Friday, February 27, 2004

Rock Shows of Note LXXXIII

Tuesday night, Deb and I met up at Northsix in Williamsburg for a show featuring the John Stamos Project, Emanuel (from Louisville, Kentucky), Dirtbike Annie, and the Mr. T Experience. Of the four, the John Stamos Project was surprising fun. A threepiece playing your standard Ramones-Screeching Weasel-Queers pop punk, the band played a fun and snotty batch of songs. The bassist wore his instrument about as low as it could go, and the bruiser of a singer sported mirrored shades like Ponch. A solid set, and they just released an EP on Knock Knock Records.

Next up came Emanuel, a foursome that ambled between screamo hardcore and melodic choruses. Occasionally throwing in nice breakdowns with stabbing guitars, the band wasn't really my cup of tea. That said, the lead singer and guitarist wore his guitar as high as JSP's bassist held his low. It takes all kind. Dirtbike Annie put on their usual high-energy crowd pleaser of a show, with Adam and Jeanie working their customary jumps and jostles. I was a little disappointed that Mike of the Ergs is no longer sitting in with them, but to everything there is a season. And as much as I geek to DBA's rock 'n' roll shenanigans -- they are a true crowd pleaser -- I was struck by the lack of variation in their performance. They are tight, well choreographed (without seeming sketchy) -- but there are very few highs and lows, breakdowns, and other attempts to throw surprise into the mix. Nevertheless, if you've never seen DBA before, you should. No reason to wear a long face.

Finally, Dr. Frank and the Mr. T Experience. Deb and I had a chance to say hi to Frank just as he was heading up to the stage, and it's refreshing to be a long-time fan of a musician who also blogs actively. Because we were concerned about the L train running where we needed to go after 12, we headed out a little early, but the handful of songs we caught -- including several off their new record and a fave of mine, "Swallow Everything," did please. I'll stick around for the whole show next time they swing through, and it was fun to perch by the bar near Jym -- and try to palm off a request for "Dictionary Girl" to Ted while he was making the set list. No go, but Ted said I had a 60/230 chance. Good to know.

It's also good to know about Corn Mo, his band .357 Lover, and the little scene they're part of. Occasionally touring with They Might Be Giants, Corn Mo breaks out the accordion when performing solo, but in the full band getup, he rocks the mic and bangs on the keyboard. Blending Tenacious D-like stage antics with appreciative classic rock and metal stylings, Corn Mo's songs are by turns personal and comedic. My favorite had to be "Hava Na Gila Monster," which he reportedly performed at a bar mitzvah. The crowd was one of the most engaged and attentive I've seen in a while, and showgoers appeared to be in other bands loosely in Corn Mo's orbit. Supposedly, the band is playing again Sunday with an all-woman Black Sabbath cover band.

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXXVII

Now, this is how movies ought to be made. Written by Ben Hecht. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. This atmospheric 1946 suspense has all the makings of a wonderful watch. And the cast and crew deliver. Grant's debonair secret agent enlists -- and woos -- Bergman's free-wheeling socialite to spy on Nazi agents in South America. With some wonderful aerial views of Rio de Janeiro and the 710-meter high Christ de Redemer statue that tops Corcovado Mountain, the movie is largely an old-house film focusing on the familial and political intrigues of the German plotters and the American songbird in their midst. The scenes in which Grant and Bergman share screen are downright sizzling in that great late '40s/early '50s way -- in which people fall in love at first sight and spend so much time talking about just that. And Edith Head's costume design drapes Bergman quite nicely. While suspenseful and intriguing, the film falls short of so many film noir attempts -- and doesn't totally scream Hitchcock. Regardless, Hecht's script is impressive, as is the movie's pacing.

