Sunday, September 03, 2006

UGLY THINGS #24 (not a fanzine anymore)

Back when I was a gulcher-absorbing tee-vee addicted suburban kiddie perhaps not that different than you, our fambly had a dog we called Sam. He was a dalmatian who, although particularly handsome and perhaps even show-worthy despite a large black blotch of spots that ran together on his chest (a pedigree no-no) was either way doltish or sly beyond belief depending on the situation. (Sam never did seem to have complete control of his nether-regions even in his spring chicken days [meaning: the days he'd attack and eat chickens in the spring] to the point of urinating all over the place when over-excited or because he didn't like the way my cousin smelled or something like that, though he was crafty enough to know how to snitch tasty food from the kitchen counter and turn the portable heater on full blast, something which us kids were being blamed for during those cold winter months until the dog was caught in the act nudging the dial with his front right paw!).

Anyway, Sam had a reputation for being a particularly vicious pooch, and not only towards people outside the usual family circle but within the household as well. Take f'rinstance the various times we'd give Sam a leather smoky-flavored chew-stick to chomp these leather sticks were meant for your dog to teethe, perhaps ridding himself of deeply-held frustrations in the process and eventually discarding within a period of time, but in Sam's case he would take the entire stick, hold it between his front paws and mercilessly chew on the dang thing until he had totally eaten it! It would take hours upon end, but Sam would devour the piece of leather slowly but surely putting every bit of his mind and energy to obliterating the tasty piece of cowhide pretty much in the same fashion his ancestors would devour a dried out carcass in the blazing sun.

And one thing was sure, and that was you didn't dare disturb Sam during his hours-long chew-stick sessions or you would be in for an intense growling that sounded life-threatening and evil beyond belief, like a screech from a hound of Hell greeting you on the banks of the River Styx (howzat for a fine example of my stellar eighth-grade-level descriptive writing!). Once for some long-forgotten reason my mother instructed me to take the stick away from Sam, and I'm sure that I barely escaped his deep-seated rage with all fingers intact (and without the stick, mind you)! Another time on Christmas day when Sam was chomping away at one of his gifts, I mistakenly bumped into his hind leg whilst he was squatting in front of the tee-vee and once again incurred his feral wrath! Let's face it, there were some days when you just didn't mess around with Sam, and chew-stick days were but just one!

(For those of you who might think that I'm a typical fanzoonie coward having lowered myself to the beast I should let you know that Sam didn't always go away unpunished. A day or two later when Sam would be in a better, chew-stick-less mood, I would coax him over to wherever I happened to be standing with high-pitched googly sounds and then, right when Sam wouldn't expect it, put the mutt into a hammerlock hold learned from tee-vee wrestling and deliver to him a succession of noogies, nose-punches/fingernail scrapes, lip-twists, full-blast ear growls and whisker pulls in order to teach him a lesson for having dared attack me, or passing gas while the family was watching the tube and other not-so-minor infractions. Yes, no bad deed went unturned in the Stigliano household which is probably one of the reason that Sam wouldn't even go near me for weeks on end at a time given the well-deserved whallopings that would surely be in store for him!)

Four paragraphs later you're probably wondering what all of this has to do with the latest issue of UGLY THINGS anyways. Well, let's just say that what the chew-stick was to Sam an issue of UGLY THINGS is to me! Yes, with the decline and fall of the seventies/early-eighties fanzine generation (forget all about the ninetes other'n one lone issue of KICKS and of course the leading light of that decade, namely BLACK TO COMM, the rest of which was a pathetic excuse for high-energy reading material despite the loads of hype surrounding a pre-internet "'zine explosion") there just ain't as much buzzing going about on the printed page as there used to be. And face it Frank, with once-honored reads such as the aforementioned KICKS and BOMP having bit the dust long ago, let's just say that bowel-moving time just ain't what it used to be back when those two mighty publications were alive and thunderin'! And not being the kinda guy who likes to hold bowels in for a long time, it sure is a relief to get hold of these new UGLY THINGS lest I turn into the living embodiement of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Constipation Blues"!!!

