Monday, February 19, 2018

An Iconette's Tale

Yes, it's true. I am an Iconette.

I was there at the very place and time that the 1960’s morphed into the 1970’s.

It was 1974.  I was hanging in my favorite singles bar, a place called Grendel’s Lair, a disco that was widely known in Philly as "the disco for folks who hate disco."  My hair was long, my jeans were ripped, and I had on a plain blue work shirt totally devoid of alligators or other obnoxious insignias over either the right or left side of my chest. 

Grendel's Lair was a down-to-earth place with the feel of your best friend's basement if it were ten times larger and smelled unrelentingly of beer. The music was still mostly Grateful Dead, George Harrison, and David Bowie, but lately we'd begun to notice a change

Enter guys with hair combed straight back and cut above the ears sporting flowery shirts and visible chest hairs. Added to that were women with platform shoes, too much makeup, and perfume that was so pungent it would send the actual Grendel scrambling back to his lair as fast as he could slime.

And the music was beginning to change as well.

On that night I went outside to get a hit of fresh air.

Alone and sitting on the front steps to the place was a very disconsolate very freaky looking young guy with thick brown hair to his shoulders and a mighty beard who seemed like he was almost about to cry me a river.

"I just don’t get it,"  he muttered. 

"What don't you get?" I asked.

"The awful music they're playing! Who's this Barry Mani-Blow anyway?"

“He's got a lot of hits."

"I could never dance to this!"  


"If only they'd put on Sugar Magnolia ... I’d dance all night.”

In that moment the sixties received last rites and the 70's crawled into the world mewling and puking in the nurse's arms

Grendel's Lair eventually turned into a men's clothing store and soon I began going to the glitter discos just like all the others. I even got to like the music of Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, and Barry Mani-Blow, at least enough to dance to it while generally haplessly trying to come on to women who seemed able to dance to it a hell of a lot better than I did.

But I always wondered about the freaky looking guy with the mighty beard who transformed the sixties into the seventies with a simple rueful observation that his time had passed.

I wonder if he ever donned a flowery shirt, opened it down to a well-scrubbed navel, and wound up a prosperous investment banker.

No matter.  

For me, he was an icon.

And that makes me, I guess, an iconette.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Podcast Perry

Marc Maron, eat your heart out!

It wasn't so long ago that I thought the word "podcast" referred to the names of the actors in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But once I learned about podcasts I've seen them proliferate over the years such that virtually everyone in America either has one, frequently guests on one, or is Larry Wilmore.

Actually even Larry Wilmore has one.

As part of the whirlwind promotion for my new book in this, The Year of Perry Block, I was scheduled by my publisher Donna to do my first podcast. Now all throughout my life public speaking has never been a problem for me because all throughout my life I've always managed to avoid public speaking.

But if this is The Year of Perry Block, It's time for me to step up and speak up --- if I don't pass out first.

"What if I screw up?" I asked Billy Dees, purveyor of the podcast.

"You'll be fine," Billy replied. "I'll get you through it. Nobody screws up."

We began the show. Billy asked about my background. This is a tough one for me because the most significant achievement of my adolescence was breaking my addiction to destroying Styrofoam.  But I exaggerated the experience, and I think it played well.

Moving on, we discussed how I attended the one comedy club in Philadelphia  in the early 70's to watch my friend perform stand-up while I cowered next to the Exit Sign.  My beginning to write humor in my thirties, the first examples of which were rejected by the American Journal of Accountancy for being too dry. And my later development of the Human Resources Comedy Troupe, a sort of SNL for Human Resource professionals which led to my being the first person in history to be excommunicated by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). 

Not only did I notice Billy stifling yawns, he actually put on pajamas.

"How did you begin writing your blog, Perry?" he asked.

"Well, Billy," I answered, "when I started on Twitter in 2010, I didn't know much about social media. I thought 'Twitter' was the dirtiest sounding clean word in the English language."

"And the blog?"

"Boy do I hate that word!  It sounds like the sound you make just before you are about to throw up. BUUULLLLOGGGGG!"

" ... see.  What is the meaning of "Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute?"

"It refers to Boomers hitting the age of 60 who hate the idea they're old so they say things like 'I'm old but I'm just beginning to be old' or --- since I'm a pretentious jerk --- 'I'm old but I'm Nouveau Old!' As for Formerly Cute, just look at me!"

"Okay, that's just swell!" said Billy. "Thanks for joining us, folks. Perry's book Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute is available wherever fine books are sold ... along with his."

"How did I do?" I asked Billy.

"Remember how I said nobody screws up?"

"Sure do!"

"So I was wrong."

Nah, he didn't really say this. 

Here's the link to the podcast together with a very nice introduction by ace podcaster Billy Dees.

Listen to it with someone you love.

After all, this is The Year of Perry Block.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The School for Evil Twins

Good morning, everyone!

This is the first class of your freshman introductory Being a Prick 101 here at the Diablo School for Evil Twins.   

If any of you are now realizing you are in the wrong class, please note that Cackling Malignantly is in Room 672 and Nailing the Good Twin's Girlfriend 201 is  across campus in the Sinestro Builging.

I'm your professor, Damian Malveo.  

Now each of you is the specific one-half of a set of twins who wishes to imperil  humankind to the brink of cataclysmic destruction. All your life you've been an annoying little twit, b
ut by the time you finish your education here you will so wicked and depraved you will be to your good twin like Paul Ryan is to the guy who used to be Paul Ryan!

Now, why be an Evil Twin?

1) Really cool music plays whenever we strut onto the scene.

2) Love the way our dedicated though half-witted lackey Bruno says "Right away, Boss!" 

3) Great fun to explain our evil plot to the good twin after demonically chortling "Now, Dear Brother, that you can no longer do anything to stop me,  ha-ha-ha-ha ...!"  

Class, I'm about to distribute a very special piece of  "Evil Twin Equipment."  Here are your dark black goatees, everyone! Some are flecked with gray, your choice; remember to wear them at all times to distinguish you from the good twin."

"Mr. Domer? You have a question." 

"What if my good twin has a goatee himself?"

"Good question, Mr. Domer. Then we add an eyepatch, jagged scar, or full- face Jack Palance mask.  All that is covered in Being a Prick 201.

Ready, everyone?   One, two, three...ADHERE!

Terrific!  All of you look really evil. Especially the women. 

Now here's a question for all of you to ponder:

Why should an evil twin never bind the good twin to a laser beam or perch them over a tank of piranhas and say "I will take my leave of you now; Goodbye, brother!" and then exit the room?"

"Because they might escape, Professor?"

"Very good, Plotkin!  Many evil twins make this mistake and the prisoner slips  away to thwart their dastardly plans. This will be on the mid-term.

Next question:  Why do evil twins never tie the good twin down and force them to listen to ABBA?"

"Because even we are not that cruel?"

"Absolutely right, Ms. Comstock! Even we are not that cruel."

Now class, we are going to spend the rest of our time today discussing how to fool your good twin into thinking the phrase "I know there is still good left in you, brother!" is actually starting to get to you.

Tomorrow, we'll focus on methods and techniques for Tricking the Good Twin's Dog into Thinking You're the Good Twin. This can be very valuable in getting your face licked to lure multiple characters to their doom!

And remember, everyone: Death Ray Class Monday at 10:00 sharp! Come prepared to destroy the city.  If you don't feel ready to destroy a major American city yet, please see me after class. 

We'll annihilate a small town like Havertown Pa and work up from there.


"And class, both you and your twin should check out Perry Block - Nouveau Old, Formerly Cute.  It WILL be on the Being a Prick 101 final!"