Patrick Swayze’s Dundalk Hide-A-Way Leather Tee in Point Break

By Jimbo Woodrow Buckler (‎Facebook: I Grew Up in Dundalk, MD, 12/28/2015)

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“Did you know that Patrick Swayze wore a Hide-A-Way Leather shirt in a scene in the movie Point Break? As the story goes, a friend of someone who was on the road crew for the band Poison got the call that few people get. Come down, watch the show and then party with the band afterwards. The lucky guy accepted the invite and went to the show. As the party was winding down, that lucky individual got an invite to party with the band the following night. After telling the owner of Hide A Way, being the smart lady that she is, she gave the lucky guy a bag of shirts to take to the band. A couple of weeks later, the band was partying with Patrick Swayze and the cast of Point Break in LA. Rumor has it that the band gave the shirts to Swayze and the cast.”

Posted in Dundalk | 1 Comment

“Walking in an Essex Wonderland” — Interview with Parody Song’s Creator

By Scott Huffines (Baltimore or Less, 12/24/2014)

Brett Harlow penned one of Baltimore’s Christmas cult classics, “Walking in an Essex Wonderland.” It’s one of those ditties that would be heavily played during the holidays on 98 Rock back in the 90s, then it seemed to fade into obscurity until people rediscovered the song through the miracle of YouTube. Now it’s once again a Baltimore Christmas anthem.

A few years ago we posted the song on Baltimore Or Less with a plea to our readers to help us locate the creator. A few years later a reader named Ruthie emailed this comment:

Ruthie says:

December 13, 2012 at 11:25 pm

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Brett Harlow

OMG, I know who sang it. A guy named Brett Harlow who won ‘Balto’s best new comedian’ in 90 (or 91). He got the accent from his g-mother who really talked like that. God rest her soul! He sold the song to 98 Rock when he needed $500 bucks & has never gotten the credit for writing & singing it. I will swear in a court of law that he wrote & sang it b/c he did. Still one of the funniest guys I’ve ever, ever known (and I’m still friends w. him).

We tried to email Ruthie back. No luck. We Googled Brett Harlow, no luck. We found a Brett Harlow on Facebook, sent him a message and still no luck. But we persevered, and three Christmases later we received a message from Brett who is now ready to share his story of memorializing Essex in song. A true Christmas miracle.

BML: Hi Brett, Greetings from Essex, Maryland, the “Essex Wonderland”!
I woke up this morning with “Essex Wonderland” playing on my alarm clock radio, it’s that season again!

BH: Greetings to Essex, and all of Baltimore!

BML: So… What prompted you to write a Christmas song poking fun at Essex?

The first verse of “Essex Wonderland” was actually written in 1988 while I was taking a whiz at a Christmas party… “Winter Wonderland” was on and I just started singing about bingo and bowling… I used to sing that to friends in my Balmer accent.

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BML: Wow, so that is nothing like the urban legends about who wrote and sang the song…. that it was a 98 Rock Twisted Tune… that it was sung by former 98 Rock DJ Mickey Cucchiella… all rumors that were never confirmed. Is the Ruthie story true? Did you win a 98 Rock contest for $500? You really are the guy that wrote the song?

BH: I did write and sing the song. I did stand-up for a living for quite a few years, and always closed with “Essex Wonderland” around the holidays when I was performing in town. As far as money goes, the song was recorded in December of 1990, at the home of a guy who dated a very nice girl who was a cocktail waitress at a local comedy club, it all happened very quickly.

wgrxI had to make the song long enough to fit what he had recorded… I stayed up late the night before and wrote a few more verses. The next day we recorded it in two takes… the next morning it was played on WGRX… remember them?

A week later or so I got a call from Russ Motla who was a DJ and the program director at 98 Rock, he said he heard my song… I played it for him over the phone, he said he liked it and offered me 300 bucks for it, I was a starving standup comic so three bills for one joke was damn good pay. Two years later I won the 98 Rock Comedy Quest.

BML: I wish you had the extra 200 bucks from the urban legend.

BML: Do videos exist of your 90s standup?

BH: My brother has a VHS tape of me doing standup… today’s technology makes viewing that obsolete I’m told. I had many bits in my act I was proud of, mostly pop culture stuff… I have actually done quite a bit of writing lately and plan to do an open mic soon, we’ll see how that goes.

BML: Keep us posted about your standup… and boy, if that VHS ever does make its way onto Youtube, we would love to know. I hope there’s a live rendition of “Essex Wonderland” on that tape!

BML: So… Back to Baltimore in the 90s, where were you living then?

BH:  I was living in Hampden at the time.

BML: Ah… you did say “Northeast Baltimore” the first time you mailed me back. Hampden. That’s not exactly a hotbed of culture. It’s like Essex, only in the city. Hampden really does seem to be the home of the “White” Christmas. Hampden, Essex, all these weird semi-Appalachian burgs seem to get a bad rap. But it could be worse. There’s always Towson.

BH: I never discriminated… the Poop Plant made its presence known in many neighborhoods.

BML: Speaking of neighborhoods, did you know the poop plant isn’t in Essex or Dundalk? It’s actually in Highlandtown. I consulted with a mail man. It’s a Highlandtown zip code.

BML: Y’know before the “Golden Eggs” were planted the poop plant was an enormous field of shooting methane flames like at the beginning of Blade Runner.

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The old school shit plant, prior to the age of the Golden Eggs, was a field of open flames that fired into the night sky of Essex.

BML: I used to work at Friendlys in Middlesex and on a hot summer night it was torture opening up the carryout windows. The air was literally thick with the smell of sulfurous poop fumes embedded in the torturous Baltimore summer humidity. The poop plant still smells, but now it’s more like a fart in a car, not like a turd in the middle of the living room.

