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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Boppin' Takes A Break



Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) is going on hiatus for the time being. This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio playlists will continue to be seen here, but no other content is planned in the short term. I'm grateful to all of you who have read and supported this blog over the course of 1018 previous posts, and I look forward to returning down the line. I apologize for this sudden announcement, but rest assured there are no health issues or pressing matters involved; it's just time to take a break. Thank you, friends.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Tonight On THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO



Dana's choice! ALL Dana! There is no Carl, only Dana! First joker to call me Zuul will get such a slap. Subsequent jokers will receive similar slaps. I'm an equal-opportunity slapper. But forget all that: IT'S DANA! He's got Aretha, The Collins Kids, Aretha, girl groups/singers, Aretha, etc. All Dana, all the time. Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/

Saturday, August 18, 2018

100-Page FAKES! presents: THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN # 1

100-Page FAKES! imagines mid-1970s DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars that never were...but should have been!



In the early to mid 1970s, there were not a lot of options for superhero action on TV or at the movies. There were a few Saturday morning programs, including the animated Super Friends and live-action Shazam! There were reruns of the '60s Batman and '50s The Adventures Of Superman shows, if you wanna count those, and a badly-edited patchwork of three episodes of the '60s TV series The Green Hornet as a theatrical release to exploit the popularity of the late actor Bruce Lee. There was a Wonder Woman TV movie and a late-night TV adaptation of the musical It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman; a bit later, there was another ongoing televised attempt at Wonder Woman, plus The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man. Until actor Christopher Reeve suggested we would believe a man could fly in 1978, the only new feature film released within this broad category was 1975's Doc Savage, Man Of Bronze. It was a far, far cry from the bounty of superhero TV and movie entertainment available to us now, in this fantastic future world of the 21st century.

There was, however, The Six Million Dollar Man.

The series was based on Martin Caidin's 1972 novel Cyborg, and the subsequent TV show's intro laid out the premise each week:

Steve Austin: A man barely alive!
"We can re-build him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was.
"Better.
"Stronger.
"Faster."

So surgery following a horrific accident transformed Colonel Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors) into a de facto superhero, his new bionic legs, right arm, and left eye giving him powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. The Six Million Dollar Man was introduced in three TV movies in 1973, which led to a weekly series which ran from 1974 to 1978, and also inspired the spin-off series The Bionic Woman.

Charlton Comics licensed The Six Million Dollar Man as a comics series, commencing with a first issue cover-dated June 1976. There was also a black-and-white Six Million Dollar Man magazine series from Charlton, in a format similar to Warren Publishing's Vampirella, Creepy, and Eerie, and a Bionic Woman comic book series, too. But it's the comic book Six Million Dollar Man # 1 that draws our attention today, in an imaginary 100-Page Super Spectacular from DC Comics.

In the real world, there is just no way that DC would have published a 100-page Six Million Dollar Man. For one thing, the 100-Page Super Spectacular format was not just merely dead, but really most sincerely dead by 1976. DC's publisher Carmine Infantino was let go 'roundabout February of '76, and his successor Jenette Kahn had roughly zero interest in exploiting reprints as Infantino had done. The idea of DC licensing The Six Million Dollar Man might not be all that far-fetched, considering the fact that DC did license properties ranging from Tarzan and Isis (the latter another Saturday morning live-action TV hero) to the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. One might have thought it more likely for DC to license The Six Million Dollar Man and Charlton to adapt Welcome Back, Kotter, but that ain't what happened.

Nonetheless. Today's 100-Page FAKES! fantasy has DC taking over Charlton's Six Million Dollar Man # 1 by writer Joe Gill and artist Joe Staton and making into an out-of-time Super Spec. For reprints, we've assembled some classic DC action material starring The Doom Patrol, Midnight, and the '50s spy hero King Faraday (previously reprinted in 1964 under the catchy title I--Spy!). Past 100-Page FAKES! editions of The Phantom and E-Man have established that DC acquired Charlton's Action Heroes earlier in our Boppinverse than in real life, freeing us to complete this faux 100-pager with a previously-unpublished 1960s adventure starring The Peacemaker.

The Six Million Dollar Man in "The Beginning Of The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Secret Web," The Six Million Dollar Man # 1 (May-June 1976)
The Doom Patrol in "The Nightmare Maker," My Greatest Adventure # 81 (August 1963)
The Peacemaker in "The Golden Pharoah," originally unpublished
The Six Million Dollar Man in "No Way Out," The Six Million Dollar Man # 1 (May-June 1976)
Midnight (untitled), Smash Comics # 31 (February 1942)
I--Spy! [King Faraday] framing sequence, Showcase # 50 (May-June 1964)
King Faraday in "Spy Train," reprinted in Showcase # 50, originally published in World's Finest Comics # 64 (April-May 1953)

The Six Million Dollar Man is (I think) copyright NBC Universal. Everything else is copyright DC Comics Inc. The Midnight story is now public domain, but the rest can only be shown here in representative pages. I share the whole thing with my paid subscribers. can't hold it! She's breaking up, she's breaking....

