Tag Archives: rock and roll

Doctor Who – Eleventh Doctor: Issue 4

DoctorWho_04

This issue continues where Issue 3 left off, only now John Jones (the David Bowie-esque character) is traveling in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Alice. They end up on a planet where people have been mysteriously going into comas after being attacked by an unseen entity. It is also revealed that secret research on the planet is being orchestrated by the sinister organization, SERVEYOUinc.

The story moves along well and is interesting, but leaves you hanging as it will be continued in the next issue. The real strength in this issue for me, though, is the inclusion of all the humorous puns and references to David Bowie. They are very witty and if you read closely you will catch a lot, like when Jones notices some flies on the space station and comments: “Oh look, there’s flies. Flies from the stars. I’ll call my next band that.” Clearly a play on the Spiders from Mars. There is also a scene where Jones and Alice are in a cafeteria and there is a box of “New Chunky Dories” cereal, which I thought was a clever reference to Bowie’s 1971 “Hunky Dory” album.

To fully appreciate this issue, it helps if you are a David Bowie fan. That said, the story and artwork are both good and you will probably enjoy it, even if you don’t catch all the Bowie references. I’m kind of looking forward to the next issue, especially since I love the early Bowie music. In fact, I think I put my vinyl copy of “Hunky Dory” on the turntable today and give it a spin. And to conclude, here is my favorite track from that album. Enjoy!

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Alice Cooper: Issue #3

AliceCooperComic_03

Last night I watched “Good to See You Again, Alice Cooper” at a friend’s house. The film documents the infamous 1973 Billion Dollar Babies tour and is interspersed with comedic shorts. Since I had issue 3 in my stack of things to be read, I couldn’t resist bumping it to the top of the pile.

The comic opens with scenes from a concert at the Philadelphia Spectrum in 1975, which stirred memories of going to concerts in the 70’s, a much more Dionysian era.

In times past, this was your scene, your church, your glory. You drove a crowd into a frenzy, nightly. Then called them back to do it again and again. All carefully designed and planned, a delicate mix of the macabre and the theatrical… the dark, and the delightful… all while walking a line between what was real, and what was show… and what was both to a delicate, deliberate degree.

For me, this perfectly captures the experience of an Alice Cooper performance and what defines stage performance as art. It is the blending of the real and the imagined. You have actual individuals on a stage, and we then project our hopes and fears onto them based upon their actions (act being the root of the word). The fact that real people are before us allows us to suspend belief in a way that film can never quite accomplish. It’s why a Shakespeare play is always better than a film adaptation.

So far, I am enjoying this series. The Alice Cooper persona lends itself well to the graphic novel genre. As a bonus, here’s a clip from the film I watched last night. If you’re an Alice Cooper fan, you should check out the film. Rock on!

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Alice Cooper: Issue #2

AliceCooperComic_02

Since I was a kid, Alice Cooper has been the soundtrack to my October nights, filling the air with the dark sounds of the macabre and the gothic. Tomorrow night, I will see him once again in concert, and to say I’m excited is quite the understatement. So to get myself in the proper state of mind, I decided to read the latest installment in the Alice Cooper graphic series.

The truth be told, I’m such a huge Alice fan that even if this series sucked I would still read it and like it, and while this new comic is not on par with Neil Gaiman’s Alice Cooper comic series, it is still good.

In this issue, Alice, the Nightmare Lord, strikes a deal with the bullied kid Robbie. Robbie, who had inadvertently bound the dark lord, promises to release Alice if he assists in getting back at the bully who torments him. While all this is transpiring, Lucius Black’s brother, Andronicus, is scheming to recapture the Nightmare Lord. Near the end of the issue, the threads of the tale begin to entwine together and we are left with a nice cliffhanger.

My favorite part of this issue is when Alice manifests to the bully. The surprised teen asks who Alice is, and Alice responds with the following.

Once upon a time, I could live rent free in that mind of yours, stealing your potential… rotting your brain with my special, signature raison d’etat… I stuck a stick of dynamite up rock n’ roll’s ass and pushed the art of the stage show out of the juke joints and the back rooms with morbid theatricality… along with macabre panache! I made the nightmares happen, and I thought it’d last forever.

Tomorrow night, I will once again experience the morbid theatricality and macabre panache which is an Alice Cooper concert. Thanks for stopping by, and may your Halloween be filled with thrills and chills!

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Alice Cooper: Issue #1

AliceCooperComic_01

I have been waiting for the release of this since I first heard about it months ago. I’ve been an Alice Cooper fan since the 70’s and I am excited to see him cast in dark graphic fantasy. Of course, this is not the first Alice Cooper comic, most notably Neil Gaiman wrote a three-issue Cooper comic a while back (see my earlier posts on them).

