Saturday, September 28, 2019


Ever since I was but a mere turdler I've been told that breakfast was the MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY, a claim which always puzzled me because when I was young that early morning feastie might have consisted of lumpy Maypo, a piece of dry toast and a glass of orange juice which made my mouth feel all sour because I had already brushed my teeth for school! But most of the time I would get a bowl of my favorite cold and pre-sweetened cereal to gulp down and if it weren't for the likes of CAP'N CRUNCH or CORN POPS I woulda been headin' out to the school with grumbles emitted outta my stomach akin to that classic old Hal Roach/LITTLE RASCALS sound effect which let off a loud guttural moooooooowah whenever surprise or an overheated over would be jumping around.

Cereals were great not only because your favorite comic characters endorsed 'em but they used to come with FREE TOY SURPRISES in 'em. I remember when my parents along with cyster tried to explain to me that these toys were not free (something about how General Mills, Ralston-Purina, Kelloggs and Post tacked a higher price to their product in order to push their wares) but I couldn't comprehend any of that in my then-eight-year-old mind because if it says "free" on the package it just HADDA be free! After all, it is a sin to lie. And even my current eight-year-old mind has a problem deciphering how a package coulda said "free surprise" if it wasn't so....sheesh, things like this could just ruin a kid's faith in older people because for YEARS I believed that the manufacturers of not only cereals but toys, books, games etc. were doing so outta the kindness of their hearts and the fun aspect of it all and that picking up some scratch in the process was but a mere triviality! Boy, it just goes to show you just how altruistic woefully stoopid  I was back during them single-digit days!

O'er the years my tastes in breakfast cereal have ebbed and flowed. I remember back inna eighties when the whole high fiber craze got into full swing and I was eating loads of those twig-like things (maybe FIBER ONE???) as well as another which had chewy bits of dried dates in it and my intestines would get clogged with this bran and I felt like I was defecating pine cones because it was so sharp and painful! The things I will do to prevent the onslaught of some serious medical least the oat bran craze of the early-nineties was less discomforting if not more tasty. It wasn't until recently that I decided to re-live one of the happier portions of my youth and get back into some of the old time goodies that I had been ignoring like FRUIT LOOPS and CORN POPS, in their generic store brand varieties natch, not to mention some of the newer big name brands that I might be able to get cheaper if on sale or available in a "Family Size" gigundo box with the expected price cut you get buying in bulk.

Here are but a few of the early morning (and any time of the day actually) cereals I've been gulping down when the spirit (and the hungries) hit:

PILLSBURY CINNAMON ROLL FILLOWS (General Mills)-A new concept in breakfast cereals, a pillow coated with cinnamon sugar goodness stuffed with "creme" sorta like a pierogy only much smaller and no mashed potatoes in sight. And don't kid yourself, that "creme" ain't like the goodness you will find in in a Twinkie or Cupcake but the same "stuf" that's used to glue Oreos together making for a really over-the-top sweet treat that'll really get you in gear for a day at the dildo factory. The crunch might be too hard on your teeth if you have a lotta bridgework or they've been traumatized by too many immediate bites into Tootsie Pops, but just let the stuff soak for awhile and you'll get the hang of it even if you do have a pair of storeboughts. If these tidbits were filled up with a light whippy cream styled filling FILLOWS would get an obvious A+ as far as cereal tasties go, but otherwise I'll give it a mere "OK" not only for early morning munching but afternoon/evening tee-vee snackisms. (There's also a HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE FILLOWS out there which I believe I will pass on since I never was a fan of the whole chocolate cereal trend from COCOA PUFFS and CHOCOLATE PEBBLES on down...too overbearing for my tiny tastebuds in the wee hours of the morning or something like that...)

In what has to be one of the grandest debuts of the year, Post has uplifted the tired old cookies translated into breakfast cereal trope with this absolutely delicious newie. If you like I have loved NILLA wafers ever since your turdler days and delight in the way they were used with sliced bananas and pudding to make an absolutely delicious dessert ya just hadda eat up then and there because this stuff just did not last long you'll like what Post has done with this legendary dessert. Imagine mini cookies that taste like bananas mixed with loads of tiny marshmallows and the kind that are kinda soft so's you don't get that chalky feeling like you do with FRANKENBERRY. Brother you've got yet another breakfast treat that you'll be eating just about every hour of the day like I have with CAP'N CRUNCH lo my born days! Or at least since that day when I had my first taste of it a short while before the Beatles made their live Amerigan tee-vee debut on Sullygum that fateful evening. And all these years later I'd call the debut of the Cap'n a greater impression on my well being than those four mop tops I'll tell ya!

I never did get to taste the short-lived BANANA WACKIES but I get the idea that NILLA might come close if not surpassing what that LUCKY CHARMS knockoff came off like. A cereal that makes it all the while to hit the local grocer right before they close at ten just so's you'll have milk if not more of this delicious cereal for tomorrow morn.

When I was a kid Special K was that grown up cereal that came off like little Rice Crispies that were flattened out a bit. In fact, during one of my greater cravings for confections times during my teenbo years I actually made some makeshift Rice Crispies Treats using Special K. But nowadays Special K comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes with varying taste sensation flavors, at least one of which should be reviewed as this post progresses.

With BLUEBERRY WITH LEMON CLUSTERS you get this sweet and crispy flake that's a bit thick so it's got a crunch that stands up to milk, surrounded by these little things that look like yogurt bits and clusters of oats and other crunchy things. Put 'em all together and you get a nice fresh fruity taste that kinda reminds me of Pop Tarts. And the stuff does work wonders on your intestinal system scraping out all the bad stuff on the road to rooty-toot-toot! Buy some for the family---your mother will thank you, your father will thank you and your colon will thank you in the best way it knows how.

Speaking of Pop Tarts, I had big hopes regarding this variation on an old breakfast treat (I can remember my first taste of these as a yoof and just how much I thought they tasted better raw than they did toasted!), but this cereal just doesn't make it as far as eye opening morning jamz go. Not enough gooey filler, the "frosting" leaves way too much to be desired considering all it is is finely granulated sugar, and the actual taste of the thing is indiscernible from a thousand other morning crunchers we've had throughout the ages. While many other non-cereals have made the transition to the breakfast table somewhat smoothly a lot is left to be desired with POP TARTS CEREAL, a project which should have been worked out a li'l longer before it had the audacity to make its way to my gullet.

Not as flashy as the blueberry one nor does it have any of those other surprise goodies like chewy dried fruit and mini yogurt candy bars to give it that added oomph, at least this sure beats the stuffing outta Cheerios plunked into orange juice. The sweet and crispy flakes are still there along with some sliced almonds and a vanilla flavor, and they do make for a good snack if ya wanna eat 'em plain while watching tee-vee inna afternoon. Not bat at all although I thought there would be some sorta surprise ingredient like clusters of somethingorother stuck together to give it that special "squeak" when you bite down hard.

And now for the BONAFEED WINNER of the batch, this vanilla-flavored cereal that'll really put a tingle on your tongue and gladness in your gullet! Never has an "O"-shaped breakfast cereal come off like this and you'll be awaiting those early morning moments (or general snack time) when you get a box of this into your hallowed kitchen that's fer sure!

Not just any runna-da-mill cereal, GOLDEN OREO O'S are based on the delicious Oreo cookie of the same name with all of the sweetness and imitation vanilla (better'n real!) taste that reminds me of those old "B B Bats" suckers from Argentina that used to show up at penny candy counters worldwide. Really rich and explodes in your mouth good, not only will the sugar content wow you but the flavor'll get you up 'n goin' for a hard and long day at work or goofing off, and next to what sometimes passes for confections these days you just might be eatin' this up whether in front of the kitchen table or television for that matter. Sneak a bowl in the tee-vee room just like you did as a kid in your stocking feet and now that you're old enough no one will scold you for spilling milk all over the place! I sure wish they had this stuff (complete with the obligatory free prize) when I was but a budding suburban slob trying to cope with the treacheries of real life (school, other kids, my elders...).

