Archive | July, 2015

LIFE IS NOTHING MORE THAN A SHIT SANDWICH WITH TOO MUCH BREAD JAMMED IN BETWEEN

27 Jul
First published appearance of the Deposit Man in anthology comic mag, Malice published in late 1999 by Death Comics.

First published appearance of the Deposit Man in anthology comic mag, Malice published in late 1999 by Death Comics

My laptop hasn’t been feeling well lately, so most likely this will be written in short spurts. Trying to chronicle the creative process that led me to come up with the character called the Deposit Man, who’s humble beginnings began believe it or not;  since I was a little tyke and didn’t come around to achieving its’ true potential until a feverish drunk deprived evening in a North San Diego Hillcrest area flop house. twenty or so years later when I was a young adult (well, I sometimes still consider myself a young adult- of which some of you may digress).

After school during my grade school forays, a group of kids and I residing in the fair weathered apartment complex of Parsippany Vail Gardens used to congregate and meet up to play imaginary army and spy games on a hill where blackberry bushes grew wild and acted as a sort of passageway between two opposing apartment complexes with the Jersey City Reservoir serving as our backyard. Martin Nielson, David Puskar, David Ben-Shimer (my 3rd floor neighbor in my building) and Todd Glickson all served as captains and lieutenants. We do things like Man from U.N.C.L.E., Garrison’s Gorillas, or if we were lucky to have spare Big Wheels around that can pull wheelies – we’d go with Rat Patrol. All this stuff used to be syndicated in the early to mid seventies so we’d had a lot of made up canon to pursue through.

At one time, we were really hiding from each other or sorted into teams and go hunting each other through the thorny bushes and we’d pluck secret code names from out of nowhere from our little seven-year imaginative asses.

I revealed that I would go by the code name….”the Deposit Man…”

What followed next from the gang were impeccable blank little baffled stares…

until skinny bag of bones leader David Puskar broke the silence

“The Deposit Man? What are you fucking spasticated?”

Then we all broke out laughing and falling to our asses, because we weren’t really sure if spasticated was a real word or not.

But then I was thinking maybe I was Hugh O’Brien in my head – who always adorned a black turtleneck and underarm holster gun in the spy show called S.E.A.R.C.H. – which didn’t last on television for far too very long. I think that same image was later paid homage to in the animated series, Archer, which is a spoof on the whole entire spy genre.

The years went on. The childhood pretend games ceased to be and we moved on to our high school and later adult lives.

But the name still stuck in my craw.

Like I said in my 1991 YES LOG concerning the release of Union, there wasn’t a Yes studio album until 1994’s Talk. Shortly after that tour ended, I got an invite from my old high school friends, the Zullo brothers to take a stab at living in Los Angeles, way from the idyllic life I was leading in San Diego playing at assistant sound engineering and playing organ for bar bands. I jumped at the opportunity – FUCK yeah! So I had enlisted the aid of my aunt Megan to help transport my comic books and keyboard equipment up to Van Nuys, CA.

I immediately got a job working with the Zullos and their various roommate at a financial institution called Independence Bank, which evidentially after a few years got shut down by the FICA for accusations that they were running weapons to terrorists my department, the mailing and shipping department got sold to a contractor called Fi-Serv where I ended up serving the rest of my sentence when I got beheaded just before the holidays. Soon after, I got a job testing and shipping products from a used second-hand video game store that did a lot of mail orders around the globe. I was employed there while the Rodney King Riots were happening outside my door. The running joke of the shipping room was: ‘hey I’m going over to Circuit City for lunch: anybody want anything?”

But I got fired over someone blundering that caused an order to be shipped out to a fraudulent credit card and then that’s when the bottom fell out for me at my first attempt to living in Los Angeles. A thousand dollars that my mom sent me to put down as a down payment for a lease on a house in Northridge magically wasted away due to pets getting out of control, biting the mailman (myself included) which caused the Zullos, me, and friends to get evicted – just in time for me to get fired. Couldn’t hack the pressure in finding another well-paying gig, so I opted to head back south to San Diego with as little as much as $66.00 to my name and I had a fight on my hands trying to obtaining unemployment because you know, it’s difficult to get unemployment when your employer proves that they had justifiable cause to fire you.

