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Artist gives old photographs a superhero makeover
07.20.2016
09:45 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

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Someone’s dead relatives just got a makeover. Artist Alex Gross takes discarded vintage photographs, paints on them and turns them into portraits of pop culture icons like Batman, Superman, Electra, Wonder Woman, Super Mario and Marge Simpson. These mixed media paintings raise questions about the relevance of history, family and memory in our neo-liberal consumerist world—where fictional characters have far more currency and longevity than familial ties or dead relatives.

Gross is best known for his beautiful, disturbing and surreal paintings that explore modern life.

The world that I live in is both spiritually profound and culturally vapid. It is extremely violent but can also be extremely beautiful. Globalization and technology are responsible for wonderfully positive changes in the world as well as terrible tragedy and homogeneity. This dichotomy fascinates me, and naturally influences much of my work.

I like Alex Gross’s paintings. I like his ideas. He is painting a narrative to our lives—and like all good art he is questioning our role within this story and the values we consider important in its telling. More of Alex Gross’ work can be seen here.
 
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More photographs reborn after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Shark-shaped tea bags that release gruesome bloody red tea
07.20.2016
09:38 am

Topics:
Animals
Design
Food

Tags:


 
Yesterday I blogged about gnarly pimple-popping cupcakes and today I’m blogging about shark-shaped tea bags that slowly release blood red tea. I’m not trying to gross you folks out, I swear! These tea bags are a bit more subtle in the “gross out” department, anyway.

The shark tea bags are designed and made by Japanese manufacturer DaiSho Fisheries. I don’t know that much about the company and Google translate isn’t helping that much. I believe—but don’t quote me—that their sole purpose is making novelty tea bags. Either way, I dig this design. I can’t vouch for the flavor of the tea, though. Hopefully it’s good.


 

 
via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘A Short Movie About Suicide’
07.20.2016
09:14 am

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Movies
Music

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November 1970 poster for a series of Suicide shows at “A Project of Living Artists” on 729 Broadway

The news of the death of Alan Vega of Suicide came down over the weekend. As all such deaths do, it has given rise to an outpouring of heartfelt reminiscences, providing an occasion to reflect on what a blazing, contradictory, committed, special band Suicide was. Famously early in defining the possibilities of the term “punk music” (via 1970 gig ads, one example of which is above), Suicide became one of those rare bands you absolutely had to have a reaction to, as they perhaps learned to their chagrin when they accepted an offer by the Clash to open for the London-based punk band in Britain in 1978. Many of the punks in the audience despised Suicide, leading to an incident in Glasgow in which an audience member threw an axe at Vega’s head.

Living up to its name, “A Short Film About Suicide” (2007) lasts roughly 15 minutes. It mostly consists of Vega talking, which is an unimpeachable strategy. The movie opens with Vega recalling the September 3, 1969, gig at the Pavilion on 42nd St. when the Stooges opened for the MC5 and Iggy (and, improbably, Johann Sebastian Bach) changed Vega’s life forever. The movie features Vega and Martin Rev, of course, plus Chris Stein of Blondie, Mick Jones of the Clash, and others. Howard Thompson tells of hearing Suicide’s incredible first album for the first time (mistakenly playing side B first) and then realizing that he absolutely had to put it out in the U.K.

If “A Short Film About Suicide” lasted 5 hours, no part of it would be boring.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Wonderfully lurid and macabre posters from the Grand Guignol
07.20.2016
08:28 am

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Art

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Adrien Barrère was a prolific poster artist in late Belle Époque Paris, noted for having illustrated over 200 cinema posters for Pathé in the earliest decades of the 20th Century. His style was a bit more cartoonish than his more famous contemporaries like Toulouse-Lautrec and Chéret, due to his training as a caricaturist.

And that respected artist made some marvelously ghastly posters for that notoriously gory and debauched theatre, the Grand Guignol.

