R.I.P.: Tomi Ungerer

I think I was a bit too old for his kid books, but I’ll never forget that in a used bookstore (in Bozeman, MT?) I ran across a collection of his erotic drawings from a French publisher. I thought “Humph! Yeah, sure.” But when I checked it out –YOWSAH! They were vivid, inventive wildies with a heavy S&M component. I remember I had to hide it away in my bedroom in my parents’ house, but boy, was it a find, a revelation. I was saddened, but not surprised, that it almost ruined his career when the kid-book publishers found out about his porny works. Deserves a major revaluation.

Fine profile from Paris Review.


CD-Tech Update

OK, now have two-battery powered portable CD players (both Sonys), so the need to solve the problem of my sadly crippled outside-power player is way less intense. (See, kidz, I need to have a headphone player upstairs for my floor exercises and one downstairs for my treadmill exercises in the winter. And the nicer of the two also has to be able to go on the road with me. Yes, I would look like a turnip if I couldn’t select the music from my collection for workouts.)

What bothers me is that both of the players are fossils, no longer manufactured. Current portable CD spinners seem like toys in comparison. The newie is a CD Walkman D-E350 and while I’m not crazy about the zippy-blue plastic case, the controls are easier to use than the ones on my golden defunct oldie and the sound, aided by an Airhead amp of course, has space and detailed kick almost up to the golden oldie if I turn to volume up to 8 (ouch, so much for battery life).

As you see, programming the music I listen to every day is neurotically important to me. And I feel stronger that you need physical-item resources to ensure that can happen. The demise of Filmstruck was, yeah, striking.

R.I.P.: Russ Solomon

The founder of Tower Records. The sad part is that if he had not overextended, the company might not have had such a nosedive finish.

The happy part is that Tower Records taught me how excellent a huge record/music store could be. The Mass. Ave./Newbury St. intersection that included both a three-floor Tower and the lynch pin store of Newbury Comics were my happiest hunting grounds since I discovered Cheapo back before the Earth’s crust cooled. The “World Music” section of the San Francisco store was Heaven incarnated in a forest of racks. I still recall flipping through vinyl and jewel cases for hours with a simmering, dreamy excitement.


PS: I should add that the first time I went into the Tower in Berkeley (I think it was) there was an angry demonstration-line in front of it decrying “corporate music stores.” So I thought, well probably gonna be a Top 40 hellhole. No way. I recall I saw Rock of Ages by The Band, bright and early after release, and snatched it up and have loved it ever since. You protesters are full of the residue from vinyl that they used to dump in rivers.

The Frail of Comics Is a Fail

Because I bought a rare comic that is physically almost like a regular-issue comic book (Kramers Ergot, Volume One Issue Two, if you must know), I was stunned by the realization that I had not acquired a normal-format comic book in, well, several years anyway.

The fragility of comic books is a key part of their history, of course. Before the collectors’ market really took off in the ’70s, the artists and publishers and sellers all assumed that nobody would want the pop-junk after a month and the unsold issues were destroyed. That’s why, as a general rule, the older something is, the rarer it is. (Sheer number of outlets contributed to more issues of later comics being available.)

I liked using my comic-book collection — reading them, that is. I never picked up anything because it was marketed as a collectible. And I treated comics like regular books — you don’t get them wet or dirty and you keep them away from direct sun, but otherwise just keep them in order.

This business of the cardboard backing and the plastic bag sealed with tape drives me banay-nays. Makes the comic into an investment, not a source of pleasure. So the solution for me is serious paperback or hardback anthologies, which I’m glad to see are around for more titles than ever.

I do have one investment-collection. Years ago, when I took my hundreds of ’60s Marvel comics out of storage I discovered (with a flinch) that they meant nothing to me — I had absorbed them and somehow the shoddy movies had spoiled them for me  in some fundamental way.  But I’m actually glad I have failed to set up a way to sell them all at once (which is the only way I would do it) … because the price estimates keep going up and up and up …

D’OH!/Hooray Combo

D’oh: I do so have an older Jean Shepard anthology. It was just buried in the back CD stacks and I had forgotten about it. (I only looked in the obvious places. Yes, I’ve got too many separate storage areas.) This happens rarely, but makes me feel like a mad hoarder with a faulty memory.

Hooray!: The two collections overlap so little I’m plenty glad to keep both of them.

R.I.P.: Kelan Philip Cohran

Yes, he does belong in the same pantheon as Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble. 

After you recover from his procreative prowess (23 kids!), you should run out and score a copy of On the Beach  The reissue on Aestuarium Records has the consensus more nuanced and clear sound, but damned if I don’t have both that and the reissue on Katalyst because I think the compare/contrast quality of the reissued sound is fascinating. I emphasize that if you dig Ra and the Art Ensemble, you have to have some of this guy.

Brazilian Tip: Os Brazoes

Os Brazoes

Got all the usual flags of promise that fail to fly so often any more: only album, from 1969; quick out of print, rare as hell even in Brazil; harder rock ‘n’ soul psyche than almost any other Brazilian outfit of the time. Mysteries remain — yes they backed Gal Costa, but did they record anything with her or not? (Most sources say no.)

But damned if everything doesn’t wave high with this one. No strong singing voices, but you get used to the poised harmonies and sometimes, as on the cleverly arranged “Canastra Real,” they finesse the vocal limits altogether.

Reviews are a shade wanting, but here’s some good scoop.

So yeah, the Nuggets do still turn up.