Disgraced Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon visited the shit plant before her sentencing and resignation from office.

BML: Anyway… When did you leave Maryland? Why? Do you still root for the Ravens and Orioles?

BH:  I left Baltimore three years ago for a job and a woman… I still have the job. I have and always will be a fan of them O’s and Ravens, wearing a Ravens cap now…

BML: Did you know your song had developed a cult following?

BH: As far as a “cult following” goes, I have always been blown away that anyone liked it, let alone still cares after 25 years. I just wanted people to think it was funny, and I hope they still do.

BML: The song is almost a time capsule of an era long gone. So many things in the song no longer exist. Sparrows Point closed, there’s no bowling alleys or bingo parlors left in Essex. It makes you feel nostalgic for the olden days. The redneck’s “White Christmas.”

BML: So, it’s Christmas Eve and while we’re feeling nostalgic we’ll ask you the jackpot question in advance: Would you ever consider updating “Essex Wonderland”?

BH: A 25 year update might be awesome,…but I really want to believe Baltimore will always be the same… so no need… Happy Holideys Hon!

Posted in 1990s, 2000s, Baltimorons, Christmas, Holidays | 3 Comments

Edith Massey, Divine and Jean Hill Xmas Cards

Santa Claus Is A Black man – AKIM & The Teddy Vann Production Company (from A John Waters Christmas, available SIGNED at Atomic Books!)

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More Christmas in Dreamland including Christmas videdo clips from “Female Trouble” at the Official Divine Website.

Posted in Christmas, Divine, Dreamlanders, Edith Massey, Holidays, John Waters, Kitsch | Leave a comment

Suzanne Muldowney at 2015 Hampden Christmas Parade

By Tom Warner (Baltimore Or Less)

An old ‘dog learns new parading tricks

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Suzanne Muldowney as a Yellow Angel in the Hampden Christmas Parade (Dec. 7, 2015)

Though her appearances as 1960s cartoon superhero Underdog have become a parade (and Atomic TV) tradition, this year the versatile Suzanne Muldowney instead reprised her 2000 portrayal of a “Yellow Angel” at the 2015 Mayor’s Christmas Parade in Hampden, Baltimore. And as an added bonus, she sang two seasonal songs – in Latin! – while stopping at the Parade Review Stand on 36th Street.

Hark, the Yellow Angel sings!

Hark, the Yellow Angel sings!

Though Baltimore Or Less missed her Latin renditions of “O Holy Night” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” during the parade, we luckily caught up with Suzanne after the race and convinced her to grace us with an encore rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” – look for it starting at the 8:55 mark of our 11-minute video interview exclusive, included below:


Baltimore Or Less talks to the angelic Suzanne Muldowney

This year was not the first time Suzanne has sung holiday songs in Latin. In 2006, she sang “Silent Night” (in both Latin and English), accompanied by “The Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz” (local troubadours Scott Wallace Brown and Skizz Cyzyk), in her guise as The Fairy of the Golden Snow. (Click here to hear their rendition.)

Suzanne sings "Silent Night" accompanied by The Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz (2006)

Suzanne sings “Silent Night” accompanied by The Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz (2006)

Though similar in color and trim to her Fairy of the Golden Snow outfit (shown below in detail), Suzanne’s hand-made Yellow Angel costume has a number of design differences, notably the absence of snowflakes – somewhat fitting given this year’s sunny weather with temperatures in the low 50s.

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Suzanne Muldowney as “The Fairy of the Golden Snow,” flanked by Tom Warner and Scott Huffines of Atomic TV/Baltimore Or Less (2012)

And while a few fans shouted out “Underdog!” as the Yellow Angel spread her wings to fly down the parade route, Suzanne pointed out that she has more than one trick up her home-sewn costume sleeves. Though Underdog remains a favorite, she admitted “I became more versatile in the 2000’s” as far as broadening her characterizations.

Since her first parade here in 1988, Suzanne’s only non-Underdog appearances in the past 27 years have been as The Ghost of Christmas Past in 2003, the Fairy of the Golden Snow in 2006 and 2012, and her similar Yellow Angel character in 2000 and 2015; a not-so-golden snow storm cancelled the 2013 parade, ending Suzanne’s streak of 24 consecutive appearances at the annual Hampden holiday parade – and dashing her dream of celebrating the 170th anniversary of the publication of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” by once again appearing as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Even a near-fatal illness in 2009 couldn’t keep Suzanne away from maintaining her parade streak; though too weak to walk, she was still able to participate after the parade officials provided her with a convertible and a driver escort.

Underdog in Hospital

Even illness won’t deter Underdog!

And she did return triumphantly as Underdog in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the debut of the “Underdog” TV cartoon. She wouldn’t miss that even if she was on her deathbed!

Underdog

Related Links:
Atomic TV’s 1997 Holiday Special: “The Holiday at Ground Zero”
 Atomic TV’s 1998 Holiday Special: “The Year Underdog Saved Christmas”
Atomic TV’s 1999 Holiday Special: “Underdog Battles Satan Claus”
Hampden Christmas Parade 2006 (Accelerated Decrepitude)
The Awkward Sounds of Scott & Skizz & Suzanne (YouTube)
Pain Strikes Underdog (Accelerated Decrepitude, 2009)
2012 Mayor’s Christmas Parade in Hampden (Accelerated Decrepitude)
Animals on Parade @ 2010 Mayor’s Christmas Parade (YouTube)
Suzanne Muldowney Overcomes Illness To March on Underdog’s 45th Anniversary (YouTube)

Posted in Atomic TV, Christmas, Entertainment, Events, Festivals, Hampden, Holidays, Roadside Attractions | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments