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Cars, McCartney, and Bowie, remade by Replicants: When Failure formed the greatest cover band ever
06.26.2015
09:25 am

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Music

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I’ve been fairly unrestrained in expressing my abiding fandom of the commercially underachieving ‘90s rock band Failure, both in real life and on Dangerous Minds. They had everything I loved—dense and creamy distorted guitar tones, gripping tension-and-release dynamics, emotive, anxious melodic and lyrical content that FAR surpassed the one-dimensional angst typical of the period’s radio rock. The poor sales of their masterpiece Fantastic Planet contributed to the band’s end, though time has rehabilitated the album and it’s now considered an influential classic, which set the stage for Failure’s reunion last year. The announcement of that tour made me as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning, and I drove three hours to once again catch a band I utterly adored but hadn’t seen in concert since 1992.

As it happens, there was more than just a tour in the offing—Failure have fully reactivated, and their first album in 19 years, The Heart Is A Monster, will arrive next week. I’m confident that fans of Fantastic Planet will be more than satisfied—I typically take a dim view of reunions, and if Monster was in any way unsatisfactory, I’d be properly bitching up a storm about it. But no. It’s goddamn glorious. The band conceived Monster as a continuation of Planet, and even picked up the numbering of its interstitial segues from where the prior album left off. I’ll not subject you to lengthy gushing, it’s streaming in its entirety on Entertainment Weekly’s web site if you want to judge for yourself. I recommend listening from beginning to end in a sitting if you can swing the time. (I should add that they’re on tour now, and later in the summer they’re doing dates with another neglected ‘90s favorite of mine, Hum, about which I’m kinda headsploding.)
 

 
One of Failure’s most illuminating, and just flat out most fun albums wasn’t even a Failure album, but a 1995 time-killer project. Waiting for Fantastic Planet to be released and unable to tour, Failure prime movers Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards teamed up with ex-Tool bassist Paul D’Amour and keyboardist Chris Pitman (Tool, Blinker the Star, and I shit you not Guns N’ Roses) to record a superb album of transformative ‘70s and ‘80s cover songs under the name Replicants, a winking Blade Runner reference. What could have just been a goof turned out as an extremely strong work in its own right, and their eponymous album is not just my favorite covers album, it’s been one of my favorite albums period for 20 years.

A contemporary article in the UCLA Daily Bruin of all places provided a look at the band’s formation and intent:

Ken Andrews, lead singer of the Replicants, has been stuck in a “Warehousy loft-type space” for about a year. Tired of the white-walled complex and its “big air conditioning ducts,” he wants to be out and on the road. But the tortured musician must continue mixing and producing in his “utilitarian” studio.

“I’m really sick of it. I really want to play live now,” complains Andrews. However, the current band member of Failure and frontman for his side project the Replicants manages to remain laid back and positive. And with good reason. The Replicants have just released a self-titled album of covers of tunes ranging from the Beatles to the Cars. Snatching countless enthusiastic reviews, the project includes the talents of one Tool member (Paul D’Amour), one Eye In Triangle musician (Chris Pitman), and one other Failure member (Greg Edwards). And, once Andrews’ soon-to-be-released Failure album hits stores, he will be able to return to his beloved stage.

 

 

Strangely, a four-track demo tape of the haphazard group landed on a desk at Zoo Entertainment. Before they knew it, the Replicants were an official band with an offer to record an entire album of cover songs. “At that point, we had no idea what to do,” explains a baffled Andrews. “Everyone would just bring up songs and either we would all agree or we wouldn’t and I think everyone sort of got their one song that maybe other people didn’t want.” However, they could all agree on one thing: The Replicants would have their own musical freedom.

“We like doing the Replicants because we could do different versions of these songs in ways that Failure or Tool wouldn’t,” Andrews says. For instance, neither spawning ground for the creative forces of the Replicants would think to record Missing Persons’ “Destination Unknown” with an industrial/techno spin. Each song was dealt with individually, following no preconceived notion of the album’s overall sound. This system provided a good musical balance for Andrews and his associates.

