Turkish parliament, fighting over a security bill.
One of the fun parts about living in a (sort of) democracy is transparency (at least, ostensibly). Governments like to make overtures to the people, meaning there is the promise that you may witness legitimate battles of power between politicians and representatives. In America, this means a lot of sniping, bitching, disingenuous rhetoric and sometimes maybe a little yelling. In other countries, this can mean actual fighting.
Below is a series of shots from recent Skirmishes between lawmakers from various countries. I’m not going to say it’s a better way to do politics—Ukraine apparently does this a lot, and they don’t really seem to have their shit together—but there’s something refreshing about this kind of legitimate passion. Part of me suspects that this doesn’t happen in America because most politics are actually done behind closed doors, between politicians and private interests.
Then again, you’ve got Rob Ford who just blindly stampeded a woman to go after hecklers. Ignoble of course, but more interesting than C-SPAN!
Ukrainian parliament, brawling over a presidential decree to activate reserve troops.
South African lawmakers who accused the president of corruption were removed by police
Someone threw a chair at a Nepali Constituent Assembly meeting.
A Jordanian member of Parliament fired a Kalashnikov (though not towards anyone) outside of parliamentary chambers.
Rob Ford goes after hecklers, knocking over a colleague in the process.
A brawl erupts Taiwan’s legislature in July 2010.
Below, Venezuela MPs in punch-up over disputed election
These delightful scans of the Playboy Club Bunny Manual of 1968 come from “Bunny Regina,” who worked at the Detroit Playboy Club from July 1968 (if her inscription is any indication) to sometime in 1969. Maybe Debbie Harry can dig hers out as well? After all, she was a Bunny at New York City’s Playboy Club from 1968 to 1973. (If you’d like more information about that weird institution of the Playboy Club that was so culturally iconic in the 1960s and 1970s, check out The Bunny Years: The Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs and the Women Who Worked as Bunnies by Kathryn Leigh Scott.)
“The Bunny has become what the Ziegfeld girl was to another generation,” burbles the introduction with evident pride. Here are some of the rules and so forth Bunnies had to master:
No fraternization, either with “other employees of the Club” or with “Keyholders.” ... “She is also not permitted to give her last name, home address or phone number.” No chewing gum or eating while on duty, no alcohol consumption while “in the Club.” No drinking of “soft drinks, lemonade or even water” while one is “in view of keyholders and guests.” (Backstage is OK.) Bunnies get one free meal per day worked.
There’s a whole merit/demerit system that smacks a lot of the military, or at least a military school. You earn merits by working on your day off when the club needs a replacement, working a private party, or transferring to another club when management needs it. (These merits do turn into hard cash, by the way.) There are lots of actions that bring one demerits, including tardiness, failure to attend a “Bunny Meeting,” poor service, untidy lockers, and so forth. The most eye-popping reason for a demerit is “repeated costume offenses,” which include improper positioning of bunny ears (yes, this is totally in there) and “unkept tail,” which while suggestive in that spelling almost certainly was supposed to say “unkempt.”
Then there’s smoking. The rule about smoking is so important that it is set in ALLCAPS: “IN ALL CASES WHEN A BUNNY IS SMOKING WHILE ON DUTY, SHE IS TO ‘TAKE A PUFF’ AND SET THE CIGARETTE IN AN ASHTRAY. BUNNIES ARE NOT TO STAND OR SIT HOLDING A CIGARETTE.”
If you’re a Bunny, all sorts of things are tax-deductible, so keep your receipts! Legitimate tax deductions include “bunny hose,” wigs, cuff links, and cosmetics.
In 1977, a small label out of Ft. Lauderdale, Soul Deep Records, released the debut LP by one Frederick Michael St. Jude. Here Am I was conceived as a commercial album, and though it didn’t make the Billboard charts, as was hoped, it did eventually earn a cult following thanks to St. Jude’s unique take on pop music. His distinctive vocal quiver, reminiscent of Bowie, Ferry, and Jobriath, sits atop a varied set of catchy tunes. Some songs are bleak and futuristic, others show a country influence, while a couple of tracks conjure up the drama found in musical theater.
Not long after Here Am I was released, St. Jude visited the office of his label, only to discover Soul Deep had closed its doors and the owners were nowhere to be found. Luckily, St. Jude was able to salvage the Here Am I master tapes, as well as those for his in-progress second album, from the company’s dumpster. Inspired by the circumstances, he set aside the songs he had written for the Here Am I follow-up, and went about composing material for a bold new project, a dystopian rock opera about gangs. Though an album’s worth of material was recorded and an abbreviated version was released on a 1982 EP as Gang War – A Rock Opera, the remainder of the recordings were shelved. Subsequently, St. Jude began pursuing other endeavors, such as magazine publishing and acting, including multiple appearances on an now iconic ‘80s TV show.
