HDM~~~EL HOMBRE

Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba, also known as “The Handsomest Man In Rock & Roll”, and the “World’s Greatest Entertainer” (at least since Sammy Davis Jr. left us) was born Richard Blum in The Bronx, New York, January 29, 1954. Richard is a musician, most well known for being the lead singer (for most of 45 years) with the New York City legendary punk band, THE DICTATORS.

MR. MANITOBA also spent 14 years (starting around 2004) on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, hosting “The Handsome Dick Radio Program“, a national show, 5 nights a week on Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

And that ain’t all folks!. Handsome Dick has owned the coolest rock ‘n’ roll tavern in the Western Hemisphere for just about 20 years now. Oddly enough, it’s called Manitoba’s Bar and it’s located at 99 Avenue B between 6 and 7 Streets in New York City’s, East Village, on…the lush beautiful island of Manhattan.

HDM also occasionally sang lead with the MC5 (at the time called DKT/MC5), which included Michael Davis, “Brother” Wayne Kramer and Dennis “Machinegun” Thompson, founding members of Detroit’s legendary MIGHTY pre-punk rock and roll band, The MC5.

MR. MANITOBA was a guest on his pal Jimmy’s television program, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon“. HDM was a major character on an ill-fated half hour reality show called Barmageddon. He proudly sat with the late great chef, Anthony Bourdain, chowing down on White Castles at MR. MANITOBA’S childhood Bronx White Castle.

Handsome Dick released a book with his friend, the late writer, Amy Wallace on Backbeat Books, called The Official Punk Rock Book Of Lists, and wrote liner notes for a series of live albums from CBGB’S, on the MVD label. HDM has been a paid speaker at colleges and institutions and a paid writer, even though he’s only read four books in his lifetime!

“…and let’s not forget the man has his very own bobble head doll… and I’ll tell you this …you can look at all the bobble head dolls you want, and if you find one that looks like THEM more precisely than mine looks like me, well, let’s put it this way… I’d be mighty surprised! It’s a good feeling knowing someday my ashes will be spread over Yankee Stadium and also knowing I left this earth leaving behind bobble head dolls!”

SONGWRITING

The name of the first song I ever wrote, with Ross The Boss, at about 60 years of age, was ”SUPPLY and DEMAND” …it’s what I often talk about. So many people want us to keep this music alive. They had the demand, we had the supply.

I ran into author Dave Marsh up at Sirius Studios. Dave has written an untold amount of books on rock ‘n’ roll history. He is a total rock ‘n’ roll historian and his wife is co-manager of Bruce Springsteen. The guy has been around! Amazingly he comes to me and says “SUPPLY AND DEMAND IS A MASTERPIECE”.

I actually blushed a little.

I said, “Come on Dave! It’s a nice solid rock and roll tune made for the DICTATORS, but a masterpiece?” he said, “I’m not kidding, I don’t kid around about these things” and I just said, “Thank you very much,” and left it alone.

That, coupled with a few other positive reinforcements about my new foray into writing, like getting much support from Palmyra Delran, a GREAT songwriter and all around musician, and recording artist, gave me my “writing legs.”

I now had my legs under me holding me up propelling me forward. l had the confidence I needed to write.

I said hello to an old acquaintance at a party, and the acquaintance brings up the name Jon Tiven, I said “send my love to Jon”, an old friend from the 1970s. The next thing I know, I was writing a bunch of lines for a song and Jon, who is unbelievably talented, was sending me back nearly complete or complete songs… THE NEXT MORNING.

Jon has worked on over 60 albums in his life, has a studio in his house and plays seven instruments himself, (Sally, his wife, plays bass). Jon sent me down to Nashville to make an album. I recorded 18 songs in 4 1/2 days with some of Nashville’s finest musicians.

Just to name a few people that Jon has worked with (I mean just a few): Wilson Pickett, Dan Covey, Arthur Alexander, and the brilliant Steve Cropper who he still works with today…and on and on the list goes.

We feel confident the album will be released in 2019…. it’s called “Born In The Bronx”.