Some of the transformations are huge (John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?”), some are closer to mere production-values updates (obligatory cover-band “Cinnamon Girl”), but pretty much every revamped tune on the CD has some kind of a tonal shift to the darker. One simple and actually sorta brilliant minor-key modulation imparts a wholly unexpected sense of dread to Replicants’ version of the Cars’ bouncy “Just What I Needed.” See if you ever unhear it.
 

 
More Replicants, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Watch ‘Island of Flowers’ NOW, a Vonnegut-inspired dark comedy short on humans, garbage & freedom
06.26.2015
09:09 am

Topics:
Animals
Class War
Movies

Tags:


 
I had seen the brilliant 1989 short film Ilha das Flores (translation, Isle of Flowers) before, but in the original Portuguese with subtitles. The narration is so poetic and coy, I was thrilled to find this wonderful version dubbed in English, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Writer and director Jorge Furtado actually said the piece was in part inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, and you can certainly hear it in the cadence of the narration (and subject matter), but there is also a Pythonesque humor to this absurdist little “documentary,” very reminiscent of the black humor in The Meaning of Life. I mean the opening credits land the first punch with, “God doesn’t exist.”

The “story” of the film begins with a Japanese-Brazilian farmer, who grows tomatoes that are later purchased in a supermarket by a nice middle-class door-to-door perfume saleslady. She then cooks these tomatoes into a sauce for her nice middle-class family—throughout all this the narrator is taking little contextual detours along the way on matters like evolution and the Holocaust. The story spins back and forth with cutting little observations on labor alienation and capitalism, until eventually we arrive at the titular Isle of Flowers, the tragic, ugly side of all our modern conveniences.

I won’t give it away—you just have to watch.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Ascent by DaVinci: The advanced portable vaporizer
06.25.2015
03:16 pm

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Advertorial

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Portable vaporizers have come a long way since they first started appearing in the marketplace around fifteen years ago. In those days, technology was still a bit limited, so manufacturers worked with what they had to piece together what was possible at the time, resulting in some seriously underwhelming offerings.

Early portables were either too bulky, too expensive or quite frankly - impractical. It wasn’t until about five years ago that the portable vaporizer revolution really began. Advancements in digital temperature control, battery efficiency, heating technology and mobile design sparked a sudden influx of new, cutting-edge portables from manufacturers across the globe.

Today, we’re witnessing unprecedented, sweeping marijuana reform from coast to coast. Even the staunchest opponents of the movement are finding it hard to deny the medical and economical benefits of decriminalization and legalization. That being said, folks in states like Colorado and Washington, where recreational use of marijuana permitted, are flocking to their local dispensaries and lighting up.

However, in today’s health-conscious society, folks are more aware than ever of the negative effects of smoking. It’s no secret that smoke inhalation can lead to serious respiratory issues, including lung cancer. When a flame is used to burn or ignite dry material, dangerous carcinogens and by-products are released from your herb into your lungs through the process of combustion. With the dangers of smoking now being widely publicized, many people are finding it as good a time as any to replace their old pipes and bongs with a new vaporizer. The issue for the consumer then becomes trying to figure out which vape to purchase.

Unfortunately, the process of choosing a portable vaporizer can be a somewhat disillusioning process, as the market has recently become flooded with re-branded, sub-par, cheaply made units that simply don’t perform as advertised. This has lead to many disenfranchised customers, whose initial vaporization experience could have turned out very differently if they had done a bit more research before making a purchase. That’s not to say there’s not some great units out there - quite the contrary. In fact, there are a handful of units that stand head and shoulders above the competition, with the Ascent being one of them.
 

 
Built by DaVinci to be the ideal option for vaping on-the-go, the Ascent’s ergonomic design lends itself well its overall portability. Designed to fit easily into any pocket, purse or bag, the Ascent redefines what it means for a vape to be truly portable. The simplicity and discreet nature of this device are overshadowed only by its unparalleled functionality and truly unique aesthetics.

