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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More Of The Blogkeeping! (Monkees and Beatles, Oh My!)

A couple of quick updates to yesterday's blogkeeping:




This week (either Thursday or Friday) will see the debut of a new series, Second-Hand Sound, which examines some of my used record purchases over the years. The first entry will focus on The Monkees' Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd., which I bought for fifty cents at Mike's Sound Center in North Syracuse in 1977.

This month's Private Post for paid subscribers will be the "My 1970s" piece I mentioned yesterday, detailing some of the music I listened to from 1970 through 1979. It's a sort-of sequel to my previous Teenage Wasteland, which talked about the albums that affected me in the '70s; I've always really been more of a single-song guy than an album guy, so "My 1970s" will be a deeper look at the music that mattered the most to me when I was a teen. This post will initially only be available to subscribers, and will not be published publicly until at least July. You can become a subscriber for as little as $2 a month, billed month to month: Fund me, baby! 

My private post from April will publish publicly on Saturday, I think. This was the debut of Groove Gratitude (A Gift Of Music), and it told the story of how I received The Beatles' White Album, and what it meant to me.

Before that, the Groove Gratitude series will make its public debut with a discussion of a different Beatles album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I hope to have that ready by Friday, the 50th anniversary of its original U.S. release.

Work continues on our new compilation CD, This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4. On Sunday, This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl will have an announcement of at least one of the two remaining TIRnRR4 acts that we haven't revealed yet. We may be able to announce both of them, depending upon how a few other factors play out over the next few days. Both acts have connections to the Central New York area.

I have a sidebar edition of The Everlasting First almost ready for publication, offering quick bits about the first CD I ever owned, the first VHS tape I ever owned, my first girlfriend, my first broken heart, et al. I had planned to run it this week, but I think I'd like to put in a few more general-interest posts before I run that. And, on this blog, what's more general interest than The Beatles and The Monkees? (I have some Batman coming soon, too, but not this week. And Comic Book Retroview's coverage of DC Comics' 100-Page Super Spectaculars should return with its concluding chapter next week.)

Hey, any requests? Can't guarantee I'll get to 'em, but I'll consider 'em. I have no shortage of ideas for the blog; I'm just short on time to execute those ideas. (And yes, a few of those ideas probably should be executed. Like, at dawn, with benefit of neither blindfold nor cigarette.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Blogkeeping Past 100,00 Views



Some time on Saturday night, Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) passed the 100,000 view mark. Since the start of this daily blog on January 18th of last year, there's been a fairly consistent rise in the number of views we get here. It took just under a year to accumulate the first 50,000 views, then just over four months to double that figure. Sure, 100,000 views is nothing in the real-world sense--there ain't a blogger in the world quakin' in his or her P.F. Flyers in fear of competition from the lowly likes of me--but I'm still proud of the number, proud of the blog, and still convinced the modest number is pretty good for an unknown writer hawking his idiosyncratic site solely via Facebook and word of mouth. I thank everyone who checks in here at my dusty little corner of cyberspace, and I aim to continue providing at least one post a day, each and every day. That's the Boppin' way.



I confess there have been more than a few times when I've been tempted to skip the blog for a day here and/or there, but I've resisted that so far. I don't think anyone would call me out if I missed posting one day--indeed, relatively few would even notice--but I say if I skip one day, then I'll wanna skip another day. Then another. Then...well, suddenly the blog would lack any sense of urgency. And I think that sense is important, at least to me as I write these things. When I was freelancing, I thrived on deadlines; knowing a piece had to be completed and in front of my editor by this time--no later!--made me a more productive writer. I made a couple of editors pretty nervous along the way (though never Goldmine editor Jeff Tamarkin, who always trusted me to get the work done on time), but I never missed a deadline. And I'm not gonna start, even with a self-imposed deadline: a post a day, every day. Or else, no cupcakes for me.

(And, of course, the presence of paid subscribers to Boppin' serves to remind me that I've made a commitment to keep doing this on schedule. For as little as $2 a month, my patrons receive the blog every day, and also receive one bonus private blog post each month: Fund me, baby!)

