Space Pirates From The Land Of The Rising Sun! Horror Punks And . . . A Big Weasel?!

Captain Harlock is just one – though perhaps the best known – of the many creations of Japanese manga artist Leiji Matsumoto (Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, Queen Emeraldas, Gun Frontier, Cosmo Warrior Zero, etc.). Of course, the fact that Captain Harlock has made at least a cameo appearance in nearly all of Matsumoto’s works may explain the scope of his notoriety.

Although first created in 1953 as a minor character in Matsumoto’s Adventures of a Honey Bee, the Captain wouldn’t enjoy a title spot until Space Pirate Captain Harlock was serialized between 1977 and 1979 in the Japanese magazine Play Comic. The story was quickly adapted to a 42 episode TV series that ran from 1978 to 1979. The full-length feature prequel, Arcadia of My Youth was released in 1982 and a second series, Endless Orbit SSX soon followed. Since that time, Captain Harlock has appeared in countless other “Leijiverse” stories, on both page and screen, authorized and unauthorized.

Like many others, I might never have discovered the exploits of the crew of Harlock’s space battleship Arcadia if not for The Misfits’ 1982 LP release Walk Among Us. Along with a creature from the 1959 B-movie Angry Red Planet, the album cover features a band photo with vocalist Glenn Danzig wearing a shirt and matching gloves with Harlock's signature "Jolly Roger" skull and bones.

The iconic album eventually went on to influence the sound, lyrics and imagery of many other bands, like White Zombie, for example.

And me? What can I say? I’ve been a fan of Captain Harlock for years, and believe me, I’ve got the videos, comic books, action figures, clothing and general collector bric-a-brac to back it up!

So you can imagine my delight while recently rewatching the very first episode of Space Pirate Captain Harlock, when I came across an eerily familiar image, one practically from my own backyard!

Anyone traveling through the Niagara Region along the QEW over the last ten years will no doubt have noticed the wrecked “pirate ship” along the shore of Jordan Station, just outside of St. Catharines. While not an actual shipwreck, the story of how it came to be in its present state is still a sad one.

A replica of La Grande Hermine (“The Big Weasel”) - the ship that brought famed French explorer Jacques Cartier to the New World – the ship served as a restaurant for Montreal’s Expo ’67 and was soon after moved and put on display in a Quebec City park.

After suffering several decades of poor maintenance, La Grande Hermine was dismantled and relocated to Jordan Harbour, outside of St. Catharines, ON, with the intention of restoring and returning the ship to it’s original use as a floating restaurant.

However, funding for the restoration project fell through, and shortly after in 2002, a “suspicious fire” rendered the boat unsalvageable and the remains have stayed where they are since.

For more information on Space Pirate Captain Harlock and to watch all 42 episodes of the original series, visit Crunchyroll.

If you’d like to see what La Grande Hermine looked like inside before the fire, I’d suggest checking out Infiltration.

Detailed information on La Grande Hermine’s location can also be found at Waymarking.com.



By the Vishanti! It's Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum!

"By the shades of the Seraphim and the hoary hosts of Hoggoth! By the omnipotence of Oshtur and the all-seeing Eye of Agamotto! In the name of the Vishanti three . . . reveal the light of truth to me!"

If you understood any of that, then you're probably well acquainted with Marvel Comics' Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme. Dr. Stephen Strange first appeared in Strange Tales #110 in 1963 and has appeared in thousands of comics since.

Despite having read comic books for years, I only first took notice of the Sorcerer Supreme in the early '90s through his trading card and as a key player in The Infinity Gauntlet series. Strange you might say . . . perhaps, but not really when one considers the good Doctor's status as the Master of the Mystic Arts - a mastery that includes astral projection, levitation and other occult powers for protection and camouflage.

Take for example, Strange's abode, the Sanctum Sanctorum (latin for 'holiest of holy places') located at 177a Bleecker St. in New York City. Said to be the "Nexus Of All Realities" within the Marvel Universe (one of several, if that makes any sense), the Greenwich Village apartment house in recent years has been mystically cloaked to appear as a dilapidated revenent with a banner reading Another Neighborhood Starbucks Coming Soon! hanging over the front door.

In our reality, 177 Bleecker St. is the shared address of a Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop, a tattoo parlor and squeezed in between, almost invisible under a white awning, the entrance to the apartments located above. There are a few other online resources that have pointed out this address in relation to the good Doctor, the Strange-dedicated fansite Neilalien.com for example, but I thought I'd share a few photos I'd managed to take during my last visit to NYC:

The building itself (seen here at the corner of Bleecker and Sullivan Sts.) looks to be in remarkably excellent shape, but then New York has enjoyed quite a bit of urban rejuvenation lately, so it had most likely undergone some restoration in recent years.

