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Today was supposed to be the day MIXTAPE arrived in stores and on iTunes.  In an alternate universe, these two things likely happened.

But, this is our world, and it’s a world fraught with hiccups and gremlins derailing what one always hopes is a smooth ride, but more often or not is one of those slow-motion trainwrecks you hear about but never see.

I already made mention that the print edition of MIXTAPE is delayed until the end of March.  We had hoped the iTunes digital version would be ready today as compensation for that delay, but as of this writing it is not.  Once I have the details from then as to when and where you can download it, I’ll post that info here.

One advantage of the delay is it’s given us more time to get the word out that MIXTAPE is coming soon.  We’ll have some additional media in the coming days and weeks and will work double-time to wind the unspooled tape back into the cassette.

Thanks for bearing with us. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Nirvana’s Bleach was recorded for $606.17

Bring Tha Noize

File this under “Things Brad Has Learned”

I have a comic book called MIXTAPE.  It’s hitting iTunes next week, and comic book stores a few weeks after that (we hope — keep watching this space).  I also have a Twitter account (@NotBradAbraham) where I Tweet about, among many other things, MIXTAPE.

So imagine my surprise when my latest MIXTAPE update was retweeted by a newsletter called The Mix Tape Daily.

As it happens, the term “Mix Tape” has become part of hip hop culture.  They’re popular with DJs and rappers — a great, budget friendly way to get one’s music out to the masses.  From Wikipedia:

“In hip hop’s earliest days, the music only existed in live form, and the music was spread via tapes of parties and shows.  Hip hop mixtapes first appeared in the mid-1970s. In the mid-1980s, DJs began recording their live music and selling their own mixtapes.  Blend tapes became increasingly popular by the mid-1990s, and fans increasingly looked for exclusive tracks and freestyles on the tapes. In the hip hop scene, mix tape is often displayed as a single term mixtape.”

Yeah.  That.

What do I think about all this?

It’s pretty cool actually — the culture, and the mixtape’s role in it.  It probably explains why the post referenced received a ton of hits. Unsurprisingly a lot of those hits were from people who though MIXTAPE, the comic, was not for them.

One complaint I’m sure MIXTAPE (the book) will get is the music referenced is generic white indie rock.  The Beastie Boys get a shout-out in MIXTAPE #3, but there’s not a lot of hip hop or rap culture referenced.  And they’ll be right … to a point.

Part of the reason MIXTAPE is “Alternative Rock” is because that’s where the exciting stuff was to be found in 1990.  But as the series progresses we’re going to delve more into early 90s rap and hip hop music and culture.  With the main characters college bound, they’re going to experience a wider array of music and culture — Acid House, Trip-Hop and the like — MIXTAPE #5 finds Terry visiting friends in a College town, and dragged to a dance club (a form of slow torture for a die-hard Alt-Rock disciple).  I can also see Terry saddled with a college roommate heavily into hip hop culture — something that will surely generate sparks when it does happen.

But as the series and charcters grow, you’re going to see and hear a lot more from artists like Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, N.W.A., Ice-T (and Body Count) and, my personal favorites, Public Enemy.  The early 90s was such a rare, crazy time for innovative music, it wouldn’t be right for MIXTAPE to ignore that aspect of rap and hip hop culture.  I look forward to exploring that era some more.

 

MIXTAPE #2

Nobody said this would be easy … but there’s bad and good news about MIXTAPE (and something of a thank-you gift).

First, the bad.

Due to circumstances out of my control, we’ve had to delay publication of MIXTAPE #1 by a few weeks.  I don’t have the new date yet, but when I do I’ll post it here, and on the Mixtape Facebook page.  Don’t worry — the book will be out by the end of March at the absolute latest.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the digital version of MIXTAPE #1 — the version blogged about by Alan Cross, will be available for download from iTunes on February 29th.  This is the version that includes the 14 track playlist, which you can also stream at MIXTAPE’s YouTube channel.

The “thank-you” for your continued support of MIXTAPE is the following sneak peek at the first three pages of Mixtape #2.  It’s not as cool as having the book in stores as planned, but the best I can do for now.

Cheers

Happy Fucking Birthday

Getting old sucks.  But you know what’s worse?  Not getting old at all.

Yep, it’s my birthday today, and I’ve been dreading it like I’ve been dreading each one since my tenth.  Never been into birthdays — not into celebrating them, not into even acknowledging them, and the older one gets, those well-wishes and the gifts that accompany them feel more like consolation prizes than anything.  For one day of the year you get to be the center of attention which, for a chronic introvert like myself, is a form of slow torture.  I’ve avoided looking at my Facebook page all day, knowing it’s going to be filled with well-wishes from people I barely know.  They mean well, and I appreciate it, but at the end of the day, typing “Happy Birthday!” on a virtual wall seems like a bit of a cheat, when I’d rather people not bring it up at all.

