A public service announcement from Dr. John. 1991.
A public service announcement from Dr. John. 1991.
Here’s something fun for your viewing pleasure: a documentary on 2 Tone recording artists, including interviews and performances by Madness, The Specials, The Selector, The Bodysnatchers and more.
In the late 1970s, my band The Ravers played ska and we shared a bill with Madness. They were absolutely wonderful guys. They gave my group some tips on how to improve our sound - the heavy heavy monster sound.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born today in 1890, the cult writer who has been described as the 20th century’s greatest practitioner of horror fiction. Lovecraft has influenced and inspired such diverse writers and film-makers as Stephen King, Sam Raimi, Robert Bloch, Alan Moore, Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman and Mark E Smith.
To celebrate Lovecraft’s birthday, here is Mark E Smith reading “The Color Out of Space”.
Originally recorded by the BBC in 2007 as part of series of tales for Christmas, Smith briefly explained his choice:
“I’ve been a fan of HP Lovecraft since I was about 17. I chose to read this story because it’s very unusual for him; it’s not like his other tales. They are usually about people who live underground, or threats to humanity – which I like as well – but The Color Out Of Space is quite futuristic.”
Smith’s reading makes Lovecraft’s tale sound like the lyrics to one of his songs for The Fall, which only adds to the tale’s eerie quality.
I’m as big a Lou Reed fan as there is, but based on the video below (from the 2009 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame show), I’m not sure a Reed/Metallica collaboration is such a hot idea. I’m keeping fingers crossed that what appears to be a marriage made in hell may end up surprising me.
David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine has heard the album and wrote:
The record, not yet titled, features 10 songs composed by Reed with significant arrangement contributions by the band that suggest a raging union of his 1973 noir classic, Berlin, and Metallica’s ‘86 crusher, Master of Puppets.
Fricke’s description confuses me. I’m even less clear as to what the album sounds like then I was before reading it.
And Metallica’s James Hetfield doesn’t help:
Lars and I listened to the stuff,” Hetfield says of Reed’s demos, “and it was like, ‘Wow, this is very different.’ It was scary at first, because the music was so open. But then I thought, ‘This could go anywhere.’ “
Knowing the songs were composed by Reed based on Frank Wedekind’s play Lulu, which was written in 1895, puts this into the category of Reed’s work I generally don’t like: the pretentious and forgettable concept album.
Lou Reed thinks the album is…
... maybe the best thing done by anyone, ever. It could create another planetary system. I’m not joking, and I’m not being egotistical.
We will soon find out on Halloween, the day the album is released.
Luis Buñuel was one of cinema’s greatest film directors. From his first short, the Surrealist classic Un Chien Andalou in 1929, through The Exterminating Angel in 1962, to Belle de Jour in 1967, and his last, That Obscure Object of Desire in 1977, Buñuel created a brilliant body of work, which has rarely been equalled.
But film wasn’t his only passion. In his autobiography, My Last Breath, Buñuel gave his own special recipe on how to create the perfect Martini.
‘To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini. To be frank, given the primordial role in my life played by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window-leaving it unbroken.”
‘Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients-glasses, gin, and shaker-in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve.
‘(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)’
This wasn’t the first time, the genius director had shared his favored drink, in his Oscar-winning film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Buñuel had his actors prepare the perfect Martini.
This was no affectation, as Buñuel had his cocktail everyday and once remarked:
“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”
As discussed in his essential autobiography, Buñuel’s passions for drinking, smoking and a love of handguns, defined who he was. It was a combination which would, you would think, make Buñuel the perfect choice as a director for one of those 1960s or 1970s James Bond movies. David Cairns, over at his excellent film blog, Shadowplay suggested this idea a couple of years back, proposing a Bond movie cast from some of Buñuel’s previous casts, with Dan O’Herlihy as Bond and Fernando Rey as the villain. Cairns also proposes:
Could we resist Catherine Deneuve as Bond girl Anne Dalou, and could she resist playing it if the high priest of cinematic surrealism were in charge? Zachary Scott, fresh from THE YOUNG ONE, could play Bond’s CIA counterpart Felix Leiter. Oh wait, he died in 1965. Damn. OK, Bernie Hamilton then. Sean Connery always thought Felix should be black — I presume on the basis that it was the kind of thankless part where nobody would object, and therefore you should make the effort.
Ken Adam, I submit, would have had a great time building sets for Bunuel, who loved “secret passages leading on to darkness”.
THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL would make a great title for a Bond. Imagine what Shirley Bassey could do with a lyric like that. Much better than QUANTUM OF SLOSH, anyway.