I've been feeling reflective and occasionally melancholy of late. This is neither new or unusual, mind you, but I think it's currently fueled in part by my daughter's recent college graduation, and the knowledge that her time living at home is likely nearing its end, far sooner than I'm ready for. Time is the enemy. June marks the 40th anniversary of my graduation from high school, and I suspect a lot of my posts these past couple of weeks may have been subconsciously influenced by all of these factors. I've been looking back at college, high school, eighth grade, and retroactively finding fault in things I did. I spent decades blaming others for unfortunate events and circumstances, only realizing in recent retrospect that I shared culpability in many cases. I wish I'd been better than I was. I'm still trying to be better now.

Me with Linda Damiano in The NorthCaster, 1977
The unexpected (to me) passing of a high school classmate last week led me to a decision I would have thought unlikely a month ago: I'm going to my high school reunion. I'm not generally a reunion guy, but life is just too goddamned short to miss an opportunity to celebrate any potentially positive element. (Lovely wife Brenda is going with me, so at least I've got a date.)

The act of looking back--always a big component of this blog--will manifest soon in a new series called The NorthCaster, reminiscing about the three years I spent as a staff member on my high school literary magazine. I've written about The NorthCaster on several occasions already, but this will be my first real attempt to recount the experience, from my first tumultuous year (when I wound being dismissed from the staff) through my subsequent return, my nascent blossoming as a writer, and my ascent to the position of Assistant Editor. The NorthCaster was the first time I ever experienced any success as a writer, but it was also a bittersweet period because, y'know, lonely misfit teenager. I look forward to telling the tale, and I hope you'll be entertained by its telling.



And honest to Micky Dolenz, I've got a lot of the more general interest stuff coming, as well. Comic Book Retroview's serialized chronicle of DC Comics' 100-Page Super Spectacular has a concluding chapter due soon; after that, near-future editions of Comic Book Retroview may focus on DC Special and the Limited Collectors' Edition/Famous First Edition dollar tabloid comics of the '70s. I've just begun writing a piece called "My 1970s," a '70s music sequel to the previous My 1960s. Second-Hand Sound, a new series about used LP purchases, will commence with an entry about Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. by The Monkees. I'll decide within the next couple of days whether or not I want to write something about the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper. There will be much hype forthcoming about our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4, and about the 40th anniversary of The Flashcubes. We'll also see the return of Batman's Degrees Of Separation (including Charles Manson, Raquel Welch, and Veronica Mars), plus the returns of The Greatest Record Ever Made, Rescued From The Budget Bin!, Groove Gratitude (A Gift Of Music), Lights! Camera! REACTION!, Love At First Spin, The Notebook Notions, What If? So What?, Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery, and the conclusion of Unfinished And Abandoned: Jack Mystery. The Everlasting First will resume with O Is For The Ohio Express and The Outsiders, following a sidebar edition this week recounting such ephemera as my first published writing, my first appearance on TV, my first radio gig, my first kiss, and my first girlie magazine. Behave.

Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) remains so much fun for me to do; with 100,000 views under the ol' belt, I'm gratified to think it's also fun for some hip folks out there to bop along with me. Bop on, my friends. Bop on.












Monday, May 29, 2017

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 874



What's a college graduate to do nowadays? What's a college graduate to do first? Well, just a week after sheddin' the ol' cap and gown, my daughter Meghan returned to the palatial Westcott Radio studio complex to co-host This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio. Eh, beats looking for work. The Meghan & Dana Show served up chills, spills, and thrills a-plenty. They played a few tunes, as well, once again creating a working model of radio democracy the way it oughtta be. Pomp! Circumstance! DANCING!! 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 (and/or the occasional Meghan) streams 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 # 874: 5/28/17 The MEGHAN & DANA Show

