Archive for October, 2013

Rose Tint My World Already

Posted: October 31, 2013 by The Social Retard in Movies, Music
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pation. Yeah. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sometimes, you have to experience things at a certain time in your life. You’re not always ready or receptive to what something can offer. No, I’m not coming out. It was the same way with the Pixies. It took me years to like them (as silly as that seems now). I was, like most heteros, resistant to the idea of this movie because most boys tend to grow up homophobic or just act like anything that can be construed as “gay” is abhorrent in order to fit in.

My first job was at Home Run Inn Pizza. Sadly, it goes down in my personal annals (that sounds weird) as only my second worst job (lookin’ at you, Fucktarded Party Boy Outlet). I was a food runner before graduating to bus boy or, more accurately, bitch. I met a young lady who was also a food runner and she was obsessed with the movie. She went to the midnight show of it almost every weekend, often in costume. I didn’t get it. What is with this movie that inspires such weird loyalty?

It wasn’t until Halloween the following year, when Comedy Central was airing it at some absurd hour of night, that I finally gave it a chance. I tuned in at the end with “the floor show”. I had no idea what in the hell I was seeing. Did it challenge my then-narrow views of male and female archetypes? To say the least. It was a bit confusing and uncomfortable but there was something else bubbling up beneath everything else. It was fun. I was grateful, for the first time, that CC had a penchant for airing the same program back-to-back on occasion because I knew that this was something I needed to see from the beginning.

Tim Curry’s performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter was spellbinding. He had such a commanding presence. He was a grease-painted charismatic genius with a great voice. He was a singing, cross-dressing Willy Wonka. Not since Gene Wilder had I seen a performance quite like this. Amidst the nonsense of the content, Curry and Wilder are so completely immersed in their characters that nothing appears out of the ordinary. They make you buy into their whimsical worlds. Granted, it is easier to believe in a man with a large confectionery plant run by orange dwarves than omni-sexual aliens creating buff dudes while manipulating space and time.

Apart from that were the songs. Of course, the songs. From the initial ivory tickling of “Science Fiction Double Feature” to its ending reprise, the film is bursting with a strange array of rock tunes. Richard O’Brien, who plays Riff Raff and wrote the original play, sings in a nasally whisper about an assortment of B-movie themes, actors, and titles. It sets the tone for what you’re in for: the ultimate B-movie. There’s science fiction (of the double feature variety), horror (not like Rocky), gender dysphoria, and singing!

If you haven’t seen it, you either live under a rock or are very narrow-minded. Even if you are a conservative coward, the songs could still be something for you. You’ve got 50’s style rock “Hot Patootie”, awkward love songs “Dammit Janet”, and Stooges-like punk rock with “Sweet Transvestite”. Well, maybe that last one isn’t for you. “The Time Warp” is so widely accepted now that it’s played at freaking weddings, and it’s soaked in sexual innuendo. Pelvic thrust, anyone?

I have owned the movie and the soundtrack on five different formats. After watching the movie the first time, I knew that I wanted these songs. It took forever to find a store that had the CD of the soundtrack but I eventually found it at the Sam Goody at Yorktown mall. It was expensive too, $16 or $17. And this was in 1997! And the record business wonders why people started illegally downloading. Next, I needed the movie. I found that cheaper…on VHS. It’s hard to believe but, at one time, my movie collection consisted of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Jurassic Park, and Rocky Horror. Pretty stellar, huh? That was it, all on VHS. The advent of DVD happened right when I was first employed and so my frivolity began.

Naturally, I had to own Rocky Horror on DVD and did. Despite my assertion that the soundtrack was flawed due to its omissions of “Sword of Damocles” and “Planet Schmanet, Janet”, I still bought the vinyl from Music Masters in downtown Downers Grove. This place has some interesting import options in such a small store. I managed to grab RHPS, INXS’ Listen Like Thieves, and a 45 of Michael Jackson’s “Rockin’ Robin” for cheap. Quite a strange haul, but a good one. When the 35th Anniversary blu-ray came out, that was an absolute must-have. It is inconveniently too tall for any of my blu-ray towers but it is forgiven due to its everlasting fantasticality (fantasticness?). Is this too much to spend on some old ass movie? Maybe to you, but aren’t you willing to spend for something you love?

You know what? Fuck it. Why am I defending this movie? People across the globe are still watching it weekly after 38 years. That is the very definition of lasting appeal. [Strange aside: I don’t like the crowd participation experience. I don’t enjoy people standing up and shouting in the middle of a theater, during a movie I actually love watching. I prefer to watch it at home and sing along. Is that wrong?] Nobody’s going to be watching fucking Avatar that far down the line. Calling it a cult classic doesn’t even do it justice. Maybe at one time that was accurate but as the world’s opinions have diversified, Rocky Horror has become more and more mainstream. Too much so, perhaps. While I think Glee is a horrid television program, I applaud them for having an entire Rocky Horror episode. That’s millions of people who are likely being introduced to the flick for the first time. Give yourself over…One of us! One of us! Whew…let’s never talk about Tod Browning movies. Even I have my limits.

