Saturday, February 29, 2020


I still find myself BOWLED OVER when I read the stacks of alla my old fanzines that have pretty much replaced furniture in my bedroom. I'm talkin' about the CLASSIC ROCKSCREED ERA fanzines natch, not the lazy ones that popped up inna eighties and beyond comin' off more like liberation of the week pamphlets passed out inna park by smelly people with enough skidmarks in their underwear to make sergeant. Ya know,  the fanzines that were spewed out back when the rock crazies knew their musical potatoes and tried their best to not only emulate their fave star writers but really could cut away the fat and present for us the raw meat and raw meat only, something which no professional mag really could get away with nowhow! As far as prozines went only CREEM could come close, but after Lester Bangs skedaddled and that rag decided to cater full force to the reds and puke boxboy crowd it might as well have been ROLLING STONE for all I care!

Anyhoo, here're some fanzines that I've come across as of late, all of them good enough to not only sustain me through one bowel movement but a good wiping up afterwards! It's too bad that there just ain't that many rags out there that can stand up to any of these home-produced items but in a way these fanzines were a product of their time and reflect the wild uninhibited (and unhinged for that matter) state of not only music but life in general, and in today's sterile cyborg world can we really expect anything that can come off as a total reflection of SUBURBAN SLOB SUPERIORITY as NIX ON PIX not forgetting TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE???

And now...lettuce commence with the BIG surprise of today's post and when I mean "big" I ain't talkin' some typical above-it-all rockcrit jive the kind I've been dealin' in for years...I mean, these next two entries which will really knock you off your 'nads! Rock fanzines of the sixties were few and far between (or at least I haven't been privy to a huge bulk of 'em), and for the most part the early ones that I would like to read such as the first volume of NEW HAVEN ROCK PRESS are rather difficult if not downright impossible to obtain. So it is with surprise that I managed to grab up these two sixties rock fanzine efforts created by the bare hand of one-time fanzine king Greg Shaw, 'zines which I must admit are important to the study and growth of the fanzine idiom not only because of Shaw's eventual standing in the under-the-counterculture biz end of rock fandom but because hey, these mags are pretty boffo experiments in what rock fanzines were in the late-sixties and how they would eventually prosper and provide a much-needed switcheroo from the usual staid rock press goings on that transpired thanks to all of those clueless nabobs of staid "hipdom" who took to the rock journalism as new hip road to fame and fortune route as the seventies progressed (and I do mean "progressed")...

What made MOJO ENTMOOTER necessary to the development of rock fandom was undoubtedly Shaw's special writing abilities and involvement in a plethora of fanzine publishing prior to the first ish's hitting the mailboxes during January of 1969 (the "1968" appearing on the indicia's an obv. flub). Shaw's previous entry into rock fanzineing via MOJO NAVIGATOR was the right start in that direction, and once you get down to it the world sure could have used more rock fanzines along these lines what with Shaw's ever-forming tastes and scribbling abilities molding together to make for a read that thankfully lacked a whole lotta that moonjunepoon stupidity that one would find in a variety of "youth" publications from the early ersatz radical-era ROLLING STONE to MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL on down.

The first ish's a charm even if a good portion of it consists of reprints from periodicals that were probably easily enough obtainable at the time. Dunno what prompted Shaw to dig up pieces such as Kurt Von Meier's Elvis article from THE NEW YORK FREE PRESS or the interview with XSUB radio's Subrosa from RECORD WORLD but danged if I can find those other rags, and readin' 'em here what with Shaw's pecked out and faded printjob does add a certain bit of class what with the freaked out psychedelic art that peppers the pages.

What's perhaps the highlight of the issue, not counting the interesting letters section regarding the late NAVIGATOR nor the record reviews of the latest from Canned Heat, the Mothers, Led Zeppelin etc. is the feature-length rundown of the debut Deviants platter which really was a proto-punk coup on Shaw's part considering the thing hadn't even been released in the USA at the time! Gotta say it's a good review despite some of Shaw's kvetching over the Deviants being "derivative" (I always thought they were more or less "emulators"), but Shaw liked the thing and added some much-needed insight and appreciation into an album that has only achieved high-end cult status since it started getting re-re-reissued and more'n a few lucky bums could give the thing a listen. Next to the hip youth press of the day which couldn't write a sentence without injecting a "right on" somewhere within it's sure great to read something that goes down smoothly in your mind and reflects the state of music without succumbing to the usual pious pratfalls so common back then.

The second MOJO ENTMOOTER's an even stranger affair not only given the rather Sci-Fi/Fantasy fanzine-styled cover but the plain fact that there hardly is anything having to do with music or Tolkien to be found within these pages which are mostly taken up with picture pastiches and tripped out collages. Even the sole "article" on what I believe is supposed to be rhythm and blues comes off as if it were written while Shaw was high on windowpane before slicing the piece up and re-molding it in homage to Burroughs. Pictures of Wilson Pickett, the Monkees and John 'n Yoko will at least make some unaware soul believe this is a musically-oriented fanzine but those of you in on the whole WHO PUT THE BOMP! mystique might be startled quite a bit. Sheesh, who woulda believed that Shaw had his hippoid side which he thankfully jettisoned as the seventies moved on will be surprised.

With all of the psychodoodle that shows up in MOJO ENTMOOTER #2 I know that, had I gotten this ish back during my initial BOMP!-saturated days, I woulda been thrown for a humongous loop to the point of mass depression! Sheesh, I always thought that Shaw was one of those guys who kept his Brian Jones locks unchanged for years on end and never did succumb to that San Francisco patchouli and cults mentality that he oh so made fun of in his later work! Wonder what else the guy was keeping from us lo these many years?
The other big surprise of this post just hasta be the arrival of TEENAGE NEWS #3 into my mitts. Issue #1 reportedly showed promise even though a good portion of if was made up of New York Dolls reprints (or so I've read since I couldn't get a copy of it even directly from the source!) while the second was an improvement with better layout (albeit printed on one side of the page only) with the likes of the Flamin' Groovies, Syd Barrett and other wild additions to the once boffo world of rock 'n roll firmly snuggled within the pages. This third time's really the charm what with a more pro saddle stapled cover and loads of goodies including a Patti Smith interview (and she doesn't seem to be that stoned either!), a report on the 1976 Rolling Stones tour with loads of candid snaps, the Raspberries and the only piece in French being on local rocker Lucien Francoeur who really seems like a straight-ahead no-holds-barred kinds performer if my translation ain't too bad. Another reason why the mid-seventies were the real Golden Age of Rock Fanzines because hey, for all the reading I've done throughout these 'zines I cannot find any mentions of Central American revolutionaries nor Palestinians like I used to do whenever I'd get hold of a MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, FLIPSIDE or a hunk of other mid-eighties fishwraps that seemed like tracts put out by basement bomb makers more'n anything else!
You might be familiar with the long-running STRANGLED fanzine which was devoted to the infamous English punk rock group of a very similar name, but I'm sure that you know practically nada about SIDEBURNS, the fanzine from whence STRANGLED sprang. It was a nice affair that seemed more concerned with punk in that mid-seventies sorta strata when pubsters and Pink Fairies-bred acts could intermingle with the even newer up-and-comers that were taking the true-to-life rock 'n roll world by storm. SIDEBURNS is also famous for that infamous learn these chords and start a band page which SNIFFIN' GLUE swiped for the front cover of one of their issues.