Wednesday night, Deb and I headed to the Pioneer Theater at Third and A for the New York premiere of Frank Fusco and Jim Muscarella's documentary about the Long Island hardcore scene in the mid-'90s. Having first emailed the director and producer earlier this year after reading about the movie in Newsday, I was happy to be involved in their first New York screening. The movie is an interesting slice of life in a scene that most participants describe as not a scene. Nevertheless, Bellmore birthed a number of bands, including the Eggplant Queens, Not Saved, Zombula 451, Rat Bastard, Spacemaker, and Justified Violence -- and Jim Colletti, former drummer for Agnostic Front, plays a notable role as a scene linchpin and connection to the outside world. While the movie runs a little long -- 30 minutes could easily be edited out, and the documentary drags a little near the end -- the film's biggest weakness is its lack of focus. Is the contention that Bellmore is not a scene stroung enough a hook? Should the filmmakers have further explored the intrascene politics, the reasons so many people don't leave the city, the aspect of aging within the scene, and the "unscene"'s context in the broader hardcore world? Perhaps. Nevertheless, it's a valid project -- more little-known scenes should be as well documented -- and if you're at all interested in punk and hardcore sociology, Bellmore is a worthy watch. The March 16 screening at CB's will feature a performance by the Eggplant Queens, as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Take That, Big Apple V

I took another step toward settling in Brooklyn today, as a second wave of unfinished bookshelves were delivered by Gothic Cabinet Craft this morning. There's a showroom within easy walking distance of my new apartment, and I ordered several earlier this year. Now full, they needed friends, so I ordered four more. That's seven new bookshelves! As soon as I empty book boxes to fill these shelves, I should have enough floorspace to get a fold-out couch or futon. Wanting to support neighborhood businesses, I'll probably start at the futon showroom just to my north on the way to Gothic. It'll be good not to have to sit at the kitchen table.

Television-Impaired XVII

Warner Bros. shot an episode of Third Watch in Brooklyn today. They fliered the streets warning of tow trucks scheduled to arrive last night at 8, and this morning, I woke to light snow and an empty street in front of my Brooklyn abode. Several workers who'd just put out traffic cones sat on the hood of a car smoking, and around the corner, a long row of trailers lined up, lingering. I think that a couple of the trailers were bathrooms, but then there was one that seemed to be dedicated to the talent. Not that I would have recognized anyone from the show, but I was hoping to see someone involved in the production. I was left with masking tape labels marking the ready rooms for "Svensky" and "Stunts." I wonder whether they were dramatizing the block fire earlier this year -- and what the episode's air date is.

Happy Birthday to Media Dieticians XX

I turn 31 years old Thursday. Any and all Media Dieticians are welcome to join me at the Corn Mo show that night to ring in the new year. Or, if you're feeling generous, consider an item from my Amazon wish list!

Event-O-Dex XCIV

Tuesday, Feb. 24: Pecados, The John Stamos Project, Emanuel, Dirtbike Annie, and the Mr. T Experience kick up their heels at Northsix.

Thursday, Feb. 26: Corn Mo's band .357 Lover goes off half-cocked at the Parkside Lounge in New York.

The Best of the Web V

I'm a nominating judge for the Webbies again this year, in the Community category. We're starting to discuss candidates for the nominations, and I'd like to pick your brain. If you'd like to recommend any Web sites or services for our consideration, let us know, and we'll add them to the mix.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Newspaper Chase VI

Even if you don't regularly read the New York Post, if you're a Media Dietician worth your salt, you should at least pick up the Monday editions. Every Monday, the Post publishes "On the Newsstand: A Weekly Magazine Summary" in the business section. Weekly, writers take a look at pre-release editions of the major newsweeklies -- Newsweek, Time, and The New Yorker -- hitting the highlights of the most-recent issues. In addition, the writers pick a section of the newsstand to profile other magazines you might not be reading. Jan. 19, the subject was skiing. Feb. 2, music. Feb. 9, women. Considering rival titles in the same niche, the column addresses content as well as design -- and context. While the 0- to 4-star ratings are next to useless -- and a waste of a good four column inches -- the roundup is well worth reading. By turns summary and snarkiness, it's a lively eye on the newsstand. Kudos to the Post! Thanks for helping make Monday my fun day.

Pieces, Particles XV

The following stories spotted recently in print publications might be worth a look. Heads and decks, only. Heads and decks.

Adieu, Tiny Lawsuits by Cynthia Cotts, Village Voice, Feb. 4, 2004
Lingua Franca freelancers fight back

All My Things Considered by Gillian Kendall, The Sun, February 2004

At McSorley's, Dusty Bones Conjure Ghosts by Dan Barry, New York Times, Feb. 18, 2004

Aural History by Jennifer Baumgardner, Bitch, Winter 2004
With the women's liberation rock bands, second-wave feminists kicked out the jams long before Riot Grrrl.

