Thursday, December 31, 2020
(Universal, 1995) I must have listened to this in 1995, Pedro Bell was really proud of the cover art and I had the CD, butdamnedif I remember it well. I recently picked up the vinyl that came out a couple years ago, and I can't believe I let this gather dust. While ostensibly this is a Bill Laswell record it is actually the best Funkadelic record of the 90s, featuring P-Funk OGs George Clinton, Bootsy, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, Michael "Clip" Payne, Gary Shider, Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell, Maceo, plus folks of equal funk footing (Sly and Robbie, Sly Stone, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Byrd, and even a Last Poet and dude with a bucket on his head! But assembling all-stars is one thing, more importantly, this album is a super successful, loving embrace of the earliest Funkadelic albums with some actual covers and returns to P-Funk themes of yore, creating a deep, loving declaration of loyalty to to The Funk. There is some stuff that has the kind of atmosphere you'd associate with Laswell (especially a trancelike Hendrix cover by Bootsy) but most of this is just outright soaking in cosmic slop. But what I came for was the gatefold art and GODDAMN! Pedro was not yet having too much trouble with his sight in '95, but he still was rarely as focussed and powerful as he is here, and the assistants he sometimes used rarely were as true to his style and vision as Seitu is here.The amazing package includes a funked up booty art cover, plus a comic where Laswell gets destroyed by a soul-sucking green titty demon, plus some panels memorializing Hazel, goofing on "Newt Gangrene," and getting spook nasty, plus liner notes! This is amazing to listen to and better to look at. Pedro Bell forever!
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Guest Review by Steve "Pudgy"DeRose (Note: This is a "lost" review from 2014 that we are publishing for the first time. Blowfly passed away is 2016. Steve's Twitter account, however, survives, if you can handle soccer fanaticism and Japanese panty pictures)
There may have only been fifty-five patrons in attendance, but I'm sure they had a rollickin' good time at Blowfly's first performance in Chicago since September 2012. Had Blowfly changed that much since being profiled in Roctober #30 ? Maybe, maybe not?
What was definitely changed was the venue for the concert; which also had the Untold Dirty, and Baby Brotha on the bill. It was the Red Line Tap [formally Roy's] at 7006 N. Glenwood on Chicago's far north side. the Red Line Tap is associated with the Heartland Cafe around its corner. Previously a show like this might have wound up at the Empty Bottle, or the Double Door.
The crux of Blowfly's act is that he's going to sing all the dirty and nasty lyrics to tunes you assign to other musical acts. Bawdy lyrics go back at least a millennium, so this can't be considered new. The comparison to make is with "Weird Al" Yankovic. "Weird Al"'s novelties are strictly "PG." Blowfly's versions are rated 'X'" (although I have never encountered a movie rated "X" for language - "rated 'R'" probably wouldn't sell as many tickets).
Blowfly begins the show wearing a hockey mask. The mask only lasts the first three songs or so. I did not recognize a lot of the songs he was parodying (and he didn't do "I Want To Be Fellated", which is what I was hoping to hear), so they must have been relatively recent. His backing band is a three-piece; the standard guitar, bass, and drums. He involves the audience in most of the numbers, going as far as bringing a female up to the stand to specifically impart the message he is intoning. Heh heh heh heh.
The most entertaining part of the concert was when he told the story about being on Dick Clark's American Bandstand when early rapper Kurtis Blow was also booked. This leads, as you may anticipate, into an extended rap playing on Kurtis' last naem. it was hilarious.
He also does at least one straight song associated with Clarence Reid (from the 1970s).
His set began 40 minutes late, but the opening acts were equally at fault. The show is just about 60 minute. 'Curfew' at the Red Line is 1:00am. Singing ended at 12:50am, and the next thirty minutes or so were taken up by commiserating with patrons, selling merchandise, and posing for photographs.
