Thursday, September 30, 2010

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From the editor's desk:

Uncle Cracker: the staggeringly prolific actor Len Lesser, Seinfeld's "Uncle Leo" (one of many "Uncles" in Mr. Lesser's filmography) does the cover.

An overview of Mr. Lesser's credits from a truly remarkable career in film and television can be found here.

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

photo © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

Monday, September 27, 2010

Josh's Lost New York: Don Normal of 42nd St. (Part 1)

A few folks, over the years, have requested more pictures of Don Normal. He lived on the 3rd to 7th floors of 115 W. 42nd Street, between Fun City Books and Holiday Hostesses, during the late 1970s. Several floors had caved in, from which Don was able to construct a cavernous habitat, complete with a full stage for our band to rehearse. We did a few gigs in the downtown punk clubs, a music scene I never related to.

He named the band Bitch, and then Don Normal and the Ear Regulars. The drummer, Don’s brother, looked exactly like Lurch of the Addams Family, if Lurch had been a midget. I remember quitting the band after Normal designed a space suit he wanted me to wear onstage. Similar requests were made of me through a succession of (what I refer to as) “Failure Rock” bands I played guitar for in the 1970s. Each provided a heartbreaking defeat in their quest for 1970s rock stardom.

Normal’s song, “Hot A Lot,” included here, actually had a good opening verse:

I’d like to say that
I like your shoes and
I like the way that they
Stick to the bottom of you



Don Normal was from a small town in Canada, where needless to say, he didn’t fit in. But he did fit in on 42nd Street, the only place where we both fit. Last I saw Don Normal, he was working at the Empire Diner on 9th Avenue in the early 1980s. I haven’t seen him since. So this is my message in a bottle—wishing him fond regards, wherever, if ever, he is.

Photos by the great Regent Sound engineer, Vince McGarry








© 2010 Josh Alan Friedman, Vince McGarry

Josh's piece on Don Normal, "The Human Being of 42nd Street," can be found in his collection When Sex Was Dirty.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

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From the editor's desk:

The incomparable John Waters.

John Waters' latest book is Role Models; pick up a copy here.

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

photo © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sent Away (Part 4)

Technically, this is not a letter from someone who was “sent away”—unless summer camp counts as such. I’m running it because it’s one of two letters preserved from my girlfriend in 1970, when we were 14. I haven’t seen her since that time. A simply fantastic girl who resembled Joey Heatherton, one of the few shining memories of my teenage years. Web searches yield almost nothing, considering maiden names and the abyss of 40 years. But I heard at some point she lived in Atlanta.

(click pages to enlarge)




© 2010 Josh Alan Friedman

Thursday, September 16, 2010

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From the editor's desk:

Frank Black, aka Black Frank, aka Black Francis of the Pixies.

Visit Frank Black on his website here.

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

photo © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sent Away (Part 3)

Last week we ran a drug-fueled letter by a "sent away" friend, from 1971. Though I thought he gave permission initially, he freaked a bit when he actually saw his teenage self displayed online. So we pulled it down. But he consented to rerun it without his name.

The author of this letter holds a special status in the personal mythology of my teenage years. For starters, he is a hero for standing his ground against all those forces that once condemned comic books. Marvel helped him survive childhood, which he did just barely, considering the entire school system seemed as if it were constructed, by design, to fuck him up and keep him down.

His own father, in a futile attempt to rouse him awake for school, would contemptuously gather up armfuls of his son's prized Marvel Comics and dump them in the gutter. My friend would robotically get out of bed, retrieve and wipe off his comics from the gutter, then return to slumber under the covers. His internal clock was set to go off for 3pm each day—the moment the school bells rang to go home.

My friend was sent away in 1971. It was a last-ditch effort to get him to shape up and “hit the books,” as his father put it. But the only books he ever hit were comic books—with time out for The Three Stooges and keeping immaculate baseball score ledgers. Well, guess who had the last laugh. As he ripened into manhood, he became a pioneer and leader in the exploding rare comic book market. A Wall Street-worthy enterprise. Those same publications his father had thrown into the gutter were now worth untold thousands. In an ironic twist of ideology, his father actually became an investor in comics, scratching his head in bewilderment over million-dollar estate sales his son would broker.

But before all this, I received this letter from Vermont in 1971:

(click pages to enlarge)












© 2010 Josh Alan Friedman

Thursday, September 9, 2010

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From the editor's desk:

Ed Begley, Jr. does the cover.

Visit the inspirational Mr. Begley on his website here.

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

photo © 2010 Wyatt Doyle

Thursday, September 2, 2010

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From the editor's desk:


Is the expression on the face of the young Cracker a response to the ever-gorgeous Pam Grier's timeless beauty, or her timeless badassitude?

Pick up a copy of Pam Grier's autobiography, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, here.

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

photo © 2010 Wyatt Doyle