Into the Danlands: Eloise’s interview with Daniel Wu, Into The Badlands Season 3, Final Episodes edition

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While editing Giant Robot magazine, I got to interview a lot of cool filmmakers and actors. So I was pretty excited when Eloise told me she wanted to interview Daniel Wu for a school assignment to write about a famous Chinese person. Why not? He’s a longtime friend and I thought conducting the interview in Mandarin would be an outstanding project for her dual-language fourth grade classroom. I traded some texts and Eloise placed a phone call to Uncle Dan last May.

As Into The Badlands is about to conclude its third and final season, I asked Eloise to translate the interview into English to get us viewers ready for its long-awaited return. And if you are a fan of hardcore Hong Kong-style martial arts and choreography, dig the energy and production value of cable shows like The Walking Dead, and appreciate the humor of Nick Frost but haven’t checked out the AMC series yet, don’t miss the double premiere on Sunday, May 24, and Monday, May 25! Prepare to be entertained, addicted, and blown away every week.

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Eloise Wong, Happy Birthday, Uncle Dan (Detail), Liquid Paper on Cardboard, 2019

Eloise: Hi!
Daniel: Hi, how are you?

Eloise: Good, thank you for doing this.
Daniel: No worries. Are you ready to start?

Eloise: Yes. So my first question is, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Daniel: When I was 13, I wanted to be an architect.

Eloise: And when did you get into acting?
Daniel: In 1997, right when I graduated from college. I went to Hong Kong, and someone asked me to be in a TV commercial. Then the director of my first movie, Yonfan, saw the commercial and looked for me.

Eloise. Oh!
Daniel: It was just that easy.

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Eloise: Wow!  Since you weren’t experienced, was acting extra fun? More difficult?
Daniel: More difficult, because I had to work on two things: How to act and how to speak Chinese. Both at the same time!

Eloise: When you were filming in Hong Kong or China, what was the most fun movie you worked on?
Daniel: My most fun movie was One Nite in Mongkok. Of all my films, that is my favorite.

Eloise: What’s a difficult thing about acting that most people don’t know about?
Daniel: A lot people think that acting is really easy, and you just go to the location, go home, and that’s it. But you have to do a lot of homework. There’s more homework and preparation than actual work. And filming just one hour of a movie can mean four or five hours on the set.

Eloise: When you were in China, you were already a big star. Why did you come back to work in America?
Daniel: I didn’t give up on China, but I’m an American so I can do English films, too. Now I do both.

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Eloise: Is Into the Badlands the hardest thing you’ve ever worked on?
Daniel: Probably. I work really hard on it—more than in movies. For Into the Badlands, I have to do kung fu every day for 10 hours and it’s exhausting. It’s also easy to get hurt.

Eloise: Do you think your work has had a positive effect on the world?
Daniel: Um, I hope so! I’m not trying to change the world, but I hope at least a few kids who watch Into the Badlands will want to learn kung fu. When I was a kid, I watched movies and wanted to learn kung fu. I think that would be a good influence.

Eloise: Which of your movies should us 10-year-old kids to watch?
Daniel: The movie I just finished, Tomb Raider. I think it’s got a good message that girls can be heroes, too.

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Eloise: When are we going to El Cholo to eat green corn tamales with you again?
Daniel: I hope we can do it soon. Your dad introduced them to me and I really like them! Maybe next month I’ll come and we’ll have them.

Eloise: Yes!
Daniel: Are there any more questions?

Eloise: When did you meet Daddy?
Daniel: In 1995 or 1996, I really liked reading Giant Robot magazine. I wrote a letter to your daddy saying I really liked it, and if they needed help I would contribute. The first time we met was in New York City. I was visiting my sister and don’t know what he was doing there—probably Giant Robot stuff.

Eloise: That’s all. Thank you!
Daniel: Good luck. I hope you get an A on your report. If you don’t, I’ll come to your school with my sword!

 

Watch the final episodes of Into The Badlands Season 3 on AMC and stream the previous episodes on Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. And, yes, Eloise got an A on her project and, no, Eloise is not allowed to watch the series yet!

