Yes, while other bloggers take it easy 'n treat Christmas as some special sorta day they can use as an excuse to get drunk and engage in other religious behavior, I definitely will not shirk from my doodies which is exactly why I'm presenting for you my typical weekend posting on this Holy Day despite any natural tendencies I may have to goof off! And work hard at presenting for you a blog to take the wind outta your sails I will! Anyway, hope you like this particular classic Kelly Freas-period MAD Christmas Issue cover I've posted to "festivize", or is it "festivate"??? the solemn occasion. Yeah the pic is "bugged" as you can plainly see, but considering what little I have to work with you just better be satisfied with what you get! I'm still trying to locate the back cover of this particular issue featuring Alfred E.'s onetime galpal Moxie Cowznofski who might just be the star of NEXT YEAR'S X-mas post, that is if something dread doesn't befall me in the meantime! The way things are going I take it the odds are 50/50 but I'm not taking bets either way...yet.
'n yeah I know, Christmas just ain't Christmas like it used to be. How many previous Holiday posts have I complained about that sorry state of affairs! Sheesh, it's like you can't even practice the Joyous Noel publicly anymore lest you "offend" someone (and really, the way various people go out of their way to offend me why shouldn't I get a little "get back" as the black kids usedta say?). And while I'm at it whatever happened to the Christmases I used to have when I was a young upstart brat? What happened to all of those marionette tee-vee specials about Clement Moore writing "The Night Before Christmas" 'n stuff like that which channel 33 used to run the day before Christmas in the mornings 'stead of THE LITTLE RASCALS, specials that were pretty cheesy but I used to watch 'em anyway because I thought that's what I was supposed to do! (Speaking of which...what ever happened to THE LITTLE RASCALS because as far as I can tell even cable won't run these classic comedies anymore! I guess Bill Cosby finally got his way after all, eh?) AND (re. the cheese ref. above), why all of a sudden is nobody givin' out assorted cheeses and spreads with summer sausage and a small loaf of pumpernickel bread, gifts that were so popular back in the seventies yet are scarcely found these days??? I really loved peeling off that thin aluminum to get to a wedge of tangy processed cheese food which I would then devour in one gulp and I'd rather get a box of assorted cheeses than I would a gift certificate to a health spa anyday!
While I'm on a Christmas Spirit roll, where did those family Christmas parties where us kids would get into fights and dad would haul me off into some room to whip the living daylights outta me skeedaddle off to as well? Whatever happened to all of that confusion and despair because you still didn't get what you wanted for the third straight year, and it was gonna look silly asking for a Vac-U-Form when you're twelve? Oh yeah, and how about that feeling you got when you finally arrived at that age and you were still getting stoopid things like hand puppets which made you feel rather queasy inside---like this is supposed to be a gift and you should be gracious and all but what do your parents think of you if they're giving you kindergarten items such as this? Yes, those Christmases are forever gone, and as sure as
shit Lang smells it wasn't the Grinch who stole 'em! More like Father Time and the fact that baby-boomer kiddie sentiments (from roughly about 1948-1976) and the entertainment/existences that went with them were flushed down the toidy of life along with everything else I used to hold near and dear to my heart!
Let's just say that here in 2010 the same whacked out Holiday Spirit that had me going whole hog at the record store the day after with a load of mad money are a thing of the past, along with the records and the record shops (now Cee-Dee Supermarkets) that used to be the hub of youth activity for a pretty long time. As we all know shopping for disques sure ain't the same as pouring through bins of albums, and come to think of it turning on a television with hundreds of stations to choose from yet not being able to find SUPERHOST is also a sign that the more we get, the less we really have.