THE DICTATORS

MR. MANITOBA’S on stage career started with one of the oddest beginnings in rock ‘n’ roll history.

The band was forming and Handsome Dick was the best friend of the band, but not singing or playing an instrument left him out of the fun! The boys had to have a job for their best friend, so they made him a roadie. A job he was ill-suited for. MANITOBA was a drunk roadie, lost equipment, pulled an awning halfway out of the side of a building, etc. While driving his 12′ box truck, the top of the truck caught the awning and yanked it out of its concrete. The owner asked me if I did it. “No” I said… “Well I SAW you do it” … “Well then, I did it!”. But MANITOBA, unbeknownst to the world at this point in time, did something very well…he was magic with a microphone in his hand.

The first proof of his microphone prowess took place at a place called Popeye’s Spinach Factory in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, 1975.

Chris Stein from Blondie was there, Eric Emerson of the Magic Tramps, part of Andy Warhol’s crew was there, and my friend David Peel who recently passed away told me he was there too.

As the years go by, it seems like more and more people were there. It was one of those legendary shows. The whole point of the story is the lead singer who wrote the songs didn’t have a whole hell of a lot of stage personality or charisma, so the minute they handed MANITOBA, the drunk roadie the microphone, he dove into “Wild Thing” by The Troggs, written by Chip Taylor, Jon Voight’s brother, (what a talented family, huh?) The place went crazy!

In the ensuing few months, the same trip kept repeating itself… the songwriter got up and sang songs to mild, respectable applause, while MANITOBA got up and sang and people went crazy. What followed was two songs, three songs, and then the obvious. If we wanted to take these good songs and get them across to the people with true rock ‘n’ roll excitement, Handsome Dick Manitoba had to become the lead singer. I don’t think the songwriter was jumping for joy with this decision.

The DICTATORS first major label album came out. It was called “The DICTATORS Go Girl Crazy” on Epic Records in 1975, a whole year before The Ramones first album came out!

Handsome Dick sang a few songs as lead singer and he was on a few songs as background singer. He was known as “The Secret Weapon”, a slogan borrowed from our love of Pro Wrestling. It was when the bad guy, or “heel” in Wrestling parlance would hide a weapon in his boots or trunks, hurt the good guy, “baby face, or face” and put it back into hiding.

1977 hit and The DICTATORS released their second major label album, this one on the Asylum label, “Manifest Destiny”. While it had a few good songs, the album really failed on many levels. I think the driving force of it’s failure was our disappointment of how badly Girl Crazy tanked.

Manifest Destiny was supposed to take us into arenas. It’s not something we were cut out for. We tried to become something we were not, an arena rock act. When the Ramones got booed off the stage opening up for Black Sabbath, they decided to get in the van and be The Ramones. We should have decided to say “let’s get in the van and be the DICTATORS!”

That’s not the way our organization worked. That coupled with the fact that an album we thought was the coolest album in the world made by the coolest guys in the world, “Go Girl Crazy”, wound up being an abject failure economically, and was put down by a large section of the press.

It did wind up having much more life LONG AFTER its original release.

As they say with certain movies, the album “had legs”…(hey, just like my songwriting confidence!)

Decades later, the album has become a classic punk record to the point where 20-year-olds and 30 year olds tell me their father turned me out onto this album and they fucking love it. “It turned me onto punk, and the album means so much to me”.

What can I tell you folks…. how many artists in history have done things that were not appreciated when they were alive, then they died and later became appreciated? …it’s good to be alive!

We did an about-turn and got closer to our punk roots on our third and final major label release also on Asylum records, this one called “Bloodbrothers”, the name inspired by the great novelist Richard Price from his first novel of the same. He was also from our neighborhood in the Bronx. Bronx people are proud of these things!

As far as songwriting, playing, and pure sonic coolness, I feel Bloodbrothers was the best of our three albums. Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I sang more on it than any record we did?

Our 1990 speed metal-ish, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom (almost the DICTATORS) LP, “AND YOU?” was a fun exciting album that guess what?… bombed!