I have a Twitter account (@pudgem29) which delves into topics some people can't handle. But @officialBlowfly is one of two high-profile accounts who actually follow we (@BeauDure, a soccer writer, is the other). For that he certainly deserves something. He got as Japanese adult video from me. I've heard some scuttlebutt that Blowfly is being exploited and/or manipulated by the other guys in his act. But what ultimately matters is the quality of the performance. This was a solid hour of off-beat entertainment. If you can tolerate "blue" humor (& you should), you ought to buy a ticket to when this tour comes near you. Particularly if the venue being booked is as intimate as the Red Line Tap. Who else does this? Is there anybody new who is attempting an act like this? How much longer can he continue to do it?
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
(Hershey's) OK, I got really exciterd about the Big Cup with Pieces, but these two offerings brought me back to earth. The pretzel pieces, and the savory salt flair, are fine, but unlike the the wat the candy excess of the Reese's Pieces makes the jumbo size of the Big Cup feel more substantial,this somehow unembiggened the candy overall. But it's way better than the dumb mystery shapes, which are all vaguely Christmasy, but not really. The chocolaty off-setting off-kilter shape-like reveals of a blobby snowman or an amorphous stocking look more like poop than sweet delights. And poop in a stocking is worse than coal.
Monday, December 28, 2020
(Columbia, 2020) They had a Rock Mission, and they accomplished it: this sounds EXACTLY like an AC/DC record! Which you may scoff at, but think about the times the Ramones failed to make a record sound exactly like a Ramones record, which is ostensibly 3% easier. After one member died, one got caught for murder, and one lost his hearing the idea of a mostly intact reunion seemed unlikely, but here it is, as solid and thunderous as ever. PWR UP (not to be confused with the Pwr Bttm, gratefully) does have a weird spoken part that sounds eerily like Gene Simmons on "Domino," but I blame Brian's audiology therapist for that, everything else is just about perfect, and even that is kinda amusing.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
White Castle) Any time a White Castle marquee lists something I have not tried before I feel both obligated (they have served me well over the decades) and genuinely excited to try it. Often they are not great - mediocre waffles do not a good bun make, and everything does not work in nibbler form - but every now and again they hit. Now the Sloppy Joe is a weird one to undertake, because I imagine for most of us (Adam Sandler affirms this) our experience with them is from school cafeterias, so any affection has to do with nostalgia for mediocrity. And as far as that goes, the basic SJS delivers the inadequate meat to bun ratio, and the slightly tangy but not actually tasty sauce. However, add a slice of cheese and both of those faults are mitigated to a degree. I believe these sandwiches have been offered before, somewhat forgettably if my memory does not serve me, but this year they have added a welcome variation. The Smoky Joe not only pays tribute to the Robins R&B hit (with more gusto than the Broadway jukebox musical of the same name, which did not feature the song in its entirety), but by adding some extra flavor and some cheese and some crunchy onion ring crumbles this now appeals to me as much as it does to Joe. To Joe who, you ask? Joe Mama!
Saturday, December 26, 2020
(hbomax.com, 2020) This is the best TV show I've seen in forever. Most of the short series consists of the meticulous lo-fi poetry of documentarian/editor Wilson illustrating his monologues about how to negotiate contemporary life with mundane, hilarious, poignant, disconcerting, joyful, astounding clips of the streets, stores, people, vermin, pets, signs, garbage, commerce, scaffolding, and feces of New York. The City is captured with more wonder and truth than the films of Woody, Marty, or Spike. While affecting a naive outlook he invites outgoing individuals to share seemingly bizarre aspects of their values and belief systems, but not because he is making fun of them or even because they are the world's weirdest people. It is because he gives them an opportunity to keep talking and does not stop listening. When a delightfully demeanored regular dude who is good at cooking, and good at explaining how he is doing it, also happens to open up about his theory of extraterrestrial infiltration, it is not because he is king kook, but because Wilson made him feel comfortable to share ideas that he, and perhaps many people you see all the time, find important. And while this may be the cheapest show on HBO, it is possibly the most masterful. Without spoilers, I have to acknowledge how genuinely brilliant it was for him to ask an intact-foreskin advocate about what recent movies he liked. Who would have known that question would lead to the best 20 seconds of TV this decade? How To Make The Best TV Show? Like this!
