Saturday, December 12, 2015


As I've once said and will continue saying until my dying day (who am I kidding---I'm not goin' nowhere!), while other blogs give you their HIGH FIVE favorites of the day, BLOG TO COMM does 'em all ONE BETTER!!! Here are six things I thought I'd write about that may or may not have been piquing my interests as of late, with an item or three tossed in just to make this particular edition look oh-so eloquent and all.

LIFE WITH ARCHIE #10 (September, 1961)

This comic book might not be important to you, but it sure is to who-else-but ME if only because it holds a special purpose in my otherwise drab existence! 

Y'see, on the very same day that I discovered comic books as a fun way to spend less moolah in order to get hold of some quickie suburban slob thrills (via a garage sale my mother and a neighbor were having), this very same issue of an ARCHIE comic was up for grabs in a box of various goodies that the neighbor's kid had supposedly bought at an auction a short while earlier. Well, undoubtedly not the exact same copy that I had manhandled that day, but anyway I sure wanted it if only because of its 1961 date (even then I could see a lapse in fun ranch house comic book thrills settling in around the mid-sixties) but despite that longing and yearning for the things I didn't get it.

The reason? Y'see, the fifteen cent comics inna box were going for five cents and the twelve centers for ten since they were older, but because the original cover price on this particular ish was a cool dime the neighbor's kid didn't have a price handy for this 'un. Being the greedy sorta fellow that he was, the kid offered it to me for a whopping FORTY cents!

Naturally that costly sum was way too much for my mother to handle (as if I had forty cents to my name!) so I had to decline my neighbor's maybe not-so-generous offer. After that well, it wasn't exactly like I particularly cared what that particular comic book was all about because once I grew up there were more significant things to worry about it my life like school, success, and most of all TRYING TO GOOF OFF MORE AND GET AWAY WITH IT!!!! So this particular comic was pretty much forgotten even though back when I was a mere elevem I sure would have loved to have given the thing a read or three!

Well maybe I really DID want to know what that issue was about ever since that fateful day, because (now get this!) I finally got this particular LIFE WITH ARCHIE and you can bet that I hadda pay a whole lot more'n four dimes for the thing! Wazzit worth the wait? Not really since it ain't like I have the same throbby thrill pangs o' obsession o'er comic books the same way I did way back during my pubesprout days, but I wouldn't be lyin' t'ya if I said it was a pleasant enough read in itself.

You may remember the LIFE WITH ARCHIE title (which was keenly listed as being part of the "Archie Adventure Series") if only for their comedy/drama issue-length stories where the Archie Gang would either be marooned on a deserted island or battling a pair of spies who look suspiciously like Khrushchev and Castro. Later on Archie and gang would appear as superheroes or secret agents and at times the stories would even take dramatic turns such as when Mr. Lodge evicted Pop Tate/Tait (as he was known in the ARCHIE strip universe) from his Choklit Shoppe after Riverdale's richest man found him selling nude snaps of Veronica that Reggie took through the two-way mirror he put in the girl's locker room. These sagas were mainly standard Archie fare stretched out into an entire issue with some dramatic elements tossed in, and naturally this particular tale is no diff'n the rest.

In this 'un Riverdale High is celebrating, along with a good portion of the US of Whoa, the Civil War centenary complete with a battle reenactment in the football stadium. Of course amidst the standard down pat gags and typical comic cliches put to good use our hero Reggie (comicdom's version of Eddie Haskell) is out to spoil things because the only role he could get in the pageant was latrine duty. There really ain't much development in the dramatic storyline and frankly, if Reggie hadn't appeared anywhere in this issue this coulda been chopped up into a number of nice li'l vignettes which coulda been spread out to at least five times the pages this story takes up. But hey, I don't know the comic book game like the pros who did this 'un up did so I guess that whoever wrote it decided to compact alla his ideas into one nice ball and, as usual, swiped from it all in the distant future when the girls reading this stuff had graduated to 16 and no one would be the wiser.

But hey it was a good issue after all, one that did dredge up those FUNZY comic book reading memories that I sure hold near 'n dear to my heart'n all! But mother, I really would have enjoyed this 'un a lot more had I read it on that overcast spring 1971 day! You shoulda coughed up the forty cents, and I really do mean it!
FRIED PORK RINDS (food, and you better believe it!)

Yeah I'm still on my diet which is taking more energy and zap outta me than it is blubber, but sometimes I allow myself to splurge. And one thing I really splurged on last week was pork rinds! I remember my father introducing these to me when I was but a mere six or so when he brought home a bag of 'em, and I really liked the stuff in my own snack food sorta way even if for the life of me I had no idea what they were made from. I even thought it was cool that the bag of rinds came with a little packet of Louisiana-styled hot sauce which I aptly squirted onto said rinds and thusly munched away. My love of these rinds soon ended when my cyst-er or someone along those lines told me that pork rinds were nothing but FAT that was fried and puffed up and if I were to continue eating them I'd get even porkier than I was, and being a puffed up single-digiter I must admit that I was scared back into the arms of healthier between-meal-snacks like Fritos (these being the pre-Doritos days) and home made popcorn with tons of greasy butter melted on it.

