Saturday, June 29, 2013

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Aw chee Bill, why did you hafta send this 'un? Not that there were a dearth of zilch-grade fifties features you could have sent, but why the worst Sunday afternoon UHF tee-vee timefiller you could find?!?!?  JET's what you think it is, one of many airplane flicks where a not-quite-exciting array of central casting types are on an intercontinental flight, only there's some sicko on board just waiting to destroy the plane thus sending all of those character actor types to their next cheapo!

Guy Madison's the escapee from justice who's really innocent (of course!) while George Raft's the FBI agent bent on bringing him back, whereas an aging and not that hotcha anymore Virginia Mayo's the exotic dancer and finacee who buys a ticket last minute because of Madison's abrupt sayonara. There's also the vain opera singer, the prissy old maid, the reverend, some bratty kid and of course the old guy who has a neat trap set in the luggage area which seems to be smoldering and burning for at least half the movie before any real effect takes place. All that's missing is the young kid from Brooklyn with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart who never had a chance in life. Just the kinda people you see on real-life flights, only I'll bet they all smelled better'n the garlic aroma guy you got to sit next to on your last overseas romp.

It's not actually puke-inducing or anything, but JET (which actually takes place on a propeller plane so don't get too worked up aviation freaks!) is one of those by-the-numbers flicks that really doesn't offer much including a neat plot or interesting twists. Mind-numbing gunch that went perfect for your Sunday afternoon nothing-else-to-do pleasure (or at least it was fun watching because you knew they were gonna fill up the hour with a LITTLE RASCALS short!). However, once you get down to it I must say that I prefer the spoof of this genre that appeared in  THE RETURN OF A MAD LOOKS AT OLD MOVIES way back when...after all, at least that 'un got all of the obvious fun-poking moments these films exuded (from the originals up through the AIRPORT and AIRPLANE spoofs) down pat, and it only took me a good fifteen minutes to get through the entire thing unlike this dog which dragged on a good hour and a half!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Remember that old MAD magazine chestnut entitled "You Know You're Getting Old When..."? I don't, but I sure remember the NATIONAL LAMPOON spoof of it that ended on the typically tasteless note "You know you're getting old when you realize (or was it forgot?) you haven't jacked off since last Tuesday." Yeah, as a mid-teen magazine rack romper I was taken aback by it too, but that's only because my bad taste gauge hadn't been fully honed yet. I mean, nowadays life is bad taste enough that this George Woodbridge-inspired drawing of some midclass cleancut engaging in self abuse while looking at Miss June doesn't even register a blip of shock, which only goes to show ya just how far we've grown as a people since the days when Paul Simon was singing about he 'n Julio engaging in sodomy down by the schoolyard and everybody thought otherwise, prudish Amerigans they be.

But now that I'm older, certainly not that much wiser and just bursting with bad taste all I gotta say is that I know I'm getting old because I can no longer care one whit what season I am existing in whether it be a muggier'n a sweaty Swede's armpit summer day or as cold enough to make your nipples wanna jump off you and run for cover winter! A shame, since I used to have my own moods, tastes, methods of relaxation and general living by the seasons. Y'know, swim inna summer, shovel snow inna winter and just goof off as much as you can no matter what time of the year it may be!

Not anymore, since life has become such a blur and so frazzled that it all seems as if that warm summer weather I was experiencing last year had just wooshed into a cold enough for me winter which eventually returned to the hazy days within the span of a few months. And it just keeps coming and going at such a rapid pace that I hardly notice it all, then I discover all of these weird chip-chop ham blotches on my face...

The funny thing about the time of year or the weather is that whenever I do experience it my mind usually goes back. Like take an overcast cold autumn day...when I experience one somehow I am reminded of some mid-teenage day when, out of boredom, I was plopped in front of the television some weekday early evening around six-thirty watching SESAME STREET of all things thinking back to when I was about four and the weather was exactly like this on some equally fall evening when my dad and I went for a walk or something. Yes, whatever it is, it seems that my mind just can't help but thinking of those early pre-school days when life didn't only seem, but WAS a whole lot more interesting than it eventually turned out. Dunno if this is because everything from television to radio to toys to food seemed a whole lot more attuned to my suburban slob living when I was a mere turdler or because I was at least crafty enough to have someone other than myself wipe my butt after taking a dump.

But at this point,'s like I've stopped living about a good decade back only I keep on going like some sorta EC zombie or that gal on THE TWILIGHT ZONE who doesn't know she's dead but comes to the sad realization she is a good twentysome minutes into the program. I think I inadvertently (?) offed myself, at least "spiritually," when I came to the conclusion that no, my life goals ain't gonna come to a positive fruition and rock 'n roll is the new old fogey music (the modern-day equiv.of aged whites in firehouses playing Dixieland) and that no matter how hard I hoped, NOBODY could make a tee-vee show as good as NAKED CITY or ABBOT AND COSTELLO this far down the decadent line. And those little concessions to the suburban slob mindset like the reactivated Fizzies line ain't exactly gonna help me out any!

So from now on it's pretty much a case of raw survival, nothing as grueling as those Jack London novels my sister used to read when she was getting into the double-digits but pretty crucial in modern day terms. Play the old faves as often as I can while searching out the shards of any interesting music that might make itself available. Scam as many old tee-vee DVDs as I can afford and watch 'em while pretending it's 1962 and this stuff is still fresh in the mid-Amerigan mind, and best of all trying to steer clear of anyone and anything that is detrimental to my own gulcheral survival. And yeah, that might be about as "living in the past" 'n archaic as all of those old maids from my grandparents' era who never married because their beaus got killed in the War Between the States and dressed, acted and lived as if it were still 1863, but in many ways don't you think those ladies had it right, in their own logical and attuned to their small town living way? I sure do!
Enough of that scatter-thought rambling "Edi-Too-REAL" as we used to's this week's grand selection of items that have graced my lobes in the past few weeks. Gotta say that it was a good selection too, with the FIGURES OF LIGHT platter poised to win some sort of award once December 31's "Best of '13" rolls around (though knowing me I'll probably forget all about it until it's too late as I tend to do thus getting a lotta loyal fans raving mad!), while the freebees courtesy Bill Shute, Robert Forward and P.D. Fadensonnen certainly did help break up the monotony!  Thanks a whole load guys, and as they say keep those cards and letters (and packages filled with pertinent booty) comin' in!!! Until then, munch on this musical cornucopia of oldies, newies and old newies that are new but of old items which, as you know, is exactly the way I like 'em!


