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we circle around, we circle around the boundaries of the earth. the boundaries of the earth.
wearing our long-winged feathers as we fly, wearing our long-winged feathers as we fly.
we circle around, we circle around the boundaries of the sky.

~ Arapaho

Lena Dunham (OMG J’adore) has made a video about her first time. Voting, that is. And it’s peachy keen. Even better, many GOPsters with no sense of humor have called her out on it. It effing rocks and here it is; please watch and share. One week to go, mes cheres. Mon Dieu! Has this not been the longest presidential campaign in history?

The photo of the week is of a child dressed as a bear coming face to face with a real bear. It’s, um, genius.

The original recording of Jesus Christ Superstar was released on October 27, 1970. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice called it a “rock opera concept album” and it was not staged as a Broadway play/musical until the following year. Rice and Webber went on to become among the most successful Broadway composers in history, and this amazing double album was one of the earliest highlights in their spectacular career. The music holds up today and remains a staple on my iPod.
(thanks to Bill Sobel for this nugget)

One of my favorite photo tumblrs at the moment is this one, where a work colleague of mine who’s an ace photographer posts images she takes surreptitiously on the subway.

Here’s one of the best Halloween ideas I’ve ever seen. Take Back Halloween calls itself “A costume guide for women with imagination.” This is the inaugural venture of the Real History Project, conceived in 2010 “as a series of projects to popularize knowledge of the past—the real stuff, not just the Dead White Male version of history,” per Suzanne Scoggins, a writer and feminist who specializes in women’s history. There are four categories: Glamour Girls, Goddesses and Legends, Notable Women, and Queens. And the best part is these costume ideas can be easily created with readily available materials. Check out my favorite Mexican goddess, Ixchel.  Also you can help fund the site via Suzanne’s Kickstarter campaign.

During the taping of a recent David Frost Special that is due to air next month on Al-Jazeera, Paul McCartney stated that Yoko Ono did not break up the Beatles. “She certainly didn’t break the group up, the group was breaking up,” he said. Although Paul did, he admits, find it difficult that Yoko sat in on the recording sessions (she basically followed John everywhere at the time), he didn’t and doesn’t blame her for the group’s disbanding. As someone who grieved egregiously when the Beatles broke up in 1970, I can tell you this actually means a lot to me.

Since it’s one week before we pull those levers and set the course for the next four years, I hope you’ll indulge me a second election-centered video. This one is of Writer/Filmmaker Joss Whedon advising us exactly how Mitt Romney will “put us back on the path to the zombie apocalypse.” “Romney is ready to make the deep rollbacks in health care, education, social services, reproductive rights, that will guarantee poverty, unemployment, overpopulation, disease, rioting – all crucial elements in creating a nightmare zombie wasteland,” says Whedon dispassionately to camera.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and this is as true as it gets with #instacane, the story of Hurricane Sandy told through instagram. To quote one of those who posted an image, “SHITS GETTING REAL.”

In case you had not heard, Little Steven Van Zandt is bringing together the Rascals in their original lineup (Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish, Eddie Brigati and Dino Danelli) for their first public performance in over 40 years with a combination concert/theatrical event called “Once Upon A Dream” in December at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. The first four shows have sold out and three more shows have been added, which are sure to sell out quickly. “To do justice to the Rascals’ importance, I’ve written a show for them that is just as unique as they are,” says Van Zandt.

Hurricane, anyone? Apparently these 41 furry friends are ready to face down Big Sandy in their fetching attire, via BuzzFeed. Frankenstorm Shmankenstorm.