In ten days I was homeless. But I’d rather be homeless in San Diego than in Los Angeles. It just seemed safer that way. If I were found to be homeless in the trash junkie world of Hollywood, I don’t know what trash bin, my sordid remain would be found in. I’d rather take my chances in the Herbert Walker Bush Economic wrecked world on the beaches of North San Diego, where maybe a ray of hope that someone would recognize me and take me under their wing. Didn’t want to go back to the crazy lady and her two dope smoking hair stylists whose wall I put my fist through. My old roommates Jean and John, not to mention Jean’s sister who I used to be in love with Jennifer departed for greener beach town pastures.

With the annual Comic Con International being around the corner, I wanted to be near there, no matter how penniless I got. So I stuck around as close to downtown as I could and settled for accommodating lodgings in some flea bag motel in the northern area of downtown called Hillcrest. Interesting area you could say. It was the very first place where I witness a massive mouth on mouth kiss taking place between two men at a late Friday showing of Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World.

I was nearly mortified.

But then looking over at my surroundings I started noticing a lot of men helping other men to help each other cross the street.

I retreated back to my flophouse with a bottle of white port and an utter annoyance to keep the UHF channels from malfunctioning on my portable black & white television. But all I could get was static. Snowy white static. And under the beguiling inebriated annoyance of smacking the television set in order to get a reception (also, that lingering man-kiss I witnessed in the back of my mind), I wanted to see beauty pageant chicas in bathing suits on some local UHF Spanish speaking station so I could momentarily forget the downtrodden situation I found myself in.

But then something started to move in that snowy UHF haze.

A face forming, but not really a face. Staring back at me.

And then I drifted off into sleep,

I woke up with an idea and went out to do laundry.

untitled

And while I was doing that laundry at some squeamish Laundromat – I came across an issue of the local weekly alternative paper called the San Diego Reader and caught my eye drawn to the cover story pertaining to the murder of comic book publisher Todd Loren. The murder happened in this exact neighborhood and that annoying fucking detail alone sent a tiny of shard of shivers in my spine. It was pretty risqué, what I was doing being holed up in a gay community, let alone a cockroach infested dump of a motel, just simply waiting for the convention to come and go – with as little as much as $100 in my pocket – NOW I’m totally immersed in this mystery killing of a comic book publisher who didn’t make many friends in the business, since he was publishing a whole entire line of niche books that were unauthorized biographies of music industry types that didn’t approve of the products he was putting out and claimed it infringed unlawful use of their images. Loren got in hot water with of all music acts, NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK. It was speculated that Todd Loren was the first victim of serial killer Andrew Cunanan, a real nut case who preyed upon wealthy gay entrepreneurs who finally met his end being shot dead in Miami, Florida after he had supposedly murdered famous fashion designer Gianni Versace in 1997.

Hoodad's in Ocean Beach, Ca - monument to where I wrote my first Deposit Man adventure.

For an odd stroke of luck, while in a convenience store while wandering around the town of Ocean Beach in downtown San Diego, I ran into some punk nerd kid by the name of David Foulk, who used to be a supervisor of mine at a job I once held at a software tech company in Carlsbad packaging and sending out mail ordered games. The last I heard, he was living up in Oceanside but couldn’t gel with the jarhead scene of nearby Camp Pendleton, so he moved down to be closer to the hippie and thrash music world scene. I spilled the beans about the unfortunate situation I found myself in thanks to Bush Economics that made me flee my first foray of becoming a full-fledged Los Angeleno, but once I found some steady exemplary work – hopefully in a mail room (I had also tested in San Diego for a mail carrier position – knowing my experience herding three paper routes concurrently), I was going to give a second stab at Los Angeles getting work in areas of clerking in the entertainment industry while putting myself through music school. I told him, that I wasn’t far – over in Hillcrest staying at a fleabag motel and that I could come over and hang while I’m in town and was only staying briefly to attend the comic book convention. David asked me how long did I think I was going to go back to Los Angeles. It was opened ended of course, so David pushed forth an offer that he was in need of a roommate real bad because of his classes at the State University of San Diego (which houses the famous Open Air Amphitheater – where I’ve seen many progressive rock acts, including the reunion of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer of that year) and ‘honestly, wouldn’t you rather stay in my studio cottage abode filled with discarded piece of Hanes’ tighty -whiteys and smelly socks, then a decaying rotted motel with wall filled to the brim with rats and cockroaches?”

