These fantastic introduction cards were used in the United States during the 1870s and 1880s. According to Alan Mays, who collects them, they were “used by the less formal male in approaches to the less formal female.” We think of nineteenth-century courtship as being impossibly straight-laced and buttoned-down, and certainly a printed card inquiring for permission to accompany a young miss to her door is consistent with that, but the eager men found plenty of ways to work clever jokes and insinuations into their calling cards.
My favorite one is from the fella who claims to live on “Hugtite Lane” in “Squeezemburg.”
Alice Barker: Making me wish I could get out of this bed, and do it all over again.
I don’t care if this is plastered all over the Internet today, it deserves to be here on Dangerous Minds, too. Alice Barker, a 102-year-old chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance sees herself on film for the very first time. It’s a touching and beautiful thing to witness.
She danced at clubs such as The Apollo, Cotton Club, and Zanzibar Club, with legends including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
Although she danced in numerous movies, commercials and TV shows, she had never seen any of them, and all of her photographs and memorabilia have been lost over the years.
If you want to send Alice any fan mail, the mailing address for her is below. She deserves the adoration.
c/o Bishop Henry B. Hucles Episcopal Nursing Home
835 Herkimer Street
The women’s suffrage movement brought with it a glut of hilariously sexist propaganda, and though the issue of women voting was (hopefully?) laid to rest, the reactionary panic of sexism is still illustrated with the same themes. Women are getting butch, while men become feminized, perverting marriage into an institution of husband-abuse! Bitter, ugly spinsters will scold us all into oblivion, while children grow up neglected, and horrifically confused about their natural gender roles! Women will invade previously male only spaces, and bars will have chicks in them! (Okay, the last one has mostly been embraced, but you get the idea.)
There are certain insults though, that have since been deemed not cool by all but the most overt misogynists. This 1910 anti-suffrage book—modeled after a children’s rhyming book—depicts women suffrage activists as actual toddlers, and their crusade as a tantrum on par with protesting bedtimes and demanding sweets.
I’m generally pretty good at tuning out sexist grossness, but think about it—if you’re a heterosexual man (and I’m gonna’ go out on a limb here and assume the authors of this were heterosexual men), and you think of women as babies, you fancy yourself a pedophile. So congrats on painting yourself into that little metaphorical corner, vintage dirtbags!
If you were living in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, you might remember this interview which aired on that “magnificent obsession,” the legendary Z Channel, a local cable channel that catered to film nuts until its inevitable demise in 1989. The host here is Mick Garris, a renowned expert in the horror genre.
The early 1980s were such a great moment for the horror genre, and these three men were right at the center of it all. This interview was probably conducted in early 1982—Landis had recently come out with An American Werewolf in London, and was a year away from releasing the video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which anyone who lived through the era will tell you was not just any ordinary music video—it was a 13-minute horror movie on the zombie theme, and both song and video featured a memorable vocal bridge by Vincent Price. Carpenter, of course, had kicked off the Halloween franchise in 1978, had recently come out with The Fog, and would release The Thing in the summer of 1982. Cronenberg, whose previous two features were Scanners and The Brood, was promoting Videodrome, which would come out in 1983, the same year as The Dead Zone. And that’s not even counting something like the first Evil Dead movie, which came out in 1981, or Alien, which came out in 1979. The Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises started in 1980 and 1984, respectively, and that same period saw a whole lot of Stephen King movies too, like Firestarter, Cujo, Creepshow, and Christine.
It’s a pretty interesting interview—Carpenter insists that movies don’t scare him but then admits that seeing It Came From Outer Space when he was 4 years old did scare him. Landis thinks that there’s been a change in horror movies—back in the day, the movies were fairly good but then the effect is ruined by the appearance of a shitty-looking monster; by 1981 the movies had gotten worse but the monsters actually look pretty convincing. The names Rick Baker and Roger Corman are bandied about liberally. Both Landis and Carpenter bemoan the need for entire days being spent to make a single effects-heavy shot. Cronenberg complains about censorship in Canada and points out several positive aspects of the U.S. system (this was taped before the introduction of PG-13, which precisely mirrors a suggestion made by Cornenberg). Cronenberg shows decent self-knowledge when he says, “My films tend to be very body-conscious”—an understatement, to say the least.
