On August 11 The Food Network announced it’s winner of their “Next Food Network Star” contest. And it just so happens I am friends with one of the finalists. My band Frum The Hills was invited to play the wrap party for the show (the winner was announced live on the season finale of the show) and we all gathered at The Power Plant Live at the inner harbor in Baltimore to cheer our friend Rodney onto victory…and perhaps, immortality!
And of course there was plenty of pie available, but it didn’t last long.
I also worked up some artwork for Rodney, a “piestyle” flash sheet and logo.
Unfortunately Rodney didn’t win, but he did place 2nd runner up. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.
But you know what we have to say about second place, don’t you…
Rodney has 3 Dangerously Delicious Pie stores; Baltimore, DC, and Chicago. Go try some and find out what “piestyle” is all about.
“Wait, what are you talking about, WE decided? MY best interests? How do you know what MY best interest is? How can you say what MY best interest is? What are you trying to say? I’M crazy? When I went to YOUR schools, I went to YOUR churches, I went to YOUR institutional learning facilities? So how can you say I’M crazy?”
- Mike Muir, Suicidal Tendencies “Institutionalized”, 1983
“It’s much more fun to be a God than a person”
- Tipper Gore, co-founder of the Parents Music Resource Center, former second lady, wife of Al Gore
Ever wonder where this little warning label came from?
It came from this woman: Tipper Gore
The PMRC was founded by four women: Tipper Gore, wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore; Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker; Pam Howar, wife of Washington realtor Raymond Howar; and Sally Nevius, wife of former Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius. They were known as the “Washington wives.” Their goal, or “demands” (as printed in the Washington Post) were as follows:
1. Print lyrics on album covers.
2. Keep explicit covers under the counter.
3. Establish a ratings system for records similar to that for films.
4. Establish a ratings system for concerts.
5. Reassess the contracts of performers who engage in violence and explicit sexual behavior onstage.
6. Establish a citizen and record-company media watch that would pressure broadcasters not to air “questionable-talent.”
In 1985 the PMRC went so far as to propose a senate hearing on the debate, and it was actually held on September 19th of that same year.
Quoted from Wikipedia: “In August 1985, 19 record companies agreed to put “Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics” labels on albums to warn of explicit lyrical content. Before the labels could be put into place, the Senate agreed to hold a hearing on so-called “porn rock”. Representatives from the PMRC, three musicians — Dee Snider, Frank Zappa, John Denver—and Senators Paula Hawkins and Al Gore testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on “the subject of the content of certain sound recordings and suggestions that recording packages be labeled to provide a warning to prospective purchasers of sexually explicit or other potentially offensive content.”
The senate hearing was more of a mockery than a serious debate. Sides had already been chosen, and the crowd in attendance couldn’t help but laugh and chuckle throughout the entire event. Lyrics from bands like the Mentors were read aloud:
(From the Senate hearing transcripts) Jeff Ling, consultant to the PMRC: “How bad can it get? The list is endless. This album was released just recently by a band called the Mentors. The album includes songs like “Four-F Club,” “Find Her, Feel Her, Fuck Her, and Forget Her,” “Free Fix for a Fuck,” “Clap Queen,” “My Erection is Over,” and the song “Golden Showers,” which says these words, “Listen, you little slut, do as you are told, come with daddy for me to pour the gold. Golden showers. All through my excrement you shall roam. Bend up and smell my anal vapor. Your face is my toilet paper. On your face I leave a shit tower. Golden showers”,
making everyone involved beg the question: “why are we wasting time on this?”
After watching this on C-Span, I immediately went out and bought the Mentors album.