Wasn’t really that much of a competition.

I stayed with David for a few months and during my tenure I got some work from a neighbor’s boyfriend helping as a roofer and was allowed to pound out the first draft of this story that popped in my head about this strange snowy man I saw on the hotel room’s television on his typewriter while jotting down notes on paper while seeking real office work in all parts of San Diego, mostly in the downtown and Point Loma areas. I had to limit myself to two hours a night so I wouldn’t’ interfere with his cottage studies. Free time was spent taping the early first run episodes of Batman: The Animated Series onto video tape of which I made David a fan of. I perused through his collection of Harlan Ellison and Norman Spinrad paperbacks, however we didn’t’ share the same type of music. I was cajoling in the reformation of Asia with new singer John Payne and the reunion of ELP, while he would blast thrash metal bands such as Pantera and Megadeth at excruciating ear bleeding decibel level, but by the same token I was grateful that we shared a mutual admiration of Brian Eno mid-Seventies solo output.

This living arrangement lasted approximately three months until I got passed off to move in his neighbors’ apartment, and it was there I started to hit the local libraries during spurts of looking for employment and started to read some Raymond Chandler. But then I got distracted by this local latina by the name of Consuelo who I met at a local bar fucking around on their piano pounding bits and piece of Tony Banks solos that I had memorized and it all got put away on the back burner when my friend Joe Zullo called out of nowhere and said he needed me to move in a new apartment at Los Angeles pronto because he canceled his engagement off on his girlfriend and promised he would get my foot in the door at Universal Music. So I had to ditch the budding romance I was going to have with this latina just as Joe drove all the way down in his Datsun 280Z just as I was finished jamming my tongue down her throat. Joe rolls down the windows and says:

“Fuck the wetback and get in the car already.”

And we were off to new adventures, listening to the Toy Matinee album all the way up.

Toy-Matinee_Toy-Matinee

Up in the apartment located above an insurance office in a shitty seedy area of North Hollywood, I further worked on my outline and scripts for a pilot episode on my static snowy friend I kept seeing in my head. Scrapping everything with notes and passages of Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” jotted down on legal pads. I began to work on a few plots. The plots simply him as a sort of simple detective investing strange occurrences in the afterlife – such as ‘re-murders’, such as the yellow ribbon mystery, based on my hatred for the craze during the Gulf War of handling out yellow ribbons to remember our military buddies out in Iraq ‘fighting for our freedom’ and pop radio’s horrid revival of that Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree”. Didn’t like hearing it back in 1975, and I sure as shit didn’t like hearing it in 1991.

I wrote another plot about a pregnant woman who’s about to give birth that could cause untold entropy or pandemonium in the afterlife. Another about a screen writer whose imagination causes wanton destruction in the afterlife which was based on a life or death situation that happened during my short tenure in Ocean Beach when some sociopath, who imagined himself to be Al Pacino’s half-brother nearly caused a lot of havoc in the neighborhood. That story actually became Deposit Man: Playgod Act I. Another early plot involved a female succubus masturbating men into another death was rewritten as Playgod Act II.

These little early treatments were meant to be little eight page comic book mysteries much in the similar style of Will Eisner’s the Spirit, a comic strip reprint magazine that somehow alluded me during my youth (and I remember them being on the newsstands all over New Jersey and New York back in my younger days) of which I discovered in an old stack of in  at a Ocean Beach used book store.

During the nineties, an era mostly covered in my YES LOGS, I cemented a reputation as a commentator, letter writer, opinion columnist, and essayist for two publications, The Comics Buyers’ Guide & a small fanzine out of Pasadena, Ca called Comic Effect. I also wrote movie reviews and a restaurant review of a Marvel Comics themed eatery out in Universal Studios called Marvel Mania. Served as an ordering manager of a comic book store in North Hollywood called Rookies & Allstars (aka THAT MISERABLE STORE for Comics & Cards) where I championed the cause of small press comics and their creators which eventually wore thin on the owners and lastly, I was made head of the Small Press Department of Comic Con International thanks to the views I shared with the world in all those articles, letters and editorials in Comics Buyers’ Guide (I also helped out with the pro registration department for a couple of years before that) and there I handled the selection of talent, submissions, and writing a few press releases on behalf of my department.