This is Aldi's cheap imitation of CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH which always ends up in the kitchen cabinet because pays to be cheap! And in this case it's a good deal being cheap because I can't tell the difference between this and the real deal cereal that begat this knockoff. Tastes like little cinnamon toasts covered in sugar (tho not enough...could be sweeter) but still good enough to give you that "aaaaah" feeling as the chewed up bits slide down your gullet. For some reason I seem to detect a bit of a grease to the little bits of cereal but that only helps it all slide down a bit smoother'n usual. Next time you're at Aldi's you might wanna pick up a few boxes along with your usual staples of Clancy brand snacks and of course some limited edition delicacy they just might have on special. Remember to bring a quarter for the shopping cart and while you're at it get some old boxes from home to stash your groceries in because they don't bag your purchases and besides you have to pay if you want a bag which is one way they try to keep the costs down...or something like that I think.
There're lots more breakfast goodies out there that I didn't get to, from those various SPECIAL K's hinted at above to stuff like puffed wheat that I never did like since my cyster used to call 'em "bees" and that scared me, so maybe a post like this will be the first of an on-going series where I lay down the real deal as far as what you're in store for next time you get out of your bed and fill your bowl with whatever goodies you can scrape up inna cabinet. Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and not only that but it's a meal you can save a lotta money on. Not only by wisely purchasing store brands that are good enough knockoffs but if you wife is lactating you can have her squirt some of her milk onto your flakes and save loads of money on your dairy bills. And really, it will be "THE BREAST TO YOU EACH MORNING!"

Thursday, September 26, 2019

BOOK REVIEW! THE FLINTSTONES (Whitman Publishing, 1962)

Y'know, most of the time comics of a specific print variety (newspaper, comic book, animation...) just don't transfer well into other forms of medium. Or when they do, the new medium they're in takes on a whole universe of its own. Take ARCHIE f'rinstance...first there was the comic book character and then, for a few years the radio show which had different tweaks here and there (such as a reg'lar girlfriend for Jughead). Then came the comic strip which I personally find the better of all the ARCHIE variants extant and eventually the various Saturday AM cartoon shows which I'm sure many of you reg'lar suburban slob types were brought up on began cluttering up the schedules. That's like four different variations on ARCHIE with some similarities yet some glaring differences since ya never saw a lotta the tee-vee or comic book characters such as say, Hot Dog, Big Ethel or "The Archies" in the comic strip yet none of Archie's comic strip bands or his dog Oscar (or the resident athletic doof Lunk) were in either the comic books or on the tee-vee shows!

I can go on like with just how little the Bugs Bunny tee-vee/theater cartoons had to do with the newspaper take (tho the guy who did the strip sure had an Al Capp-ish sense of just how bad a fix the everyday Silent Majority sorta guy was in with the various strips featuring Sylvester and a hobo friend traipsing into Bugs' diner and munching away on the free crackers and catsup!) or even the years of Marvel and DC TV series and motion pictures with characters who bore only a kinda/sorta resemblance to the flesh and pulp ones we've read for eons awlready. But hey, I gotta say that these early-sixties FLINTSTONES cartoons sure are loyal enough to the actual television programs without sacrificing too much in the process, and perhaps that's the only reason why I find this collection such a funtime summer's day reading experience that takes me back to the good ol' whatevers when I shoulda been cutting the yard and pulling weeds but eh, why let that get in the way of the IMPORTANT STUFF!

Oh yeah, a few nits for pickers to poke at like scabs show up. In one saga Fred and Barney are employed at the same rock quarry (and as we all know Barney was a job to job hopper) while in another its someone other'n Mr. Slate who's manning the biz! Stuff like that woulda gotten my twelve-year-old obsessive/compulsive disordered self jumping all over the place in abject world-crashing anger, but back then I just didn't have that notion of entertainment mediums as different forms of universe expression down pat as I'm sure many of you haven't. 

Nice selection of stories that I assume were ripped outta the comic book series. Pretty sitcom-y too, what with the same funny situations used for years being trotted out again and tweaked in order to look brand spanking new. Best stories include the one where Fred overhears his bowling rival on the phone saying that their match was "fixed" and "in the bag" (turns out to be something different of course) and the one where the girls enter a singing contest and almost clear out the neighborhood practicing! 

Sure wish I had one of these back when I was a mere ten. Woulda made the summer vacation seem a whole lot smoother...

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


As a comic book, RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE ran for five issues. The first was with Toby Press (see pic, the well-worn blue cover with star Jon Hall), whose most successful comic seemed to be JOHN WAYNE ADVENTURE COMICS, in 1954….Toby was on its last legs in 54-55, and the series was then picked up by Charlton for four more issues, running at four-month intervals in late 1955 and throughout 1956. All five issues are included, complete except for the original ads, in this exciting Gwandanaland collection.

The TV series RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE was a syndicated show that ran for 52 episodes over the 1952-54 period and then entered into endless re-runs, which were still being shown on Channel 38 in the late 1960’s, when I watched them. (EDITOR'S NOTE: this show was also a part of the broadcast schedule on the short lived Youngstown Ohio indie station WXTV-45 way back 1960 way.) There were also a number of “feature films” cobbled together from the episodes, some of which were released theatrically by Lippert Pictures in the US and some which were TV only and released both here and overseas. The Lippert ones were in rotation on another UHF station I watched as a child, so I was getting a double-dose of Ramar as a boy of 8-11. I’d heard that there was a Ramar comic, but I never saw one until Comic Book Plus posted them online during the internet age, and I never actually held one in my hands until this Gwandanaland collection. I wish it had been sooner, but it was worth the wait.

RAMAR was created by and starred JON HALL, well-known for his featured roles at Universal in the late 30’s and early 40’s, an actor who was considered “exotic” (I’ve read that his mother was Polynesian, though that’s not mentioned in his Wikipedia entry….in fact, no mother is mentioned at all!) and put into a number of “South Seas” adventures, including the film that made him a star, the 1937 HURRICANE. Somewhat typecast in this period, he starred in 6 films with Maria Montez, whose name was synonymous in the Hollywood hype factory of that era with the word “exotic.” He worked steadily through the years, and after his time at Universal, was part of Sam Katzman’s stable at Columbia Pictures. No doubt seeing how quickly and cheaply feature films could be made by working with Katzman, Hall moved into producing and directing himself, realizing that was where the money, such as it was, could be made. About 5-6 years ago, I had the privilege of seeing a 35mm screening of his 1965 classic BEACH GIRLS AND THE MONSTER (aka MONSTER FROM THE SURF), which he starred in and directed, in Austin, and it was quite impressive (I loved seeing it in TV horror-movie packages as a teenager). After RAMAR, Hall did some pilot episodes for a show called KNIGHT OF THE SOUTH SEAS. These did not get picked up, so Hall cobbled them together into the over-the-top 1957 feature film HELL-SHIP MUTINY (see poster), which featured neither a Hell Ship nor a mutiny (that in itself shows that Hall totally “got” the low-budget exploitation-film mentality), but was great fun. If you ever wondered why the co-stars such as John Carradine or Peter Lorre were only in part of that film, now you know why—each was in a separate pilot episode. They didn’t even know they were in a “film” with each other. It was released by Republic Pictures, which by then was running on fumes and releasing re-titled reissues of their earlier product, foreign pick-ups, and independent product such as HELL-SHIP MUTINY. It’s the kind of film tailor-made for the BTC audience.

The RAMAR show was certainly inspired by the success of the Jungle Jim series of films at Columbia, produced by Hall’s old employer Sam Katzman, starring a similarly “exotic” actor, Johnny Weissmuller, after his Tarzan fame. In this case, you had two lead actors, Hall as Dr. Tom Reynolds (known as Ramar, or medicine man, to the locals) and Ray Montgomery as his partner/assistant, Professor Howard Ogden. Some of the episodes were supposedly set in India and the majority supposedly in Africa, but it made little difference. Even as a child, I could tell that there was very little location shooting in these shows…..even location shooting at a California lake or Marineland or whatever. A few seconds would be shown at the beginning of the episode to provide our juvenile minds with a setting, and here and there another few snippets would be dropped in to remind us of that setting. It seemed as though there were a few 20’ by 20’ “jungle” sets that they would traipse through on each show, coming in and out from different sides and with different camera angles. It mattered little to me—I loved the show. And watching some episodes here and there in the last year, I still love it. Just use your imagination and you are there in some fantasy “jungle.” After all, who has ever been to a real one? The farthest south I’ve been is Harlingen, Texas (where I visited the dog-racing track, Valley Race Park, and also managed to find, on a back street, the mural of the city’s most famous one-time resident, Bill Haley!).