We closed out our major recording career with the release of 2001’s “D.F.F.D”  DICTATORS FOREVER, FOREVER DICTATORS. (That didn’t last long!!!)

Recently Columbia?, I think, put out some LAME compilation without me knowing about it, or being told, or having an opinion. IT SUCKED. The control freak, I’m sure, loved it.

This brings to an end, our studio recording career. We did have well received small label records: “Fuck ‘Em If They Can’t Take A Joke”, and other bootlegs.

THE DICTATORS NYC

Around 2014, Handsome Dick and Ross “The Boss” (guitar) were getting sick of people asking “when are the DICTATORS playing again?” People would come to my bar from all over the country, all over the planet, and ask “when are you playing again?” We were besieged by questions and we sat around waiting for the bass player, who arbitrarily decided “There will be no more DICTATORS!”

Well after a while, we got sick of one man running the show, acting like he owned the air rights around the DICTATORS. The two of us had put as much into the DICTATORS as he had, and the other guitar player too! We’re talking 90 years of being DICTATORS between the lead singer and lead guitar player. So one day three guys from the DICTATORS: me, lead singer Handsome Dick Manitoba, guitar player, Ross “The Boss” & the longest tenured drummer, JP “Thunderbolt” Patterson decided to supply the demand… we wanted to answer the call. To the people, The music meant so much, it meant so much to so many that it should not be put to rest. So we went out and got the best most talented & fun bass player we knew, a man by the name of Dean “THE DREAM” Rispler, clearly called THE DREAM because THIS was a dream bass player after a hellish one. We got a guitar player with an excellent punk rock pedigree, a man who wrote songs and produced albums for the Ramones, Daniel Rey. The new DICTATORS were complete except for one thing… since it wasn’t the totally original lineup, we felt obliged historically and as a courtesy to members who either couldn’t or didn’t want to play, that we should have a slight differentiation name wise, between the first wave and the latest incarnation of the DICTATORS. So were born: the DICTATORS NYCLong live the DICTATORS NYC.

In the meantime, one of the original Dictator band-members had a death in the family and was left a lot of money.

After spending years leading the DICTATORS and becoming a songwriter, there was something empowering about this. Empowering about my esteem rising, Empowering about finding out that I had great stuff inside of me that needed to come out.

When said musician came in to lucky money, he used part of it to bully and be abusive to former band members and fans…two of the band members I mentioned earlier, have spent 45 years each in the band. Yet this one member gave out the feeling that he owned the DICTATORS and everything about the band…. that the band was his… he used some of his money to threaten legal action for anybody using the name DICTATORS as any part of their name.

With this, he destroyed thousands and thousands of fans’ joy of seeing this great band, The Dictators NYC, arguably better than the original one, to come to their town to play. The man threatening the lawsuit automatically takes down any song he wrote from YouTube so every fan that loves the DICTATORS and the new version could not have the joy and pleasure of keeping a song up on YouTube. It seemed to me, besides disrespect and condescension towards his band mates, the so-called “leader” was done with high-energy rock and roll and seems content with playing small clubs with pats on the back and being called a genius.

The fourth original member of the DICTATORS, who had played with the DICTATORS NYC onstage and claimed this band should “not change its name” … “I will take no money from a lawsuit with this band, they are an amazing rock n’ roll band, they should stay exactly how they are, name and all” …Suddenly and without warning, the 2nd guitar player went over to the DARKSIDE, and after many years of putting down the lead guitar player in the band, his personal family situation, even his guitar playing, decided to email him, (an email I was privy to) claiming that I was messing up the mediation we were working on and had the nerve after said years of attacks, called Ross his “brother” and claiming “Lets fix this”. I call that a major league pair of cojones!

Could you imagine putting down somebody’s personality and lifestyle, and guitar playing for years!!! and then calling him brother? …Ain’t happening for YOU, is it “brother?”

This brings to the conclusion the ugly and destructive ending of 2 great bands known as the DICTATORS NYC and the DICTATORS. The chances of us playing again are extremely slim.