So the only thing missing at that point of my life was actually writing and producing a comic book of my own. So hanging out with all that blistering talent of artists and writers doing it for themselves finally sparked the nerve to try tackling a rewrite of that script.

But I lacked the artistic talent to fully see my vision come to life. But then these independent jokers from out of Miami, Florida called Death Comics contacted me through their emissary in New York of whom I will refer to as Scumbag Scotty Goodygoodshoes having enjoyed my renegade prosing in CBG wanting to know if I had some comic book idea that I wouldn’t mind seeing realized.

“Yeah, I got this thing called….The Deposit Man lying around gathering dust.” (and words of Harlan Ellison echoing in my ears from a phone call I had a couple of years back – “”WHY AREN’T YOU WRITING FULL TIME??”).

“Send it out to Scumbag Scott and we’ll see what we can do.”

Months later, I get a phone call from Scumbag Scott and tells me the good news (of which I thought as at the time) that they want to go through it. Can you come out to New York and meet with us?”

So, in the summer of 1998, I arranged an impromptu trip to visit my mother in New Jersey and to take care of business in New York.

So I met up with Scumbag Scott Goodygoodshoes as soon as I arrived at Kennedy airport and no sooner than I had sauntered in from the runaway that I was met in the terminal with these figurative prototype figures wonderfully enacted by a New Jersey artist by the name of Ben Fogletto- who had art published in a  Munsters comic book with ideas of how to improve upon my creation.

1999Depositspecs

 

1999Depositspecs2

Two sides of the Deposit Man with notes provided by Ben Fogletto.

 

1999OriginalEsquire 1999spicecakespec

Esquire Row, supposedly The Deposit Man’s handler and dispatcher to his cases. Joined by Spice Cakes (originally Patti Cakes – but that name was already copyrighted and trademarked), his Uniurn addict informant.

The concept of Uniurn is derivative of an afterlife stimulant composed of fermented unicorn urine that the drug addicts inject instead of heroin.

1999BettyFuscospec

Betty Fusco – undercover detective – although as the series went on, I didn’t know what she was undercover for, since she became such a loud mouth foil.

So Scumbag Scottso and I then went over to Brooklyn and reconvened with another writer who would be helping out with the book by the name of CJ Henderson, who I heard a couple of years back had passed away and discussed what the book would be about. There were already too stories for back up, one written by CJ and Fogletto. I was told that I needed to expand upon the eight page format and make it double the length since the ‘pilot episode’ was going to be the lead feature. Once arriving at my mom’s later that evening, I had made a call to Ben to discuss the character further. Ben was initially on board, BUT something happened to be lost in the translation upon my return home to Los Angeles (which was a nightmare in itself due to my stepfather – the last time I would see him alive. But that’s a story for another time). Once I reformatted the script and sent it off to Scumbag Scottso, Ben lost interest in the character and resigned after handing in the first three pages.

This caused a shitload of turmoil for me, because I wasn’t given a legitimate reason why Ben quit. The pages he handed in were beautiful. But I can surmise for two reasons, other than the bullshit I was fed by Scumbag Scottso about Ben having problems with the subject matter when I had seen certain pieces of his art that could have been labeled a little risqué (he was drawing semi clad females vampires for cripessakes).

There was no money being paid out by the company.

And Scumbag Scottso had plans all along to distribute artwork to his other various friendly circle of cohorts a la piecemeal. EVEN a panel on the page that Ben turned in was cut and pasted by Scumbag Scottso’s upstairs neighbor, who I remember meeting was a stoner idiot. The work wounded up being dispersed amongst 12 to 15 people. However one gem came out all of all this besides Ben’s contribution: two pages were penciled by a very young Mike Lilly who went on to fame drawing Nightwing for DC Comics.

