Author: Mike Gold

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #070: History Looks Forward

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #070: History Looks Forward

I blow through here / The music goes ’round and around / Whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho / And it comes out here • Red Hodgson. 1935

The adage “history is written by the victors” is attributed to Winston Churchill, although there is no evidence he ever said or wrote that. Perhaps the more appropriate axiom is “History is bunk,” uttered by Thomas Edison in a 1916 Chicago Tribune interview. A loathsome man and a first-class bigot, Edison said:

“… what do I care about Napoleon? What do we care about what they did 500 or 1,000 years ago? I don’t know whether Napoleon did or did not try to get across and I don’t care. It means nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we make today.”

We’ve always been surrounded by bunk. I’m a history buff, but I’m also a science-fiction fan and, often, it is hard to tell the difference. The problem is, today’s omnipresent instant communications means these days bullshit travels at the speed of light. But the yin to that yang is that the victors no longer have an exclusive on history-writing, no matter who first said history was controlled by the winners. By the way, to my research, that was India freedom fighter Jawaharlal Nehru.

We have cameras on our cellphones that record on-the-street reality. We have podcasts and blogs. We have much, much greater access to documentaries and to historical records. Of course, the problem remains discerning the truth from the bullshit while divining the trajectory of everybody’s point of view. This is nothing new, but if you’re good at using search engines, you have enough patience and determination and a hankering for facts you will probably get closer to the truth now than ever before.

Which brings us to Donald J. Trump. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #070: History Looks Forward”

Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?

Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?

Time once again to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear – well, my thrilling days of yesteryear. You know I like to share.

A half-century ago there was a place where all the hippies met. Well, there were lots of such places: the just-referenced South Street in Philadelphia, St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, the Haight in San Francisco, and the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago, among many others. Gentrification runs deep, and into the hippies’ lives it crept like a summbych. We’ll catch up to present-day “reality” by the end of this piece.

The heart of Lincoln Park hippiedom was the intersection of Fullerton, Halsted and Lincoln streets. Festive little places like head shop Head Imports, our community restaurant the Feed Store, the Army-Navy store which sold the finest hippie clothes at affordable prices – as well as gas masks, which came in handy from time to time. The underground paper where I planted my roots, the Chicago Seed, moved to the neighborhood after being Nazi-bait across the street from the Moody Bible Institute, the place where Bettie Page went to school. The neighborhood grew into a formidable Weed of Destruction and I remain a very proud Seedling. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #065: Got A Light?”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #069: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #069: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump

What will you do if we let you go home / And the plastic’s all melted / And so is the chrome? / Who are the brain police? – Frank Zappa, Who Are The Brain Police, 1966

One of the many ways we get into trouble as a society is when we issue sanctions on semantics. Acts can be evil. Thoughts can provoke bad acts – but thoughts can prevent bad actions as well. We can deal with the bad thoughts if we stay vigilant and use our brains from time to time.

Controlling the language has been an effective means of political persuasion. One of the reasons I admire the LGBTQ movements is that they seized the words gay and queer, turning insults into advocacy. This started about six decades ago, so we’ve had a couple generations of Americans who do not automatically perceive those terms in their original discriminatory context. We’ve got a way to go; change takes time and commitment.

I am often bewildered by the statements made by our president, and by “often” I mean “at least every day.” Because he gets his beliefs from Fox News and Vlad Putin, our dickhead-in-chief buys into the axiom that Jews are a monolithic group who are compelled by a hive-mind. This is a complete misunderstanding of the Jewish culture. As a group, Jews love to debate and discuss, generally with open-minds (I exempt the most fundamentalist of persuasions from this argument) but usually with great passion. I was raised in a Jewish environment, and I truly enjoy this exchange. Judaism as a culture encourages debate between the religious elders and their flocks. “Rabbi” means teacher. A teacher who is willing to discuss and debate. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #069: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump”

Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?

Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?

‘Tis the season, so if Adam Sandler is making a new list and, you know, checking it twice, he can add the name Oswald Cobblepot.

Well, it does explain that hat.

I’ve carped a bit about how The Joker is the most overexposed character on Earth, apart from Donald Trump. We can argue that Harley Quinn is in competition for that title, but, as a rule, I try not to get in the middle of a fight between a person and his or her ex. Besides, this Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey movie has hit trailer status, so inundation comes with the job. When the DC Universe steamer launched its new animated and X-rated (no, it’s for language, you pervert!) Harley Quinn series, which starts with the enthralled shrink dumping her dangerously insane boyfriend, they managed to ring the overexposure bell with her mallet. But… it works. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #064: What? The Penguin is Jewish?”

