Tag Archive | Chicago

Unsolicited Bartokomousin’ Across Eight Seasons Of “Perfect Strangers”

– Hulu recently added “Perfect Strangers” to its streaming stable; my first question after spinning the episode wheel for about a week straight is, since Bronson Pinchot’s Balki is just a sanitized version of the brief but memorable role he plays in Beverly Hills Cop, do you think “Perfect Strangers” ever tried to get Eddie Murphy to make a guest appearance? Also, do you think anyone from Beverly Hills Cop chagrins Bronson Pinchot for spinning this character into television, even though legend tells us Pinchot himself improvised it while filming Beverly Hills Cop? Do you think they ever asked Judge Reinhold to be on “Perfect Strangers?”

– the chemistry between Pinchot’s affable, earnest Balki and Mark Linn-Baker’s cynical, beleaguered Cousin Larry is often utterly crackerjack; when the writing plays to their strengths the laughs flow like water and you can see how this goddamn thing ran for eight seasons; this is probably how “Perfect Strangers” survived so many supporting cast hiccups (the actress who plays Twinkacetti’s wife in the first two seasons returns in the third as an unrelated newspaper gossip columnist; very confusing if you’re watching “PS” totally out of order on a Tuesday night, face deep in kung pow chicken)

– yes, there is an episode of this program in which Balki is accidentally hypnotized into believing he is Elvis Presley the night before his tax audit; this is in season four, so it is plausible by this point that Balki might be paying some kind of income tax on his earnings from the newspaper’s mail room

– yes, there is an episode of this program in which Larry brings home 58 live turkeys just a few days before Thanksgiving because he’s convinced he can make a buck off last minute shoppers; there’s nothing funnier than imagining Larry and Balki succumbing to the will of 58 live turkeys in their kitchen and living room, and imagine it is what you have to do—the budget apparently only allotted for two to three birds at a time

– yes, there’s an episode where Balki claims to have met and befriended Carl Lewis after a showing of Benji: The Hunted; Balki’s enthusiasm for this film is very endearing

– over the course of “Perfect Strangers” Larry and Balki meet, awkwardly date, and fall in sitcom love with their upstairs neighbors, Jennifer and Mary Ann (their partners respectively); these parallel romances remains chaste for the most part, even when they all wind up living together, although every once in a while something truly ribald slips by—like the time Balki admits Mary Ann really knows how to “toss his salad”; this occurs in a much later season when all the Friday night heat was ostensibly on Urkel

– people forget “Family Matters,” the show which begat Urkel, is a spinoff of “Perfect Strangers” (before she was mother to Laura and Eddie, wife to Carl, Harriet Winslow was elevator operator to Larry and Balki at their newspaper job); though he pops up on several other ABC TGIF entries of this era, Urkel never came to pay his respects to the cousins, which is fucking nuts because “Perfect Strangers” is the only TGIF show that takes place in the same city as “Family Matters”; even stranger, Mark Linn-Baker crossed over to “Family Matters” in one of its later seasons, but not as Larry, as some other guy

– the episode where Balki takes on the persona of hip hop star Fresh Young Balki B is less incredible than memory; the several minute applause break I recalled for the introduction of Larry as MC Cousin does not occur

– in the seventh season the King of Mypos (Balki’s fictitious homeland) comes to visit and of course dies unexpectedly; this turns into a Weekend at Bernie’s type deal but you’ll be more amused by how many times the dead guy thinks he’s off camera and starts moving his face around

– the final season of “Perfect Strangers” is inexplicably only six episodes, but don’t worry, they cram in pregnancy, a sporting good store, a Myposian death curse, a game show, and a two parter in a hot air balloon

– the only reason they should reboot this show is so we can learn if Bronson and Mark can still execute the Dance of Joy; it was foretold they would not be able to at this advanced age in the season three episode “Future Shock”; surely this is one of the top betting pools in Vegas

It Actually Happened Again

Just them Lodi boys makin’ some noise at Riot Fest East. Photo by Alf Berg.

Second verse, same as the first: the Original Misfits got up there in Chicago and played the hits like Famous Monsters never happened. Remember when mere mention of this band would send Glenn Danzig into convulsions? Now he’s done two reunion gigs with them, his mood at both jovial. “I bet a lot of you have kids you take trick or treating,” he opined last night. “Scream your ass off if you take your kids trick or treating!”

I wan’t there. I wasn’t at Denver Riot Fest either. The reasons are myriad. I felt skepticism that any of this would really go down, or that it might veer into disaster if it did. The venue struck me as wrong; the Misfits in their glory days were always a club band, and while I’m happy they can command headlining festival slots in 2016, an engagement at Irving Plaza would have been more spiritually authentic. And, of course, this assembly is not really the original Misfits—it is Most of The Original Misfits Featuring Dave Lombardo. Jerry and Glenn must have had a Batman v Superman moment where they both realized they dislike all the actual Misfits drummers with the same passion.

