Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bruce Carleton at SCREW

click to enlarge

This double-truck centerfold was a collaboration between myself and Bruce Carleton, Screw’s art director. Carelton was also founding “art director” of Punk Magazine—a local, no-money periodical at the time, but one that would have a profound impact on the culture to this day. Punk—as music, art and movement—seemed to grow out of this publication. John Holmstrom and Legs McNeil founded the mag, but Carleton gave shape to the punk ethic and style, at least in print. Grafitti-inspired lettering and graphics, fumetti and Lower East Side imagery in its post-nuclear glory.

In the late ’70s, Carleton himself lived in a bombed-out tenement run by The Purple Man, a visionary Lower East Side hippie. His rent was $50 a month. A Midwestern Clark Kent of a gent (he even wore the same glasses), this Kansas-born artist was modest and mild-mannered. Not a rat-race runner reaching high ground in New York’s art world, which his talent warranted. And so, one day, without warning, Bruce Carleton vanished. Months passed before we got word at Screw that Carleton had relocated to the jungles of Borneo. Or Jakarta or Burma.

 
A year later, he returned one afternoon and enchanted us with a photo slide show depicting ancient Buddhist temples and rainforests. And in the middle of it all was Carleton himself, reclining on a hammock with a daiquiri or some cocktail, attended to by Polynesian-type island maidens. The next day, he went back to Borneo, where he stayed for over a decade. He’s now apparently back in Kansas. Carelton’s layouts for my own pieces in Screw—particularly a two-part story on Plato’s Retreat’s Larry Levinson’s record-setting exploits, later to appear in Tales of Times Square—were exquisite.

 

© 1981, 2014 by Bruce Carleton and Josh Alan Friedman

Monday, May 19, 2014

WANTED! More Readers Like...

From the editor's desk:



The French Connection. The Exorcist. Sorcerer. Cruising. To Live and Die in L.A. Killer Joe.

Pantheon filmmaker William Friedkin does the cover.

Mr. Friedkin's autobiography, The Friedkin Connection, is now available in paperback; order your copy from Dark Delicacies, a fantastic independent bookshop.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Who Knocked Up Lady Di?" [1982]

Shortly after her marriage to Prince Charles, the Lady in question mysteriously came into the family way, leaving some curious about the origins of the future King of England, Prince William. Editor Richard Jaccoma and I ran this confiscated Royal Communique illustrated by Drew Friedman as the centerfold of Screw #672, Jan. 18, 1982.

There is no doubt that someone on this page was responsible.

The age and binding of the archival copy hampered clean reproduction, leading to some digital reconstruction.



Copyright © 1982, 2014 Drew Friedman

Visit Drew Friedman.net

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Rictus of Death in America


"Dante's Inferno," artwork and photograph © 2014 Nitu N. Daniel

The following appeared in slightly different form in The Dallas Morning News, Sunday April 6, 2014.

I’m willing to wager there are people in insane asylums as a result of dealing with the Social Security Administration. In my mother’s time of need, when she was moved to a nursing home, Social Security cut her off. Finding out why and trying to correct it has opened my eyes to a dysfunctional bureaucracy of systematic torture. It has been a full-time job for nine months. Allow me to share my tale of torment, if you will.

My mother is an 82-year-old American citizen living in Toronto, where she taught acting for the last 20 years. She was a casting director and acting teacher in New York for 20 years before that. A landed immigrant in the great society of Canada. Suffering severe memory loss, the last few years have rendered her unable to carry on her life and work. By September 2013, with terrible sadness, she had to retire to a nursing home in Toronto.

The moment she moved, her Social Security inexplicably stopped. As her oldest son and only advocate, I alerted SS and filled out forms at her Toronto bank during the excruciating weeks of apartment clearing and transition. Letters and phone calls to Social Security went unanswered. I was once left on hold for a half- hour before the line disconnected. It is implied that if you show the slightest bit of irritation they will cut you off. I have endlessly endured those opening three minutes of sickening teleprompts and soul-sucking announcements—a hollow, spinsterly voice on loan from the Women’s Correctional Department.

