The Richard and the Young Lions album was finally released!

It’s finally here! The FIRST Richard and the Young Lions album ever – 51 years after the band began (and 14 years after “Richard” passed away)!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it for sale on https://wickedcoolrecords.bandcamp.com/ – the long (and I mean LONG) awaited album of Richard and the Young Lions! I still can’t believe that I have the LP, CD and MP3 files in my possession now

A short history:

Back in Summer 2001, when I was learning to be a filmmaker and web designer, my co-worker and friend Shelly Riff joined this 60’s band called Richard and the Young Lions that was getting back together as a replacement keyboardist. As luck would have it, they needed somebody to create their website from the ground up, so Shelly recommended me. I met the band, and got the job and became fast friends with the guys.

As I was working on the site, one of the key pages was the Legend of the band. As I started writing this page, I learned a LOT about the band’s history. And as a budding filmmaker, I couldn’t have found a better first project. So I approached the guys and they thought it was a great idea.

I spent the next three years of my life working with Leon Leybs on this documentary – in addition to holding down full-time jobs. We learned so much about the band, film-making, and ourselves during that time.

The band’s musical comeback was going great in Summer 2001 and they were regularly playing clubs in downtown New York City. And then September 11th happened and everything changed and the NYC music scene was changed forever.

RYL continued on, but they decided to focus on putting out an album under Little Steven’s guidance. Every Sunday they were there working on this album – and I was there every Sunday shooting footage.

Eventually we met legendary NYC disc jockey Pat St. John, and he graciously offered to narrate our film. And to say I was blown away was an understatement. But with great opportunities comes great stress not to blow it. And we went into overdrive to finish this project.

Sadly, Richard Tepp, the lead singer became seriously ill during the filming and slowed down the album work. But that put even more stress to finish the documentary.

Which Leon and I did in late May, 2014. And I am so glad we did. On June 17th, 2014 – two weeks after we showed our final product to Richard and the band, he passed away. He was really sick, so I wasn’t in the room with him when he watched it with a couple of his RYL bandmates, but they told me that he loved it and said “We really had a great run, didn’t we?” Knowing that I was able to give Richard that moment is one of the greatest rewards I’ve ever gotten.

We had our video release on July 8th, 2014 which turned into a huge tribute to Richard. We really felt Richard was in the room smiling down at us.

After the premiere in 2004, the documentary had a good run and made it to the Hope and Dreams (NJ) and Anchorage Film Festivals. The album on the other hand really lost steam without a lead singer. There were a few replacement singers (Richard’s son Casey and the very talented Mike Fornatale), but without Richard (who had recorded all his vocals before getting sick), everything kinda floundered.

I never expected this CD to see the light of day. And then I got the call from RYL drummer Mark Greenberg aka “World Famous Twig”. I was shocked..

James Hannon with his copies of the Richard and the Young Lions albums in front of the poster for his documentary Out of Our Dens The Richard and the Young Lions Story

I got the LP and the CD in the mail !!!!  And they were great!   Richard would have been so proud!

Important Links

Richard and the Young Lions website
Purchase the $18 RYL Documentary DVD from me
(FYI Amazon never has it in stock and resellers charge $80)
Purchase the RYL CD from Wicked Cool Records

The premiere of James Hannon and Leon Leybs documentary Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story
The trailer for Out of Our Dens: The Richard and he Young Lions story by James Hannon and Leon Leybs – narrated by Pat St. John

Cosplay Culture Magazine Dec/Jan 2019

Published Article on Charity Cosplay in Cosplay Culture magazine Dec/Jan 2019 issue

Cosplay Culture Magazine Dec/Jan 2019

James Hannon’s article Cosplay with a Heart for Cosplay Culture magazine (Dec/Jan 2019 issue) has hit newstands!

The articles focuses on charity cosplay and how cosplayers can give something back to their communities while having fun in costume – and how to get started in it.

