Thursday, October 5, 2017

Into The Great Wide Open: R.I.P. Tom Petty

Perhaps the first great rule of figuring out who is an iconic rock singer is: you must be able to do a silly impression of them. Tom Petty shines through on this rule. You can definitely do a silly impression of him that many people will recognize, especially if they’ve grown fond of a few of his big hits.

But Tom Petty, who died of cardiac arrest at age 66, was of course more than someone fun to imitate. Whether you’ve been with the Heartbreakers since Damn The Torpedoes or even before, whether you know who’s Mudcrutch (his first and, when reassembled, nearly last band), Tom could tell you “You Don’t Know How It Be Me..” But rock’s look-a-like answer to Marvel Comics Group editor/writer Roy Thomas provided me music for many fast rides down the road, in times when that was my favorite part of being alive. “Running Down A Dream” always connected with my nervous system in a strong way; that may be my favorite Tom Petty song. WE’ve learned to play several of them. In fact, he was the last artist I tried to find covers from before I laser-focused on recording Integr8d Soul this summer. His biography, Petty, is the very best book of its sort I think I ever read. That’s also the last book I completed reading. It took basically two days. I love creating songs, and this book has more of the essence I wish to reflect in work like Creating Marvels : I’m intrigued by what put the ‘there’ there. Tom went to the well for songs longer than I’ve been alive. He brought back a number that are practically some part of every American experience. He seemed to show a good sense of humor about that innovation that came along to change it all, the music video. You still really need one, today! I’ll always remember him first as the Mad Hatter, from what is rightly pointed out by my friend Crystal as one hella scary-ass children’s story, Alice In Wonderland. Stacy Edge gave us a lyric referencing it that became our chorus to a song she titled first as the poem, “Halb.” Nothing quite says lost like Alice. But Tom said so many things in songs. You get a real part of his life. Early on, you get his desire to craft a hit song with his Heartbreakers. Even the records I’ve never heard had fascinating descriptions. Did you know he turned down what was soon turned into “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley? Mike Campbell, guitarist, initiated the creation of that one.

I thought I’d need his biography to write a eulogy. But he spoke for me when he released “I Won’t Back Down.” You know he recorded that in Mike Campbell’s garage, with ELO’s Jeff Lynne producing? Same record with “Free Falling,” “Running Down A Dream,” even “Yer So Bad.” That friendship began thanks to mutual friend George Harrison. A Beatle! You get adopted by a Beatle and you are some big time talent. Ask Elton John! No, don’t ask him if he’s big time talent, it’s a figure of speech.
My friend at Krafthaus wondered aloud, he knew not quite why, he thought of Tom Petty as “a successful fan.”
I can tell you the LP Wildflowers was mine, on CD, in that window in my life when music had made its strongest surge yet in showing me how important it was to me. So while my life otherwise went nowhere but long drives and struggles to find a way out of the grind and make a living, “You Don’t Know How It Feels” was blasting on the car radio; “It’s Good To Be King” was playing to the window in my bedroom, the window where I’d watch the street and just listen to songs. “Honeybee” and “Cabin Down Below” were fun- I hadn’t really mastered much on guitar yet, but those kinds of old rock rhythms, electrified, kept a part of me ready to rock forever onwards. I had plenty of songs I liked but, as I grew writing songs, didn’t love, but Tom Petty’s always welcome in my passive public consumption of song. “Learning to Fly” also got a great song out of David Grohl, too, but the second famous song by that title I ever knew, with its Traveling Wilburies feel, that slide guitar and down hominess, is one of the simplest Tom hits and one of the most rewarding. But I think “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” cut just for the Greatest Hits, might be the most universally loved one of the the 90s.

He had a hell of a time with that drummer, Stanley, but what a talented guy Stan is, a good writer and suitable foil on drums, however much Daniel Lanois just thought he was noise. I think I’m getting my producer right. This is just a blog, dammit, the producer of Damn The Torpedoes and two other albums- a collaborator who brought in Steve Nicks, who wanted to be a Heartbreaker even while Fleetwood Mac was selling huge-he’s the headphones magnate. Benmont Tench was the first Heartbreaker I knew by name, because what a weird fucking name, and that’s coming from Cecil Lue Disharu. But he and Mike were constants in the Heartbreakers, with deft touches whose simplicity belies their raw talent. I still can’t get over Stevie Nicks wanting to be a Heartbreaker- she got in through Tom’s wife at the time and stayed around a lot for over a decade.

But through it all, attempting to be a family man, married, occasionally for unhappy, guarded reasons, and a man who bottomed out harder than anyone knew following his greatest run of success, Tom Petty was a recognizable talent. He didn’t even start out as his first band’s singer. He and his Heartbreakers became, in 1986, the touring band for Bob Dylan, himself. Remember my initial point about funny impressions? It took a lot of pressure off everyone to just be inventive and work with Dylan on stage.