Automaton City by Steve Ditlea, Daily News, Jan. 25, 2004
New York robots are showing off their skills everywhere from Brooklyn to Mars

Banking on Billyburg's Future by Tiffany Elliott, Greenpoint Star, Jan. 8, 2004

The Beat of Iraqi Insurgency by Borzou Daragahi, Newsday, Jan. 18, 2004
Banned jihad tunes become a hot item

Blah, Blah, Blog by Paul McFedries, IEEE Spectrum, December 2003
Technically speaking

Book Smart by Maureen Shelly, Time Out New York, Feb. 19, 2004
Get the latest literary buzz from these well-read bloggers

Consumed: The Treo 600 by Rob Walker, New York Times Magazine, Jan. 25, 2004
A status gadget implies almost limitless functionality and practicality. This is conspicuous utility.

Designing Men by Keith Mulvihill, Time Out New York, Jan. 22, 2004
Chermayeff & Geismar get a retrospective at Cooper Union

Divers of the Dead Pool by Paul Krassner, New York Press, Feb. 11, 2004
A fantasy league for the morbidly inclined.

Everyone's a Historian by Edward L. Ayers, Newsday, Jan. 25, 2004
Online, the past comes alive in documents that can challenge our very identity

The Evil Geniuses of Kiddie Schlock by Emily Nussbaum, New York Times, Feb. 15, 2004
Recalling the Saturday morning psychedelia of Sid and Marty Krofft

Funny Business by Jon Hanc, Newsday, Jan. 28, 2004
Since capturing the public's fancy in 1934, comic books have been a wellspring of creativity. But with a shrinking audience, where do they go from here?

Gimmick Rock by Mary Huhn, New York Post, Jan. 25, 2004
Meet the most bizarre cover bands in town

Great Brawl of China by Ian Mount, Time Out New York, Feb. 5, 2004

The Green Lama by Kendra Crossen Burroughs and Karen Ready, Tricycle, Spring 2004
"I think I'll go home and meditate... on murder!"

The Help Desk, New York, Feb. 16, 2004
A Friend's Blog... Old, Unpaid Bills... Ex's Leftover Art

Hike on Newtown Creek? It Isn't Quite That Awful by Jim O'Grady, New York Times, Feb. 15, 2004

The Internet School Scam by Todd Oppenheimer, The Nation, Feb. 16, 2004
A questionable plan to wire poor schools has turned into a business boondoggle.

Introducing a Cartoonist Named Crumb by Tessa DeCarlo, New York Times, Feb. 15, 2004

"It's Not News" by Rich Cohen, Harper's, February 2004
What today's high school journalist is taught

Kid Nabbing by Melanie Wells, Forbes, Feb. 2, 2004
Procter & Gamble has assembled a stealth sales force of teenagers -- 280,000 strong -- to push products on friends and family. A brilliant move -- or marketing gone amok?

Labor of Lust by Sara Stewart, New York Post, Jan. 18, 2004
Meet the girls behind "Sweet Action" -- an updated indie version of "Playgirl"

Lingua Bancarupta by Cynthia Cotts, Village Voice, Jan. 14, 2004
Magazine returns from the grave, suing

Lip-Synching Gets Real by Chris Nelson, New York Times, Feb. 1, 2004
The new technology and the etiquette of faking it

Listening Lab by Lisa Sweetingham, Time Out New York, Feb. 5, 2004
Give your favorite yarn-spinner a place in history

Little Murders by Jesse Sunenblick, Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2004
Thirty years ago, editorial illustration in our mainstream media was provocative and smart, driving the words as often as following them. Today much of it is literal and safe, more decorative than idea-driven. How did this happen in an age where image is everything?

