One of those FAQs of writers, directors, producers is “Where do you get your ideas from?” which always sounds as if there is a magic ideas tree from which creatives can harvest the fruit when needs want. In truth, ideas come from the most unlikely of sources—from dreams to the sayings of some well-beloved aunt. When Gerry Anderson, the producer and director of the hit puppet shows as Supercar, Fireball XL5, and Stingray, was thinking up ideas for his next series, his imagination was captured by the tragic events of a mining disaster in Germany.
In October 1963, a discharge lake situated over the Lengede-Broistedt mine flooded the shafts and tunnels deep underground. 129 workers were trapped by the flood water. During the first few hours, 79 of the miners managed to escape by climbing ladders in the mine’s ventilation shafts, but there were still 50 miners unaccounted for. Just when the rescuers had almost given up hope of finding the missing miners, a metallic sound was heard tapping out a signal deep underground. A small bore hole was drilled and microphones lowered to communicate with those miners trapped more than 190 feet down. It was then decided the only way to rescue these men was to use a special drill, however, this drill was eight hours away in Bremen. While they waited for it to arrive, food, coffee and medical supplies were lowered to the men trapped far underground.
Painting of the ‘Wunder von Lengede’ by Helmuth Ellgaard.
The whole rescue operation was fraught with difficulties—the excavation of rescue shaft took two weeks, removing four-and-half feet of rubble every hour. The rescuers were battling time and the constant threat of the flood waters rising underground because of depressurization. The pressure had to be kept artificially high underground, and a specially designed “bullet-shaped” decompression chamber was built which enabled the rescuers to bring men singly to the surface. In total eleven men were eventually rescued by November 7, 1963—nineteen had died in the initial explosion and ten from wounds while awaiting rescue.
The “miracle of Lengede” was carried in newspapers and television reports across the world. Among those gripped by the rescue story was Gerry Anderson, who saw in it the idea for his next television production Thunderbirds. Anderson devised the idea of a team of international rescuers, who traveled across the world rescuing those in peril of major disasters. So, was born the Tracy family and International Rescue—F.A.B.
Black Sabbath circa mid-1970s with Ozzy showing us where he puts his cocaine
All the members of Black Sabbath have been pretty open about their debauched past, but of all the stories concerning their experiences with illegal party favors, I think my favorite is Geezer Butler’s account of how the band used to have cocaine flown to them on private planes while they were recording their masterful 1972 album, Vol. 4.
During that time, many of Sabbath’s drug-soaked escapades took place in the rented Bel Air mansion of John Du Pont (former heir to the of Du Pont family fortune whose high-profile 1997 murder case was recently depicted in the film, Foxcatcher).
Ozzy performing with Black Sabbath in Montreal in 1972. Ozzy’s abs courtesy of cocaine!
According to Butler’s mathematical calculations, Sabbath spent approximately $75K on cocaine in 1972, a whopping $15K more than they spent recording Vol. 4. Here’s more on Sabbath’s white line fever from former cocaine enthusiast Ozzy Osbourne via his 2010 autobiography (which I highly recommend), I Am Ozzy:
Eventually we started to wonder where the fuck all the coke was coming from…I’m telling you: that coke was the whitest, purest, strongest stuff you could ever imagine. One sniff, and you were king of the universe.
In the same book Osbourne noted:
For me, Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath’s best-ever albums—although the record company wouldn’t let us keep the title, ‘cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn’t want the hassle of a controversy. We didn’t argue.
It’s almost too bad that the Vol. 4 cover has now become iconic in its own right, because wouldn’t it be great if it truly had been called Snowblind?
In addition to snorting what could easily equate to mountains of cocaine, Sabbath never really discriminated when it came to drugs or booze. On one particular occasion Geezer Butler nearly committed suicide after tripping balls on acid that someone had dropped into his drink. According to Butler, it was that incident that helped him recognize that he needed to get sober. Yikes.
Here’s some choice video of Sabbath below performing their homage to Tony Montana’s drug of choice from Vol. 4, “Snowblind” in 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Because, cocaine.
