Saturday, September 23, 2017


Just a few things that have been piquing my petunias as of late.

THE AQUARIAN WEEKLY "NIGHT OWL" SECTION, December 8 through December 15 1976 issue

I really like reading these old issues of THE AQUARIAN WEEKLY. Well, not the really old ones which seemed more like lower-class VILLAGE VOICE gurgles what with the obligatory odes to whatever liberation movement might be the flavor of the week. I'm talking about the mid-to-late seventies issues when a good portion of the mag was devoted to musical growlings that usually reflected what was happening in the local clubs not only in New Jersey (where the paper originated from) but nearby New York City back in the days when news from such hangouts as CBGB and Max's Kansas City were filtering their way into the mindsets of young suburban slobs who were thumbing through piles of old ROCK SCENE magazines they got for a song at the local flea market.

And one thing about THE AQUARIAN's music coverage that really settles well with me is that, unlike the VOICE (which was always scouring the bottom of the local barrel for the avantest of the avant garde to write about in their typically urban armchair guerrilla way) the AQUARIAN's writers weren't necessarily concerned with covering the local talent that might have gotten the premier weekend gigs at CBGB but those who weren't necessarily trying to ape the current punk fashion in any way shape or form! Yeah, I'm talkin' about those li'l obscurities who would get stuck onna bottom of the bills who seemed to be more into the straighter and commercial aspects of musicdom whether it be jazz fusion or country twang or even (shudder!) progressive rock which, from what I have been able to make out, was fairly prevalent on the New York club scene even though you never would have known it by reading any of the books that were written on the subject then or even now.

This Dec. issue (actually part of the "Night Owl" local music tipoff section) is a good example. Lotsa music reviews  and ads permeate its pages, and the writeups of local soundmongers, between in-depth pieces of the likes of Johnny Cash and Neil Young, is focused towards some of the up and coming acts that were trying to make it big at CBGB thinking that some big name inna biz was just rarin' to walk in and sign these guys to a million dollar contract. I sincerely doubt that any of the groups reviewed in these pages got that opportunity which, who knows, might be as great a loss as all of those Falling Spikes rehearsal tapes moiling away in some forsaken closet!

Pithy reviews too, not ignorant of music and where it comes from stupid like the kind that show up in college papers nationwide but missing the target bad enough for my tastes! Well, not that bad but still you kinda wonder just who these outta nowhere writers THE AQUARIAN hired were coming from. Certainly not from any special underground rock mindset but eh, I guess that hadda take what they could.

Oddly enough, none of the reviews of groups emanating from the CBGB/Max's axis were anything but disdainful. The Slickee Boys at Max's got a shrill toss off (oddly enough set openers the Planets, subbing for a canceled out Mary Hogan and Mick Ronson [!], were not reviewed probably due to all of the space they copped in previous issues) while a Moonbeam/Ruby and the Rednecks show at the same venue (reviewed by the same reporter, one Cathy Nemeth) got the hard knocks. I know that Ruby Lynn and band didn't exactly wow many of the more sophisticated (or is that baser) rock fans in the area, but from Nemeth's review I woulda liked 'em because they were crass and loud and most importantly fun...ditto Moonbeam who sound as if they were a good enough hard rock act even if they hadda go the Frampton route and use one of those voice distortion gadgets on their version of "You Really Got Me" (a NEW YORK ROCKER review once mentioned them doing the same for "Wild Thing"!).  I dunno, but I think I woulda had a better time there than Cathy did!

Over at CBGB a guy named Elliot Cohen tackled a gig by an act called Icarian and long-time scenesters the Fleshtones during one of their first live appearances long before anyone knew or cared for that matter. At least Cohen, unlike his co-contributor, seems to have an idea of the goings on re. underground rock on the New York scene even to the point where he praises the jukebox at CB's for spinning all of the punk anthems including "Psychotic Reaction", "96 Tears", Patti Smith's "My Generation" and..."Born To Run"????? Well, I gotta admit that his definition of the term and mine don't quite jibe but maybe he was new at this sort of thing.