Friday, December 25, 2020
(Hershey's) The reason the King Size Snickers is such a magnificent candy is girth.Or more accurately, presence, as it takes up so much space and represents so much protein that instead of seeming like a snack it seems more like a steak. Long before the Seinfeld gag about eating a Snickers with knife and fork I marveled at the meat-like presence of the mighty King Size Snickers. But it just tastes pretty good. The Reese's Big Cup has the weight of the KSS (symbolically, not sure of the net weight), yet tastes a little better, but without the power/oomph/mouthfeel of the Snickers' intact peanuts. But add Reese's Pieces inside the peanut butter cup's peanut butter and you not only get crunch, but it is a sweet, sinful candy crunch! And the fact that you have candy coated peanut butter densely surrounded by the same peanut butter housed within the candy shell is an enigma inside a riddle. Or a chicken nugget floating in puréed chicken. This is a substantial, excellent confection!
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Quimbys) Mr. Quimby has established himself as a towering historical figure in modern zine history, opening the best zine store in the world and more recently bringing zine retail back to New York, so reading this first hand, brisk, excellent summary of the key movers, movements, moments and mishegas in 80s and 90s zine history is a delight. I appreciate that he celebrates some of the transgressive characters and trends that might not be smiled upon as much today without acting like things were unproblematic nor putting down current mores. Along with some of the other mini zines he has been producing of late, I am really impressed with his development as a designer, with a clean simple look that still nods to the xerox era.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Sunday, December 20, 2020
(Air Bud Entertainment, 2016) Ostensibly this movie is a talking money remake of Dicky Roberts, with a failed actor (in this case an energy drink spokesman capuchin monkey replacing David Spade...not a fair swap IMHO) who doesn't have the range for a prestige acting job, but then moves in with a real family that teaches about life and love, resulting in him becoming a better thespian...and a better primate overall. But mainly this is movie about the challenges of making a movie starring an animal trained mainly to do the '"Heil Hitler" gesture, adding an ominous air to one liners about jelly beans ("nobody likes the black ones") or Cyrano's big hook nose.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
(1990) This issue of Larry Blake's UK KISS fanzine is possibly the best comic book ever made! In this "Rock N Roll Fantasy" story, Bruce Kulick, longstanding KISS guitarist in the makeup-free era, laments not having a super hero profile, but then the magical talisman from the Phantom of the Park TV movie turns him into a makeup superhero, and he must save the world from Mr. Blackwell (the wicked character from the KISS/Lou Reed concept album "The Elder") alongside the rest of the super-powered band, the Sgt.Pepper's era Beatles, and Space Bear. See, on The Tomorrow Show in 1979 a wasted Ace Frehley cracked up Tom Snyder by putting part of his costume on Tom's stuffed animal and calling it Space Bear. At the time that severely annoyed Gene who wanted to show off his intelligence and charm, but 11 years later it inspired, may I remind you, the best comic book ever made! At the end it turns out to just be a dream, but get this... Space Bear is hiding in Bruce's room and there's a demo they recorded with the Beatles in his Walkman!
Thursday, December 17, 2020
GUEST REVIEW BY GARY PIG GOLD
Friday, December 18, 2020
KEITH TURNS 77
I love Keith. You love Keith. We ALL love Keith Richards. In fact, very personally speaking, if it wasn’t for my first encountering the hallowed words “Chuck” and “Berry” on some extremely early Rolling Stones record, then seeking out “No Particular Place To Go” in particular, I probably never would have ventured past the second fret up my own childhood guitar.
Which leads us, quite logically and musically, to Morgan Neville’s Keith Richards: Under the Influence, right there alongside the main offender’s grand new Live at the Hollywood Palladium pandemic-friendly Anniversary Edition(s). Needless to say both – and we would never expect anything less from these guys – provide a much-welcomed, not to mention sorely needed blast of stark, whiplash winter air across our masked, anonymous world.