The PMRC also released their list of the “filthy fifteen”:
Prince “Darling Nikki” Sex/Masturbation
Sheena Easton “Sugar Walls” Sex
Judas Priest “Eat Me Alive” Sex
Vanity “Strap on Robbie Baby” Sex
Mötley Crüe “Bastard” Violence/Language
AC/DC “Let Me Put My Love into You” Sex
Twisted Sister “We’re Not Gonna Take It” Violence
Madonna “Dress You Up” Sex
W.A.S.P. “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” Sex/Language
Def Leppard “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)” Drug and alcohol use
Mercyful Fate “Into the Coven” Occult
Black Sabbath “Trashed” Drug and alcohol use
Mary Jane Girls “In My House” Sex
Venom “Possessed” Occult
Cyndi Lauper “She Bop” Sex/Masturbation
The original label looked like this:
Which basically translated to this:
3 varied musicians testified as to the legality and absurdity of the hearing, and were unanimous in opposing any possible legislation regarding this issue. They argued that including a warning label to a musical artist would stigmatize that artist and could ruin their career. They also agreed upon the fact that deciding whats appropriate for your child starts at home, and no government or agency should decide what is moral right or just for any private citizens family. Frank Zappa summed this up perfectly ” I think you should leave it up to the parents, because not all parents want to keep their children totally ignorant. “
The PMRC has created a lot of confusion with improper comparisons between song lyrics, videos, record packaging, radio broadcasting, and live performances. These are all different mediums and the people who work in them have the right to conduct their business without trade-restraining legislation, whipped up like an instant pudding by “The wives of Big Brother.”
The establishment of a rating system, voluntary or otherwise, opens the door to an endless parade of moral quality control programs based on things certain Christians do not like. What if the next bunch of Washington wives demands a large yellow “J” on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?
Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are in my opinion more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate sexuality. Freedom of speech, freedom of religious thought, and the right to due process for composers, performers and retailers are imperiled if the PMRC and the major labels consummate this nasty bargain.
Senator Al Gore: “I have listened to you a number of times on this issue, and I guess the statement that I want to get from you is whether or not you feel this concern is legitimate. You feel very strongly about your position, and I understand that. You are very articulate and forceful. But occasionally you give the impression that you think parents are just silly to be concerned at all.
Frank Zappa: “No; that is not an accurate impression. “
Gore: “Well, please clarify it, then.
Zappa: “First of all, I think it is the parents’ concern; it is not the Government’s concern. “
Next up was John Denver:
These hearings have been called to determine whether or not the Government should intervene to enforce this practice. Mr. Chairman, this would approach censorship. May I be very clear that I am strongly opposed to censorship of any kind in our society or anywhere else in the world. Discipline and self-restraint when practiced by an individual, a family, or a company is an effective way to deal with this issue. The same thing when forced on a people by their government or, worse, by a self-appointed watchdog of public morals, is suppression and will not be tolerated in a democratic society.
That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you. Our children, our people, our society and the world cannot afford this waste. The only thing we have to fear, as President Roosevelt said, is fear itself. I am not afraid of anything. I am not afraid of what my children might see. I am not afraid of anything that might be shown them or done in their presence that would lessen my influence on them or their opportunity to grow, to be fine upstanding adults, and perhaps some day serve in this very august body.
(As a side note John had to leave the hearing early because he had an appointment to speak with NASA)
And then came…Dee:
Accusation No. 1. This attack was contained in an article written by Tipper Gore, which was given the forum of a full page in my hometown newspaper on Long Island. In this article Ms. Gore claimed that one of my songs, “Under the Blade,” had lyrics encouraging sadomasochism, bondage, and rape.
The lyrics she quoted have absolutely nothing to do with these topics. On the contrary, the words in question are about surgery and the fear that it instills in people. Furthermore, the reader of this article is led to believe that the three lines she quotes go together in the song when, as you can see, from reading the lyrics, the first two lines she cites are an edited phrase from the second verse and the third line is a misquote of a line from the chorus.
That the writer could misquote me is curious, since we make it a point to print all our lyrics on the inner sleeve of every album. As the creator of “Under the Blade,” I can say categorically that the only sadomasochism, bondage, and rape in this song is in the mind of Ms. Gore.
Yea, it is unfair to be mis-quoted isn’t it. That’s why Ms.Gore was purposely mis-quoted at the beginning of this article. It is done for shock value, and it almost always works. The actual quote reads as follows:
“Though Al Gore’s reinvention as a Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist has led to many accolades, he eventually has to come home where “his wife knows he puts his pants on one leg at a time.”