His writeup of the show is of interest if only to capture a small slice of rock history that nobody but myself seems to care about. Headliners Icarian were one of those names that pop up on NYC gig lists during the latter portion of '76 and with a name like that I thought they might have been a throwback to some late-sixties kinda local punk rock as in those trashy kids from down the block who kept everyone up all night banging away on their instruments. Maybe they were at one time, though these guys were probably more in the prog/jazz rock groove mentioned earlier considering they not only had an arp synth player but their closing number was Blodwyn Pig's "See My Way". The snap of them I found via internet showed 'em with the standard friz hair and beard look that seemed so omnipresent at the time that even school teachers and respected civic leaders looked like these guys! No wonder the rule amongst the youth of the time (the non-conformist hard-edged set) was to chop hair and look cleancut in the presence of the new authority in charge which is something I'll bet confused more'n a few uptight and perhaps shaggy themselves parents.

Now for the Fleshtones...I remember seeing a photo of 'em from CBGB in '76 (perhaps this very gig) and thought they all looked so funny with their mid-seventies long rock hair ('cept for the bassist) and leisure suits kinda coming off like a lounge act that got a little rowdy down the line. Who woulda thunk that these guys with those wide collars looking like rejects from the prom Carrie went to woulda been thought of as garage band saviors in a few years! Cohen didn't seem so impressed with 'em but even at this early stage inna game they seemed like the kinda local teenage punk band that I sure wish I coulda grown up with. Funniest part, when lead vocalist "Piotr Michael Zamben" yelled "Stop the music! We're out of tune!" Also interesting was the mention of the group's cover of sixties classic "Hey Little Girl"...guitarist Daniel Gilbert, when asked by Cohen why all of the numbers were originals except for this replied "Oh, did you recognize it? We were afraid that nobody in the audience was going to recognize it"! For some reason this line cracks me up, but then again I do have a strange sense of humor (as you will see as you read down further).
FRECKLES COMIC STRIPS (late-sixties version)

Given how my obsession quickly shifted to comic strips from Matchboxes 'n dinosaurs around this period in what passes for "life" it sure pains me to think that FRECKLES had been dropped from the local paper (and my life in general) for a good six years awlready! And really, if there was one thing I coulda used around this period in my life was more FRECKLES and less DROPOUTS! I mean, what else could a suburban slob such as myself struggling through one of the cheezier hipster times in history crave on the funny pages'n a strip like FRECKLES (as opposed to the newer 'n simpler scrawls that were passing as har-hars at the time)...classic thirties/forties-styled art and neato gags just aimed at the ranch house kiddie that I was and most truly remain even though admitting such at school would be akin to telling everyone that your favorite television personality was Alan Ludden. But so what if he was (though Bill Cullen was even cooler to us second grade types), and hey this far down the line does it really matter to anyone anymore???

Yeah, alla the other brats at school were too busy for that old goop what with their attempts to be hip, cool and shabby, but at least """""I""""" was still soaking up alla that thirties/forties/fifties fun 'n jamz that I learned about through my folks and relatives and I loved every gosh darn minute! I still feel all the better for it because hey...did Peter Max and Melanie ever have any "relevance" (hip libtard term of the day next to "right on") to the Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kid crowd anyway? FRECKLES, a comic that managed to retain its quality despite many striking changes throughout the years sure must have been outta touch with the hipper 'n thou types but really struck a chord with UHF-TV ranch house kiddies such as I.

You're only gonna get a small selection of my recent FRECKLES gains here (believe me, I got a millyun of 'em!), but oh what a selection it is! For some reason Freckles' pal (firmly seated in the Jughead chair of knucklehead sidekicks) Lard is missing in these latterday comics, but Bazoo (a virtual neo-Reggie if not as aggravating) seems to have snuggly crawled into his place. The '66 anti-longhair strips are a hoot if only to get more of that older generation take on the young'uns and their strange ways and yeah, I know that the whole idea of the FRECKLES characters taking the side of mid-Amerigan clean-cutness over long hair and wild fashions might have been totally verboten to a good portion of the comic strip reading kids who wanted to run away to New York City and do weird things with their bodies. But hey, it's sure refreshing seeing hip trends lampooned like this as was wont in a whole lotta media of the day, at least before youth got their buying power and all of a sudden every dim bulb hippoid was being presented in a favorable light much to the dismay of my stomach.