In this first issue, Alice, the Lord of Nightmare, has been trapped in a contract by Lucius Black. He is freed when young Robbie purchases a vinyl copy of an old Alice Cooper album and plays it backwards. Alice materializes in the boy’s room, ready to assist him.

Robbie is kind of an outcast kid. He is bullied by the other kids in his neighborhood and does not seem to have much confidence in himself. I’m intrigued as to the possibilities here. I would like to see Alice force Robbie to face his nightmares and confront the fear within that is paralyzing him. But, this is still an inchoate tale, so I will just sit back and enjoy the show.

For those of you who are reading the comic also: “Welcome to my Nightmare.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln1NPQLzIi0

 

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Joyce’s “Ulysses” – Episode 11

Painting by William Etty

Painting by William Etty

This episode corresponds to the section in Homer’s Odyssey where Odysseus encounters the sirens. “In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous yet beautiful creatures, portrayed as femme fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island” (Wikipedia). In Ulysses, the episode takes place inside a bar and the sirens are represented by the two barmaids, Lydia Douce and Mina Kennedy, who are very flirtatious. Joyce also incorporates themes of music and intoxication into the episode. Essentially, this is the sex and drugs and rock and roll chapter.

Joyce does something very creative at the beginning of this episode. He essentially composes an overture to the chapter. He takes snippets of text from the episode and weaves them together, creating a literary prelude of sorts. It reads like a modernist poem, and while I have not been impressed with Joyce’s poetry, I have to say that this works well for me. The actual episode begins with the word: “Begin!”

Early in the episode, Lydia and Mina are gossiping and laughing. They are immediately portrayed as sexual by their little dirty jokes.

—O saints above! Miss Douce said, sighed above her jumping rose. I wished I hadn’t laughed so much. I feel all wet.

—O, Miss Douce! Miss Kennedy protested. You horrid thing!

And flushed yet more (you horrid!), more goldenly.

(p. 260)

As the episode continues, the connection is made between music and sexual arousal. In the next passage, a tuning fork is used as a phallic symbol to reinforce the connection between music and sexuality.

From the saloon a call came, long in dying. That was a tuningfork the tuner had that he forgot that he now struck. A call again. That he now poised that it now throbbed. You hear? It throbbed, pure, purer, softly and softlier, its buzzing prongs. Longer in dying call.

(p. 264)

As Leopold Bloom sits in the bar, the combination of alcohol, music, and sexuality starts to overwhelm him. He loses himself in a flood of thoughts, memories, and fantasy caused by the environment.

Tenderness it welled: slow, swelling. Full it throbbed. That’s the chat. Ha, give! Take! Throb, a throb, a pulsing proud erect.

Words? Music? No: it’s what’s behind.

Bloom looped, unlooped, noded, disnoded.

Bloom. Flood of warm jimjam lickitup sweetness flowed to flow in music out, in desire, dark to lick flow, invading. Tipping her tepping her tapping her topping her. Tup. Pores to dilate dilating. Tup. The joy the feel the warm the. Tup. To pour o’er sluices pouring gushes. Flood, gush, flow, joygush, tupthrop. Now! Language of love.

(p. 274)

Toward the end of the episode, there is a scene where Lydia is stroking the beer tap like it is a penis. This is symbolic of the connection between intoxication and succumbing to sexual temptation.

On the smooth jutting beerpull laid Lydia hand lightly, plumply, leave it to my hands. All lost in pity for croppy. Fro, to: to, fro: over the polished knob (she knows his eyes, my eyes, her eyes) her thumb and finger passed in pity: passed, repassed and, gently touching, then slid so smoothly, slowly down, a cool firm white enamel baton protruding through their sliding ring.

With a cock with a carra.

(p. 286)

When I read Ulysses for the first time in college, this was one of the episodes that really stood out for me. Probably because I played music for so many years, I really related to the musical imagery and symbolism that permeates this episode.

Next week I will cover Episode 12 which ends on page 345 with the phrase “… like a shot off a shovel.”


 

Previous Posts on Ulysses:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

Episode 10


 

References:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/ulysses/section11.rhtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siren_%28mythology%29

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New Alice Cooper Comic Coming Soon

AliceCooperComic

It is not news to most of you who know me that I am a HUGE Alice Cooper fan. I have seen the Coop in concert more times than I can remember and I have tickets to see him again this fall. I had heard that a new Alice Cooper comic was in the works, but now I have some official info.

