11.28.07

Record Review- Digital Leather Hard at Work (Tic Tac Totally)

Digital Leather plays an intense brand of synth pop with a punk rock intensity. I really like this album. Hard at Work has some slower moments that prove that the band are able to produce good melodic tunes in a Joy Division/New Order style. My guess is that they are probably sick of the reference, but they do it really well. I feel kind of old listening to it ’cause i am sure there is a scene attached to this band that I am missing out on, but the album stands on its own. The song ‘2011’ sort of defines the more spastic pace of the album for me. ‘Sad Like You’ is one of the slower numbers that resembles Joy Division with its catchy, melancholy chorus. A really interesting band. If you are reluctant due to being a Joy Division purist, you should get over it and give this band a chance. They write some really sincere stuff.


Record Review- The Carbonas S/T (Goner Records)

One of the worst things to happen to rock and roll in the last year is that stupid Guitar Hero video game. One of the best things to happen to rock and roll in the last year is this recent release by the Carbonas. This is one of the most hard rocking albums to come out of late. Impossible for even the greasiest old fart to ignore. The Carbonas are as close to the Dead Boys as we are gonna get. Hard driving songs with the occasional melody drop in that makes you wonder whatever happened to good pop music in the first place. The second cut on the first side; ‘Didn’t Tell You A Lie’ is a standout for a melodic chorus done as well as it can be done. There is no reason to stare at a TV screen and pretend you are Slash. The Carbonas are real guitar heroes. Walk away from the game console and buy a record.

11.21.07

Book Review- Mingering Mike: The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar

Mingering Mike:

The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar by Dori Hadar

192 pages. Illustrated. Princeton Architectural Press.

For thrift store junkies, it would be an ideal day. You are at a flea market flipping through countless Montovani records when suddenly you come across a box of unclaimed vintage soul albums. It happened to Dori Hadar. Only when Hadar got the box home, he realized he had found something even more interesting than a box of bargain records. The box actually contained phony records. Cardboard boxes cut into the shape of records. Entire albums complete with liner notes, sleeves, dummy cardboard LPs and in some cases, even shrink wrap. The albums he found were all related to one artist, Mingering Mike. And as it turns out, Mingering Mike did not exist.

A grade school student from Washington D.C. had invented Mingering Mike’s entire career in the 70’s on scrap cardboard. The reclusive child drew, cut and pasted together albums for years. The album jacket designs told the story of Mingering Mike’s long career, and what a career it was. Mingering Mike put on benefit concerts, hung with Marvin Gaye and had an entourage of cousins and classmates who were all unknowingly soul superstars in Mingering Mike’s world. It turns out that these record covers that Hadar discovered had accumulated over ‘Mingering Mike’s’ high school and even post high school years. More than a decade of work went into Mingering Mike’s career. If all of this is not compelling enough, Hadar’s search ended with a reclusive man who did not want to be named.

Hadar’s research into the origins of the phony record covers is almost as compelling as Mingering Mike’s career. Hadar searched out the artist who was now grown, but had never forgotten the albums that had been lost due to a delinquent storage unit payment. The man decided he would let ‘Mingering Mike’s’ career speak for itself and insisted his name be kept out of the book. Among all the drawings and hand crafted album covers, one photograph of this imaginary soul singer was found. A picture taken in his youth that was included in one of the album jackets. And that is the only hint you’ll see of the identity of the original artist.

The book does a good job of balancing ‘Mingering Mike’s’ career with Hadar’s search for answers. Hadar eventually returned the work to the artist who was grateful to have it back. Interest in Mingering Mike’s imaginary career has now surfaced in gallery shows and in the imagination of Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne who has praised the book.

An accompanying 7” now exists with recordings made at the time by the artist with a tape recorder. For a brief moment, ‘Mingering Mike’ even had a voice. The cassette was among the possessions that the original artist had not lost.

The book contains pictures of all the recovered art and a well documented guide of the various stages of Mingering Mike’s career. Mingering Mike was the product of an overactive imagination. It is a fascinating read and an excellent product of outsider art.

11.15.07

Zine Review- Slade vs. the Monkeys

Slade vs. the Monkeys is the funniest zine I have seen in a long time. Slade vs. the Monkeys is a collection of rock caricatures based on random things the artist’s friends told him(Mark is the only name I can find) to draw. That and a table of contents is all you get. But that is all you need. The best zine in forever. The art is awesome, the ideas are random and the references are obscure. A must read for music snobs. One of my favorites is Dee Dee King vs. B. B. King. I’m not going to give any more of it away. It only gets better. A Must Read.
I got it at Goner Records.

11.13.07

Punk Rock Flea MArket

We are gonna be selling copies of Cramhole #1 at
The Punk Rock Flea Market
Sunday November 18th
10AM- 4PM.

Amy and I have a booth and we’ll be selling comics and Amy will have artwork. We are also sharing a table with Leroy Chen who is drawing stories for #2. #2 is still in process, but it is coming together. I am psyched about some of the stuff we are getting back.
Come out and say hello. It is going to be an awesome event.
Billups

10.22.07

 Kings of Kong
Kings of Kong is a documentary about people who currently hold the highest scores in Donkey Kong. The film was considerably more compelling than I thought it would be. I expected a lot of eccentric characters like in an Erroll Morris picture. Or perhaps something a bit more like the Dancing Outlaw(another must see). But there was an intense storyline underneath race for the high score that was surprising and reeked of conspiracy.  The film was well paced. It was unbelievable the lengths this guy went to to trip another guy up. A really good movie if you get a chance.

