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Butthole Surfers, Wire, The Fall, Pere Ubu and Fugazi on SNUB TV
08:28 am



If ever a televised music program was ripe for a digital-media anthology, it’s the wonderful SNUB TV. Originally a segment within the USA cable network’s storied Night Flight from 1987-88, SNUB TV soon became a show in its own right on BBC2, helmed by journalist Brenda Kelly and director Peter Fowler. Its existence in that form, from early 1989 to mid 1991, falls almost exactly in the gap between the end of the era in UK pop dominated by the likes of the Smiths and Echo and the Bunnymen, and the ascendancy of Britpop. Accordingly, it became a go-to for coverage of the Madchester/baggy scene and the early stirrings of shoegaze. Segments featuring Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, My Bloody Valentine, Ultra Vivid Scene, Ride, the Darkside, Spirea X, and Stone Roses are on YouTube, and they show a program committed to intelligent coverage, one that took the aesthetic merit of new movements as a given, without condescension. They even jettisoned presenters. There were a couple of VHS anthologies released in the early ‘90s (which is the only way I knew about its continued existence post-Night Flight), but they’ve been out of print about as long as the show’s been off the air. A DVD/Blu-ray set is desperately overdue.

SNUB TV’s strengths weren’t limited to showcasing the new noise. Kelly and Fowler did inspired features on established independents from the early punk and hardcore scenes, as well. This Butthole Surfers segment rivals any of the band’s interviews for sheer weirdness, gives us a peek at the group in the studio, and contains rare live footage of the demented downer-psych freakout “Jimi,” from the Hairway to Steven LP.

After the jump, The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, Pere Ubu’s David Thomas, Wire, and Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Higher Revolutionary Mutation with the Jefferson Airplane, 1970
07:51 am


Jefferson Airplane

If push came to shove and I had to pick the ONE—just one—rock group whose message I most “resonate” with, I think I would ultimately have to pick Jefferson Airplane. Outside of the MC5, their lyrics were the most overtly revolutionary—as well as being deeply weird, intellectual and futuristic—of the classic rock era. Their druggy image was completely uncompromising and the way they flouted the rules of polite society was both bratty and brave for that era. The notion of a bunch of rich, indulgent hippies preaching rebellion while living in a mansion in San Francisco being driven around in a Rolls Royce on RCA’s tab was very appealing to me when I was young. The Airplane beat the capitalist system on its own terms and embraced the contradictions that went along with that.

Jefferson Airplane had a contract with the label (they and Elvis were RCA’s biggest selling acts of the 60s) giving them complete creative control, so they were able to get away with lots of things other groups couldn’t. Dig the revolutionary communiqué of a song like “Crown of Creation”:

In loyalty to their kind
They cannot tolerate our minds.
In loyalty to our kind
We cannot tolerate their obstruction!

That’s “Us vs. Them” (or smart vs. dumb, if you prefer) put as starkly and as radically as possible. Those lyrics will always be relevant, I suppose, but in the context of the 1960s, they were incendiary. When the band performed this number on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968, Grace Slick wore blackface and did the “Black Power” salute at the end. It was a completely insane thing to do. What were the powers that be at CBS thinking to let something like that slip into America’s living rooms? What was she thinking to do such a thing (and what did the rest of the group think?)? A year later, Slick would be the first person to say “fuck” on television (technically she sang “motherfucker”) when the group did “We Can Be Together” on The Dick Cavett Show.

The Airplane could be wildly erratic in concert as anyone who has listened to more than a handful of their live performances can tell you. They could be punky and powerful, sloppy and jammy or else razorsharp and inspired. Maybe it had a lot to do with the quality of the LSD on a given night, eh? Who knows? In any case, this short set, filmed at Wally Heider’s studio in San Francisco in 1970, is the group playing at near their peak efficiently as a revolutionary rock and roll unit.

Go Ride The Music includes interviews with band members and Jerry Garcia (credited as “the Guru”) between songs—you’ll note that Marty Balin is sick to death of talking about “the Revolution”—and utilizes a similar editing technique to the multi camera /multi screen thing that was so effective in Woodstock. The only complaint I have is too much Marty and not enough Grace. She looks goddamn gorgeous here and the camera is always on him. Numbers, in order, “We Can Be Together,” “Volunteers,” “Mexico,” “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” “Somebody To Love,” “Emergency” and “Wooden Ships.” (This version of Go Ride The Music has all of the Quicksilver Messenger Service material edited out. If you want to see them, I direct you here.)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Mike Kelley fronts Sonic Youth, 1986
07:36 am


Sonic Youth
Mike Kelley

The first time I visited New York’s SoHo district in 1992 I remember seeing a large print of the cover art for Sonic Youth’s Dirty hanging in a loft window. Earlier that year, my art teacher had complained about Sonic Youth’s use of Mike Kelley’s “Ahh. . . Youth!” on the Dirty sleeve, so I probably wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Kelley had fronted the band during a 1986 performance.

