Thursday, August 26, 2010

forgotten music: The Groovie Ghoulies ‘World Contact Day”

In the summer of 1996 I was killing time between having had my college graduation and completing the internship that would give me that last credit I needed. I had moved home and was working as a minimum wage security guard 4 days a week. I spent the rest of the days at a coffee shop/ record in the next town over. It was called Vinyl Joes and my buddy Matt owned it. I would drink coffee, hang out, BS, listen to music generally pass the time.

Music was in flux at that moment, the Alternative Nation Days of the early 90’s were one their way out (in fact the Screaming Tress album Dust came out that summer, it’s your basic requiem for the Seattle/ Grunge scene), but young people had discovered that underground music was out there, that it was as good if not better than what was being shoveled by mainstream radio and the apocalypse of the 1996 Telecom act was yet to destroy more than we could have expected.

It was at this point that the Groovie Ghoulies released their 3rd album, World Contact Day. A short blast of Ramonesy garage punk clocking in at around a half hour, it carries all the energy and fun that a band with a name like the Groovie Ghoulies implies. This was my introduction to the band, who I would get to see live about a dozen times before they called it quits, and over those years I got friendly with the lead singer Kepi (who is still touring and recording today).

Here is the track list, I would point out that it includes 2 cover tunes, see if you can pick them out.

1. Intro World Contact Day
2. Hello Again
3. Bring Her Back
4. Running With Bigfoot
5. Island of Pogo Pogo
6. When the Kids Go Go Go Crazy
7. Lonely Heart Blues
8. Ghoulies Are Go!
9. 50,000 Spaceships (Watching Over Me)
10. Singing the Blues
11. New England
12. Punk Pt. II
13. Outro World Contact Day

Thoughts, comments, ect….

Thursday, August 19, 2010

FFB: book I loved when I was 23!

L.A. Confidential by by James Ellroy

Ok, Ok I can hear you all now, there is no way that James F’n Ellroy is a forgotten writer and L.A. Confidential is not a forgotten book--- even if it is:

books we loved when we were between 18-23, college age. What book did you read when you should have been reading THE ODYSSEY and THE HISTORY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION? over at Patti’s FBB round up (HERE)

According to my list, yeah I kept a list of books read from 1991 into the start of 2002, I read L.A. Confidential for the first time between 28th of March 1996 and the 2nd of April 1996. I was 23 years old and it was my last semester as a student at Michigan State University.

II am going to shock you all and say that it’s the film (as amazing a piece of work as it is) that is remembered and not the book. I would go so far as to say the film has so overshadowed the book that people don’t even know there was one of thee most chilling serial killers ever in fiction in the book. That’s right L.A. Confidential features a killer so vile that he out creeps Dr Hannibal Lecter at least he did when I first read the book as a college student back in the mid 90s.

The plot of the book is pretty much the plot of the film, which stripped away several subplots and deleted a few characters and as I like to say ‘took the lest interesting parts of the book and made an amazing film out of them”--- and that’s not a knock on those least interesting parts, which are better than the most interesting parts of a lot of other books.

If you have not seen the film or read the book, it’s the story the third of his L.A. Quartet series, all of which cover L.A. in the 1950s, starting really in the late 1940s and the book The Black Dahlia Ellroy tells the story of social control an depression by the LAPD and the city power structure. Of the Quartet this is the Lynch pin book, with the Black Dahlia, and The Big Nowhere leading up to the events of the book,.

Characters from the film that people already know like Bud White, Jack Vincennes and Edmund Exley are all here, along with Dudley Smith and several remnants of the cast of previous book The Big Nowhere. There is more on the back stories of our heroes and several plot threads and subplots that were omitted from the film. Ellroy weaves all of these together expertly and really is in top form in this book. This is the Ellroy who’s words were just stripped down enough and has yet to kinda loose his way trying to write about the 1960s.

It’s the first book I think of when I think of Ellroy and for me it is his best.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

FFB:Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street by Warren Ellis

Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street by Warren Ellis

Following on from last weeks Liam José FFB on Crooked Little Vein by Old Man Ellis as he is know in my family, I thought that I would point everyone towards his master work, the series Transmetropolitan (Transmet for short) and it’s introductory collection of the first three issues Back on the Street.

In this starter collection we are introduced to mad journalist Spider Jerusalem a kind of Hunter S Thompson malcontent looking at the future of what is extensively America. Over the course of the series Spider is going to take on religion, politics, and the media Establishment, but it all starts with these 96 pages.

from wiki (cause I’m too lazy to type my own story arc synopsis-- oh and here’s the link)

"Back on the Street" #1-3
Spider Jerusalem, the God-King of Journalists, is presented as having resided for five years on The Mountain, a tranquil and relatively unspoiled retreat, unmolested except for the odd murder attempt, where he has had time to grow his hair long and devote his attention unadulteratedly to exploring new drug experiences. He is contacted by the 'Whorehopper', an editor of the Driven Press group, to whom Jerusalem still owes two books out of a five book deal. To avoid lawsuits, Jerusalem returns to The City, where he finds work at his old workplace, The Word, as a newspaper journalist, loses all his hair in an incident with the shower unit, and manages to stop a major riot. And this is just the beginning...