“It’s much more fun to be a God than a person,” she (Tipper) said. (Source: abcnews.go.com)
So…what effect did all this have on the music industry in the long run? Practically nothing. After the fervor died down, things pretty much went back to normal. Almost all of the music and artists targeted had increased record sales, and due to changing climate and technology in the music industry, there were bigger problems, real problems, looming on the horizon. Most notably something called Napster…
Take Lady GaGa for example. She has 40 million followers on Twitter, 59 million on Facebook and 17 million on Instagram. And yes, her cd cover does contain the warning label. Looks like no one cares. And that is Tipper Gore’s legacy. You can go back to not knowing who she is now.
It must also be noted that In June 2010, the Gores announced their marital separation, “a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration.” In August 2012, the New York Times reported that both Gores were dating other people and have no plans to resume marriage, but that their “bond endures”.
Tipper Gore is still legally married and his having sex with another man. That’s adultery. Shame shame on you Tipper. Shame shame on you.
So here are some shots of recent daily jobs
Half sleeve tribute to Alex’s son Jaxx
Re-work or “tune up”on an older tattoo
On the left is freshly photographed St.Michael, and on the right is the same tattoo healed. Looks much nicer when the skin isn’t all angry. And red
Below is a 2-shot tattoo done on a Japanese tourist
A tiny St. George
Scarface re-work, before and “in progress” shot
Really fun half sleeve cover over, so long tribal dragon skeleton
Skull and flowers on Juha from Finland
Healed pic of a pile of skulls on a client not from Finland
Cover over of a lil’ magic ‘shroom
Very cool Thor helmet on a fellow comic collector
And a bit more red and black on Doug’s back piece
Oh yeah, and tattooed this guy. Apparently he’s on one if those big vampire shows on HBO
Its that time of year again, time for The Great Frederick Fair in (duh) Frederick Maryland.
At night, the sights and sounds of a carnival at night time are dizzying but in the daytime, it looks like a completely different place.
Here are some views you might not be familiar with in case you usually visit your carnival at night…
And how can you choose just one belt buckle when you have all these to pick from?
Even Spidey got in on the act
And carnival art is some of the best folk art ever created
And theres no end of phallic foods and sights to make you hungry and thirsty
Spank your mama
And you cant forget the classic historical vehicles in the parking lot. Always Ford, and always fire truck red
See ya next year!
No, Doc, I actually never did. Not until now that is. Of course, the “M.M.M.S.” stood for The Merry Marvel Marching Society, as every loyal Marvel fan knew. And the reason I didn’t join was, well, was because I hadn’t been born yet.
The M.M.M.S. was the newly created Marvel Comics Fan Club that debuted in 1964 (I was born in ’67) and it was yet another brain storm from one of comics most prolific writers, the one and only Stan Lee, and featured members of the infamous Mighty Marvel Bullpen.
Stan, with publisher Martin Goodman’s help most likely, concocted this idea for a fan club to cash in on the current growing popularity of Marvel Comics. For the cost of $1.00 ($7.26 in today’s market- and our $1.00 today was worth a whopping 13¢ back then) you were promised a gaggle of goodies.
On the comics cover-dated Jan ’65 (which had a lead time of a few months, they actually came out Nov ’64), like Fantastic Four #34, this small blurb appeared in the letters page:
And then the following month, the first ever full page M.M.M.S. ad ran. Just imagine how glorious this must have looked to a comic book reading kid. Hell, it still looks glorious even now.
The ad was broken up into 3 basic sections: the top portion showing a blazing red membership button. Note how Stan also aimed the button toward college kids as well. There was a reason for that. Always marketing the brand Stan was, and he gave his readers what they wanted no matter how old they were.
Also included was “a whole mess of absolutely useless” M.M.M.S. stickers. I don’t know if bashful Benji would have approved that comment, what with his pretty mug gracing the front and all. The middle portion showed a nifty membership card, and official M.M.M.S. certificate, which would have been personally signed by Stan “The Man” himself. (Stan now charges $50 at cons to sign stuff…talk about inflation!)
The card was a pretty substantial piece, printed on heavy card stock and measuring 2 1/2″ x 4 1/4″. Judging by Greg Hennessee’s signature, I’d guess his age at anywhere from 8-12.
On the reverse side was The Merry Marvel Pledge, and you couldn’t help but hear Stan’s voice in your hearing whilst reciting it. And if you look closely, you’ll see Greg was the 30,392nd club member. That sounds like quite a lot of members to me…
The bottom portion contained what was possibly the best membership gift of all…a record! And not just any average record (a 7″ flexi-disc actually) but a record containing the voices of members of the Mighty Marvel Bullpen themselves! What kid in the swingin’ 60′s could resist that?!?