So I trudged to the Social Security Administration in Dallas, on Central near Royal, and was told to come back with this or that form. This, after taking my ticket and waiting an hour each time. Waiting next to me in the crowded Dallas office were two confused and disgruntled old men. They concurred that the clerks all begin with a presumption of fraud. Understandable. But what about people trying to get their Social Security checks?

During the first two visits they nitpicked at forms, which inevitably had something filled out “wrong.” They rejected my power of attorney papers—which were drawn up in Canada—and said they had to be signed by an American judge. I ended up getting a notary public to sign on top of other notaries public, to authenticate papers that don’t even replicate a notary public’s raised notary in Kinko’s best machines.

Several grinding visits later, I was brushed off by a clerk who for some reason sent me to the IRS. So I trudged to the IRS and was told to return with this or that form. Each visit required a paid parking lot and an hour wait. Since everything was hunky dory, tax-wise, a higher IRS official finally said, “What are you doing here?” She insisted the IRS was independent of Social Security and had nothing to do with my mother’s Social Security check (which, if it existed, would now be her only income). It took three visits to establish this information. Obviously, I am not a tax attorney.

Meanwhile, no explanation was given for why my mother’s checks stopped. This “right to discovery” as it’s known in the American court system, was denied. I was dealing with the old KGB when I pleaded for an explanation as to why her check was cut off. “We can’t tell you,” said each clerk. No matter how many times I made clear that my mother was disabled with dementia, they continually insisted they would have to “speak to her first,” or “could only tell her.” Four voicemails were left by the nursing home, one of them my mom’s own voice stating who she was and that her son takes care of business. Finally, a woman—we’ll call her Mrs. Goldberg—at the Dallas Regional Social Security decided this was “sufficient proof” my mother was alive. It had taken six months before this reason why my mother’s checks stopped was revealed: Social Security said they didn’t know where she was. Never mind the nursing home bills, bank statements and records I displayed.

Mrs. Goldberg represented a breakthrough. A personal contact! The first clerk, after months, to actually look up my case. Mrs. Goldberg! I had found a friend at Social Security. One that would do her job. When she found out I was a writer, she even told me about her husband’s unpublished novel, hinting that maybe I could read it. We even exchanged information about delicatessens. Yes! I’d plow through a mountain of gibberish, heap praise upon Mrs. Goldberg’s husband’s unpublished novel. Just resume my mother’s Social Security.

She agreed to restart my mother’s checks. So began a comedy of errors over the next few months in which endless phone calls were exchanged with Mrs. Goldberg. The labyrinth of bureaucratic hell deepened.

Enter the banks. Four of them in succession. They required doctor’s letters (which are like trying to extract blood), more notaries, forms out the kazoo. I had already done all this at my mother’s Toronto bank. After which they wouldn’t accept American funds by direct deposit. Only a physical check. But Social Security wouldn’t send a physical check to Canada, only direct deposit. When accounts were established, two banks rejected the back benefits that finally arrived. If one bank would agree to something, Social Security would not. And vice versa. Each was oblivious to the other’s protocol. As if the banks and Social Security colluded to sabotage any option for deposit.

Yet the Social Security Administration has offices in U.S. embassies around the world. They are accustomed to direct deposits for Americans who reside in other countries. And Toronto is as close to the U.S. as it gets. Finally, an efficient Chase Bank official provided a special account copacetic with Social Security. Mrs. Goldberg was happy to report the money was finally sent. But apparently not to my mother’s account. All my mother’s residual back payments went to someone else’s account. To whom, Mrs. Goldberg doesn’t know.

Oh, Mrs. Goldberg, are you an innocent nincompoop, or part of some insidious conspiracy to defraud elders in order to cut back the budget? You were to be my angel of mercy. But you turned out to wear the rictus of death. How many elderly have perished in penury by your dyslexic hand?

The Social Security Act was signed by FDR in 1935, part of the New Deal, a payroll tax my mother paid into for decades. But today, they are there to oppose, to frustrate into exhaustion and defeat.

