Celebrating ESP-DISK’ : 50 Years of Unimaginable Sounds – Imagined

This piece was originally published August 26th, 2013.

Sun Ra 1 IconIn 1963 a record label began on the 12th floor of 156 Fifth Avenue in New York City by releasing its first LP.

Bernard Stollman, a 34 year old jazz fan with a law background, had been working with some rhythm and blues and jazz musicians, helping them with copyright and contract issues.

 

Bernard Stollman and one of his early ESP logos.

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Stollman had also learned the “International Auxiliary Language,” Esperanto and recorded an album of songs and poetry all spoken in Esperanto, which he had hoped would further promote the language.

Titled, Ni Kantu en Esperanto, Stollman decided to self-release his album on a record label that was named after the language itself, ESP-DISK’.

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HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, NEW YEAR, ETC. ETC. !!

This piece was originally published January 4th, 2010.

Happy New Year 2010 Icon copyAll sorts of celebrations lately.

It’s a new year, a new decade, and this week marks the 1st anniversary celebration of the resurrection of this Mystery Box weekly column.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely, and from my heart, thank you all for reading and coming back each week.

I look forward to this coming year’s stay here.

I’m settled in and ready to go-go. I hope that my subject matter for each new column will also be as entertaining and interesting for you as they always are for me to come up with.

If I can get you to seek out some new (or old) music, visual art, discover a great comedian of the past that you never heard of before, or find a new love for anything that I have been able to dig out of the Mystery Box’s deep chamber, then I am a very happy scribe here at the command module and my weekly work is accomplished.

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DAVID BOWIE’S SPACE ODDITY: 40TH ANNIVERSARY REISSUE!

This piece was originally published November 30th, 2009.

Major Tom Icon1969 was a banner year for momentous historical and cultural events.

This was the year of Woodstock’s “…3 Days of Peace & Music” festival, and its parallel universe/evil Captain Kirk, the Rolling Stones’ Altamont festival.

The Manson Family cult went on their murderous rampage in L.A., Nixon was elected President while the Vietnam War continued amidst home-front demonstrations and William Calley’s My Lai Massacre

The Beatles gave their last ever live performance on a rooftop and Led Zeppelin’s first album was released.

In television, The Brady BunchMonty Python’s Flying Circus and Sesame Street all premiered.

Yet, in this tumultuous year, which many saw as the end of the optimism that grew from the counter-cultural youth movement of the past decade, no greater single event optimistically captured television viewers the world over than one in particular. No other trip was quite as spectacular or fantastic as the wonder, imagination and positive vibe of where the future of civilization could be headed, then the July 11th United States’ NASA Apollo11 lunar landing in the Sea of Tranquility (or Mare Tranquillitatis if you prefer the beautifully named Latin version).

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THE GREAT BASEBALL RIOT OF 1974 a.k.a. 10¢ BEER NIGHT!

This piece was originally published September 7th, 2009

Baseball Head Girl IconIt seemed like a good idea at the time.

Have a promotional event that would increase poor ticket sales and give all baseball game attendees a nice, fun evening out at the ballpark.

Hell, it kind of worked once before, one week earlier: Same teams, The Texas Rangers vs. The Cleveland Indians.

This one was played at Arlington Stadium in Texas.

A gem of a game.

Players involved in a little forearming and face punching, throwing at the head. You know, light stuff. This time the “cheap beer night” promotion only ended with a bench clearing brawl that turned into fans hurling food and beer at various players and coaches coming out of the dugouts and a large crowd of drunken fans jumping onto the field.


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VIDEO WATCHDOG: 150th Issue Celebration Interview with Tim & Donna Lucas!

This piece was originally published July 27th, 2009

Fang Monster IconThis week celebrates the 150th issue of Video Watchdog!

For anyone who is yet to be a fan, the magazine is a monthly digest sized gem that is edited/published and designed by Tim and Donna Lucas, began life in 1990, and features a host of superb regular contributors for what is simply the finest in critical and extremely detailed writing, interviews and reviews of genre films.