Cosplay Culture magazine can be found at Barnes and Noble, ShopRite, CVS, Walmart, and crafting stores like Joanne’s Fabrics, Michael’s and AC Moore.


New Year – New Cosplay – Why I made an Ace Frehley Costume

Why did Bronx author James Hannon make a cosplay of KISS member and famous Ducky Boy Ace Frehley, when he wasn’t a fan of KISS? Read on…

In case you didn’t know, I premiered a new cosplay on New Years Day 2019. This new one was Ace Frehley the Spaceman from the original lineup of KISS – or at least it was supposed to be. After all was said and done, I looked more like Tommy Thayer who is the current KISS guitarist who is wearing the Spaceman makeup. But more on that later.


So, this was a big surprise to my friends who know me and know that I was never really a big KISS fan. Sure I knew their music and gimmick and it wasn’t bad. My sister owned the KISS Alive II LP until I stole it from her. And I also bought the KISS Platinum 8-track tape (still have both of them).

But the real reason I did not want to be a fan is that when I was a kid, the biggest KISS fan in my circle of acquaintances was a pariah in the neighborhood because he was the “smelly kid”. Its not that he was unclean, but whatever detergent his mom used had a horrible stench that was just unbearable to be around. I realize that isn’t PC in today’s world, but this was the 1970s and most in my group hadn’t even turned 13 yet. The bottom line is that we didn’t want to be associated with him – and liking KISS was a sure fire way to do that. So KISS fandom was always downplayed.

When I got to senior year of college in 1989, I got into Ace Frehley a little bit. He was out of KISS for a while by this time and performing solo. Gordon G. G. Gebert was a friend of a friend of mine, and Gordon was good friends with Ace at the time. I was part of a software sharing group and Ace was looking for a particular piece of software which I had. So I shared it with Gordon to give to Ace, hoping to meet the big man eventually. But it never happened as Ace and Gordon had a big falling out shortly after. But I did learn more about Ace’s music during the time. And realized it was ok to like Ace’s music again since the smelly kid was long out of the picture.

Flash-forward to 2005, and I was starting to do research into a documentary I was planning on the real life gangs of the Wanderers movie. This video project would eventually become my book Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. In my initial round of research, I found out that Ace Frehley grew up a couple of blocks away from me (Marion Avenue and 201st Street in the Bronx), and was a member of the infamous Ducky Boys. After all this, I figured Ace Frehley was destined to be a factor in my life “somehow”.

I reached out to his manager, and I had about an hour-long phone conversation with Ace one day. I told him about my project, and what I found in my research about where his old friends in the Ducky Boys ended up. At the end of the call, I asked him if I could film a short interview with him for the documentary, but he shut me down hard asking for a $10,000 appearance fee – which was way more than I could afford, so we parted ways.

When my documentary eventually turned into the book, some doors were opened for me. I received permission from Gordon Gebert to use a section of his KISS AND TELL book where Ace’s buddy Bobby McAdams talked about Ace’s involvement in the Ducky Boys. It wasn’t the optimal choice, but I had no choice but to cover Ace’s involvement. For months after going public with my project, I was getting dozens of emails a week from people telling me that Ace Frehley was a Ducky Boy. I still get occasional emails from people telling me this – LIKE I DON’T ALREADY KNOW BY NOW! LOL

James and Jeff Hornlien meeting a un-enthusiastic Ace Frehley in 2008

In late 2008, shortly before the Lost Boys of the Bronx was released, I finally got to meet Ace at a local Chiller convention. I was even wearing a Ducky Boys shirt which one of his friends/handlers LOVED, but Ace didn’t even seem to recognize it or remember the conversation we had. Supposedly this was during his sober days, but he really seemed out of it. Not just to me, but everyone in the line. All he did was grunt and put his thumb up when taking the picture with me and my friend Jeff Hornlien. I was bummed for me, but even more so for Jeff (and all the other people there) who grew up idolizing this guy. Jeff is an extremely talented guitarist who learned to play because he was inspired by Ace and KISS. It was sad.