Yeah that’s pretty much the start of it all, and it’s a great read, but what I really want to talk about is that way back before I was part of this little circle of noir and crime fiction fans, I was one of the Warren Ellis Forumites. I met other Ellis fans locally and around the world, I was in the WEF chat room as 911 was happening, and I was scolded by the old man himself several times. Ellis built a community and he created something, not only with the WEF, and Transmet, but with his other books The Authority and Planetary (which all of you pulp fans really should check out) that in many ways prepped me for what I do now on this blog and everything that I have done in the last 10 years on line.

and to think it all started when my local comic shop The Vault of Midnight pimped this slim 96 TPB to me on some random forgotten day.

[Check for more info and all that jazz]

Thoughts, comments, spare change?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

FFB Echo: Murder Among Children by Tucker Coe (Donald Westlake)

For the week of June 4, Ed Gorman wrote about Murder Among Children by Donald. E Westlake, the second of his Tucker Coe books. I had read and enjoyed the first Coe book and Ed's review got me to get back on the Coe trail reading Murder Among Children. Friday's Forgotten Books, June 4, 2010

First A few quotes From Ed's review:
"Donald Westlake, who was not only a master writer but a master observer of our society, wrote a novel in which an older man, the former cop Mitch Tobin, is forced to defend a young hippie girl accused of murder. Tobin's wife insists because the girl is related to them."

" In each book we see Tobin building the wall in his back yard. He literally wants to wall himself off from the world. He has good reason to. Tobin had a mistress he couldn't leave alone, He'd sneak up to see her while his squad car buddy covered for him. Then one day his buddy needed back up while Tobin was in bed with his mistress--and his partner got killed without Tobin there to back him up."

" Westlake takes us on a tour of hippie life in NYC `67. He has the eyes of a good reporter and the constitution of an honest broker. Tobin sees a lot he likes and a lot he doesn't. I especially like the intersection he sees between crime and the hippie lifestyle. Some very bad people hid out with the somewhat naive hippies."

The first thing that stuck me about Murder Among Children was the cover of the battered hardback that the Iron Wood Michigan sent via inner library loan was the Cover.

If you can't see it,it's a coffee cup, saucer and spoon. I doubt anyone in 1967 ever thought that coffee and coffee shops would become what they are today. I doubt that the hippie wannabe Beatnik coffee joint would give way to starbucks and a million small chains and local places. It's an interesting place to look back and realize just how radical the concept of the coffee house was in the late 1960s. You throw in some upstart religious weirdos and you have a pretty average guy Tobin peering into this world and trying to figure out who has it out for the kids and why.

On the surface it is about the murder and about Tobin being forced out from behind his wall and having to face an imperfect world. It's this element that pushes the novel beyond the standard PI story-- it really deals with Tobin's guilt about what drove him off the force and his inability to seemingly forgive himself.

Westlake was a master and the Tucker Coe books are well worth seeking out. I look forward to checking out where Westlake took Tobin in the third book.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Books July 2010

Here’s the recap on what I read this past month:

Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynski

From Booklist

Mickey Wade, an unemployed journalist, moves into his grandfather’s apartment in the family’s old Philadelphia neighborhood and, after gobbling a few aspirin to fight a hangover, finds himself beamed back to the day of his birth in 1972. Turns out those weren’t your garden-variety aspirin but, rather, the pills a crackpot scientist had created as part of a government-funded plan to investigate out-of-body travel. Only, in Mickey’s case, he can only go back to the early 1970s. But there’s plenty to do there: if he can somehow divert the young boy who will eventually murder Mickey’s father, he can change his family’s history

A lot of things really hit home for me from this book. I was born in ‘72, and lost my father at the age of ten, and have often felt like my life isn’t what it should have been because of the loss of my father. I was reading this in the weeks right after my mother funeral and dealing with that loss and change in my life also colored my experience reading the book. Overall it was another home run for Swierczynski and I look forward to what he is going to do next.

AK-47 : the weapon that changed the face of war by Kahaner, Larry.
Combining the history of the Development of the AK 47 with it’s cultural history this book as an insightful look into how the AK and it’s perforation have effected out world. Form it’s origin as a weapon to protect the USSR from another aggressor like Nazi Germany, to it’s iconic use by revolutionaries, terrorists and criminals, this book both educates the reader and brings home the reality that the AK had been the true weapon of mass destruction in the last 60 years.

Next by Hynes, James.
I love Ann Arbor Michigan and I hate Ann Arbor Michigan. It’s a world unto it’s self and there are certain cultural realities, attitudes and practices that thrive in A2 that you just don’t see out there in the rest of the world. This book is really all about that culture and how it’s has effected (and in the case of this book stunted) those who live here.

Dutch Uncle by Peter Pavia
You can check out my review HERE (I liked the book BTW)

Deadly Welcome by John D MacDonald
I started out reading a different MacDonald book this month, Write for Details, and was quickly disenchanted with it--- I think it’s a relic of it’s time. Deadly Welcome has a bit of that dated feel, but there is something that’s always true-- people will forever think you are who and what they recall you as being. The story is pretty basic, Alex Doyle is a State Department employee who is sent back to his hometown to look into the death of the wife of a US Government asset who has been out of the loop for a while. The brass want the asset back in play, and Doyle looks like the man for the job--- only he’s remembered locally for a crime he claims he didn’t commit. I think that you can see where that was all going, only along the way MacDonald deals with the very real issues of personal history, growth and the way in which many places want you to stay the same. It’s a fast pulpy read that rises above the litter.