Black Sabbath performing “Snowblind” live on June 19, 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon
In the almost pathologically defiant, rules-free autonomous zone that was the early Cleveland punk scene, John Morton was probably the single most antagonistic figure. In 1972, when the term “punk rock” was only being used in Creem and Who Put the Bomp?, and only to describe ‘60s garage bands, Morton’s band the electric eels—always lowercase, in homage to e e cummings—were making noisy, primitive, highly charged, confrontational rock music, with shows so violent they only managed to book five gigs in their three-year run, but they’d serve as key musical and personal inspiration to the people who’d go on to form the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu.
In between the eels and his artier noise-punk band X__X (we’ve told you about them before), Morton joined with guitar deconstructionist Andrew Klimeyk, future Bush Tetras Cynthia Sley and Laura Kennedy (RIP 2011), future Psychotronic publisher Michael Weldon, and a few others to form an ultimate in anti-rock bands, Johnny and the Dicks. The group was succinctly described by Jon Savage in Punk: An Aesthetic: “No instruments, no rehearsals, no music, no noise.”
This, it turned out, was meant quite literally. Johnny and the Dicks were a “band” that made no actual music, preferring performance art stunts like Mortons “Tool Jazz,” a “song” wherein he sawed 2x4s in half lengthwise while the rest of the members sat at a table eating cake. Other performances saw the band simply posing with instruments, or miming songs by other Cleveland bands.
The band released an “album,” but true to their conception, the sleeve did not contain a record.
I loved being an artist, but it didn’t fulfill the exhilaration of performance, so I decided I would form a band that didn’t play music, but did “art!” Visual art songs like making polyester resin sculpture, posing for photos (one of the dicks was a professional photographer) and lip-syncing to the tape of a song I performed with The Styrenes. We did release a self-titled album that didn’t contain a record, each one unique with a smattering of polyester resin on it. Michele, (Wife # 1) was a Dick, along with my friend and Mirrors drummer, Michael Weldon, future Bush Tetras, Laura Kennedy and Cynthia Sley, Andrew Klimek and his sister, Karen K. Karen Karen, and photographer/artist Charles Gilchrist. Oh yeah, and a guy named Paul Paternoster. In retrospect, these people following me into the void was pretty amazing.
Art Terrorism was a purposeful quantification or updating of the Dadaist agit-prop nihilist/annihilation twisty band thing. When conceptual art was just beginning, there were two strata, in both divisions, the “Object” was deemed un-important simply the by-product of the more golden idea. (down with the Mona Lisa! It’s just some very old canvas with some fucking paint on it. Fuckin’ lumpen objet d’art worshippers!), The path I chose (also known as “The wrong path”) was based on the Dada/absurdist sensibility that the object is not important and neither is the idea, The successful branch Conceptualists were the effete [pseudo] intellectuals making cherished “golden and geniused” and oh so collectable ideas. Conceptual artists, reading Wittgenstein (which they had no fathom of) and drawing fucking numbers on the wall AND FUCKING SELLING the fucking photographs of the fucking numbers (photographs, which, by the way ARE objects.)
Johnny and the Dicks lashed out only very briefly in 1978 before Morton and Klimeyk split off to form X__X, and Kennedy and Sley moved on to the Bush Tetras (BTW, if you don’t know them, start with “Too Many Creeps,” it’s a no-wave/dancepunk classic), but one of their three performances was extremely well documented.
In 1978, SPACES was an insidery, guerrilla alt-art space, located on an empty floor in the building above a McDonalds in Cleveland’s theater district, at the time a rather bleak place apart from the actual theaters. (SPACES grew as an entity, and still exists today as an upstanding, grant-funded citizen of the arts scene.) One of Johnny and the Dicks’ performances took place there, but with a wrinkle—the band was in a different room from the audience, who took in the show via closed-circuit television.
As it happens, that feed was recorded by SPACES founder James Rosenberger, and with some audience shots and other footage of the set, it found its way to YouTube earlier this year. After viewing it, Morton told DM in an email exchange, “We performed it around the corner from the audience. They could hear the live action, but had to watch it on a monitor. I got to say, I was impressed by the video. It was a lot more complex and angry and chaotic then I remembered.”
Here there be nudity and bad words, so please proceed with discretion.
Many thanks to Paul Weaver for bringing this to our attention.
Piblokto is an Inuit word describing a “dissociative fugue state, usually occurring in Inuit women, in which the afflicted person screams, tears off her clothes, and runs out into the snow; afterward, she has no memory of the episode.” Piblokto! is also the name of a band fronted by Pete Brown between 1969 and 1971.
