Sunday, November 14, 2010

No I ain't gonna bore you w/any of my personal travails this go 'round. Nothing about how long gone I am into the DICK TRACY volumes (hokay, I'll let you know that I'm heading into the ever-budding gore and deformed villian territory and boy is that making me nervous!), nor any cute 'n coy reminiscences of past endeavors are on the boards for today either. Heck, I ain't even gonna tell you about how I broke my arm last Sunday and drove myself single-handedly to the hospital like a real man (which I guess is nothing new to you reg'lar readers who do a lotta things one-handed-like, if you know what I mean), I'll just concentrate on givin' you the meat and potatoes writeups and reviews of things that have been tickling my fancy on the music and reading scene these past few. Gawrsh, if I must say these reviews are so gooood that after you're done reading these cruise-missle accurate accounts and opines I'll bet you'll all start living vicariously through me for a change!

STOP! MAGAZINE #'s 3, 6 AND 7!!! (rags that could be found around the En Why See area back in the early-to-mid eighties but not elsewhere)

I'm probably wrong, but weren't the early-eighties the last days of post-modern hip humor? By "hip" I mean that knock-down-drag-out kinda humor that had its beginnings with the early MAD comic book and magazine that sorta got filtered own through the likes of HUMBUG and HELP! (and later on the original NATIONAL LAMPOON), not forgetting the comedy talents of such stalwarts as Stan Freberg and Ernie Kovacs (esp. his early-sixties specials for ABC) that sorta made their influence known via the early SNL and their immediate spawn such as SCTV f'rinstance. You could figure in THE GOON SHOW and MONTY PYTHON of course not forgetting Andy Kauffman, Emo Phillips (plus ex-wife Judy Tenuta...I could just see how that marriage ebbed and flowed!!!) and that whole brood. David Letterman during his earlier days also comes into play, at least those shows where you could tell he was watching his Kovacs videotapes intent-like whilst taking notes. Whadevva, I really used to gobble all of this stuff up during my kiddo/teenbo days and looking back most if not all of it was sorta like the tail end of a Golden Age of yuks that had a clear connection dating back to a whole lotta Old Timey laughmongers the caliber of the Three Stooges, Joe Cook, Stoopnagle and Budd and who could forget that ever-popular Willie Howard?

Unfortunately something happened down the line...maybe it was the fact that Ronald Reagan was president which re-arranged sooo many minds, but humor stopped being funny! Really, while the entire credo of Lenny Bruce mighta been offensive humor with deep socially significant meaning, his spiritual heirs managed to take the humor part out of the equation to the point where the new breed of standups were doing nothin' but ranting away at the so-called "Powers That Be" to an audience that was so stupid that they didn't realize that these "comics" were speaking FOR those very same powers. Basically the new generation of jokesters are nothing more than a rehash of the old George Carlins and Dick Gregorys puttin' down honko mid-Ameriga, and come to think of it when was the last time any of 'em tried to make you laugh? Cringe is more like it!

So the next time you happen to see Bill Maher or Joy Behar (a living argument for female genital mutilation!) strollin' down the street WITHOUT the wall of security around 'em just bop 'em on the head...maybe somethin'll jar'n they can start telling funny jokes for once rather'n act as sorry court jesters for a snob-laden kingdom who never saw a down and out peon other'n in a Ben Shahn print.

But STOP!...hey, that's funny stuff 'n I just happened to get a few more issues in to tickle my funnybone at a time when the only things that make me laugh are down and out reactionary screeds, bad taste or not, usually aimed at the same effete elitists who populate the paragraph directly above! Yeah, I gotta admit that STOP! did have their ups and downs and at times wallows in the gutters...that one ish with the girlie mag spoof was pretty disgusto after all...but these new ones are the perfect prescription for an era when humor has pretty much been replaced by "fun with a purpose", the old HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN credo! (I swiped that line from an old REASON magazine article on Lenny Bruce [a rather bad article at that!], so please don't sue me.)

Anyway, I guess editor John Holmstrom (yeah, the same guy of PUNK magazine fame!) must have TONS of back issues clogging up his basement (I know the feeling, pard!) and is trying to get rid of as many as he can on ebay which is a smart move on his part considering the last two generations of kidz who don't know what a good laugh is all about. And hey, the ishes I got (which I think completes my collection) are really hot stuff, funny as all get out and geared towards that whole mindset that I continue to adhere to, that the middle portion of the twentieth century was one hot time to be around, and that the more we cling to this past the better.