The '69 storyline where Freckles and Bazoo hitchike to Montana and meet up with a coupla cuties and their plump yet pulchritudish mid-aged mom is boff (come to think of it, even Freckles' own up-in-age mother with the horn rimmed cat glasses is pretty stacked which makes me wonder how the old fuddoid Mr. McGoosey ever got hold of that vixen in the first place!). I'll tell ya, it's ALWAYS fun to look at pix of nice looking members of that other gender drawn up all curvy and---oh, what's that word???---yeah, FEMININE which really is an eye-pleaser especially in these days of face-to-ankle tattoos and shiny things hanging from parts of the body men never could get pierced because...well we don't have any!!!

The more interesting of these particular strips happen to be the ones where Honeybee Birdwhistle, a Southwestern Indian First Nations runaway who her tribe seems glad to be rid of, is introduced as a reg'lar character. I dunno exactly why artists Henry Formhals (who took over from creator Merle Blosser when the the guy retired a few years earlier) thought of sticking her smack dab inna middle of this not long-to-live (three years at the max) strip...I mean, was it to liven up FRECKLES somehow by introducing a young'un to the cast (though come to think of it, Freckles did have a kid brother who went the Chuck Cunningham route) or was it to be up-to-date and relevant and all of those meaningful things that looked silly once 1973 rolled around! Well, Honeybee's debut did coincide around the time when the American Indian Movement was getting in full swing and we finally got to see some actual Hopis on the tee-vee screen who weren't being played by Italians. Whatever, I gotta say that I do like this Honeybee character just because she is spunky and sorta against the strip's whitebread-yet-funtime grain.  Her presence does make things a bit livelier even if for the most part I get the feeling that comic strip Ameriga was doin' nothing but yawning their heads off!

Too bad these haven't been collected in book or magazine form anywhere because FRECKLES really was the kinda everyday hotcha Silent Majority strip that I sure could use even in these stridently anti-cis days. And I know you could use a whole lot more FRECKLES in your life and a whole lot less DILBERT because really, a BLOG TO COMM fan without FRECKLES is like a Canadian without Macaroni and Cheese and I really do mean it! Spend a few hours at the library of your choice and comb through the newspaper microfilms for a nice selection guaranteed to reduce you to the true brat that you are and most certainly remain.  But whatever you do, tell the librarian you're doing a research paper for school on weather patterns in the tri-county area and maybe she won't bug you for inappropriate use of library property!.

OUT OUR WAY, July 1960

Like FRECKLES above, OUT OUR WAY was one of those things that I can remember clearly about since my earliest days of whose absence from the local funny pages seemed to signal the close of some sorta strange chapter in my life. Whatever, I remember really loving the dickens outta this one not only for its old-time style but the weird gags and situations that artist J. R. Williams (or, by my time, Neg Cochran) could put into one mere panel. True like FRECKLES OUT OUR WAY might have seemed too old fashioned for most of my compadres who liked the newer, post World War II style of  strip but hey, I found it the perfect encapsulation of the world I lived in, one which my elders had actually lived through (via the nostalgia "Born Thirty Years Too Soon" entries) as well as those which reflected a more modern-day type of living which, somehow, I still feel a birthright to every guy who puts in tough days at work and gets nada but a skimpy paycheck for it all.

Decided to buy some 1960 vintage OUT OUR WAY daily clippings if only to re-introduce myself to the type of comics that I had grown up with until the panel was unceremoniously kicked outta the local paper in the early-seventies. And judging from what I have seen I remember these particular strips perfectly. They still bring back those funtime memories of comics reading and the artwork still resonates within me, as if this was presented in the kinda style that was meant to document the kinda life and upbringing I had (again, at least the FUN portion) which I get the sad feeling will never be replicated no matter how much I sure hope the next generation of ranch house kiddies will be able to enjoy afternoon cartoons and Bowery Boys films without turnin' into a buncha hippies 'r somethin' like yer brothers did!

