Walter Mencken 9:21 p.m., Oct. 20
Why Jackson Browne Hates Former Reader Contrib Richard Meltzer, plus Local Website Review: Pepperland
A Tragical History Tour, plus some trippy 'toons and famous cartoon neighbors
WHY JACKSON BROWNE HATES FORMER READER CONTRIB RICHARD MELTZER
The first time Jackson Browne was profiled Rolling Stone [June 22, 1972], Richard Meltzer did the interview. Meltzer had earlier written about Browne in 1968, for the San Diego based Crawdaddy Magazine, praising the singer/songwriter for his “ethereally sublime” art. Browne’s record company (and David Geffen) paid to fly Meltzer to L.A. for the sit-down and to watch rehearsals of Browne’s first road-band in a North Hollywood recording studio.
"I thought it was an occasion for me to tell some of the old stories," Meltzer told rockcritics.com in an interview. "Jackson just didn't want to talk into a tape, didn't want to be interviewed. He thought [taping] was too formal....he wanted me to observe. It was like 'Capture me in life.' " The article mentions incidents where Meltzer and Browne were hanging out at New York club The Dom with Velvet Underground icon Nico, a beautiful woman that Browne had a serious crush on at the time. Members of Nico’s mostly-gay and/or transvestite entourage were said to have unnerved “innocent” Jackson Brown with homosexual advances, and Meltzer goes on to call the singer "one hell of a prototype sex symbol for the gay rock underground." After publication, Browne was unhappy with the article. "His reaction filtered back," Meltzer says. "He thought the piece made him look too much like a punk… David Geffen, who had Asylum Records at the time, hated the piece, and basically they had me kicked out of Rolling Stone.”
Browne was still seething about Meltzer when I interviewed him awhile back and the occasional Reader correspondent’s name came up. “You have to understand that he was making fun of my whole fling with Nico, and this was serious stuff to me. I had just turned 18, my first time in a bar was seeing her and suddenly I was playing guitar for her and we were lovers and, I mean, at that time Richard was there a friend, we were just hanging out. For him to write about it later like it was a big gay cabaret and I’m the scared little lamb.” “Yeah, these were Andy Warhol’s people, they were far out, I was scared of six foot [tall] transvestites coming up to me, wouldn’t you be? But for Richard to make me out as this lust object of all the old New York f-ggots, I said it before, it was unprofessional. He wanted his story full of LSD and gays and the innocent lamb lining up for the slaughter and that wasn’t necessarily MY story but he grafted it onto me anyways. I still don’t appreciate it and you can tell him so.”
(Meltzer at his best) In February 2002, Jackson Browne joined with another Eagles lyricist, local songwriter Jack Tempchin, to sue the Eagles record label for $10 million dollars. The suit was over unpaid royalties due from the perennial hit record The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971 to 1975, which at that point had sold over 25 million copies. All the parties, including songwriter J.D. Souther, reached a settlement in November ’02. “A lot of people believe that the creators of music don't need to be paid anymore,” Tempchin told Blurt reporter Ken Leighton earlier this year. “If people are downloading albums for free, no one is getting paid.... Through most of my life, the copyright laws were working and songwriters were getting paid. But now that's all changing.” Local songstress Cindy Lee Berryhill has her own Browne story tell, from May 12th ’07 ----- “Jackson Browne hung out with us after the show,” she says of the “Songs Of Protest” event she hosted at L.A.’s club Largo. “After my little set, I introduced the next songwriter and made my way to the back of the room. On my way, someone at a table touched my sleeve and said ‘That was great.’ I patted them on the shoulder and whispered thanks. As I was walking away, I realized it was Jackson Browne!” “After the show, Jackson came up to me and told me how much he loved the show, and I noticed he'd even bought a poster. I introduced him to my husband Paul Williams, who started the first rock magazine in 1966, Crawdaddy…Jackson looks at Paul for a minute and says ‘Wow, I haven’t seen you since you were fifteen years old.’ They were both actually seventeen when they met in New York City, during that first year of Crawdaddy. So it was all very cool, and Jackson has shown an interest in joining us at one of the next shows.”
