Rocketeer Woes

Okay. A new ROCKETEER movie. Fine. As a rabid fan of the original comic, I was only mildly disappointed by the first ROCKETEER movie many, many moons ago. But Disney’s plans for a new film include to feature “a young African American woman in the years following World War II” in the lead role.

Okay, full stop.

That really warps what THE ROCKETEER was about.

It’s not about race or gender. When they made Marvel’s Nick Fury black (first in THE ULTIMATES, and then in the movies), half of my friends were beside themselves. I couldn’t give a shit. “Who cares what color his skin is,” I told them, “that’s still Nick Fury.” And the new GHOSTBUSTERS, with its all female crew? I could not give half a shit. But this plan for the new ROCKETEER movie?

It just warps it too far, man.

THE ROCKETEER was about a geeky insecure guy who could not find a job and was in love/lust with a Bettie Page lookalike (who was a model, ha ha!). He gets a crappy fucking jetpack and tries to fight crime, and that’s it.

If you want to make a movie about an alluring young African American woman who straps on a jetpack and has adventures, THEN GIVE HER A STORY SHE OWNS, dammit. Make up a new title. Make a new story. JET GIRL! Give her a backstory. We need new dreams, new stories. Do not be lazy. Do not appropriate. Make something NEW. I’d watch JET GIRL, fuck yeah. But stop raping the fucking past, man. Leave my beloved shit be.

Ω

Damn. It’s The Zero Moon, It’s September 13, Man.

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Five thousand, eight hundred and forty days after leaving Earth orbit, everybody on Moonbase Alpha must be dead.

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Yeah, everybody on Alpha must be dead…

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Or maybe…

Ω

Echo & The Bunnymen – Full Concert – Liverpool – 2009

This band, one of my most beloved of the long lost 80’s, effectively died for me w/ 1990’s Reverberation which featured a shitty replacement singer and hooks lifted straight from The Stone Roses, the reigning alt guitar gods of the day. So when the reunited Echo released Evergreen in 1997, I flat-out ignored it, despite the avalanche of praise the album received. No, strike that “despite;” I ignored Evergreen because of the praise which i took for mere corporate-funded hype. I was (and remain) a cynical prick. So I ignored all the subsequent releases as well, all five of them, all the way up to Meteorites (2014). Which strikes me as odd, writing this now. Cynical as I am, I have never been so steadfastly incurious about a band or writer or artist or filmmaker who once gave me pleasure. And man, I loved Echo’s first four albums so much, and maybe that was my problem. Those first four albums were the incessant soundtrack for a very potent period of my life, two C90 BSAF cassette dupes that were always in my car or in my stereo’s deck and played endlessly at 11 while I nursed a broken heart and endured Earth-shattering disappointments and shit like that. Yeah, this is something we can all relate to: one really can love something or someone too much. Duh.

Anyway, Echo came up in casual conversation the other day at The Creep’s new dayjob, and in the course of the chat a deep embarrassment fell over me like a lead-weighted net: one of my favorite bands, huh, yet I had willfully thumbed my nose at their last six albums? My poor widdle heart had healed a long time ago, I was a big boy now. I resolved to give the “new” Echo albums a spin.

I was pleasantly shocked.

The material felt familiar, yet new! That special, original and unique spark was still there! (Yes I’m making fun of myself.) Bottom line: the music was good. Very good. A certain band couldn’t hurt me. “That was long ago in another country, and I am a different man. Besides, the bitch is dead.” Chesterton. I think.

In the course of my explorations youtube kindly shoved this live performance from 2009 down my throat, and I said “Thank you sir may I have another.” This is an enormous concert, recorded right off the sound board so if somebody fucked up it would have been a sonic Nagasaki but amazingly there is not a single misstep, the entire gig is “note perfect.”

Enjoy.

Here’s to resiliency, and new beginnings, and healed hearts. Aaw.

Ω

Cover Designs

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Ω

Aubrey Morris, High Priest, RIP

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Morris always left an unconventional stamp on even the smallest, and seemingly conventional, roles. Small and rotund, with gleaming eyes, and occasionally wearing round spectacles, he could convey obsessions and monstrosity at odds with his corporeality. His visual characteristics included a wide smile, which displayed a prominent upper row of teeth, and a sly, sideways glance. With his distinctive, precise speech pattern, he could draw out vowel sounds amusingly, or unnervingly. — The Guardian

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Yes, Aubrey Morris (1926—2015) played so many excellent little and unforgettable roles: the crazy grave digger in Wicker Man, Mister Deltoid in Clockwork and hundreds of others. But I must admit that my flat out favorite crazy character he came up with is none other than…

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PETROS, HIGH PRIEST OF THE SURVIVORS OF LEVEL 7!

In the 1975 episode of SPACE: 1999, Mission of the Darians, Morris is an eerie judge and executioner of radiation scarred mutants on a massive 900 year old ruined space ark, and man, he’s creepy, especially when he screams…

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“MUUUU-TAAAAANT!”