Mrs. Goldberg is presumably under the direction of one Sheila Everett, Regional Commissioner for Dallas. There are 1,400 such regional and field offices in the U.S. From Social Security’s website: “...we are ‘the face of the government.’ The rich diversity of our employees mirrors the public we serve.” The Social Security Administration is requesting $12 billion from the budget for administration expenses in 2015. But they don’t provide emails or take calls. And Commissioner Everett didn’t respond to letters about such matters as my mother. She’s too busy running Social Security.

© 2014 Josh Alan Friedman

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Write & Fight (in honor of Terry Southern)


click image to play video

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Josh Alan on THE RIALTO REPORT's Salute to Al Goldstein



Friedman talks Goldstein on the Rialto Report's latest podcast, "Al Goldstein: Screw, Midnight Blue, and Fuck You"

Per Josh Alan, Goldstein's (auto)biographer for I, Goldstein: “This is a documentary unto itself, seeking full production on the Oprah channel.”


Click to listen / download.

Friday, January 31, 2014

"Crackers and Bagels": Josh Alan Interviewed on Virtual Memories



"Crackers and Bagels"

“I want my list of works to be lean and mean and everything was urgent and had to be done. Nothing to play the market. My family’s had to suffer for that, that I haven’t done commercial jobs just to bring home the bacon.”

Virtual Memories host Gil Roth shares a cup of coffee with Josh Alan at the Cafe Edison in Times Square; Josh takes his black. Recorded January 2014.

Click to listen / download.

Photo: Gil Roth

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Josh Alan on MR. MEDIA!



"You Can Kiss Josh Alan Friedman's Big Black Ass"

Josh Alan interviewed by Bob Andelman, Mr. Media. Al Goldstein, Weasels Ripped My Flesh!, Olde Times Square, Black Cracker, plus two new songs: "(You Can Kiss) My Big Black Ass" (@ 0:44) and "This Radio Don't Play Nothin' But the Blues" (@ 1:11:30).

Click to watch / download.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Josh Alan Remembers Al Goldstein



"As the ‘Screw’ turns: Josh Alan Friedman recalls his long tenure under pornographer Al Goldstein," from the Dallas Morning News. Click to read.

photo: Young Al Goldstein at his Bar Mitzvah

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Red Lights and Black Humor": Street Carnage Talks With Josh

"In the old Times Square neighborhood — there were boxers from the old days and the burlesque joints. You’d meet guys in the ’80s who had been boxers back in the 1920s or 1930s. Demented young starlets; sitting side by side with old decayed boxers and old men. It was a great dichotomy that I always loved."



"Red Lights and Black Humor: An Interview With Josh Alan Friedman," on Street Carnage.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy 131st Birthday, Bela.



To watch on YouTube, click above. For higher quality video and audio,
click below to watch on Vimeo.




From THE WORST! Josh Alan's original musical based on the life of Ed Wood.

THE WORST! is available on CD and digital download from CD Baby. Click here to purchase.


© 1994, 2013 Josh Alan Friedman

Video by Wyatt Doyle, with artwork by Drew Friedman (from WARTS AND ALL by Drew Friedman and Josh Alan Friedman). Visit DrewFriedman.net

Monday, July 15, 2013

Josh Alan back in the studio!

"My next album finally just began."



Photo copyright © 2013 Josh Alan Friedman

Monday, July 1, 2013

WANTED! More Readers Like...

From the editor's desk:
 

The voice and architect of Wall of Voodoo. The man who brought "Camouflage" out of the bush and taught Rumble Fish to swim. Storyteller troubadour extraordinaire. And the best thing to happen to Mexican Radio since Vicente Fernandez.

Stan Ridgway does the cover.

Mr. Ridgway will appear at McCabe's in Santa Monica Saturday, July 27. Git yer tickets here, while you can. His latest release is Mr. Trouble.

For music, merch and all things Stan, visit StanRidgway.com

Black Cracker is available NOW; signed copies are available here.

Photo copyright © 2013 Wyatt Doyle

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Help Save a Great Independent Bookstore

From the editor's desk:

Mystery and Imagination Bookshop needs our help.