BOOM.

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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. 



















COVER GALLERY





Friday, August 17, 2018

Aretha



Aretha Franklin was a force of nature. Aretha Franklin was a gift from Heaven. The statements conflict, but both are true. She was angel and hurricane, earthquake and blessing, saint and tornado. If she wasn't the greatest singer in the history of pop music, I have a hard time imagining who could take that crown. The Queen Of Soul? Even that's too limiting. Aretha was the queen of it all.

I can't articulate the conviction much beyond that. I didn't listen to Aretha all that often, but I didn't need to hear her again and again to reinforce what I already knew. The Queen. By divine right. I listened to Otis Redding's "Respect" more frequently than I listened to Aretha's irresistible monolith of a cover version; the late great Otis used to introduce "Respect" as a song a girl took from him, and man, did she ever take it. Divine right, again. I listened to Otis, but Aretha's powerhouse declaration of R-E-S-P-E-C-T could never stray far from my mind. Divine right.

I hate singers who over-sing, just as I hate guitarists who overplay. (For the record, I'm fine with drummers who overdrum if they're, like, Keith Moon, and I'm less patient if they're Neil Peart.) I have no affinity whatsoever for Whitney Houston or Christina Aguilera or anyone who thinks runs and multiple notes are a substitute for delivering the damned song. Aretha delivered. Always. Always. She could do runs, she could sing you into a corner and make you cower in abject terror if it suited her royal whim. She didn't. She didn't have to. She had soul. She could sing. She had nothing to prove to commoners. Divine right.

All this week, as the world learned that Aretha Franklin would soon be leaving us behind, her rendition of "I Say A Little Prayer For You" has played on a loop in my head. Such a gorgeous song, best known in the hit version sung so sweetly and so well by Dionne Warwick. But Aretha owns it, casually brushing aside the weary ache of the lyrics and doing what she does best: testifying. It was a talent born in the church, a voice anointed to sing the Gospel, but too big to be contained by our silly human notions of God's will. "Chain Of Fools." "Think." "A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)." "The House That Jack Built." "Until You Come Back To Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)." "Rock Steady." My favorite, "Sweet Sweet Baby (Since You Been Gone)." Man, even '80s hits like "Freeway Of Love" and her George Michael collaboration "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)," which should have sunk under their own weight--because that's what '80s stuff did--still somehow manage to soar above this mundane plane nonetheless. "I Say A Little Prayer For You." So many seemingly incongruous covers, from "The Weight" to "Spanish Harlem," each another little miracle. A major, unforgettable miracle spelled R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Divine right? Amen to that. Take care, and TCB.

We will never live in a world without Aretha Franklin. Her family will mourn, and we will mourn with them. But that voice could never be silenced, could never be anywhere else but with us, always, everywhere. It's our glimpse of the divine, and that's our right. Hail the Queen. Long live the Queen.



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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Art Of Malice



Alex Jones walked into a poetry slam.

The place was crowded. Not quite packed; there were still a couple of tables available, and a few scattered chairs against the walls. It was not a very large café, but it bustled with vibrance and activity. Jones scowled as he signed in and made his way through the rabble to a small table. He sat, sipped a Fresca, and waited (impatiently) for his turn.

On stage--if one could call the modest, floor-level performance area a stage--a rapper-poet completed her soliloquy to polite applause. As she exited, a white man dressed in a football uniform walked solemnly to center "stage" as a guitarist played "The Star-Spangled Banner." The ersatz quarterback knelt and bowed his head. A black woman in a police uniform approached, looked on, and then knelt beside him as the anthem played out. The guitarist, the quarterback, and the cop stood, bowed, and left the stage, arm-in-arm.

Some in the audience tsked. Some signified approval. Jones' lips curled in disgust.

On it went, a brief parade of rainbow celebrants and dissidents alike, professing, protesting, dreaming, creating. Jones was restless, eager for his turn, his moment. He had suffered long enough.

The spotlight was figurative, but it fell on Jones as he finally took his place before this...this. He became animated, alive, as his words tumbled forth in free-fall. Some would say he was frothing at the mouth, and some would say he merely seemed as rabid as his malice. Conspiracy!, he raved. Race war! Child sex rings in pizza parlors! Fabricated school shootings! He was nearly out of his body. The lies of the media! Fabricated school shootings! Fabricated school shootings! THE TRUTH, I give you. Sandy Hook was a hoax! They will take your guns and start a race war! THE TRUTH! His words carried a palpable aroma, the worm-eaten odor of pages torn from Mein Kampf and The Fountainhead, the stench of a beer hall putsch, the acrid smell of burned books, burned crosses, burned bodies, of hatred given physical form. Jones believed. That may have been the most unsettling thing of all. Or maybe it would have been even worse if he didn't believe his own vile nonsense, but merely exploited the blind, stupid fears of the hateful and ignorant.