No Misunderstood saga continuation this time (and I wanted to hear about Rick Brown's rash!), but izza nice one as well and once I get over all the jealousy of not being able to crank out a magazine like this myself (I never did get the adspace or backers or general huzzuh that eddytor Mike Stax did---it must've been his nifty hair that did it!) its easy to get into the meat and potatoes of the thing or in this case a chicken fried steak with mashed tots 'n gravy served up to you by none other'n Guy Wilkerson himself! And don't think that I was able to read through the entire kahuna despite my Sam-like devotion to the mag...heck, I'm still sifting through the past seven issues of UGLY THINGS and even a six-trip Chinese Buffet toidy session ain't enough time to absorb (maybe I should think of another term...after all, UT ain't no two-ply version of MOST rock reading material one sees these days!) one paragraph, let alone article in a typical issue of this grand mag.

So, what's innit??? Plenty within the 208 sparkling pages and that don't even include the four-color glossy cover with all those ads for the likes of Norton and Sundazed (a label I've long hated because they never put me on their promo list...not true, I'm only saying that to piss off Jay Hinman) including a load of rock sagas on groups past (Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, an interview conducted by onetime BLACK TO COMM contributor [not quite!] Phil Milstein) and paster (San Diego faves the Bush, the Mustangs of "That's for Sure" fame) plus other fine flotsam such as part uno of a fantab history of the Rubber City Rebels (and I guess a CD filled with nothing but pre-Rebels metallic thud courtesy Bold Chicken is now available via the Smog Veil label!) and other big steaming hunks of loads more that'll keep your head spinning and have jealous fanzine wonks sending Stax packages of cookies with untraceable poisons in 'em...believe me, this mag is THAT good!

And like I said, I haven't devoured this chew-stick to the utmost, but I saw what I saw and I liked it too...more interesting parts include the bits on Dean Kohler (any relation to Brad?) and his South Vietnamese band the Electrical Banana (the one that covered the Velvet Underground's "There She Goes Again" live in the jungles of the war-ravaged nation fully documented on ALIENS, PSYCHOS AND WILD THINGS), The Move, the Phantom Brothers (interviewed by none other'n Fearless Leader himself, probably because he LOOKS the way Olgerd Wokock did in 1965!) and the proverbial MORE. One big surprise within these pages was the in-depth and heart-tugging piece on the recent Sire-era Flamin' Groovies reissues (with plenty of eye-opening quotes from the likes of Greg Shaw and Don Waller via BACK DOOR MAN fanzine, the latter name dropped only to bug the living daylights outta Hinman again, y'know) that was written by a fellow from Australia (portal to Hell as Don Howland once said) named David Laing. Yes, I too was about to fling my copy into the garbage disposal when I saw that moniker emblazoned across the page until I realized that although this was a Dave Laing and a Dave Laing from Australia to boot, it wasn't a Dave Lang (note spelling) and in fact this particular Laing used to write me letters, send me Dog Meat albums (since that twas his label!) and tell me what a good sport I used to be before he unceremoniously cut me off just like every other terwilliger did when my own fanzine began a more, uh, erratic publishing schedule. But whatever you do, if you see this man, please, DON'T aim for the base of the heart!

Loads more goodies here (imagine a classic issue of BOMP multiplied ten-fold) including that perv Swede (another BTC wagon-jumper) named Johan Kugelberg writing about what he calls the all-time best issue of any fanzine, in this case WHO PUT THE BOMP #8 if solely for the Lester Bangs Troggs epic which still sends tingles of thrills down the spine of at least one Swede out there. (Personally I think Mr. K is slightly off the mark since the best-ever no-bout-a-doubt-it single issue of any fanzine would just have to be the TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE one with the unspeakable act being performed onna cover where Nick Tosches' review of the Mellow Fellows' SNORTIN' and R. Evan Circiel's take on Crazy Horse's ROCK & ROLL MUSIC TO THE WORLD appear side by side...or maybe CRETINOUS CONTENTIONS #2 or the DENIM DELINQUENT with the closeup of Iggy's face onna cover and blurry nude snaps inside would beat out that particular BOMP out, but not that it matters.) The little bit on the recording of Blue Cheer's VINCEBUS ERUPTUM got my juicy juices flowing which kills me because Stax was ragging on them in an early issue of his then-fanzine, but what really got me all hot and bothered like Sam on those days where he'd break outta the place to roam the neighborhood environs amongst other things is the RECORD (er, Cee-Dee) REVIEW SECTION where people like me get to see what new goodies're out there or better yet what old garb redone for the 21st century has been (re)issued before we can spring it onto boobs like you as if we've discovered this stuff ourselves outta whole wheat bread! And believe it or not, but there are loads of recently-released sixties/seventies wares out there these days that I know that I and probably you will want to hear down the line even if we can't afford it all, but who says that we can't at least drool over the tasty reviews (which are getting better as of late) just as much as we're salivatin' over the prospect of more sixties rant the way Sam would leave strings of drool all over the furniture. One big soo-prize here's a review of a Scatman Crothers disque written by guess-who-but Bill Shute who I guess is making his grand-re-entrance to the Real World after living under a rock for the past umpteen years! Of course, I don't see him flinging any much-needed scribing my way even though sales of BLACK TO COMM had plummeted since his abrupt departure from the masthead...wassamatter, too good for me these days???, but at least the guy is still ALIVE and maybe that's all that counts right now.