Hall and Montgomery (see pic—they are the two men in the center of the still photo) were both handsome, athletic, and charismatic, so throw them into those Jungle Jim outfits, come up with some plots about evil European poachers and/or local political intrigues among the tribes in the area, and you’ve got classic jungle-action. When I was recently reading a book about Lippert Pictures (which issued a number of such films), I learned that many small-town theater operators loved jungle films and begged Lippert to keep making and releasing them, as they went over well with rural audiences. And why not----in the pre-television, pre-internet age, they could take us away from our limited daily life and into a world of danger and intrigue….and exotic animals. And it was cheaper than a family visit to the zoo, and had an exciting plot to boot!

The comic books are, in a way, even better than the show, in that we are not limited by low budgets and backlot jungle sets. Thus the plots are much wilder and feature much more action and large-scale settings than the TV show ever could. Jon Hall’s name appears on each comic book cover, and I’d guess any juvenile fan of the show would be super-excited about owning one. I certainly wish they’d been available in the late 60’s when I was watching the show.

Well, at least the five comic books are available now in this attractive book. You can watch a number of Ramar episodes for free online, and those who don’t mind reading comics online and saving the cost of a book could even read the five comics for free at Comic Book Plus. These old jungle films and TV shows, rooted in the colonial era and made with a kind of wide-eyed enthusiasm impossible in today’s ironic and self-absorbed world, are truly a relic of an age long-gone. You can have it back for an hour or two with this fine collection from Gwandanaland comics. Just Google the book title and publisher and you can order your own copy today!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Er --- uh ---  hi! Hope things are pickin' up at least in a downright life-reaffirming way for you like they are for me! Not that the music that I adore is comin' at me with all of the fiery force of a rectal rocket brought on by one too many burritos, or that all of the tee-vee shows that I MUST see before I clock out for good will parade before my eyes any time soon. But sheesh, once I do my proper suburban slob duty and REVERT BACK TO THE AGE OF THREE (just like Iggy usedta) everything makes all the more sense to me especially now in that journey to that plot with my name on it. Back then I really was better off...I mean, I could appreciate all that was around me as being the peak of where mankind could go (if it went any further we'd be in SUPERCAR and JETSONS territory) and in fact I could swear that I actually had special super powers that unfortunately faded away once I grew older and something went kaput inna mind. Either that or someone told me to knock all that stoopidity off. To this day I just KNOW that I not only could make time stand still (just like on BEWITCHED an' I was doin' just that even before that show came onna air!) but make contact with weird inter-dimensional freaky alien types who were entering into the house in order to cause some strange mishap with the toaster. Y'know, sometimes I think I still have those uber-human powers stored into my cranial capacity only I don't use them because well, how would it have looked for me to conjure up the GREAT AVENGING MAGNETO-FORCE when I was in high stool anyway especially when we all needed it? Well, if I did it to my sophomore English teacher I might have been considered a hero.

But getting back to the issue at hand, at least when I was in the turdler stage o' life I really could appreciate the simpler things from sunny hot days to overcast autumn ones as well as stuck in the house winters when I'd at least have a reason to stay secure in the tee-vee room with my toys shoved into the corner. As I grew older a dark rainy day or the way the sun would shine on a house just riveted me back to some earlier time in my life when I thought everything was right and in order...unless a tube blew out on the tee-vee 'r something like that. And today was kinda that kinda day with the late-summer warmth and sun and the feeling of the approaching autumn which back then didn't quite shock me into the cold weather doldrums like they woulda later. It was just the natural change of things with new activities to look forward to and new tee-vee shows to watch. Of course those enticing leaps into new and hopefully exciting vistas to frolic in sure wore thin as time crept on, but when you're three you have four, five and six to look forward to and even if what you do end up with ain't exactly what you were expectin' it wasn't as life-crunching as things would later on be. (Tho I dunno...I remember first grade being especially traumatic!)

So here's to the turdler in all of us, the ones who ate their cereals straight from those little Kelloggs variety pack boxes then headed towards the tee-vee for LITTLE RASCALS and had a dad to read 'em NANCY after supper and knew when and where the cartoons on tee-vee were gonna be aired that day. Somehow I think that this kinda kiddoid creature and his aging doppelganger have even more relevance to the world today than alla those underage anti-gun and environmentalist types who seem to be the current rage as far as to how kids are supposed to act in today's stress-filled world. Y'know, the one that certain "pundits" out there say is just ripin' to topple off over the edge and fall smack dab into the bottom of the universe. Which when I was a turdler I thought was kept in a box that was stashed somewhere in that police station where DICK TRACY takes place, 'n maybe that equally kiddoid thought does make more sense'n some of the weird neo-theories that are floatin' around about the creation of the cosmos these days, that's for sure!.
Here's a moom pitcher I can really sink my fangs into, a rare Sci-Fi/Horror thriller courtesy one half of the Kuchar Brothers, mainly Mike! Says much more on a $20 budget than what most major releases can say with millions! If you don't like it, you cannot be my friend.

And now, here's the part of the blog you really dread: And if my writing this week feels rather lopsided it's probably because """""I""""" feel quite lopsided myself in the brain department as if you couldn't tell from my rheumy reminiscences mentioned above. But then again, me at my most lopsided makes most so-called "critics" with their heads screwed on "straight" look pretty toppled over, and you just can't argue with that!!!

Owen Maercks-KINDS OF BLUE LP (Feeding Tube Records)

For once I will ignore the retro-kitsch cover and concentrate on the music at hand. And it's some pretty weirded out stuff as will since the TEENAGE SEX THERAPIST man is back after forty years to do a followup---and what a followup it is! Maercks tackles a whole slew of blues on this platter at times reminding me of (what relatively little I have heard of) the late-sixties blues revivals at the hands of shaggy haired types to the twisted blues of (maybe, but not quite) Captain Beefheart as well as a few other handy comparison points I might think of in the future in order to not look about as much of a dunce as I can about this music. Maercks sounds "old", or at least what old used to mean back when I was up and comin', and his now elderly voice seems to fit in to the various strains strangely enough. Its satisfying, with the results being kinda like if Burl Ives sat in with Bruce Hampton 'r something. Yes, this is that hard to describe in mere words, but it sure does fit in with alla you late-sixties freak rock fanatics who sorta strayed from the form once Bizarre Records gave way to Discreet. Hey, if Beefheart recorded his version of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" it mighta sounded a lot like Maercks'!
The Count Bishops-GOOD GEAR CD-r burn (originally on Dynamite Records)

I still can't imagine how more'n a few sophisticados would up snoot over these hard-on high-energy guys due to some preconceived notion of what "rock 'n roll" was supposed to entail back in the days of Pablo Cruise. These bloozers dish out just about everything good that I like about those mid-seventies pub acts that managed to get a tad bit of press in between the Ian Anderson/Robert Plant feud coverage, and from the mid-fi sound quality to the straight-ahead no frills performance I don't know how the Bishops could not satisfy anyone outside of Bobby Colomby (I remember him stating in MELODY MAKER how he wondered what those old Stones sides would sound like if they were recorded in tune---won't forget you for that one Bob!). This stuff shoulda conquered a whole lotta musical spheres out there but eh, giving the Sopor-ific state of youth how could it?
Jandek-THE RAY CD-r burn (originally on Corwood Industries Records)

If I were Jandek I woulda retired long ago and just basked in whatever it is that a Jandek would bask in, but this man is made of sturdier stuff! This new Cee-Dee features one extended track of over an hour featuring him speaking seemingly random thoughts over an interesting in-and-out avant rock backing that does about as many trips with your head as Jandek's vocalizing (and music) could possibly do. As usual it is difficult to describe and even pinpoint the music and exactly where Jandek is attempting to take us on this journey which at times recalls some Damo Suzuki-styled marathon recording with Can and at others a soundtrack to some unreleased underground film of the late-sixties that wasn't made by a bunch of fifteen-year-old hipster wannabes. Maybe even a rare Sky Saxon release nobody knows about! It takes a marathon-minded person to be able to handle it all in one take (it took me two, but then again I was called away about halfway through) and if you are one who can or has, I have about as much respect for you as I do the winner of a pancake eating contest held in the high school gym!
THERE ARE BUT THREE SMALL FACES CD-r burn (originally on The Third Eye Records)

An undoubtedly illegal collection of rare Small Faces radio appearances in varying quality, not that dissimilar to other British Invasion group collections from WHO'S ZOO to SUMMER RERUNS. Bits of dee jay announcements make for a listen akin to your average tape trade list John Peel collection, and if you prefer the immediacy of those next to the legit studio albums you'll probably like this. The Small Faces were never part of the upper ranks of my fave sixties English rock groups but this collection does captures some of the fun and jamz that I look for when spinning those mop top melodies which were all the rage when I was just beginning to handle the whys and wherefore of bladder control. And now that I'm beginning to re-enter into the age of incontinence this might just mean all the more!
The Kingsmen-VOLUME II CD-r burn (originally on Sundazed Records)