Figuring the Ace connection was completely dead at this point, I moved on and did other stuff – like write the book Anatomy of a Cosplayer: Tales from Behind the Mask. I met a lot of other cosplayers in my travels, and this one particular Batman costumer named Ed Universo lived in my town, and we became good friends. At one convention, he showed up in a full Gene Simmons Demon costume – and it was amazing. He asked if Jeff and I were willing to do a Halloween appearance with him in his personal KISS costumes. We couldn’t make Halloween but the thought was planted in my head.

And not just my head…. Jeff Hornlien completely wanted to costume as Paul Stanley at a convention… And he wouldn’t let it go. He kept bugging me so I had to do “something” to shut him up.

The big objection for me was “Dude, theres no way I’ll be able to walk in those heels!” Well Ed, brought over his personal Ace boots for me to walk around in, and you know what? They weren’t that hard to walk in! And I kinda liked being 6-7 inches taller…. So I started thinking about it more and more…

And then Ed sent me a link to someone selling an Ace Frehley Destroyer era costume. And well that was all I needed to know. The die was cast and my fate as the Spaceman was sealed!

While waiting for the costume to arrive, I attempted the Ace Frehley makeup. I got the specifics from a YouTube video, and gave it a shot.

First attempt at Ace Frehley makeup

And it didn’t come out too bad. Sure, there were some issues, but I spoke to Ed and he suggested different makeup to try for next time.

Which leads us to New Years Day 2019. With the new costume in hand, and the right makeup, I decided that I couldn’t wait for the next convention to premiere this costume and posted on social media….

So far the response has been great. I realized that I don’t look that much like Ace Frehley with my facial structure, but I can definitely see a strong resemblance to Tommy Thayer – so making lemonade out of lemons, we’re going with that!

Now for the second part of my plan…. Not going to give it away here, but there will be others involved…. And all I can say is you shouldn’t have let me start this mission…. There is only one way to finish it…

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, please share it

James Hannon, Jeff Hornlien, Jackie Hannon and Ed Universo
James Hannon, Jeff Hornlien, Jackie Hannon and Ed Universo
James Hannon as Kiss Spaceman and Bronx Ducky Boys member Ace Frehley on New Years Day 2019

Rest in Peace “Mean” Gene Okerlund 1942-2019

So I was writing a piece about my newest New Years 2019 cosplay today when I got a heartbreaking Breaking News indicator on my phone that “Mean” Gene Okerlund passed away. So I decided to switch gears and write this remembrance of Gene instead.

Details of his passing were pretty sparse at this writing, but I knew he had been sick for a while and it was said that he had two kidney transplants recently.

I recently met Mean Gene on November 9th, 2018 at a local comic shop in Northern New Jersey. He was unable to stand for pictures due to “pulling his back that morning”, but I noticed that one of his hands was really swollen. I had hoped it was all part of something temporary. But looking back knowing he passed away today, I guess it was all part of something else. But enough of that – I’d rather talk about the good times.

“Mean” Gene was a laughable nickname for Gene Okerlund. He was one of the friendliest people ever – you could tell it by his WWF/WWE interviews. Anybody who has ever met him will agree that he was the opposite of mean. Funny thing is that he got that name from Jesse “the Body” Ventura, and I was cosplaying as former Minnesota Governor Ventura when I met him.

My wife, Jackie and I have been fans of WWF wrestling since the 70s and 80s. Like me, her brother watched wrestling all the time when he was a kid, so she watched a lot of it with him. And when I came into her life in 1984, we would watch it together. Mean Gene was all over the WWF back then and Mean Gene was her favorite character. For still unknown reasons, she nicknamed Mean Gene “Briefcase” – and the name just stuck.

