About Me

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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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO Flashback: That Time Dana & I Went To See The Monkees

For as little as $2 a month, paid subscribers to Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks) receive a bonus private post each month. February's bonus post will be a Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery piece on The Monkees live in 2012. In the mean time, here's the This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio playlist from the week after that show.

Wanna read what it was like for us to see Micky, Peter, and Michael in 2012? Fund me, baby!



On Sunday, November 18th, Dana & I decided to bag our little mutant radio show for a week, choosing instead to travel to Buffalo for a live concert by THE MONKEES.  It was a good decision, and it was--seriously--one of the best concerts I've ever seen.  One week later, This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio celebrated with a Monkees Concert Playback, playing back all of the songs, in sequence, that we'd heard The Monkees play in Buffalo.  What a show.  What a great, GREAT show.

Back on the radio, we also found time for fab new music from KELLEY RYAN and WRECKLESS ERIC & AMY RIGBY, a commemoration of the 44th anniversary of THE BEATLES' White Album, and a commemoration of the 35th anniversary of my first spin of the record that changed my life, "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" by THE RAMONES.  And we played THE MONKEES!  We will ALWAYS play The Monkees.  And this is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

TIRnRR # 653:  11/25/12

THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl streams live Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org.

THE RAMONES:  "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
THE RAMONES:  "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" (Rhino, Rocket To Russia)
CHEAP TRICK:  "Surrender" (Epic, Heaven Tonight)
THE DOUGHBOYS:  "Trail Left Behind" (Raw, Shakin' Our Souls)
THE ARGONAUTS:  "Ten Feet Fall" (Hard Soul, VA:  Sugar Lumps)
THE MONKEES:  "Iranian Tango" (THE MONKEES TV series)
THE MONKEES:  "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" (Colgems, single)
THE WHO:  "Substitute" (MCA, Who's Better, Who's Best)
--
KELLEY RYAN:  "Some Angel" (Manatee, Cocktail)
TIFT MERRITT:  "Tell Me Something True" (Fantasy, Another Country)
THE MONKEES:  "How's By You?" (THE MONKEES TV series)
THE MONKEES:  "Love Is Only Sleeping" (Rhino, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.)
THE BEATLES:  "Don't Pass Me By" (Apple, The Beatles)
THE FLASHCUBES:  "Forever" (Air Mail, Sportin' Wood)
THE POPDUDES:  "Desperation Time" (JAM, VA:  This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 1)
--
WRECKLESS ERIC & AMY RIGBY:  "Do You Remember That" (n/a, A Working Museum)
NIRVANA:  "The Man Who Sold The World" (Geffen, Nirvana)
THE MONKEES:  "Different Drum" (THE MONKEES TV series)
THE MONKEES:  "Words" (Rhino, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.)
THE BEATLES:  "Cry Baby Cry" (Apple, The Beatles)
THE DAHLMANNS:  "Shake Me Up Tonight" (Pop Detective, All Dahled Up)
THE FLATMATES:  "I Could Be In Heaven" (MOJO, VA:  There Is A Light That Never Goes Out)
THE MONKEES:  "Time For The Monkees" (THE MONKEES TV series)
--
AL HIRT:  "(Theme From) The Monkees" (RCA, The Horn Meets "The Hornet")
--
**THE MONKEES CONCERT PLAYBACK!**
THE MONKEES:  "Last Train To Clarksville" (Rhino, The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "Papa Gene's Blues" (Rhino, The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "Your Auntie Grizelda" (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "She" (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "Sweet Young Thing" (Rhino, The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "I'm A Believer" (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "I Wanna Be Free" (Rhino, The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "You Told Me" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE MONKEES:  "Sunny Girlfriend" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE MONKEES:  "You Just May Be The One" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE MONKEES:  "Mary, Mary" (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE MONKEES:  "For Pete's Sake" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE MONKEES:  "Early Morning Blues And Greens" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE MONKEES:  "Randy Scouse Git" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE MONKEES:  "Daily Nightly" (Rhino, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.)
THE MONKEES:  "Tapioca Tundra" (Rhino, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "Goin' Down" (Rhino, Music Box)
THE MONKEES:  "The Porpoise Song [single version]" (Rhino, Head)
THE MONKEES:  "Daddy's Song" (Rhino, Head)
THE MONKEES:  "Can You Dig It" (Rhino, Head)
THE MONKEES:  "As We Go Along" (Rhino, Head)
THE MONKEES:  "Circle Sky [live]" (Rhino, Head)
THE MONKEES:  "Long Title:  Do I Have To Do This All Over Again" (Rhino, Head)
THE MONKEES:  "Daydream Believer" (Rhino, The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees)
THE MONKEES:  "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?" (Rhino, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.)
THE MONKEES:  "Listen To The Band" (from 33 1/3 REVOLUTIONS PER MONKEE)
THE MONKEES:  "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (Rhino, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.)
THE MONKEES:  "Save The Texas Prairie Chicken" (THE MONKEES TV series)
--
THE MONKEES:  "Sometime In The Morning" (Rhino, More Of The Monkees)
THE BEATLES:  "I'm So Tired" (Apple, The Beatles)
EYTAN MIRSKY:  "This Year's Gonna Be Our Year" (M-Squared, Year Of The Mouse)
THE BEATLES:  "Piggies" (Apple, The Beatles)
NELSON BRAGG:  "You Could Believe" (Steel Derrick, We Get What We Want)
THE BEATLES:  "Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except Me And My Monkey)" (Apple, The Beatles)
THE MONKEES:  "Love To Love" (Rhino, Music Box)
THE MONKEES:  "Band 6" (Rhino, Headquarters)
THE BEATLES:  "Yer Blues" (Apple, The Beatles)
THE MONKEES:  "The Porpoise Song [instrumental]" (Rhino Handmade, single)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Words O' Wisdom # 1