I forget who it was that walked into the study during a Christmas party around 1986, guess it was, to find George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne first discussing what would become the Traveling Wilburies. Now I realize how close Tom and Bob Dylan had just been working, and the book went on at length describing the years of correspondence and friendship Petty shared with the late George Harrison. Wouldn’t you love to hold one of those letters for just a minute? I wouldn’t even try to read them all if I could, but just appreciate how cool it is to find out someone who changed music forever for you was basically a cool guy, funny, smart, sincere. When is the last time you reached out to someone with something you wrote down, to keep it on a shared piece of paper? I think it would be novel to some people, nowadays. Tom’s life among the musicians- like his brief secret weapon, party man Dave – Stewart, isn’t it?- of the Eurythmics- tells you the real story of how this music was made.

I can’t decide whose collaboration story I really enjoy the most, but hearing how Lynne recorded those tracks of Full Moon Fever- the LP that hooked my sis and I big time- might’ve seemed the most relevant to me as I recorded, this summer. Isn’t it wild they brought Roy Orbison back into a studio for that one last amazing record, real hits? One more time, that voice on the radio. I used to cover “Little Runaway”: turns out Petty produced a comeback record for that singer, Del Shannon!
I’m out of date past The Last DJ, but I can tell you the book describes Tom’s effort to reunite Mudcrutch as a moment as satisfying as having the Heartbreakers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. He’s a band guy, in an era some no longer see as a band era.

Ah, but lest I forget, no longer is he in present tense. He’s past tents- he’s living in bungalows, now! Now, there’s a full moon, beautiful, right on the doorsteps of his passing. Tom played cowboys, had a crazy dad, a long-suffering mom, two pretty great daughters, and a stepson and a second marriage that I heard blew up. IF they didn’t work things out, that is just too bad, as they had twenty years of much happiness, but I am not in the thick of Petty gossip nor even online much at present.

I love the story of the first tour, piling five or six of them together in a van the old fashioned way, and the odyssey of bands for which they opened, reminding me what a treat awaits me when I finally get way into Cheap Trick! Tom had true cool. I’d say he wasn’t so much an all-around singer as the voice of what he had to say. I should do so well! He had a spirit that seems like it’d bring you a few words of wisdom. He had an amazing time overall. He brought happiness into millions of lives, and is not done! We’ll be listening for some time. It will really be the change of an epoch when I am not hearing Tom’s songs in random public places. He worked with Rick Rubin, the last producer to Johnny Cash. I hadn’t even worried for ol’ Tom, just didn’t seem like he’d be going anywhere soon.
I still have songs galore left from him to enjoy, but when music could really mean something to my life, he and his buddies were teaching me American music. And as the Violent Femmes sang, “I like American Music. You like American Music.”
He devoted his life to making good songs, then taking them out to whomever would listen. He threw one really great Super Bowl halftime- what a fine nod to how much his songs were loved. If I seemed a bit flip in eulogizing him, please take it today in the Heartbreakers’ own style. Stevie Nicks and the rest of you, there’s millions of people who’ve sang with the Heartbreakers, danced or played air guitar or drums. So don’t just be heart broken, be a Heartbreaker.

The worst part of dying just might be those you leave crying. Time passes, molasses, sweet and slow, spread on biscuits of homemade dough. One year they threaten to arrest your fans, another greet you with parades of bands. So count on yourself when you’ve been counted out- no doubt you’ll learn to count on your doubt. Let the fun live on though the man is gone.

He will be there wherever there’s someone “running down a dream, that never would come to me/ working on a mystery, going wherever it leads...” He’s been free falling and leaving this world, for a little while.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Blank (is the answer) - Lue Lyron

The first song I wrote in California.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

An Audio selection of William Carlos Williams' poetry

I plan on memorizing a few poems and I was drawn to this author on the shelf. I also like:
Learning candidates: Pictures From Brueghel (1962)
The Ivy Crown (to my wife)
The Hard Core of Beauty
Tribute To the Painters
The Orchestra

and I like Pink Locust, The Forgotten City, and Tract!
I read "Beauty," "Orchestra," "Ivy Crown" and "Pink Locust" for this podcast. No analysis, really, just an experience of sensuous images in a recitation inspired by his style of indentation.


Monday, September 18, 2017

For Striking Worship by Angela Disharoon (music by Cecil)

ONe big edited first take of music to go with a 1999 poem of Angela's I picked up. So, it's got some imperfections, but I just want you to feel inspired, you know?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Short and Sweet- a folkie, wry number

With the ol' harmonica

They live with ease- Listen to Trees! The trees can teach more than most people please!
Know the real value of what you hold on to...'cause if you don't do it, you'll never know really you!

All of the ones who wouldn't listen are gone
it's just you and this song, I've got to help me hang on...

I know just what to do: I will create and be true
and I don't really need anybody but you!

Dedicated to the short and sweet everywhere!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Stuckwayze: Newscast Brainstorm!

A silly newscast forecasting another furious coming of mighty Saga.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A gentle one: It Can Be Like That (a love story)

“It Can Be Like That”

AS I think of you, falling asleep
there’s not much in my many memories to keep
me from waking you with the gentlest touch
and sweeping you up when the feeling’s so much
and it’s lately been that way
just like an early day

I’d give up gladly anything that I own
for a glimpse of your face, I might take out my phone
pictured there on my arm with an angel-like charm
for you’ve earned peaceful sleep
but I’m raptured so deep

when we sing together, cling together
It can be like that
and what years that we know, and what wrinkles may grow
if we keep this fine art, of our love from the start
It can be like that.
It can always be like that.