Weird Scenes Inside The Good Mind 068: None Dare Call It Reason

Weird Scenes Inside The Good Mind 068: None Dare Call It Reason

Here’s a sequence of letters I never thought would flow from my fingertips: I miss the Republican Party.

Two-party systems suck. We do not live in a binary world. There are no “both sides of the issue,” there is a myriad of sides. There is a right and there is a wrong, but only by comparison. In other words, Ayn Rand was a purveyor of sociological science fantasy.

Of course, there is something worse than a two-party system. When one of those parties is nothing to write home about and the other one is brain dead (a popular term this week), and the two parties we’re stuck with rigged the system so that there can not be any more parties, what we are left with is America 2019.

It wasn’t always like this. There was a time, 111 years ago, when the Republicans were, by and large, the progressives in Washington. This ended when Teddy Roosevelt decided not to run for reelection in 1908. His chosen successor, William H. Taft, was the dude who pulled the party of Lincoln to the right. Appalled by this, Teddy, who did not speak quietly, challenged Taft in 1912. By then, Taft and his cronies had instituted a massive patronage system that prevented any outlier from having a chance. In his typical fashion, TR started his own party. A “third” party. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Good Mind 068: None Dare Call It Reason”

Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?

Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?

Bitch, bitch, bitch. Sigh. It’s a living…

For about three decades, I’ve been bitching about how our friends at DC and Marvel have abandoned the storytelling racket and are drowning themselves in the pool of “Event publishing.” During that time, line average comic book circulations have plummeted by about two-thirds.

(Explaining The Stupid Math Trick: “Line averages” are compiled by adding up the circulations of each individual issue printed by each publisher during the year and then dividing the total by the number of different issues involved. Variant covers and extra printings confuse the issue, but, screw it, they’re cheesy hustles that only complicate the processes. I refuse to acknowledge a second printing unless the publisher tells us what the first printing was. If Marvel Comics printed only 750 copies of Amazing Fantastic Fury #7 and then celebrated that success with a second printing, the whole thing is as meaningless as a fart in a blizzard in the dead of winter.)

So why am I carping about this now? And, not to mention, again? As is their wont, Marvel and DC each issued their February 2020 catalogs. On the cover of Marvel Previews – Wolverine #1!!! Another stunning concept from the House of Idea! Oh, and it’s got at least 12 different variant covers – not counting those that might be done for individual retailers – and this includes a virgin variant (wait… what? Alex Ross is a virgin???), hidden gem variants, a party variant, a die cut variant, and an adamantium variant – which, by way of disclaimer, is not even made of adamantium.

To honor their own Event, Marvel is reprinting three previous Wolverine #1’s as well. Will all this hubbub restore Wolvie to his former sales glory? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #063: Again With The Event Bitching?”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: Reasons To Be Cheerful

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: Reasons To Be Cheerful

Some of Buddy Holly, the working folly / Good Golly Miss Molly and boats / Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet / Jump back in the alley, add nanny goats

Today, you may have noticed, is Thanksgiving. I will step away from the issues involving Puritans, Christopher Columbus, and native Americans for the nonce solely because, go figure, Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks.

I’ve never seen more that distracts us from this reasonable goal. The United Nations released a major report on Earth’s environment and where it’s going (spoiler alert: to hell in a plastic bag), while many of us feast today many more go hungry, and we remain stuck with a sociopathic, petulant five-year old brat of a president who acts as though he just broke the neighbor’s picture window. I’m not thankful for any of that, but in the spirit of the holiday I am taking this day off from Bughouse Square duty.

We all need to take a breath, together.

Which, by the way, is the meaning of the word “conspiracy.”

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it / You’re welcome, we can spare it, yellow socks / Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty / Going on forty, no electric shocks

I think those who tell us to appreciate the small wonders of life are absolutely right. Yeah, things suck – they’ve always sucked, they always will suck. But as the 18-wheeler of life comes barreling down the hill aiming to crush us all, it passes by all sorts of stuff that entice us to get out of its way. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: Reasons To Be Cheerful”

Brainiac On Banjo #062: Rock Is Here To Stay After All

Brainiac On Banjo #062: Rock Is Here To Stay After All

We can argue when rock ’n’ roll started. The term goes back at least 85 years, but the roots of rock go back to our ancestors pounding rocks together. Perhaps that’s the real origin of the term.