Transformer: In Honor of Uncle Lou Reed

Posted: October 27, 2013 by generationgbooks in Music
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Lou+Reed+-+Transformer+-+Multicoloured+Vinyl+-+LP+RECORD-377781I had no intention of posting anything for a couple more days, as I know Dave has blogs ready to post, but today’s passing of Mr. Lou Reed changed my intentions. There is no way I could NOT post, given that he was truly one of my heroes. To say my heart is broken at the absence left by him, is in no way sufficient.  And what’s with the “Uncle”? I always thought of Lou as the type of man that I would have wanted as an uncle. Probably not the greatest role model, but he lived life and created his art, on his own terms. I cried hearing about his passing, as if I would have a member of my own family.  His music throughout the years has been an inspiration and a beacon to me in many dark times.  That’s why I am writing this post, in honor of this great artist, with whom we were incredibly lucky to have witnessed and enjoyed his words, for many years.

I didn’t become intimately acquainted with Lou until 1999. I was working at Crown Books and my friend and eventual paramour thrice-times-over J.L. brought in The Velvet Underground & Nico. It’s a classic born out of my second favorite decades (1967), and yet I had NEVER heard this treasure. I wasn’t sure why he brought that in that evening, but it didn’t get put on the radio til after Stacey “Boom Boom McKinney” had went home. I absorbed it enough that I realized I really had been missing out on this treasure, so I went out the next check and got it. Something about the tones of straight up debauchery, Lou Reed style, really touched me, or rather, at that point, inspired me to greater and more ridiculous levels of intolerance. That CD did not leave my CD player for another 2 years. The best, as usually the case, was yet to come.

I’m not taking anything away from the brilliance that was The Velvet Underground. However, to be completely honest, I think Nico annoyed me to no end. Not quite sure why, talented she may have been, but there was something of a flake persona about her that made me want to White Her Out of the album cover. I did not, but I chose to believe that Uncle Lou and Great-Uncle John Cale were the mad commanders of this whaling ship of sonic nirvana. Nico wasn’t Marianne Faithfull; she was more of an Anita Pallenberg. If you have no idea what I speak of, watch Mick Jagger in the movie Performance and then we’ll talk. Sorry, as usual, got sidetracked. As I was saying, I loved the piss and chips out of that album, but a greater discovery was coming my way, courtesy of my friend.

We were having a discussion about Lou Reed and he threw in that he couldn’t find a copy anywhere of Transformer. I immediately set about finding a copy for him. I did find it, and was able to give him a copy of it on CD for his birthday months later. I went over to hang out with mutual friends, and we were not only stupid drunk, but he was stoned as well,  That was my first listening of Transformer. All I remember was many cigarettes were smoked, i may very well have consumed a whole bottle of Southern Comfort, and many Hot Pockets were consumed in the 1am hour. I do also remember thinking, “Why did I get this motherfucker that CD? I need a copy”. I set out to find a copy. I did eventually find a copy at Beautiful Day in LaGrange, but my greater find was at the Chicagoland Record Show in Hillside, where i found a pristine copy of it on VINYL. Yes, vinyl. I have no idea how rare that is to find, or if it is that rare, but I still have that fucker in plastic. I have never taken it out and played it. I have the CD, which anyone can testify to, is in precarious shape. It is one of my prized possessions.

What did Lou Reed mean to me? Lou Reed meant so many things that I cannot completely scratch the surface with a blog post. There were many evenings of profound despair, depression, and outright ridiculous amounts of alcohol consumption. There remains something about Transformer, even to this day, that inspires me to be just a little bit happier, despite the fact that my life isn’t where I pictured at age 40. It’s not, to my limited knowledge, meant to be a quicker picker upper sort of album. There’s something so effortless, simplistic, and altruistically beautiful about the songs on the album. I know that “Walk On The Wild Side” is the be all and end all song for most Lou Reed fans, but it’s not my favorite by any means. My favorites are “Perfect Day”, “Goodnight Ladies”, “Hangin’ Round”, and “Satellite of Love.” In particular, “Satellite of Love”I even forgave U2 for covering that one, because I think it’s actually a solid version of it. I fucking love that song to death.  The album, top to bottom, was played on a many a dark, bleak evening. And despite whatever sent me down that hill, it never once failed to make me smile. Lou Reed continued to make himself appear in my hemisphere, at odd moments. There was U2 covering “Satellite”which my idiot ex Biceps thought was “an original U2 song”. Please, bitch. In 1995, Duran Duran released their ill-advised and critical turd covers album Thank You. They covered “Perfect Day”I loved it, but more importantly, Uncle Lou loved it. Duran had tried, previously, to cover “Femme Fatale” by the Underground, on their Wedding Album release. Lou did NOT like that version; they’re lucky, they got a chance to right that wrong. The Cowboy Junkies did a great job with “Sweet Jane”. R.E.M., one of my favorite bands, did a great job with “Pale Blue Eyes”However, none of those artists had IT. Lou had IT. And now we have to go on without IT. 

Here’s Looking At You, Kid: Bogie, Bacall, and Books

Posted: October 23, 2013 by generationgbooks in Books
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I’ve decided to declare a postmortem on my vinyl blogs, at least for the next couple of posts. I don’t feel like I have much to contribute that isn’t tied into relationships of foregone pasts, and there’s no reason for me to revisit those cellar junkies. So I’m going to do my next few posts on different things. Besides, says my inner optimist, maybe changing things up will attract some new readers to the blog. And variety is the spice of life, if not, the undefinable ingredient we need to mix it up, toss it around, and get some things percolating. What am I talking about? Honestly, I have no damn clue.