Of course it's the contributors (what else?) who made STOP! such a rough and tumble read. Natchurally a good portion of the old PUNK gang is here as are a few of the COMICAL FUNNIES hanger on's like the inimitable J. D. King and Peter Bagge (a guy who I do have greatly conflicting opinions about...I hated his HATE comic books but found some of his opines in REASON well...reasonable) and when you put 'em all together they sure spell a funtime read whether you're on the toilet or just passing times between issues of UGLY THINGS. Dale Ashmun's "Spare Parts" column that later on ran in PSYCHOTRONIC shows up too (the guy had taste) and mix that up with the Bosko comics and the like and you get a mag that sorta bridges the har-har seventies and the blah late-eighties onwards, an interesting concept if I do say so myself.

And you know that STOP! was a hotcha read because their letter page was filled with notes from some of the big names on the old underground comix circuit like Jay Lynch and R. Crumb even, sorta like the old guard torch being passed to the new guard 'n real heart cockle warming at that.

STOP! #3 from July/August 1982 (a rather pleasant time in my life I must admit which is why this issue sorta snuggles up to me real fine-like) is a definite keeper if only for the cover feature, an interview with none other than Bill Scott who was the voice of a whole slew of characters that oozed outta Jay Ward Productions and into the living rooms of way too many kiddies throughout the sixties and seventies. Naturally I would cozy up to something that clings to my earliest (and most favorite) years just before the trauma of school and socialization turned me into the behemoth that I am today, and this interview courtesy of a Judy Wilmot (a name that I think stretches beyond the STOP! sphere of comical knowledge) is pretty snat even if little new-to-me information is disseminated. A big so what! to that because it's still a wowzer though I kinda wonder why no mention was made of the less-enthralling HOPPITY HOOPER let alone that all-time great FRACTURED FLICKERS, but I guess the publishers just ran outta space. Well, they coulda made the SACRIFICE and added a few more gratis just so's we would get to know. Sheesh, I used to do that myself with my own crudzine and I never complained, other'n not enough of you pudz out there buyin' it up that is! (And what's really eye-gouging about this interview is that Wilmot actually name-dropped LESTER BANGS when recalling his memories of an early-sixtie Bullwinkle parade that Bangs was fortunate enough to espy...I mean, do you even think that Scott knew who Bangs was?!?!?)

Of course that ain't all there is to this ish...Drew Friedman contributes a high-larious piece on ugly baseball cards preventing premature ejaculation (and I think there was some hubbub over the Ron Yubba one, something to do with "racism") while J. D. King's "Mr. Know-It-All" (no relation to any Jay Ward property) had the sort of "fuh-fuh-fuh-NEE" quality that I really like in a comic strip. None of that commie sex here nohow! Now I coulda done w/o Dale Ashmun's review of a Dave Edmunds concert but the various cartoons 'n views are in such high gear that maybe skipping over them two pages ain't quite as criminal as some roots purists would have you believe!

Ish #6 (April/May 1983, not a good time in my life!) has a SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT onna cover. Not really that special since all they said they're gonna do is stop givin' this 'un away for free and start chargin' a cover price! Twenny-seven years later this message is about as dated as the Tylenol Scare because we hafta pay for it ALL no matter what! But still this STOP! has me going all fanabla if only for such special treats as the S. Clay Wilson interview (yeah, I know he's a sicko, but an interesting one at that) as well as the obituaries for the recently-deceased Jack Webb and Doodles Weaver which really had that heartfelt gutsy gloom to 'em that I used to get (still do!) every time some classic 20s/30s/40s star got snuffed out in an age of indifference. The Weaver obit was particularly striking as it claims that it was none other than Ed McMahon, after getting in a fight with NBC exec and brother to Doodles Pat Weaver over the affections of Barbara Hershey (!), who got Weaver "semi-blacklisted" in tinseltown! Well, at least he now had an excuse to pop up in such vehicles as MACON COUNTY LINE and TRUCK STOP WOMAN, the former which benefited from his comic relief appearance as a local yokel at the filling station and the latter which might also be a good 'un although I have yet to lay eyes upon it.