When I see young love in the making anew
and I hear of whispered words that will ever be true
I see them in the hearts of the lucky ones old
who hold hands and hang on when the years become gold
for it’s all the same
never end this game

For there’s days, many days, that pass in our eyes
and should time make them dim, here’s a word to the wise:
that the first flush of feeling that you find so appealing
needs permanent room
hidden safe from the gloom

and just walk together, talk together
it can be like that
and what years that we know, and what wrinkles may grow
if we keep this fine art, of our love from the start
It can be like that.
It can always be like that.

And it’s heart felt to say, I’m not that kind of man
who can never be found when he finds a new plan
when you’ve got to get a grip, reach for that same hand
for like fingerprints, the pattern remains
even after pitter-patter, and so much for our brains

Over seas together, please together,
no I’ll never complain
If we cling together, sing together
unbroken ring together
long as the sun reflects on the moon
and deep as midnight, yet brighter than noon
when we walk together, talk together
it can be like that
we return like spring and everything
I ever loved in you
it stays on my mind
and we’ll always find
it can be like that

it’s our fling, together, wings together
that’s how we’ll fly
when we love together, love forever
across the sky
and we’ll cry together, why together
we could smile
of our love forever, love together
it can be like that

It can always be like that.
7/14/17 3:39 am Cecil Disharoon, Jr.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Personal for a sexy girl: can anyone help me please?

I've long wished to do an EP full of songs with The Marc Kane on lead. As I am the more hands-on songwriter of our duo, I'm more likely to show up on a demo, but this one...I think it was a melody I heard upon waking, once again. It was so fun to write! I consider it a companion piece to "Waiting ON A Girl" and somewhat similar in lyrical intent. It's also very evocative of Angela Dawn's life in CAlifornia. Above all, I wrote it as a show piece for her. Maybe you'll get to hear her punk rock struggle when she was basically without legal i.d.- Invisible REsident- maybe even Monday.

This song's like a playful personal ad for the more mystical side of my best lady friend. Will anyone answer? LOL
Consider it a personal-i-tease. You can tell where she starts cutting loose about a minute in. I spent a little over an hour adding some bells and whistles to what was already a solid acoustic performance- her first try recording it. So glad to get it out to share!

-Lue Lyron

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Flying in Dreams: Integr8d Soul's Drifter (Skyward) by C Lue

I never plan to write a song, you know?

Drifter (Skyward)

I stopped to say good bye to a recent friend we’d made
we took a book of Batgirl comics, which on her bed she laid
her dreams of knowledge started, her things moved in the castle
it’s time to leave the castle now, so was it worth the hassle?

I went out to the flying craft, gave everyone a wave at length
it’d be so quick to pilot home, hang on and use my arm’s strength
and then I pushed the throttle forward, wheels rushed off the ground
then floating a-bove I waved at the students all around

Enough of all this scenery, and back to my machinery
I drifted to my next goodbye, he wasn’t one for hugs
but he’d seemed a friend so good enough we’d talk of Italy
I raised my machine high enough to stay above the trees

Drifter leaning skyward
it’s beautiful, you can take my word
you feel surrounding elements, you are so unprotected
but we just might fly to everywhere if we can stay connected

And there below inside the park, I saw you my best friend
playing ball with a child and family she lifted up her chin
I guided down my drifter to four point alight below
and I asked have you seen everyone I know it’s time to go
You said I wish we’d stayed to be the graduation ceremony
I knew you meant you hope it pays that a bachelor’s work’s not phony
we’d have a few hours to glide, we shouldn’t plan our stops
we might not make them all in time, then our friends might call the cops

to see if we had crashed in our dream drifter headed east
perhaps we’ll just surprise someone if we communicate the least
it’d keep us off the Internet, it’s too much information
when our dream’s to launch our flyer and glide all over the nation

Drifter leaning skyward
it’s beautiful, you can take my word
you feel surrounding elements, you are so unprotected
but we just might fly to everywhere if we can stay connected

So hang on to my drifter, and our wings will catch the wind
I can’t promise riches, places we won’t see again
and I hope the flight is worthy, for it’s cost me everything
but my time, and that, I’ll pay to climb on hopeful, steady wings

we’ll leave the campus quickly, once we push the throttle down
and we might need jobs that aren’t so much, we might need other towns
but where we go, we’ll always talk, and speed to skies above
so long as this craft can hold up, invention spreads the love

We fly with ease within our dreams, without a fear of heights
in this drifter we will travel light, above the city nights
some might want to fly like us, a few might help the way
we can make ground life more bearable, though misery might stay

The weather in this drifter may make travel incomplete
repairs require honesty and dollars that compete

Drifter leaning skyward
it’s beautiful, don’t just take my word
we feel surrounding elements, we are so unprotected
but we just might fly to everywhere if we can stay connected

Flyers high within our minds, in vivid dream’s pretend
but I know what’s real and beautiful, is making one best friend
Drifter bracing skyways
navigate the by-ways
soaring over high-ways
floating high again

Drifter bracing skyways
navigate the by-ways
soaring over high-ways
floating high again Cecil Disharoon/ Lue Lyron 8/23 11:05am

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

90's night: Alternative Life (Live at Schroeder's, pt. 2)

Check out my previous post for even more 90's night goodness!