1999Malicepage

As time passed while pitching pennies working a couple of gigs in Glendale working at a courier service that catered to animation clientage and helping out with a project at a local bank, I had heard a whole bunch of upsetting shit that originally delayed the book shipping out in late December (and I had my very first and ONLY solicitation in Diamond’s Previews at that time). For one, there was this matter over a scene I wrote with a small detail that the perpetrator of the senior citizen re-murders dabbled in matters of pedophilia by keeping a stash of Boy’s Life tucked away someplace (it was just a jab at the Boy Scouts of America who published such a magazine that I used to subscribe to when I was a Scout myself which coincidentally I take more jabs at in the current issue that is in production). This didn’t go well with Diamond Distributors and suggested that we clipped that scene out. So that delayed the book until late January when it finally shipped. And to delay the book even further, there was no promotion behind it. I wanted to see ads in comic book related media such as the Comics Buyers’ Guide and the Comics Journal. So the company refused to dole out any money for advertising, leaving me no choice but to pony up the cash myself to take out a quarter page ad in an anniversary issue of the Comics Buyer’s Guide (of which I never got ahold of a copy- but I was assured by the classified staff that it did appear in Comics Buyer’s Guide #1300.

I finally got to see the finished product when I met up with Scumbag Scottso Goodygoodshoes at the San Jose Alternative Press Expo.

And boy, was it a piece of shit. For a myriad of reasons. The most offensive one being – it looked like that all 600 or so copies (and I ordered 25 of them for my store in North Hollywood) looked as if they came off fresh from the photocopiers at Kinko’s. All the covers had creases in the middle, and the color cover painted by a Jillian Suzanne – whom Scumbag Scottso Goodygoodshoes boasted of having a romantic relationship with was – had been seriously colored wrong and looked faded. BUT for the grace of the comic book selling deities at small expos, when Jillian showed up with an entourage of her fan bases, the copies started flying off our exhibitor table like tender meat off a bone, plus we had an assortment of other properly printed Death Comics products such as Edge of Evil and some scantily clad female vampire books that helped boost our sales. But from half the printer’s stock of Malice that was shipped out to the show from Miami, we had perhaps 25 mere copies to bring home with us.

So in essence, thanks to Julian, we practically sold our entire stock. The only drawback was that Scumbag Scottso Goodygoodshoes made a fucking scene at our table by cussing out Julian because she had brought some guy with her to the show that she was dating. And there was the first salvo that Scumbag Scottso delivered that made me determine that something was not right in his head.

So we’ll pick this story up next time when I explain how I manage to wrestle control over Scumbag Scottso over my own creation when his bosses over at Death Comics decided to spin-off the Deposit Man into his own one shot, The Deposit Man’s Kaleidoscopic Medicine Freak Show with the help of a local friend and fellow co-worker at my shop.

 

Advertising the debut of the Deposit Man (pilot episode) in Malice #1 in an issue of the Comics Buyer's Guide. Money for an advertisement that I pony up for instead of the shifty publisher located down in Miami, Florida.

Advertising the debut of the Deposit Man (pilot episode) in Malice #1 in an issue of the Comics Buyer’s Guide. Money for an advertisement that I had to pony up for instead of the shifty publisher located down in Miami, Florida.

Advertisements

NO DEPOSIT MAN, NO RETURN

21 Jul

I’m about to embark on another autobiographical journey- this time detailing the who’s and whys of how the Deposit Man came to be. Why? Because starting next week – I’m putting the final two books into production after a six year hiatus. So join us in the upcoming days as I bring you progress reports while we’re all tearing out all our hair about the very controversial ninth issue entitled “Playgod Act III.

For reals this time – it’s fucking coming out. Whether you like it or not.

Be back soon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

YES LOG SUPPLEMENTAL 2015: WHERE HE WAS COMING FROM OR WHERE HE GOES – WE ONLY KNOW HE ALWAYS LEAVES US WITH SOUND

2 Jul

1280x720

Heroes are supposed to be immortal – they’re not supposed to falter or die. At least all the ones I’m supposed to believe in either real or imaginary – but as of last Sunday morning disillusion rapidly slipped through the thin veiled cracks. Super heroes and gods will always live on, but not always those who continue to invent them.

I’m Fifty-one and a half years young and now I’m approaching the crossroads of watching MY personal legends from yesterday amalgamate with my legends of tomorrow hopefully merge to keep keeping on that same path for as long as humanly possible – and now the realization dawns that no matter how we weather that storm, some will just wither by the wayside with barely a blink of a thought.