The comic stuff's hokay too...'specially liked the Louie and Bulldozer ones that King drew which hadda do with the two of 'em meeting up with/trying to pick up a "liberated woman" pitting their wits against the same kinda, if you'll pardon the expression, "female" who I had been railing against for lo these many years. I hope these are still guaranteed to offend...the right people that is!

The summer '83 ish had a special tingle for me because of the front cover FEATURE (wish there was some gadget on the blog tool bar that would get that word flashing like a marquee!) interview with Soupy Sales. Now I gotta admit that I haven't been as big of a Sales fan as many of you more geriatric-type readers have mostly because the only thing I knew about him during my tender growing up years were his television commercials as well as guest pop-ups on various programs then near and dear to our hearts like HULLABALOO and ED SULLIVAN. Sales' mid-sixties syndicated series outta channel 5 in New York wasn't even aired around these parts, and although I woulda been way too young to appreciate his ABC Saturday afternoon series that woulda been outta the question anyway because the local affiliate didn't even run it preferring to sign on around five in the afternoon during the weekends! And really, I think that kids like myself coulda used more Sales in our upbringing because well like, real role models were hard to find, y'know?

In this interview which was conducted by none other than GOLDMINE's Jeff Tamarkin, Sales comes off as a rather level-headed fellow if sounding quite bitter because comedy had passed him by. His opinions regarding the newer breed of comics are most definitely on-target even if he condemns the preachy new breed of socially-conscious stand ups on one hand then praises the likes of Carlin on the other. Whatever, it is refreshing to hear him rail against the societal crud and corruption that was prevalent even in the early-eighties which was more or less in-your-face whether you wanted to see that parted pudenda on the cover of HUSTLER or not. No wonder Sales made the rather etapoint observation which was even quoted on the cover; "Do you think a kid wants to watch someone get hit in the face with a pie when they can watch someone screwing?" Dunno about what you think but I'll take the pie ANYDAY! (sPLAt!)

The rest of this ish ain't anything to toss into the langbin either, with some pretty hot contributions from King, Drew Friedman (a funny "whatever became of Our Gang" featurette that will probably get more spinsteresque readers apoplectic), an interview with Bill Griffith and of course Ken Weiner's "Busboy" comic which had me rolling in the aisles which was pretty disgusting in itself because I was taking a dump while reading it! (There's also a piece on the infamous Chesterfield Kongs as Don Fellman calls 'em back when they were just starting to get the up and notice on the "underground" circuit at a time when even I wondered...will 1984 be their year?) The cartoon review of a restaurant was a brilliant touch since it featured cartoon characterizations of a good portion of the STOP staff including their wifies. Now I get to know what J. D. King's first one looked like (not bad...wonder what happened there?), and while I'm at it dontcha think that King himself kinda looks like a cross between Bill Cullen and Dennis the Menace's dad? Anyway, he reminds me of what guys used to look like when I was a kid before long hair, aviator shades and "body modification" became the norm. Must be those late-fifties Bausch and Lombs that he wears.

And although I didn't even ask for it (though everybody seems to think that I get everything I ask for...hmmmm, wonder what they mean by that?) Holmstrom snuck in a copy of the first and presumbably only issue of BOSKO comics! Yeah, here's a title featuring nothing but that rascally scamp with the striped shirt engaging in real gut-shakin' sagas that seem created esp. for people like myself who have a lot of gut to shake. Yeah, some of these adventures have been printed before, but it's great to have 'em all in one place where you can read about such demonically-intense dramas as the time Bosko hadda struggle to get out of bed so's he could make it to his new job! Not to mention the time he and friend Roscoe pay a visit to their old neighborhood and piss off some broken-english bacciagalupe of a store owner! And you thought that Ozzie Nelson's life had no meaning!

