Friday, 9 September 2022

You Seen The Set, Part Six: San Francisco....

"...you've gotta ask yourself one question..."

"Do I feel lucky?" Indeed Agent Rob certainly does, being one of the fortunate few who managed to Escape From UK earlier this year for a bit of glorious sightseeing stateside, managing to swipe a few days on the streets of San Francisco, pounding the very same sidewalks that Harry Callahan and Frank Bullitt called their own to bring you yet another 'Summer Blogbuster' in the vein of JAWS, Indiana Jones and, er, Chungking Express....

Greyhoundog day.... Yes please!

It seems only fair to start at the beginning with the bus trip from Reno HQ to San Francisco on a Greyhound bus - I mean, c'mon, why the cliche not? - a journey that just so happened to mosey on through Sacramento and Philip K Dick's old SF stomping ground of Berkeley, California then (over) Oakland (Bay Bridge) giving a first glorious glimpse of Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge....

"I am the law!" (er, wrong character....)

Setting up camp in Bush Street (around about Chinatown) proved to be the perfect location to simply get out and wander about this very walkable city (and very tasty too, with Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese slap-ups around the chops). But like Harry and Frank themselves this is gonna be a blog of few words - we all know a picture is worth a thousand and, in Agent Rob's decidedly lower (quality) case, probably much much more than that - so without further ado let's hit those dirty roads....

San Francisco City Hall

First up we have San Francisco City Hall (at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place) and the surrounding Civic Center Plaza. Maybe best to avoid the decidedly dodgy UN Plaza / Market Street / Tenderloin area to the East, mind - at first Rob thought the nearby assembled throng was tourists before realising it's a key congregation site (for sore eyes) of the city's numerous homeless....

Eh, that was then....

....like this is now....



Civic Centre Plaza (1971 style)

Civic Centre Plaza (minus water feature)


Still hangin' in a Sunshine State....

Saints Peter and Paul Church


Next stop is Saints Peter and Paul Church (at 666 Filbert Street / Washington Square off Columbus Avenue) where that scallywag Scorpio took aim at a Catholic Priest....

Bank of America Building


Our final stop is in fact Harry's first, the Bank of America Building (at 555 California Street) which he scales to get a better view of the swimming pool where Scorpio's first victim is bob bob bobbing along....

Mt. Davidson Memorial Cross

Those with more time on their feet may wish to visit the Mt. Davidson Memorial Cross (at 2-280 Dalewood Way / Myra Way) to complete their stroll around the most easily spotted Dirty Harry landmarks....

"You couldnae tell us the way to San Jose, mate?"

With so much attention lavished on old Harry it was inevitable that young Frank's locations would inevitably suffer (from a lack of proper pre-research and later inability to match up photos to actual street names). Still, a completely comprehensive guide is here and there's no doubt Rob got the gist of the famous car chase, making sure to race around Mason StreetTaylor Street, Chestnut Street - the sign of which definitely appears in The Enforcer, Detective Callahan's third outing,  - Filbert Street and Columbus Avenue....

Grace Cathedral Episcopal Church, 1051 Taylor Street

That'll definitely be, er, Chestnut Street, um, at Columbus Avenue

 Chestnut Street, again at Columbus Avenue (and Taylor Street)




Filbert Street  (towards Colt Tower)

Filbert Street  (towards Colt Tower) 1968

Taylor Street

Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, 1 Nob Hill, 1968

Top of the Mark (Hopkins Hotel)

Taylor Street, er, again....

Mason Street?

Mason Street?

Taylor Street, er, again again....


Of course, the Clint connections just keep on coming, with Alcatraz Island having pride(?) of place to your right in San Francisco Bay. (Those with suitably stern stomachs might fancy a trip doon the watter for a visit.) Then again, over to your left is the Golden Gate Bridge, guest star of far too many films to mention (so Rob'll settle for recent firm film fave Rise of the Planet of the Apes)....


Alcatraz

Murky Harry

Golden Gate Bridge

Unfinished monkey business....

Woah! It's "The Big One"!

Well, here's hoping this blog made your day, as there we have it (for now, as there'll no doubt be some subtle tweaks in the coming weeks) until the planned/under wraps sequel arrives on the small screen worldwide early November. So what are you waiting for, bookmark your tickets now....

Ooh, Braw Books gets political....

Grateful Dead - Ripple (Official Music Video)

Friday, 22 July 2022

A Chronicle of Doom....


