Archive for May, 2012

My Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

I am not a musician, but music has been an essential part of my life for entertainment, inspiration, and solace. I associate most important events, places or people with music. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the people who turned me on to particular groups or artists that I have continued to follow throughout my life.

Sharon and Patti, (my older sisters)

As a pre-teen I was exposed to the musical taste of two older teenage sisters in the prime musical revolution of the Sixties.

The Beatles (wish I still had my first 45 – “My Bonnie” – it’s worth over $100,000 now)
Moody Blues (my son is named after Justin Hayward, not Justin Timberlake)
Bee Gees (R.I.P., Robin Gibb, nobody sang sweet melancholy better)
Elton John (20+  concerts, 40 albums and still counting)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Déjà vu; teach your children well, to love music)

Linda and Debbie Loetell (my cousins)

The Doors (People are strange)
Yes (who else sang about Chess?)
Soul Music (James Brown, Al Greeen, Marvin Gaye, Motown, etc.)

David Reinke’s older brother (my childhood best friend)

The Beach Boys (One of the reasons California lured me )

Marty Kelly (former brother-in-law)

Pink Floyd (Echoes was the soundtrack to my college student film project)
The Eagles (they were right, it’s very hard to check out of the Hotel California)
Bob Seger (“Against the Wind; “I know the feeling)
Logins & Messina (Be Free; a motto to live by)

Andy Carey
(U of Miami freshman friend)

The Who (or, as he used to call them, the ‘Fuckin’ ‘Ooo”)

Jesse Saland (U of Miami freshman friend)

Jethro Tull (on the 8 track in the Dodge on the way to surf at South Beach)

David Carmichael (U. of Miami freshman friend)

Swing bands and Frank Sinatra (cocktails required)

University of Miami Student Union Patio performances

Peter Frampton (the next year he was playing before 50,000 at Miami Baseball Stadium)
Billy Joel (jumped on his piano and threw the bird at the guy running the spotlight)
Dan Fogelberg (R.I.P.; so underrated. Netherlands is in my top three albums of all time)
Jimmy Buffett (So overrated, but a perfect complement for beer)

Peter Murad (Post-college roommate and longtime friend)

The Rolling Stones  (I preferred the Beatles in the big Sixties rivalry, but came to appreciate the blue-infused Stones later thanks to Pete)

Tom Adams (Pete’s friend, and my friend since L.A.)

The Blues (B. B. King, John Lee Hooker, Howling Wolf, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughn, etc.)

Channel Z (hip Los Angeles music video station or clubs)

10,000 Maniacs (Natalie, you never should have left that guitarist)
Cowboy Junkies (awesome live at the Club Lingerie in L.A.)
Crowded House (Neil Finn is McCartney and Lennon combined)

My own discoveries (on radio or at record stores)

Linda Ronstadt (I  first had the hots for her first, but that voice!)
Neil Young (my first ever album was Harvest – we share the same birthday)
Bernard Hermann (he scored all the Alfred Hitchcock movies)
Trisha Yearwood (her voice stepped in when Ronstadt stepped out)
Allman Brothers Band (my second ever album was Brothers and Sisters)

Fleetwood Mac
(Kemp Mill Records in Maryland, “Who IS that?!”)
Don McLean (overheard “American Pie” first outside a Times Square electronics store in NYC, “Who IS that?”)
Garth Brooks (heard “The Dance” first on an station while driving on Bundy. “Who IS that?!”
Bruce Springsteen (my sister accidentally bought me Greetings from Asbury Park by Springsteenfor Christmas instead of a Rick Springfield album I wanted. Thanks for the mistake!)

My wife (artists we discovered or re-discovered together)

Chris Isaak (“Dancing”)
Simply Red (“Holding Back the Years”)
Williams Brothers (“The Family Room”)
The Judds (front row under mama Judd’s hoop dress at Caesar’s Palace)
Roy Orbison (“In Dreams” from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet)
k. d. lang (covering Roy Orbison at his tribute concert)
James Blunt (“Goodbye My Lover”)

My Father (April 22, 1921 - December 22, 2001)

Opera (especially La Boheme, Pavaratti and Nessun Dorma)

I only recently realized how much you must have loved listening to beautiful voices, and how much that influenced me. I love you and miss you, Dad.