There are days when I wake up and think to myself, ‘how does the world continue to revolve over and over days upon days, months, years, decades, centuries, etc; when the people I’ve looked up OR have always looked up to since the beginnings of my own personal cognizant awareness are merely occupying the color of thin air? How does one hope to carry on to your personal pinnacle without the aura of legends to look down upon you as you continue to strive to enlighten and enrich your life with inspiration? What accomplishment can I perform to achieve those goals equal to those gods I would do anything to appease.

I felt just like that when I finally got off my 37 year ass back in 2001 and took over the reins of a comic book venture I was sharing with a inker professional across the country who was trying to quit his day job and dabble in the art of trying to be a manager and agent. HE was taking too long to get the product noticed or bought. I got impatient and took upon myself to self-publish it – an idea planted in me or inspired within me by my still to this favorite storyteller Harlan Ellison who once told me to stop moping around and DO it yourself. And so I did – just to prove to an idol – I can follow in a protégé’s footsteps IF properly motivated.

007

I sometimes consider myself lucky. I’m relatively on the borderline crossing of still retaining some shred of my youth, but at the same time starting to feel the pangs of wear and tear – genetic decay is certainly around the corner ready to make its’ ugly entrance at any time or anywhere without any word of warning. I cajole in the reverence that both my natural-born parents are still amongst the wandering gems upon this mortal coil and in relatively fair health. A lot of my personal heroes are still with me to this day:  the aforementioned Harlan Ellison (still clinging on despite a few strokes), David Lynch, Steve Ditko, Tony Banks of Genesis, and pretty much any musician who has ever played in the band YES, especially Jon Anderson who introduced me as a child to the beauty of the compound complex lyric. I cherish them. I cherish them all in hope of each and every one gets to live forever.

BUT who am I kidding? No matter how much we can recharge those batteries – none of us are built to last. Warranties don’t last forever – it’s in that secret society handshake we’re all given at the will call window when we enter the charge blindfold.

And we can’t temper the core.

Chris Squire was the core of the band from all the line ups going back to the band’s inception. I’ve been in admiration of him for the last four and a half decades going back to that first exposure my aunts bought for me on a four record disc set from the early seventies (Superstars of the 70’s ON K-TEL)  that featured the ‘hot singles’ of the day that included Yes’ Roundabout (the short version) as the most adventurous story song I ever heard in my life to those long ago summer days in Laguna Beach in the summer of 1978 walking with a tape deck planted to my ear on the PCH, listening to the double whammy long epic classics of Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer to ad infinitum while copping off of other people’s dope up until that day in my early freshman days starting out at Parsippany High School NJ enrolled in Mr.Weisner’s (pervert creepy music teacher if I remember correctly) Music Appreciation class and asked to contribute a selection for Listening Day, and it was in that classroom that I premiered the new Yes album at the time called Tormato. It freshly was released when the summer was turning into fall It was the first album in the Yes discography of which I’ve always considered to be ‘the catch up album’ back in the day when I was striving to be a life long fan and concentrating on getting the back catalogue THIS was my initiation album that cemented my being of all caught up (except for the solo albums).

I remember Weisner’s creepy molesting sounding voice vouching for me once I was done trying to summarize what the album was about for the class:

“AN excellent choice – Mr. Coatney. You know while I worked selling organs at the Willowbrook Mall Radio Shack, Rick Wakeman came up to me on his way to a signing at the Harmony Hut  and whispered in my ear and said…”

Yeah, yeah whatever. Just put the fucking record on.

And so that being in sync moment with the band’s current activities of the day reflects in the title of this blog.

The album to me, in my impressionable teenage years retains some my favorite all-time Chris Squire moments in the band – ALTHOUGH many of the hard-core fans regard Tormato as the weakest collaboration of the core five of Anderson/Howe/Squire/Wakeman/White lineup – it still resonates with the best ever wildest Chris Squire moments and that folks would be the closing finale to the album called “On the Silent Wings of Freedom” where it’s Chris fingers that is doing most of the talking musically – his Rickenbacker  hooked through foot pedal controls to give it a more harmonized sound. Thus, the bass line  retaining a different tonality to it from previous albums, yet was still able to retain his signature “growl”. It was a preview of happier rumbles to come from Drama. This track just soared to insurmountable melodic heights.

