Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Between the Buttons: You Are What You Wear

Rock 'n' Roll's Badges of Honor
(Creem magazine feature: May 1980)

"What button you wear says a lot. People can immediately tell if they might have something in common with you. They may detect a personality quirk that intrigues them, they might even be able to tell whether or not you're worth bothering with."
-(Creem, May 1980)

Flipping through an old May 1980 ish of Creem magazine, I saw this photo spread about rock 'n' roll buttons (or "badges" in Brit parlance) and it brought back cheery memories of the phenonenon's sharp-edged Punk/New Wave heyday during the late '70s/early '80s. Between us, I think my ex-wife and I had all of these buttons at one time or another. (Hey, I even still have the Boy Howdy t-shirt!)


I was always partial to the real tiny pins, like Elvis Costello's eensie-weensie "Get Happy!" badge or the one with his angry mug glaring out of a bright red button. Other faves included "If It's Lene's You'll Lovich!," "Shut Up and Dance" (there was also a "Fuck Art Let's Dance" pin), "Rude Boy," "Rude Girl" ( a good gender-bender button when worn on a boy), anything by Buzzcocks, and "Back To Mono" (the sonic sound, not the kissing affliction - I still wear this one because I believe in the sentiment; besides, in the pre-digital analog days, many Brit Invasion band LPs sounded much better in mono, as Brian Wilson always knew).

But I did break down and get Devo's oversized Balloon Girl Flicker button (pictured on model's back, below)  because, well, flicker buttons sell themselves!

I remember buying most of these buttons either at record stores or at area boutiques catering to the New Wave set like the old Lookinglass (across the street from the Congress Hotel in the H&H Building) or  DC's Commander Salamander's.

Now I gotta dig my pin boxes out and see how many I have left.

You can never have enough!

See also these links:
Leaders of Men (vintage badges)
Vintage Punk New Wave Ska Pins (eBay)

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Refrigerator Archives

Or: I Will Post No More Crap on the Fridge, Forever!

Thursday night I accomplished the equivalent of Hercules cleaning the Augean Stables. My task, equally challenging if not involving horse shit, was to de-clutter my kitchen refrigerator, which was covered on all three sides by magnets, newspaper articles, porn star pics, flyers and all manner of assorted bric-a-crap and pop culture flotsam.

Some thing were instantly shit-canned. But, as a card-carrying hoarder/archivist, I had to scan in some of my more precious crap before I could discard it. Herein are some of my discarded posting gems.

First up, a newsbreaking story about how Dundalk's infamous spree-killer Joseph "Joby" Palcyznski demanded cable TV in 2000 so that he could watch his favorite program Atomic TV after kidnapping Tracy Whitehead and the ensuing stand-off with Baltimore County police.

The Joby-Atomic TV connection revealed in "Hostage Times"

"Hostage Times," page two

This was one of my favorite invites to Scott & Kristen's "Atomic BBQ" parties ("Clothing Optional") in "beautiful Nude Essex":

Below is a classic Reverend Fudgie Dobson-designed flyer for the old Cafe Tattoo on Harford Road. Fudgie's flyers were always awesome; his big shoes have been filled of late by the equally brilliant Alex Fine.

At the time, pre-Internet Explosion, The Jim Rose Circus really was "the greatest show on Earth"! This flyer's from Jim & Co.'s Hammerjacks appearance back in the late '90s.

Gallant always stayed on message as a Goody Two Shoes, but Goofus really hit a new low post-Hip Hop Era. Step to the mic, bitch? Hey now!

The Lonely Hog Callers put on a great live show, with a wildman singer who reminded everybody of Dennis Hopper. This is a flyer from their 1996 Frederick show. Alas, The Beatles (tentative) didn't post.

Midnight Moods was a Bump Stadleman DJ promotion at the height of the Ultra-Lounge Craze, 1996, at Club Midnite - which is now the world (tri-state?) famous Ottobar.

I always loved this personal I clipped out of some paper. I wonder if it for real?

The St. Paul's School for Boys Class of 1975 had a 20th Anniversary Reunion on the Brooklandville campus back in 1995. Yours truly attended (first row, second from left, looking very "fierce"!). That's Hampden Junque co-owner (and retired St. Paul's teacher) Michal Makarovich front and far left (how appropriate!) next to me.