Later on when I discovered that Pork Rinds were not fat but actual pig flesh fried up to a crackly puff I got back into this definitely non-kosher treat. Of course they were fattening so it wasn't like I was gobbling them down on a daily basis, but once in a while I do get the craving for them and, thanks to a nearby Dollar General Store (where they sell 'em with the rest of the meat snack treats like Slim Jims and Beef Jerky) I got a few bags to down for lunch. And man were they good, sorta reminding me of cheese puffs only with a meat taste to 'em, and I'd be lying to you if I said they weren't better'n most of the pork I have been eating for quite awhile if I do say so myself.

Regular is OK even if there is a strange demi-putrid smell that comes from the bag when you pop it open which I don't wanna know the origin of. Barbequed is better because the flavoring hides the strange smell. No packet of hot sauce alas, and while I'm at it let me tell you that you must avoid the microwave hot rind packets that are similar to microwave popcorn because the rinds don't always pop up and you're left with a bag of tough and impossible to chew or digest pieces of skin left. Save those for Fido and salvage what you can if you do decide to go the modern-day pork rind route.

I definitely linked this up before. You probably ignored it. Anyway, here is some early Rocket From the Tombs publicity which will answer all of your questions about how the group moved from a comedy act to a Detroit juggernaut in maybe one not-so-felt swoop. Again (for rock categorization collectors) it's interesting to see just how the term "heavy metal" was transmogrifying into something that was pretty different from its original intent as the decade cranked on. It's also interesting to see how Rocket themselves were transmogrifying what with Crocus' not-so-stated attempts for the group to be less comic and more serious (even though the skits and props were still in force) which obviously irked the rest of the original members (as well as recently recruited third lead guitarist Chris Cuda) who were splitsville soon after this particular article hit the college dorms of the day.

When I was a young 'un I was really really swept away by the mere concept of the station wagon. They seemed like not just an automobile but a truck as well with lots of room in the back to pile into when it came time for alla the kids to get some ice cream at the local plaster whippy cone hangout. For some reason I was especially enamored by those station wagons that had different tail light/fender configurations than their sedan variations. Cars like the '58/'59 Edsel and '60/'63 Mercury Comet (not forgetting the '63/'66 Studebaker Lark Wagonaire or the Saab) really turned me on because of this, especially the Comet because the rear fenders were none other than exact copies of the original Ford Falcon which added a certain suaveness to the car's already stylish early-sixties look. I dunno why I was really turned on by these station wagon variations but I think it was a veiled sexual thing only a preschooler could men were sedans and women were station wagons. Only big difference is...women have different headlights than men!

I was also enamored by the Citroen DS-19, a vehicle which had a particularly unique style and was popular enough over there in Frogland that the basic body design was made well into the early-seventies with a few maybe not-so-subtle changes. The DS-19 was stylish and sleek, and although it never made much of a splash over here in Ameriga (however it was prominently featured as a "clue" in an early episode of PERRY MASON) the rest of the world was certainly in awe over its sleek aerodynamic originality. I didn't know it until later, but there was a station wagon (or "break") version of the DS-19 (called the ID-19) as well and guess what, it had different tail lights and rear fenders too! Naturally when I discovered this fun fact I just hadda have a toy version of it to play with, and not only did I get one but I got a buncha 'em which really pleased my pre-adolescent mind a whole lot more'n you'll ever know!

Considering the popularity of the vehicle perhaps it is time that somebody compared the various 1:43 scale models variations if only so that you can judge which version to buy when shopping for a toy you can play with when nobody's looking! This ain't exactly a consumer guide and it certainly ain't complete, but it'll hep you to what is out there (which I have been able to peruse myself) that you might wanna have around when you take your bath and wanna pretend that the side of the tub is a roadway like I'm sure all you red-blooded fanablas did back then (a practice encouraged by parents too because well, with boats in the tub and cars alongside the imaginary lake it wasn't like a lad was thinking of anything else to play with ifyaknowaddamean...)

CORGI TOYS-This is the one that introduced me to the "break" back when I was but a mere one-digiter, and boy did I think this particular model was the swellest thing available in a line that was slowly dropping their early-sixties fave raves replacing them with newer models that just didn't bop my top. True Corgi's models just weren't as nice looking as main competitor Dinky's, but they had li'l gadgets and other innovations (plastic windows, opening doors and hoods/bonnets and trunks/boots as they say here/over there) that predated their main competition. And besides, Corgi Toys were a whole lot more easier to find around here considering how they had the entire 1:43 scale toy car market sewn up in just about every store I set foot in. And with the Citroen wagon (introduced in the boffo year of 1963) Corgi really went all out to create a toy that really seemed state of the art in a business where the more unique the model with all of the moving parts the better.