Flash forward many years, and my friend Sean Wolfe mentioned that Mean Gene would be appearing at a comic shop in Ramsey, NJ called Gotham Underground. And my wife and I decided to go. But it was a heavily raining Friday night, and traffic was horrible. We had debated skipping the event due to rain, but I had learned my lesson last time with Roddy Piper back in 2015.

I REALLY wanted to meet Roddy Piper at a convention in New York City in March 2015, but the NJ Transit bus we were taking was over an hour late, and we decided to go out to eat instead. We could catch him at his next appearance right??? Well Roddy Piper died a few months after that and we never got to meet him. So I vowed to never miss out on an opportunity to meet one of my childhood heroes.

Which was why we decided to brave the weather and Friday rush hour traffic. And we were glad we did. The rain scared off a lot of other people so the comic shop wasn’t crowded that night – and we had a bunch of time to talk to Gene about his career, about other wrestlers, and about his wonderful appearance on WWF Legends House. (Try to watch if you can – its a great series if you have ANY interest in 80s wrestling)

If you’ve been reading my page, you know I’m a cosplayer. That being said, my wife Jackie and I have Jesse “the Body” Ventura and Adrian Adonis costumes as part of our 80s wrestling legends cosplay group. So we decided to wear them to meet Gene.

We were a little worried as wrestlers aren’t really a cosplay-friendly environment, but I had done it at a Jesse Ventura book signing event (See my book Anatomy of a Cosplayer for that story) and it went over really well. So we brought it to meet Mean Gene

We need not have worried – Gene loved it. He took pictures for his personal social media and had a great time getting into character. It was a dream come true to have Gene Okerlund yell “Holy Balls” on tape at my Jesse Ventura. (see video below)…. It was a great night and I was so glad we went. I would have been miserable had we not gone and never got another chance to meet him.

Mean Gene was the voice of a huge part of my childhood, but he also was so nice to us that night. We will miss him tremendously.

A microphone Mean Gene Okerlund signed for me when we met him in November, 2018

Anatomy of a Cosplayer reviewed by Kirkus Reviews!

From:
https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/james-hannon/anatomy-of-a-cosplayer/


ANATOMY OF A COSPLAYER
Tales from Behind the Mask
by James Hannon

KIRKUS REVIEW

A cosplayer explores the phenomenon that has him portraying a galactic Stormtrooper and other characters.

Comic book conventions these days feature parades of grown men and women dressed up as action heroes and other characters, proudly posing for photographs and reveling in the rising popularity of costume play, or cosplay. The global market for cosplay costumes, which reached $11.7 billion in 2014, is forecast to grow to $23.6 billion by next year. In this book, Hannon (Lost Boys of the Bronx, 2010), an avid cosplayer, shares his experiences and examines this intriguing trend. The author’s own fascination with cosplay began with attending a Star Wars exhibition, which resulted in him putting together a Stormtrooper costume and joining the 501st Legion, a pioneering “costuming community,” whose membership has roughly tripled since 2008 to more than 12,000. He “struggled with shyness” but after his first event, or “troop,” with the Legion—a Halloween parade—he came out of his shell. He added other characters to his repertoire, co-founded the Legion of SuperVillains, and enjoyed the camaraderie of other cosplayers. “Forget about the TV show Cheers, conventions are truly the place where everyone knows your name,” he writes. The book also deftly spotlights some of Hannon’s costume-loving friends, many of whom found in cosplaying a way to express their inner geeks or “live out a childhood fantasy.” “You can relive your childhood, but also bring joy to the next generation, as little kids love this kind of thing,” says one, while another asserts, “Let’s be honest, it’s so we can play pretend.” But the author’s use of an oral history format often produces dreary reading and his account fails to offer the depth that would make it compelling to non-cosplayers. He mentions, for example, that he has seen the breakups of costumed couples firsthand, but rather than examine how cosplaying might contribute to marital tensions, he refrains from getting into specifics. Ultimately, he fails to bring as much color to the participants as they do to the characters they inhabit. Still, Hannon provides a lively insider’s view of cosplaying, delivering some vivid details. For example, the crowds at conventions have become “absolutely horrible,” but—very much on the plus side—the 501st Legion raised $889,000 for charity in 2017.