In the mid-‘80s, Kelley worked on a project called Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile. It consisted of a series of paintings, a cave-like installation called The Trajectory of Light in Plato’s Cave, and a poetic text. The project culminated a December 1986 performance of the text by Kelley and an actress named Molly Cleator, backed by Sonic Youth.

Alec Foege’s old Sonic Youth bio Confusion Is Next gives some background on the collaboration:

In December 1986 Kelly invited the band to provide sound effects and incidental music for three performances of his piece Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile at Artists Space in New York. Kelley recited an hour-and-a-half poem he had written and dramatized with the help of actress Molly Cleator while the band droned on.

Plato’s Cave had begun “as a project about the possessive,” Kelley said in one interview, “about how ascribing a quality of possession to something would equalize everything. Like, if I said that this was an exhibition of everything from Lincoln’s house, it links all this random stuff together that has no link except as a possible way to psychoanalyze Lincoln. Everybody asked me why I picked those three people. I made a whole list of possessives that were in common usage and I just picked the three that sounded best together. . . . Then I wove a set of associations between them.”

The band got together with Kelley a couple days before the performance. Kelley went through the script and told the band what he wanted at certain cues—a chunky rock sound, a bang, a spooky noise.

“I wanted to play with rock staging,” Kelley says. “For a lot of the performance, they were behind a curtain, so you didn’t even see them. I was trying to play against this rock-star thing, where there’s a shift of focus to somebody who in normal kind of rock-theatric terms would be the singer.” Kelley’s actions made him the center of focus—the singer, as it were—even though Sonic Youth’s accompaniment accentuated his actions and words with kabuki-like synergy, rather than in the traditional way in which a rock band interacts with a vocalist.


Kelley and Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo discussed the show in a 2009 interview:

Then, to connect your and Mike’s practices—I understand that Sonic Youth provided the soundtrack for Mike’s piece Plato’s Cave, Rothko’s Chapel, Lincoln’s Profile at Artists Space in 1986. How did that collaboration come about?

LR: I think Mike and Kim [Gordon] had been friends in LA. Mike was coming to New York to do this piece at Artist Space and asked us if we would work with him. Steve [Shelley] had just come aboard as our permanent drummer, and we were at the point where we were past just trying things, and had really formed a language that we were all comfortable working with.

MK: That’s right—I knew Kim in LA before she moved to New York. At that time she was not yet a musician; she was a visual artist.  I watched the development of Sonic Youth, and I liked the music and I liked them as people. In that particular performance I wanted to have a live sound element modeled after kabuki theater, where there are musical sections that play off the language in a quite disjointed way.  I also wanted to play with the idea of rock staging. A lot of the audience was there to see Sonic Youth specifically, because at that point they were a known band, so I had some parts where the band was really foregrounded and others where they were completely hidden—behind a curtain, for instance—so you couldn’t see them. And it was great, because they sometimes were doing music not at all typical for Sonic Youth—at one point, for example, I asked them to repeat a riff from “Train Kept A-Rollin’” over and over.

Kim Gordon reminisces about her relationship with Kelley in the video clip below, produced as part of this year’s Mike Kelley retrospective at MOCA. (Kelly committed suicide in 2012.) She says a few words about the performance:

Plato’s Cave, I felt like we were some kind of a Greek chorus to it, and I always thought of Mike as a performance artist more than a visual artist. And at some point, I realized the work was the performance.


You can listen to the 38-minute (not hour-and-a-half, pace Foege) Plato’s Cave performance in its entirety here. A CD is available from Kelley’s label Compound Annex.


Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Pulp Fiction’ underwater
06:38 am


Pulp Fiction
Samuel L. Jackson
The Kloons

The Kloons have recreated an iconic scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction shot-for-shot but with one major difference—they did the whole thing underwater. It’s the scene in which Marsellus Wallace’s henchmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) visit some double-dealer Brett to collect a briefcase. Apart from the novel approach, what makes this brief clip supremely enjoyable is hearing Samuel L. Jackson’s spellbinding performance as Jules Winnfield recontextualized and blub-blubbed in this aquatic setting:

“Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say what one more Goddamn time!”

Truly wonderful.