Matcha Time: Japanese Gift Shop

Matcha Time Gift Shop
8381 Merryman St
Ellicott City, MD 21043

My half-Japanese girlfriend Amy has been biting at the bit to head to Ellicott City ever since she heard there was a new Japanese gift store there. After all, other than our annual downtown Otakon convention, Baltimore is pretty much a cultural wasteland for anything Japanese-related (or Asian-related, for that matter - we have a China Block on Park Avenue rather than a Chinatown, and other than a few Korean restaurants situated near the Station North Arts district, the Korean community calls Howard County its home). Years ago there was a place called (I think) Japonaise on Falls Road in Mt. Washington (which later relocated briefly to the Fells Point waterfront) that had a koi pond and kimonos and books and such - but, other than the gift shop in the back of Howard County's original Lotte Market, I can't think of any other local hotspots for Japanese-themed gifts and doo-dads. Demographically, one has to head south to Rockville, DC (home of the grand annual "Sakura Matsuri" Cherry Blossom Festival!) and Northern Virginia for the Japanese experience.

So, yesterday we ventured forth to pay the Nippon knick-knacks store a visit, armed with my GPS after reading a Yelp reviewer mention that the shop was not easy to find off of Ellicott City's Main Street - he was so right! Although the address is on Merryman Street, you can't get there from Merryman Street unless you bring hiking shoes and are willing to scale fences and alleyways. Rather, you have to take a circuitous route past Merryman to Parking Lot D from Hamilton St right off Main St.  It's on what is called "Tongue Row," in the back right next to Mexican resturant La Palapa's rear parking lot entrance.

When we arrived, Matcha Time proprietess Hatsumi Watanabe-Smith had not yet opened her shop, so we killed time at the nearby Linwood Center Boutique, which is a sort of combination Goodwill thrift store and community center for autistic young adults (its mission is to allow participants to work in a structured and supportive environment in hopes of one day entering a competitive workforce).

We didn't realize this at first, and I felt guilty when I asked a young man I assumed was the owner (he was hanging clothes on the racks) about the store and he seemed confused and unable to hold a normal conversation. "I think the owner's social skills are on the back burner" I whispered to Amy, only to learn minutes later from a young female social worker what the store's purpose was. It soon made sense, as we heard a lot of screaming and arguments ensue with the young charges. I felt right at home, as the drama and volume level reminded me of a normal day at work at my downtown library. The only thing missing was the security staff.

Amy and I instantly gravitated to the book and record racks inside and agreed that the record collection was outstanding (attention vinyl-collecting hipsters!). I still don't know why Amy passed up recovering her once-beloved Gilbert O'Sullivan ("Alone Again, Naturally") LP, which was in mint condition. For my part, I spent my time sorting through roughly 100 Bing Crosby 78 rpm records on the Decca label - somebody had donated their entire collection of Der Bingle singles! If my record player could play 78s, I would have picked up at least a few (personal fave "I'm An Old Cowhand" with the Andrew Sisters!), which were selling for a $1 buck apiece. Love Bing, he was one cool crooner!

We eventually wandered back to Match Time at Noon, and were excited to finally get a chance to look around. It was well worth the trip! As the (so far) lone Yelp reviewer described the inventory:
Very cute little Japanese gift shop.  They have tons of those little Japanese erasers my kids love to collect.  Plus they have very authentic and no-so-easy-to-find Japanese Matcha teas that you never see in the grocery stores, plus a variety of other teas.  They also have some art/crafts and pocketbooks made out of vintage kimonos that are all silk and really pretty.  Prices are more reasonable than expected for a small shop.
 Got that right! The goods on offer were very affordable. While Amy looked at girly lotions, nail polishes and potential gifts for her Japanese mom, I busied myself looking at the toys and erasers (we both ended up buying the a set of teeth erasers that had gnarly cavities - these make great gifts for your dentist!). But my favorite item wasn't for sale: the 3-piece set of one-eyed Daruma dolls (as shown below):

Daruma doh!

For those not familiar with the purpose of Daruma dolls: their eyes are considered a means to keeping track of one's goals or projects, and serve to motivate one to complete the goal or task. They are often sold blank, with the recipient filling in one eye upon setting the goal, then the other upon fulfilling it. In this way, every time one sees the one-eyed Daruma, they are reminded of their goal.

Amy also talked at length with Hatsumi Watanable-Smith (co-owner of the store with her handyman husband Derek) about Japan and about Amy's mom from Kyushu, and the upcoming addition next door: the Matcha Time Tea House.

