Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bronze Beauties #13: the Avengers

No, no, Hanlon, there’s no Emma Peel and John Steed in this comic. Legend has it that the Marvel Age of Comics was ushered in when publisher Martin Goodman asked editor Stan Lee to come up with a superhero group to compete with DC’s successful Justice League of America. The result was the Fantastic Four, but Marvel’s true response to the JLA wouldn’t come until 2 years later with The Avengers #1, a 1963 comic book teaming a number of by then established heroes from other books.

While I was more of a DC fanboy, I dipped up to the hip in the Marvel pool, and one of the things that I liked about the Avengers was that they had a butler (provided by Iron Man alter-ego, millionaire industrialist Tony Stark). The Justice League may have had an orbiting satellite HQ, but they had to get their own drinks (at least after they got rid of their silver age sidekick, Snapper Carr). Then again, maybe that’s why they let Red Tornado hang around.

Here are two swell 1970s Avengers covers, #92 (Sept. 1971) by my first favorite comic book artist, Neal Adams (who really didn’t do a huge amount of Marvel work) and #152 (Oct. 1976), a supremely hilarious piece by Jack Kirby. The voodoo villain’s name is NOT Chicken Man, but rather the Black Talon. And the guy in the swamp with the fluorescent disco duds is Wonder Man. I couldn’t tell ya about him.

More covers to celebrate the release of THE AVENGERS movie!
Here's #83 (Dec. 1970) by John Buscema & Tom Palmer
#87 (April 1971) featuring a character who should've been in the new movie, the Black Panther, by John Buscema & John Verpoorten
#97 (March 1972) by Gil Kane & Bill Everett
#100 (June 1972) by Barry Smith
#116 (October 1973) by John Romita & Mike Esposito
#123 (May 1974) by Ron Wilson & John Romita
#141 (November 1975) by Gil Kane & John Romita
#172 (June 1978) featuring Hawkeye in the costume he really should've worn in the movie, by George Pérez & Terry Austin

© Marvel Comics

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Drunken Consumption

Yesterday, I may have had the most successful day of shopping ever. Yeah, I said Shopping.

A former girlfriend and I once tried listing all of my, let’s say, non-stereotypically-masculine traits. I’m neat and organized. I like to clean. I like Gilmore Girls. I have numerous face washing products. I don’t like sports. And I like to shop. Or at least, I used to.

Thanks in part to that now-ex-girlfriend, my affinity for walking around and spending money for its own sake went away (along with some other things, but that's another story). These days, I try to just spend money when I need to, “need” of course being as subjective as anything else.

But there was a short list of big items that have been squarely in the “need” category for a while now. And they weren’t easy purchases. Not for me, anyway.

1) I needed new sneakers for work.
This is an incredibly difficult task because I despise sneakers. I only wear them in the summer and only with shorts. A few months back, I threw out my disgusting old bar sneakers and bought a pair of low-top Converse All-Stars as replacements. In my 20s, I wore Chuck Taylors 365 days a year, but as I got older, their utter lack of arch support made them a bit uncomfortable (even with insoles). But I couldn’t imagine the searing, constant neck and back pain that wearing them for 12 hours on my feet behind the bar would bring. They were out. I have another old pair of Adidas (a style they don’t make anymore) that are my “street” sneaks and I didn’t want to ruin them by wearing them behind the bar (every bartender has a wardrobe strictly for work, due to become imbued with booze, dirt, cherry stains, and miscellaneous other alcohol-related extrusions). The search began anew.

2) I needed to pick up a new black light for the bar.
I’ve been threatening for months to buy a 16” black light fixture for the door guys where I work because the old 5” fixture hasn’t worked well enough to light up the fluorescent door stamps we use in a long time. Plus, I love black lights.

3) I’ve been looking for a new pepper grinder for a long time.
I just couldn’t find one I liked. This one wasn’t pressing, though.

4) I’ve been wanting to buy a laptop for over a year.
I need to be able to write away from the distractions of my home and also do work when I go back to PA (or on the incredibly rare instances when I travel elsewhere). But as anyone who was with me during the times I was buying my car and my LCD TV knows, when it comes to large purchases, I am more than hesitant. I’ve known exactly what model laptop I wanted, I just kept putting off buying the damn thing.

Yesterday was a beautiful summer day in Manhattan, and with the assistance of the wise and kick-ass Lysa with a Y, I headed out with resolve to accomplish at least one of those goals. And, unbelievably, I accomplished them ALL, in four hours, all in a short, direct walk from 18th Street down Broadway, with a right turn at Prince, ending up at the Apple Store in SoHo.

A trek which included one key stop: Gonzalez y Gonzalez, for two and a half margaritas. (Please note: This cavernous downtown Cal-Mex joint is mediocre at best and I would never dine there, but for a quick afternoon Happy Hour Margarita fix, it's fine.)

I discovered that my reticence to buy large items goes away if I’m a bit looped. Now, this would not have been a good thing when I was gettin’ the Jeep, but with every purchase yesterday, having some tequila in me removed my hesitation and I bought a new pair of AdidasSuperstar Vulcans (at the Adidas store at Broadway and Houston) and a MacBook. As well as a new pepper grinder, a black light for the bar, and, just for good measure and to show how subjective “need” is, new Brainiac and Lex Luthor action figures and the new issue of DRAW! featuring an interview with my pal Chris.

Y and I returned to Hoboken and headed to Louise and Jerry’s for celebratory shots of Maker’s Mark and a shared Bud and then back to my place where the icing on the cake was sitting in the door: A box from Amazon containing my impulse order of last week: Craig Yoe’s ARF MUSEUM, Booker T. & the MGs' HIP HUG HER, John Doe’s FOR THE BEST OF US reissue, Hal Lifson’s SEX AND THE ‘60s comp and Arch Hall Jr. and the Archers’ WILD GUITAR! anthology.

As a rule, I’m not a fan of conspicuous consumption. I don’t shop for the sake of shopping anymore. But I gotta say, as the pizza arrived and we cracked open a bottle of Pagor Cab, the heat emanating from my AmEx card didn't burn so much as feel comfortably warm. So, the next time I DO some economy-fueling dispensation of disposable income.... I’m gettin’ hammered first.


Friday, August 04, 2006

Oh, Lindsay.

I may be a pop culture dork, but as a rule, I despise the cult of celebrity. I don’t read any People / Us / Star style mags (although there’s a thin line between them and Entertainment Weekly, to which I’ve subscribed for over a decade), I don’t watch TV shows about entertainment “news,” I could care less about the private lives of the stars. I hate the fact that I know the names of movie star offspring and who Kevin Federline is.

Now, having said that, I do admit that I am fascinated by Lindsay Lohan.

She’s my favorite train wreck, but it’s not a strict case of schadenfreude (as with, say Britney Spears, who’s simply a lucky hillbilly idiot with no sense of perspective as to her success in relation to her talent and whose inevitable career decline I await droolingly). I used to like Lindsay Lohan. Part of me still does.

A number of years back, I thought that, in stark contrast with most young Hollywood pretzel sticks, she had a darker, kinda punk sensibility, she came across as a bit smarter than your Hilary Duffs, your Emmy Rossums. I thought she was great in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls (which I only saw on cable, mind you) .

And, I have to admit, at the risk of sounding like a creepy Chester, I thought she was hot. Yes, yes, I know, I’m old enough to be her father. Hey, so is Brett Ratner! And at least Lindsay has (or HAD) some curves on her (how anyone can lust after the Olsen Twins is completely beyond comprehension) and besides, it wouldn’

Where was I? Oh, yeah, Lindsay seemed to have her shit together.

But as Lindsay’s star rose and she hit her 18th birthday, she seemed to fall prey to all of those dangers of young Hollywood stardom. Suddenly she was hanging out at the hot spots, partying with yukky humans like Tara Reid and Paris Hilton and then she lost all that weight and dyed her hair blonde and began stalking cheezy directors and trashing better actresses on bathroom walls and Oh, Lindsay.

Of course, Lindsay Lohan is certainly not the first victim of the lure of excess that someone in her position in Hollywood is afforded. It’s actually strange when someone thrust into the pop culture spotlight at a young age DOESN’T put much of their paycheck up their nose (or some other orifice).

One of the things I find most fascinating is that in all of these stories about her already legendary clubbing, not one of them mentions the fact that SHE’S NOT OLD ENOUGH TO LEGALLY DRINK. I really hate the fact that celebrities rule the world (or at least America) to the point where the laws don’t apply.

Seriously, if Lindsay Lohan (or Amanda Bynes or Mischa Barton or any other underage ingénue) ever came into my bar and ordered a drink, I’d ask for their ID and then say “Sorry” when they annoyedly asked if I knew Who They Were. Fuck that. I would sooner lose my job than perpetuate the VIP status of these prima donnas.

But I know that I am in the minority. Most bars love the status of the celebrity hang. Hell, they usually don’t even charge the stars. The most overpaid people on Earth get the most stuff for free. How does that happen? Such is the wattage of fame.

Which brings us back to Lindsay. What makes me care (just a whit and within context) about this bizarre path of personal and career destruction she’s so publicly trudging down is that I really thought she coulda’ been a contender. And maybe the damage isn’t permanent. Maybe she’ll snap out of it and get back on the right track, baby.

Then again.... maybe she won’t.

POSTSCRIPT, October 2010:

Nope, she didn't.