The later STRANGLEDs that I've seen had their moments including one with a Crocus Behemoth interview, but the SIDEBURNS that I've come across were pretty boffo in their own crudzine-ish nature. This third issue included, what with interesting pieces on the likes of Lew Lewis, the Vibrators, a nice two page snap of the Hammersmith Gorillas live, a review of Iggy in performance with Bowie and well,  the Stranglers themselves. For twelve pages it's a pretty good hoot and well, in those few pages it sure packs a whole lot more punch'n all of those cheap (nothing wrong with that!) and precocious (something wrong with that!) eighties/nineties fanzines that used to pepper up my mailbox way back in those days of adolescent angst 'n rage.

I think I already have this issue of CHATTERBOX in my collection, but just to be sure I bought this one in the hopes that I don't and figured that well, I have two of these and you probably have none so I'm better than you in at least some way! Still for being a neo-professional fanzine that's at least attempting to be somewhat commercial while staying somewhat underground CHATTERBOX works about as swell as THE SHAKIN' STREET GAZETTE. The writing seems about on the same level as most mid-seventies college newspapers at their best (thankfully not as bad as the swill that permeated the Youngstown State University JAMBAR weekly paper) and their tastes were rather on-target what with articles on local "revivalists" Jr. Cadillac (who boasted former Wailer Buck Ormsby as a member), Europe's Only Iggy Pop Fan Club outta Germany, an interview with Dave Hill of Slade and other things that'll keep you stuck onna toilet while you should be out helping the parents do yard work. Pretty good job as far as fanzines go especially when you consider just how much FANTASTICALLY WORTHY MUSIC in not only the rock idiom but jazz and the avant garde was being promulgated by even the major labels at the time. Wish more local fanzines were out and about doing the job that most pubes wouldn't dare attempt.
It's always great to get hold of a copy of HOOPLA (in this case ish #3) and settle back to get these guys' takes on everything from the latest records and live shows to their impressions regarding various moom pitcher and tee-vee endeavors. This 'un's got a whole lotta goodies from articles on Monty Python's Flying Circus, Syd Barrett, the Dictators and more, as well as a moom pitcher review take on STAR WARS which warms the cockles of my heart because for once it's NEGATIVE! I'd hate to see what these ozobs would think if they were suddenly thrust into the present and saw just how much that particular franchise took off! The mere thought still makes me shudder!

There must have been more than just a few quickie crank out yet jam-packed with SPIRIT fanzines along these lines. I'm positive that many just slipped under the radar to the point where nobody knew of their pithy existences what with the low print runs and inability to get such an effort out to the people who would have loved to have read the thing (and believe-you-me I know all about that!). Fortysome years later HOOPLA continues to read as a proud example of just what these homebound rags could do in the face of BIG CITY MAGAZINE CRITIC JIVE, and I for one can sure appreciate the effort and talent put into 'em.
I reviewed one ish of SNIFFIN' FLOWERS a few Fanzine Fanabla's ago and since then acquired a few more of these lysergic lovelies. As you would have imagined, these fanzines are quite hippie dippie in that pix of English elves and nekkid gals who probably have more STDs than you thought existed fanzine sorta way. However, despite the usual seepage of patchouli into the mix I find these mags somewhat entertaining even if they do look more Tolkien and Smurfsville than they do rock.

The mere appearance of a Lemmy interview in issue #1 seems rather outta place given just how non lightflight the man was (if anything Lemmy was of the heavyflight variety) but for those of you who missed the late-sixties/early-seventies brooding underground press and rabblerouser variety of youth culture these mags brought it back (albeit without a vengeance) a good six or so years later. From the looks of it SNIFFIN' FLOWERS was one fanzine that sure spawned a whole generation of imitations, or inspirations for that matter, at least on the English underground circuit.
While we're on the subject of late-seventies English fanzines of a more lysergic nature I might as well mention the sixth issue of John Platt's COMSTOCK LODE. Now, that was a publication that usually strayed quite far from the BLOG TO COMM taproot of things but at least they had that important socially redeeming value akin to some dirty moom pitcher that wasn't obscene because of the artistic value or something like that (but we always went 'n saw 'em for the tits).

The San Francisco beat seems to prevail in these pages what with stories on the likes of Notes From the Underground, while people I never did care for like Terry Reid really don't make my peepers stand up and take notice. When Platt switches gears and gets into the then-current under-the-underground my nodes certainly pick up (a snap of the 1979-vintage Red Crayola pops up on on the back cover), and between the writings on the sounds of England past (Brian Knight) and the sounds of England not-so past (Swell Maps) you got a unique kinda mag that I certainly ain't gonna casually poo poo like you think I would! Plus the early-ZIGZAG-styled format sure looks swell next to some of the slapdash (my own crudzine efforts included) that has come outta the fanzine world since.
I'm surprised at the number of fanzines that came out in mainland Europe during the seventies. Some of the ones I've viewed seem to be variations on the usual youth kultur tabloids of the day with enough of an underground rock spark that would separate them from the wide assortment of underground papers that were up and about at the time. Off the top of my head I can think of such titles as PARAPLUIE and POLE outta France, and now this Swiss effort has entered into my consciousness!

EXPERIENCE is a tabloid laid out somewhat like the early ROLLING STONE, but that's where the similarities end. Like PARAPLUIE and POLE this mag was steeped in a whole lotta that under-the-underground art and feel that was popular amongst most self-conscious pseudo-intellectuals you used to see at your high stool poetry club. And like those mags EXPERIENCE was well aware of just how important people like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and the New York Dolls were to the true teenbo suburban slob class that still lingers about, at least on this blog. A huge Alice Cooper article complete with some rare early photos decorates this issue along with some interesting readymade art featuring the likeness of Iggy Pop and lotsa old comic strip characters which reflect that strange obsession Europeons have with Amerigan trash kultur. It might be worth leaning German so's I can make my way through this thing.
RAVE-UP was a good eighties-era fanzine done up by gals so it has that bitchy teenagers inna bedroom gossip sorta dingy feeling that I actually kinda like. Lotsa hair metal gunk in here with a few nods to what was passing for punk rock during those days, RAVE-UP kinda presents itself in a way that the old RAW POWER fanzine woulda had that 'un lasted longer. Some of the acts here I could do without, but this 'un did have an interview with some guy from Anthrax (who were one of the few metal bands of that era I really could listen to...they for one knew that turning guitar sounds into abstract noise was the way for this kind of music to proceed!). I have another issue with Steve Tyler onna cover somewhere in the abode...might do me good to drag that 'un out and give Devorah and company another go at sparking those oft-dead brain cells that tend to get clogged up during the dusk of an existence I sure wish coulda gone off a whole lot better'n it did.
Just because some publications can qualify as being a fanzine doesn't necessarily mean they're worth the time seeking out and reading. Believe-you-me, in the fortysome years I've had collecting these things I've come across my share of crudzines, and I'm not talking about fanzines that were crudely assembled and had a rather lousy print job but delivered on the info and spirit Then again I've read my share of professionally printed fanzines that lacked a whole load of the spark and verve I would have expected from such an effort. And it ain't like MUSICS is what I would call a terrible mag, but I just find this legendary fanzine a bit too dry for my rather soggy tastebugs.

