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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 three 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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

FAKE REVIEWS! Juvenile humor and Anita Bryant jokes from The NorthCaster, 1977

 

Even as I left high school behind in 1977, intent on becoming what all college students aim to be (deeply in debt), I still kept writing a few emeritus contributions to my high school's literary magazine The NorthCaster. As a senior at North Syracuse Central High School, I had been an assistant editor for The NorthCaster.  "Assistant Editor" was a meaningless title, but I used it as an excuse to cram more of my writing into the magazine. I mostly wrote humor pieces for The NorthCaster, and the piece below was almost certainly my last completed attempt at writing humor for the ol' alma mater. It was rejected, presumably for all the sex and Anita Bryant jokes. It's as puerile and childish now as it was then, so--for the first time anywhere, and without much in the way of apology--I give you my final NorthCaster laugh riot:

NORTHCASTER REVIEWS

All kidding aside, now. This is serious.

The NorthCaster has a long-standing reputation as an eternal symbol of the ultimate in irreverent American humor and piercing social satire. But we on the staff here have our somber, serious side, too. And the somber, serious side recognizes the fact that our humble magazine has been heretofore lacking in one department: intelligent, insightful, in-depth reviews.

Frankly, I don't know how we could have ever omitted so vital a feature. Almost all magazines published today realize the general public's need to be told what is worthwhile and what is not. In this universally-accepted spirit, then, The NorthCaster staff presents these reviews as a service to our readership.

All kidding aside.

BOOKS

Bound For Glory by Delilah Bloodrush

In these days of tawdry sensationalism and anti-romantic lust, it is indeed a pleasure to read such a tender love story as this. In this touching autobiographical account of Ms. Bloodrush's life and quest for true love, the reader sees real human emotions portrayed honestly as never before.

The book begins when beautiful young Delilah decides that she must throw off the yoke of her strict, Victorian upbringing, moving out on her own to live as an adult. As might be predicted, Delilah's prudish parents are in total opposition to the idea of their daughter untying the apron strings and finally leaving the nest. At one early point in the book, our heroine's father warns her that, "If you leave home now, you'll never play the coronet again, and herring prices will rise as sure as I've got the sun in the morning and the moon at night." This statement would seem to give substance to Delilah's later subtle suggestion that her father was "a total fruitcake."

Eventually, of course, the inevitable parting finally comes, and parents and child bid tearful farewells. Delilah leaves, and her mother cries out desperately, "My baby! My child! My income tax deduction!," as her father mumbles the book's famous quote, "I can name that tune in five notes."

The remainder of the book traces Delilah's relentless search for true, meaningful romance. Early on, beautiful Delilah meets what she believes to be her first love; he is tall, dark, handsome, muscular--in short, everything that every young girl dreams of, except for one thing: he is a water buffalo. For a while, this star-crossed pair make a valiant attempt to overcome their differences, but soon Delilah grows tired of sleeping in straw. and of cleaning up after her love. And so she leaves him, and resumes her search.

Happily, her quest for love is not in vain. After years of loneliness and heartbreak as she follows her dream through hotels, barrooms, movie studios, and orange juice commercials, Delilah finally finds true love in a Vermont commune, living with seventeen guys, thirteens girls, eleven porcupines,three armadillos, and a gentle Doberman named Lance.

As first literary efforts go, Bound For Glory is fantastic. All of the characters Ms. Bloodrush introduces are real, natural, and well-defined (with the exception of Lance, whose psyche Ms. Bloodrush apparently feels no need to delve into). All in all, a fine inspirational work. Recommended for pre-teens.

Also Recommended:

Thanks For The Mammary A pictorial guide to breast-feeding.

Helter Skelter Fine family reading.

The Anita Bryant Story: Looking For Mr. Gaybar A modern fairy tale come true.

Once Is Not Enough by Gerald Ford.

MOVIES

Here's a quick run-down of the new movies:

A Bridge Too Far The thrilling Revolutionary War story of George Washington's stepbrother and dentist, Myron Washington.

Star Wars Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson portray themselves.

Stocky A whale of a movie, with James Coco, William Conrad, and Kate Smith.

2001 Big-budget science-fiction. Title refers to movie's length in minutes.

It's Alive! Supernatural thriller with Elvis Presley, Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby, Groucho Marx, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, and Lawrence Welk.

Closet Encounters Of The Third Kind An Anita Bryant production

RECORDS

Quick Listen:

The Rolling Stones: You Love Live, So...