You'll recall Mystery and Imagination as the Glendale, CA bookshop where Josh Alan appeared not long ago, performing a special birthday set for the great Twilight Zone writer George Clayton Johnson. In addition to its first-class selection of new and used books, the shop has long served as a unique hub for both writers and book lovers, offering frequent signings, readings and fiction workshops that connect brilliant talents with their readers and fans. In addition to Josh Alan and George, Mystery and Imagination has  hosted Ray Bradbury, William F. Nolan, Earl Hamner, Jr., Ray Harryhausen and many others.


Josh Alan performs in Mystery and Imagination's intimate upper alcove.

It's where Frank Black (aka Black Francis of The Pixies) got his signed copy of Black Cracker...


...and it's where you can still get yours.


Today, the shop is in crisis, with less than a week to raise the money they need to keep the lights on. Your purchases can help save the store, and the shop is asking for your help.

We've lost far too many great independent bookstores in recent years. Whether in person or online, please support Mystery and Imagination.

Mystery and Imagination Bookshop 
238 North Brand Boulevard 
Glendale, CA 91203 
(818) 545-0206
 


From the bookshop's staircase wall, home to graffiti from visiting luminaries.


photos copyright © 2010, 2013 Wyatt Doyle

Thursday, March 28, 2013



Bruce Jay and Josh Alan, on Isaac Singer's favorite bench (around Broadway & 82nd).

Photo copyright © 2013 Josh Alan Friedman

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Peep Show Girls of 1982" (Part II)

Peep shows were the meat-and-potatoes attraction of Times Square, like slot machines in Las Vegas. Ghetto girls subwayed in from the boroughs for hard cash tips, one filthy dollar at a time. A pipeline of girls from Eastern Europe added to the merriment, before the Iron Curtain fell.

Depraved, pathological? Lighten up, Charlie, don’t get all academic. Overt racist caricature, you say? J’accuse! Go ahead, if that makes your day. You might consider that brother Drew doesn’t make white people look too pretty, either. But I witnessed poor womenfolk at Show World revolving on platforms in their ninth month of pregnancy. My usually taboo–defying editor, Jeffrey Goodman, at High Society’s line of mens mags, balked at running this comic strip. And so this Times Square sitcom ended after two episodes. I hereby present “Ubangi Our Wangi” for the first time ever.


"Ubangi Our Wangi" by Josh Alan Friedman and Drew Friedman
 
(click images to enlarge; click twice to maximize view)




Copyright © 1982, 2012 Josh Alan Friedman, Drew Friedman. Visit Drew Friedman.net

And for further enlightenment, here’s a 1981 Show World vignette from Midnight Blue, that I produced with my associate, Richard Jaccoma:



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Peep Show Girls of 1982" (Part I)

Upon Ed Koch’s election as Mayor of New York on Jan. 1, 1978, the glass partitions of Times Square peep shows began to disappear. The “Peep-Alive” mechanisms, which utilized a worm gear to raise the shade, had their glass windows removed. This allowed for bodily contact or abbreviated prostitution through the portholes. All hell broke loose. Mayor Beame, who had personally padlocked the front entrance of Show World, had retired.

For me, this was Mayor Koch’s greatest legacy, which went unmentioned in his New York Times obit. So in honor of his passing, here is Part I of an obscure Friedman Bros. series on Olde New York. It ran in High Society Live in 1982. Part of a monthly section assigned to me called “New York: The Wrong Side of Town.” Koch said at the time, “You’d have to be insane to love West 42nd Street.” Well, what’s not to love?

"Peep Show Girls of 1982" by Josh Alan Friedman and Drew Friedman
 
(click images to enlarge; click twice to maximize view)




Copyright © 1982, 2012 Josh Alan Friedman, Drew Friedman. 

Visit Drew Friedman.net

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Out Now: WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH!

From the editor's desk:


Regular readers of this blog likely need no introduction to the wild world of vintage men's adventure magazines. Josh Alan has written extensively on the subject here, in the books Men's Adventure Magazines and It's a Man's World and elsewhere.

But the focus of this new book emphasizes an essential aspect of the magazines inexplicably never given its due until now: the magazines' stories.

