The Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, some who simply walk the beautiful grounds indiscriminately, others on single-minded pilgrimages to visit the tombs of great historical figures like Maria Callas, Marcel Proust or… Jim Morrison. Among these more internationally famous graves is a little-known political journalist, Victor Noir, who was unceremoniously shot dead in a duel by Prince Pierre Bonaparte. Noir is actually pretty well known with Parisians; as a victim of imperial swine, he became a martyr of the people, and his funeral was attended by over 100,000 people.
Oh, and he has a massive crotch bulge.
Noir’s member is so pronounced and popular, it actually has a cult following. The legend is that a little kiss and grope will bring sexual luck, which is why Noir’s groin and face are smooth and coppery, the green patina that coats the rest of the sculpture worn away by randy ladies. Maybe he was actually packing, or maybe sculptor Jules Dalou (the craftsman charged with immortalizing him) just took some artistic license with Noir’s physique. The only thing we know for sure is that this is the most famous—and beautifully rendered!—trouser snake in Père Lachaise.
I got a chuckle last night when I saw, in NME’s Facebook feed, a breezy listicle called “Ten Geeky Facts about ‘Creep,’” trumpeting the 23rd anniversary of Radiohead’s breakthrough single. Evidently, in this content-starved, clamor-for-attention-on-Facebook economy in which all music writing is now duking it out, we don’t even wait for actual milestones to occur before we look nostalgically back. But I enjoyed the piece’s trivia items well enough—have to give it props for nakedly confessing its geekiness in the title—so fine, I’ll bite, I’ll join in on NME’s 23rd anniversary celebration of “Creep.” I don’t even celebrate my own birthday unless my age ends in a 0 or a 5, but what the hell, right?
Item 8 could have been an article in itself—a great one, really—as it deals in cover versions of the song. There’ve been plenty of those, and they range from Dunning-Krugerishly overwrought versions by unworthy hard rock bands (lookin’ at you, Korn) to transcendentally wonderful non-rock performances. Among the latter is my absolute favorite version of the song, a digital file of unknown provenance which I surely scored in the mid-oughts heyday of MP3 sharity blogs, a rendition of the song by a quartet of bass clarinetists. In seeking out the artist, I learned that this has been a thing for awhile—composer Cornelius Boots created the arrangement all the way back in 1997 (HAPPY 18TH ANNIVERSARY!), and a version by Edmund Welles gained some YouTube popularity in 2008. I searched through Welles’ recorded oeuvre to see if his version was the one I’d happened upon, but I was unable to find a studio recording of it. There are, however, a few live performances to be found, of which this is the best:
Ryan Richardson is one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera, as well as being the Internet saint who created free online archives of Star, Rock Scene, and Slash magazines. He also runs Fanzinefaves.com, a repository of various early punk zines as well as the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.
We’ve written about Richardson’s punk altruism before here at Dangerous Minds, and well, it looks like he’s gone and done it again—bigtime.
Richardson’s gift to the world this time around is a doozy. He is hosting on his website, CirculationZero.com, the entire print run of the early LA punk and art magazine NO MAG. The fourteen issues published between 1978 and 1985 by Bruce Kalberg cover a lot of the same musical ground as LA contemporaries Slash and Flipside, but NO MAG is decidedly artier and, well, filthier than those publications.
Be warned before you download and open these issues—they aren’t exactly safe for workplace viewing. If Larry Flynt and the Vienna Aktionists got together and published a punk zine in the late ‘70s, it would have looked a lot like NO MAG.NO MAG‘s publisher Bruce Kalberg, and the sordid turns of his life, were recently covered in LA Weekly‘s piece “Beautiful Loser, Tortured Killer.”
From that article:
Bruce Kalberg started NO MAG in 1978 with Michael Gira, a friend from Otis College of Art and Design, who left for New York after several issues to form the early noise band the Swans. Aside from the requisite profiles of X, Fear, the Germs, Johanna Went, Phranc, Suicidal Tendencies, ad gloriam, this sub-Slash tabloid fanzine amply captured the corrosive admixture of medical atrocities, sexual pathology, gallows humor and political anarchy endemic to the times: autopsy photos; profiles of working dominatrixes; textbook entries on female circumcision and how to synthesize heroin from morphine; cartoons of “Nancy Reagan’s favorite color” (bloody Tampaxes); and house ads featuring photos of progressive gum disease, with the caption, “You liked our smile, now catch our disease” — what Kalberg once called “the old cliché of shit-and-guts imagery” by which to wage war on polite society.
