Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm Not Drunk, I'm Just Drinkin'

Beer has been good to me throughout the ages, from my trials as a young man sneaking beers from my Dad's basement to making friends over frosty mugs in my college days at The Pub located at Buff State (pre-prohibition days)....

Man, this issue was the peak and the demise- all in one! The last issue of Slack #20 was a bulky 20 pages, four more than then many of the previous 16-page issues. Capitalizing on the most popular of the Slack themes: Beer, this issue was a smash success! Unfortunately, it was also the final issue. It was the 1st issue actually offset printed-- all the previous issues were copy-shop produced. Actually printing it was a step to legitimizing the pub, but it turned out to be the final step. The cult closed its door and we stopped publishing the Summer of 1996-- Slack in Buffalo was dead. All told, Slack lived for 20 issues, 3 years (from August of 1993 to March of '96), two anniversaries, countless drunken adventures, parties, free CDs and records and a certain cache that made it a fondly remembered piece of Buffalo's history, the clubs, the concerts, the bars, the beers, the local music, the shops, the beers and loves and hates of the people of B-LO.

Slack no. 20, The Beer Issue, part II
Feb/March, 1996 (published 2-6-96)

Now you may have thought that the last issue, the Sci-Fi issue was a good one, and you may have really liked the first Beer Issue (April 1994) but this return to the beer theme really hit the nail on the head. This issue was the heart and soul of Slack. Now, I don't mean that because we drank a lot of beer while making this (I mean a REAL lot of beer) it is just that this issue is so tightly wrapped around the theme, it is just so sharp, it rocked!

Highlights include the:

> Second Annual SLACK Beer Taste Test-
Koch's Golden Anniversary vs. Genny Red vs. Schlitz vs. Hamm's- what a battle royale over a 2-page spread. The background, which came out a little too dark for my liking, was a photo of a beer can in the gutter on Chippewa Street.

> The 6th Annual Buffalo Beer Fest at the Convention Center-- a review of a night that ended up with a lot of Slack stickers being stuck on a lot of bar walls, people's backs and some cars. Juvenile delinquents, we are all (and quite drunk). The Beer Fests used to be quite drunken out of control events, they were like the '70s- a free-for-all of free beer, German Drinking Bands surrounded by mobs of happy, yet slightly unruly beer fans and free beer swag.

> New Beers That Didn't Make It-- including Stale Ale, Coffee Beer, Prozac Beer and the combination of two '80s beer trends: Dry Ice Beer.

> Great ads from Das Boot, Network, New World Record and Concrete (all long gone).

> The Cool Like Dat Music section had a great review of the P22 Temple of Music compilation of local Buffalo bands. This was put out by local font maven Rich Kegler's P22/Atom Smash and included (at the time, recently) ex-Goo George Tutuska's Hula. The art for this section included flatbed scanned sacrificed cassette tape. Still available online.

> A short but sweet review of the 'new' Iggy Pop record written by Doug McKee which was a one-liner: "Iggy's back to rockin, and that's good."

People are always asking me about Slack and starting it up again online. I thought getting all 20 issues up now, making them available to the world in PDF format, was a step in the right direction. Looking back, this was a great time for me learning to run my own business. However shoddy the Slack was run, we put together a great publication. We gathered writers, editors, photographers, Djs and advertisers and put this together, got it printed, distributed and did it again and again and again. I think the only reason I ever decided to go into business myself (besides working for 3 dot-coms that went belly up in 1999) was the Slack experience. I knew I could do it.

Anyway here it is linked below. Click and print. And below that are the archives of all 20 issues! All done. The past introduced to the future- for the kids. Ha.

