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What a twat: Extremely awkward Pussy Riot interview is extremely awkward
09:10 am


Pussy Riot

That is one impressive ‘death stare’ she’s flinging at Provincial Paddy there, ain’t it?

In their first European television appearance since they were released from Russian prison, Irish talkshow host Brendan O’Connor interviewed Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, managing to make himself look like—this is so, so easy—a complete twat. They can’t even—indeed they do not tryto —hide their exasperation at his astonishingly witless questions.

To begin with the Saturday Night Show presenter repeatedly refers to the formerly imprisoned feminist activists as “girls.” It goes (rapidly) downhill from there and ends when he asks them what they think about Madonna and if she is a “freedom fighter, like them”!

They so clearly think O’Conner is an asshole. Even Graham Norton would have been a better choice to interview them!

The “girls” will be in New York this week for an Amnesty International event.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Capitalism in an eggshell: The San Diego Chicken explains free market economics
07:59 am


San Diego Chicken

If anyone embodies the rewards capitalism can bestow on eccentric or ridiculous behavior, it might just be Ted Giannoulas, famous to our nation’s sports fans as “The San Diego Chicken.” The Chicken started out as a mascot for the San Diego radio station with the curious call letters of KGB-FM—a student at San Diego State University, Giannoulas landed his first gig as the Chicken when he wore the outfit for a promotion to distribute Easter eggs to children at the San Diego Zoo.

By dint of being unusually enterprising and entertaining (he really is very good), the San Diego Chicken became something like a mascot for sports at large. He was never affiliated with the San Diego Padres or any other San Diego team as such—what relevance would a chicken have for a team named after monks?—but he did appear at 520 consecutive Padres games at one point. In the early 1980s, the Chicken was also a regular on the Johnny Bench-hosted children’s show The Baseball Bunch, which also featured manager Tommy Lasorda as a Merlin-esque character named “The Wizard.”

With all the devil-may-care verve of Ben Stein’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or any number of middle school film strips, narrator Rex Allen intones in “Chickenomics: A Fowl Approach To Economics” (groan) points out that the Chicken enjoyed “a unique career ... that can only happen in a market economy.” Allen explains that the Chicken shows us five key facets of a market economy: “Private ownership of resources, self interest motives, consumer sovereignty, markets, and competition.” Zzzzzz. Later on: “Now you know why, from millions of chickens, this one humorous bird can be successful in our economy—that is, until it lays an egg! Any chicken can do that!”

I’m telling you, not even the magical Chicken can make this stuff entertaining to high school kids.
San Diego Chicken
However, the movie’s closing credits are scored to an unforgettable “boc boc” rendition of Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.” This preposterous and pun-laden educational movie demands to be seen.

via A/V Geeks

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Erotissimo’: Sexy French pop art cinema (with suitably sleazy Serge Gainsbourg cameo), 1968

The 1968 French sexual revolution comedy Erotissimo is one of those ultra stylish Sixties films that art director types go totally nuts over. With good reason.

Starring Annie Giradot as a married woman confused by the rapid change in sexual mores around her. Erotissimo takes place precisely at the point in the 1960s where SEX became an inescapably “in your face” component of modern life, advertising and urban dwelling. As such, it is a perfect time capsule of the end of one era and the beginning of another. Giradot’s heroine struggles to understand the matters I presume would have been vexing a fair amount of the film’s audience during that time period as well.

But plot aside, the film’s reputation these days is due to its unique—and very Sixties—art direction: Gerard Pires’ Erotissimo looks like almost no other film I can think of. Nearly every frame is a masterpiece of visual composition, in the vein of William Klein’s Who Are You, Polly Magoo? The groovedelic soundtrack is the aural equivalent of a white molded plastic chair…

Mod Cinema sells a DVD of Erotissimo with English subtitles, making it possible for those of us who paid no attention in French class to enjoy this treat.

A married woman in her 30’s (Annie Girardot) tries to spice up her sex life with her distracted husband Philippe (Jean Yanne) under the deluge of sexy Swedish movies, sexy advertising on the streets, sexy intimate clothing in ladies’ shops, and even talks about sex and marital infidelity with her mother and female friends. Philippe, a general manager of a dynamic company specializing in baby products becomes preoccupied with an upcoming tax audit. Even the presence of a beautiful fashion model who lives with Annie’s brother fails to divert his attention. This amazing and colorful work of 60’s pop art features an original psychedelic soundtrack by French composer William Sheller & singer-songwriter Michel Polnareff, and don’t miss the cameo by monsieur Serge Gainsbourg!