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Jackie Rocks! concert to get out the vote for Jackie Goldberg with Best Coast, Money Mark, The Linda Lindas with Justin Maurer, and The Phews

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Wendy, Eloise, and I have been putting on benefit shows for Castelar’s music program for six years now and it’s been great. Music education, kids, Chinatown, and punk rock–totally unplanned but perfect. And it has been a slippery slope from raising money for the school to becoming advocates for Chinatown and activists for public education, supporting community efforts to slow down the takeover of the historic neighborhood by developers and backing the teachers in their fighting back against the dismantling of public education by privatizers and union busters. After getting fired up by last month’s teacher strike, it made sense to help organize an event to support Jackie Goldberg’s bid for the seat of LAUSD school board 5 .

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Wendy and I met Jackie Goldberg in March 2016, shortly after Castelar Elementary was identified for co-location. We had no idea what that meant, so we went to a TEACh (Transparency, Equity, and Accountability in Charter Schools) meeting where we were introduced to Jackie and given information and encouragement. We went on to help stop the charter school from taking space and resources from the neighborhood school in Chinatown.

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So last weekend, we teamed up with my sister Angelyn and a bunch of friends (especially Euphronia and Lois) to organize a benefit show and rally for Jackie. To support the legendary activist and educator in a multigenerational, DIY setting with so many families and kids who are affected by the LAUSD school board election seemed like a perfect fit and Jackie’s campaign manager Zoë agreed. After confirming that Jackie would be able to drop in on our event, we started putting together our bill.

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We thought it would be really cool and important to have public school kids play the event and have a voice in an election that concerns them most. Of course, The Linda Lindas (Save Music in Chinatown faves featuring our daughter, nieces who attend a District 5 elementary school, and their friend) would play. And we had just become friends with Justin Maurer at our last Chinatown benefit although he was already a regular. The ex-Clorox Girl and member of Maniac had been in the spotlight providing ASL translation in the teachers strike, and how cool would it be for him to sign for the girls?

We got some other pals to support the cause and get on the bill, too. My old friend Money Mark was already a Jackie Goldberg fan and my brother-in-law Carlos had been working with Best Coast, who were already Linda Lindas fans. We wanted to have more kids from schools in District 5 and our friends’ son’s band, The Phews, were into it. Getting family and old and new friends behind a cause and having fun doing it is the best, and our show was exactly that.

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I love how Mark and Justin joined The Linda Lindas, Justin signed for Jackie, and Carlos played with Money Mark and Best Coast. The Linda Lindas played with Best Coast, too. The sold-out show had a real friendly feel to it, and afterward we were able to donate about $3,000 to Jackie’s campaign between ticket sales, a cool raffle and silent auction, and delicious bake sale. More importantly, we got a bunch of voters together who will spread the word about Jackie. Hopefully, we helped children feel involved in the process and empowered, too.

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Public education is at a crossroads in Los Angeles and our city needs Jackie to advocate for all children as well as the teachers, and protect schools from union-busting privatizers who aim to profit off children and our future at the expense of the public good. Jackie has decades of experience as an activist and educator, champion for underdogs, and progressive lawmaker.

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Jackie is endorsed by Tony Thurmond, Dolores Huerta, Betty Yee, and Hilda Solis, and and is UTLA’s choice to balance out the school board that has been being bought by privatizing interests and carry out progress started in last month’s teachers strike. It’s a real gift for Los Angeles that Jackie is coming out of retirement to fight for our public schools and we hope to spread that message.

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And the local election is not only important to families with kids who attend LAUSD schools. Everyone who wants to stand up to the privatization of public education, stop the attacks on the teaching profession, and improve conditions for every single student should be paying attention. The city we love and its future are better off with excellent and equitable public schools.

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If you get junk mail for the special election, then you are in District 5 and can vote. Spread the word and get out the vote for Jackie on Tuesday, March 5!

Save Music in Chinatown 17 recap with Alley Cats, The Dils, Rhino 39, and Neko Neko with DJ Lisa Fancher


It got a pretty intense when The Dils played Save Music in Chinatown 17 last weekend. Over the years, our series of all-ages benefit matinees has maintained a fairly low profile and no show ever got so big that we’ve had to worry about children getting crushed. But of course the unexpected return of The Dils attracted wall-to-wall crowds and a line of punks of all shapes, sizes, and ages snaked down the stairs hoping to just hear, feel, and smell, the gig. I was seriously worried about us getting busted by the fire marshall, fights breaking out, or middle-aged skins or mohawks trampling kids for selfies with the band or to shoot it on their iPads.

