You probably know Lenny and Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley. What you maybe didn't know is that Lenny and Squiggy didn't begin with that. Or end there. Or that they were musical.
Michael McKean was Lenny, and he went on to fame and recognition as part of Spinal Tap and later movies with Christopher Guest, and David Lander was Squiggy. His career was sadly cut short by Multiple Sclerosis, the story of which he told in his book Falling Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis And Didn't Tell Nobody.
The two were friends and comedy partners with a few different characters they would play off the cuff in nightclubs and stuff in the 70's. They were friendly with Penny Marshall, who recommended that they play Lenny and Squiggy on their show and the rest was history.
They even released an album as Lenny and Squigtones. It's elusive and expensive, but you can hear the tunes here and there if you know where to look.
Veteran's Day grants an opportunity to talk a bit about the great and underrated Ken Burns documentary series The War, a chronicle of the involvement of the American people in World War II. Some of the actual people in fact, primarily from 4 American towns. Civilians back home and enlisted men from Waterbury in Connecticut, Luverne in Minnesota, Mobile in Alabama, and Sacramento in California tell their first person stories of the war in a 7 part epic that will take you through Hell and back. People who lived through that time are famously reticent to talk about the War. This series will give you an insight into the human experience that is absolutely unequaled.
The best online resource regarding the thing is at the PBS website. You could buy it, but more than likely you can check out the entire set at your local library.
Posted by Rocko Jerome at 11/11/2011
Now that Fall has finally descended upon the Ohio Valley, it's time for Blackberry Belle.
Greg Dulli initially started The Twilight Singers as a side project to the band that brought him to the dance, The Afghan Whigs. After that group broke up and a few years off the scene, Dulli had an album of jams ready for release that was entirely shelved when his friend Ted Demme died. His mood took a turn for the melancholy, and as he had many times before he exorcised those feelings through creating music.
Dulli's work in this vein is the ultimate in catharsis. Inspired in part by Jack London's semi-autobiographical novel Martin Eden (in which, tellingly, the main character commits suicide), Blackberry Belle seems to be a concept album about a person's life flashing before their eyes. It takes you for a ride, but it drops you back off again where it found you with a changed perspective.
For as dark as it might be, it's ultimately about hope. For what life is, could be, and what might lie beyond. You can buy it here.
Here's a timeline of how I felt about Adam West's Batman through the years:
Age 8: Batman, cool!
Age 12: Batman's better when he's dark and Joker kills people all the time.
Age 15: Adam West's Batman hurts the general impression of comics, more people should know Batman is a creature of the night. And Joker kills people.
Age 18: Comics, what? I don't read comic books. Who told you that?
Age 25: The Adam West Batman is great, if only it wasn't supposed to be Batman, because Batman should always be a creature of the night.
Age 33: Adam West is a genius. Life is hard enough without Batman bumming me out.
The Batman mythos these days takes itself so very, very seriously, but the older I get 1)the more patently absurd the entire concept looks 2)the less interested I become in brooding darkness, which looked so much more appealing when I was a pampered kid longing to be a grown up so I could be sad and look cool.
The old Batman show might have failed to treat it's source material with any respect (actually, it definitely failed to treat it's source material with any respect) but it's not like DC comics of the period are great literature. Comic books can certainly be a glorious, viable art form, but panels like the ones to the left certainly make them hard to defend unless you just toss your hands in the air and say "Allright, what the hell?"
The idea for creating a prime time Batman show in the sixties began with the news that The Playboy Club had been screening the 40's movie serials late on Saturdays to great success, with everyone in attendance getting into the corny action and having fun. The idea began to germinate- if this spirit could be captured again, it could be a hit with kids and adults alike, if the jokes were just sly enough that kids didn't know they were jokes but adults would get a kick. And, largely thanks to Adam West, they were. He elevated goofy earnestness to the level of absolute genius.
Due to unfortunate legal problems, the show is not available on DVD. But you can get the movie made between seasons 1 and 2, and ME TV shows 2 episodes back to back every Saturday at 7.
Even after the show, Adam West continued to appear as Batman at car shows and conventions around the country, even though he was contractually no longer allowed to wear the full costume. This resulted in scenes such as those depicted in the following clips, which are some of my favorite things on the planet. Batman here (I don't even feel like he should be referred to as "Adam West," when he's this far in character) displays such a disconnect with even what passes for reality in these environments that you wonder if he's high or crazy or both. The answer is simple.
He Is Batman.
I've talked a bit here on the Snake about the cultural worth of Playboy magazine, and of course, Steranko is a hero of mine and his work a recurring theme. So when the two are combined, it's a given that you can see it here.
It will come as a surprise to no one that Steranko was a keyholder to the New York Club back when that really meant something, when true adults walked around in America and knew how to swing it. Before infantile Girls Gone Wild style trash became what we consider material for mature audiences.
If you had to describe Miss December in one word, that word could be smoulder. There's something that feels sort of mystical about a woman with such dark hair and eyebrows, like she's casting a gypsy spell. It's not hard to see why she would leave an impression on anybody, but her almost hypnotic brand of beauty isn't unlike the kind Steranko imbued in some of his creations.
You can find the blurb above in this month's Playboy, still on the newstands and minus the censored bits. The nice, clear scan of the page came from Tony Robertson, whose Drawing Of Steranko Website is the ultimate resource on it's subject.
And of course, here's more pictures of Karen Hafter (NSFW)