In all, UGLY THINGS is a mighty good 'un once I get beyond my usual fits of envy and oneupmanship, and if there are any flaws in the thing I'd have to go through it with a fine-tooth hair-clogged comb to find any. Well, there is ONE huge pimple of a fox pas right smack dab in the center of the opening schpiel that (naturally) got my goat, the one where Stax responds to noted turdbiter Hinman's assessment of how UGLY THINGS writes only about bands that are "footnotes" in the pantheon of what we know as rock & roll! (Y'know, as if Hinman's faves such as the Wooden Gyps or whatever they're called and Franz Ferd'nand are exactly burning up the charts, but then again the Yardbirds were nothing but peons next to the Flesheaters, right Jayzey?). Anyway, in rightfully retorting these bogus trumped-up charges (something of what Hinman is noted for doing as I should know FIRST HAND) Stax has the unmitigated gall to say that even though he has better tastes than Hinman (true, but so did Sam!), he "respects" his opinions which drives me nuts and reminds me of that whole seventies-era living-free and smiling on your brother no matter how evil he may be morality I was hoping the punks would've buried for GOOD! Mike, why cantcha just say that you too would like to see Jay get the hillbilly treatment straight outta DELIVERANCE and quit this so-called delusional mutual respect jive? Yeah, I know you got the last word in with the little jibe at Jay's tastes, but if you think that's enough you're sorely mistaken. Heck, even Sam woulda pissed on the guy, and rightfully so!

In other news...not much happening on the front as I try to battle off excessive work strain and a general collapse waiting to happen. (All of which is affecting my writing capabilities and general enthusiasm as I'm sure you can easily tell.) Anyway, I keep reading about people my age who are starting to drop off thanks to heart attacks wondering when my number will be called up, and given that the work grind, the home grind and the exercise grind aren't doing me any good (even with a daily gym workout my weight remains stable though now my armpits tend to smell like a week-dead rabbit someone found in the tool-shed on a stifling summer I wish mine smelled like McDonalds hamburgers just like everyone else's!) who knows when that'll be, perhaps more sooner than later but given the range of classic fanzines I must read and music I definitely should head I hope it's as late as possible. You readers are free to pray...any way you want. Some may say that it's my paranoia at work, others the large amts. of caffeine ingested daily, but when I lay awake in bed waiting to drop off and suddenly some searing pain hits me in the chest I dunno whether it's the fried eggplant I had at the restaurant attempting to be digested into slow-burning number two or the big 'un waiting to go off. Whatever, I must admit that I do feel the frazzle of life coming upon me, and while I cannot live the sorta existence that I know I was made out for (mainly that of a decadent millionaire in the J. Paul Getty III vein but with both ears intact), I guess I'll have to do what I am doing until something better, like death, comes along!