I am talking about the fact that much of my cinematic appreciation lies at the doorstep of my parents and what they put me through growing up. My mom loved to watch foreign films, horror movies, romantic comedies (the hip set call them “rom coms”, which sounds like robots on porn cam), and anything that Svengoolie enthusiastically recommended. I think my first regular cinema experience was in the living room of the condo that George and I got my parents thrown out of with our abhorrent behavior. Saturday nights she would flip between Svengoolie and Saturday Night Live. My father would find an excuse to go smoke cigars in the kitchen and fix smoke alarms that he seemed to fix every Saturday night when we went through our weekly ritual. My father’s favorite movies are old school and comedies. His favorite movies and actors are Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Charles Bronson, war movies of any type, Mad Max movies, anything Leslie Nielsen was in, and horror of all horrors, his all time favorite, The Christmas Story. I swear, if I have to see that stupid kid and that stupid leg lamp one more time, I may have to take the leg lamp I got my dad two years ago and hit my bitch neighbor with it. (You wouldn’t have to pay me.). My parents, immediately after marrying at the courthouse, went and saw a matinee show of the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever. Since my mother was 4 months prego with me at the time, it gives me a perfect excuse to blame both of them for my lifetime love of the Bond movies. My mom and I did not always share the same film tastes; making me watch The Blob at an earlier age not only gave me nightmares, but it made me weary of future coworkers. Making me watch Dirty Dancing 100 times in a year, not to mention Cocktail, her all-time favorite Tom Cruise movie (really), did not endear her movie tastes into my arsenal. In fact, it made me rebel against them. I do enjoy horror flicks, I just don’t meet many people who do, besides my other best friend Jennie. My father’s taste in movies, as stated, was old school classic cinema or modern day comedies, or vigilante justice. Quite a mixed bag between the two. The one thing I got from both of them that I am eternally grateful for? A love of Mr. Humphrey Bogart.

I own every single Bogart movie on DVD. I still have some, on VHS, in my closet. Bogart’s classy, cool, nonstop cigarette smoking joie de vivre, instantly captivated me. Some dude came in a couple of weeks back and bought a salebook copy of The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. The customer went on to talk about how most “young kids these days would have no idea that the movie was a book first.” I should have spoken up at that point in agreement, but we were close to closing time, and neither myself nor my coworker felt like being there later than necessary. That’s likely what planted the seeds for this blog. I saw all of the Bogart movies on his own first, then started into the Bogie/Bacall movies. Since I’m a sucker for old school romance (laugh. snicker. suck it.), I really do love those movies the best. You can’t fake real chemistry, kids, it just oozes from both of them through the movies they made together. We all know how that fairytale ended. It wasn’t the end of my fascination, though. I did end up reading all of the Dashiell Hammett books, and the movies were almost perfect in every way. I also decided to read the best Bogart and Bacall biographies I could find.

The above image for the book Bogart by A.M. Sperber, is my all time favorite biography of Humphrey Bogart. I have read quite a few. This one is not only the most comprehensive in terms of detail, but also in terms of critical analysis of his movies, his marriages, his rough childhood, and ultimately, his end. I hunted high and low for it, and finally obtained a first edition hardcover through Edward R. Hamilton, Bookseller. He does out-of-print titles through mail order. And yes, this one was a bitch to find in the normal channels, so i went through a mail order catalog and got it for $7.98. It was in perfect condition. It is still, miraculously, in perfect condition. And if you want a thorough biography of Bogart, this is the one. mfyO8MJFe0EO4yg2ZgI7Zdw

I went through a Lauren Bacall phase, as well, and I got lucky one night while staying by my friend Misti’s apartment overnight. She shared a room with her mom, while Angie and Tami, her sisters, shared another room. Linda, Misti’s mom, had books all over the room. I asked Misti if she would mind if I found a book to read while she was waxing philosophical over a guy she liked (who later tied her to a tree near the Fuzzy Pelican.). Misti was used to this; she would be chain smoking and applying eyeliner at 2am while I was captivated by a book. That’s how I first came to read Lauren Bacall’s biography, By Myself.  I also enjoyed this title, although I haven’t seen nearly as many Lauren Bacall movies as Bogie films, I’m not as big of a fan, although I have seen almost everything she’s been in this lifetime.  I felt like since that was the love of Bogart’s life, I should get her side of the story. I didn’t have to hunt this book down, as I read it in two days by Misti’s house. Her mom and I had quite the discussion about it also.

I guess what this post is about is how those things that we grew up with shape us in some undefinable way and stays with us through our lifetimes. I’m pretty sure that if my mom didn’t put us through Svengoolie every Saturday night or Cocktail multiple times a week, I would not love horror or slasher flicks, nor would I think Tom Cruise is a cocktail weenie. I thank her for both. I am also pretty certain that I would not have grown to love Humphrey Bogart as much as I did and still do, if my father had not made me watch Treasure of the Sierra Madre with him one late night on WGN Movie After Dark (that was the movie they would play after Cannon every Thur night during the 80’s). I was hooked. It continues to this day. If I have the shittiest fucking day on the planet (more of them lately than I care to admit), I put in a Bogart movie, and not only do I flash back to a simpler time in movies, but a simpler, happier time in life.

For as fanatical as I am about all things Danzig in music, there is a certain television creator that I would also be willing to follow into the Hellmouth. Joss Whedon. For the sake of this writing, I am going to pretend that I have only seen the first episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as any further episodes mentioned can only weaken my tale.