Tweet of the Week (during last week’s final Presidential Debate): I think Mitt Romney might be a sleeper agent working for Abu Nazir!!! LISTEN TO ME SAUL
via ‏@adamconover (standup comic and CollegeHumor sketch writer)

There ain’t no answer. There ain’t gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That’s the answer.
-Gertrude Stein

I don’t know if I can adequately describe what it was like when Freak Out!, the debut album of The Mothers of Invention was released on June 27, 1966. The 1960’s were finally becoming The Sixties by that point, the world was realizing that the staid and arid Fifties had left forever; people were dressing weird, acting weird, taking drugs, having sex, growing their hair. The radio stations were full of cool music by cool bands. And then into the middle of this cultural renaissance came Frank Zappa and his pals blowing everyone’s mind to smithereens with songs like It Can’t Happen Here, Who Are the Brain Police?, and Hungry Freaks, Daddy. We’re still not ready for these guys.

Third-grader Stella Ehrhart is my new hero. Eight-year-old Stella, who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, starts each school day the same way every day: she opens up a book called “The 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century” and decides who she’s going to dress up like that day. She’s been doing this since the second day of second grade. She’s been Joan Baez, Rosa Parks, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Georgia O’Keeffe, Queen Elizabeth, Billie Holiday, Grace Kelly, Aung San Suu Kyi. Sometimes she strays from the historical theme to honor women of her own day; she has dressed up as her best friend Virginia (“My favorite costume,” said Virginia), her police officer Aunt Pam, and as the school principal. It’s stories like this that make life worth living, n’est-ce pas? You can see some of her costumes in this slideshow.

Speaking of cool creative girls with an attitude, Amy Gore & Her Valentines have a new album and video out. Gore, a Detroit legend, founded the Gore Gore Girls and helped to establish the modern American garage rock scene of the late 1990’s. “Gore Gore Girls mix Stooges spit with Supremes soul like an itching in my heart full of napalm,” raved the Village Voice. After a successful collaboration with cult-hero Nikki Corvette to form Gorevette, Ms. Gore steered herself straight into rock & roll with a power pop edge aided and abetted by Her Valentines (bassist Leann Banks; Jackson Smith on guitar; and Smokin’ Joe Leone on drums). Their first album, In Love, was released last week. Check out their brand spankin’ new music video for one of the tracks, “Fine Without You.”

This past weekend, the country of Bangladesh honored George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez for the staging of the celebrated 1971 Concert for Bangladesh a staggering 41 years ago. These two shows at Madison Square Garden were the first of their kind; organized to raise international awareness of a dire political situation and to fund relief efforts for refugees in the region who were fleeing the atrocities there. A best-selling live album boxed set and documentary followed. “In one day, the whole world knew the name of Bangladesh,” said Ravi Shankar many years later.

They called her the Lily of the Mohawks. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint, was canonized in Rome today. Tekakwitha, born in what is now upstate New York, died in 1680 at the age of 24 in Canada. Saint-wise, she kicked it old school for sure; after being baptized at the age of 20 she joined a Jesuit missionary and devoted herself to chastity, prayer, and sleeping on a bed of thorns. “Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first Native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in North America,” said the Pope at the ceremony, “May God bless the first nations.” You can purchase beautiful hand painted saint medallions of Kateri or any of her glorious saintly brothers and sisters from my dear friends at Saints for Sinners in New Orleans.

Fifty Reasons to Watch the Sun City Video, thanks to the folks at Thrillist. We celebrated the music of Little Steven last week at Little Kids Rock and Tom Morello nailed this song to the ground, speaking eloquently of his school days at Harvard when he and friends built a shantytown on the campus to highlight the horrors of apartheid in South Africa. “I wrote my senior thesis at Harvard University about student uprisings in South Africa,” he told the sold out crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom Tuesday night. “So imagine my wonder and surprise when in the midst of well-intentioned charity songs like “We Are the World” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas” Little Steven dropped a seven minute political bombshell called “Sun City.”” Per Thrillist: “Despite its incredible star wattage, the song never rose higher than #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but there are thousands of reasons why you should watch the music video. In the interest of time and sanity, here are a mere 50.”