Low Life by L.B. Deyo, Time Out New York, Jan. 8, 2004
A subterranean warren in midtown allows winter-weary urban spelunkers to shop, explore, even admire art, in a balmy springtime climate

Mad Artist Woodbridge Dies, Comics Buyer's Guide, Feb. 13, 2004
Also specialized as military-history illustrator

MediaTalk by David Carr, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2004
New Yorker writer accumulates points in corporate circles

Missionary Positioning by Ed Halter, Village Voice, Jan. 21, 2004
Indie Mormon cinema attempts a mainstream conversion

A Moody, Craggy Majesty, Like That of Lost Ruins by Christopher Gray, New York Times, Jan. 18, 2004
The 1909 structure offers a grand aesthetic experience.

My Big Fat Obnoxious Prank by Joy Press, Village Voice, Feb. 18, 2004
The lawless and ever-expanding world of hidden-camera TV

Native Son by Michael J. Agovino, Time Out New York, Jan. 22, 2004
Tour guide Maurice Valentine alters the public's perception of the Bronx, one van ride at a time

Newsmen and Con Men by Nicholas Stein, Fortune, Feb. 23, 2004
That trustworthy Canadian accent work very well with American TV audiences. But trustworthiness has an evil twin...

The Ombudsman's Ombudsman by Andrew Chaikivsky, Esquire, March 2004
How good is your ombudsman, really?

Once Underground, Ant Farm Burrows Out by Michael Rush, New York Times, Jan. 25, 2004
A collective's activist, in-your-face style set the course not for art, but for TV news.

One "Swede" Park Put More Green in the Point by Tiffany Elliott, Greenpoint Star, Feb. 12, 2004

Orchestrating War by Carter Burwell, Harper's, February 2004

Queer Eye for the 50s Guy by Michael Bronski, Utne, January-February 2004
The popular fiction of postwar America was -- are you ready for this? -- gay-friendly

Reading the Consumer Mind by Douglas Rushkoff, New York Press, Feb. 18, 2004
The age of neuromarketing has dawned.

The Real Deal on Popeye and His "Goil"?, Newsday, Jan. 18, 2004

Self-Publish and Be Damned? Not Always by Andy Kessler, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 20, 2004

Should Comics End When Creators Die? by Dave Astor, Editor & Publisher, January 2004
Cartoonists debate whether or not strips should be passed down to successor artists, and also comment about "Peanuts" reruns

Some Landmarks Are Just Meant to Be a Problem by Tara Bahrampour, New York Times, Feb. 1, 2004
Neighborhood report: Fulton Ferry

Soulless, Maybe, but Dig the Heavy Metal by Noah Shachtman, New York Times, Feb. 19, 2004

Special Ops by Joshua M. Bernstein, Time Out New York, Feb. 12, 2004
Frugal artists flock to OfficeOps' affordable studios

Strange Find in Iraq by Denis Hamill, Daily News, Jan. 25, 2004
No, not weapons of mass destruction -- but a famous movie location

The Streets Where History Lives by Russell Shorto, New York Times, Feb. 9, 2004
A path would link a Sept. 11 memorial to a nation's past.

Take Neutral Approach to Greenfield's Gravity Hill by Nathan Cobb, Boston Globe, Jan. 31, 2004
Skeptics face an uphill battle at a legendary location in Greenfield

Take the Long Way by Joshua M. Bernstein, New York Press, Feb. 11, 2004
San Keller likes to walk. And walk. And walk...

Theme Park of the Gods? by Eric A. Powell, Archaeology, January/February 2004
Alien astronauts have a new home in the heart of the Swiss Alps.

This Is My Story by Chrissy Persico, Daily News, Feb. 22, 2004
An oral history project in Grand Central Terminal chronicles the lives of ordinary New Yorkers

Toil, Tears and Sweat in Brooklyn by Julie Salamon, New York Times, Feb. 6, 2004
The way people used to work

Trademark Kings by Sara Bonisteel, New York Resident, Jan. 12, 2004
Graphic design firm Chermayeff & Geismar has iconic retrospective at the Cooper Union

Triumph of the Shill by Jennifer L. Pozner, Bitch, Winter 2004
Part One: Advertisers rejoice as Hollywood satirizes product placement.

The Tyranny of Copyright? by Robert S. Boynton, New York Times Magazine, Jan. 25, 2004
A number of influential lawyers, scholars and activists are increasingly concerned that copyright law is curbing our freedoms and making it harder to create anything new. This could be the first new social movement of the century.