Maybe it was this one issue that kinda snoozes me to no end, but I must admit that I find MUSICS's coverage of the English avant garde improv scene to be rather plain and humorless even if humor wasn't something always associated with this breed of music. Scholars will surely gobble up the information available in these pages, but I like a little of that gonzscribe zip that you could get reading the English weaklies of the same strata. The collection that Ecstatic Peace released a long time back might be worth the investment.
And finally for today's soiree's this definitely non musical fanzine that I think a few of you readers would still be interested in. As Dr. Fredric Werthan has written there have been fanzines devoted to just about every culturally significant mo'oment in the history of history ('cept comic books that is!), but didja know that there was one devoted to the Harvey line of comics? When I was in the midst of my comic book obsession I barely touched the Harvey line and had like one or two of 'em from the early-sixties which still had WKST-TV's frequency as being 45 'stead of 33 which I thought made for a real collector's item! Other'n that nada, nicht, nill and although I've read my share of Harvey's while waiting at the barbershop it wasn't like I would wanna be caught dead OWNING more'n just a few scattered amid some more pertinent titles like ARCHIE'S CHRISTMAS STOCKING.

But then again Harvey comics were something that made me the fanabla that I was, am and will remain due to weekday morning viewings during those much-missed pre-school days. So if for only that maybe I should be paying more attention to this once kid-tested and kid-approved comic line famous for such titles as CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST, HOT STUFF, LITTLE AUDREY and of course RICHIE RICH. THE HARVEYVILLE FUN TIMES ain't not giddy housewife romp written by some thirty-ish homebody during those hours between gettin' the kids off to school and the game shows but a seriously researched and pecked out effort dealing with the Harvey universe, specifically that of the company after it settled into its kids niche and put the serious stuff way on the back burner considering how the likes of THE SPIRIT was selling piddly in comparison.

This Vol. 7 #27 ish is a pretty good effort even if it is laid out in that newer and sterile professional computer word processor way that doesn't do my eyeballs any good. The focus this issue is on the Herman and Catnip cartoons (haven't seen these since 1974 when channel 5 in Cleveland was runnin' 'em right before MORNING EXCHANGE) not to mention Mayda Munny, Richie Rich's female nemesis who constantly tries to swipe the World's Richest Boy away from the cute yet plain jane Gloria. I dunno what Rich sees in that freckled blowzie, for Mayda is a hotcha gotcha that any real ten-year-old guy who's ahead of the class would go for! At her young age she's already starting to sprout suckems and who knows what kind of a round the world kinda gal she'll be once she hits fifteen! Richie...the gal's throwin' herself at you and all you can do is foof it off! Maybe he's a bit wary of the female persuasion after the time he got a few vertebrae thrown outta whack after Little Lotta sat on his face....Gloria is a safe bet that's for sure.
More fanzine fanablas in the poopline, and like if you have any old classic rock fanzines (or others) you'd like to toss out...howzbout tossing 'em out my way!

Thursday, February 27, 2020


I'm really game for a good book on comic strips, and for some strange reason (maybe the fact that by the time this came out I couldn't have cared less, that being during some comic lull in my life) I missed out on this particular historically-based effort. However given how I'm more'n anxious to tear into some old BEETLE BAILEY paperback these days I thought this reminiscence by BEETLE creator Mort Walker would be the perfect way to spend a few evenings. Maybe I got it because I miss that particular post-war style of cartooning that Walker's strips exuded, and maybe it's because I'd like to know more about comic strips and the genius behind comicdom in general which is a subject that I really haven't touched upon throughout my comic strip reading existence. Frankly, I got this because I was bored....sheesh, what else???

But BACKSTAGE AT THE STRIPS really ain't the comic history and behind the scene look that I woulda loved to've spent a few cold winter nights pouring through. First off, the writing...Walker might have been, at least at his fifties-until-early-eighties peak, a really good gag craftster along with his stable who, with Walker, cranked out a variety of strips o'er the years (although I find HI AND LOIS rather middling and the less said about BONER'S ARK, HAGAR THE HORRIBLE and SAM'S STRIP the less said), but his yapping on about the comic strip high life and the behind-the-scenes minglings with the other comic strip artist stars really doesn't stimulate any part of what's left of my grey matter. Hodge-podge-y perhaps and most if not all of us comic strip hounds already know the rest. The end results can get kinda text book-y and we've had more than a few clinical comic strip histories already tossed our way so why bother with another?

Second off, the cartoons. Yeah, that's the REAL reason people like me would pick up a book such as this so's there's something to LOOK at in case the text flubs about. Good idea, though why are a buncha the reprints either taken from earlier Walker collections complete with the expected loss in detail, or just plain too faint to make out without making your eyeballs do the ol' psychedelic swirl? But for the most part its them funnies that keep me goin' back to books like these. Yeah, I gotta say that I am kinda irked about all this, especially since there are many of the fifties BAILEY strips that have never been repro'd and I'd sure like to read some ALL of 'em, especially those which had various docked characters like Ozone and a variety of proto-Miss Buxleys who have been shuttered aside because they don't quite fit in with the BAILEY official canon. Feh!

Now don't get me wrong (like you usually do), there are some good bits 'n feces to contend with here which might just get your interest in comicdom rekindled. Those uncensored rough sketches which popped up in various other BAILEY books are always a hoot, and although some of 'em were actually fleshed out into real deal strips once things loosened up a bit its sure great seein' 'em all in their unvarnished, dirty form. So despite the overall dullness this book might be a good rummage sale read if you can find it cheap enough. Trample over alla the old ladies looking at garish table lamps and latch onto your own copy of BACKSTAGE AT THE COMICS the next time your loco church is out there tryin' to raise some moolah!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


From the 30’s through the 50’s, JUDY CANOVA was the queen of country entertainment. Radio, films, records, TV, nightclub appearances, Broadway (she was in Ziegfeld Follies of 1936!), she conquered them all with her brash and outrageous over-the-top cornpone comedy (and her novelty singing, including first-rate yodeling). Her comedy persona was the kind of thing that would later have fit well in something like HEE HAW, and I’m surprised that she never did a guest shot on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES (though according to the IMDB, she did play Mammy Yokum in a 1967 unsold TV pilot of LI’L ABNER, something that would have been right up her alley). She could probably be described as a country version of Martha Raye or Vera Vague, though she looked like neither, being dark-haired, almond-eyed, with sharp features, and sporting the downhome pig-tails and calico look. Look at her picture and imagine the exaggerated “howwww-DEE” greeting, as said by Minnie Pearl.

LAY THAT RIFLE DOWN was the final starring vehicle for her at Republic Pictures, with a run that lasted for 13 films over 15 years. As with her fellow Republic stars Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, after an initial period playing characters with other names, she finally played herself (or her public persona) in the last few vehicles, such as this one.

Republic’s distribution in its waning days was especially strong in moderate-sized towns in the Midwest and the South, and I’d imagine that this film would have gone over well with those audiences. Canova was a known quantity, and she was teamed up with director Charles Lamont, who started off in the silent era doing Big Boy comedy shorts at Educational Pictures (that alone would get him in the BTC Hall Of Fame!), then in the sound era did the majority of Buster Keaton’s fine shorts at Educational, and wound up at Universal doing many comedy classics with Abbott & Costello and with Ma and Pa Kettle. Since Canova’s comedy is very similar to the Kettles, the pairing of star Canova and director Lamont was a match made in country-comedy heaven. Interestingly, the two films Lamont made after this were both entries in successful series that replaced one of the main stars with someone else: THE KETTLES IN THE OZARKS, where Percy Kilbride was replaced by Arthur Hunnicutt, and FRANCIS IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE, where longtime companion to Francis The Talking Mule Donald O’Connor was replaced by Mickey Rooney. Also, to add insult to injury, Francis The Mule was not even voiced by Chill Wills in this film—Paul Frees was “doing” a Chill Wills imitation. I remember seeing that film as a child on TV and enjoying it since Mickey Rooney’s hamminess can take over the screen and make you forget everything else that’s happening other than The Mick and his antics.

