Category: Music

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman and the Dingleberries of Society!

Number forty-seven said to number three: You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see. I sure would be delighted with your company, Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me. — “Jailhouse Rock, by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, 1957.

Bill Maher has a segment on his show called “I Don’t Know It For a Fact, I Just Know It’s True.” Here’s my contribution.

The smaller your mind, the more likely it is to fall out your nose. This is why you’re called “blowhards.”

Case in point: the pathetically predictable response to Jon Kent’s coming out as bisexual. You’d think they discovered a couple dozen missing votes for Trump.

Ignoring the facts that Jon Kent is a fictional character, that the audience is familiar with the concept of bisexuality and aren’t likely to “convert” anybody just because a comic book character kissed a member of his own sex, and that the only thing that noticeably drives comic book sales is its perceived collectability, it’s kind of amazing that so many fools totally lost their little minds when they heard this story.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy watching people like Tucker Carlson go apeshit over “dog bites man” stories, although it’s becoming as boring as it has been predictable. If they think this is a recruitment issue for the White supremacists that are in our face 24/7, they’re preaching to their own choir. To be fair, these self-absorbed dingleberries of society are indeed the only ones who would listen.

Since I love tossing rock lyrics around, let me assure you Pete Townshend was right. “This is no social crisis. Just another tricky day. You’ll get through.” I don’t think Warner Media execs or even AT&T stockholders will, to quote Flo and Eddie, “pull their heads out of their own puke” over this one. It won’t kill their Discovery deal.

These toadlickers are still pissed that Heimdall has been played by a Black man in the Marvel movies for a bit more than a decade. To them, that’s heresy… which is weird, as American White supremacy is a movement that appears to mostly attract Christians (but no, not the other way around; give me a break). However, every controversy is fraught with comedic potential: I explain to these numbskulls that, given the turf and the times, Jesus Christ absolutely had to be Black — so why not Heimdall? Then I watch the nuclear cloud blow the top off of their bald, teensy brain pans.

Yet, somehow, these same neverlaids get stimulated by Joan Jett’s cover version of “Crimson and Clover.”

My advice to Jon Kent, who I remind you is a fictional character, is to fly above the bullshit. You know these psychopaths are simply jealous.

And, yes, my tighty-Whities. I did start this one with a Bill Maher reference just to piss you off. Like I said, you’re pathetically predictable.

(Mike Gold will be joining our own Bob Harrison as guests at the Baltimore Comic-Con, October 22 through 24, at — go know — the Baltimore Convention Center. If you would like to discuss the above words of wisdom, remember: you’ll be in public, even if you’re wearing a mask.)

Z2 Producing Blondie Graphic Novel from Comic Legends Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and John McCrea

Z2 Producing Blondie Graphic Novel from Comic Legends Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and John McCrea

In recent years, Z2 Comics has committed to partnering with music artists in efforts to create original graphic novel productions. Today, they announced that they are working with the groundbreaking rock band Blondie to create a one-of-a-kind imaginative oral history of the band called “Against the Odds“.

The book is being written by comic book veterans Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art from the amazing John McRea. There are multiple covers available and the project is available now for pre-order with pricing options available to suit the casual fan to super-groupie.

This project is definitely exciting. The combination of the publisher, comic creative team, and musical subject seems like a match made in rock heaven.

The book will be distributed in the Fall of 2021. You can check out the order page here, and the full press release from Z2 comics is below.


Press Release:

BLONDIE AND Z2 COMICS PARTNER FOR ALL-NEW GRAPHIC NOVELAGAINST THE ODDS DETAILING THE EARLY YEARS OF THE NEW YORK’S MOST ENDURING ROCK & ROLL, ART AND FASHION ICONS

Blondie Announce Their Comic Book Debut in the Midst of A Huge Year for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers, Set to Include the EP & Film Release of Their Groundbreaking Trip to Cuba, Their First Archival Box Set, and More

‘Against the Odds’ to be Written by famed ‘Harley Quinn’ Creative Duo Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, and Available to Preorder Now

NEW YORK, NY –Legendary New York fashion and music icons Blondie announce their partnership with Z2 Comics to produce their first-ever graphic novel! Inspired by some of their most iconic tracks, along with a few “deep cuts,” this book is sure to deserve a place on the bookshelf of every music fan.

Jimmy Palmiotti says “I think it would be impossible to give Blondie and the downtown New York music scene the proper respect and visceral representation it deserves if I didn’t live through it. My life was comic books and music and there was no more exciting time in my life than when Blondie hit the music scene. Amanda and I are having a blast telling the story of the band and how they went from killing it on stage in small clubs to becoming an unstoppable worldwide sensation.”

