The Famous Shoe-On-Fire Photo

The Famous Shoe-On-Fire Photo
One day at the Beale apartment, Chuck decided it was funny to light his shoe sole on fire.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

You Only Saw the Drum, Man

This blog's last entry for 2012--a year that has seen a resurgence in entries--I'd like to end with something Chuck found particularly funny.

He and I were interested in anything by the Beatles we could get our hands on. Through some long gone mail-order business I purchased a few cassettes of Beatles gigs. These days every known gig is online in some form, all still quasi-illegal. Many are cleaned up considerably from the cassette era (you could hardly think of a worse media for long term storage than a cassette tape) by would-be sound engineers some of whom actually know what they are doing.

I came across a digitized copy of one of the shows Chuck and I loved and, of course, downloaded it for free. All the Beatles gigs in the States were sponsored somehow by local radio, though not broadcast by them (or we'd have better-sounding bootlegs). Chuck couldn't get enough of this one wise-cracking, psycho dj from Houston who, like many MCs found himself simply trying to keep order. This guy gets really carried away. He screams at the crowd and berates them for yelling when "you only saw the drum, man." That line was comedy gold for Chuck.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shake Your Poo-Poo: Chuck's Favorite Record Find

Anyone who knew Chuck knew his love for the legendary comedy funk song, "Shake Your Poo-Poo" by a local soul/funk outfit called Earl Carter and the Fantastic 6.  The group self-released an LP on the Princess label with the weird title Earl Carter and the Fantastic  "6" + Say I Want to Make It with You.   Where Chuck initially found this now rare slab of vinyl is a mystery to me: Happy's Flea Market, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, but he found the motherlode and amassed many copies for next-to-nothing.  There seemed to be quite a pile of them in his room. At least that's how I recall it. I myself picked up a copy and still have it. The rest of the album is pretty lousy. A lot of cuts seem to be out of tune, like they forgot to tune to the electric piano, or it was added later, but the keys don't match the pitch of the rest of the songs. Or, maybe my copy was stamped crooked. Thankfully, this isn't an issue with the  masterful "Shake Your Poo-Poo" in which we hear about the "mo-leef bird" (whatever that is) and about tap-dancing governor's sons. Plus the eternal question is raised: "Um, what exactly is a poo-poo?" "Ahm, anythang you want it to be." Deep!

FINALLY! someone has added the song on YouTube!

It turns out, ol' Chuck was on to something. It is now a very valuable record! Obscure funk, soul and r and b from the 70's now demand high dollars from collectors. I visited three collectors sites and most price nice condition copies for well-over a hundred bucks....EACH. Here's one example from Collector'sFrenzy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chuck V. Circuit City

This story made the rounds for a while. I was there to witness it. By no means is it all that funny decades later, but it is a good example of Chuck's slow burn deadpan humor.

Back in the 80's, Circuit City (original Roanoke location) was one of several places to buy blank cassette tapes. Today's teens and tweens can't imagine the importance of what is now called "cassette culture". All this compilation and playlist stuff from their world comes directly from cassettes back in the 70's and 80's. And, of course, we copied our favorite albums for each other in this way prefiguring so-called online piracy and illegal downloads.

Any way, one day we were at Circuit City because Chuck needed a new pack of TDK 90's. He found what he needed in a few seconds, but for the life of us we could not attract the attention of a salesperson. It was clear that his purchase was not important to anyone there. Believe it or not terrible retail employees are not an invention of the last ten years! FINALLY, after 10-15 minutes, someone bothered to come to the register.

With a totally expressionless face and only the very lightest sarcastic inflection Chuck says, "I consider it a privilege to buy these tapes."

I believe this was "the" brand, type and length that most of us used

A treasure trove of the many moods of TDK

In searching for these cassette photos online I was surprised to find that unused/still sealed cassette tapes are now sought after. A single still sealed TDK 90 can go for as much as $12 on eBay.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Amazing Expoding Straws Photo Jan 1983

Legendary Photo by Sandra (Helm) Dearing features many of the old Salem gang. Left to Right: Trey Miles, me, Bill Hill, Joey Cheatham and Chuck Barker. This was taken at the Beale's apartment. Like the letters shown below the photo has spent the last twenty plus years in a large manila envelope in my old room at my folks' house. Sandra claims to have more from this day and other olde tymes including the seminal Senior Talent Show throwdown.

