Monday, March 11, 2019

Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem Magazine Premieres at SXSW 2019

Watch the trailer below:

Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem Magazine attempts to capture the wild, irreverent, and occasionally dangerous life and times of the assorted weirdos, freaks, and artists who, despite their worst efforts, somehow managed to produce "America's Only Rock 'n' Roll Magazine" for two decades only occasionally missing a downbeat. Based in Detroit, Creem suffered from little of the starstruck ass-licking and elitism that began to permeate many its coastal-based competitors during this period. Instead, Creem shot from the hip, lampooning all with equal abandon, while maintaining the insight and integrity that were hallmarks of the publication. This approach endeared the mag to readers and performers alike, many of whom made it a point to visit the Creem offices whenever possible. Although much of that early chutzpah was gone by the mid-80s, the magazine soldiered on in its original format until 1989.

Notable alum include Lester Bangs, who would later refer to Detroit as, "rock's only hope," Dave Marsh, Robert Christgau, Nick Tosches, Cameron Crowe, and Chuck Eddy among many others. The "Boy Howdy" icon was designed by R. Crumb.

Helmed by director  Scott Crawford (Salad Days) and produced by JJ Kramer (the son of magazine founder Barry Kramer), Boy Howdy!'s next stop is scheduled for Wednesday, April 10, at the Fillmore in Detroit where it will open the 2019 FREEP Film Festival.

Monday, February 25, 2019

UPDATE! The Carpenters Had a Sweet Custom Van and I Want to Do Bong Hits in It Right Now

"Powered by... Bear"

UPDATE 2/15/2019: Thanks to the efforts of PDGB reader Benjamin Kleschinsky, we finally have some clarity regarding the mysterious "Powered By Bear" tagline painted on the Carpenter's van:
"I did a lot of research about this photo, and as it turns out this photo was tampered with. Above the word "Bear" was another person, the actual Bear. "Powered by Bear" referred to their road manager who drove the van that carried their equipment, their first cousin Mark Rudolph. I have linked the original photograph scanned onto computer. Many thanks to the many people who helped me find the answer."

We'd like to echo Benjamin's comments and extend a hearty PDGB thanks to the people who assisted him in solving this pressing matter. Now with further delay, here is the actual unedited photo:
The image can also be viewed on Kleschinsky's Flickr page.
Who is this "BEAR," and why was he chosen to power Karen and Richard Carpenter's van? We can tell it's a Ford Eonoline and appears to be wearing AAR wheels, but so many questions remain: What was the extent of Bear's involvement? Did they own an actual live bear that could drive? If so, did his big paws make it difficult to handle the tricky one-two shift of the old three-on-the-tree column-mounted shifter?  Did Donny and Marie have a custom van? What about The Cowsills? Were Richard's business-casual elephant bell denims custom made? Do you think Karen would bogart a roach? Would people ignore pleas to, "Don't come a knockin'," if the van was, in fact, "A-rockin'?" Which is more depressing: Rainy days or Mondays? If you know the answers to any of these questions, please share in the comments.

Fun Fact: Before Richard found stardom with his sis, he was fired from Disneyland because his music was considered to be, "too radical."

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hello, Hooray: Alice Cooper Riot at Toledo Sports Arena 12.13.1973

By the time the Alice Cooper group hit Toledo in December of 1973, it was clear that change was in the air. Muscle of Love, the bands latest LP, was struggling to attain the same level of success as their previous two efforts, School's Out and Billion Dollar Babies, and the band was beginning to succumb to the standard laundry list of rock star afflictions: booze, drugs, egos, money, groupies, and the strain of perpetual touring. Though the band had honed its craft grinding out the jams in its home base of Detroit and the faceless rust-belt communities in its orbit, the idea of spending December on a tightly-scheduled run through the great lakes region–with a few key southern dates thrown in for good measure–was less than appealing.

Initially, Toledo wasn't even a stop on the itinerary. Somewhere along the line booking agent Jonny Podell realized the band had a night off after its gig at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and figured a quick stop in Toledo would be an easy way monetize an otherwise off-day of the tour.

Already frustrated by growing tensions within the band, the group was less than excited about their arrival in Toledo. Later, tour manager David Libert would be quoted saying, "If the Lord ever wanted to give the world an enema, this is where he would stick the goddamn nozzle."

While accounts of the ensuing incident vary, everyone agrees on this: The Toledo crowd was geared and primed for violence right from the start. From the first note of the band's opening number, "Hello, Hooray," the crowd began pelting the band with anything withing reach. The deluge continued as the band performed "Billion Dollar Babies," and an explosive, most likely an M-80 or cherry bomb, was thrown on stage injuring roadie Larry Hitchcock. Confusion ensued, and the band left the stage eventually retreating to the Holiday Inn located across the river. Ashley Pandel, Cooper's publicist is quoted in the January 31, 1974 issue of Rolling Stone saying, "Alice felt if they continued, there could be another Altamont." The crowd reportedly dispersed after an hour or two of typically rowdy behavior while waiting in vain for the band to return to the stage.

At that point, the story goes in two directions. While the Cooper camp maintains that guitarist Michael Bruce was injured to the point of almost losing his sight in one eye, journalist Bob Greene has an entirely different take on the situation. Embedded with the group for the entirety of the "Holiday Tour '73," Greene states in his excellent and long out of print book, Billion Dollar Baby, that Bruce was in fact unharmed, and the news of Bruce being transported to a Hospital in Detroit was fabricated simply as a cover for the band's refusal to return to the stage. Greene states the the band retreated to the hotel, and by the time the decision was made to not return to the stage Alice was sharing stories and Budweisers with some uniformed Toledo police officers. By the time the entourage was preparing to leave the hotel in the morning, a story in The Blade, Toledo's long-standing news daily, reported the story just as Cooper's publicist as dictated. Meanwhile, Greene states that Bruce entered the lobby in the morning and began joking about the incident with his bandmates and crew. He continues that while they were preparing to leave, he witnessed members of Cooper's entourage call Tom Davis at The Blade, and, perpetuating the alleged deception, "confirm" that Bruce was in fact in Detroit. The next night, the group performed in front of 17,000 people in Toronto.

Well into the 1980s, Cooper would cite Toledo as his least favorite city when when questioned, although his animosity had faded by the time he returned to the city in 1986 on a double bill with Ted Nugent. In a bizarre turn of events, famously enthusiastic Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner would in 1996 declare an official, "Alice Cooper Day."

Click to view in full PDGB EXPAND-O-MATIC glory

In the forty some-odd years since the publication of Billion Dollar Baby, Greene has come under scrutiny and suffered numerous unrelated accusations; Cooper and the rest of the involved parties continue to give the book little credence.

Fun Fact #1: The Blade gave Greene and Cooper over five columns of space in it's Sunday, December 23, edition. Tom Davies, who socialized with Cooper backstage before the performance, weighs in on the then novel practice of a journalist embedding himself with a rock group (Greene's adventure predating Cameron Crowe's Eagles story in Rolling Stone by two years) while Steve Harloff weighs in on the concert's violence and the future of rock concerts in the city of Toledo. (As a side note, Harloff also awards the Rolling Stones the "Arthritic and Decrepitcy" award for their 1973 release Goats Head Soup. Keith Richards was 30 at the time. Harloff's current status is unknown.)


Fun Fact #2: The original artwork for the Billion Dollar Babies Tour Poster–subsequently altered for the "Holiday Tour '73" as seen in the Toledo Blade ad above–was created by Prairie Prince, drummer for the Tubes. Here's a full color version below:


Max capacity of Toledo Sports Arena: 8,000; Capacity required if everyone who claims they attended this concert actually did: 150,000.

Update: Here's The Coop some 35 years later being interviewed on Toledo's local cable access show "Sports Rap." Although part 1 of the interview is AWOL, no mention of the Toledo Incident is made during this segment. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

White Boy Rick: The Truth Behind the Hype

Son, the lion don't leave the Serengeti.
UPDATE 12/27/2018: 'White Boy Rick' Wershe's Florida prison release date has been moved forward to Nov. 25, 2020.

Nearly everyone who grew up within the gravitational orbit of Detroit in the 1980s has at least passing knowledge of the legend of White Boy Rick. But before you plunk down your hard-earned cash for a ticket to the recently-released Hollywood dramatization of his story, do yourself a favor and surf over to The Atavist Magazine and read The Trials of White Boy Rick by Evan Hughes. It's the single most comprehensive and exhaustively researched piece yet written on the life of Rick Wershe and his involvement with the FBI, Detroit Police department, Mayor Coleman Young, and the notorious Curry and Chambers brothers drug gangs.

Fun Fact: Matthew McConaughey, who plays Richard Wershe Sr., and Rory Cochrane, who plays FBI agent Byrd, both appeared in Dazed and Confused more than 25 years ago.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richie Merrit, Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, and Bel Powley also star.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Rob Zombie’s GMC Motorhome from the Movie "31" Is for Sale.

You know what they say, kemosabe; in Hell, everybody loves popcorn.

Produced by General Motors for the 1973 to 1978 model years, the GMC motor home was at the time the only fully-finished motorhome to be produced by an American automobile manufacturer. Featuring sleek modern styling, rear air suspension, a low ride-height, front-wheel drive (courtesy GM's Unified Powerplant Package as found in the Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado), and an aluminum and fiberglass body, it was everything the competition wasn't.

Long a Hollywood favorite, the GMC Motorhome has appeared in numerous features including Stripes where it appeared in slightly reconfigured form as the EM-50 Urban Assault Vehicle. Additional screen appearances include Minority Report, Anchorman 2, Snake and Mongoose, and many more, not to mention dozens of television appearances.

Yet for all the big camper's screen time, Rob Zombie's 31 is the first time the GMC motorhome was cast in such a sinister light. Once the ne plus ultra of the motorcoach world, in 31 the 1976 model appears tired and barely functional, simply a tool to transport a bunch of carnies from town to town. 

Previously available on the used market for a fraction of their original value, remaining examples in good condition are now trading for stupid money thanks to sudden interest of otherwise well-intending folks, who, due to either pangs of nostalgia or simply just having too much time and money, pretty much ruined the vintage camper market for the rest of us. And that's where this one comes in-what better way to hit the campground than in this road-weary and graphically adorned sin-bin? Mix in a few crates of pyrotechnics and PBR en route and you're guaranteed to draw the attention of the campground hoi polloi. If this sounds like your idea of a good time, head on over to GWS Auctions to see more pictures and bid.