The Joup Friday Album: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Into the Great Wide Open”

Tom PettyOur family was middle class, blue collar, Polish and suburban. If you look at the average income of all the Chicago suburbs, Palos Hills falls literally right in the middle. Whatever “middle class” is these days, but in 1991 there was still a middle class and my brother and I grew up in it. As such we generally took one family trip a year, that is if my parents could afford it and get off of work. In the summer of 1991 we traveled west for not one but two weeks! I think my father’s rationalizing was we hadn’t taken a trip the previous year, and odds on after I graduated high school would not take another one as the four of us. This was “the last big family adventure!”
In late July we pilled into our tan Chevrolet four-door Suburban (the SUV before SUVs) and headed west on I-80. I will hand it to my parents, it was an epic trip and more then likely spawned my travel bug for years to come. We made stops at Pike’s Peak, the Grand Canyon, four corners, Las Vegas, The Great Salt Lake, Yellowstone National Park and The Devil’s tower. I’m sure there were a few kitch stops as well knowing my mother.
Appropriately enough, I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy during that two weeks. I had a black Sony Walkman and I loved that machine. I played so much music through that contraption in the four years between sophomore year in high school and freshman year at the university. On this trip it was REM’s Out of Time, Sting’s The Soul Cages and of course Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Into the Great Wide Open…today’s Friday album.

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.

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