A few years back when the FIGURES OF LIGHT SMASH HITS album came out (right on the heels of a good Norton hype I might add), I was more'n jazzed over the smart mix of classic seventies material intermingled with all-new under-the-underground recordings that this album presented to us unreconstructed proto-punk fans. However, I was kinda bummed that the entirety of the groups's infamous "TV smashing" live show wasn't included in the set (only the cosmiclytical "TV Smashing Finale" popped up), especially after reading Billy Miller's own quip about how that tape made WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT sound like Mrs. Miller, and not Billy's mother for that matter!

Well, I guess that Billy and Miriam got the psychic hints I was blastin' at 'em because, even with all of the woes they've been suffering as of late, they managed to get the entire show out. If anything, this package is what you could call a "legitimate" bootleg live album in the tradition of THE VELVET UNDERGROUND LIVE AT MAX'S KANSAS CITY, and it comes on weirdo blue with white streaks colored vinyl too which reminds me of the way my urine looked a few weeks back during my bladder infection only that was red not blue. And what better way to remember my bladder woes than a record like this which, one could say is the aural equivalent of a painful piss only in a good way!

Talk about total disasto! The show sounds like it was thought up on the spot though it sure made for good mad early-seventies ROCK THEATRE what with not only the smashing of a spinning turntable during the show's opening moments (that is, after the introductory sine wave) but the hasty performance of various originals and covers with little if any attempt to stay together. The Figures slosh through their set like a buncha kids runnin' home from school on a February afternoon doin' hotcha covers of everything from "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" to the Velvet Underground and Troggs, and I ain't even mentioning the original material which is more or less based on the "It's Lame" 1966 chord-progression songbook complete with a forward by Sky Saxon! And let me tell you, music like this reinforces me twice as much in these post-rock 'n roll times when we have to suck it up and admit that, unlike what Greg Shaw was telling us for years, it ain't comin' back!

Of course the sound is bad, probably taken offa some reel-to-reel in the audience complete with the same kinda gymnasium ambiance that has you smellin' sweatsocks all over. The vocals are buried in the cheap amp blare so you'll have to strain your ears to hear 'em to the point where you'll be dishing out bucks for a hearing aid in no time. In fact, this 'un kinda sounds like what people were saying METALLIC KO sounded like back when that 'un first crept up into the high school under-the-consciousness scene oh so long ago, but like that album you don't mind the "shortcomings" because the performance is so teenage anger and violence that you immediately form a bond with the power and energy inherent within.

It really shines through to the point where I could see some of you more ambitious BLOG TO COMM readers spinning this 'un and KO in rapid succession with a few Flamin' Groovies Skydog sides and maybe even a choice late-sixties Rolling Stones live boot into the mix while groovin' on a typical seventies trash-aesthetics kick. And in no way could I blame you for that!

Only 300 were pressed up, so if I were you I'd hurry and snatch one up at least until Norton decides to release this on disque like they did with the Figures' DROP DEAD platter. Definitely one of the big surprises of 2013 even though the entire fanabla was recorded a good forty-three years back (which makes me long are we going to have to wait until various late-sixties/early-seventies punk classics from the likes of the Seventh Seal, Man Ray and R Mutt are finally going to grace our ears? Considering the promise these and many more unrecorded bands held for us via years of rumor and hearsay all I gotta say is "OPEN SESAME, vaults!").
Twink-THINK PINK CD (Sunbeam)

The former Tomorrow/Pretty Thing/Pink Fairies/Rings/wannabe Iggy drummer's solo album from '69 certainly does stand as a closing testament to the original era of English psychedelia, and it's sure grand that Sunbeam reissued this 'un on CD so's I don't have to rely on my thin-sounding mid-eighties pirate copy anymore. THINK PINK remains a wild excursion through the rougher side of psych, one of those period pieces so-t'-say that might have sounded quaint only a few years later but naturally outlives all of that gooey and sappy Dame Elton John muck that evidently "replaced" sounds like this as if anybody could stand sitting through MADFAG ACROSS THE WATER here in 2013 let along 1991.

The additional tracks Sunbeam stuck on in order to lure those of you who already have this 'un sure do sweeten the pot what with a whole buncha alternate takes, including two of "Fluid" only w/o the orgasmic femme vocals), two of the classic pop-psych masterpiece 10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box" and this really off-the-wall bitta fairy mimsy called "Good Wizard Meets Naughty Wizard" which had me gnome boppin' in a way that would have made Steve Peregrine Took (who played a major role on this album, no bout a doubt it) glad he wasn't around to see me.

Interesting note...according to the booklet notes, the one who was once called John Alder and later Twink now goes under the moniker "Mohammed Abdullah John Alder" and even wears a beard and skullcap to drive the point home! Sheesh, reading about this kinda makes me want to forgo sending in that donation to the EDL like I had planned on, though something within my beanie tells me that my donation just might pay off in beaucoup dividends as time creeps on...
Fadensonnen-PD3 CD (available here)

If you thought you couldn't stand it anymore, try standing it again. The latest in a long line of Fadensonnen efforts (all highly recommended), PD3 continues on Mr. F's a-/anti-tonal path with a twenty-two-plus minute guitar track entitled "Brutal/Minimal" that reminds me of Donald Miller's semi-similar experiments on one hand and Henry Flynt on the other with a mono-buzz warble that would give LaMonte Young a heart fib. The eight-minute "Greenpoint (or "Greenpernt" as they say on THE BULLWINKLE SHOW) Nights" sounds closer to Young's early-sixties soprano lines with a few elements taken from some of the more jazz-oriented Ohr Records acts you can think of offhand. Gotta say that both of 'em helped round out the post-workday ennui I was feeling while staring out the window at the overcast storminess of it all. Fadensonnen's one of a handfulla modern-day creatives who deserve your moral and (especially) financial support, and releases like this will definitely help boost his legend and hopefully his pocketbook in the upcoming months.
Michael Gregory Jackson-CLARITY CD (ESP/ZYX, Germany)

Dunno why this 'un came out on the ESP imprint because it was originally released on Jackson's personal label which you could only obtain through the pages of the old New Music Distribution Services catalog. But whatever, ESP found it fine enough to release as part of their historical line of artist-guided produce, and I can't complain. Jackson's guitar playing ain't left-field in the Sonny Sharrock mode (think John McLaughlin circa MY GOALS BEYOND) but it holds up and you don't even mind when he starts slipping into mid-seventies commercial aspects that coulda gotten him some fringe FM play had this only gotten around. Oliver Lake, David Murray and Leo Smith help out (no bass or drums!) giving this a nice chamber feeling with loads of AACM/BAG input...might not be your bag o' jazz but I find it palatable in occasional doses.