 Sometimes we attribute to a Machiavelli what is really the work of The Three Stooges.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 858



It's supposed to be a criticism when you say someone's running on autopilot. But honestly, Dana and I are on autopilot just about every week here on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, and that's never a bad thing. A higher power takes over, and we channel its wishes. It's either autopilot, or we somehow just know what we're doing.

And how likely is that?

New music from Clockwork Flowers, farewells to Mary Tyler Moore and Mike Connors, a salute to our friends over at The Wax Museum with Ronnie Dark as they celebrate their 400th show, and an array of assorted audio delights that just kinda took care of themselves--well, put 'em all together, and suddenly we got ourselves a radio show. Automatic. And cool!

NEXT WEEK: Guess we gotta offer some sort of counter-programming for the football game, right? Okey-dokey. Howzabout Non-Stop Over The Top POP!!! Yes, with three exclamation points, representing three hours devoted exclusively to pure pop, power pop, sugar pop, bubblegum pop, punk pop, soul pop, girl-group pop, rockin' pop, pop, pop, POP! It's AM RADIOS GONE WILD, in our purest pop show ever! Over The Top POP!!! For now, this is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl streams live on Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, exclusively at www.westcottradio.org

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

TIRnRR # 858: 1/29/17

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
ELVIS COSTELLO: Tear Off Your Own Head (It's A Doll Revolution) (Island, When I Was Cruel)
THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK: Incense And Peppermints (BMG, VA: Psychedelic Pop)
DANA & CARL: Goodnight, Minneapolis! (unreleased)
HUSKER DU: Love Is All Around (SST, single)
XTC: Statue Of Liberty (Virgin, Waxworks)
TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS: Refugee (MCA, Anthology)
THE BEATLES: Revolution [promo video version]
--
PARALLAX PROJECT: All The Same (Kool Kat Musik, I Hate Girls)
CLOCKWORK FLOWERS: Saturday Night (theclockworkflowers.com, Colours Vol. 3: Yellow)
THE PRETTY THINGS: Midnight To Six Man (Fontana, Get A Buzz)
ERIC BURDON & THE ANIMALS: Monteray (BMG, VA: Psychedelic Pop)
N/A: Mannix Theme (TVT, VA: Television's Greatest Hits)
JOE MANNIX: White Flag (Bongobeat, White Flag)
THE DIXIE CUPS: Iko Iko [a cappella version] (Collectables, The Very Best Of The Dixie Cups)
--
RICHARD X. HEYMAN & PETER NOONE: Hoosier (Girl) (Turn-Up, Heyman, Hoosier & Herman)
FUN BOY THREE: Our Lips Are Sealed (Capitol, The Best Of Fun Boy Three)
THE GO-GO'S: How Much More (Capitol, Beauty And The Beat)
THE KINKS: Misty Water (Reprise, The Great Lost Kinks Album)
THE FLASHCUBES: She (unreleased)
SUGAR: Gee Angel (Rykodisc, single)
--
THE BEATLES: Drive My Car (Apple, Rubber Soul)
BIG STAR: Back Of A Car (Ardent, # 1 Record/Radio City)
PAUL & LINDA McCARTNEY: The Back Seat Of My Car (Capitol, Ram)
THE FLESHTONES: For A Smile (Yep Roc, Wheel Of Talent)
THE LIKE: Release Me (Geffen, Release Me)
GENE PITNEY: It Hurts To Be In Love (One Way, Ultimate Anthology)
--
THE RASPBERRIES: Go All The Way (RPM, Power Pop Volume One)
CHEAP TRICK: Surrender (Epic, Heaven Tonight)
THE PARTIES: Cryin' Shame (Rainbow Quartz, Cryin' Shame)
THE PRETENDERS: Talk Of The Town (Sire, The Singles)
THE LEGAL MATTERS: Short Term Memory (Omnivore, Conrad)
RAY PAUL: Pretty Flamingo (Permanent Press, Whimsicality)
--
THE CATHOLIC GIRLS: Somebody Better Get A Room (Cinema, Somebody Better Get A Room)
THE FOUNDATIONS: Build Me Up Buttercup (Sanctuary, The Very Best Of The Foundations)
THE MONKEES: Terrifying (Rhino, Good Times! [digital version])
JIGSAW: Sky High (Renaissance, Anthology)
HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES: Don't Leave Me This Way (Philadelphia International, single)
TOMMY JAMES & THE SHONDELLS: I Think We're Alone Now (Rhino, Anthology)
--
RONNIE DARK: Sarah (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 3)
THE ASSOCIATION: Windy (Rhino, Just The Right Sound)
THE RAMONES: Sheena Is A Punk Rocker (Rhino, Rocket To Russia)
THE LEMON PIPERS: Green Tambourine (Buddha, Green Tambourine)
GAR FRANCIS: Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35 (Bongo Boy, single)
THE BEATLES: I'm Happy Just To Dance With You (Capitol, single)
--
IRENE PENA: Pieces Of You (http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/IrenePena1)
THE LEMON DROPS: I Live In The Springtime (Rhino, VA: Nuggets)
THE HANDCUFFS: Baby I Love You (OOFL, Waiting For The Robot)
THE JAM: To Be Someone (Didn't We Have A Nice Time) (Polydor, All Mod Cons)
THE GRATEFUL DEAD: Cream Puff War (Warner Brothers, Grateful Dead)
THE BEAU BRUMMELS: Laugh, Laugh (Sundazed, Introducing The Beau Brummels)
THE OUTSKIRTS: Standing Together (Glass, Heaven's On The Move)
THE BRAINS: Money Changes Everything (Universal, VA: New Wave Gold)
MAD MONSTER PARTY: Death Valley Days [7" version] (CD Baby, Mad Monster Party)
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: Who Loves The Sun (Polydor, Peel Slowly And See)
JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS: Love Is All Around (Warner Brothers, single)
THE TROGGS: Love Is All Around (Fontana, Archeology)
LOS STRAITJACKETS: New Siberia (Yep Roc, Jet Set)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tonight on THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO



Well, first off, Dana and I want to congratulate our pals at The Wax Museum with Ronnie Dark over on WVOA-FM, as hosts Ronnie Dark and Mike Adams celebrate their 400th show tonight. HuzZAH! These guys do a great show every single week, and we wish 'em our best. Don't be scared! It's only vinyl! The Wax Museum airs 7 to 10 pm tonight on 87.7 WVOA, and online at http://www.wvoaradio.com/listenonline.html

And yeah, that means that The Wax Museum (and The Night Owl Lounge) air directly opposite Everyone's Invited with Mark Hughson and This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl here on Westcott Radio, and Soundcheck with Dave Frisina on The Rebel 105.9--so much great radio, all at the same time! You can listen to any of these blocs of programming live, you can record The Wax Museum and Soundcheck on dar.fm, and you can download Everyone's Invited and TIRnRR from the Westcott Radio Archive. We're still going to do our own great show this week, too--can't let The Wax Museum have all the fun, can we? You'll find out what we'll play when we find out we'll play, Sunday night 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org Great radio? The more the merrier!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Riverdale






As I write this, I have not yet seen the pilot episode of Riverdale--a presumably dark 'n' gritty re-interpretation of the classic Archie comic books--which debuted on The CW network Thursday night. Since I haven't seen it, this certainly isn't a review. This is just an examination of the preconceptions and expectations a comics fan (like me!) can bring to an adaptation of a beloved four-color property.

First, I have to say I've been looking forward to Riverdale for many months, ever since it was first announced. The show is produced by Greg Berlanti, and I enjoy three of Berlanti's four existing comics-inspired TV shows, Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl; I also watch his other comics show, DC's Legends Of Tomorrow, but haven't gotten into it quite as much as I've liked the others. The current revamped Archie comic book is one of my favorite titles, and the framework and continuity set by Archie comic book writer Mark Waid would make for a pretty damned good television series. I kinda thought Riverdale would be something along those lines, but all trailers and promotion for the show have indicated that Riverdale is clearly not intended to be anything at all like that.

Maybe that's okay. I'm not sure.



There's a dichotomy, maybe even a tug-of-war in play here. The trailers for the series are interesting, intriguing...and plainly not the Archie we know. That's fair; there are traditional Archie fans (my daughter among them) who don't care for the characters' recent comics makeover, just as I have occasionally been dismissive and/or hostile to various brain-dead takes on Batman over the years. Like Batman, Archie can be open to different creative interpretations. My favorite comic book in 2016 was Archie Meets Ramones, which depicted the traditional Archies alongside Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy. I was able to enjoy that (and how!) while still digging the current ongoing Archie continuity. Similarly, I enjoy both the campy Batman of Batman '66 and Batman: The Brave And The Bold and the fearsome Dark Knight of other Batman adventures in comics and films.