The couple had originally expected to open their business as a cafe serving traditional Japanese Matcha tea and assorted light fare (sushi, pastries, edamame, seasoned rice balls) in the summer of 2012, but sorting through the red tape Howard County health permits set back their schedule.

The tea house is an ongoing work-in-progress, though the couple are now looking forward to an anticipated grand opening sometime around Memorial Day 2013.

As she told the Ellicott City Patch, "We'll start out small and hopefully get bigger."

We certainly hope that what's Big in Japan is equally Big in Ellicott City in the coming months. And, hopefully, Hatsumi and Derek will be able to fill in the eyes of their Daruma dolls come this year's Memorial Weekend!


On our way home, we took Hatsumi's advice and stopped at the new Lotte Plaza Market, which is located in the old Toys R Us location at 6600 Baltimore National Pike (Route 40) and Nuwood Drive in Catonsville.

Honey Pig entrepreneur Mickey Kim

What makes this Asian grocery so special is the addition of a Honey Pig Dumpling ( stand inside the store. This is the latest business venture from Honey Pig BBQ founder and co-owner Mickey Kim. The original Lotte Plaza market has its wonderful food court, but I think Amy and I prefer the new place because for $2 you get a softball-sized whale of a dumpling (beef, chicken, curry, shrimp, pork or kimchi)!

Honey Pig Dumpling Stand at new Lotte Plaza

(Check out  Honey Pig Dumpling's menu here. Directions are here.)

As an added bonus, the new store has a small army of employees handing out free samples of everything from kimchi rolls and glazed chicken to ramen noodles and chai-styled teas. I basically got a free lunch just walking around and trying all the samples!

Amy adds her spiffy retort to Lotte Plaza's "Ready to Eat"section

And that was that, on our cultural and culinary journey Westward Ho! 

See also:
Matcha Time Gift Shop (Facebook)
"Just in Time: Matcha Time" (Ellicott City Patch)
"Matcha Time, Much More Than Sushi" (Ellicott City Patch)
"It's Almost Tea Time in Ellicott City" (Ellicott City Patch)
Matcha Time Gift Shop (Yelp)

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How To Spot a Jap

Painfully politically incorrect WWII War Department comic strip by my (otherwise) cartooning hero Milton Caniff, from A Pocket Guide To China (1942), which is included in Richard L. Graham's fascinating history of government-issued educational and instructional comics, Government Issue: Comics for the People, 1940s-2000s ("All the Do's and Don'ts of American Life...Courtesy of the U.S. Government!").

Milton Caniff's "How To Spot a Jap" (from "A Pocket Guide To China," 1942)

Of A Pocket Guide To China, the author writes: "This 1942 guide was created for G.I.s stationed in China; it included a mini-comic at the end, "How To Spot a Jap," by Milton Caniff. The mini-comic was supposed to help soldiers in the Pacific Theater distinguish between Asian allies (the Chinese) and Asian enemies (the Japanese). It did so by trading on stereotypes: the Chinese, Fu Manchu types and longtime types and longtime villains in American pop culture, suddenly became poor, sainted people.

The Japanese were the new "oriental scourge," depicted as sneaky, bucktoothed enemies. Caniff's comic is no less offensive for being a product of a 1940s wartime mentality. Even the army may have recognized this; the second edition of this pocket guide, printed a year later, did not include the Caniff mini-comic."

With characters like "Chopstick Joe" and the "Dragon Lady" in his Terry and the Pirates strip, Caniff certainly contributed to the old "oriental scourge" stereotypes of the Chinese. But the super patriot would go on to glorify Chinese Nationalists (led by his his Western Culture-loving Princess Snowflower) in his post-war Steve Canyon comics, especially his international playboy pilot's 1949 and 1950 adventures in the new People's Republic of China, in which Mao's Communist regime is always referred to as the "Puppet Chinese" government and "Puppet Chinese" army. But that's OK, for Caniff was a master artist and storyteller who gave readers a passport to adventure - if not political accuracy or correctness.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Peppermint Rainbow

  • Bonnie Lamdin - vocals
  • Pat Lamdin - vocals
  • Doug Lewis - guitar
  • Anton Corey - percussion
  • Skip Harris (deceased) - bass
Thanks to Johnny Dollar for reminding us of Baltimore's forgotten 1960s "sunshine pop" band The Peppermint Rainbow (1967-1970). JD scored the group's lone LP Will You Be Staying After Sunday at a Joppa Road Salvation Army store and posted the cover on Facebook, leading us to scratch our heads as to why we had never heard of them.