The plot here—which on some level doesn’t even matter, since the film is just a vehicle for Canova’s comedy—is a kind of cross between Cinderella and a mystery-crime story. In an early scene, Canova gets in the mail the newest lesson from a correspondence-course charm school, and we see the bumbling Canova character in her room trying to practice the “elegant” prancing and posing described in the lesson. I can hear the audience in, say, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, howling at her antics, and I would have been hooting and stamping right along with them. This scene also reminds me of the late great Jim Varney in his Ernest persona----one wonders if Varney as a child watched some Canova films on the local Tennessee UHF station. And just in case your heart-strings have not already been pulled by Judy’s working for the mean people at the hotel in a menial position, we find out that she takes the little money she does earn and uses it to keep up an old farm where an older man who drives a beat-up country taxi helps raise some orphan children, and of course the kids provide some country-style Our Gang-ish hijinks themselves. And if that’s not enough, when the kids throw a surprise birthday party for her, on a day that isn’t her birthday, Judy warbles a cute song about how “my birthday is my favorite day of the year,” with glockenspiel as a lead instrument in the orchestral backing. The only thing missing was Captain Kangaroo himself!

The Cinderella aspect of the story kicks in when Judy, who has led the mean-spirited people she lives and works with at the hotel to believe that a “feller” has been writing her, has her bluff called, and she winds up asking the first adult male to get off the bus in downtown “Greebville” to pretend to know her and be her boyfriend so as to shut up the hotel people who don’t believe her. And that “feller” is none other than ROBERT LOWERY! Yes, Batman from the 1949 Batman and Robin serial (my favorite Batman), who was recently championed here at BTC in the review of the 1962 Craig Hill film DEADLY DUO. For Judy, Lowery (who has always been good at comedy—his stuffy and bored performance as Bruce Wayne in the Batman serial is a hoot) is the dream date. Posing as Poindexter March III (!!!!), he charms everyone in town and has the meanies at the hotel now treating Judy like a queen, so they can win the favor of March/Lowery.

As you might expect, Judy’s farm isn’t exactly what it’s believed to be, and Robert Lowery had a specific reason to come to Greebville on the bus that magical day, and these elements keep the wheels rolling until Judy manages to put the meanies in their place, get rewarded out of the blue, and in the film’s climax, be toting that rifle referred to in the title. Also, even though Robert Lowery is essentially a swindler, he’s a charming swindler with a heart of gold, or so he shows himself to be as he’s taken away by the police. In the film’s final seconds, when banker Richard Deacon (!!!!) returns the deed to the farm to Judy AND we discover it’s got oil, she passes out, reminding us once again what a fine physical comedian Judy Canova is. She was 42 when the film was made, and her pigtails and girlish “aw shucks” mannerisms remind me of the scenes in the later Bowery Boys movies where the 40 year old Huntz Hall is dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit. This kind of thing exists in some alternate universe….a universe where I want to be!

Judy Canova’s radio show went off the air, after more than a decade, in 1955, the year she appeared in this, her last starring film vehicle. She then moved on to television guest appearances (she was even on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and went back to live performances in Vegas and in nightclubs across North America. It’s a shame she’s not remembered that much today. She carved out her own niche in the entertainment world of the 1930’s-1960’s, and she is able to carry this feature film effortlessly. She’s in virtually every scene, and though her persona is brash, she’s also shy and a wallflower, so the audience is not just laughing at her antics, they are rooting for her as an underdog. 65 years after this film was released, and 85 years after she exploded onto popular culture, Judy Canova is still working her magic on viewers like me!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Well I managed to survive the past week, and considering the work load and other emotional stress I hadda endure be thankful that I am still relatively in one piece! Not that the previous seven were total crunchville, but they came pretty close psychotic reaction-wise. Thankfully there are things to do in those oft-dwindling free time hours that sorta make up for all of the bad that has happened, like the beautiful and bountiful stack o' platters that I have received this week (courtesy of Bill Shute and Paul McGarry) not to mention the stellar fact that the original half-hour (and best) episodes of GUNSMOKE are now being shown (two back-to-back) on INSP weeknights at seven, one good reason for a fanabla such as I to pry myself away from the bedside boom box for an hour! I'm so happy that television which is copasetic with my own neural make-up is once again being offered for us suburban slob types who time has forgotten, and even though this means that I have one less hour per day to prepare for these blogposts at least I have a good excuse whenever the blog's overall quality takes a serious nosedive. And these days that's a whole lot more frequently than even I would have ever expected. But ya still luv me, right?
As far as my busier than usual week had gone well, I did receive a package of unsolicited niceties from Bob Forward, a guy who I thought I never would hear from again given people's penchants for being overtly offended ever so slightly an' I don't mean ME! Or something like that, but in this package, besides some Cee-Dee-Are burns which I will review if I like or not if I don't or happen to lose them, he sent me an issue of THE WIRE which is a mag I have heard about for eons but never felt excited enough to buy for mostly monetary reasons. But my interest was piqued....after years of seeing THE WIRE quoted and touted I was expecting a whole lot but boy did I think the thing was dry. Not that there wasn't any information to feed my usually frenzied brain (and I'm sure that somewhere in their history of the English new music experimentalists they've written on the Velvet Underground's influence on that particular scene, a subject that I would love to know a whole lot more about than what's readily available), but otherwise I felt THE WIRE's overall approach and feeling was just as sterile and COLD as most other efforts that try to take a music's excitement and appeal to your musical soul and for wont of a better term flop around like a stomach full of hot peppers and greens in the process.

The cover story on longtime under-the-underground rock faves Wire might have had something to do with my opinion, especially after seeing the elderly members of the group looking even more aged than my grandparents did when I was but a mere sprout. Then I got a good eyeballing of myself in the mirror and you can bet I felt like gulping down a bottle of Geritol before settling down for THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW! Overall, THE WIRE is a mag I don't think I'll be seeking out a subscription should some kid trying to work his way through college comes knocking at my door, but if people give me free copies I might just as well accept them.
Before we begin, I thought I'd link up this recent Jewamongyou post which I thought was rather reflective of a lotta things that I tend to believe, and a post where I think that both MoeLarryandJesus as well as Charles Hodgson could pick up a few interesting facts that nobody seems to believe true but overall redeem everything I've been saying these past few years. You can thank me whenever, guys.

The Flesheaters-NO QUESTIONS ASKED CD (Atavistic Records)

Now that it's safe to listen to the Flesheaters again (all of the negative energy from my enemies who swear by the ravings of Chris D has been dissipated at least somewhat), I'm once again enjoying the classic approach of an act that never did forget what punk rock circa. 1971 (in the best CREEM/fanzine sense) meant while spewing the whole mess into what punk rock circa 1978 meant at least in El Lay. A platter that's been a daily spinner these past few, on this debut ell-pee effort Chris D and band take the whole mad thrash of the El Lay scene and splatters it even more with not only that sanctified voodoo approach so evident on their classic A MINUTE TO PRAY but with enough smart Stooges/Black Pearl/Seeds moves (really, I MEAN it!) that sure sates a sixties-soaked "historian" such as I. Listening to this sure makes me wish that D somehow broke on over the "made it" line thus giving people like me that maybe there was some hope for rock 'n roll once the eighties began fizzling into sonic death.