NOW…FANS..This is VERY IMPORTANT: For years, we’ve all heard how Mickey hated Joey (Ramone), and the list goes on, infighting with family and bands in general. The Gallagher brothers (Oasis), The Davies brothers, Ray and Dave (The Kinks)… I have been told by our fans, ”Richard, please don’t do that, let us have and enjoy the Dictators”. LISTEN! THE ORIGINAL DICTATORS, were young & brash: “fuck you, lets get stoned, laid, and make great rock n roll!” FRIENDS AND BROTHERS…THAT IS LOCKED IN A BOX FOR YOU, OUR FANS…IT IS UNTOUCHABLE AND UNCHANGEABLE. PLEASE DON’T READ HOW IT GOT FUCKED UP, AND LET THAT RUIN YOUR LOVE OF WHAT WE ACCOMPLISHED IN OUR EARLY YEARS AND OUR REUNION SHOWS!!!!! LOVE IT!!!, CHERISH IT!!!!…THE REST IS JUST HOW MANY FRIENDSHIP RELATIONSHIPS CRUMBLE…THEY ARE 2 SEPARATE THINGS!!!!! THE ORIGINAL FUN, GREAT FOREVER GUYS, THE DICTATORS, AND GUYS JUST NOT GETTING ALONG ANYMORE…IT HAPPENS!

HDM LOVES YOU!!!!

END OF BAND STORY!

THE END: THE HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA RADIO PROGRAM on SIRIUS XM SATELLITE RADIO GETS MURDERED!

Handsome Dick Manitoba left Sirius XM Satellite Radio and Little Steven‘s Underground Garage channel not on the greatest terms.

Richard was dying for something more creative in his life than the 14 years he spent sitting in a recording telephone booth doing a radio show.

Now let me be clear about something…the job was a fantastic one. I loved doing it, and Little Steven was a gift from God as a boss and a friend. Mr. Van Zandt gave me an amazing job, and he got an amazing devoted DJ in return.

I was honored to have the hours I had, 8 PM until midnight, Eastern time, which is drive time in Los Angeles, five nights a week, nationally.

I was paid excellent money for 14 years to be Handsome Dick Manitoba, again, the job and the pay were fantastic. Fantastic, but it was one of those jobs where after 14 years I asked for a raise and it was like no way!.

Welcome to the New World folks. The corporate attitude is “you have a job, be glad you have a job” so the original money I made 14 years ago with cost-of-living was probably worth $.25-$.35 less on the dollar.

I learned a new craft, I learned how to be on radio… so, so different from performing live for people. I learned how to entertain the masses by just sitting alone and talking into a microphone, but I always felt I had more in me… lots of more in me. Every fucking DJ in the world feels the same.

I know what I had, and yet I was never given the opportunity at Sirius XM radio to grow, to be offered another opportunity. They don’t exactly throw money around.

There was an incident that went down and things immediately took a nosedive between Sirius XM radio and myself, therefore causing a problem with me and my boss on the radio station.

My boss, (as I mentioned earlier) and I can’t drive home enough UP UNTIL THIS POINT, was the most gracious, giving, selfless, wonderful, I take care of my friends, friend and boss I ever knew. I had a 40 year friendship & was told words like “You are family and I love you”.

This all went straight to hell because of this incident with the company, and the way I handled it. I always try to take some responsibility for situations that I am involved in.

I am not a victim, I am also not without blame. I did the wrong thing. I made a mistake. To me it was something that could’ve been fixed, after working five shows a week for 14 years and never missing a show and basically getting along with everybody in the company.

I know it’s not up to me to be the judge and have the final say of what I did and how I should be punished, it’s the boss’s. He is THE BOSS, but in my opinion I got 25 years in jail for an ounce of pot.

It was decided I was going to be fired and that the powers that be would make up a reason, not the real reason, but a made up reason as to why I was going to be let go. The reason was a total made up lie that made no sense.

The proof is: I started getting tons of emails asking me why am not going to be on the radio show? and why would I leave for such a reason, the reason given by the higher ups? It didn’t make sense. Leaving to “follow my musical career?” My fans knew, I HAD BEEN following my musical career, FOR MANY YEARS and I WOULD NEVER LEAVE SUCH A GREAT JOB AS A CHOICE.

