The Tepid Ringleader

South Side Bar

Before reading this story keep in mind I am describing the events as I witnessed them. The vernacular and slurs that are used were essential to telling this story. The foul language and misconceptions of some characters captures the mindset and ignorance that unfortunately still exists where I was born and raised. There are no safe spaces here in this place. I am not writing this for shock value or to offend people. This is just a story about where I was before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This piece was hard to write and it may be a little grainy. Please be advised.

Sonny does some growin’ up with Bruce Springsteen


Springsteen AutoI received Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography “Born to Run” for Christmas. As I stared at the cover, a picture of the Boss circa late 70s standing next to an old Corvette I got to thinking, why is he so iconic? Why do people love him? What is it about him that I know already? Bruce Springsteen has a certain zest and a romance for glorifying the mundane moments that shape a persons life. He is a purveyor of memories, his own personally and yours as well. Lyrics like, “Girls comb their hair in rear view mirrors” can conjure up many images maybe personal or something you saw in a movie. He is a poet, a film director and a storyteller all rolled in one. So why did I never get it? Why do I change the station when I hear certain Springsteen songs? I got along all these years without Bruce. I got board on a flight from Denver and started reading his book and I got sucked in to his story. That curiosity led to me revisiting some of Springsteen’s back catalogue throughout my reading.

4tlocamy

For The Love Of Comics – 2017: The Year of the Bastard

sb_coverI’ll be damned if Southern Bastards didn’t just one-up itself AGAIN!

4tlocamy

For The Love Of Comics

saw-viper-coverI was a HUGE fan of Larry Hama’s GIJOE comic, published throughout the 80s by Marvel. The title actually continued on into the early 90s as well, but by then it was well past its prime. I remember I checked out at some point when Claremont’s X-Books overtook Joe in the battle for my allowance and my attention span, somewhere around issue #119 or so. But even then, in 1991 at 15 years old I had a serious case of fan inertia with the book. Conceptually I still loved GIJOE, not the toy but some of the bigger ideas Mr. Hama floated through the book. Many of those ideas were personified by the Ninja characters and arcs of the book, but also things like the town of Springfield – state unknown – where Cobra had an entire American small town under its influence. Or strange serendipity that coated characters like Cobra Commander, his son Billy and various other peripheral characters, many of whom suffered some pretty messed up fates, not in a gross or graphic way, but in a way that made me psychologically wonder about the world I lived in. A great example of that was the Commander himself, who went through several diametric changes over the course of the book, and may have been my first encounter with a non-black and white bad guy in a comic, even if he eventually did kind of get reset into a very black and white caricature. But despite all this, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the main impetus for my aforementioned checking out was the infamous issue issue #109, where, after what I’d imagine were endless complaints over the years of Joe members surviving situations simply because the editorial bullpen seemed hesitant to kill off any characters with corresponding action figure equity, the book suddenly introduced a new character that kills a large dose of JOEs in one fell swoop. And wouldn’t you know it, all older, out-dated and admittedly kind of ‘blah’ characters to begin with. The way I’ve always looked at it in hindsight is Hama being pushed and pulled between killing and not killing, finally receiving a editorial edict to kill some and then just basically putting up his middle finger and saying ‘fine, you want me to kill a bunch of ‘unimportant characters?  Fuck you, there it is” way.

4tlocamy

For the Love Of Comics – NEGAN!!!

negan-bw-style_1024x1024For this particular piece I feel as though I should change the name of the column to “For the Love of Negan” because, well, today I want to talk about how much I LOVE Negan’s character in The Walking Dead.

Spoilers: Some spoilers for the comic continuity lay ahead so if you’re not caught up stop and come back later. Also, I am NOT talking about the show here. I don’t watch the show and feel fairly certain – perhaps unjustly but oh well – that the neutered portrayal on AMC’s show is only going to frustrate me (as a rule I have avoided watching the show since its third season but my girlfriend is a huge a fan and I will most likely see some of the episodes this season. Wonderful what we sacrifice for love, eh?).

Aa Comic Column One-Shot: The Black Monday Murders

blackmondaymurdersI miss Thee Comic Column here on Joup. I really do. And while I haven’t had a chance yet to bother our own Shawn Baker regarding his recent absenteeism from his critical and cultural evaluations of comic books and graphic novels on these digital pages, I’m hoping that my own foray into cheerleading a new illustrated property will perhaps ignite the fires again for him. All gentle urging aside, I probably would have written this essay even if Shawn’s column were still going strong.

Top Ten of 2015 (These Are a Few of My Favorite Things)

topten2015Eyes blurred and head foggy, this year went by in a flurry. There was just so much to take in…everywhere…everyday, scores of great albums, great movies, great TV shows, great books, great comics, great beer, and more, more, more! So this year, rather than do a run through of my favorite records, songs, etc., I picked ten different things from pop culture that made my 2015 awesome. Though, if you are interested, you can and should check out my year-end album list, song list, and movie list. There’s some good stuff in there, I swear.

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