Do you need any more evidence (as you know, MY WORD IS GOOD ENOUGH!!!) that these reads are whatcha'd call...the utmost? I mean you could tell that they're worth your while because none other'n Lindsay Hutton used to hype these rags in the pages of his old NEXT BIG THING fanzine and you know that guy knew what he was blabbing about! And if you can't trust a human who still tunes in to DANGER ISLAND daily who can you trust??? Uh Oh Chongo!!!!!!!!
Patti Smith Group-FREE MUSIC STORE bootleg CD (Brand New Beat, Germany)

You may remember this particular piece of illicit barrage clinging onto the pages of your favorite late-seventies "collectors recordings" catalog along with the rest of the import bootlegs (the ones with the deluxe color covers 'stead of the paper inserts) fetching upwards of $12, nay even $15 a pop! Yeah, those were the days when coughing up $5.99 seemed way too much for a domestic piece of legitimate ware let alone a boot emanating from the dark reaches of Germany. Fortunately by the time people such as myself were able to get a li'l more moolah into our paws some enterprising label decided to reissue this particular platter and at a more reasonable price (at least for the late-eighties) to which I say...thank goodniz for ENTREPRENEURS!!!

FREE MUSIC STORE's the name of the WBAI-FM radio program that Patti Smith appeared on during a pledge drive in May of '75 thus giving the budding poet-rocker a reason to blab a whole lotta 'BAI memories from back during the days when they were actually playing British Invasion music in between the usual fringe rants and experimental music sundries. Of course the actual music presented herein ain't duff either showing Patti and group to have had a good handling on their drum-less material wallowing in between stand up personal rants and bedroom-level rock jamz. Sharp and focused, with a beatnik cum punk feeling unmatched since the early Fugs or equally-early Velvets even. Nice selection of trackage as well with early versions of songs soon to be fleshed out on HORSES and RADIO ETHIOPIA. Of course who could forget her infamous take on the Velvets' "We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together" which you know will nowadays bug to no end the same breed of college sophisticados who ate Patti's entire race-baiting vernacular up without question a good thirty-five years back.

As an added bonus (not on the vinyl version) there's "Down The Aisle" (Patti and Lenny exploring their doo wop roots) as well as the Central Park gig noting the Fall of Saigon which certainly was cause for celebration amongst the chattering classes who never did have their heads on straight. Sound's good if kinda FM flittery (might be a slightly-weak signal 'n besides home recording facilities wern't exactly the top-notchest back then) and the whole shebang'll give you a slight hint of what kind of energy and unique ideas were being birthed in the reaches of lower Manhattan back in those oft-praised pre-serious radicalization days.

Naturally the existence of this tape makes me wonder what other WBAI-FM recordings are floating around...I mean I already know about the Unholy Modal Rounders one but what about the Uncle Son show not forgetting others which, come to think of it, are forgotten? I don't think the staunch leftoids at 'BAI are willing to open up their vaults to labels let alone fans, so maybe some urban guerilla action for a really notable cause is needed out there, eh?


Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

Re: "I broke my arm last Sunday and drove myself single-handedly to the hospital like a real man" Great! Now you're a regular Aron Ralston, or that farmer who got both of his arms mangled and drove himself to the hospital on his tractor using his mouth to steer (or was that a dream?).

And speaking of Bill Griffith, which you so briefly in this post, he is also an admirer of the wonder that is Nancy. I don't know whether Arthur Lee was, or if he was just into Plastic Nancy, who was real fancy, and I guess now we'll never know.

Well, get well soon!

Serena WmS. Burroughs said...

"sorry court jesters for a snob-laden kingdom who never saw a down and out peon other'n in a Ben Shahn print." As Paris Hilton might say, not that she'd probably understand your references, "That's hot."

Christopher said...

Thanx for your concern re. my arm. For all of you readers' information it was only a hairline fracture so the bone specialist said I could take the bandages and splint from the ER off, use the sling and don't lift anything heavy until my next x-ray appointment. It only hurts at night which is OK since I sleep through most of that.

Yes I know that Bill Griffith is a huge NANCY fan. I remember reading his pro-NANCY opines in his late-seventies strips as well as the forward he wrote for a collection of comics featuring the frizzled haired one. Once again gracias for the story about the guy who almost drew NANCY...gotta admit I prefer him to the last two who've handled the title, especially that nauseating Jerry Scott!

Robert Cook said...

Somewhere tucked away in my archives, (in a box under the stack of long-unworn old t-shirts in my closet) I've got the whole run of STOP!, picked up one by one as they were published. To paraphrase a title from a collection of Cleveland bands, "Them Was Different Times."