Call me fussy, call me prissy, call me a freelance hillbilly with a snoot full of honeybees. Denver and Chicago aren’t exactly around the corner. Yes, I feel some regret, but I also wouldn’t be having this discussion if the reunion had been Glenn, Jerry, Doyle, and Arthur Googy at the Whiskey a Go Go. Solace is located in the fact that 2017 is the 40th anniversary of the Misfits’ founding. I’d bet my collection of bird skeletons that something auspicious along these lines will occur to commemorate four haunted decades.

If not, there’s always the YouTube. You know, I never saw the Misfits when Danzig was in the band between 1977 and 1983. I’m keeping a streak alive.

Blackheart Acey Slade, Jerry Only, Doyle, & Glenny D. Photo by Alf Berg.

Windy Apple Beef Squashed

My feud with Chicago is over. I had a grand time during my mostly “hey, why the hell not?” visit this week, taking in various sights (like the staircase from The Untouchables, seen above) and local delicacies (Dinkel’s cranks out a must-taste Woolworth sandwich). My jimmies were hardly rustled at all.

Like MacArthur I shall return. Three trips out there and I still haven’t seen the house from “Family Matters!” Or that big weird mirror thing!

El Book Touro Recappo

Three planes, a few trains, I don’t know how many busses, and a whole lotta trail mix. Get ready to taste the magic.

ORLANDO

Kicked this bastard off by speaking to students/staff of Full Sail University. Since Full Sail is a media production school, instead of reading from my book I threw together a little spiel about punk rock recording techniques (i.e. why the Misfits sound like the Misfits and not Reeves Nevo and the Cinch). The attendees seemed really into it and appreciative. The only weird part was realizing the median age in the room was about nineteen; my references to ’70s game show hosts crashed out like SCUD missiles. Guess my next book should be about Bob Eubanks.

One of my joker friends snuck his way in to the auditorium during the Q&A portion of the presentation and kept referring to Glenn Danzig as my “white whale.” Bitch PLEASE. Anyone who knows me knows Charles Biscuits is my white whale, and that clown nearly swallowed me whole in ’09. Thankfully I grew up in Connecticut where maritime law forces all children to watch “Voyage of The Mimi,” so I know how to survive a shipwreck.

BROOKLYN

All my rowdy friends came over for Thursday Night Misfits.

The private launch party. For some reason I committed to a wine/cheese thing even though my knowledge of/familiarity with those foodstuffs is entry level. Yes, I had to refer to a chart to make sure I was pairing up the right stuff. No one puked, so I think I did alright. I’m just happy I got to kill a few hours with so many of the special people I’ve come to know via NYC living (even the one friend who attempted to purchase a copy of my book with a thirty dollar Marshalls gift card).

The after-party was even more off the chain, and by “after-party” I mean “bacon cheeseburger and fries I ate at the diner across the street from where the party was at.” If you want to see the writer at his most relaxed and comfortable take him to a Brooklyn diner.

I take that back: the soothe was greater the next morning when I visited my hometown, which is just over the New York border in the aforementioned Nutmeg State. There’s something to be said for New England train stations ensconced in autumnal colors, not to mention the exact Main Street where I spent so much of my adolescence kicking piles of leaves, pawing Batman comics, and guzzling Kiwi Strawberry Snapple (which is about as exotic as my Connecticut got in 1991). The batteries were fully recharged after that.

WASHINGTON D.C.

No event here, just decided to visit some recently engaged friends and soak up as much Mid-Atlantic warmth as I could before hitting the frozen tundra of the Midwest. I also enjoyed the experience of attempting to eat at Pho Bar, which is one of D.C.’s hotter ramen noodle spots: walked up their flight of stairs, was received by a host in a Bathory shirt who informed our party the wait was two hours and forty-five minutes, laughed, walked the fudge out. I instantly wanted to frame this experience. We ended up down the street at a British pub called the Queen Vic where I ate chicken curry poutine…as a meal. My cholesterol is putting up Jeter-like numbers.

PITTSBURGH

The Megabus took the Liberty Tunnel into downtown Pittsburgh, which is not unlike the transition from “real world” into Toon Town in Roger Rabbit. Everything on Pittsburgh’s non-dt side is a bit chain restauranty and spread out and nondescript…then you whiz through the tunnel and at the other end you’re hit with this beautiful twinkling chunk of pure uncut city couched between three rivers. I’ll admit I was stunned. Even more stunning: the Hampton Inn I checked into had a hot tub that was still open at 10:30 p.m. Dunked myself into that at the first opportunity. No bathing suit, just my underwear, ’cause I’m a wild man who can’t be tamed by society’s rules.