One of the better Bill burns here featuring some old timey country music and hotcha rockabilly that's bound to get Ron Weiser blabbing on about THAT JUICY, SLAPPIN', RACE-MIXING, WILD, INSANE, FINGER-POPPIN' MUSIC faster'n you can say Jerry Lee. Found it all pretty hotcha (esp. Jimmy Stayton's "You're Gonna Treat Me Right" which really gave Eddie and Gene a good run for the rental car money) even though I still wonder what Edna McGriff and her stogoid "Lay Down Your Arms" was doing in this mix. (Historians will probably salivate over some 1907-vintage recordings from the Victor Orchestra that remind me of early sound film experiments what with the sound effects.) And it's all sandwiched in by single sides from Billy Costello (the original voice of Popeye before coming to loggerheads with studio bosses) and Betty Boop/Olive herself Mae Questel doing their familiar voices on some snappy old-timey numbers. The next best thing to getting up early Saturday morning 'n watching them old 'toons in your saggy pajamas!
Various Artists-HUCKLEBUCKIN' BONGO PART CD-R (compiled by Bill Shute)

Good set here with the familiar ("Blues Theme," "What Made Milwaukee Famous") and obscurities mixed up to the point where you can't even tell 'em apart! I coulda done without some of the cheezy cover versions by the likes of the Bugs ("Twist and Shout") or the Chellows ("Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind," "Somebody to Love") but I guess Bill stuck 'em on since I liked that all-chintzoid covers platter he cooked up for me awhile back. But other'n that there's some rare Chubby Checker and Lemon Pipers not to mention the original version of Abbot 'n Costello's "Who's On First" routine which ain't as good as watching 'em on the tube alongside Mike the Cop but it's better'n the Andrew Sisters.

Various Artists-INZANE STUDIO PODCASTS CD-R (sent in by Bob Forward)

Nobody has asked me why I don't, but if they did I'd say that I don't podcast because not only would nobody wanna listen, but because podcasts don't have the same hard-edged drive and entertainment value that you could get just sittin' around and controllin' what goes into your ears. I mean, it ain't like a 1967 John Peel radio broadcast or Richard Meltzer "Hepcats From Hell" show where the excitement of old and new rock or whatever music you can claim as part of your own musical makeup is being presented for you to share in the energy of it all. But I gotta admit I was able to dredge up at least a thimblefulla entertainment value outta these strangities.

The first part features various synth music rarities sandwiched between some of the most weirdoid patter I've heard in ages...what was presented wasn't exactly announced so I'm in the dark as to what I heard but it was OK if yer nostalgic for seventies-styled electronic music sounds played on keyboards with a whole lotta buttons on 'em. The second part of the show was called "Christian Vision" and featured nothing but religious hippie folk/freak musings, some straight from the commune and others of perhaps slight interest. Closing out the show was "Stare Case" whatever that was, but it was the topper for me sounding like prime Smegma in need of a Meltzer voiceover.

Dunno about you, but I think I'll hold off on taking podcasts seriously until they have one presenting nothing but home made tapes of ranch house kiddoids playing radio that were made from the fifties onward...after all once you get down to it ain't that what the spirit of these podcasts really are, only since these tapes were being made by suburban pimplefarms with little purpose in life it really does mean a whole lot more to those who grew up under the influence of acting our natural jackoff selves!
Well, that's it until the midweek mini-post and next weekend's blowout. Hope you have a thrilling time of it all, and don't forget that if you want more of what's in store on this blog you can always buy multiple copies of readily available of my late lamented fanzine BLACK TO COMM by going to the highlighted link. I will admit that prices overseas have gone up tremendously so if you're rich and live outside the US you may have to kick up the scratch...otherwise I'll try to ship these to you the cheapest way so it ain't such a strain on your pocketbook. If you want any or all of these rags just drop me a line via the comment box (your comment will not be printed!) and we can work something out (I hope!). Paypal or checks can be used, though frankly I prefer the good ol' hard cash which fits inside my wallet oh-so-snuggily!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! CASE OF THE RED MONKEY (also known as THE LITTLE RED MONKEY) starring Richard Conte (1954)

I really don't have that much to say about English moom pitchers because frankly, I find a lotta 'em quite dull. Well, at least I do the old ones from way back in the days when they'd run these movies (into the ground) incessantly on Sunday afternoon tee-vee along with equally snoozeville French, Italian, German, Swedish and Amerigan films. But thankfully CASE OF THE RED MONKEY is different, if only slightly.

Oh yeah, this film does look like it was made on an extremely cheapoid budget and that organ/piano soundtrack sounds as if it came from an episode of LIGHTS OUT. Not forgetting the dialogue which at times reminds me of something that would have ended up in the "What Not to Do" section of an ancient creative writing textbook. But even with the overall look and feel which comes off like a poverty row early-thirties mystery done twenty years later I find CASE OF THE RED MONKEY a rather engrossing film to watch, even if memories of seventies UHF television without the roll-a-sage chair and Friday Night Wrestling card commercials continue to permeate my mind.

Amerigan expat Richard Conte stars in this 'un (perhaps to draw someone into the theatre?) as a State Department agent bound on getting an Iron Curtain scientist safe and sound Over Here before the redskis get him first. Meanwhile he has to deal with not only a suspicious monkey (who's always at the scene of the assassinations of various important Free World scientists) but a passel of spies, a particularly pushy newspaper reporter, and of course the female interest who just happens to be the niece of the fellow Conte is working with.

Gotta say that the last of these things was perhaps the most needless part of the film and dragged it out a bit. I mean, when you're watching an action, intrigue and intensity-packed drama you know these romantic angles just don't work out quite like the producers thought they would have. Well, at least there weren't any "slobberin' scenes" as Beaver might have put it, perhaps because it is true what they say about the British being kinda squeamish when it came to romance.

But otherwise I can't complain...sure the flick can be slower moving than peanut-butter-laden bowels at times and needed tightened up some, but I found myself glued to the screen and even had my interest held for a longer time than everything from tee-vee shows to mooms along this caliber tend to do.

The "shock ending" involving this bratty DENNIS THE MENACE-type kid in a space suit still has me stymied a bit as to how the monkey figured into it all, but as far as nice Cold War foreign film jollies go you could do much worse'n give this 'un an eyeballing next time it pops up on your local low-powered station. Well, it sure beats anything out there you can either pick up for free or on cable, and how many times are you going to watch THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION on TMC anyway?

