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Mommy…Can I Go Out And…Shill Tonight?

What a fine time to remind you I am the author of This Music Leaves Stains: The Complete Story of The Misfits (not so complete any more), available for purchase here. The Austin Chronicle likes it, saying I “pull no punches” as I “accurately and respectfully” barrel through the group’s saga. Psychobabble claims this volume is “informative” and “thorough” and “pretty much anyone will get a kick out of it.” You know what? I don’t think it’s too bad either.

Here’s something you can do for free: take a look at the online photographic supplement for This Music Leaves Stains and see a wealth of Misfits imagery I couldn’t afford to license for print publication. Imagery like the photograph above. Look at that goddamn punk rocker. He’s sick of everybody’s shit.

If you’re curious how a dope like me wound up writing a book like that in the first place, this interview might help explain a thing or three.

Thank you for your interest and consideration. We remain one thirty eight.

When There Is No More Room In Court, The Misfits Will Reunite

Original recipe Misfits Jerry Only and Glenn Danzig, 1979. Photog unknown.

In not very surprising news considering the recent past, founding Misfits Jerry Only and Glenn Danzig have announced they will take the stage with Jerry’s brother Doyle and a drummer to be named later for several performances as “The Original Misfits” at 2016’s Riot Fest. We understand this to mean Glenn and Jerry have finally stopped suing each other over ownership of the Misfit logos and skull faces. Fantastic. I’m excited to see the exclusive merch they plan to roll out for this landmark concert engagement.

My enthusiasm for the reunion itself is mild. Of course Danzig goes back to the Misfits, driving a stake through the heart of its legal monster with option to make a final artistic statement on the matter if he chooses. Of course Jerry agrees, because it’s spectacle (and profitable). A bigger surprise would have found Danzig buying back the performing rights to the Misfits and icing Jerry out for the rest of his life, or Danzig retiring from music and moving to Nepal to become a monk. Sting went back to the Police. Nesmith went back to the Monkees. Of course Glenn Danzig goes back to the Misfits.

Everyone goes back to the well—especially if the well vomits money.

Obviously there is also cynicism in my heart that any of this will actually happen. Riot Fest is four long months away, and these guys have lived in acrimony for a far greater period than they ever spent making music. Will Jerry and Glenn make it to September without another donnybrook or injunction? Maybe if the Original Misfits drummer is one of their lawyers.

It’s like the Mets. I wanna believe, but history and logic tells me otherwise. Stranger things have happened, I suppose. We’ll see come September.

The Artist Formerly Known As

To say anything else may be exceptionally unnecessary. And yet…

It was only a few years ago that I began digging into the Prince catalog. I purposely started with The Black Album, my reasoning being, I know the hits, I know Prince can orchestrate pop perfection, let’s see what it’s like when this guy is stumbling. Prince suppressed Black for nearly a decade because he felt dissatisfaction with it (one rumor suggests a bad ecstasy trip convinced him the album projects too much evil). Yes, I often begin my journey into legendary bodies via a most dubious property. What can I tell you? I’m American, I’m obsessed with failure.

My immediate reaction to The Black Album: if this is Prince at his worst, sign me up. Sections of Black’s malcontent electro funk are misguided, sure, but as with all his work, Prince commits with such totality (even to utter silliness) you can’t deny the sale. You remain absorbed and ultimately feted.

Now The Love Symbol Album and The Gold Experience are go-tos. Bold, decadent, liberating, rich with flavor. I also spend a lot of time getting lost in the grooves and hymnals of Chaos & Disorder. Sign O’ The Times? That thing is a best of / greatest hits unto itself. And of course, the one Prince album I paid close attention to at the time of its release, Batman.

I want to say I understand people who dog the Batman album but I actually don’t. Prince captures the glamor, the restlessness, and the bankruptcy of Gotham City. The music freezes, it bleeds, it works both within and outside the motion picture’s context. I can’t comprehend why “Partyman” and “Trust” aren’t FM radio staples. The balladry avoids being overwrought. What a thrill to have it all culminate in the white knuckle lunacy of “Batdance.”

“Batdance” is on this Warhol level, a gleeful vandalism of Neal Hefti’s 1960s theme, a schizophrenic pastiche of Burton’s film driven by fascist percussion, indiscriminate keyboards, searing guitar, and direct dialogue samples. It’s jarring and insane but again, Prince commits. That’s why the song reached #1; the Artist’s dedication willed this cacophony into something incredible.

It feels strange to comment on all the risks Prince took in his career, if only because he possessed the celestial wizardry to more or less conquer them all. Is there another human being who could have successfully changed their enormously bankable and recognizable name to a singular character of their own invention with no known (or offered) pronunciation? Ricky Shroder has spent decades trying in vain to make people drop the “y.” If he had adopted a symbol we would have sent him to live on the international space station.

Thanks for the fifty-seven years, Prince. You will never be equaled.

Help Make My Next Book Better

Perhaps you know I am currently working on a book that will explore punk rock’s development in Europe, Asia, South America, and other corners of the planet that aren’t the U.S. & U.K. Research can get expensive and obviously I’d like to make the thing as boss as possible so when Rowman & Littlefield put it on shelves in October of 2017 you can look at it and say, “Goddamn! That’s a proper book.” So look deep in your heart and possibly your couch cushions and consider donating to the associated campaign:

International Punk Tome Research Fund

Thank you for your consideration, however fleeting. Here now, apropos of nothing, is a photo of Bruce Willis in a bunny costume.

Notable Remarks Spoken To Or Near Me By Record Store Clerks

“Yeah, well, you’re either on drugs or fuckin’ crazy if you think Hate Your Friends is the best Lemonheads album.”

“You gotta hear this cover of ‘Strutter’ by the Donnas. It’s really respectful to Kiss’s original vision and the guitarist, she just nails Ace’s solo!”

“That’s so disrespectful, man. Helloween’s not hair metal. Hair metal is, like, Vince Neil, Mötley Crüe.”

“Before Wheels of Fire came out I dreamt that Cream would release a double album with a silver cover. And then they did! Can you believe that?”

“Hey, I know you’re into all that Touch & Go shit. You know, whatever, I just wanna know where to start with all that fucking shit.”

“Mudnohey, huh? How do you think they feel about you buying their record?”

Bricks Are Heavy? Pfft, you can have my copy. Let me go home and get it.”

“I know you’re only like ten or eleven but you have to learn what the real world is like. I can’t sell you this Van Halen cassette because you have most of the money. I need all of the money.”

“Oh great, that dog snuck in here and shit near the register again.”

“I’m gonna open this Nashville Pussy CD and put it on the shelf uncensored and I’m gonna blame you so I don’t get fired. Because I don’t like you.”

“This kid just stole a Master P CD and it’s like, I don’t mind except that Master P sucks. If you’re gonna steal something, steal something good.”

Q: How Is Work Coming Along On Your Next Book?

A: Oh, you mean my book about the development of punk rock in countries outside the U.S. & U.K. that will appear in the physical realm via the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group come October 2017? It’s going well, thank you. Obviously this is a massive and massively complex subject; I can’t imagine I’ll be sleeping much this Fall as I’m preparing the manuscript. Right now, though, it’s an utter joy to pour all my energy into absorbing music and history I’d probably be attempting to absorb in my free time anyway.

Most of the inspiration / motivation for this project stems from the fact that for years now a lot of my favorite bands have come from different corners of the globe. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to explore the roots of those bands and countless others across this island Earth. I’m learning so much, uncovering so much fascinating art, and taking in so many great stories. I can’t wait to patch it all together for you.

Sweden’s Fega Påhopp ‎(Cowardly Attacks), who only released one single, 1980’s “Pärlor Åt Svinen” (“Pearls Before Swine”). It’s great, though. Listen.

More details when they’re ready. As always, I thank you for your support and readership. I’m not sure what I am but I wouldn’t be it without you.

The Misfits Almost Settled Their Latest Lawsuit With A Reunion

The other Jersey boys: Glenn & Jerry, 1978. Photo by Ken Caiafa.

If you think the legal skull-banging between Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only ended in August of 2014 when Judge Gary Klausner threw out Danzig’s lawsuit against Only for breach of contract, think again. Danzig amended his complaint and the case over who owns the logos and trademarks pertaining to the Misfits drags on; opening briefs related to Danzig’s most recent appeal of a summary judgment Only won in April 2015 are being filed this month.

And yet, in an incredible shock, this entire affair was nearly settled over the winter holiday of 2014 by having Danzig rejoin the Misfits. That December, Danzig’s attorney suggested his client (who dissolved the group in 1983 after a six year run) and the defendant (who reformed the Misfits without Danzig in 1995) agree to a certain amount of reunion concerts, split the profits, split all future revenue from the disputed trademarks, and consider entering a new licensing agreement together with a major merchandiser. Only was receptive, so negotiations began for the first Misfits shows with Danzig in thirty years.

A proposed 60/40 reunion profit split in Danzig’s favor was leveled to 50/50. A ten date concert tour shrank down to six—but “at least one” reunion album was added. All other participating Misfits, no matter what their stature, were to be treated as “paid employees.” In response to Only’s demand for built-in protections to ensure Danzig would actually follow through with these gigs, Danzig’s attorney wrote, “I really don’t think this will be an issue as Danzig wants to do the reunion shows” (a $250k penalty was put in place should either party fail to complete the reunion obligations).

Initially Danzig envisioned the reunion happening in 2017 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Misfits. Only wanted it “as soon as practicable.” Only also wasn’t fond of billing these performances as “the Original Misfits” (though no alternate name was suggested). The real breakdown, however, was over the same trademark issues that instigated Danzig’s lawsuit in the first place. Confusion as well as contention remained over who owned what and who was entitled to how much of any given piece of Misfits imagery. Specifics failed to be clarified, certain copyrights could not be identified, documents proving anything conclusively could not be produced.

The two sides went back and forth until February 10, 2015, when Danzig’s attorney ended an e-mail by saying, “it appears we are going to try this case.”

Dovetailing with that was some rigamarole over depositions each party was to give that month. Danzig felt he wasn’t given enough time to prepare for his scheduled deposition so he bailed at the last minute; meanwhile, Only and his co-defendant, Misfits manager John Cafiero, refused to commit to any deposition date or agreement. On April 15, the defendants were awarded their summary judgment because Danzig had provided no evidence of the pre-existing business relations that Only is alleged to have sabotaged with his fraudulent ownership and representation of Misfits trademarks. Danzig also could not prove “lost economic advantage” from Only’s activities, nor could he outline “triable facts” concerning Only misrepresenting the famed Misfits skull logo (a.k.a. the Fiend Skull, a.k.a. the Crimson Ghost).

The information above is sourced from a forest of court documents that are available to anyone via Pacer.gov and probably a few other less bullshitty legal repositories (Bortz Law first posted excerpts from said documents on their blog in October 2015; for whatever reason, Bortz’s post didn’t reach fiends until very recently). The case is Glenn Danzig v. Gerald Caiafa et al in the California Central District and at this point it could be a book unto itself. There’s a great subplot that debates whether or not Danzig performing a Misfits song in any context constitutes a performance by the Misfits.

If I hadn’t seen it all in PDF form myself I wouldn’t believe it. The American judicial system almost returned to us the Original Recipe Misfits. Concerts are one thing, but I can’t stop thinking about the reunion album. What in the hell would that be like? What could they call it? Settlement A.D.?

Parties Agree Not To Disparage Each Other Publicly, that would be a good title. It’s my favorite of all the terms they reached for this proposed reunion.

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