Sundazed took off all the phony applause making for a release that I'm sure will accompany your old flea market copy just swell. There's nothing here that you'd call top notch Northwest Rock at least compared to the likes of the Sonics, but this sure does make for a better than you'd expect affair what with the group going through a buncha covers both local (Dave Lewis' "David's Mood") and not ("Ooh Poo Pah Doo", not as good as Paul Revere's) making for a good mid-sixties night out in the privacy of your own fart-encrusted bedroom. The spirit of suburban slob trashy stash it in the mildewed basement rock lives on with this timeless relic.
MORPHINE MAMBO JAZZ CLUB CD-r burn (originally on Plastic Records, Italy)

If you can't get enough English moom pitcher soundtrack music into your life this might be the disque to get. Spooky and jazzy passages will conjure everything from clandestine spies to sneaky happenings just like they embellished the action goin' on during one of those furrin' flickers that you'd watch on some Sunday afternoon hopin' that the station forgot to edit out some titty. Maybe you can get this and play it randomly while you're on the bus or walking down the street. It'll be like you have your own soundtrack to whatever you're doin' in this life of yours and won't it make things all the more meaningful if you do?
Various Artists-JUICY PUCCI SAILING MATCH CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

On this shortie Bill stuck the ENTIRE six-song EP that was recorded by a group called the New Order, neither the post-Stooges El Lay-area aggregate nor the early-eighties disco group. This New Order was more or les a clean cut mid-sixties pop act that had some slight resemblance to the poppier Beatles tracks of the day with the usual SoCal feeling that would later be known as "Sunshine Pop". Take it for what it is, and while you're at it take the rest of this for what it is as well from Dead Duck and the Three Juicy Grooves' neato early-sixties rock to the American Lads tellin' Khrushchev where he can go and it ain't Disneyland! Gotta say that Cary Trusty straddles the vocals and instrumentals genres fine what with his versions of "You Better Move On" and "Night Rider". Well, it did make for a nice, innocuous half hour or so.
NOW IS THE TIME! Yes, the time for me to recoup plenty of money I lost cranking out these BLACK TO COMM back issues! Yes, I really thought (make that "was under the delusion") that these rags were gonna overtake the entire sick "rock zine" world what with the bright writing, rock scoops and other pleasantries that are to be found within. You can do worse, and you have whenever you picked up a copy of the competition. Now might also be the time to correct a good thirtysome years of pallid and meaningless rock criticism that was crammed down your ever-eager throat by picking up one or a few. Might not help, but it won't hurt anything other'n your wallet.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


I told you guys about how when I was a kid my mom'd hide a bunch of my toys in a box and put them in a place where I couldn't find 'em, then all of a sudden days/months/years after I had forgotten all about 'em spring 'em on me and it was almost as if I had a whole new buncha things to play with! It was sure a smart move on mom's part because not only did I get to re-acquaint myself with a whole buncha old friends so-to-speak, but she saved herself a lotta moolah by not buying fresh toys for me to sink my spirits into! It's kinda the same thing with old records, fanzines and other goodies that get lost in certain cracks and crevices in my abode, only to be dug out and re-discovered right at the point where I'm goin' nutzo over the lack of fresh material to occupy my free time!

Moe Howard's autobiography is just the kinda book that breaks up the doldrums the same way a dose of Fletcher's breaks up the caga capacity occupying your lower intestinal tract. Given just how much the Three Stooges have become downright cultural legends o'er the years this is the kinda book that a fan really would like even if, as you'd expect, Moe plays it safe and show-bizzy and leaves out some of the shadier aspects of what went on behind the scenes. One one had that's great if you wanna retain your old kiddiehood images of what these guys meant to your own suburban slob watching tee-vee in your stocking feet self, but eh, sometimes I pretty much wanna hear the dirt on some of those celebrities who coulda been real jerkoffs even if they happen to be people who I had admired my whole life. After all, when I was a kid I thought Jerry Lewis was the greatest and look how he REALLY turned out to be!

Not that Moe holds back on a whole lotta sick sagas that a fella would wanna know. Unfortunately he doesn't dish out enough regarding his old pal and adversary Ted Healy which really woulda juiced up this book considering how Healy pretty much forced Shemp Howard outta the act after chasing him around with a hypo filled with heroin! And that's not forgetting the aspects of Healy's own death at the hands of a severe beating from Wallace Beery. At least Moe gives us a whole lotta good poopie-pee-pee stories that will really appeal to your cruder instincts such as the time when Shemp bomped himself on the head really hard after relieving himself under a short boardwalk or better yet the one where Moe has this dream about barbecuing chicken halves when one of the chickens got loose and was flying around shooting sparks outta its own poop chute thus catching the curtains on fire, at which point the only way Moe could put it out was by urinating on it! As well as urinating on Mrs. Moe who conked her hubby hard on the head complaining that he got her all wet! Too bad this all happened during the Production Code days because hey, something like that woulda been a HOWLER had it popped up in a Stooges film!

Yeah, its this kind of DISGUSTO that I really go for and thankfully Moe decided not to hold back on his own (and Shemp's) foibles proving that even the high and mighty amongst us can be just as careless in the defecation department as the rest of us.

As I've said, most of this consists of humorous and informative enough ramblings all done up in a talk-to-you way about everything from Moe's childhood appearing in Vitagraph movies to getting into showbiz and eventually making a bigger contribution to the benefit of whacked out turdlers and teenbos world-wide than the likes of Joan Baez ever did. Which is probably one reason why the Stooges are still remembered fondly while the remark one would most likely hear if the latter's name was mentioned these days would be "Joan who???"

Coulda used more old snaps (even a Vitagraph frame blowup woulda been nice amidst the publicity shots and moom stills that make up a large portion of this read) and maybe even more potty poopie dirt woulda jangled the thing up a bit. But why should I quibble? MOE HOWARD AND THE THREE STOOGES is a nice happy slice of showbiz history (the kind we like) that's presented to us in the same lighthearted and sanitized fambly entertainment way that an episode of THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW was. And like, considering all the times Moe was on that afternoon tee-vee delight wouldn't it just figure!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Well here I am, troddin' down that path we call life tryin' to make the best of it all no matter just how ikky and wonky the entire trip can get at times. Right now things are relatively smoothsville (as opposed to SWELLSVILLE), and although the kinda music that stimulates my nodes and turns me into the COMPLETE HUMAN BEING (with is about a 180 turn from being the NEW MAN that both the Soviets and the alternative rock media so deeply desire[d]) is in quite short supply at least I have a good X-some years of everything from great old records to comic books and moom pitchers to keep me up and stimulated. Frankly, at this point in time I'll take ALL of that long gone and oft-loathed entertainment and general back brain stimulation over what passes for human companionship, especially when one considers just what a low humanity has sunk to at least since the days when I clocked in. I mean hey, did your comic book or record ever talk back at'cha, unless you were listening to a Lenny Bruce album 'r sum'pin'?
I've been spending my free time goin' through about a dozen or so apple boxes filled with tons of letters (saved every one-a-them), large manila envelopes and loads of magazines that I doubt I'll ever read again (including throngs of eighties/nineties-era fanzines....excuse me....'zines), and I've come to at least one definite conclusion. That is, when I get back on ebay there are gonna be a TON of these items up for auction, and even if I am reduced to GIVING THEM AWAY I'll be getting the better bargain of the deal that's how worthless most of 'em are! Really, a lot of these home-produced musical rags really don't hold up to my sturdy standards the way most rock-related fanzines of the sixties and seventies do, and if I can only get rid of a whole mass of 'em (thus permitting me to devote more space to the musical matter at hand, mainly rock fanzines that are worth their weight in high energy reading material!) you can bet that I will be happier'n an Italian in a dandelion patch just knowing the fact that I will never stare down another copy of CONFLICT as long as I live!

