Archive | January, 2015

Three days left to pledge support on Kickstarter for indie film “Durant’s Never Closes” starring Tom Sizemore

31 Jan
Director and crew for "Durant's on Film" in front of the iconic restaurant.

Director and crew for “Durant’s on Film” in front of the iconic restaurant.

Durant’s classic steakhouse in Downtown Phoenix is possibly the city’s most famous dining destination. Its late owner, Jack Durant, is certainly one of the city’s most mysterious and compelling figures. Books have been written about him, and plays, and stories in local media. Now, local filmmaker Travis Mills and his company Running Wild Films seek to bring a full-length movie on the legend to fruition. PHOENIX magazine ran a story about the movie in our January 2015 issue (Durant’s on Film), but the gist of it is: The cast includes Tom Sizemore in the lead role, with co-stars including Joe Don Baker, Pam Grier, Peter Bogdanovich, and Michael Richards. The majority of funding for production has been covered; however, additional funds to finish the film are being raised on Kickstarter. The campaign ends Wednesday, February 4. A trailer for the film is below.


Party with Lady Death at creator Brian Pulido’s chaos- and cake-filled Kickstarter launch event

29 Jan
lady death chaos rule no 1

Cover art by Paolo Pantalena

Graphically and novelly speaking — and speaking of graphic novels — writer Brian Pulido is sort of like a landscape painter… of underworlds full of stabby little knaves and puffy black clouds. I first met him while we were both serving as judges for a zombie beauty pageant at the 2009 Phoenix Comicon. At that point, he’d already had a successful career in comics with his publishing company, Chaos! Comics, and Lady Death and Evil Ernie series, and he was about to release the first full-length feature film he’d written and directed, a horror flick titled The Graves.

pulido ntA few months after meeting him in 2009,  I wrote a cover story (pictured left) about Pulido for Phoenix New Times called Desert Chills, right around the time The Graves came out in select theaters. We’ve stayed in touch – and busy – and since then.

Most recently, after writing Lady Death stories for different publishers over the past several years, Pulido announced he’s reacquired total control over Lady Death, and will publish the first Pulido-penned and Pulido-published Lady Death story in more than thirteen years, a 48-page graphic novel titled Chaos Rules #1, under the banner of Coffin Comics (of which his wife, Francisca Pulido, is president). The project, Pulido says, is finished, but hell awaits funds for production costs. That’s where his kick-ass Kickstarter launch party at Jesse James Comics in Glendale, AZ on Feb. 4 comes in. From 6 to 8 p.m., people can mingle with Brian and Francisca Pulido and get items signed, take photos with cosplayer Freddie Nova as Lady Death, make pledges on-site at computer stations, enjoy refreshments and eat cake. The first 100 attendees will also receive a cool commemorative Lady Death gift. We recently caught up with Pulido to talk about the appeal of Lady Death, the new graphic novel, and crazy Kickstarter rewards like a one-off edition with a $6,000 diamond embedded in the cover.

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Playback: Gin Blossoms founder Doug Hopkins and The Tempe Sound

26 Jan

hopkins story

Last November, an exhibition called “The Tempe Sound” opened at Tempe History Museum. The show (which runs through October 2015) features an array of items related to the Tempe and metro Phoenix music scenes of the late ’80s and early ’90s. There are early concert posters for The Meat Puppets, the sound board from defunct venue Long Wong’s, stage outfits from the Phunk Junkeez and St. Madness, a skateboard deck from JFA, and a plethora of paraphernalia from other Arizona artists including The Refreshments, The Pistoleros and Flathead.