Strictly cinematically speaking if we may, Under the Influence opens not in spotty, smoky pirate black-and-white, but awash with stately timbered blues and greens as we find The Man Himself strolling barefoot yet regally through his lush lower forty or so. Keith similarly skulks – remember, even when this guy walks he looks like he’s cradling the nearest Telecaster – through the remainder of this superlative documentary, engaging along the way mentors (Buddy Guy), idols (Mr. Berry) pals (a typically articulate Tom Waits) and adversaries (yep, Chuck again) as Neville’s camera wisely takes a fly-on-wall approach to all splendid proceedings. Thankfully we’re spared most of the usual backstory clichés [cue grainy WWII London blitz newsreel] as it’s assumed, quite correctly, we already know the tale …hopefully via Keith’s very own Life. Much better, you see, to take a look behind, beside and yes, under just what makes this man, his music, and even his long and often inexplicable existence still so utterly fascinating and somehow inspirational.
Where better to start, I ask you, than in loving stylus-on-vinyl close-ups of Rockin’ at the Hops and Best of Muddy Waters as our journey unspools from a Dartford railway platform to St. Louis, 2120 South Michigan Avenue, the Ryman Auditorium (via Hatch Show Print) and beyond. And speaking of Music City, we’re soon treated to a nice little glimpse of Keith’s Crosseyed Heart “Trouble” being crafted on six purely non-electrified strings …and sounding quite “country” indeed. Also, we feast eyes and especially ears as a vintage-’68 portable cassette recorder with condenser microphone is plopped onto a tabletop and Keith savagely strums into it the bargain-basement – “production”-wise, that is – origins of none other than “Street Fighting Man.” Of course that song, and that guitar foundation, basically paved the way for countless killer riffs, man, which propelled the Stones etc. into arena-rocking Seventies to come.
Throughout all and then some, Morgan ensures Keith’s trusty confidant and right-hand wrist Steve Jordan is never too far from the action …nor should he be, as from Talk Is Cheap onwards Steve has expertly facilitated some of the very best Rolling Stones records they never made. Fellow X-perienced Wino Waddy Wachtel pops in and out of the proceedings too; always wise to have an old Cowsills associate on board, yessir. Nevertheless, and not surprisingly at all I guess, several of Keith’s Greatest Myths (e.g.: spotting a whitewashed Muddy Waters painting the Chess Records ceiling when the Stones first arrived there in 1964) are spun into their second half-century of fictional service. But at least one, um, influence upon the subject matter is given due screen time …finally: While for some reason Gram Parsons seems to forever be AWOL from the The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band’s own documentaries (Stones in Exile most obviously), at least Keith now seems to have no reservations citing the source of and for, oh, “Dead Flowers” for starters.
However – and, dare I say, this is a MAJOR however – is the next to zero mention, credit, or even significant name-check given whatsoever to the young man who, with all apologies to the late, exceptionally great Ian Stewart, put the Rolling Stones together, gave them their name, gave them their mission and, lest we ever forget, gave our very Birthday Boy himself his first-ever job as a professional musician (and a place to live in London when he finally plucked up the courage to leave home and art college, truth be told). Sure, we do briefly spot him blowing “I Just Want To Make Love To You” harmonica into Dean Martin’s face at The Hollywood Palace, and then most eagerly introducing Howlin’ Wolf to us young suburban North Americans at a long-ago Shindig. But we should ALL try to remember, as Morgan Neville seems to have neglected to, that there but for the grace of Brian Jones went… Keith Richards. Among others. To say the very, very least.
That gargantuan quibble aside, Under the Influence should still be considered Absolutely Required Viewing for all you rock ‘n’ archaeologists out there. If only to show our favorite Stone entering his 77th year not only alive, but as happy, productive, insightful, witty, personable, charming and downright entertaining as always. Why, he may even outdo Chuck Berry in at least several of those just-mentioned criteria. So there!
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Monday, December 14, 2020
www.chuckcharlesmusic.com, 2020) Talk about Normcore! This dude is rocking and mocking about watching TV, grocery shopping, and adult (not in the dirty way) relations, all mildly satirical, but mostly pretty much straightforward. Hiya right back.
