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A young Jim Jarmusch reports on Cleveland’s foremost pos-punk heroes, Pere Ubu, 1977
05.27.2015
10:10 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Punk

Tags:
Jim Jarmusch
Pere Ubu


 
In the early 1970s, Akron native Jim Jarmusch, born in 1953, transferred from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to Columbia University, receiving his diploma in 1975. He took full advantage of the opportunitis Columbia afforded him, editing The Columbia Review and moving to Paris for a stretch, which is where his lifelong love of film was born. After his return to NYC, Jarmusch enrolled in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and also hung out at CBGB’s a lot.

At some point he had the bright idea to return to the big midwestern metropolis from his home state of Ohio—that is, Cleveland—and report on some of the major rock doings going down in that city. In the 7th issue of N.Y. Rocker, which came out in the spring of 1977 (May-June), there appears a lengthy interview with Pere Ubu’s resident genius David Thomas with the byline “Jim Jarmusch.” As I read through it, it took an effort of will not to call to mind the wintry, winsome, and downtrodden feel of the Cleveland section of Jarmusch’s 1984 breakthrough (I would also say masterpiece) Stranger Than Paradise.

I’m currently a resident of Cleveland, having moved here from NYC (reverse trajectory to Jarmusch’s, hmmm) in 2013. I put on Pere Ubu’s 1978 12-inch Datapanik in the Year Zero, which I purchased in Cleveland last year, before writing this post. I’ve met people in the current incarnation of Pere Ubu and visited the Agora, where Ubu played in December 1976, but much more to the point, Jarmusch’s interview with Thomas resonates in a far more general way with me, now that I live here (and like it). On the second page of the interview is a blurry, wintry snapshot of Cleveland’s most prominent building, the Terminal Tower, with a raised drawbridge in the foreground, and you know, that picture now has a homey familiarity for me.

One portion of the interview was conducted at Tommy’s Restaurant on Coventry Road, and that restaurant is still there and thriving. The first part of the interview was conducted at the Pirate’s Cove in the Flats district of Cleveland, which is no more; Cobra Verde frontman and Cleveland Plain Dealer writer John Petkovic described it as a venue that “will go down in Cleveland rock lore as the host of shows by the Dead Boys, DEVO and Pere Ubu—back when the Flats was a rough-and-tumble working-class drinking spot.”

In the interview, Jarmusch and Thomas (winkingly identified as “Crocus Behemoth” throughout) discuss the finer points of Laverne and Shirley, the appeal of Nero Wolfe and Raymond Chandler, and the “repulsive” nature of poetry. At one point Thomas/“Behemoth” appears to set up Pere Ubu as a kind of Beach Boys for the industrial midwest:
 

A lot of our songs are about driving. Like “Street Waves” is like, you know, in California they got the surf, and in Cleveland, in the summer, if you work real hard at it, there’s a surf that comes down the streets. And if you work real hard, you can ride that surf. And in Cleveland, that’s real bizarre. You get out on West 25th and Detroit and ride the surf and its real good. Really good. That’s our big summertime thing—you get out there in a car with a radio in it, “a car that can get me around,” and you know, we dress in our swimming trunks and just surf down the streets…...

-snip-

We’re not innocent, like the Beach Boys are innocent, cuz nobody can be innocent anymore. But we know what innocence is, and we know we have to try to get back there, even if it is tinged with reality.

 
In the third and final part of the interview, Jarmusch and Thomas are cruising around the city in a 1966 Dodge Dart. They have the AM radio station CKLW on, which is cycling through some recent hits, to which Thomas reacts. When Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night” comes on, it spurs Thomas to a mini-manifesto of sorts:
 

This is one of my big faves, too. I like all kinds of shit. I think ABBA’s real superb. I like all kinds of crap. Like, I consider Pere Ubu to be a pop band. Like, we don’t really do long songs. Pop is an art—to do something really new with pop is an art.

 
Read the original article after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘We Destroy the Family: Punks vs Parents’: Ludicrous 1982 local L.A. news report
05.27.2015
09:03 am

Topics:
Amusing
Punk

Tags:
Los Angeles
1980s


From another ABC Afterschool Special

“We Destroy the Family: Punks vs Parent,” is a 1982 report from LA’s KABC, and it is fantastic vintage moral panic. The segment opens with a Fear show, and in case viewers couldn’t make out the lyrics to “We Destroy the Family,” Lee Ving laughingly provides a spoken-word clarification of the refrain—has he no decency?!? One can assume from the narrator’s serious tone that the viewers are expected to take the threat of punk to the family, very, very seriously, while completely disregarding the fact that hippies (and likely some of these kids’ parents) were expressing similar disdain for the status quo just a few short years prior (albeit on different drugs).