Above all, this is a great video if you are a big fan of brown jackets.
I was going to post about these clever-as-hell weightlifting skateboards by Russian artist Meisha Petrick a few days ago, but there was too little information about them. There still isn’t, but from what I understand, they are being produced by Meisha and if you’re interested in ‘em, you can inquire about ordering one (or more) at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have no idea how much they’re selling for as no one has a listed price anywhere.
In 1970 Ray Davies took a break from the Kinks to work on the first entry for a new anthology drama show for the BBC called Play for Today. The show was to take over from a program called The Wednesday Play that had run since 1964. The premiere of a new drama show generated some interest, as seen in the Radio Times cover above.
The play was called “The Long Distance Piano Player,” and it’s a kind of mashup between They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, the Sydney Pollack movie of a year earlier about a marathon dancing contest during the Depression, and any number of treacly kitchen-sink dramas of the early to mid-1960s. The idea of the play is that Pete (Davies) plays a guy who will execute, in the words of his unscrupulous manager Jack, “one of the greatest feats of human endurance ever attempted…. the marathon, non-stop piano playing championships of the world—four days and four nights of continuous, I repeat continuous non-stop piano playing!”
It quickly becomes apparent that Pete is being manipulated by Jack and that the whole thing (similar to They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) is meant to be a metaphor for the rapacious and predatory entertainment world or something. Meanwhile, Pete’s wife Ruth (Lois Daine) importunes him to stop this stupid marathon and get as far away from Jack as possible—it all doesn’t end well, but that much is clear pretty early on in the story. (For those wanting to learn more about the show, this article can’t be beat.)
“The Long Distance Piano Player” was written by Alan Sharp, who wrote many movies in his long career, the best of which is probably Night Moves, a distinctive thriller directed by Arthur Penn and starring Gene Hackman and Melanie Griffith, who was still a teenager at the time. Sharp also wrote Sam Peckinpah’s final movie The Osterman Weekend as well as the 1995 Scottish epic Rob Roy starring Liam Neeson.
Pete’s manager, Jack, is played by Norman Rossington, who also played the Beatles’ manager in A Hard Day’s Night. Typecasting!
“The Long Distance Piano Player” aired on October 15, 1970. (Amusingly, according to the essential Kinks resource All Day and All of the Night, written by Doug Hinman, Davies is said to have booked studio time that evening for his bandmates so that they would be unable to watch it.) The movie isn’t good (and isn’t helped by the literally incessant piano tinkling that never goes away), but Davies is a natural actor and the problems with it have nothing to do with him.
No one I know was ever really sure they had seen Blackstar Warrior, the legendary (emphasis on the “legend” part there) “Blaxploitation Star Wars” series made sometime in the 1980s, but most claimed to have heard of it. What they had heard proved equally elusive—rumors, half truths, strange clues, on-line interviews, comments seeded on forums, long conversations at sci-fi cons that mulled over dreams of half-remembered episodes that may or may not have been seen.
Then the evidence started to arrive.
One day, clips from a documentary appeared on YouTube that told the tale of writer/producer Frederic Jackson Jr. and his attempts to make the first blaxploitation science-fiction movie in the 1970s—Blackstar Warrior—about a hip African-American spaceman Tyson Roderick who has been described as “James T. Kirk’s evil twin… a ruthless and daring sexual egomaniac,” who was “unapologetic, tough as nails yet tender-hearted.” A man who mixed the coolness of Shaft and Superfly with the leadership of Captain Kirk.
To produce his dream movie, Jackson Jr. sold his car wash business, but just as he was about start filming everything fell apart when police raided the BSW studio set and arrested Jackson Jr. and his crew for allegedly stealing costumes from the Star Wars set. It has been claimed that to avoid prosecution Jackson Jr. sold his movie script to George Lucas. Though there is no proof this ever happened, some Blackstar Warrior conspiracy theorists claim parts of Jackson Jr.‘s script ended up in The Empire Strikes Back—citing the inclusion of black character Lando Calrissian as proof. But still no one was ever really sure
From such inauspicious beginnings, Blackstar Warrior morphed from a potential blockbuster movie into a cult TV series, which first aired at 10am on a Saturday morning, September 29th 1979. Leonard Roberts starred as Tyson Roderick, with Mindie Machen as his blonde-haired pneumatic robotic partner, Alphie.