Cochran's artwork is really good, and even tighter than creator Williams (whose name was not taken off the masthead here even though he had been gone around three years by the time these strips were published). I find his aping of the original OUT OUR WAY style to be even firmer and more direct with even more care to detail than the originator's take. He did have Williams' down-homey touch as far as dialogue goes which might have been a tricky thing given how Williams tended to keep his Victorian style with him for quite some time, but as far as transcribing the ethos and manners of a vanishing era for mid-twentieth-century Amerigan consumption probably nobody could have done a better job than Cochran.

Perhaps not-so-surprisingly enough a whole number of old Williams-era comics were being reissued during these days, usually re-pattered for modern-day space concerns and updated if ever-so-slightly. For example the old "Born Thirty Years Too Soon" panels were now being titled "Born Fifty Years Too Soon" which I do believe missed the mark by quite a few decades considering these were the sixties. Dunno how long the repackaging of old Williams delineated comics had transpired, though I do recall that were was a Williams rerun in the Kennedy assassination papers that everyone and their uncle had saved on that fateful day if only for purely historical reasons (and so's that I could read the comics and tee-vee listings years later!).

S'funny, but even in the early-sixties the old "Bull of the Woods" and western comics were being reprinted, and for the life of me I can't recall ever seeing any of these in the papers during my crucial growing up days. Maybe by that time both of these sub-features were just too dated for the new 'n hip audience out there, but I am glad that they were both getting some action long after their shelf life would seemingly had expired. Not surprisingly enough Cochran seems to lend his talents towards the only comics here that could be somehow updated for a modern-day clientele. The kids who were always going on extended jaunts down the river are still around even if their confines don't seem as shantytown as they did back inna twenties, while the infamous "Worry Wart" and his brother can also be seen albeit now in more up-to-date hand-me-downs. Of course something's lost in the evolution but I find these comics a whole lot more copasetic with the way I grew up 'n more'n they ever did in something like...say...FUNKY WINKERBEAN.

And in many ways it was a disguised blessing that some of these strips (like the one on the lower left which dates back to the twenties) were still being disseminated a good thirtysome years later and being read by a new generation that was getting the same historical treatment via LITTLE RASCALS reruns. And true the comic just didn't have the same steam once the seventies rolled around and new artists were put on the series but hey, at least in 1960 the best aspects of early-twentieth century all-Amerigan living hadn't totally been washed away by the Bolsheviks who now run things, and maybe that's why these forgotten comics have all the more spiritual meaning to me!


ME AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC (on-line column by R. Meltzer ca. late 90s)

Yeah, it is hard getting hold of anything worthwhile when it comes to REAL ROCK JOURNALISM these days, or even from the past for that matter. I mean yeah, ROLLING STONE used to PRIDE
themselves on being in-depth investigative rock journalism but other'n maybe that Allman Brothers article Nick Kent used to mention and scant other examples were they anything other'n pure pandering to the worst aspects of late-sixties youth??? CREEM was more or less punkoid journalism in the early-seventies sorta way and maybe you could say ditto FUSION,  but otherwise rock scribbling certainly has gone under BIG TIME along with the music it was covering long ago. Even these days when rock screeding would (or so one would surmise) FLOURISH on-line it sure hasn't, and one would be hard-pressed to find anything that's really hotcha eye-grabbing anymore when it comes to rock-related reading unless it's by the likes of a Kenne Highland, and it ain't like you can just flick onna computer and pull his stuff up with any ease, y'know?

That's why the old grease from the old pits really hit the proverbial home this late in the anti-rock game. Yes, one reading of the DENIM DELINQUENT collection will make you forget thirty years of poor rock writing, while thumbing through a classic NME with Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray and Mick Farren delivering the goods really makes you feel all nice 'n toasty inside. And of course anything from the original masters will do you fine, even Lester Bangs at his worstest or especially today's case in point Richard a.k.a. "R" Meltzer and his ME AND THE NIGHT AND THE MUSIC column.

Done for some online thing or other in the late-nineties, this must be (but correct me if I'm wrong) Meltzer's last steady gig as a writer on rock or any subject matter at hand. Although his ideas re. rock 'n roll and mine might veer off at times (f'r example, he thinking that punk was not exactly rock 'n roll per se but something on an equal balance) the guy still knows more about what he's clicking away about than you do, and I know how much you think you know everything now, do you!