Possible Bill, Chuck and Scott Collaboration

I remember cutting this unbelievably ridiculous Q and A out of some terrible doctor column in the newspaper. It was my idea to record Bill asking the question and me answering. Then, of course, to use it on one of the Poisonous Sewer Fish's tapes. We did read it behind a microphone in the Bell's basement, but whether or not we recorded it I don't know. The drawings on this piece of paper are either authentic Chuck or maybe Bill drew the figures in imitation of Chuck. Any ideas? Either way, this is likely the only extant piece of paper that all three of us contributed to. Oddly, I don't think we ever realized the typo in the answer. The first two words are reversed.

Note the clipping is being served up by Chuck's wait staff

Chuck's Letters from College #5: Envelope Only

Yowzuh! Speaking of obscene return addresses...Freddy Fuckwad? Does the Postal Service pay any attention at all? I guess that was the gag. I wonder if anyone sorting student mail at Roanoke College in early 1982 was deeply offended as they inserted this compelling missive into ol' box 211. The world may never know.

Green Ink? Who has green ink?
His usual expressive faces and a Zappa reference

Chuck's Letters from College: Letter #4 Envelope Only

Not only could Chuck get a letter through the mail containing an obscene return address, it didn't matter that my name was completely misspelled on purpose. I love the super curvy figure holding up the upside down stamp. Feast yer eyes on this, jerkies.

Ah, Bill Bookcase where are you now?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chuck's Letters from College: Letter #3 The Grand Daddy of Them All!

The third in my series of Chuck's letters to me from UVa has about it the stuff of legend. The drawing of a disappointed Ralph Sampson, the profane antics of Mr and Mrs Filing Cabinet, more spider torture and a movie sequence idea are easily his most memorable work in the epistlelary form. Er, um. I 've added below the front and back of the letters as complete documents, the envelope's front and back, and close-ups of the hilarious components for easier viewing.

Chuck got sick of hearing about UVa basketball star, Ralph Sampson. 

Don't know what brought this on, but the juvenile profanity is still funny to me
Again with the spider torture
the phrase "so's that I may have a smoke" is comedy gold
Shit McCoy, a janitor I believe, was my creation. How was this allowed through the US mail?
A Most Obnoxious Envelope. I love this drawing. Wish I had wallpaper made from it.
Complete Front Side of Letter
Complete Back Side of Letter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chuck's Letters from College: Letter #2 Spider Torture

One of the recurring themes of Chuck's letters is spider torture, the stuff of nightmares. He always seems to work it in on page two, as shown here.

See? Page One: No Hint of Spiders
Pleasant Dreams Indeed!
Be sure to rotate the image to see the return address!
Fabulous back of envelope drawing.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Chuck's Letters from College: Letter #1 Luggage, Baggage and Horrible Cabbage

On a recent trip back to the old homestead in Salem, Va, I unearthed many treasures from the old days. God bless my mom for not throwing this stuff out years ago. Of the many thrilling bits of paper ephemera from ye olden days, the highlight is the discovery of Chuck's letters to me from UVa. They are filled with his distinctive stick figure drawings and, of course, comedy gold. In most cases, the letters and the back and front of envelopes will be shown. You'll see why.

Page one of the letter is boring record collecting stuff. But!
ah, Carl Cabbage in the house
You see where the title of this post originates

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Barker's Bugs Bunny Favorite

At some point, probably in high school, I was at the Barker's house early either before school or maybe it was a weekend and I was going to the flea market with Chuck. There was an upright piano under the stairwell in a sort of hallway space between the kitchen and living room. Chuck had figured out the melody to "Endearing Young Charms," the song Bugs Bunny is supposed to play correctly in the fabulous Ballot Box Bunny and--of course--explode on the final note. (Note: this is actually a real song, not something written strictly for the cartoon. The Warner Bros crammed Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes full of songs from their publishing empire.) I'll just say Chuck got a lot of mileage out of playing this hilarious fragment. The more impatient of you can drag the cursor over to about six minutes.

013 - Ballot Box Bunny from trepo on Vimeo.

The same exploding piano gag probably appears in multiple WB cartoons. Most gags were reused over and over.

Bad Ronald

Chuck was a fan of obscure 1974 TVM "Bad Ronald." I remember him talking about it a few times. He'd obviously watched it when it was originally broadcast. I think the sort of ridiculous name of it appealled to him. I had hoped to embed the whole movie, but all I could find is the TV trailer.