“So the photo is, left to right, Stephen Kalinich, a poet and Beach Boys co-writer (Little Bird, Be Still), Jackson with the evening’s poster in his hand, me, and Paul Williams.”
More Songs Of Protest are planned. The multi-performer event is sponsored by Neil Young’s web project “Living With War Today,” which at this writing includes around 2,900 songs, ranked according to visitor votes. Berryhill’s “When Did Jesus Become A Republican?” has climbed as high as number thirteen.
Other locals represented on Young’s site include Joel Rafael, Mark DeCerbo of Four Eyes, and Reverend Madison Shockley, a pastor at Carlsbad’s Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad.
URLwatching: LOCAL WEBSITE REVIEW - PEPPERLAND
John and George are dead. Ringo’s on the same moldy-oldies tour circuit as KC And The Sunshine Band. Paul’s possibly dead and replaced by a plastic surgery-altered double…either that, or he’s addled by weed to the point of near-incoherency (tho if I had an ex trying to hoover a hundred million outta my pocket, I’d wanna buzz too).
So where on the www can one relive those hazy, hopeful days of Sgt. Pepper, love beads, and Nehru jackets, and how does one recreate in the mind’s eye the smell of smoking bongs and burning bras?
“You are at the intersection of Abbey Road and Penny Lane” is your greeting when you trip onto local webmaster Gary Ng’s Pepperland site, a densely packed Beatles tribute set up so visitors can take various “tours” through moptop history, both real and imaginary. The sixties psychedelic homepage graphics load quickly. Animated “Hard Day’s Night” photos of the lads pop up, while a yellow submarine spins happily and lyrics scroll across the page. “Turn off your mind, relax and float downsteam [sp] ...”
Click on the Flying Glove of Love, and you’re taken on a tragical history tour of the band’s career, integrated with crisply reproduced photos - one of them an outtake from the notorious “Yesterday And Today” sessions with the group covered in dismembered doll parts and raw meat.
Not only were the Beatles (as John once blurted out) “more popular than Christ” at the time, but the bloody death-fixated imagery rivaled that of the Savior’s own PR crew. This seems to have upset an awful lot of people at the time, judging from the hysterical historical accounts offered here.
“What If The Beatles Never Broke Up?” is the premise of a detailed fictional tour which has fun imagining what solo songs would have ended up on Beatles LPs of the seventies. Author Joseph Giammanco is certainly obsessive and somewhat retentive, but definitely an imaginative fan/expert.
Collectors’ tips are offered in another section. Recent news can be accessed, tho it’s not very recent, and there’s a list of links to Beatles clubs and related sites, including San Diego’s Come Together and their annual BeatleFair.
Short but somewhat loud soundclips open along with most pages (“I’m Ringo and I play the drums” on the “Ringo News” page, for instance). Hardcore fans can find scholarly bootleg reviews, though these are offered with the caveat “Don’t ask me where to buy them! Find your own source and bring your checkbook.” Another caveat: pay close attention to where your curser wanders.
“Whatever you do, do not press this button.”
“You’ve detoured into Yoko Land.”
“Enter at your own risk.”
Herein lies Yoko poetry. A Yoko bio. An Anthology-era interview (sample: “It [Anthology] was something that I thought would be more counterproductive to stop”).
“I told you not to push that button.”
If Yoko’s not to your taste, Yoko Land does offer many link opportunities to “Get back to where you belong by clicking on the following tours.”
Many will greet these escape-hatch links with a hearty “Thank Christ” - who hopefully doesn’t still hold a grudge about that whole “popularity” thing, even if events over the last quarter century indicate that He may still be exacting His righteous revenge on the Liverpool lads.
FAMOUS CARTOON NEIGHBORS
I've done a few Famous Former Neighbors comic strips about well-known cartoonists who've called San Diego home, including Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), and Jim Lee (Marvel artist and Image Comics co-founder).
There are more I plan to get to.
"LuAnn" creator Greg Evans and his wife Betty live in San Carlos. The comic was launched in 1987 and today is one of the most widely syndicated of U.S. strips. Last September, Evans debuted "Luann: Scenes From a Teen's Life," a musical that premiered at the California Center for the Arts.
Pete Hansen, creator of "Lolly," is from Denmark, but has been living in the U.S. since he was two. He was a Disney animator from 1938 to 1941, but he’s best known for his newspaper comics; “Flapdoodles” (1950-1953) and “Lolly” (1955-1983).
Gus Arriola spent several years living in La Jolla. His Hispanic-themed “Gordo” comic was hugely influential (and a personal fave of yours truly), but he got his start in animation. He spent a year at Screen Gems doing Krazy Kat cartoons, before joining MGM’s cartoon department to do story sketches for the Academy Award winning Tom and Jerry series. “Gordo” was launched in 1941.
"Matthew Alice" artist Rick Geary is actually pretty well-known outside our fine city. His work has graced many issues of National Lampoon, Heavy Metal and countless other newsstand mags, plus he's earned acclaim in the comic book field for distinctive, inventive graphic novels like his true-life "Treasury Of Victorian Murder." He also drew for a locally-produced horror comic book adapting classic stories by Larry Niven, Robert Bloch, and others, called "Deepest Dimension Terror Anthology." The comic was the brainchild of original Twilight Zone writer George Clayton Johnson.
Scott Shaw! (the exclamation point is part of his legal name) is a longtime local, familiar to anyone who's attended his annual wacky cover slideshows at San Diego Comic-Cons, dating back to its earliest humble incarnation at the El Cortez. He began doing “funny animal” comic books like “Wild Kingdom” for local publisher Pacific Comics, but went on to animated cartoons, winning an Emmy for his work on “Muppet Babies.” He’s also the guy behind around a hundred cartoon cereal commercials for Fruity Pebbles and Alpha-Bits.
“Rocketeer” creator and renowned pin-up artist Dave Stevens was based locally, at least until the Village Voice called his Rocketeer comic “The greatest comic book of all time.” The Rocketeer began in the pages of locally-produced comic books from Pacific Comics, based off Miramar Road. Though the movie based on his comic wasn’t a huge hit, he’s become one of the most sought-after “good girl” artists since Playboy’s legendary Vargas retired.
In addition, Charles Schulz's widow Jeannie is from Fallbrook. Before she married the Peanuts creator, she was known locally as a private pilot of some renown.
Wesley "Gene" Hazelton moved to Lake Murray around 1975, three blocks from the summit of Cowles Mountain, and was frequently seen walking along the Lake. From 1939 to 1942, he was a Disney animator and gag writer who worked on Pinocchio (1940), and Fantasia (1940), and he did early character design work for The Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan (1953).
He spent many years at MGM doing animated cartoon layouts and character designs for both Tex Avery and Hanna-Barbera. He animated the original I Love Lucy segment bumpers, and for years drew the Flintstones and Yogi Bear comic strips. He created Pebbles and Bamm Bamm for the Flintstones TV show (Bamm was based on his son).
Hazelton was a supporter of "Canine Companions" and a lifelong dog lover. He golfed all over San Diego, and he gave talks to local elementary schools where he drew and read for school kids. He was an early mentor to Scott Shaw!
PSYCHEDELIC ‘70S CARTOONS: PRO-POT PROPAGANDA???
Remember the '70s TV show Make A Wish? Here's the theme by Tom Chapin (Harry's brother):
I hadn't seen the show in 30-plus years! I forgot how psycho-psychedelic the theme turns after the first minute and a half! Crazy trippy cartoons by Al Brodax, who worked on Yellow Submarine, while the music fades in and out with sound effects like some crazed Frank Zappa/Pink Floyd freakfest! Chapin DOES sing "Take a trip" and then "Fly high," right before he floats into the air and flies off...hmmmmm....
Another amazing Brodax 'toon, a 7up commercial:
The most druggy, trippy, insane intermission cartoon of the '70s:
Peter Max animation for the American Cancer Society:
And a cool bicentenial tripfest by Vince Collins:
Finally, there’s certainly no mystery as to what Cheech and Chong were all about – but, hey, didja know ol’ lonesome George Harrison is playing guitar on “Basketball Jones”???? Here’s the rarely-seen ‘toon, at one time banned from In Concert, Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert AND the Midnight Special (though it DID air several times on Soul Train).
Far out, man - talk about yer 8-track flashback...
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford
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