But none of that happened, and the afternoon was as fun as it was exciting. I’m pretty sure none of us in the room (including singer, guitar player, and co-founder Chip Kinman) thought we’d ever see The Dils play their first show in 40 years right across the plaza from the old Hong Kong Cafe. And how many people can say The Dils played a benefit for the music program at their daughter’s elementary school? Or that their daughter sang “Class War” with them?  (The answer is two: me and my wife.)

I’m all for friends’ old bands getting back together to play festivals and big shows, receive the attention and love they deserve, and have a blast in front of huge audiences. And that made it even more unreal that this would happen at one of our humble benefit shows. The afternoon felt less like a star-studded, invite-only event that you read about in a magazine than a gathering of old friends who just happened to play together at the Vex, Masque, Starwood, or Hong Kong Cafe a lot back in the day. (Our friend, Save Music in Chinatown bake sale boss, and Castelar alum, parent, and volunteer Mamie actually used to work the Hong Kong Cafe door because her dad ran the venue!)

The Dils didn’t get together just to play our show. Chip and his rock ‘n’ roll animal son Giuliano had already played for us twice in their other band, Ford Madox Ford, and I simply asked if they wanted to play a warmup show after noticing that they announced a  Dils show in San Diego. We made it a doubleheader of Dangerhouse Records legends by asking the Alley Cats to come back and play for us again. With hits off the Yes L.A., compilation and URGH! A Music War, is there a more underrated, or unappreciated band from L.A. punk?

It was a perfect lineup to bring back Hector Penalosa (from Spirit of  ’77 garage punks  The Zeros) with his new power trio Neko Neko. He and his trusty drummer Nico had already played for us in various lineups of Baja Bugs and My Revenge. How could we say no when fellow Dangerhouse labelmates Rhino 39 came out of nowhere wanting to join the lineup and volunteer their back line to boot? And hwho else could DJ the show except our friend Lisa Fancher, the founder of Frontier Records and holder of the keys to Dangerhouse Records?

Sprinkled into the massive crowd, it was heartwarming to see so many friends, regulars, and longtime supporters including pals from KXLU, KCHUNG, and RazorCake, and members from Channel Three, Adolescents, and Midget Oddjob, as well as Bob Forrest, who have played for us or supported us since the beginning. Wendy and I have known some of the attendees since we worked together on Giant Robot. And college before that. Plus lots of family everywhere.

When Wendy and I started organizing Save Music in Chinatown shows, we hoped to raise some money for the music program at our daughter’s elementary school but had no idea it would last this long or that a scene would grow around it. We never dreamed that it would create a space where Eloise could make flyers, get to sing onstage, or form a band with her cousins and their friend. (The Linda Lindas made an appearance, too.)

We never expected to become activists for public education or advocates for the historic neighborhood where my immigrant grandparents or in-laws, and now daughter, found a place. All of that has been amazing and unexpected, and we couldn’t have done it without everyone who has attended our shows, helped out, and supported the cause along the way. Thank you.

Right now, Castelar Elementary only goes up to fifth grade and Eloise is a fifth grader. Any bands out there want to play what could be the final Save Music in Chinatown show on Sunday, June 2? Anyone out there want you join us?  Nothing lasts forever, so check it out while you can.

Save Music in Chinatown 16 recap with Phranc, Ford Madox Ford, LP3 & The Tragedy, The Horseheads, and The Linda Lindas plus Gabba Gabba Cake

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After five years and 15 shows, you’d think organizing Save Music in Chinatown benefit shows wouldn’t be a big deal anymore. Yet another matinee with old music and young kids–don’t they all blend together and are there even show-goers who like either? Maybe they would come for cookies. Or cake!

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My wife Wendy and friend Nate, who also obsess over our series of all-ages matinees year-round, were right on board when I decided to made our 16th show my 50th birthday party, hoping that  maybe a couple more people would come out to help raise money for music education at Castelar, Chinatown’s public elementary school, by carrying on the punk rock tradition of the historic neighborhood’s old Hong Kong Cafe.

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As usual, the lineup came together perfectly but from totally different directions. Phranc has been playing at punk rock shows and benefit gigs for decades, and we had been in touch with the All-American Jewish Lesbian folk singer since she and our mutual friend Alice Bag teamed up to play our 14th show as PHAG. I loved the Smothers Brothers-inspired duo’s topical songs, which were as progressive as they were current, and two-of-a-kind banter, but wanted our audience to get a rare taste of Phranc as a solo artist as well. Is there anyone cooler or more calming, more sensible or funny, in a state of chaos? She was doing it way before “Life’s a Beach” and the Reagan and Bush years and she’ll be around long after 45 and “YOLO.” Phranc was and will always be the original Life Lover that reassures all of us underdogs to not give in or give up.