I forget who copied and bundled these columns up for me, but they sure did come in handy during the equally rockist-starved late-nineties as they do now. Here we find the old and mature Meltzer espousing on a variety of subjects of all manners, from classical music to blues and rock and punk. Groovily good stuff here too, good enough that you won't mind digesting your dinner to his opines re. Stravinsky and Schoenberg not to mention the then Sex Pistols grab the moolah reunion where the entire gist of '77 is updated and Meltzer still seems to come out on top even if he did get thrown outta Winterland personally by Bill Graham for making fun of San Francisco.

Well, it is better to find out about classical music from Meltzer than it is from your eighth grade music teacher, just as it is better to read Meltzer's impressions re. Lawrence Welk than it is to hear about your Aunt Flabby's trip to Branson. And smart writing it is! After all the guy long before Sean Whatzizname (Brad Kohler's x-commie pal) pondered why Bruce Springsteen, idol of blue shirt dirtdiggers everywhere, is called "The Boss" when alla those hard laborers LOATHE their overseers with a passion! And hey, the writing was still top notch Meltzer in '98 as it was twentysome years earlier when the guy was seemingly at the top of his form back when he was penning such classics as the review of Redd Foxx's YOU BETTER WASH YO' ASS or whatever that one was called.

It even has a blindfold test that Meltzer conducted with a prospective concubine which is high-larious beyond belief! By the way, did I ever tell you that for years I thought a concubine was a farm implement? Just something I just remembered after years of neglect.

Every so often I stumble across these Tyrone Rage cartoons on the web which only goes to show you just what kind of sites I happen to be peeking at these days! (Or I was at least until many of them kept becoming unobtainable for some strange reason or another!) But man, you all know how much I like humor that's "guaranteed to offend" (the people who are never supposed to be---if I have to "take" a joke or even some defamation due to my standing in the community so can they!) and when it comes to bad taste I don't think anything can really top these that's fer sure!

I don't know who does these Tyrone cartoons but they have been appearing for the past few years on sites like 4chan not to mention "Know Your Meme" and with an alarming irregularity. There have been inferior knockoffs floating around as well, but the originals have an unmistakable style and are usually a cut above stylistically. But despite whoever does 'em up, I gotta say that these sagas about Tyrone Rage, somebody's cartoon version of a shiftless urban resident of African heritage, are what-they-call "deeply offensive" and downright maybe even racist true, but they're funny enough that they would probably get ever your typical uptight feminist snickering in delight before she pauses and says "that's not funny". "Over the top", but as I've said many-a-time when was the last time you saw southerners and ethnic blue collar workers presented in an honest light?

One pundit mentioned that Tyrone himself was drawn as a shameful negro caricature. Gotta disagree which him after seeing some of the other cartoonish depictions of blacks on the web which could make even a cast-iron bellied guy like me wince. Actually, if I attempted to draw a cartoon of a black guy he'd probably look like Tyrone which might be saying a whole lot about my own talents but still, I must admit that I and you have come across worse throughout the years (especially the past few)! But (unless you are a follower of modern trends in what is or isn't supposed to be "humor") these comics are sure funny, and I get the idea that a lotta black people would laugh at 'em given their first-hand knowledge of some of the shadier people who occupy their world.

And sure, these cartoons tend to be way over the top racially/socially/politically incorrect-wise (I've spared you some of the grittier strips like the one where he's making up a batch of "jenkem" or blasting off into space while achieving orgasm) but so were those GOOBERS strips in NATIONAL LAMPOON featuring a black Charlie Brown (Leroy Brown...hokay, that ain't so original!) who had a giant rat as a pet. In fact I think Tyrone woulda fit into the classic-era LAMPOON back when humor that cannot exist today most certainly did. Read the following 'toons and tell me if that just ain't the case!

If I had the money to market this strip people would be wearing "Tyrone" t-shirts, reading "Tyrone" paperback collections and "Shhhhheeeeeeeiiiiiit" would be the catch-phrase of the day! C'mon entrepreneurial newspaper editors...put TYRONE RAGE in your pages and help make him the new Amerigan hero we can all look up to in our own cornball vanilla pudding way!!!