I have more Box Wine songs, too!
Here's one you might've missed that has stayed often in my head:

Nosecone Prophets closed the night, and were one band that got some video, too! Short set, but they always make it count:

I have more Yet! Stay tuned, I want to edit them-I have about 20 more minutes of show, done already
...I am a bit short on upload space on Soundcloud, actually, if any of the bands could offer a host site- I'd be glad to feature your song and give you the mp3 of course!

I didn't play that night, but was certainly inspired:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When you disagree but are asked to work together

A friend offered a query for his creative peers, but you don't need to be in a creative field for this to apply. So many feelings get involved with that process, though, it's kind of the perfect crucible for this type of question. It's a question of ethics and allotting one's reserves, and it goes something like this:

Yep, it's like going into a dark tunnel, sure.
A friend you've known for years offers you a paying gig. It's a solid opportunity. You've known the person like half your life, so it would be cool to expand that through collaboration. It's a freelance job, and you'll be working together in some capacity. But while they're not a vile hate-monger, boy, do you not see eye-to-eye on some political matters. And as everyone knows, Politics has practically replaced Religion in matters of passionate conviction these days, to say nothing of what passes for discussion. So: take the job?

Inspired to reply, and then thinking it might be a cool discussion to pass along, the Be Chill, Cease ill on that count goes thusly:

You can probably do it. Know why? IF said friend understands how you feel differently- and for many of you, it might be hard to call you 'friend' and NOT know...but thinks you've got the chops, are reliable, and an all-right enough guy or gal to offer you a break...that counts for something. Mutual benefit of the doubt on differences. Just entering into evidence that speculation..not judging anyone. :-D If said difference doesn't have to enter the personal space, well awesome, cause it is, agreed, occasionally venomous. And some outlet for two fine, basically ethical friends to have discussions might even be welcome (it's agreeing upon the set of facts, these days, is it not, that is the issue?), but said friend would also probably understand a neat sidestep of "well, I think you're an intelligent, impassioned person, but I'd focus on giving our project our all and skip that exhausting subject, if ya don't mind" (the 'ya' is important, friend:-D)..Maybe flip a coin on it? Good luck.

There's so much upsetting stuff, and I've read we process 5 x the amount of information we did thirty years ago (I'm more than happy to limit my time on the 'Net for various reasons) so it can create quite a trainwreck in our nervous systems. I can dig it if you're concerned said friend will drift too often into that outlet out of a feeling of you becoming more of a confidante from long hours of collaboration. AS a writer, you get the advantage of understanding a bit how people with differing opinions, come to them, without having to embrace those that are stridently against your own ethics. Reason, we're finding, is tied first to feeling, then following that in its character. But my point was, so much BS out there and Anger, I find, is very hard to effuse in proportion once unleashed (kinda Love, too).

Like, when we go off, it's kinda the cumulative effect of all the things that tick us off, and so, embracing it can cause more strident reactions than we might intend. But you're a man of resolve, and if you have the reserves to avoid pressing the RAge button over the occasional annoyance, go for this! And honestly, if not, don't, because your peace counts for something, too. If they know you well at all, they may well have the prudence to realize they should steer away from certain querulous engagements, so, it's a matter of personal trust as well as assesment of and faith in your own reserves and qualities. WE do need unity beyond our differences, but you individually cannot hope to shoulder that burden for ALL- it's a gut-check, rather, of whether we have the strength to lift a given weight before us at a given time. If failure would be too costly, perhaps then we must decline certain challenges. But the willingness to take that chance when it is not a fool's errand but actually has a hope of a positive outcome- that is a sign of strength.

Our fears sometimes keep us from knowing the weight of that which lies before us, and sometimes our boldness makes us reckless. Courage and discernment must make friends and accomplish life together!

Then I'd step back from that equation and ask myself if I'd find the creative assignment engaging enough to warrant the investment.
I'm having a similar situation, with less guarantee it'll be remunerative in any fashion. These are the times that try the souls of folk, but while we might not always win, we can always learn and grow.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

90s Night Tributes, Rome Georgia style

3 90s Alternative classics for you today!

Dig it:

In order, here are a few highlights and I'll edit some more tracks later, and I got my picture of Nobody onto their player now, too:

So here's Nobody and the Go Getters, Box of Wine and the Brunettes, and The Kamikaze Dali Trio- just some of the talent there, like Nosecone Prophets, Them Mixon Boys, and WEdunnit, much of which I was able to record- but not all! I re-mixed my single track live recordings with a bit of post production goodness to help the result along, but the wonderful charisma and skill are there from Press Play. The event became a suicide prevention awareness event, so if you're feeling troubled, take a breath, step out of that shit, read helpful things, do helpful things, bond. It's not always so simple for every human cocktail of chemicals to get through this life, no, but I promise it's an equation worth solving. For one, you get to experience ARt. That alone makes days worth living!

Heck, one more, I love it, I had it was on the same track as "Aeroplane" on my computer.