THE RAMONES: Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio? (Rhino, End Of The Century)
--
AULI'I CRAVALHO: How Far I'll Go (Walt Disney, VA: Moana OST)
THE MOONLANDINGZ: Black Handz (Chimera Music, Interplanetary Class Classics)
HALESTORM: I Am The Fire (Atlantic, Into The Wild Life)
JACQUES DUTRONC: Le Responsable (Emperor Norton, VA: CQ OST)
BABYMETAL: Doki Doki Morning (Toy's Factory, Baby Metal)
REIKO MARI: Saiki Na Machi (Big Beat, VA: Nippon Girls 2)
--
LADY GAGA: A-YO (Interscope, Joanne)
POP CO-OP: Feint Of Heart (Silent Bugler, Four State Solution)
KELLY CLARKSON: Dance With Me (RCA, Piece By Piece)
VAN MORRISON: Chick-A-Boom [original mono mix] (Legacy, The Authorized Bang Collection)
WALK THE MOON: Shut Up And Dance (RCA, Talking Is Hard)
ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK: Enola Gay (Spectrum, The Best Of OMD)
--
THE KILLERS: Mr. Brightside (Island, Hot Fuss)
THE MUFFS: That Awful Man (Omnivore, Happy Birthday To Me)
LADY GAGA [featuring BEYONCE]: Telephone (Interscope, The Fame Monster)
THE BEVIS FROND: Flashy (Fire, Superseeder)
AMBER PACIFIC: Video Killed The Radio Star (Fearless, VA: Punk Goes 80's)
STIFF LITTLE FINGERS: Alternative Ulster (EMI, Inflammable Material)
--
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE: Make Up Your Mind (Island, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful)
ROMEO VOID: Never Say Never (Legacy, Warm, In Your Coat)
HALESTORM: Mayhem (Atlantic, Into The Wild Life)
WIRE: I Am The Fly (Harvest, Chairs Missing)
PANIC! AT THE DISCO: Death Of A Bachelor (Fueled By Ramen, Death Of A Bachelor)
MICHAEL NESMITH: Joanne (Rhino, Infinite Tuesday)
--
LADY GAGA: Million Reasons (Interscope, Joanne)
TEDDY & HIS PATCHES: Suzy Creamcheese (BBE, VA: The Dark Side)
MIRANDA LAMBERT: Vice (Sony, The Weight Of These Wings)
TY SEGALL: The Clock (Drag City, Manipulator)
MELANIE MARTINEZ: Pity Party (Atlantic, Cry Baby)
SIC ALPS: Moviehead (Drag City, Sic Alps)
--
PENTATONIX [featuring DOLLY PARTON]: Jolene (RCA, single)
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND: One Way Out (Polydor, The Fillmore Concerts)
CARRIE UNDERWOOD: Church Bells (Arista, Storyteller)
THE HOUR GLASS: Out Of The Night (Liberty, The Hour Glass)
LADY GAGA [featuring FLORENCE WELCH]: Hey Girl (Interscope, Joanne)
GENE CLARK: Elevator Operator (Columbia, Echoes)
--
IDINA MENZEL: Queen Of Swords (Warner Brothers, idina.)
THE MONKEES: You Told Me (Rhino, Headquarters)
HALSEY: Colors (Astralwerks, Badlands)
THE RUTLES: Major Happy's Up And Coming Once Upon A Good Time Band (Spectrum, Archeology)
THE RUTLES: Rendezvous (Spectrum, Archeology)
CARRIE UNDERWOOD: Chaser (Arista, Storyteller)
THE SMALL FACES: Itchykoo Park (Charly, There are But Four Small Faces)
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE: Welcome To The Black Parade (Reprise, The Black Parade)
BRINSLEY SCHWARZ: What's So Funny 'Bout (Peace, Love & Understanding) (Yep Roc, NICK LOWE: Quiet Please...)
LADY GAGA: Angel Down (Work Tape) (Interscope, Joanne)
THE DEL-VETTES: Last Time Around (Rhino, VA: Nuggets)
LADY GAGA: Marry The Night (Interscope, Born This Way)
THE BEATLES: A Day In The Life (Apple, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
LINDSEY STIRLING: V-Pop (Lindseystomp, Shatter Me)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Tonight on THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO

My daughter takes over my chair in the studio. Yep, it's the long-awaited return of THE MEGHAN & DANA SHOW, as recent college grad Meghan pits her wits and records against recent college bar patron Dana, and irresistible entertainment ensues. What music will they play? I have no idea. Well, actually, I betcha one of 'em plays something from Sgt. Pepper at some point in the show, and that one of them does not. Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memories Make Us Cry




It's an odd and uncomfortable feeling, to learn of the passing of someone you used to know a long time ago, but whom you haven't seen or spoken with or emailed or sent smoke signals to in nearly as long. The person is no longer a part of your life. And you can't understand why her passing makes you feel so goddamned sad.

