Posts Tagged ‘music’

When I was working at FantaCo, owner Tom Skulan had Bernie Wrightson do the covers for the FantaCon comic conventions in 1980 and 1981. (The artist was going as Berni at the time to distinguish himself from another person.) He was a guest at three shows, at least.

FantaCo also published a comic called Deja Vu in 1982, featuring a front cover by Bernie Wrightson and two 1971 stories, The Last Hunters and King of the Mountain, Man, plus works by others in the artistic pantheon, Michael Wm. Kaluta and Jeff Jones. That was edited by Mitch Cohn, so my dealing with Bernie was usually a hello before passing the phone on to Mitch, who felt as though he were in heaven.

But I’ve been even current comic professionals have expressed the same sensation. As my friend, illustrator Fred Hembeck put it:

“I found myself invited to the already annual Wrightson Halloween party in a nearby town. I’ll admit to being a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of rubbing elbows with Bernie and a passel of his highly accomplished peers–after all, I was just a guy who drew squiggles on character’s knees, and he was, well, he was Bernie Wrightson. But my nerves were soon soothed, as Bernie was such a nice guy that he made me feel totally relaxed, even as he stood holding a butcher’s knife while wearing a blood-spattered apron as we pleasantly chatted (it was a Halloween party, remember).

“Over the next decade or so, there were plenty more Wrightson shindigs, holiday-centric or not, as well as a weekly volleyball game attended by Bernie and a host of other local cartooning notables. After awhile, I almost got used to Bernie just being that nice guy I was trying to set up at the front of the net in hopes of scoring on a Wrightson spike. Almost. But I never quite shook the awe I had–and continue to have–for the work he did that so inspired me during key years when I was ramping up my own attempts to get published.”

EVERYONE I read online, including Elaine Lee and Wendy Pini, spoke about how nice Bernie Wrightson was. Some DID complain about his limited danceable music collection: “A little Blues Brothers can go a long way,” someone wrote, and made him mixed tapes.But even in my limited contact, I always knew him to be a sweet guy.

And generous, famous for encouraging younger talent, both artists and writers. Steve Bissette revealed that when “DC in its benevolence sent Bernie a bonus check out of the blue, Bernie would split that bonus check up and mail checks to Alan Moore, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, and me, and when asked what for, he laughed, saying ‘I didn’t earn this, I know this bonus was because of what you guys did on the character, but don’t tell anyone about this because you don’t want DC to have a reason not to send another check!'”

Unfortunately, the enormously talented artist Bernie Wrightson died March 19 of a brain tumor at the age of 68. Ugh, I had a friend die from that; not pleasant. Here’s the notification.

His artistry on Swamp Thing and the stuff at Warren Publications was legendary. Tom Skulan referred to him as “the greatest horror comic artist ever.” A fellow artist said, “That might be Wrightson’s greatest gift to us: no matter how terrible the image he portrayed, it was always captivatingly beautiful.” That’s why I was happy to do my part to keep Creepshow selling when its publisher had given up on it.
***

Chuck Berry was 90 when he died, and I was filled with all sorts of contradictory feelings. On one hand, he is, to my mind, THE single person who had the greatest impact on creating rock and roll. He took the blues that wasn’t, in his words, blue enough, added some country chops, and voila. He was a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The legendary duck walk, developed when he fell on stage and was getting up, was amazing. His music is literally in space.

He was an obvious influence on scores of artists, such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, with the former two as subjects of lawsuits by Berry. Here are
20 of his essential songs, and it doesn’t include his only #1 pop hit, 1972’s My Ding-a-Ling.

But he had his demons, which are touched upon in this article. There was the stuff with a 14-year-old girl back in the 1950s, though the use of the Mann Act to prosecute him, usually applied to high profile cases from boxer Jack Johnson to former governor Eliot Spitzer, was troubling. Much later, there were the bathroom cameras.

The article mentions, among other things, the 1987 concert movie about him, Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll, which I saw in the cinema at the time, and I found the musician, to my surprise, rather unlikable. He seemed glib in giving honorifics to almost everyone, he botched Robert Cray’s name, he made Julian Lennon look bad, he practically drooled over Linda Ronstadt.

He was to be kind, complicated.
***
I was living in New York City during the summer of the Son of Sam killings, so of course I was reading Jimmy Breslin, from then and for probably a decade or more. But his most famous piece was much earlier: Digging JFK grave was his honor.

There are certain things, such as fireworks and kaleidoscopes, that are never as impressive in graphic representation than they are in real life.

If you read the definition, you get no idea just how wonderful kaleidoscopes can be: “An optical instrument with two or more reflecting surfaces inclined to each other in an angle, so that one or more (parts of) objects on one end of the mirrors are seen as a regular symmetrical pattern when viewed from the other end, due to repeated reflection.

“The reflectors (or mirrors) are usually enclosed in a tube, often containing on one end a cell with loose, colored pieces of glass or other transparent (and/or opaque) materials to be reflected into the viewed pattern. Rotation of the cell causes motion of the materials, resulting in an ever changing viewed pattern.”

I was reminded of this when I was helping The Daughter clean out her room recently. I came across one of my old kaleidoscopes which I either lent her or she “borrowed.” It was so much fun looking through it that I borrowed it back.

NASA has provided instructions on making a kaleidoscope, appropriate, since its Hubble looked into a cosmic kaleidoscope last year.

I’ve just discovered that the Guinness-certified World’s Largest Kaleidoscope is not all that far from where I live, on Route 28 in Mount Tremper, Ulster County, New York. It stands 56 feet tall and is 38 feet in diameter. The family NEEDS to go this year!

Of course, my first thought involving the word is to the song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by some Liverpudlian band on their Sgt. Pepper album, featuring the line “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” Apparently the reference is to one Yoko Ono.

Listen to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds:
The Beatles, from the movie Yellow Submarine
Elton John, #1 in the US for 2 weeks in 1975, with the Reggae guitars of Dr. Winston O’Boogie.

beatles-revolverThe musically influential Beatles had their own sources of inspiration, both predecessors and peers. In reading Steve Turner’s “The Beatles: A Hard Day’s Write,” subtitled “the stories behind every song,” this becomes clear.

The members of the group were quite open about how a piece was transformed into their own creations. Sometimes when you know, you relisten to the Fab Four’s take, you say, “Oh, I hear that NOW,” almost never before that, which was their brilliance; they stole very well.

Sometimes they ripped off themselves. Read the rest of this entry »


What Is Your Name? Where Are We? Who Is President? Oh God

Trump(Doesn’t)Care cartoon

Poor People Need BETTER Health Insurance than the Rest of Us, Not Worse

The lessons we fail to learn: Warren G. Harding

American ‘Christianity’ Has Failed and I don’t want to preach a faith that can be so easily adapted to self-hatred and self-harm

How the baby boomers destroyed everything

The 1862 Binghamton (NY) Race Riot – something I did not know about my hometown

After Slavery, Searching For Loved Ones In Wanted Ads

Coins of the Rebellion: The Civil War currency of Albany merchants

Jobs, Income, and the Future

A brief history of men getting credit for women’s accomplishments

The Weight of The Last Straw

7 Lies About Welfare That Many People Believe Are Fact

Albany, NY Plane Crashes Into Houses On Landing Attempt, March 1972

Contractor sues for $2 million in unpaid bills on Drumpf’s D.C. hotel

Kellyanne Conway’s interview tricks, explained, and her boss’s 10 steps for turning lies into half-truths

A college course on calling out scientific crap

The adult children of him will ditch Secret Service protection once he leaves office

Sen. Gillibrand Has Perfect Response To Regime Misspelling Her Name

‘Where I come from’ we claim universal generalities as our peculiar virtues

Some ‘snowflakes’ can take the heat

The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity, it’s loneliness

About Robert Osborne

Amy Biancolli: woman walks into a sandwich shop

The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath And A Narcissist

You May Want to Marry My Husband

This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life

David Kalish: I am my dog’s seeing-eye person

Coke: Global ad campaign celebrates inclusion and diversity

Alphabetizing Books

Ruben Bolling won the 2017 Herblock Prize

Now I Know: The Boy Who Captured the Wind and How to Claim Antarctica and The Park at the Bottom of the Lake

MEET APRIL THE GIRAFFE, formerly from Catskill Game Farm!

Sammy Davis Jr. Oscar blunder

Cush Jumbo

Lawyer’s Pants Catch Fire During Closing Argument

Garter snakes can be super deadly

Music

Divenire – Composer Ludovico Einaudi

There’s a Platypus Controlling Me (from Phineus and Ferb)

What are the songs that best capture our moment?

K-Chuck Radio: A dose of Northern Soul

Don’t Let Me Down – The Beatles

10 Beatles Covers You Really Need to Hear

Songs about the moon

More random music recollections based on the book Never A Dull Moment.

It was Woodstock, the March 1970 movie, that was the greater watershed than the August 1969 concert, the author posits, and I tend to agree. If a third of a million people actually went to Max Yasgar’s farm in Bethel, NY, after seeing the Academy Award-winning documentary, millions would say they were there.

I recall going to the film with a bunch of my anti-war, socially activist friends – Holiday Unlimited: “a splendid time is guaranteed for all” Read the rest of this entry »

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