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We’ve been shocked a few times when a friend, whose cool band had no business playing a rinky dink show like ours to begin with, has asked to play for our cause a second time. Mike from Channel Three and Tony Adolescent approached us about a record-release show and secret gig last year, and this time it was Chip from Ford Madox Ford. What an honor to have lifers and veterans of the first wave of punk in Chinatown come back to play for the kids who go to school there now. What a relief not to grovel to potential headliners and co-headliners! And I don’t even know what the blues are, but I love the combo’s rock-solid groove mixed with Chip’s original punk energy and nonstop layer of noise provided by his guitar shredding son Dewey.

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I lined up LP3 & The Tragedy and The Horseheads during a bittersweet afternoon at Alex’s Bar in way back in July. Nate and I were commiserating with Louie Perez III and Mike Martt at Steve Soto’s memorial, and one of the beloved bass player’s last shows with the Adolescents in SoCal was actually at our May benefit. Louie had been working closely with Steve and was devastated. He only came to the gathering because Mike asked him to bring some gear so CJ Ramone and a few Adolescents could play a short set (which they joked Steve would have hated, but made everyone feel better). Somehow, I built up the courage to ask them if their bands would be interested in playing our show and, perhaps partly in tribute to Steve’s memory and the legacy of his great music and big heart, they said yes.

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Having LP3 & The Tragedy and The Horseheads was a very cool pairing of cowpunk legends, lifers, and torch carriers–perfect since Chip and his brother Tony formed the genre’s instigators Rank & File–and how about Chip coming up to sing “Class War,” a Dangerhouse single released by the brother’s previous band, The Dils, with LP3? The famously unruly Horseheads covering “What’s so Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding?” for a crowd with as many children in the audience as survivors of the Hong Kong Cafe days? “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” provided a gritty balance that pleased the blues purists and fans of Mike’s other old band Thelonious Monster

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Bolstered by a kickass bake sale and cool raffle as usual, the show would have been amazing enough right there–way above and beyond what we should expect from our humble project, cause, and efforts. But it gets better and I actually get emotional when I look back at it, largely because The Linda Lindas played. Eloise has gone from mascot to flyer artist to member of a band with her cousins and their friend. While we hoped to raise money for our daughter’s school all along, having a scene grow around it was a total surprise, and who knew that it would be a place where kids that can handle it could thrive? They play covers now (Go-Go’s, X-Ray Spex, Ramones, Bikini Kill, Joy Division) but who knows how far they will take it?

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And on top of all that, it was my birthday! What a cool present for so many friends, family, and supporters come out and eat a Ramones-themed cake for my twin brother Greg and me? Or hear Phranc sing “It’s Cool to Grow Old in L.A.” name-checking Save Music in Chinatown, The Linda Lindas, and The Hong Kong Cafe?

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I’m grateful not only that so many people come out to support public school and music education in the historic neighborhood for my immigrant grandparents and in-laws, and now my daughter, has found community, but also that they contribute to my most fun, amazing birthday ever. And I never make a big deal out of my birthday but this was a big deal.

 

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Thank you to everyone who played, contributed, attended, and had fun at #savemusicinchinatown 16 at @thegrandstarjazzclub this afternoon! It's unbelievable to me that our all-ages matinee fund raising concerts for Castelar's music program has not only survived into its sixth year but that we can get a lineup like @horseheadsmusic, @lp3andthetragedy, @fdmdxfd, and @phranc.la to play for our humble cause. Or that my daughter would go from being a kindergartener dancing around in front to flyer artist to guest singer to member of a band on the show, @the_linda_lindas! Why not make this show my 50th birthday party, celebrating not only a birthday but Eloise's awesome school and my favorite neighborhood's punk rock past at the Hong Kong Cafe. And cookies! Is there a cooler way to grow old in L.A. or anywhere else? If you were there and loved it, please share your pictures and spread the word! And if not but it sounds right up your alley, I'll be blabbing about our next show sooner than you think! Who wants in?

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Hugs, high fives, and thanks to everyone who played, worked the bake sale, contributed to the raffle, helped get the word out, and came and had fun. Reaching 50 could have been a somber event, but I’ve never felt more excited, engaged, joyful about uniting my favorite subcultures of punk rock and immigrant kids and trying to make a difference in my favorite neighborhood, Chinatown. And to do it with my family and so many old and new friends is simply the best. We hope to see you at our next shows in January and June… I wonder who we can get to play?