Gillian Flynn’s spectacular book Gone Girl, which I read earlier this year, started me off into an obsession with mysteries and true crime novels. One of the best I’ve read is Richard Lloyd Parry’s book People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo–and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up, which was published in May. Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, covered the case of 21-year-old Lucie Blackman for many years. This book is the story of how a young British girl set off for adventure in Tokyo, became a bar hostess as so many foreign girls do there, and was the victim of one of the most heinous crimes ever to be seen in Japan. It’s terrifying, fascinating, and a complex study of not only Lucie and her family and friends, but also the killer and Japanese society and the justice system in general.

Cute Baby Walrus Time! If you haven’t seen this beautiful video of a walrus calf getting fed at the New York Aquarium and then peacefully sleeping in the lap of the lucky lady who gets to do this for a living, then go here please. It will, dare I say it, warm your heart all the way down to your toes. This particular baby walrus is named Mitik, and he is one of many animals who reside in one of the five wildlife parks in New York City. You can see lots more cool animal videos thoughtfully curated for you by the Wildlife Conservation Society on their Youtube Channel.  The WCS was founded in 1895 to save wildlife and wild places around the globe. Their NYC parks include the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo. More about their work, and how to help them, here.

Halloween’s on the horizon. Yes, my favorite holiday of the year is almost upon us. This year, thanks to Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, the world’s finest gothic soap opera Dark Shadows is back in the zeitgeist. Thanks to this you can trick yourself out as Barnabas Collins on All Hallow’s Eve this year, with a natty Barnabas cape, a Barnabas ring, and even a Barnabas wig so you can attempt to get the weird hairstyle going as well to complete the picture.  No matter what, you’re bound to do better than Mr. Depp, who, much as I love and respect him, just didn’t scream Barnabas to me. He made a much better Hunter S. Thompson methinks. In my mind, Jonathan Frid (RIP) is and will always be Barnabas Collins, the mysterious cousin from England who drops in on his Collinwood ancestors one dark and stormy night.

George McGovern has died at the age of 90. This was yet another huge plonk on the baby boomer heartstrings Chez Snoop du Jour due to the fact that the 1972 election when McGovern valiantly tried to prevail against Richard Nixon was the first election I ever voted in. I was in college at the time in Michigan, and I hitchhiked back to Philadelphia to proudly pull that lever. McGovern, born in 1922, was a war hero who later vehemently opposed the war in Vietnam (“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in”), and he became the first Democrat elected to the Senate from South Dakota in 26 years when he took office in 1962.  One of my favorite quotes of his, which resonates deeply today as we head towards the Presidential Election November 6, is this: No man should advocate a course in private that he’s ashamed to admit in public.

If you have any books, music, film, television, or other nugget of pop culture you’d like to submit to me for this column please contact me here

All things on earth point home in old October: sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.
- Thomas Wolfe

Well, cats n’ kittens, here be mid-October and you know what that means; it’s those last few weeks before holiday madness descends upon the land. Be that as it may, I plan to be elucidating weekly on my pop culture discoveries of the moment from here on in, whether it be a new book or CD or a TV show or a museum or a restaurant, or, perhaps, a movie that I saw when I was 15 that it seems no one has heard of and that I really think you might dig. And without further ado…

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Cupcakes, because why not? So it seems some very twisted souls have come up with a collection of cupcakes inspired by the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which by the way is definitely worth a Netflix lookinto if you’ve never scoped it). Everything from crazy quotes from the book/film to Hunter’s glasses to a smashed cigarette to a drawing of Thompson to a demented clown face to lines of coke next to a rolled up dollar bill and a razor blade adorns these little confections. I think Mr. Thompson would have loved these.

Young Shorpy Higginbotham was a boy who worked the mines in Alabama in 1910. He died in a mine accident in 1928 and his name lives on through the Shorpy website, which does an incredible job of curating vintage photographs. The majority of these amazing images are black and white photographs from the turn of the century that are so amazingly crystal clear it’s really a window into the past. As in this incredible photograph of the Flatiron Building under construction circa 1902. You can also buy large-sized prints from the site suitable for framing, and be sure and get on their mailing list.

