Monthly Archives: June 2005

Scott Birdseye Stuff & Things

Angels with Dirty Faces

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Of all the forms of musical expression, none is more primal than drumming.
The very act itself contains a sort of violent, animalistic savagery; a strike, an
attack, an assault. And no person captures this primitive pugilism better
than the visionary known as Mark Slak…

The genealogy of the Slak family is a murky mystery, with a sinuous outer wrapping of enigma, tied with the ribbon of a riddle. An interesting beginning may have been with Fifth Century B.C., in the city-state of Athens, in the mountain-strewn Peloponnesian Peninsula. For it was here that orator and philosopher Slakostophenes, a pupil of Democritus, advanced a peculiar idea, which is brought down through history as part of the “Dialects of Ephaestolous.” In a few short paragraphs of the Dialects, Slakostophenes gives his views on the origin of motion; the peculiar idea that all motion is in fact caused by tiny invisible horses which are harnessed to all matter. It was this idea which perhaps gave rise to current quantum theory, which predicts the existence of a group of force carrying particles known as Bosons, which do imbue matter with kinetic energy and make
motion possible.

Slakostophenes was perhaps an ancestor of later Slak Family candidate, an Roman Imperial Governor during the rule of Constantius II (337-361 A.D.). Justinius Slacus ruled over the Roman Province of Denmarcia in Northern Europe, in an age which saw the decline of the power and might of Imperial Rome. Records of the Slak Family are virtually nonexistent during the Middle Ages, but this is a common occurrence for a time when most of the population was illiterate, leaving only a few isolated monks to provide sparse historical accounts.

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Justinius Slacus
(Courtesy of the British Museum)

But, the Slaks resurface in Copenhagen in the early Nineteenth Century, when Hans Slak, son of wealthy cookoo clock merchant Albrecht Slak, began writing down children’s stories, fables and folklore. The stories of Hans Slak tell of evil witches lurking in the forests, beautiful mermaids under the sea, and unattractive ducks wandering through public parks. Though his stories captivated many, it is unfortunate for the Slak Family that rival author Hans Christian Anderson was a much better writer, a fact that has relegated Hans Slak to near obscurity. Jacum Slak, son of literary letdown Hans, was forced to come to America aboard a crowded steamer during the terrible winter of 1848, when Denmark found itself in the icy grip of the Great Radish Famine, when the radish blight decimated the farm-based economy of the Danish Plain.

In his diary, Jacum wrote of the joyous tears which came to him when he first reached New York Harbor, casting his dirt-covered face and hopeful eyes up to the greenish glory of the Statue of Liberty. This was a remarkable feat because the Statue of Liberty was not built for another thirty six years. For many decades
following their immigration to the United States, the Slak Family lived as humble farmers, tilling the earth of the fertile valleys of the State of Montsylvania. After a few decades, however, they eventually realized that there was no State of Montsylvania, so they relocated to Elizibethia, New Highland, Pueblon, Willinois, Calisotta and West Dakota before eventually finding an actual State of the Union…Ohio.

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The Statue of Liberty Now Exists

It was within the robustly flat borders of Ohio that Mark Slak was born to itinerant pastry chefs Alouicious and Delores Slak. Eventually Mark decided to serve his country, but accidentally got in the wrong long at the registration office, after which he fought for two years in the Belgian Marine Corps’ 33d Infantry Division, Tactical Psychotherapy Brigade “The Analyzin’ Eagles.” It was as a Drummer Boy (Third Class) in the
Belgian Armed Services that Mark Slak learned the important skills which were to guide him well for the rest of his life. His tour of duty over, Mark Slak returned to Ohio where he met up with his future band-mates one night at the local roller rink. The rest is history….except of course for those bits that are the future, and the future looks bright for this skin-rattling drumnaut.

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Mark Slak: The Drumnaut of the Stars

Scott Birdseye Stuff & Things

Rock n’ Roller

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No band would be complete without the guitar, and for Manda and the Marbles it is Joe A. Damage who provides that rich, bar-chordy goodness that makes their music such a revolution….