But, as a Batman fan, I probably wouldn't care about, say, a plainclothes detective who calls himself Batman, or an assassin who calls himself Batman, or a Batman sitcom, or a psychotic Batman, or a Nazi Batman, or a masked cowboy Batman. Well, that last one actually sounds kinda cool. But those others? They're not Batman. Those interpretations would violate my idea of what Batman is supposed to be.

One could say the current Archie comics aren't what Archie is supposed to be, though I would disagree; the narrative style has changed, but these are clearly, identifiably the classic characters taken seriously. One could also say that Riverdale isn't what Archie is supposed to be, either; that's a bit more difficult to dispute. Many have already compared Riverdale to David Lynch's quirky, violent, prurient, and deliberately weird TV series Twin Peaks. I'm pretty sure that no previous Archie incarnation has ever been compared to Twin Peaks before.

As a (theoretical) grown-up who still immerses himself in all this stuff that was originally created to be juvenile entertainment, I'm well aware of how we've stretched, contorted, and wrestled these characters away from the kids that were supposed to be the target audience. Still, one wonders just how much we can change these properties, mix 'em up, make them all relevant and adult and edgy, and still retain some line of sight to the source material.




When I was in my late 20s, I wrote a parody of Archie, a mock Rolling Stone interview with dissipated former pop star Archie Andrews. I submitted it to National Lampoon, and it was sent back quicker'n Jughead Jones could scarf down a plate of cheeseburgers at Pop's Chok'lit Shoppe. A note said that the editors couldn't touch Archie for legal reasons. Even if we disregard NatLamp's apparent fear of lawsuits, I can't honestly say whether or not my piece could have or should have been considered. Was it funny? I thought so at the time. It was also puerile and rude, delighting in the supposedly hilarious mash-up of our square ol' Archie now drunk, disgusting, and solely interested in pursuing carnal sheet-shakin' with Cyndi Lauper, Whitney Houston, and Madonna.

I was so proud of my clever, acerbic wit. I disavow the stupid thing now.

Riverdale reminds me of that foolish, childish thing I wrote decades ago. And that's probably not a fair comparison. It's an officially-licensed adaptation, not a lampoon or fanfic, and it looks like it's really well done. But it still wallows in the odd juxtaposition of those familiar characters of Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, et al., with subjects like murder, sex, corruption, illicit intrigue, the girl-girl titillation of Betty and Veronica kissing, and the seamy sensationalism of a rumored subplot involving Archie having an affair with his teacher, Miss Grundy (albeit a far younger, hotter version of Miss Grundy than we've ever seen before--it is The CW, after all).

Sarah Habel plays Miss Grundy on Riverdale. Yep.
Ultimately, that's it, really: it is The CW, It needs to have youngish male and female heartthrobs cavorting, ideally without their shirts on. Riverdale could be The Vampire Diaries or whatever; it's not about Archie, it's about a demographic. Tying it all to a familiar name and property just makes it easier to sell...if we're buying.

I'm not an Archie purist. I'll watch Riverdale, I'll probably even like Riverdale, and I'll try to judge it on its own merits, divorced from the expectation of what an Archie adaptation should be. But let's not pretend this is Archie. Even old man Weatherbee would know better than that.



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

Friday, January 27, 2017

Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) # 400...NO! 401!!

This was originally written and planned to run yesterday as the 400th post on Boppin'(Like The Hip Folks Do), but the passing of Mary Tyler Moore mandated a change in schedule.

400 of these things! And the hits just keep on comin'!




As Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) bops on past its 400th post, let's look around, back, and forward.

My review of The Monkees' fabulous 2016 album Good Times! remains, by far, the most-viewed post from Boppin' # 1-399. The Monkees have been popular here; each of my top five most-viewed posts were specifically about The Monkees, and the sixth most-viewed was also related to The Monkees, written in the wake of disappointment when they were snubbed yet again by The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The remainder of the all-time Boppin' Top 10 concerned Big Star, Batman, The Monkees again, and Main Street Records in Brockport, New York. So, with seven of my all-time Top 10 connected to Micky, Davy, Peter, and Michael, it's pretty clear what a majority of visitors to this blog want to see: More Of The Monkees!



I have two new Monkees posts forthcoming. The first of these will only be available to those who support this blog on Patreon. For as little as $2 a month, patrons of Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) receive one exclusive bonus post each month; the subscriber-only posts will not be published publicly for at least one month after distribution to patrons, and probably not even quite that soon. My December exclusive on The Ramones is not currently slated for public showing at all, my January bonus on The Kinks will not be seen on the blog until at least late spring, and my February post on The Monkees will be private until at least late summer. And that February private post should be a good one, as my Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery will recall the time This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio co-host Dana Bonn and I saw The Monkees--Micky, Peter, Michael--in concert in Buffalo in 2012. Both of us regard that show as one of the best concerts we were ever privileged to see. Patrons can read all about it in February.

My ongoing series The Greatest Record Ever Made will also be getting to a specific Monkees record some time in the near future. TGREMs are a lot of fun to write, so expect many more of those, including platters that matter from Wilson Pickett, KISS, The Ramones, Chuck Berry, and a cast of several.

I'm a bit surprised (and pleased) by the popularity of my Batman's Degrees Of Separation series, so that will continue at some point. The Everlasting First, the A-Z reminiscences of my first exposures to some specific singers and superheroes, will also resume; they're time-consuming, but I like doing them, so expect the two-part K Is For KID ETERNITY and THE KINKS sometime in February. Probably. I had intended to return to my de facto autobiography, Singers, Superheroes, And Songs On The Radio, picking up the story where we left off (September 1970); I'm not sure when that will resume, since I'm mulling over whether or not I should try to turn the whole thing into a book instead. Pipe dream for now, but from small things, mama...! There will continue to be tangents to that subject on this blog. Honestly, all of the Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery and The Everlasting First pieces are part of that larger series of autobiographical posts. Same can be said for The Monkees Bring The Summer: A Girl I Knew Somewhere, my Teenage Wasteland piece on music I listened to in my teens, The Road To GOLDMINE, and I've Got The Music In Me (And That's Where It's Gonna Stay): all pieces of me and my life, put into pretty words for your reading pleasure. Those give me the most satisfaction in writing, so those will certainly continue here.

The Notebook Notions, a series based on the notebooks I filled with half-baked, quarter-baked, raw, and freshly-killed ideas when I was a fledgling young would-be writer, will also come back. Next up in that series will likely be Hornet Enterprises, my teen scheme to create a worldwide publishing empire based on superhero pulp fiction and naked women. I just found a bunch of the original, lost notebooks, so I'll be scouring them for blog inspirations. If I find my two college journals, I just might reprise whole sections of them here. Yeah, even some of the embarrassing sections--the demands of a daily blog force you to shed your shame pretty early in the game. Gonna be diggin' out some more old artwork, too. Comicbook Retroviews will look at DC 100-Page Super-Spectaculars, and--who knows?--I might even go back and finish my abandoned Goldmine piece on Nuggets and the reappraisal of '60s garage punk rock 'n' roll.

What else? I don't know! That's half the fun. Each day is a blank screen to be filled. I continue to treat this blog as if it had a vast audience, and I honor the commitment to post at least one piece every single day. I've exhausted my digital archives, so just about everything you see on the blog in 2017 will either be new, or at least something old I liked enough to [gulp] re-type. Ugh! We'll be talking about the 40th anniversary of The Flashcubes, the return of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio to terrestrial airwaves, Suzi Quatro, Vampirella, and a bunch of other things I haven't even thought about yet. I've given you 400 posts in just over a year. And I'm just gettin' started.

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



 


  






Thursday, January 26, 2017

CLOSING ARGUMENTS: Mary Tyler Moore



Was Mary Tyler Moore ever considered a feminist icon? I don't know--or can't remember--the answer to that. If she wasn't, perhaps she should have been. If she was, it's unfortunate that we've forgotten the singular nature of her role as an independent career woman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 1970s. Either way, I would presume that Moore herself never set out to be any such thing.

What she was, at least initially, was a dancer and an actress. She achieved fame as a regular on two of the greatest comedy series in the history of television, and either one of those roles would have been sufficient by itself to grant her pop culture immortality. Before that, she started as Happy Hotpoint, a cute li'l dancin' elf in commercials for the Hotpoint brand of appliances; in between those TV series, she made a terrible movie called Thoroughly Modern Millie, and a forgettable movie with Elvis; after those series, she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the film Ordinary People. She returned to TV sporadically, but not with the lasting impact of her two earlier series.

But oh, those two series...!

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966) must always figure into any discussion of the all-time greatest sitcoms. Moore's role as Laura Petrie, suburban housewife to TV comedy writer Rob Petrie, was pre-feminist at best. It was a world where a man provided, and a woman kept her place in the home. Well, except for Rob's co-writer Sally Rogers, sure, but she was always pining for a fella anyway. Women were silly, frilly things that got themselves into ridiculous situations...er, kinda like the ridiculous situations the silly men found themselves blundering into. And that was the thing: if the show was inevitably colored by the prevailing gender attitudes of the day, it still never condescended. Laura was as smart as Rob, probably as capable as Rob, and arguably even more resourceful than Rob. The Dick Van Dyke Show was blessed with one of the most accomplished, gifted casts ever assembled, and crafted by one of the greatest writing staffs ever to string together antics, guffaws, and predicaments in sitcom form. Dick Van Dyke is one of the most talented and charismatic performers ever to grace a cathode ray tube; Mary Tyler Moore was his equal.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) may be the defining sitcom of the 1970s. You could make a case for All In The Family, but the case would be dismissed before trial. All In The Family was controversial and groundbreaking, but also often didactic and shrill. The Mary Tyler Moore Show, like The Dick Van Dyke Show before it, was just a sitcom, designed to make you laugh. That it succeeded on a greater level was merely incidental, yet positively seismic.