United, They Syndicate by Dave Astor, Editor & Publisher, February 2004
A day in the life of a company that traces its roots back to 1902 -- and tries to offer features relevant to 2004

UPP with People by Billie Cohen, Time Out New York, Jan. 29, 2004
The Urban Pioneer Project wants you -- and your living room

Venting, Down East, February 2004
One phone in Lewiston has been ringing off the hook lately.

The Very, Very Personal Is the Political by Jon Gertner, New York Times Magazine, Feb. 15, 2004
Political parties are using enormous databases to learn everything about you so they can tailor their pitches for candidates just for you. Are campaigning and voting becoming just marketing and consumption?

Vintage Radio, Down to Farm Reports and School Menus, Is Signing Off by G. Patrick Pawling, New York Times, Feb. 1, 2004

The Virus Underground by Clive Thompson, New York Times Magazine, Feb. 8, 2004
Philet0ast3r, Second Part to Hell, Vorgon and guys like them around the world spend their Saturday nights writing fiendishly contagious computer viruses and worms. Are they artists, pranksters or techno-saboteurs?

Web Innovator Eyes Print Ads by Barbara Bedway, Editor & Publisher, February 2004
He's about a Mover

A Well-Imagined Star by Neil Strauss, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2004
Unearthing a trove of albums that never existed

The World at Ears' Length by Warren St. John, New York Times, Feb. 15, 2004
IPod's wall of sound puts the city on mute.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Workaday World XLV

Dave Strand has created a wonderful Web tour of the now-empty and -vacant former Fast Company offices on North Washington Street in Boston. Weird how much of a shell the place now seems. We had a good seven-year run on the edge of the North End, though.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Rest in Peace V

Just days before tonight's homage to Sarah Jacobson at the Two Boots Pioneer Theater, the indie filmmaker died Friday in New York. Fans of the director of Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Any More are already gathering online to express their sadness, condolences, and memories -- and the screening tonight is sure to inspire some strong emptions. Rest in peace, Sarah.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Magazine Me XLVIII

With the December issue, it appears that long-time Bay Area pop punker Chris Imlay (the Ne'er Do Wells, Thee Shatners, the Hi-Fives) is no longer art director of MacAddict magazine. Some loyalty to the monthly lost; anyone know where Chris landed?

At least NU grad Narasu Rebbapragada remains as senior editor. I'll keep reading awhile longer.

[transmitted via sidekick hiptop]

Friday, February 13, 2004

From the Reading Pile XXV

I am now a contributor to Zine World. Here are the reviews I've submitted for the forthcoming supplement to the reader's guide to the underground press.

A Gadfly's Journal Vol. 4 (August 2003). Suggesting that humanity needs to "consolidate our entire planet into one nation" with a common language, government, and philosophy of life, Victor contends that religion is the problem -- and rationalism is our only hope. That's a nice platform for further discourse, solution development, and dastardly rants, but what readers get is a rehash of the editor's mission, anti-war commentary, and an allusion to mad cow disease. This ostensibly world peace-promoting publication needs to be bolder, dig deeper, and go further. C. Victor Gabriel, P.O. Box 33943, Tonopah, NV 89049. [$7.50/year 8M :04]

Bob #1. Bob's first zine, while the range of subjects bodes well, has room for improvement. Addressing the future of the "American Creatively Disabled," it includes a review of David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise, an analysis of cola advertising and immoral marketing, and a piece on spoof eBay auctions. Bob strikes me as a disenfranchised, media-savvy post-dotcommer, but his class analysis is shallow, his media critique trite -- and the zine bar high given the topics. With the tagline "from the heart of the middle class, I stab at thee," Bob has a dull edge that could easily be sharpened. Bob Sheairs, Outhouse Publishing, 30 Locust Ave., Westmont, NJ 08108. [$1.50 12S :05]