The ‘truth’ about ‘Blackstar Warrior,’ after the jump….
Mother’s Day is coming up, and wouldn’t a Danzig card be the sweetest gift you could possibly give your mommy, before you go out and kill tonight?
Best Play Ever has these cards which look like a typical Mother’s Day card on the front and open to an illustration of the dark one himself with the text: “Tell your children not to walk my way!”
If your Mom’s some kind of weirdo Glenn Danzig hater, you can always pick her up a different card from the site’s collection. They offer Tupac, Freddie Mercury, Abba, and Spice Girls themed cards for mothers of all walks!
...And to get Mom in the mood for her special day, here’s a very “special” remix of “Mother”:
The capricious career of experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs has produced a lot of inscrutable cinema. His best known movie is Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son from 1969 and it’s the sort of avant-garde project that is probably best experienced on drugs. Jacobs re-cut and altered part of a 1905 silent film, at points actually filming projections of the film so the viewer is watching a movie of a movie. It’s all very meta I suppose, but it goes on for 115 minutes, and the novelty wears down to crushing boredom after the first ten. His 1986 project, Perfect Film, was a far less avant-garde—and far more watchable and entertaining—use of found footage.
Of course, this is probably because Jacobs’ source material was way more interesting. Perfect Film consists of footage and interviews from the day of Malcolm X’s assassination, including an off-the-clock journalist who actually witnessed the shooting, a local Harlem man, a besuited police investigator and clips of Malcolm himself just prior to his death. It’s really an unnarrated documentary composed entirely of unedited raw footage, and it’s compelling as a historical artifact (rather than art), just as Jacobs intended. He explained his decision not to edit thusly:
I wish more stuff was available in its raw state, as primary source material for anyone to consider, and to leave for others in just that way, the evidence uncontaminated by compulsive proprietary misapplied artistry, “editing”, the purposeful “pointing things out” that cuts a road straight and narrow through the cine-jungle; we barrel through thinking we’re going somewhere and miss it all. Better to just be pointed to the territory, to put in time exploring, roughing it, on our own. For the straight scoop we need the whole scoop, or no less than the clues entire and without rearrangement. O, for a Museum of Found Footage, or cable channel, library, a shit-museum of telling discards accessible to all talented viewers/auditors. A wilderness haven salvaged from Entertainment.
Perfect Film was actually released in 1986, well before the modern Internet and its tendency to catalog a de facto media archive. At 81 years of age, Jacobs is still kicking—perhaps pleased to witness this dream take shape.
Socialist post-punk dance-floor agitators, Delta 5 were closely aligned with the Gang of Four, another Leeds-based group who mixed music and left wing politics. Formed in 1979 by vocalist/guitarist Julz Sale, fretless bassist Ros Allen, and second bassist Bethan Peters, who then added guitarist Alan Briggs and drummer Kelvin Knight. Their thumpy, double bass guitar-led funk attack, slashing guitars and flat, bored female vocals made them sound like a tighter version of the Slits mixed with the Gang of Four’s razor-sharp guitar lines. Both Delta 5 and the Gang of Four were associated with the Rock Against Racism movement. Delta 5, with three women in the group, also played several benefits to fight the Corrie Bill, an anti-abortion statute.
In late 1970s, the racist British Movement, a National Front offshoot that was unashamedly Nazi organized in Leeds and enlisted some local yobs to form skinhead groups to harass the “Communist” bands and to counter RAR. The concerts they organized were called Rock Against Communism (The notorious oi band Screwdriver sprang from this mucky milieu). One night Delta 5 member Ros Allen was recognized in a pub by eight British Movement members who called her a “Communist witch.” The members of the group were followed outside and beaten. Vocalist/bassist Bethan Peters told Greil Marcus in 1980 that the sight of skinheads doing “Sieg heil” salutes was common at their gigs and how she once grabbed one of them and repeatedly smashed his head into the stage.
Delta 5 did not last that long, just one album and some singles before they split in 1982. Their reputation was obscure for several decades, but in 2006, the Kill Rock Stars label released some early Delta 5 material called Singles & Sessions 1979-81, which saw renewed interest in the group.
Their best song (in my opinion): “Mind Your Own Business” performed at the Hurrah nightclub in New York City, 1980. The full set is available on DVD.