Here’s a List of Dean Haspiel-Produced Mix Tapes from the 1990s

Geek, Tribute

I just came across a passel of (mostly) funk music mix tapes (yes, cassette tapes) Dean Haspiel propagated in the 1990s. Some of the cassettes were embellished with photos—Dino shirtless, natch, and also one of his beloved cat.

A partial list of these Dino Dazzlers:

  • Been Getting Busy
  • Bound by Business
  • A Fistful of Funk
  • Full Frontal Funk
  • Global Get-Ill
  • Grooveallegance
  • Must Music for the Masses
  • Since Time
  • Snot Rockets for the Booger Inside
  • This is What I Do
  • Time to Get Busy!
  • and of course, Dean Makes JMRN Cool!

(I’m JMRN—Joshua Michael Rosler Neufeld.)

I Dreamt That I Was Dreaming


I dreamt that I was dreaming.

I dreamt that I was dreaming that I was a man in a chicken cart. I had brown hair and a little brown mustache, and I made people meals of chicken and rice and salad that they brought back to their desks to eat.

I dreamt that I was dreaming that I was a man in a chicken cart who was in a band. It was either the Police or the Who or Led Zeppelin, I wasn’t sure which, but I had to get out. But I was trapped in the chicken cart.

I dreamt that I was dreaming.

Iron Cross


On Friday, after our last full day of workshops, we planned a late night, knowing we’d be able to sleep in the next morning. We’d heard of a live outdoor concert by the Burmese all-star band Iron Cross, and we didn’t want to miss it.

Getting into the stadium for the concert was like passing through a cattle gate. We were squeezed into three entrances, felt up by the security people, and herded through at a trample-like pace.

Iron Cross features a rockin’ guitarist and five solo singers, each taking turns in front of the mic. Some of the singers were pretty "hard-core", some were more "top 40", but the whole thing had the air of a 1980s hair-metal concert, pretty cheesy in feel. The crowd loved them all, singing all the lyrics to all the songs, but clearly favored the heavier songs, which allowed them to "rock out" to greater ecstasy.

The relatively expensive $5.50 ticket prices made the concert all but unaffordable to any but the most wealthy — e.g. connected to the military or their political cronies, but you’d never have known it from the crowd. The concert was packed with thousands of adoring, exuberant fans, crushed together doing the Burmese version of slam dancing. The crowd was 90% sweaty young men, all in their teens or early twenties. Even thought there was a lot of testosterone-fueled energy, and empty water bottles were being tossed in all directions, I never felt threatened by their enthusiasm.

A lot of the men wanted to say hello to us and ask us where we’re from, and some particularly wanted to talk to our little blond French companion Fanny, but there was no ill-will in evidence. For her part, Fanny pulled us deep into the crowd, as close to the stage as possible, and within moments we were all completely drenched with sweat. Pushed in on all sides, it was an intense introduction to Burmese pop culture.

Iron Cross on stage
Iron Cross on stage

The adoring crowd

The adoring crowd
The adoring crowd

Émile and Badoux enjoying the experience
Émile and Badoux enjoying the experience

Save the Date: Chip Kidd’s artbreak, Dec. 29 @ Dixon Place


Looking for something to do this holiday season? (New York City can be so dull.) Then come check out Chip Kidd’s band artbreak — and indy cartoonists Dash Shaw, David Heatley, and yours truly — at a benefit for Dixon Place: “Chip Kidd presents an evening of music, comics, and cartoons — New York indie style. Kidd’s band artbreak (with Mars Trillion) will perform a full set in preparation for its upcoming self-produced LP Wonderground, with special guests cartoonists Dash Shaw, David Heatley, and Josh Neufeld. A visual presentation of the artists’ current and upcoming projects will followed by artbreak’s only live appearance of the year, debuting their first EP and single, ‘Speedy’." Word is that Heatley will be joining Kidd and Trillion onstage for a performance of one of Heatley’s songs as well.

Original artwork and prints will be on display upstairs and our books will be on sale.

Details and more info:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Place: Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, NYC

Also, join Kidd, Shaw, Heatley, and myself the next day, Wed., Dec. 30, for a signing at Jim Hanley’s Universe. In commemoration of Indy Comic Book Week, we’ll all be signing our books from 5-7 pm. More details to come.

artbreak flyer

David Heatley’s “Suburban White Girls”

Comics, Illustration

I’m way late in writing about this, but you should check out cartoonist/rocker David Heatley‘s "Suburban White Girls" video. Written by David when he was 19, it was remixed and re-recorded last year as part of his My Brain is Hanging Upside Down EP — which of course coincided with the release of his My Brain is Hanging Upside Down graphic novel (Pantheon, 2008). And now there’s a music video.

1980s junior high nerdAs befitting Heatley’s work, "Suburban White Girls" is "an anthem of uncomfortable truth, complex parody, and heartfelt angst." The really cool element of all this is that the video uses cutouts and puppets made from original artwork by over 30 cartoonists/illustrators that David recruited via FaceBook and other means. And — wait for it… I’m one of the contributors! (You didn’t see that one coming, eh?) You’d think that with that many different styles and aesthetics, the final product would be an eyesore, but David was very clever in his conception of the project. He asked each contributor for a particular element — in my case, a "nerdy junior high school white boy, circa late 80s early 90s," in full-figure profile — and provided everybody with a specific color palette of just 20 shades. (By the way, is it a coincidence that the character I drew looks a lot like me from that era?)