The Stones just keep a-rolling. This is the group's 33rd live album in as many months, following in the footsteps of such classics as Live And Kisses, I Feel Live, It's Only Live, I Honestly Live You, Live Look At The Five Of Us, Live Hurts, and Get Yer Money Out. This is actually a collection of the previous 32 live albums, with new performances and old outtakes on the 33rd disc. It retails for a steep $429.99, but it's well worth it just to hear such Stones rarities as "Paint It, Pea-Green," "Let's Shack Up Tonight Together," "Slappy," "Daddy, You're A Fool No Matter What You Do (So Go Ahead And Cry)," and "I Can't Get No *****." In addition, Mick Jagger sings a wonderful tribute to his wife, Bianca ("She's Not There"), and Keith Richards does a marvelous rendition of "Needles And Pins." Keep an eye out for the Stones' next album, Dead At Last!, available soon.

Anita Bryant: God Save The Queen

What with this "punk rock" craze sweeping Great Britain and America, it was only a matter of time before some established recording stars tried their hands at punk. Now, with the release of this album, that time has come.

Ms. Bryant's powerhouse version of The Sex Pistols' title hit proves once and for all that the O.J. lady really can rock. However, that is the only really hard rock song on the album. Still, our girl from Florida dos well with the softer material, too. Her beautiful renditions of "Kind Of A Drag," "Blowin' In The Wind," Neil Diamond's "Cherry, Cherry," "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," "My Girl Bill," "Go All The Way," and "And I Love Her" are simply awe-inspiring.

A review of this record could really go either way--Ms. Bryant could be congratulated for the beauty of her voice, or condemned for succumbing to her punk rock moment. Personally, I think that this album shows Ms. Bryant trying out a new position, and I find the change of pace refreshing. And, in the album's final cut, when Anita sings that she's "looked at love from both sides now," you know she means it. There are simply no two ways about it.

2016 POSTSCRIPT: Nope. Not gonna apologize. I was 17. How mature were your jokes when you were 17?

If you're too young or don't remember, I oughtta note that Anita Bryant jokes were big in '77. Singer and Florida orange juice pitch-chick Bryant had made national news for her shrill public stance against gay rights, so she was an easy target. As I've said before: cheap shots are hard to resist and--by definition--reasonably priced. (My favorite Anita Bryant joke at the time was told by Johnny Carson in his role as Carnac the Magnificent: "The Venus DeMilo, broccoli, and Anita Bryant! Name a nude, a food, and a prude.")

The original piece continued with cheap shots at The Beach Boys (whom I didn't like then, but adore now) and The Eagles (whom I can still do without). There was even a scribbled-out note for an As-Seen-On-TV compilation album from Robco, Limited, Million-Selling Failures. I only have my hand-written notes for this whole thing; the typed manuscript likely tightened something here and/or there, but that was submitted to the fine folks at The NorthCaster, who presumably ran away from it, screaming, "Unclean! Unclean!"

(On a subsequent visit to the NorthCaster office, I did see my manuscript, sittin' in the ol' discard pile, with penciled-in editorial attempts to sanitize it for your protection--I remember Anita Bryant's cover of "Blowin' In The Wind" was changed to "Whistlin' In The Wind"--before the whole damned thing was killed dead as simply, irrevocably inappropriate for a high school publication.)
 
The opening riff on "all kidding aside" was, I'm pretty sure, stolen from another source (possibly Mad magazine). The "gentle Doberman named Lance" was borrowed from my pal (and fellow NorthCaster co-conspirator) Beth. But otherwise, I take the blame for the whole thing.

My last published piece in The NorthCaster was my first-ever essay on rock 'n' roll, a diatribe against disco and mellow and boring, and a manifesto in favor of KISS, The Sex Pistols, and The Ramones, written over Christmas break and published in the Spring of '78 under the title "Groovin' (Like The Hip Folks Do)." We useta groove; now, we bop!

I can't remember if it was over that same Christmas break or at a later time, but I know I was home from college one night when I got a call from Joe Boudreau, a friend of mine who was still a high school student and still with The NorthCaster. Joe was working on that week's edition of "Viking Views," the high school's student page in the North Syracuse weekly tabloid The Star-News. Joe wanted to do a comedy page that week; would I be interested in pitching in? It was a blast to be an active part of that, one more time. I don't remember if I ever saw the printed result--I really wish I had a copy of it now--but my friend Dan Bacich did see it. Dan had been my editor and partner in crime at The NorthCaster; my "Viking Views" guest stint was uncredited, but Dan knew my work when he saw it. Regarding that particular page, Dan wrote to a mutual friend, "I see Carl's acerbic wit at work."

"NorthCaster Reviews" was the last thing I ever submitted to The NorthCaster, but I remember working on one other unfinished comedy piece, something like "The NorthCaster Guide To Etiquette." The only thing I recall from that one was some advice on looking dignified while dining in public:  "It is very difficult to retain a graceful appearance while eating. To maintain proper etiquette, one should not eat.  If one must eat, one should not chew. If one must chew, one should avoid taking the food out of one's mouth to see how one is doing."

And still: no apologies. Not even to Anita Bryant.