The du Mage family has an extensive history in Medieval France. It is thought by many that the name du Mage derives from the fact that the early members of this family were alchemists and dealers in the esoteric arts of necromancy and magics. Unfortunately, except for vague references in historical treatises of the late 18th century, this history was lost in the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution.

Alexandre du Prix du Mage was a proponent of Robespierre during this troubled time and abhorred the illustrious history of his family. As such, he destroyed as many records he could find through directives issued in his capacity as Generale de la Records Nationales. The du Mages are, however, mentioned often in later histories. Homunculus du Mage was instrumental at the Battle of Austerlitz during Napoleon’s campaign across Europe.

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Revolutionary Alexadre Du Mage

As a Major in the XVI Artillery Corps, Homunculus was instrumental in destroying the 4th Hussars Regiment of Moscow. Later, he helped to loot and plunder that famous city in Napoleon’s later campaign into Russia. Homunculus lost his life at the Battle of Borodino, where a severe case of the gout disabled him, allowing the overrun of his position by Russian forces. Homunculus’ great-grandson, Pierre du Mage left France to find his fortune in the tropics. Entering French Guiana at the age of 23, Pierre started a successful luthier business, cementing the du Mage’s place in music history. du Mage lutes, guitars and violins were in use across the settled New World and after ten years, Pierre opened a branch office in New Orleans, where his son Balthiel took over in the late 19th century.

Balthiel was a great family man and business owner, but suffered from a severe case of clumsiness. He died falling off of a bridge after tripping on a frog. Records of the family are dim after this, but it seems that the du Mage’s changed their name to avoid any salacious comparisons to their forebear.

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Outlaw Steven Damage

Henceforth, in America, the family was known as Damage, which as we shall see, was quite appropriate. Balthiel’s grandson, Steven Damage, escaped the Southern draft by dint of his age and his flight to the Western territories, where he amassed a small fortune robbing brothels with his infamous “Gang of Three.” Steven later settled down in the Ohio River Valley and died a quiet death in his bed. His son, another Alexandre, was a noted missionary to the family’s ancestral homelands in South America, where he later changed his name back to du Mage and lived a life of piety, but not before siring a son by Bertha Wright du Mage, a sister of famed pioneering aviators, Orville and Wilbur Wright.

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Simon Damage testifies before Congress

Bertha and Alexandre’s son was none other than Simon Damage, the Ohio union leader and sometime politician, known as “The Kingmaker of Ohio.” He got several governors, senators and congressmen elected before an early death by trampling. No one ever said organizing was a safe profession. And so, after not many years, came the scion to bring the family back to its greatest roots in music and leadership, Joseph Augustus Damage, guitarist, scion, son, brother and sometime contraband smuggler.

Joe Damage, as he is known, paid for his first guitar with the bounties he received hunting escaped nutria on the Ohio River. He spent an entire year in a woodshed, practicing the guitar and standing awkwardly for photos. His prowess grew until he caught they eye of the Marbles in a roller rink in downtown Columbus.

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From there, the stars.

Scott Birdseye Stuff & Things

Broken Youth

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The Marble family traces its history back to Heptfordshire, in England’s fabled Middle Country; a land of gently rolling green hills, comfortable little villages and thick old-wood forests. As far as the historical record describes, the first mention of the Marble family is in the Heptfordshire County Register in the year 1558 AD. Upon these yellowing and aged pages, one finds the simple, yet elegant, name John Marble, a quarry owner whose cottage was just a few furlongs outside the ancient walls of Sanding on the Bun, the old county seat of Heptfordshire.

No doubt John’s sur-name was derived from his trade, that of a marble quarrieer. For many years past, the Heptfordshire region had been known as the producer of the world’s finest marble; for a vein of the purest and cleanest marble could be found just below Himbry’s Hills to the north of Sanding on the Bun. Folklore and legend tells that the Marble family was known for its piety and humility, and it is therefore not surprising that the Marbles were quick to join the growing Puritan movement in there era between the Tudor and Stewart monarchs.