As well as publishing the magazine, Tim and Donna also published the stunningly beautiful (and gigantic at 12 pounds!) definitive book on the great Italian director Mario Bava, entitled Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark in 2007.

As a celebration of Video Watchdog, I had the honor of interviewing Tim and Donna Lucas and my very special thanks goes out to them for this interview. Their recollections on publishing VW, thoughts about looking forward toward VW’s future, and insightful comments regarding print media, the internet and fave films, easily place this among my favorite pieces that I have done for The Mystery Box.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

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Tim and Donna: From #1 to #150

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MAD Magazine 500th Issue Celebration!!

This piece was originally published July 20th, 2009

Alfred E. Newman IconMAD Magazine: Fine purveyors of outstanding highbrow literature, anthropological exploration, critical analysis and scientific socio-political satire for over 55 years, now gives their fans a reason to be cheerful (and dumbfounded).

Currently on newstands and available at overpriced booksellers everywhere is their…drumroll please… 500th issue!

That’s right folks, the “What Me Worry?” kid a.k.a. Alfred E. Neuman, and “the Usual Gang of Idiots” are still going strong and surviving in 2009.

Take that, Cracked Magazine!

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Little Steven’s Underground Garage: Celebrating 7 Years (So Far, and So Far Out) of Garage Rock Radio Greatness

This piece was originally published April 6th, 2009

Mop Top IconThe Little Steven’s Underground Garage syndicated weekly radio show began 7 years ago and is currently celebrating a seven year anniversary of playing selections from the ever growing umbrella of Garage Rock’s creatively wild, brilliantly defiant and just plain freakin’ good music from the ’50s to NOW. The current program is listed at show #366 and there is definitely no sign of slowing down.

One would be hard-pressed to find a better music radio host at the moment (ok Bob Dylan might be an equal, but he’s the subject of a future column) than the gravely voiced, street smart Dead End Kid who is Little Steven…

Steven Van Zandt a.k.a. Little Steven, was born at the beginning of the rock and roll decade, in 1950, to an Italian American family in Winthrop, Massachusetts. Moving to New Jersey when he was 7, his life as a musician will forever be one for modern music’s history books. Even an incomplete list of accomplishments is staggering: founding member of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, several early pre fame Bruce Springsteen bands, twice (and currently) a key figure in the legendary Springsteen E Street Band, activist and leader of the ’80s all star “Artists United Against Apartheid” Sun City benefit ensemble, and infamy as an actor in The Sopranos as the memorable Silvio. Hell, most folks would probably lounge on an island doing nothing else between recording albums and nightly four hour plus shows of touring with The E Street Band alone.

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Thankfully, for those of us who live, love and breathe cool music, Mr. Van Zandt seems to be a workaholic, and number one fan of all that he programs on his radio show.
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BEE GEES’ ODESSA – 40TH ANNIVERSARY REISSUE

This piece was originally published January 13th, 2009.

Morey IconToday marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Bee Gees’ lavish Baroque double lp pop masterpiece, Odessa. To anyone unfamiliar with the ’60s work from the Bee Gees, think not the ’70s disco or ’80s & ’90s soppy gloss. Throughout the decade, their most prolific period, the Brothers Gibb crafted some of the most creatively insightful, ambitious and majestic music to rival anyone of the time. Not to mention, having hit single after hit single.

Odessa, their sixth album, would be the apex of their work together – a double album covered in red flock velvet for the first pressing, heavily orchestrated, and loosely based on the concept of a ship lost at sea. After Odessa, the Gibbs would never again be as creative, would splinter off into solo projects and until their resurrection as disco icons, stay off the pop charts.

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Reprise/Rhino Records puts their usual magical touch to this release by not only replicating the red flocked cover, but by including 3 cds worth of music and extra materials to create a superb deluxe version box set of this previously little know gem. Outstanding in every way possible.