Surprisingly enough but amid the under/alerna/amerindie rags that are wasting precious storage units at my cyster's abode (ya think I'd stash 'em under MY roof?) I have actually found a number of items worthy of keepsies! Not only a few old BUCKETFUL OF BRAINS and some NEXT BIG THINGs I ain't perused in over twenny years, but the third issue of this particular wonder entitled OSMOTIC TONGUE PRESSURE which was put out by a guy named Mike Kinney who hailed from San Diego in California for those of you who don't know. And it's a beaut too, not only because Kinney copped the name of his "fanzine" (see, I'm using the entire word in order to separate the hearty chaff from the gangling wheat) from AESTHETICS OF ROCK-era R. Meltzer (which does show that Kinney did have the proper sense of what intellectual punkism wasoh so needed back during them days when we needed it!) but because the entire project comes off in each and every way like what a fanzine oughta! An' yeah, there are many ways to fanzine success whether it be via the quickie xerox method or the high quality gloss that the best French offerings of the seventies and eighties gave us, but it's what inside that counts and OSMOTIC TONGUE PRESSURE sure had a lot in its innards goin' for it no doubt about it!

Layout can be slapdash true, but then again there were many a fanzine that went the mad collage route and still came out a whole lot better and more focused than SPIN dictating  the whys and wheres of hip youth culture. The mere contents show that Kinney had a good sense of rock as tantric sound leading us to the Cool World, even if a good portion of this ish (#3) was taken up by coverage of a few twenny-plus-year-back musical acts that never did quite burst outta their own specific niches. And true, the likes of Antiseen and Clawhammer are remembered by folks of high stature such as myself this far down the line but honestly, was there anyone out there who actually took Mecca Normal seriously?????? A lot of the acts that are mentioned in these pages are the kind I tried avoiding at the time if only because of the lifelessness of their entire musical spirit which might have reflected the utter decay of the people who listened to such sounds. All these years later I'd bet on it especially when you see just how the people who listened to and championed these sounds TURNED OUT.

Naturally I am drawn to the free jazz and under-the-underground refs. spotted here as well as to those mentions of the usual sixties/seventies rabble who roused more'n just a few suburban slob minds. But even if there wasn't that much in the BLOG TO COMM sphere of mind-shattering musical wonderment in these pages this rag'd still be fun 'n jamz worthy enough to peruse. I know I have #2 somewhere in the batch just waitin' to be dug into, and I also know that editor Kinney died in '97 and that was something that did shock me, or at least added to the overall mental deterioration I went through trying to get #22 of my own crudzine out only to shudder when I saw what it ended up looking like! I was such a wreck that even Bill Shute ditched me for a good six years or so---I mean, who wants to be around a overwrought wretch such as I when you can be having fun on your own free time! Anyway, OSMOTIC TONGUE PRESSURE we salute you, and maybe one of these days I'll understand what Meltzer was talkin' about when he coined that term inna first place!

Another one  I hope offends at least one of you
precious petunias out there. If not, I have failed.

Thanks to Bill, Paul and Feeding Tube for the Care Packages.

Bridget St. John-LIVE AT BETSEY TROTWOOD LP (Feeding Tube Records)

It may seem odd to you, but I never cozied up to St. John's English folk styling which I tended to think was nothing but a more English take on the usual female strummers who have plagued us since the first big folkie boom of the early-sixties. But hey, this particular platter does have some nice smart folk moves that kinda gets alla those Joni Mitchell "persecuted self" memories outta my head. Gotta say that I found this live performance pretty meaty as far as a serious and perhaps even intense take on the entire female folk genre goes. Only beef with this one is the take on "America the Beautiful" with updated lyrics that sound as if they were taken from the soundtrack to a Pete Buttigieg campaign film.
By Products of America-MOVING AND STORAGE LP (Hospital Records)

Back 'round 1986 way I sent Nolan Benz of By Products of America a copy of PHFUDD! #6 with a request for a copy of his group By Products of America's most recent tape in exchange for my humble offering. Never heard back and if you think I hold a grudge this far down the line well----you'd be right as usual. I mean the nerve of poo-pooing a chance at some free publicity, and shattering my sensitive soul in the process as well. Oh drat!

Thus it was with much forethought that I decided to pick this '84 album up knowing of all the sorrowful memories owning this would dredge up. But stoic me must plow on in my quest to discover the better moments of what used to be known as rock 'n roll, and whaddaya know but I find this platter to be fairly good in that midwest avant garage fashion that gave us more home-produced records than my collection can stand.

The nice brittle guitar playing matched with the usual angst-riddled vocals (not too bad even if at times approaching Mark Mothersbaugh territory) don't sound like the art project I'm sure a millyun coke-bottle glassed undergrads were vying for, and I can even handle the spastic neo-Beefheartian drive in doses even if that trend in under-the-underground rock had been mined for centuries.  Overall a pretty enjoyable bit of angular rock music and if Benz had only returned the favor who knows, he might be as big as Bob Bannister is today!

The third and final platter from the box set Bill burned me ages back sorta ties up everything heard on the first two tea coasters in what some might consider in a nice, tidy fashion. Much of this seems to be taken up by a Davy Jones interview regarding the music (which I assume was meant for broadcast given the commercial breaks) interspersed with pertinent tracks from the film, all capped off with a hefty twentysome minutes of the group recording that "Ditty Diego" over and over until youse just can'ts stands it! They do seem to have fun chanting out that ridiculous rant and things do start getting out of control, especially when one Monkee actually utters that famous four-letter word that rhymes with Donald's last name (and I don't mean Fellman!) on a few occasions. Wanna know who this foul mouthed primate was? Well, just get the box and find out for yourself before the DAR does! Sheesh, Jimi was nothing next to this!
Shirley Scott with Stanley Turrentine-SOUL SHOUTIN' CD-r burn (originally on Prestige Records)

A little goes a long way, and I still think I got my share from the last organ jazz burn Bill sent me quite awhile back. Not exactly sittin' that well with me right now...good, got some Gunter Hampel ready to line up...yeah, that's it!
Various Artists-RAMPAGE! LP (Atomic Passion Records)

I've been sittin' on this late-fifties rockaroller album for nigh on twentysome years and only NOW do I open it! Shows just how much I keep track of some of my purchases which I unfortunately forget all about as soon as I open up the blasted packages!

Gotta say that all these years of waiting wasn't that much worth it, because although RAMPAGE! has some fine single sides here that do say more about the teenage attitude of 1959 than say, Mitch Miller, these tracks just ain't as upper-echelon raw 'n primitive 'n make you wanna go out and smash peoples' faces in energetic as it should be. I guess even the bosser delinquents of the day couldn't always run on pure Adrenalin. Hate soundin' like some high falutin' well respected rock critic type from a formerly major newspaper here, but you may wanna pass this 'un up in favor of LIKE WOW or a bevy of other rare single side collections that really lay it on the line as to how it was a good six decades back.
Jerry Lee Lewis with the Nashville Teens-LIVE AT THE STAR CLUB CD-r burn (originally on Philips Records, Germany)

Twenty lashes with the wet noodle for not having given this classic live platter a spin before Bill jetted this burn my way. Not that it was one-a-those-things you could just snatch up at the local record supermarket, but I coulda bought one via Midnight Records even if I was supporting a man who was cheating his stable! Anyway it sure is grand givin' Mr Jerry Lee Lummox (as MAD once called him much to Bruce Mowat's eternal indignation) a listen to romping through his biggies (and more) backed by one of England's premier punk rock outfits of the day, mainly the Nashville Teens of "Tobacco Road" fame. Good enough that it even helps get rid of those creeps that I'd get readin' about the guy's private life!
Bobby's Blues Band-GOLD DUST CD-r burn

Bobby's Blues Band---geddit????  Fortunately the joke stops there because this one is in fact listenable. Not enough for me to warrant a second spin, but these white guys act does more'n just blues (mainly, rock music) and their piddling talents are complimented by the staid sound quality which gives the entire thing a knotty pine rec room appeal. In other words A REAL WINNER for those of you who revel in the whole self-produced home made independent spirit. But sheesh, just see how far this group would go if stranded in the South Side of Chicago at the Checkerboard Lounge---I'd hate to see the results!
Various Artists-TEXARKANA CHANCE RUMBLE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Another shortie which is OK by me considerin' how my attention span is about as long as that of your average three-year-old brain-damaged mongoose. Within the half hour or so of this collection we get treated to a number of pretty good late-fifties rock instrumentals, some teenage gal-minded efforts (such as Vigor Fisher's "Padiddle" about the kissing game of the same name) and even a Johnny Cash track that has a nice rock 'n roll enough beat to it. And of course Bill put some more of those "Apple Gunkies" ads to pad the thing out which is cool because I really like them even if they were the creation of some late-sixties hippoid social commentator type who probably was a freedom rider for all I can tell. Well, they do have a slight air of smug moral superiority about 'em, y'know, so what else is new???.
I know you have at least ten good reasons not to buy some of these (or all for that matter) BLACK TO COMM back issues, it's just that I hope you do have the good sense not to mention any of them while I happen to be in your presence. Hope that we don't cross paths soon, and I also hope that maybe your reasons aren't as rock solid as you might believe if only to part with some of your precious lucre. After all, in order to obtain some fine specimens of late-twentieth century self-published rock anti-journalism what other choices do you really have??? Bound to be collectible one of these days, as any trashman can tell ya!