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Left to right, top to bottom: Artist Vicki Berndt; Dewey Peak from Ford Madox Ford and too many other bands to list; Phranc, Horseheads, and Bela from The Linda Lindas; Castelar alum and one of the flyer models, Tatawan; Alpine Decline; Gabba Gabba Cake from KG Bakery; Tsubasa from Rough Kids and family; Chip from Ford Madox Ford, Rank & File, Dils, etc. with Alice Bag and The Linda Lindas; Zen and Atomic Nancy; RazorCake crew; Chris from Scoops, who brought custom ice cream, and Mamie, whose family ran the Hong Kong Cafe; post-show birthday dinner crew at Golden Dragon.

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For news on the next shows, keep an eye on this blog or follow the Save Music in Chinatown page on Facebook!

Save Music in Chinatown: The Fifth Year zine and sixth year

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Five years ago, Save Music in Chinatown was just a crazy idea that Wendy came up with.

A couple of weeks after Eloise started Kindergarten at Castelar, we received a handout asking us families if we could donate money to the elementary school’s excellent but underfunded music program. We knew there was no way the mostly blue-collar neighborhood would cough up enough dough to make a dent in the amount. And we aren’t rich. But Wendy and I straddle Chinatown’s immigrant culture (her parents and my grandparents) and punk rock past (my favorite type of music), and have a background in DIY projects. Why not build a bridge between two of our favorite subcultures in one of our favorite places to raise money for kids who live in and around Chinatown today?

With no experience in organizing benefit shows but a lot of help from old and new friends, we set up our first all-ages matinee fund raiser inspired by the old Hong Kong Café, which hosted early shows by the Germs, Go-Go’s, Weirdos, Bags, Black Flag, and other legendary L.A. punk bands. Except we had cookies and coffee, little kids dancing in front, and a very cool raffle with autographed records and books, and gift certificates for donuts and pho!

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We didn’t expect our humble shows to last more than five years, couldn’t have expected that so many amazing bands would play on our behalf, or never even dreamed that we’d be part of a small community that has raised about $10,000 for Castelar’s music program every school year. Amazing and totally unexpected.

And, personally, Wendy and I have become fixtures in Castelar’s booster club, recognized advocates of the teachers union, and regular contributors to the historic neighborhood’s resistance to gentrification.

Eloise is now a fifth grader, and several of her teachers have told Wendy and me that they will miss her when she moves on from Castelar next year. But I think we have grown and learned at least as much as our daughter—and are savoring everything that is going on and grateful to everyone who has helped in any way. Thank you for being a part of it.

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In advance of our sixth year and sixteenth show, we made a Save Music in Chinatown: The Fifth Year zine. This essay was written for it, and we hope to see you at Save Music in Chinatown 16 on Sunday, November 4 with Phranc, Ford Madox Ford, LP3 & The Tragedy, The Horseheads, and The Linda Lindas.

The Quick’s Mondo Deco reissue and reunion panel with Mark Hamill

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Photo by Stevo Rood/ARoodPhoto.com

Although I haven’t written for a magazine in almost a decade, sometimes I still receive packages in the mail with cool new music. Or in this case, cool old music. The Quick is a pre-punk LA band that I only found out about through Redd Kross and Dickies covers and then a Burger reissue. There’s no way I’ll ever get my hands on an affordable copy of the mind-blowing, slicker-than-snot-on-a-doorknob Sparks, Beatles, and Queen-informed Mondo Deco LP, but it has finally been reissued on CD. And guess what? It totally rules!

Sadly, I was out of town for the panels with the reunited band as well as fan club president Lisa Fancher (a.k.a. my friend, founder of Frontier Records, and writer of the copious liner notes) run by first-generation Quick listener Mark Hamill (yes, the actor from Star Wars). So I sent a few questions to Lisa and Quick drummer Danny Benair (fellow liner note contributor and also member of The Weirdos, Choir Invisible, and The Three O’Clock) for those of us who missed out.

