On “Binky Brown”

Reading about this groundbreaking undergrounder in Hillary Chute’s Why Comics? reminds me of the time I first came across it (I believe it was the second printing) in a Missoula “head shop.” The cover alone was “WHAAAAAAT?” This will fill you in on its history and significance.

I couldn’t believe this comic — every page was a revelation (as well as disturbing) that touched on society, the sexes, religion, growing up, and of course psychological disorder of the OCD type. It’s a bit like Elvis — it’s impossible to convey the jolt of surprise as one encountered “Binky Brown” when it was new.

I was on the inexperienced and naive side myself. I was certain Justin Green was going to become a prolific comix genius. For a long time I thought of him with a twinge of disappointment. Older and at least a couple (white) hairs wiser, I now see what an unrepeatable performance “Binky Brown” was. But hey — lots of artists have long and large careers without producing even one masterpiece. I bought the fancy 2009 reprint and thought Green’s work deserved every bit of the celebration.

African Mixdisc 2017

 

(Includes music discovered, not released, this year)

TRADAFRIQUE/PROGAFRIQUE 2017

 

  1. Vincent Nguini, “Spirit” (2006)
  2. Kasai Allstars, “Quick as White” (reworked by RAMZI)
  3. Oumou Sangare, “Bena Bena”
  4. Alune Was & Harold Lopez-Nussa, “Aminata”
  5. Cheikh Lo, “Jeunesse Senegal” (1999)
  6. Kondi Band, “Without Money, No Family”
  7. Awa Poulo, “Noumou Foli”
  8. Jupiter & Okwess, “Ofakombolo”
  9. Sonia Aimy, “Husband in Canada”
  10. Fabrizio Cassol, “Didodi Horns” (feat. Baba Sissoko)
  11. Bokante, “Jou Ke Ouve”
  12. Seyi Shay feat. Wizkid, “Crazy” (re-mix)
  13. Youssou N’Dour, “Jeegel Nu (Forgiveness)”
  14. Trio-Da Kali and Kronos Quartet, “Kanimba”

 

Song of the Day, And How

As well as a strong early candidate for “local number of the year.”

Dan Pugach Nonet’s debut, Plus One (Unit Records) includes an inspired remake of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” with a vocal by Nicole Zuraitis and an arrangement that at once transform and preserve the musical and emotional landscape of the work. Highly recommended.

(And I was deeply out to lunch to not know about Zuraitis — though a couple other performances here are more artsy-intellectual than “Jolene”.)

Le Guin Nails the Charm of Ace Doubles

In the introduction to the first Volume of her Hainish Novels and Stories she recalls from 50 years earlier::

The first three novels in this volume were published by Donald A. Wollheim, the tough, reliable editor of Ace Books, in the Late-Pulpalignean Era, 1966 and ’67. The first two, Rocannon’s World and Planet of Exile, came out as Ace Doubles: two short novels by two different authors in one paperback cover, like two trains running towards each other on one track. When one train hit the other you turned the book upside down and started from the other end. And Ace Double was a very good deal for under a dollar. It was not a very good deal for the authors, or a brilliant debut in the publishing world, but it paid, it got you into print, it had readers.

And one of them was this high-schooler in Montana named Miles. I loved Ace Doubles because they were well-edited and of reliable quality. And even on my teeny budget I could get whatever ones appealed to me. Of course, the what didn’t occur to me is that, “Yikes, this low price means the writers didn’t get paid scrunt!” I didn’t read Le Guin until the unavoidable The Left Hand of Darkness, but some of my favorites included: James White Second Ending / Samuel R. Delany The Jewels of Aptor (1962);  Samuel R. Delany The Towers of Toron / Robert Moore Williams The Lunar Eye (1964); Fred Saberhagen The Golden People / Lan Wright Exile From Xanadu (1964); A. Bertram Chandler Space Mercenaries / Emil Petaja The Caves of Mars (1965); Jack Jardine and Julie Jardine (jointly as Howard L. Cory) The Mind Monsters / Philip K. Dick The Unteleported Man (1966); Lin Carter Tower Of The Medusa / George H. Smith Kar Kaballa (November 1969). I took a pretty extensive break from sci-fi from the time I graduated college until I moved to MA.

 

R.I.P.: Mark E. Smith

He had a great Fall and I think he’d appreciate this non-obit obit.

I tried to write an obit in the manner of his lyrics — “Now he’s dead. Can’t get him outta your head-uh.” — but even incorporating as many actual phrases from his songs as possible, I didn’t have the chops to pull it off. (Or it was a misguided project, period.) The key problem was that it could be read as a mockery of his mannerisms. You couldn’t stick in some dopey explanation that it was an homage, since that would ruin everything. But in this touchy age, it would certainly be read as a satiric attack on a guy who just died, you jerk.

Martian War Machines — Good Accurate Representations

The first is from the original edition of the H.G.Wells landmark. The second from a fairly contemporary Brazilian translation. The third from the terrific, much more recent, treatment by Edward Gorey.

War of the Worlds 1

War of the Worlds 3

War of the Worlds 2

The thing that always puzzled me about these creations is that Wells accurately presented the Martians — giant heads on top of tentacle-like fingers — as crawling around and gasping, clearly oppressed by the thick atmosphere and strong gravity of Earth (compared to Mars). And yet these weird, spindly war machines, persuasive products of the Martian environment, were not similarly crushed and slogged by the Earth environment. Maybe they worked out a magic technology in prep for the invasion.