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Friday, December 21, 2007

Yeah, yeah, I missed last night. I was up until almost 5 am making a dvd compilation of unusual - you guessed it - CHRISTMAS clips. Tonignt? House cleaning. All shagged. Anyway, the real 12 days of Christmas are supposed to start on Dec 25.

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Dad. I'll lift my Xmas Eve whiskey to the memory of lifting 'em with you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Actually had to spend time in a mall today... always odious. Kid's toys. Ate this Arthur Treacher fish that was both artless and treacherous; it turned immediately into bowel-churning greased feces and if that description sounds disgusting, try visiting a Long Island mall on Xmas week.

Years ago I worked in a mall. There's a view of its interior way back in those days:

The large pop-art cock was one of numerous artworks lending rare grace to the concern. Now the place is bereft of these li'l islands of greenery and sculpture; the promenades are instead dotted with krap kiosks and snack counters. Soft pretzels covered with brown sugar and toffee goop to eat while purchasing battery-operated trick dog toys that disintegrate on the way home.

When I worked in Sam Goody records, the disco era was in full flower. I was forever trying to play Tom Waits in-store before the boss took it off and put something awful on the stereo. During the holiday shopping season, one of the albums in heavy rotation was the unimaginably rotten, utterly unendurable Salsoul Orchestra "Christmas Jollies." The cover is shown below, along with the original, peek-a-boo ass pic of the Salsoul girl, which the crack design team at Salsoul records bowdlerized for the Christmas album. That same craft and taste informs the music as well, an incessant boomboom disco beat throbbing without variation under the comfort-and-joyless mynah bird chorus disemboweling seasonal favorites sacred and secular.

"Fuck me Elvis" (as we said in those days), it sucked. And it made those already wretched hours eeeeendless.

At every available opportunity I'd slip away to Beefsteak Charlie's to drink away the agony. As did most of the store's management on Christmas Eve itself, which presented a grand opportunity to purloin stacks of records, tapes, styluses, cartridges, microphones, tape decks, headphones, cables, instruments, songbooks, office supplies, et al, right under their inebriated noses. I wonder if the great R. Stevie Moore, then working at one of Sam Goody's New Jersey stores, did the same. I got fired three times from that place. Sometimes I still dream that I'm showing up for work there, looking for my time card. Then I wake up, drunk.
Ah, holiday memories!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Here's my first extant Santa picture. Mom has dressed me in festive raiment, with suspenders (or "braces" to those of you in the UK, or "galluses" to those of you in the early 19th century) and a seasonal red-n-gold shirt. This picture differs from the subsequent ones in a few details: the throne of Ol' Saint Nick is here a white, betasseled number with stripes and spires. The background wall is neutral. The giveaway booklet - these usually featured coloring pages and cartoon tales of happy children in Santaland - clearly identifies the site as Abraham and Straus department store. Downtown Brooklyn. How dearly I recall the splendor of these stores in Christmastime... huge trees gleaming with lights, glass ornaments and tinsel. The banks of elevators manned by old men who always made gentle remarks to a young boy overwhelmed by the spectacle about and the prospect of meeting HIM.

You'd walk though the herding corridors, deftly done up in paint and glitter to illustrate that year's theme (reflected, of course, in the booklet)... Children of many lands celebrate the holidays... Jimmy and Sally visit the North Pole... Rudolph and friends welcome you... eventually arriving at the "big chair" ...not the one Tears For Fears later referred to. Now, this time I seem a bit tentative. Who could blame me, sitting on the lap of this bug-eyed menace? I dig the beard; it's a quality item with a golden tinge to provide veritas and contrast with the white trim on his outfit. Wonder what I asked him for? More to come on this absorbing topic.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well, I decided to do this every-night blog thing, for Christmas. The attempt to keep up with this and the attempt to make Christmas festive here are both acts of will; I'm not especially inspired to do this, and Christmas nowadays is heavily laden with sorrows, obviously. Still: I am alive and I have a family to nurture and be nurtured by, so acts of will... acts of defiance toward the grim realities of living... are important.

I just got a little ways into a screed and deleted it all.

Right now my Mom is in very bad health... dying, to be blunt. I'm really weary. REALLY weary and sad. So fuck screeds and onward with the little acts of defiant will. For '08 I have a trip to France to look forward to. I hope my little circle of French compatriots... friends, fans and fellow artists... help me enjoy a little vindication for all this futile work I've done with music. Between that and this snail's-pace album we've been making, maybe it'll get a shot in the arm and feel like it means something again. Or maybe these'll be sweet notes on which to conclude the whole tortuous venture. Either one's cool with me.

And I have this little gig at the NY Post, thanks be to Guzman. You know, telling people I write articles about musicians is infinitely preferable to telling them I'm a musician. The latter means "published" which means "money"which means respect. The former means "loser" and people love reminding you of that. So yeah, bring on a year of Sunday articles. And if a few folks in Paris applaud a set of my greatest misses, that will sustain me.