In other other news...I've been working my way through a series of DVD-Rs I've received as of late, one (Jean-Michel Basquiet's DOWNTOWN '81) which was reviewed last post in case you're interested. The Ornette Coleman sampler I have is engrossing enough although doesn't play smoothly on my computer (I have no proper DVD-player at this time and would love for Santa Claus to send one my way...I'm willing to wait three-plus months too along with a much-needed turntable and stereo-system!), but from what I can make out Ornette and Company are worth the money if only for the black & white footage of the 1974 band with James Blood Ulmer (which unfortunately keeps stopping and re-starting on my player making for a worse viewing experience akin to settling down for a real good and equally fidgety cybercast from one of the soon-doomed CBGB clubs). Fortunately my other DVD-Rs from the same Canadian salesman with good taste have given me nil problems...the Peter Brotzmann disques are magnif showing the ultra-bellowing kraut in fine form whether playing with fellow Germans or the jazz-punk supergroup Last Exit (sorta like seventies fusion for WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT fans) or with historic jazz percussionist Milford Graves and arco bassist William Parker live at CB's 313 Gallery a few Easters back. Even more eye opening are the two volumes of UNDER THE UNDERGROUND that appear on one shiny pancake...I think the original tape from whence this DVD-R is culled originated in Japan but whatever, this sampler is made up of live in En Why See (mostly at Max's Kansas City) performances from a variety of underground/punk/whatever types ranging from no wave (Contortions, Von Lmo) to punky (Heartbreakers) to rockabilly (Buzz & the Flyers) and gnu wave (the Model Citizens, who I must admit I couldn't stand to watch and who seem to have gotten all the cliches one could find in late-seventies underground rock and milked them for all it was worth). Surprisingly interesting were the pre-mohawk Plasmatics when they wore their no wave influences on their sleeves (much to the dismay of Von Lmo, who actually confronted Wendy O'Williams head on one evening!), Von Lmo and band doing "Flying Saucers '88 (which I saw before!), the Contortions right after Adele Bertei and George Scott left doing "I Can't Stand Myself" (sounding very thin as most live tapes of the time do, but still a nice slice of lower Manhattan art), the Heartbreakers surprisingly lucid enough and finally the Mikki Zone (ex-Fast) Zoo with Mikki playing some interesting arty guitar lines with pencils of all things kinda coming off like a punk Jimi Hendrix!

Got some more interesting things to gab about from a recent Gulcher package to some long-festering Cee-Dees and even a moom pitcher or two (and I must thank Lou Rone for sending me not one but TWO DVD-Rs of his band Triple Cross playing various New York hotspots in the eighties, but neither of 'em play on my box...the thought was nice anyway, Lou!), but that'll all have to wait until another go 'round. So ta-ta for now, and don't forget getting hold of your own chew-sticks in order to occupy your time!

(One this is the last, trust me! closing note: perhaps you've noticed that the "enetations" comment box that used to be smack dab at the bottom of each and every BLOG TO COMM page has finally been eradicated. Good riddance I say...given my inability to find my way around a template I was never able to stick a comment box before or after each post where they should be, and besides that [or perhaps because of that] that "comments page" had become nothing but a place for spammers to plug their wares anyway [along with anonymous nay-wayers which is fine with me...I always need a good laugh!]. Obtaining a blogger-approved comment section which can be accessed by simply clicking on the pound sign after every post helped out plenty and made the enetations page obsolete, though for some strange reason I kept the enetations one perhaps because I didn't want to mess up the template. Well, after much thought and trial/error I did a little finagling here and there and voila the stupid comment box that I never could correctly place where it should've been was finally gone, only to be replaced by a stupider mass of computer nonsense I can't quite eliminate[+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Add things to your sidebar here. Use the format: Link Text+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++-->] that makes about as much sense as some of the reviews I was writing while under the influence of extremely strong painkillers! Notes to the people at blogger have been to no avail [they probably think I've cried wolf once too often], so until I do get rid of this mess please excuse the eyesore.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chris, you're a national (global?)treasure, too! As Jim from The Hypnotics said to me the other wee, just before his current (ex?) band, Black Moses, broke up on stage, "I never cared about the money, but when you're in a little record shop in the middle of nowhere and some guy comes up and tells you that you're the reason why he formed a band, that makes it all worthwhile." Even if you only ever did one ish of BTC, that'd be enuff. Like, would you wanna be the fanzine equiv of Bob Crachit anyhoo? I mean, how DOES Mike Stax find the time?

Don't feel bad about not being Mike Stax, I gets the same Ugly Things fever ever time I gets a new one, too, just can't put the bugger down!

Good luck with the indigestion. For my money, as a hairy'n'sweaty kinda fella, I use Mitchum brand deodorant, cos it makes me smell better, don't mark my shirts with white crud, and reminds me of old Bob, which is as good a reason as any to recommend it.

Best, as ever,

Joss Hutton

PS Check out my stoopid band:

PPS Got a bootleg DVD of Pickup On South St / The Blue Gardenia - is this the best movie double bill ever?