Via Nerdcore!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Screaming Phantoms, The Dirty Ones & The Satan Souls: Check out this 1974 map of Brooklyn gangs
04:26 pm


New York City

The Dirty Ones, because Williamsburg has always been chic.
1979’s The Warriors became a cult classic by creating a fantastically dystopian world of lawlessness roamed by stylized gangs of the Romantic variety, but the reality of 1970’s NYC gangs was… well, actually… not that much different from their epic, fictionalized versions onscreen. In fact, the fear of gang violence at the time was so fevered, the film was actually blamed for crimes committed against people who were coincidentally coming from or going to the movie. This map from The New York Times is dated August 1, 1974, and the names of the gangs are so dramatic, it’s easy to see how fact and fiction could blur in the eyes of a terrified populace. 

The folks over at The Bowery Boys blog even dug up a few details on the “activities” of some of the gangs listed, including The Young Barons (an altercation that ended in one death and the slicing off of someone’s nose, 1972), a battle between the Devils Rebels and the Screaming Phantoms (two rebels were killed, 1973), and the 1974 extortion dealings of the Outlaws, the Tomahawks, the Jolly Stompers and B’Nai Zaken. If that last one threw you for a loop, B’Nai Zaken is a phrase largely associated with Ethiopian Jews, and not (as I had hoped), a bunch of Hassidim with nunchucks.

There was a even a 1973 report that a few local gangs had been cast in an autobiographical gang film,The Education of Sonny Carson, perhaps paving the way for Walter Hill to later do the same thing with The Warriors

Via The Bowery Boys

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
People who paid six bucks for shit from Cards Against Humanity were startled to receive just that
10:00 am


Cards Against Humanity

Everyone’s favorite grassroots card game company Cards Against Humanity pulled off a neat trick a couple of weeks ago, grossing—hehe, “gross”—$180,000 (!) by offering some addlepated customers an opportunity to buy “Bullshit” for six dollars on that most maniacally consumerist day of the year, Black Friday. They removed all of their products from their online store on the day after Thanksgiving and instead sold 30,000 instances of “Bullshit.” People can’t say they weren’t warned, either—the product billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime offer” promised to include “literal feces, from an actual bull” that “looks, smells, and tastes like shit. Because it is.”

Over the last week or so the boxes of poop have been distributed all over the country—nay, the world—and customers are somehow still poleaxed that their promised packages didn’t actually contain some awesomely fun surprise gift, like when you paid to see that band South of Hell because your asshole cousin swore that it was actually Slayer playing a super secret gig but it turned out to be just a regular satanist speed metal band? Yeah, it was a lot like that.

Here’s a mildly repulsive and hilarious “unboxing” video that shows some dude using his fingers to break apart the poop to see if there is an excellently nifty secret Cracker Jack prize hidden in the poop. But there isn’t, because he spent six bucks for bullshit “hand-packaged inside a custom bullshit box,” and that’s what he got.

via Uproxx

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Anti-propaganda street posters tell the truth about the police

A series of posters questioning the London Metropolitan Police’s record on racism, violence and corruption have appeared on advertising hoardings across London. The billposters are the idea of STRIKE! Magazine, which produced them in response to the Metropolitan Police’s own promotional campaign—as the magazine explains:

The Metropolitan Police Force spend ridiculous sums of our money trying to convince us – and themselves – that they’re not violent, racist and corrupt. In 2012 it was £12.6m and in 2013 it was £9.3 – in two weeks alone last year they wasted nearly half a million pounds of public money on pointless poster campaigns. This is from the webpage promoting the local policing pilot scheme:

“Evidence tells us that giving people very local information about police action in their area may increase the confidence they have in police. These boroughs were chosen as places where confidence in policing is lower than average.”

It’s propaganda pure and simple: they want us to forget that they murdered Mark Duggan, an unarmed civilian, and caused the 2011 riots; they’d rather you didn’t talk about being 28 times more likely to be stopped and searched in London if you don’t have white skin; and if the heavily redacted Operation Tiberius report is anything to go by, they definitely don’t want you to know about the 42 corrupt senior Metropolitan Police officers caught literally letting criminals get away with murder. Their entire barrel is rotten, so they want to keep the lid tight shut.

STRIKE! Magazine is a bi-monthly anti-profit, advertisement free newspaper covering politics, philosophy, art, subversion and sedition. The magazine launched the campaign two months ago, but claim they do not know who is behind printing the posters and putting them in bus shelter advertising hoardings.