And yeah, that really is a hard lump I'm tryin' to get down my throat thinkin' about alla them cool Christmases that were happening gosh, a good forty, fifty, even fifty-five years back when life was fun, or at least it was for suburban ethnic kids like myself whose families were on the upswing and living in ranch houses with big chrome-laden monstrosities in the garage and role models like Eddie Haskell on the boob tube paving the way for what we thought was a bright future. Anybody who thinks we're better off nowadays is nuts plain and simple...being old enough to remember the baby boom-era having been born towards the end of it I sure can recall the energy and excitement that went into Christmases of yore. Considering that the money was pretty good...even mill workers were getting a heck of a lot and were able to pull themselves up from poverty real fancy-like...parents really knew how to spread the wealth onto their kids when the Holiday Season arrived. It wasn't just oranges and figs in the stockings! It also was a time when one could stretch out and have some real fun. And of course bolstered by a world of hot tee-vee, great high-energy music, snazzy automobiles and space-age thrills nothing could beat pure existence unless you were malformed physically or mentally. Not like today where Christmas is just another day off...yeesh!
Enough holiday cheer (which I can forget about as well...y'see, with this diet I'm on I can't even think about downing a few cartons of eggnog considering the extremely high caloric intake! As far as putting some alcoholic stimulation into it well...that would be asking too much!)...here are some writeups of recently experienced items I whisked together mostly outta boredom if anything. I must admit that I still do like to play at being the big time rock
critic fan/writer, a James Woolcott for the 'teens so to speak telling you all what is worthy of your time and hard-earned and what ought to be left rotting on the slag heap of feh where the scavengers can scoop it up. Well, it does help to whittle away the hours especially in these post-energy times, and if anybody out there is still trying to cling to the high energy past in an era where cyberspace is turning entire nations into tech-mad hermits (not a bad thing come to think of it--keeps 'em off the streets though not necessarily out of trouble) it would be me! Feel thankful for once in your pallid lives, savvy?
***Soft Machine-BUNDLES LP (Harvest England)
To be honest about it, I dunno exactly why I picked this particular album up. Probably for nostalgic reasons considering how BUNDLES was one of those overpriced imports that I thought was really cool because it wasn't getting any release in the United States so it musta been something real special. Kids tend to think that way, only when it's about three decades past being one maybe you should do a little checking in at the nearest rest home! But for the life of me the New English Jazz/Rock thingie really never did light any fires under my buttocks, one reason why I never bothered to review the Nucleus CDs I purchased well over two years ago even though they keep turning up like bad pennies while I comb through stacks of Cee-Dees teetering in my bedroom!
The English new jazz was perhaps too straight and fusion-y for my own personal tastes, and like why should I bother hearing privileged white Englishmen do something that Miles Davis did a whole lot better a few years earlier and for a whole lot less for that matter? And maybe that is a copout answer, but I still find the perfection and sterility downright irritating!
This is the last Soft Machine album "proper" as they say. The only surviving member of the group at this point was keyboardist Mike Ratledge who more or less won the tauntin after fellow original Soft Machinists Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Daevid Allen jumped ship. Ratledge himself would vamoose shortly after this '75 album hit the racks...at that point the group just became "The Softs" which is probably a whole different chapter in the book on English jazz fusion but I'll let someone else write that!
It's also important to note that this is the first Soft Machine (and later on "Softs") album to be released on the Harvest label who, figuring how they had their finger in a whole load of progressive rock schtickdom not only in England but on the continent, should have signed 'em ages back. Considering that this was released before Harvest branched out into other realms of decidedly non-prog rock excursions (Wire, Professor Longhair, Little River Band?, Cliff Richard???) this might be one of the last albums on that label that retained at least a spark of the British prog ideal even though Wire sure did the label proud with their assortment of Syd Barrett posturings!
But if you can only get the notion of BUNDLES being a "progressive rock" album outta your mind you might get a kick outta this 'un as much as I did. Pleasant (and driving) enough jazz-cum-rock with a nice dosage of the original avant garde ideals, mixed in with the jazz rock credo of the late-sixties variety. The sound that more or less helped ooze jazz outta the college dorms and into teenage bedrooms. Some echoes of the original group are extant and although such particulars as Wyatt's whiny voice and Ratledge's overdrive organ have been replaced there's more than enough energy to this to recommend it to anybody who say, used to read through each and every issue of PENETRATION and followed it up with a quick trip to the record shop. Smart yet not nerve-racking. If you're one of those pointy-head types who liked Quiet Sun's MAINSTREAM album even though your punk pretensions had you wishing otherwise, this should appeal as well.