Brooklyn! #42. Easily the best zine assigned to me, this is a zine to learn from. Blending the personal, the local, and the original, Argoff, who works for the Transit Authority, highlights little-known history, geography, and other aspects of the borough. Brooklyn! is a must read if you're a local or former resident. This edition features material about the August blackout, the Mount Prospect Reservoir, overlapping street grids, Brooklyn's lexicon, local customs, and old Ebbets Field. Absolutely brilliant. More local lore zines would be welcome. Fred Argoff, 1800 Ocean Parkway #B-12, Brooklyn, NY 11223. [$10/four issues 24S :16]

Flashpoint #4. Featuring the writing of four people from the U.S. and England, Flashpoint explores ethics and morality. Misrepresenting anarchism yet citing Peter Kropotkin, the round-robin philosophy APA touches on altruism, communism, pacifism, and mental illness. Inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, Flashpoint appears to be Scientology-friendly and determines the "natural" to be the "ethical." Similar to a transcription of a late-night, soul-searching conversation among friends, Fragment is a labor of love that doesn't quite further the analysis of ethics. Attention to layout and design would help. Shannon Colebank, Whizzbanger Productions, P.O. Box 5591, Portland, OR 97228. [$10 US, Canada, and Mexico, $12 world, no trades, prisoners pay in stamps 56M :12]

Free Summer Franks II. Beyond Kelly's "Pack a Man" comic strips in Pussy, he self-publishes this black-and-white comic book. While his video game strips are fun one-offs, this is a better introduction to his work and interests. With a friendly, tongue-in-cheek goofiness, Kelly sheds light on his relationship with his autistic daughter, explores his allergy-inspired diet, and offers several short pieces. Zook and Max discuss their beverages of choice. Gore and Violence go clubbing and meet some young goth girls. And Elizabeth, Diversity, and Schizandra poke fun at Pokemon. Simply drawn, the comic blends family life, goth culture, and plenty of puns. Timothy Charles Kelly, 946 N. Indiana Ave., Lindenhurst, NY 11757. [$2 32S :07]

Local Comics #36 (June 2003). Like Yul Tolbert's self-publishing, it's been awhile since Michael's work hit my radar. It's comforting that neither has fallen too far from their tree -- and Michael has improved on the simple, silly comics I remember. Extremely basic in design, Michael's one-panel gags touch on scatology, poetry, science fiction, computers -- and puns, visual and otherwise. Oddly, both Michael and Tolbert address sexual themes more (a transition Sean Bieri also made at one point). I'm left with a pleasant, cheesy bemusement because of the "cap-size" and Klingon puns. Michael Goetz, 1340 Brandywine Dr., Rockford, IL 61108. [$1 16XS :01]

The Lost Realm Book. I've been reading Yul Tolbert's highly stylized science-inspired comics since the mid-'90s. This collection of "promos and extras from the LPD universe" serves as a welcome but dissatisfying refresher on his comics work. Featuring "that girl with big toenails," the mini is an ashcan of sorts for LPD, Tolbert's fetish fanzine. But a fetish for what? Feet? Esperanto? Science? There's little of either in this, and it seems best suited for Tolbert completists, who probably already have LPD #1. Yul Tolbert, P.O. Box 02222, Detroit, MI 48202. [25 cents US, Canadian, Mexican, and elsewhere, or trade, free to prisoners 8XS :01]

Pussy #12. Whereas Brooklyn! focuses on the where and when, Pussy concentrates on the how and now. A special issue on old-school video games, this edition was published just after the publisher was fired from their cafe job and launched a DIY cupcake delivery service. Shades of the old Mommy and I Are One by way of Saint Reverend Jen, the zine features a quickie questionnaire with Nick Zedd, a brief guide to Ms. Pacman games in New York, Tim Kelly's spiral-bound "Pack a Man" comic strips, a cut-and-paste kissing how to, a video game parallel to online dating, and some hip-hop history. Provocative and productive! Pelin Morawski, 287 Bedford Ave. #12, Brooklyn, NY 11211. [$4, $20/four issues 100M :21]

Weirdness Magnet #1 (July 2003). After more than 30 issues of his role-playing game zine Scrollworks, which covers the d20 system, Christian publishes a personal zine. While he leads a worthwhile life, the snippets about his dog, Nascar, teaching first grade, buying a house, stamp collecting, Lance Armstrong, and owning a gun don't add up as that interesting. Still, it's a worthy "reach out to the zine community," and Christian gets points for highlighting a teenager's distro. Scrollworks is probably more fleshed out than this new project. Christian Walker, P.O. Box 983, San Jacinto, CA 92581. [$2 US 16S :02]

