Archive for the ‘Absent friends’ Category

R.I.P., Gahan Wilson

November 23, 2019

My lone Gahan Wilson collection.

Gahan Wilson, whose surreal cartoons regularly appeared in National Lampoon, Playboy, and other top-shelf mags, has stepped away from the drawing board.

He died Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Complications of dementia, they say. He was 89.

This guy was funny. Bleak, weird, the owner and operator of left field, he kept you off balance like some psychotic judo master. There was nobody else like him working Back in the Day®, and if he has a successor, I’ve not seen him or her yet.

One of my faves? An overstuffed chair absorbing a reader. Eyeglasses and book lie on the floor. All you can see as the reader vanishes is a pair of hands, protruding from the seat.

Another depicts a gardener who has unearthed a skeleton. His employer, a stately, dessicated husk of a woman, says, “I think you would be advised to locate the new delphinium bed elsewhere, Hobbs.”

Yet another shows a soldier covered in gore, muck and God knows what all, knife in one hand and assault rifle in the other. He stands alone in a smoking hellscape that makes the “Terminator” future look like Disneyland. His eyes pop out of the murk like cue balls. And he smiles. “I think I won!” he says.

Dracula with a vampire hand puppet. Dracula with a salt shaker. (Dude liked Dracula, what can I tell you?) A woman who has stuffed her husband into the trash can outside her apartment door (“You don’t get rid of him that easy, Mrs. Jacowsky,” says a man who may be the building superintendent). A writer for “The National Confidential Weekly” who, stuck for a lively bit of the old Fake News®, finally leaves his typewriter for a while and returns to tap out, “It isn’t easy cutting the heart out of a woman with a dull knife. And it takes time. It takes a good fifteen minutes.”

Oh, Gahan Wilson was one of the greats. I hope he and Charles Addams are hoisting a tall cold one in the Beyond.

Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

This one goes out to every aging child who, come Veterans Day, misses the old man (or old lady, for that matter).

Or maybe you just miss Steve Goodman.

Ed Zink rides west

October 13, 2019

Ed Zink, one of the founders of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango, has gone beyond.

The Durango native died Friday of complications from a heart attack, according to The Durango Herald. He was 71.

Ed was a rancher, a retailer, and a pillar of the U.S. cycling community. He ramrodded the Iron Horse through good times and bad, helped bring the first World Mountain Bike Championships to his hometown, and was a gent when dealing with irksome cycling scribes who wished to quiz him about this, that and the other.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Contributions in Ed’s memory can be made to Trails 2000 and the Mercy Health Foundation. My condolences to his family and friends.

R.I.P., Ginger Baker

October 6, 2019

The cantankerous carrot-top has finally drummed himself off to the Other Side.

It goes without saying that I listened to a lot of Cream as a young ne’er-do-well, and this cut was a fave. So was this one. And this one.

Baker was apparently not fond of reminiscing about those days — “Oh, God, Cream’s a bloody albatross around my neck,” he once said — but I remember them fondly.

What I remember of them, that is. At least I managed to steer clear of the smack.

R.I.P., Paul Krassner

July 21, 2019

The Yippies were first to run a pig for president back in 1968, but it took the Republicans to actually win with one.

Paul Krassner was instrumental in that first attempt, but we can’t blame him for the second. The founder and editor of The Realist was into absurdity — he had roots in Mad magazine, after all — but he must have left this world shaking his head at how the unreal had become all too regrettably real.

Krassner hit the door running at 87.

Awright, so worry awready

July 4, 2019

This cover of The Nation from 2000 shows Mad’s staying power.

Ecch! Potrzebie! Mad magazine is taking the scenic route to the furshlugginer boneyard.

I spent a lot of time with Mad and its army of funnymen: Harvey Kurtzman, Don Martin, Wally Wood, Will Elder, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Sergio Aragonés, and the rest of The Usual Gang of Idiots. And I wasn’t their only fan.

Here’s a superhero Marvel hasn’t wiped its corporate arse with … yet.

In “Comix: A History of Comic Books in America,” Les Daniels called Mad “one of the most popular and influential mass circulation magazines in the country,” adding: “Along with Hugh Hefner’s sexy Playboy, it was one of the only two magazines produced in the Fifties that were successful innovations (excepting, of course, the reader service of TV Guide).”

In mourning the demise of “a true American original” on this Fourth of July 2019, contributor Tom Richmond wrote: “In the end in this day and age, the only reason anything is allowed to exist comes down to money. If something is profitable, it continues. If it is not, it ends. Mad is ending for the same reason anything ends … it’s all about the Benjamins.”

