Archive for the ‘501st’ Category

Weird Coincidences: The Ducky Boys and Costuming.

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Author James Hannon finds out that his Bronx/Ducky Boys World and his Costuming World are starting to blend together in very strange & coincidental ways.  This looks like a job for SuperGirl – who was instrumental in uncovering this string of coincidences.  Sound interesting?  Read on……

Well, so far every big project I’ve worked on has had at least one huge coincidence that made me realize I might be onto something really cool.

For my 2004 documentary, Out of Our Dens: The Richard & the Young Lions Story, while looking for Detroit names who remembered the band RYL, I came across legendary NYC radio DJ Pat St John – who unbeknownst to me was a legendary Detroit radio DJ before coming to NY and not only did he remember the band, he LOVED them. And while thats cool, thats not the coincidence  part.   The coincidence part is that when I spoke to him and invited him out to the bands rehearsal studio to see them play, we found out that (more…)

Costumer Video Series 1-3: Sandtrooper, Biker Scout and TIE Pilot Armor

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Summary:  Author, film-maker and costumer James Hannon takes you through the first 3 videos in a series showing how to put on various Star Wars costumes from the 501st Legion’s NorthEast Remnant (NER) Garrison.    Designed to show people all the intricacies that these costumes have that make them look as tho the wearer has just walked off the movie screen and into reality.  Covering the Sandtrooper (TD), BikerScout (TB), and TIE Pilot costumes in these videos with more to come shortly.

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Back in 2009, I joined the 501st Legion. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a volunteer fan organization where its members dress in screen-accurate Star Wars “bad guy” costumes and go out to various comic conventions, charity and corporate events to promote Star Wars.  Lucasfilm gave us permission to do this, and have regularly used us for various events over the years.

Much more detailed info can be found on the 501st Legion website and the Wikipedia entry for the group.

Here in New Jersey, my local group is the 501st NorthEast Remnant Garrison.  I’m currently the Garrison Public Relations Officer (GPR) and I’m tasked with helping to promote the group – which is easy because the group does some great work with charity organizations.

One of the things we decided to do is create a series of videos to show how to put on various Star Wars costumes. Some of the costumes we have are pretty complicated to put on, and these videos were designed as a look behind-the-scenes and see how everything fits together. Many times in the dressing rooms (more…)

So I helped ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock market….

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

On Dec 20th, 2011, author James Hannon helped ring the opening bell of the NASDAQ Stock Market along with his Star Wars loving geek brothers in the 501st Legion‘s Empire City Garrison, NorthEast Remnant Garrison, and the  Rebel Legion.   It was an event to signify the release of the EA/BioWare videogame “The Old Republic” and that Electronic Arts was changing its ticker to EA on the NASDAQ stock exchange.   This is the story of that day.

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Well, I just woke up after taking a well-deserved nap today.   You see, I had to get up at 5am this morning to be in the heart of Times Square in New York City by 7:30am – And I was shooting to be there at 7am since I didn’t want to be late, so I gave myself a half-hour putz factor.  (Remind me at some future date to talk about the “putz factor” dynamic LOL)

Now, for those of you that don’t know me very well, getting up at 5am is usually reserved for something special.  And today was definitely a day that it was worth getting up at 5am…

Today, I got to help ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange in Times Square!

Here’s what happened:

Electronic Arts was scheduled to ring the bell today to signify its changing of its ticker to EA on the NASDAQ stock exchange Also, along with it’s subsidiary company BioWare, it was having a HUGE release event for their videogame “The Old Republic” that came out at Midnight last night.

And EA/BioWare asked the Empire City Garrison (the NYC branch of the 501st Legion – which is the Star Wars costuming group that I belong to) to provide some (more…)

Ace Frehley’s “No Regrets” and the Ducky Boys Gang

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Ace Frehley‘s new book “No Regrets” covers his time with the Ducky Boys gang, and surprisingly is in-sync with James Hannon‘s “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang

On Saturday, I was at a local 501st Legion – NER troop over at Bookends Bookstore over in Ridgewood, NJ.  We were there to support the release of a bunch of Star Wars books by DK Publishing.  The troop was fun and all and we took a lot of pictures, and made a lot of kids (and some adults) pretty happy with our appearance there. But that’s not the main point of this blog.

