass scale. And, considering the b-movie subject matter of the plot, it's pretty amazing that this kind of western action was actually conceived in 1967 (the year when the original Belgian edition was published) because by that time the "adult" western pretty much put the old style to bed, or at least to endless Saturday afternoon broadcasts on your local UHF station. But if you still have a soft spot, or maybe even soft head for the traditional western style, BARBED WIRE will amply fit the kit, Carson!
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
RETURN OF THE SON OF THE MONSTER BLOGPOST!
Hey, managed to whip up a fairly good-sized midweek post for your mortification! Sure is good to get back into the swing of writing about music after a short respite, and lemme tell ya I sure did miss speakin' atcha 'bout some of the recent and not-so releases that have grazed my ears o'er the past few days! Unfortunately the high-energy thrills (mostly of an archival nature) have not been gracing the ol' laser launching pad as of late, but hopefully the hot stuff will be winging its way more sooner than later at which time we can all do more than a little jams kicking! Stay tuned.
Before we get on to the meat and potatoes, lemme just note that, as expected, Barack Obama was elected to the presidency, just narrowly edging out chief competitor Herman Munster by a scant few votes. Nice try Herman, but really, if you won, I don't think they would have let you ascend to the throne anyway. I mean, are you really a naturalized citizen? Well, maybe PARTS of you are, but unless they could find out the national origin of your spleen I doubt you really would've had a chance. But as far as this Obama character goes, I gotta admit that he's already making me sick to my stomach and he ain't even president yet! I mean, just get an eye and earload of alla these "New Day in America" slices of gloppy goo we're now reading/hearing from the usual assortment of red-tinged leftoid pundits...it sure make me wanna go toss more than yesterday's cookies I'll tell ya!
While I do some gut-puking at the nearby bog, here are some reviews for you to chew on, or throw up for that matter!
THE BEACH BOYS AND THE SATAN DVD (ABC Entertainment, England)
When it comes to documentary films, I tend to hate the li'l buggers to the point where I will, like posthaste and without forethought, move in the exact opposite direction of wherever one one of these cinematic atrocities is being shown. I don't care if thing is born of the extreme left (take a variety of pro-communist atrocities that PBS had been showing in the late-eighties, not to mention Michael Moore's various anti-capitalist spiels I believe he may have made a profit off of which would make him a hypocrite, though a fuzzy acceptable to his followers one) or of a more sound political bearing like the hyped-to-me INDOCTRINATE U, documentaries are mostly boring, preachy slices of mindcramming guilt and shame being forced upon you, and if your mind is already made up good and well like it should be all you feel like is as if you've been forced into a re-education camp for two hours without having to sing creaky acoustic guitar cantatas regarding the greatness of the one called Ho.
So rilly, I don't know why I even bothered in the first place to snatch up a DVD of this '97 documentary that is being hyped as some sorta hard-nosed look at the connection between the Southern Californian Fun and Games of the sixties surf scene in general, the Beach Boys in particular, and their various connections with the Dark Magus Manson and his various satellites. Despite my better knowledge I just hadda, because the subject matter seemed so tasty, and thoughts of heretofore unknown facts regarding the interlockings between the Boys and the Magic Elf were pretty tempting even for a penny-pinching rockism hound like myself! That and the fact that Special Guest Appearances by such peripherally-connected electrodes as Kenneth Anger and Anton La Vey were being promised had me revving up the ol' drool factor well into overdrive but alas, the come on's are one again more intriguing than the actual product.
Basically whatcha get in THE BEACH BOYS AND THE SATAN is a kraut documentary from a decade-plus back that deals with the history of the group in general, surf music in particular, Southern California somewhat, and the occult presence of Manson kinda. Like many documentaries, the results are kinda jib jab jump all over the place with archival footage, interviews with Kim Fowley (!), David "Crocus Behemoth" Thomas (!!) and Brian Wilson himself sorta being tossed into a story that goes from early-sixties fun and games to the inevitable burn-out as the goodtime sixties fade into the mooshy seventies. Like just about every other documentary I've seen as of late it lacks cohesiveness, but it sure looks nice even if it crams way too much information (while leaving a lot out) into such a short time span.