However, one designer from STRIKE! told Vice UK that he had seen about twenty posters since they first appeared on Saturday December 13th, and was “[e]normously pleased” with them. Photographs of the posters have been shared by many users on Twitter.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hey Vegans: ‘Mushroom is Murder’!
09:06 am



Dangerous Minds pal Michael Backes is one of the world’s foremost experts on marijuana. He writes with this fascinating scientific tidbit you might want to ponder before tucking in to that meatless mushroom loaf for dinner tonight:

All animals, including humans, possess endocannabinoid systems responsible for feeding, energy expenditure, memory, and pain regulation. The production of endocannabinoids is one characteristic that distinguishes animals from plants. When someone smokes weed, phytocannabinoids produced by cannabis actually mimic the body’s endocannabinoids. 

New research from Italy now shows that truffles, the highly prized and insanely expensive fungi, also produce endocannabinoids. Truffles grow underground near oak trees and can ultimately fetch $1500 per pound. That truffles produce endocannabinoids is just the latest evidence that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. Plants, animals and fungi all share a common ancestor, and increasingly it appears that fungi are much more akin within the evolutionary tree to humans than say, lettuce. (I certainly feel more simpatico with truffles than turnips or kale, don’t you?)

The endocannabinoid content of truffles may be one of the reasons that humans prize them, since these compounds are active at incredibly small doses and the aroma of fresh truffles feels quite intoxicating. Vegans, however, might find themselves in a bit of a quandary as fungi move more closely towards animals in the hierarchy of nature. Many vegans take the ethical stand that veganism is cruelty free because plants do not suffer when harvested or eaten. The reality is that plants possess very robust signaling systems that share characteristics with the nervous systems of animals. We may have difficulty perceiving the suffering of plants, simply because a plant’s internal signaling system and subsequent reaction is slower than an animal’s nervous system. Vegans hoping to fully eliminate any chance of suffering in their eating patterns may wish to look into inedia.

My takeaway from this is that pigs and billionaires seek out the same drug.

Michael Backes is the author of Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana (endorsed by Dr. Andrew Weil) and head of research and development for the medical marijuana company Abatin. Previously he was a co-founder of Cornerstone Collective, California’s first research-based medical cannabis collective.

Below, a recent talk by Michael Backes at Seattle Town Hall:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘They wanted to be rock stars’: Crass co-founder disses Sex Pistols and Clash in Positive Force doc
08:13 am


Sex Pistols

Positive Force
Positive Force is a Washington DC-based activist collective that’s been around since 1985. The documentary, Positive Force: More Than A Witness; 30 Years Of Punk Politics In Action, explores the history of this organization, which often stages benefits with like-minded bands to promote various causes. There’s a wealth of archival performances in the film—including footage of Fugazi playing in front of the White House on the eve of the Gulf War—and this updated edition of the DVD has another 30+ minutes of rare live clips. The documentary also features interviews with such notables as Ian MacKaye, Kathleen Hanna, Jello Biafra, and Dave Grohl, who talks about his first-ever live gig, drumming for the band Scream at a Positive Force benefit.

One of the highlights of Positive Force is the interview with Penny Rimbaud, drummer and co-founder of the UK group Crass. Rimbaud’s band, which existed from 1977-1984, very much influenced the principles of Positive Force. Crass not only put out their own records and were critical of the mainstream, but they were also activists, believing that it wasn’t enough to just sing about social justice, you had to practice what you preached. In the clip, Rimbaud accuses the members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols of not meaning it, man, as he feels their drive to make it as rock stars came before all else.

If you have any interest at all in the history of American punk and/or activism, Positive Force is definitely worth your time. Pick up the new edition of the DVD via PM Press or Amazon.

All right, here’s Mr. Rimbaud:

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Making Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ eight times as long yields a minor ambient masterpiece
07:14 am


George Michael

It’s December 16, and If you’re a human being in the western world, you’re probably sick to death of Wham’s synthy 1984 classic “Last Christmas” by now. I argue that it’s the last song ever released to enter the Christmas canon—a friend recently argued for Mariah Carey’s 1994 song “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but I disqualify it on the basis that it’s a fuck-song, it’s a song about fucking your boyfriend, it’s not really about Christmas at all.

Anyway, “Last Christmas.” Had enough of it yet? If you have, you may find the antidote in this YouTube video, in which someone had the genius idea of slowing down the song to a length of nearly 36 minutes, which works really well. Then it sounds like some kind of 1990s dance music, like The Orb or Autechre or somebody. Slowing it down by a factor of 8 gives the sparkly and tinkly yuletime anthem an oceanic, Eno-esque aura. Sure, it’s not Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” stretched out to a brain-pulverizing nine hours, but then, what is? You have to take such pleasures where they come.

via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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