It's nowhere near 365 daze since Agent Rob last slipped inside Agent Johnny's hoose, but with the world de- and revolving at an astonishing rate it sure felt like it! Still, with a nifty new table for 'ze comic drawing' installed John Stark page production has taken a sudden (and somewhat heartwarming) spike....


Not that that was enough to stop feet being duly propped up in front of the 'one-eyed-god' 'fer to watch' The Phantom Planet, vintage creaks and all (whether that wiz the aged fillum or indeed our nakt agents) while supping on a welcome bottle of 0,0% Karmi, admitting the days of wild 'View to a Swills' are long since gone and quietly chuntering about San Francisco - all will be blogsplained! - (the origins of) Sinbad The Sailor, Soylent Green, MARVEL movies, Infinity Magazine, The Shape of Things to Come (film) by H. G. Wells and Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius series of books....

Calvin Who?

Of course, there was further cause for a 'swillebration' given that the (most esteemed, authoritative, trusted and respected) Comics Journal gave Agent Johnny's astounding 1980's and 2000's collections the critical once over, concluding with (as Agent Rob has always known) "You can call that what you want, but I call it genius...." Praise be indeed! And that was that, Agent Rob brought back to earth with a bang, returning to Glasgog on a train jammed with Calvin Harris and Mrs Brown's Boys fans en route and en masse to their respective respites from the ravages of reality....

Grateful Dead - Here Comes Sunshine

Friday, 1 April 2022

A Chronicle of Doom....

 
'Living in Harmony' (Not likely....)

As we all stumble on into April, fools with but little spring in our steps, then what better time to retire from reality and slip inside Agent Johnny's house for a few hours of gentle chuntering while propped before the 'one-eyed-god' as it beams (courtesy of the Horror Channel) bountiful binges of The Prisoner into our bleary and beleaguered minds....

Na na na na na na nah thanks, I'm good....

As Patrick McGoohan gleefully glared his way through episode after episode - the man surely has the most Jack 'King' Kirby face made flesh of all time - random topics of conversation included Blakes 7, The Batman (or, indeed, 'The Batmeh'), Infinity Magazine and, wait for it!, a new comic script for Agent Rob 'fer to draw'....

....lies what indeed....

Soon enough it was time for Rob to dearly depart and head for the train to carry him beyond this horizon, and so leave 'Our Man in Slateford' to his solitary overheated television and his plentiful undercooked ideas....

Sights: The Prisoner....

The Prisoner - opening titles

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

UndergRound Up of the Year, Part 2....

 
"Agent Rob!? Whatta f**king c**t!"

Welcome back for a second helping of the (Braw) best of 2021, effectively the Boxing Day to Part 1's Christmas.... Hmm, though that really just makes it sound like any old reheated leftovers which, much like Xmas telly, is merely the first week reshuffled around and repeated ad infinitum to pad out week two. Without getting too nostalgic for (Radio and TV) times gone by, isn't it strange how we live in a era when there's infinitely more channels and somehow less choice as opposed to when there were far less (only 4!) channels but seemingly more viewing choice over the 'restive festive'. It truly is smaller on the outside....

100 Mountains - Summit Up

One of the year's top albums was in fact collated/compiled by Rob himself, who knuckled down and put his idle hands to work sifting through “ex-brains behind The Orb” (his words) Kris “don't call me Thrash!” Weston's substantial online “graveyard” (his words again) of semi-aborted works in perpetual progress. The end result was 100 Mountains – Summit Up, a sprawling, absorbing and oddly affecting (and somewhat chilly and unsettled) ambient trip. Currently AWOL there is a glimmer of hope Kris'll return (momentarily) to the interfray as this encouraging holding picture attests....

FFWD▸▸ (The Orb & Robert Fripp) - Orbert FFWD Demo 1993

As if that wasn't enough Rob was lucky enough to unearth a rare live run through of The Orb's masterful (never released and eventually morphed into FFWD) track Hidden In Heaven, a truly towering 27:27 of similarly emotive ambience (perhaps slightly overloaded with DRAP's samples du jour, although they do help conjure some sort of timeless nostalgic charm) that still has the power to drop jaws nearly 30 years later. The past has never sounded so futuristic. If you fancy some of that in a more stripped back symphonic style then you need look no further than the equally impressive Orbert (as leaked by the above Mr. Weston himself), the glacial demo that was eventually (to its detriment) chipped into several pieces for what became the FFWD album....


Dr. LXP kept busy too, teaming up with sometime Ultraworld adventurer Andy Falconer to release Sedibus – The Heavens, thus helping to keep The Orb “brand” (Kris again!) cash cowing on into the twenty twenties....