I went to high school with a girl named Linda Damiano. Linda passed away on Thursday. It would be a stretch to say that Linda and I were friends--"friendly acquaintances" is more accurate--but we were on amiable and cordial terms in high school, forty years ago. I last saw her thirty years ago, at our tenth reunion. She was still vivacious, still Linda, and we exchanged pleasantries and well wishes. There was no real yearning to stay in touch, but I was happy to remember and acknowledge that she'd been a small but positive part of my life.

Because high school wasn't a happy time for me. I hated high school, where I didn't fit in, where I'd never feel comfortable, where the ache of my loneliness at least meant I could feel something. Looking back, I realize I wasn't appreciative of the warm lights around me. The lights were there; I just chose not to notice their glow. I had a few friends, but even among those outside my small circle there were potentially friendly faces, probably more welcoming smiles than there were disdainful scowls. I wonder if maybe I could have fit in better, if I hadn't been so determined not to.

Linda was among those whose casual benevolence I did notice, even then. I met her through my friend Dan Bacich, when we were working on the school magazine The NorthCaster. Linda was strikingly pretty, but easygoing, and immediately likable. Just being around her was an opportunity to witness a pure glow, right up close. Our friendship, or friendly acquaintanceship, was brief, but warm and inclusive, welcoming. Linda was among a handful of people I knew in high school whose presence made me feel like I could belong, that I could be part of a community. I will always be grateful to her for that.

When we graduated high school, she was among the first people I saw when the commencement ceremony concluded. Still garbed in our caps and gowns, she rushed toward me, hugged me, and shouted out, WE MADE IT, CARL! The memory stings my eyes tonight. If there's a somewhere else beyond these things we think we know, I do know that Linda belongs. I hope she's found peace. I hope she's happy. And I hope she can hear me as I turn my gaze skyward, and whisper, You made it, Linda.

Thanks to Roberta Mitton Cometti for bearing the burden of telling us the sad news of Linda's passing. 

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Friday, May 26, 2017

UNFINISHED AND ABANDONED: Jack Mystery, Part 2

Unfinished And Abandoned digs deeeeep into my unpublished archives, and exhumes projects that I started (sometimes barely started) but abandoned, unfinished. I am such a quitter.

Jack Mystery in the '80s
Continuing the story of Jack Mystery, a superhero character I created when I was a little kid in the '60s. Jack's story began here.

Eighth grade was the closest I came to fitting in since leaving elementary school. I still didn't actually fit in, mind you--I was as square a peg as I'd always been--but camaraderie, normalcy, seemed almost within reach, more so than at any time since fourth grade. For the rest of my life, I would never come that close again.

1972 to '73, eighth grade, was my final year at Roxboro Road Middle School. I hated that place, though not as much as I would come to hate high school after that. Nonetheless, that year offered glimpses of bliss, sporadic moments of contentment. My quirks were acknowledged and, if not quite embraced, at least tolerated. I had a few friends. I started a comic book club at school. I wrote. My love of Charlie Chaplin and The Marx Brothers was met with an indifferent shrug, which was better than being met with rolled eyes and insults. It was as near to a happy time as anything else I can remember from secondary school.

One of the happiest memories was art class with a teacher named John DiGesare. Mr. D was the teacher everyone liked, a gentle and enthusiastic soul who encouraged all of us to create. He would play records in class--usually Carole King's Tapestry or James Taylor's Sweet Baby James--to provide atmosphere and inspiration. While I might have preferred to listen to The Beatles or Badfinger or Alice Cooper, the music on Mr. D's turntable served the essential purpose of nurturing our nascent adolescent artistry. One week, as Sweet Baby James played, Mr. D charged us with the task of making something based on the music we heard. I used the mourning of "Fire And Rain" and the ersatz blues of "Steamroller" to conjure a comic strip called The Adventures Of James Taylor, depicting our intrepid title character mourning the death of a close friend while contending with an imposing spectral figure in the cemetery: Death personified, crying out a defiant introduction, I am THE BLUES!!

Chilling.

Okay, it was neither Proust nor Spillane, not Will Eisner, not even the cartoon equivalent of Ed Wood. But it was mine, created in an environment that encouraged the pursuit and exploration of ideas: pure, fanciful ideas.