Advertisement for the EP
In 2013, the Chicago-based record label Drag City re-issued Here Am I, and they’re about to unleash Gang War, which means Frederick Michael St. Jude’s rock opera will finally be released in its entirety.
Cover art by Frederick Michael St. Jude
After the introductory, opening theme sets the stage, it quickly becomes apparent that Gang War isn’t exactly about gangs, but is a metaphor for the personal and professional struggles of life. St. Jude incorporated an interesting amalgamation of styles for the album, as the songs bring to mind glam rock titans, Bowie and Bolan; the softer side of Led Zeppelin; the futuristic, dystopian imagery of Gary Numan; and anthemic arena rock by the likes of Styx, Queen, and REO Speedwagon. It’s funky, punky, and rocks with a fist in the air. It’s quite a record.
Here’s our interview with Mr. St. Jude, which was conducted via email.:
What was your creative vision for Gang War?:
Frederick Michael St. Jude: With me, it all begins with strumming chords on the guitar, to be truthful. I had just changed the strings on my Giannini twelve-string and began the initial “break-in”...giving them a stretch, when the series of chords I was playing just sort of clicked. I was overwhelmed with a melody line and the lyrics just came crashing in. We are talking about the main theme song now [“Gang War Theme”]. By the time I was finished, I sat there, stunned. I had been writing songs for years and most came pretty effortlessly, but this…this amazed me. It didn’t take a thud to me head to realize I was onto something important. Especially once I realized it was more than just a song. It was more of a prophecy. From that point on, I was in high gear and the songs just came ripping in. The year was 1982 when this miracle all took place. I say miracle because I am still stunned at how all of it fell into place. I don’t know if Gang War is my “swan song”...I am still writing and recording with my co-producer, Norman Titcomb via computer, but it will certainly do until that “swan song” (if any or another) gets here.
Read more and hear a song from ‘Gang War’ after the jump
Oh, 1940s anti-VD posters, the only place where a girl’s cooch might be worse than Hitler!
During World War II, propaganda was deployed to spark the purchase of war bonds, to get you to STFU, and to spur the collection of scrap metal. Naturally, the sex lives of “our boys” weren’t exempt from such crusades. The U.S. government enlisted the help of artists, designers, and advertising professionals to create what amounts to the first mass campaign about sex; in so doing they created these eye-popping and surprisingly frank posters.
A researcher named Ryan Mungia has published an excellent collection of VD posters entitled Protect Yourself. Mungia came across the posters entirely by accident while researching a book on wartime Hawaii:
My objective was to find photographs, but I came across this file folder peeking out of an open cabinet that said “VD Posters” on it. Inside, I found a stash of 35mm slides of these posters, most of which ended up in the book. I guess you could say the subject chose me, since I didn’t set out to make a book on venereal disease, but became interested in the topic because of the graphic nature of the posters.
The images come from the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine. As Mungia points out, the images evoke memories of other beloved graphics: “The designs were really reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love.” Mungia also said of the posters: “Women are often portrayed in a negative light,” being associated with Hitler or Hirohito in one attention-getting poster.
Those slogans…. “Worst of the Three,” “A Bag of Trouble” ... methinks they protest too much!
The news release heralding Superior Viaduct’s reissue of the Residents’ deeply messed-up “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” b/w “Loser = Weed” single contains a quotation that rang oddly familiar to me:
The Residents’ 1976 version of The Stones’ Satisfaction is nearly everything the better known version by Devo from a year later is not: Loose, belligerant, violent, truly fucked up. A real stick in the eye of everything conventionally tasteful in 1976 America. Delightfully painful to listen to thanks to Philip “Snakefinger” Lithman’s completely unhinged lead guitar and mystery Resident member’s menacing vocal, this is a timeless piece of yellow plastic.
That blurb is from Brad Laner, a member of not one but two of myfavorite bands and a former Dangerous Minds contributor, and in fact, it was a DM post about five years ago—a post I happen to agree with. The Residents’ “Satisfaction” IS pretty admirably unhinged, genuinely frightening, and a righteous fuck-you to a rock canon classic that, in some circles, remains beyond sacrosanct. Contemporary with their second album, the unfuckwithable Third Reich ‘n’ Roll, which, like the single, is an unsparing deconstruction of classic radio hits, many of which were still fairly new songs at the time. “Satisfaction” isn’t on the album—the Rolling Stones are represented there by a half-reverent, half-funereal take on “Sympathy for the Devil” in the album’s coda. While it did appear on the 1988 CD reissue as an extra, along with “Loser=Weed” and a couple of Beatles travesties, the wax itself is a rare collectible, fetching in the neighborhood of $35. Superior Viaduct’s colored vinyl repress, at $9, still feels a tad spendy for a 7”, but that’s way more manageable than procuring an original. It can also be had as part of a five-record bundle with reissues by Flipper, X, the Dils and the Germs, at $40 for the whole set. (I totally want the Flipper one, too, but that’s another post.)