Gainsbourg’s cameo is appropriately sleazy: He plays a guy who hits on Annie as she is leaving a Swedish “art film.”

Below, the NSFW Erotissimo trailer:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘It’s rubbish’: John Lydon brutally critiques the pop charts on ‘Jukebox Jury,’ 1979
06:19 am


John Lydon

In 1979, John Lydon made an unexpected appearance on the goofy Jukebox Jury television panel show. His fellow panelists included Joan Collins and Elaine Paige!

“What sort of music do you personally enjoy?”


The expression on his face (see above), sums up perfectly, I feel, what most Brits probably think about Noel Edmonds, the host of Jukebox Jury ....

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Young, Gifted, Poor & Gay: Escaping from a shantytown closet
05:42 pm


Juan Delgado

Even when he was starving, Ioshua was driven by his need to make art. Drawing comics and writing poetry about his life as a young gay man living in the slums of Argentina.

“...I still don’t know how I managed to find the will to write despite my circumstances. How could I write? How crazy was I? Undernourished and dying of hunger. Alone and living in a shack made from sheet metal and plastic, and I still wanted to write..?”

But Ioshua continued to produce stories about his life. He was inspired by the music of Cumbia Villera that pulsed through the shantytowns in the 1990s and early noughties.

“I discovered cumbia at home. My house was very shoddy, so the walls were very thin. So all of the cumbia music would seep through the corner boys, the street style, and I saw an aesthetic in all this.”

Ioshua went to Buenos Aires to the cafes and art galleries. He hoped to meet people who liked art and culture. He hoped they would talk to him, share their thoughts, their experiences, see he was just like them. Instead they ignored him.

One day, Ioshua took his sketchbooks up to a gallery. They curators liked what they saw, and displayed his drawings of young gay street boys in the window. The pictures sold, and soon Ioshua was having his art and poetry published.

“I don’t believe in originality, I think it’s a vain pursuit. Posing.

“If you go down the path of trying to be original, you’re trying to change the world.

“It’s been done before and better.”

Film-maker and photographer Juan Delgado’s short film Ioshua: Escaping from a Shantytown Closet tells the story of the young queer multi-media artist, poet and performer‘s break from poverty and desperation to success.

Ioshua’s comic art:

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Take it off: Joe Namath’s 1970 motorcycle flick hit ‘C.C. and Company’
02:52 pm


Joe Namath

C.C. and Company
Did you get a load of Joe Namath in his fur coat at the Super Bowl? It reminded me of the days when he was a Super Bowl star himself. As every football fan knows, in early 1969 the underrated Jets were set to play the mighty Baltimore Colts in a matchup between the NFL and the upstart rival league, the AFL. The Packers of the older NFL had already won Super Bowls I and II. Namath, as quarterback for the Jets, “guaranteed” victory and then delivered on his promise, which did a great deal to legitimize the newer league. Only a year or so later, the NFL and the AFL would merge, and everyone would live happily ever after except for the dudes with the concussions. Given that Namath’s team was from New York, that one game would ensure that sports fans in the Big Apple would never, ever shut up about “Broadway Joe.” (The Jets haven’t won a title since, and the Jets fans consider themselves, with fairly good reason, as being one of the more put-upon fan bases in the league.)
Joe Namath
In late 1970, Embassy Pictures released C.C. and Company, a biker movie starring none other than Joe Namath as “C.C. Ryder,” an affable moto-counterculture type who hangs out with his The character name was obviously inspired by “C.C. Rider,” the 1966 hit by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, a rollicking track that provides the soundtrack for the opening credits. 

C.C. and Company was produced by Allan Carr, who later produce the 1978 hit Grease as well as the 1980 Village People vehicle Can’t Stop the Music. In the movie, C.C. is hanging out cheerfully shoplifting from a clueless supermarket when he and a couple of his gang mates from “The Heads” come upon a beautiful fashion journalist named Ann whose limo has stalled in the desert. Instead of letting his buddies rape Ann, he intervenes and gets them to go away, which pisses them off as well as the leader of the gang, named “Moon,” who’s played with effective menace by William Smith. C.C. and Ann begin to fall for each other as C.C. tries to extricate himself from the Heads.
C.C. and Company
The movie’s got a jocular style—but all in all, it’s pretty crappy. But this tells you everything you need to know about that era: this wasn’t some obscure release—according to Variety, C.C. and Company was the #1 movie in America for two solid weeks in October 1970!