I had seen a few things that Joss had done prior to 1998, like episodes of Roseanne (funny) and Alien Resurrection (terrible), but my initiation to the Whedonverse proper didn’t occur until Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s second season, episode #13. I had seen the Buffy movie and righteously dismissed the show, thinking, “Why make a show about that piece of shit?”. While my question was valid, I was proven wrong. Had my friend Joe and I not been so horribly bored on Tuesday nights, we never would have broken down and gave the show a chance.

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Oh look, how sweet. We tuned in at right about this point. Buffy and Angel bone and then it would seem like Angel was going to vomit from revulsion. But then he goes into an alley and starts weeping in the rain. We found this so funny, that this dude gets the hot chick and goes outside to cry, that we had to see what happened next.

The next week, “Innocence” aired and we got some context. It wasn’t long before the absurdity fell away and I was hooked on the plot. Angel goes from lover to arch nemesis, killing Buffy’s friends along the way. It was actually gripping. It didn’t hurt that Sarah Michelle Gellar was downright foxy.

After that storyline and the finale to the second season, I figured the show was never going to get that good again, so I stopped watching. The following year, I’m over at Hector’s house and, once again, there is nothing on television. We’re sitting in the kitchen, which didn’t really make any sense as not only did he not have cable, but this TV was the size of a small microwave with an identical reception. We’re flipping channels and we see Buffy is on. I try, in vain, to tell him that the show was pretty good and nothing better was on. He waffled until I told him that the girl from True Lies was on-screen and she was hot now. The episode was “Faith, Hope & Trick”, Dushku’s first episode of the show.

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The episode wasn’t that great but I knew I didn’t want to miss a week of a show with her in it. I doubt I told him this but, from that point forward, I was only going to hang out on Tuesday nights if Buffy was on the menu. I finished the third season without fail and thought it was nearly as good as the previous one. Then, Season Four happened and everything fell apart. I almost jumped ship then. The only saving grace was the Faith story arc (y’all know why by now). The fifth season is severely underrated, in my opinion. The premiere episode with Dracula was fucking hilarious. The fact that they got Rudolf Martin to play Dracula, a month before he played the historical Vlad Tepes himself, should not be overlooked. It did introduce little annoying sister Dawn in the biggest “what the fuck” moment in the show’s run but that was forgiven due to the Xander lines about being a buttmonkey and covering his referring to Dracula as “master” by following it up with “bater”. Then there was the Buffy’s mom dead episode, “The Body”. And the flashbacks with Spike in “Fool For Love”. Great stuff. The only downside to that season was the continued use of Riley Finn, the meathead boyfriend of Buffy. He should have died at some point. That, and the end (at first, anyway). My friend Steve can attest to me actually bellowing “No!” when Buffy jumps into the portal in the season finale.

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What in the hell was I supposed to do now? The title character in my favorite show was dead. Little did I know at the time that Whedon was going to bring her back in a mostly forgettable sixth season. If it weren’t for the musical episode, I don’t know if there was anything worth watching before that season finale.

The last season came and was largely okay. It did bring back the use of Angel crossovers since it was the last season. They just weren’t allowed to say Buffy’s name over on the WB/CW/POS. It was with this plot device that they brought back Faith. Knowing that was the plan, I had decided to go back to watching Angel, even though the first season was a dud. I felt I needed some context for when Faith showed up and ended up liking the drawn out story of The Beast and Cordelia being possessed.

These two seasons also introduced me to the two main cast members of Whedon’s failed program, Firefly. I actually resented these actors and their characters because I thought they were hording in on the Buffyverse. Once again, Whedon proved me wrong.

Late in 2004, with all of Buffy and Angel off in the sunset, I was badgered to death at Books-A-Million by Ren Fair addict and co-worker, Dawn. The irony of that name being the one to do this is not lost on me either. She kept saying that I would like Firefly because I liked the other two shows and to just give it a try. I got the lone boxed set for Christmas and opened it the day before that. I finished watching by the early afternoon of Christmas Day. This show was different but had a lot of the same charm of the other shows. I was Buffy age when I watched Buffy and Firefly consisted of older folks than those shows, which I was becoming at the old age of 25.

Lucky me, when I found out that those characters’ stories would move on the following year in the film, Serenity, which I saw twice on opening day and a third time within the week. I absolutely love that movie. It may have been the greatest thing Joss Whedon had done ever. That is, until The Avengers, which I will stop talking about as I’m willing to bet there’s a future blog post about it.

I have all of the Buffy and Angel seasons on DVD, I bought Firefly on Blu-Ray (after having the DVD), I have purchasedSerenity three times (twice on DVD, the original and special editions, and once on Blu-Ray). I have both seasons of Dollhouse on Blu-Ray, even though it’s bad (again, you know why). I may even buy that new show to pair with The Avengers, even though I’m not enjoying it. Why? Because, in Joss, I trust.

You see, I happened to tune into the show at precisely the right times that would convince me to watch. It’s Kismet, no? Not only would I have never watched the vampire-infested programs but I also never would have been tempted to watch Firefly and, therefore, Serenity. I may have been prejudiced against The Avengers, which may just be my favorite movie ever, because of that. What a strange confluence of events that led me there. And I never would have watched if it weren’t for a soaken wet Sarah Michelle Gellar or a gothed up Eliza Dushku. Thank you for those, and so many other, visuals, Sir Whedon.