And so, six decades, countless man hours and hundreds of weasels later, we proudly present Weasels Ripped My Flesh! Two-Fisted Stories From Men's Adventure Magazines of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Collecting 22 stories by master scribes from three decades of men's adventure writing — most of which haven't seen print since their original publication — Weasels Ripped My Flesh! supplements them with interviews, commentary and reminiscences by the original authors, plus iconic illustrations and wacky magazine advertising from the mags.

Weasels Ripped My Flesh! is your paperback passport to this all but forgotten era of American letters.

To learn more or to buy your copy today, visit the book's official website here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Race Record Ramblings: Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks





Untrained by Gene Casey and The Lone Sharks

Gene Casey is in the driver’s seat with a disc that should wear out jukeboxes across the country. There are no A or B sides—all are sure to be first-rate coin cullers at the jukes. Let it be said at first, the man has a great voice. And the guy knows how to make a record. So does his band, The Lone Sharks.

Kicking off this platter is an autobiographical ditty, “I Think About Elvis Every Day.” He wonders what Presley might say, although about what doesn’t matter. Good riff and holler. They may never let Casey sing “Come Home with Me” on The Ed Sullivan Show (without changing to come out). But “Cadillac For Sale” is a road song that should make inroads at diners and gas stops along Route 66. The tracks also have a dramatic Spector-like drama that cries out for inclusion in movie soundtracks.

Gene Casey’s lower baritone vocals are his strongest weapon, his voice a picture-book blend between Ernest Tubb and Ronnie Spector. With a subtle hint of Lennon. Maybe he was born with golden pipes, but the lyrical diction Casey has developed comes from the ages. He knows how to deliver lyrics, has a good way with vowels and does killer background vocals. (Dig the way he enunciates a “soft p” on “Gone Hollywood,” a cut from his 2008 masterwork, What Happened.)

This may be esoteric praise, but to the masses, Casey is the premier barroom troubador of Eastern Long Island. That includes Montauk, the Hamptons on up to Riverhead and any town with an Indian name. But there’s no doubt he would sweep the Sons of Herman Hall crowd in Dallas off their feet, not to mention The Broken Spoke in Austin. A few $50 handshakes from Morris Levy or Don Roby would secure heavy rotatation in Southern radio markets (and reap teen coin amongst both bobby soxers and aging intellectuals alike).

As a guitarist, Casey has refined the Duane Eddy single-note lead line. But this album isn’t about showoff picking. Americana (which categorizes real music they don’t play on commercial radio) is rarely done with such exquisite taste and production. Untrained squares favorably against the latest Johnny Cash, Johnny Burnette or Junior Brown.


copyright 2012 Josh Alan Friedman

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Keith Richards Goes to the Dentist"

In recognition of the worldwide celebration of The Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary—an occasion almost too good to be true—I present this primitive comic strip, which ran in High Times, Feb. 1981. The World’s Greatest Band contains two geniuses, and such grand, fantastical characters, that we are blessed to still have them on earth. But, being Englishmen, there once was this problem with their teeth. I sometimes wondered why The Rolling Stones didn’t have a cartoon series on Saturday morning television, like The Beatles. Perhaps it could have gone down like this:

(click images to enlarge)

Copyright © 1981, 2012 Josh Alan Friedman, Drew Friedman. 

Visit Drew Friedman.net

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"As Chanukah Passes Me By"

To watch on YouTube, click the image above. To watch via Vimeo, click below.


© 2002, 2011 Josh Alan Friedman

Video by Wyatt Doyle & Josh Alan Friedman, with artwork by Drew Friedman. Visit DrewFriedman.net

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Thanksgiving at McDonald's in Times Square"

To watch on YouTube, click the image above. To watch via Vimeo, click below.



Josh Alan's first 45.

To purchase your digital copy of the original "Thanksgiving at McDonald's in Times Square" single, click here.© 1988, 2011 Josh Alan Friedman

Video by Wyatt Doyle & Josh Alan Friedman, with artwork by Drew Friedman. Visit DrewFriedman.net

Josh plays "Thanksgiving" live here.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why Joe Franklin Matters

The storm, the election. . . Now, let’s get back to why Joe Franklin matters. . .