But let’s call our imaginary Bunuel Bond GRAN CASINO ROYALE. The globe-trotting narrative will take us through Spain, the U.S.A., Mexico and France. Bond will battle tarantulas, snakes and flesh-eating ants, and face enemies armed with razors, rifles, burlap sacks and buggy-whips. All in search of a mysterious box with undisclosed, buzzing contents…
Norman Bates would be proud - the Potter’s Museum of Curiosities, in Bramber, Sussex, where stuffed animals were dressed in costumes and posed in recognizably human settings - at school, sharing a tea party, drinking in a bar. Established in Victorian England, the museum was the idea of Walter Potter, an amateur taxidermist, whose anthropomorphic dioramas were considered typical of Victorian whimsy, and proved so popular with the public during the 1800s that the platform at Bramber railway station had to be extended to accommodate the extra carriages, which brought crowds of day-trippers to see the exhibits.
Born in 1835, Potter’s first attempt at taxidermy was his pet canary. At the age of 19, inspired by a book of nursery poems, Potter created The Death and Burial of Cock Robin, a diorama consisting of 98 species of British birds, which would become the centerpiece of his museum.
The museum had over 10,000 stuffed animals and included tableaux of:
“...a rats’ den being raided by the local police rats ... [a] village school ... featuring 48 little rabbits busy writing on tiny slates, while the Kittens’ Tea Party displayed feline etiquette and a game of croquet. A guinea pigs’ cricket match was in progress, and 20 kittens attended a wedding, wearing little morning suits or brocade dresses, with a feline vicar in white surplice. The kittens even wear frilly knickers under their formal attire!”
The museum closed in the 1970s, relocated and briefly re-opened at the Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor, in 1984, where it attracted over 30,000 visitors a year. Then in 2003, the exhibits were put up for auction. The artist Damien Hirst offered to buy the complete collection for £1million, but auctioneers Bonhams sold each piece individually, raising only £500,000. Amongst the buyers were Pop Artist Peter Blake, photographer David Bailey, and comedian Harry Hill. At the time, Hirst wrote in the Guardian:
“Mr Potter’s Museum of Curiosities at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor is a fantastic Victorian-Edwardian collection of stuffed animals and curios. There are hundreds of items, all collected or devised by the original Mr Potter, who was a self-taught taxidermist. You can see he knew very little about anatomy and musculature, because some of the taxidermy is terrible - there’s a kingfisher that looks nothing like a kingfisher. But there’s some great stuff in there, too - two-headed goats, a rhino’s head, a mummified human hand. As an ensemble, it’s just mad.
“My own favourites are these tableaux: there’s a kittens’ wedding party, with all these kittens dressed up in costumes, even wearing jewellery. The kittens don’t look much like kittens, but that’s not the point. There’s a rats’ drinking party, too - which puts a different construction on Wind in the Willows. And a group of hamsters playing cricket.
“I’ve offered £1m and to pay for the cost of the auctioneer’s catalogue – just for them to take it off the market and keep the collection intact – but apparently, the auction has to go ahead. It is a tragedy.”
Last year, a one-off exhibition was co-curated by Peter Blake, who brought Potter’s curios together at the Museum of Everything in Primrose Hill, London.
It should be noted that Potter’s museum claimed all “animals died of natural causes.”
The following film was produced by British Pathe in 1965, and describes Potter as “a genius who made fur-lined dolls into whimsical but veritable works of poetic art.” A fabulous selection of photographs from Blake’s Museum of Everything, taken by Marc Hill, can be found on the Daily Telegraph website.
With thanks to Steve Duffy
Stiff Little Fingers played a rousing set at Emo’s in Austin tonight. Founding member Jake Burns, with support from SLF veterans Ian McCallum and Steve Grantley and newcomer Mark DeRosa, brought a fist full of revolution rock to Texas at a time when the Lone Star state could use some punk insurrection
Their performance tonight reminded me of their significant place in punk rock history and I was jazzed by their commitment to keeping the energy alive. There aren’t too many punk bands from the late 70s who are still taking it to the streets.
Thanks to Jim McCabe.
I’m feeling good vibrations
Roman Polanski’s new film, Carnage, looks like a juicy combination of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf, Knife In Water and Repulsion.
Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly appear to be bringing some very edgy performances to the project. Roman is a great director of actors and he has a knack for bringing out their dark side. Love the Winslet freak out in the clip.
Carnage, based on a play by Yasmina Reza, opens the 2011 New York Film Festival which runs from September 30 until October 16. It opens in select theaters in December in order to qualify for Oscar nominations. I predict it will receive noms in the acting categories, screenplay and director. I’ll put money on it.
This is at the top of my “must see” list.
It’s early Saturday morning and I’m feeling in a Charo state of mind. How about you?
1977, from the album Cuchi-Cuchi.