And of course, there's my wife and kids. I hope for a good year for us, and for a nice holiday season to lead us onward. And for you, my friends, I hope for wonders untold, successes grand, and radiant health. Merry Christmas, anyway, is my point. More nostalgic/stoopid Christmas posts to come.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Here's the TV GUIDE listing and ad for the second airing of THE YULE LOG. We were watching that night, you bet. Sure, we knew how weird it was, but we also loved it. It accompanied the family ritual of opening one package on Christmas Eve. Today we put up the tree here, and I told my kids about the little village of skaters, etc, that we used to put under the tree every year. We set up the town and the metal figures while Andy Williams and Sinatra sang. Miles lay on the floor on his stomach, just like I used to, and stared at the old village, beatific. He insisted I lay down beside him and tell him the stories I dreamed up back when I was a little boy like him, all about the citizens of our tiny town. Lily directed the hanging of ornaments. Shelley and I had a glass of nog. I hope we have many decades of nights like this. There is nothing better in the world.

Friday, December 14, 2007

One day back in the 60s I opened up a comic book and saw that ad. >

Look at that!!! DR EVIL! His BRAIN was exposed! He defeated his enemies using a "thought-sensor" shaped like a fuckin' EYEBALL!

Soon, on a visit to Sears, I saw the actual figure behind the toy counter. Words cannot convey the covetous frenzy this inspired. See, previously I had to invent villains for my Captain Action doll to do battle with, using GI Joe dolls. It worked OK, but it was kind of pedestrian. THIS was the very thing. DR EVIL! (Wonder if Mike Myers had one as a kid)

Captain Action was a great toy, shown here in the essential source, the Sears "Wish Book". He was an action figure that could transform into any number of comicbook faves from Marvel, DC, and other characters like the Lone Ranger and Tarzan. Not only did the staid GI Joe make for an unsatisfying rival, but there was this aesthetic disconnect; I had this thing about mixing action figures... GI Joe was a world unto itself, as were the various Marx figures.

Though they all worked well scale-wise, it just seemed wrong to get the various worlds of Marx cowboys, Hasbro soldiers and Ideal superheroes all mashed up suchlike.

Now, the ZEROIDS were another matter. These battery operated robots were scaled smaller than the other11 or 12 inch figures. These were the perfect scale for combining with MAJOR MATT MASON, a rubber bendable astronaut made by Mattel. Somehow I had no problem mixing Matt and the Zeroids. And eventually, the greatest thrill of all, Colorforms' Men From Space would join the fray, but that's another whole entry.

Incidentally, look at the BATMAN play set there below the Capt Action ad. Another great set, and nowadays a VERY costly item- if you can find one- on Ebay. Had it. Oh yeah.

So you can imagine the cluster of competing hopes: will I get ZEROIDS? The new GI Joe "Soldiers of the World" figures? And ...heart be still... DR EVIL himself? Fevered prayers.

Gaze in wonder below, TTBs!!!

Here we are, me and Pete, me beaming over my new ZEROID robot and Pete a bit distressed that he got Rudy the Robot instead of his own Zeroid. Age-appropriateness and all. A glance around the room confirms that this was a GREAT take for Christmas morn: Behind us is the STRANGE CHANGE machine, into which you'd plunk these little square plastic wafers and watch as they bloomed into the coolest little aliens, bugs, dinosaurs, etc. Killer toy.

Peeking out right behind my ass is the head of a Marx Toys RAT PATROL figure, part of a cool set based on some tv show I never watched. I think I see a Troll House in front of Strange Change, which was probably Pete's. I have one of those now. You need one. Ya never know.

Of course, to my right (well, my left, but right as you observe the scene) is an open box of small accessories. Oh yeah...

At the very bottom of the box is a little object, which on closer inspection looks like it might just be... naw... is it possible?

That little object looks like it might just be a THOUGHT-SENSOR!!!!

That can mean only ONE THING!

Let's roll back time (Christ, if only...) for a few minutes and relive the sacred moment... YEAH!!

BEHOLD: DR. EVIL! Mint in package! But not for long!

Mom, knowing all too well for months already how desperately I needed this toy made sure the camera was on me at the magic moment.

My fucking TONGUE is hanging out.

Dig the GI JOE Soldier of the World behind me! And some kind of train set or something!

But it was Dr Evil. That was the one. I STILL have him.

And for now, I still have Mom. And I wish I still had Pete. Oh for one more moment with all of them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yule Blog... 12 days of Sport Spiel, or bust.

Here's yer basic. Unalloyed bliss on the festive morn, at 606 17th St, Brooklyn. This is the place of my soul.

The tinsel on the tree is that great old lead stuff they banned a few years later. Seems some dumb kids used to chew on it!

Ahem. Lead poisoning... it might explain a lot. When they banned the lead icicles I had to resort to gnawing on the "Lead Pipe" from the game CLUE. It was actually made of lead! Not for long. Soon that was gone, too. F'ing safety nazis! Bummer.

Then I found that roll of solder in Dad's tool box. Mmmm!

Haven't chewed lead in years.

Well, a few years ago I began collecting packages of the old lead icicles on Ebay and antique stores. Sure, I dipped a little. Still great.