Pete Brown is one of those rare mavericks who really should be a household name, but for whatever reason the gods of rock, the furies, luck, life or what you may call it, didn’t always give Brown and his talents the rewards he so justly deserves.
Brown is a poet, a lyricist, a musician, a composer, a songwriter, a singer—the man Eric Clapton described as the “fourth member” of supergroup Cream. It was through Cream that Brown first came to recognition as the lyricist for Jack Bruce on such hits as “Sunshine Of Your Love,” “White Room,” “I Feel Free,” and “Politician.” Brown’s success with Cream led him to form his own band, Pete Brown and His Battered Ornaments, which included Chris Spedding among its ranks. With the Battered Ornaments, Brown released the influential album A Meal You Can Shake Hands With In The Dark.
Pete Brown and Piblokto!
In 1969, the Rolling Stones booked Brown and co. as support for their free Hyde Park concert. The prospect of world recognition never seemed so certain—but life is never so straightforward or so easy.
The day before appearing on stage with the Stones, Brown was ruthlessly kicked out of his own band. Even worse, his vocals were excised from the Battered Ornaments’ album Mantlepiece and replaced by Spedding’s.
Piblokto!‘s music was a pioneering fusion of poetry, folk, rock, jazz, prog, and for these two albums alone, Brown and his fellow musicians (Jim Mullen, guitar; Dave Thompson, keyboards; Steve Glover, bass; Rob Tait, drums) should have been overnight sensations—but again, it didn’t quite work out that way.
The band split and Brown went on to collaborate with Graham Bond on the album Two Heads Are Better Than One, before forming two new groups Brown and Friends then the Flying Tigers. In some respects his moment had passed, and with the arrival of punk, Brown returned to writing, this time producing television dramas and screenplays.
After the jump, three videos about Pete Brown and Piblokto!......
“What did you and Jack do?” Allen Ginsberg asked Gore Vidal one cold January night in 1994.
“Well, I fucked him,” Vidal was pleased to reply. On the night of August 23, 1953, the two men of letters had banged one out in a Chelsea Hotel room following a Greenwich Village bar crawl. Kerouac published a fictionalized account of the assignation in The Subterraneans but, aside from a morning-after moment of “horrible recognition,” he left out the sex. Vidal was annoyed, and said so:
I challenged Jack. “Why did you, the tell-it-all-like-it-is writer, tell everything about that evening with Burroughs and me and then go leave out what happened when we went to bed?”
“I forgot,” he said. The once startlingly clear blue eyes were now bloodshot.
Palimpsest, the first of Gore Vidal’s two memoirs, fills in the lacuna with a detailed record of the evening’s events. It began with William S. Burroughs. Kerouac and Vidal had met before, and in a 1952 letter to Kerouac, Burroughs expressed interest in meeting the author of The Judgment of Paris:
Is Gore Vidal queer or not? Judging from the picture of him that adorns his latest opus I would be interested to make his acquaintance. Always glad to meet a literary gent in any case, and if the man of letters is young and pretty and possibly available my interest understandably increases.
Gore Vidal on the back cover of The Judgment of Paris, 1952
The three writers met at the San Remo bar the following year, after Burroughs’ return from Mexico. Kerouac, Vidal writes, “was manic. Sea captain’s hat. T-shirt. Like Marlon Brando in Streetcar.” Burroughs asked about a Turkish bath in Rome that Vidal had described in The Judgment of Paris. They moved on to Tony Pastor’s, a lesbian bar; afterwards, Kerouac swung around a lamppost out front, “a Tarzan routine that caused Burroughs to leave us in disgust.” Vidal was ready to go back to his father’s apartment uptown, but Kerouac had a different notion:
“Let’s get a room around here.” The first law of sex is never go to bed with someone drunk. Corollary to this universal maxim was my own fetish–never to have sex with anyone older. I was twenty-eight. Jack was thirty-one. Five years earlier, when we first met, I would have overruled the difference, but I had also arbitrarily convinced myself that Conrad’s “shadow line” extended to sex: So from the age of thirty on, a man or woman was, for my purposes, already a corpse–not that I ever had much on my mind when it came to sex with men. In my anonymous encounters, I was what used to be called trade. I did nothing–deliberately, at least–to please the other. When I became too old for these attentions from the young, I paid, gladly, thus relieving myself of having to please anyone in any way. But now here I was stuck with Jack, who had certainly once attracted me at the Metropolitan when that drop of clear water slid down his cheek. Now there was real sweat. I stared at him. We were the same height and general build. With some misgiving, I crossed the shadow line.