Downlaod the final PDF here:
Slack Magazine n. 20, the Beer issue, part II (6.1 mg)

Don't forget these issues already up (one more to go, baby!):
Slack Magazine n. 19, The Sci-Fi Issue
Slack Magazine n. 18, The Two-Year Anniversary! issue
Slack Magazine n. 17, The Local Radio Issue
Slack issue n. 16- The Summer Fun Issue (#2)
Slack Magazine n. 15, The Local Music Issue
Slack Magazine n. 14, The Cartoon Issue
Slack Magazine n. 13, The Food & Beverage Issue
Slack Magazine n. 12, The One-Year Anniversary Issue
Slack Magazine n. 11, The True Crime Issue
Slack Magazine n. 10, Summer Fun Issue
Slack Magazine n. 9, The Dead Rock Stars Issue
Slack Magazine n. 8, The Beer Issue
Slack Magazine n. 7, Slack Goes to The Movies Issue
Slack Magazine n. 6, The Buffalo Issue
Slack Magazine n.5, The Slack TV Issue
Slack Magazine n. 4, SEX in the '90s Issue
Slack Magazine n. 3, The Politico Issue
Slack Magazine n. 2, The Travel Issue
Slack Magazine n. 1, The Debut Issue

I am not sure what will be next- should I put up the Slack predecessor,
The Sign O' The Times or try and relaunch Buffalo's first online magazine
the BuffaloPOST? We'll see I guess...

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Last Days of Our Aquaintance

T-Shirt Of The Week #2: Iroquois Brewery Red Logo Art on Black Tee

This is my weekly feature on a favorite t-shirt that i own, number two.... I bought this tee at the stuff stand that is in the middle of the Broadway Market. They sell all kinds of cool things, Buffalo items, polish-pride gear, trinkets, collectibles, whatnot and whose-i-whistles. I bought one for my Dad and one for myself, the black version. His was a dark blue on a cream- which was a cool color combo as well.

I have to say this is my newest of my current favorite t-shirts. The dark red (I'll try and match the Pantone for you, hold on.... #1795 is my best guess) looks great on the dark, black shirt. The tee is pretty fresh, so it's still all new and crisp, not really worn in yet.

When I was a kid, we used to have two medallion-type wall hangings of this same Iroquois logo on the wall by my Dad's basement bar. And for those of you not from the Bflo-area this was a Buffalo brewery, opened in some form or another sometime around 1830 or 1842 (depending who you ask) and lasted until some form until the '70s. It was located on Hickory and Pratt streets on the Eastside and lasted as Buffalo's final, old-timey brewery to outlive Simon Pure and all the others. I used to have a beer can collection when I was a kid and the only 'cone top' I had was the pride of my collection-- an Iroquois (something like this one, but not as good shape). So not to 'geek-out' there too much, but always loved this logo- it looks like it was carved out of wood.

So I like this new tee a lot, it's a great piece of Buffalo nostalgia and my youth.

> Iroquois beer song songs the Forgotten Bufalo website (sing along).
> Flying Bison, a good Bflo brewery from now/today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Love Me Two Times

T-Shirt Of The Week (#1):
I have a lot of favorite t-shirts. They see a lot more action in the Summer months, but they occasionally appear during the Winter months with a long sleeve thermal or (self) mock(ing)-tee underneath. I had some cool old shirts packed up in the attic which I had ran across last Summer and re-introduced them into my wardrobe. Some were old and ratty and became painting tees or gym tees. When I found the old tees, I remembered how great they were at one time, how loved they were, how many of them got worn to death, to the state they are in now.

So in an effort to preserve them as they are, I am going to start this new blog feature- The T-Shirt of The Week post. Before they get destroyed, I am going to immortalize them here. Years down the line, I'll be able to look back and reflect, remember and shed a tear for these long lost Tees.

T-Shirt Of The Week: Black Home Of The Hits Tee

I bought this tee on the last day this beloved Elmwood Avenue record store was open. I needed some souvenir before the joint was shuttered so I took a quick trip out, scanned the leftover records and came up with this shirt. Now I was never sure who did the now famous HOTH logo, but I am sure some of you faithful readers (and possibly old HOTH workers) might know who the artist was and can share the details here on the RoamBuffalo blog.

With the classic white art on the back tee, the logo is familiar to anyone who has entered the Elmwood Strip where it starts at Forest Ave. A rocking home with a record above the door and a music note escaping from the front. The logo, I believe, is set in P22's Daddy-O font.

I wear this shirt proudly as a former shopper of this now-gone, but fondly remembered record store. The first record store I went to when I first started attending Buff State college. Ah the good old days..... the Tee is now a vintage classic!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine

The plane crash tragedy is surreal. I want to go to the crash scene to see the hole in the ground but I don't think that would be a good idea. If I never fly again, I will be fine with that. I don't like flying anyway, but know it is extra scary.

