Wednesday, June 20, 2012

These Bands Can't be His Life!

I am a fan of Harlan Ellison, a writer that has worked in many genres for many years.  The picture that accompanies this is his only novel dealing with the music industry.

Over on the Harlan Ellison Art Deco Pavilion, a forum that is occasionally visited by the man himself, sometimes the topics of discussion are way off-Topic, but enjoying music as I do, I couldn't resist this one.  Folks began to ponder how his story titles could be turned into band/artist names.

To which I say, these folks are all wet!

For me, what is MORE fun is finding titles that already are band names.  Thanks to, here are some of the titles I found.

1. DJ Punky + The Duke's Men Of Yale = Punky and the Yale Men.
2. Mouth (and MacNeil) who have split + Don Imus + Scream = I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
3. There is a band from Ohio (Harlan is from Painesville, OH) called Ellison.
4. There are several acts that go by Harlan.
5. Mefisto in Onyx-There are bands called both Mephisto and Onyx ("Slam").
6. There is a band called Paingod and three bands called the Delusions = Paingod and Other Delusions
7. There is a Rap artist called, "Tiny Man" - "How Interesting, A Tiny Man"

Special notice: a band named Abdullah has a song called, "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs"

I hope you enjoyed reading this.  Clicking on the above links will take you to some of his work.  He writes far better than I, but he's had more practice.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Burnam, Baby, Burnam!

Years ago, I enjoyed reading "The Dictionary of Misinformation" by Tom Burnam.  It was "Mythbusters" without the sound and pictures and quite enlightening.  Here are some of the things that I have noticed over the years that might have gone in the book, had he only called me:

1. "Abidee-Abidee-Abidee-that's all folks!" - Let me preface this by saying that I know that many people don't find Porky Pig (voiced by Mel Blanc) funny.  I have a friend who stutters and he didn't care for him, primarily because he was CALLED Porky Pig.  I empathize.  Having said that, people misquote this Porky Pig line all the time.  His gimmick was that he would try to say one thing, give up and substitute something else.  Knowing that, when do you hear this?  AFTER a Warner Brothers cartoon.  Therefore, he is trying to say, "The End".  So, it should be spelled, "The-the-uh-the-the-uh-the-the-uh that's all, folks!"  Being the WB geek that I am, I know there are variants: Bugs Bunny sometimes shows up and says, "...and that's the end!" and in others, another character plainly says, "That's All, Folks!", no stutter at all.

Abidee is just...wrong.  It just sounds like that because Mel Blanc said it quickly.  Here is a fun fact: originally, Porky was teamed up with a little boy called Beans (get it?).  I've seen one of the Beans cartoons.  The funniest thing he says is, "I'm Beans, of the Boston Beans!".  Yes, that's as funny as he ever gets.

2. A favorite trivia question I like to ask about Little Richard is: what is the first thing that Little Richard sings in the song "Tutti-Fruitti?" Almost every writer, oldies lover or person who liked it when it came out will say, "A-wop-bop-aloo-bop-alop-bam-boom!"

And all those folks are wrong.  The phrase does indeed show up.  It shows up once...AT THE END!  The song starts out with him saying, "Wop-bop-aloo-bop-alop-bomp-bomp.  Don't believe me?  You can hear it here:

That is the original recording on Specialty.  When he re-recorded it for Vee-Jay, he sang it that way, too.

3. Alot - a town in India.  If you see Joe Maphis play the guitar, the mandolin, a contrabass and sing, I think you would agree that he has a lot of talent.  Some of you may wish to have the Lord ALLOT you some musical talent.  However "alot" is not a word.

Joe Maphis sure could play though!  Watch this:

My inner tutor shudders when he hears "reluhtor" for "realtor", "for all intensive purposes" instead of "for all intents and purposes" or "bedroom suit" as opposed to "bedroom suite".  My bedroom suit consists of pajamas.

I am quite fetching in them, too.

Do you know any others?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Path of Media Acceptance

Is this a first step??
"The dying embers of the fire indicated to me that the hour was getting late.  My child, with eyes full of a combination of wonder and the hope of staying up late looked at me and said, "Father, how will it happen?  How will the media deal with homosexuality?"

Well, I don't have a kid, and I can tell when it's getting late by looking out of the danged window, but I CAN theorize on the Path of Media Acceptance.  Don't tell my fake kid it's just a theory.  I've got enough problems.