Sunday, December 13, 2020
(NoSides, 2017) Futuristic electro free jazz screech-scapes that are more noisey than it is Neu-sy, but still get the art-rock A+ in my grade book.*
*I am notorious for inflated grades and passing trouble kids through so someone else can deal with them, but an A is still an A.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Waxsaw, 20200) I had a hard time figuring out what kind of birds these were but I settled on Henery Hawk, grown up and mellowed out, and getting into insurgent country and indie pop in college. But I'm pretty sure what kinds of shoes it is...Crocs made out of moccasin leather! This one's for the birds...in a good way!
Friday, December 11, 2020
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Dum Ditty Dum, 2020) Yesterday I was marveling at the audacity of committing to do a podcast summarizing each of Bonanza's 431 episodes, but the ambition of this project really blows me away. Each book in this series covers a single day in the rock era, so this is a proposed 25.550 (and counting) volume set! Though the dates are randomly generated this one happened to fall on the somewhat historical Obama reelection date, and though most of the material here is not Obama related, race relations and systematic racism have staring roles in this musical snapshot curated by Booth (and his consultants). For the most part this book focusses on Kendrick Lamar's triumphant 2012 LP, which was #1 that day, and the Peter Brotzman Tentet, which was on A European tour playing one of their final shows. For the former, Booth researches and analyzes the artist's history and the album's contents, and for the latter he interviews Fred Lonberg-Holm, and challenges Amiri Baraka's rejection of Brotzman (and other white improvisors), in part because Baraka dismisses some of these groups upon hearing their goofy names (which is, incidentally, how this book opens, with Booth deciding not to dig deeper into the #2 Billboard song, "Some Nights," by fun., which he is unfamiliar with, not interested by, and gives up on partly because of the name. I don't know the song either, but I recall being impressed by their hit "We Are Young," which sounds pretty but is about genuinely miserable people getting blackout drunk because life, which includes a protagonist regretful for beating a his girlfriend, is terrible. AV Club once summarized the song as a celebration of how great it is to be young, so judging by names gets around). Anyhoo, this book kind of reminds me of The Best Show bit about the Rock, Root, and Rule book (I'm unsure of, but endorse, that Oxford comma). While this is the opposite (detailed analysis vs. a column of band names facing a column of rulings on ruling [or not]), they share the premise of publishing a book about the pop music musings you and your friends shared at length over coffee. This is not only because Booth recounts discussing these matters with knowledgable co-conspirators, and includes a Q and A with a cello fellow he admires, but because the premise and execution of this series feels more like an exercise than an academic pursuit. Specifically, it feels like the exercise of indulging in minutiae and exploring broad themes and making crazy comparisons (what rock opera does To Pimp A Butterfly most recall?) in the act of fellowship with your fave record collector buddies over beers, a bong, or brewed java. And it's nice to be invited to clink steins, take a hit, or pass the Splenda.
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Who Is Dick Allen? by Jake Austen
Richard Anthony Allen should be remembered as one of the greats: he hit over 350 home runs, had over 1,000 RBI, and was the decisive AL MVP in 1972 when he led the league in home runs, RBI, walks, and slugging. Instead, when he is remembered it is often in a negative light, based upon his incendiary chemistry with the fans and press. As Richie Allen he slugged for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1963-1969, where the notoriously brutal Philadelphia sports fans had it in for him. (These are fans that historically have booed Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Beyonce.) When he came to the American League he found a home with the Chicago White Sox (along with a new name—his experience in Philadelphia was so bad he insisted on being called "Dick" instead of "Richie."). He was a fave with the royal family of Chicago, Mayors Daley I and II, and as one old joke goes, "Who was the first black manager is baseball? Dick Allen, he ran the White Sox from 1972-1974." On the other hand, the press didn’t cotton to his unusual habits (he didn’t practice with the team, he smoked in the dugout, he didn’t give interviews) and the notoriously frank Sox announcer Harry Carey gave him hell, declaring, "Dick Allen has a million dollars worth of talent and 10 cents worth of brains."