My Mother (May 10, 1926 - June 4, 2007)

Show tunes (especially Rodgers and Hammerstein and The Music Man)

We just took our trumpet-playing high school band son to see the play, The Music Man. You were the majorette in your high school band marching to John Philips Sousa, and we all continue to march to the uplift of your baton and your enthusiasm for living through music.
I love and miss you, Mom.
-- A. Wayne Carter

The Golden Aged of Marvel

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

The Avengers
movie opened this past weekend to buffo box office numbers more than 49 years after the original comic book appeared in 1963.

I had that comic book. In fact, I collected almost every comic book from that period from the early-to-mid sixties: Spider-man 1-50, Fantastic Four 1-100, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos, Dr. Strange, X-Men 1-30. These were the original versions of these superhero comics that, if I had them and sold them today, could easily put my son through a Harvard education. X-Men number 1 alone is valued at almost  $100,000 in mint condition.

My mother used to pick me up after school and take me for an allergy shot every Tuesday, and my reward was a stop at the local Drug Fair to pick up all the latest issues of every Marvel comics at 10 or 12 cents a piece. I spent about a $1.20 for 10 at a time. I had a few subscriptions to Fantastic Four and others, where the comic would arrive FOLDED in a brown paper slip cover. I’m sure collectors today would shudder in horror at the thought. I remember quickly pressing them straight as soon as I got them because I wanted to preserve them as perfectly as possible, too.

I kept my comics in excellent condition, but I read them multiple times first. We didn’t have plastic comic bags back in those days, and we would have never thought of buying two copies of an issue to save one without opening it just for possible resale. But that’s why the comics from the 60s are worth thousands of dollars in their mint or near mint condition, and why the comics that came later in the 70s or 80s, when EVERYONE was collecting and preserving, are practically worthless. Rarity of a comic in great condition is what makes it valuable. Try finding a mint condition of an E.C. horror or science fiction comic from the even earlier 50s.

My comic collection, which ended up around 1,200 strong, earned value to the point where when I sold most of it when I went to college ten years later, it easily paid for a pair of 80 lb.ESS speakers with 15-inch woofers that I paid more than $300 for, and which I still use to this day. I like to say that I am still listening to my Marvel comic collection. But there are times I cringe a bit thinking just how much that total collection would be worth today. I thought I made a good deal when I got as much as $40 for individual titles in my collection. If you think about it, that’s still a 3200 percent profit markup from the price I paid for one. I can be satisfied with that.

What truly makes me sad, though, is that, at the time my life was devoted to reading and collecting Marvel comics, there were no such things as Marvel Superhero movies. We had a few lame attempts to create them in cartoons or on television, such as the Lou Ferrigno Hulk series in the 70s, but how could you film what would have been enormously expensive battle sequences and special effects back when Superman still had to fly by planking himself on a stationary post while a rear screen projection simulated the effect of clouds in the sky passing by? I suppose it’s better that we didn’t have a collection of the movies made back then and were stuck with our vivid imaginations instead.

The original Avengers line up was Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Ant Man and Wasp Woman. The new version drops the two pipsqueak people and replaces them with Hawkeye and Black Widow or whatever her name is. Those two characters were never around in the original 60s line up. But I guess it’s hard to cast a big star masculine actor in today’s market to play … Ant Man; especially when people realize all his parts would have to be proportional.

I’ll go to the Avengers movie, but probably not to fight the crowds on opening weekend. And I’ll remember sitting in my basement room of the house in Maryland I grew up in savoring the latest stash of Marvel comics from the Drug Fair that easily transported me away from the lingering sting of an allergy shot.

And then I’ll crank my ESS speakers up really loud.

— A. Wayne Carter