But for many, the main draw of the exhibition is a display of items related to the late Doug Hopkins, founder and guitarist of the Gin Blossoms. Hopkins penned the Blossoms’ best-known hits, including “Hey Jealousy” and “Found Out About You,” but his struggles with personal demons led to his dismissal from the band and suicide in 1993. For the November 2014 issue of PHOENIX magazine, I wrote a story about Hopkins’ life and music, named after the title of my favorite Gin Blossoms song, “Lost Horizons.” For this story, I had the honor of speaking with many of Hopkins’ friends and former band mates, including author Laurie Notaro, Arizona bluesman Hans Olson, and Gin Blossoms singer Robin Wilson. I was impressed by the talent and personality and intelligence of Hopkins as it was relayed to me, and perplexed at his ultimately tragic (and some say inevitable) end.

After the story was published, I had the opportunity to speak with “Here and Now” host Steve Goldstein about Hopkins on 91.5 KJZZ FM. Here is a link to the segment on Hopkins.

Inside Alice Cooper’s Attic and Thrift Store, and Solid Rock Teen Center

22 Jan

niki_aliceAs this recent Halloween photo shows, I’m a big fan of Alice Cooper. I’m a fan of his music, I’m a fan of his restaurant (Alice Cooper’stown), and most recently, I became a fan of his new thrift store (Alice’s Cooper’s Attic and Thrift Store), which is right next door to his nonprofit Solid Rock Teen Center.

I’ve met Alice before. He and his team have been great about giving PHOENIX magazine access, whether we’re writing about the “Big Unit” hot dogs at Alice Cooper’stown for our March 2013 “Bucket List” issue or writing about his thrift store (that’s in the February 2015 issue of PHOENIX magazine, on newsstands now). The video below is an exclusive tour of the thrift store and teen center, and features a fun little cameo from yours truly.

Playback: “Country Roads,” the History of Arizona Country Music

19 Jan

I decided to open a blog category called “Playback” to share some of the music writing and media I’ve done in the past. This entry is dedicated to a feature I wrote for PHOENIX magazine‘s July 2014 issue. The story was titled Arizona Country Roads, and it recounted the countless musicians who helped shape the country music soundscape in Arizona, from Duane Eddy and Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter to Marty Robbins and Tanya Tucker. The Herndon Brothers and Handlebar-J help continue the legacy; see my behind-the-scenes interview with them at this fine establishment below:

In addition to the web extra video for PHOENIX magazine, I was given the opportunity to discuss the story on the 91.5 KJZZ program Here and Now. The full audio segment is here.

Marky Ramone: The “last link” to the Ramones dishes on drumming, pasta sauce for autism, and what happens when you hang out at Stephen King’s house.

13 Jan
Marky Ramone at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Marky Ramone at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Marc Bell, aka Marky Ramone, spent decades behind the drum kit for the Ramones, arguably the most important and influential punk rock band of all time. They were the leather jacket and ripped jeans-clad architects of punchy two-minute, three-chord songs about beating on brats with baseball bats, shock treatments and lobotomies, sniffing glue and wanting to be sedated. Simultaneously, they simplified and repackaged your parents’ rock and roll into Ramones music, recording distinct versions of The Searchers’ hit ballad “Needles and Pins” (a song co-written by Sono Bono) and Freddy Cannon’s “Palisades Park” and asking if you wanna dance under the moonlight (“do you, do you, do you, do you wanna dance?”). Tragically, singer Joey Ramone died from lymphoma in 2001 and didn’t live to see the Ramones’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the following year. Three months after the induction ceremony, original bassist Dee Dee Ramone died from a drug overdose. Guitarist Johnny Ramone died from prostate cancer in 2004. In July of 2014, original Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone – who’d recommended Marky be his replacement in 1978 – also succumbed to cancer.

Marky Ramone, thankfully, remains alive – and active. He continues to play drums, and recently released his autobiography, Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone (Simon & Schuster). His book tour stops at Changing Hands Bookstore at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix on January 20, where Arizona Republic music editor Ed Masley will host a conversation with Ramone  (click here for tickets). I recently caught up with Marky to talk about the book, the Ramones, New York City in the 1970s, overcoming personal demons, his radio show on Sirius, his pasta sauce, his beer, and his charitable interests. I told you he was active.

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