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Thursday, July 24, 2008


Last night, we went to see "Journey to the Center of the Earth"... in glorious 3-D. The rest of the multiplex was sold out for "The Dark Knight" (which might be interesting) but we were in the mood for some super-special spectacular 3-D effects.

I've always had an affection for 3-D effects -- the cheesier the better. I still have some old 3-D comic books. Before I moved to NYC I used to come all the way from CT for screenings of the 1970s "Andy Warhol" flicks (his "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" films, directed by Paul Morrissey, were both released to theaters in 3-D versions, and i can still see a cheap special effects bat flying in front of the seat in front of me). I remember going to Joey Ramone's place for a fun party he threw in the early 1980s when Channel 11 was showing 1950s flicks in 3-D (something like "Bwana Devil" or "The Creature From the Black Lagoon"). And my old buddy Ken Weiner used to produce some amazing 3-D "ugly" artwork back in the 1980s.

The best part of the night was probably the Coming Attractions for a different 3-D movie -- some kidflick named "Flybugs to the Moon" or something. This is the first animated film made especially for 3-D effects, was produced in Europe, and features Buzz Aldrin and Tim Curry, along with some other interesting voices. If you can judge anything from the trailer it will have the greatest 3-D effects you've ever seen in one movie experience. Keep an eye out for it. Apparently the story sucks, but... Who cares, if it's good 3-D? 


As far as "Journey to the Center of the Earth" goes, well, seeing it was big fun since the first movie I ever saw in a theater was the original 1959 version. Back then, as a first-grade kid, I was amazed by the lizards with giant sail-fins. I was convinced that Wow! These were real dinosaurs! 

Then I saw it again a few weeks ago. Even though it's 99% pure cheese, it still holds up as one of the better sci-fi/action-adventure films of the 1950s (along with "War of the Worlds" and "This Island Earth"). The first "Journey" stars James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl (hubba hubba!) and Gertrude the Duck (who steals the show, IMHO). It has a decent story with an interesting bad guy, a "liberated" woman and... The Great James Mason! So I wanted to see how this version compares with the lovable original. 

This new 3-D spectacle, which stars Brendan Fraser (who is always fun in a movie like this because he's good at playing a big, dumb, goofy guy), is not a remake. It's more like a sequel. The bad news is there's not much of a plot, the acting is average, the actors spend way too much time screaming at the top of their lungs and almost nothing in the film makes logical sense or is in any way believable. But who cares about stuff like that if it's good 3-D??? 

The good news is that there are a lot of cool special effects, and the new digital 3-D technology makes it more realistic and more comfortable to view than those old red/blue glasses. There's rain, magnetic rocks, smoke, a flock of birds, and a yo-yo. There's also a big, stupid T-rex dinosaur, lots of ugly Angler fish, a bunch of plesiosaurs and that irritating Seth Meyers guy from Saturday Night Live. In short, the film contains enough 3-D eye candy to hold your interest.

My favorite part of the film might have been when I threatened two obnoxious jerks. They entered the film 20 minutes into the story, then chose to sit down directly in front of us -- despite the fact that there were empty seats all around. I was really pissed off, but decided to be cool. We moved to the other side of the aisle, where we were all alone. So, if that wasn't bad enough, after chasing us out of our seats these two freakin' jerks started talking to each other non-stop throughout the movie. After one of us yelled at them to shut the fuck up and they didn't seem to get the message? I walked over and scared the shit out of them. 

"You guys chose to sit down RIGHT in front of us, when you had the WHOLE THEATER to sit in, and NOW you're TALKING DURING THE MOVIE!!! You'd better SHUT THE FUCK UP or else I will have you THROWN OUT of this FUCKING movie theater. And I mean it! SO SHADDUP!!!"

I think they were on acid or something and I like to think that I gave them a bad trip... Haw haw haw!!! Really, people who disrupt movie experiences are among the lowest forms of life. 

Anyhow I recommend the flick for fans of 3-D effects. It's not nearly as good as "Iron Man" or "Hellboy 2" but it was entertaining. 