It’s interesting that punk scare-mongering like this and the infamous ABC Afterschool SpecialThe Day My Kid Went Punk” were aired in the 80s—the latter as late as 1987! This is well past the initial punk explosion, but it coincides with the scene’s rebirth as hardcore in the “respectable” suburbs. The resulting cultural anxieties produced Tipper Gore’s busybody committee, the “Parents Music Resource Group” in 1985, who pushed for censorship on the Senate floor at the same time Jello Biafra was being tried on obscenity charges for an H.R. Giger album insert poster. Watching a ludicrous interview with square parents and their gum-chewing punk kids in “We Destroy the Family,” it’s actually kind of tragic how the obvious disaffection and alienation of the era’s youth went ignored as their artistic outlets were attacked.

You can watch parts Two and Three here.
 

 
Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Walking Dead’ and more reimagined as old VHS covers
05.27.2015
08:41 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Television

Tags:
VHS tape
VCR


 
French artist Julien Knez has whipped up a handful of delightful VHS covers for popular post-DVD-era TV series and movies like The Walking Dead or The Wolf of Wall Street. Anyone who was around in the early 1980s, when VHS tapes were first widely introduced to the market and cable TV dramatically expanded its audience will remember cheesy-ass covers just like these.

On his Instagram feed Timeless VHS, Knez has uploaded several of the lovingly re-created what-if VHS covers. As evidenced by the bottom picture in this post, Knez actually made these in real life, rather than just as Photoshop mockups. Unfortunately, he’s only done nine of the gorgeous covers, and hasn’t uploaded any since early April. We’d love to see more! 

Knez has done a truly remarkable job recreating the “magic” of a bulky, plastic VHS cassette cover that spent most of its time on a shelf in a store with a name like “Super Video Palace.” VHS distribution was a pretty bottom-up business (Hollywood had initially regarded home video as a threat to its movie theater business, and only belatedly embraced VHS as a second, thriving channel of distribution), and the puzzling array of companies represented in these covers (“Regal Video, Inc.”) is a spot-on evocation of the wild and woolly world of home video during that era.

Wired points out that the Gravity cover was inspired by the original VHS cover for the 1979 James Bond movie Moonraker, just as Interstellar apes the cover for the sultry 1980 classic starring Vanity known as La Bete d’Amour, and Game of Thrones is a reworking of the cover of 1983’s Yor, the Hunter from the Future.
 

 

 
More VHS covers after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bloody Geography: Horror maps that detail what fright flicks were set in your home state
05.27.2015
06:42 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
horror


 
This week someone sent me this really cool map of the United States, in which an imgur user has placed visual representations of horror films set in each state. It’s quite a piece of work:
 

Click on image for larger version.
 
I did some searching to learn more about this map and the work that went into it, when I accidentally stumbled across THIS even more detailed, meticulously researched, map which lists around 250 horror films for all 50 states (and Washington, D.C.).
 

Click on image for larger version.
 
The host website horroronscreen.com clarifies:

The map represents where the stories take place in the movies, not where the actual filming locations were. Nowadays, most horror movies are filmed in California, but the setting could be totally different. For example, Halloween was filmed outside of Los Angeles but the movie is set in Illinois.

This is a true labor of love, and I actually learned about a couple of new movies when I checked out my own home state.

So peep both of these bloody good horror maps and let us know: What’s the scariest state?

Via Horroronscreen.com and Bloodydisgusting.com

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
What if men had periods?
05.27.2015
06:13 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism

Tags:
menstruation
wateraid

001manponstdxcy8.jpg
 
The international charity WaterAid has launched a series of spoof adverts imagining what the word would be like if men had periods.

The ads are part of WaterAid’s campaign for Menstrual Hygiene Day, on May 28th, to raise awareness of the 1.25 billion women who do not have access to a toilet during their period.

Periods. There it is, right there on the screen!