I grew up with rock playing in the apartment. That’s probably true for most people reading this, but I’m older than many of you. I’m older than shit, to be sure, and I’m not always thrilled with that. But my sister was almost seven years older than me, and she was seven when Jackie Brenston, Ike Turner, and Sam Phillips made “Rocket 88”, arguably the first rock record released commercially. I was one year old; so, I’m not able to say she was listening to rock way back then. But she was so into rock that I clearly remember her collection of singles and her choice of radio stations. There was no other form of music dominating within the confines of Sunnyside and Kimball apartment 3-A, in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood.

It had a major impact on me. I grew up a rocker. I love rock in all its forms, some more than others, but damn near everything that we refer to as American roots music (rock, blues, country, bluegrass, folk, rap, and even a bit of pop) remains close to my heart.

When I turned 11 years old, my sister gave me my very first record album, Runaround Sue by Dion DiMucci. Shortly thereafter, I scrapped together the $3.14 I needed to purchase Dion’s first solo album, Alone With Dion. I bought it at the old Harmony Hall record store in a strip mall that was founded the year “Rocket 88” was released.

Dion, you see, was my first favorite rock artist. I grew up listening to Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, and so many others (including Dion and the Belmonts), but Dion was my favorite. And you never forget your first. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #062: Rock Is Here To Stay After All”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #066: Has It Come To This?

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #066: Has It Come To This?

Here’s the latest sign of the apocalypse. Yes, it has come down to this – I, Mike Gold, whose Twitter handle is “@creepymikegold,” am the one lecturing on manners. Don’t start reading any continued stories, folks. Obviously, the end is nigh.

I totally understand why the Trumpublicans put their xenophobic, racist, sexist, narcissistic, treasonous habitual liar ahead of the security of the United States of America and its people. Most of us who aren’t them are the prodigy of immigrants and similar ne’er-do-wells, and some of us are poor, old, in lousy health and/or unwilling to work for fifty cents an hour. But does the Rabid Right have to be so damn rude about it?

These numbnuts are trying to belittle, on national television, those who have honored this country by putting their bodies between the legions of evil and the Americans of great wealth. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and top West Point graduate / Vietnam War vet / Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor testified before the impeachment hearings this past week, along with other valiant witnesses including (to name but two) Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and National Security Council official Fiona Hill. These genuine heroes put it all on the line for truth, justice and the American way… and I mean that sincerely, without a shred of sarcasm.

But are the maniacal Trumpublicans grateful? Of course not. The patriots who have earned their chops the hard way in order to keep America great – and to keep America in business – have been maligned as prevaricators: dishonest “never-Trumpers” who are acting relentlessly against the desires and prattling fabrications uttered by the xenophobic, racist, sexist, narcissistic, treasonous habitual liar-in-chief, the one person who best symbolizes all that is wrong and likely could ever be wrong about humanity. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #066: Has It Come To This?”

Brainiac On Banjo #061: Charlton Comics Goes To War!!

Brainiac On Banjo #061: Charlton Comics Goes To War!!

The Unknown Anti-War Comics!, by Steve Ditko, Ross Andru, Joe Gill, Denny O’Neil, Pat Boyette and others, edited by Craig Yoe • Yoe Books!-IDW • $29.95, 226 pages

Back when the three of us were laboring over at the DC Comics factory, I was blessed with having my office between those of Denny O’Neil and Archie Goodwin, two of the finest comics practitioners in American history. If they were to be branded A-listers, we would need to invent a new first letter for our alphabet. I’m going to start with Archie, but don’t worry. Denny comes into this story later.

Back around 1992 and 1993, Archie and I started frequenting a swell midtown restaurant where New York Times executives often brought advertising clients. Remember, this was about 16 years before Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau put our beloved medium on the legit. Usually, our passionate conversations revolved around two subjects: frighteningly radical politics, and comic books; particularly EC Comics. To the chagrin of the over-wrought suits sitting within eavesdropping distance, we would conflate the two.

Of all of Archie’s massive achievements as a writer and an editor, my personal favorite is the four-issue run of Blazing Combat, the black-and-white war comic published by Jim Warren with the Frazetta covers and interiors drawn by Alex Toth, John Severin, Reed Crandall, Joe Orlando, Gene Colan, Wally Wood… you get the point. The series was influenced by Harvey Kurtzman’s Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat for EC Comics, and all the above-mentioned artists had drawn stories for Kurtzman. Archie was too young to have written for them, but he was a member of the EC Fan-Addict Club (fan-addict > fanatic, get it?). Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #061: Charlton Comics Goes To War!!”