I got video, too, no sound though, but with the right editing set-up, hey: I'll share with the appropriate parties.
Sponsored by Integr8d Soul, creators of songs like "Drifter (Skywards)"

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Don't Think It's Crazy demo 2012

Hey, I wrote this and did the best I could singing it, single track, then kinda lost it for various reasons. But I kept the title around in my lists as I continued updating. I'd love to get it figured out again. I know together we'd do it better!
We're about to find out if we've got ProTools. Our Audacity stuff's been a fun experiment- very helpful with the podcasts!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rocket Man by Soul Rocket Ba-Doom

This was my favorite song when I was 13 :-D I was a kid on his own rocket trajectory, for sure. I don't quite know what about its melancholy melody I found so relatable, it just felt like it could be my story! I was recoverying from cyst outpatient surgery (on my bottom left eye lid! Yikes) when I heard it on the Oldies Lunch Set on K-98. I think I heard "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" the day before- I was out on a Thursday and a Friday- and I request some Elton John, as though he were kind of a new singer to me. The next week I requested more and found "Tiny Dancer"- I looked all over to get that song! I had it taped off the radio. Then I heard "Bennie and the Jets" and was floored!!!!!! Not long afterwards I caught a Westwood One Radio Network concert from the Hammersmith Odeon, 1973 December holidays. OH wow. I taped it off and listened to it so many nights. Especially before my operation, I felt like an outcast, so perhaps that's why a song like this left such an impression on me. It's beautiful, too, and is probably where my love of great repetitive outros was really born.

Rocket Man, Bernie says, came to him while driving home one night. He says he was as much inspired by Ray Bradbury as anything, and the title came from a song by an obscure Florida band, though I don't know how much that factored into Bernie's lyrics. Bernie, of course, is Taupin, the wordsmith behind most of Elton's greatest hits. They released "Rocket Man" about the same time as the Apollo 17 launch, in April 1972. They recorded it during the sessions for Honky Chateau, which was so haunted, Davey Johnstone (the guitarist) said hardly a day went by without someone getting tapped on the shoulder on the say nothing of its weird cold spot in one bedroom. Granted, everyone but Elton was pretty stoned.

It went to #5 I think. It was Elton's biggest hit to date and is considered his breakthrough as a star.
("Your Song" went to #7 in 1970 but he didn't get another big follow-up hit for a while.)
If you hear it with only piano accompaniment, it's nearly too beautiful for this world. I recommend the 1976 version! That's where I copped my ending.
Here's the Cecil and Angela version.
Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

As Days Crawl By- making your own rock ballads at home with Integr8d Soul

Here we go! We're using more layered guitar approaches in our home recordings now, plus piano riffs, and once we get The Marc Kane's vocals down on this, we'll assess, start over using our drummer/ drum program, and this just might be one epic I.S. ballad!
I wrote this the night of our anniversary of our engagement, at work- at least, the original first verse and chorus. I gave it a second verse, re-worked that into the first one, and began recording this summer. I've waited for so long to head towards this kind of sound, and once we have our Pro Tools iLok back, we're going to take it to another level...then the studio...and then man, I have a video idea or two, but I look forward to shoppin it around! I hope it really resonates. I never wrote love ballads, for years, but this one's got some modern edge to it and was deeply sincere and personal, so hey.

Thanks to all of you who supported us these past few years, and there's so much more to come! Good luck on all your dreams.

Love, C Lue aka Lue Lyron Be Chill Cease ill

As Days Crawl By words and music by Lyron

intro: G A G A E A E G A

1. E
The lies align around the liars
Truth, often contradictory
What enters our imagination A E G A
The mystery of all mysteries
Well I kicked open the door, oh/ And my life was headed west, so
We discovered from the get go
Never let go Ever let go

Keep each day beside a new found friend
I long to see again

And the days crawl by
as our eyes search for what we’ll call the Future
as our souls’ always known as our bodies long to say
Gotta get on through the harder way
Ye-hah, gotta get on through the harder way

Gonna get on through…
gotta get on through!
Gonna get on through
as days crawl by


2. However long we’ve been together
it makes so little difference to me
I’m still alive in how we started
and dream of what we could be
For some the world’s a place for burnin’
and the driven, ah the living, that we’re earning
Yet I’m yearning, yet I’m yearning,
For the place in our hearts where we reside
Always on the other side

And the days crawl by
as our eyes search for what we’ll call the Future
as our souls’ always known as our bodies long to say
Gotta get on through the harder way
Ye-hah, gotta get on through the harder way

Gonna get on through…
gotta get on through!
Gonna get on through
as days crawl by
Gonna get on through…
gotta get on through!
Gonna get on through
as days crawl by A E G A E
Days crawl the days...crawl by...days...crawl the days crawl by (Days...)