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Dunno if the name Cole(man) Springer means anything to you, but since the name Ethan Fromme doesn't mean anything to me I guess we're even! All kidding aside, you may remember Cole as a fairly prolific rockscreeder during the seventies, a man whose writings were featured not only in the pages of Greg Prevost's tres-hotcha FUTURE but in John Holmstrom's PUNK and Ira Robbins' TROUSER PRESS among others which never did get their chance to make their way to my door. And, as you would obviously have guessed by now, Cole's a guy who is just jam-packed fulla stories dealing with alla the greats of the seventies that are just waiting to make themselves known to mental midgets like yourself, so w/o any further ado I present this interview which I know is bound to shed light on a few interesting things that I don't think anyone who doesn't read this blog would care about, but then again at this point in time should any of us really care??? 

BLOG TO COMM-To start things off, how did you and Greg Prevost meet up? Do you have any hot information on him that nobody else in the world knows about???

COLE SPRINGER-My last year in college I worked in a record store, so when I returned to Rochester I got a job at Midtown Records, which was fairly big chain based in Buffalo. I worked downtown in their flagship store in Midtown Plaza. In the fall of 1973, Greg Prevost was a college freshman at St. John Fisher, which was in a suburb south of the city. Since he lived in Charlotte, the northernmost part of Roch (any further north would put you in Lake Ontario), he had to go thru downtown to get home and he would stop into the store.  We just hit it off, both of us being really into music, and became good friends pretty quickly.

Greg is a super-nice guy, really down to earth, just a regular guy, and yet at the same time he is the most unusual guy I've ever known.  It's hard to explain it further...he knows everything about every kind of music, as well as TV. He's funny as hell, and has a great sense of humor. When I lived in NYC, I would go backstage at the Chesterfield Kings' gigs and Greg was always the same good guy...he's never changed in all the years I've known him.

He was working at the House of Guitars in 73, and he got me a job there, so I left Midtown in 74 and worked at HOG for a few was too chaotic for me.  They used to shoot TV commercials in the store, that were terribly shot and edited, but they did stand out on TV because they were so bad. The camera would be flying around the store, and the employees would be jumping around. Greg did appear in some of the early ones but then he refused to appear in any more and he never did again. He knew they were lame.

BTC-Tell us about those experimental recordings you and Greg made in his basement.

CS-I went over to Greg's house on several occasions...usually we'd just stay in his room, which was jam-packed with records, books and magazines, and listen to music.  I remember one visit because we went down in the basement, where he had a brand-new Roland Space Echo...I figured this to be in mid-1974, after I had quit the House of Guitars.  The RE-201 (aka the Space Echo)  was introduced in '74, so this checks out.......I don't think Greg had bought his; I'm pretty sure he just borrowed one from the House Of Guitars as it was the latest cool gear.

I had brought my bass ( which actually belonged to Gary Frenay; he had lent it to me. This was years before he moved back to Syracuse and formed the Flashcubes). Greg ran his guitar and my bass thru the Roland and we just jammed free-form.  My bass chops were rudimentary then but Greg didn't mind, and our musical madness was captured on tape. When we finished Greg said he wanted to send the tape to  Brian Eno. This stuck in my mind because up till then I only knew Eno by his last name, that's how he was credited on the two Roxy albums.   Greg was in the vanguard, as usual! 

BTC-So, when did you start writing about rock music...was FUTURE your first published endeavor?

CS-No, Future was not where I was first published. I started to write about music in 1968, as a freshman in college. This was at MCC in Rochester, and I reviewed record albums for the student newspaper. When I went to U of Miami for my junior year, I wrote on music and on films.

Funny thing about FUTURE, I honestly can't remember writing anything for Greg!  I asked him about it recently, and all he can remember is that I reviewed the first Dwight Twilley album.  My vague memory of that LP is only liking one or two songs,  so I'm not sure why I reviewed it, unless he asked me to.

BTC-Yeah, I remember reading your name in the first issue which is probably where it registered in my mind after seeing it elsewhere. Were you inspired by the new rock journalism at this time or the gonzo rock critics, or both for that matter?

CS-Honestly, when I started in '68 my main inspiration was just the music itself. My parents dug Sinatra, so I heard all the Capitol albums he did with Nelson Riddle when I was growing up. At the same time, I would watch ROUTE 66 every Friday night with my parents, and Riddle did the music for that. It's still my all-time fave TV show, closely followed by NAKED CITY (both created by Stirling Silliphant, the greatest writer to ever work in television).

Then I got into the Beach Boys, followed by Dylan, the Byrds, the Beatles and the Stones. I bought "Freak Out" when it came out in '66 because I had read about Zappa somewhere. In the days before ROLLING STONE started, national magazines would cover subjects like Zappa and the San Francisco bands BEFORE they even had record deals.......amazing!

There was just so much good music throughout the Sixties and I was so tuned into it, that it just seemed natural to start writing about it. By the early Seventies I was quite aware of rock writers like Meltzer and Bangs. I sent some stuff to Lester, and later to Billy Altman, both at CREEM, but I could never crack that mag. It was way cool to meet Bangs in Dec of  '76 at the PUNK offices; he was a low-key guy.  About 5 years later, I saw him when I was working at King Karol on 42nd St...he came in, looking for some record. I recall that he said, "I always thought that it would be fun to work in a record shop, but then I realized that people would come in and ask for something like Crosby Stills and Nash, and that would not be fun at all!

BTC-Wow! So like, what acts were you reviewing during your early journalistic days?

CS-At first I just reviewed current albums that I liked, by the beatles, Stones...I think I wrote a piece in early 1970 on the Beatles breaking up.  Hard to remember that far back, and I don't have any of my college work saved. In the mid-Seventies, I did review Petrus, an electric piano jazz trio that formed at the Eastman School of Music.Saw them a few times around town, and wrote them up for some small indie paper. Soon after it was published, I heard from a keyboardist named Marshall Styler who asked me to check out his new band.  They were named Duke Jupiter, and I saw them at the Coronet Theatre on Thurston Rd, which was an old neighborhood movie house. They played on the floor in front of the screen. I remember the second set was just a long jam on a bass riff from Miles Davis' great album In A Silent Way. This was in 1974, most likely. Duke Jupiter later signed with Mercury and put out their first LP in '78.  I guess they did alright, they did release a few albums...just MOR rock, nothing like the spacier, slightly jazzy band I saw that night. 

