Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Zippy the Lewd King

It was fun being a superstar till the furor died.


God's forsaken?


Well, one definition of superstar is one who makes his/her entire living thought one's talent.

How lucky one had been to end up in some place like East Jesus, Ontario, find a magazine there alongside a new mall had just been built (lots of advertising revenue)--and write the quirkiest, funkiest column that the farmers could handle...Now these were rich farmers as they had sold quite a bit of land to the malls and the burgeoning box stores. They now needed a literature, right in their backyard and who better for the job than Professor, uh, Ivan Corey.

There I was, hair a-flying in the picture atop my column, pontificating, bragging, lying, largely full of sh*t, but making some waves all the same.

The cable TV folks were all supportive, the Toronto SUN was reprinting some of my stuff from the provincial rag, and I was on my way.

How do you become a media superstar?
Well, you apprentice with a really large metropolitan paper first, work on the rewrite desk, learn the songspinner's trick of "disguise it as if it weren't heard before"--and you are on your way. Bullshit makes the grass grow green!

How do you start?
Find every last magazine article on the evolution of jazz and rock'n'roll, read all the Nat Hentoff you can, become a knowledgeable cat about the world of music, do some fancy, but, hopefully zippy rewriting--and become Hunter S. Elegant, coolest rock critic in town.

And all the while, everybody is feeding you. Hollywood press agents are feeding you, the TV networks are feeding you, the Toronto impresarios and Peggy Lee are feeding you, Ed Mirvish is feeding you, because Mirvish Theatre Enterprises needs the publicity too. Soon stories by you on all the stars are emblazoned all over Ed's theatres, you have hit the gates of New York with your review of a Dan Hlll folk concert performed in a barn theatre in East Jesus, Ontario.
The Red Barn Theatre takes off. You take off.

Zippy the Lood King!

Pinhead makes good.

The trick was to take all the zap you could out of the incredibly creative late Sixties and early Seventies, Including Saturday Night Live--and live off that creative energy. This entitlled you to your Captain Marvel suits, free passes to rock concerts, meeting Country Joe and the Fish and faux-dropping acid at the Electric Circus.

What a job. Hobnobbing with Ritchie Yorke and Dick Flohill and Gino Empry and getting your own column in Starweek Magazine, the TV guide section of the Toronto Star.

But superstardom comes to an end.

You start meeting your turtles.

You had worked hard for this success, but other people, seeing how easy you were to read, thought they could do even better. People were after your job. You became nervous. You can't stay in the stratosphere forever.

Then the turtles began to apply politics. Jealous editors soon made short work of my screeds at the Star, doublechecking my facts, grousing at my inaccuracies, of which there were many. What the hell, if the bastards couldn' t take a joke, piss on them!

Soon the Star job was gone and at the provincial magazine, some woman wanted my spot too.

Little by little, as in a Mexian folklorica, my column was taken over by a lady who was a huge fan of Spike Milligaan and she thought she would pass old Spike, originator of everybody, including Monty Python--onto a bohunk audience of farmers. But I was the "bohunk" who had started all the fuss in the first place. Zippy the Lood King. Or was it Zippy the Lewd King?...She certainly could not match my lewdness.

Soon I was writing nowhere.

I suddenly needed an income

Standard lateral arabesque: Teach.

I began to teach writing, and there again became something of a superstar. They lliked my teaching of French existentialism and French novels in English.
When the dean and I walked down the street, everybody knew who the important person was. Tabernac!

The woman who had taken over my column soon began running out of gas. Things the neighbour said, things the hairdresser said, something she saw on TV that made her think.
She was running out of gas.

Re-enter Zippy the Lood King.

Lucky pinhead.

I was again on my way.

It was fun being a superstar.

For the past twenty years, I have been trying to get it all back.

Recently, somene took a picture of me.

This is the young fool who once soared into the stratosphere?

A picture of a balding, grey-haired old man.

Time, gentlemen, please!

Ah what the hell.

It was fun.



Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Michael Koerner once again.
Thanks for allowing me into your web space. I hope everything is going well for you this month.

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One of Life's Greatest Moments:

"During my posting at Foymount I got my first Ontario driver's license from an Eganville license issuer who was a local Mortician. I came to his office and asked for the 60 day learner's permit. He charged me five bucks and issued the paper forthwith. On my way out the door I looked back and asked, "By the way how long do I have to wait before I can get my full license?" The Mortician looked at me and asked, "Do you have ten dollars?" I said ,"Yes." He said come here and I'll issue one. After a few minutes he issued the license and I paid him the ten bucks. I paused a bit and asked, "When do I take the test." He looked me up and down and said in a slow and deliberate clear voice, "Son if you fail at driving I will personally come pick you up." With that ringing in my ears and memory I walked out with my first drivers license which I renew to this day. " Bill Kowalchuk.
Our always-growing community of newsletter subscribers reading this email is now over the 700 mark. The following is contained in this copy of the newsletter.
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Reunion 2008

islandgrovepress said...