It also frequently bordered on the pornographic — Susanna Hoffs topless, Belinda Carlisle naked under tights, Germs producer Geza X with his cock in his hand, the Cramps’ Brian Gregory with a semi-erection and a python, and the irrepressible El Duce shitting on a plate are a fair representation—forcing him to manufacture it in San Francisco, where printers are apparently more tolerant.
NO MAG in many ways reminds me of a flashy LA version of what Search and Destroy was doing in San Francisco around the same time period. In my opinion, this rare print run being made available is an even bigger “get” than the Slash print run recently offered by CirculationZero. It’s an edgier magazine and, in many ways because of the artistic focus, seems more timeless than its contemporaries, dated only by its political incorrectness and non-digital layouts. The sometimes-transgressive art and photography, along with the interviews of now-legendary bands, make this run a crucial historical resource.
The download of the complete set is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Austin Pets Alive. He has provided donation links on Circulationzero.com—go there now to download NO MAG, and while you’re waiting on that file transfer, scroll through this gallery of covers:
Lady Bo, the ‘Mother of Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ Dies: Groundbreaking guitarist Peggy Jones, who achieved fame as a long-running member of Bo Diddley’s band, has died at the age of 75. (Ultimate Classic Rock)
Florida man reaches inside woman and disembowels her for uttering ex’s name during sex: A Florida man was charged with murder over the weekend after he admitted that he disemboweled his girlfriend because blurted out her ex-husband’s name while they were having sex. (Raw Story)
“Piggate” Looks A Lot Like A Black Mirror Episode, And Charlie Brooker Agrees: On his Twitter account Brooker quipped “I hope White Bear doesn’t come true next.” Makes you wonder, though, what Cameron must’ve thought about The National Anthem when it originally aired knowing what he (allegedly) knows! (Huffington Post)
Why Has Labor’s Share of GDP Declined for 40 Years?: The question cuts right to the heart of the core socio-economic issues of our era: the decline of secure work and the explosive rise of wealth and income inequality. This long-term erosion of earned income and household finances does not enable “growth” that is based on rising spending and borrowing. (Of Two Minds)
U2 gig ‘gunman’ was police officer: A suspected gunman forcing a U2 concert to cancel in Stockholm on Sunday night has been identified as a police officer, Swedish media are reporting. Okay, sure, he’s a nutty cop with delusions of grandeur and a gun, but he seems to have decent taste in music, amIright? (The Local Sweden)
Scott Walker quits GOP race: Public humiliation is too good for this union busting doufus and his idiot Republican face. I hate this Charlie Brown-looking jackhole. (National Journal)
Put a Fork in Him: Jeb Bush ought to stop wasting his time and his donors money and make like Walker and drop out, too. He sucks. He’s a “low energy” no hoper. (Talking Points Memo)
Bill Clinton Warned About Hillary’s ‘Discomfort’ With Gay Rights During 2000 Senate Race: Former president discussed Hillary’s hesitance on gay rights for oral history project. But unlike Hillary, Bernie’s been there for gays since the beginning. (Free Beacon)
The Importance of Donald Trump: Far from destroying our democracy, he’s exposing all its phoniness and corruption in ways as serious as he is not. And changing it in the process. (New York)
Lying liar pants on fire: At last week’s Republican debate, Carly Fiorina described a Planned Parenthood video showing “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’” There is no such video. It does not exist. And yet she’s doubling down. And she’s #2 after Trump, huh? The Republicans bench is the pits! (MSNBC)
Obama’s citizenship push stokes conservative fears: It turns out that many Republicans consider legal immigration a more immediate and existential threat to the GOP than illegal immigration.(Politico)
Coming soon, the 4K restoration of erotic Japanese animation The Belladonna of Sadness:
Ironing Board Sam is one of those artists who, when suddenly appearing on your radar screen, leaves you wondering, ‘How have I not heard of this person before?’