Things definitely got a lot more interesting when I moved to NYC in December 1976.

BTC-Were you writing for any professional magazines before your big move to New York?

CS-No, I never wrote for any pro publications prior to living in NYC.  The most professional mag I ever wrote for was TROUSER PRESS; the layout, typesetting and offset printing were all pro-caliber.  I'm not sure how well they were distributed on the newsstands...I really can't recall.  I do know they sold it at the House Of Guitars when I still lived in Rochester, and you could get it in record shops in NYC, and around the country.

BTC-Well, TROUSER PRESS did become a well-distributed pro magazine. Were you writing for 'em during their early days when they were pretty much solely concentrating on British rock acts? And what pieces did you contribute to them anyway?

CS-I did not write for TROUSER PRESS in their early day, but I was certainly aware of their British rock slant, and  I was able to play into that slant with my first piece for them. It was a review of the debut album of Foreigner in 1977.  I wasn't wild about this new band, but the woman at Atlantic Records who sent me the promo was really pushing them, and I DID know about Lou Gramm, who is a Rochesterian. So at least half of my review was about Gramm's previous band Black Sheep. They sounded like Free, since Gramm sounded like Paul Rodgers, and they had one album on Chrysalis. It pretty much sank without a trace, but the fact that I knew his history as an Angliophile rocker really added to my review, and the editors seemed to like it.

I later reviewed the first DEVO album, since nobody else on the TROUSER PRESS staff liked them!  I thought they were the hottest new band on the scene, and loved their deconstruction of "Satisfaction" which I had on their first self-produced 45.  The first album was great, with punkish guitars and cool synths, funny lyrics; actually their de-evolution theory, while clearly satirical,  did make sense in a way and it was just wild that they had this outlook, a philosophy, and they really rocked!! Their originality inspired me to write my review in a different way:  I used bullet points, one-line descriptions, and short paragraphs to describe the band and their music.  A couple of months later I interviewed co-leader Gerald Casale for a TP cover story, and he told me he really liked my review. He said, "You're one of the only people I've read that actually understands what we're trying to do."   Hearing that from an artist I admired was a true high point for me.

The other high point was meeting and interviewing Don Van Vliet, whom I've always regarded as the premiere genius of rock music.

BTC-Going back a bit, I was reading the first issue of FUTURE last night and I spotted a review you did of the Beckies album. Kinda thought your comment about Michael Brown attempting to win over the Kiss Army was funny! You also reviewed Judas Priest and Widowmaker. Does any of this ring a bell?

CS-It is a bit mind-blowing to hear about these reviews. The only one I remember is the Beckies, which was on Sire, I think (ed. note-yes it was). The Kiss Army comment I do not recall but I'm glad you liked it. Judas Priest I vaguely recall. What I'm realizing is that these were promo albums I had gotten from a college friend in Miami. I went to UM, and a good pal there was Lee Zimmerman, who also reviewed records. He still does free-lance pro reviewing, but in the mid-70s, when I was back in Roch, he worked for an independent distributor and he used to mail me batches of promo LPs so that's how I got JP and Widowmaker.  One of the labels he handled was Sire (this was years before they were connected with WEA), and he sent me the first Ramones, which I was glad to get!!!

I mentioned that Lee Zimmerman, better known to all as Train, did promotion for small independent labels and he sent me Ramones soon after its release in April '76.  But I had already heard it at Greg's house....he was the first to play it for me. I had recently returned from CA, and went over to visit him, still at his folks' house. I knew about the band, but had yet to hear them. Of course Greg had it, he was probably the first guy in town to get it!  I dug it immediately and was struck by how they had stripped down rock to something really new. The arrangements were minimal, the songs super-short and the lyrics crazy funny.  I've always remembered what Greg said : "The kids won't really understand how important this record is."

I guess he was talking about the great unwashed masses out there, and I think he was mostly right. Which brings me to what Train told me on the phone after I had gotten the promo he sent:  "I've taken that record to every rock station in town, and nobody will touch it. They take one listen and look at me like I'm insane. They think it's some kind of put-on."

BTC-I didn't mention Lydia Lunch yet. I hear you were a friend of hers.

CS-We were friendly, I used to see her around NY...even bumped into her on a city bus once!
I first used to see her at Midtown Records when I worked there. She was a teen who came in looking for the latest by Bowie or Sparks. Then it turned out that I knew her cousins. Tony and Jim Furfferi were identical twins who owned Empire Comics, the first comic book store in Rochester. I had known them since the early 70s.

The first time I ever went to CBGB, in July of '76, Lydia happened to be there. Talking Heads were topping the bill; they were still a trio and had no records out yet. Russell Mael, the singer from Sparks, was there and he was trying to hit on Tina Weymouth.  I remember at some point Lydia said in a loud, sarcastic voice, "Ooooooooooooo, Sparks is here!" After the show, we were hanging on the sidewalk in front of the club. There was a guy sitting with an acoustic guitar, in the back of an empty truck......he was probably a roadie. Lydia told him to start playing his guitar, so he banged out a few chords and she started improvising was instant art from a future No Wave star!

Cole preparing to enter the CBGB restroom.

In early 77, after I'd been living in NY a few weeks, I walked into CBGB and Lydia was sitting at the bar with a guy I'd never seen before.  I said hello and she said, "This is James, my new sax player."  It was, of course, James Chance...he played in Teenage Jesus for a while, but it wasn't long before he started the Contortions. (What an amazing band...saw them live a few times and they were phenomenal.) Funny, but that night he was real quiet, he said hello and that was about it.  I was telling Lydia that my job at PUNK Magazine was not proving to be too lucrative, and that I needed to find a more solid gig. She told me to go to Colony Records, on Broadway in Times Square. She said a couple of her pals worked there and she was sure I could get hired.  So I went there the next day, and she was right. I ended up working there full-time for 4 years. Good old Lydia !!!!!

BTC-Do you have any recollections of any really interesting New York groups that never did get the fame 'n fortune they deserved, perhaps because they didn't fit into anybody's idea of what "New York Rock" was supposed to be?

CS- don't think any of the really great bands had much success, at least in a "fame and fortune" sense. It took decades for the Ramones to be recognized and appreciated, but were they ever really hugely successful?

The finest band was Richard Hell and the Voidoids, and I base that almost solely on their Blank Generation album. He was a great songwriter and the band was just killer: Marc Bell on drums and the guitar genius of Bob Quine and Ivan Julian. Just brilliant, break-neck stuff.

