Saturday, March 18, 2017

Geeky SKAturday: Alex Desert

A fairly recent post over at Siskoid's Blog of Geekery got me to do a bit of reflection on the various manifestations of my lifetime of geekdom...er, geekery.  To a large extent, anything I've ever become interested in, I've had a tendency to geek out about.  There were several years, starting in the mid-'90s in my undergrad days, that one of my central obsessions was ska.

Like a lot of folks, I was introduced to the genre by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but I luckily had a college friend who was wise in the ways of the ska scene, who was able to introduce me to some of the deeper elements of the music.  It was an obsession from then on out, as I'd spend a huge portion of my time seeking out new music and zines, and even playing in a ska band for while (probably one of the few to ever come out of central Georgia, by the way...and we even managed to make it onto one massive compilation album before folding...!).

Anyway, I've realized somewhere along the way that there's actually quite a bit of crossover between ska and some of my other nerdy pursuits.  And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense...ska has long been about characters, stories, and a reverence for its own history.  And the stereotypical ska "dress code" is really just a step away from cosplay.  It's pretty much tailor-made for geeking out!  So, I hope to take some time here on the weekends to write a little about this crossover.

And yeah, I think I am going to stick with that stupid title for the feature.

Today, I want to talk about actor Alex Desert.  Here's what looks like a relatively recent shot of him:

From The Flash Wiki.

You may recognize him from the TV show Becker, or movies like Swingers or High Fidelity.  Of course, Flash fans around my age may remember him best like this:

From the DC Database.

Here's the intro from 1990's Flash series as a refresher...


In one of those cool twists that they sometimes pull off on the current incarnation of The Flash, he even returned as a Central City police captain...presumably the same character as his earlier version (as they share the name Julio Mendez).

Now, why would I mention him here?  Well, a lot of folks don't realize that Alex Desert is also one of the great vocalists of ska's Third Wave.  As in, there are probably some listeners out there who consider him the best ska singer they've ever heard, and his pairing with Greg Lee in the traditional band Hepcat is pretty much legendary among fans of the music.  When I finally made this connection after becoming a Hepcat fan, I thought it was one of the coolest things ever.

So, come for the Flash and stay for the harmonies, I say.  Alex Desert is a very good actor, but here he is doing what he does best...  (8/19/17 edit:  I realized the original Hepcat video I posted here was no longer available, so here are Alex and Greg performing one of my favorite Hepcat songs with a different backing band...)

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