7:28 pm est

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I've been sick! So I haven't been able to update this thing for a while. I'll try to post more over the next few days, meanwhile I received some cool emails about the blog:


Re: Joey Ramone and Video Games

Yeah, so I just discovered your blog. I paticularly enjoyed the one about the video games. It reminded me of the time I met the Ramones. Now, this is something you would take for granted, but for me, growing up here in North Carolina, it was a pretty cool thing. I think I was 18 or 19. I knew a guy who worked at the club they were playing and he said if I came down and helped load in, I could stay and watch the show for free. So I got to see them soundcheck (which was comical) and argue and basically be pretty much like what I've since read about in books.

Anyway, Joey goes slinking back to the game room in the rear of the club. I notice he doesn't play anything, he just stood in front of one of the machines and stares at it for like, ten minutes. Finally he comes slinking back out, and sorta paces back and forth the length of the bar a few times. Finally he slinks over to me and shyly asks if I have any quarters.

I mean, Joey Ramone, asking me if I wanna play video games, how cool is this? I fumble through my pockets, but alas - no quarters.

So I didn't get to play video games with Joey.

Anyway, I enjoy the blog. Take care.

--Russ Ward


Re: “Pioneers of Punk”

I am in one of those bands and had no say in what the show was called.

I agree w what u say and am rather embarrased that the show has a name at all.



Doctors' Opinions of Universal Health Care

When a panel of doctors was asked their opinion on the proposed Universal Health Care program, here's what they had to say: The Allergists voted to scratch it, and the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.

 The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve, and the Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception.

 The Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted; the Pathologists yelled, 'Over my dead body!', while the Pediatricians said, 'Oh, Grow up!'

 The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, the Radiologists could see right through it, and the Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.

 The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, 'This puts a whole new face on the matter.'

 The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water.

 The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.

 In the end, the Proctologists left the decision up to some asshole in the Administration.

--Jack Abbott


3:05 pm est

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I've been really busy, lots of stuff is happening (mostly good). I'll post the details later. Meanwhile, sorry for being out of touch!

Anyhow, if you're looking for me on Friday? I'll be at this show:  


I am going to this show at the South Street Seaport later today. I love The Shangri-Las, and enjoyed Mary Weiss' performance at the recent Joey Ramone Birthday Bash in May. 

But to me, Mary Weiss is an extra added attraction to her opening act: The Lost Crusaders. They are a band after my own heart. Michael Chandler from The Raunch Hands heads it up (Raunch Hands being one of my favorite 1980s bands). Jon Spencer is also a part of the band! And then there's Brian Hurd, of the Electric Shadows. (Editorial integrity time: Brian interviewed me for Humanbeing Lawnmower, a fanzine he contributes to.) To me, The Lost Crusaders are one of those bands that represent the true legacy of NYC rock 'n' roll.

Okay, here's my rant for the month:

I watched parts of the recent MLB All-Star game the other night, and saw some crappy band I never heard of (who are so lame that I can't find one single reference to them on the Internet to even find out who they were--so exactly why did MLB bother to showcase these losers?) performed in the pre-game show. This was so bad, so dumb...

Many years ago, I was a big baseball fan, so the idea that some LA (or whoever) showbiz "punk pop" band performed on the sacred turf of Yankee Stadium for the last All-Star game ever held there because the Stadium is closing down in a few months? When they could have hired a NYC legend?

This is the worst sacrilege I could ever conceive.

MLB could have had The Dictators (true NY Yankee fans who maybe could have performed "Blitzkrieg Bop" in honor of the Ramones), The Lost Crusaders (true New Yorkers), Blondie (maybe NYC's most famous band, who have been touring the area), the Talking Heads (or the Tom Tom Club) maybe even some mainstream guy like Little Steven or somebody.

Instead? They had some no-name losers perform.

No wonder I lost interest in baseball a long time ago. 


9:24 pm est

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Okay, lots of stuff is happening lately, so I've been offline most of the time. I'll try to catch up. In the meantime, I went to see Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, yesterday. 