Ah those five years in the RCAF, first real station at Foymount, Ontario, lovely "ski hill" of a radar base where every building seemed a chalet and those three radome baloons on top.
It was all co-ed,we were the elite,and life was so much like high school, though the beer was twenty cents a bottle. Whee!
Oh to bring back those days.
Ah well. At least correspondence courses at Foymount eventually got me into university.
The world situation is awful now, but back in those days, the Air Force was the only way to fly.


Anonymous said...

Howdy Ivan

Sorry to rush my 'drop in' visit on my way from Hamiltoon to Ottawon't ... since last summer when my lungs refused to deal with the polluted Ottawa air, I'm way too affected by cigarette smoke. Next time I roll through Newmarkkkunt, I'll try to have an empty front seat so we can drive to somewhere that you can smoke and I can breathe ... or we can sit outside, I guess.

You mentioned a buddy of yours who might have some connections in the construction industry and suggested he might be able to point me to where I might find a job (finish carpentry) ...

At the time I demurred because I was unsure how long it would take to straighten things out here in Ottawa ... I figured a couple of weeks, maybe three ...

Yeah, right ...


So I was talking to you during the last days of March, arrived in Ottawa before the beginning of April ... Sunday just passed, I managed to sell off the last of the two 'junk' vehicles that have been albatrossing around my neck for the past too too long; that process took a whole lot longer than I had figured might be necessary ... but, they're both 'gone' and I don't have to deal with the junkers/storage fees any longer.

Collecting from the 'friends' who owe me money has proven to be even more problematic (ain't it always the way, eh).

Money promised ("as soon as you get back to Ottawa" ... "as soon as I get my next paycheque") never materialized and probably never will ... so, two more names/people I don't ever want to deal with again ... it's getting to where I'm going to only be hanging out with the shadows on the walls and the ears in the halls ...

Gotta get some coin happening, get downtown, meet the folks ...

... don't hold your breath ...

Anyway, so I'm hoping to get out of this bad-air town late next week or (at worst...?) the week after that.

I'll call you when I get some money for a phone card again.

Hope everything is as well as can be for you (of course, it never actually is anything like 'as well as can be' unless one is some sort of manic optimist viewing life under a pile of rocks and slime as being 'as well as can be' ... but, then, you too know about being 'down so long it looks like up to me' ...

Peace and Love
Perseverance Furthers

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, Josie, Donnetta and I are coming over to raid your well-stocked fridge! ~Liz

ivan said...

Hi Liz,

Like my old dad used to say, "come home. Fridge always full."

Got this high-octane beer called Crest, out of Great Britain.

Two cans of that and you end up Crested,like a Cassowary bird.

Makes you want to go out and hunt humans!


Josie said...

Hey, you guys, I just read an interesting thing on CNN. Female cheetahs "sleep around". They're promiscuous. Naughty kitties.


islandgrovepress said...

So fast you hardly know you've been had?

Ah, those female cheetahs!


islandgrovepress said...

Hey Josie and Liz,

I have to go out for cigarettes.
Now is your chance to write the most outrageous comments :)


Josie said...

Hey, Liz, look over here behind this chair, there's a stack of Playboy magazines...

EA Monroe said...

Playboys! Whee. Lookie, here's one with Ivan when he was a Boychik!! Pass me another one of those bottles of Crest, Josie!! Hah!

islandgrovepress said...

Raiding my fridge and perusing my soft pornies, were you?
"Those are Daddy's pornies," I used to tell people. Get your own pornies, son."

You girls are psychic, however.
There is indeed a stack of Playboys behind my chair, though I must really replace them. Egad,they are about eight dollars a copy now and Lean the Korean will mark me down as a perv if I go to the corner store.
"Kim sell Skin to stupid Kabloona."

Well, I hope you found the Crest beer good, but be warned of the side effects. It makes you howl at the moon, something I'm really good at these early mornings when
the alcohol chucks come and I'm eyeing the Listerine...Uh, whatever gets you through the night,babe.
I have been having female visitors of late, but one is on medication and can't touch alcohol. Drat.
At least she touched me and there is some promise for the future.
But then last time around I had to see a doctor, not a shrink, and this worries me.
"Since I met your lovely daughter
I've had trouble passing water."
Anyway, I'm glad you girls enjoyed the romp through my digs and office.
Here's to ya.
Allez votre!(That's what they say in Haiti anyway).