The Residents, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction)”
Of course, DEVO’s version of the song is the one that most aggressively vies with the Rolling Stones’ original for definitive status, and how could it not? Obviously, the original is indisputably classic in every sense of the word, and after five decades, it’s still one of the most widely covered ‘60s songs this side of “Stepping Stone.” But who can really believe that song from Mick Jagger? By the song’s mid-1965 single release, he was already a gazillionaire rockstar heartthrob who probably had illegitimate children in all 48 contiguous US states, so did anyone seriously believe there was anything unsatisfying about that man’s life? For all its musical timelessness—good LORD, that riff!—the Stones’ version edges out Britney Spears’ cover for plausibility (neither singer was particularly “on a losing streak” at the time their version was released), but that’s about it. None of that does all that much to dull its effectiveness as an anthem, but I buy a song about sexual frustration and contempt for commercialism much more readily in the anxiety-ridden version by the brainy midwestern dorks in DEVO. Unlike the Residents, DEVO aren’t shooting for a takedown or a deconstruction; their version feels more like a successful effort to finally put the song in a proper context. Alan Myers’ freakishly asymmetric drum beat and Gerald Casale’s rubber-band bass line are every bit as capable of inducing existential dread in a socially insecure geek as Keith Richards’ ingenious three-note intro riff is of inducing “fuck yeahs” in a classicist, and doesn’t that speak more closely to the intent of the lyrics—not a single word of which DEVO changed?
If you’ve ever read a biography of the Beatles, you’ve probably come across the name of Alexis Mardas, or “Magic Alex,” as John Lennon called him. Mardas worked in electronics—Bob Spitz’s Beatles biography claims Alex was working as a TV repairman when he met the band—and the Beatles put him in charge of Apple Electronics, a company that was to have marketed Mardas’ inventions.
According to the books, Magic Alex was full of gear and fab ideas for the lads from Liverpool. Here’s one Ringo remembers: “He had this one idea that we all should have our heads drilled. It’s called trepanning. Magic Alex said that if we had it done our inner third eye would be able to see, and we’d get cosmic instantly.” My buddy Joel looked it up on wikiHow, and I am undergoing the procedure as I type this.
John Lennon and Donovan at Magic Alex’s wedding
When the New York Times called Mardas a “charlatan” in 2008, he sued the paper and issued a nine-page statement in which he attempted to set the record straight about his activities at Apple Electronics, his alleged role in the Beatles’ break with Maharishi, and the goodness of his name in general. (“As a result of these connections,” Mardas writes of his subsequent work manufacturing electronics, body armor and armored cars for governments around the world, “I developed personal friendships with the kings of Greece, Jordan, Spain, Morocco, and with the President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Canada.”)
The whole statement is entertaining, but point fourteen is a special treat. In that section, to address “various allegations made by certain persons as to alleged promises by me to invent certain fantastical products,” Mardas enumerates every crazy gadget he is supposed to have pitched to the Fabs. I haven’t been able to read this list through once without laughing out loud. Can you?
I have never promised nor discussed, let alone try to invent any of the following:
14.1 an X-ray camera which could see through walls;
14.2 a force field which would surround a building with coloured air so that no one could see in.
14.3 a force field of compressed air which could stop anyone driving into one’s car;
14.4 a house which could hover in the air suspended on an invisible beam;
14.5 wall paper which could plug into a stereo system and operate as a “loudspeaker”;
14.6 an artificial sun which was intended to hover over Baker Street and light up the sky during the gala opening of the Beatles clothes shop, the “Apple Boutique” on 4th December 1967.
14.7 Magic paint which would make objects it was painted on invisible;
14.8 Electrical paint which could be plugged into a wall and would light up the room;
14.9 A flying saucer made from the V12 engines from George Harrison’s Ferrari and John Lennon’s Rolls Royce or
14.10 A force field around Ringo Starr’s drums that would isolate the drum sounds from the rest of the microphones in the studio. In this connection, I once had a discussion with John Lennon about this topic. I said that it was possible, theoretically, to create an ultrasonic barrier generated by ultrasonic transfusers. This would prevent sound travelling over a certain field. I never suggested that I would make such a barrier.
Just what is an ultrasonic transfuser, anyway? For fun, here’s point fifteen from Mardas’ statement:
15. Further, I deny any suggestion that I promised the Beatles in the presence of Liliane Lijn that I could levitate them using “electro magnetism” and also make them “disappear”. For a start, I never met this lady in the presence of any of the Beatles and the suggestion that I could “levitate” anyone is obviously absurd.