A quick Google search informed us that the band - formed in 1967 under the name New York Times before changing their name to Peppermint Rainbow in 1968 and featuring sister singers Bonnie and Pat Lamdin - was discovered by "Mama" Cass Elliot (Baltimore's own Ellen Naomi Cohen), who caught one of their performances (and later sang a medley of The Mamas & The Papas tunes with them on stage) and was responsible for getting them signed to Decca Records, where their songs were produced by Paul Leka (who composed the No. 1 hit "Green Tambourine" for The Lemon Pipers and produced Steam and The American Breed). It was a logical fit, as Peppermint Rainbow played the same sort of sunny-tempered SoCal soft-rock as the Mamas & Papas, The 5th Dimension, and Spanky and Our Gang. (In fact, many see their hit single "Will You be Staying After Sunday" as a kind of sequel to Spanky's 1967 #9 hit "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" or 1968's "Sunday Mornin'.")

Though their first single, "Walking in Different Circles" b/w "Pink Lemonade" did not chart, their second single "Will You Be Staying After Sunday" (written by Paul Leka and Al Kasha and originally intended to be the third installment in Spanky and Our Gang's Sabbath Hit Parade) reached as high as  #4 on Los Angeles' KJH radio playlist in  April 1969 and No. 32 on Billboard's Hot 100 on May 3, 1969. The hit eventually sold over a million copies, earning the group a gold record and leading Cashbox and Billboard magazine to name them the year's "Best New Vocal Group." Gullbuy Music Review further sang the song's praises as featuring "one of the great drumfills in the history of one-hit wonders."

Peppermint Rainbow press photo
The proposed follow-up single "Rosemary" b/w "Don't Wake Me Up In the Morning, Michael"  was later flipped under the advice of co-managers Phil Lorito and Betty Sperber, who felt the B-side was the stronger candidate. Hindsight proved them right, as "Michael" was another minor hit, peaking at No. 8 on the charts, while the full-length album Will You Be Staying After Sunday, just missed the Top 100 album charts at No. 106. (Which might explain how it ended up at a Salvation Army store on Joppa Road!)

Spurred by their Top 40 success, Peppermint Rainbow spent a lot of the road touring the East Coast and also appeared on several TV programs, including The Mike Douglas Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Della Reese Show. They even opened for Eric Burdon and The Animals when the Brits played the Baltimore Civic Center.

Wikipedia reports that the band split up in 1970 after recording three more post-album singles that also failed to chart,  including "You're the Sound of Love" b/w "Jamais," "Good Morning Means Goodbye" b/w "Don't Love Me Unless It's Forever," and “Walking in Different Circles.

Though reviewer Patrick at Gullbuy Music Review characterized the band as "the ultimate 60s lounge band turned into a one hit wonder," the pop-loving folks at the (regrettably defunct) Not Lame record label used to carry the Peppermint Rainbow album, which they countered was "a real pot of gold for 60s sunshine pop seekers." Interestingly, the record features the band covering producer Paul Leka's "Green Tambourine" - and actually using the Lemon Pipers' original 1967 backing track!

Today, former Peppermint Rainbow singer Bonnie Lamdin Phipps is the President and CEO of Saint Agnes HealthCare in Baltimore, and serves as the Baltimore/DC/Kansas City, MO/Pasco, WA/Lewiston, ID Ministry Market Leader for Ascension Health.

CEO Phipps today (photo Baltimore Business Journal)

And the rest of the band? Well, in 2007, Mary Zajac profiled Peppermint Rainbow in Style magazine's "Where Are They Now" local oldie bands feature (Sept./Oct. 2007):

Carole King may have asked “Will you still love me tomorrow?” but Baltimore’s Peppermint Rainbow was a bit more specific. The band’s sunny pop single “Will You Be Staying After Sunday/ If We Can Make it to Monday” reached No. 32 on the Billboard charts in 1969 amidst the Beatles’ “Get Back” and debut singles by the Chicago Transit Authority and Three Dog Night. The tune, written by Al Kasha and Paul Leka, who had just scored a No. 1 hit in writing “Green Tambourine” for the Lemon Pipers, featured the rich vocal harmonies of Bonnie Lamdin (who sounds like a dead ringer for Spanky McFarlane on this cut) and her sister, Pat, and the backing efforts of a trio of guys— Tony Carey on drums, Doug Lewis on lead guitar and Skip Harris on bass.