Are you crazy about your dog or just crazy? So asks best selling novelist and baby name expert Pamela Redmond Satran in her brand new book Rabid: Are You Crazy About Your Dog Or Just Crazy?, out this week from Bloomsbury Books. States Satran’s tumblr site: I like to think of Rabid as the Jon Stewart of dog books.  Or maybe the Rin Tin Tin of people books. This book will amaze and amuse you, and perhaps even frighten you when you see the lengths many of us go to include our furry friends in our everyday lives. Canine vegans? Pet feng shui? Here. Humans who’ve married their pets? Aqui. Dogs and Art; Dog Weddings; Doggie Daycare; martini-shaped doggie treats; all here and more, much more, as well as a fabulous selection of photos of canines in all shapes and sizes.

Little Steven Van Zandt gets Big Man of the Year Award: Tuesday night October 16th the non-profit organization Little Kids Rock celebrates its 10th anniversary of transforming children’s lives by restoring and revitalizing music education in disadvantaged public schools. This year they honor Little Steven Van Zandt with the Big Man of the Year Award at a gala event taking place at the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom. Musicians including Dion, Elvis Costello, Tom Morello, Darlene Love, Southside Johnny, Gary US Bonds, Ruben Blades, and others will gather to tribute Steven’s prodigious musical legacy. Van Zandt also has his own non-profit organization, the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, which was formed in 2007 to provide a groundbreaking music-centered curriculum for middle and high school students.

Losers Lounge take on the Dusty Springfield catalogue at Joe’s Pub: Last weekend the fine, fine, superfine Joe McGinty, the Kustard Kings, and friends addressed the mighty archive of recorded work by one Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien – known to us all as Dusty Springfield. McGinty and psycho-cabaret singer Nick Danger started the LL back in 1993, originally as a piano singalong night in the East Village. Since then there have been over 300 shows honoring the canon of more than 50 different artists. The Dusty show was stellar as usual with a number of great guest singers as well as the formidable Connie Petruk, who brought the house down with the closing number “Son of A Preacher Man.” See them in December when they bring to life the storied career gems of Stevie Wonder.

Women’s Rights and Women’s Health: There’s been a lot of talk about these subjects this election year. This begs the age-old question of why the right wing always feels they have to push their beliefs on everyone else. Why can’t we trust women to know what’s best for their own bodies, their own families? Why does it always have to be this absurd absolutism – which seems to be more suited for a dictatorship or a monarchy, not a thriving democracy? Meanwhile, please read brilliant writer Marge Piercy’s poem Right to Life, which says it all. Here’s just a part of that: I will choose what enters me, what becomes / of my flesh. Without choice, no politics, / no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield, / not your uranium mine, not your calf / for fattening, not your cow for milking. / You may not use me as your factory. / Priests and legislators do not hold shares / in my womb or my mind. / This is my body. If I give it to you / I want it back. My life / is a non-negotiable demand.

The bravery of Malala Yousafzai: Last week the spotlight of the world fell on Pakistan and the shameful actions of the Taliban in attempting to assassinate 14-year-old Malala, a schoolgirl who tirelessly advocated on behalf of the right for girls to be educated in her country. Malala had been on the world stage for quite some time as the voice of Pakistani children, and girls in particular, for resistance against the dangerous extremism rampant in their society. The Taliban threatened her many times and finally made good their threat to try to kill her. She underwent surgery for shotgun wounds to the neck and head and has now been airlifted to a hospital in England. Millions of people all over the world rose up in outrage over the attack on this young girl, including in her home country Pakistan. The UN Special Envoy for Global Education took up the cry I Am Malala and created a website in support of her campaign to outlaw discrimination against girls. When she wakes up – and I say when, not if – young Malala will see how she has transformed the world by her bravery.