Amanda Conner continues “When I was a growing up (and still pretty much, to this day), a few of the things I loved were music, comic book heroes, ultra-cool style, and a wicked, wild, and weird sense of humor. Blondie embodies all those things, and when I listen to their music, I can’t not dance. Or if I have to sit and work for long hours, I can’t not at least bounce and bop along in my seat. As a teenager, Debbie Harry was one of the super-heroes I wanted to grow up to be. In fact, I still wanna grow up to be her.” Continue reading “Z2 Producing Blondie Graphic Novel from Comic Legends Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and John McCrea”

With Further Ado #111: Wheatley’s The Witch of Everwhen

With Further Ado #111: Wheatley’s The Witch of Everwhen

Some people are just overflowing with talent, and when it spills over to other media, it’s a truly wondrous thing. Mark Wheatley is one of those people.  You may know him as an award-winning comics creator, a frequent exhibitor at San Diego Comic-Con & Baltimore Comic-Con, or as an industrious entrepreneur.  Knowing all those things about him, I was even more impressed when he told me about his newest project, a song & music video called The Witch of Everwhen.  Checkout the teaser trailer:

 

 

Wheatley is working out the details for the full-fledged Witch of Everwhen video debut. The announcement should be made soon, and you can keep up with it all here at the Mark Wheatley Gallery.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because he’s created music videos before for previous projects like Dance with Your Brothers , Surrender and Earth’s Farewell.  But nonetheless, I had to find out more.

Ed Catto: This is a fascinating project – tell me how The Witch of Everwhen came about!

Mark Wheatley: I have been composing and recording music for as long as I have been writing and drawing comics professionally. In my early days looking for work in New York, while I was beating the pavement to show my portfolio to art directors and editors, I was also sending demo tapes to A&R reps at the various music companies. I was doing this right up until I landed my first monthly comic series, MARS.

The only musical “success” I had during that period was one of my tunes was picked for airplay on WNEW and one of their DJs was calling me to brainstorm how I would get more attention for my music. But when Marc Hempel and I signed our MARS contract [with First Comics], I decided that the time required to write and pencil a monthly comic was going to eat my life, and I stopped recording and sending out demo tapes. So, of course, two weeks after I signed the MARS contract Capitol Records offered me a three record deal, and I had to turn it down. A few months later, Columbia Records offered me a one record deal. Both of these offers would require me to also hit the road for live tours, so it was just impossible. After that, aside from recording some soundtrack music for radio and TV commercials, my musical efforts were limited to recording theme songs for my comic book creations. Continue reading “With Further Ado #111: Wheatley’s The Witch of Everwhen”

Brainiac On Banjo #093: “What the Hell Was That?”

Brainiac On Banjo #093: “What the Hell Was That?”

One day I feel so horny / Next night I feel so bleh / Guess well have to take the whoppee! / along with the bleh / Each night I ask the moon up above / Why must I be a septuagenerian in love? ––Tuli Kupferberg, “Septuagenerian in Love,” from The Fugs Final CD, Part 1, 2003.

Well, this is goddamned strange. Not at all what I expected.

It’s not that I’m big on birthday celebrations. I have a hard time remembering such events; it’s an often embarrassing failing. The only reason I remember my own is because I’ve renewed my driver’s license approximately 18 times, thereby making it a habit. Well, I’ve just put my new driver’s license in my wallet – which was kinda fun because I didn’t have to break quarantine to get it — so unless something terminal happens in the next 24 hours, I turn 70 tomorrow. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #093: “What the Hell Was That?””

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind  #95: Gee, They Were So Young

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mind #95: Gee, They Were So Young

Whatever gets you through your life ‘salright, ‘salright / Do it wrong or do it right ‘salright, ‘salright / Don’t need a watch to waste your time oh no, oh no — “Whatever Gets You Through The Night,” written by John Lennon, 1974.

When it comes to sorting Americans into tribes based upon political beliefs — and we are so desperate to divide up into tribes — if you are thinking along the lines of “well, those [whatever] usually tend to be [whichever tribe you like, such as young conservatives, young progressives, young Libertarians, or jocks]…, you are most certainly full of two things, one of which is yourself.

We hear a lot about Gen-Z being very politically active and very progressive. Of course that’s not completely so. Like all previous generations, the largest subgroup are those who just don’t give a damn. These kids are much more politically active than the previous two, but they seem to be motivated not as much by some old fart’s progressive agenda as they are by the philosophy “You are destroying my planet, and I’m the one who is supposed to live here in the future. Not you.” And… that’s fair.