1. Denial - It shall be as those who make such decisions want it to be.  The world of media shall be awash in attractive people.  They shall all be thin and pretty and straight and those who are not shall be comic relief.  All of these people shall be straight.

2. Parody - The people shall still all be straight, but there shall be...a guest star.  They will swish if they are men and they will fix cars and have short hair if they are women.  The audience will laugh at them and they will be popular, but the LGBT community will be split.  Some will say, "Hey, we're being acknowledged!" others will say, "Jeez, do you know anyone like that?  We're offended!"

3. If you MUST Parody... - Another guest star or recurring character shall come.  They will be popular and may be just as much of a stereotype, however, a geschrei shall go up in the community and one of the creators/writers/folks who cleans up/ will say, "Stop!  I work on this show and I am gay!  Power to us all! More power to come!  Now, allow him to gossip to his hairdressing customers and you allow her to ride her motorcycle and talk like Paul Robeson!  We are making inroads!

4. ...and they're gay! - Soon there shall be dramas.  Dramas have villains.  To make them extry-nasty it will come out in the plot that they are evil personified...and they're gay!  They won't live until the end of the picture.

5. ...aww, they're gay! - The hero/heroine shall be gay. The difference is that they will be dead from a disease or killed wrongfully.  They will be just as dead, but everyone will feel awfully sorry.

6. Psst! Did You Hear? - ____ ____ is up and coming, they've got the goods, they have the looks and...a same sex partner/affair.  They no longer have a career, at least not in acting.

7. So What if you did hear!? - ____ ____ is established, they've got the goods, they have the looks and...a same sex partner/affair...and the world does not end.

8. It's SUPERQUEER! - A character will arrive.  They will be acknowledged as gay.  Might even be a plot point.  To be on the safe side, they will have no flaws.  None.  As a matter of fact, outside of the plot point, you'd never know they were gay.  NOW, the complaint shall arise in some quarters that SQ is not gay enough.

9. Gaymos and Andy - Amos 'n' Andy was a well-written show, but it was controversial in its portrayers (White men as Black men) and then in its TV version, its stereotypes, BUT...was it all stereotypes?  Amos and Andy are the old comedy tradeoff.  If I give you Amos, a boring politically correct character, can I have Andy and Kingfish, the broader choice?

Oh, but that could never happen to-day.  "Amos 'n' Andy" hasn't been shown since 1966. Well, let's take a look at "Will and Grace"

Amos  - the family guy...even though he's Black
Will - the lawyer, even though he's gay.

Andy - Broad, fun-loving devil-may-care, gets into scrapes, but friends with Amos.
Jack and/or Grace - Broad, fun-loving devil-may-care, gets into scrapes, but friends with Will.

Kingfish - Gets Andy into trouble. Wild and outlandish.
Karen - Enables Jack.  Wild and outlandish.  Is also bisexual.

How did either show survive?  Partially because both of them had a Black or gay person involved.


It's still a step forward.

10. It's not the lead, is it? - This means that there are good roles to be had.  Might even win an award.  It still won't mean that folks (the folks that make the decisions) will believe that there can be a gay lead.

11. It IS the lead. IT IS! - It's a good part.  LGBT organizations love it!  Critics applaud!  It's a flop.

Soon the day will come that it will be an eye-raise, not a fist-raise that someone is gay.  There shall be movies with gay leads, played by gay people and it will seep in like rainwater into soil. There will be gay people in front of and behind the camera.  "Will and Grace" may be deemed as offensive as "Amos 'n' Andy once was.  And acceptance will spread...

And gays shall still be harassed and beaten and killed and treated as less than human.

Now, reread this entry and you can drop in the word "Latino" or "Asian" or "Indian". It reads roughly the same.

The change in attitude must come from you, not from the media.  That is where acceptance really begins.

Now go to bed, my virtual child.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Trayvon Martin Question...

Trayvon Martin was shot and killed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.  Not only to him, but to all of the men and women who have been wounded or killed under similar circumstances that aren't and won't get press coverage.  The man that shot him, as of this writing, has not been charged, one of the reasons he hasn't is the existence of the "Stand Your Ground"

Some years ago, I was grocery shopping with my wife at night in Los Angeles.  She sent me to the ATM, which was across the street.  Not just any street, but I was crossing at 3rd and Vermont, at the time, one of the busiest intersections in L.A.  I got the money and ran back across the street on a green light, ran through the parking lot when I, fortunately, heard someone yell, "Freeze"! and I stopped running and put my hands behind my head.