I pleaded with my bosses to change their mind as to the reason why I was leaving my job. They ignored me. I went online with the real reason. I told THE TRUTH, not what the company wanted me to say…This was the last nail in my coffin.

I didn’t listen to the bosses. I guess they were embarrassed that I didn’t. They gave me zero respect, and wouldn’t listen to why I didn’t think it was a good reason. I was ignored. A 64 year old man asking for respect and to be heard was ignored. No way. “Shut the fuck up and do what we say” (not said, IMPLIED). This is the FEAR that WORKERS have, UNDER THE BOSS’S thumb…No conversation, “JUST FUCKIN’ DO WHAT I SAY” Sorry, I’m 64 and I earned these RESPECT STRIPES.

They didn’t even answer me! …like I was some 20-year-old fucking kid, working on the job for a week! I’m a grown man who did over 2500 shows, NEVER missing a show in 14 years!..INSANE…

and…

and basically I lost my job and I became “Persona non-Grata”.

Every great interview I did that they used to be proud of on the station… every crumb… every morsel of creativity and love of my job that had been documented on this station for 14 years is now swept away to the point of: I never existed and I will never exist again. No sign of me after 14 years and thousands of shows.

SICK SHIT, and FUCK YOU if you think not. I am NOT going to my grave, having SHIT (SOME) experiences with musicians, friends, boss’s, whatever…. and not screaming it high atop a mountain! That’s me baby. Love it or leave it.

Even when Sirius XM radio said they would take me back, after a few calls from my lawyer, but only on my old station, I was basically told: you will never come back to the station. You are gone, you don’t exist, you never existed. These weren’t words said to me, these were actions SHOWN to me.

My earnings went from 100% to zero, simultaneously at a time when I was breaking up with my woman of 18 years and becoming a single father. It was the biggest kick in the ass I’ve ever had, and I waited 64 years to get it.

The end of this particular adventure was 4 emails: In one of them I got called names that I would say erase the fact that at one point, “I was family and I was loved”. The other three communications were 3 emails where I opened up my heart and asked if we could talk about this situation were completely ignored.

Whatever I did “wrong,“ these actions over 40 years of friendship are the type of polarity which I’ve never been so close to. Borderline scary.

There were no great amount of roads to choose in the immediate future. I had worked all my life. Men feel good when they work. I can’t speak for women, I’m not a woman, but I know, as a man, when I get up and have somewhere to go, especially if I’m lucky enough to love my job, I feel plugged into the world. I feel good, Ugh! I feel needed, I feel creative. All of a sudden there was…nothing! …Sleeping late, wondering what was next?

PODCAST: "YOU DON'T KNOW DICK" WITH HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA

A couple of blocks from my house, the better part of the year later, I ran into an old friend from Sirius Satellite Radio who put me in touch with his organization. They did a whole bunch of Podcasts and they gave me the chance to start and work my way up to have my own.

I was told by the wisest man I ever knew, Stevie B, “You can do anything you want in life as long as you’re willing to start at the bottom”.

Well I said, “give me that beginning, that chance, pay me later…pay me when I earn it, I’ll do it!”

A podcast can reach an infinite amount of people…. because you don’t have to buy anything! All you have to do is turn on your cell phone AND SUBSCRIBE!!! AND PLEASE GIVE US A 5 STAR RATING AND GIVE US A NICE LINE OR TWO IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.

When was the last person you met that didn’t have a cell phone?…or an iPad…or a computer?…the world over… It’s all you got to do, turn it on, subscribe to it for FREE. Not only that, I’m not part of somebody’s idea, passion & dream.

I’m not filling in the holes/spaces of what somebody else has invented. I am creating the whole thing that I do. I will live and die with myself, it’s all up to me! I don’t have to push anything I don’t want to push. I don’t have to shill for a record label, for example.

“I am no longer an actor in somebody else’s movie I am the director of my own movie”

HDM ~ HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA ~ 01/2019