There had been many previous sitcoms with a female lead, since before The Lucy Show and through Julia, where the star character was a widow, with or without children. But there weren't a lot of--or any--comedy series centered on a single woman trying to make it on her own. Even Marlo Thomas in That Girl came already equipped with a steady, serious boyfriend. On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary Richards wasn't exactly opposed to maybe finding the right guy, but it wasn't a goal that defined her life. She had a job. No--she had a career. She was a television news producer, and dammit, she was determined to be a good one. She had spunk, and she didn't care if her boss hated spunk. She could be intimidated initially, but never for very long. She deserved and demanded equal pay for equal work. She was a fierce and loyal friend. And she was going to make it after all.

It's easy to forget how unprecedented this was on television in the early '70s. The character of Mary Richards was remarkably well-drawn, neither perfect nor pathetic, but likably and hilariously real. The best definition of feminism I've ever heard is that it's the radical belief that a woman is a human being. Mary Richards--a fictional female flickering on our TV screens on Saturday nights--was a human being. Like The Monkees bringing '60s counterculture into the living room, and I Spy or Lt. Uhura on Star Trek introducing white viewers to confident, capable African-American individuals, Mary Tyler Moore's starring role in The Mary Tyler Moore Show served as a casual model for what was possible. There were little girls, young (and older) women, and even some guys of varying age watching and learning. Possibilities. A real possibility can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.

It was just a TV show. It wanted you to watch, it wanted you to laugh, it wanted you to buy the sponsors' products, and it wanted you back in front of your TV at the same time next week. It accomplished so much more than just its meager raison d'etre. We are all the richer for that.

Love is all around. This week, we mourn the passing of Mary Tyler Moore, an actress who became an integral part of our lives. She was real, and you should know it. With each glance and every little movement, she showed it. A dancer, an actress, and an icon, Mary Tyler Moore turned the world on with her smile.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery: THE RAMONES, THE RUNAWAYS, and THE FLASHCUBES





Four bucks.

The spring of 1978 offered an unbelievable opportunity: while I was back home in Syracuse for Easter break, The Ramones, The Runaways, and Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse The Flashcubes would be appearing on the same bill at The Brookside, a bar in the Syracuse suburb of DeWitt. Short of a reunion show by The Beatles or The Monkees, this was the best dream rock 'n' roll show I could imagine. I loved all three acts; I'd seen The Flashcubes for the first time just a couple of months earlier, I'd felt my world change when I first heard The Ramones' "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker" (played back-to-back for a glorious half-hour or more) the preceding November, and I nearly burned the request line at the college station badgering DJs to play The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb." I also annoyed my then-girlfriend Sharon by singing both "Cherry Bomb" and The Ramones' "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue" while we walked together at school during the fall semester. She was an ex-girlfriend soon thereafter (my fault). Her rather sudden replacement, Theresa, was herself an ex by the spring (also my fault), which meant I was free to pursue my carnal interest in Runaways Lita Ford and Joan Jett.

Rest assured, Carl--you never had a shot with either of us.
Well. Y'know. In theory.

I don't know where or when I first heard about this upcoming show, but I knew I needed to be there. Four bucks? Even an impoverished 18-year-old college student could just about swing that. I didn't have a driver license--I didn't get around to getting one until I was almost 21--but I figured my friend Jay would also want to go, and I'd ride with him. However, Jay was already planning a party in his basement that night--hey ho, no go. Luckily for me, my Dad was willing to drop me off and pick me at The Brookside, so I convinced my friend Tom to accompany me. And I was still invited to Jay's party, so it seemed to be a rock 'n' roll heaven kinda night.

I've written previously about Tom, most recently in the Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery entry reminiscing about when we went to see KISS in 1976. Tom was one of my best friends in high school, and we still hung out together quite a bit whenever I was back in Syracuse. Tom's suicide in 1979 haunted me for decades thereafter, because god damn it, I'd seen him earlier the very night he carried out his decision to blow his brains out. And I had no clue. I still can't pick up a clue, no matter how much I search my memory of that evening, that last meeting with my friend.

But, in March of 1978, all this sadness and trauma was still lurking somewhere ahead in our future. For now, we were gonna see The Flashcubes, The Runaways, and The Ramones.

Four bucks.



Tom had not yet seen The Flashcubes, and didn't really know The Ramones, but he owned a Runaways LP. I don't remember if it was the group's eponymous debut album or the import Live In Japan set--I think it was the latter--but Tom (like me) was certainly into the idea of cute girls with guitars, bass, and drums. He was particularly taken with The Runaways' cover of The Velvet Underground's "Rock And Roll." I don't think either us knew it was a cover; even though I had a ticket to a Lou Reed show (which was ultimately cancelled) that spring, I didn't get around to hearing The Velvet Underground's music until a few years later. But it was all right. It's all right! Yeah, it was all right. It's all right! To this day, I prefer The Runaways' fist-shakin' cover of "Rock And Roll" to the great VU original.