At the nearby Chelsea Hotel, each signed his real name. Grandly, I told the bemused clerk that this register would become famous. I’ve often wondered what did happen to it. Has anyone torn out our page? Or is it still hidden away in the dusty Chelsea files? Lust to one side, we both thought, even then (this was before On the Road), that we owed it to literary history to couple.
I remember that the bathroom was near the entrance to a large double room. There was no window shade, so a red neon light flickering on and off gave a rosy glow to the room and its contents. Jack was now in a manic mood: We must take a shower together. To my surprise, he was circumcised. [...]
Where Anaïs and I were incompatible–chicken hawk meets chicken hawk–Jack and I were an even more unlikely pairing–classic trade meets classic trade, and who will do what?
Gore Vidal, 1948
“Jack was rather proud of the fact that he blew you.” Allen sounded a bit sad as we assembled our common memories over tea in the Hollywood Hills. I said that I had heard Jack had announced this momentous feat to the entire clientele of the San Remo bar, to the consternation of one of the customers, an advertising man for Westinghouse, the firm that paid for the program Studio One, where I had only just begun to make a living as a television playwright. “I don’t think,” said the nervous advertiser, “that this is such a good advertisement for you, not to mention Westinghouse.” As On the Road would not be published until 1957, he had no idea who Jack was.
Thanks to Allen’s certainty of what Jack had told him, I finally recall the blow job–a pro forma affair, which I put a quick stop to. At what might nicely be called loose ends, we rubbed bellies for a while; later he would publish a poem dedicated to me: “Didn’t know I was a great come-onner, did you? (come-on-er).” I was not particularly touched by this belated Valentine, considering that I finally flipped him over on his stomach, not an easy job as he was much heavier than I [...]
Jack raised his head from the pillow to look at me over his left shoulder; off to our left the rosy neon from the window gave the room a mildly infernal glow. He stared at me a moment–I see this part very clearly now, forehead half covered with sweaty dark curls–then he sighed as his head dropped back onto the pillow. There are other published versions of this encounter: in one, Jack says that he spent the night in the bathroom. On the floor? There was a shower but no tub. In another, he was impotent. But the potency of other males is, for me, a turnoff. What I have reported is all there was to it, except that I liked the way he smelled.
Alas, there is no sex tape, but you can watch part one of the fascinating Omnibus profile of Vidal below (part two here).
35 Years of Talking Heads’ ‘Remain in Light’: “They tightened up. They got funky. They set up shop in Nassau. They surrounded Remain in Light‘s eight songs with a worldly blend of global pop, post-punk, American R&B and artsy experimentalism augmented by a handful of session players on horns and percussion. And they played around with loops and samples, still mostly unheard of at the time, which gave the album the otherworldly feeling that the entire project was shipped in from another time and place, nowhere near the end-of-the-century New York City that the group had come to identify with so closely.” Ultimate Classic Rock senior editor Michael Gallucci’s edifying take on Talking Heads’ masterpiece. (Ultimate Classic Rock)
RIP Nunslaughter drummer Jim Konya: Jim was a universally and justifiably beloved fixture in Midwestern underground metal and hardcore (Minch, Nunslaughter, Schnauzer, 9 Shocks Terror, this list could go on for miles), but he suffered a stroke last month, then suffered a still more severe stroke while recuperating from the first. When doctors determined he’d never recover, the decision was made to remove him from life support. He passed yesterday. Konya had a big heart and a big personality, and he will be sorely missed. The ongoing crowdfunding campaign intended for his medical expenses will be applied to his final expenses. (Noisey)
Meet the right-wing rebels who overthrew John Boehner: It is only in recent months that this disruptive force in American politics even has a name: the House Freedom Caucus. Composed of nearly 40 of the most committed ideologues in the House, the Freedom Caucus has a simple mission: to get GOP leadership to deliver on the extreme, anti-government and social-conservative rhetoric that nearly all Republicans spout to get elected. (Rolling Stone)