What I do want to tell you about is that while we were there, we noticed that there were a LOT of big-name stars that were listed on the store’s past & future booksigning event schedule. People like Bill Clinton, Regis Philbin, Mary Higgins Clark, Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, Bill O’Reilly, Snookie from the NJ Shore TV show, the Kardashian family, and lots more..  Not every one of those names will appeal to everyone, but you have to admit they all do have some star power behind them. And it was impressive considering that it was a LOCAL bookstore and not one of the big corporate ones (i.e. Barnes & Noble).

I had to know “how” they got the caliber of authors to have a book-signing event, and I asked them. It seems they report their sales numbers to the NY Times Book list, and apparently that is a big deal when authors are going on book-signing tours.

So, me being the marketing whiz I am, thought “How am I going to jump on this bandwagon with my book Lost Boys of the Bronx: the Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang“… So I asked the owners how to get on their author list… And it was pretty simple – basically they had me autograph a few of my books and leave them there… And depending on the interest generated, they’d figure out if they wanted me to hold a book-signing event.

So the #1 piece of information you should take away from this blog is:
Go to Bookends Bookstore at 211 East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ and show some interest in Lost Boys of the Bronx – hopefully by purchasing one of them!

But the story doesn’t end there… I wouldn’t hit you with a marketing plea like that without giving you a hopefully interesting story!

While talking to the manager of the store, Blair Relyea – the official (and pretty awesome) photographer of Bookends, overheard my conversation about my book and asked if these were the same Ducky Boys of the Bronx that Ace Frehley of KISS was a part of. I told him yes, and then pressed him how he knew that, since he didn’t seem to have any Bronx or obvious KISS ties.

He told me that Ace Frehley had just had a book-signing event at the bookstore for his book “No Regrets” a few weeks earlier and written a large section of the book about his involvement in the Ducky Boys growing up.

This floored me because when I talked to Ace Frehley when I was writing my Ducky Boys book, he really didn’t want to tell me any stories about his involvement with the gang – at least not for free. I have an entire chapter of Lost Boys of the Bronx devoted to my interaction with Ace regarding my book – and it wasn’t that pleasant of an interaction. Now it all makes sense – he wanted to save the stories for his own book.

So, curiousity got the better of me and I bought a copy of Ace’s book at Bookends… Even better was that they still had a few autographed copies of it (They have a huge selection of autographed books)… I must like this bookstore giving them so many free plugs LOL

I got home that night and started reading. True to Blair’s word, there were a bunch of Ducky Boys references in the first couple of chapters. It would be too much to expect that Ace would actually refer to my Ducky Boys book, but I was impressed with his stories. While they were different stories than mine, they were actually in-sync with what I had.

Some examples:

  • Most of the Ducky Boys I interviewed don’t remember Ace being in the Ducky Boys. But Ace never said he was in the Ducky Boys. He says he was in the Junior Duckies – which were the younger kids who hung out with the Ducky Boys and eventually became the 2nd generation of Ducky Boys when the original members got older and stopped hanging around the park.
  • In my book, Ducky Boy Kevin Byrne only remembers seeing Ace (then known as Punky) around the gang once. And it was when Ace put the moves on Ducky Boy Eddie T‘s girlfriend Marianne, and Eddie beat the hell out of Ace for doing so. Ace, in his book, tells that story from his point of view.
  •  Ace remembers that the original Ducky Boys were more about the camaraderie and friendship of the members, but eventually degenerated into drugs and crime. Ace also spoke of having to get away from the gang to make something of his life. That was a key theme in Lost Boys of the Bronx – a large percentage of the kids in the Ducky Boys who didn’t get away died way before their time – sometimes with very grisly endings.

I didn’t want to like Ace’s book based on our prior interactions, but I am really glad to see that he was honest and fair in his memories of the group. I am still reading how he got into KISS and his adventures there, but the interesting part of the book was his Ducky Boy memories, and he delivered.

So, the #2 thing you should take away from this blog is:
If you have read Ace’s book, and liked the Ducky Boys section, you should pick up Lost Boys of the Bronx to find out a lot more about the gang. And vice-versa – If you liked my book, you should pick up Ace’s “No Regrets” and read the first few chapters at least.

That’s about it for this blog entry – Hope you liked it… Let me know if you have any comments or questions!