A shameless plug

Posted: October 14, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music

Pearl Jam try to capture a ‘Lightning Bolt’ in a bottle. There’s this little website I write for called Examiner.com and I was hoping to wrangle some more subscribers over there. Now, I don’t care if you actually read my stuff (though I’d like to believe you will). I just need subscribers. If you could subscribe, you can then spam the e-mails if you’d like. I would just like it to appear that I have followers. After all, life is like high school. It doesn’t matter what you’re really so much as what you appear. Thanks, everyone.

Yeah, I like Michael Jackson. You Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’?

Posted: October 10, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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Readers of this blog (thanks to both of you, by the way) have probably noticed that Georgette and I are obsessed with (some might say “stuck in”) the 1980’s. No shit. People in our general age group tend to agree that they were happier back then, before the trappings and weight of life itself crushed their spirits. For me, and billions across the globe, nothing lifted those spirits more than Michael Jackson.

I was three years old when Thriller came out. Therefore, it is not a stretch to call that album the soundtrack of my childhood. The first medium that my family owned this album was on cassette. My grandfather bought it at a gas station and, I believe, even played it in the station wagon when I wasn’t in there. My gramps was a cool cat. He’d get really pissed off watching professional wrestling on USA on Monday nights. It was a riot. This was a guy that mostly tried to stay even keel but something about the tag team Demolition riled him up. He bought weird stuff all the time and, dare I say, this was the cream of the class. That’s saying something for a man who my grandmother used to say “would save his own shit if he could”. She also used to use this retort a strange destination when you would ask her where something was, like a shoe. It would inevitably end “up Mike’s ass”. We never did find out who “Mike” was. Weirdly, no one in our family was named Michael. I hope she wasn’t talking about Michael Jackson.

Back to MJ. Do I really need to talk about this album? Haven’t we all heard Thriller more times than we ever need to? Ha! That was a trick question. Of course, we haven’t. There is no maximum amount of times you should listen to it. I’d set the minimum at around 100. I think that’s only fair. Everyone, everyone knows the three main singles: “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It”. “Thriller” still has the best music video of all time. Michael goes from leather pimp to zombie in the blink of an eye and leads the most mimicked dance sequence ever. Why? Because it’s sweet. Even without the video, the song is amazing. Easily, the best track ever written by Rod Temperton. Don’t worry, you’re not supposed to know who he is. Jackson and produced Quincy Jones even succeeded where Iron Maiden failed earlier in the year on “Number of the Beast”. They procured the talents of Vincent Price for the spoken word portion of the song. The other two Temperton tracks (“Baby Be Mine” and “The Lady In My Life”) are definitely the album’s weakest.

“Billie Jean” and “Beat It” are fantastic, even though the image we have of MJ now is in such stark contrast than thirty years ago. No one believes that Michael was kicking any street thug ass, much less quelling a knife fight with dancing and an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo. “The kid is not my son” is hardly a revelatory line as no one believes he has ever had sex with a woman. Not that I believe any of that child molestation garbage either.

this leads me to the other tracks. “The Girl Is Mine” actually kind of enrages me when I think about it now. Paul “Used Douche” McCartney is constantly trying to swipe Michael’s honey. He’s like a porcine Yogi Bear crossed with Winnie the Pooh. Fuck off, you old brit, you had your time to shine. Instead, Michael, who is notoriously shy, has to fend off this bastard from pouring his affections on MJ’s special lady friend. Paul says that she calls him her “forever love, you know”. No, Paul, I don’t know. Nobody talks like that, not even in the 80’s. Leave Michael alone. Still a fine song.

“You Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” kicks out the jams with a bad ass beat and then gives us such memorable lines as “you’re a vegetable” and “you’re a buffet”. There is no trace of food elicited eroticism here, just pure nonsense. It’s cluelessly stellar. “Human Nature” is so good that the R&B trio SWV sampled it and couldn’t even ruin it.

I have owned this on CD twice, never buying the 25th anniversary edition with all the remakes of songs with current artists. Way to shit on the man’s memory, letting Fergie butcher “Beat It”. What record company sleaze. I have also gone back and purchased the vinyl twice. You would think that finding a used copy in good condition would be an easy feat, seeing as it’s the best-selling album of all time. But no, the first one had minor defects on both sides. The second one skips during “P.Y.T.” and that is unforgivable. I need to hear Janet and LaToya not live up to their brother’s lofty standards.

The cover of the album never really made sense to me. I always wondered why zombie Michael didn’t adorn the front. On the other hand, I wish there really was a zombie Michael. He needs to come back and show punks like Kanye West what pretending to be tough really looks like. Everyone associated MJ’s look with the red leather ensemble more than the white pimp suit. Even all the single covers looked silly. They look like publicity photos from Saved By the Bell or head shots of failing actors. Surely, a man who convinced the world that a single sequined glove was a hip fashion statement could show more style than that. I should know. I once owned this:

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This thing was a cassette deck which, for no reason I can fathom, came with a crappy replica of the glove. This was not unlike when my mom bought me the improbable combo of Batman wallet and earbuds. The glove was shiny, but only because it was doused with glitter. I have hated glitter my entire life but I wore that glove all the time because I loved Michael Jackson more than I hated being infected with arts and crafts’ most vicious STD.