Ironing Board Sam was born Sammie Moore in 1939 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He moved to Memphis in 1959, and formed his first band. He started strapping a keyboard to an ironing board so he could carry it around on stage, and someone called him “Ironing Board Sam;” the nickname stuck. His career progressed, and in 1965 he began performing on the television show Night Train, appearing several times. In 1967, he pressed up just 100 copies of his debut LP, The Ninth Wonder of the World of Music (thankfully it’s been reissued). In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, he released a handful of 45s on a few different labels, including a couple on record industry behemoth, Atlantic. Though he’d always been a colorful showman, to compete with disco in the late ‘70s, Sam took it up a few notches, coming up with a variety of stunts, such as performing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival from inside a 1,500 gallon tank—filled with water!
Photo by Walter Lenk
Ironing Board Sam has experienced a revival the last few years, releasing a number of albums and appearing at high-profile festivals. There’s even a short documentary on the man, which you can watch for free here. At age 75, after more than 55 years in show business, Sam is finally getting his due.
This is one of those things I never thought I’d see. At the very least it can be filed under “Things that I never really thought about thinking I’d never see” if that makes any sense. That this unlikely thing exists is a cause for wonderment and joy, nevertheless.
What am I talking about? In the clip below, you can practically see the birth of the Eurodisco genre, when the French duo Bimbo Jet (Claude Morgan and Laurent Rossi) play along with some exuberant dancers on a mid-70s TV variety show. It’s one of only two TV performances I can find of it online by the original artists. The number they are performing is their massive, massive, massive worldwide #1 hit “El Bimbo.” The song was released in France in 1974 and sold well over a million copies. It took about a year for it to take off elsewhere, but when it did take off, the peppy song topped the charts all over the place, even in America, where Bimbo Jet scored themselves a #1 on the Billboard Disco chart and a #2 in the Hot Dance Club Play charts. On the overall Hot 100 chart, “El Bimbo” climbed to #43, not bad for something that would have sounded spectacularly out of place on AM or FM radio at the time.
Many people know this song today as something that they hear street musicians play. This is the original. It slays on the dancefloor. Every DJ worth their salt has played “El Bimbo” and seen people go nuts for it. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. I mean, look how freakin’ HAPPY these people are!
Above, the defiled playground equipment at Stoke Green Park
A man with a powerful fetish for children’s playground equipment has been banned from going “anywhere which has a slide,” reported the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.
Christopher Johnson, aged 46, of Stoke, U.K., was arrested after simulating a sex act with a slide at Stoke Green Park in Coventry. As the newspaper drily noted, “It’s his second slide-related offence.”
At Coventry Magistrates Court he pleaded guilty to a charge of outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner and received a three-year Criminal Behaviour Order. That order bans him from attending any location, including parks, swimming baths, beaches, or recreation grounds where a slide is present.
Johnson also received a three-year community order, which requires him to undergo sex offender treatment for 18 months as well as a rehabilitation activity. He was fined £55 and had to pay a £60 victim surcharge, £85 costs and a £180 criminal courts charge. All together, the crime cost Johnson £380, which is around $600.
Johnson was arrested at Stoke Green Park on the night of August 18 when four people witnessed him interacting in a lascivious way with the slide at 10:45 p.m. The police were called. As already noted, it was his second offense involving sexual behavior on a slide. On July 1, 2014, Johnson undressed and performed a sexual act on the top of a slide at Coundon Hall Park in Waste Lane, Keresley.
Now, somewhat poetically, Johnson’s fate is to be forever banned from interacting with the one thing in life he loves most. A hard penalty, if a necessary one.
If I had to pick my favorite movie from the 1980s, it’d be a good long while before I thought of a better candidate than David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, which came out in 1986. Blue Velvet was Lynch’s redemptive triumph after the time-consuming and expensive flop Dune, which was based on Frank Herbert’s tortuous sci-fi novel.