Here's a shot of the Pinkberry and the white awning over the apartment entrance with "177" on the front.

Deciding to get a little closer, I was rewarded with the sight of this beautiful frosted transom sporting the full street address. While not the Anomaly Rue (the mystic "Window of the Worlds" depicting the Seal of the Vishanti), the bordering banner scrolls immediately reminded me of the voluminous folds of Strange's Cloak of Levitation.

As amazing as that transom was, though, this was the pièce de résistance. Here, finally, was solid evidence of 177a Bleecker St., right there on the first button of the intercom. A button that looks as if it's been pushed by more than one Dr. Strange fan in its day. I was tempted, but decided it was better not to risk distracting the Sorcerer Supreme while he could very well be saving our entire plane of existence from the extra-dimensional depredations of Baron Mordo, Nightmare or even the dread Dormammu himself!

For more information on Doctor Strange, I suggest checking out the excellently written Lesser Book of the Vishanti by Catherine Yronwode and, of course, Marvel Comics.

For more information on 177 Bleecker Street, visit the Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation.



One down . . . Six Sins Left.

Hell-o DE/VL worshippers!

Here's a blast from the past, some images from the late '90s industrial band that I did work for: Six Sins Left.

A little back story for those not in the know: The band that would ultimately come to be known as Six Sins Left started out as a heavy metal cover band named Requiem, the brain child of guitarist Ian Heath - who would remain the only constant member of the band's various name and lineup changes - and drummer Rich Schweitzer. Kris Becke eventually secured the lead guitarist slot for Requiem and provided the band's rehearsal space in his father's basement, Cara Stafford played guitar in a number of other bands (one of which included Rich on drums, but the group's name escapes me right now), Paul LaBonte was the final, longest lasting and best remembered vocalist for Requiem before the band decided on a name change (having discovered another band using the name Requiem). Thus was born Grindog (pronounced Grind-dog), which despite the ever-continuing lineup changes did enjoy some moderate local success (I remember everyone being excited about the news of outselling Malhavoc at the Burlington nightclub "Manhattan Rocks"). When Grindog finally imploded, State Of Grace rose from those ashes, shedding the heavy metal influence and focusing on the industrial elements that Grindog had incorporated into the group's sound. Ian switched to bass when Cara was recruited as guitarist and Kris tackled vocals. Drums were programmed at first, but when it was clear the live act needed a drummer, Paul was tapped to keep the beat during shows. State of Grace had a reasonable level of success as well; reaching the top spot for indie sales at HMV 333 Yonge St. with the 1996 CD release Some, but once again, the band was faced with a necessary name change. From this, Six Sins Left was finally born. SSL played shows in and around the Greater Toronto Area for several years, struck up a professional friendship with members of the Jim Rose Circus, The Misfits and Powerman 5000, but shortly after the close of the '90s, Six Sins Left seemed to quickly unravel as everyone began to pursue other interests. Cara would go on to enjoy further success as guitarist for the all-female cover band Rocket-tits, and eventually both her and Ian (now married to one another) would switch gears and become involved in music management and representation.


This group shot was taken by me, but I have nearly no memory of the shoot at all, the banner in the background was part of the stage set, but I'm pretty sure the photo was taken in the place where most things Six Sins Left-y happened: Kris' basement.

. . . as for the Ouija circle sticker, I distinctly remember going with Ian to the print house to set these up, but other than that my input on the design might have included a discussion as to how to place the type. One thing's for sure, I stuck those things on anything I could reach out and plaster; including one drunken night at Bovine Sex Club when I stuck one to a broken mirror and drew back a bloody hand for my efforts!

The logo image was designed by Ian and later modified by him and I for the website - first a Geocities page I cobbled together and later one with an actual registered domain name - The reason for the blue mod as I recall was to try and match it to images for the seven deadly sins that I'd swiped from the official SE7EN movie website (tsk, tsk, tsk . . . such a naughty little net pirate I was.)

I'd put quite a few images (flyers, photos, original artwork, etc.) up on those sites and kept the originals packed up, but now - like so many things - it's all been misplaced somewhere. If/when I ever uncover the lost Six Sins Left artwork, I'll be sure to update!