Coming with a rack on the roof that fit anything from luggage to skis depending on which variation you bought, the Corgi ID-19 also had a tailgate that not only lifted up but folded down on the bottom just like the real thing! However, the real knockout gimmick with this particular one is the fold-down rear seats which could be operated by a dial found on the toy's chassis! For a kid like myself who really went crazy over seemingly little things like this you can bet I was mindblown by the mere fact that this had not only a double duty tailgate but a fold down for more cargo back seat. And of course I also went nuts over the "different taillights" to be found, in fact lining the Corgi break up against my Corgi Citroen sedan comparing the posteriors of each with a certain sense of pleasure! It wasn't until years later that I would do something similar with...well let's not get into THAT!!!

DINKY TOYS-These guys were the best in 1/43 even if Corgi were more innovative. Whoever designed their models was a way better craftsman (more detailed and true to the original) than Corgi and not only that but Dinky wasn't afraid to tackle relatively obscure models as well as vehicles from such outta-the-loop places such as Holland (DAF) or Australia (Holden). And given the chance Dinky could be as innovative as Corgi...the "Ed Straker's Car" from the Gerry Anderson live action series UFO remains a classic what with the self-propelled self-winding gears that propelled the car for yards after you backed it up for only a few inches!

Dinky's version of the ID-19 sure looks sleeker than the Corgi variation, though it lacks the folding back seat and the two-piece tailgate is made of plastic so be sure to keep this 'un outta the reach of your four-year-old brother! Top rack doesn't hold any skis or luggage like the competition's, but then again there ain't more things to lose in the junk heap passing for your bedroom. And the interior looks really snat right down to the one-prong steering wheel which must have been a real stylistic coup back in the way suave fifties!

Atlas International (A Mattel company) has reissued this one along with many of the old French Dinky models in case you're looking for something to vroom around the house. Might be worth a purchase if that suburban slob kid inside of you is wanting to do a li'l busting out.

QUIRALU-This French company started out making toy soldiers but in the fifties moved on to slightly-larger at times and rather clunky looking diecast cars. They do have their charm and were in fact the only toymaker that I know of who produced a scale model version of French VELAM Isetta, and Quiralu's take on  the ID-19 is no exception. No innards and no moving parts to speak of, but the design is true to form and decent looking enough in its own long-gone Europe of past way. The entire Quiralu line was reproduced in the nineties and I've been seeing many of these knockoffs (including the ID-19) available rather cheap-like, so if you wanna buy yourself one for your next bath or line up the cars in front of the tee-vee and pretend its a drive in moom pitcher (like I used to do and strangely enough would still like to do w/o looking like a total 'tard!) better hurry before they're all gone!

NOREV-Looks great, has opening side doors, comes in a plastic showcase all its own, and is fragile as all heck! For the serious Citroen ID-19 break fan, though definitely not recommended for bathtime fun. Comes in variations including a hearse which, come to think of it, would be a boffo way for one to go out in style.

Haven't seen the Burago, RIO or any other version that might be floating around. Of course any additions to this list would be most gratifying.

(And one final note on the subject---the only time in my life I can recall seeing an ID-19 was on the Gordon Ward interchange in West Middlesex PA around 1970 or so. The car had broken down and two fellers had the hood up tryin' to figure out what to do next!)

Now that I have satellite tee-vee inna abode all of the shows that I want to watch have either gone into cold storage or are now cluttering up those small sub-stations which naturally none of the local outlets want to air around here (Youngstown tee-vee has always had an aversion to running the classic old programs I wanted to see, and my dad was too CHEAP to put up a high enough antenna [because of wind storms blowin' 'em down alla time] to drag in the Cleveland and Pittsburgh UHF stations that were airing such needed wares meaning I sure missed out on a lot during my growing up years!) At least Jewish Living (or is it Life???) Television has the smarts to run things like THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM Thursday nights which really does a fellow like me proud knowing that I can go to bed after being ENTERTAINED during prime time the same way I used to be back when I was a mere turdler! MOLLY GOLDBERG ain't that hot unless they're 'casting one of the mid-fifties syndicated episodes which were better'n the rather boxy Dumont series, and for some odd reason SOUPY SALES is now MIA which is bad even if nobody at JLTV had the smart idea to try and get episodes from his old ABC series to intermingle with the WNEW and late-seventies variations. BEST OF GROUCHO seems gone as well although I've had enough of it in previous syndication runs while DINAH SHORE...well, you can see the USA in your Chevrolet if you like but I'll pass. Keep a close eye and maybe you'll be surprised at what you'll find here, like the time they outta the blue (wasn't on the schedule) aired an episode of the classic 1959-1962 detective series CHECKMATE that not only starred Benny in a quasi-humorous role but featured none other than Ginger herself Tina Louise (quality of this one was lacking, but being the kinda guy who used to watch distant stations during tornado warnings I didn't mind at all!).

DOWN AND OUT IN THE BOWERY (article by Steve Lake printed in MELODY MAKER, August 16, 1975)

When Hilly Kristel decided to put on a summer rockfest at CBGB back '75 way he couldn't have thought up a brighter idea for promulgating the cause of under-the-counterculture rockism. Not only did the fest expose a whole number of up-'n-comers to the world (as well as a few go-nowheres, some of who maybe shoulda stayed nowhere), but it actually drew in reporters from many of the major rock news outlets not only here in Ameriga but overseas thus helping to build stock in the likes of the Ramones and others who would help germinate various punkist seeds worldwide. Heck, even ROLLING STONE devoted some space to this definitely summer of '75 highlight complete with a snap of none other'n  David Byrne himself, but ya gotta remember that back then the transition from try'n to be hip youth journalism to downright hackdom was slow but sure...

Heck, you know that the CBGB fest was making enough waves inna music press if a paper like England's MELODY MAKER  would actually devote two whole pages to it. True the article was written by their En Why See correspondent Steve Lake (not exactly the brightest bulb in the English Weekly sweepstakes), but it was a good enough especially when you consider how MELODY MAKER under the auspices of Chris Welch was pouring all of their hopes and dreams into the progressive rock of the day and had an editorial policy of shunning anything that seemed raw and alive. I guess they decided that the likes of Yes were more compatible with their tastes than Lou Reed, but for a paper that was devoting a whole slew of space to letters criticizing Patti Smith as a no-talent warbler and Nick Lowe for releasing "Breaking Glass" at the time of the queen's silver jubilee two pages on a New York punk fest was pretty impressive!

And despite the forewarning re. just how iffy this piece would be (via FROM THE VELVETS TO THE VOIDOIDS if you can believe that!) Lake's article wasn't as vacuous as one would imagine. There actually is some thoughtful/insightful input being delivered to an audience that was probably more concerned with Rick Wakemen's shimmering gown than any Velvet Underground aesthetics, and you gotta say that Lake really had an understanding of this branch of rockism that the higher ups at MM certainly lacked. Some rather interesting observations courtesy Lake do pop up, such as his description of the original pre-art project Talking Heads as "a mix of musique concrete and the Troggs" (actually, this was a quote tossed at him!) so you can't say that he wasn't trying! Another quip, such as his agreement with the Shirts' Artie Lamonica that the entire NYC scene was gonna be doomed to extinction because if the Dolls couldn't make it how could any of the bands here may have seems probable in 1975, but practically impossible even a good year or so later when a whole buncha these acts were getting signed up and heading directly for the bargain bins which is where """""I""""" snatched 'em up (depression wages again)!

Since I know more about the familiar faces that were popping up on the scene at the time and had read about 'em ever since these articles first started popping up I naturally gravitated towards the parts telling us about those quick flashes at CBGB, some of whose only gigs might have been the summer fest before the inevitable break up occurred in the back alley. Stagger Lee, not surprisingly considering the tone of their own moniker, were described as "blue eyed soul" so I think I'll pass, while the Movies ("almost in the tradition of the old New York jug bands", a stunning 180 from the over-synthed yet at scant times pleasing AM-styled pop album they eventually recorded for Arista) and even future Necessaries/Love of Life Orchestra member Randy Gunn's guitar/drums duo Ice get passing mention. However, a load of space is devoted to the equally "who were they?" Second Wind whose leader was, now get this, in Sha Na Na for a short spell in 1970! From what I could tell from Lake's rather anxious description they too were just another batch of folk/soul/old tyme rock aggregate who were at odds with the more punkier aspects of the quest but hey, historical tidbits like this really do help fill out the overall snapshot of an era that, at this point in time, seems about as distant as the signing of the Magna Carta.

In some ways you can say that MM's inability to understand or comprehend anything outside the snootier realm of the rock sphere did work what with all of the in-depth coverage of an act that from what I can tell didn't even record or perhaps perform after this CBGB appearance. At least we got some more important background information on what was happening in NYC at the time which was good enough for me. And considering how Lake reportedly did tend to veer towards the more obscure acts via his weekly New York Scene column (such as with his piece on future Rattler Dave U. Hall's Zymosis, the first group ever to be dubbed "punk jazz") I get the feeling that his other submissions to the paper might be just chock-fulla the kinda obscure and needed information that I could most certainly use in my otherwise drab life. Any photostats out there available and for minimal cost?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, nice to see that Rocket From the Tombs blurb, 40 years ago, wow time does fly...