Archive for the ‘Chaznecdotes’ category

Supermarkets – Childhood Memories Review

April 29, 2011


Greetings dear reader, perhaps you’ve noticed things being much quieter around here than usual. Yes, April has come and just-about gone with little more than me shilling for my new FREE album A Personal Reference (featuring MAC LETHAL, ALASKA of DEFINITIVE JUX’s HANGAR-18, HOMEBOY SANDMAN, J57 of the BROWN BAG ALL STARS and MORE! NOW AVAILABLE for FREE DOWNLOAD at ) and not much else. Well, although I have been busier these days writing regular pieces for Spectrum Culture and SYFFAL, as well as my first ever piece for COMPLEX, this is largely due to me getting sicker than I’ve ever been in recent weeks. What started as a misdiagnosis after an emergency room visit on Record Store Day resulted in several hospital visits and, to spare you the details, four of my five senses being painfully compromised. I’m just about completely healed now (thanks for asking) but it was quite an awful ordeal. With limited vision and no mobility comes great responsibility I found myself often face down half-conscious with only my memories entertaining me. It’s during this time that I remembered how much I used to absolutely love supermarkets.

The Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" onesie, for when you absolutely have to show the world your baby has heard some song about why it's bad to bomb poor people or something.

This may just stem from my sheer love of spectacle rearing itself at an early age, but some of my earliest memories are being absolutely floored by the sheer majesty of the supermarket. When you’re three-years-old, your world isn’t a very big place. There’s your house, your front yard, your backyard, the park, school and the supermarket. While there’s no place like home and the park is a fantastic place to run wild and free, neither really preps us for how amazing our worlds were going to become like the supermarket did. Probably our first introduction to technology, I remember getting excited just to sit in the cart as my Mom pushed me through that other-worldly automatic door. How did it know we were coming? It was a door that opened itself! I GOT TO SEE A MINI-MAGIC SHOW EVERY WEEK!

Our market of choice was NewMarket, located just outside Minneapolis in Columbia Heights. I can’t remember the original name (although I recall cool looking cardboard boxes with ‘Country Store Foods’ written in a woodsy font on the sides) but it became NewMarket around 1992 and remained under that name until it was bulldozed around ’98/’99 to make way for an empty patch of debris and weeds for five years until condos were erected there in 2005. I’m somewhat surprised how much I remember of the original store. After you entered, there were the fruits and vegetables, with the two-sided wall of candy in the middle of them. The candy was arranged in a spectrum from spicy to sour, giving me a sense of tremendous pride when I was finally old enough to eat the sour gumbals without tearing-up.

Past the healthy crap and candy were rows-and-rows of typical stuff (food) until you got about 2/3s through the store and took a right. There, my friends, was the L-Shaped newsstand. I was four or five when I started grabbing comics off the rotating rack, starting with Ninja Turtles and eventually graduating to X-Men and Simpson’s. Some weeks I would turn around and partake in the magazines behind me incase there were any spotlight issues of anything on Power Rangers or something relevant to my interests in Mad, Cracked or Video Games Magazine. My final years there saw my first forays into actively following music journalism, namely taking a sharp eye to issues of Hit Parader, Guitar World and Circus, looking for foldout posters of whatever band’s logo I liked that week.

The Blood-Pressure Machine: Look at how much fun he's having! LOOK AT HIM!

But as fun as reading was/is, nothing at that young age compared to the endless entertainment provided by the sit-down Blood-Pressure Machine. We all recall being too young to really do anything when we would go to the drug store with our Dad and see him have all the fun, but once the supermarket pharmacy put that blood-pressure machine next to the comic books, the world became a much cooler place. Now, once a week, I could sit in a comfy chair, press some awesome-sounding buttons, have a robot squeeze my arm, and be told a whole bunch of numbers that I couldn’t begin to understand! For all the birthday parties I had at arcades or lazer tags, I wonder why I didn’t just have a bunch of friends follow me to the pharmacy and power-up? Probably because it would have set an unfair standard for the rest of our lives that no other party could possibly live up to.

After having technology blow me away, my mother would roll through with the cart and we would go to the check out. I’d help load the food on to the conveyer belt, help bag it and then the person behind the counter would give me a Dum-Dum sucker. If the fates were with me, it would be root beer. Looking back on it, the supermarket was the only destination that combined my love of robots, comics and candy. Before there was the internet, this was the only wonderland where I could have such a non-stop entertainment fix. Years later I worked at the Supermarket that ran NewMarket out of business, and it was the most miserable occupation I’ve ever had. Only the good die young.