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

say, Ivan, there's more than just a passing resemblence between you and the Spike! (Milligan, that is)

Trevor Record said...

"Become Hunter S. Elegant, coolest rock critic in town."

Aw, man.

You know, I like music, and heck I used to think that it would be a heck of a good time to be a music journalist. But the competition!

Heck, I could probably write circles around most of these dicks, but it would take a long time indeed for me to match them in their encyclopedic music trivia knowledge.

islandgrovepress said...

Lone Grey Squirrel,

You are one clever nut-gatherer.


islangrovepess said...

Yep. People like Ralph J. Gleason do indeed possess encyclopaedic knowledge of all forms of rock and blues, especially info on the "father" of rock'n'roll, the great bluesman Robert Johnson, who himself had an encyclopaedic knowledge of all blues riffs.

But each man was a genius in his own field.
No question that people writing about rock today are far from genius scale, and I have no doubt at all that you could write rings around them...I knows talent when I sees it.

I have worked with Peter Goddard at the old Tely and Star and tried to get something of the flavour of the man while Goddard was a major rock critic.
Holy Cow! PhD in music, teaching at York U, master technician on the typographic matrice, always telling me to "dig" when it came to
entertainment page layout (old hot lead method) and one fart smucker all around. But I had my own rock column in a sister publication, the newly rising Sunday Sun and I thought I could take him. We had a dispute about Peter Townshend whom I considered a stone perv and Goddard offered that I didn't know what I was talking about, picking those things out of TOMMY, the great rock opera of the time.
Goddard not only felt he was superior to me; I think he was. Just loaded with smarts.
But nevertheless, I made a good splash out of "The Sun Rocks", with John Pope. John Pope was my byline.

I would say start with your college paper once you're in. Very likely those poor dicks can't write either and you might get a chance to shine early.
Yes, rock journalism is extremely competitive, even in your own deparment of the mag you write for.
And there is such an element of luck! My very first piece on pop music was rejected by my own editor, I carped and went to the publisher and the publisher reinstated the piece.
You had to have had street smarts too.
The thing to do, Trevor, if you are interested in this form of writing, is to start with your college paper. Or the local suburban rag.
Don't worry about having encyclopaedic knowledge of the form. The internet makes short work of that.
And break a leg.


Trevor Record said...

Hmm, good advice Ivan. College paper - I guess this is where you got your start?

I have been, I admit, somewhat soured on the idea because I used to know a gal that was into that, and I didn't like her all that much. She was always bringing up her role as editor of the high school paper (when people were talking about completely unrelated things). Of course, since then I have met other young journalists that I do like. I'm sure I would learn a lot, working on a school paper.

islandgrovepress said...

Yes, Trevor.
I got my start at the Daily Ryersonian (A daily on campus?!) as editorial page editor.
As for J-girls, yes, I found a lot of them inky and sort of dry.
But over here in Newmarket ON, I find the women I work with extremely gemutlich.


islangrovepress said...

p.s. to Trevor:

There is always a yearbook project or a literary magazine on any college campus.
Ours was The Fifth Page and that's where all my shorts stories and poetry went.
But university literary magazines are hard to crack. I kept getting rejected until I wrote about sexual difficulties...Uh, that's where I had them. The faculty advisor was going through sexual difficulties. I wrote about sexual difficulties.
Crafty Peasant department, I suppose.


EA Monroe said...

Trevor: Check out your local music scene and start writing reviews of the bands that are playing around town and their CDs.

Also, approach the musicians, do some interviews with them, take their pictures. The musicians I know are always approachable and they'll always talk music, inspiration, and all that jazz.

You could submit the music/band reviews you write to your local papers' entertainment section, too. There are lots of music publications around. And, post the reviews on your blog! We'll come over and read them!

You know the music you like and why you like it. Go for it! Or as my friend Edie will say, "Just do it!"

Donnetta Lee said...

Well, I've been missing out, haven't I? I'm ready for that fudge now. Oh, my, Zippy! Well, everybody has to be full of s**t sometime. No pun intended.

islandgrovepress said...


But my sh*t levels are down!
Have to go to local honeywagon to fill up!

Even Trevor was concerned.


islandgrovepress said...

ps to Donnetta,

Now that the tests are over, were they anything like in the cartoon just under my picture? :)


Donnetta Lee said...

As a matter of fact, I looked exactly like that! Still do. Must do something serious about that hair today!

Hey, Trevor! Thanks for the concern. I'm too onery to stay sick forever!

Yes, I think I can smell the fudge now!


Trevor Record said...

Thank you for the advice, folks. Also, congrats on the good news Donetta.