The younger you are the more cynical you might be, but I am living proof that cynicism is most likely to be a permanent lifestyle. For one thing, it’s more fun. This is a good thing: it’s easier to fight the good fights if you allow yourself to appreciate your victories, keep a sense of humor about absolutely everything, and never think about Sisyphus. It’s good to remember the words of some Joker: “Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on that face!”

So it came as no surprise that when I watched Donald Trump’s two pep rallies earlier this week, I saw a whole lot of kids. Almost entirely White kids, but there always are a few non-White people are there, some of whom were hired just like the large group of cheering fans at Trump Tower when the Donald floated down his escalator-from-heaven back in 2015.

Granted, the second of these sessions was held at a college, so it’s not a great an indication of teen-age lack of death-perception as the first. But both had this in common with our recruitment policies for our military: the younger you are, the less likely you are to be aware and protective of your longevity. By and large, if you were, say, a 45-year-old carrying a bayonet, and you were ordered to assault that well-protected Hill 59, you might hesitate. Then your problem becomes getting out of the way of the 19-year-olds who are much less concerned about maintaining their personal franchise.

It is at the core of military training: your master says jump and do not think, you jump without a thought as to your own mortality. 19-year-olds, by and large, have yet to fully develop that sense. I did all kinds of dangerous shit back when I was 19. And 18, and 20. I look back and smile, but I’m not smiling about those stupid risks. I smile because I’m still around to look back at all that dangerous shit. My actions were, and still are, quite serious. My cause is quite serious. My attitude is more “Why so serious.” Whatever gets you through the night.

So we’ve got several thousand southwestern young’uns shoulder-to-shoulder, in weather-appropriate dress (the southwest in late June demands less clothing), jumping up and down and shouting and screaming and cheering and carrying on, maskless, as though they were at the Titanic of high school pep rallies. As the Jefferson Airplane said back in my day, “bless their pointed little heads.”

Many of them think Covid-19 does not affect them because they are not old. Well, dig this kids: when all this plague stuff started, some Black people believed they couldn’t get it either. It was a big deal — a very big deal, until some of them folks started dying. Well, die and learn. Now we know that younger people are merely less likely to come down with Covid-19 than us old people who have little to lose but our memories.

Well, that’s America for you. This nation of ours is your go-to place if you want to age out of your own tribe.

Besides, our planet was overcrowded about five billion live-births ago. Soylent Green does not have to be made out of old dead bodies. I’ll bet the young dead bodies taste better.

Brainiac On Banjo #080: Little Addictions

Brainiac On Banjo #080: Little Addictions

“Your nose may be bulbous, your face may be spotty / Your skin may be wrinkled and tight / But I don’t want to see you, the way that you are / So I turn off the living room light” – Ray Davies, When I Turn Off The Living Room Light

We all have our little addictions. Things we’ve done forever, habits that we would never consider breaking because they aren’t harmful and we’ve benefited from them. Nonetheless, they are addictions, and I say that without making value judgment.

You might be addicted to chocolate. Perhaps you’re into music — it’s almost always on whenever you’re in a place where you can control your environment. Maybe you are into comic books — hey, this is Pop Culture Squad, after all. If so, yeah, we’re going through a rough patch right now. Television? You don’t hear from those annoying snobs who proudly proclaim they “never watch television” while wearing a face that looks like somebody is holding a small turd under their noses.

Because I can multitask, I’m addicted to all of the above, and to barbecue as well. But I have an even stronger addiction, one that always has played a major role in defining who I am. I am addicted to the news. “Hi, my name is Mike, and I’m a news addict.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #080: Little Addictions”

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

Brainiac On Banjo #072: Grave New World

I dream of cherry pies / Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies / We used to microwave / Now we just eat nuts and berries / This was a discount store / Now it’s turned into a cornfield / You’ve got it, you’ve got it / Don’t leave me stranded here / I can’t get used to this lifestyle – (Nothing But) Flowers, David Byrne

I have spent my entire life being a collector.

No, not a debt collector or a tax collector, not even a rubber band collector. I am a stuff collector, and I mean “stuff” in the George Carlin sense of the term. I collect music (over 43,000 tracks, thank you), I collect comic books, I collect books about comic books, I collect books in general. I collect movies, teevee shows, artwork… all kinds of stuff.