While it seems most manufacturers are focusing more on profits than performance, DaVinci crafted the Ascent with both form and function in mind and created a vaporizer that doesn’t just look great, but works great as well too. Standing atop the new generation of high-tech portable devices, the Ascent features cutting-edge technology coupled with an artistically inspired design to create a portable unit that is second to none. By focusing on the core principles of vaporization, and not “in-your-face” marketing campaigns, DaVinci has gained the support of true vape enthusiasts across the globe.

Let’s talk specifications. The Ascent was one of the first vaporizers to utilize a glass on glass vapor delivery system, eliminating by-products which can be caused from metals or plastics - the result of which is pure, full-flavored vapor free of any impurities. Featuring advanced electronics and heating technology, the Ascent’s long wave infrared heating core is capable of adjusting and maintaining an accurate and consistent internal temperature during the entire course of your vape session. A uniquely designed glass lined ceramic filling chamber evenly distributes heat, ensuring your herbs are heating uniformly and efficiently.

Capable of reaching heats upwards of 430°F, the Ascent gives you option to experience with a wide range of temperatures, allowing you find your vaporizer “sweet-spot.” Just set the vape to any desired temperature via the OLED digital display, and in less than a minute, you’re ready to vape. To take a draw, simply slide the glass stem out of its enclosure where it’s safely stored during transit. Then, just sit back and immerse yourself in the pure, unadulterated vapor of the gods. Since your herbs are being heated below the point of combustion through the process of convection heating, no smoke is produced during the vaporization process.

If features such as advanced temperature control, extended battery life, overall portability, vapor quality/production and value are all things you’re looking for in a portable vaporizer, then the Ascent by DaVinci is a solid option. Check out their website at www.davincivaporizer.com.
 

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‘Testicle-biting’ fish with human-like teeth found in New Jersey lake
06.25.2015
02:59 pm

Topics:
Animals
Environment

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This will be my second post about New Jersey in the past couple days. Hey New Jersey, you turnin’ into the new Florida?! Anyway, a South NJ resident and his son were fishing in a man-made lake called Swedes Lake in Burlington County and caught a Pacu fish which isn’t indigenous to the area. If you notice, the Pacu fish has human-like teeth.

Now you may have heard about this Pacu fish before which has a hilarious reputation for only attacking men’s balls. The truth is, the rumors about this Pacu fish feasting on male testicles is pretty much more of an urban legend than actual fact. The Pacu “folklore” started in Papua, New Guinea with the nickname for the fish they coined translating as “ball cutters.” Now I’m not saying the Pacu fish has never attacked a dude’s balls before—they’re not known to be the friendliest fish, either—it’s just not as common as most people would have you believe.

The real threat with this fish is that it’s not indigenous to the area and could mess with the whole ecosystem, i.e. spreading disease and spurring fiercer competition for food.

More than anything, the Pacu fish is in need of a good dentist. Lookit that tartar buildup. Daily flossing is a must!


 
via Death and Taxes and 6 ABC

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Death metal logos for America’s 2016 Presidential candidates
06.25.2015
12:08 pm

Topics:
Art
Politics

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The presidential election is 17 months away—egad—so that means that according to recent tradition, it’s the season of “lots and lots of candidates.” This time around, the Democrats have a strong presumption that Hillary Clinton will be the eventual nominee, and that has limited the number of potential candidates willing to enter the race. But on the Republican side, no worries—the New York Times currently lists 16 people who either are running or are “probably” running as Republicans. Because that Times page will change over time, let’s record here what those names are: Jindal, Trump, Perry, Graham, Pataki, Santorum, Huckabee, Fiorina, Carson, Rubio, Paul, Cruz, and Bush are listed as “running,” with a trio of governors, Kasich, Christie, and Walker, listed as “probably.”

Fast Company, a business website that has often championed “branding” as the key to corporate success, hired well-known death metal logo artist Christophe Szpajdel to create new branding identities for some of the contenders. Szpajdel, who is from Belgium but lives in the U.K. has been a professional logo designer since 1977 and is responsible for the logos of more than 7,000 (!) black metal bands, including Morgawr, Anamorph, Fistula, Arcturus, Old Man’s Child, and Moonspell. It sounds like Fast Company got the right guy, at least. Here’s a coffee table book of Szpajdel’s logos.

Here are side-by-side views of each campaign logo with Szpajdel’s black metal-style creation. For Trump, amusingly, they used a toupee in lieu of his actual “TRUMP” logo. In every case you can click on the logo to see a larger view.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Give your loved one a balloon with shitty message
06.25.2015
11:33 am

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Amusing

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This is one of those ideas I hate myself for not thinking of first. It’s simple, crude and rude (and therefore probably a big money maker). Lead Balloons is a company that makes these black balloons with surly messages like “You are a waste of blood and organs,” and “Don’t forget, you are a terrible human being.”

You can buy an assorted pack of thirteen rude balloons for around $7.00 at Incredible Things.

As I side note: I can think of far worse messages to write on these balloons.


 

 

 
via Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Breaking into a large pharmaceutical company to steal drugs: The solo music of Yello’s Carlos Perón
06.25.2015
10:48 am

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Music

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You know, I consider myself a pretty major Yello fan (”Bostich” is one of my all-time favorite songs), but I was unaware until recently that Carlos Perón, one of the two founding members of the band (along with Boris Blank; vocalist Dieter Meier was asked to join later) who left in 1983, has had a flourishing recording and soundtrack composing career ever since. Perón’s last album with Yello was You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess, but he’d already been recording and releasing solo work prior to leaving the Swiss trio, as early as 1980.

American label Dark Entries is releasing a 4-track EP (vinyl only) by Carlos Perón, Dirty Songs, a collection of songs recorded between 1980 and 1986. The recordings were made with the core setup of an ARP 2600, Roland’s Drumatix, TB-303 and TR-808. “Nothing Is True; Everything Is Permitted (Instrumental)” recorded in 1984 was inspired by William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. “Breaking In (Instrumental)”, from 1984, is a proto electronic body music number meets Chicago acid house (and featuring snare drums played by hand though an Ovaltine box). Originally featured on the soundtrack for a film called Die Schwarze Spinne, the song accompanied breaking into a large pharmaceutical company to steal drugs. On the B-side is “A Dirty Song (Instrumental)”, originally recorded in 1986 which uses one of the earliest Roland SH synthesizers, the SH-1 A, as a solo instrument. “Et” was recorded in 1980 on a 4-track and later and remixed to 8-tracks for Perón’s 1984 Frigorex EP.

All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. You can listen to Dirty Songs below, courtesy of Dark Entries:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Top Secret: The goofy retro ‘undercover’ fashion guide for East German secret police spies
06.25.2015
10:44 am

Topics:
Fashion
History

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“Ostalgie” is a German portmanteau of “Ost,” meaning “East,” and “nostalgie,” meaning “nostalgia,” because yes—many former East Germans remember life under communism quite fondly, and for a variety of reasons. There’s obviously some sentimentalism regarding one’s youth, (oppressive government or not, people like to reminisce on their salad days), but there was also distinctly East German culture, community, art and aesthetics. Combine all that with low unemployment and the absence of destitute poverty, of course people will miss some aspects of the lives they led on the other side of the Wall. This is not to say there isn’t an ambivalence to Ostalgie; for example, I doubt anyone much misses the Stasi.

The Stasi—the East German secret police and intelligence service—were notoriously covert, despite their massive numbers. In 1989, they employed 91,015 full-time agents and 173,081 informants—that’s 1.6% of the population of a country of 16.1 million. Now all the information on the Stasi has been declassified, and you can actually look at their materials in the utterly fascinating book, Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives. You can see documentation of training, raids and spy equipment, but my favorite part is the extensive collection of fashion recommendations for undercover agents.