Take care and I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
-=James

P.s. Here’s a picture of us trooping at Bookends last weekend 11/19/2011
More pictures here

A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part II – NY Comic Con

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Part 2 of a segment about two consecutive weekends where I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen at a pair of conventions.  This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ– October is a great month to be a costumer!

Well, this one is about the big boy of conventions in the New York City area – NY Comic Con!  Last year there were 96,000 or so attendees – this year 105,000.  According to Wikipedia, its been going up steadily since its inception…It sold out both weekend days this year, so I dont know how much higher those numbers can get…

Year Attendees
NYCC 2006  33,000
NYCC 2007  49,000
NYCC 2008  60,000
NYCC 2009  77,000
NYCC 2010  96,000
NYCC 2011 105,000

Last year, Johnny Rox and I went to NYCC for a first time on the Saturday, and it was MOBBED (I’m not talking supermarket mobbed – I’m talking last train out of the apocalypse-mobbed!)…   We went in normal civilian clothes (as opposed to being costumed) and we had a great time.  Check out our experience last year here  (Lots of pix there too)

Anyhoo, so lets get on with the events of the individual 2011 days!

Friday Oct 14th, 2011 – Day #1 (for me)

Someone mentioned to me that since I was vacation on Friday, I should go to NYCC that day because it would be a LOT less crowded…  Nobody else was on vacation, so I had nobody else to go with, but I knew enough people there – so I headed into the city on Friday sans costume…

I got a call in the morning saying that the lines around the Javitz Center were insane but happily found out that these were people who had to pickup tickets.  Luckily I ordered my tix a few months ago and had them in hand, and didn’t need to wait in any lines..  But I got there after 2pm anyway to avoid the initial confusion that usually happen at these things.

I went in without any maps, or any idea what I wanted to do…  I said I wouldn’t do that again, and I actually created an agenda on the NYCC website, but I never printed it, nor did I remember anything on the list…   There’s a LOT to see, and there’s no way in hell I was gonna see 5% of what there was to see, so I just decided to let Fate be my guide…

So I walked… And walked…  And walked…  I zigged and zagged down aisles dodging human traffic looking for (more…)

A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part I – Garden State Comic Con

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

During the course of two weekends in October 2011, I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen.  This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ – October is a great month to be a costumer!

This was originally going to be one blog entry, but there were too many pictures to split out between the two events, so I figured I’d make two so it would be easier for my readers to digest.

During the 2nd weekend of October, 2011, a small convention down in Cherry Hill, NJ happened. It was called the Garden State Comic Con and it was run by a company named ZoloWorld.   Its not the biggest con I’ve been to, and it certainly is going thru some growing pains, but you know what? I had a great experience there, so I’ll cut them slack on the problems faced…

For a small con,they had some big con names appearing – Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie, Hayden Panettiere – the cheerleader from Heroes, Davy Jones of the Monkees, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Rusty Goffe and Bonnie Piesse from the Star Wars franchise.

One particular attendee – Jackson Bostwick, most people probably wouldn’t recognize, but he was the reason I drove an hour and a half to Cherry Hill to see.  Mr Bostwick played the original Captain Marvel from the 1973 live action Saturday morning show “SHAZAM!” which was my favorite show from when I was 6 years old.  I  dare say that this show may have been the early inspiration for the costuming bug I developed years later.  I remember yelling “SHAZAM!” and tying a towel around my neck and pretending to be Captain Marvel (or as I call him Shazam).

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Star Wars at the Cradle of Aviation Museum 6/18/2011

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

The 501st Legion visits a really cool museum in Garden City, Long Island called the Cradle of Aviation.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

If you’ve been following me at all, you probably know that I’m a Star Wars geek, and that I go to local events dressed in a Star Wars costume.  Just check my photo albums here or on Facebook to see visual proof.  You could also read any of my numerous blogs by clicking 501st” or “Star Wars”  over there on the right under Categories=====>

The short version (for me anyway) to get you up to speed, is that I am a member of a group called the 501st Legion.  The 501st is a group of geeks like myself who like Star Wars to the point of spending the time and money of creating professional quality costumes of the “bad guy” characters in the movie.  (I also belong to the Rebel Legion which covers the costumes of the “good guys”.  This particular event, I was a TIE Pilot “bad guy”, so I’ll focus on the 501st angle).