Project Runway Season Ten: Those of you who have followed my rants and raves through the years may realize that this is the first Project Runway season in a long time I haven’t blogged weekly about the show for the Huffington Post. Why, you ask? Well…there are a few reasons. One of which is that it’s a huge amount of work – hours and hours of work – for very little return. But more importantly, at least this season, is that the designers are a crashing bore. I don’t know if we’ve been spoiled with our Mondos and our Santinos in the past, but hella the pickings this year are slim. And now that the smoke has cleared and four of them (Fabio, Christopher, Dmitry, and Melissa) are left standing to show at Fashion Week, I have to admit there were whole episodes I just glossed over because of the snore factor. One episode left and we’ll know who the winner is, but based on their three representative looks for the judges this week, I don’t think any of them should make it. Catch the Season Finale this Thursday night October 18th on Lifetime.

The Sound of Cylons: Someone who is calling themselves Saul Tigh uploaded this gem a few days ago to Youtube.  It’s a reworking of the Simon and Garfunkel classic to tell the story of Gaius Baltar and his, um, giant fuckup in inadvertently handing the soulless killing machines known as cylons the key to destroying the known world on the brilliant series Battlestar Galactica (I speak here of the remade version which premiered in 2003).  It’s hilarious whether or not you’ve seen the series but if you have not, I urge you to check it out. I came to it late; it had been off the air for years when I finally succumbed to the advice of friends who assured me it was one of the best science fiction series of all time. They were right. You can see it on Netflix and rest assured, you will be just like these characters on Portlandia.

Hugh Howey’s series Wool: I fell down this rabbit hole a few months ago thanks to goodreads and I urge you to do the same. Writer Hugh Howey originally created a novelette about a dystopian society trapped inside of a huge silo buried in the ground. No one ever went outside, except the unlucky ones who were thrown out and died a miserable death in the poisoned atmosphere. As cream rises to the top, this self-published story became a massive bestseller, growing to several more novelettes, attracting global attention, and has now been optioned for a potential feature film by Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian. It’s available either in bite-sized chunks or in the Omnibus version. These characters continue to haunt me and the word cleaning will certainly never be the same.

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If you have any books, music, film, television, or other nugget of pop culture you’d like to submit to me for this column please contact me here

Herewith a completely solipsistic list of things that tickled my fancy this past week and that bear further investigation by The World Out There. IMHO.

Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live: She had me with her recent channeling of Ann Romney, but last night took the cake with her wondrous portraits of the Long Island Medium, Ellen deGeneres, and (most side splitting of all) Celia Gimenez, the eighty-year-old Spanish lady who painted over a 100 year old fresco of the face of Christ. I’ve got my eye on you, McKinnon. You’re now officially the one to watch on SNL. Gracias.

Not Fade Away, David Chase’s new movie: Well I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I have been waiting for this film to come out for what seems like years. The feature film directorial debut of genius David Chase (ahem, The Sopranos), it stars James Gandolfini, John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Brad Garrett and others and is the story of a rock group in 1960’s New Jersey. The music supervisor is Steven Van Zandt, so ’nuff said.  It’s due out in December from Paramount. Check out the trailer here.

The return of Homeland, on Showtime: Even if you didn’t watch the first season, or know anything at all about this show, you probably grokked that it swept the Emmys and also racked up a few Golden Globes. Apparently all this attention resulted in a huge ratings win last week when Season 2 premiered, and it did not disappoint. We find Claire Danes’ character Carrie puttering around in the garden and closing down her laptop when a news story about the Middle East pops up, until her old buddy Mandy Patinkin (um, J’adore) reaches out to get her help with an asset she recruited years before. Of course it doesn’t take much to get her on the plane to Beirut. And suddenly our Sunday nights look a whole lot better for the next few months.

Theatre Is Evil, By Amanda Palmer, racks up the establishment kudos: Rolling Stone named Amanda Palmer’s new album Theatre Is Evil one of the year’s best rock records. Palmer made world headlines earlier this year with her massively successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of this album, from which she raised $1.2 million. The record is kickass. The band is magnificent. Palmer is a goddess. You can stream and purchase the record here for as little as $1.00 in a Pay-What-You-Want scenario. Mark my words; she’s the Queen of Social Media and she puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Plenty of chances to see if I’m right on that, here.

