Sunday, November 30, 2008

Death Cab for Forry (Black and Tan Fantasy, for FJA)

Sad sad news today on the death of Forrest J. Ackerman, requiescat in pace...

Variously described in the obits doing the rounds as either the ultimate Fanboy, or alternately, the Grand Old Man of Sci-Fi, (ageless in other words- wotta guy!), manchild in the forbidden zone Ackerman's modern Promethean energy as devil's advocate for the darkside is legendary, his acolytes legion, his lurid spawn ranging from The Misfits, who appropriated the typography of the Famous Monsters logo for their own insidious ends, to the endless noxious celluloid manifestations of the latest in le horreur vacui (truly) on the order of "Saw", "Hostel", "Cleaver" (just kidding)--

Forry's mission, as he decided to accept it (at a very tender age):

To promote promulgate hucksterize and lay bare for all to see the whole history of the justly celebrated and unfairly unsung literary and cinematic phantasms that float "between two worlds"-- in the realms of purest imagination in other words-- to make them manifest and writ large upon the land...

Forrest J. Ackerman! (I have a distant German relative with same surname come to think of it)-- possessor, Montresor, of a very late-19th century romantic weltanschaung fixated on the diabolic and the outre, a consciousness forged in the crucible of whatsis (ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties, boy)--

Which eventually, under his benign editorship, threw up (heh heh) the seminal 60's Warren Publications "Famous Monsters of Filmland", "Spacemen", "Vampirella", "Screen Thrills Illustrated", "Monster World"--

All of which reared their ugly and magnificent Gorgo-like mugs (that hideous strength) just a'beggin' you to pluck them hot off the rack in drugstores, barber shops, supermarkets and newstands all over America in the early 60's, to take them home, and-- well, what?

Pre-masturbation, sublimatory fanboy fantasy fodder (flight from eros into death), best fit to read under the covers with a flashlight, with the lights out (lights out, everyone)...

Necrological necrophiliac pulp trash but of course...

But pulp trash of the highest, most subversive order, in the glorious tradition of EC Publications--

Trash that fired the imaginations of millions of impressionable American adolescents (the sturdy as well as the sickly), among them quite a few nascent artistes, including yrs truly, who cut my baby incisors on Forry's magazines, eagerly ingesting at the very least 10,000 mics of the Ackermonster's enthusiasm for the Other (in fact, I first saw a still from "The Golem" in Famous Monsters, thrilling me to the very marrow, combining as it did my twin obsessions at the time with both the kabbalistic folk tales of my wayward Jewish youth, and also my budding passion for horror, fantasy and science fiction films and literature)...

Forry made an appearance in Manhattan in the mid-80's auctioning off a chunk of his legendary collection of horror and sci-fi film artifacts/props--including an actual False Maria robot from "Metropolis"-- at the Puck Building here... but according to former "New Worlds" (UK) editor British expat/sci-fi author Charles Platt with whom I attended this most likely Wendayne Wahrman-mandated fire sale, said auction consisted mainly of seconds from FJA's vast golden hoard (quite naturally Forry was holding onto the good stuff)...

Now he's swooped the scene...will be missed...another force 'o nature g-g-g gone...

If you do get the chance to revisit the very early FM's (hopefully the full archives of which will eventually be issued on dvd ala "Mad") you will notice from the getgo a very high level of scholarship on the page (he knew his stuff)--lots of fascinating historical erudition/tidbits dusted off and trotted out--

Not to mention many arresting photos on display each month spanning the silent era (the 1910 playbill pic of Edison's "Frankenstein"--see it to the left--scared the bejesus out of me/gave me literal nightmares), right up to (at least when I started reading it) the age of Bava, Hammer and AIP...also, the mag sported enlightened for the day multi-culti (very appropriate appellation here) big tent-like coverage of Mexican horror phenoms "The Baron of Terror" (a/k/a The Brainiac), the wrestling-horror Santos films, and later on, obeisance paid to the fabulous Jose Mojica Marins (Coffin Joe) and his Sao-Paulo slum-based "cinema from the mouth of garbage" (rocket from the tombs)-- imparting in every issue to those who were paying attention a vast Olaf Stapledon-like overview of the entire phantasmagorical film universe/continuum, in amongst the quips and puns and neologisms that were part and parcel of Forry's avuncular editorial persona ('n wot's wrong wid dat?)...

Around issue 25 however, under orders from Jim Warren apparently to dumb down or else wither and die (entropic heat-death of the universe--or at least, of the popular magazine), the quality of the articles took a drastic turn for the worse/swan-dive into the truly inane-- and then you really would maybe only scan through a copy very very hurriedly, very occasionally, for a glimpse of some fresh meat and image gristle, Forry's text rendered null/beside the point/farblonjet in extremis...

However, happy to say, in the hands of folks like Tim Lucas and his fine "Video Watchdog", the editors of "FilmFax" magazine, filmcrit popcult folks Dave Kehr, Glenn Kenny, VA Musetto, Lucy Chase Williams, Kent Jones, Geoffrey O'Brien, Michael Atkinson, Jim Hoberman (and it goes without saying, Richard Porton), the precocious scholarly approach still prevails and flourishes in examining the work of the cinematic old devils (I mean masters) (master master this is recorded through a fly's eye)...

As for the new masters-- well, l'esprit du les Monstres Fameuse, l'odeur du '60's transgressive modernism, that whiff of the fine fetid air of the Okefenokee Swamp mixed with the requisite Duco cement fumes needed to glue together 10 Aurora Universal Monster model kits (courtesy Captain Company, naturally ) still emanates occasionally in the various objets d'arts/manifestations of Drew Friedman, the Coen Brothers, Johnny Depp, Nick Cave, Mike Edison, Jon Spencer, Nick Tosches, George Romero, Genesis P. Orridge, Marie Losier, Guy Maddin, Alan Vega, Lars Von Trier, The Legendary Tiger Man, Willem Dafoe, Chan-Wook Park, Bill Moseley, Carlos Reygadas, John Waters, the Dark Poets, Zorn, Paul Lazar, Robert Rodriguez, Timur Bekmabetov, Howard Thompson's North Fork Sound, Black Fortress of Opium, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Werner Herzog, Asia Argento, Stereolab, Rey Trueno, Sonic Youth, Mike and George Kuchar, Dead Combo, David Lynch, Udo Keir, Louise Arnold, Michael Haneke, Amorphous Androgynous, Terry Gilliam, Bong Joon-Hoo, Diamanda Galas (what a motley crew!), and uh, gee, I dunno, I'm leaving a couple folks outa here I'm sure (SORRY!)...

And, most recently--

"Låt Den Rätte Komma In" (Let the Right One In)--

ultra-astonishing Swedish vampire film directed by Tomas Alfredsson, starring the lissome Lina Leandersson--

easily the best horror film I have seen since, oh, Géla Babluani's "13 Tzameti" (not really a horror film per se, but what the hey)

see 'em both asap...

(and I just heard that both are going to be remade in English...oy)

Be afraid, be very afraid

(Brothers and sisters-- I don't know what this world is coming to!)

and I say all of the above without the least trace of irony...

you ain't no punk, you punk
you wanna talk about the real junk?
if i ever slip, i'll be banned
'cause i'm your garbageman
well you can't dig me
you can't dig nothin'
do you want the real thing
or are you just talkin'?
do you understand?
i'm your garbageman
yeah, somethin' from the garage
and down the driveway
now get outta your mind
and get outta my way
now do you understand?
do you understand?
louie, louie, louie, lou-i
the bird's the word
and do you know why?
you gotta beat it with a stick
you gotta beat it 'til it's thick
you gotta live until you're dead
you gotta rock 'til you see red
now do you understand?
do you understand?
i'm a garbageman
aw, jump on and ride
yeah it's just what you need
when you're down in the dumps
one half hillbilly
and one half punk
big long legs
and one big mouth
the hottest thing from the north
to come out of the south
do you understand?
do you understand?
woo, i can't lose with the stuff i use
and you don't choose
no substitutes
so stick out your can
'cause i'm your garbageman
all right,
hop off

--The Cramps, "Garbageman"

"Goodbye old man, good bye..."



PS--Gods and Monsters ripped it up Dec. 3rd at Cakeshop on Ludlow Street in the heart of the Lower East Side, with special guests Dean Bowman on vocals and Mike Edison on theremin, below some pictures from the gig taken by legendary photog Clayton Patterson, the dude who captured the video footage of the 1979 Tompkins Square Park police riot...Clayton wrote on his email containing the pics "Loved the show"...

Gods and Monsters rip it up at Cakeshop, NYC, 12/3/08 | photos by Clayton Patterson

click to enlarge

PSS--More recaps/updates of the last month or so also coming soon, been frightfully busy (wahhhhh), that big announcement promised in the last posting will haveta wait for its proper moment of gravitas...

PSSt--my friend Soo Catwoman,original punkette/Sex Pistols mascot, is selling a variety of her custom t-shirts, some bearing her unforgettable visage, on ebay here and also through her MySpace site.

Check 'em out, they make lovely holiday gifts, and come highly recommended by this here poster boy:


Blogger Ajda the Turkish Queen said...

Gary, I love your blog. So full of useful cultural info. Glad you like the CD, too. ~Ajda, Black Fortress of Opium

12/11/2008 10:34 AM  

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