I some friends that have lost some loved ones in the plane crash and it is sad to think about. My thoughts go out to them.

The Buffalo Snooze has been doing a good job of keeping us up to date along with the non-stop television coverage. Channel 7 was live on the scene Thursday night so I have kept with them. They interrupted my girls Saturday AM cartoons this morning for a press conference and the kids didn't think that was cool. I am not sure they really understand the crash. I mean they know what happened, but it has not affected them like it has us. They are little and today's birthday party is a bigger concern... ah the innocence of youth is insulating. But I am sure the next time we decide to fly down to Florida (it might be a while) it will come up again and we'll have to deal with this tragedy again....

My sympathies go out to all that are feeling this pain and especially those that lost a loved one Thursday night.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Shake Well Before Opening

"As a kid growing up in the '70s, I didn't want to be real life astronaut Neil Armstrong, but fictional space traveler Captain James T. Kirk. Kirk was bold, brash and he got all the chicks - even the green ones. Kirk got to fight aliens and even nazis... Armstrong just got to walk on the moon."
-- Editor's Desktop

It sucks to get fooled by the thaw. It sure looks like all the snow is going to melt, the birds are going to return and the sun is going to start shining. This, of course, is not true. It is only February 9th and, of course, this is Buffalo, New York. Spring is..... in reality, probably two months away. And, most likely, it will snow again, and be cold again, and not be Spring soon enough. Shit.

I grew up in this town, have lived my whole life in this town and with the exception of a few trips down south, I have never really left this town. You would think, I can get used to the cold and the snow. I smile bravely and proclaim to anyone who cares, and even those that do not, that, "I live in Buffalo by choice and damn it, I like this backass town". Am I crazy, perhaps. Am I too lazy too move? I don't really know.

When I was a kid, I thought by the time the future came streaking in-- which was the year 2000 and beyond-- we would be living in space. I thought for sure we would be zooming around in spaceship-like hovercrafts, eating food out of tubes and pills and lounging around in matching shirt and pants sets. I thought we would be playing 3-D chess like they did on the Enterprise. I thought we would be drinking Romulan Ale. I thought we be vacationing by simply traveling within our own minds, courtesy of a Holodeck-like, altered-reality, dream machine. Shit.

Slack issue #19- The Science Fiction Issue Dec/Jan 1996
(published 12.08.95)

The cover was modeled after the World Weekly News and announced the challenge: Capt. Picard vs. Capt. Kirk- Who Was the Baddest Captain?, Ten Reasons to See Star Wars Again and It's Cool To Be a Nerd. This was the second last issue of Slack and it is really full of some good stuff with a detailed Sci-Fi Movie Guide. 'Sci-Fi,' now this was a theme all the writers really embraced and gave it their all. Raisin Blowme's Building a Better Tomorrow: Star Trek Technology in Today's World looked at uses for Trek gadgetry in the world of 1996 including the Transporter, "Gridlock is eliminated by this mode of instantaneous travel. The downside is that Jehovah's Witnesses keep beaming into your living room." There is an interesting look at computers and their role in 1990's cybersex, as well as the casting of Star Wars- The Musical with Thurston Moore as Luke, Matthew Sweet as Hans Solo and the band Gwar playing the Sandpeople. Brilliant! How come this musical hasn't happened yet 13 years later?

There are some great record reviews including Black Grape, the first Chemical Brothers record (...setting the course for a new begining-beyond stale techno), and some local bands like Elk, Cotton Mouth, Saturn Battery and Lynn Rogers. This issue includes the usual suspects: Stick, Comix by Hump and a Bitter Boy rant on bad restaurant service. Speaking of bad restaurant service, there is an ad for Mojo's in this issue. This was the all-night diner which was on Chippewa and Delaware in the space which became the Kingsnake, which became a martini bar or taco joint or something which is in a hotel (now). This is the place I used to sometimes go after DJing at 4:00 AM, figuring the Towne was be too crowded (always best to get there by 3:00-3:30 AM or so). I would be the only one in the joint and had to still wait 45 minutes for simple eggs and homefries! What was wrong with that joint!