How does it make you feel? Awkward? Embarrassed? Like you’d want to run from the room screaming if someone started talking about their monthly bleed?

Now imagine how you’d be feeling if men had periods instead of women.

We think it would be pretty different. Maybe periods would make you think of virility and manliness – or of those manpon adverts you’d seen on TV, that would look a bit like this:

 

 
More on if men had periods, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Gigerstein’: The extraordinary guitar that H.R. Giger designed for Blondie’s Chris Stein
05.26.2015
09:31 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Chris Stein
H.R. Giger
guitars


 
A few days ago VICE ran an interesting interview with Chris Stein of Blondie on the subject of his close friendship with the masterful Swiss artist H.R. Giger. Stein was heavily involved with Debbie Harry’s first solo album, KooKoo, for which Giger supplied the incredibly memorable cover art, with Harry’s face seemingly punctured by several large acupuncture needles.
 

 
Stein was very fond of Giger, who died about a year ago, calling him “a really sweet guy.” Stein said that he owns a throne that Giger designed: “It’s one of a very few in the country. The seat cushion rotted completely at one point and he gave me a second seat cushion, which is starting to rot. It was made from foam rubber.”

I was poking around on Stein’s own website dedicated to Blondie information when I spied a reference to “Gigerstein,” identified as follows: “Chris’ custom GIGERSTEIN guitar, designed with the help of H. R. Giger and Chris himself.” Sure enough, click on the link and you arrive at the web page for Lieber Guitars, which indeed has plenty of information and pics about this remarkable guitar.

According to the page,
 

The asymmetrical bio-mechanical body is hand carved in wood. It is adorned with carbon graphite, assorted biological materials and bronze castings.

The neck and six-fingered “peg-hand” comprise unidirectional carbon graphite fiber. A unique construction feature is the integral molding of the neck and fingerboard.

 
The Lieber Guitars page that highlights the instrument is a little vague on who actually designed this guitar. It would be enough for it to be “based on” the incredibly distinctive artworks of Giger, but if Giger had a hand in the design of the guitar itself, well, then that’s even better. Two consecutive sentences flesh out the details here: “After [Thomas] Lieber’s careful study of Giger’s artworks, the concept of using an Alien’s hand for the peg-head was realized and several body depictions were rendered.” Okay, so Lieber was on his own, it seems. But then we read on: “In an artistic meeting, Giger, Chris and Lieber hammered out the final modifications and details and the result is truly a work of art.” So it was mainly Lieber’s design but Giger definitely, according to the guitar maker, was involved in the process of creating this singular guitar.

More information as well as these pictures can be found at the Lieber Instruments website.
 

 

 
More looks at Gigerstein after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
In honor of your birthday today, ‘Sit on My Face, Stevie Nicks’
05.26.2015
09:28 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Stevie Nicks
The Rotters


A rare glimpse of Stevie Nicks, enjoying some coke.
 
Stevie is one of our favorite ‘70s AOR songstresses, who may or may not be a white-witch. We certainly wish her all the best on her special day!

Still, we can’t resist blowing the dust off this bit of snot-nosed 1979 LA punk anti-homage. It’s just too dumb not to share.

The Rotters managed to get “banned” in LA after Rodney on the ROQ played this track.

According to the band’s account here:

We soon found we were banned in Los Angeles. Someone claiming to be Mick Fleetwood himself called KROQ and threatened them with a lawsuit if they played the song, then called Nigel at home with the same threat. All the major record stores in Los Angeles were threatened with no more big selling Big Mac albums if they sold our nasty little single. Ooh scary! What a threat. Who the hell bought Tusk anyway? It sucked the turds out of a dead bloated water buffalo’s anus. Some stores hid our records under the table like a bunch of pussies and some gave Fleetwood Mac the finger and still got their albums anyway. Then they decided to be less obvious and the doors to a number of the clubs in town closed to us mysteriously.

 

 
The record is now a sought-after collectable, and both the Rotters and Fleetwood Mac manage to play totally necessary reunion gigs to this day.

Happy Birthday Stevie! We really do love you.
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
All 25 episodes of ‘New Wave Theatre’ are online
05.26.2015
08:49 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
New Wave Theatre


 
A generous and kind soul uploaded all 25 episodes of New Wave Theatre the incredible local TV show that extensively covered the Los Angeles punk scene. The show ran from January 1981 to March 1983, and was abruptly stopped in its tracks when its host, Peter Ivers, was found beaten to death in his apartment. Within a few months of its premiere, the crucial USA Network program that aired late at night on Fridays and Saturdays, Night Flight, provided a national showcase for the show.