So the end result is quite cohesive, and really fun. Some of the other contributors are Heatley himself, Chris Eliopoulos, Dave Kiersh, Hope Larson, J.T. Yost, Sarah Glidden, and my old intern Ben Moody, flexing his yellow-school-bus-drawing skills! Check it out; and also make sure to watch the credit reel, which features an example of each artist’s contribution to the project; and David’s blog, which gives a blow-by-blow behind-the-scenes account of the making of the video.

“Thriller” Redux


I was at a huge outdoor arena — possibly the Rose Bowl — for Michael Jackson’s public funeral. The stands were packed, and Phoebe and I were way down at the bottom of the stage. They wheeled in the body on a hospital gurney, covered by a thin sheet, and it ended up parked right next to our location. Looking at the corpse laying there under the sheet I had a premonition… and in the next second it came true. Michael moved, his hands came up and lifted off the sheet, and he sat up! I realized the whole thing — his "death," the tributes, the wall-to-wall news coverage — was a huge publicity stunt, a device to build interest for his new 50-show London concert series.

The crowd freaked, a mixture of cries of joy and rage. Underneath the sheet, Michael was dressed to perfection, in a white suit and white fedora. But he looked different: his skin was dark again, how he looked in the early 1980s. He reached up to remove this latest mask, but it wouldn’t come off. It was his "new" face. A mask of death and renewed life.

Michael looked around at the crowd and smiled. "Now I know how you really feel about me, what you think of me." He paused as the shouts, hoots, and whistles rained down on him. "Sounds like some of you wish I was still dead!" He jumped off the gurney and pirouetted onto the stage, as the music came on. It was electric.

Phoebe scrambled up on to the empty hospital gurney and started toddling uncertainly along it, performing an awkward dance to the music. I ran over to her to stop, to save her from hurting herself.

“Michael, We Hardly Knew Ye”


That was the text message I got informing me Michael Jackson passed away. How bizarre that on the very day I wrote a tribute to Prince’s Purple Rain that the extremely troubled former King of Pop should die. The similarities between the two stars are many, the most obvious being their ability to transcend musical (e.g. racial) boundaries and draw people of all stripes to their music.

If the summer of ’84 was to me Prince’s summer, then the summer of ’82 was obviously Michael’s. Thriller dominated the world in a way probably no album has since. That summer I was also a camp counselor (at Beth Elohim, in Park Slope, if you must know), and I can’t say I was plugged into Jackson’s music before Thriller. I mean, I dug it and all — especially "Billie Jean," which is still one of my favorite Jackson songs — but he didn’t do all that much for me until… that moonwalk on the Grammy’s in 1983! Holy crap! I never got the glove thing, or all that sparkly stuff, but that man could perform! The combination of his Tourettes-like yelps and rubber-band-man dancing made him the most kinetic entertainer I’d ever seen. (Even Prince, with all his stagecraft, had to take a back seat to Michael.)

Without absorbing Jackson’s music first, I don’t know if I would have been able to truly appreciate Prince’s. They were both extremely… odd… human beings (and the 80s was known for some pretty outrageous fashion choices) but Jackson’s G-rated persona paved the way for the more "sophisticated" role played by Prince. (Though of course as Wacko Jacko came more and more to the fore starting in the 1990s, who could’ve guessed how R-rated — or maybe I should say NC-17 — he would become?)

Another great memory was during some random free period in high school, back at the old Harlem building of Music & Art. I was sitting in the auditorium reading an X-Men when the "Thriller" music came on somebody’s boombox. I looked up on stage and there were about twenty of my fellow students doing an impromptu yet perfect step-by-step run-through of the "Thriller" video choreography. It was freakin’ awesome!

In the end, you have to agree that no matter your personal musical tastes, there was no way of escaping Jackson’s music or it impacting your life. The closest personal connection I have to this moment is when my mom woke me up on a cold December morning in 1980 to tell me John Lennon had been shot. As with Lennon, this is my generation’s Elvis moment. I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life.

My Michael Jackson Top 5 — probably not too many surprises here:
5) "The Way You Make Me Feel"
4) "State of Shock" (with Mick Jagger)
3) "Ease on Down the Road" (with Diana Ross)
2) "Beat It"
1) "Billie Jean"

“Purple Rain” Turns Silver


The summer of 1984 was the summer of Springsteen, Ghostbusters, and Madonna, but more than anything that summer’s soundtrack was Purple Rain. You couldn’t escape Prince, the songs, or the movie, and I was one of the millions who fell under its spell. I was a teenager working as a camp counselor that summer, and it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with the Purple One: his racial and sexual ambiguity, his warring themes of sexuality and spirituality, and most of all the rockin’ funky brilliance of his music. "Let’s Go Crazy," "Darling Nikki," and most of all "When Doves Cry" were all unlike anything I’d ever heard before — transgressive, titillating, just plain buck wild — and that was before I discovered the unparalleled brilliance of "Computer Blue" and "The Beautiful Ones." And the album version of "Purple Rain" will always be my personal anthem — romantic, bombastic, silly, profound, beautiful, but in the end, perfect.

I had my first beer that summer, at a showing of the Purple Rain movie, thanks to Dean Haspiel, and I’ll always credit Prince and that album for profoundly loosening me up. Up to then, I had been a weirdly repressed and judgmental kid; something about the Purple Rain summer helped get that stick out of my ass. Probably a month hasn’t gone by since 1984 that I haven’t listened to Purple Rain; it’s cool to hear the songs out in the zeitgeist again amidst all the tributes.