***FOR THOSE WHO CARE, here's a full frontal photo of the '60 Meteor Montcalm (see last week's post for the scoop on this Kanadian Klassic) which looks a whole lot like its Amerigan brother only with a much bolder grille/bumper design. Not as radical as what Ford did with same basic body when creating the '60 Edsel, but flashy enough to make me stand up and take notice. And if the mere sight of this doesn't tingle your cajoobies I fear that rigor mortis of the soul has set it long ago! Again, if somebody knows where I can locate some kind of model of the '59, '60 or '61 Montcalm please notify me as soon as possible, and naturally the lowest price imaginable will be paid for each and every model that is offered. There's an economy drive going on, y'know!
***Reiko Ike-YOU, BABY CD (Bamboo, England)
On a lark (and because I like feminine Asian dames) I bought a couple of those Tiquila mini-album sleeved Cee-Dees reissues from a few years back which featured a slew of Japanese "pink" actresses moaning and cooing to standard schlock backing that would do Burt Kaempfert proud. Originally released on the Victor label back in the seventies, these albums (usually featuring unclad Nipponese starlets on the cover, a salable point in itself) really must've hit the spot with the baldoid mid-aged male population over there not only with the sexy covers, but the smooth e-z listing moosh and feminine turn on speak-singing coupled with the right amt. of purrs to make some higher up at Toyota remember a youth that undoubtedly was lacking in any funtime frolics of the sort. It's easy to see just how these records could sell fast and furious given the artistes' popularity in the blue moom field especially in those pre-home entertainment days, and hey, it's very easy to imagine some lonely Japanese bachelor slipping on a side after a hard day at the factory, pouring a li'l sake and fantasizing about a pretty hot evening with the actress of his choice starin' at him on the cover as the romantic strains bellow from the hi-fi speakers. Hey, I do that all the time myself, only with Diet Dr. Pepper!
Passed on the Reiko Ike (or as they once again say, Ike Reiko which I don't quite care for because it looks like she has the same name as a former president) Tiquila pressing for some odd reason, but now that Bamboo has reissued it I figured hey, why not? Anyway, Reiko's this gal who lied about her age to get into the erotic film scene at a mere seventeen years of age, and I know that will mean nothing to some of you hillbilly types who may read this but for us red-blooded males that really does get the ol' testosterone a'pumpin'! All kidding aside, Reiko's whatcha'd call a real knockout as the album cover where she bares her left suckem will prove (not reprinted here due to the family status of this blog), and her HEY, BABY disque is yet another hotcha topper for those of you who really go whole hog for Japanese women who like to run around nude and record albums of sexy moaning to standard JaPop backing.
Purty good pop slop here; nothing that'll make you wanna toss out your Jane Birkin platters or photos but they do make for a nice accompaniment to your lonely guy jagoff collection. Reiko does it all for you within the span of thirty-one minutes as she whispers sweet Japanese nothings and does enough gasps and groans to make Donna Summer come off like a low libido'd chihuahua. A sound that will really get you suckered in, and you will let it slush all over your living room like lava flowing from the speakers as the band revs up and Reiko turns on her Far Eastern charms.
However I must alert you to the fact that there are TWO major strikes that must be held against the gal...first off she eventually got her right boobie and part of arm (on the same side) tattooed which is something I continue to find un-feminine thus ruining her natural canvas of a body, even more than if she got her eyes westernized which is a major crime in itself! (And judging from the pic posted above she might have even gotten that operation to which I say nononononononononono!!!!) Post-ink Reiko is something that I can hardly bear to look at and it is a shame she decided to ruin herself this way. Second, from the snaps shown on the innersleeve of this reissue Reiko must've done a few lezbo-styled scenes in her films and yeah I "know" that this is probably light fakeoid stuff that "some" men find entertaining (yeeesh!), but to me it's all just plain abhorrent! Really, what kinda guy would get into something like this? Maybe some old dykoid gym teacher who does shower checks in the girl's locker, but what about real people? After giving those pix an eyeballing all I's gotta say is...which way to the vomitorium!