The poor “mutant” is locked into a disintegration chamber that glows hellishly white with a high pitched mechanized scream. And as the unfortunate mutant’s flesh melts away, Morris looks on, calm and serene.

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Brrrr. It’s a standout episode all on its own, made that much greater by the unforgettable inclusion of Aubrey Morris, who will be missed and remembered by many fans across the planet tonight. Yes, Morris gave us so many memorable characters. But this one’s my favorite.

Ω

The Art of Johannes Theodorus ‘Jan’ Toorop

The vagabonds, 1891 Jan Toorop

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Johannes Theodorus Toorop was born on 20 December 1858 in Purworejo on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia).[1] His father was Christoffel Theodorus Toorop, a civil servant, and his mother was Maria Magdalena Cooke.[2] He was the third of five children and lived on the island of Bangka near Sumatra until he was nine years old.[3] He was then sent to school in Batavia on Java.[3]

In 1869 he left Indonesia for the Netherlands, where he studied in Delft and Amsterdam. In 1880 he became a student at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. From 1882 to 1886 he lived in Brussels where he joined Les XX (Les Vingts), a group of artists centred on James Ensor. Toorop worked in various styles during these years, such as Realism,Impressionism Neo-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism.

After his marriage to an Annie Hall, a British woman, in 1886, Toorop alternated his time between The Hague, England and Brussels, and after 1890 also the Dutch seaside town of Katwijk aan Zee. During this period he developed his unique Symbolist style, with dynamic, unpredictable lines based on Javanese motifs, highly stylised willowy figures, and curvilinear designs

In the late 19th century (in 1897) Toorop lived for 20 years in a small house on the market in the seaside town Domburg, Walcheren, Zeeland. He worked with a group of fellow artists, including Marinus Zwart and Piet Mondrian. There was no joint endeavor or common style among them. Each followed his individual personality, but they sought their inspiration in “the Zeeland Light”, in the dunes, forests, beaches and the characteristic Zeeland population. Toorop was the center of this group.

Thereafter he turned to Art Nouveau styles, in which a similar play of lines is used for decorative purposes, without any apparent symbolic meaning. In 1905, he converted to Catholicism and began producing religious works. He also created book illustrations, posters, and stained glass designs.

Throughout his life Toorop also produced portraits, in sketch format and as paintings, which range in style from highly realistic to impressionistic.

Toorop died on 3 March 1928 in The Hague in the Netherlands.[1] His daughter Charley Toorop (1891–1955) was also a painter, as was his grandson Edgar Fernhout.

Ω

GFstudio / Carisa Swenson at THE ZEALOT’S ELIXIR

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Carisa says,

Now showing through March 7 at Modern Eden Gallery, “The Zealot’s Elixir”….a show focusing on snake oil salesmen, false prophets and hope for the lost. My piece, “Shining Apples” (inspired by the song of the same name on the “Tales from the Black Meadow” album by The Soulless Party) is on display with a collection of amazing works. To view the exhibition online check it out here!

A few photos of my contribution to the show.

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Visit Carisa at goblinfruitstudio and on twitter.

Ω

Patti Smith and David Lynch Discuss The Artistic Process

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What else do you need? Do the click.

Ω

Blizzard Reading: My Hero, DALE COOPER OF TWIN PEAKS: “YOU’LL SEE ME AGAIN IN 25 YEARS.”

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 David Lynch’s Jan 12 2015 Tweet

 — This piece is slated to run in ANGRY MORON #4

My Hero, DALE COOPER OF TWIN PEAKS: “YOU’LL SEE ME AGAIN IN 25 YEARS.”

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Of course that’s Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer, Twin Peak‘s dead heroine/spectre and emotional schism, warning FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) of even darker days to come during one of the show’s numerous dream sequences.

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In the summer of 2014 I was approached to write a series of essays for (what I was led to believe) would be an anthology of nonfiction pieces describing “the Twin Peaks experience.” The nature of the project was later revealed to be something else altogether, and I went elsewhere. But since I had given my opening volley my very best ammo, here you go.

TWIN PEAKS, a memoir by Simon Drax Part 1: Roll The Video Tape

She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic.”

Many things come wrapped in plastic: candy, porn, drugs, Laura Palmer—and video tapes.

I was fairly destitute in April 1990, living w/ five useless friends in a brooding ramshackle house in Allston, Massachusetts. We had cable, but little A/V equipment. We had a television, the five useless friends had their guitars, I had my shitty PC on which I wrote hopeless fiction, but we were without a single vital device: a VCR.

David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks would premiere in mere days, and being an obsessive geek in my early 20s who felt he had to own the shit he loved, I came to a desperate realization—I would tape every episode of Twin Peaks as they aired.