You know what? If I still had that glove, I’d wear it. I wish I still had my Sega Genesis so that I could play Moonwalker, not that I believe that I can beat the game for the first time, after all these years. If I still had that little stereo, I’d make mixtapes just so I could use the thing. Such is the power of my desire to recapture the feeling I had when I first heard Thriller. I know I didn’t talk about it, but Bad is phenomenal as well. That, I owned on cassette and now vinyl but the only format I can listen to “Leave Me Alone” (save MP3, we don’t discuss those here) is on CD. I know it’s been 25 years but anytime they want to release a 12″ single of “Leave Me Alone”, I’ll be waiting.

2000, 0, 0, Party Over, Oops, Out of Time: 1999 and Prince in Print

Posted: October 9, 2013 by generationgbooks in Books, Music
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 I owned this masterpiece of funk on cassette way before the vinyl. After Purple Rain and Parade, I was determined to own all of his discography on disc (vinyl, not the dreaded laser). I found most of his early catalog rather easily, but something about 1999 holds a special place in my heart. It was actually the first Prince record I was exposed to (great wording there). I got this on cassette in 1983. I was 10 and I got the cheap ass grey Walgreen’s radio with one cassette deck. I was thrilled. I got a lot of cassettes. I rocked out. My mom had a problem with Prince. She called him “the pig” because she got ahold of the lyrics for “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” and she did NOT care for her 10-year old daughter to hear “such filth”. Laugh. You should, for you know how that has turned out. The absolute only reason my mom caved and bought this for me was because she LOVED, LOVED, LOVED L”ittle Red Corvette”. I mean, ridiculous obsession. If she bought it for me and I was at school, she could borrow it and play the hell out of that while I was at school. I do believe, honestly, that’s the only reason I owned that at all. 

When the time came to find it on vinyl, it wasn’t as easy as one could hope. I found Purple Rain, Parade, Dirty Mind, and Controversy easily. For some reason I still haven’t figured out, 1999 was a bitch to locate. I wonder if Prince himself wasn’t somehow responsible for ordering the copies all stricken from public buying. Maybe part of his “Slave” persona and boycotting Warner Brothers was to send his purple paisley clad elf warriors out to grab all copies away from public view (Don’t laugh, you never know, this IS Prince we are talking about). After spending about 7 years looking for it and scouring weird locations, I finally found the bitch- in Oak Park, at a neighborhood institution known as Val’s Halla Records. If you’re ever out in Oak Park, IL, find it and check it out. I guarantee you’ll find something of note. I was there with Mike and Janine, my friends, who were looking for radically different albums. Janine was looking for any Def Leppard, Mike was looking for an album by Selena and a live rare Elton John album. I was just checking for anything great. I had no intention of finding it, and there it was. Gorgeous, not a ridiculous price, and it was mine. I didn’t mind the long wait in locating and owning it. Totally worth it. 

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I figured, since I am talking about the pint-sized Prince of Purple, I may as well discuss a book that I ran into about Prince. It was located completely by accident. I had read about this book in a copy of Mojo magazine at the other book hole. It’s written by Alex Hahn, a journalist and attorney, and the review in Mojo so grabbed my attention that I had to find this book. Of course, the RAM (rednecks a million) folks didn’t have this and it couldn’t be ordered from the Honey Boo Boo Pod Warehouse that distributed our books, so I was out of luck. Shamazon had copies of this at the time that were going for $58.00 and up. I really wanted that book, but not that damn much. I didn’t think of Alibris and I didn’t know of Abe, two far better sites for locating out of print books. I did the usual and hit all the nearby book stores. I finally found this book at Waldenbooks in Woodfield Mall when they were going out of business. It was marked down big time, and I got it for the princely (sorry, I had to) sum of $7.99. Not bad for a hardcover, and hey- it’s a first edition. Double score. 

As for the book itself, it is compelling. You cannot put it down. I’m telling you now, if you’re expecting a glowing portrayal of the Artist known as a Genius, well, it does portray him as a genius, but it also portrays him as a human being, which you may not care for. If you believe in butterflies, magical cereal fairies, and socks remaining clean forever, then this is NOT the book for you. All in all, Hahn tells us like it is. The rise, the mid-point, the top of the heap, and the fall back down quite steep. There are no holds barred, and some people who believe that Prince is not only a genius but a nice, normal chap, are in for one hell of a rude awakening. Hahn covers the all incarnations of the backup band, including the allegations that Prince steals material from his band members and the unceremonious firings of those who helped him get where he is. It talks of all of the affairs, it hits on the critical acclaim and the critical shame (yes, Under The Cherry Moon, I’m looking at you) that individual albums have accomplished, as well as his rudeness to fans that aren’t women, among the mysteries of Prince, as many as Hahn tries to solve, he ends up creating more. And that, my friends, is why you need to read it. If you want to read it, go on Alibris, go on Abe, go on Shamazon, and grab a copy. It is definitely in my top 10 rock biographies that I have read in my lifetime. I feel if there’s a definitive book on Prince, this is it. And it’s spectacular, so you should grab a copy if you can.

Ed Burns and Shitty Soundtracks

Posted: October 5, 2013 by generationgbooks in Movies, Music
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brothers-mcmullen-soundtrackI was so inspired by Dave’s last post about finding two albums of relevance in good times and bad (in one trip) that I decided to tie two absolutely abysmal albums- soundtracks, no less- that have several common threads together, and blog about it. Except that unlike Dave’s previous recollection, this one is not a happy vinyl adventure, so I figured, I’ll give another side of the vinyl frontier. Anything goes here at Hannibal Collector. 