There is a strange Ostalgie to the comically retro hair and clothes, but the sheer exhaustiveness of fashion represented is amazing. Some—like the above—actually manage to look like a farcical cartoon of a spy, an impression I assume didn’t resonate as such in East Germany. Others—like the one below—actually mimicked tourists, which is arguably even more conspicuous than a flashy fur coat. It’s when the looks are less ostentatious, though—reservedly classy ladies, hip youths clad in blue jeans and leather jackets, work uniforms etc.—that the photos feel truly ominous; these are people you’d never pick out of a crowd, people you’d never even notice. They might even be—and probably were—your neighbors.
 

 

 

 
More from the top secret Stasi “look book” after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘In the future everyone will be bisexual’—Alice Cooper, 1974
06.25.2015
10:33 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Queer
Sex

Tags:


 
Man, the fuckin’ ‘70s… It’s no secret or surprise that teen magazines’ content started to skew a bit more adult in that decade, mirroring significantly more permissive times, but I was floored by the August, 1974 issue of SPEC, a sometimes quarterly, sometimes bimonthly, typically more pin-up heavy special publication of 16 Magazine. While 16 tended to keep details of teenybopper stars’ sexual lives obscured in favor of probing questions into Bobby Sherman’s favorite (sorry—FAVE, always fave) color or David Cassidy’s fave dessert, SPEC offered up a Grand Funk “Be Our Groupie” contest, a ridiculous shirtless crotch-shot centerfold of Rick Springfield, and an advice column addressing how to touch a guy if you want to turn him on, fittingly written by a gentleman named “Rod.”

And as if to prove that clickbait is nothing new, here’s what ultimately grabbed me:
 

 

OK, I was curious what I’d need to do to marry an Osmond, too…

It speaks volumes about values dissonance over the decades that that could be printed at all, let alone on the COVER of a magazine, let alone the cover of a magazine for junior high and high school girls. And not even JUST on the cover:
 

 

 
Sooooooo I’m still confused—is Alice Cooper or is he not a fag? We’ll have to refer to the ridiculous interview to find out:

SPEC: People say all kinds of things about you.
Alice: I know, I know.

SPEC: So what’s the story, Alice? Are you gay? Are you straight? Are you bisexual? Which?
Alice: Oh, I’m straight. I’m attracted only to members of the opposite sex—girls, that is.

SPEC: But you have a girl’s name, you wear all that make-up. Don’t you expect people to get the impression that you’re not straight?
Alice: Well, I have a girl’s name, but that’s kind of a goof. And lots of men who perform wear make-up—that’s a theatrical tradition, it has nothing to do with sexuality. And I do not attempt to look like a girl, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m not a transvestite—I don’t imitate women. Did you ever see a woman who looked the way I do? If one did, she’d really get called a weirdo!

SPEC: Nevertheless, we get all these letters saying “Alice s a fag!” I’m sure you get them too. How do you account for that?
Alice: To some extent, I must admit, we do encourage that impression. But I’m not a “fag”—you know I don’t like using that word because it’s insulting to gay people.

SPEC: What impression do you encourage?
Alice: Oh, you know, bizarre, kinky, neither-here-nor-there. But I never went out of my way to lead people to believe that I was actually homosexual. After all, make-up and costumes have nothing to do with homosexuality—the only pertinent behavior is whether or not you’re attracted to people of your own sex.

SPEC: I understand you’ve been criticized by people in the gay liberation movement for exploiting homosexuality and making fun of it.
Alice: I’m sorry they feel that way, but there are a lot of gay people who don’t mind what I do also. It’s all in fun, and it’s certainly not meant to be malicious in any way whatsoever.

 

 

SPEC: Don’t you think a lot of your fans want to believe that you’re gay?
Alice: Yes, I know they do. Isn’t it curious? They’ll read this interview, and they’ll say “Bull! We know he’s queer!” Nothing I could say or do could convince them that I’m not.