Wrestling Then & Now #152 (August/September 2003). A wonderful, old-school fanzine! Evan Ginzburg edits this newsletter, which celebrates classic pro-am wrestling and its modern-day counterparts. Organized around the theme of heel managers, this issue continues an interview with promoter Kid USA, who expounds on the virtue of '80s-style wrestling and clear-cut characters; appreciates dead managers such as Wild Red Berry; interviews Dangerous Johnny Diamond, reviews relevant fanzines, interviews Johnny Valiant, and transcribes a lengthy radio interview with Dutch Savage. Despite Kid USA's pooh-poohing of backyard wrestling, a clear hybrid of modern and classic wrestling, this is an in-depth, expert read for the true wrestling fan. Wrestling Then & Now, P.O. Box 640471, Oakland Gardens Station, Flushing, NY 11364. [$5 28M :18]

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Cover Story VI

The Spider-Man Cover Archive offers scans of more than 4,000 covers of core Spider-Man titles and other books in which he appeared. The proprietor also offers several hundred Dutch variants, as well as giveaways and other American variants.

Rest in Peace IV

Two notable comic book creators and cartoonists died last weekend. Julius Schwartz a DC editor who helped revive the superhero genre, died Sunday in Mineola, New York. And British cartoonist Norman Thelwell died Saturday. He contributed to Punch and published more than 30 books. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Nervy, Pervy XXIII

Oh, those crazy college kids. Harvard College's Committee on College Life recently approved a student-run porn magazine called H Bomb. The periodical will feature photographs of nude students -- the student body, as it were. However, those photos cannot be taken in Harvard-owned buildings.

Now, that name. A friend tells me that "H Bomb" is the phrase male Harvard students use to describe bandying about their collegiate credentials in order to get ahead with possible sex partners. "Dude, I went to Smith this weekend. I dropped the H Bomb, and I totally scored." If that's the case, the name is funny and offensive all at the same time. I mean, come on, have you seen any Harvard students lately? Keep their clothes on, they should.

Event-O-Dex XCIII

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Cover Story V

What is up with The Nation's covers these days? Ever since Open stopped designing them last September, they've swung toward the inscrutable and sloppy. Take the Feb. 16 edition as an example. Featuring a large, almost centered cover line for the Katha Pollitt-penned "Judith Steinberg Dean Meets the Press," readers are given a poorly cut-and-pasted amalgamation of the campaigning couple and a menagerie of animals. Ostensibly representing the press, a lizard, toucan, pig, rhino, sheep, and the requisite snarling dogs bleed off the bottom and right edges of the cover. While the animal image edges are softened, Judith and Howard fare less well and are left without necks and badly cut-out hair.

Shame on you, Nation. Not only should Pollitt's page and a half-long column (a rarity, granted) column not eclipse Lutz Kleveman's longer feature on the great game of oil, but the design is a hatchet job. Perhaps the piece came in late and the cover was slapped together to be timely. I hope that's the case. Regardless, while it may be true that many somebodies read the Nation while no one owns it, some of those somebodies are designers, as well as dissenters. And around the nation, those dissenting designers wince. The Nation can do better.

Mapblogging IV

Part of the idea behind Tyler Cassity's Hollywood Forever Cemetery is to outfit graveyards with local area networks that would enable visitors to prowl the grounds equipped with a handheld that brings up still and video images of the deceased. The cemetery's funeral chapel is set up to host Webcasts of services, and the interactive Library of Lives can help surviving family members create LifeStories that bridge video tributes and photo albums. Reminds me of something out of Claudia O'Keefe's Black Snow Days, but why relegate this to the dead -- why not mapblog and document the living?