Just check out the video – with the playful rhythm section of Alan White and Chris belting out a portion of this tune. it’s just fucking heart wrenching beautiful to behold.

It was that song that really dressed to impress and it was the most that resonated the most with the class that day – I mean who in their right mind would ever think of using a Rickenbacker bass guitar as a lead instrument?  IT’s almost inconceivable to fucking jack up that treble and just take off on a melodic tangent like that – ALMOST inconceivable to compose ACTUAL songs on a four instrument – FOR CHRISSAKES – you’re supposed to BE in the background. ALMOST inconceivable to utilize the bass guitar AS A COMPOSITIONAL TOOL.

BUT NOT CHRIS SQUIRE – he put the bass in the forefront – he knew how to achieve the impossible WITH the possible. Most people think playing bass guitar seems to be the easy way in a band. Just plug and thump a thick string with your thumb. But not Chris- Chris had to make it all complicated and thus born a brand of like-minded players such as Tony Levin and Geddy Lee. Bass guitar was now a force to be reckoned with. He inspired others to no longer treating the bass guitar as a mediocre instrument or as a mere conversation piece to put a buzz in the room or to make distortion sound more inaudible.

And I also want to contribute to Chris and the rest of the band past and present my well-being – my mild behavior of never having the need to become a bad ass or a career criminal. I think the members of Yes were good role models for me, Their way of reaching certain nuances in creativity kept me curious  enough to have kept me of trouble with the law – except for that misunderstanding back in 1979 that I chronicled in the Paris sessions in 1979. To this very day, I have yet to see the inside of a jail cell all thanks to my positive belief in the power of Yes.

Just incredible to see him live on stage in this lifetime approximately give or take, 20 times – like as if the bass in ALL shapes and forms was a phantom limb to him.

And not’s forget those beautiful back up harmonies, in choirboy or in Beach Boy mode -Chris naturally complemented and enhanced Jon Anderson’s natural tenor voice, simply because his voice is a higher register than Jon’s. A voice can’t be really duplicated by anyone except that Trevor Rabin or Billy Sherwood comes amazingly close.

008

Lest we forget his other music contributions. Let’s remind ourselves that during the time of the mid-seventies hiatus (and taking two years off between band projects Relayer and Going For the One – was it really that bad of a period of silence as compared to a decade off between Magnification and Fly From Here later proved to be?) and all the present members at that time released solo albums instead of sitting on their thumbs watching old Star Trek reruns through a kaleidoscopic gloryhole. Which band member’s solo album resonated the most with the fans? To me personally, it would have been a toss-up between Jon Anderson’s “Olias of Sunhillow” or Chris Squire’s single solo album “Fish Out of Water” – that brings back the most memories.

006

You know personally I hate it when people ragged on Chris for never releasing a follow-up to his solo album. Why would he have been obligated to? His best work was playing with friends without having to tag his own personal signature to it. I was unfortunate enough to miss the west coast dates of a solo band venture called the Chris Squire Experiment – of which all it really was – just an experiment – but an experiment that set the foundation for future collaborations between Billy Sherwood and Chris that led to a two incredible ambitious albums between them while calling themselves Conspiracy. I had lukewarm feelings about the first effort – but it was the second album entitled “The Unknown” that they really smacked it out of the park with its’ bubbling bouncy bombastic rhythm section on the opening track “Conspiracy and “New World”

“Squackett”Squackett_cover was another such ambitious project. The pairing of ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and Squire made for strange bed fellows but fell in place without a hitch. It’s the better of Hackett’s collaborations with other members of Yes, most notable, the pairing of Hackett and Steve Howe on GTR with Geoff Downes producing. One song on this first and only debut album, “A Life Within a Day” put to work an unused Yes song entitled “Aliens” which was premiered on the first leg of “In the Present” tour with Benoit David on vocals. This collaborative effort also won a Progressive Music award (the inaugural ceremony of the awards in fact) for the title track as “best anthem”. There are also a good number of Chris Squire and Steve Hackett collaborations on the past couple of Steve Hackett solo albums including the latest one “Wolflight” which was released just a few months back.

Billy Sherwood has hinted on his facebook page that there were some bits and pieces recorded in Sherwood’s Phoenix hotel room during a recent visit to Chris’s house in Arizona earlier this year. Hopefully there were enough outtakes during the Heaven & Earth sessions to hopefully to make another full album. Geoff Downes did mention something along the lines about an unfinished 17 minute epic piece in a couple of interviews conducted at the last tour.