The Reasons Aliens Will Never Land in Buffalo (circa 1996):
10. We can't even get Barry Manilow to play here, why would they come.
09. Since there is no snow in space, aliens would fear Buffalo during the winter season.
08. Don't want to waste time turning residents into mindless drones (find they already exits, called 'football fans'!)
07. Afraid of Jeff Simon and his 'pact with the devil.'
06. Mayor (Masiello) would assume they were illegal aliens and expect them to work in his kitchen for free.
05. Zoning laws prevent intelligent life within city limits.
04. Some nights it seems none of the bars have Guiness Stout.
03. The toxic residue left by Carey Grey is still here* (*see issue #17, the Local Radio Issue).
02. Why bother; they also have Hooters restaurants where it is warm.
01. Anthony Violanti.

Accompanying Photo: An 'artist's recreation' of former Buffalo Bill Fred Smerlas happily greeting an extraterrestrial in Buffalo, NY. Photoshop magic, I tell you....

Downlaod PDF here:
Slack Magazine n. 19, the Science Fiction issue (7.1 mg)

Don't forget these issues already up (one more to go, baby!):
Slack Magazine n. 18, The Two-Year Anniversary! issue
Slack Magazine n. 17, The Local Radio Issue
Slack issue n. 16- The Summer Fun Issue (#2)
Slack Magazine n. 15, The Local Music Issue
Slack Magazine n. 14, The Cartoon Issue
Slack Magazine n. 13, The Food & Beverage Issue
Slack Magazine n. 12, The One-Year Anniversary Issue
Slack Magazine n. 11, The True Crime Issue
Slack Magazine n. 10, Summer Fun Issue
Slack Magazine n. 9, The Dead Rock Stars Issue
Slack Magazine n. 8, The Beer Issue
Slack Magazine n. 7, Slack Goes to The Movies Issue
Slack Magazine n. 6, The Buffalo Issue
Slack Magazine n.5, The Slack TV Issue
Slack Magazine n. 4, SEX in the '90s Issue
Slack Magazine n. 3, The Politico Issue
Slack Magazine n. 2, The Travel Issue
Slack Magazine n. 1, The Debut Issue

I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone

I have been sucked into this Facebook-thing and have been fascinated by the glimpse people offer into their lives. The transparency of it it all is interesting-- people have this tendency to bear a bit of themselves online as opposed to speaking in person and telling you things. I think they will write bits about themselves hiding behind their computer screen that they would not tell you face-to-face.

There is also a tendency to group things in list (25 Things You May Not Know About Me, etc), which I have always been a fan of. I have been writing things in top ten list as long as Dave Letterman and enjoy trying to encapsulate things into 'tens' or 'elevens' (I like the extra one, throws it off a bit).

So in that vein, here are the:
Top Ten Bands/Artists That Have Influenced My Life
And Made Me Who I Am - For Better Or For Worse
& In No Particular Order:

  • The Doors
  • Prince
  • The Smiths
  • The Replacements
  • The Clash
  • Paul Weller
  • New Order
  • Beastie Boys
  • Public Enemy
  • James Brown
Open for discussion and comment...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hungry Like The Wolf

I recently unearthed some great old kids records from the 40s and 50s. A few are from Columbia's Playtime label and a few are from Peter Pan Records ("for happy children") which was owned by Synthetic Plastics Company in Newark, NJ. I saved them because I love records (in general) and the illustrations are so vibrant. Instead of fading with age they have seemed to have gotten brighter.

I picked a few I really liked to post here including Peter Rabbit- a Musical Story, Little Bo Peep, 3 Little Pigs and my favorite Cinderella. The mix of typefaces include classics, gimmick (the brick typeface on the 3 Pigs), and hand written. The characters also are a mix of adorable (Bo Peep and her lamb) and somewhat scary (the freaky Peter Cottontail).

All in all, great little batch of designs from the past- click for larger view.

3 Little Pigs- A Musical Story (front).

Nonbreakable-- 3 Pigs (back).

Cinderella- Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (front).

Cinderella (back).

Peter Cottontail (front).

Little Bo Peep (front and back).

Farmer in the Dell sung by Gene Kelly.