Not that the whole thing is a total bust...some of the film clips, like a brief bit of the Chantays on THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW which I never knew about and the Boys themselves singing "In My Room" were fine enough, but I'll bet they can be watched on youtube without any interruptions or voice overs. Of course Fowley is his snide jaded self and I wonder how Thomas was ever able to wiggle his way into this 'un, but I guess any exposure for him is good exposure so why not get his fave in front of the public a little more often than not. The only things you see regarding Kenneth Anger are some clips from LUCIFER RISING plus a brief excerpt from an interview where he tells his side of the story regarding the original '67 version (later more or less re-cut into INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER) being stolen and buried somewhere in Death Valley. (And while I'm at it, the clip from that film which the narrator purports to be Bobby Beausoliel is clearly not him, as any student of Manson, Anger or Beausoliel could tell you.) Heck, I can't even find La Vey in here anywhere other than perhaps a passing mention, so why all the plastic cover fuss? But other than that, like I said its just another Beach Boys documentary which mixes the info and the theories to middling effect, and I can't see anyone other than the hardest of hardcore fans who don't mind hearing that whole post-PULP FICTION rap caring enough to see this thing in the first place. Made for interesting diversion.
***VARIOUS ARTISTS-MESSTHETICS GREATEST HISS...CLASSICS OF U.K. CASSETTE-CULTURE D.I.Y. 1977-1982 (VOLUME 1) (Messthetics, availabe through Forced Exposure)
Yeah, this is way outta my self-imposed timespan, but even if early-eighties Britain reminds me of nothing but a nation just bursting with a load of lower-class crybabies with their squatters rights, inbred "entitlements" and expensive musical gear making their own records despite their moans of poverty, the place did put out some exciting music. Even in the post-underground rock era of the early-eighties when the mass of punk humpty dumptied into a number of subgenres never to be united again! Fortunately a lotta groups were able to put their musings to cassette, and as we all know there was a thriving "cassette culture" going on over there a good thirty or so years back which is finally getting "documented" for lack of a better term by the Hyped2death people, and if you ask me maybe it is just about time someone did!
True, a lotta these cassette creeps were pretty lame jagoffs who got their jollies trading inane paradiddles with musicians of a more serious mode, but there were some mighty good 'uns in amidst the usual "experimentations" one might have come across during the day. This particular volume of MESSTHETICS attempts to segregate the wheat from the chaff and give you ample servings of both in the process. After listening to these great under-the-counterculture rock rants and raves all I gotta say is that Ted Mack never had the problems that the Rev. Warner had in putting this collection together, for this is Amateur Hour redux, and at least Warner gives us a good idea of what was transpiring in the bedrooms and alleyways of UK during this rather confused time in English rock history which I must admit was a lot more than I ever bargained for.
Some of the selections on GREATEST HISS are snat enough to have appeared on actual vinyl, with a group such as Digital Dinosaurs soaring pretty good with their late-punky "Baby Snakes" and Casual Laborers fitting well enough into the Rough Trade style with "A Lapse is Due". Others are good enough folk-punky singalongy things while others tend to overwork the new casiotone technology with music that kinda wooshed by while I was doing my nightly fanzine duties. Still some of MESSTHETICS GREATEST HISS seems like the typical bedroom tape joking about that just about everyone has indulged in to a certain extent and to various levels of success. My favorite of this bunch is Mike Jones' "Reckless Politics" which has our hero singing his punky lyrics to a record skip which, given the tape-loop riffing of many of the English punksters of the time, sounds as if it coulda been an actual non-skip intentional punk riff!
Much of GREATEST HISS tends to fall into a category better suited for other blogs who are more attuned to the "post-punk" (yawn!) spectrum of rock & roll, but I found this a nice change of pace from the usual goings on here at BTC central. Anyway, I guess it proves that if Swell Maps could get started like this, so could a whole nationfulla maladjusted dosh-hating poseurs with their electric guitars bought at Woolworths and music lessons copped off of repeated Subway Sect spins!