Oh yeah, this Atavistic reish from way back when also has the TOOTH AND NAIL and EP tracks for the sake of complete pleasure plus some early on demos that only add to the mystical legend of it all.

A perfect tonic for one of those Sundays where all I have goin' for me is sittin' in my room going through boxes of my old friends, mainly my fanzine collection! Actually I'm in hawg heaven when I devote my free time to such frivolities, but when bolstered by this particular set of rare mid-sixties English delicacies the glow is only brighter. Loads of tracks both rare and not are splattered across these shiny platters and although some of 'em are fairly common (like Ambrose Slade's brilliant version of Frank Zappa's "I Ain't Got No Heart") I will say that it's sure great hearing things like a rare side from "Those" (formerly "The Belfast Gypsies" and even before that "Them") and the Liverbirds going on one of their Bo Diddley kicks again. Especially enthralling were the Who doing "Good Lovin'" on the BBC as well as the sparse folk rockers "I Won't Let You Down" by the Richmond from a LIVE AT THE CAVERN album emceed by noted bashed ribber Bob Wooler. And once again I get to hear that all-time obscuro "Bumble Bee" by the Searchers which really wowed me when I first heard it on the 1973???

Aim-FOR THE HIGHEST LP (Blue Thumb Records)

Here's one of those platters that I reckoned was probably a total turd yet had some sorta historical significance to it. That significance being that bassist Patrick O'Connor was a fixture not only in Lenny Kaye's avant rock group Jimmy the Flea but in some of Kaye's various non-Patti Smith endeavors later on. From the looks of that it might seem that Aim had some promise, but one listen'll prove that these guys were just another funky whiteboy outfit doomed to instant flea market bin status, at least until a doof like myself decided to take a chance on the thing in the hopes of hearing yet another Sidewinders or Hackamore Brick. Too bad, because when Aim veers ever so slightly into a halfway-there pop mode they just barely remind me of the Magic Tramps!


Another jive title considering this has some definitely non studio smatterings including "Love In Vain" from THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. Most if not all you've probably heard before and before and before, but it's no pain to give these many takes of "Honky Tonk Women" done up acoustic-like another go at it because they're so good in the way the late-sixties Stones were a fairly potent antidote to some of the sappier moments their rivals were whipping up. It's hard to see from the light of such seventies atrocities as "Angie" and even "Heartbreaker" just what standard bearers the Stones were during those pre-coked out days, but on these under-the-carpet spins you really can.
Los Peyotes-PSYCHOTIC REACTION CD0r burn (originally on ATMC Records, Argentina)

These south of the equator guys do the mid-sixties experience swell enough. In fact they're good enough that they would have rated at least a small paragraph in some late-seventies issue of BOMP...TROUSER PRESS had this come out in the late-seventies! Back then these guys woulda come off huge on this just-post high stool kid's hotcha list considering just how knocked out I was by these various NUGGETS and flea market finds that were plumping up my record collection quite a bit. Nowadays the thrill ain't as hotcha after years of hearing the originals until they were well-saturated in the sponge of my mind, but these Peyotes sure do get the gold stars for their uncanny efforts at re-creating the knocked out raveup experience without coming off like a buncha cutesy poos. And come to think of it, we in the here and now could sure use a whole lot more of that in our bloodstreams 'stead of the sorry rehash that has been pumped into us whether we like it or not!
The Litter-$100 FINE CD (Arf! Arf! Records)

Not so bad second album from the "Action Woman" guys who coulda been another late-sixties bigtime high energy group to contend with had ABC/Probe only knew how to handle 'em. Like the better rock 'n roll to appear during those maybe not-so-dismal days, the Litter take the slow and intense route when necessary yet never fail to crank it out down on all fours when the desire arises. If these guys came from Detroit you can bet that TIME and NEWSWEEK woulda been name dropping 'em in those MC5 articles that appeared just around the same time this effort came out. The early demos are too cuddly gal cute in my opinion but hey, they were just startin' out so who can blame 'em?
Various Artists-TONGUE-TWISTIN NERVOUS SUGAR CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

Bill goes soul music on this various artists collection, really plumbing the depths of trackage that never went anywhere that I know of even though a good portion of this most definitely shoulda. WAIT, right when I'm gettin' into a decidedly urban temperament Bill switches gears and slips in a sixties-vintage ranch house white neo-surf rocker that's titled "Let's Dance" but ain't the Chris Montez favorite! The rest of this seems well-settled between early and mid-sixties white teenage music of varying bents which kinda makes me wonder...Bill, whose side are you on???

All kiddin' aside (somethin' ya GOTTA say nowadays), the best of this batch just happens to be the Marcus Brothers' raucous tribute to the Everlys and cocaine..."Sugar Booger"! A VERY CLOSE SECOND would be the Rambling Dogs' "Eye of the Needle", a true rock 'n roll revelation because I first knew about this group when they were going under their complete name of Elmer City Rambling Dogs if only due to an appearance at CBGB way back 1976 way. Lookin' at the cover of their self-produced album I kinda got the impression that these Dogs'd be a goodtime biker band complete with the heavy-set and balding guy in overalls, but judging from this track they really were a down-to-terra grovelling rock boogie outfit who sorta came off like the missing link between Canned Heat and those early pub-rockin' Stiff Records bands. Perfect for the breed of rocker who was plunking down the dinero for everything from the Count Bishops to Sean Tyla with change left over for an early Eddie and the Hot Rods. Definitely one not only to search out for your own pride and pleasure but for one of those snazzy reissue labels to lap up and dish out for a definitely grit-starved audience!
Ya see the pic onna left? That's what I gotta get rid of in order to not only recoup my losses putting these issues of BLACK TO COMM out but maybe even (now get this!) get up enough moolah to put out another issue of my oft loathed crudzine. Wow, just what you want to see...BLACK TO COMM #26 starin' you inna face an' you haven't even finished pouring through your most recent issue of DYNAMITE HEMORRHAGE yet! Really, your Unca Chris could use not only the money but the extra room, so why not empty out your piggy bank and spring for a whole buncha nice 'n juicy issues before they end up in the incinerator along with the rest of my fortysome years of rock collectibles which my "heirs" will undoubtedly mistake for trash!

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Now I can't afford, or am entitled to, or am "important" enough in this world to have the opportunity to have read every comic strip history that's come out these past few years, but gawly ned if this one just didn't hit that infamous chord in me to the point where I hadda just purchase a copy for myself to have, to hold and to slobber over. IN OTHER WORDS this ain't gonna be re-gifted, so whatever you do don't get your hopes up Bill or Brad!!!

An' so, once again it's time to for me to revert to my single-digit days (nothing that's too hard for me to do) to seep into and enjoy a well-deserved history of the Amerigan comic strip! Well at least its zanier side, and at least a history of what comic strips meant to crazed kids who sure got a whole lotta enjoyment outta sprawlin' themselves down right inna middle of the living room floor readin' that day's selection of true blue jam-slammed packed adventure and fun jamz WHEN THEY SHOULDA BEEN DOIN' THEIR HOMEWORK! Or at least that's the guilt trip that usedta be laid down on me alla time and who knows, maybe it was on you too!

The whole screwball comic trend has been discussed many-a-time before not only on the SCREWBALL blog (see list at left) but in these very "pages", and any real fan of the non-pretentious comic strip is bound know a whole lot more about such totally loonybin classics as SALESMAN SAM and THE SQUIRREL CAGE than your average DOONESBURY reader ever would. Of course that's a given but I have the sneakin' suspicion that many of you reg'lar BLOG TO COMM readers are woefully ignorant about this important and mostly forgotten trend in comic strips. And that, naturally, is where this book comes in.