There is one band that never recorded, and only played a few gigs...Jack Ruby.  If I hadn't worked with Chris Gray and George Scott at Colony Records, I most likely would never have known about their trio. Chris was the guitarist and mastermind; he actually taught George how to play bass. Chris's songs were just a framework for the real meat of Jack Ruby: the whirlwind sonic assaults of his guitar. It was the the most astounding free-form rock I had ever heard up to that time. This was before the No Wave bands hit. Chris told me once, "Most rock bands play it safe...everything is in time and in tune. I want to play as out of time and as out of tune as I possibly can."  But it wasn't just noise; he was an excellent player. Lydia knew Chris and George, and mentions Jack Ruby in Byron Coley's book on No Wave.

George Scott played in 8-Eyed Spy, and later with John Cale.  Chris Gray just kinda disappeared...

(Cole was unaware that there was a Jack Ruby CD [now download] available and flipped out when I told him about not only that but a planned album featuring even more material. He's in the process of tracking it down and seems like a very happy camper over the knowledge that the band is not forgotten.)

BTC-Anyway, what was it like working for the guys at PUNK mag?

CS-To tell you how I came to work at Punk Magazine, I need to back up a bit. In November 1975 I was living in San Diego. I got the 1st Patti Smith album when it came out that month, and I really got into it. In January or Feb of '76, the PS Group played 2 nights at the student union of USD...I went both nights, and they were incredibly good. It was a small room with no stage, and I was right up front. Lenny Kaye and the band just knocked me out. John Cale was there, and played bass on the encore, which was "My Generation."

I went back to Rochester a month or so later, and in July '76 I went to the big comic collectors convention in Manhattan. I was helping a dealer pal of mine, Dave Belmont, who was set up there. Lydia was there with her cousins Jim and Tony of Empire Comics (I had met them through Dave a few years earlier).  I met Lenny Kaye there, and he was a super-nice guy. We talked for several minutes, and I told him I thought the PSG played with a jazz-like flow. He said, "Well, we do play jazz-rock. Not that fusion crap that they call jazz-rock......"

And I met John Holmstrom and Legs McNeil at that con. I was already a subscriber to PUNK, so I knew who they were. We hung out a bit, and two or three months later I got a letter from Holmstrom offering me a job as a production assistant. So at the very beginning of Dec '76 I moved to NY and started working there. The Punk Dump (that's what they called it) was on 10th Ave in a really shaky, desolate area. I did everything from running errands, to inking the penciled pages. I also contributed some short record reviews.  It was a really loose, sometimes chaotic atmosphere, but fun. A lot of people came by; within my first month I met Lester Bangs there, Danny Fields, Marc Bell, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, among others.

The first issue I worked on was the Sex Pistols cover. Mary Harron had interviewed Rotten over in England. We were the first American publication to run an interview with him.  Holmstrom was trying to come up with a title for the piece, I said "How about....Johnny Rotten - To the Core"  as it was the first thing that popped into my mind. To my surprise, he liked it and that's how he ran it.

BTC-Hey, you have any interesting stories regarding Danny Fields?

CS-Sorry, but I really can't think of anything. Fields was around the Dump and CBGB a lot but I can't remember anything specific other than he was, at that time, an editor at 16 Magazine which seemed really odd to me, that this guy who managed the Stooges, and then Ramones, would have a day job at a mag aimed at teenage girls. He was pretty friendly, but mainly with Holmstrom and Legs.

BTC-Well then, how about Marc Bell?

CS-Sorry, but all I recall about Marc Bell was meeting him at the Punk Christmas party in 76.  Met a lot of people there but no real details I can give you.

The coolest thing that happened then involved Stein and Debbie Harry. It took place over New Years Eve, 76/77......and I can only give it to you in sections that live in my memory because it was a long and wild night!  It started around 6 or 7 PM...I was in the Dump with John and Legs, finishing work. Guess none of us  had any plans for that night, so we left and maybe got some dinner. I then recall we ran into Debbie and Chris on the street. Don't remember exactly where, except that it wasn't near the Dump. They reminded us that they were playing that night in Central Park, and they were gonna get us in for free, but the show was still three or four hours away so we arranged to see them there later.

Then at some point we landed at a loft party that John or Legs knew about...the thing that sticks in my mind is that John didn't like whatever LP was on the turntable. He sees the first Ramones (album) and puts that on the turntable instead. Don't forget, on Dec 31, 1976 that was the only Ramones LP that existed. Well, we're digging the sounds when all of a sudden this woman, who looked like a throwback to the Fifties, like a fifties JD with a beehive hairdo, this woman starts freaking out. "Who put this shit on???? I'm not listening to this shit in my house !!!!!!"  She was really mad and yelling, and she took it off the turntable. So we left. Now a few months later I'm working at Colony when this same woman walks in with Willy DeVille. His band Mink DeVille had an LP on Capitol, and it was 50ish, pre-Beatles rock & roll.  The woman, whose name I forgot, was his wife !!! So then I understood why she hated the Ramones so much.

Around 11 PM we got to Central Park and there was a stage, and like a trailer where the sound guys were. I recall being in there.  Then we got let up on the stage, and we sat off to the left of the band so the audience couldn't see us but we had the greatest view of Blondie. There were these machines like cannons that were blasting heat onto the stage because it was New Years Eve and it was cold out !! The only thing I remember about the show is that they did the theme song from Goldfinger, and Debbie sounded great on it! And at one point, she asked Legs to come out onto the stage. Now he was smashed drunk, and he grabbed me in a headlock and pulled me out like that in front of the band, then ran back without saying anything, leaving me there, so I grabbed the mic and said something like,  "Come on folks, let's hear it for Legs, let's get him back out here."

And that's all I can recall of how I rang in 1977!!!

BTC-Haw! Were you writing for any other publications at this time?

CS-To answer your question,  no, I was not. I'd only been in NYC one month at that point.

BTC-But eventually you were contributing to TROUSER PRESS and a few others, weren't you?

CS-Yes, I started contributing to TROUSER PRESS in mid-1977 and that was my main mag, except for a couple of film-related features for a New Jersey paper, THE AQUARIAN and an interview with Greg Prevost (done backstage at a Kings gig in NYC) that saw print in JD King's STOP! Magazine.
Cole in a pensive mood.

BTC-Any interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits of information you can tell us about TROUSER PRESS that won't get you sued or anything?