Issue number 1 will be hitting the shelves in September of this year, just in time for Halloween (also, shortly before I see him again). The comic will be written by Joe Harris and illustrated by Eman Casallos. According to the article I read:

In the new series Cooper is portrayed as a rocker by day and “Lord of Nightmares” at night. He watched over us as we slept and delivered horrors to those who deserved it. But someone took that away from him, pushed him out of his realm and locked him away… but now he’s going to take it all back.

Click here to read the article in full, which also includes a few pages from the upcoming comic.

Alice is no stranger to the comic-book world. Neil Gaiman did a short comic series featuring Alice, which was inspired by Cooper’s The Last Temptation album (check out my reviews of those).

I can’t wait for this. I will be putting my order in at the local comic store to ensure I get my hands on the first issue as soon as it come out.

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“The Scar Boys” by Len Vlahos

ScarBoys

My wife suggested I read this book. She told me it was a quick read and that it was right up my alley: a young adult novel about starting a punk rock band. She knows me well. I did like this book and as a musician I related to much of what was in there.

Anyone who has ever been in a band knows that there is always drama and that it is like being in Spinal Tap. You deal with attitudes, stupidity, conflict, and the absurd. In spite of that, there are moments when being in a band, playing on stage with a group of people, and connecting to the audience through music are nothing short of magical and transcendent. Over the years I have experienced the full range of musical highs and lows, and that is probably why I found this book so enjoyable.

The book is presented as if it was written as a college admissions essay, answering your generic prompt about a person that influenced you, a problem that you have overcome, etc. I found this an interesting approach. The chapters are short, which makes reading this like eating a bag of Doritos; you can just keep snacking on one handful of words after another. Also, all the chapters are named after songs and the song titles tie into the events within the chapter. Since I connect life events to songs on a personal level, I found this effective.

So for those of you who have never been in a band before and wonder what it feels like to be onstage playing, it can only be described as the best high you will ever feel in your life.

Playing in front of people was like a drug. The walls dropped away and I found myself surrounded by open air, floating above everything. The energy of the audience—even the tiny audience at that first gig—wrapped the entire band in a protective bubble. Only the music and the knowledge of each other existed. We were four individuals merged into one seamless being, each inside the other’s head, each inside the other’s soul. Music, I discovered that night, was a safe place to hide, a place where scars didn’t matter, where they didn’t exist.

(pp. 73 – 74)

When I first started playing music, it was about what I could get out of it: adrenaline rushes, women, free intoxicants, social acceptance. At some point, though, there was a shift and music became more of a spiritual experience, a way of connecting with others on a level that was transcendent. It is this feeling that has kept me playing music for so many years. Vlahos captures that musical epiphany quite well.

“All I’ve ever wanted,” Chey continued, ignoring us, “is to play music that would make people feel good. We did that tonight.” We were all quiet for a moment.

It’s funny. I’d never really thought of it that way before. I’d only ever thought about how playing music made me feel. But Chey was right. The real magic comes from the audience. Music, it turns out, is more about giving than receiving. Who knew?

(pp. 124 – 125)

There is only one criticism I have about this book, and that is the abundance of references to late 70’s television and pop culture. For me, I liked them because I could relate to them and they stirred a feeling of nostalgia. But at the end of the day, this is a young adult book and I doubt that many teenagers would know who Potsie, Horseshack, or Vinnie Barbarino were. I understand that you have to write about what you know and what you feel, but you also need to take into consideration your target audience.

Anyway, this is a very quick and easy read, and one which I personally enjoyed. And if you remember CBGB’s and WKRP, then you’ll probably enjoy this book too.

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“he enters stage” by Jim Morrison

WildernessMorrisonI’m a big Doors fan. I could not even attempt to guess at the number of hours I spent sitting and listening to their music. And as a reader of poetry, it should be no surprise that I have also read Jim Morrison’s poetry. Anyway, this morning I picked up my copy of Wilderness: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison Volume 1 and randomly flipped to a poem, which I am including in this post courtesy of Huddersfield One website.

he enters stage:

Blood boots. Killer storm.
Fool’s gold. God in a heaven.
Where is she?
Have you seen her?
Has anyone seen this girl?
snap shot (projected)
She’s my sister.
Ladies & gentlemen:
please attend carefully to these words & events
It’s your last chance, our last hope.
In this womb or tomb, we’re free of the swarming streets.
The black fever which rages is safely out those doors
My friends & I come from
Far Arden w/ dances, &
new music
Everywhere followers accrue
to our procession.
Tales of Kings, gods, warriors
and lovers dangled like
jewels for your careless pleasure

I’m Me!
Can you dig it.
My meat is real.
My hands–how they move
balanced like lithe demons
My hair–so twined and writhing
The skin of my face–pinch the cheeks
My flaming sword tongue
spraying verbal fire-flys
I’m real.
I’m human
But I’m not an ordinary man
No No No

What I like about this poem is that it gives us a glimpse into how it must have felt for Jim to be on stage. It is my understanding that The Doors saw music as a way to alter consciousness. Morrison considered himself to be a shaman leading the audience into other realms. And as a musician, I can relate to a lot of what is expressed here. There is something that is ineffable which occurs when musician and audience connect on a spiritual level. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced it on occasions, but I could not express that feeling any better than Jim does in the above poem.