Well one man is trying to right the injustices Dick Allen suffered, and that man is Ziff Sistrunk, Dick Allen’s #1 fan. We had a chance to talk with Ziff, and this is how it went down:
Who is Dick Allen?
Ziff Sistrunk: Dick Allen was a famous baseball player from the ‘70s. He was a person who was an example of the true American spirit of independence and freedom...a free spirit. He was a man who had tremendous power. Essentially, the Black Babe Ruth.
When did you become interested in Dick Allen?
I was a bat boy for him in the '70s. In those days they had contests, and I wrote a letter to the Cubs and White Sox, "Why I Want to Be a Bat Boy." I won the contest based on my letter and become the White Sox bat boy from 1973-1974. I was the first Black bat boy in Chicago history.
What is your greatest memory of Dick Allen?
Sparky Lyle on the mound for the Yankees, in front of a gigantic White Sox crowd. It was the second game of a double header, bases loaded, ninth inning. (White Sox manager) Chuck Tanner sent me in to the clubhouse to tell Dick Allen he was pinch hitting. He was sitting out because his contract said he didn’t play the second game of a double header. He came out and hit a screaming line drive into the upper deck. Me and the trainer were jumping up and down, screaming and hugging each other! Dick Allen brought excitement to Chicago sports (comparable to) Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Nancy Faust, the White Sox organist, plays a different song for every player, and for him she played, "Jesus Christ Superstar." I asked her why and she said, "Because he approached the plate like a king!"
Do you consider yourself his number one fan?
Not only do I consider myself his #1 fan (other than his wife and his mother who just died a few years ago...he was a mama’s boy), I am also the official president of the Dick Allen International Fan Club on Race Relations. It is called that because Allen was subjected to a lot of racism, and baseball needs to acknowledge what he went through if the sport is ever to achieve real racial harmony. When he played Triple A for the Little Rock (Arkansas) Travelers he was the first black baseball player in that state. When he first arrived the Governor and 200 fans met Allen at the airport with a sign reading “Don’t Niggerize Our Baseball.” When he went to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Phillies had never had a black superstar. On the field one game Frank Thomas, a veteran on the team who was near retirement, called Allen a “nigger son of a bitch.” Allen knocked him down and Thomas hit Allen on the shoulder with a bat. This was in front of fans, and the Phillies fans turned on Allen. The next day the attendance shot up, just to boo Dick Allen. They brutally rode him out of Philadelphia. He had to wear a batting helmet in the field because they threw things...nails...at him. His life was in danger. If you threw a nail at a player today you would go to jail. Baseball didn’t protect Dick Allen. Can you imagine the mental strain? You can’t!
What does being his #1 fan entail?
What it does is it has me trying to correct the way that Dick Allen was painted as a bad person or troublemaker. He was an independent person who exercised the United States’ Constitution’s right to free speech. He chose the freedom to not speak to reporters, so of course they wrote bad things about him. I’ve been working on a documentary about Dick Allen for years, but it doesn’t have an end yet. I’m going to take my Dick Allen museum on the road and collect a million signatures, and present them to the baseball commissioner so that he will make a special proclamation. I think Dick Allen should be in the Hall of Fame. It’s the only way his career could wind up and it’s the only way that baseball can achieve racial harmony in the sport. I was talking to (Allen), and he said he wouldn’t want to be in the Hall of Fame unless they also put me in as the first Black bat boy. That was a nice thing of him to say. You know, this is the 30th anniversary of the season he saved the Sox. They were going to move to Seattle or Florida before Allen doubled the attendance. I am trying to get the White Sox to retire his number and erect a statue. (Former Illinois Attorney General) Roland Burris said it best, he said I’m “keeping Allen’s legacy alive.” No, Channel 7’s Bob Petty said it best, “If Dick hadn’t been like Dick, then there wouldn’t be a Dick Allen!”
What’s the single act that you’ve done that best exemplifies your devotion to Mr. Allen?