CS-Not really. It was a really cool office, just two rooms, and a very relaxed atmosphere. Ira Robbins and Dave Schulps were both really good guys, and it was a pleasure to work with them.

BTC-I gotta admit that I'm not too familiar with your work for TROUSER PRESS, so what articles and reviews for that mag were credited to you?

CS-I've already mentioned some of them: the reviews of Foreigner and the first Devo album. I also reviewed BUY THE CONTORTIONS, their great first LP.  Did two features that I can recall: an interview with Captain Beefheart, and one with Gerald V Casale, for their Devo cover issue.  Some of the lesser stuff I have forgotten, and my TROUSER PRESS issues are buried away now.

BTC-How long did the TROUSER PRESS gig last anyway?

CS-Well, without going to their website and checking for sure, I'd say I wrote for them two to three years......and it was all free-lance, of course.

BTC-Were you still writing in to the eighties by any chance?

CS-Maybe into the very early eighties, but I'd say by 1982 I had stopped. Not sure why, really.

Oh, the interview I did with Greg Prevost for STOP! was done in '83, I'm almost positive. That was the last thing I had published in New York.   In the late eighties or early nineties I had two features on jazz published in THE ROCHESTER TIMES-UNION, a Gannett newspaper. One was an interview with McCoy Tyner!  I got that because I knew a T-U writer named Steve Dollar, he passed it to me because he said he didn't know anything about jazz.  Now he's writing for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

BTC-So like, what have you been doing in the past thirty or so years anyway???

CS-The past 30 years?  Whew...starting in '85, I worked at the Record Archive for twelve years. Worked alongside Vic Tabinsky, who was the Chesterfield Kings road manager.  Edited two issues of the RAG (Rec Arc Gleaner) with crack art direction by Beth Brown.

For the past fourteen years, I have been a "doorman"  in a hi-rise apartment building.........forty hours in 3.5 days, a pretty good gig and not as easy as it sounds. I'm the only worker there on the weekends, and a lotta  crazy stuff happens that I gotta handle.

Basically, I try to relax when I get the chance. Rochester is low-key but is a nice, friendly town. The coolest thing here is the George Eastman House, which has one of the world's greatest film archives. I have been going there since the early Sixties, when I was kid. Have seen a ton of rare films there,Lon Chaney silents, obscure film noirs... Just hundreds, in the decades before cable and DVDs, when it was hard to see old movies!  But if you live here, it's just a short drive!

Also have been a longtime collector, and occasional dealer, of vintage comics and paperbacks (pre-1960, man!) and pulp magazines. Have a killer collection of authentic Hollywood star portraits and scene stills, many of them on the rare side.

So I manage to stay quite busy, and even have some fun now and doing this interview, which has been a real blast!  Thanks, Chris.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Remember when Von Lmo sang "imitations never last"? Well the guy was right as usual, though I must admit that sometimes those imitations he was warning us about are just as interesting in their own right as the real fanabla. Whether it be Toyota copping the Studebaker Lark style for one of their early sixties entries or the Knickerbockers riding their way to the top with a blatant Beatles soundalike, the cheap copy sometimes comes off as stylistically and aesthetically important as the original. And not only that but cheaper too meaning you can save yourself a bundle of kopecks if you get the knockoff rather than the bonafeed item as my mother learned buying that 99-cent not-the-original-cast MARY POPPINS album back when we wuz kids.

When it comes to cheap cash-in imitations the comics world was just fulla 'em. Even in the beginning unscrupulous competitors were out and about copping ideas from the likes of THE KATAZENJAMMER KIDS either slyly (take THE FINEHEIMER TWINS which oddly enough was drawn by future KATZENJAMMER artist H. H. Knerr, not forgetting the infamous KIN DER KIDS) or just plain outright like the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER did. Ditto for comic books cuz y'all know that when SUPERMAN hit it big the market was flooded with superstrength guys who hadda learn a specialty or get the heck out. When other comic titles started dominating the stands you can bet that carbon copies would be popping up, perhaps in an attempt to fool the unwary kid (or ignorant parent) into picking up a SUPER DUCK or HOMER THE HAPPY GHOST 'stead of the real deal. I guess the odds were with 'em that the cheap-o variant would get snatched up enough to warrant publication, so why not?

A mega-comic stand hit like ARCHIE was bound to "influence" a whole number of comic book publishers to produce their own swipes, and throughout the years these books have cluttered up loads of old comic collections that had been wasting away in attics just waiting for antiques dealers and comic-mad kids to pour through. Stan Lee's own GEORGIE comes to mind, especially the last issue with the outright ARCHIE-ripoff title as well as a sidekick named Happy who looked like a cross between Jughead and Archie if you can fathom that! There was another ARCHIE swipe at Marvel in the early-seventies whose name I forget, though I remember one story where the kid and his pal actually accompanied President Nixon on his trip to China leading to loads of hijinx, esp. when the two went off with a coupla Red Guard uniformed gals leading to an even bigger international crisis than the time the first George Bush puked all over the Japanese prime minister. And, safe to say, nothing like that ever happened to Archie other'n the time he inadvertently flew the Wright Brothers' plane at the Smithsonian.

Of course Marvel also hit it bonanza-like with MILLIE THE MODEL which was at one time a "girl's" comic that by the late-sixties had become a verifiable ARCHIE knockoff complete with a female Reggie (Chili Storm) as well as this Jughead-alike who worked for the modeling agency and always got off the quickie comebacks and asides. I remember copping one at a flea market and reading it in the car while my dad razzed me for reading a girl's comic...didn't have the time or energy to explain that the title wasn't exactly the mooshy gal 'n romance 'un he somehow thought it to be, so I just groveled and tried not to let any of his razzing get to me. What we suburban slobs won't do for some light-headed comic book enjoyment...

As far as ARCHIE swipes do go none really could beat DC's BINKY. After all, it was more'n obvious that some of the same ARCHIE staff artists (as I later found out Henry Scarpelli and Stan Goldberg) were moonlighting not only on BINKY but the Marvel swipes, and with the similarities in cover layouts and high school craziness these comics seemed the perfect prescription for kids who had read all of the Archie Comic Group titles and wanted more. And perhaps because the once-boffo DC released it there was that imprimatur of the same company that was giving us all of those top-notch superhero comics also put this out and it was somehow special to me and my own skewered ideals regarding what is quality and what isn't. And even when it came to comics as JUNK I was looking for a certain (anti) aesthetic attribute, and naturally a cheap grind out like BINKY somehow satisfied me just as much as the real ARCHIE deal would. And if you can follow that you deserve an upper echelon ranking in the BINKY FAN CLUB, had one been created for us second-rate comic book fans that is!