A huge influence on horror cinema, the Grand Guignol (roughly “large puppet show”) specialized in garish melodramas that typically climaxed in graphic violence. In his introduction to Theatre of Fear and Horror, U.C. Berkeley Drama professor and author Mel Gordon writes:

There is something embarrassing about the Grand Guignol. Like a renegade sect or invented religion from another century, it still touches upon our secret longings and fears. A product of fin-de-siecle France, the Grand Guignol managed to transgress theatrical conventions and outrage its public as it explored the back alleys of unfettered desire, aesthetic impropriety, and nascent psychological trends in criminology and the study of abnormal behavior. Its supporters called the Grand Guignol play the most Aristotelian of twentieth-century dramatic forms since it was passionately devoted to the purgation of fear and pity.

Audiences came to the Theatre of the Grand Guignol to be frightened, to be shocked, while simultaneously delighting in their fears (or in those of the people around them). The more terrifying a performance was—that is, the more it tapped into its spectators’ collective phobias—the greater its success.

Gordon’s book was originally published by Amok Press in 1988, but an expanded edition is being released in a few weeks by Feral House, and will feature a section of color plates, play scripts, and the autobiography of one of the theatre’s company players, actress Paula Maxa, who may be the single most murdered performer in the history of theatre (“I had been shot, burned, poisoned, flogged in the nude, bitten by snakes, dismembered on a butcher’s table, strangled, left bleeding to death—all at the whim of the playwrights”).

The gallery of Barrère prints below was graciously provided by the publisher. Clicking spawns an enlargement.
 

The Puppets of Vice, 1929
 

Harakiri, 1919
 
More macabre mayhem from the Grand Guignol after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Trump’s house band—led by guitar buffoon G.E. Smith—trash David Bowie tune
07.19.2016
06:00 pm

Topics:
Music
Politics

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The eternally uncool G.E. Smith is leading the house band at the Republican National Convention. I’ve never been able to stand this guy and his support of Trump has doubled his loathsome quotient. Kids, being in a band doesn’t automatically make you cool. G.E. Smith is to rock and roll what Pia Zadora is to acting.

No matter who Smith played with, whether it was Dylan or Bowie, he always tried to upstage the artist he was supposed to be supporting. With his rigor mortis grin and guitar-slinger grimaces, Smith is one of the most inauthentic musicians on the fucking planet. Nothing notable about his style at all. A hired gun who can play some fills and solos while the front man grabs a fresh beer or a bottle of water from the drum stand.

Remember Smith’s insufferable mugging on SNL? Buffoon rock.


 
In the video below, watch Trump’s house band desecrate David Bowie’s “Station To Station.” Smith’s prior work with Bowie notwithstanding, would Smith and his band of whores have dared to do this if Bowie were still alive? And what did all those old, white conventioneers think of lyrics like:

It’s not the side-effects of the cocaine
I’m thinking that it must be love
It’s too late to be grateful

I’ve always had big ideals regarding rock and roll. You know, that it stood for something. That it was music of rebellion and hope. That rock and roll could change the world. And for awhile it did. The Beatles being the main force of raising consciousness. But I’ve been consistently disappointed over the years by bands selling out and selling out to Trump is particularly egregious in my opinion. Things have gone from “I sold my soul for rock and roll” to “I sold my rock and roll and my soul.”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
David Bowie: Rare footage of the ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour, 1974
07.19.2016
01:54 pm

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Music

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As David Bowie fans are all too well aware, there’s very little professionally shot footage—almost none—of his theatrical “Diamond Dogs” tour from 1974. The best filmed example we have of what that stage set looked like comes from Alan Yentob’s famous BBC documentary Cracked Actor. Yentob must’ve chosen his title before shooting Bowie’s performance at the Universal Amphitheater on September 5th, 1974 as he concentrated resources on shooting the number that provided his (rather apt) title. When Bowie performed “Cracked Actor” on that tour, he donned a cape and “celebrity” sunglasses, singing into a skull ala Hamlet. He even French-kissed the skull as makeup artists and photographers fussed around him, an irresistible visual showpiece for the documentarian trying to make sense of his glamorous but enigmatically alien subject.