The show was created and produced by David Jove, who also wrote the program with Billboard magazine editor Ed Ochs. Ivers’s murder is officially unsolved, but according to this page the prime suspect for the crime was Jove.
 

Peter Ivers
 
Ivers was a very interesting guy—among other things he wrote “In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song),” which appears in David Lynch’s 1977 movie Eraserhead and many years later was covered by the Pixies. Among the bands that appeared on New Wave Theatre are the Angry Samoans, Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, Fear and The Plugz, X, and Circle Jerks.

In Josh Frank’s book In Heaven Everything is Fine, Ken Yas, a friend of David Jove, memorably called New Wave Theatre “Ed Sullivan on acid meets American Idol on cocaine.”

Here’s the series in its entirety. Enjoy it before someone yanks it off of YouTube!
 

 
Thank you Annie Zaleski!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Your favorite comic book superheroes caught in compromising, mundane and very HUMAN positions
05.26.2015
07:11 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
comics
Superheroes


 
Superheroes capture our imagination because, for the most part, they are ordinary people who have been granted some particular power and must reconcile the responsibility of that power with the fact that, at heart, they are human beings with regular human faults and complexities.

Indonesian photographer Edy Hardjo has made it his mission to demonstrate this reconcilliation between superpower and ordinary human behavior. Hardjo’s work uses humor to show us that, in spite of their given better-than-human abilities, superheroes are just regular schmucks like the rest of us. Hardjo’s photographs give us an insight into the mundane worlds of The Avengers, Wolverine, Spiderman, Batman and other characters from the Marvel and DC universes.

Hardjo utilizes 1/6-scale figures and Photoshop to produce hilarious and sometimes risque insights into the the everyday life of a superhero.

These are some of our favorites:
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Quack, Quack, Peanut Duck’: The wacky 1965 novelty song that is STILL a mystery fifty years later
05.26.2015
07:04 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
novelty

Peanut Duck
 
In 1965, at a studio in Philadelphia, a most unusual novelty dance number was cut called “Peanut Duck.” The tune was shelved, but survived as an acetate. The record was discovered by a British DJ in the 1980s, who issued the track on a dubious release with misleading information. It’s now fifty years later, and the identities of all those who appeared on “Peanut Duck”—including the lead vocalist—is still a mystery. And boy, is this song bonkers!
 
Joker 45
 
When “Peanut Duck” was pressed in the mid-1980s, it was credited to a singer named Marsha Gee, though it was later revealed to be untrue (more below). It’s fairly obvious that it’s not the same Marsha Gee who released a song called “Baby, I Need You.”

“Peanut Duck” follows the template of novelty and fad dances like “The Loco-Motion” and “The Twist”—to a point. The unknown female vocalist does explain how to do the goofy dance, but doesn’t go into very much detail, and some of the lyrics are completely unintelligible. It’s also unclear as to what George Washington Carver’s favorite legume has to do with anything. The track really goes off the rails once it passes the 2:00 minute mark, with the singer free-forming it like you won’t believe.
 
Penniman 45
 
In 2005, the song was said to have received its first authorized release when it was issued as a 45 on the Penniman label (with writer and publishing credits that don’t match the Joker version, but still attributed to Marsha Gee). That same year, Rhino included it on their boxed set, Girl Group Sounds: One Kiss Can Lead to Another. Here’s Rhino’s liner notes concerning the track in question:

At Virtue Sound Studio in Philadelphia, a mystery girl singer cut “Peanut Duck,” a feverish soul stomper that trailed the Loco-Motion, Mashed Potato, Twist trend. But the track was never released, and Marsha Gee was not the actual singer. The only proof of “Peanut Duck” lay in an acetate discovered by a British Northern Soul DJ who took the disc back to England and released it as a bootleg on Joker Records in the ‘80s. Not wanting his rival DJs to infringe upon his precious find, he christened the unknown singer Marsha Gee (who incidentally had a single out on Uptown Records in 1965). The true voice behind “Peanut Duck” has yet to be revealed. Anyone?

Yes, anyone? Was it YOU?
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
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