So my only question is, when does victorious Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson start filming his biker flick? Shoot, I’d settle for some kind of Fast and Furious knockoff.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Conversation piece: Francis Ford Coppola’s bizarre Fuji commercial
01:02 pm


Francis Ford Coppola

This must have been the easiest money Francis Ford Coppola ever made: an advert for FUJI cassette tapes, in which the hirsute director of The Conversation is filmed in medium close-up, dreamily caressing the C60. It’s kind of weird and bizarre and I can almost hear the ad director prompting, “Now, rub it in your beard, Francis, rub it in your beard. Make love to it with your chin.”

In a comparative terms of time and effort, the money Coppola made for this 1980 FUJI advert (and who knows he may have given all the earnings to charity?) was as easy (if not easier) as the extra half-a-million-dollars Marlon Brando was said to have earned during the making of Apocalypse now, when the beefy actor supposedly spent a week listening to Coppola read him the film’s source story, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

H/T Indiewire, with thanks to Bessie Graham!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Lost’ Frank Zappa student radio interview from 1978 is ‘a legend in awfulness’
12:37 pm


Frank Zappa


“Have you ever defecated onstage?”

Straight from the horse’s mouth, take it away Bob Andelman:

When I was a freshman at the University of Miami in 1978, I worked at WVUM 90.5 FM as an air personality. One day, the station manager, Bob “Bear” Mordente, was looking for someone willing to go out to the Royal Biscayne Hotel in Key Biscayne to interview musician and pop culture legend Frank Zappa.

I said I’d do it if no one else volunteered. Then, as now, I wasn’t afraid of interviewing anyone. Then it was foolish; I had no on-air experience and even less experience interviewing anyone for broadcast. Oh, and I knew absolutely zero—ZERO!—about Mr. Zappa.

A time was set for the next day and I went back to my dorm to see if anybody had any idea what I should ask the man. Lucky for me (not really) the drug dealers—I mean students—in the room next to me had piles of Zappa and the Mothers of Invention albums and purported to be experts on the man. Experts on the myth, as it turned out, but “urban legends” as a buzzphrase was still a good 20 years off. Anyway, these two knuckleheads filled me up with wide-eyed stories of ridiculous things that Zappa allegedly had done on stage over the years and I took copious notes.

The next day, Mordente and I drove out to the Royal Biscayne Hotel and our moment with destiny. Mordente handled recording the sound on a reel-to-reel machine so I could focus on Zappa and my litany of ludicrous questions.

I asked the most idiotic, moronic things of this brilliant American master and I must say that he treated me with great kindness in return, encouraging me to see him as a person, not some bizarre cartoon, and to just engage him in conversation. It was advice I remember and follow to this day, whether I’m talking to musicians, authors, politicians, athletes or entrepreneurs.

My unvarnished, unedited interview with Frank Zappa aired immediately on WVUM, was repeated often, and became a legend in awfulness.

Despite this, I had a blast working on the college radio station, mostly handling Friday and Saturday overnights, spinning deep album cuts, taking requests from my pals in the dorms and meeting some really bizarre stoner listeners in the greater Coral Gables community.

What survives from my day with Frank Zappa—we were together a couple of hours—is the edited, 30-minute recording you’re about to hear. Ladies and gentlemen, my day with Frank Zappa, September 14, 1978.


Below, Zappa a month later on October 13, 1978 at The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ. Zappa is playing the famous burnt guitar that Jimi Hendrix gave him:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch Michael Caine’s master class on film acting in its entirety
11:17 am


Michael Caine

IMDB lists this hour-long session of Michael Caine teaching some students the art of film acting as being produced in 1987, but I have a hunch it was recorded a few years earlier. For one thing, aside from Alfie (1966), the acting exercises lean heavily on two movies that would have been very current in, say, 1984: Educating Rita and Deathtrap. Also, I think I remember seeing this on Bravo (yes, kids, there once was a time when Bravo had almost entirely highbrow, high-quality programming) earlier than 1987, although I could be wrong about that.

Noted non-actor Howard Stern has said of this documentary, “I watched the video and had my doubts ... I thought a lot of what he said was horseshit, but halfway through the movie I thought: The son of a bitch is right!”—so you know it has to be good. Howard Stern says so!