I really enjoyed it, I was entertained almost the entire time. (Ironically, the only time I wasn't was when Barry Manilow music was playing. Ironically, this was when most movie reviewers seemed to enjoy the film the most.)  

I accidentally saw the first Hellboy when a friend and I (Patricia Ragan, a friend from the Punk mag/Stop! days), went to see Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Part 2. We were both so disappointed that we decided to see another film in the multiplex so we snuck into Hellboy. As luck would have it, the film was just beginning, and we both enjoyed it 100X more than Kill Bill Part 2. Afterwards we were both amazed that film reviewers ignored the visual amazement evident in Hellboy, but praised the boring, long-winded Kill Bill Part 2. I thought, and still think, that Hellboy is the best film adaptation of comic book material. It has the same fun attitude I had when I read comic books as a kid. I figured "This guy's gotta be good!" and went to see Pan's Labyrinth shortly after it opened. Along with everyone else who saw it I was amazed.  

But amazement doesn't begin to describe my feelings after reading the lukewarm reviews Hellboy 2 has received so far. Really, this is a great "comic book" film (definitely better than the Spiderman and Batman flicks) but all I have seen so far are two-and-a-half star reviews. In fact, the only better "comic book" films might be Iron Man (which i think might be the best ever), and the original Hellboy. The worst thing I'd have to say about Hellboy 2 is that it's more like a Star Wars or Lord of the Rings film than a Hellboy, but I'd have to say it's better than any of the recent Stars Wars (which is not saying much) and much more entertaining than the Lord of the Rings crap.

Then again, the reviewers all swooned when Hellboy 2 played Barry Manilow music. So it's obvious to me that we need new people to review action/adventure flicks, and the first rule should be that Barry Manilow music fans are banned forever from reviewing flicks like Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.  

11:10 pm est

Monday, July 7, 2008



I am so pissed off at myself. I missed the Peelander-Z show at the Knitting Factory last night!  Peelander-Z is my favorite live act of the decade! They put on the best live show you will ever see in your lifetime. Honest. If there is one piece of advice I can give you: If you want to be entertained by something good, punk rock, and fun, go see P-Z. I wrote about them in PUNK #19, but apparently my article had little or no effect on our current punk culture. 

Here's  a link to P-Blue's sign-off:

Peelander-Z Blue Bye Bye 

I've seen Peelander-Z many times, and they always put on a great show. The fact that a great band like this is continually ignored by the NYC media whores at the Village Voice and other media outlets gets me all riled up. It also reminds me that, back in the 1970s, the same media whores ignored great bands like Blondie, the Ramones, Suicide and many others for their own (stupid) agenda.

Well, this is a whole different rap that I need to explain at a better time. Thing is, I read a "Letter" to the Village Voice the other day where the letter writer complained that the band who received a (probably positive) review could not understand what the fuck the VV writer was trying to say.

This is, sadly, the sorry state of so-called "rock journalism." There is some kind of "hipster language" that only rock critics can understand, which separates them from normal people like you and me. However, it enables them to talk with each other. Well, good for them, but bad for us. And especially bad for any rock bands that try to make it in this town. Apparently you have to pass the test of these "super-literate losers" who know nothing about RNR but know too much about writing. 


Despite all odds, Peelander-Z have become a very successful, touring, punk rock band. You've never read about them in the Village Voice, or the New York Press, right? So obviously, they've becom successful through being a great, "grassroots" punk band--touring an d kicking ass.

So wherever you are, keep an eye out for them. I honestly put them up there with Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix and Thor as far as great theatrical rock bands.

And if you never saw Thor live?


Shame on you.

9:12 pm est

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Here are some emails I've received from my blog. (For whatever reasons, my host doesn’t allow surfers to post their own blog comments, which is fine by me since our associate, the PUNK Magazine Website message board, was overtaken by trolls and has yet to recover.) Since it's only been online for about a month, I am grateful for all the responses. Here’s a nice message from an old friend, Nacho Fiol, editor of Suburbio magazine (the first guy to put a story about me on the cover, who has some other stuff here):

Hi John.
Everyday I take a look at your blog. It’s very interesting and funny. The last post, the Video Game Review one, is great, and the thing about Flipper is a big true. Of course, I want to see more of your old stuff!!! (‘specially the post-Punk Magazine one, for me it’s the more obscure.)