The question “now where do I put this?” spikes my second biggest fear. My biggest fear is having to move all my stuff from the house that has warehoused my collections for almost a third of a century, abetted by the many collections possessed by my daughter and my late wife. Comics collections from the three of us, a legion of statues, enough history books to fill a wing at the Library of Congress, flicks I am dying to see again but won’t live long enough to do so… All this has combined to define the most consistent and most dominant part of my life. But moving it all to another place will look a lot like photos of those ancient, beautiful houses that somehow get boosted onto a flatbed truck and taken cross-town so developers who bribed their way into eminent domain can turn the land into a parking lot.

This hasn’t been an investment thing, and in that I am lucky. If all this stuff was here to make money, I’d have to go down to Wall Street and jump out of a window. This is because, aside from the Daffy Duck “I WANT IT” syndrome, today nearly all that stuff, no matter what it is, is available digitally. A 30-terabyte hard disc drive will house it all in a box that is much smaller than the Collected Works of Michael Moorcock. Of course, with all the streaming services around covering virtually all media, you really don’t even need that disc drive.

It’s possible that moving or disposing my collections will not be my problem. It might become my daughter’s problem. Hey, none of us are getting any younger (you’ve probably noticed that) and, whereas that’s a nasty trick to play on her, she is merely 25 years my younger and I’d like to be around to see her have decide what to sell and what really neat shit to hold on to. Sort of a Sophie’s Choice… without the “wait; you’re going to kill one of my kids??” bit.

Overall, this is a rather minor concern. There are much more important things to be concerned about. I don’t wake up in a cold sweat thinking about this, although I’m certain I will if I ever have to move it. I’ve enjoyed this stuff and, besides, maybe the tons of dust my collections gather will cure cancer or the common cold or something. I mean, look, we do not know why the guy who first looked at penicillin in a petri dish said “Wow! Cool!! I think I’m going to hit this shit up!” However, I do wonder if, at that time, this cat had the clap.

You know the old phrase “Evolution Happens.” Well, okay, I poured some artistic license over that one, but you get the point. The focus should be on content and not possession. Buddha had tons of material possessions, as the story goes, but he gave it all away to charity. I wonder which charity would be most interested in my Steve Ditko collection.

Like most of us who have a strong sense of wonder but a short attention span, I always have endeavored to embrace change. But making plans for one’s personal end times is a whole ‘nother thing. I think it takes well over a decade to work all this stuff out but… Hello! Short attention span, remember?

The contradiction in this labor is that I’ve spent my entire lifetime acquiring all this stuff. My thinking about eliminating it, no matter how remarkably logical it is to do so, feels as though I am invalidating my mission, my passion for existence.

And you wonder why old men scream at the clouds.

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year

Observations at year’s-end. This will be a Trump-free list… unless you count sub-text.

• • • • •

The final two weeks of the year used to be the most boring weeks of each year… and they still are. It’s a pain in the ass to go to the supermarket, let alone buy anything at any other sort of store. Traffic sucks, and often the weather does too (not this year over in my neck of the woods, but your mileage may vary on that).

Whatever broadcast television is out there that I enjoy is not out there at year’s-end. However, there’s so much stuff on my TiVo and through streaming services that this is no longer a big deal. Actually, that’s kind of good news: people recommend streaming stuff to me all the time, and some arouse my curiosity. Others make me somnambulistic.

• • • • •

Speaking of television, I had a bit of a Victor Buono film-fest here a couple months ago, and I had a wonderful time. Evil was never so gentle; wit was rarely so sharp. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #067: The Winter of the Year”

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season

Forget Rudolph, the Grinch and Frosty. I’m not here to talk about it It’s A Wonderful Life  or Hallmark Channel movies (even though my daughter-in-law loves them). Today I want to focus on Christmas Commercials.

It’s been a good yuletide season for ads. Although I’ve yet to see the famous Santa-on-a-Norelco-shaver spot (one of my all-time favorites), there’s been some engaging TV spots. Oh sure, they are all  promoting crass commercialism when we’re all really supposed to be thinking about peace, brotherhood and one very important baby born in a barn, but let’s focus on creativity, entrepreneurism and providing more than a few jobs. 

The Peloton TV spot got all the buzz for all the wrong reasons. This year they stepped in it with an ad that suggesting a rich guy demands his perfectly beautiful wife to continuously workout to maintain her perfectly physique. The stock stumbled for a bit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Peloton has fantastic end of year sales.

Or was it all a sneaky plot? At the end of the day, Peloton is a brand that found a way to successfully sell a piece of fitness equipment  at a super-expensive price – despite the fact that this particular piece of fitness equipment exists in abundance on Planet Earth.   Continue reading “With Further Ado #073: The Sounds of the Season”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #067: 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 #067: Talk Is Cheap, And So Is Trump”