MW: Listening to the reissue, my first thought was that for a band of teens The Quick was insanely realized and polished with stellar songs, musicianship, and melodies.
LF: They rehearsed like crazy so they were very tight, but they were also extremely silly people so they left a lot of room for chaos and mayhem. If they audience didn’t like them, which was a lot of the time, they had all sorts of methods for making the audience come unglued. As long as they got a reaction, it didn’t really matter which way it went! I saw The Quick with everyone from the Runaways to Starz to Van Halen (yuck!) to the Damned (who Danny and I became friendly with). They opened for absolutely everyone as they were one of the most well-known LA bands for a brief moment in time.

DB: We were professional garage musicians and we rehearsed much more than most bands. I love the band, and I am proud of what we did. Being signed at a young age with no knowledge of what it means is tough. Not sure I was ever really prepared.

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Photo courtesy of It’s Alive Media

MW: So much music has come and gone since that Quick record. How did Mondo Deco impress you when it came out and what about revisiting it now?
LF: Of course I could find no fault when it came out, but I was just out of high school. After many, many decades, it’s clear to see that speeding up the record was a massive mistake– it’s quite unpleasant to listen to. Danny remixed two tracks and at the correct speed, and they are super rockin’ and powerful, I hope someone will fund remixing the whole album someday!

DB: The fun part was when Brian Kehew and I spent 10 hours with the 2-inch tape. That was crazy! I recall those days quite well. I know the music too well: not many shocks other then the extended versions we found.

MW: Are those drumsticks the band is eating on the cover? Is that you tempting fate by wearing a white blouse while eating ice cream under lights? Were there other foods like chicken wings or pizza slices under consideration?
DB: The outtake photos, which I do not have, were funny. By the end we wiped it on our clothes. There was PLENTY of what you see: pastries, various ice creams, bananas, etc. No other foods.

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Instagram photo by Lisa Fancher, founder of Frontier Records, president of The Quick Fan Club, and contributor at the reunion panels

MW: How did the roundtable go at Beyond Baroque? The second show in the Valley? Were there more people in skinny ties or Star Wars gear?
DB: The roundtable was great, Nice experience, plenty of familiar faces. No topics were set, but each show was quite different. I think there were no skinny ties or Star Wars gear, but people did want to meet Mark Hamill.

LF: I want to add how generous it was of Mark to be the MC. He didn’t jump in a lot, and kind of let Hufsteter do all the talking. I thought Mark and Danny would do all the blabbing but Steve was stunningly effusive. He barely spoke at all back then, so that was certainly a big surprise. He obviously had decades to go over all of their mistakes, and he detailed them without being bitter. They were all 19 at the time, so who can blame them for letting Kim attempt to mentor them?

MW: When is the last time everyone in the band got together? Do you send each other holiday cards? Did everyone get to hang out and catch up when planning the reissue? 
DB: In 2009, four of us had dinner. Billy was there, but Ian was in NYC. So the last time the five of us were together was 1978, sadly.

LF: I see and talk to Danny all the time, as he lives about a mile from me. I lost touch with the rest, so it was really great to see them all again. Hufsteter brought his dog Monkey with him from Arizona, and he’s probably the cutest dog I’ve ever seen!

MW: “My Purgatory Years,” “Hillary,” “No No Girl,” and your version of “It Won’t Be Long”–so many great songs that have never sounded better. But why no “Pretty Please” bonus cut?
DB: Thank you. This records was about the Mercury demos and Mondo Deco. All of the Elektra demos were excluded for that reason.

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Photos courtesy of Danny Benair

MW: What are the chances of Frontier doing a reissue of the “Pretty Please” single, which the world needs just as much as the LP?
LF: Technically, that was the first record I ever record I ever released–many years before I ever thought up Frontier. I created that wonderfully crappy picture sleeve with Letraset and a few Xeroxes. Dionysus released “Pretty Please” in the 2000s, I think, but I don’t know if it needs reissuing. (Ya think I should? Hmmm.)

MW: Danny, I think you were involved in ETM, which brings music education to underserved elementary schools including my daughter’s. Can you talk about your lifelong relationship with music from The Quick to now? Thoughts on your bands as part of LA’s fabric of cool underground music?
DB: ETM was Louis from The Three O’Clock. Great cause. Well, I was and I still am a geeky record collector. It all started by listening to records and playing with friends, and The Quick and The Three O’Clock were my career bookends. Glad that I did it all–the good and bad.

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Photo by Stevo Rood/ARoodPhoto.com

Get The Quick’s Mondo Deco CD from a cool record store near you or straight from the source at realgonemusic.com and check out more amazing photos from the event by Stevo Rood at RoodPhoto.com. (And don’t forget Lisa Fancher’s Frontier Records for Three O’Clock, Weirdos, and more essential stuff like Adolescents, Rikk Agnew, Christian Death, Middle Class, Flyboys, and more!)