The appearance of this video on YouTube warmed my heart. It’s a pleasure to see such detailed evidence of Caine’s mastery of movie acting.

The most famous bit from this documentary is when Caine demonstrates a couple of key tips about closeups in the movies: “If I keep blinking, it weakens me. But if I’m talking to you, and I don’t blink, and I just keep going, and I don’t blink, and I keep on going, and I don’t blink, you start to listen to what I’m saying….” 
Michael Caine
Michael Caine—not blinking….
Caine’s very charming and tells a number of illumating stories along the way. One of his memorable bits is a story about George Cukor telling Jack Lemmon that the best movie acting is simply doing “nothing.” It’s startling to see him explain a point by doing some lines from the scene we have just seen the student actors doing. No disrespect to them, but it’s quite amazing how different and how much better Caine’s versions are! And you can also see decided improvement in the students’ performances as the hour goes on. Unfortunately, I don’t recognize most of the young actors—two of them apparently became regulars on strictly-for-U.K.-audiences Coronation Street and EastEnders. I did recognize Celia Imrie from a few U.K. mysteries; I don’t remember her from Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace but I congratulate her on landing such a lucrative gig.

This video is available on Amazon as a standalone DVD or as part of a six-DVD product called BBC Acting Set. The other five classes (also available as individual DVDs) are Simon Callow’s Acting in Restoration Comedy, Janet Suzman’s Acting in Shakespearean Comedy, Brian Cox’s Acting in Tragedy, Jonathan Miller’s Acting in Opera, and Maria Aitken’s Acting in High Comedy. Furthermore, Caine also published a book on film acting, Acting in Film: An Actor’s Take on Movie Making.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Disgraceland: Steven Van Zandt rips on Paul Simon
09:48 am


Paul Simon
Steven Van Zandt

Little Steven
Little Steven at a press conference where Coretta Scott King accepted the first $50,000 check (on behalf of The Africa Fund) from Artists United Against Apartheid, 1985
Perhaps one of my least punk predilections is a weakness for Paul Simon, and the album Graceland, specifically. It’s not that I have any compunction about liking “mom rock,” (moms are awesome, and my love for Carole King is also well-documented), but Graceland is steeped in some pretty nasty history. For one, I’m inclined to believe Los Lobos, who appear on the last track, “All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints,” when they say Simon should have given them a writing credit. The album made bank, and he certainly could have stood to give them credit and a little compensation.

But the most well-known controversy of Graceland is Simon’s refusal to cooperate with the cultural boycott of Apartheid—most of the album was recorded in South Africa, but Simon apparently considered himself exempt from the politics of the situation, since he had been invited by South African musicians and didn’t play live shows in the country. I’ll be the first to admit that cultural boycotts can be difficult to understand. From an artist’s perspective, no one wants to be told to avoid an audience or a musical collaboration because their governing body is corrupt. But Paul Simon pulled what we refer to in radical political circles as a “total dick move.”

If he was really committed to solidarity with South Africans (which he insists, to this day, that he was), it would have been incredibly easy for him to just ask the African National Congress if it was cool for him to visit, just to make sure that he wasn’t, ya know… undermining the struggle for liberation of a long-suffering people. He was even explicitly advised by Harry Belafonte to do just that, (and when Harry Belafonte gives you civil rights advice, you’d best just listen). Simon decided he was just going to go, and upon his arrival, he was treated to protests, with signs demanding, “Yankee Go Home” and “Go Back Simon.”

And here’s the thing—he still hasn’t fucking apologized. I’m not sure if it’s because the album was incredibly successful or because it broke South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo to a larger audience, but he seems to think the legacy of Graceland completely excuses his totally politically unconscionable transgression. In Under African Skies, the 2012 documentary on the album, he’s still a smug dick about it.

And this is why I love Steven Van Zandt. In addition to being a truly brilliant musician, a dedicated and studious curator of rock ‘n’ roll history, and Silvio Dante, Little Steven is down with the people, and a committed activist. In a recent interview with rock critic Dave Marsh on his Sirius/XM radio program Kick Out The Jams with Dave Marsh, he discussed his work with Artists United Against Apartheid. The whole thing was fascinating, but the very best part is Van Zandt hilariously calling out Paul Simon.

Picking up from the point where Little Steven tells the armed resistance movement, the Azanian People’s Organisation, not to just fucking assassinate Paul Simon for his bullshit…

Dave Marsh: I was with you the first time you saw Paul and talked to him about this, at [entertainment attorney] Peter Parcher’s 60th birthday party.