I have been struggling with a lack of sleep recently. The last two months or so I have been working a job where i get up at 4:AM to go to work. That coupled with my tendencies as a night owl has kept me in a zombified state for the last few weeks. I have just now decided it might be time to seek the help of a doctor as I have spent the better part of an hour cross referencing Police Academy movies on the internet. Did you know they made seven of those things?

According to my research, Scott Thompson from the Kids in the Hall was in THREE of them. I really don’t remember that. The creators of Academy also made a slapstick comedy about a traffic school called Moving Violations. It starred Bill Murray’s brother, the one that is not Brian Doyle Murray.
Anyone up for a Police Academy/ Moving Violations double feature is welcome. I am gonna head down to the video store and wait for it to open. Look for me outside. I’ll be the guy dunking a Chipwich into a Slurpee trying to stay awake.

10.17.07

Underrated Actors, Part Three: Mary Woronov

Possibly one of the coolest actors alive, Mary Woronov’s deep voice and stern disposition make her one of the most underrated actors in movie history. She often appears in movies as a vicious female presence. Even though a stern female actor is often hard to come by, Woronov is far from a one trick pony. She started in Andy Warhol pictures such as Milk, Hedy and Superboy. Woronov has also been a stand out in many a cult classic. She was a contender in the hard driving Rodger Corman classic Death Race 2000. She is regularly able to turn her stern disposition to comedic purposes as seen along with Paul Bartel as a fledgling dominatrix in Eating Rauol or as the intimidating stage hand in Get Crazy. She is widely known to cult movie junkies as Miss. Togar in the Ramones vehicle Rock ‘n Roll High School. Woronov’s filmography is massive. She rarely appears for more than a few minutes in movies much anymore, but when she does, her authority shoots off the screen. Woronov is a gem trapped in the dirge of Hollywood’s inability to recognize a positive female lead.

10.10.07

Underrated Actors, Part Two: Greg HollimanColbert, Dinello, Sedaris. The entire cast of Strangers With Candy was one of the best ensemble casts ever to be on television. There was not one weak link. Even the most incidental extra on the show brought something to the table. The casting for the show was absolutely perfect. One actor who stood out from the rest was Greg Holliman.The first time I saw Greg Holliman, I was unaware of it. Holliman played the roller skating orderly in the not very good movie from TV adaptation of The Fugitive. He played a scene with a then unknown Julianne Moore. He didn’t really stand out except for the fact that he was wearing roller skates. But then the movie didn’t stand out either. Holliman eventually went on to play the role of Principal Blackman on Strangers With Candy. Holliman’s portayal of a principal who is less concerned with the goings on at his school as with his various vices and strange habits was a highlight of the show. At times, his dead pan delivery of street wise sensibilities dominated the other characters. At other times, his inability to cope being a principal gave the character a demented vulnerability that was unlike any character on television. It was a unique role played by a unique actor. All that and he can dance too.The same praise should be given to all the actors on the show. But where is Holliman? He seems to be doing an endless string of low budget, Stella Got her Groove Back type movies. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but what a waste that he is not more in the public eye. We need more Hollimans in the world. Holliman has an irreverent sense of humor. Recently i saw him as an uncredited extra on Mad TV. Not ‘the great Greg Holliman is on Mad TV this week.’ Just an extra. He played a security guard in an audience scene.Why does that bother me? Because right now there is a show featuring those fucking dumb ass Geico cavemen on TV. And Greg Holliman is an extra in a Mad TV audience.You might say an actor who has had only one great role should not go on an underrated list. Think again. Greg Holliman is a national treasure. Somebody please get him back out there.

10.03.07

 Underrated Actors, Part One: Griffin DunnThis is the first post in my underrated actor series. I am starting this list because I have said for years that Don Cheadle is underrated and should get better roles. Suddenly, he is hot shit and who remembers that I have been talking him up? Nobody, that’s who. Mostly because nobody cares what i think, but I gotta use this website for something.My favorite underrated actor is Griffin Dunne.Dunne played the lead role in Martin Scorcese’s After Hours. After Hours is one of my all time favorite movies. His high strung portrayal of a character on the edge of a breakdown due to his inability to get home from a mismatched date is pure acting genius. His timing and delivery travel from reasonable to completely disheveled in a slow burn that is on par with a solid Peter Sellers straight role or a Terri Garr cracking up tirade. (Garr also appears in After Hours.)Dunne also played a mangled ghost in John Landis’ American Werewolf in London. He was great as a specter haunting his friend who mangled him during an episode as a werewolf. Dunne gives a wonderful straight delivery in the body of a man who had recently been torn apart.Dunne also had a role in the schticky Johnny Dangerously. That was a good bit of fun. He didn’t necessarily stand out, but he held is own next to giants like Joe Piscapo… come to think about it, I am just gong to stop that right there.So he was sort of hot in the 80’s. He has acted in a long list of movies including the short film collection Amazon Women on the Moon, Robert Redford’s Quiz Show and the early 80’s stalker classic The Fan. Recently, he appears to be acting as producer in some pretty serious stuff. He was named in the credits of the dark documentary Capturing the Friedmans. He was also named as a producer in the compelling documentary Crazy Love.So he is out there still. His subtle performances of reserved frustration make Hours and Werewolf worth watching again and again. I miss his acting in cultish type movies, but I am always psyched to see Griffin Dunne’s name go by on some quality documentaries. At least he hasn’t shown up on the screen next to the Rock.


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