On March 31st, 1978, Dad dropped Tom and I off at The Brookside. This was the only time I ever visited The Brookside, one of the key live music spots in Central New York's rich rock 'n' roll history. I've heard it was kind of a dive, and I've also heard of times the place was flooded by murky water of suspect origin; Pete Murray's Flashcubes timeline notes that a 'Cubes show at The Brookside on December 14th, 1977 was rained out, something you wouldn't think happened all that often at indoor venues.



Nonetheless, I wish I'd had more opportunities to see bands at The Brookside. The Flashcubes made their debut as a live act on September 1st, 1977 at The Brookside; I was only 17 at the time, and away at school anyway, but I sure wish I'd been there for that! DeWitt Town Hall now stands upon that formerly soggy hallowed ground. There's a 9/11 memorial there, and woods, and a picnic area. Things have changed a bit over time.

My memory of The Brookside, based on that lone visit, does not jibe with established facts. I remember a vast parking lot, and a good-sized club; I'm told it was actually a rather small place. Maybe the music and volume and sheer rock 'n' roll energy just make The Brookside seem larger in my mind.



Tom and I walked into The Brookside, grabbed beers at the bar--Millers, I'm sure--and made our way through the crowd. Whatever The Brookside's real-world footprint, the place was crowded, packed. And Paul Armstrong, Tommy Allen, Steve Lenin (I didn't hear anyone call him Arty yet), and Gary Frenay took the stage--it was time for The Flashcubes.

I remember nothing--nothing--about The Flashcubes' performance that night. There are no specifics, no concrete details in my brain, of what songs they played or what wisdom they shared. But I can tell you this with bedrock certainty: they were magnificent. I'm sure they did mostly original songs, but they may have done some covers, too. Yeah, "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," for sure (as we'll see in a moment). I was riveted, euphoric. They'd already earned the right to be called My Favorite Group, and they reasserted that right once again.

Tom also dug The Flashcubes' set. He liked the sense of alienation expressed in Paul Armstrong's "Got No Mind" and--especially!--Arty Lenin's "I Don't Want To Be A Human Being." Maybe Tom's affection for square-peg anthems was an early warning sign--I dunno. After their set, Tom bought Arty a beer (for which Arty remains grateful even now, I betcha). Shy guy that I was, that evening may also have been the first time I ever talked to any of the 'Cubes. I recall chatting briefly with Arty and somebody else (maybe Chuck Cook, a fellow 'Cubes fan who I would more formally meet the following summer), discussing "Dizzy Miss Lizzy." Arty had only recently discovered that The Beatles didn't write "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," prompting me to add, "Yeah, it was a Little Richard song, I think." So yeah, my first conversation with a Flashcube, and I proudly displayed my rockin' pop ignorance: "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" was really by Larry Williams, not the right Reverend Richard Penniman. Dumbass Flashcubes fan....



The Runaways were touring in support of their third studio album, Waitin' For The Night, which had been released the previous October. It was their first album without original lead singer Cherie Currie, and also the first without bassist Jackie Fox. Fox had been replaced by Vickie Blue, and guitarist Joan Jett took over most of the lead vocals; drummer Sandy West sang lead on the group's live cover of The Troggs' "Wild Thing," and I don't remember whether or not lead guitarist Lita Ford sang any leads...but man, she looked good.

Flatterer--you still never had a shot.
I recall bits 'n' pieces (but no Dave Clark Five covers) of The Runaways' set, which included "Wild Thing" and the VU's "Rock And Roll," plus fave Waitin' For The Night tracks like "Wasted" and "School Days." They probably also did "Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin," and "You're Too Possessive," and "American Nights," but I couldn't testify to those facts in a court of law. Still, I was mesmerized, not just by love or lust or fanboy crush, but by the rockin' power of The Runaways' live set. Were they sloppy? Probably. I guess. I didn't care, nor did the rest of the delirious pop noise fans surrounding me on all sides. We were dancing to that fine, fine music--our lives were saved by rock 'n' roll.



Their set ended, and The Runaways left the stage. The crowd clapped and stomped for an encore, chanting Cherry Bomb! Cherry Bomb! Cherry Bomb! "Cherry Bomb," written by Joan Jett and Kim Fowley, had been The Runaways' debut single back in 1976, and it had been ex-frontchick Cherie Curie's signature tune. Cherry Bomb! Cherry Bomb! Even without Curie, the fans at The Brookside wanted to hear that song. Cherry Bomb! CHERRY BOMB!!

The Runaways returned. Piss. Vinegar. Maybe a cocktail or two. Cherry Bomb! Joan Jett was having none of it.

"The blonde chick's gone," she sneered. "Fuck the Cherry Bomb!" Never before or since has a crowd been so delighted to have its request declined. That's punk!, we agreed, amused. Joan then seemed to soften her tone, and said they were going do a different song, with some new words just for Syracuse. And The Runaways performed a unique rendition of "Queens Of Noise," the title tune from their second album:

We're the queens of noise
Come and get it, boys
Syracuse noise
Not just one of your toys....

