Listening To “Your Black Friend”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

By the time you read this, odds are better than good that Ben Passmore will have an Ignatz Award with his name stamped on it, as well he should — his early-2017 Silver Sprocket release, Your Black Friend, is a leading contender in the “Outstanding Comic” category, and while he’s got some stiff competition, it’s hard to argue that fellow nominees such as Libby’s Dad and Sunburning (both of which I recently reviewed at this very site) are great reading, while this is required reading.

Clocking in at just 11 pages of story and art, this is essentially a “high end” mini-comic presented in gorgeous and expressive full color on top-quality matte paper with heavy cardstock covers, and while something tells me an argument could be advanced for presenting it in black and white, I’m not going to bitch about the format or aesthetics of its presentation in the…

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A Movie A Day #251: Cisco Pike (1972, directed by Bill L. Norton)


Yesterday, the great character actor Harry Dean Stanton passed away at the age of 91.   Cisco Pike is not one of Stanton’s best films but it is a film that highlight why Stanton was such a compelling actor and why his unique presence will be missed.

Cisco Pike (Kris Kristofferson) is a musician who has fallen on hard time.  After having been busted several times for dealing drugs, Cisco now just wants to spend time with his “old lady” (Karen Black) and plot his comeback as a musician.  However, a corrupt narcotics detective, Leo Holland (Gene Hackman), approaches Cisco with an offer that he cannot refuse.  Holland has come into possession of 100 kilos of marijuana.  He wants Cisco to sell it for him and then Leo plans to take the money and retire.  Cisco has the weekend to sell all of the weed.  If he doesn’t, Holland will arrest him for dealing and sent him back to prison,

About halfway through this loose and improvisational look at dealers, hippies, and squares in 1970s Los Angeles, Harry Dean Stanton shows up in the role of Jesse Dupree, an old friend and former bandmate of Cisco’s.  Jesse is a free-living wanderer, too old to be a hippie but too unconventional to be a member of the establishment.  Unfortunately, Jesse also has a nasty heroin habit.  Jesse Dupree is a prototypical Harry Dean Stanton role.  Like many of Stanton’s best roles, Jesse may be sad and full of regrets but he is not going to let that keep him from enjoying life.  Stanton may not appear in much of the film but he still takes over every scene in which he appears.

Stanton is, by far, the best thing about Cisco Pike.  As always, Gene Hackman is entertaining, playing the inverse of The French Connection‘s Popeye Doyle and Karen Black is her usual mix of sexy and weird.  The weakest part of the movie is Kris Kristofferson, who was still a few years away from becoming a good actor when he starred in Cisco Pike.  It is interesting to consider how different Cisco Pike would have been if Stanton and Kristofferson had switched roles.  Stanton may not have had Kristofferon’s movie star looks but, unlike Kristofferson, he feels real in everything that he does.  With his air of resignation and his non-Hollywood persona, Stanton brought authenticity to not only Cisco Pike but to every film in which he appeared.

Along with Stanton, several other familiar faces appear in Cisco Pike.  Keep an eye out for Roscoe Lee Browne, Howard Hesseman, Viva, Allan Arbus, and everyone’s favorite spaced-out hippie chick, the one and only Joy Bang.

Rockin’ in the Film World #12: The Monkees in HEAD (Columbia 1968)


cracked rear viewer

The Monkees (Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Mike Nesmith) brought rock’n’roll to TV with their mega-successful 1966-68 musical sitcom. Inspired by The Beatles’ onscreen antics in A HARD DAY’S NIGHT and HELP!, producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider cast four fresh-faced youths (Jones was a Tony nominee for OLIVER!, Dolenz had starred in TV’s CIRCUS BOY, Tork and Nesmith were vets of the folk-rock scene), hired some of the era’s top songwriters (Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson) and session musicians (Hal Blaine, James Burton, Glen Campbell  , Carol Kaye), and Monkeemania became a full-fledged teenybop pop phenomenon.

Detractors (and there were many) in the music biz called them ‘The Pre-Fab Four’, looking down their noses at The Monkees while looking up as hits like “I’m a Believer”, “Daydream Believer”, and “Pleasant Valley Sunday” climbed to the top of the…

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Music Video of the Day: Heart Of Stone by Dwight Yoakam (1996, dir. Dwight Yoakam)


A lot of the time somebody famous, who isn’t associated with music, passes away, I can find one or maybe two music videos they helmed or were in. Harry Dean Stanton did more than just one or two music videos. I can find a record of 7 of them. I can find 5 of them. Let’s do them all. They’re all worth spotlighting.

Edit: I found 2 more for a total of 9 that I know of, and 7 of them that I can find.

The earliest I can find is one he did for Dwight Yoakam’s song Heart Of Stone. He did another one for Yoakam the same year.

I must admit that the extent of my knowledge about Dwight Yoakam is that their is a country musician named Dwight Yoakam. He helmed up to possibly 13 music videos. There are a couple where he was a co-director, but the majority of them have him listed as being the solo director. He even directed a movie called South Of Heaven, West Of Hell in 2000.

There are two interesting things about this video for me–aside from Stanton

The look. I love the grainy footage and the lighting.

The fact that it takes one minute and fifty seconds to even get to the song.

Otherwise, I like the other one Stanton did with Yoakam better. Particularly because you get to hear Stanton sing. However, you do need to watch them both since this one leads into the other. I’ll do that one tomorrow. Think of this as the introduction to the set and character that will be followed up on in the next video.