Perusing my favorite section at Mind Cure Records.

Thanks to a combination of me knowing exactly one person in Pittsburgh (who was busy that night) and the Lili Cafe snoozing a bit on promotion, zero humans turned up for my reading in Steel City. I wish I could tell you I was utterly livid about this, that I threw some kind of hissy fit and/or was at least minimally depressed. The truth, however, is that I didn’t and still don’t really care. This was the last date scheduled for the tour and I had a feeling when I set it all up that I could be facing an empty house situation. Like I said, the amount of people I know in the area couldn’t fill a tandem bike. Ain’t no thang. I had a perfectly fine time chatting with the barista on duty and no tears were shed later as I sat alone in Primanti’s and wolfed down one of those famous sandwiches with the french fries in the middle.

If there’s anything to gripe about regarding Pittsburgh it’s that not a single person busted balls about my Mets hat. Yes, I’m complaining that people were too polite. Yes, I have a sickness.

CLEVELAND

This was my second sojourn to Cleveland in the past decade and I can now confirm to you that Drew Carey is not incorrect: Cleveland rocks. in fact, Cleveland rocks so hard I’m willing to bet it’ll be annexed by Brooklyn in the next few years.

Speaking of New York and all its endearing obnoxiousness, the pizza at Crust (which is on the outskirts of Cleveland’s Bergen Village) is on par with the pie in my adopted home borough. Even if you don’t agree, fellow jaded and grumpy New Yorker, you cannot front on Crust’s portion sizes. A single slice is roughly the length and width of a catamaran. I thought I was being punk’d when the girl brought it out. She literally served it to me on a hunk of wood! I could barely finish the thing; I got to the crust (ahem) and thought, Well, I’ll just use this as a walking stick now.

‘Twas a modest turnout for my reading across the street from Crust at Visible Voice Books, but those who came were totally amped for my being there, which felt great. Also great: Visible Voice didn’t just absent-mindedly put the Misfits on their house music, they let me choose my own pre-show tunes. I went with Rocket From The Crypt, because occasionally I go hard and like to pretend I have lots of sick tattoos.

Hotel in Cleveland. Remember that week we thought Andy was still alive?

COLUMBUS

The Book Loft (a store one could only describe as “labyrinthine”; it feels like you’re just crawling through a cave of books) offered the first experience I had where someone bought multiple copies of the book and had me sign them to different people. Very trippy but cool. Somehow I managed to do it without misspelling anyone’s name.

Columbus got the short end of the stick in that I was outta there in under a day. Thus, I cannot tell you the best place to get artisanal cheese or eco-friendly pet supplies in that area. What I can tell you is if you’re picking up the Megabus at the corner of High and Nationwide there is no signage and you just gotta trust that it’s gonna show up there. My inner Costanza was a little peeved by this but in the end I got on the bus just fine, cheddar cheese Pringles and iced tea in hand, ready for the journey to Chicago.

CHICAGO

“That’s why they call him Joker. He just stands on street corners all day.”

“Bad juju” isn’t a term you’ll hear me throw around often but I definitely have it with Chicago. My first visit in 2007 was beyond crummy—it wasn’t one big thing, either, just a lot of little things. Same deal this time around. Couldn’t book a damn thing but had to pass through anyway. It rained/sleeted the whole time, one of those famous wind gusts knocked my camera off what I thought was a secure piece of fence and broke the lens, the crosswalks appeared to be coated with some kind of quick slip that slid me around like an ice skater, every person who said they’d party with me suddenly had a million things to do, and my head was pounding with dull pain the entire time.

On the plus side, the Silversmith Hotel where I stayed was/is an awesome blend of old timey and modern, and I had some killer pad thai from nearby Hot Woks Cool Sushi. Also, I remember being comforted by the echoes of wailing police sirens. Like NYC, Chicago is dense enough with concrete to let sounds of that nature reverberate for miles. Made me feel at home.

I guess you haven’t completely broken my heart (yet), Chicago…but you are certainly not “my kind” of town.

MINNEAPOLIS

Finally, my favorite graphic novel and breakfast combined! This gem spotted at Source Comics.

Here was the first reading where the crowd was packed to a standing room only situation (well, the people in the back were resting a bit on the window sill, so perhaps leaning room only). Boneshaker Books even set up a snack table for attendees with motherfucking carrot sticks and hummus! That is, as their FB page told me upon initial contact, radical and progressive.

