Childhood movie-going usually falls into two categories: Movies you want to see and do, and movies you REALLY want to see but are forbidden to. Along with Equus and The Exorcist, Alan Parker‘s Midnight Express, for me, fell into that later category. Drugs, Turkish prisons, male-on-male rape? No way was I gonna talk my preteen self into that one. That isn’t to say, though, that I couldn’t get my hands on the Giorgio Morodersoundtrack—something I played obsessively, and still hear faintly whenever I’m (not infrequently) trying to jump a wall.
Moroder went on, of course, to even greater fame with Blondie, Donna Summer, even Japan. The 70s synth icon turns 70 (!) next Spring, and still lives in Italy, where he scored most recently of all things the soundtrack to Leni Riefenstahl‘s last film, the marine documentary, Impressionen Unter Wasser. You can find an excellent assortment of Moroder-related videos, here. Or simply play the below video a few times and find a wall or two.
Okay, I’ll admit it… I’ve got a new vice and it’s a little on the embarrassing side. You see, I’ve turned into a real Coke fiend. Not cocaine, oh no, I went through that phase years ago, I mean THE REAL THING... Mexican Coca-Cola! That’s right kids, Mexican Coke is different from (most) domestic variants of the world’s most popular soft drink. In Mexican they use real sugar cane—none of this high fructose corn syrup shit south of the border—and it is SO FREAKING DELICIOUS.
Mind you, I say this as someone who has NEVER liked soda and never drank it at all (I could go years without drinking a single carbonated beverage, it’s true), but man I just cannot get enough this this stuff. It happened one day when a friend was visiting. We walked around the corner to the local bodega and my friend noticed that they had the classic glass Coke bottles with the stickers on them—“YES!”—he cried out “They’ve got Mexican Coke here!” We bought two, drank them, then went straight back and bought two more. That was a year ago and now I drink them all the time (so does my wife, another lifelong soda hater, now similarly addicted to the “Mexican brown”—as we Mexican Coke fiends call our favorite tipple).
I’ve got it easy, after all I live in Los Angeles where Mexican Coke is plentiful and cheap. Here’s some info from the A Continuous Lean blog about where you can “score” some Mexican Coke in your locale:
How do you get your hands on some of this tasty Mexican Coke? If you live in New York there are a few options. Bodegas in places like Sunset Park, Washington Heights, etc. often stock Mexican Coca-Cola as well as other versions of Coke from South American countries. The beverage store New-Beer on the Lower East Side will occasionally sell the real-deal sugar cane Coke. If you live in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California Costco sells Mexican Coke by the case. I have my friend Kate from Texas bring me four bottles at a time. Hope she doesn?
Phil Cirocco is fascinated by vintage analog synthesizers and cheesy soundtracks from vintage sci-fi films. His website, the Novachord Restoration Project details how he lovingly refurbished a 1938 polyphonic synthesizer from Hammond:
The first commercially available synthesizer was designed by the Hammond Organ Company in 1938 and put into full production from 1938 to 1942. The Novachord is a gargantuan, all tube, 72 note polyphonic synthesizer with oscillators, filters, VCAs, envelope generators and even frequency dividers.
I bought my Hammond Novachord around 10/2004 in Connecticut. After chatting with the few brave souls who tried to repair these beasts, I soon realized that replacement of all the passive components was necessary for reliable and stable operation of any Novachord. However, the sheer number of components and it’s complexity, make properly restoring a Novachord a Herculean task.
Yes, Woodstock, but last week also saw the 40th anniversary of LA’s darkest campfire tale. You probably know the story by now (and if you don’t, you can read about it here, or here), but the shorthand goes like this…
On the night of August 8, 1969, Charles Manson disciples Susan Atkins, Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian stormed the rented home of Roman Polanski on 10050 Cielo Drive. Once behind its gates, they brutally and systematically took the lives of 5 people—including the life of Polanski’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant girlfriend, actress Sharon Tate. Tate was the last to die, knived by Watson while she was pinned down by Atkins, who then took some of Tate’s blood and used it to scrawl “PIG” on the porch wall. Manson had ordered her to leave behind a sign, “something witchy.”