The Candy Bar of the Week goes to the New Smoked Banana Caramel Chocolate Bar by Vosges: I haven’t had it yet, but who needs to with a description like this: Smoked bananas blended into soft caramel, with a touch of Alderwood smoked salt and tucked it into the pockets of a 72% cacao dark chocolate bar. When tasting the bar, the smoke flavor is distinct with the smoky notes found primarily in the Mesquite smoked banana. Who writes these things? Vosges always comes through and I’m sure this is my tastebuds’ version of a rocket to the moon.

Janey Milstead, Editor In Chief of my favorite magazine, like, ever, TeenSet, located via Google!: Well, to me, this is Ultra Mega. Not only did I locate the website of Ms. Milstead, I also found out that while at TeenSet she wrote under many names and one of those was Shirley Poston, possibly my favorite writer…ever. All these years, I never knew they were the same person. To my teenage self this is the equivalent of the Mars Landing or some other huge scientific discovery. I’m still hoping to find someone has digitized all those TeenSet magazines, somehow, somewhere.

The Communication Cure, by Dr. Neha Sangwan: I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Neha at a nutritional seminar several years ago and have stayed abreast of her work ever since.  Sangwan is an internal medicine physician as well as a gifted corporate communication strategist who speaks internationally on the topics of conflict resolution, stress management, and wellness. This video sets out the premise of her upcoming book, and I guarantee you she’s going to be a household name when it comes out.

The 30th Anniversary of Men Without Women by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul: Earlier this week, it was thirty years to the day of the release of Men Without Women, an album that, to be quite honest, I probably played more than any other record I own. Ten songs - a masterpiece of passion - the first solo statement from an artist who had already proven himself as an incredibly gifted songwriter, though until this album, not for himself. In July 2011, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes paid tribute to the record with a live show bringing those songs to life again, and you can now pay homage to it by purchasing SSJ’s version here.

Oh yeah; two guys who want to be President for the next four years were onstage together for 90 minutes in Denver: If you know me, you know how I feel. And if you don’t may I quote Immanuel Kant to you:  We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. Under no circumstances would I vote for Mitt Romney to be President of a Block Association let alone the US, once I heard the story of Seamus strapped to the top of a car in a cage for hours during a highway drive. Laugh all you want, if you think this is trivial, but the mere fact that Mitt Romney did this; that the dog was ill and had the runs; that Romney pulled over and hosed off the dog and put him back up there, now soaking wet, to freeze in the wind; it doesn’t even bear thinking about. So yes, I was disappointed in Obama’s performance this week at the debate. But if you don’t want half the country, the poor, the unemployed, the 47% he spoke so disgustingly of when he thought no one but big money donors were listening, to be strapped on top of Mitt’s car while the special people ride inside as he races up the highway to glory — I beg you — don’t vote for him.

And lastly, if you need another reason to love Bruce Springsteen, he was part of a big campaign this week for gay marriage:
Springsteen joined The Four2012 Campaign, putting forth his macho Jersey stare right into your soul and blasting some strong words in support of marriage equality specifically in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. Marriage equality is now a plank in the DNC’s platform, at last, and is sure to be a subject that will continue to be discussed as we head towards the Election on November 6.

ALSO ON MY RADAR:

We left from Brick, New Jersey, jammed into a tiny red Datsun, very early on the morning of October 3, 1980 on a trajectory straight through to Ann Arbor, Michigan where Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were starting their first tour since 1978. There were five of us, and we were on a mission. And we had a fresh supply of zucchini bread thoughtfully prepared by someone’s mom for the journey. We pulled into the parking lot at Crisler Arena just as the band’s tour bus was rolling in and frantically jumped out of the car to join the small group of fans waiting there to shake hands with Bruce as he walked into the venue. It was the opening night of The River Tour. The album itself would not be released for another week.