Van Zandt: That’s right, that’s right, that’s right! I’m glad you were a witness, because wait’ll you hear the latest on that. Anyway, I said to them, “Listen, this is not gonna help anybody if you knock off Paul Simon. Trust me on this, alright? Let’s put that aside for the moment. Give me a year or so, you know, six months,” whatever I asked for, “to try and do this a different way. I’m trying to actually unify the music community around this, which may or may not include Paul Simon, but I don’t want it to be a distraction. I just don’t need that distraction right now; I gotta keep my eye on the ball.” And I took him off that assassination list, I took Paul Simon off the U.N. blacklist, trying to…

You mean you convinced them to take him off…

Yeah, because this was a serious thing…

Because this was gonna eat up the attention that the movement itself needed.

Yes, and the European unions were serious about this stuff, man. You were on that [U.N. blacklist], you did not work, okay? Not like America, which was so-so about this stuff, man. Over there, they were serious about this stuff, you know? Anyway, so yeah, this was in spite of Paul Simon approaching me at that party saying, “What are you doing, defending this communist?!”

What he said was, “Ah, the ANC [African National Congress, the organization of which Mandela was President at the time of his arrest and imprisonment], that’s just the Russians.” And he mentioned the group that [murdered black South African activist Steven Biko] had been in, which was not AZAPO…

Was he PAC [Pan-Africanist Congress]?

It doesn’t matter [for this story], but [Paul Simon] said, “That’s just the Chinese communists.”

Yeah, yeah. And he says, “What are you doing defending this guy Mandela?! He’s obviously a communist. My friend Henry Kissinger told me about where all of the money’s coming from,” and all of this. I was, like, all due respect, Paul…

I remember it very vividly, because it was aimed at everybody standing in the general direction.

Yeah, but mostly he was telling me.

Well, yeah, you were the one… Everybody knew who to get mad at first. [laughter]

He knew more than me, he knew more than Mandela, he knew more than the South African people. His famous line, of course, was, “Art transcends politics.” And I said to him, “All due respect, Paulie, but not only does art not transcend politics… art is politics. And I’m telling you right now, you and Henry Kissinger, your buddy, go fuck yourselves.” Or whatever I said. But he had that attitude, and he knowingly and consciously violated the boycott to publicize his record.

Well, to make his record. That’s the violation of the boycott — to make his record.

Yeah, and he actually had the nerve to say, “Well, I paid everybody double-scale.” Remember that one? Oh, that’s nice… no arrogance in that statement, huh? [laughter]

Now, the punchline. Cut to 30 years later, or whatever it is. He asked me to be in his movie [Under African Skies, the documentary on the making of Graceland, included as a DVD in the album’s 25th anniversary boxed edition]. I said, “Alright, I’ll be in your movie, if you don’t edit me. You ready to tell it like it is?”

He says, “Yep.”

“Are you, like, uh, apologizing in this movie?”


“Okay. I’m not gonna be a sore winner. I’ll talk to you.”

I did an interview. They show me the footage. Of course, they edited the hell out of it to some little statement where I’m saying something positive about Paul. [laughter] And I see the rest of the footage, where he’s supposedly apologizing, with Dali Tambo [founder of Artists Against Apartheid and son of late ANC leaders Adelaide and Oliver Tambo]. He says, “I’m sorry if I made it inconvenient for you.” That was his apology.

In other words, he still thinks he’s right, all these years later!

You’re the only person who’s ever met Paul twice who thinks that’s surprising. [laughter]

I mean, at this point, you still think you were right?! Meanwhile, that big “communist,” as soon as he got out of jail, I see who took the first picture with him. There’s Paul Simon and Mandela, good buddies. I’m watchin’ CNN the other day. Mandela dies, on comes a statement by Bono and the second statement’s by Paul Simon. I’m like oh, just make me throw up. You know, I like the guy in a lot of ways, I do; and I respect his work, of course. He’s a wonderful, wonderful artist, but when it comes to this subject, he just will not admit he was wrong. Y’know, just mea culpa. Come on, you won! He made twenty, thirty million dollars at least, okay? Take the money and apologize, okay? I mean, say “Listen, maybe I was wrong about this a little bit.” No.

Well…unfortunately we live in a country where the money means you don’t have to apologize, and let’s leave that there.


Via Backstreets

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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