Kevin McCarthy Pulls Out Of House Speaker’s Race: In a shocking twist to all the current House GOP craziness, the front-runner—by miles—for the Speaker gig removed himself from consideration. Perhaps there’s been motion behind the scenes to annihilate him after he openly admitted that the Benghazi investigations were an expensive, politically motivated character assassination? Not that this means the grownups will be in charge; the resultant chaos from McCarthy’s withdrawal leaves an opening for gross misogynist/Backpfeifengesicht poster-boy Jason Chaffetz. (HuffPo) UPDATE! The other shoe drops: Kevin McCarthy accused of having an affair with fellow member of Congress
Some people think The Martian is a true story: Because of course they do. Read tweets by the exasperated loved ones of the alarmingly credulous. (Time)
Smoke bombs, eggings: Kosovo’s parliament is out of control: A heated argument in parliament today ended with one minister detonating a smoke bomb. Opposition leader Albin Kurti is the alleged miscreant, and he reportedly kicked at least one smoking canister (emitting what may have been tear gas) around the room until two of his fellow ministers fainted. The pics and videos in this article are very nearly unbelievable. (Quartz)
Dream Theater’s drummer rocks a Hello Kitty drum set: Whatever you think of Dream Theater, this is great. (Loudwire)
Ancient Mars Was Wetter and Warmer Than We Ever Realized: OK, first, get your mind out of the gutter. New data collected by the Curiosity rover shows that Mars was once quite Earth-like, featuring river deltas, lakes, and a warm climate. What’s more, the Red Planet may have been able to sustain liquid water at the surface long enough for life to emerge and evolve. Evidence for extraterrestrial life has yet to be discovered on Mars, but this latest finding shows that key ingredients were once available for microbial life to originate and evolve. (Gizmodo)
American democracy is doomed: Accusations that Barack Obama or John Boehner or any other individual politician is failing as a leader are flung, and then abandoned when the next issue arises. In practice, the feeling seems to be that salvation is just one election away. Hillary Clinton even told Kara Swisher recently that her agenda if she runs for president is to end partisan gridlock. It’s not going to work. The breakdown of American constitutional democracy is a contrarian view. But it’s nothing more than the view that rather than everyone being wrong about the state of American politics, maybe everyone is right. Maybe Bush and Obama are dangerously exceeding norms of executive authority. Maybe legislative compromise really has broken down in an alarming way. And maybe the reason these complaints persist across different administrations and congresses led by members of different parties is that American politics is breaking down. (Vox)
Check out Failure’s new video, “Counterfeit Sky’: The sci-fi clip was created by FX whiz Kevin Margo, using footage from his short film Grounded, which was scored by Ken Andrews of Failure. And the log keeps a-rollin’. Failure will embark on yet another tour supporting their comeback album The Heart Is A Monster tomorrow, this time with their mid-‘90s second guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen back in the fold for the first time since the band’s reunion last year.
Every generation has at least one song that captures the essence of their era. For the loved-up clubbers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, there are more than a few generation-defining songs to choose from. Near the top of any such list would be “Weekender” by London five-piece band Flowered Up.
Released in 1992, “Weekender” was Flowered Up’s ironic paean to rave culture—a hedonistic life of partying all the time, living life for drugs and music. It was the band’s biggest chart success, just skirting the UK top twenty and was deservedly hailed as their “masterpiece.”
Formed in 1989 by brothers Liam and Joe Maher, Flowered Up had a short but bright career that promised much more than was delivered, with the group sadly disbanding before achieving their full potential.
Apart from being a classic rave song, “Weekender” became a short film written and directed by W.I.Z. (aka Andrew “W.I.Z.” Whiston)—a hip young promo director who went on to direct music videos for Primal Scream, Oasis, Massive Attack, Manic Street Preachers, Kasabian and Dizzee Rascal, amongst many others. W.I.Z. took Flowered Up’s song and created a film that captured the hedonism of “E” culture and tied it back to its musical antecedent The Who’s Quadrophenia. Flowered Up were often “lazily compared” to “Madchester” bands like Happy Mondays and Northside, but as W.I.Z. once wrote in his obituary for Flowered Up’s lead singer Liam Maher, who died in 2009 from a drug overdose, Flowered Up were:
...much closer to The Clash or The Who, sharing the contradictions of white boys within a black music scene, Liam articulating with incandescent anger the doubts hidden by the prevailing euphoria.