Thanks Nacho! You got it! Here’s another comment from another old friend of mine, Chris Yonts:

Hey JH,

After reading your blog, I'm onto eBay (again) to buy the record that you talk about. "Disco Duck" is actually something I used to own back in the day - 1976! I was 10 years old at Holy Cross Elementary. good times, goooood times.


Thanks, CY! (BTW, Chris Yonts is the founding Webmaster of He encouraged me/insisted that I start my own Website, so probably a few of you remember his work. And as you can see, we’ve been good friends ever since.)

I’ve received a few other comments from old friends and acquaintances via this blog, and appreciate all the feedback. This Website has been going just great since I turned it into a blog, so thanks to all of you visitors. I hope to add a lot more interesting drawings and stories as we go along, so stay tuned!

7:54 pm est

Friday, July 4, 2008


I hope to post more of my stuff from the "Good Old Days" on this blog thing. So here's my first-go-round: Joey Ramone Reviews the Imagic Games System for Heavy Metal magazine.


A lot of thoughts and memories come to mind as I review this thing. The first is remembering Joey's tiny, little East Village apartment on East 9th Street. It was even smaller than mine! (Which is still very small.) I also remember the many times I hung out with him there, and at The Ritz, in the early 1980s. Also, I remember how much we enjoyed playing these games together. Joey had an Atari system, and enjoyed playing video games, so getting new, cutting edge games was an enjoyable, if disappointing, experience.

Also, isn't it weird that Joey told me that their next LP was to be called Carnival of Souls?  I am pretty sure he's referring to Subterranean Jungle. (I think Carnival of Souls is a better title... But someone check with Monte about this, he might remember.)

These were the good old days. I even remember how Joey talked me into taking his huge, color TV set (the same one we played these video games on) off his hands a few months after this review. The TV set broke, so a friend of mine and I carried it away from his apartment and carried it up four flights to mine. Man, was it a heavy POS. WTF. Joey Ramone asks you for a favor? You do it. (Yeah, Joey was one of those guys who "gave away" the expensive electronic stuff that didn't work anymore, thinking he was doing you a big favor.) I never got it to work again, though. 

Other fond memories flood back about the early days of the "Video Game Revolution:" Playing games with Lou Reed (who was a games fanatic in the early days) on his big screen TV set, playing Space Invaders for the first time at the local pizza place (and getting instantly addicted, along with everyone else), doing my first game review (and what might have been the first-ever video game review for a consumer publication) for Lou Stathis at Heavy Metal, and playing Death Race 2000 and other early video games with Elin Wilder and Tom Katz at a Chinatown arcade in 1977, a few years before video games became popular.

Anyhow, if you blog readers would like to see more of my old stuff, just let me know, OK? You can write to me here. Thanks!  Also, does anyone remember the Imagic System? And whatever happened to 1980s nostalgia for stuff like this? I thought I was going to enjoy a second career with all of my early video game coverage. Oh, well...


9:29 pm est

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Flipper, an LA punk band from the 1970s-80s, is billing a new tour they're promoting as "The Pioneers of Punk." (Even worse, I read another news item where NOFX, who formed in 1983, billed themselves as "Pioneers of Punk" for a tour in, of all places, China. Ugh! These guys are totally clueless. )

Okay, excuse me as I get very self-indulgent for a few minutes. 


Sorry, you all, but as you probably know, I was there when we there actually were some "punk pioneers," and the original punk rockers from 1974-1976 all paid a price. Yeah, what came after that in 1977-1980 was important and all, and interesting, and worthwhile. But by 1977 you can't call any band that started or any punk culture "pioneering." That's just so insulting as to be incredible.

Richard Cowan, a former head of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) once gave me the best definition for a "pioneer" as I have ever heard. He said:

"A pioneer is the guy with the arrows sticking out of his back."  

I like that. It describes the price that you pay as a "pioneer:" An arrow in the back.

Not in the front, in the back!

Here's the (Merriam-Webster) dictionary definition of "pioneer:"

1: a member of a military unit usually of construction engineers

2 a: a person or group that originates or helps open up a new line of thought or activity or a new method or technical development b: one of the first to settle in a territory

3: a plant or animal capable of establishing itself in a bare, barren, or open area and initiating an ecological cycle 

I think, when applied to punk rock, the second definition should apply, as in:  

"One of the first to settle in a territory."

Which excludes virtually all LA punk bands, and even most SF bands (except maybe Crime, one of my faves from the 1970s--THEY were "pioneers").

Maybe these LA bands like to think they are "pioneers" in some way... But that's like a horny, teenage boy "discovering" that he has a dick. Sorry, dudes, but others before you plumbed this territory before you did. But have fun jerking off, OK? 


A band like Suicide were true "Pioneers of Punk." They were loud, obnoxious, fast and loud and more important than anything, are the first band anyone can find who actually called themselves "punk rock" on their own promotional posters (way back in 1974). Not only that, but I would have to say that Suicide's first LP is more powerful than almost anything I have heard by any so-called "punk" band ever since.

Other bands who truly paid a price are The Stooges, the MC5, and the New York Dolls. These bands were ridiculed and forced out of business after creating the music that was eventually called "punk rock" in Creem magazine. Then there are the Ramones, who were treated as a joke in the music industry until all the members died. The Damned, who were the first true English "punk" band, who took the heat for everyone after that. Eddie and the Hot Rods, a great rock 'n' roll band, who, like The Dictators, were never able to get their music promoted properly because of how "punk rock" was being portrayed by the mass media as a silly, stupid and ugly youth phenomenon.  

When I started PUNK magazine in 1975, we were able to bring this music to the mass market, but we had no control over how the mass media at the time changed punk from a rock 'n' roll movement to some kind of aberration. Also, unlike certain former employees, I've never claimed that we invented the term. But we did popularize it--and there's no doubt about that.

BTW, In 1976, no one called us "heroes" or "pioneers," we were "losers," "deadbeats," and "out of touch." I always felt that we were promoting a new form of music that hadn't been discovered. As such, we were "pioneering." But "Sniffin' Glue," from England, was NOT the first English fanzine to cover this new music. So they were part of the "second wave" as well. 

At this point, I have to give a shout out to Robert Christgau. Besides PUNK magazine, he was the only important rock guy giving the Ramones their props. Hippies like him, and Lisa Robinson, had a lot more to do with getting punk rock some attention than anyone notices. They deserve some props.

Anyhow, I think a better term for a band like Flipper would be "The Settlers of Punk Rock." Original punk veterans, like I said, paid the price for forging a new culture with blood, failure, and disgrace: As in, we lost our careers after 1978, the same way the original rock 'n' roll bands from the 1950s were put out of business for many years, and hippie bands after 1969 were tossed into the trashbin of history. No offense to Flipper, NOFX or any of those other LA bands, but we all know that punk rock was around for a long time before any of them decided to notice it. So for them to call themselves "pioneers" is really insulting to so many of us. 

On the other hand, I would applaud them for instigating the resurgence of interest in punk rock and in keeping the music alive. I honor and respect them for that. So, maybe "The Conquistadors of Punk" would be a better term. You know, the Spanish conquistadors didn't discover America, they just exploited it many years after Columbus.  

Here's the dictionary definition for "settler:"

One that settles (as a new region) 

By 1979, which is when bands like Flipper made their rep? Punk was a well-established culture. Although it was out of fashion in certain circles, by no means was it cutting edge or revolutionary. It was already being criticized as formulaic. 

So, for a band like Flipper, NOFX, or any other band formed after 1976 to trumpet themselves as a "pioneer?" Well, "settler" is the more accurate term. They are "pioneer" wannabes because they loved all the punk rock culture that was flourishing at the time, but it's an insult for them to use the term "pioneer."