For reasons unknown, Lynch invited a German photographer named Peter Braatz to Wilmington, North Carolina (yes, that’s right, not Oregon or Washington) to come and document the shooting of Blue Velvet. Braatz titled his nearly hour-long movie “No Frank in Lumberton”; any fans of the movie will instantly understand “Frank” to mean the malevolent character played by Dennis Hopper and “Lumberton” to mean the idyllic logging community in which the action takes place.
You won’t “learn” anything in the ordinary sense from the movie, it’s an impressionistic tone-poem on Lynch and Blue Velvet that uses grainy footage of Lynch, Isabella Rossellini, Jack Nance, Kyle MacLachlan, et al.; unmotivated cutaways to exercising football players; and plenty of asynchronous sound and music. Sometimes, just for fun, Braatz uses actual dialogue from the movie as the vocal track, such as Dorothy Vallens’ pained cry to “Frank!” to leave poor Jeffrey alone.
This kind of movie strikes me as being very 1980s, it’s “experimental” and self-indulgent and kind of… drunk of video cutting techniques in a way that a movie like this would never be today. But I definitely enjoyed watching it—it’s an “audiovisual experience” first and foremost that just happens to take as its subject one of the most vivid films of American cinema. To Braatz’s credit, the movie does have something of the creepy audio gestalt that Lynch achieved so many times in his work.
If you find yourself unable to sleep tonight because you’re still contemplating the eerily life-like paintings featured in this post, be sure send a nice “thank-you” note to Sydney, Australia-born artist Ron Francis.
Like so many artists, Francis (born Ronald Malcolm Francis) started his love affair with art at a young age. His earliest work, created when Francis was just a small child, featured large versions Disney characters that were composed on his bedroom wall. Thankfully, his budding creativity wasn’t discouraged by his parents. Sometime around his seventeenth birthday, Francis discovered oil paints and by the time he was 26, he was exhibiting his work all around Melbourne.
In the Face of God
As Francis further developed his unique, artistic perspective he discovered a distinct mathematical relationship between his viewpoint and the subject matter depicted in his work. So complex was Francis’ “system” of perspective and its relation to geometrics that he actually developed a piece of CAD (computer-aided design) software to help him manage linear perspective. It’s absolutely fascinating stuff.
After being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2005 (a battle Francis won), the now 61-year-old artist is still at work painting and creating images (which according to Francis are mostly inspired by “dreams or visions”) that invoke a distinct sense of contemplation with a strong tinge of anxiety. A timely sentiment, wouldn’t you agree?
It’s well known that Times Square in Manhattan endured a massive facelift during the mayoral tenure of Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s. Disney became an investor in the area, which soon became a touristic haven for Madame Tussaud’s and stores selling overpriced fare from Godiva’s, M&M’s, Quiksilver, and Lids. The main casualty of this process of turbo-gentrification were the charming porno houses that dotted the area in the 1970s and 1980s.
Maggie Hopp worked in the administration of Mayor John Lindsday in the late 1960s, but left to travel extensively (Colombia, Scotland, and India, among others) before returning to NYC to settle down and focus on getting work as a professional photographer. According to an interesting interview Hopp granted to Ragazine, she was fortunate, upon her return, to befriend a “deep-pocketed” mentor with some clout in the world of real estate who also had some instincts as a preservationist, and he encouraged her to get her realtor’s license. Together they isolated neighborhoods that were likely to undergo rapid change in the decades to come, and she went out and photographed every block of those areas in such a way that his interest in them as real estate properties wouldn’t become widely known.
He was, of course, more interested in determining which properties to buy, assemble and hold for long-term development, but I treated this pursuit as an opportunity to make a ‘photographic documentary art project’ and made a concentrated effort to find the best light, to be thorough, and to photograph every block and therefore to show which were the sites ripe for change and development ( e.g. parking lots, taxpayers, one story warehouses, etc.), recognizing the inevitability of change and that my images were a way of preserving the city at least visually!
One of the more interesting pictures in this set is of the Terminal Bar, which was one of the city’s most notorious dive bars in the city for decades, located right across the street from the Port Authority. As Gothamist once wrote about the place, the neon signs of the bar represented “a false beacon of hope in a darker part of town.” It was featured in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. The Terminal Bar was originally an Irish bar but later became a predominantly African American and gay bar. It closed in 1982, just a couple years after these pictures were taken.