I’d be lying if I said I remembered a lot from that night, but I do remember it was the first time I ever bought a concert ticket from a scalper. I blindly grabbed the first one that was offered to me, for $50, which was a huge amount of money when the base price was at most $11. But I would have paid whatever was in my pocket. You see, I walked into a concert hall on August 26, 1978, and my life was changed. That was the first time I ever saw Springsteen and the E Street Band present the glorious medicine show that was the Darkness Tour, and I walked out a different person.

Here’s what I do remember of October 3: the show was on the campus of the University of Michigan, and the security consisted of over zealous and totally obnoxious college kids who were drunk with power. The show started with “Born to Run,” which was unusual and had never happened before, but I was too much of a newbie to realize that. Bruce forgot the words but the audience chanted it until he returned to the groove. Eleven songs were apparently played from the new album. The show ended with “Backstreets.” The encores were “Rosalita” (which Clarence began with the classic opening lines from “Stagger Lee”: the night was dark / and the moon was yellow), “Jungleland,” “Detroit Medley” (we were, also, but a stone’s throw from Detroit), and “Thunder Road” (a repeat from earlier in the night, but this time featuring Bob Seger).

My friends and I were on the road for a week nonstop following the tour, which was a whole new experience for me. To save money we mostly slept in the car (in October, in the Midwest!) in hotel parking lots, so we could go inside in the morning and wash up in the lobby bathrooms. Once or twice, in big cities like Detroit and Chicago, we sprung for a hotel room and lied about how many of us there were in the room so we wouldn’t get charged extra. After Ann Arbor, we went to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago, and then back home to the so-called real world. It was sublime.

But that first night, 31 years ago today, was really the watershed moment for me, when I really gave myself over to a force a lot bigger than myself and just went along for the ride, smiling all the way. Ramroddin’ forever more, you might say.

Hey, little dolly won’t you say you will
Meet me tonight up on top of the hill
Well just a few miles cross the county line
There’s a cute little chapel nestled down in the pines
Say you’ll be mine little girl I’ll put my foot to the floor
Give me the word now sugar, we’ll go ramroddin’ forever more

(Ramrod, © Bruce Springsteen)

It’s 1959 in San Francisco’s low rent district. At the local beatnik hangout, Walter Paisley busses tables and pines for a comely hipster artist chick named Carla. He’s an outsider the hip kids make fun of and he can never seem to fit in. The place is full of beat poets who recite their self righteous, overly hip poetry to bongo drums. One night Walter is home trying to become a sculptor so he can impress Carla and accidentally kills his neighbor’s cat. He decides to cover the cat in clay and calls it “Dead Cat,” which Carla thinks is genius. This spurs him on to kill other living things and make sculptures out of them. This is the inspired plot of Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, which was shot in its entirety in five days. Corman and writer Charles B. Griffith developed the basic plot and idea for this film in a single day. The sets would later be used for Corman’s next film, The Little Shop of Horrors, in 1960.

Last week Roger Corman received a long overdue honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement from the Academy for his life’s work - 350 movies. He crafted incredible, low budget, lurid B-movie spectaculars starting in the 1950’s and provided career launches for artists like John Sayles, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese. His films featured the nascent talents of Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, William Shatner, Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone and others.

I salute the genius of Roger Corman. And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

Every once in awhile I run across a website that completely sucks me in and before I know it… hours have flown by. Such a site is the Meeker Museum, dedicated to actor Ralph Meeker, who started in musicals in the 1950’s and had roles on both TV and in feature films through the 1970s. He played Mike Hammer in the 1955 Robert Aldrich classic film of Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me Deadly. The Meeker Museum lovingly recounts Meeker’s career as well as other movie stars of yesteryear. It’s stated mission is to be ‘a non-profit, non-existent organization dedicated to the pursuit of inner peace through movie stars.