When Mardas refers to “certain persons” making these allegations, the Beatles themselves must be included among them. Some of these claims come from Paul, George and Ringo’s own mouths in the Beatles Anthology book. Paul: “He thought of using wallpaper which would act as loudspeakers.” Ringo: “Magic Alex invented electrical paint. You paint your living room, plug it in, and the walls light up!” George: “I was going to give him the V12 engine out of my Ferrari Berlinetta and John was going to give him his, and Alex reckoned that with those two engines he could make a flying saucer.” Faced with Mardas’ strenuous denials, one wonders where the Beatles got all these ideas, and why they attributed them to him.
In the outtake from Magical Mystery Tour below, a person who appears to be Magic Alex allegedly sings “Walls of Jericho.”
France: a nation that has given the world such eminent artists, writers, scientists and philosophers as Henri Matisse, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Françoise Sagan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Coco Chanel, Marcel Duchamp, Isabelle Adjani, Luc Besson, Juliette Binoche and Edith Piaf, now brings us Noël “Nono” Jamet, the six times world champion pig squealer.
If ever there is a remake of Deliverance, then 48-year-old truck driver Nono would be the perfect choice for the Ned Beatty role…as he can certainly squeal like a pig.
Nono takes his porcine impressions very seriously—dressing up in a pink outfit, with piggy ears and snout—and who knows maybe he even gives himself a wee splash of eau du bacon?
This year, when Nono entered the Agricultural Fair (Salon de l’Agriculture) at the Porte de Versailles in Paris, he won the pig squealing cup with his incredible performance of the life of a piggy—from birth and breastfeeding to death. This performance is something that has to be seen to be believed, and I’m sure you will be as impressed by Nono’s amazing talent as much as the judges.
And if you can’t get enough of Nono’s delightful squeals and grunts—he can be hired to share his gift of joy as an entertainer at birthday parties. Look at the video, who’d let this guy near kids?
Banksy’s back, and this time he’s traveled to Gaza to get the world’s attention. Never one to shy from controversy, the artist’s website was recently updated to show 4 new pieces that he spray-painted in bomb-ruined Gaza, along with a tourism-style video purportedly shot by the man himself. The 2-minute short, aimed at making a big statement about the grim situation there, is mockingly titled Make this the year YOU discover a new destination.
Here’s a look at the new stenciled art with descriptions, if given:
This one is called “Bomb Damage” and appears to be inspired by Rodin’s famous bronze sculpture, “The Thinker.”
Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no-one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons - they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.
A local man came up and said ‘Please - what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.
If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful—we don’t remain neutral.
To give you a feel for it, here’s a couple stills from Make this the year YOU discover a new destination:
Everyone and her uncle should seize the opportunity to see Einstürzende Neubauten play. Both of the shows I’ve seen were spellbinding. When it comes to jamming on air conditioners, those “cats” can really “blow,” and theirs is a singular beauty; it’s not like you can just go see the tribute band at the county fair instead.
While there are many historic Neubauten shows I would give a tooth to have attended, their November 19, 1983 gig in Oslo, Norway is not one of them. At that particular fun hootenanny, member Andrew (“N.U.”) Unruh threw Molotov cocktails into the crowd, like as in directly aimed them at human beings in the audience (“with a tight safety margin,” Blixa is careful to add). Here are Blixa Bargeld and FM Einheit’s memories of that show from the now scarce band-sanctioned oral history, No Beauty without Danger:
FM EINHEIT In Oslo, Norway, we played a gallery and chased people with Molotov cocktails. They also defended themselves: for instance, by trying to attack us with the ship turbine, which was actually one of our instruments. It was a pretty good riot in Oslo. That was fun.
BLIXA BARGELD For this show Andrew had prepared 20 Molotov cocktails. And Andrew actually made the audience run by throwing Molotov cocktails aimed right at them. They kept trying to escape but he followed them around the hall and, with a tight safety margin, threw burning gasoline bottles at them. That was great. One of the reasons I got kicked out of school was because I had started a fire. My expulsion had already been decided upon anyway, so I didn’t have anything to lose. But I was still the student body president, and tried to enforce my pseudo-democratic rights by decorating a “Schülermitverwaltungsversammlung”, a kind of student council assembly, with a fire bombing - in which no one was hurt - because I was no longer allowed to take part in the assembly. Fire is a medium of transformation. Fire, as an element of our lyrics and as part of the Einstürzende Neubauten stage show, accompanied us for quite a while. It was mainly Andrew who lit fires on stage. And then at some point we had to stop, because we realized that our audience practically expected this incendiarism from us. That’s when it started to get dull. But it was good, as long as we didn’t control it and so long as it wasn’t expected from us. It was normally Andrew’s job to set fires, and it began on his initiative.
Icelandic TV broadcast a couple minutes of that night’s performance of “Sehnsucht.” You can’t see any Molotov cocktails, but the show sure does look like it’s heading in that direction.
Einstürzende Neubauten’s most recent album is 2014’s Lament.