2-7-17 & 6-15-17 All copyrights 2017 Cecil Disharoon, Integr8d Soul

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Childhood comics: Remembering Paul Kupperberg and Lonesome Pinky in Amazing Spider-Man #221

Remembering Alan Kupperberg, and the Denny O’Neil Amazing Spider-Man days

As I was vividly recalling each page of one of my childhood possessions, Amazing Spider-Man #221, I realized Denny’s run, save for the Deb Whitman subplot, seems very episodic, like television at the time. This simplicity might be one reason his ASM’s not as widely critically regarded, yet I recall his work distinctly. He’s very obsessed with time- the costume change and the trip back for the antidote come to mind-in a way that helps set the drama in detail. He’s blessed with longtime Spider-Man inker Jim Mooney, who keeps things consistent despite numerous fill-ins over an already-promising John Romita, Jr. I think the last time a cover declared the blurb “Crisis On Campus!”- back in ASM #68, was it?-Jim was often inking John Romita, Sr. or Don Heck.From Alan's Custom Comics work

One of those fill-ins featured Alan Kupperberg, whose work I want to remember today to mark his passing from this world on July 17th, 2015. I remember his name and work on Amazing Spider-Man #221 very clearly. Always a handy utility artist, Alan caught the agility of the wall-crawler, hand springing and kicking his opponent Ramrod, staying a step ahead of the very punk-rock-looking bruiser. I remember his sweaty Dr. Kissick and his sinister Ramrod along with his great Spider-Man figure work. The issue was briefly the only comic book I owned, surviving the ravages of my childhood ownership, so from the day Mom let me get it at North Broad Produce Market, I read it dozens of times. It became one of six comics from 1981 I got in real time. I rarely got to visit that Market, but I loved its citrus smells and would later see Iron Man #169’s dramatic tease about the new Iron Man- but we’ll get to Luke McDonnell July 19th, since that’s his birthday!
I committed every creator’s name to memory back then, as each issue that I gratefully took home was, to me, a star turn. After I became Facebook friends with Alan, I asked him about his turn on Incredible Hulk #300, which I finally got decades after its dramatic appearance in 1984. Alan got to draw most of the New York City-based Marvel superheroes in that issue, which sent the Hulk off to the Crossroads and his savage otherwordly final arc under Bill Mantlo. My attention to his credit, he said, brought quite a blast from the past. It was nice to get new fan mail, he said, from such a long-forgotten job. But Alan’s not forgotten. OH, yeah, sometimes confused with his Doom Patrol revivalist writer brother Paul, sure! But, from his first Marvel work on Crazy, the Magazine That Dares To Be Dumb, in 1976 onward, Alan had a journeyman career, from Captain America #240 throughout the 80s and 90s. He broke in, in 1974, at Marvel, working with Neal Adams’ Continuity Associates.
He had a good Black Cat you can find in issues of Peter Parker, and kind of excelled in the kind of parodies and cartoon humor with which his professional career began. Just look for Spider-Ham back-ups in Marvel Tales! He also took over the Howard the Duck newspaper strip after Gene Colan. In 1987, he drew the Peter Parker Honeymoon annual and the infamous ASM #289, where Ned Leeds is finally killed as the apparent Hobgoblin in flashback. Blue Devil, Firestorm, JLA, Warlord- his list afterwards at DC is a busy one!

What we’ll do here, though, is spend a few minutes over that one of many art jobs Alan probably spent a couple of weeks knocking out, ever reliably. Spider-Man was still in the long-standing pattern, only briefly messed with by Marv Wolfman when he finally decided Peter ought to at least graduate college, where the company really didn’t want to change his status quo and had a reasonably successful formula to keep pumping out adventures of their busiest trademark. Character studies and short story ingenuity become the episodic recourse. One can only take their best shot at saying something meaningful, like the colorfully-titled “Blues For Lonesome Pinky!”

I remember many times trying to ape Alan’s able splash page, where Spidey soars over Empire State University campus. His ESU phase as a Master’s student in physics and teaching assistant is usually handled over in Peter Parker, referenced in our Roger Stern Spectacular Spider-Man overview. His relationship with Debra Whitman, a secretary at the college, and rivalry with Biff Rifkin over her is, like his Daily Bugle dealings, usually Amazing’s province, under Denny. We’re swept into Dean Sloane’s office for a quick rundown on his status as T.A. and student. But a big creep’s leaning on a Doctor Kissick, nearby, blackmailing the professor for a poison.
The shiny-skulled baddie, as referenced by editor Tom DeFalco, is Ramrod, a Steve Gerber-Bob Brown “’Frisco” era creation who fought Spider-Man during his guest appearance in Daredevil #103. He sets off the ol’ Spider-Sense, and – I think it’s a ten second costume change later- the wall crawler’s taunting the heavy on the University Commons. Alan gives us a round one resembling what you might call The Rhino Strategy, until Ramrod wises up to the way out: heave a massive statue at the clustered students, then beat feet!

Peter consents to a bluegrass bar visit at the behest of his neighbor, the Kinky Friedman-styled country warbler Lonesome Pinkus, who’s become a fixture in recent issues, his goofy lyrics resounding off-key throughout Parker’s apartment building.
Here, the arm of coincidence stretches, with Debbie showing up on a date with her returned ex-husband Biff, and Peter settling on a glass of milk before a wretched Lonesome Pinky performance ends with erratic behavior worthy of a punk rock riot. Why? The beer’s poisoned...and Spider-Man clashes with the spiked patrons. But now, we get O’Neil’s human interest touch: Pinkus tries singing, desperately laying down some blues. This somehow quiets the bar, so as I recall, Spider-Man swings back to ESU campus to consult Dr. Kissick.