An account provides rich insights into the psychology of cosplayers but lacks the depth that would attract a wide audience.


Pub Date: June 30th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5462-4712-8
Page count: 412pp
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: Aug. 31st, 2018

TURNAROUND: Why the Hannon’s changed their minds and got a new kitten

Months back when Cosmo wasn’t doing so hot health-wise, Jackie & I swore we would not get another cat after he passed.  We never wanted to go thru the pain of losing a beloved pet ever again. Two days before Cosmo passed away, two kittens just showed up in our backyard and reminded us that all the years of having a healthy Cosmo was worth having to go thru a few months of pain in the end.   A month later when we needed a cat around, those same kittens reappeared out of the blue and a chain of events occurred that brought a new kitten into our lives… But not what you might expect… Read on to see why…

FYI:  This is a followup to the blog titled Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012 – If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out – this blog may make more sense knowing the history, but this blog can stand alone if you don’t have time.. This particular blog isn’t going to get advertised much since its pretty personal, so if you found it, then you’re just awesome.

Back around Thanksgiving 2011, our 15 year old cat Cosmo began having some ear infections and neurological issues that began a decline in health that ended with his passing on July 2nd, 2012.   It was a rough time period for Jackie & myself, and we saw our beloved Cosmo slowly deteriorate.  It was a painful time for us…So painful in fact that Jackie & I vowed to never get another pet afterwards…  We never wanted to go thru that again…

And we maintained that attitude up until June 30th – Two days before Cosmo passed away on July 2nd…

What changed our mind?   Read on… Read more

Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012

Some blogs are written for other people. Some are just written purely for myself (and Jackie). This is one from that latter category. You are more than welcome to read it, and if it makes you smile, or helps you get over a similar experience, all the better.   If you are one of those people that go “It’s just a cat, get over it.”, you may want to skip this blog, it’s gonna get a bit sappy.  You’ve been warned…

Last Monday, July 2nd, Jackie & I lost our little buddy – Cosmo D. Cat Hannon.  Old age, ear tumors and the first real heat wave of Summer 2012 proved to be too much for him, and we had to take him to the vet to be euthanized. He was in pretty bad shape, and it was the right decision – even though it was one of the most horrible days in our lives.

I don’t really want to dwell on the sadder aspects of Cosmo’s final days in this blog.  If I forget the sadder parts of this story later in life, I’m kinda fine with it.   But I just want this to make me remember the good times with as much clarity as I have now.

Shortly after his passing, I went to post a picture of him on Facebook in honor of him.  But when I went to look for the “right” picture, I found a whole lotta other pictures of him that I loved.   I’m not going to lie, I went a little (ok, a lot) overboard. I eventually found and posted 34 or so pictures of Cosmo that Jackie & I loved. (See the bottom of this blog and my Facebook link).

While looking thru the pictures, I found Read more

Weird Coincidences: The Ducky Boys and Costuming.

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 Read more

Estate Sales – An education over two Saturdays.

James and Jackie get caught up in the estate sale mania that is going on in reality TV and spend two weekends experiencing it.   And they learned a few things on why it isn’t for the faint of heart.

Well, for the last few weeks, Jackie & I have been hitting estate sales here in Central and Northern New Jersey.   This is a new thing for us as we have never even really hit garage or yard sales since moving to NJ from the Bronx in 1993.   We just didn’t think it was what respectable people did.

Well, reality TV changed all that for us.  Every pawn shop and antiques reality show had these stories of people finding tremendous deals at estate sales. Even one of our new favorite shows – Kevin Smith’s “Comic Book Men” showed the main characters finding big scores at garage sales and the Collingwood Flea Market.  So Jackie and I decided to check out this suburban phenomena.  And we lived to tell the tale.