As the police questioned me, no, that isn't correct.  After the police asked me for my ID and questioned me...


After the police asked me for my ID,  and then handcuffed me, they asked me to recite my driver's license number.  California was not a state that used one's Social Security number as your driver's license number, so they had me recite it.

Stop reading for a second.  Can you recite your license number from memory?

Call it the Lord's hand on me (I do), or what you will (you might), I told them: C1472291.

"Z as in zebra?", one of them asked.

"No, 'C' as in 'cop'" I replied.  Blessedly, one of them thought that was funny.  They removed my cuffs and let me go.  By the way, I haven't had a CDL since 1994 and I STILL remember that number.

It turns out that there was a robbery in the area, so the police in the area were looking for a Black guy in a grey sweater and guess who had on his sleeveless grey and black sweater that night?

If this was an isolated incident, I might be of a different mind today, but this was the second time that I had been stopped by police after running across the street on a green light, fifth time or so I had been stopped by police, one time for walking down the street with an attache' briefcase, so blessings were with me the night I stopped running when I heard the police.

Suppose I didn't hear them.  Would they have shot me?  What if I was some Black kid named Barry in Hawaii and the the police fired?

I don't begrudge being stopped in this case.  What I minded then and now was the 'cuff marks on my wrist.  Suppose I had an "attitude".  Suppose little Brian said, "Enough!  I'm tired of being stopped!  Remember that time that the cops stopped you and thought you were a six-foot rapist who stole a woman's stereo when you were a five-foot-five kid on a bike with a backpack?  Remember when the policeman said after questioning you, "Well, I don't think you did it.  After you got her in there, you probably wouldn't know what to do with her?"  Remember how you wondered what kind of monster would do such a thing to the young blonde woman chewing her nails in the squad car?  Remember thinking what kind of monster would imply that raping a woman would be "what to do" if you were alone with one AND thinking what kind of hell is she in for if that is the guy that is supposed to be on HER side?

Remember how you wished that you'd gotten that fellow's badge number?
Isn't it enough?  Haven't you had enough?


Little Brian might have gotten Big Brian injured or killed.  Fortunately, Little Brian was even more scared than Big Brian was that night.

My question isn't, why hasn't the shooter been arrested, because he should, nor is it why is this law on the books.

My question is this:

If I am old enough to remember thinking that a minor triumph watching a drama on TV or in the movies was the fact that the Black character lived until the end of the story and if I am old enough to have voted for and will vote again for Barack Obama for President and old enough to think that we are way behind for doing so...

Why is the Trayvon Martin story still a plausible one in 2012?

 - Brian Phillips

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Response to the Los Angeles Times' Johnny Otis Tribute

The following is my full response to this article: which is intended more as adjunct, than critique:

Thanks for the tribute.  I didn't know he'd written a second book. 

1.  Otis was a multi-instrumentalist. He played keyboards and the vibraphone. He gave up the drums because he felt it was too much work. 

2. The original issue of the Etta James (and the Peaches) song was titled, "The Wallflower (Roll With Me, Henry)" on Modern Records. It was reissued as, "The Wallflower (Dance With Me, Henry)", to avoid censure, even though the reissue's musical content was no different. It was covered by "Her Nibs",  Georgia Gibbs with altered, cleaner lyrics and this version charted higher!

3. Otis also played drums on (and possibly co-wrote, with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) the original version of "Hound Dog", which was recorded first by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton and later recorded by Elvis Presley. The original ends with imitation dog howls.  Otis said he was, "the third dog from the left". 

A great talent and a great man. Choosing to adopt Black culture over his Greek heritage was very bold move at the time. It was not a fad nor was it a ploy to improve his musicianship as one of his friends and fellow musicians Preston Love stated in the introduction to "Listen to the Lambs". Listeners to his show would occasionally hear him talk about "our people" and he did not mean Greeks.  Otis was not a man caught between worlds, we, as a people,  embraced him.  My sympathies and prayers (as many others do, I am certain) go out to his family.

Rest in peace, Johnny Otis.