Author Tumey does a pretty good (not "perfect" but not lacking either) job of presenting a historical and at times lively history of these particularly off-the-meter and at times downright "surreal" (not that I'm getting into seventies art criticism mind you) strips which might have seemed old and quaint to the post-fifties breed of sophisticado fans but really kept up the whole spirit of comic strip energy at that fever pitch level that's kept people like me coming back for more. Well, strips like these sure kept me pourin' through newspaper microfilms if only to read these seemingly long-forgotten efforts all the while tellin' the librarians I was doing a school report on somethingorother in order to keep outta trouble!

It's a fine and informative (an' I mean informative as in the fact that you'll be glued to each panel and devour all of the new information on these crackpot cartoons a whole lot more than you did with your fourth grade chemistry book!) read, detailing a whole lotta history backdrop into those more nutzoid strips that really put a punch into the funny pages. (Imagine these as the printed page's answer to the Three Stooges or Joe Cook and you'll get the drift.) Starting with the infamous Frederick Burr Opper (whose professional cartooning career began in 1876!) to other infamous names as E.C. Segar (THIMBLE THEATER), Rube Goldberg, Milt Gross, Bill Holman (SMOKEY STOVER) and Ving Fuller (the subject of a nasty joke in LI'L ABNER), you not only get those nice and compact biographies of the guys who made the funny papers totally ridiculous but plenty of hotcha examples of their work that just might have you slippin' back in time and hoggin' up the living room with your girth spread all over the floor while the kids use your butt crack as a dangerous crevice as they drive all over your body with their Matchbox cars.

Really, some of these cartoons are so hilarious that every slab of cartooning emitted over the past twenty or so years wilts mightily in comparison. Really, how can anything in today's comicsphere hold a candle to those SMOKEY STOVER badgags done up the way I like 'em or even more groaners gone good via THE NUT BROTHERS. And howzbout the infamous "Nov Schmoz Ka Pop?" hitchhiker who the inventor wanted to see dead in THE SQUIRREL CAGE! Just about anything that Milt Gross inked is worthy my time and temperature (an' he's a guy whose strips from NIZE BABY to COUNT SCREWLOOSE should be collected and published immediate-like!) an' while I'm on an anti-postmodernist cartoon jag, who today could have done a HAPPY HOOLIGAN Sunday page where the panels were cut diagonally in half and re-pasted for the reader to figure out himself?!?!?! It took me awhile to do some mental un-scrambling (didn't wanna cut the page up!), but after I was finished I figured that the way they originally appeared was dada enough to enjoy in its original version so why should I have bothered inna first place!

Sure Tumey emits a few irks here and there which I can't let slide by, such as his contention that the post Gene Ahern OUR BOARDING HOUSE was strictly grade-z turdsville (frankly, I can't even tell the difference!) while his total omission of Stan MacGovern's crazed SILLY MILLIE is something I would deem downright irresponsible considering how books on screwball comic strips are mighty few and far between. However I gotta commend the guy for tackling one subject that I would never think any respectable publishing firm would dare to publish, and sheesh if you've put a whole lotta free time and obsession into those old comic strips at a time when the only ones you could talk about Major Hoople or Smokey Stover were your aunts and uncles who were headin' into their mid-fifties which seemed like a LIFETIME to your nine-year-old self well, I guess you will understand just as much as I do how much books like this can mean to your own sense of well being and happiness!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Can a brain-damaged neo-autistic make it in the blogosphere without looking like the total idiot he's made himself out to be via the printed page for the past (almost) forty years? Well read on and find out for yourself, Clarabelle!
Anyway, is it me, or has my writing generally gotten even more convoluted and moronic these past few weeks or months (years?) for that matter? Between you, me and the bedpan I gotta admit that it has, and I chalk it up to just reg'lar decay (physically and mentally) and irreg'lar exhaustion due to me plunking these posts out faster than a meatball factory on Al Capone's birthday. Judging from the previous sentence my concept of humor is getting rather convolutedly warped as well (and yes, there's no such word as "convolutedly" but at least my tendency for adapting new words out of old has been a part of my skewered poor writemanship for years!----"writemanship"----there I go agin!), but believe-you-me I sure wish I could pour out the wordage the same way that Bill Shute or Bruce Mowat do! Given the rather traumatic excursions taking place in my already diseased mind I don't think I'll ever be able to reach the stellar heights those professionals can. Don't think I'll even succeed rising to TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE levels either given my state of mental disarray, so mebbee I should be satisfied with the gunk I'm presenting to you which some of you must be rockism-starved enough to lap up with everyday glee! (In other words...) I ain't givin' this up because I'm havin' too much fun anyways and besides next to most of the slop I read these days passing as rock criticism I might as well be the standard for today's high energy, no-holds-barred rock writing 'n you better believe it!
In case you wanna know yes I HAVE been enjoying myself this past week, spinning an inordinate amount of current faves like the Eddie Flowers and the Wax Lips Swamp Dub album on Feeding Tube (the track that closes out the album is the "John, John, Let's Hope For Peace" of the twenties!) as well as a whole stack of old favorites ranging from the first two Savage Rose albums, PHALLUS DEI, Lou Reed and the Tots live on the radio and various sundries in-between. A pretty good time was had as well, what with me swimming through these musical milestones while pouring through the boxes of fanzines and various rock 'n roll-related publications stacked up in what used to be my bedroom.

When I do have that much-needed SPARE TIME on hand I certainly love reverting to my youthful suburban slob self while pouring through the sounds, the reading (talkin' old comic strips/books, none of that "classics" stuff they usedta make ya read in school in order for them to turn you into a nice and docile sissy!) and the general fun and jamz that made those post-homework hours in the evening such a pleasure to wind down to. I never thought those kinda days and feelings would ever come back (especially since tee-vee, which used to be the big hub of pre-beddy bye domestic activity, has pretty much capsized into grim and irrelevant "entertainment") but maybe they have, in their own special and compatible with the BLOG TO COMM way o' livin' sorta way!
OLD NEWS BUT I THOUGHT I'D MENTION IT---too bad about Rush Limbaugh and his lung cancer diagnosis which he announced to the world via his radio program two weeks back. And yes it IS too bad he's succumbing to this rather deadly malady especially at this time in Amerigan history because---well, for the last three or so years (during the reincarnation of SPIRO AGNEW via DONALD TRUMP) the guy has been acting way less neoconnish than he had back when he was continually badmouthing the likes of Ron Paul while trying to appease a whole load of rightist factions, flopping around like a fish trying to pick the right side of the right wing political spectrum to cozy up to. Hope he recovers or at least goes out on a strong note but that's not why I'm mentioning him inna first place.

The reason I am is because as far as this meat of the matter cancer development goes all I will say at this point is that it's too bad that all that probably fatal agony couldn't happen to someone else like...well, you know how I don't like to name names and call people out but there are a few of you who I sure wouldn't mind watchin' (while smirkin' for that matter) while ya go through alla that chemo and painful surgery and outright misery that I hadda watch people around me, good and decent people for that matter, experience!