I realize there is a tendency to think of people who costume as loner freaks, but most of the people I’ve met doing this are sane and  productive members of society – We have moms, dads, cops, firemen, lawyers, teachers, programmers, musicians, writers, artists, etc within our ranks.  If we weren’t wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick us out of a crowd.  LOL

One of my favorite quotes lately is “Just because my hobby is different than yours, doesn’t mean my hobby is any dumber than your hobby.”  Plus our hobby has an outlet that helps make the world a better place.  A large portion of the events we attend are charity events, and our costumed groups have helped raise well into the millions of dollars for various charities.   And we bring LOTS of smiles to the kids who come out to our events and see characters magically come off the screen into their world.  It’s a really cool feeling being part of this.

One thing that I should mention here is that it isn’t just Star Wars costuming groups that enjoy these benefits, but most costumers, be it Star Trek, Superheroes, Disney princesses, etc.  (People who know my “wannabe marketing genius” mind are laughing right now because they know what’s coming next)

I am currently working on a new book that will hopefully be finished in early 2012.  It will be all about the various costumers out there –  How they got into it, Why they do it How they got their cool costumes,What their families and friends think, Cool stories while costumed, and everything in between. So basically I am looking to hear from any costumers who are willing to tell their story for inclusion in the book.   So if you are a costumer, and have a cool story, email me at jameshannon@lantern-media.com and let me know. You can be any type of costumer (including anime, re-enactors, mascots, gorilla-grams, etc) – the only exclusion is that the book will be relatively family-friendly, so I probably won’t be using any adult-themed stories.  Nothing against it personally, but as wise costumer Amber Love wrote in her Amber Unmasked blog, “there’s a time and place for everything.”   🙂

Ok, sorry for that tangent, back on target about the Cradle of Aviation event.

The Cradle of Aviation is a really cool museum on Museum Row in Garden City, Long Island.  They’ve got a whole lotta exhibits on the history of flight – with a slant towards Long Island’s involvement in it.  Grumman Corporation was a HUGE contributor of exhibits to the museum and there is some really cool stuff there like flight simulators, lunar landers, space suits, planes of all types, etc.  It even has a Fire Dept museum and historic carousel on the property – See the pics below for a taste of it..   HIGHLY recommended by your pal James…

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You’re only as relevant as your next project…

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Ok, so its been a few months since Lost Boys of the Bronx – The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang was published, and the marketing blitz has died down a little bit.   There’s still a few outstanding things there that might catch fire again, but the craziness of a book release is over and I can think straight again…  Or as much as I could do before the craziness anyway… 🙂

Instead of sitting back and enjoying the free time that I’ve been looking forward to, what does your friendly neighborhood author decide to do?   Get started on another project of course!!!

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Aircraft Carriers, Star Wars, friends and turkey sandwiches.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

FYI:  I saw some Senator taking crap this morning on the news for sharing an innocent Halloween costume with his staffers, which kinda inspired the mini-rant at the beginning of this.  I’m sure they had something else on him, but I didn’t listen long enough to find out.   Before I saw that clip, I was just going to post a simple summary of yesterdays events on the USS Intrepid… Indulge me for a few paragraphs, and I’ll get right into that.

Outside of my home and work life, there are a couple of aspects to my life lately that people who don’t know me well are surprised by:

The biggest thing right now of course is that I’m the author of “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Bronx“.  Other things that I do/have done are that I have an MBA (but who cares right?); I’m also a filmmaker who wrote, shot & directed the documentary “Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story”; and I’ve done music videos for artists such as The Grip Weeds, The RiffSurfers, and Shelly Riff.  If you scroll thru my blog and/or Facebook page, you will find lots of references to those aspects of my life.

But what people who only know me from the aspects of my life above REALLY get shocked about is the aspect that this blog entry will cover.