Following on from all that unhealthy orbsessing there really was nothing more cheer-worthy – tinnitus inducing in volume surely? - than Mogwai scoring their first ever #1 album and SAY award with their mighty As The Love Continues. And in their 25th(!) year together to boot....

'D'you think the end of the world is comin'?' (YES!)

….although it was really fellow post-rock titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor who truly stole Rob's thunder with their perpetual “end times” (circa 1997 to right NOW!) soundtrack....


Time surrounds me like an ocean
My memories like waves
Is life just dying in slow motion
Or getting stronger everyday?

Elsewhere The War on Drugs followed their rousing Live Drugs album with the excellent I Don't Live Here Any More, again up to their usual epic-grower standards (and maybe their finest long player yet), while American Music Club cast their woozy magic, FIEND (AKA former Fannie and Young Teamster Brendan O'Hare) impressed with the post-everything ambition of his Caledonian Trilogy, Weathertalk and Landing hit Bandcamp heights, Lift To Experience stunned with their ten commanding The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, Pieter Nooten and Michael Brook got all sleek and seductive with Sleeps With The Fishes, The Bug Vs Earth dragged us across their vast Concrete Desert, Mugstar practiced a beguiling form of post-space rock on the marvellous Magnetic Seasons, The Charlatans got all pensive on their uneven '92 downer missive Between 10th and 11th and (finally) Tonstarrtbandht transformed from troublesome noiseniks into shimmering alt-indie troubadours on the rather pretty Petunia, all these albums turning musical itches into gently sweet spots....

Tonstartssbandht - What Has Happened (Official Video)


To counter this (mostly) 'miserable but uplifting' sonic self-indulgence a plethora of Polish popsters saved the 'dzien' with Patrick The Pan, Oxford Drama, Muchy and Bluszcz dishing out the good vibes and serving up quality albums, while slightly more challenging, though no less tasty, sounds came to the table courtesy of Trupa Trupa. If you ever fancy a quick overview of the top of the Polish alt-pops then listen no further than the annual Meskie Granie festival/event....


A shame then to say goodbye to musician voyager Richard H Kirk in 2021. Known to many as a member of seminal Sheffield electro industrialists Cabaret Voltaire, but really beloved to Agent Rob for his duo of 90's ambi-electronic-cum-techno albums on WARP Records....

Richard H. Kirk - Oneski


There's no doubt that John Williams (author of the sleeper classic Stoner) scored an absolute bullseye with his book Buffalo Crossing in 2021, making it Rob's book of the year by a wide open country mile. Think green young Boston academic ups sticks for the wild west where he funds a grizzled hunting party (with a Miller at the head, no less) in their search for a once-glimpsed plain awash with dozy buffalo, in an immersive and atmospheric Moby Dick-cum-JAWS tale of man versus (human and mother) nature. Absorbing stuff....


Indeed Masterwork science fiction took something of a back seat in 2021's rocket, with Cryptozoic!, Cities In Flight and More Than Human all really failing to launch, with only the old school stiff upper Brit sci-fi of The Andromeda Anthology and the proto1984-isms of WE reaching orbit. However, the slightly more up to date sci-futures of Richard Morgan's (just alright) Altered Carbon, David Mitchell's stylistic, structural and imaginative triumph that is Cloud Atlas, and the triple-whammy of Tade Thompson's vastly rewarding Rosewater trilogy were proof indeed that there's still life (but not as we know it!) in the shaggy old sf dog tale yet....


In its stead Rob enjoyed the likes of William Boyd's slow-burn Trio, Cormac McCarthy's burnt world of The Road, Margaret Atwood's bra burning The Handmaid's Tale, the world really is burning woe of Jeff VanderMeer's Hummingbird Salamander and David Morell's fiery First Blood, an excellent companion piece to the film and a truly bruising book in its own right.... the same could be said for the soap burn of Chuck Palahniuk's still fearsome Fight Club too!


As well as this there was time to absorb a decent clutch of music and film (auto)biographys from the likes of Tim 'One Two Another' Burgess, John 'So Anyway...' Cleese, Will 'Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands' Carruthers, Martin 'Facing The Other Way: The Story of 4AD' Aston and Peter 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls' Biskind, a vicious, searing book, proof that, film geeks like Spielberg and Lucas aside, every feted male US actor/director of the 70's was a colossal #metoo consumed by an insatiable and quite repulsive appetite for sex and drugs....