Discovered by another Baltimorean— Mama Cass Elliot— in a Georgetown club, the group went from a low point of sharing one loaf of bread and a package of bologna five ways to brief fame touring the country with The 5th Dimension, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Sly and the Family Stone, even the ukulele-playing Tiny Tim. Lead singer Bonnie Lamdin Phipps remembers Peppermint Rainbow’s audition for the “Dinah Shore Show”— in Dinah Shore’s living room— and how Shore’s influence got the band invited to perform on the “Mike Douglas Show.” (“I still have the tape,” she says fondly.)

Peppermint Rainbow released only one album, “Will You Be Staying After Sunday,” which just missed making Billboard’s Top 100 albums chart in 1969. By 1970, Bonnie Lamdin had married and the band members, worn out from touring and feeling a little defeated by the album’s failure to chart, went their separate ways.

Only one of the band members, Doug Lewis, still plays music regularly, handling a variety of instruments and vocals in the local band The New Monopoly. (In the ’90s, he was part of the Delaware-based band the Hubcaps.) Tony Carey, who Lamdin Phipps describes as the band’s “free spirit,” lives in Alaska and paints houses for a living. Skip Harris is deceased. Pat (Lamdin) Brown works for the juvenile court system, and Lamdin Phipps returned to Baltimore from Atlanta last year to become president and CEO of St. Agnes Hospital, the culmination of a 30-year career in the health care industry. Lamdin Phipps is philosophical about her time as part of the Peppermint Rainbow. “Being in the band prepared me for making presentations,” she says with a laugh, “So I don’t get totally paralyzed when I have to do that.” —M.Z.
And, needless to say, Peppermint Rainbow are listed in the second edition of Joe Vaccarino's Baltimore Sounds (2012), which remains the best source of local music history.

Watch Peppermint Rainbow perform "Will You Be Staying After Sunday?"

From "The Generation Gap" TV appearance, May 2, 1969

And thanks to my pal Chris Long for alerting me to this groovy cover version of "Will You Be Staying After Sunday" by Rochester, NY 60s girl group revivalists It's My Party!:

See also:
Allmusicguide Biography
Peppermint Rainbow (Lorito Management)
"Where Are They Now?" (Style Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2007)
Robinson Video Center bio of Bonnie Lamdin Phipps
Peppermint Rainbow (Discogs)
Peppermint Rainbow (Gullbuy Music Review)

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Code of Thug Life

"I didn't create T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E, I diagnosed it." - Tupac Shakur

My co-worker Jon Swift found this document in a book returned to the Enoch Pratt Central Library over the weekend. It details the "do's and don'ts for being a righteous thug and banger"as agreed to by the Crips and Bloods - with assistance by mediators Tupac (aka 2Pac) and Mutula Shakur  - at the 1992 "Truc Picnic" in Cali. It also highlights the type of relevant research and community outreach being conducted at our libraries today. T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. - as every thug, banger, and in-the-know librarian worth their street cred knows - is an acronym for "The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone."

Remember bangers, "Snitches is outta here!" (The Code of T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E., Rule #10)

"Code of Thug Life" page 1

"Code of Thug Life" page 2
Following are the codes that all thugs shall live by according to "The Code of T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.":

1. All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He’s going to get rich. b) He’s going to jail. c) He’s going to die.

2. Crew Leaders: You are responsible for legal/financial payment commitments to crew members; your word must be your bond.

3. One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.

4. Crew leader and posse should select a diplomat, and should work ways to settle disputes. In unity, there is strength!

5. Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.

6. Slinging to children is against the Code.

7. Having children slinging is against the Code.

8. No slinging in schools.

9. Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth; ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.

10. Snitches is outta here.

11. The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the Hood, and make it safe for squares.

12. No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!

13. Know your target, who’s the real enemy.

14. Civilians are not a target and should be spared.

15. Harm to children will not be forgiven.

16. Attacking someone’s home where their family is known to reside, must be altered or checked.

17. Senseless brutality and rape must stop.

18. Our old folks must not be abused.

19. Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.

20. Sisters in the Life must be respected if they respect themselves.

21. Military disputes concerning business areas within the community must be handled professionally and not on the block.

22. No shooting at parties.

23. Concerts and parties are neutral territories; no shooting!

24. Know the Code; it’s for everyone.

25. Be a real ruff neck. Be down with the code of the Thug Life.

26. Protect yourself at all times.

See also:

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