The year was 1995 and my ex “Biceps” was home on leave. The first thing he wanted to do after having a quick tete-a-tete (fucking French phrases) about Amish country was to go see a movie. Most guys who were thousands of miles away from their girl would have used that time to, uh, get re-acquainted with their girl, but not my guy. Nope. He wanted to see shitty cinema. I should have known it was too good to be true. We went to see this awful, awful Ed Burns movie called The Brothers McMullen, at some dumpy theater in Oak Park. I just remember it was a matinee, and I’m glad it was, because the money I paid for it (yes, not only did I NOT pick this steaming pile to see, but I PAID. He was on a “budget” which was cheap-speak for his burrito and beer in El Paso habit) was definitely not worth it. I wish I’d gotten loaded beforehand, it would have been more bearable. No, it wouldn’t have, I lied. Worse than that? The fucking soundtrack. It was awful. It was a lot of Celtic and Irish music. Normally, if I’m at Irish Times in Brookfield and I have a stomach full of Shepherd’s Pie and full of booze on St. Patty’s Day, that’s alright, because I have no clue what I am listening to, nor would I care in that setting. That was not the case. I was bored to tears with the plot, annoyed with the idiot for not wanting Wang Dang Sweet Poontang instead of this crappy flick we were at, and worse than that, sober. All of it added up to churning dislike. The music made me feel like I was front and center at the worst Gaelic Storm concert known to man, with bad acting and an idiot at my side who kept whispering how “moving” it was. Moving bowels, maybe, you dolt. Just when I thought “It can’t get worse”, it did. “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan begins. If there’s nothing that Burritos for Jesus loves more than bad cinema, it’s bad cinema ballad music. By the end of the song, not only was he teary eyed, but he was doing the sway. For those who know him, you know the boy is seriously afflicted with Bad White Boy Dancingitis. I seriously questioned whether I could sneak out of there and go hide by Mike’s (he lived on Harrison, not far from this dive theater) while Burritos for Jesus was making sweet love with this awful music. My burning hatred for Sarah McLachlan? This was probably the start. I should have seen this whole experience as a warning for the end that was already writing itself. If a guy can’t take you to a good flick or at least pay for the shitty flick he’s making you sit through while he tries to be Meatloaf (but sounding more like Beetloaf) and croon the soundtrack during the film, run like hell. Or sneak out of the theater.

By the time 1996 rolled around, he was gone. Unfortunately, Ed Burns was still making bad movies. I went out on a couple of dates with my friend DT to try to erase the pain of the end of my first love and engagement. DT was a blast, a nice guy who liked loud, rowdy music, drank like a fish, lived at Denny’s, knew great movies, and better yet, a Libra. For those of you not familiar, that meant he has a snowball’s chance in hell of being more than friends with me. Anyhow, I was feeling low around Sept as Biceps’ birthday drew near. DT got free tickets to a movie of his choice. One night, while he and I were eating bad food at Denny’s and then demolishing a bottle of vodka, I told him, laughingly, of that movie date a year before. He misunderstood and thought I was a huge Ed Burns fan, and so he surprised me by taking me to- you guessed it!- the new Ed Burns film. It was playing in some arty theater in Westmont, near where he was living at that time. It was the film She’s The One. Do yourself a favor and don’t check it out. I did enjoy it more than The Brothers McMullen, namely because I made sure I was shitfaced this time, and I was seeing it with my friend and just looking to see what I had hoped was a good movie. Ed Burns had a better known cast this time, including his longtime girlfriend (who clearly wasn’t the One, because he ended up marrying Christy Turlington, best known to people who know me, because she was the model on the cover of Duran Duran’s Notorious album). He also had two minuses in the actress pool, meaning The Aniston and the Diaz were in this movie. Two strikes right there. And Ed Burns, he tries so hard, but I just don’t buy anything he’s selling. The only thing I did dig in the entire movie was John Mahoney, later of Frasier fame. The rest? I was fucking bored. DT was yawning throughout the movie, and about 45 minutes into it leaned over and said “Sorry, G, I owe you a pack of smokes for putting you through this.” The music? Well, it was better than the other, but still left a lot to be desired. Much of it is Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, of whom I am a fan, but it’s watered down and inspired by a lackluster film. Walls(Circus) was the most well known song, perhaps the only song come to think of it, released off of this album. There is a ironic link to Dave’s post about Rumours in this, because Lindsay “Genius” Buckingham sings background vocals on that song, but otherwise, a number of strange brew flows on this one. There’s a Lucinda Williams song on there, which I was not inclined to like or dislike (more like disinterest). There’s Asshole by Beck, which is a nice little ditty. But otherwise, it’s like a Tom Petty demo album, and except for Walls(Circus), not an album I would bother with on any level. It’s just there, like Ed Burns.