***THE HERBIE ARCHIVES by Richard E. Hughes and Ogden Whitney (Dark Horse, 2008/2009)
I've often wondered what exactly makes some otherwise pound-off-the-press item, whether it be a television program or movie or rock & roll group, important enough that not only will a "cult" of frothing fans form around it, but that enough people recognize one as such and call attention to it in a variety of publications and websites that would note these usually sundry things. True I do have more'n an inkling as to why groups such as Love or the Stooges are considered cult bands, but when it comes to other forms of entertainment I sometimes get quite confused; I mean, why do QUANTUM LEAP and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST have what could be considered cult followings yet nobody would even think that a much better presentation such as GOMER PYLE USMC would have one? The ROCKY HORROR cult of the late-seventies also comes to mind, yet anybody who seems to give Arch Hall Jr. films a serious consideration's only gonna get called a doof unless I hadn't noticed that he too has acquired enough fans to ride on the cult bandwagon with the likes of Ed Wood Jr. and Al Adamson. And while I'm at it, howcum everybody used to rant and rave about fanzines such as ROLLERDERBY to the point of cult emulation when BLACK TO COMM couldn't get arrested even if I had tried hawking copies of it in the waiting room at the Gay Men's Health Crisis Bathhouse!
Frankly I gotta admit that I never even heard of ACG's HERBIE until I happened upon a comic fanzine article on it a year or so back. Considering that ACG closed up shop a good five or so years before my comic fandom began brewing it's not like I saw HERBIE starin' at me from the stands, but sheesh I don't even recall seeing any copies of it in the piles of comic books I combed through during the height of my own collecting. Yeah, I kinda get the feeling that ACG wasn't exactly the Marvel Comics of the field, but you'd think I'd've made it through them years at least knowing who they were other'n as one of those quick flashes like the mid-seventies Atlas 'r somethin'!
But as far as off-kilter heroes go can anybody really beat Herbie? The closest correlating example I can think of offhand, Howard the Duck, comes off like a weird aberration that just happened to click while comparatively the "plump lump" has remained comfortably under the radar. If you can, imagine a mid-sixties DC title (if it weren't for the ACG logo you easily could mistake the covers for DC produce) with the late-fifties/early-sixties DC house style in tow trying for a Marvel-styled jab at the "hip" market with a penchant for satire a la ANGEL AND THE APE or THE INFERIOR FIVE. Toss in a little hint of the DC-period Joe Orlando sway and you might come close to envisioning at least how HERBIE looks and in many cases feels.
Good enough premise here thanks to creator Richard E. Hughes a.k.a. Shane O'Shea a.k.a. Leo Rosenbaum (with above adequate art from Ogden Whitney) dealing with a grossly overweight and nonchalant beyond belief kid with a vast array of special superhero powers (aided and abetted by his lollipop collection, even the "hard to get cinnamon flavor") who is constantly tackling and succeeding at everything from literally saving the world at the request of Prez Johnson and HHH to engaging in some behind-the-scenes time-traveling and other superhuman deeds in order to help his asshole knowitall father out of various foolhardy business and investment deals. Dad Pincus Popnecker's a peach himself, a particularly nebbish fellow delineated in the standard fifties/sixties straight-laced style who, besides being extremely inept at holding a job or succeeding with his inane money schemes, seems to have nothing but an abnormal loathing of for his "not like the other boys" son. Naturally Mr. Popnecker never realizes that it is this very same "little fat nothing" who continues to save him from financial ruin and in fact (re)builds his fortunes while the guy's moping around the house wallowing in a self-pity that even makes self-pity loving me puke, but that's probably just one of the reasons HERBIE tended to click for a comic-buying public who was being bowled over by the Marvel steamroller back during the height of the Silver Age!
But even with the at-times campy and forced humor, oft-used catchphrases, and backfiring jokes I won't deny that HERBIE really had something going for it from the way it transcended the entire post-Comics Code miasma to taking what was essentially a half-there concept (which began as a one-off story in the late-fifties before somehow becoming a regular feature five years later) and turning it into a pretty good continuing series that probably hooked just enough readers to keep ACG floating until they finally capsized in '67. Plus only Hughes could use the same running gags over and over and not exactly wanna bore you outta existence.
