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Beam Me Sideways: Unsolicited Pon Farr On Star Treks I-V

– of course this writing only exists because I recently discovered Netflix has the first five original Star Trek films up for streaming; who knows why they’re omitting the series finale, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (perhaps Netflix has strong feelings about Lieutenant Valeris replacing Lt. Saavik)

– everyone dogs Star Trek: The Motion Picture for crawling along like cold molasses, but the extra time helps ramp up the suspense as Captain Kirk and his Get Fresh Crew unravel the mystery of V’ger; the only bit that really drags is when Scotty first delivers Kirk to the Enterprise via shuttle craft—they drift around and marvel at this ship, mouths agog, like they haven’t already spent five years toolin’ around the cosmos in the thing

– everyone dogs Star Trek: The Motion Picture for the uniforms, those pukey blue and tan outfits that make our heroes look like models for Space Sears, but those unis are more flattering than the thick red tops they adopt for Star Trek II on; the only person who looks like he has any kind of mobility in the conservative crimson wrap is Bones, because physically that’s all he is

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is celebrated by many as the best of this series and while it’s a humdinger I’m not sure it’s my fave; there’s greater complexity to the events of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home has so much fun turning these characters on their ear, forcing them to bumble and con their way through our so-called modern world; that said, the apex of the entire series comes in Khan when Ricardo Montalbán’s titular villain hears Kirk has made Admiral and keeps repeating it to himself like he’s savoring a fine steak sauce

– the decades of controversy over Ricardo Montalbán’s chest in Khan means that even as the film sucks you in you’re occasionally distracted by his shiny exposed torso, wondering if it really is pure Montalbán or some fleshy piece of Hollywood magic; all that swaggering and no nip slip, makes you wonder

– Kirstie Alley is a tough act to follow but history would probably be kinder to Robin Curtis had she played Saavik without the perm

– there’s so much going on in Search For Spock, so much to consider and weigh, you don’t even notice John Larroquette is playing a Klingon, or at least I never did until I saw the credits this time around; what fine a career Larroquette’s had, from Texas Chain Saw Massacre to “Night Court” to Search For Spock to Beethoven’s 5th

Star Trek, perhaps because it commits so unabashedly to optimism in the face of total insanity, is the only franchise I can think of that could get away with The Voyage Home, a movie about zapping whales into the future so they can try to communicate with an angry space log (and get away with it they do, beautifully, masterfully); if Keanu Reeves made a movie like this he’d be laughed onto the surface of Mars

– Kirk thinks that 1986 marine biologist in Voyage Home is falling for him, but then he brings her to the 23rd Century and she’s like, “Whatever, I’m a strong independent woman getting on her own spaceship, I’m not even going to kiss you on the lips!” You go, girl, you put that walking cologne ad in his place

– hard to believe over the course of five movies we only see a Tribble once, and just for a few seconds (in a bar, no less, getting something to drink?)

– hard to believe over the course of five movies we never see Gorn (but we do see a cat lady with three tits, predating Total Recall’s tri-breaster)

– hard to believe in the fifth movie Uhura distracts those weird marauder dudes with a sexy fan dance (not gonna lie, I was into it)

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is pretty sloppy, almost on a made-for-tv level; major bummer since this is the one that wants to play with the high concept of literally meeting God; you want to lay blame with rookie director William Shatner, but apparently his editor refused to take notes; to this day, Shat hasn’t been able to convince Paramount to release a director’s cut (c’mon, Paramount, think about the money this guy’s raked in for you screaming at Klingons and beaming up whales)

– if nothing else, Final Frontier will convince you William Shatner knows how to free climb a mountain and that Uhura wants to break off a piece of Scotty (there’s a sex scene our planet deserves)

– rumor has it Walter Koenig wrote a draft for either Star Trek V or VI where everyone on the Enterprise fails their military physical except for Spock and through some bizarre chain of events everyone dies except for Spock and McCoy; not sure who rejected this idea but they need to be jailed

– according to Shatner, on his death bed in 1999 DeForest Kelley pleaded with him, “Let’s do just one more Star Trek! I miss making those movies!”; didn’t think anything from this realm could tug at my heart harder than (SPOILER ALERT) Spock’s death and resurrection, but here we are

– Sulu does absolutely no shirtless fencing in these movies; what a crock

Can We Unearth The Successful Defiance Of The Crimson Skull?

We all know The Crimson Ghost, the 1940s serial from whence the Misfits took their mascot, but that wasn’t Hollywood’s first crimson-themed ghoul picture. Above is a still from 1922’s The Crimson Skull, produced by Norman Studios (a pioneering hub in Jacksonville, Florida that made films starring black casts for black audiences). When cattle rustlers invade his ranch, a cowhand tries to run them out by becoming a skeleton-suited avenger.

The Crimson Skull is currently lost to history. Until it’s uncovered, we won’t know if critics at the time were accurate in decrying the movie’s shocking depictions of gunplay, robbery, and (as one Pennsylvania censor put it) “successful defiance of authorities throughout.”

The Top Tunes Of Guns N’ Roses

According to me, some guy.

“Night Train”

Only the grit-streaked bark of ’87 Axl could sell lyrical bits like “space brain” and “west coast struttin'” and “rattlesnake suitcase.” This song boogies like a career drunk taking his final sobriety test. Accurately conveys whatever we believe about the “the rock n’ roll lifestyle.” Also, there’s cowbell.

“Rocket Queen”

Frosty nihilism thaws into an earnest ballad. The nakedly emotive second half is just Wagnerian enough to retain the dark thrust of the first. Features a slide guitar break so good it distracts you from competing sex noises. Who needs the Meatloafery of “November Rain” when “Rocket Queen?” exists?

“It’s So Easy”

Best exemplifies the Guns N’ Roses mission statement of “we are Aerosmith by way of the Dead Boys.” Also includes the more literal mantra: “come with me, don’t ask me where ’cause I don’t know.” If we’re to believe Appetite For Destruction killed hair metal this was the fatal stab.

“Welcome To The Jungle”

The band’s star turn, wherein they drag sugary pop harmony through a greasy, rust-laden junkyard. Even the dubious moves work. “Jungle” is the “Search & Destroy” of whatever genre GNR were claiming. They sort of invented their own here. Chainsaw glam? Dive bar punk?

“Civil War”

The best “message” song in the Guns catalog. Too bad civil war is exactly what tore this band apart (which makes Slash’s Snakepit the Reconstruction Era). Too bad this illustrative and anthemic display is forever in the shadows of the Use Your Illusion video trilogy MTV rammed down our dry throats.

“Don’t Cry”

Sincerity cloaked in gloom. Walks right up to the border of overblown ballad and flips the bird. It’s not hard to imagine Nirvana performing this one, which is why it managed to slip through the apex of grunge unscathed. Slash’s slow-burn solo is one of his absolute best.

“You Could Be Mine”

Keeps you on the edge of your seat for six goddamn minutes. The most cinematic of GNR rockers; no wonder it ended up in Terminator 2. Closes with that fantastic breathless Axl rant, which includes one of my favorite non sequiturs—“don’t forget to call my lawyer with ridiculous demands!”

“Right Next Door To Hell”

If a bar fight were a song…you can almost feel the pool chalk being shoved up your nose. The bass line sounds how I imagine cocaine tastes. So full of piss, vinegar, and acid it’s hard to believe they didn’t bang it out they night the band formed. Maybe they did?

“Garden Of Eden”

Could be a parody of the Appetite aesthetic, could be a pure adrenalin shot. Either way, I’ll take it every time, if just to burn off paranoia/nervous energy. The sound effects almost turn the whole thing into a “Far Side” cartoon. That’s not a complaint.


More an experiment than a song, like a free form poem with chunks of heavy metal improv (and, of course, on-the-nose hospital reenactments). Maybe that makes “Coma” the precursor to the Lou Reed/Metallica album. I’m not even sure it works, but man do they commit. Boredom never arrives.

The Dingus In Other Dimensions

– a couple weeks ago I wrote this story for Orlando Weekly about a funky old mansion in the area; can’t tell you if it’s haunted but I know for sure it does not have air conditioning or a helipad (or a Starbucks)

– last week I was a guest on the the inaugural ep of “Newbridge Nights,” an unsanctioned wrap-up program for Tom Scharpling’s “Best Show”; believe it or not I spend most of my time talking about Glenn Danzig and his music

On The Subject Of Koro

When it comes to anti-evangelist hardcore punk songs of the 1980s, “700 Club” by Koro would break my top five, possibly my top three. The 50 second blast opens the band’s 1983 self-titled E.P, winding up a playful chant of “No God!” into ruthless fury mocking Pat Robertson and his dedicated flock.

“Gonna pray for a Happy Meal
I won’t cheat, I won’t steal
Thank you, Pat! Thank you, Pat!”

“Amen, amen, we sing unto these hills
Suburban t.v. crazies strung out on diet pills
That’s you, Pat! That’s you, Pat!”

This E.P. sailed into my life years ago and proved satisfying enough that I never investigated anything else related to Koro (whose name is taken from an Asia-specific syndrome wherein people begin to believe their genitals will retract into their bodies and disappear). Boredom got to me last week and I began Googling. Turns out some mystery surrounds this Knoxville collective.

Word on these Internet streets is Koro sped up the tracks on Koro so they could appear to out-thrash their contemporaries. Individual band members have long dodged direct questions and the best evidence is heard on the interestingly titled Speed Kills, a demo collection released in ’06 by Sorry State Records. That album’s version of “700 Club” (a.k.a. “No God”) sure sounds a few paces behind what appears on the E.P.

Of course, the tune is still plenty fast in the back end. I wouldn’t be surprised we’re just hearing the difference between Koro recording something they’d only been playing for a few days verses Koro recording something they’d been playing for a few months. Or maybe they sped up the tape.

You never know. Plastic Bertrand insisted for decades he sang “Ça Plane Pour Moi”; then we found out he didn’t sing note one of it (or anything else on his first four albums). Anything is possible.

None of this prevents me from strongly recommending a purchase of (the appropriately speeded?) Speed Kills. The murky demo quality, the murky allegations—neither hinder Koro’s actual musical dynamics. Their material takes inventive turns and sounds to be fueled by authentic dissatisfaction.

Plus, who wouldn’t want a record that has the Sunsphere on the cover? Disinterest in the Sunsphere is suspect, always.

Too Much Misfits Business

Misfits news lying on a table of filth, Misfits news to which I’ve not yet replied.

Although an exact reason for his departure was not given when Dez Cadena left the current incarnation of the Misfits back in June, it turns out the guitarist is battling throat cancer. You may contribute to the “Help Dez Beat Cancer’s Ass” GoFundMe page here. Bassist and vocalist Jerry Only’s adult son Jerry Junior has been christened as Dez’s replacement; Jr.’s crazy if he doesn’t adopt the stage name Jerry Also (first suggested by Misfits Central message boarder “Mega Man”). In September the Misfits will embark on a U.S. tour wherein, at each stop, they will perform Static Age in its entirety. Why not? Gotta do something to commemorate the album’s 37th anniversary.

By the way, Dez Cadena played with the Misfits for fourteen years (2001-2015), approximately four times longer than his legendary stint in Black Flag. Does that mean he’ll go into the Punk Rock Hall of Fame with corpse paint? Can you even imagine a Punk Rock Hall of Fame? That’s what they should do with that abandoned Burger King on Governors Island in New York. Refurbish it as a shrine to everything Lou Reed wrought.

In July, Jerry Only told Metal Hammer he is in the midst of writing a book about his life. Now I don’t feel so bad about Jer never responding to any of my invitations to lend his voice to This Music Leaves Stains. Jerry’s book will include “a lot of the tragedies,” he says. You’re expecting me to make a Devil’s Rain joke here but I refuse to give you the satisfaction.

On the other side of the tomb: this Friday, Danzig (the band) will release single the first from their long-awaited covers EP Skeletons. Unfortunately, said single, a rousing rendition of the Devil’s Angels theme backed with a version of the Nightriders’ “Satan,” is confined to the European market via a limited edition vinyl run of 500 copies from AFM Records. If there’s a plan for digital release it remains secret for now. There is also no street date in place for the entirety of Skeletons, which shall find Danzig barreling through hits made famous by Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, and ZZ Top. Guys, we wanna buy your stuff. Why make it so challenging? Is that how Lucifer dictates it in the blood oath? I’d have your lawyer renegotiate that parchment.

Meanwhile, Danzig (the man) recently filmed a guest shot for the Peabody Award-winning comedy show “Portlandia.” Details are scarce, but somehow Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen convinced our Hellhound to unbutton his shirt and hit the beach. A vaguely iconic photo was produced, if only because it suggests Glenn has reached a new level of self-comfort.

Coincidentally, this pic popped up the same day “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” co-creator Dave Willis appeared on Tom Scharpling’s “The Best Show” to talk about the “Aqua Teen” series finale…and, at the behest of Scharpling, Danzig. Glenn voiced an animated version of himself on Willis’s cult cartoon in 2002 and famously caused a rigamarole before he could even step in the recording booth. Given final say on his two dimensional likeness, Danzig kept rejecting what the animators drew for not having the correct musculature.

“I’m way more cut than that,” was the Danzig money quote relayed from Willis to “Best Show” listeners. In order to circumvent any squabbling about the singer’s height (or lack thereof), “Aqua Teen” simply made him six feet tall from the start. Strategic move.

Now, on “Portlandia,” Danzig has no qualms about his physical definition (or lack thereof) and even told one news outlet he “had a blast.” Thirteen years can sure change a man. Who knows, maybe the people at “Portlandia” are just that much more charming and/or convincing.

And what of Joey Image? Over the Summer the percussionist who plays on the original storied “Horror Business” recorded a new version of that song—plus “Teenagers From Mars” and a couple originals—with Orlando-based punks Awesome & The Asskickers for their free release AAK. Download it here. Sounds like Joey can still rip it the hell up. Adrenalin O.D. drummer Dave Scott provides backup vox on the Misfits tracks (as well as drums on two A.O.D. revivals: “Nice Song” and “White Hassle”).

Speaking of the post-Static Age pre-Walk Among Us Misfits, Bobby Steele’s band the Undead continue to live up to their name: the group has scheduled an appearance at this year’s Chiller Theater convention in Parsippany, New Jersey. October 23-25 with a special performance on the 24th. For more info creep over to their website, Also appearing at Chiller 2015: Julie Newmar, Burt Ward, Adam West, and Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas!

Having authored a book about the Misfits you’d think I’d write about them here with more regularity. What stops me is concern over becoming trapped as “the Misfits guy” and also a perception that fiend-dom is shrinking as time goes on. Then I see viral stuff like the photo above, a Misfits t-shirt at Wal-Mart, coupled with endless “thumbs down” emojis from disillusioned ghouls of all stripes, and I realize the committed may actually be growing. So I rekindle my own flame. Once again, bonfire burnin’ bright.

Until the next batch of macabre happenings, consider this: the ex-Misfit Doyle is, as of last year, a vegan. No longer is the man who played on “Brain Eaters” a brain eater. Do they make soy brains? If so they must taste terrible.

La Punk Rock De Aliaj Landoj

Punk rock may have started in the U.K. and the U.S. but it certainly didn’t stay there. The genre flew around the globe like a contagion, touching off movements in nearly every market imaginable (Japan, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Chile—you name it). Currently I’m in the beginning stages of a book that will immerse you in these foreign scenes, one that will examine punk’s development in other socio-economic climates and describe the art of hard-charging performers from all over Earth who are just as crucial as your Ramones, your Sex Pistols, your Iggy Pop.

Yes, this volume has a working title. No, I will not tell you what it is. No, it is not the same as the title of this entry (which, fyi, is how you say “the punk rock of other lands” in the beautiful language of Esperanto).

I’m consumed with this project in a way I’ve not experienced since I began work on This Music Leaves Stains in 2010. So it’s good that other long term plans unraveled (aside from Star Wars Ruined My Life, which I’m still gonna drop like ewok dung come December). The devotion to the subject matter wasn’t there. The world didn’t need a book about InnerSpace anyway.

No publisher for this one yet but I’m on the hunt.

Belgium’s X-Pulsion perform “Castration/Schmucks” during an appearance on their region’s public broadcasting showcase “Follies”; watch it here.

Thank you all for even the slightest drips of support. I am forever in debt.


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