We give Supermarkets a Five Out of Five

So until next time…LET’S AGREE TO AGREE!

Chaznecdotes – My Pink Flamingos Story

June 16, 2010

Put this in your front lawn, middle america!

Welcome to a new segment here at Popular Opinions called Chaznecdotes. Yes, this is going to feature Chaz Stories to Tell in the Dark, little nuggets of entertainment from my endlessly fascinating life. Who knows what tremendous adventures and outstanding incidents I’ve witnessed? Well, I do, and you think you know, but you have no idea and abilities to know what I know now when I was younger, you know? Now, without any further Depardu, let’s get to the me!

Last Monday (June 14th, 2010 AD) I had the tremendous fortune to see the reunion show of one of my all time favorite bands, the Toilet Boys. Glam punk at a time when it was most needed, I’ve waited over a decade to see them and they absolutely obliterated the stage. Afterward I spoke with their drummer Electric Eddie who, when I was 15-years-old, actually responded to a fan letter I had written them. On their old world-wide webpage, Eddie said his favorite movie was the John Waters classic Pink Flamingos. It is with that knowledge of shared interests I told him this story that I’m about to tell you…

I’ve always been a huge fan of Director John Waters. He’s second only to Lloyd Kaufman on cinematic admiration list. From an early age I loved how he mixed the cutting edge bourgeois aesthetics of the Andy Warhol/Paul Morrisey/Kenneth Anger films with the genuine blue-collar bizarreness of his Baltimore background. He made such an entertaining cesspool out of everyday life, something I’ve blatantly stolen attempted to replicate in just about everything I’ve written. Back in 8th Grade, when I first got into films, my best friend Matt and I used to attempt to rent the most bizarre out-there movies we could find and share them with whomever we could. At an age where most of my classmates were getting busted for trading Porn videos*, my teachers would angrily apprehend this sole Hollywood Video with an NC-17 rating and then disappointingly return it to us as it contained “nothing any young mind could possibly find erotic.” After months of preaching the Pink Flamingoes gospel throughout that incredibly awkward always fun summer between junior high and high school, imagine my thrill when the clerk at Suncoast told me it was coming to the Minneapolis Uptown theater for a special midnight screening.

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon in September, 2000. Since my Mother is the absolute greatest Mom in the world (source: Guinness) she agreed to take me to the midnight screening as “it would be fun to experience a real midnight movie.” Imagine our surprise when we got there and the line going around the block of the theater was (to use high school terminology) all “jocks and preps?” As it turns out, our local newspaper the Star Tribune had listed that night’s screening to be the original Austin Powers movie. Seeing as us Minnesotans are a go-with-the-flow people, the crowd decided to stick around and take a gamble on this movie that, as far as they know, might not have had the familiar catchphrases they would love to repeat on end for the next decade.

I’d like to stop for a second and let you know this story is about to get gross and is not recommended for pregnant women, small children or small pregnant children who are eating. If you aren’t familiar with exactly what Pink Flamingos contains, and you aren’t at work, give it a Google. It’s pretty out there. Granted Austin Powers is some raunchy, silly fun, but no amount of “Yeah, Babies!” could prepare you for “the filthiest people on Earth.” Flamingos is an entirely different beast all together. To quote Roger Ebert “It should not be considered as a film but as a fact, or perhaps an object.” The Uptown theater is a very classy building. It’s a one screen theater with a balcony and art adorning the staircase, so this wasn’t just something hitting the uninitiated out of left field. It was a whole ‘nother stadium.

No less than three minutes into the the film, the packed theater had loud groaning, and not the type you would expect from midnight in Uptown, Minnesota. There were horrified gasps, audible retching and the site of shadows recoiling in their seats. Fifteen minutes in, people began leaving the theater in droves. The unfamiliar masochists who stuck around to the halfway point, however, were soon visited by the filth fairies who gave the rest of us a gift in the form of their curse. I can’t write exactly what happened on screen that prompted such a reaction (if you ever see it, and I highly suggest you do, you’ll find the movie is a series of trump cards) but at a certain scene the ENTIRE FRONT ROW OF THE BALCONY BEGAN VOMITING SIMULTANEOUSLY. One-by-one the chain-reaction of blown chunks shocked and delighted us all as all but about two dozen or so of us left the theatre. Waters himself had once said he’d rather make someone throw-up than get a standing ovation, so this night must have been his Palme d’Or.

Me @ 'Pink Flamingos' star Divine's grave in Baltimore. Be jealous.

That’s my story and you’re sticky from it.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

*Which is why, to this day, the mention of Air Bud conjures up images of something quite different flying through the air.