- 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.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Mel Torme and Mark Evanier
Most of you are already familiar with Mark Evanier, a writer with a long list of credits in television comedy, animation, and comic books (among other fields); Evanier has worked on projects ranging from Welcome Back, Kotter through Garfield And Friends, he has a nearly unparalleled knowledge of show business and the history of American pop culture, and he even let me interview him about Saturday morning cartoon rock when I wrote my History Of Bubblegum Music in 1997. He also knew and worked with legendary comics artist Jack Kirby; top that!
I have three favorites among Evanier's work. Two of these are comic book series that he wrote in the '80s, collaborating on both with artist Dan Spiegle: the Evanier and Spiegle creation Crossfire (about a bail bondsman who moonlights as a masked crimefighter), and the DC Comics World War II aviator series Blackhawk. As much as I love these, my favorite Evanier work is his blog, News From ME. News From ME is essential daily reading, covering a wide array of subjects--Hollywood, animation, comics, politics, magic and magicians, musical theater, stand-up comedy, improv, crooked housing contractors, how writers deal with rejection, Mark's childhood, Mark's career, and Mark's disdain for cole slaw--and it is the working model for what I want Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) to be. When I started my own blog this year, the example set by Evanier's dedication to News From ME was the inspiration for my decision to offer at least one post a day, every day. I'm sure News From ME has at least some subconscious influence on what I write (in terms of style, if not subject matter); every time I talk about "whatever it is I do here" on either Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) or This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, that's a blatant theft of...er, homage to Evanier's own oft-cited reference to his role in the Groo the Wanderer comics by Sergio Aragones. If you're not reading Mark Evanier's News From ME, you're denying yourself the pleasure of one of the best blogs around.
News From ME's all-time most popular post is Evanier's story about how he almost met one of his idols, singing great Mel Torme. Mark re-posts it every year on his blog, I share the link every year on Facebook, and I'm sharing it again right here. I can't articulate why this story resonates so deeply and fully within me. Part of it is, I guess, just an appreciation of the craft; it is a well-told story, and I'm a big fan of a story told well. But it certainly goes far, far beyond that. Mark's story touches me in a way I can't explain; after all these years, reading it still makes my eyes sting, still makes my heart ache, and it still fills me with a near-mystical sense of connection: connection to the artistry of a musical legend I never met and never will meet; connection to the sheer power music and art can have on all of us; connection to palpable awe and wonder; connection to our human frailty, to our capacity to feel and to grasp something intangible and immortal, and to our collective ability to give something back to the earthly angels who have enriched our lives with song, with words, and with magic. More than any other secular story, it connects me to the Christmas in my mind, my perfect inner holiday spirit.
Read it. Share it. Rejoice in our connection. And although it's been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you.
Mark Evanier's Xmas Story
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