Another one of Stan’s never ending brainstorms, this recording contained the voices of most of all the creators whom the reader only knew previously by name. Names like Jack “King” Kirby, “Adorable” Artie Simek and “Swingin’” Sam Rosen. To finally hear their voices made everything come full circle. The beauty of this is what set Marvel apart from the “brand x” comics of the time. The creators were now speaking directly to their fans, and now more than ever the fans felt they were a part of the mighty Marvel family.
The audio can be heard here
The participants were (in order); Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Flo Steinberg, Sol Brodsky (who mentions “Shy” Steve Ditko who for unknown reasons did not appear), Artie Simek, Sam Rosen, Chic Stone, Wally “Kid Daredevil” Wood, Dick Ayers, Don Heck. Others mentioned were Al Hartley who worked on the Patsy Walker book at the time. (Patsy Walker first appeared in teen/humor type comics in 1944, and turned into the Hellcat in 1976 where she’s still around today) Stan Goldberg, George Bell, Vince Colletta, Larry Lieber (Stan’s brother) and Bob Powell. The record only plays on one side and is approx. 5 min. In length.
Later on, in 1967 a second 7″ flexi-disc was released entitled “Scream Along With Marvel”.
This record had some actual production quality to it (i.e.: Stan spent a few bucks this time) and there were singers and a marching band accompaniment. There were 2 songs; “The Marvel Super Heroes Have Arrived” and the “M.M.M.S. Theme Song”. Both songs lasted a total of 3 minutes all together.
The audio can be heard here
A few more full page ads ran over the next few months in the books until there was some new merchandise to offer…
And soon enough, the next batch of goodies offered with $1 paid membership was the Marvel Comics “Official Swingin’ Stationery”.
The stationery set included stuff like scribble pads, envelopes and a replacement order form all wrapped up in a cool orange folder.
The back of the folder was autographed by all the current Marvel super heroes, including Odin and the Thing’s blind girlfriend Alicia Masters, oddly enough. Cuz you know, she’s blind.
And shown below, quite possibly for the first time, is the original stationery art work in all it’s glory. Note the signatures: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko and Neal Adams.
New items were being added as the fan club grew. Next up appeared this very interesting blurb, stuffed in the center column of the Bullpen Bulletins Page:
That next month, some of the most desired and rare Marvel Comics collectibles ever were created; the M.M.M.S. posters.
The Spider-Man poster was released first, and the rest of the 8 piece set were soon to follow. The original Spidey poster was a whopping 6′ tall and was based on a Steve Ditko design.
The set of 8 posters was released a few months later and featured Cap, Thor, Doc Strange, Torch, Spidey, Hulk, Namor and ‘ol Shellhead. They were now 12″x16″ and only cost another measly buck to own.
At that same time, Marvel also began selling t-shirts and other merchandise that weren’t apart of the M.M.M.S. grab bag. But if you were a member, you most likely got your mom and dad to buy you most of that stuff too. Smaller ads for the club continued to run on the letters page, as shown below:
And in 1966 the Merry Marvel Messenger #1 newsletter was released.
In ’69, the M.M.M.S. turned into The Marvelmania International fan club, which lasted until ’71. But that did not mark the end of the idea of a Marvel Comics fan club, as FOOM was looming on the horizon of ’73. But…that’s another story for another blog. Stay tuned true believers, there’s more to come…
Today, August 28th marks the 96th anniversary of the birth of comics most prolific creator, Jack “King” Kirby. To count the number of characters this man created would be near impossible. But almost all of them are still around today, and one of his oldest and most famous creations is 72 years old. This would be of course, Captain America he co-created with Joe Simon.
Captain America comics came out in 1941, and being a Jewish born New Yorker (Jacob Kurtzberg), it seemed only appropriate that his hero would be knocking out Hitler on the cover. Kirby was drafted into the U.S. Army on June 7, 1943. He was assigned to Company F of the 11th Infantry Regiment. He landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on August 23, 1944, two-and-a-half months after D-Day. Kirby recalled that a lieutenant, learning that comics artist Kirby was in his command, made him a scout who would advance into towns and draw reconnaissance maps and pictures, an extremely dangerous duty.