A year later, I am at a flea market with Redneck Flats. He ditched me and Mark by a cart selling bootleg rap cassettes. Mark and I stocked up and got a lot of great stuff; Tupac, Biggie, Puff Daddy before he went Diddy Doo Doo, etc. That bum went off in search of likely bongs or smoking apparatus of which I would maintain a healthy distance from, but unfortunately, he came back, excited and clutching a large paper bag with “surprises”. Brown bags with surprises usually do not bode well, as we all know. When we got back to the house, Mark and I were dying of curiosity. He pulls out a bunch of records. Some Steve Winwood, Traffic, Heart, and Wings. Stuff I would normally rather knit carrots to than actually be forced to listen to. Then he tells me to close my eyes and hands me two albums. I open my eyes. Screaming occurs. Would you like to guess what the fucker got me? Well, dear reader, he got me the soundtracks for The Brothers McMullen and She’s The One. The evil had come full circle. I remember a conversation ensued to determine why the fuck he would think I wanted this shit. He went on to say that he remembered me telling him about the Ed Burns movies I had seen, except the pot-smoking wasteoid believed I was FONDLY recalling them, not the opposite. True case of miscommunication. I don’t remember what happened to those vinyl records, he either kept them, I sold them, or maybe Mark walked off with them. In this case, I hope they vanished into a crack in the Earth..like Ed Burns movies. 

Seeking George Harrison For the End of the World

Posted: October 3, 2013 by The Social Retard in Music
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1987. A library or parlor with a fireplace and burgundy leather furniture. A man sits in a chair, facing us and strumming a Fender guitar. Then a bunch of fucking taxidermied (?) animals start singing along. This is how I am introduced to George Harrison of the Beatles and, eventually, my favorite Beatle.

All Things Must Pass isn’t George’s first solo album, just the first one that wasn’t a turd. Three discs and six sides that really should have been reduced to two and four, respectively. All the weird jams that fill out the rest of the opus are out-of-place and self-indulgent. Without those mucking up the works, this album would be perfect. This is the record (s) that I look to when life just feels like too much. It’s hardly a pick-me-up. The happy music is played somberly. The sad songs played merrily. The album begins with the George-Bob Dylan collaboration, “I’d Have You Anytime”. The singer implores another to let him in after he lies naked (likely just emotionally, anything other than that and the connotations get quite a bit stranger). A bit of whenever you’re ready, I’ll be here waiting. It’s actually kind of pathetic. I relate perfectly.

“My Sweet Lord” for all its multi-religious themes, is actually a very pretty song that I don’t relate to at all, not a fig. “Isn’t It a Pity”, a reflection on how people hurt each other in relationships. Check. “What is life without your love?” Christ, George. Do you want me to yank my heart from my chest all Temple of Doom style? Then comes another Dylan song basically saying that if not for this love of his life, he’d barely have the motivation or wherewithal to lie in bed and eat a Swanson frozen dinner. Skipping ahead, George warns us to “Beware of Darkness”. Well, too late for that, sir. You’ve been leading me up and down on this roller coaster of emotion and I’ve strapped in, gritting my teeth, waiting to go through the inevitable yet nonsensical dark tunnel. This is just a beautiful feat in rock music.

As for how I came to own four sides of amazeballs and two sides of steaming broccoli farts, I needed only to look to local used book, movie, and music store Frugal Muse. I have made some phenomenal vinyl finds at this place. It’s the only part of the store that the pricing is appreciably better than other stores of its ilk. This may be my very best day of discovery ever. For under ten dollars, I managed to find all three discs of All Things Must Pass in excellent condition. The outer case was a little beat but the records themselves looked like they had never been played. But that was just $7 of my total. I also managed to acquire Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for less than $3.

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This is convenient in other ways as it is also a go-to album for when you just don’t care anymore. Infamously recorded when the two couples in the band were disintegrated, the tension resulting in one of the most complete albums of all time. It’s also one big fat depress-fest. Flat out dripping with hits, Rumours doesn’t have a single hiccup. There are just songs I don’t love as much. All three of Lindsey Buckingham’s songs are amazing. Stevie Nicks offers the haunting “Gold Dust Woman” and throws her former beau Buckingham a figurative bone in the duet “I Don’t Want To Know”. The only two songs I don’t feel the need to listen to are Nicks’s every time it rains “Dreams” and Christine McVie’s “Oh Daddy”. McVie may own the most dreary moment on the album with “Songbird”. She wants her husband (likely, anyway) to know that she still loves him but he clearly doesn’t give a shit anymore. I don’t know what she’s talking about. John McVie is as close to Eeyore as anyone has ever been in rock and roll.

If nuclear holocaust was inevitable and I could only bring two albums into the bomb shelter, these are the two I’d choose. It’s not because they’re my favorite albums, though they are among the list. If they are not #’s 1 and 2, then why on Earth would I turn to these soundtracks of sad sackism? It’s not because it would be funny to imagine the human race burned to ash while “Don’t Stop” plays. Though, it kind of is. And it isn’t reserved to just threat of the atomization of the world as I know it.

It’s about being without hope. Sometimes, that feeling is fleeting. Sometimes, it isn’t. Sometimes, it’s earned, others not. No matter the circumstances or causes, sometimes you just don’t want to feel better. There are bruises that mom just can’t kiss. There’s no magic elixir that can cure pure and unadulterated despair. Sometimes, you just want to chase the sorrow all the way down to see how far it goes. You’re not looking to defeat it. You want to crawl inside yourself and not come out. You know that “All Things Must Pass” but you’re just not ready to watch them go. You know that albums like these aren’t going to ease your pain, but it’s nice to have them with you because you know that these musicians have felt it too. It might be cold comfort but it’s comfort nonetheless.