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 17, 2017

THE EVERLASTING FIRST: Sidebar Edition, Part 1

The Everlasting First is an ongoing A-Z series recounting my first exposures to various singers and superheroes, rock 'n' roll groups and popular publications. While records and comic books have taken up a lot of my consciousness over the past several decades, there have occasionally been a few other things that captured my short attention span. So let's devote a couple of posts to a few first-times that won't be covered in The Everlasting First. We'll touch on some comic books and pop combos, sure, but also some foods, some movies, some experiences, and maybe some...um, y'know, gurls.

(Great. Now I'm blushing.)

Some obsessions predate conscious memory. I'll never be able to tell you about my first TV show, my first spaghetti, my first drive-in movie. The rest? Lessee what we can conjure up.

FIRST COMIC BOOK: 80-Page Giant # 14 (September 1965), starring Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane.

FIRST OFF-BROADWAY PLAY: Jesus Christ Superstar on an eighth-grade class trip to New York in 1973. This was also my only off-Broadway play to date, and I've never seen a play on Broadway (where the neon lights are bright). I'll be remedying that very soon. I've always liked musicals, but most of the plays I've seen live have been regional or even high school productions. I saw a touring production of Wicked in Syracuse a few years ago, and later saw Wicked again at The Apollo Victoria Theatre in London's West End in 2010. I'd love to see Hamilton (especially if Leslie Odom, Jr. were still in it), but that ain't happening any time soon.

FIRST PLANE TRIP: 1966, I think? Summer trip to and from Missouri. Either '66 or '67...? No, definitely '66, because the trip home dovetails with my memory of...

FIRST SURGERY: Begone, damned tonsils! My doctor described my tonsils as "monsters," blamed them for my chronic sickliness in kindergarten, and ordered 'em plucked out in late '66. I recall reading a Lois Lane comic book in the hospital, and seeing an ad therein for a new movie I didn't realize was coming: Batman! Wait--Batman and Robin versus The Joker, and The Riddler, and The Penguin, and Catwoman...?! Man, as soon as I get outta this hospital bed, I wanna see that! I'm sorry to say that this was only the first of four hospital stays in my life so far, and the only one with a reward of Batman waiting for me afterward.

FIRST TRIP OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY: Oh, Canada! Syracuse is but a couple of hours' drive away from Ontario, heading north past Watertown and the Thousand Islands. But my first trip to Ontario took a longer route across the Peace Bridge in Buffalo in 1967. My sister Denise was in the marching band at Gillette Road Middle School--The Gillette Blue Blades!--and we made the trip to see them go paradin' in Canada. I don't remember what the name of the town was, but I remember that the Blue Blades played "The Batman Theme," and I ran along, my jacket billowing behind me in intrepid caped crusading fashion. I also remember being just terrified by the Peace Bridge, which seemed an almost vertical ascent to me at the time. Denise also prompted my first trans-Atlantic trip, when lovely wife Brenda and I flew to England to visit Denise and her family in 1992. We returned there in 2010 (with side trips to Belgium and--very briefly--France), and also visited Denise at her vacation place in Spain (with a side trip to Morocco) in 2012.

FIRST TACOS: Visiting family in California in the summer of 1968, we were served tacos for dinner one evening. Man, how do you eat this stuff? The shell cracks into a billion pieces as soon as you take your first bite, and the lettuce, tomatoes, and ground beef go everywhere. I didn't like tacos. I have since revised that opinion. I mean, I've revised that opinion a lot.

FIRST BARBECUE RIBS: Believe it or not, Kentucky Fried Chicken had ribs on its menu for a short time in the '70s. The ribs certainly weren't terribly impressive, but they were sufficient to develop my taste for barbecue. After that, my Mom would make ribs, and I'd concoct my own BBQ sauce, a mixture of A-1, ketchup, and just three drops of maple syrup. Authentic? Nope. Good? I thought so.

FIRST CORNED BEEF SANDWICH: My fascination with New York City--at least New York City as viewed through the prism of comic books and popular culture, reflecting a distinctly European Jewish identity--led me to want to experience everything that I associated with the city that never sleeps. This included corned beef sandwiches, which I loved at first bite around '73 or so. North Syracuse Super Subs made a huge, tasty corned beef on dark rye, and my mouth waters at its memory.

FIRST REUBEN: My Dad knew the folks who ran the diner within The Lakeview Bowling Center in Liverpool, so we would occasionally go there for dinner. Dinner in a bowling alley might not sound fancy to you, but I loved it. This was somewhere in the 1973-74 span, I think, maybe '75. It was there that I first spied Reubens on the menu: hot corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese on toasted rye. That sounded weird. I had to try it. Ooo--score one for weird!

FIRST HAMBURGERS: Before McDonald's! Before Burger King! Well, I probably had burgers at home, I'd guess, but there was also a terrific fast food restaurant called Carrolls, the passing of which I mourn to this day. There was also an A & W in Cicero, and a place called Henry's in Eastwood, plus the occasional burger at the Woolworth's or J.M. Fields lunch counter, and maybe at Howard Johnson's.

FIRST ROCK CONCERT: KISS with Uriah Heep, December 16th, 1976. I wrote all about it here.


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