Thursday, September 12, 2019


Like most normal people with their heads screwed on tight, I like to enjoy a comic book during those long lulls in the day between one tee-vee show and whenever the next tee-vee show I wanna watch is gonna be on, and as it is with my listening and viewing habits I'm mighty particular as to whatever comic book reading is gonna be poured into my senses THAT'S for sure!

That means no relatively "recent" (that means post mid-seventies at the latest) artzy-gooey precocious works with heavily distorted art (such as the kind seen in the eighties-vintage SPIDER-MAN) nor the early-seventies DC relevance cash in unless I'm really hard up, not including those horrid TEEN TITANS efforts that read as if Denny O'Neill wrote 'em after listening to SOME TIME IN NEW YORK CITY either! Just about any good ol' ragged comic from the bottom of the pile will do such as this find, a tattered but true effort not only based on a novella by Theodore Sturgeon but the inspiration not only for the tee-vee moom pitcher this was based on but two under-the-underground late-eighties rock bands, one who eventually changed their name to Sharkey's Machine to avoid confusion.

Considering just how gloppy Marvel coulda gotten at the time they sure did a better'n usual job translating this from the cathode to pulp. This tale about a possessed bulldozer was custom-made for a Marvel title created right at the tail end of that company's truly Golden Age what with Dick Ayers' art keeping up on the hallowed tradition that his former partner Jack Kirby begat while Gerry Conway fortunately doesn't fall into that Glade air freshener prosody that often befalls these efforts in that "hey, us comic book writers ain't as illiterate as you make us out to be Dr. Wertham!" style which pretty much ruined things for me during the late-comic seriousness days of my mid-adolescence.

And it is a keep you enthralled 'n no peeking at the Johnson Smith ad tale too! I mean sport, it's got a murderous machine killing the inhabitants of an atoll who are clearing space for a plane runway, doing a pretty good job of not only splattering people across the land but turning the survivors against each other in a way that woulda made for a pretty hefty good episode of OUTER LIMITS. Or at least good a one that woulda sent my turdler self screaming bloody murder outta the room while dad made one of his funny comments like he did when Warren Oates took off his goggles exposing his radioactive eyes saying "Hey Chris, it's MICKEY MOUSE!!!"

All in a "lesser" Marvel title that I don't think anyone remembers fortysome years down the road. Whatever, it gave me that good half hour of funtime thrills in the here and now the same way it woulda in the there and then, and the only thing that saves this 'un from being a TOP NOTCH effort is that, being one of those off-titles an' all, Marvel didn't include some old Sci-Fi/fantasy reprint featuring one of those giant monsters like Googam and Fin-Fang-Foom to pad it out! That woulda been a hoot...a seventies comic paired with a sixties one featuring the same artist from a different age. The mere thought of it makes me feel all warm and toasty inside.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Those of you who have met me or spent much time with me know that I’m very much into Elvis. I have recordings of 600+ live shows, I have pretty much every circulating outtake, and I have the privately published books devoted to separate Vegas residencies, written by people who took off work for 7-10 days, stayed 4-6 in a room with other poor fans, and saw every concert while out there. The kind of people who would scout out the breakfast area near the hotel lounge, hoping to chat with Elvis’ father Vernon or one of the band or one of his entourage.

As a kid of 10 or 11, in the late 60’s, I would ask my parents to drop me off at the local movie theater on either Saturday or Sunday, the Lincoln Theater. My older sisters used to joke that you needed two sticks to go there—one to hold the chair up, and the other to chase the rats away. The Lincoln would have cheap double-and-triple bills on the weekend afternoons—different from what they showed during the week and at night on the weekends. Many times it would be random films united by some theme or some star. They would have 2 or 3 second-tier Hammer releases, often the ones WITHOUT either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing (those must have been cheaper to rent)—I remember seeing FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH and THE VULTURE (the latter being faux-Hammer) on a double bill there. Another common offering—maybe every two or three months--was two or three Elvis movies dumped together. This was probably circa 1967-1969, so you would not get the present Elvis film, whatever that was, but ones that were at least six months old, together with ones maybe six or seven years old. The randomness of these double and triple bills was appealing. I probably saw 20+ Elvis films this way, virtually all of his 60’s output. It also affected my development. I would see Elvis with the pouty look and the curled lip and the Elvis attitude and I saw how it attracted women in the films. Not knowing any better, I began to affect the curled lip and the pout, thinking it would work for me too. I was probably 14 or 15 before it dawned on me that more was needed than that for real-world success with women.

Unfortunately, I never did get to see The King in person. He played Denver in 1976, when I was a poor college freshman, living in a furnished room and taking the bus everywhere. When tickets were announced, they sold out within a few hours except for “obstructed view” seats (and I was not sure what exactly that meant), and those were not cheap by the standards of the day….$12.50, $15, something like that. More than I’d paid for excellent seats to see David Bowie or The Kinks. I seriously considered getting an obstructed view ticket and taking the plunge, but when you are paying $60 a month for a room (and an unlimited monthly bus pass on Denver’s RTD was only $12!), and a ticket is $15, that’s a quarter of your rent, so I decided to pass. I thought to myself, “that Elvis, he’s ALWAYS on the road. He’ll be back next year or the year after, and I can catch him then.” Of course, Elvis died about a year later and never returned to Denver, so I’ve tried to avoid the “I’ll catch him later” excuse ever since.

Although the sullen Elvis pout did not help my social life in high school, I did during my single adult days (note: I’ve been happily married for decades now) meet a number of ladies because of a mutual interest in Elvis. While The King has a large male following, it’s no secret that there are millions of ladies still devoted to him today. If you are seeing or involved with such a lady, you simply have to accept that you will always be second in her heart to Elvis. However, since you are there physically and he is not, you do have that advantage, the old “love the one you’re with” logic. Remember the old Doug Sahm/Texas Tornados classic, “Who Were You Thinking Of (When We Were Making Love)”—who cares if she’s actually thinking of the King. In fact, that could actually work to your advantage, but since I try to keep my writings within the PG-13 rating area (and because I don’t want to be a bad influence on my grandchildren), I will leave that to your imagination—and I know that BTC readers have an active imagination in that area.

I remember one particular lady, Janet, I met at a gas station during my years in Oklahoma. We were both looking at the Elvis budget cassettes on a spinning wire rack while in line to pay for our RC Colas or Moon Pies or whatever. I forget who made the first comment, but one of us was impressed that the other knew about the film DOUBLE TROUBLE (a budget cassette of the soundtrack was on sale there), and we continued talking about Elvis for fifteen minutes outside after we’d both made our purchases. We agreed to meet for coffee the next afternoon at the Waffle House on the east-west state highway out of town, where we talked further.

She was probably in her forties and had reddish-chestnut blonde curly hair, freckles, and an anxious-to-please upbeat attitude and reminded me of the actresses Kathleen Freeman (who was in many Jerry Lewis movies) and Kathy Bates, when they were 40-42. She’d gotten married out of high school to someone from her then-church, Todd, who eventually got into a management position at one of the national furniture warehouse companies. He oversaw ordering and stocking and what was placed on the floor for sale, supervising a dozen or so employees. He was effective and efficient with that job, was a stern taskmaster, and worked there his entire career out of college. He also started drinking the minute he got off work each evening, and for the entire weekend. Usually, he’d go to an out-of-the-way sports bar where they knew him, he could stay out of the way and hang out with friends, and he’d watch whatever games were on. He stayed there until it closed and knew back roads home so he would not get caught drunk driving. Sometimes he would stay home at night, but it would be all beer drinking (with the occasional Jack-and-Coke) and sports watching. They never had children. Todd never drank on the job and never showed up late for work. Also, if company was over or an aunt was in town for a few days, he would not take a drink at all and would play the attentive husband and host. He could turn it on and off like a faucet. He was always polite and civil with his wife—he was not a mean drunk. He would probably have been the first person to tell you that he loved his wife, but the problem was that if you’d ever seen him drink (and I did on a few occasions when he was home when I visited), he was a man on a mission. He was out to get loaded as fast as possible and as heavily as possible, and don’t you dare get in his way. He would inhale a six-pack of Old Milwaukee in ten minutes or less. Clearly, he was drowning something inside with this drinking, but she never knew what it was. He was quite generous with money to her, but in a medium-sized town, it was all about preserving appearances, even when everyone knew that the appearance was false. Thus, they stayed together as a couple, attended the occasional work-related event of his together (her work-related events she attended solo), and she filled her time with other things.