In September I received a request from Joe Franklin to take down a blog that originated from this site. It contained a few parodies of Joe my brother and I, then known as The Friedman Bros., did in the 1970s. I was happy to oblige. This might constitute a breach of journalistic ethics if it involved anyone but Joe Franklin. At 86, he is Olde Times Square’s foremost senior statesman. An intimate of Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor who still walks amongst us. Like Hugh Hefner, Joe cares about his image and legacy. Even the minutiae of what appears on esoteric blogs.

Here are several reasons Joe Franklin’s legacy is so valuable:

He was New York’s—and therefore the world’s—first TV talk-show host, circa 1950. The ABC studios on West 66th Street were a former horse stable when Joe broke his new format there. Seated at a particular angle, nose-to-nose, eyeball to eyeball, at a desk, the microphone positioned just so. According to Franklin, his very first week on the air included guests John Wayne, Cary Grant and (17-year-old?) Kim Novak. There are no records to prove this or the hyperbolic lore surrounding who may or may not have appeared through the decades. But that is not the point. (Joe himself would swear Abe Lincoln was on the show.) From Joe’s humble format sprung the TV talk show. That may sound like a curse unleashed, considering the cesspool of programs that appear today. But once upon a time, the format had some dignity.

Joe Franklin invented nostalgia, but more importantly, he was the first to rescue silent films from oblivion. That is the primary reason Franklin should be honored. With the exception of Chaplin, silents—ruthlessly passĂ© after 1930—were utterly forgotten when Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane came on the scene. (It was Lillian Gish who wisely remarked that movies should have begun with talkies and evolved into silent films.) The last silents were only 25 years old at the time Franklin began rescuing old two-reelers from warehouses to broadcast on his show. This ultimately led to film restoration, preservation and pioneering academic study of early film by Kevin Brownlow. Today’s moving picture archaeology involves search and rescue of volatile nitrate film canisters to reassemble lost films. The whole silent era could have disappeared without Franklin’s intervention.

Thirdly, I might add some lore on Franklin the man. It is implied in his autobiography (Up Late with Joe Franklin, Scribner, 1995) that notches on his bedpost include Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Veronica Lake. And that these actresses literally threw themselves at him. More likely, however, he might have banged Kate Smith. He worked for her at the time when Kate Smith was at the cutting edge of patriotism, the country was at war, Joe was young and anything seemed possible. Should we not honor Joe for those conquests alone? Sarah Silverman can only wish she had a shot with Franklin, were he not 50 years her senior.

As a reliable source of misinformation, his capacity for tall tales is legendary. Especially the Franklin telephone buttering-up process, upon which he heaps praise and promises into a high art of hyperbolic show-biz malarkey. But Joe gets a pass on this conceit.

Joe did indeed did collaborate with Marilyn herself on her first (extremely rare) autobiography. He also may have had Elvis on his show before Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle—but there is no kinescope to prove it. He booked Eddie Fisher’s first TV appearances, along with the earliest Streisand, Woody Allen and Robert Redford appearances. Yet not a moment survives on kinescope or video of Franklin’s show from the 1950s or ’60s, excepting 39 seconds of Japanese silent screen star Sessue Hayakawa on Memory Lane in 1957:


Sessue Hayakawa, hugely popular 90 years ago, in 1957 on Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane.

Thus, Joe’s YouTube series is reduced to titles like "Joe Franklin Remembers _____." Minus the kinescope or video, Joe is reduced to recalling hundreds of guests, including five U.S. presidents. He recalls a lineup of 20th century giants, some who rarely, if ever, did intimate TV interviews: Irving Berlin alongside Sophie Tucker and Ethel Merman, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Rocky Marciano, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Jack Benny; all surviving silent screen actors, as well as bedroom conquests Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Veronica Lake. There was no studio audience, so it was the only time you heard comedians like Milton Berle talk without playing to an audience. If the footage existed it would comprise an archive like no other at the NY Museum of Television and Radio, where Franklin should be canonized.