When we're talking BINKY, we ain't talkin' the 1948-58 version which was more or less a standard teenage cartoon drawn in the DC house style...naw, we're talkin' the 1968-71 variety which, along with sister publications SCOOTER and DATE WITH DEBBI looked as if the artists were working straight from Dan DeCarlo's personal sketchbook. Sometimes I wonder why the overtly litigious Archie Comics Publications didn't sue DC over this (especially when the "Debbi" logo was so close to the standard Archie lettering) but then again they were probably having too many problems on their hands at the times what with their own MAD HOUSE MADS getting sued by EC in an interesting switch o' circumstances!

But just how do these Binkies and Scooters and Debbis hold up in the face of the real deal? Well, I decided to buy a bunch of eighties-era "DC Blue Ribbon Digests" to refresh myself after a good four decades of steering clear of the things and all I gotta say is that I certainly am not appreciated for the heights and lengths I go to in order to educate you readers about such gulcherally significant occurrences as BINKY comics! Because, in the name of BLOG TO COMM and dishing out to you some of the more obscure corners of what we call suburban adolescent pimplefarm civilization, I hadda endure some of the cheapest ARCHIE imitations extant, two-dimensional ripoffs of the real deal that I'm sure existed only because DC thought they could con a few IQ 80's with these magazines and run off with the profits before anyone really caught on. The bare fact that DC decided to reprint these comics a good ten years after the fact only goes to prove that they were masters at milking a cheap property for all it was worth, especially when you consider that the next crop of doofuses who picked these comics up were undoubtedly thinking these were part of the Archie digest series.

It'd take about twenty installments to detail everything wrong with these stories, so a condensed varsion'll have to do. But where to start...maybe the fact that there are too many characters in the Binky universe to keep tabs on would be one place, and the fact that as far as correlating BINKY/ARCHIE characters go there just ain't enough to go around. I can see Binky's father being the Mr. Weatherbee of the crew while Debbi is Josie and Debbi's father Mr. Lodge while the devil-may-care Sherwood is most certainly Reggie, but after that everything seems to be more or less a huge mish-most of various Archie-isms twisted enough perhaps in an attempt to avoid a lawsuit. The closest thing we have to a Jughead here is the nearsighted Kenny which makes me wonder just where the likes of Scooter, Buzzy, Malibu and Sylvester fit in, other'n Sylvester being the chubboid guy who just doesn't have a doppelganger in the Archie Universe. He has one in the Our Gang Universe, but that's something else entirely.

(Of course the question as to whether the Binky Universe is part of the Scooter or Debbi or Penny and her cross-eyed pussycat ones is up in the air, but there's nothing here suggesting other wise meaning...when it comes to continuity of any sorts the entire DC teenage series was one big hunkerin' mess!)

As far as the females go, there ain't any clear indication of who plays the Betty and Veronica roles, though the rich and raven-haired Mona comes close to the latter. There are so many gals to choose from in the Binky Universe that the standard B/V rivalry is all but impossible...with Penny, Peggy, Cynthia and who knows who else also being tossed into the fray making for more gals for the guys to go out with and little of the rivalry seen in the original. I guess with all of 'em being drawn straight outta the De Carlo sketchbook Binky and his buddies sure had a lotta gash to choose from, but then again the tension between the two main ARCHIE temptresses is all but gone in these pages!

The stories are rather one-dimensional, making most of the many seventies ARCHIE ones which tackled current events and various mooshy-feely subjects look deep in comparison. No interesting plot developments or humor for that matter are to be found here, making me wish whoever wrote these took a few night school classes in creative writing or at least swiped directly from the source which as we know is a time-honored practice in the comic book world.

Take "Binky Sets a New Record" which was reprinted in BINKY'S SUMMER FUN (Blue Ribbon Digest #28) this one shifty Sherwood convinces Binky that Peggy's birthday is just around the corner when it's actually a few months off and so Binky decides to give Peggy a card as well as a "Make Your Own Record" recording of an original love poem (with pre-recorded backing) for her own personal pleasure. When Peggy informs him that it ain't her birthday and slams the door in his face the dejected soul dumps his record in the trash, which Sherwood then retrieves if only to play for the gathered study hall in the auditorium in order to twist the knife a few more times in the already writhing form of the good 'n gracious Bink.

Well, it turns out that while the record is spinning some record moguls just happen to be at the school trying to convince the music teacher to get into their biz, and they hear Binky's poem. Meanwhile Binky's being humiliated by it all, but that all changes when he gets a recording contract and the respect of his gal while Sherwood grovels in the background remarking on how his plan failed!

And that's the funny asides, interesting twists or attempts at pathos or any real emotional tugs or jolts. Just a straight story with a bizarre faux deus ex machina ending that leaves this reader more stymied than entertained. At least with an Archie saga you get the weird if funny badgags and slapschtick, but these BINKY sagas are merely pale copies without any of the surprise or wit of even the wankiest thing MLJ coulda come up with. If it weren't for the Stan Goldberg and Henry Scarpelli art these sagas wouldn't even be worth that 1972 second hand flea market pickup amidst the Marvel reprints and DC socio-conscious pieces cluttering up the tables!

Not that there ain't any value to be found, at least with the digests I snatched up. After all if it's mindless duh you're looking for these comics can't be beat. And not only that, but the filler (!) is worth a look-see as well, including some neat Sugar 'n Spike cartoons that at least had a few wits about 'em not to mention an infamous Doodles Duck saga about the worthiness of comic book at least when compared to Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm Fairy Tales. And even longtime gag cartoonist and DC reg Henry Boltinoff contributes his own comic entitled "Binky's Buddy Sonny," a black character situated in an all-black setting custom made for the new integration in kiddie comicdom. For a minute I was hoping that Sonny would be a free jazz player in the Sonny Sharrock/Simmons/S(u)nny Murray mode and maybe he is, but as far as I can tell he works in a restaurant for a black boss and has a black galpal in another story but he's gotta do something when not playing atonal solos now, don't he? But this thing about Sonny being "Binky's buddy"??? Can't believe that for a minute...after all Binky's world is so white I couldn't fathom him being anywhere more'n fifty miles away from the nearest black person so what's this thing about 'em being buddies anyway??? Maybe they're pen pals, though given Binky's thorough whiteness even that 'un's kinda hard to swallow!