I’ve collected over 500 pieces of memorabilia for my traveling Dick Allen Museum—his old uniforms, his bat, his glove. I went to the Academy Awards to support Michael Clarke Duncan (nominated for The Green Mile) who I went to King High School with, and he told me he had Dick Allen’s glove, which I thought was strange. Allen only had two gloves. I didn’t know him and Allen were close. Duncan sent the glove to me and now it’s in the museum.
How would you like history to remember Dick Allen?
As one of the finest ballplayers to ever play the game. He ran like a deer, hit like Hercules, and dressed like the president. When everyone in the locker room had cotton drawers, he was walking around with silk drawers and a big Afro. They say he was a bad guy. He never threw his bat, never argued with the umpire. His mother raised him to be at peace with himself and to believe in God. The hostility he was subjected to was unfair. But he went through these things so others wouldn’t have to. Ballplayers are murdering people now, and Dick Allen is supposed to be bad. Yes, he didn’t like playing the second game of a double header, he didn’t go to spring training or take batting practice. He wasn’t perfect; once he had three homers and six RBI and had given the team an eight-run lead in the seventh inning and asked the manager if he could go. He went to the racetrack, and the team lost the lead and the game, and the reporters saw him at the track, so you can imagine how they let him have it. But ballplayers are murdering people now! He wasn’t a bad guy, just a rebel, an independent, free spirit.
How would you like history to remember Ziff Sistrunk?
As a person who stood for what was right in Dick Allen’s case, who put this in front of his own career. This isn’t about racism, it’s about racial harmony. We’re still not over Jackie Robinson. As long as baseball looks at Dick Allen as bad there will never truly be racial harmony in the game.
Monday, December 7, 2020
Rerun, 2014) There was a joke on the National Lampoon radio show that went something like,What is the #1 hit in Canada? Whatever was the number one hit in the US 6 months ago. This amazing collection documenting the late 70s Milwaukee band Ozone (not the Zone brothers band), a/k/a The Ones, seems to indicate that in Wisconsin the lag is a little bit longer. Somehow this teen renegade aggressive edgy spirit-of-punk-rock band seems to have missed everything recent going on in London and New York and instead got really excited about new bands like the Stooges and MC5. And did their Midwestern proto-punk godfathers proud! Which is to say that this bag set (a 45 repress of their incredible 1979 single "Short Dress" b/w "Tightrope" - the latter of which can be seen rattling a Milwaukee telethon on Youtube , a CD of 16 raw and rad rehearsal and live tracks. and some pins) makes a compelling argument to put these heavy hitters in the Cream City HOF with the Haskels, Die Kruezen, Blue Ribbon Pub Cheese Curds, Jeffrey "Hack Man" Leonard's sleepy-eyed smile on his 1986 Topps baseball card, and Lenny and Squiggy (RIP).
Sunday, December 6, 2020
Saturday, December 5, 2020
(firstname.lastname@example.org, 2019?) Mw. McCurtin is one of the absolute best of the army of genius artists contributing to Roctober, and I am grateful and surprised every time I see something new from him. His drawings are richly beautiful, chaotically powerful, absolutely emotional, and super weird without suffering from any of the artifice, airs, or attitude often associated with hipsterism or intentional underground-ism. This art zine (which also had some buttons and stickers) has every inch jam packed with drawings of monsters, machines, musicians, and even coverless cassette tapes which all feel like fascinating, soulful characters. Like Charlie Brown's criteria for a Christmas tree, this masterpiece redefines "sincere."