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A biased review of Tasting Grace at Asbury Park Convention Hall

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Pics at bottom of blog – dont forget to click “read more”

OK, let me explain the title of this blog first.  I am a huge fan of drummer Johnny Rox going back to the days when he was known as little Johnny Pebblez…  Sorry for that – its just a private joke I have with John since I can’t in good conscience call him by his stage name, and I don’t want to give out his real name in this blog…  Long story-short, John is a great friend, old band-mate, and one of my 501st brethren, so I can’t give anything but a biased review of him…  (RiffSurfer Squad forever!) – Also, as I started writing this, I realized that this is so much more than a review – its a freaking look into my life  LOL

OK, getting that out of the way, he’s in this band called Tasting Grace now and I’ve been hearing a LOT about them for the past few months…   They are about to start an International tour (OK, they’re playing Puerto Rico in addition to the states – I’m not sure how that fits into the international scope of things, but lets just say their tour is bigger than a national tour –  Either way, I’m proud of my friend and the success that he’s gotten and will get — (see how this is going to be biased?)

Last night, November 6th, 2010 was the first show of the tour, and it was at the Asbury Park Convention Hall in Asbury Park, NJ.  They were the headlining band for Lucha Vavoom! – A wrestling event made by MTV (I think), and has strippers and masked wrestlers in the style of old Mexican wrestling luchadors.  But more on that later – This review blog is primarily about Tasting Grace’s show…

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WIDOMV 2010 – Part 3- Peeping Princess Leia

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

WIDOMV 2010 = What I Did On My Vacation 2010

Subtitled: Peeping Princess Leia traumatizes a civilian in distress

Ok, this installment will be a bit shorter than the rest.   This covers the first week of my vacation and after NY Comic Con, it was time to rest a bit, hit the beach in the fall (a GREAT time to hit the beach) an do a lot of behind-the-scenes promotional stuff for my  book

No time like the present for a shameless plug for the book…   I wrote a book called Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang – It is about the real-life exploits of the gang that was so terrifying in the 1979 movie “The Wanderers” – they also happened to roam the neighborhood I grew up in in the early 1960s.

You can find more out about the book at its Facebook Fan Page or you can pick up a copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  You can also pick up a signed copy directly from me at Lantern-Media.com

Ok, enough with the shameless plug, lets get onto the story you’ve been waiting to hear – How did sweet little Princess Leia traumatize some poor innocent soul at a charity event?

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WIDOMV 2010 – Part 2 – NY Comic Con with Johnny Rox

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

WIDOMV 2010 = What I Did On My Vacation 2010

Subtitled: Spandex babes and getting robbed by the Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno.

Like I said in Part 1 of this series of my blog entries, this was originally going to be one document, but it got really long, and nobody was going to read that much no matter how much they like the way I write LOL

This entry is not so much Ducky Boys gang related, but more about one of my hobbies.   If you don’t know already, I am a member of the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion groups which are Star Wars costuming groups.  Now before you write them off as a bunch of geeks and nerds, realize that these groups do a helluva lot of good.   During this particular series of blogs, you will see that I have gone to two charity events to entertain the crowds and help raise money for good causes like the Miracle Walk and Safe in Hunterdon woman’s shelter in NJ.  But you’ll see that in later version of this series of blogs.

Now that being said, this particular blog is purely about geek nirvana…  And getting robbed by Lou Ferrigno…

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RiffSurfers + Star Wars + Smithereens = ANOTHER night to remember!

Friday, December 18th, 2009

(Sorry for the rawness of this note (again) – just got in and had to get the story out before I went to bed)

Ok, do me a favor, and read Part 1 of the Pat DiNizio saga first. This note will make a LOT more sense if you have read that one…

The short version if you dont have time or inclination: Jeff Hornlien of the RiffSurfers and I put together a goofy Star Wars-ish video of Jeff singing the Smithereens “Blood and Roses” while Jeff was dressed in his Han Solo costume See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Gwq_CCg6g ). A week later. we had a night of MANY coincidences, and actually ran into Pat DiNizio – the lead singer of the Smithereens, at a local diner… AND HE HAD SEEN OUR VIDEO.. Long story short, he loved it, and we made it into the documentary on Pat’s, and just had a great time that night… (more…)

Late night tales from a NJ Diner

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Holy Shit – This was a night for the record books. We just got in and its 2am, but I had to write this down while it was still fresh in my mind. It will probably get cleaned up a bit in the near future, but for now, you’re getting rawness.

Lets start at the beginning…

A few weeks ago, Jackie & I were bored watching TV, and I saw that the NJN channel was doing a special on the Star Wars Concert where they perform 16 clips from the 6 movies with a live orchestra. I had heard about it, but didn’t think much about it, but I have to admit the TV special made it look interesting. (more…)