Janet worked in home health care, when that field was starting to expand in the early 1980’s, and supervised six home health-care nurses, handled the billing and the insurance issues, etc. She worked from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. When she came home from work, she loved to eat a pint of ice cream, mint chocolate chip and vanilla bean being her favorites, and she’d put on an Elvis cassette on her boom-box in the kitchen (she did not have a record player—it was all cassettes). I’d say she had 30 or 40 cassettes, especially the budget-label ones on Camden, which had an odd mix of movie songs from films that did not have soundtrack LP’s (some actually getting their first release anyplace on these budget albums), B-sides of singles, and oddball combinations of things going back to the Sun era. These albums certainly showed off Elvis’ versatility as an artist, and to isolated fans in the hinterlands like Janet and me, they were even more interesting and satisfying than the better-known, mainstream albums.

After our meeting at the Waffle House, we agreed to get together from time to time to listen to Elvis, and we would meet at her house in the evening, while she was home and her husband was out drinking. While The King entertained us, we would chat and sometimes make dinner. She was heavily into dill, and she put it in virtually everything, except perhaps oatmeal and ice cream. When I held her, her body smelled of dill, and her mouth tasted of dill.

I was soon spending two or three evenings a week at her house, always with Elvis playing, so some of these albums, I surely heard 20 or 30 times, and I still have them memorized today. I can’t say that I felt exactly comfortable, being at this lady’s house who was married though acting as though I was at the home of someone I was dating, but true to form, her husband NEVER came home before midnight, and she told me that even if he did, he would not mind. She told me that he wanted her to be happy and that he knew that he was not providing her with what she needed emotionally. I actually wound up meeting the man 3 or 4 times, and he was pleasant enough to me, treating me as if I were an old friend of hers or some close work colleague. He HAD to know what was going on, and indeed, she told me on a few occasions that “he’s OK with things,” but never clarified what that meant.

This might have gone on for a year or so, but one day when I entered the living room of their modest home, I saw something new—a gun cabinet, with a rifle, a shotgun, and down at its bottom, a revolver. I asked what that was about, and Janet told me that Todd was “getting into guns.” The next month (presumably after payday) I noticed another new and attractive rifle and shotgun (I did not go close enough to check if he’d gotten another pistol too) in the case, and I felt a cold chill up and down my spine. I’d seen enough B-movies and read enough crime paperbacks to see myself becoming a character in one of those, the character blown away by an angry husband tired of being made a fool of, and in Oklahoma, he’d probably have gotten off with a claim of self-defense for protecting his family or his manhood or whatever.

So to my regret, I took up with someone else and never went back again to her home. I’d told her that I was uncomfortable with the guns being there and told her what I feared, but she said, “it’s just a hobby with him—he’s fine with us being friends as long as we remain discreet. You should not worry.” I felt guilty about cutting her off, but I was still in my 20’s and felt that I had a long life ahead of me, one that I did not want to lose in some tawdry love-triangle killing.

I myself still own a number of Elvis cassettes today, and I play them often. Last night as I was listening to the PARADISE HAWAIIAN STYLE soundtrack on cassette, I thought of Janet, the old-fashioned red and sparkly-white diner-style chairs in her kitchen, the wok in which we would do stir-fry as The King crooned on about “Hawaii….USA.” As the tape played, I could taste the dill scent on her loose and frilly cream-colored blouse and see her turquoise and silver earrings swaying with the beat, as if it were yesterday.

Once maybe five years ago, as I listened to the budget cassette ELVIS SINGS FOR CHILDREN AND GROWNUPS TOO, I wondered whatever happened to Janet, so I did an online search for her (as the album played with songs such as “Cotton Candy Land” and “Five Sleepyheads”), both under her married name and her maiden name (in case she’d gotten divorced). She was nowhere to be found, no Facebook page, no reference to her with the company she worked for, etc. No reference to her husband either online.

I have no evidence to support this, but my guess is that her husband drank himself to death, and then she re-married and took her new husband’s last name, and all of this happened in the pre-internet age, so there is no online record of any of it. But I’ll never really know…

I still have and enjoy my Elvis cassette tapes, and I hope that she still has and enjoys hers. Whenever I hear that jaunty theme from the film DOUBLE TROUBLE, I get a little tinge of excitement inside me and remember that first meeting at the gas station. Life brings us together temporarily with people in strange ways, breaks us apart and turns us against each other in stranger ways, and then we stagger on to the next encounter, the next month, the next year. As The King himself once recited, on “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” one day THEY’LL BRING THE CURTAIN DOWN, so best to enjoy what there is to enjoy about today because you’ll never get a chance to do a re-take of it…and you never know when the show will close down for good…

Saturday, September 07, 2019

It's that time of the week again, which is surely a whole lot better than THAT TIME OF THE MONTH which I don't have to tell you about if you have a cyster. But I gotta give myself credit for making it through intact (somewhat), ready willing and able to enjoy a nice weekend of cutting the grass and acting like my typical suburban slob self pouring through a good fiftysome years of old books, music and whatnot that I just don't get enough of during the weekdays. Some people think that it doesn't take much to get my inner turdler goin' and with the bevy of things I've collected o'er the years you couldn't pry me outta my bedroom given all the things I got to keep me well and happy. Well, that is unless I have to take a dump 'r sumpin'.
Otherwise it sure hasn't been a top notch week for a suburban slob such as I. First there was the cancellation of ROUTE 66 reruns and now I find out that the all-important YOWP blog is no more! YOWP was a beautifully laid out and written blog that was (mostly) dedicated to the early Hanna-Barbera  tee-vee cartoons that most of us grew up with at least until they were unceremoniously removed from television screens in order to air more "meaningful" and "deep" programs like THE VIEW (c'mon, if YOGI'S GANG wasn't over-the-top socially conscious television then what is?), and its demise sure has me cryin' a whole lotta boo hoo's and the like because hey, even though this is the internet and everyone in the world can have a look-see at whatever it is that flutters their putter there really ain't that much funzie stuff for our own dining and dancing enjoyment available on it! I mean, other than BLOG TO COMM who else is out there pounding out the praise for THE BIG BEAT???? Believe me readers, I will never abandon you in this sorta way and will continue bloggin' until I just can't, even it I'm 120 and all I can peck out is "ooog fa dirnwom!" But it won't be like I'll announce that BLOG TO COMM is no more because, in actuality that is impossible! (I'm sure some sap out there will continue with it once I'm wormfood---I mean this blog is on a roll and I ain't talkin' Kaiser!) BTC will survive in some form or another, and despite the adversarial forces and general apathy it will....hey, who'm I KIDDING?????
BILL SHUTE WAS RIGHT! Just got hold of a Patti LaBelle "Good Life' mini-sweet potato pie at the loco K-Mart and boy was it good! Really sweet, buttery and tangy with just the right spices tossed in to give you that mid-morning sugar rush you oh so desire. So good I actually ate two of 'em for lunch this past Wednesday! Bill, I will never doubt you and your gizzard-lovin' gullet again!
Did any of you turn into TCM Wednesday evening to see that 1919 all-time tragedy BROKEN BLOSSOMS? Y'know, that classic DW Griffith feature starring Lillian Gish that sorta signaled the end of the Victorian Age, at least as far as moom pitchers and Griffith's own Golden Age of Directing go? I sure was gonna do just that, but when I heard that simpy modern-day musical score that was laid upon it boy did I tune out faster'n Speedy Gonzaga...why is it that every time TCM gets their hands on a silent film they have to get some moderne-day schlockmeister to add a new soundtrack, one which had none of the emotion or vigor of the original which (in some cases) has survived the passage of time! I should know because the previous times I've seen this one broadcast, first in the mid-seventies via PBS's THE SILENT YEARS and then in 1990 when GREAT PERFORMANCES aired it the original score was rendered and rendered well, first in a transcribed to piano version which retained the beauty of the original and later on in a fully orchestrated  manner which is the way I presume the audiences got to experience it a hundred years ago. Dunno why TCM, which is "supposed" to known better considering all of those allegedly brainy hosts they have telling us about these mooms, has the audacity to change things around for whatever occult reason these bright minds might have. If you ask me, they're just trying to bring down the overall quality of old moom pitchers to suit the dulled out present, an age in which I sometimes think entire nervous systems have been removed from people considering the comparatively passion-less and utterly cyborg entertainment and general LIVING that many supposedly normal people feel oh so complacent about.
In order to both pad this post out and try to look all superior to you what with my massive musical collection and all I decided to list some if not all of my extracurricular playlist faves heard during the execution of this blogpost---Ornette Coleman-TOWN HALL 1962 CD (ESP-ZYX version), Red Noise-SCARCELLES - LOCHERES Cee-Dee-Are burned for me by Brad Kohler's ex-communist friend (can't find my real life one on Mellow Records, and this tends to pause on occasion!), Art Ensemble of Chicago-CERTAIN BLACKS LP, Syd Barrett-MAGNESIUM PROVERBS CD bootleg, Iggy Pop and James Williamson-JESUS LOVES THE STOOGES CD EP (the one with the 3-D cover), ZYKLUS --- KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN --- FOUR REALIZATIONS BY MAX NEUHAUS CD, MC5-ICE PICK SLIM CD, Deviants/Pink Fairies/UFO CD-r Fadensonnen made for me, Freedomland-AMUSEMENT PARK and YIA YIA'S SONG CD-r's (Rent Control), The Fleshtones-BLAST OFF CD (Danceteria), Ornette Coleman-THE GREAT LONDON CONCERT 2-LP set (Arista/Freedom), Max Neuhaus-THE NEW YORK SCHOOL - NINE REALIZATIONS OF CAGE, FELDMAN, BROWN CD, Can-UNLIMITED EDITION CD on Mute, and other stuff that I don't think will add anything to my image as being a well-rounded, totallyl unique sorta blogster here in the final days of a decade that really didn't come off as gangbusters as we all woulda hoped!
And now, the goodies! Thanks to Bill, Paul and Bob which, contrary to popular opinion, isn't some early sixties folk singing group!