I count myself lucky that I was able to luxuriate myself (on an unemployment check at the time) on last summer’s Heaven & Earth tour. It’s hard coping that it was merely less than a year I saw him perform live last year on the stage at the Greek Theater under a canopy of stars beneath a beautiful crisp cool Hollywood hills night and I laughed really loud at the first words he said after a rousing performance of the entire Close To The Edge album without an interruption. He introduced the band to the crowd as “Good Evening Los Angeles and welcome tonight to the MTV Video Music Awards“. I instantly got the joke BECAUSE just across town at either Universal Studios or the Nokia Theater they were giving out those cheap tin awards for the best twerking performance.

Anyway, I need to keep this short and sweet because I’ve got to get my head around the upcoming Comic Con International taking place in San Diego next week and try as fucking as hard as I can to get my comic book writing professional career on the side in order ( I was originally planning to write memoirs concerning the creation of my independent self published comic book series, the Deposit Man, but I’ll have to rearrange my notes until after its’ over.) – but of course I’ve told this story in my Yes Log entry dedicated to the Ultimate Yes collection and the live acoustic performance I saw the band give at a Tower Records that used to stand at the Sherman Oaks Galleria which was a hop and skip a block or two from my house at the time. I spent a good portion of going through a shitload of storage boxes to unearth those cheap disposable camera glossies and here are two that feature Chris and the signed copy of the Unknown album he collaborated on with Billy Sherwood as the duo Conspiracy.. 001 002

It was quite a memorable night – for two reasons: ONE: as previously mentioned it was a YES gig taken place literally two blocks from my house on Sepulveda Blvd – so close, that I’ve would’ve invited the whole band and a handful of likewise fans over to my house and fired up a barbecue in my backyard (it used to be the house owned by the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Woodsman Jack Haley before he died and I used to live there for a decade or so with my half-sister and stepmom) and TWO: for not enough of those who didn’t read my blog on the Ultimate Yes – it was at this promotional gig where I was first introduced to Harry Perzigian, a songwriter and rabble-rouser from Brentwood who became my best friend for the last decade of his life.

And as I reiterated before, it was also the time that I walked up to Chris Squire and begged him to please sign my copy of Conspiracy – The Unknown. He flat-out refused at first because the items restricted to be signed at Tower Records that night was the Ultimate Yes collection or the Yesspeak dvd. I pleaded further and since I was only allotted a few seconds before security rushed me to move on – I just blurted out: “But Chris –  IT was my favorite album of 2003. I would play it on my stereo  at least three times a day, etc; etc.”

He smiled at that little admission and quickly yanked it from my hands and looked both ways to make sure security guards weren’t frowning down on us and just scribbled his signature and now, after all this time, I finally have a personal treasure of mine to always cherish from my brief few minutes with an towering giant of a musical legend.004This July 4th weekend, instead of setting off firecrackers and M 80s off in my hand…..(er wait, I can’t do that – I’ll need to play keyboards and write comic book scripts with both hands.)- I plan on hunting down the last couple of Yes releases that I haven’t gotten around to picking up, like the latest remix of Relayer, The Like It Is CD and DVD (cover pic that opens this blog) – and I suppose I’m going to have to cave in on getting the newly released “Progeny – Seven Shows From Seventy-Two” 14 disc collection, although I’m very reluctant on dropping a hundred or so bucks (from what I’ve heard from retailers – IT isn’t really that expensive – it’s just hard to keep in stock) on something that looks cheaply manufactured which I hear has Chris starting at the peak of his live performance prowess. I’m sure it sounds terrific, but I got to remember I’ve relatively young – I still have goals to achieve professional wise and prove to the world that my creativity matters – and a lot of money I’ll be putting aside in going into my self publishing comic book endeavors. Chris Squire always leaped that plateau in a single bound many times over, his goals are sorely minted in the hall of fame of mighty music memories  – and now with Billy Sherwood newly captaining the good Yesship forward in the near future to bring to us new hopes and new music goals, new collaborations. Chris is probably more prouder to leave his legacy in more than capable hands.

yesprogenyhighlights_dc