But "settler" doesn't sell tickets.

Stealing credit from other people who deserve it? 

I guess that pays off.  

So fuck 'em.  

9:33 pm est

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I did an interview with this guy John McMillian (a writer who apparently (and somehow) managed to graduate from Harvard), who is researching the 1960s underground movement. We met up at Around The Clock, the closest thing to my beloved, lamented Dojo restaurant. If you're ever in the East Village and want the most bang for your buck? This is the deal. It's got a bar, cool waitresses, and cheap (but healthy) food. Best of all it's open (almost) all the time. 

McMillian picked my brain for stories about Tom Forçade and High Times. I gave him some good stories and all, but he was more interested in the pitcher of beer he ordered. W'alright! This is my kind of  writer! So we drank a few pitchers of beer and talked a lot about 1960s underground culture.

Anyhow, I sent him this email after we talked. I doubt he will find any use for it, so I decided to post it here (with major revisions):


disco_duck_album_cover.jpgAround 1975, I visited my (very strict, Catholic) mom in Middletown, Connecticut. She was very excited that a topless bar had opened across the street in the local shopping mall! It was like: "John! I'm living in the big city!" But there was also an unspoken recognition that she was loosening up, and that her morality was changing. 

For the first time in my life, she wasn't judgmental about the sexual aspects of such a place. Instead for some weird reason she insisted that I visit it. "They serve a free lunch!" she boasted.

Dutiful son that I was, I went across the street and visited the topless bar. It was just your typical '70s strip club, one of those mind-numbingly boring places with mediocre-looking half-naked girls who were more bored than I was... It was the kind of place I always avoided. Strip clubs always seem to be very desperate, lonely places where no one is having much fun. I wish it were different! If strip clubs were fun places to watch naked girls? I'd be first in line! Man, I love looking at naked women! But instead, strip clubs always seem to be these horrible loser lounges, full of lost men who have no life and women who just want the bucks, and full of hate towards the men who go there.

The lunch wasn't very good either--cold cut sandwiches with below-average lunchmeat. But the fact that strip clubs in suburban malls were suddenly acceptable to my mother just blew my mind! I mean, this is was my uptight Catholic mom! Telling me to go visit a strip club!

She was very disappointed that I didn't have a great time there. Hey it was the seventies! Everyone was supposed to be enjoying casual sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Now that I think about it, I realize that my mom was accepting the fact that I did my first professional artwork for a porno mag (Screw), and her insistence that I go to her local strip club was her way of saying "Gabba gabba! We accept you, one of us, one of us!" 

Of course, this phenomenon didn't last for long, and strip clubs were kicked out of these suburban shopping malls over the next few years, along with the head shops located in the same, suburban malls. Considering the economic conditions of the day, I wouldn't be surprised if we see another sudden change in morality. The 1970s were a time of uncertainty. The economy was in bad shape. People were losing faith in the usual American stalwarts.

So, now I am thinking, maybe this economic downturn will do some good. Maybe it will open up some minds and create a new culture. Maybe middle America will turn around on some of its "core values" and will loosen up. Hopefully the energy crisis will, finally, establish alternative sources of energy as real solutions to the crisis instead of "things we will look at a few decades from now, once oil runs out." 

Whatever. I think i am always an optimist. But on the other hand, as much as I wish this kind of shot will happen, know it won't, so I am probably a pessimist.

I saw this cool saying on Around The Horn the other day:

"A Pessimist is what an Optimist calls a Realist."

Sounds good to me!  

ANYHOW... The other thing I remember, burned into my mind from that day in 1975 (or was it 1976?), is that driving my mother's car back from the topless bar in the local shopping mall, I heard "Disco Duck" for the first time.

"Disco, disco duck!"

I loved it.

For the first time in my life, I felt connected to disco music.  

I figure if I could enjoy a disco song in 1976? 

All things are possible in this world.  

1:54 am est

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