Sunday, May 18, 2008

Still Reading, New facts, and the Same old S--t!


I am still reading Bob Calhoun's Beer, Blood and Cornmeal, his personal memoir of 7 years of Incredibly Strange Wrestling. I have been reading it on the bus, I am always laughing when I read it so I get a lot of people asking me about the book. It keeps a smile on my face due to Bob's absolutely unbridled sense of humor allowing absolutely NOTHING to be sacred.

My interest in the Rock and Roll Count is based on my need to track the overall cultural influences of this man John Keehan, dead 33 years and still a significant underground figure who has affected cultures from the US to the UK and Japan. New facts are being added to Count Dante's Wikipedia page all the time.

Someone recently added an item in the trivia section that says, "Martin Kove, who played the character "Kreese" in the film The Karate Kid, ad-libbed his famous "Pain does not exist in this dojo..." monologue based on his time as a young student and Count Dante was his sensei." They did not cite the origin of this quote, but I am looking at the name of his character, John Kreese and see how John Keehan is not too far a distance to stray from if you are fictionalizing or using an influence. Only Kove himself can tell me this so I have added him to my wish list of final interviews. John Keehan/Count Dante's impact on popular culture is firmly established as far as I am concerned.

As I come to the final quarter of the book the Black Dragon Fighting Society comes up again. This time Bob reprints yet another email he received from someone at the Black Dragon Fighting Society in about 2000. This is from the chapter titled "Hot Man on Man Action," read on:
"I walked out of the Mexican restaurant and found my '63 Catalina wrapped around a Mission Street telephone pole. In the time it took me to down a plate of chorizo enchiladas, some asshat in a Grand Prix had done a hard U-turn into my parked car and pushed it onto the curb and into the pole. Unlike the Starfire, I had a half
decent policy on this baby. The insurance company gave me nearly $4,000 for my totaled four-door sedan with two-tone vinyl seats. It was finally time to put out my record.

The Deadliest Man Alive by Count Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society was recorded in a couple of days by Bart Thurber at House of Faith Recording Studios in Oakland. Bart is the Mother Theresa of rock bands with no money. His life's mission is to give the Bay Area's oddest bands that big analog sound on shoestring budgets. Craig Martins did the cover art. He made Ed, Andy and me all look like Jonny Quest-era Hanna Barbera cartoons. Suzy Ming posed with me on the back cover to make me look good.

Around this time, the Black Dragon Fighting Society of Fall River, Massachusetts, crawled out of the woodwork again. They had gotten a lawyer this time but they hadn't gone and filed anything in court yet. I had 1,000 discs spread out between my practice space and my mom's garage (which was a lot for me). I couldn't really turn around and change the name now. Fortunately, I had an attorney friend from one of my downtown temp jobs. She took on the case pro bono and sent some letters back and forth with the Massachusetts lawyer. We were locked in a legal game of chicken. It costs about $100,000 to pursue trademark cases in court and none of us had it. In the end, their attorney agreed with my attorney and thought that something could be worked out. I didn't hear from the Fall River Black Dragons for quite a while until I got the following e-mail...
From: Subject: YOU PHONEY BASTARD I challenge you to fight to the death, hand to hand, I was a student of Count D'ante, second generation, You should have respect for the dead, FOR HE DIED IN THE 1970'S Name the place and time winner take all, And the name that doesn't belong to you, I'll prove it with my techniques Sincerely: William E. Maine 3rd

William E. Maine really hated using periods, but he loved commas. I thought of copy-editing his hand-to-hand death match challenge and sending it back to him but I was just happy to be done with these guys."

One day soon, Bob, so will I.

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