I gave Mad my Benjamins — OK, so maybe they were more like Washingtons — and oy, did it ever influence me. Mad led me down a twisted, anarchic path to Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, The Firesign Theatre, Zap Comics, The National Lampoon, and Monty Python, among others.

It was a trip worth taking, so much so that I’m still on it.

Poit. Sklishk. Sploydoing.

Sergio Aragonés had a go at cycling.

Bruce Gordon memorial

June 18, 2019

Image courtesy Sean Walling.

A memorial in honor of Bruce Gordon will be held June 30 in his hometown of Petaluma, Calif.

Bike rides start at 8 a.m. at McNear Park and conclude there at 11 a.m. The memorial starts at noon and wraps at 5 p.m. There will be a potluck, beer, a display of Bruce’s bikes, and a PA in case any of yis would like to deliver a few words about Himself. He would have plenty to say about you, so don’t be shy.

Attendees are encouraged to cycle to the park.

For more information, see Bruce’s Facebook page. And thanks to Sean Walling of Soulcraft for spreading the word.

R.I.P., Bruce Gordon

June 7, 2019

The SOPWAMTOS parade, with Himself in full fez regalia.

Well, goddamnit, I hope the Universe isn’t going to make a habit of this, snatching up all the interesting people before we’re finished with them.

This time it took Bruce Gordon, the acerbic framebuilder and one of the Self-Appointed Benevolent Co-Dictators for Life of the Society of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit (SOPWAMTOS).

My Golden Toiddy

My Golden Toiddy for (what else?) Excellence In Bad Taste.

Back In the Day® Adventure Cyclist honcho Mike Deme and I tried to get Bruce to lay a bike on us for review purposes but we could never make it happen, possibly because Bruce was reluctant to work up a machine for the likes of us when it was tough enough to move product to the actual paying customers. Jagoffs, poseurs and wanna-bes are to be found in abundance, especially among the working press, and their pockets are notoriously shallow.

In the end I had to settle for a couple of SOPWAMTOS T-shirts, a Golden Toiddy from 1995 (I think), and his Rock n’ Road tires, which I still run on the Voodoo Nakisi. I’m pretty sure I paid retail for everything save the Golden Toiddy, too.

The last time I saw Bruce may have been at Interbike 2013.

“We were standing in line at dark-thirty for a cup of Starbutt’s finest and got straight to the kvetching, as a guy will before java is made available in a 20-year-old shopping mall masquerading as a casino-hotel. And afterward, too, come to think of it.

Well, some of us, anyway. One of these years Bruce and I should bring a small square of Astroturf and a couple of patio chairs to the show and while away the hours hollering at people to get the hell off our lawn.

I hope Deme has the Astroturf and patio chairs ready. He’s got company.

• Updated June 13: The hometown paper writes Bruce’s obit.

R.I.P., Ken Nordine

February 23, 2019

Ken Nordine, a voice you may recall from “Word Jazz,” a staple on NPR for years, has left the studio. He was 98.

A baritone storyteller who began with voiceovers on radio and TV, Nordine would go on to collaborate with Tom Waits, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman and others.

He once said that the goal of his poetry was to “make people think about their thinking and feel about their feeling, but even more important to think about their feeling and feel about their thinking.”

I think he succeeded. Whenever I’d hear that impossibly deep voice softshoe out of my radio and into my head, I’d stop whatever I was doing and pay attention. They’re nodding and yessing and popping their fingers at Next World Coffee this morning.

Happy birthday, Mr. Mayor

November 21, 2018

While the yard art spun here, I spun there, as in on the single-track, on a cyclocross bike. I did exactly 64 minutes.

While the rest of yis were prepping for medium-heavy holiday duty tomorrow, my man Chris “Da Mayor” Coursey was celebrating his 64th birthday in Santa Rosa, Calif.

He had been contemplating a 64-mile ride — jeez, who does these things? — but the weather and wildfires refused to cooperate with those best-laid plans. So when last seen he was celebrating indoors with friends, family, grub and grog.

Having an edge on him as regards the calendar, if nowhere else, I advised him thusly:

I trust that you will be slouched in an overstuffed chair with stocking feet up, snappin’ galluses and holding forth, one eyebrow raised and one index finger stabbing at the air, providing sage counsel, rendering keen judgments, ordering swift departures from lawns, and telling all those dad jokes with the obscure references that somehow elude everyone under the age of 64.

Also, all stories henceforth are to begin thusly: “You prob’ly won’t believe this, but when I was your age [insert improbable, unlikely and apocryphal tale here].”

I was going to include a picture of me in that pose for purposes of illustration, but I couldn’t find my galluses. I will forward this shot of our blue, blue skies because I am a cruel, cruel fellow.

Happy birthday, Chris. And many, many more.