SPEC: Why do you think that is?
Alice: I figure it probably makes these kids feel far-out to think that they can dig a performer who’s supposedly gay. I think it’s groovy of them.

SPEC: Would you admit it if you were homosexual?
Alice: Of course, and I wouldn’t just admit it, as if it were something you’re supposed to conceal. I’d just be it. I’d be natural about it, and I don’t see where it would be very much different for me, except I’d be making it with men instead of women.

SPEC: Aren’t you even just a little bit bisexual?
Alice: You mean do I mostly like girls, but do I like boys sometimes? No, I only like girls, but if I could have chosen my own sexuality, I think I might have chosen to be bisexual.

SPEC: Why is that?
Alice: It would give me twice as many people to pick from!

SPEC: Do you really mean that?
Alice: Sure—I think in the future everyone will be bisexual. And everything would be so much simpler then—you’d just make love with anyone you liked, and it wouldn’t matter what sex they were, and maybe it also wouldn’t matter what color they were, or what age, or anything, except that you liked them.

That’s a way better chat than you were expecting, no? Me too. I’ve conducted a fair few interviews and I can’t imagine in a million years bluntly asking someone if he or she is gay, and Cooper handled that all really well—especially for 1974. It goes on for a bit longer, with a lot of silly, if period-appropriate, shockrocker gobbledygook about pansexuality as a panacea for social ills blah blah blah. What’s transcribed above is the worthy stuff.

Here’s some more rare ‘74 vintage Alice—a mimed version of the Billion Dollar Babies cut “Sick Things,” from a short-lived TV mystery series called The Snoop Sisters. They were actually NAMED “Snoop” AND they were snoops, you guys. Why did that not last?
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Alice Cooper’s career-making, chicken-killing evil noise jam at the 1969 Toronto Rock & Roll Revival
Killer Alice Cooper concert live at the Paris Olympia, 1972
When Alice Cooper met Colonel Sanders
Sonny Bono channels Alice Cooper on ‘The Love Boat’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Moe Gets Tied Up,’ Andy Warhol’s ultra-rare 1966 movie starring the Velvet Underground
06.25.2015
10:16 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Music

Tags:


 
A very, very seldom-seen Andy Warhol movie, called Moe Gets Tied Up or, alternatively, Moe in Bondage, is up on YouTube, and it has had a scant 89 views as I type. While this Velvet Underground footage is not quite as much fun as A Symphony of Sound, Warhol’s must-see film of a VU and Nico rehearsal jam—mainly since there’s no music in this one—boy, it sure is seldom encountered. Shot in 1966, it predates their once-despised, now-lionized debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

The “Moe” of the title is the Velvets’ drummer, Maureen Tucker, whose bandmates have tied her to a chair and are now hanging around nibbling on sandwiches and pieces of fruit. It is sure to disappoint the pain fetishists among you. Look at it this way: if you’d never heard “Venus in Furs,” this film might give you the impression that the Velvets’ sex kicks consisted not so much of S&M as benign neglect.

Very little information is available about this movie because so few people have seen it, but the 32-minute version below seems to be missing a large chunk. A Velvet Underground filmography claims that the original is “a two-reel set for double screen projection” and notes the existence of “35-minute unofficial video copies,” one of which is likely the source of this vid. When MoMA screened Moe Gets Tied Up in 2008, the Village Voice reported that it “begins with Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison tying Moe Tucker, quite inexpertly, to a chair.” Since Tucker is already tied up at the start of the video below, and since the Voice review gives the movie’s length as one hour and six minutes, I’m going to bet that this is roughly the movie’s second half. (Incidentally, the review says nothing about double screen projection.) The Voice writer, who is mysteriously identified in the byline as “Village Voice Contributor,” also complains that almost none of the movie’s dialogue is audible, so don’t blame the buzzing soundtrack of this bootleg if you can’t make out what Sterling Morrison is mumbling about sandwiches. If you really need to know what people were talking about at the Factory, you can always read a.

Now if someone could please upload Velvet Underground Tarot Cards...
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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