***HEAVY METAL KIDS (Atlantic, burned CD-R)
Here's the first one from the package Paul McGarry sent, a copy of what I presume is the day-beyw Heavy Metal Kids album from '74. The Heavy Metal Kids were one of those bands that I pretty much ignored back when I recall seeing their name plastered all over certain issues of MELODY MAKER, and all these years later I gotta say that I'm kinda glad that I didn't give 'em the time of day sorta in the same way I'm still mad at myself for not being around anyone who woulda tipped me off to the Stooges when I needed 'em the most. Don't expect any metallic moves from these guys (in fact, they claimed no allegiance to HM proper!), but then again there seems to be none of the smarm-smart of the usual Burroughs-inspired groups anywhere in their sound either. Even Steely Dan had some semblence of gnarl, even if it was from their overuse of smack! Mostly hard rock pomp with maybe a few good mid-seventies chord changes and production moves tossed in. Nothing for the archives, though.
***Dr. Mix and the Remix-WALL OF NOISE CD (Mix It, try Forced Exposure)
Coulda sworn that I reviewed the original Cee-Dee release of this 'un on the Bondage label a year or so back, but I guess not. Anyhow I now have two variations on this famed garage band release on Cee-Dee, and although both of them include the exact same version of the Rough Trade album this update's got four additional tracks in case you're a stickler for completeness and want the entire kit and caboodle. The additional material ranges from especially trance-y takes of "Hey Joe" and "You Really Got Me" to a Metal Boys remodel that did catch me by surprise. If you're one of the few unfortunates who want to know what Dr. Mix sounds like before actually latching onto a copy of this, their style was kinda like cheap Suicide riff rock with equally cheap guitar twang here and there and perhaps even some budget organ thrown in to make the sound even more of an addled take on cult rock fashioned through 1981 post-underground glasses. Dr. Mix did hold a special place in the hearts of English garageophiliacs as an article recounting a live show of theirs actually got published in the pages of...THE TIMES OF LONDON?!?!?!?!?!?!
***VARIOUS ARTISTS-SPRIGS OF TIME, 78s FROM THE EMI ARCHIVE CD (Honest Jon's Records, England, available through Forced Exposure)
I dunno what's so special about the idea of some loner guy searching the vaults of EMI Records (in "Hayes, Middlesex, England" as the cover always said) and compiling a number of very-loosely-related 78s onto a compact disque, but that's just what this effort is and although I'm confused about the whys and wherefores of it I guess that the innerlecktual snoots think highly of it. Sheesh, my very own copy came with a front shrinkwrap sticker complete with a quote from THE NEW YORK TIMES and if those snobbish New Yorkers like this thing then something's gotta be wrong with it!
All funnin' aside, for a half-baked grab bag collection this does contain interesting shards that probably would never be heard again if not for this release. From 1920's vintage gamelan recordings to some old fogey singing English folk songs to Mideast fifties-era trad pop the kind you hear on Detroit radio Sunday afternoons, at least SPRIGS OF TIME presents a variety of cross-cultural numbers that I'm sure zoomed under a whole lotta our radarscopes whether we wanted them to or not. My personal faves include Jean Mpia's "Tembele", an African folk song that could have been a surprise early-sixties hit like Ray Baretto's "El Watusi", Sarcasa's "Rumba Negro" (for those who mourn the loss of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra) and the Imperial Palace Band's "Seigatha", this moody slice of a tone poem recorded in Tokyo, 1903!
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 7:33 AM
Saturday, November 01, 2008
DON'T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR THE YOUNG ELVIS
That's what Bill Shute said way back in the nineties whilst discussing the reign of the recently-coronated William the Randy, and after all these years all I gotta say about that piece is how right Mr. Shute's view remain considering the political contest that we here in them thar United States are currently being pummeled with. And really, it ain't as fun a choice to make as choosing whether the rockabilly Elvis or the jumpsuited version should adorn an Amerigan postage stamp, because either way you go you kinda get the feeling that this choice you're making is akin to being located smack dab inna middle of Louisiana and the option is either the firing squad or hanging. And just about as fun as well.