But there were no complete songs in the film. That’s where Nacho Video comes in. He’s the YouTuber who created the amazing edit of “Station to Station” we recently featured here:

I have been asked many times to create some videos for Bowie’s ‘74 tour. There is very little material available, but I have gathered all the footage that’s out there, I think. Among the Super 8 stuff there are some possibilities, tho’ a lot of labor will be required.

In the meantime, I’ve taken the obvious easy road of first working on the footage from the wonderful 1974 Alan Yentob BBC documentary, Cracked Actor. The in concert materiel it contains is really well filmed, as one would expect from the BBC. Unfortunately, it contains no complete song.

Therefore some imagination and technology is required. Here, I am more or less retreading what others have tried before, but not at this quality.

Dig it.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘I find them very depressing’: 80s pop tart Samantha Fox reviews The Smiths and The Fall in 1986
07.19.2016
11:53 am

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Music

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Samantha Fox and Lemmy Kilmister.
 
Samantha Fox was technically still a very popular topless Page 3 girl in The Sun and not yet an 80s pop star when she was asked for her opinions on two new singles by The Smiths and The Fall for UK music magazine Smash Hits in July of 1986. Apparently she was not terribly impressed by either single and took them to task using insightful words like “crappy” to tear apart The Fall’s “Living Too Late.” When it came to Miss Fox’s thoughts on The Smiths the target of her disdain would of course be directed at moody vocalist Morrissey. Here’s Fox dissecting Moz as only a misguided 20-something could in 1986:

I’m sorry to say but I find them very depressing. The lead singer’s voice sounds like he’s in pain—is that Morrissey? He can’t sing and it gives me a headache. In all his interviews he’s “Mister Nasty” too and goes moan, moan, moan.

Well, at least Samantha got one thing right here because of COURSE Morrissey is in pain. Anyone who writes songs about how getting mowed over a ten-ton truck being a “heavenly way to die” or wishes you an “Unhappy Birthday” then proceeds to note that he’s going to “kill his dog” is clearly in pain. But I digress. If you’d like to read Samantha Fox’s thoughts in full on The Smiths, The Fall as well as Prince, Julian Lennon and Bryan Adams, I’ve posted a few of her amusing reviews for you below. You can also read all of Fox’s deep thoughts during her brief stint with Smash Hits as a record reviewer over at the fantasitc online archive for the magazine, Like Punk Never Happened run by the excellent Brian McCloskey.
 

Samantha Fox on The Smiths and The Fall from Smash Hits magazine, July, 1986.
 

 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey visits 60s right wing talk show
07.19.2016
11:21 am

Topics:
Belief
Occult
Television

Tags:


 
Watching Joe Pyne is interesting because he almost seems ahead of his time. Pyne was a broadcaster who had a series of panel talk shows in Wilmington, Delaware, and Los Angeles in the 1960s. He died of lung cancer in 1970 at the age of 45.

Many have cited Joe Pyne as the spiritual predecessor to figures like Morton Downey Jr. and Bill O’Reilly but…. well, I think that sells him a little short. I can’t stand those two guys, but I like watching Pyne. Pyne was cutting and sarcastic but was seldom all that nasty about it. He was host to controversial figures who weren’t appearing in other parts of the TV spectrum…. for instance, he would have KKK members on, or members of the Nazi Party, or people who were followers of Charles Manson. A typical guest was Sam Sloan, at that time a promoter of the Sexual Freedom League. Sure, Pyne had them on to oppose them or ridicule them, and you can see the template there, especially for Downey’s show. O’Reilly has too much psychological baggage and rage to really do justice to the Pyne comp—O’Reilly’s also more of a charlatan than Pyne was. With Joe Pyne there was no pretense.

Pyne represented the Archie Bunker perspective fairly honestly, he was derisive and contemptuous of oddball or extreme things and he understood that he had the ability to turn a decent foil into excellent TV. And somehow the stakes were never that high, the idea wasn’t so much “this is a threat that must be stamped out,” it was more like self-expression. You couldn’t imagine Joe Pyne starting a war over Christmas—but if he stumbled onto one, you know what side he’d be on.