Official battle-rolls tell of one Arthur Marble, perhaps grandson of John Marble, who fought as a yeoman in the army of Cromwell’s “Roundheads” during the English Civil War. Although he was killed at the famous Battle of Bither’s Bridge, his brother Elucid Marble, a presbyt of the local Church of the Painful Crucifixion, lived through the horrors of the Civil War and into the tyranny of the Protectorate, a time when Puritan rule dominated England. After the Restoration, when Charles the Second came to the throne, Elucid’s son, Cotton Marble, fled England and its growing resentment of the Puritans, to settle in the Massachusetts Colony in the year 1651. The Marble family adopted their new home and took well to their surroundings, setting up a prosperous farm outside of Boston.

Little is known of the Marble family, until 1774, when Boston merchant and secret Son of Liberty, Samuel Marble took part in the infamous Tea Party, when angry colonists tossed British tea into the harbor in protest of outrageous Parliamentary passing of the hated “Tea Act.” Samuel Marble, and his two sons, Abraham and Horatio Marble, joined the Boston Militia in the spring of 1775, just in time to hear Paul Revere ride through the town, warning of British troops’ march toward the munitions stores at Lexington and Concord. Although historians disagree on the fact, there are many sources that point toward the idea that it was in fact Horatio Marble who fired the infamous “Shot Heard Round the World” which began the American War of Independence. Samuel and Horatio both gave their lives to the cause of American freedom at the Battle of Bunker Hill, but Abraham lived through the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and through the bitter winter at Valley Forge.

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Son of Liberty Samuel Marble

After the Battle of Trenton, Abraham Marble was made a Captain in the Continental Army under George Washington and served bravely through the next few years as the fledgling Republic struggled to win its independence against overwhelming odds. History shows that it was Abraham Marble who stood at General George Washington’s side when he accepted British General Cornwallis’s surrender at the decisive Battle of Yorktown in 1781. It was a proud time for the United States of America, and an equally proud time for the Marbles.

Abraham settled back to the newly free Boston, where he began a shipping business to provide prosperity for the future generations of Marbles. The Marble family stayed in Boston until the 1840s, when young and adventurous Andrew Marble left the family home to go West into the Ohio territory. With his wife Elizabeth and his three children; Jonathan, Bertha and Zachary, Marble left Boston on an arduous journey west across the vast expanse of Pennsylvania, to the virgin territories of the Ohio River Valley.

Setting up a homestead in Zion, Ohio, the Marbles began a new life in the west. It was to prove prosperous. Although Jonathan was to die of dropsy, youngest son Zachary was a jubilant spirit who studied the law in Fort Clever (later to be known as Cleveland) and was eventually elected to the Ohio Legislature. With great skill, fortitude and strength of spirit, Zachary Marble would prove to be a popular legislator, so popular in fact, that in 1858 he narrowly defeated Purvis Godfrey in the gubernatorial election. From 1858 until 1866 Zachary Marble served as Governor of the State of Ohio, seeing the region through the dangerous times of the Civil War, a time when the country was nearly torn in two.

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Ohio Governor Zachary Marble with wife Delores Grunion-Marble

Zachary Marble’s youngest son, Rutherford Marble, was a private in the Third Ohio Volunteers Regiment which participated in Sherman’s infamous “March to the Sea” during the latter years of the U.S. Civil War. It is believed that it was Rutherford who first thought up the idea of torching Georgian cities, a circumstance that developed when he left a cigar burning in an Atlanta brothel in 1844.

As remarkable an achievement as that is, Rutherford was to go on to greater things during the Gilded Age which followed the destruction of the Civil War. Eking out a clerk’s wage in Columbus, Ohio following the war, Rutherford changed vocations, decided that tallying dry goods was not his true calling. Instead he took a job as a daylayborer at the National-Ohio Ball Bearing Plant in Columbus, where during his lunch breaks, he devised a game which involved rolling the ball bearings about a chalk circle outside the foundry.

This game was to prove popular, and throughout the city youths began to play “Marble’s Game.” The Blam-Co Toy Company purchased the rights to Marble’s Game, and rechristened it “marbles,” and the game became an instant hit with young people across the United States. With his earnings and royalties coming in from the ever-popular marbles, Rutherford retired in luxury. Throughout the Turn of the Century, it seems that the Marble family led a simply Rockwellian existence, a time of fresh apple pie, cool lemonade, and crispy fried chicken served on delightfully antiquated red and white chequered table cloths at church picnics.