I've been around the block a few times and remember loads of presidential elections, some that I'd just as soon forget. I even recall the day after Nixon made it in and my mother being rather upset that the nation would choose Nixon over a righteous and godly man as Hubert Humphrey...of course the only reason I remember that day is because I bought a Matchbox Ford Cortina at the Hill's department store in the Lincoln Knolls Plaza, Youngstown Ohio (we had the day off from school, and it was an overcast rainy one too!), but all kidding aside this current competition is one that really proves H. L. Mencken's saying about politics being the worship of jackals by jackasses to be particularly true. Really, never have I seen so much pointless praise and hosannas heaped upon men whom, in a different time or dimension or on another planet for that matter would be seen as the reincarnation of those old time mountebanks who promised the unwashed all the goods and services of the world, usually at the expense of others but that didn't matter because those achievers deserved it. Sheesh, even William Jennings Bryan had more backbone and trustworthiness than either of the big name candidates running for president this go 'round, and you know what a phony (albeit a likable phony who had the good sense to resign from the Wilson cabinet) he was!
But before I tend to disrupt my bladder even more, let's first talk about Mr. Walk On The Water himself, Barack "Is He a Muslim? Who Cares!" Obama. Before we do, please get one thing outta your head...Obama's election (which pretty much seems in the bag as we speak, but maybe a tasty surprise will happen within the next few days to upset the apple cart!) ain't gonna solve any racial questions just as the election of John Kennedy didn't solve any religious ones. In fact, almost fifty years later religious hostility is perhaps even worse and out in the open hostile than it was in 1960, with hardshell liberals the caliber of Bill Maher and Al Franken mocking Christianity on the national airwaves and getting away with it under the guise of free speech. We certainly didn't have to put up with such evil in the "hated" pre hippie era, other than with boring "comedians" like Lenny Bruce trying to "teach us a lesson" about society and belief, sparing his own New York liberal hide in the process! Having Obama in the comfy White House swivel chair isn't exactly gonna get all Amerigans to gather 'round and sing "Kumbaya" like so many social planners would hope, and frankly if racial hostilities flare up to an even newer high I would not be surprised even a tad.
And as far as the racial question goes, all I gotta say is that Pennsylvania congressman John Murtha really did hit in on the noggin when he spoke about the prevalence of racism in Western Pennsylvania and how it will probably hurt Obama's chances at least in this state. Unfortunately the guy backtracked and apologized for admitting what now seems like a plain-as-the-nose-on-my-face fact, because the nomination of the Big O as I like to call him has certainly brought out some of the bigger conspiracy nuts and closet black haters to the forefront of the local all around gabfest frolics. One person actually thinks that the election of Obama will unleash a torrent of black fury unseen since THE BIRTH OF A NATION, while others including some staunch lifelong Democrats (who are still stuck on that sick FDR as a kind, benevolent richguy interloper image that continues to make me puke) are switching to the other side because the thought of Obama in charge is just too strong an image for their beanies to comprehend. It's really surprising to hear one of these ethnic voters who has cursed out the Republican Party for longer than I can remember muse "You know, that Huckabee guy wasn't that bad after all..." which is something that never would have crossed the mind of an avowed anti-redistributionist as I.
Cooler heads do prevail in the rustier-than-thou Western Pee-YAY area, though perhaps not in the way one would expect. Recently another acquaintance, a guy who I pretty much try not to offend since he is larger than me and has quite a temper (plus has made his disgust with the current administration known to all within earshot) asked me out of the blue who I was going to vote for. Nervously I replied "none of the above" hoping to avoid any kerfuffle (even though my response, for all intent purposes, was true), only to have him reply "I know what you mean, but I guess I'm going to be voting for Obama in order to straighten things that are going on in Washington". Of course the guy thought I wasn't for Obama because of the race factor and that I'm no Republican (which I guess must mean he thinks I'm an OK guy in his own Eastern Euro ethnic way!), but at least I thought it different from the usual responses that I've been inundated with as of late.
But frankly, I can't see how anyone couldn't go for Obama on personal appeal alone. He comes off so nice and much younger than his 47 years would lead you to believe. Due to his lighter complexion he's the spitting image of the early-sixties tee-vee black (I refuse to be a quisling and use the accepted hyphenated term "African-American")...y'know, the kind you would see on various dramas and perhaps a few comedies like THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW (and I'm not talking about the episode with Godfrey Cambridge!) who had that dignified look that was obviously copped from repeated viewings of A RAISIN IN THE SUN. Of course you only got a glimpse of these actors and actresses (most specifically Cicely Tyson) in one especially self-righteous scene where he or she would prove him/herself to have taken the moral high ground (or more often behind some desk in a white collar job role), but after tee-vee got scared off of blacks other than entertainers after the AMOS 'N ANDY brouhaha it was a miracle that any of us got to see black people on the tube at all!