Anton LaVey started the Church of Satan in 1966. On February 1, 1967, he performed a much-publicized “first Satanic wedding ceremony” uniting journalist John Raymond and New York City socialite Judith Case. That was the event that made Pyne think that LaVey belonged on his show.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Teenage Sophia Loren was deemed ‘too provocative’ to win the title of Miss Italy, 1950
07.19.2016
10:59 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
History
Superstar

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The path to success is often circuitous, filled with detours, wrong turnings, dead ends and log-jammed highways. Perseverance and a great desire to succeed are requisite. Where one starts off is sometimes far removed from where one arrives.

Sophia Loren was a mere fifteen-year-old when she stood in line with the other young girls hoping to win the glittering prize of Miss Italy in Rome 1950. The Miss Italy beauty contest was devised as a “pick-me-up” for the defeated and beleaguered Italian nation after the Second World War in 1946.

Many of those early Miss Italia winners and contestants became well known in Italy and abroad. In 1947 alone there were four contestants who later went on to Italian entertainment fame: Lucia Bose (the winner that year), Gianna Maria Canale (second place), Gina Lollobrigida (third), and Eleonora Rossi Drago (fourth).

In 1950 the competition was broadcast live on radio. This was the year Miss Loren made her appearance under the name Sofia Scicolone.  However, the teenage beauty was considered “too provocative” to win the contest and the judging panel awarded Miss Loren the specially devised title of “Miss Eleganza 1950.”

Maria Bugliari won the title of Miss Italy but her success was small potatoes when compared to the long and brilliant career Sophia Loren achieved as an actress from then on.
 
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More early photos of Sophia Loren, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
When half of Throbbing Gristle ended up on a UFO LP cover, making out pantsless
07.19.2016
10:52 am

Topics:
Art
Music

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In 1975, the notable British buttrock band UFO released Force It, a barrage of boogie riffs and and double-entendre lyrics about fucking. As hesher-metal albums go, it was fairly interchangeable with a lot of the era’s hard rock, but its cover art has proven durable even as the band’s sound has aged. It’s a photograph depicting what could be read as a coercive sexual advance between a couple of indeterminate sex, one of whom is sans pants. Collaged into the photo are many, many faucets.

Faucet. Force it. You get it, ha ha, let’s move on.

The cover was designed by one of the era’s most distinctive and forward-thinking design studios, Hipgnosis. The firm consisted of designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, and were responsible for singularly surreal album art for Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, and Led Zeppelin, among many, many other clients. Force It was hardly their only controversial work, but it ranked high on that score. The US version of the cover was censored, by making the aggressively embracing couple half transparent. The irony here is that the models for that cover were already known for works that made the Force It cover look kid-friendly. From Neil Daniels’ High Stakes & Dangerous Men: The UFO Story,:

The artwork was risky for the time and because of the amount of flesh on display was almost banned—well, it was the 1970s, a non-PC age, but also surprisingly prudish too. It was toned down for the USA release, where they were even more prudish. One point of interest, is that the gender of the couple remained a cause of debate amongst UFO fans, but the couple turned out to be Genesis P. Orridge [sic] and his then girlfriend Cosey Fanni Tutti.

 

Kissing and buttocks mercifully ghosted for delicate American sensibilities.

Many of this blog’s regular readers know that Genesis P-Orridge and Cosey Fanni Tutti were, at the time, the principals behind COUM Transmissions, an art group known for incredibly transgressive performances that included heavy doses of kink, up to and including unsimulated bleeding and vomiting, violence, and even live sex—so this “controversial” photo was actually one of the tamest things they’d ever done. The year after Force It, COUM would evolve into the pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle, and Throbbing Gristle included in its membership one Peter Christopherson, who in the mid ‘70s was an assistant at…Hipgnosis.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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