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Children playing “Marble’s Game”

It was not until the 1940s that history again met with the Marble family, when Monty Marble went off to fight in the Second World War, leaving his wife Mabel Marble and her two young daughters Martha and Mavis to keep up the fight at the home front. Mabel Marble did what every civilian did during those dark and dangerous days when fascism threatened the free world; she joined up at her local War Office for a job in a factory; building the machines of war that would enable freedom to survive.

Mabel Marble worked twelve hour shifts at the Ohio Shipyards at the bustling port of Columbus, where she spent long, hot hours riveting the iron plates of Battleship and Escort Carrier hulls. When war photographer Robert Capa visited the Ohio Shipyards, he happened upon young Mabel Marble endeavoring in the cause of freedom. He snapped her picture, which was to become a classic; for it was this picture that would be used as the basis for the popular character of Rosie the Riveter; an inspiration to women everywhere.

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Mabel Marble: She Can Do It.

Mabel Marble was indeed a proud and tough woman, who never gave up and did whatever she could to help the Allied cause. Although her husband, one of the sailors of the Taffy Three Group which fought heroically against the Battle Group of Kurita at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, was killed, Mabel did everything she could to ensure that her children would succeed as best they could in this crazy world. Little baby Matthew Marble, born in 1943, grew up into a proud and strong boy. Eventually, in 1963, while studying pre-med at Faber College, he was to meet Michelle Matheson, whom he wed in the summer of 1965. Matt and Michelle Marble moved back to the city of Columbus in the summer of1974, when Matt opened up what was to be the first in a series of highly successful carpet cleaning store/fried chicken restaurants known as Marblehuts.

Manda Marble was to be the couple’s third child. Early in life she excelled at mathematics and Euclidian geometry. At the age of five she was enrolled at Ohio State University where she took advanced math and science courses. On her sixth birthday she was able to provide a proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, and on her eighth birthday she graduated from OSU with a bachelor of science degree in Three Dimensional Geometry of Quantum Fields. TIME Magazine said of the young prodigy “…she is without a doubt the best chance humanity has for unlocking the secrets of the unification of physics that frustrated Einstein for so many years.

Without overstatement, if she were to continue her studies into physics, little Manda Marble will develop of new understanding of the universe not seen since the days of Isaac Newton.” Physics, however, bored young Manda, who instead put her amazing mental powers toward learning the bass. And, on that four stringed instrument, she shows every day, that mathematics is not the only discipline in which a genius can change the world. With every thump of those thick metal strings Manda Marble changes the way we see ourselves and our place in the universe. Rock on.

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The Incredible Manda Marble.

Scott Birdseye Stuff & Things

AXES & ALLEYS Presents

The official Manda and the Marbles UnAuthorized Biography Supplement

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From the sandy shores of Ohio, there has, over the past few years, come a resounding cry of freedom, desperation and hunger (hunger for emotional comfort, not hunger for food). That cry is straight from the diaphram and vocal chords of one Manda Marble and her rag-tag group of misfits, vagabonds, and sound-pirates known by the simple yet powerful nomenclature of “The Marbles”
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Scott Birdseye Stuff & Things

Manda and the Marbles Supplement

Axes & Alleys : Half an Issue is Better than None!

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Here at the old Axes and Alleys offices we’ve spent many a day putting out this fine publication while our favorite music blared out at us from the common stereo. More often than not that favorite music is by a little group from the Buckeye State called Manda and the Marbles. When Sir Lionel came to me and asked me to put together a special music supplement of this magazine to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the commencement of the Russo-Japanese War, I of course turned to our favorite musical group; yep, Manda and the Marbles.

From “No Direction” to “Let Them Talk,” I celebrate the group’s entire catalogue. If you were to ask me my favorite Manda and the Marbles song, I would have to reply that I love them all equally. No one else is quite as cool as they. So enjoy this special supplement to your favorite magazine and please, as you read, let your thoughts drift to the Russo-Japanese War, without which this supplement would not have existed.

Samantha Baxter