Other essays on the site include a tribute to Troy Donahue, the films of Conway Twitty, a Sandra Dee retrospective, and a lengthy multi-paged mini-site about the book, movies, and TV series Peyton Place. The site’s creator, Jack Stalnaker, apparently created the site in an early version of Frontpage. But you know what? It kind of works. When you’re poking about in dusty library stacks, you want retro, even if it looks like the web in 1999. It’s cool.

In fact the Meeker Museum is the Way Cool Item of the Day.

Somehow we’ve gotten around to that time of the year again when all of a sudden Halloween gives way to Thanksgiving and then five minutes later it’s Christmas. So if you’re looking around for interesting gift giving ideas why not also give back to the community and support Girl Power at the same time? The Lower Eastside Girls Club Sweet Things Bake Shop can hit both those notes for you. Celebrate autumn with their hand-painted leaf and acorn shaped butter cookies. Order an Autumn in New York Cookie Tin, or a City Winter Tin (which includes an oversized brownstone cookie made of gingerbread among other goodies).

The Girls Club also sponsors number of great free community events and a Fair Trade and Girl Made Gift Shop at the Essex Market. They continue to present programs that build Ethical, Entrepreneurial, and Environmental awareness and leadership among girls from the 4th grade to the 12th grade. They’re doing great work and really deserve your support.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

If you’ve been reading SDJ for awhile you’ll know that occasionally I predict that Amanda Palmer AKA Amanda Fucking Palmer AKA Force of Nature / New Media Goddess will eventually be a name everyone knows due to her most awesome talent as a singer, songwriter, and performer. Well it’s that time again because AFP is about to embark on a short tour of the East Coast which begins tonight in Burlington, VT and ends on November 22 in Knoxville, Tennessee. New York is sold out for the show this weekend, but if you’re in Portland Maine, Northampton MA, Philadelphia, Falls Church VA, Carrboro NC, or Knoxville - do consider spending about $20 for one of the greatest musical experiences of your life. Because she may not be a household name now - but she will be. And someday you’ll say, why the F didn’t I get a ticket to that show when I could?

Just sayin.’

More info here. And here. And here.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

In case you didn’t know (for shame), Joan Jett is one kick-ass, gorgeous, amazing, hard rocking, original riot grrrl beeyotch. To my great surprise and delight today I found out that Mattel (who are, apparently, still swell) will be presenting the Joan Jett Barbie Doll to the world in December, as part of the Ladies of the ’80’s Collection. I can hardly think of a better role model for the Barbie doll-playing-set, hella yeah!

The text description of the doll reads - and no, I did not make this up: Have you ever said (or sung) “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”? If so, you’re gonna love this doll! An acclaimed guitarist and one of the greatest leading ladies of rock, Joan Jett is a legendary singer and songwriter. Featuring her look and rock ‘n’ roll spirit, the Joan Jett Barbie Doll is part of the Ladies of the ’80s collection and a must-have for her many fans! Includes doll and guitar, and stands approximately 11 1/2-inches tall.

The Collection will also feature Cyndi Lauper (in flouncy red skirt) and Blondie’s Debbie Harry. As for Joanie, this is one of those rare items that I think I might have to actually pre-purchase on Amazon. I can’t stand the thought of not being able to have my Joan Jett Barbie. Although I am deducting swell points from Mattel for not including Patti Smith in the collection. Imagine a Patti Smith Barbie dressed in white man’s shirt and loose tie, kind of like the Horses cover shot by Robert Mapplethorpe. I think we could have eschewed Cyndi and made this Joan, Debbie, and Patti. Cyndi’s kind of fluffy next to those other original riot grrls, n’est-ce pas? They could have called it, instead, The Riot Grrl Collection.

In other really great Joan Jett news, Kristin Stewart will play the part of JJ in the upcoming Runaways movie to Dakota Fanning’s Cherie Currie.  But who will play Kim Fowley? Inquiring minds want to know!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-CHERRY BOMB! The Joan Jett Barbie doll is my Way Cool Item of the Day.