I had a five day break between events here, engineered partially so I could take a breather, hang out with my Twin Cities Get Fresh Crew, and catch up on freelance work. It was oppressively cold in Minnesota at this point but I didn’t let that stop me from going to record shops like Extreme Noise and Electric Fetus and buying stuff like Poison Idea’s Fatal Erection (purchased at the former) and the Last Action Hero OST (purchased at the latter). Also went to that bar/diner in St. Paul where they have all the old school video games set up but none of the consoles we tried were functioning…so eff that place right in their Yelp review.

SEATTLE

Tossed salad and scrambled eggs! Frasier Crane is a little more uptight than the Seattle I know, but he still seems like an alright mascot to me. Witty, urbane, masking some kind of terminal weirdness. You could do worse, Seattle. Imagine being Kansas City and having bland wieners like Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis rep your town.

Once upon a time there was a spooky donut place that was never open.

Cafe Racer was the only place where other people were on the bill to speak. That took some edge off until I actually heard the guys (Chris Estey and Bill Cerise-Bullock) and realized how legit/clever they are. They could write their own Misfits books worth their weight in devilocks. Still, I think my bit went alright. My barometer is no one threw anything at me or tried to punch me after the show. And yet I split early anyway. I was tired but I also didn’t want to tempt fate.

Had breakfast the next morning with my friend Kris at Roxy’s, the restaurant where you can order a shot that includes a slap from your server. I don’t drink but I considered ordering one of these shots anyway because the girl taking care of us looked totally over it and I’m sure she would have rattled something loose with her love tap. That’s what you’re paying for, right? You don’t want some sissy slap. Hit me like I owe you money, sister.

PORTLAND

Top of the world, Ma. Photo by Michael Poley.

Did my thing at Powell’s, one of America’s last great books stores. Definitely battled some nerves here. Again though, I have to praise the friendly and receptive attitude of those in attendance. A couple folks even asked to get pictures with me afterward. I tried to look not crazy but that’s hard when you don’t comb your hair ever and you think giving a double thumbs up is always endearing.

Spent the days surrounding my event exploring Portland. What a charming and beautiful city. Epic nature framing adorable urban/suburban enclaves. Coffee strong enough to stun a yak. Amazing record stores both big and small (Green Noise and Music Millennium were/are my faves). A fast food chain called Burgerville that’s more prevalent/delectable than McDonald’s. Air clean enough to wear to bed. My only complaint is the city needs a prep course for its recycling situation. The couple I stayed with had five bins for their waste and I still couldn’t be sure what went into where. I just tried not to consume at all. That’s sort of beating the system, right?

Oh, and I guess in retrospect the sky tram in Portland is kind of weak. I mean, it has very little practical application unless you work at the hospital where the ride terminates, and the views of the city…I feel you get views just as breathtaking on Portland’s various bridges. Still, at four bucks it’s cheaper than the Roosevelt Island tram in Manhattan (I think).

There’s my next book: TRAM WARZ. Which metropolitan area’s sky bucket will reign supreme? YOU’RE GOING DOWN, EL PASO.

FINAL BOOK TOUR GRADE: A-

Huge thanks again to all who hosted me, all who came out, and all who helped me get from Point A to Points B through Z. Love youse all.

Historic Artifact?

You know what this means: people were throwing their letters in that thing until they put the sign up. Guess they get a lot of overflow from 1921.

Signage spotted in the lobby of the Hampton Inn, downtown Chicago, where I am not staying. I need a hotel with a working mail chute!

Scott Reynolds Apologizes For Teasing Danzig (Via Song)

Earlier this month, All singer Scott Reynolds fanned the flames of heavy metal Hell when he appeared at Chicago’s Riot Fest dressed as perennial grump Glenn Danzig. The Glenn Brigade was none too pleased with Scott’s “tribute,” and they’ve been giving the guy grief ever since. So, a couple days ago, Scott uploaded the following musical apology to Danzig, saying he was “being a dick” and that he “knows what it’s like to be picked on.” All fans will appreciate the Descendents joke tucked in there, but will any serious Danzig fans accept this mea culpa from Scotty Fake-zig?

More On That Scott Reynolds Danzig Riot Fest Comment

Curiosity got the better of me the other day regarding what All singer Scott Reynolds allegedly wrote on Facebook about playing with Glenn Danzig last week at Chicago’s Riot Fest (the former was said to have labeled the latter an “egomaniacal douche nozzle”), so I messaged Scott via the FB about it. Apparently, Scott wasn’t referencing any specific incident—he’s just bummed, as a long-time Misfits fan, that everything Danzig’s done with his eponymous band has been so serious and muscle-laden and obsessed with sex. Nothing personal, just depression over the D Man’s stylistic departure from the fun of the Misfits. Of course, it should be noted that during All’s Riot Fest set, Scott expressed these frustrations by dressing up as Glenn. LULZ. Something tells me Danzig won’t fire back by getting a JFK haircut and bookworm reading glasses.