Not-so-strangely enough, the early-sixties-bred television character Obama most reminds me the most of is that kid on DAVEY AND GOLIATH who wore the polka-dot tie. Remember that one, where this lad with an obvious melatonin advantage moves into town and Davey's always rambunctious friend whose name escapes me says that he doesn't like this newcomer because he wears a polka dot necktie, and his dad or uncle or someone else doesn't like guys who wear polka dot ties so he doesn't as well. Of course alla us kids watching this religiously-bent animation series were goin' "c'mon, that kid doesn't hate him because of the tie, he really hates him because he's COLORED!!!!!" Which of course was the whole idea behind that particular D&G, but I guess back then things hadda've been circumvented a bit in order to pass muster with obviously superior early-sixties tee-vee kid mindsets.
But suave early-sixties looks and calls for "change" aside, what is Barack Obama other than just the latest in the long conveyor belt line of Big Government libs who wanna work out every aspect of your life and help you live it for you, and you betcha you're gonna get it up the wazoo unless you're part of the newly emancipated (from two-thousand years of Evil Western Morality) "New People" who finally got to be created sixty years after Stalin's death 'n boy aren'tcha glad??? For a guy whose catchphrase is another term for cleaning up baby's soiled diapers, I see nada difference between him and the long line of mooshy Dems who have been shoveling the same pap at ignorant ethnics for the past hundred years in a desperate attempt for these WASPs to come down and mingle with the hoi polloi. When you get down to it, all Obama really is is a Jimmy Carter without the farmhand philosophy or Ted Kennedy with a chance of survival. Of course when Obama talks about change he means it as in change from the previous eight years of Republican rule, but as the recently-retired Charley Reese said, there really isn't a dime's worth of difference between the politics of the young and fresh fellow Obama and the tired old shovel the sap antics that the Dems have been dabbling in for a good century now. Face it, Obama's whole schtick is just the same old socialist hokum for the rubes dressed up in a shiny new package, and you know that if/when he's elected he's gonna get away with murder because all of the frothing social planners and useful idiots that are in tow these days are gonna cry "racist!!!" at anyone who dares question the upright moral integrity of their Great Black Hope. (And we sure gotta fear the wrath of the Obamanites once their man gets hold of the reigns...given their feral loathing of anything outside their chic radical cliques coupled with their moral stance of "can" or "can't" as opposed to "right" or "wrong" who knows what havoc they will reap once in control of the halls of government!) And I'm sure some ignoramuses will probably want to hurl their own charges of racism at me for the previous few statements, but what else could one expect from a bunch of Government School-trained automatons anyway?
And as for such issues as troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, I tend to believe that although Obama would withdraw troops from such places he'd only send them to more "politically correct" battlefronts like Darfur and the Peace Creeps won't even bat an eye. After all, their ideological ancestors were so hip to the idea of FDR sending troops to Spain during the thirties, to fight for the Communists naturally, so why should they rant and rave if Obama decides to use the military for his own political agenda! And please, don't get me started on the current economic "crisis" which will be but a memory in a few month's time no matter who gets it! Let's just say that Capitalism as it stands in the hands of the Senate Financing Committee might by at fault, but unbridled Capitalism isn't!
But really, who but the most hidebound of pundits would disagree with the fact that the main core of the Democratic Party, their beliefs and their candidates (with a few brave exceptions like South Carolina's Bob Conley) riding the waves with their promises of "sharing the wealth" (aka robbery) and micromanagement are just plain evil? Evil like your grade school teachers and other people who told you that your only true worth was what you did for others, while others certainly took advantage of you for it and feeling cheated was just selfishness on your part. Evil like just every other authoritarian who told you to "think for yourself" then whomped you for doing just that because you did just that it went against the grain. Evil because these same brilliantines told you about the wretchedness of acquiring wealth, yet didn't mind begging for a piece of your ill gotten gain (or stealing it in ways legal or other) in order to fund their own pet causes and whims. The problem is that the evil has been made holy due to an imaginary "common good" that really will never benefit from all the good vibes and hefty tax dollars thrust upon it. As one commentator noted recently, the hopes and dreams of Obama are exactly the same as those of Lyndon Johnson's fortysome years back, and Johnson with his Great Society got a whole slew of programs through which in fact are still up and running all these years later. And yet, the "change" that LBJ promised the sheeple of his time never did transpire and in fact only made Ameriga worse, just as strict government control of schools has turned out generations of idiots, aid to poor families had only broken them up and created a bastard nation and public-funded councils bankrolling the arts has only led to loads of subpar works that sure don't inspire the way unfunded artists of a variety of stripes (especially the avant garde!) will for eons to come.
