I’ll be damned if Southern Bastards didn’t just one-up itself AGAIN!
- Go to an 80’s themed dance party
- Drive around in the rain
- Shop for some really upscale, nice clothes
- Make out and/or make love
- Buy it on vinyl (it sounds great)
- Play the title track, “VV Violence,” and “Never Enough” over and over and over again
- Immediately listen to the thing again and see why it’s a brilliant synth-pop record
The year is finally over. We made it. I can’t say the same for a good chunk of our heroes, but we’re here, and we must sort out a world without Princes, Princesses, and a thin, white Duke. Wonka is dead, and one of the Oompa Loompas are taking charge.
We’ve said goodbye to icons, begrudgingly acknowledged the elephant in the room, and watched countless instances of human suffering unfold around the world. That doesn’t even consider the personal struggles any of us have faced. For my partner and myself, it has been a doozy.
I 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.
I’d imagine it was with a smiling sense of irony that Amy tagged me for this christmas edition of The Joup Friday Album. It certainly was with that same sense of gleeful irony that I accepted the challenge. You see, although I am a devilish manifestation of the evil one, well, I can’t say that I do not, in some way, fall in for the cheer and good times of the holiday season. The bells, garland, trees and lights; buttered rum, santa slippers and stockings hung by the chimney with care. We never had that where I’m from, and although I remained steadfastly against it for the first few decades I spent on this Earthly plane, well, it won me over.
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way: 2016 really fucking sucked. A bunch of really cool people died. A surly, orange clown somehow managed to con his way into the most powerful position on Earth. Rampant nationalism seems to be sweeping the globe. And we may be looking down the barrel of so many loaded guns (climate change, Supreme Court nominations, the gutting of health care, diplomatic relations with China, Turkey, Russia, The Philippines, etc.), that it’s enough to induce an all encompassing panic attack…the kind that last’s a lifetime.
People are scared. I’m scared. And we should be.