I have several specific memories of Mr. D's class. One Spring day, I brought in a couple of comic books--Batman # 250 and Shazam! # 4--to show the teacher, and any other interested parties. I recall my classmate Marge Dugan--whom I always thought was kinda cute--thumbing through the Batman comic, and not seeming openly dismissive of the idea of superhero comics. Cute girls digging superheroes? Well...cool! And Mr. D and I discussed his childhood favorite, the original Captain Marvel. I told him that DC Comics had recently acquired the character from former rival publisher Fawcett, after successfully suing Cap out of existence in the '50s. Mr. D dismissed DC's claim that Captain Marvel had been a copy of Superman (and therefore a violation of the Man Of Steel's copyright) with a disdainful one-word response: Rubbish!

My love of The Marx Brothers prompted me to make a paper mache Groucho, which lacked the accomplishment of my friend Richard Dean's W.C. Fields, but which I kept for years thereafter until it was decimated by time (and, possibly, Erin Fleming). My only negative memory of art class with Mr. DiGesare was the time Richard Dean, Jeff Greco, and I got carried away with horseplay and began throwing clay around the room. Our obnoxious antics were finally enough to try even Mr, D's seemingly infinite patience, and he yelled and sent us to the Dean's office. The Dean, Mr. Mandarino, was visibly shocked that anyone could have ever misbehaved badly enough to make John DiGesare lose his cool. Mr. Mandarino contained his surprise just enough to ask us, What did you do...?!

(Many years later, I recounted this story of my trip to the Dean's office to Mr. DiGesare, and he was mortified. He started to apologize, but I immediately told him, No, we deserved it!)

But my favorite among favorite memories of Mr. DiGesare's art class was Jack Mystery. I had never really let go of this superhero I'd created as a child. Given an opportunity to work on any long-form art project of our choosing, it was inevitable that I would want to work on some comics. Inspired by the vintage strips I'd recently been reading in a hardcover collection called The Collected Works Of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, I settled on the idea of doing Jack Mystery as a newspaper comic strip serial.



Man, I worked on this, diligently, every day. Okay, as diligently as you'd expect from a lazy and distractible 13-year-old, but I did work on it. By making it a daily strip, I was able to work in black and white, and not be concerned with adding the color I knew I'd just mess up anyway. I worked in pencil, on cheap-cheap paper, reflecting the superhero's pulpy roots. Mr. D often tried to cajole me into working with ink, but I insisted on pencils only. I felt greater control with pencils, and Mr. D acquiesced.

I still have those Jack Mystery strips. Somewhere. Somewhere here, in this vast accumulation of stuff. I haven't seen them in years, but I remember the vague story of police officer Jack Mystery, wounded while thwarting a robbery, somehow gaining super strength and resilience in the process. Mystery quits the police force to become a superhero, aided by his brother Carl, who develops a jet pack that enables Jack to fly. Jack and Carl investigate the crime ring terrorizing the city, and eventually discover its mastermind to be Jack's former boss, the chief of police. Seeking to escape justice, the crooked police chief murders Carl Mystery, but is unable to elude the wrath of the grief-stricken Jack Mystery. The serial ended with a single color Sunday page, as Jack Mystery captured his brother's killer, and vowed to remain vigilant in protecting the innocent and thwarting the corrupt. Carl Mystery's sacrifice would not be in vain.

I wrote and drew at the same time, with no blueprint or master plan. If I were to read it today, I'm sure its amateurishness would make me cringe. But I would still take pride in the effort, in the sheer, fevered exuberance of the creative act, no matter how puerile the result, how feeble the execution. It was mine. It still is.

Mr. DiGesare encouraged me the whole way, spurring me on, suggesting I try working in ink, and having me talk to Mr. Yauchzy about doing Jack Mystery for the school newspaper. Mr. Yauchzy compared it to Dick Tracy, and said he wanted to find out what happens to the poor guy, but I never pursued that. I think Mr. D may have also mentioned that I oughtta do it in ink.

The single best day of this whole experience was when Mr. DiGesare took a bunch of his students away from the school, and had us set up in the lobby of a bank for an afternoon of work on our projects. I can't convey the meaning such a simple setting can have for someone who wants to pursue a creative endeavor. Here's a forum. Here's a platform. Here's a stage. Here's a soapbox. Perform. Create. Imagine. Do. Your work is worthwhile. Keep working on it. I labored contentedly on my Jack Mystery comic strip, writing and drawing before this passive audience of tellers and account holders, and I knew with absolute certainty that this was what I wanted to do with my life.