Too bad I don't have a mumbo jumbo bad luck evil hoodoo charm like many of you once extremely-caustic yet now totally copasetic with the human condition types think I do because if I did well, NONE OF YOU WOULD BE SPARED!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! (In other words, maybe it should happen to...)
SORRY TO SEE YA GO---RIP Orson Bean, a guy who I grew up thinking was the coolest sorta man I'd like to be like when I grew up, along with Alan Young, Bill Cullen and Alan Ludden! Guest writer for MAD (his story about the two Chinese guys who go to an American restaurant is a by now anti-PC laff riot!) and star of a HELP! fumetti to boot! Of course after I saw that PBS production with him swearin' in it and heard about that HUSTLER interview where he talked about undergoing Reichian therapy and urination along with other sundries bound to give you the creeps well...sheesh, even the biggest and bestest of our kiddiehood role models had bigger faults than San Andreas! But anyhoo, there goes another familiar face from my earliest and fuzziest memories outta sight but not mind...goodbye Bevis!
IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T, why dontcha check out the recent article on Iggy and the Stooges/RAW POWER that's popped up on the COUNTER-CURRENTS website! I haven't seen it ("unsupported protocol"), but from what I've heard it's sure a real doozy!
And now for the adults only portion of our blog, the reviews!


Once again John "Inzane" Olson (who can't even spell his last name right) dredges up the best of the late-twentieth century freeform freestyle jazz sound with this continuation of the wall-of-mass-improv brohauha which recalls everything from Alan Silva's BYG albums to Rudolph Grey's BLAZING ANGELS or whatever it was called. For a cheap imitation (like, Olson never hung out with the big names and got his street cred the way yer sposta!) this sounds like the read deal newer than new thing you've known and loved for ages. I hope that this review doesn't go to the guy's head or else the next thing you'll know he'll be sporting a dashiki and loads of beads around his neck!
Steve Piccolo-DOMESTIC EXILE CD (Guerssen Records, Spain)

Alla that early-80s Lounge Lizards fake jazz post-no wave that was happenin' at the time really didn't thrill me a-tall, so it is a surprise that I find this solo album from ex-member Steve Piccolo not as bad as I thought it was gonna be. In keeping with them times, Piccolo performs a "minimalist" style of singer-songwriterdom that reminds me of contemporary efforts from the likes of the Red Crayola and Peter Blegvad. Sparse and intimate, keeping much in line with the same sorta art spree that gave us everyone from Glenn Branca to Robert Longo, and if you still search out your old Laurie Anderson and Love of Life Orchestra records for that much-needed solace I'm sure you'll go full throttle for this beauty as well!
Kraftwerk-RADIO BREMEN SESSIONS 1971 CD (Eye of the Storm Records)

Here's yet another Eye of the Storm release featuring some early krautrock that sure sounds as raw and as exciting as any of the punk rock that was being birthed during the early-seventies. Stoopid me bought this not knowing that these were the same Radio Bremen live in front of a small live audience recordings that have been floating around for quite some time, BUT boy does this sound as if it was just taped straight off the radio its that clear!  And the packaging with liner notes ain't nothin' to sneeze at either. If you don't have any of the other versions of this then pick this particular spinner up for a treat that really does fit in on these long winter nights as you kick your feet up and sink into the pretty heavy-metallic punky sound that the Stooges-influenced era of Kraftwerk were able to exude.

Another Paul McGarry pawn off which I must say is worth the listen to considering that if I were to grab alla these Stones rarities on their lonesome it would cost me a millyun dollars just like them Time/Life infomercials say! Besides a lotta takes of "Brown Sugar" I've never heard before this has plenty of trackage that's pretty straightforward in the way the we liked the Stones when they weren't being too high falutin'. This even has some "new" numbers that a decidedly non-Stones kinda guy has never heard before so it was like an ALL NEW EXPERIENCE IN STONESIFIED EXPRESSION to be givin' this particular platter a spin. Hey Paul, ya doin' any more house cleanin'?
Beach Slang-THE DEADLIEST BANG OF HEARTBREAK CITY CD-r burn (originally on Bridge 9 Records)

As if these pampered menials didn't think that they could fill up an album with standard alternative rock vocal styles and post-Elton sensitive piano emote and then try to tell all of us that they are hip 'n with it by tossing in a "Sister Ray" riff swipe. This ain't the death of rock, it's finding the carcass a few weeks after it being locked in a tool shed on an extremely hot summer's day. The closing backwards moosh with kids talking was about 1/1000% redeeming.
Cinecyde-I LEFT MY HEART IN DETROIT CITY CD-r burn (originally on Tremor Records)

I know I reviewed my actual flesh and blood copy of this either in my crudzine or on this blog o'er a decade or so back, but McGarrys' recent burn sorta jogged my memory about these late-seventies Detroiters even existing inna first place. I remember the early singles which placed Cinecyde in the same class of post-sixties high energy rockers in the Destroy All Monsters/Mutants vein and they were plenty impacting ifyaknowaddamean, but this early-eighties effort has 'em playin' the same overdone rock moves and chord changes that sounded great at one time but seemed rather too little too late just a few years later. Well, it was the early-eighties after all and if you remember just how much of a DENOUEMENT those years were compared with what was happening in the seventies you woulda been just as down inna dumps as I was!

Sheesh, who ever thought that Hawkwind, or at least some form of what it used to be, would have lasted into the year 2019 where they'd be re-doing their old faves in remarkably different arrangements to pawn off on space kiddettes both old 'n new! Dunno who exactly is part of this version of the group (nor do I really care that much---after all, this ain't some high stool BOOK REPORT I'm doin' complete with recipe cards and reference pages!) but this Hawkwind's pretty snazzy and at times reminiscent of their various mid/late-seventies efforts that still see action on my turntable whenever one happens to pop up in the pile. Ya gotta give 'em loads of credit for milking the same stellar pathways for a good fifty years awlready and without coming off too money-minded at that!
Various Artists-LONELY MYSTIC NELLIE CD-r burn (Bill Shute)

After a long day at the concentration camp something like this helps raise the spirits. It features everything from a couple of weird outta-the-way teenage psychedelic sides from Frenchy and the Underground Railroad to the Mystic Five covering the Raiders and Surfaris to even more aural spasms (howzbout a record accompanying an anti-drugs/rock music film strip that makes me think that any kid who saw it woulda immediately headed for his local pusher and record shop!). Rod Rodgers of "song poems" fame contributes a few Air Force-related soul stirrers and whaddaya know but infamous vanity performer Dora Hall once again pops up to sing "Nellie Bly", undoubtedly financed by the Solo Cup Company! If only Bill had left them cheap proto-hippie cool college kid attempts at "cutting" satire via the "Apple Gunkies" ads off! The aural equivalent of cleaning about seventy years of junk outta your late Aunt Mabel's house!
Someday these BLACK TO COMM BACK ISSUES are going to be extremely valuable. But then again someday an R. Meltzer Tropicana Orange Juice bottle filled with a stillborn kitten in gelatin will go for gigantic sums at Sotheby's. But my magazines sure smell a lot better, so you know where to invest your money now, eh?

Thursday, February 13, 2020


Yeah it sure is good readin' more and more about what was probably the GREATEST comedy team of the twentieth century, and if you think I'm talkin' the Marx Brothers (who I really can't care much for and wouldn't even if Dick Cavett didn't like 'em) you're wrong as usual! When I say GREATEST I mean none other'n the Three Stooges, not some innerlektual haughty humor for the psuedo-intellectuals to chatter on about in their never-ending attempts to be even more respectable in the eyes of their chi chi friends.

Gotta say that for Stooges fans this 'un should fill the bill considering that it is more detailed and dare-I-say "accurate" than Moe Howard's own Stoogeobiography reviewed a few months back. It's got loads of pix (I once wanted the one on page 26 made into a t-shirt---mebbe I still do!) not to mention a whole lotta nice li'l facts that we shoulda known about but you know how lots of history gets lost until it gets re-discovered years after the fact.