At this point in my life I had watched both Eraserhead and The Elephant Man a minimum of 500 times, had seen Blue Velvet twice on opening day, and was even fond of certain sequences of Dune. I just knew—Lynch and Frost’s show would be something strange, unexpected, vital. I had to have it, keep it, own it. There was just one problem. I didn’t have a VCR.

“MOM?!” I said into the phone, intentionally cracking my voice (bad acting) to fully project my desperation. “THE GREATEST DIRECTOR IN THE WORLD IS MAKING A TV SERIES AND I WANT TO TAPE IT, CAN I BORROW YOUR VCR?”

“What?” my mother said.

More quietly: “The greatest director in the world is making a TV series. May I borrow your VCR?”

“For how long?”

“Only eight episodes!”

“Eight what?”

Because she could not see me, I allowed myself the cruelty of rolling my eyes. “Eight weeks,” I told her.

“That’s a long time!” she said.

She doesn’t even use the fucking thing, I thought, but remaining calm, I said, “Not that long. I’ll take good care of it, and I’ll bring it right back.”

“Well…”

Short version: she said yes. I thanked her profusely, hung up the phone then danced around the room not unlike Laura Palmer’s good little boy spirit with the mask in FIRE WALK WITH ME. That scene of course would come later, and I’ll get to FIRE soon enough.

But back to April 1990—

It’s been nearly 25 years. Forgive me, the details have become a little blurred. I’d had a date, gone to a party, slept with a girl—or something or someone—the night before and the morning of TWIN PEAKS’ premiere, and I realized HOLY SHIT, I AM RUNNING OUT OF TIME. My mother lived 30 miles away from my ramshackle house, an hour’s drive each way, thanks to the congested Hell of Boston/Brighton/Allston.

(I broke the speed limit.)

Breaking the speed limit, I wondered what TWIN PEAKS would deliver that night.

I thought Kyle MacLachlan’s character would actually be a sinister villain. (Wrong.)

I thought there would be a huge body count. (Wrong.)

I thought there would be dream sequences. (NNNnnn… not really. Not yet.)

But I was certain of one thing: it would be good. (Yes.)

At my mom’s she gave me a big hug and kiss. She couldn’t see me wince or the blood that ran from my eyes, not because I didn’t like receiving a hug from my mother but because of the toxic levels of BEN GAY that swirled like the atmosphere of Venus in her apartment. We chatted, she offered me cookies, but to my disgrace I was too busy disconnecting the coaxial cables of her VCR then reconnecting them to her TV. In my feeble defense, she really never used the thing, ever. I’d bought her copies of CASABLANCA and GONE WITH THE WIND and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and the like but she never watched them or anything else, ever. Maybe I’ll just keep it, I thought, full of evil, but then, No, No, Never, super boy scout, just like Dale Cooper, who was only hours from my future.

“I gotta go. Thank you. I love you.” But that VCR was tucked firmly under my arm.

Back in Allston, minutes from PEAKS’ premiere, my useless friends wandered into the “TV room” as I hurriedly made the coaxial connections.

“Man!” they said. “What’s that smell?!”

“Ben Gay,” I told them. “Shut up.”

“Man, how the fuck does Ben Gay permeate plastic—“

“I don’t know. Shut up!”

Because it was time. The VCR was hooked up, the cassette snapped in, the tape rolling. And TWIN PEAKS was unleashed to the universe.

Text © Simon Drax

Ah yeah. Composing this post now, this is how I imagine Dale Cooper’s response to my scribblings:

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He would not be amused or impressed.

Because after I was approached to write the series of TP essays and after I had produced the short piece above, I thought it would be instructive to watch Twin Peaks start-to-finish, something I hadn’t done in too many years, and it was… inspiring.

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Dale Cooper as realized by Lynch, Frost, and MacLachlan really is a hero. Not a one-dimensional Super Boy Scout but a man generous and absolutely loyal to his friends as well as razor-sharp and unflinching in the face of evil, fearless when dealing with shitheads and bastards. Re-watching Twin Peaks I realized I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to be Dale Cooper. Dale Cooper would never steal his mother’s unused VCR. Newsflash: I didn’t. It was returned as promised eight weeks later, where it would sit beneath her TV to be covered with dust and unused until her death in 2010, then thrown out.

As for Dale Cooper, matters grew dark as the original run of Twin Peaks came to a close.

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He didn’t fall in with a bad crowd. Like many good men, he got too close to the bad.

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Even when possessed by demonic Bob, Coop managed to land not only a punch but a mirror-shattering head-butt, above, giggling like a sick fuck of evil to come. And that was the last we saw of our hero.

Until 2016, that is.

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I look forward to your return, Coop. Dust off that black suit and smash Bob out of your skull!

Ω

If It’s Friday and You’ve Had Enough and You Want to Get Off This Damn Planet—

—this might be your ride.

Also, it helps if you’re in Japan. Opening today.

Ω

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