Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"You Can Scar Me, But You Can't Stop Me"

(photo by Dear World)

One year ago today, something horrible happened in Boston.

I "found" Sydney Corcoran a couple of days later, and as she lay in a hospital bed, we began a communication that evolved into a friendship. She has fought through a lot of physical and emotional pain these last 12 months, and if it seems easy from the outside, well...it's not.

Sydney's fight is far from finished on this one year anniversary. But her message to you is the one scrawled on her body: "You can scar me, but you can't stop me." She is a survivor in every meaningful sense, and a beautiful woman inside and out. She has embraced the scars that mark her just like the tattoo she was finally able to get in December. And in truth, they have a sublime beauty all their own - especially when you recognize that she earned them by living.

Sydney, you have come so far, and I want everyone to know how fuckin' proud I am of you. You are a gorgeous woman and a gorgeous soul, and if anyone says differently, they're wrong. That includes you when those moments of self-doubt haunt you.

I love you like you were my own sister.

Sydney's picture is part of a larger series called DEAR WORLD: Boston Marathon. It's one of many projects created by Dear World, an effort that is eminently worthwhile. The Boston Marathon project is incredibly moving and brought me to tears. It includes not only Sydney, but also her mother Celeste and her brother Tyler.

My words are failing me as it comes time to finish this entry. In the end, I guess Sydney has finally left me speechless. Maybe that's the best last word of all.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Legends of Mid-South Wrestling

I grew up watching Mid-South Wrestling. I don't remember when that started - I want to say I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. All I know is what is now widely-regarded as one of the best regional wrestling territories captured my imagination as a child.

I guess you could say that's not surprising. As deeply in love with comic books and superheroes as I was, Mid-South Wrestling offered the same sort of colorful characters and compelling action in a "real" setting. I'm not sure when I decided/figured out the action was staged (not fake), but it didn't really affect my enjoyment.

If anyone asks, I will freely admit that the Junkyard Dog was my boyhood hero. That might be hard to grasp for people who didn't see him in Mid-South, but trust me, that guy was electric when he was right. JYD isn't the only one who made fond memories back in those days - my mind's eye can still conjure up visions of Mr. Olympia, Butch Reed, Ted DiBiase, Hacksaw Duggan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and a cavalcade of others.

WWE recently acquired the Mid-South Wrestling/UWF tape library, and issued LEGENDS OF MID-SOUTH WRESTLING on DVD and Blu-Ray. I happily purchased it, even though my interest in grappling has waned over the years. As I sat and watched it, and re-experienced the old days, I could remember what it was like to be a kid in the early 1980s when all of this was very important to me.

Below is a trailer for this release on the WWE's UK division Youtube channel.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Rialto Report: A Recommendation

I wrote about The Rialto Report back in October, but having followed the site since that time, I wanted to pen a more general recommendation. Why? Because it's an outstanding piece of film history in the making.

The Rialto Report chronicles stories that probably would not otherwise be told. Generally, film scholarship focuses on the most popular or the most artistic. The Rialto Report goes against that grain by focusing on adult films and their corresponding subculture. However, it's all done with a seriousness and scholarship that puts to shame lesser sites that focus on "real" movies.

I have often told this story, but I am more interested in the people who work in adult films than the actual films. I'm fascinated by that sort of life, which from the outside seems impossibly glamorous and hedonistic. In some respects, it can be, but the reality is that so-called "porn stars" are a lot closer to just regular folks doing a job than famous superstars. That doesn't mean they can't be glamorous people or serious actors (I know, this might surprise you, but it's actually true); it's simply that they are not rich and famous in the way we'd imagine.

The Rialto Report shines in telling their stories, the men and women both in front of and behind the cameras. Some are sad tales indeed, and there are those who have chosen to focus entirely on this and paint a dire and grim picture. Yet there are also plenty of stories on the Rialto Report filled with hope and optimism and love. I'm not sure how anyone could listen to the interview with Richard Pacheco/Howie Gordon and not come away absolutely enthralled.

It's life. There's happiness and sadness, triumph and tragedy. It's the human experience, not exclusive to pornography.

The Rialto Report takes its subjects seriously, but also is a lot of fun. In dragging explicit movies from "The Golden Age of Porn" out of the ghetto and into the limelight, Ashley West, April Hall and company are enriching all of us. Take some time, give them a listen, and explore the site. Don't be surprised if you find yourself hooked.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Art of Ramona Fradon: A Review

Since I wrote about this book (and that entry gets a lot more hits than I would have expected), I suppose it's only fair that I talk a bit about it now that it's out.

THE ART OF RAMONA FRADON finally came out in February 2014. No one seems to have an explanation as to why, though I have a guess (see below). Meantime, Dynamite continues to not engender confidence via the omission of Bob Greenberger (the man responsible for assembling this book) from the Amazon listing. Considering my opinion of the book itself, I wish I could be more positive about the publisher.

Quite simply, I love this book. It is a wonderful showcase for Fradon's distinctive artwork, from Aquaman to Metamorpho to Super Friends to Brenda Starr, and all points in-between and beyond. The interview with Ramona by Howard Chaykin sheds considerable light on her as an artist and a person. It's not necessarily what fans might want, but truth can be hard to swallow at times from someone who crafted your childhood.

The packaging is gorgeous, with plenty of samples of artwork both vintage and new. The checklist is helpful if you want to track her career and note that it's not as extensive as you would imagine. You could probably assemble a good chunk of her published works with less effort than you'd think.

As a fan of Fradon's art from my 1970s exposure to Super Friends and Plastic Man and her amazing run with Bob Haney on Metamorpho, I cherish the opportunity this book provides to study that art and learn more about the artist. It's a shame that any momentum the project had was derailed by an almost two year delay in publication.

Why is that, anyway? Just a guess, but I'm suspecting it had to do with Dynamite getting approvals from the publishers whose properties are included herein. Whether the fault lies with Dynamite or those other publishers, I have no idea. It just reflects pretty badly on Dynamite that a book like this disappeared for so long.

Also, something I noticed in prepping this entry - the cover changed from the originally solicited version.

Actual published cover

Original solicited cover

There are several differences; some are obvious and some not. One of the more striking aspects is that a certain bashful blue-eyed nephew of Aunt Petunia has gone AWOL from the proceedings. And indeed, no one from his parent company is present on the final cover. Just an observation.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Your New Favorite Sports Mascot

This is an old logo for the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, the forerunner of the Detroit Pistons. Who was the mad genius responsible for this character?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Updated: Continued Next Week!

Ahoy! Just wanted to give you a heads-up that the Continued Next Week! Tags Page got a long-overdue update tonight. It was entirely more trouble than I anticipated, but I have added a number of serials that have been featured there in recent months. I've also relented and included a few prominent stars, too. I've been resistant of doing that, because I am not going to give everyone that treatment. But by now, it seems silly to not give that treatment to someone like Buster Crabbe. Or Natalie Kingston, for that matter (sigh). I anticipate adding more in the future, and maybe giving them their own category there.