It may be a little scholarly, and there might be way too much on the "post" Stooges group that Ted Healy slapped together for most of us to care about, but the info and the illustrations are there and if you've been familiar with these faces your whole life there's no reason why you wouldn't wanna read this book and get to know more about these guys who really acted like the true role models in your suburban slob existence. And yeah, at a time when your mother wanted you to be Freddie Bartholomew and your dad Jack Armstrong the Stooges sure did come in handy! (You ultimately turned out to be more like Lumpy Rutherford but at least them Stooges gave you the right sorta ranch house kiddie guidance, eh?)

There's not a thing in THE STOOGE CHRONICLES that I care to quibble about. Even when it borders on "stodgy" the subject matter makes sure that you ain't takin' yer usual eyeball breaks peekin' out the window when yer curvaceous neighbor's walkin' the Rottweiler. It tells the story in its own concise way and should satisfy any kid who spent his formative years watching these guys and never did "outgrow" their style of real, affects you in a down home way comedy that still works all these years later.

And it also satisfies a kid like me who was DENIED the Three Stooges because I couldn't pick up the distant stations that those old shorts were airing on back when I needed these guys the most (local ones were too cheap, or more likely STOOPID to have aired 'em past the mid-sixties for one foolish reason or another). I only caught that glorious glimpse of 'em when visiting a household which was able to snatch those Cleveland and Pittsburgh stations up with relative ease usually making myself a self-invited pest in the process. Sheesh, do you think I could sue my dad for being too cheap to put up a tall enough aerial because of high wind fears on his part? Makes about as much sense as some of those frivolous lawsuits one sees these sappy days, but at least it would be a whole lot more interesting one for you gawkers to read about, eh?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


Re-watching this film (I’ve seen it 3-4 times over the last 20 years), I’m reminded about the things an hour-long B-crime/action programmer has in common with a rock’n’roll 45—it’s all about the spirit, the tone of the performance, the pace, the mood, the overall effect. Nail those elements, and any number of defects can be forgiven….or actually become irrelevant. The piece itself carries you along….for 2 minutes 30 seconds on a 45 rpm singles, or for 56 minutes with a film like RUBBER RACKETEERS. And like some grungy 1962 R&B cover by a frat-rock band from Washington state, this film delivers the goods (Monogram films usually do) you paid for when you bought a ticket.

This was an early production by the King Brothers, whose story sounds like it came out of the kind of film they would produce. Evidently, they began selling newspapers and shining shoes, and then branched into slot machines and horse racing. They loved movies, though, and knew a number of producers and directors from the racetrack! They had the genius idea to try and make films to be shown on their slot machines, and actually attempted to contact Cecil B. DeMille to see if he’d like to produce a film for their slot machines!!!! Not surprisingly, that did not work out.

They did manage to make a low-budget film for PRC called PAPER BULLETS, famous for being a pre-stardom role for Alan Ladd. The great B-movie gangster actor JACK LA RUE starred in that, as they knew him from the racetrack and he was happy to do “the boys” a favor. They did wind up later making some crime classics, including DILLINGER, GUN CRAZY, SOUTHSIDE 1-1000, and THE GANGSTER.

RUBBER RACKETEERS was released in June 1942, just six months after the beginning of WWII, and the first scene sets the over-the-top wartime tone….we see star BILL HENRY shooting a machine gun into targets with the faces of Mussolini, Hitler, and Tojo (can you imagine how well that would have gone over with audiences in mid-1942….these King Brothers knew what they were doing!). Henry, in case you’ve forgotten, later starred in the 1953 Republic serial CANADIAN MOUNTIES VS ATOMIC INVADERS, and he was also the comedic heavy in the post-Gorcey Bowery Boys film SPOOK CHASERS, where the Huntz Hall/Stanley Clements version of the Boys help their older pal Mike Clancy (who is filling the slot that would have been filled by Bernard Gorcey as Louie Dumbrowski of Louie’s Sweet Shop fame) when seedy real estate agent Henry sells Mike a “haunted” house that’s actually full of cash from a missing gangster. Henry’s character in RR, a young defense worker devoted to the patriotic cause, has just the right combination of boyish charm and naïve toughness, but the real star here—as happens so often in B-movies and serials—is the villain, a gangster named Tony Gilin, played by the great RICARDO CORTEZ, just out of jail, and now head of a tire-bootlegging operation. What’s that, you might ask? During WWII, rubber was needed for the war effort, so new tires could not be had easily, and even retreads became a scarce commodity. People would even buy a cheap used car just to get the tires (there’s a scene with just that happening here). What Cortez’s crooked crew would do is take bald tires, put a kind of ribbed wrap around them, and cover them with a new black sealant. They looked shiny and new from a distance, but were dangerous to drive on, which unfortunately is proven when Bill Henry’s girlfriend’s brother is killed in an accident due to the bad tires blowing out. This gets Henry and his gal (played by Rochelle Hudson) on the warpath, and they decide to track down who was responsible for making these tires, and the plot follows their steps in the investigation, eventually narrowing down to seedy used car lots owned by Gilin.

It’s a joy to watch Ricardo Cortez in action. A major star during the silent era (he was impressive in D.W. Griffith’s 1926 THE SORROWS OF SATAN), he continued as a leading man in the early sound era, and was Sam Spade in the original 1931 version of THE MALTESE FALCON. In the late 1930’s he directed a number of programmers, and then, as a number of silent leading men had done before him, re-invented himself as a character actor, specializing in heels and crooks (Chris reviewed the 1950 BUNCO SQUAD a while back, where he shined as the murderous head of a phony psychic racket, conning rich widows out of their money). As an ex-boxer, Cortez never lost his tough-guy edge, though as he’d also worked as a stockbroker before his acting career (and he eventually returned to Wall Street after retiring from acting), he knew how to project a classy image. That combination served him well in his post-leading man period as a villain.

The writer of RUBBER RACKETEERS certainly knew what gold he had in Cortez, and thus gives him many great lines and set-ups which surely would have gotten a laugh out of the wartime audiences. For instance, in the first part of the film, where Cortez’s Asian-American butler announces that he is enlisting in the Army, Cortez flashes an oily smile, congratulates him, slaps him on the back, and says, “everybody’s got to do their bit….and you’ll do mine!” The film is full of that kind of thing, as it should be when the top-billed actor is the bad guy….it’s Cortez people were paying to see. The skimpy Monogram Pictures sets usually work to the films’ advantage in crime films and mysteries, as they have a lived-in look to them, and that’s true here, as Cortez barks orders and makes under-handed deals all the while wearing a tailored suit in a way that makes me green with envy (when I wear a suit, it’s either too baggy, or too tight a la Oliver Hardy) and smokes cigarettes in a classy way, with curling smoke trails, that makes me want to go out and buy a pack of Camels and start the habit again (almost). Although Cortez’s demise near the film’s climax happens quickly, it echoes the way he killed someone else about 30 seconds before, and was surely satisfying to audiences. The film ends with the young couple on the front page of the newspaper after Cortez is killed, and we see a munitions factory with its smokestacks belching, no doubt working three shifts a day toward the war effort.

RUBBER RACKETEERS is in the public domain and can be found easily online. Like a great rock and roll record or crime comic book or YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR radio show, it hits all the right bases, has exactly the right tone and attitude, gets done quickly and efficiently what it needs to do, and leaves you wanting more.