But I didn't do that.

Eighth grade ended, and I bid farewell to Mr. DiGesare and to Roxboro Road Middle School. When ninth grade commenced at North Syracuse Central High School the following September, I told my freshman art teacher that I really wanted to become a professional comic book writer and artist, and that I hoped he'd be able to help me hone my skills to achieve that dream.

He didn't like my attitude. Later on, at a parent-teacher conference, he told my mom and dad that he felt he needed to break me. My freshman year art class was a disaster. I took one more year of art after that, and then never took another art class again. I continued to sketch and doodle--I still do that constantly--but I didn't see a path to becoming an artist. So I gave it up.

Never underestimate the value of a good teacher. Never underestimate the danger of indifference either, nor the dangers of a closed mind and a rigid attitude. Could I have ever become an artist? I don't know. I had some ability; it was raw, and in desperate need of development, but it was there, in all its unformed uncertainty, waiting to be set free. Mr. DiGesare opened the door; his successor locked it and sealed it shut. My failure to overcome that is still on me, of course; if I'd been more persistent, and worked harder to improve my craft, I could have overcome the sudden lack of support and encouragement. Can't always blame others for my mistakes. Just sometimes.

For all that, though, I didn't quite surrender the notion of creating. I kept writing, for sure; no one would ever be able to take that away from me. But I kept drawing, too. I slowly got a little better, and I can only wonder how much better I could have become if I'd felt encouraged to continue with it.



I see Mr. DiGesare occasionally. He's a regular customer at the store where I work. When he sees me, he tells me to get off the computer and get back to drawing something. I reply that I'm writing, and that's just as good. But then I also show him the scraps of paper all around me, the quick sketches I've done recently (usually of Batman; no, you grow up). He smiles, and encourages me to keep at it. Never stop drawing. It's good advice, from a great teacher. And it's a good memory, from as good a year as I ever had back then.



My eighth grade Jack Mystery comic strip was the only complete story I ever did with this character I created so long ago. But, in the '80s, I had some ideas. I never got very far with them, but I was thinking of ways to do a Jack Mystery comic book, completely revamped, centering on the story of a dissipated young movie actor who finds himself cast in the role of a comic-book superhero, and finds himself literally becoming the super character he plays. We'll discuss those plans when Unfinished And Abandoned: Jack Mystery concludes.



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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Continuing Story Of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO, VOLUME 4






A quick update regarding our forthcoming compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4, due out this summer from the ever-fab Kool Kat Musik label. We are pleased to announce the addition of Stepford Knives, the ace combo starring Jamie Hoover and Otis Hughes. Stepford Knives have given us a brand-new track called "Her Reputation," which only adds to the already-sterling reputation of TIRnRR4.

We have tracks from two other artists, both of whom have connections to the Syracuse area; these tracks are basically confirmed but still need a little behind-the-scenes maneuvering before we can announce them publicly. It's safe to say that this disc is full (which is a shame, because there's a third unannounced track we've been trying to shoehorn in, but I believe we are outta room). We've changed a couple of things since our last update, and some details may still change before we master in June. Here's all of the public information to date:

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4
Produced by Dana Bonn and Carl Cafarelli
Due Summer 2017 from Kool Kat Musik

1.4.5.: Your Own World [first CD release of OOP original LP version]
THE BOTTLE KIDS: Let Me In On This Action [new track]
PAUL COLLINS BEAT: She Doesn't Want To Hang Around With You
[redacted]: [redacted] [first national CD release of OOP track]
THE FLASHCUBES: TBD
THE GRIP WEEDS: Strange Bird [new remix of original German single version]
[redacted]: [redacted] [previously unreleased]
THE LEGAL MATTERS: Don't Look Back [first CD release]
CIRCE LINK & CHRISTIAN NESMITH: I'm On Your Side [first mass market CD release]
MAURA & THE BRIGHT LIGHTS: Maybe Someday [new track]
MR. ENCRYPTO & THE CYPHERS: Home On The Radio [previously unreleased]
LISA MYCHOLS: Almost Didn't Happen [new track]
MICHAEL OLIVER & THE SACRED BAND Featuring DAVE MERRITT: You Won't Do [new track]
P. HUX: Better Than Good
RAY PAUL: I Need Your Love Tonight [new track]
IRENE PENA: Must've Been Good
POP CO-OP: You Don't Love Me Anymore [new track]
POPDUDES: She Is Funny (In That Way) [first CD release]
THE RUBINOOS: Nowheresville [first US CD release]
THE RULERS: I Want My Ramones Records Back [first CD release]
THE SLAPBACKS: Make Something Happen [new track, first-ever Flashcubes cover]
THE SMITHEREENS: Got Me A Girl [first mass market CD release of rare early track]
STEPFORD KNIVES: Her Reputation [new track]
VEGAS WITH RANDOLPH Featuring [redacted]: TBD
CHRIS VON SNEIDERN: TBD