My wife asked if I wanted to do anything special today.  Nope, not really.  It’s Tuesday, and I have too much work to get caught up on after a long weekend of sitting idle.  Plus, I had a shit night of sleep last night, so there’s that too.

But, I really need to get over myself; at least I get to have a birthday, when so many people I’ve known have not.  Today I think of my manager Cathryn, who left us a couple years back, and I think of my old high school pals Alwyn and Alston, both of whom were younger than me, and both of whom died within a month of each other in 2010.  I even think of  Michael Hein, founder of the New York City Horror Film Festival, who died unexpectedly last year.  He was two years older than me.

I also think of Neil Hope.

I didn’t know Neil, but I knew his work, the same as everyone else who reacted with shock at the news that “Wheels” of Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High fame had died.  What was shocking wasn’t his age (which, at 35, was shocking), but rather to the fact that he’d died in 2007, and people just found out just last week, some four years and three months after he’d died, of natural causes, supposedly.

Neil was living in some rooming house in Hamilton Ontario, a geographic stone’s throw from where I was living at the time of his death.  Like a lot of the Kids of Degrassi Street, he found his acting work dry up at the conclusion of Degrassi High’s run.  They were typecast as those roles and nobody wanted that Degrassi baggage.  I know people who were on the show — they went to Film School same time as me, and have carved out successful post-Degrassi careers as camera operators and Assistant Directors.  They managed to get over Degrassi and carve out successful, happy lives.

But Neil didn’t.  He dropped out of the business and found work in general labor.  The son of alcoholics, he battled his own alcoholism through the 1990s, much like his character on Degrassi.  He lived a private life, ad one of self-isolation.  He was dragged reluctantly to appear in a couple “reunion shows” on the new Degrassi series, but he pretty much dropped off the radar, by choice, as all accounts would indicate.

I made mention here and here that Degrassi was an influence on Mixtape, and I watched the entire DJH/DH run on Hulu last year.  Watching those five years over roughly five months was a touching experience really – to see the cast grow before my eyes, to see the Toronto of my youth as I remembered it.  Wheels in particular had a tragic arc — his parents were killed by a drunk driver, he was nearly molested by a creepy guy while hitchhiking, and in the Degrassi finale “School’s Out” got into a drunk driving accident himself, killing a kid and blinding a classmate.  He was the Christ figure of Degrassi — suffering disproportionately for everyone’s sins.  He never got a happy ending in the series, and that happy ending eluded Neil also.

It makes me think, how someone in this day and age of internet everywhere can die, and people can still be clueless about their passing for more than four years after the fact.  You really have to close yourself off from the world for that to happen.  Neil chose to do just that.  He decided to walk away from everything, and while it’s hard to understand, one almost has to respect him for that.

Now, Neil is trapped in amber.  He won’t age beyond that character, that character will define him, and as the years drag on, he’ll only be known as Wheels.  If I go tomorrow or next week or twenty years from now, how will I be remembered? It’s a question I ask myself a lot, with alarming frequency on my birthday.

So today I think of Neil, and Mike, and Alwyn, and Alston, and Cathryn, and the people no longer with us.  That’s why its time to cut the self-pity crap and enjoy my goddamn birthday.  Because who knows how many more any of us have?

Ongoing History

If you don’t know Alan Cross, you should.  He’s a well-known music personality, author, and radio host, who created the long-running, syndicated program The Ongoing History of New Music.  This program was essential listening for anyone who considered music to be more than just music.  The show ran on Toronto’s CFNY from 1993 to 2011 and was incredibly in-depth, taking an hour or two to focus on one band or one wave of alternative rock.  Alan has a new program called The Secret History of Rock, airing every Sunday, and thankfully available in an archive which can be accessed right here.

Of course, I bring Alan up because he’s given Mixtape some attention on his official blog, particulary pertaining to the digital version of the book.  Check it out here.

Anyway, a month back he did a show on what he considered the 10 essential alt rock albums; the ones that no record collection is complete without.  They span the late 60s to the early 90s – the period that most influenced Mixtape’s genesis.  I can state proudly that I own 9 of the 10* (though, if I may, the lack of any Pixies is a little disturbing)

If you look at the characters in Mixtape – Jim, Terry, Noel, Lorelei and Siobhan – chances are all of these albums are in their combined collections, with the exception of Nevermind (as Mixtape starts in September 1990, we’re a year out from the Grunge explosion, though you can be certain in the post September 1991 world, they all own copies of it).

I’ve already listed my top 15 albums here, but for those interested in Alan’s picks, you can listen here to the archived show.  I strongly urge you do so.