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Movie I Watched Last Night LXXXVI

Rock Star
"The story of a wannabe who got to be," this 2001 movie starring Mark Wahlberg is an interesting metamedia commentary on a couple of levels. One, the basic plotline about the singer of a tribute band who gets hired as the lead singer of the band they paid tribute to is a wonderfully fun rags-to-rich-rags story. A clear parallel to Tim Owens' replacement of Judas Priest's Rob Halford, Rock Star touches on that event in two ways. One, Owens fronted a Judas Priest tribute band called British Steel. And one of the reasons for Bobby Beers' ousting from Steel Dragon -- Rock Star's Spinal Tap-like band -- was his homosexuality. While Halford eventually returned to the fold, the fictional Beers went on to lead a step-dancing troupe. Finally, the movie's addressing of authenticity and legitimate inspiration and aspiration begs some analysis. From Wahlberg's character's brother challenging him to have dreams of his own to his offhand remark that he hadn't really done anything acting in a college play -- "I was just reading someone else's lines" -- raises questions about homages, cover songs, and tribute bands writ large, much less any kind of artistic relativity. Shades of Gary Cherone sitting in with the Van Halen tribute band Diver Down, stuff like this is uplifting -- and downright depressing. An interesting -- and final -- sidenote is the movie's ending, in which Wahlberg's character leaves the glam metal of his youth behind for a scaled-down singer-songwriter stint at a coffeehouse in Seattle. Is that John Stockwell and Stephen Herek's nod to the Seattle grunge scene as the progeny of hair metal? Huh. Could be.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
I haven't read a lot of Mishima's work, but this 1985 movie that combines traditional biopic coverage of his political history and misguided end -- and theatrical adaptations of his work -- is a good introduction to the author, the nationalist, and the zealot. Filmed in color and black and white -- and with an original Japanese script -- the movie draws on his writing in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoko's House, and Runaway Horses. The Temple segment makes me want to read the book. But the final sequence, which details his public suicide on Nov. 25, 1970, is perhaps the most insightful. The cap on a long writing career and search for self -- and the emperor -- his final day makes it clear why characters such as Battle Royale's Beat Takeshi's Kitano are relatively widespread. Literate, highly visual, and tender yet testing, if you have any interest in Japanese literature or culture, this is a film to see.

Event-O-Dex XCII

Thursday, Feb. 5: The Operators thaw out with Second Story Man, Tincantelephone, and Cynthia Nelson at Siberia in New York City.

Monday, February 02, 2004

The Free-Range Comic Book Project XXXVI

This is an installment of Media Diet's Free-Range Comic Book Project:

The Adventures of Superman #499 (DC, February 1993). Writer: Jerry Ordway. Artist: Tom Grummett. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

Generation X #65 (Marvel, July 2000). Writers: Warren Ellis and Brian Wood. Artist: Steve Pugh. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

Mostly Wanted #2 (DC/Wildstorm, August 2000). Writer: Scott Lobdell. Artist: Roberto Flores. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

Showcase '93 #6 (DC, June 1993). Writers: Doug Moench, Gary Lohn, Dan Mishkin, and Mike Baron. Artists: Kieron Dwyer, Pete Moriarty, and Gary Barker. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

The Spectacular Spider-Man #244 (Marvel, March 1997). Writer: J.M. DeMatteis. Artist: Luke Ross. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

Stormwatch #14 (Image, September 1994). Writer: Ron Marz. Artists: Mat Broome and Joe Phillips. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

Trinity Tour #1 (Cartoon Books, Green Man Press, and Olio Books, 1997). Writers and Artists: Jeff Smith, Linda Medley, and Charles Vess. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

WildCATS: Covert Action Teams #3 (Image/Malibu, December 1992). Writers: Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Artist: Jim Lee. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

Wolverine #43 (Marvel, early August 1991). Writer: Larry Hama. Artist: Marc Silvestri. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

X-Force #23 (Marvel, June 1993). Writer: Fabian Nicieza. Artist: Greg Capullo. Location: On a table near registration for the Big Apple Comicon.

For more information on this project, please refer to this Media Diet entry.

Music to My Eyes XXIII

BizarreRecords is an online archive of "strange and unusual vinyl records." Subdivided into categories such as Product Placement, Armageddon, Child Prodigies, and Big Hair for Jesus, it's a fascinating collection of vintage album art. That said, the one cover at a time display mechanism is slightly irksome and hampers exploration. Many of the records also feature MP3's taken from the album, which adds a nice touch to the project.