His grilling leads to a dose of antidote set aside to complete Ramrod’s ransom scheme. Spider-Man’s moving fast, again gracefully rendered, clock ticking. The pulse-pounding race, however, comes across a hurdle I’ll bet doesn’t surprise you much: Ramrod’s posed masterfully outside, to check out his crime scene. Would you believe he picked this bar because they told him he couldn’t sing and would give him a gig? A guy with an endo-skeleton like his would be a natural for heavy metal. Insults. Hopping. Wall-crushing. But a few mighty thumps from Spidey just aren’t slowing him down, and time’s running out for the bar patrons. Meanwhile, Lonesome Pinkus delivers the performance of his life, eschewing the corny country and western act for some apparently improvised painfully-real blues. I think it makes a subtle cultural comment on country’s new-found pop turn of the times compared to less-put-on, more sincere songwriting of the kind that made Greenwich Village famous, as quintessential 60s kid O’Neil would doubtless know. Lonesome’s expressions by Alan Kupperberg stay with me as much as Spider-Man’s kicks and bounces; facial expressions are his strength.

The junkyard finale actually takes a humorous turn. Ever the wise ass, Spider-Man makes good use of puns and used tires to set Ramrod up for a coup de grace. What do you do with a man with a metallic skeleton and skull who just won’t stop being antisocial? You stick him to a crane-mounted salvage magnet! O’Neil’s been good at finding non-Rogue’s Gallery types Spidey can’t just punch out; he even smushed together his new Hydro Man with the similar classic Sandman to make a mud creature you don’t want to muck with, in ASM #218. I loved Spidey’s immobilization of his bullying metal-enhanced foe.

But where the team goes for the extra-special touch is the depiction of Pinkus grasping his throat. He’s been begged to stay in the Spidey-turned spotlight and keep the crowd in check, because if they rampage elsewhere they may never be cured in time. His harsh rasp gives out just as the wall-crawler arrives in the nick of time to play bartender, a role we’ve never seen anywhere else. Debbie, Biff, everyone’s saved by the elixir-enhanced beer, but unnoticed, unheralded in a way we usually associate with Spider-Man himself, Lonesome Pinkus wanders off after the show of a his crazed audience will find impossible to remember.

And so memorably did Dennis and Alan and company tell this over-looked tale, I can tell you, all these years later. It’s the unsung heroes, like Mr. Pinkus, that keep the grind of recurrent trials going, pouring maybe a little special something of themselves into these crevices between the concrete of earth-shaking canon events. It’s the dreamer who comes for that forgotten turn in the spotlight that keeps the club there through good months and bad. Sometimes, they leave a little flower of beauty, struggling to survive in its natural way of finding life, noticed by the humble random passerby.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Iron Man and Spider-Man's John Romita Jr.: 1st Marvels

1st Marvels: John Romita, Jr. INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #115

Mantlo’s run becomes history, and Layton/ Michelinie/ Romita makes history

Paired with the inker who would notably join him on Uncanny X-Men- Marvel’s best direct market seller- the son of Silver Age Spider-Man artist John Romita followed his namesake over a decade after that future Art Director came to Marvel. I virtually forgot John Romita, Jr. got his first assignment drawing a back-up for Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 in 1977. His full-book premiere comes in Invincible Iron Man #115, a 1978 issue which, with a few fill-ins, marks his regular tenure there.
When new writer and new inker David Michelinie and Bob Layton begin directing Iron Man, next issue, a definitive Bronze Age team comes together, making a modern look and feel for the mechanized marvel that influenced Jon Favreau and his own team on the box-office smash Iron Man movies.

But everyone’s got to start somewhere, and it so happens JR, Jr., as he’s often nicknamed, got the Iron Man assignment as Bill Mantlo departed the strip. Nowadays, a one-hundred-twenty-degree heat pounds a location like modern Mosul, where remainders of American armaments fell into the hands of ideological extremists who brutalized their Iraqi neighbors they could not recruit. No reasonable, woke person could blindly romanticize the power of advanced field weapons, which are only as good as the soldiers wielding them. By 1978, the attitudes shaped by Vietnam and Americans touched personally by foreign policies had led to a more counter-culturally-shaped, energy-research-oriented Tony Stark. Mantlo revived many old favorites such as the old Mandarin-gets-switcheroo-Iron Man, Ultimo stomping towards the capitol where Stark’s again been subpoenaed, Spymaster, Madame Masque and Jasper Sitwell. Outside Midas and his recruits there was nothing really new going on.

If you were new to Invincible Iron Man, Mantlo and Tuska delivered a reasonable superhero take with remixed classic touches- even a new Guardsman, complete with O’Brien brother inside. If you liked those things, you now had the latest version. As a young collector, I was attracted to the look of the Guardian armor and the back issue price was right, so these were my first versions of these characters, and #100 came with a Starlin cover, too. Mantlo gave us a the only appearance of the initially-successful Frankenstein Monster in a few years, and for many more, along with Dreadknight, a new villainous successor to Black Knight. Outside the Soviet Super Soldiers and brand-new Jack Of Hearts, we were back to the 1960’s story ingredients without the virulent anti-Communism. This would fit well with the general Jim Shooter approach coming in the 1980s; this was, in fact, the year Shooter was assigned Editor-in-Chief.