Serving as a combat Infantryman, he fought in the campaign at Metz and earned two battle stars and a severe case of frozen feet.
“For instance, you ask me how it was during the war and just the mention of the word brings to mind the first time that I saw General Patton. Well, there was Patton, sore as hell. He wanted to know why we were screwing up his map. He came there with this big map and he spread it out over the hood of this jeep and got all the other officers in my outfit all around to look. Then he looked up at each one of them and said, “What the f*ck are these guys doing here?” and he pointed at the map again and yelled, “What is this? What is this? You’re fouling up the whole f*cking thing! If you’re here, then why the f*ck aren’t they dead? They are all supposed to be dead.” I myself was saying, “Well, sh*t on you. I feel great.”
(Interviews with Jack Kirby and his family between August 1989 through June 1992. Copyright 1999 by Ray Wyman, Jr. JKC #27)
Among his other notable co-creations were the Black Panther (for Marvel in 1966) and Vykin the Black (for DC Comics in 1971) which were the first black superheroes introduced into mainstream comics.
Aside from comics, Jack also worked in animation (Filmations Thundarr the Barbarian) and movies (Disney’s Black Hole), a comic adaptation of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as well as concept art for Roger Zelazny’s science fiction novel, Lord of Light, which was slated to be made into a movie.
This commissioned art was stored away when producer Barry Geller lost his funding. It was later picked up by the CIA for use in a daring covert rescue mission of six Americans held in Iran. A fake film production company was created, with offices set up in Hollywood, and permission to film scenes in Iran was obtained, all as a ruse to spirit the Americans out. The Ben Affleck film, Argo, is based on these true events, and these pieces of art played a pivotal role in that astounding and successful mission. Jack was played by Michael Parks in the film.
Jack Kirby was also a painter with a unique style and vision. Below is a 1978 reproduction of a 1976 painting by Kirby entitled “Mechanoid”.
And below is a scan of this same painting done in 2008. Kirby used Dr. Martens dyes, and as you can see, it almost looks cooler now than it did 30 years ago.
At the comic book convention Marvelcon ’75, Stan Lee used a Fantastic Four panel discussion to announce that Kirby was returning to Marvel after having left in 1970 to work for DC Comics. Lee wrote in his monthly column, “Stan Lee’s Soapbox”, that, “I mentioned that I had a special announcement to make. As I started telling about Jack’s return, to a totally incredulous audience, everyone’s head started to snap around as Kirby himself came waltzin’ down the aisle to join us on the rostrum! You can imagine how it felt clownin’ around with the co-creator of most of Marvel’s greatest strips once more.”
In 1985, legendary artist Gil Kane had this to say about The King ,”Jack was the single most influential figure in the turnaround in Marvel’s fortunes from the time he rejoined the company … It wasn’t merely that Jack conceived most of the characters that are being done, but … Jack’s point of view and philosophy of drawing became the governing philosophy of the entire publishing company and, beyond the publishing company, of the entire field … [Marvel took] Jack and use[d] him as a primer. They would get artists … and they taught them the ABCs, which amounted to learning Jack Kirby. … Jack was like the Holy Scripture and they simply had to follow him without deviation. That’s what was told to me … It was how they taught everyone to reconcile all those opposing attitudes to one single master point of view.”
Jack’s granddaughter Jillian has started the “Kirby4Heroes” campaign. She says, “I started this (the Kirby4Heroes campaign) as a way to connect with my grandfather, who died the year before I was born. I’ve grown so much closer to him through my endeavors in this area. I have to admit I’m astounded by him as an artist, family member, and just as a kind human being. Raising funds for those in the comic book industry in need of financial and medical assistance is a cause my grandfather Jack would have championed. He never turned his back on a person in need.”
The Kirby4Heroes video can be seen here on YouTube
His co-creations The Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Men, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America have grossed $7,310,755,909 for Marvel and Disney.
Jack’s legacy and influence is still seen even to this day. He was a war veteran, artist, husband and father. He was a creator extraordinaire and will never be forgotten. Thanks again for everything Jack, and happy birthday.