Flud-MANAGE TO LIVE CD-r burn (Walls Flowing Records)

This disque begins like something outta Bob Forward's Fundamentalists with weird affected voices taken from a broadcast treated and modulated until it turns into total gibberish. Sorta like talkin' to real people these days but its done on purpose! The appearance of random chord organ notes to the squealing of electronics (with some sort of beat thrown in) really starts to make it sound interesting, and THEN an electric guitar hops on board and the thing kinda comes off like an unreleased track from the DAILY DANCE sessions! For a buncha unknowns outta some place near Tempe Arizona I'd commend them, but isn't it dangerous for neophytes to be monkeying around with such a potent sound chemistry?
Muhal Richard Abrams-YOUNG AT HEART/ WISE IN TIME CD (Delmark Records)

Side one's almost-half-hour piano solo isn't quite as fluid as Cecil Taylor but it traverses pretty much the same neo-classical realm. So if you were one to spend the seventies spinning those Freedom sides like SILENT TONGUES you might be able to eke out some appreciation of this. The flip with band (including Henry Threadgill on sax and Leo Smith on brass) pretty much hovers around the same kinda territory that those other AACM group efforts from the Art Ensemble of Chicago to the Creative Construction Company made their DOWN BEAT stars with. But don't hold it against 'em. A fine encapsulation as to what was going on in the under-the-underground Chicago jazz scene of the day, and I decided to pick it up after reading Leonard Hootkin MD's review in an old issue of THE NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS!
The Brats-THE LOST TAPES CD-r burn (originally on Arg! Records)

At first I thought these Brats were the Brats who were a club fixture on the New York rock scene in the mid-seventies, but they ain't. These guys are from Copenhagen and probably never heard of the group who had the Brat name long before they even thought about gettin' together, but that's no reason for name snobs like myself to hate 'em. The reason to hate 'em would be the fact that these Brats are just one of a million punk rock copycat hanger ons, probably the kinda guys who you would think found out about punk rock from some old ROCK SCENE and decided to try it out themselves. Even if that were the case at least their brand of raunch sure beats a thousand other similar efforts that really don't stand the test of time like all good rock music does. Hard and might get an extremely energetic kick outta it if you're as true to the BTC sense of anti-aesthetics like I sure hope you are!

After years of seein' Webb as the stone-faced "Just the facks ma'am" cop Joe Friday it was sure a surpise hearin' him play Pat Novak, a cheapo errand boy who takes the strangest kinda jobs handed out to him which usually gets him in dutch with the law (played by Raymond Burr, who comes off as the more irritable law enforcement agent imaginable---makes some of the gendarmes around come off like Mister Rogers!) Webb's kinda mealy-mouthed rat-like himself here making him about as lovable as the usual jerks he comes in contact with, but that's part of the overall appeal. No sparkly Dover Boy types around here nohow! First episode has Novak picking up his laundry which turns out to have been mixed with another order then finding out the recipient of his package ain't exactly fun and games, the second find him being paid $50 to deliver a geranium to this wheezing woman who just happens not to be there when the cops bust into the apartment and find a murdered man. If your mind can take all the convolutions in these stories and keep things straight as to who was doing what and where and when for that matter I do kneel before you in honest awe.

Sheesh, another early-fifties radio program that I'm sure not as many people heard considering just how much tee-vee was creeping into the suburban slob mindset. Still, considerin' just how few television sets were up and about at the tiime and the fact that anybody who owned a set probably wouldn't invite you over to watch it radio was perhaps your best bet for broadcast dramas such as this 'un. Inspector Thorne, along with his sidekick Sgt. Muggins, solve murders of prominent people with a slew of suspects to contend with, all who seem so creepy themselves that you'd kinda wish that they'd ALL get the chair. The people who get offed ain't that angelic themselves so's you also get the idea that the world is much better off without 'em so why bother finding out who did it inna first place! Unless it's to give 'em a medal for ridding the world of such a fanabla. If you have any wits, match 'em with Thorne and end up losing.
Various Artists-DIE HAMBURG SZENE CD-r burn (originally on Bear Family Records, Germany)

"Yah Hanz, dis iss der real Cherman musik uff der sixties!" "Uff course Frits, vhat vith der likes uff der Cherman Bonds, der Cops und Robbers und Herr Achim Reichel playing der big beat mit all uff der bold energy uff un svift panzer diffision!" "I must admit dot eeffen some uff der Amerikanner und English svine ve copped diss musik frum sound rather pale vhen stacked up to der Teutonic might und vill uff der superior sounds that VE make!" Yah Frits, midt musik like dis on our side how could ve haff effer lost der var?" "Yah Hanz...I mean, ve are so PERFECT!"  "Hanz, lett uss go to der beergarten und drown our Aryan sorrows in sum brau...perhaps dey vill haff sum Johnnie Cliff Five on der musikautomat!"
Various Artists-BEAT WUNDERBAR --- UN-LOST TOMMYKNOCKERS CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Not exactly a "Virtual Floor Sweeping" or your usual Bill Shute collection, this contains what I would term really under-the-wire overseas rock 'n roll tuneage that I assume is so off-the-beaten-track that even Mike Stax doesn't know about it! I sure don't know anything about it either but that's to be expected considerin' how outta the loop I am. Maybe the Dave Berry of Dave Berry and the Cruisers is the same one who became a record producer, or maybe it's the Dave Berry who was taken under the tutelage of Joe Meek and later replaced Trevor Bannister on ARE YOU BEING SERVED? Maybe neither, and maybe that Chants group who pops up on this ain't one same as Chants R&B who were from Australia 'r somethin'. Not that I  am gonna any serious searchin' to find out --- I gave up doin' these school report kinda things when I was seventeen!

Actually this ain't anything to crow about and in fact comes off quite wimpoid what with the pallid covers of well-established rockers not to mention the rather insipid originals which certainly wouldn't have done any self-respecting transistor radio any good back in them pumped up rock 'n roll days. I can say that many of the tracks here do have their "charm", but the potency of such talismans leave much to be desired. Back to the stack, Jack!
After reading through a hefty portion of fanzines (both rock 'n roll oriented and not) that have been produced from the mid-eighties onward I can safely say that BLACK TO COMM is perhaps the bestest one of a batch both inspired or not. This may be your last chance to latch onto some of the still available issues that can be had at prices less than what I've seen goin' on ebay. Well it's either that or bid some ridiculous price on a SWELLSVILLE that has nothing to offer for it but extremely extroverted angst!