Comic-Con 2018 Recap: 40th year of going edition

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The San Diego Comic-Con can become a blur after four days. Less than two weeks after this summer’s installment–the first time my wife Wendy, our daughter Eloise, and I were able to get passes for each and every day–I can only sort photos by looking old T-shirts that I took out of storage just for the occasion.

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But how about going through memories over 40 years? My brother Greg, our friend Mike, and I were 10 when we started attending the Con in 1979. Since then, Greg and I have missed one. Mike, zero. Our first trips were to the old convention center and then to the El Cortez, its original site, before the new convention center opened.

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There wasn’t nearly as much cosplay in the Bronze Age of Comics, and definitely way more Trekkies and swords and sandals wearers than superheroes. I think it’s safe to say that the modern age of cosplay was ushered in by anime otaku in the ’90s and then cemented by mainstream Star Wars fandom, the Harry Potter generation, and movie studios paying attractive models to wear capes, and not just nerds.

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Fancy pavilions erected by movie studios, video game companies, and publishers (comic books or not) weren’t present, either. Mostly it was shops setting up simple tables with back issues in cardboard boxes or original art arranged under plastic. There were also vendors that sold vintage lunchboxes and Big Little Books, genre movie posters and lobby cards, duped VHS tapes of horror flicks and kung fu movies, weapons for real life D&D players and Civil War re-enactors, and T-shirts for all types of fandom. There wasn’t a lot of glamour in the good old days–although I recall seeing the likes of Jack Kirby and Will Eisner walking the floor. Once, John Byrne decline to sign an L7 concert poster that ripped off his Dark Phoenix art for me.

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There have always been panels and spotlights, and some of the earliest events and panels that stand out for me include a Klingon Ascension Ritual, midnight reading by Neil Gaiman, and advance screening of Natural Born Killers. Sometime in the earlier ’90s I took a picture with Go Nagai at a spotlight panel. There is sort of a blackout between the mid ’90s and 2010 when I was sequestered in the GR booth–first in the Small Press area and then on the main floor–but now that am free to enjoy every aspect of the Con once more, I find myself transitioning from being one of the nerds in black T-shirts who gets excited about the most obscure, least popular panels to the AARP members who make up the balance.

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Not having a vendor pass anymore, Hall H getting absorbed by mainstream celebrity culture, entertainment conglomerates taking over the Gaslamp District, and difficulty of getting passes make it easy for us lowly fans to scoff at Comic-Con and stop caring about it. So do the other conventions that are popping up everywhere. But I attended it before all the hoopla and will continue after it passes.

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Where else can you buy new comics straight from the likes of Jason Lutes, Johnny Ryan, Charles Glaubitz, Lawrence “Raw Dog” Hubbard, and Debbie Huey, and have them signed and sketched in? Gush to comics book legends such as Bob Burden, Robert Williams, Geof Darrow, and Sergio Aragones? Hang out with old and new friends from all over the continent who make comics and other cool stuff including Eric Nakamura, Keenan Keller, Tom Devlin, Peggy Burns, Tracy Hurren, Brian Flynn, Gabe Soria, Louie Perez, and Henry Mortensen? And catch up with Sacto and San Diego pals Scott Bradley, McHank, and Rob Crow on top of everything else? (Shown in that order above, but unsorted.)

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Where else will I get to see panels with Nichelle Nichols, Bobcat Goldthwait, and underground comix legends or discover news about an unseen Harryhausen documentary and museum in the works? Eloise would be upset if I didn’t mention Supergirl and DC Superhero Girls. Same with Wendy regarding A Discovery of Witches.  There was so much more, and that wasn’t cosplay but the real Bootsy Collins with Peppermint Patty and DJ Lance Rock who we encountered and took a picture with. Wow!

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Beneath all the layers of showbiz and after all the difficulty of getting passes–and perhaps a little bit because of them–Comic-Con is still as awesome as you want it to be once you get in. And my love for the institution has only become deeper now that Eloise is as exactly as old as Mike, Greg, and I were when we first convinced our cool moms to take us. How lucky am I to see it reflected in her eyes? What will she and Mike and Greg’s kids say about it 40 years from now? With Crom’s blessings, we dorky parents will get to see that conversation unfold one year at a time.