You'd buy this CD. Wouldn't you? More hype to come soon.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

UNFINISHED AND ABANDONED: Jack Mystery, Part 1

Unfinished And Abandoned digs deeeeep into my unpublished archives, and exhumes projects that I started (sometimes barely started) but abandoned, unfinished. I am such a quitter.

   


My creation Jack Mystery and I go back a looooong way. When I was a kid in the mid '60s, I liked to play out superhero scenarios with whatever was at hand. My tools for these fanciful adventures included my Captain Action doll and accessories; I don't think I'd yet heard the phrase "action figure," but our Cap was a doll of steel who could transform himself into Superman, Batman, Captain America, The Phantom, Aquaman, Flash Gordon, Steve Canyon, The Lone Ranger, and Sgt. Fury, and I owned all of those costumes-sold-separately. I would also incorporate my sister's leftover Barbie dolls, my Creepy Crawlers, stuffed animals, various knickknacks and tchotchkes, my own drawings, and probably my lunch leftovers to concoct intricate, fanciful exploits for superheroes and super-villains, both existing characters and theoretically original creations. The "original" creations were highly derivative, and included names like...um, Batman (later re-named The Bat, really a Hawkman ripoff with batwings) and The Avengers. My crimson-colored Superman Creepy Crawler became The Scarlet Red Man. A painting I did in elementary school, depicting a bubbling, amorphous alien creature, became a superhero called Gloppy. I suspect that Stan Lee never wasted much time worrying about competition from seven-year-old me.



Among the random items at hand was a set of little James Bond-related statues. The only one of these I remember was a figure--Largo--dressed in a light-colored suit, sporting an eye-patch and a gun. I made him a superhero, and I named him Mr. Mystery.



My superhero play expanded from action figures into home-made comics. Usually not complete stories (though there were one or two of those), but cover concepts, heavily influenced by Marvel Comics. I envisioned my own comics line, Imperial-Universal Comics, and I scribbled ideas in long-since-discarded notebooks. My flagship title was a showcase book called Universal Suspense (inspired by the Marvel Super-Heroes comic book), depicting my heroes Gem, The Power, Rain-Hat Sam (don't ask), and other mighty forgettables clashing with nogoodniks like The Bolshevik Bat and The Vortex.

And, of course, there was Mr. Mystery.



Initially, Mr. Mystery was, I think, a non-powered hero who flew with the aid of some artificial means, and used what I called an Evri-Gun, capable of firing bullets, laser beams, or whatever other projectile or energy pulse the situation demanded. From there, I decided I wanted to change Mr. Mystery's appearance, ditching the suit and eye-patch in favor of a more traditional superhero costume. A weird explosion somehow caused Mystery's lost eye to regenerate itself, eliminating the need for the patch. He donned a skintight light blue costume, with black boots, black belt and holster, and golden jet pack, And he decided to go by his full name, rather than the needlessly formal Mr. Mystery. Henceforth, he would be Jack. Jack Mystery.

From these childish origins, Jack Mystery nonetheless became the one original character I came back to the most often over a span of a few decades. In the '80s, I started tweaking the concept into something that almost might have worked, but I never completed the work. The only Jack Mystery project I ever saw through, start to finish, was a proposed Jack Mystery newspaper strip that I penciled for Mr. DiGesare's art class in eighth grade, 1972-'73. That's where we'll pick up the story when Unfinished And Abandoned: Jack Mystery returns.





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