I hope the radio waves will be captured in interstellar space and a future civilization will behold The Joe Franklin Show. But let us honor this man now.


copyright © 2012 Josh Alan Friedman  

portrait of Joe, © 2012 George Seminara

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Josh Alan in Doc Pomus doc, WEASELS in San Diego


Doc Pomus in the studio, 1950s 
Per Josh Alan:

"I will be in attendance (and onscreen) to talk at the Austin Film Festival premiere of AKA Doc Pomus on Friday Oct. 19th (9:30 pm). The doc on Doc has been garnering emotional rave reviews."


LEFT: Peggy, Doc Pomus, girl singer, Josh; Lone Star Cafe 1982 
RIGHT: Josh, Ginger, Doc, Ratso Sloman, Peggy; Bitter End, NY 1989 

For more information on the film and screenings, check out the AFF website here.


Also this weekend:

Black Cracker Online moderator and Josh's co-editor on the upcoming Weasels Ripped My Flesh! book, Wyatt Doyle, will be appearing at the San Diego Comic Fest this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  A very limited advance edition of the Weasels anthology will be available for sale there, while they last!

Highlights of the weekend will include a Live Weasels! talk and presentation by Wyatt, Sunday at 10 am, and Weasels Ripped My Reading!, Saturday at 2:15 pm, an all-star performance of the book's toughest, sweatiest highlights, delivered from the Fest's re-creation of Twilight Zone writer George Clayton Johnson's legendary beatnik coffee house of the 1950s, CafĂ© Frankenstein.   

For more information about Comic Fest, visit SDComicFest.org.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Josh Alan on KNON and LIVE! in Dallas

Tomorrow night—Monday Sept. 3—point your ears to KNON 89.3 at 7 pm Dallas time to hear Josh Alan debut two new, upcoming blues hits: "(You Can Kiss) My Big Black Ass" and "This Radio Don't Play Nothin' But the Blues." Dig the premiere on Texas Blues Radio with JMac, KNON 89.3 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, but available by streaming here.

Then, Friday night in Dallas...


Black Cracker author Josh Alan Friedman presents a solo performance/reading and signing to celebrate the new edition of the Friedman Bros.' notorious Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental from Fantagraphics.

Fri. Sept. 7th, 8pm-11 tickets $10
The Hi/Lo Speakeasy at The Mason Bar
2701 Guillot St. (in new State-Thomas/Uptown district)
Dallas Texas 75204

Josh talks Any Similarity... here.


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Saturday, August 25, 2012

WANTED! More Readers Like...

From the editor's desk:

Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Heavy Metal Picnic. Neil Diamond Parking Lot. Hitler's Hat. Ernest Borgnine on the Bus! And that's only a sampling.

If you're not already a fan, get thee to his website(s), his Vimeo channel and his Borgnine on the Bus YouTube channel —a world of wonderful strangeness awaits you.

And if you're lucky enough to be in Los Angeles this weekend, you can catch him in person.

Ladies and gentlemen, filmmaker Jeff Krulik does the cover.

Black Cracker is available NOW; signed copies are available here.

photo © 2012 Wyatt Doyle

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Josh Alan LIVE in Dallas, Friday, Sept. 7!


Josh Alan Friedman presents a solo performance/reading and signing to celebrate the new edition of the Friedman Bros.' notorious Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental from Fantagraphics.

Fri. Sept. 7th, 8pm-11 tickets $10
The Hi/Lo Speakeasy at The Mason Bar
2701 Guillot St. (in new State-Thomas/Uptown district)
Dallas Texas 75204

Josh will also debut two new upcoming blues hits: "(You Can Kiss) My Big Black Ass" and "This Radio Don't Play Nothin' But the Blues." Josh will premiere these songs Mon. Sept. 3rd, 7pm, on Texas Blues Radio with JMac, KNON 89.3 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, but available by streaming here.

Josh talks Any Similarity... here.


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Monday, August 6, 2012

"I'll See You in My Dreams"

I have a recurring dream, which I will embellish only a little: It is of an old, but not entirely abandoned, amusement park that once rivaled Coney Island—but apparently never existed. An alternate Coney Island on the other side of the borough, North Brooklyn, near the Navy Yard. They have their own trademark mascot, a competitive cousin of the Steeplechase Imp. They have their own famous hot dog joint, an alternate Nathan's. An abandoned subway El runs alongside their own famous roller coaster, both casting rusted-iron shadows. The cityscape is sepia-toned. Nothing is gentrified here whatsoever. When I awake, I feel certain this place exists.