As far as the loyal opposition goes, I gotta say that the Republicans got what they voted for during the primaries, and the fact that they voted for John McCain only goes to prove that once again that the GOP in their infinite wisdom have decided to take sizzle and style over substance which is what they often accuse their Democratic rivals of. Only I fail to see any sizzle or style in McCain, who never did strike me as being any sort of "conservative" let alone right wing icon that the Republicans always praise themselves for cultivating. I mean, there were other blips on the Republican primary ballot radar that were farther to the right ("the right" as in a party of perceived small government and personalism) than McCain like the iffy Mike Huckabee or especially my own personal fave Ron Paul, and Dr. Paul was more or less trounced by the Republican elite (and liberal pundits like the better late if not never Tim Russert) for espousing the same set of values that these very morons would have championed a good seventy years back! But I guess people get what they vote for, and if Republicans wanted to vote for a well-entrenched Washington insider who's more or less eager to cross party lines on issues that make the standard television commentator drool uncontrollably (plus co-sponsored one of the bigger illegal immigrant amnesty bills in recent memory), well it's their problem.
Get one thing outta your head...no matter how much McCain screams, utters and wiggles, he sure ain't no Great White "Conservative" Hope! As if the term has any true, substantive meaning outside of what's happening on the Taki's Top Drawer site or at CHRONICLES magazine these days (and it's a term the likes of many of these paleocons tend to loathe) but if you wanna get down to brass tacks, how many so-called conservatives in politics really are (that is, actually work hard against massive government programs and other surefire vote-getters), let alone were? People like to gab all they want about Ronald Reagan and the George Bushes, but would conservatives at least as I understand 'em to be really double/triple the size of government as Reagan had, he being an admirer of FDR who never really did divorce himself from his old hero? Or would they have bled hearts over a "kinder and gentler nation" or "No Child Left Behind" as the Bushes? Really, I couldn't see a Robert Taft or Barry Goldwater indulging in any of these frivolities, and outside of a few brave souls what Republican could you think of who wouldn't want to jump on the gushy-gooey bandwagons that every Republican prez from Hoover on down has more or less CREATED despite the image of Republicans as small government (maybe next to Dems, but most likely NOT!) self-starters? So no matter who is on the big number ticket this time, the do-gooders and world betterers are gonna get their man into the Big Comfy Chair!
It all reminds me of Molly Ivens (consider her a left wing Mencken, extra lite) and her forward to the Vincent Bugliosi (consider him a way less, but still liberal enough Ed Sanders extra-extra lite) book on George Bush who said that the Republicans had their candidate in '00 and he was John McCain, but somehow that sneaky George W. Bush got in there and mucked our plans up but good! I kinda thought it funny to see the opposition party so eagerly wanting to pick the Republican candidate, and for once they got their man even if it's eight years too late! (Gee, I guess this does give me the right to proclaim that the Republicans had their candidate in Paul, but gave it to the illegit McCain instead!) Anyone with two braincells to rub together would obviously know the reason that the general liberal contingency and what is now termed as the "drive-by media" think McCain's such a wonderful Republican candidate...it's because he's such a milquetoast who can easily be cajoled and molded into whatever form or shape suits the moment even more than Gumby could! Even when McCain yells and "takes off the gloves" to frighteningly pallid effect he's still playing footsies with Obama as this campaign has so eloquently proven! Look at those debates where McCain really coulda torn into the Big O for everything from his associations with perhaps "shady" and "anti-American" characters (whom I frankly could care less about) to his support of partial birth abortion (not to mention Obama's various wimp-out responses to such questions...guess the guy isn't used to hardballs being tossed at him!) but chose not to in order to make this a "nice" election. I dunno if this is the kind of fellow I would've wanted tangling with Kruschev fifty years back...could you have imagined McCain engaging in a kitchen debate with that infamous Soviet leader?!?