I think my favorite lines in this poem are “My flaming sword tongue/spraying verbal fire-flys.” There is some cool symbolism here. First, the flaming sword evokes the image of the cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden, so Jim’s words could be seen as a gateway to the Edenic state. In addition, the flaming sword offers light, hence the lyrics could also be seen as sources of illumination. Finally, his sharp words can also cut and burn, effectively destroying the established paradigms to make way for new levels of consciousness.

If you are a Doors fan as I am, I encourage you to buy a copy of Jim’s book. There are some very good poems in there and it would be a worthy addition to your book collection.

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“Why Do I Drink?” by Jim Morrison

WildernessMorrisonSo this is my 150th blog post. Kind of a milestone, don’t you think? I struggled with what to write about. I wanted to choose something significant, therefore I gave it considerable thought before making my decision, which was to pick a poem from a book of obscure writings by Jim Morrison of The Doors. My reason for this is that, looking back, I realize that rock and roll was what really got me interested in poetry. I have always loved to read, but it was rock lyrics that gave me an appreciation of the subtleties of language found in poetry.

I searched my sagging bookshelves until I found Wilderness Volume 1: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison. I skimmed through the pages looking for the right poem and I settled on the following (I am including the poem because it is short and chances are most people do not have a copy of the book).

Why do I drink?
So that I can write poetry.

Sometimes when it’s all spun out
and all that is ugly recedes
into a deep sleep
There is an awakening
and all that remains is true.
As the body is ravaged
the spirit grows stronger.

Forgive me Father for I know
what I do.
I want to hear the last Poem
of the last Poet.

Like many poets and artists, Jim searched for inspiration and turned to drugs and alcohol as his muse. The irony is that while mood-altering substances can be a source of artistic inspiration, they ultimately rob you of your ability to create and lead you down the path of insanity and ultimately death, which sadly was the case with Jim.

I found the lines at the end of the second stanza to be quite interesting: “As the body is ravaged/the spirit grows stronger.” I see this as a reference to practices like fasting, flagellation, and other forms of self-induced physical suffering intended to create an altered state of consciousness. But just like drugs, these forms of inspiration eventually take their toll on a person, often resulting in the loss of that which they were seeking to gain. I read somewhere that these practices were only meant to give a person a glimpse of what can be attained through spiritual practices, but should not be the path which one should follow.

It is sad that Jim Morrison never learned that there are many ways to be inspired other than drinking. If he did, he might still be here, writing poems and creating music. Instead, he heard his “last Poem” at the moment of his dying and was never able to share it with others.

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“Sensation” by Arthur Rimbaud

RimbaudI woke this morning and thought about what I should read and write about today. I decided I would pick something from Rimbaud. I purchased a copy of his complete works some years back and read it all, so I figured I would select a short poem to read again. The second poem in the book is “Sensation” and it seemed the perfect choice. Since it is a short poem and online translations vary from site to site, I figured I would include the version I read here.

Sensation

Through blue summer nights I will pass along paths,
Pricked by wheat, trampling short grass:
Dreaming, I will feel coolness underfoot,
Will let breezes bathe my bare head.

Not a word, not a thought:
Boundless love will surge through my soul,
And I will wander far away, a vagabond
In Nature–as happily as with a woman.

This poem is a celebration of sensory experience. It is about the joy and pleasure of physical sensation. Rimbaud seeks to lose himself and escape his thoughts through immersion in the sensory. When he reaches that state of physical bliss, when “Not a word, not a thought” is running through his mind, he becomes one with his soul, an experience he compares with the state of sexual orgasm attained with a woman.

There is a nice double entendre near the end of the poem, where Rimbaud describes himself as “a vagabond in Nature.” This could be interpreted as either Rimbaud being a wanderer exploring the natural and physical world around him, or it could mean that it is the nature of his being to wander the world, experiencing the sensations that life has to offer.

I think Rimbaud is a very cool poet. His works heavily influenced the writings of rock poets like Patti Smith and Jim Morrison, individuals who influenced me when I was younger. If you are unfamiliar with Rimbaud’s works, I recommend investing in a copy of his writings.

Read on!

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