We ate it up. The Queens of Noise ruled by divine right. And I was in love with each of them.

Nope--no shot with me either.
(Joan Jett would later re-claim "Cherry Bomb," the song she co-wrote. She included it on Joan Jett & the Blackhearts' 1984 album Glorious Results Of A Misspent Youth, and it remains a staple of her live show. When I interviewed Joan for Goldmine in 1994, I recounted the tale of her refusal to perform "Cherry Bomb" at The Brookside in '78. She didn't remember the events at all, but was mortified by the notion that she'd been so dismissive of a song that a crowd of concertgoers wanted to hear. But me? I think what she did, in the moment, made a far cooler concert memory than if she'd just grudgingly done the damned song instead. Fuck the cherry bomb, indeed.)



The Ramones were also touring in support of their third album. The incredible Rocket To Russia album had come out in late '77, and the "Rockaway Beach" single had somehow blitzkrieg-bopped its way to # 66 on Billboard's Hot 100, the all-time best showing of any Ramones release in America. The original quartet was still intact: singer Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, bassist Dee Dee Ramone, and drummer Tommy Ramone, brudders in arms, purveyors of irresistible bubblegum pop played faster, louder, and with more ferocity than the laws of physics would consider possible. They weren't just a band; they were a force of nature, a force beyond nature. 1-2-3-4! It wasn't a count-in. It was a manifesto.



I really did not know The Ramones' catalog very well in early '78. My Ramones collection at the time consisted of the "Sheena" and "Rockaway Beach" 45s, though I was also familiar with the debut album Ramones via airplay on my campus station WBSU in Brockport. (One day at school, a BSU DJ named Joe LaValle was nearing the end of his shift, decided he wanted to close his show with an album side, and said that he'd let whoever was such-and-such number caller pick the album side. I was the such-and-such in question, and I gave Joe my choice for an album side to play: Ramones, Side One. Oh, you BASTARD! was his distressed response, but give 'im credit--he honored his promise, and played the album side I requested. Gnashing his teeth throughout the process, I'd guess, but kudos to Joe for playing it anyway.)



So I knew a handful of The Ramones' songs, including "Blitzkrieg Bop,""Beat On The Brat,""Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," and a few others. And I'd read about Rocket To Russia in Bomp! magazine, and probably in a couple of other rock rags, too. I was still a nascent Ramones fan, but I was definitely a fan.

The blur of time, buzz, and beer prevents me from remembering much of The Ramones' set list, though it was probably identical to what they played on It's Alive!, the 2-LP live set the group released in England later that spring. I do recall Joey introducing the ballad I'd read about in Bomp!, saying, We got a new album out. It's called Rocket To Russia. This one's called "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow." Dee Dee counted off the 1-2-3-4!, and The Ramones performed this exquisite, tender-sounding kiss-off. Swoon. Pop music!  Otherwise, The Ramones' set was like a wall:

HEY!WE'RETHERAMONESTHISONE'SCALLEDROCKAWAYBEACH1234!WHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAM1234!WHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAM1234!WHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAM! 

Wham. SongSongSong. No waste, little patter, just a melodic assault that captured your heart with the military efficiency of George S. Patton beatin' back the Nazis. Piledriving never felt so good.

The Ramones came, they saw, and they conquered. And then they were gone.



After the show, we all checked our collective pulse, caught our collective breath, and tried to restart our collective fried brain cells. Tom loved the 'Cubes and The Runaways, but hated The Ramones--they were too rushed, too chaotic. He was entitled to his opinion. Agree to disagree.

I felt like I'd witnessed The Promised Land.

My Dad came back to The Brookside to pick us up. While waiting, I was bubbling, giddy from the pure thrill of what I'd just experienced. Standing at the edge of the (I swear!) huge parking lot, I flashed high signs to all who passed. Tom politely warned me to cut that shit out, because it looked like I was hailing one of the cabs perched all about, ready to whisk drunken punks off to their next destination. Dad arrived, always supportive, always happy to hear that I'd had a good time.

We dropped Tom off at his house on Maple Manor Drive in North Syracuse, while I headed off to Jay's party. Tom was not invited, and didn't even know about the party. I feel like that should make me feel guilty now. But it was beyond my control. Looking back, there was always so much--so, so much--beyond my control.

The next time I saw The Ramones--July 6th, 1979--Tom had been dead for less than a week. July 1st, the day of his passing, was the worst day of my life up to that point. It remained the worst day of my life for decades, an awful ache that gradually subsided over time, until it was abruptly replaced by an even worse day. There's no comfort in being able to pinpoint your worst days; worse days may still be on the horizon, just waiting for you to let your guard down.

That horizon seemed far away in 1978. Four bucks. A ticket, a friend, and a night I'll never forget. Best four bucks I ever spent.

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The Flashcubes at The Jab. I think the guy in the lower right corner is me.

Tommy Allen and Joan Jett