Pictures and Blather, 2020) A few years back I read writer/artist Samarov's first collection of stories from his days as a cab driver in Chicago in the first decade of this Century. I missed his second book (which apparently had some bad mojo as far as distribution), and I had never seen his hand typed zines he did on this subject, so I was delighted to see a new beautiful, hardcover collection (of both volumes, all the zines, a selection of tweets taking notes on interesting rides, and related writing done after the second book), and borderline surprised that it was only $20. It is definitely interesting to learn about the ins and outs of the industry in the age of rideshares, when cabs seem like faxes (my no-credit card-having co-workers always paid friends cash to order Ubers rather than calling a cab, which they found inconceivable). Dmitry deals with predatory traffic cops, the whims of dispatchers, leased vehicles he hates (and loves), strange co-workers, arrangements for special needs riders, and particulars of where to eat, pee, and serve penance for wrongdoings. But the heart of the book is the vivid snapshots of the riders, many casually (or virulently) racist, and/or oddly open about their ethical deficiencies, but so many others delightful, fascinating, odd, beautiful characters, who reveal a lot (and leave a lot mysterious) during their short interaction. There is definitely some backseat fucking and drug deal adventures (and maybe a war crime or two revealed while discounting the cabbies ears), but more thrilling is learning about how interesting each individual in each corner of so many Chicago neighborhoods is, revealed by little trips to pick up a settlement check, deal with a pet, or just go through a drive through for a burger. Samarov, an painter by training, says that interacting with these folks and contemplating life during these marathon shifts made him a writer. But for folks used to seeing his paintings at bars, him drawings bands at rock shows, and the thousands of aesthetic images he's made over the last couple decades, it is kinda interesting that while his written portraits are so vivid, his drawings of the riders are less so (understandable since his eyes were on the road). While not all of the people pics are evocative as you'd hope, where this book reaches the stratosphere is with the moody, magnificent ink washes of Chicago traffic, architecture, and the outsides of bars and businesses that were his whole world for 6 to 16 hours a day from 2003-2012. Some of the drawings of the people are intriguingly odd and ugly, but all of his cityscapes and auto view traffic portraits are all out beautiful. All hail this cab book.
Friday, December 4, 2020
(Voodoo Rhythm, 1996/2020) This archival (from either the 90s or Middle Ages, it is unclear) release is blues music if blues music means cursed spook-a-sonic-scape spellbook incantations made by ghosts that can only be listened to through a 1" transistor radio speaker that somehow has a tiny tube amp inside it. My world is always better with haunted house psyche drones as my soundtrack to I fully endorse playing this 24 hours a day where ever you go.
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Stand Up Records, 2020) I am as big an advocate for comedy LPs as you'll find, so I have heard a number of Firesign albums, and the fact that I can't remember anything about them probably tells you a lot about my opinion on them. After listening to over two hours of bits from their 70s radio show I still can't say I'm down with the FT, and I really didn't laugh listening to this, but I do feel I have a better idea about where they fit into comedy history. The general vibe I get is sort of those comedy duos/teams you would see on Ed Sullivan footage doing Nichols and May type skits, but not as funny as N&M. But everything also has the kind of dank scent of 70s comedy for stoners, where general silliness mixed with sounds-like-smartness (without making any actual clear points), appealing perfectly to a slowed down, giggle primed brain. When they do an old man voice it is such an homage to Jonathan Winters that there's also a revival of the kinda chaotic manic madness that Robin Williams later ruined. All that said, while I didn't love this, they seem to be amusing themselves pretty much, which is fun to hear. Also, for fans, buy this instead of streaming for free because the booklet, featuring tons of fantastic reproductions of handwritten and typed scripts, notes, scripts with notes, scripts with doodles, and some great photos is my favorite part of this package
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Mr. Boop, 2020) I'm sure you are aware of the whimsical, erotic, fair use-defying comic Mr. Boop, in which Alec Robbins chronicles his life as the very happy husband of naughty nonagenarian cartoon legend Betty Boop, to whom he is married. But have you ever asked yourself what would it be like if he was NOT married to Betty Boop? Well no need to blow your own mind, Robbins does it for you in the latest collection of his romantic escapades. Past volumes have been the Ready Player Ones of cartoon orgy books, but here the copyright laws catch up with Alec in some very unexpected ways that you will hate to love (and vice versa). If you want your heart broken, if you want mainline true love and devotion, and if you want to see multiple drawings of Mickey Mouse's erection, cease and desist not buying this modern masterpiece.