As the nights grew long and dark, the wind chillier then what better time to to take a first step into the vast (nether)world of horror supremo Stephen King, Agent Rob subjecting himself to the jaw (and temperature) dropping 'Salem's Lot, a huge(ly) impressive novel in both scope and vision. It's not just the (pulling) power of the excellent writing, so much as the vivid scenes of terror piling up (much like the unfortunate vampiric victims) in the mind.... Yep, suddenly that gloomy lane on the walk to work doesn't look quite so inviting, shortcut or no, nor does staring into dark spaces or out dark windows less something should peer back from the blackness. Hell, even the hike in energy prices couldn't stop Rob from keeping Braw Towers lit up like a Christmas tree just, y'know, in case. Next stop the Overlook Hotel....

And here's Rob's written quote of the year, culled from the leery Humminbird Salamander,

"A few years later, businesses hawking wares would have changed. The old ones washed away by the shock of realization: the physical laws of the universe didn't give a f*ck about them. Wouldn't protect them just because they existed and sold things."

How pertinent is that post COP-26/everything?!

Doomsday Clock - flat as a pancake!

It was the comic everyone was tocking about simply because it ticked them off.... Yep, it could only be DC Comics' Doomsday Clock - or 'DC' for short, ho, er, hum, and about as clever as it gets – which certainly succeeds as an exceptional(ly drawn) exercise in mangling two lucrative IPs together for purely commercial purposes. As a satisfying comic, however, it lurked not only in the towering shadow of its timeless predecessor but also in that cast by HBO's television series sequel, making for an uneven and, as the superheroes/properties piled up and up, uninvolving read....

(It's really the sort of project that DC should have handed to someone fearless like Grant Morrison – his own Pax Americana was as good a response/rebuke to the original Watchmen as any – who would at the very least have done his damnedest to outdo Alan 'The Original Writer' Moore at every twist and turn (of the page) rather than kowtowing to the paymasters and farting out focus group approved fluff....)


Aside from sinking this titanic undertaking there was still precious time to be found to enjoy scribble and scratch master Paul Pope's 100% and Heavy Liquid trades, while Neil Gaiman's Eternals and the Attack On Titan manga stirred little interest Rob-side....


Pole-side, on the other hand, there was a treat in the spiky shape of the third omnibus (of five) of underground/overground comic strip Jez Jerzy, collecting books (Toms) #7, #8 and #0 of everyone's favourite rebellious hedgehog (though this leaves only Tom #9 to pad out the remaining two volumes)....


And just for the heck of it here's a few lovely Polish sub-underground illustrations courtesy of Edward Lutczyn (from Wanda Chotomska's 1985 book of children's rhymes, Remanent)....






All of which brings us neatly round (up) to this....


If, looking forward, 2022 is going to be remembered for anything – as, let's (try to) face it, it's proving completely and utterly forgettable already! - then what could be better than Dave Alexander's wonderful MacBam Brothers collection turning 10 years old! (Indeed, this here blog will be 10 years old in a matter of days – good on us!) Why not grab a copy now before LULU put their (and our) prices up early March (or simply sit back and enjoy our FREE Braw Books Sampler PDF available to download >>here....)


With Braw Towers all but silent in 2021 - no single scratch of pen on paper, no squeaky squirl(?) of the scanner, no fortunate flash of inspiration (just the pitter patter of tiny feet) - you'd be forgiven for thinking it's all over (which it is in a sense, given this blog is a testament to what Agent Rob was doing when he should have been drawing, this hollow man increasingly haunted by comics that might have been....). However, as he prepares to embark on his 68th revolution about the sun there's (suddenly) no shortage of ideas from Agent Johnny which has helped to (re)fuel the creative/publishing fire to some extent. So maybe 2022 will be the year that Braw finally gets it (ie, a new comic) together....

Old Bill boldly goes....

As ever it's time to wrap up this gift of a blog that just keeps on giving with Agent Rob's pick of the year. Naturally there's a flag to be waved for Indiana Jones in Glasgow city centre, a huge shout for 'Shatner in space', and no doubt that not only anything small and Dudley Moore-shaped was in the running, but also a few choice cuts courtesy of Derek and Clive. The Charlatans also hit a home run with their nostalgic yet somehow optimistic video for their recently unearthed/belated 30th anniversary year track C'mon C'mon (as well as errant original guitarist Jon Baker music-making a return as Central-Audio-Thrill). But first past the post (or should that be 'Pole'?) had to be the glorious video for Mrozu's Zlota, which was all of these things and more, the five minute holiday we all truly yearned for in 2021 (and a cracking toe-tapper of a tune to boot)....

Mrozu - Zloto (Official Music Video)