Is this amusement park the foiled plan of some visionary—not George Tilyou or Walt Disney—but some would-be conjuror of mass entertainment whose dreams never got off the ground? Are these the ruins of what never was—as if it once had been?

I walk along the rusted perimeter of this archeological ruin. I sense that a few sparsely attended attractions still operate somewhere inside. The roller coasters, shoot-the-ducks midway games and sideshows are closed. The park had an affiliation with the image of comedian Joe E. Brown—the "Generalissimo of Joy," who was once chairman of National Smile Week. He, too, had a grotesquely overblown smile, like the Steeplechase demon. Brown’s trademark cavernous mouth is on the twin pillars of the park’s main entrance.


I can barely make out faded depictions of Little Lulu, Popeye, Olive Oyl, Betty Boop and Wimpy on fun houses. Faded ads testify there was once a spin-off here of Auster’s Egg Creams, from the Lower East Side, called Egg Cream Land. And for longshoreman or wayward dads at night, there was The Ritz Bros.' Shayna Tuchas Burlesk.

The park peaked in the 1930s, when Coney was long past its technological prime. It was slightly more modern than Coney, 1930’s state-of-the-art, yet not so futuristic as the 1939 World’s Fair. One concession’s faded logo claimed to have first introduced cotton candy, the first spinning sugar machine. There is a pre-WWII airplane ride for children. Little planes that once rose and fell have lost their original colors; the metal parts have rusted through. Yet, I wonder whether this ride still operates. There’s an abandoned electric-track spook house, with dancing Mr. Bones skeletons on the facade. One advertises a choice of three doors to enter, like the spook house in a Little Rascals short. Its entry doors that burst open are, of course, embossed with the giant mouth of Joe E. Brown.


A creaky hot dog joint around the corner still operates. I head for it. The front entrance swings open like a spring screen door. This joint once competed head-to-head with Nathan’s from the other side of Brooklyn, like the underdog Dodgers against the Yankees. They still serve seltzer bottles and egg creams. I’m one of the only customers present. There are old-timers who swear by it, over Nathan's. But how do they maintain a license to operate, much less a Board of Health rating?

There appears to have been some kind of bathing pavilion—not Brooklyn by the Sea, like Coney Island, but Brooklyn by the River. The East River. The presence of the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge looms nearby. Tires once swung over barnacled dry docks where kids could leap off and swim. Floats are now obscured in seaweed. Popeye the Sailor's tattooed anchor forearm is on the Admiral's Row pavilion. Some kind of longshoreman ethic once ruled. The skeleton of a carnival tent rusts by the pier, where you could once get an illegal tattoo.

Closer to Manhattan, right over the bridge, these were the stomping grounds of incredible hipster Al Dubin, lyricist of "42nd Street," "Lullaby of Broadway" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." His heart belonged here, not in Coney Island, and his enormous girth was enhanced by the hotdogs and egg creams. After all, this park was just a few subway stops from Tin Pan Alley on 28th Street.

People in this part of Brooklyn today seem barely aware that it exists and are indifferent. The amusement park is just over there, always had been, no one pays any attention. Time marched on without it. But is it possible no one ever sees it, just me?

My dream also begs the question of whether New York City, not to mention Brooklyn, could have handled two great amusement parks simultaneously. Well, why not? They nearly supported three major league baseball teams for 75 years. Palisades thrived for 70 years in New Jersey. Freedomland in the Bronx only lasted four. But just how much had these two parks—Coney and The Joe E. Brown Grounds—undercut each other's business over the decades, leading to the demise of both?

In popular song, this park was associated with the ditty "I’ll See You My Dreams." Ukulele Ike performed it there. “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland” was Coney Island’s most famous song. And by odd coincidence, 50 years later, "I’ll See You in My Dreams" became popular by another, unrelated Joe Brown, the English ukulele player who does fine throwback numbers. Always playing second fiddle, many things were nearly, but not quite the same, as Coney.


© 2012 Josh Alan Friedman