Perhaps a few in the café secretly agreed with his rantings. If so, they were struck silent by the sheer ugliness of his discourse. The rest of the assembled patrons angered quickly. The chorus of boos and catcalls grew louder.

One middle-aged man sat at a table, ignoring his espresso and feeling his knuckles tense and tighten. His mind flashed to memories of his grandfather: that haunted look that never quite left his eyes, the cruel image of the numbers tattooed on his forearm, the awful resonance of that word Juden, and the determined resolve of one phrase above all others: Never again.

The man rose from his seat. His voice was soft, yet somehow loud enough to be heard over all distractions and buzz around him. He sang without humor:

Where have all the führers gone
Too long passing?
Where have all the führers gone
Too long, I know?
Where have all the führers gone?
Gone? They're still here, every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

The crowd erupted in applause for the man, all standing in support. Jones was ignored for a moment, then hustled away from the stage. The café's owner told Jones to get out, and to never think about returning. The crowd applauded this as well.

Jones protested impotently. My rights!, he whined. This is censorship! This is....

The café owner cut him off. "It's not censorship, you asshole. It's business." The café owner paused for a second before adding, "I gotta admit the fact that you are such an asshole does make it easier."

Jones found himself on the street, the café's door shut behind him. He gathered his hatred, his delusions, his simmering resentment and bruised sense of entitlement, and went off in search of a fresh forum. We can't stop him. We don't have to help him. For every cross burned, a candle lit. For every mind closed, a light that shows the way to reason.

You disagree? That's your right. But I'm not giving you a goddamned soapbox either.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

100-Page FAKES! An Interlude At The Crossroads




I've enjoyed putting together my 100-Page FAKES!, a series that's taken a number of individual DC Comics issues from the mid '70s and expanded them into imaginary 100-Page Super Spectaculars. So far, we've seen faux Super Spec versions of Adventure Comics (with The Spectre and Aquaman), The Brave And The Bold, Detective Comics, Secret Origins, The Shadow, Justice Inc., All-Star Comics, DC SpecialMetal MenThe SandmanRima The Jungle Girl, and Wanted, The World's Most Dangerous Criminals, plus a couple of Charlton Comics books (The Phantom and E-Man). These have been a lot of fun to do, and I'm going to do at least a few more of them.

But Phase One of 100-Page FAKES! is nearing its conclusion. There aren't many (if any) more DC titles that a) I'm interested in transforming into 100-page format, and b) I have scans available to exploit and expand. Future editions of this series will likely stick to additional issues of titles I've already done. These will include more of editor Joe Orlando's Adventure Comics (my favorite comic book at the time), another issue or two apiece of Detective Comics and The Brave And The Bold, probably another DC Special (and almost certainly a DC Special presenting Wanted, The World's Most Dangerous Criminals), maybe The Shadow, Justice Inc., All-Star Comics, and The Phantom. Maybe Rima, too.

I'm playing around with three more titles that I haven't done yet: two licensed properties (one published by DC, one by Charlton), and one DC original. One of these I'm leaning toward doing; with the other two, I'm not yet convinced I can come up with an appropriate selection of reprints.

In doing these 100-Page FAKES!, I have a set of parameters in mind. I've preferred not to stray too, too far from the 1971-74 time frame of the original Super Specs; I've gone forward as far as early 1976--which is a considerable stretch, but still only about a year from the March-April '75 cover dates of the final Super Specs--but I draw a hard 'n' fast line at publisher Carmine Infantino's dismissal from the company in '76. And, uh, even that rule will be suspended temporarily for a near-future 100-Page FAKE! I'm a work in progress, I am. I've also preferred anthologies, featuring reprints of stories starring different characters, because I don't see the fun in slapping together a book of just Green Lantern or whoever. I've justified using Charlton Comics stuff because DC eventually acquired Charlton's Action Heroes line (and also licensed The Phantom), but I'm not going to add Marvel books; I haven't completely ruled out doing one Gold Key title.

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe.
And finally, I'm limited by the practical reality of what issues I actually have in my collection of scanned comics. I can't expand on something I don't possess.

As before, copyrights will prevent us from seeing 100-Page FAKES! here in their entirety, though I do share the whole thing with my patrons. 100-Page FAKES! continues. They're not real. They are spectacular.





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You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.