(Since the TWG collection isn't anywhere near done [in fact, for all I know it hasn't even started] here's one item that's bound to stimulate reams of rahs for its inevitable publication. Punctuation and spelling remain "as was" and as shall will remain.)

Hi, my names Trisha Parker but my friends call me Sunshine. I'm only 16 years old, but I have to be one of the luckiest girls in the world, and do you know why? Because I won a DREAM DATE WITH THE GREATFUL DEAD. It wasn't easy, but then again it wasn't hard. Sit tight and I will tell you the whole story.

One day as I was reading through what I consider my "bible'', Rolling Stone Magazine. I glanced across from an article on why Ian Anderson likes to make money in America to see a full page ad by Warner Brothers Records. It said, "Are you different like everybody else? Then you probably like the Greatful Dead. Tell us in 25 words or less why you think Bertha, Playin in the Band and Sugar Magnolia are structurally the same song." Well I must admit at this point that I am a Dead freak. I mean these guys are really far out. You know, like, I saw them at the Manhattan Center Dance Marathon and I really dug it. all these people getting it on together, it was too much.And when they do their old stuff like Casey Jones or Dr. Johns Band I just flip out.....Well anyway I got out my paper and my lucky pad and started writing. I used a lot of musical terms like beat and rhythm to make it look like I knew what I was talking about, but of course I wrote whatever came to mind. Imagine me-Trisha Parker of 24 Elm St., Baldwin Long Island going out with the Greatful Dead. I get all hot just thinking about it. Then one day my mother told me I had a letter. I ran into my room to read it. To my great astonishment I found out I had won! My heart almost popped out of my mouth. The letter said next Satirday a limosine would pick me up with my own live Greatful Dead escort. Well I was on the phone all day telling my friends. a few of them wanted to stow away in the trunk, but I told them to fuck off that this was my gig.

Come zaturdayand I was just too excited. I put on the long tie dye dress me and Marsha made that rainy sunday afternoon, and all the beads and bells I could find. as I was putting on my last bell the doorbell rang. I ran downstairs and answered the door. Standing at the portal was Pigpen. He grunted, took my hand, and dragged me out to a big limosine outside. We sat inside when Pigpen took out a gold cigarette case filled with joints. We sat in the limosine smoking so much pot that the windows fogged up. Pigpen was so understanding, he even told me to call him Ron. But I said I would rather call him the Pig.

Pigpen said we were going to a recording studio to hear the mix on the latest Dead single. We arrived at the studio where the rest of the Dead were waiting for us. The Pig introduced me to them then went to talk to some friends. I sat in the corner praying this moment would last forever.Every time Piggy looked at me I felt my heart skip a beat. I finally heard the single called Fat Country Mama, and let me too you,it is very together. Piggy told me he played all of the tambourine parts all by himself. I was very proud of him.

We next went to the latest rock theatre to open in N.Y. It's called Peace Palace and the Dead were going to play there thatnight. This is where I really got to know the Pig. We both revealed our innermost secrets, One of the things he revealed to me was that he really does like perverted sex. This was something my gang always argued about, I then showed him some pictures of me and my friends.Some guy photographed us in his studio doing all these crazy things and put them in his magazine Lesbian Pussy. Pig really dug them. I then said he looked like "Chico" one of the junkies in my neighborhood and he said "Wow". I told him about Chico's band the Vanilla Sunshine and how they only do Grateful Dead and Bloodrock songs. I must say Pig is one of the few people I can really relate to.

It wasn't long before the audience started to arrive. There was such milling about.Backstage where I was, were all those groovy people. I never saw so much hair in my life. I also heard so many wierd expressionslike, "Heavy, man, heavy," or "Don't lay your trip on me". I was really getting into it when Piggy grabbed me by the arm and led me to this little room. He grabbed me at the shoulders and told me to get undressed. I was a little scared but I did what he said. Then he suddenly stuck his foot up my ass, I told him that that was not my bag. So he then took his hairy pud and put it up my Pudding. I felt all tingly inside and....(continued next week)

No comments: