It’s times like this — spotting a children’s book entitled Mommy, Why Is Your Hair Pink? — that I almost regret (but not really) never having kids, because this book was made for pink-haired ladies like me! The book’s author is Shannon Bahake Happe with illustrations by Ingrid Ochoa. Find out more about Shannon, and buy the book, at This Link!
In September of 1970 the band called Alice Cooper had been living out of their suitcases for a year; playing gigs across the country nonstop since leaving California in 1969. Choosing to put down roots in just outside of Detroit, in the center of the Midwest rust belt, proved to be one of the best decisions the band ever made, both creatively and financially. With two commercially unsuccessful albums behind them, Michael Bruce, Glen Buxton, Vince Furnier (aka Alice Cooper), Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith were at the threshold of turning their music into Gold and Platinum for the first time. In the dawn of a decade bookended by The Beatles and Punk Rock, Alice Cooper exploded as a revolutionary force in theatrical American Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Alice Cooper in the 1970s: Decades, a new book by UK-based author Chris Sutton explores the story of Alice Cooper from their early years as band of five guys through to the end of the decade, when Alice launched a solo career after the band dissolved.
It seems like a lifetime ago that I was writing a monthly column (for the now long-defunct Requestmagazine) called Doctor Feelgood: A Remedy for the Rocks In Your Head, in which I discussed the continuing careers of various beloved ’80s Hair Metal Bands. During those years, I became friendly with a lot of musicians, including Rikki Rockett, drummer for the band Poison. It was this connection, I believe, that prompted an industry friend, Christopher Long, to ask if I would contribute the foreword to a tell-all book he was writing about the band, based on his experiences touring with them as a tech to bassist Bobby Dall. Coincidentally, a story I had just heard from another musician friend that had something to do with the band’s road cases provided me with unique creative inspiration to write that introduction, and Chris just flipped out when he read it, so it all worked out. You can read a little preview I wrote on A Shot of Poison when it was first published in 2010right here.
Chris emailed me recently to let me know A Shot of Poison is being re-published in an updated version for its 10th Anniversary, and that my foreword would remain a part of the book, which is nice to hear. The new ‘Director’s Cut‘ edition dropped yesterday and is surely worth picking up for anyone who would love to get the dirt on a rock band as polarizing as Poison. I asked Chris if he would like to give me a quote on why he decided to update the story and here’s what he said:
“Since I was a kid, I’ve craved insider rock and roll books — a passion first fueled by Bob Greene’s Billion Dollar Baby — the riveting bestseller that recounted Greene’s unique first-hand experiences while touring with the Alice Cooper Band in 1973. A Shot of Poison came as a result of my own rather eye-opening personal experiences while touring with the band Poison in the early 2000s. Recently, I was inspired by author Anna-Marie O’Brien‘s dazzling debut memoir, Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian. A music industry insider, also with an amazing personal story, O’Brien ‘showed’ me that, while the original 2010 version of A Shot of Poison offered plenty of underbelly insights, I may have missed the bigger ‘story factor.’
In short order, I had a conversation with my publisher and it was decided that the 10th Anniversary was a perfect time to revisit the book — give it a good polishing and expand the narrative to include my array of Poison-related experiences that have played out since the release of the first edition. I think it’s a pretty solid reboot!”
A Shot of Poison: The Directors Cut is now available at Amazon or directly from CG Publishing (for a few bucks less) at This Link.
Scene From 1944 Film National Velvet Starring Elizabeth Taylor
Horses have long been a source of inspiration for writers. While they are often viewed as books for younger readers, the truth is that some of the finest equine stories are recommended for people of any age.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
This is probably the most famous book about horses ever written. You might think that it is a children’s tale because of the animated film versions it has inspired. Yet, Black Beauty is a serious tale about the need to better look-after animals. The story is told by the horse itself. We learn that this noble animal has a variety of owners over the years, with some of them being kind to him and others treating him badly. He meets a variety of interesting characters and lives through some tense moments.
Black Beauty was the author’s only published book and it was a massive success. Black Beauty helped the public to gain a better understanding of animal welfare and possibly led to some of the legal changes that were introduced now long afterwards.
National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
You probably know of this book mainly because of the wonderful 1944 movie that featured a young Elizabeth Taylor alongside Mickey Rooney. Velvet Brown is a 12-year old girl who dreams of riding a horse in a race. She wins a horse in a raffle and learns how to ride it. At the end, Velvet wins the Grand National Steeplechase on her beloved horse. The story is unbelievable, but the book is slightly less dramatic than the movie. It is definitely worth reading regardless of whether or not you have ever seen the famous film version.
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
This is one of the famed author’s earliest books. It follows the life of Jody, a boy who grows up surrounded by horses on a Californian ranch. While he loves being around horses, Jody also lives through a number of dramatic moments with them that teach him valuable life lessons. The Red Pony was first published by magazines in 4 different chapters, all between 1933 and 1936. All of the stories were then gathered together in a single book that was published in 1937.
Jody is the main protagonist, rather than a horse. However, many of the book’s best stories involve horses and their impact on the people around them.
Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley
This book takes a close look at the world of competitive horse racing. It is set in California and provides a fascinating insight into what goes on behind-the-scenes at big race meetings. A rich variety of characters – both human and equine – help to make this an interesting read from start to finish. The action takes place over the course of a couple of years and feels sort of like a glamorous soap opera in a type of setting we don’t normally get to see.
Horse racing fans will be pleased to find out some useful information on the sport and how it works. Even if you have never looked for the latest Kentucky Derby odds on horses, there is a lot to like about Horse Heaven, though.
The Kellys and the O’Kellys by Anthony Trollope
In The Kellys and the O’Kellys, we get to see behind-the-scenes of the Irish horse racing business. Since it was originally published in 1848, it is also a historical look at the sport and the country in those times. The main characters are called Martin Kelly, and Frank O’Kelly. While much of the plot centers on their money and love lives, the horse racing element helps to bring it to life. A well-worked hunting scene also adds to the excitement.
These are all terrific examples of books that feature horses, but there are plenty of others for you to explore, too.
A few weeks ago, we went over to The Fashion Institute of Technology to check out the 2017 MFA in Illustration Visual Thesis Exhibition, which was entitled 13 Stories. It is while visiting the exhibit that I discovered a cool Pink Thing created by FIT student and MFA candidate Necdet Yilmaz, who is a native of Turkey. Necdet’s visual thesis, Happy Tank, is a story about a little machine built for war that doesn’t want to fight. Happy Tank must be sent to war, but refuses to fire at a large building where a child is seen crying. For disobeying the order, Happy Tank is decommissioned and melted down. The story concludes with Happy Tank being recycled and used to construct a playground years after the war is over.
Screen Shots from Happy Tank Animated Film (Above and Below)
Necdet explains that this project “is related to my written thesis, War Themed Childrn’s Books and Propaganda. In wars, children are often affected and exploited as a propaganda tool. However, my project is in opposition to what I researched in my thesis. Personally, I am inspired to create these piece because of my background. My home country, Turkey, is located near the Middle East where there is constant war. This instability affects people in the region, like myself, economically, socially and psychologically.
“This body of work is executed in three different mediums: animation, print in the form of a children’s book and toy design. Using pdf software and animation for the first time while I was creating this work was an exciting challenge for me. I learned a lot about myself while discovering the intricacies of unfamiliar technologies. In particular, especially, when I created the animation I learned how designing three-dimensional characters, objects and environments, using different camera angles, lighting and sound in combination enhanced my creative skill.”
Given our political climate today, Happy Tank could be considered more relevant now than ever. You can see more projects by Necdet at his website, located at This Link.
Photographed in the Museum at FIT, Located on Seventh Avenue at 27th Street, as Part of the 13 Stories Exhibit, which is now Closed.
Full Disclosure: If you are an avid fan of Worleygig.com, you are aware that Geoffrey Dicker is my BFF/Partner In Crime, and that we have experienced many, many crazyfun adventures together; most of which are documented with photographic evidence right on this very blog! So, you already know that Geoffrey is one rad dude whose devil-may-care attitude carries over into every facet of his ass-kick in his life. Good for him, I say! Good for everybody!
With that introduction, it is my pleasure to announce the publication of Journal of Grievances, Geoffrey’s latest book and first novel! Warning: this book is recommended for immature audiences only, as it is riddled with ridiculous amounts of adult language and thoroughly twisted situations. Journal of Grievances is a ‘raw and uncensored’ look into the controversial ups and downs (both in and out of the bedroom) of a struggling, single gay male writer living in New York City!
Told through daily journal entries in a year-long approach to turning The Big Four-Oh, the Journal’s protagonist spills his guts with hilarious observations as he waxes philosophically: analyzing his raunchy sex life, drug addictions, debauched relationships, life encounters, and his frustrations with society. With razor-sharp prosaic hooks and brutal honesty, our narrator navigates through relationship drama and job-loss as he struggles to find his place in the world. Or maybe not.
Geoffrey suggests that if you are easily offended by profanity or graphic depictions of gay sex, please do not buy this book. Alternately, he advises the reader to flip to any page and promises that within 2 sentences, he or she will be laughing. “I’d like to think of this book as a gay loner version of Sex and the City meets Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Catcher in the Rye — in other words, it’s completely fucked up!” Journal of Grievances is an unconventional coming-of-age story with no filters and absolutely zero fucks given! The supporting characters in the story remain nameless, because what matters is how their words and actions affect our anti-hero. “Despite the story containing generous helpings of extreme gay sex,” Dicker continues, “I think the anyone – straight or gay – will be able to relate to the situations and moral dilemmas in which the main character often finds himself.”
“I’ve read so many books that never teach me anything new, make me think differently, or, at the very least, make me smile, Dicker continues. Journal of Grievances will bring each of these experiences to the reader, hopefully repeatedly. There are 11 months of daily journal entries, and one month’s entries made up of random ideas; including a short story told almost exclusively via use of the F-word.” Ant any rate, he promises, “You’ll never be the same again, after reading Journal of Grievances!”
Journal of Grievances is Released Today, September 20th, 2016, and is Available to Purchase From Amazon at This Link!
Way, way back, when I used to interview Famous People for a (meager) living, I acquired a valued reputation as a bit of a Rock Star Whisperer for my ability to get musicians to open up and talk about anything — even subjects or revelations that they had never made before to another journalist. This happened all the time. And while I take full credit for honing this skill through interviews with members of bands like Motley Crue, Duran Duran, Alice Cooper, The Sex Pistols and Led Zeppelin, I did have a couple of valuable mentors in fellow rock journalist friends who showed me the ropes when I was just an egg, and who taught me to me fearless. One of those friends was veteran rock journalist Vincent “Vinny” Cecolini, a Metal God in his own right, whom I have been friends with for twenty years. Vinny is the bomb.
Vinny has just published his first book of his collected interviews with some of the biggest names in metal and extreme rock, which is called Shootin’ the Sh*t — Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti- Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods. Unlike typical collections of rock star interviews, Vinny’s first eBook is a compendium of conversations with artists that were conducted during pivotal moments in each of their careers. Plans for pop culture domination; The truths behind long-debated rock ‘n’ roll legends; the inspirations for — and true meanings of — classic song lyrics; the decisions for leaving and returning to major bands; the struggles with such un-rock ‘n’ roll experiences as fatherhood and maturity: these are just a few of the revelations contained within the pages of Shooting the Sh*t Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods. Each conversation focuses on the artist and not the writer. This is a must read book!
“Fans want to read the artist’s words,” Vinny explains. “They want to read exact, contextual quotes. They don’t care about a journalist’s musings and meanderings. If they did, they would immediately flip over to a magazine’s reviews or editorial section.” As the title suggests, the author never treats his artist chats as paint-by-numbers question and answer sessions, but as friendly, naturally flowing conversations.
“Straight-forward interviews are the kiss of death,” Vinny continues. “When promoting something new, most artists are subjected to a cattle call of interviews. And nothing will bore an artist quicker than hearing the same sterile questions over and over again; nothing will frustrate or turn them off quicker than watching a ‘hack’ journalist stammering as he or she fumbles with a list of questions.
“If a journalist lets the conversation flow naturally, it may take him or her in a different direction than intended, but that is fine. Even if given an agenda by a publication (to talk about a new album, DVD or tour), eventually, the conversation will find its way back to topic.” This practice has resulted in a number of amazing chats with artists such as Neil Young, Meat Loaf, Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and the late, great Ronnie James Dio. Metal!
During his 25-year career, Vinny’s work has appeared in dozens of publications including Hit Parader, Metal Maniacs and Bikini. He was also the head writer for cable network VH1 Classic during the short window when that station actually played music videos. Like many veteran journalists, Vinny accumulated conversations that, for a variety of reasons, had never been published. Shooting the Sh*tis Vinny’s opportunity to help these amazing and often highly candid conversations a new audience. The idea was born as the author lamented over an unpublished chat with a pre-American Nightmare Marilyn Manson.
Shooting the Sh*t Volume One: Conversations with Rock Anti-Heroes, Icons & Metal Gods is available now an e-book on Kindle now and will be available on other formats this week! Get it on Amazon right now atThis Link!