We started our expeditions at the Collingwood Flea Market Mall in Farmingdale, NJ after seeing it on Comic Book Men.  The characters on the show said that “the people who went to this mall were not allowed in regular malls” – and that was enough to pique our curiosity.   And after asking around, we found it was a “ghetto mall” (which are usually awesome) where you could find “anything” – from brass knuckles, swords, and grappling hooks (seriously), to Nazi paraphernalia (we think – we didnt go in that section as it looked too shady). This is the type of mall where you could find the million-dollar Read more

New Year Resolutions from the Dalai Lama & Ben Franklin

Ok, its close to New Years, so everybody is worrying about resolutions and reminiscing about old resolutions that didn’t work…  So author James Hannon decides to share two guides to a successful life from two successful people who aren’t currently trying to sell you an entire package for hundreds of dollars…   Hey, it can’t hurt, and can only help, so why not give it a shot?

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Ok, this is gonna be easy to write. I’m basically gonna steal two lists of life principals from two great writers, thinkers, and humanitarians and tell you to follow their rules…   It could very well be a Twitter or Facebook update to give you motivation, but I didn’t want it to scroll off within 20 minutes after posting it – I plan to look at the list regularly during my life..   As I’ve said before, sometimes these blog entries are more for me – but if it helps someone else, all the better :)

The first is from the Dalai Lama…   Now don’t get scared – you don’t have to give up your current religion to follow these – they are practical and simple guidelines that should be a part of EVERY religion.    Even Carl from Caddyshack gets it (See the end of this blog for the video)

And now on to the first list:

20 Ways to Get Good Karma

By The Dalai Lama, Published 11/16/2006
Stolen verbatim from: http://www.spiritualnow.com/articles/25/1/20-Ways-to-Get-Good-Karma/Page1.html

The Dalai Lama isn't pointing in judgment..  He's giving us finger guns for Pete's sake..

The Dalai Lama isn't pointing in judgment.. He's giving us finger guns for Pete's sake..

Instructions for Life by The Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s:
    – Respect for self,
    – Respect for others and
    – Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, Read more

The passing of a Bronx Legend – Phyllis Carpenella-Germano

 

On 12/05/2011, we lost a local Bronx legend. Ducky Girl Phyllis Carpenella-Germano passed away. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, you were probably not living in the Norwood area of the Bronx during the early-mid 60’s.  During the course of my Ducky Boy interviews, I got to know her a little bit, and found out she still had that rebellious spirit she had back when she was a member of the infamous Ducky Boys gang…

Dec 31st, 2011

On this last day of 2011, I was going thru my to-do list, and writing this blog was at the top of the list. For athe last few weeks, I kept putting it off because I knew it would be awkward to write since I didn’t really know Phyllis “the person” all that well. But she was one of the first interviews I did for my book on the Ducky Boys gang, and she really showed me what I had gotten myself into…

On May 27th, 2006, I met Phyllis for the first time in Bronx Park. My friend and ex-Ducky Girl Geri Gertler-Norcross set up the meeting with Phyllis and Lenny Lim (also one of the original Ducky Boys).

To save typing tonight, here is the link to my blog entry of that day:
Down the Ducky Turf with some Ducky’s 5/27/2006

Read that entry (it’s not too long)… But it shows just how fearless and bad-ass Phyllis was throughout her life…  At almost 60 years old, she and Lenny climbed over a barbed-wire fence just to send a middle finger to the Botanical Gardens who had put this fence up to block people from getting to the Twin Lakes section for free. In talking to Phyllis & Lenny that day, I found that they were two of the most honest interviewees EVER. Neither of them were embarrassed nor apologetic of anything she did back in the Ducky Boys heyday.

I have to admit that I was a little intimidated by this 5 foot, 100 pound (if she was soaking wet) woman… Phyllis was still a tough cookie, and could still Read more

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

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 Read more

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

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

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 Read more

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

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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