W.I.Z. described Liam as “a vital poet, like Pete Townshend before him”:
...he was the first of his generation to eloquently question the sincerity of its unbridled hedonism. Nowhere more savagely succinct than in their swansong, ‘Weekender’.
W.I.Z.‘s film Weekender opens and closes with the iconic image of lead actor Lee Whitlock staring directly at the camera as he slowly descends on a window cleaning platform, while Phil Daniels’ dialog from the film Quadrophenia plays underneath.
There’s nothing romantic about this, as when ecstasy culture finally expired, [Liam] like many of his peers were cast-offs, left skint with crippling drug addictions, unable to reconcile the comedown and the missed opportunity (for social change) that he, before anyone else, had had the honesty to admonish.
A quarter of a century on, Weekender has lost none of its power and daring in capturing the hedonism of rave culture—and here it is in its uncensored glory.
Who would have thought that doing a fashion photo shoot using a refugee theme—during a time when a major refugee crisis involving Syria is in the headlines every freaking day—would be in poor taste and might piss a few people off?
Well, it apparently didn’t occur to Hungarian fashion photographer Norbert Baksa, who did just that last week, when he did a fashion shoot with visible barbed wire at the Hungarian border and uploaded the photographs to his website and Twitter feed. Within hours of doing so, Baksa became the target of an enormous torrent of criticism in the international press. The name of the series is “Der Migrant,” which is German for “The Migrant.”
One picture depicts a woman taking a selfie at a barbed wire border, using a cellphone with a prominent Chanel logo on the back. Her shirt is unbuttoned and one of her breasts is exposed, which isn’t exactly a tasteful way to depict anyone who might be associated in the viewer’s mind with Syria, where such garb would be surely considered haram under Islamic law.
On October 6 Baksa took to Twitter to defend himself, unleashing a series of self-serving “no harm, no foul”-type tweets that were unsuccessful in deflecting attention from his own responsibility in publishing these images:
Der Migrant people: realize the complexity of the situation and address it in different angles! Neither pro nor con, raising awareness!
Baksa, who has done shoots for Elle, Playboy, and Cosmopolitan, among others, said in a statement that the pictures were “not intended to glamourize this clearly bad situation,” but rather “to draw the attention to the problem and make people think about it.” He added that the images he created were based off of real photographs of refugees attempting to cross the border.
I hoped people would realize that the situation is very complex and see that they are taking stands based on partial or biased information. ... This is exactly what we wanted to picture: you see a suffering woman, who is also beautiful and despite her situation, has some high quality pieces of outfit and a smartphone.
Needless to say, if Baksa’s intent was to provoke and turn himself into an object of controversy (sure to lead to better-paying future gigs), he succeeded—but at what cost?
Shout Factory TV has given us an early Halloween treat by posting a twenty-five-year-old roundtable discussion from The Dick Cavett Show with Stephen King, George Romero, Ira Levin, and Peter Straub.
The discussion, in two parts, was originally broadcast on October 16 and 17 in 1980, shortly before Stephen King and George Romero began collaborative work on the film Creepshow.
King at that point was “the best-selling author in the world.” Romero’s greatest successes to that date were with Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Peter Straub’s major accomplishment up to that point was Ghost Story, which would be adapted into a motion picture the following year. Ira Levin represented the old guard on the panel, having written Rosemary’s Baby in 1967 and The Stepford Wives in 1972.
The fascinating discussion takes place over two separate 30-minute programs. Personally, I could have watched another two hours of these guys talking about their work and inspirations. If you are a fan of any of these individuals, or the horror genre in general, the conversation is crucial.
The panel analyzes the appeal of horror, which Stephen King describes as a healthy way of exorcising the dark emotions of fear, aggressiveness, anger, and sadism in a harmless way. He calls it a way of “blowing off anxieties and bad feelings.” According to King, “You seek out the things that [as a child] scared you the most and you try to get rid of them.” Romero states that the success of horror is based on the ability to induce involuntary responses in the audience.