Amidst the obvious nature there is much for even jaded yourself to like about HERBIE, from the stories where he (just like short-lived comic strip hero TERR'BLE THOMPSON) assists everybody from Christopher Columbus to George Washington in achieving their particular goals making you wonder how these historical figures ever got off the ground in real life, to the ones where he dons the costume of "The Fat Fury" and even teams up with other stars of the ACG roster in a sly piss-take on the various JLA/Avengers/FF/Defenders-styled fighting hero squadrons that were rampant throughout the sixties and seventies. And throughout it all, Herbie takes the cataclysm in with a mere shrug. Men respect him, women adore him and he saves the world with powers that make Superman blanch in comparison, yet his father continually insults and berates Herbie to no avail because he doesn't meet up with his expectations of what boys are supposed to be!
To be honest wit'cha, all of this at times sounds TOO CLOSE TO HOME although I never had any special powers (or Herbie's strong emotional control) to help me through my single-digit years! This must have been one reason HERBIE lasted so long considering there were probably thousands of overweight pudges whose fathers loathed 'em that were reading this in order to get a li'l steam in their sorry lives vented! Maybe for this we should be grateful to the team of O'Shea and Whitney for really knowing how to hone in on an audience that needed a grossly overweight child superhero role model!
I'll be forthright with you...at first I didn't cuddle up to these HERBIEs until I was about halfway through volume two; only then did the subtle satire and obvious sixties-styled put-on finally sink through the thickness of my ape-like skull. If you too will give in a little and allow these stories to seep through your conscious state a li'l you might enjoy 'em even with the by-now archaic style and repeato gags that might "offend" some though I'm positive most would understand perfectly.
Naturally more than a few have given HERBIE his just dues which is particularly why it's been an under-the-radar fave for quite some time (and fortunately under-the-radar enough that nobody has yet thought of using it as the basis for some horrid Hollywood production like the HOWARD THE DUCK fiasco of a few decades back). I mean hey, even noted comics somethingorother Alan Moore had made the statement that HERBIE is his all-time fave superhero title, and if he's been that suckered into it why not you?
***Scarcity of Tanks-BLEED NOW CD (Textile Records/Total Life Society Reords)
Got this "outta nowhere" package along with a buncha fliers, poetry anthologies and various sundries including yet another issue of the ultimate in crudzines I'M GOING TO STEAL A TV! from a guy who goes by the name of Wascovich. Undoubtedly this is the same Wascovich (first name Matt) who sings on the Scarcity of Tanks Cee-Dee which also came enclosed in this nifty Priority Mail envelope. Hmmmmm, the name sounds familiar, and no wonder because only last year I wrote up a vinyl longplayer of theirs...you can read my review here if the desire hits you, and given the decent levels of atonality that 'un exudes another Scarcity of Tanks recording in the boudoir is something that I find most welcome indeed.
Wascovich talk-sings over a good free-rock base, reminding me of some of the better late-eighties SST recordings when that label was "branching out" from their hardcore base. Saccharine Trust come to mind (OK, they were on the SST gravy train in the early-eighties, but they were the ones who started this ball rolling) as well as the decidedly-non SST Pluto album entitled THE FIELD RECORDINGS, an MX-80 Sound offshoot that had more'n a few perusers puking at the nudist colony gatefold sleeve than listening to the free rock spasms encoded inside. Even the long-forgotten Hollow Heyday from Boston come to mind when giving the Tanks a spin! In all a pretty exhilarating platter from these Cleveland unknowns who at least prove that the late-eighties free rock trend continues to live on in places we all thought dead years ago!
***Well whaddaya know! I had that MAD back cover stored in my computer after all! So as promised, here's none other than Miss Moxie Cowznofski, onetime gal-pal of Alfred E. Neuman whose mere existence begs the question "do Alfred and Moxie know how close their bloodlines really run?", or better yet "is Alfred one of those Mick Jagger types who only dates women who look like him?????" Whatever, at least I got this one out today so's I don't have to wait an entire year to post it which I hope pleases at least one reader out there! And hey, if I don't make it to next Christmas I won't have to worry that I never did show you this rather charming portrait of Moxie! And at least with a little "cropping" I can fortunately get the "bug" outta this one, devious blogschpieler that I am and will always remain!