Naturally when all is said and done I dunno which is worse, having to choose between people who are gonna make you eat strawberries and cream even if you hate it, or those who promise to dismantle everything that stands in your way one of these days, except themselves of course. The current Amerigan presidential contest is probably an even worse scenario than the one in 1972 which prompted Mark Jenkins, in the pages of his fanzine HYPERION to scathingly berate George McGovern for wanting to turn politics from "the art of what is possible" to "the art of what is right" (mainly whatever 51% of the population says unless the government objects and goes court-shopping in order to overturn it)...Obama would change this definition to "the art of what I can do for the greater good (which is what a well-informed group of intellectuals should deem it to be)" while McCain's take would be "the art of sacrificing any personal integrity which I may or may not have in order to break deadlock" as if being deadlocked over an issue that means something to you is worth "sacrificing" whatever personal view on the matter you may have.
Out of all of this chaos there are actually a few intelligent observations and recommendations being made by people associated with what is left of the "right", but don't count on any of them to make inroads into either the mainstream of political discourse or the public square for that matter. The usually etapoint Pat Buchanan has made some wise remarks as is wont his nature (such as with his endorsement of Ron Paul during the primaries and his backing of Democrat Conley) but as usual began rallying around his old Republican buds as the election drew nearer and nearer. If he'd like us to vote for McCain I'd at least like to read a good reason for doing so from Pat (like telling us that McCain might elect strict constitution-believing judges to the Supreme Court, which he probably wouldn't do anyway), even if they probably wouldn't change my mind. The Southern Avenger, a Charleston-based radio personality/columnist whose blog I have linked up on the left, has come up with a rather smart voting guide in his endorsement of Chuck Baldwin of the Constitutional Party even if I don't exactly cozy up to them as much as I do the usually weak-willed Libertarians. Myself, I'll probably pull the lever for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr even if there are issues with him that I certainly cannot agree with, such as his membership in the ACLU as their right wing stooge more or less. Maybe it's a sympathy vote...after all the bile Larry Flynt dished out about him during the Clinton scandal while breaking the eighth commandment in the process (as if commandment breaking was anything new on Flynt's part), Barr deserves all the help he can get!
So if you know what's good for you, VOTE THIRD PARTY or better yet DON'T VOTE AT ALL!!! If you do decide to truck on down to the polling place please don't do so as a "protest vote" like the communists would ask you to do all those times when Gus Hall was running. Do so because it's probably the only way we can veer our government away from the tyranny of the do-gooders that would result from staying the two-party course. Of course if your idea of Good Times is to have the modern day equivalent of those "uplifters" from some old D. W. Griffith movie micromanage every aspect of your life while creating even more "special privileges" for people who certainly haven't been getting the short end of the stick for the past forty years, Obama is your main man. Or, if you're anxious for "small" government that somehow continues to grow despite all the blab about eliminating tons of deadwood departments and, of course, "coming together" is the most important thing of all, McCain is the one to punch the card for. Me, I always thought that the average BLOG TO COMM reader had at least a modicum of intelligence to see that hogwash for what it is, but judging from some of the comments I have received regarding various political scribings on my part, as well as the hefty amounts of votes that Herman Munster hasn't been getting in my own straw poll, I sincerely doubt it.
(For a better encapsulation of a lot of what I have written above click here to be taken to a recent Paul Gottfried column at TAKI'S TOP DRAWER that sums up a lot of my opinions regarding this election [while going off on a few different tangents, but so what] and in a way more erudite way I may add. At least this piece, by the usually correct Gottfried, as well as the comments left thereafter, make a whole lot of sense and give more in-depth analysis of where Ameriga 2008 and the election stand than the usual flapping jaws heard within the realm.
And while I'm at it, here are some more smart words you probably won't find in First Principles. A good guide to read before you decide to just hang out and do nothing this coming Tuesday.)
Posted by Christopher Stigliano at 12:27 AM