Romita’s debut continues those revisited elements. In fact, the hardest part of this storytelling- and granted, there are fans of this handbook-like approach-is how #115 takes the “revisit” element to such an extreme, there’s literally almost no new story whatsoever! When we reach the end of “Betrayal!” Stark’s ambushed by more characters from the past: the Ani-Men, recruited as muscle, apparently quite quickly, by Whitney Frost (Madame Masque), turned, as it were, on a dime by the return of Count Nefaria, an old-time Avengers foe. This is the sequel to his appearance in Avengers, a title being written at this point by a combination of Shooter, Micheleinie, Steven Grant and Mark Gruenwald, drawn in alternating arcs by John Byrne and George Perez.

There’s a rich reliance on existing Marvel continuity, but it overwhelms the utterly decompressed plot. Funny thing is, continuity between issues is about to fly out the window when the next team debuts, but then a new set of long-term threads begin weaving a modernized classic overshadowed at the time only by the revolutions in Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil.
Romita doesn’t take a strong presence in plotting this early in his career; the writer and inker will become the prime story drivers and give him lots of great stuff to draw.
JR will get to co-create Jim Rhodes, Justin Hammer- famously picked up and re-defined by the movies, Rhodey going on to become an Iron Man in his own right.
He gets the unflappable Mrs. Arbogast, reliable plant security chief Vic Martenelli, French business woman Yvette Arvil, bodyguard/ private investigators Bethany Cabe and Ling McPherson, who represent a Charlie’s Angels-flavored new breed of female support characters. Beth especially has more depth than the average love-interest, doubling as an action hero and confidante, not to mention an initial rival for the job of Tony Stark’s bodyguard! Suddenly, a character doesn’t have to be an Avenger to be recognizable. Everything gets specific!

It’s hard not to look ahead to this much-regarded three year run, because JR’s debut relies entirely on looking backwards. There’s a few proportion problems and the inking leaves the new penciler seeming a bit old-fashioned, appropriate for the Mantlo-era tone which often sported Jack Kirby covers, too. The bigger challenge yet, however: illustrating several pages of handbook review of the past of the fallen Unicorn, capped on front by a wrap-up of the departing Avengers, filled in with more morose Stark distance and the cliché “there goes a guy without a care in the world” from a guard, and a Tony Stark fist fight with Bird Man, Frog Man, Ape Man and Cat Man that ends with yet another betrayal from the recently-disguised Whitney/ Masque. Stark doesn’t get a particularly clever showing, just a scenario meant to invoke armor-less peril of the title character and a reasonably-quick-to-comprehend motivation for Masque’s betrayal. His shadowed intention was to make the dying Unicorn a pawn to the silhouetted “Other”- hard to miss the general shape of the Titanium Man, who re-outfits Unicorn with a new power beam and points him destructively in Iron Man’s direction. This all comes out when Stark utilizes a device to read Unicorn’s discordant memories, which nonetheless play out as an orderly recap of his previous three appearances and an unrevealed scene behind his present attack. There’s little discernible personality- he’d make a complex Saturday morning cartoon villain, but his character hook’s unchanged. Worse, this is all unveiled at this juncture without any development for another year, so it’s really just Bill leaving us a planned thread and cashing another quick check for hitting deadline. Romita’s relieved of pacing actual scenes, in favor of a pastiche flashback. This might’ve made the drawings themselves a simpler task for the beginner, who, with little plot and an information dump, has plenty of space, indeed, has to stretch some to get his seventeen pages.

We do revisit “he’s alone in his shell,” emphasized once again amidst the Avengers. He’s bossy jerk to the Beast. This is underscored by his later lonesome thought that he’s always surrounded by obedient machines. His concern over standing up Whitney is meant to establish he has a heart beyond his now-never-depicted lady’s man playboy life. Bill’s giving us characterization- but little interaction.

What we come to associate with John Romita Jr. suggests he’s better suited for what’s ahead. Prefiguring Magnum P.I., we’ll get a James Bond spin on Tony, complete with wry flirtation and glamorous women. Romita loves the cosmopolitan. If his Iron Man moves far away from the socially-conscious style, his superheroics embrace the coming decade’s love of computers and futuristic sheen. If his work’s subsumed beneath a very stylistically-heavy Bob Layton on inks, the armor itself becomes sleek, characters, realistic and demonstrative, and settings, referential. Suddenly we have a Stark who might take time to hit Studio 54, gambling in a tux in Atlantic City, disguising as a phone company worker on Long Island. The battle to remain free of munitions making embroils Stark Industries with S.H.I.E.L.D. itself! Stark has turmoil, but also friends, and reflects new ideas.

In 1980, JR Jr. begins Amazing Spider-Man in #208. Leaning on character drawing and a love for New York City itself, he catches on by #223-the end of O’Neil’s run-as the regular artist for another amazing team-up under Tom DeFalco with former Spectacular Spider-Man writer Roger Stern.