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Boom Boom Boomtown!
For boys of a certain age, certain time, adventure role models were characters more of this world than others. Taking your cues from Classics Illustrated, Wonder-Books, American Heritage histories and Marvel Comics, you might want to be a cowboy, a sea captain, an aviator (or the riskier version of that, a fighter pilot), a sports hero or some outsized superhero. Boys more darkly inclined might want to be gunslingers, pirates, Baron Von Richthofen, Bizzaro or a New York Yankee. All these characters were romanticized, and all, upon closer inspection, would reveal flaws, kinks in their makeup and the kinds of shortcomings that would shatter the idealized version. If you wanted to feel the air to go out of the balloon, all you had to do was put down the juvenile literature and read some eyewitness history, biography or open your own eyes to see Yaz sneaking a cigarette in the Boston Red Sox dugout.
In adolescence you’d discover that the American frontier attracted a lot of sociopaths, Ty Cobb was a racist and illegal gambling was part of most games, war was an ugly and unnecessary thing and in fantasy land, the price of being a superhero was a life of secrets and isolation. I think I’m pretty safe in saying, one could still go out to sea, but in hindsight it seems like a very lonely thing to do. There was, however, a type of hero celeb who seemed insulated from scandal, muck and mire, at least as far as my experience was concerned, and that was the local kids show host, the affable guy with the gimmick and the cartoons.
Like a lizard
on a windowpane....
It’s been a hell of a fertile period for the Grim Reaper, Pop Cult Dept, (in my movie, that part is played by Larry Blyden), with a run that included Alex Chilton, T-Bone Wolk, and Johnny Maestro along with Dixie Carter, Fess Parker, Robert Culp, and John Forsyth, never mind Meinhardt Rabbe, the munchkin coroner from The Wizard of Oz, and Malcolm McLaren, that genuine force of nature. Wow, knock ‘em down and drag ‘em out. Yet, when the brimstone stench dissipated, the semi-celeb’s loss I felt most tenderly was a sports figure from my baseball-crazed pre-adolescence, pitcher Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles.
As an eleven-year old in the summer of 1967, I made the full transformation into rabid Red Sox fan, following the ups down of that “Impossible Dream” season, all the while transfixed by the day-to-day heroics of Carl Yastrzemski, the one and only Yaz. Like most baseball obsessives, I also underwent a quickie education about the sport, reading dusty book after book about the glories of baseball past, and digging into the sports page as soon as my father put the paper down each evening, and even going out and buying the up-to-date baseball guides available at the local newsstands. Eventually familiarizing myself with the starting line-ups of nearly every major league team, I also learned that it was acceptable, at least for the sophisticated fan, to root for other cool daddy ballplayers that didn’t necessarily play for the home team.
Here's a noteworthy comment, I received based on my assessment of Alex Chilton/Big Star's 3rd/Sister Lover
I don't have much to add seeing as how I wasn't there at the time.
As producer of Singer Not the Song, I am not sure what you mean by well-crafted. I'm glad you think it is a gem, but it was extracted more than crafted. At this particular point in time, Alex was wholly disinterested in craft. Although I would have been delighted to be a part of a collaborative work of greatness, Alex was only marginally interested in the recording process, the only thing that seemed to be of interest to him was that I might somehow be able to make a record with him that would allow him to leave Memphis. That did happen. The unpleasantness he displayed in the studio was only a hint of how much of a dick he would be in the years to come.
I found Chris Bell to be a far more engaged person, both as a musician and a human being. If anyone should have continued Big Star it should have been Chris, whose vision created the band, focused the songs on the first album, and infused the songs on Radio City (some of which were cowritten by him but uncredited) with a pop/rock sensibility that Chilton never was able to capture on subsequent work.