The tragic events of that night, spilled into the following night and continued to ripple out through the decade(s) to come. Even today, the events of August ‘69 provided Pynchon with the darkly seismic backdrop to his new novel, Inherent Vice. The fallout was felt everywhere—even I had nightmares. Not about the events themselves (I was too young to remember those), but about Manson someday going free, and moving down the block.
After losing his wife and unborn child, Polanski was understandably devastated, and his life, eight years later, would go on to take another troubled turn. And Sharon Tate’s legacy? Beyond a still-loyal fanbase, all she left behind is a smattering of films and the promise of what might have been. And that promise, in my eyes, is at its most tangible in Tate’s American debut, Don’t Make Waves.
What’s it all about? Not much beyond The Byrds’ winning title track and Tony Curtis’ “Carlo Cofield” moving to Malibu and mixing it up with the town’s free-lovin’ oddballs. It was directed by Brit Alexander Mackendrick, a decade past his Sweet Smell of Success, and features one of my all-time favorite character actors, the criminally underappreciated Robert Webber. Curtis and Webber aside, though, it’s Tate who steals the show as the always-bikinied skydiver, “Malibu.” In fact, Tate made such a strong impression, she served as the inspiration for Mattel’s “Malibu Barbie.”
A physical copy of Waves is hard to come by. But you can still catch it for yourself, in its 10-part entirety, on YouTube. Part 1 starts right here. The trailer follows below.
Snuff Box is the name of the greatest sketch comedy show you’ve never heard of. I’d venture so far as to say it’s a work of demented genius. Make that two demented geniuses, Matt Berry (IT Crowd, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) and Rich Fulcher (“Bob Fossil,” “Eleanor,” etc., on The Mighty Boosh). First broadcast at 11pm on BBC3 in 2006 and never broadcast again, Snuff Box sadly was missed by its target audience, who ended up discovering it anyway, via YouTube and Bit Torrent. (Snuff Box finally came out on DVD in 2008).
Each episode begins with Berry and Fulcher (playing “themselves”) walking down a white hallway, before choosing a door leading to a typically odd “situation.” The pair are employed as government hangmen. They also spend a lot of time in a gentleman’s club (where time travel occurs), nursing whiskeys and swearing. There is a LOT of swearing in Snuff Box, so much so that it gives Deadwood a run for the money. It’s one of the meanest spirited comedies I can think of (not that this is a bad thing, of course).
Here are some of my favorite Snuff Box moments. First, the awkward date:
The Empty Room
The Guitar Lesson
Isn’t it about time Adult Swim picked this sucker up for American audiences??? (Hint, hint).
Recently came across a book of collected interviews with Peace Pilgrim. Born Mildred Norman in 1908, Peace Pilgrim began to walk across the United States in 1953, with only one set of clothes, no money, would not accept money, and would only eat what food people gave her. She continued her pilgrimage for 28 years, until her death in 1981. Her pilgrimage, of course, was for world peace.
Now that is some sheer fuck-you audacity. That’s what we call a, cough, “inspiring example of how much one person can do with their life by making it an inspiring example.”
You can find lots of her writing here. It’s concise and very direct.
After escaping from prison in 1970, Leary found refuge in Algeria with the Panthers’ Eldridge Cleaver, who was himself on the lam for attempted murder. But rather than receiving Leary as a kindred spirit—and displeased with his drug-touting ways—Eldridge kidnapped Tim and his wife, Rosemary Woodruff…er, placed them under “revolutionary arrest.” Eldridge eventually freed the pair, but, in the clip above, you can still get a sense of their uneasy Algerian alliance.
Engrossing article this week by Marc Lacey in The New York Times: Mexico’s Drug Traffickers Continue Trade in Prison. In it, Lacey describes the nonchalance with which prison guards in Mexico grant “revolving door status” to that nation’s most notorious drug traffickers. The guard-trafficker relationship has, in fact, grown so cozy of late that prison cells have become de facto bases of operation for the traffickers’ criminal empires. What were once “Centers for Social Rehabilitation” are now better known as “Universities of Crime.”
Fortunately, there’s American money on its way to fix things! As part of its counter-narcotics assistance program, the U.S government is sending Mexico a grand total of…$4.0 million. Cue this. In the accompanying surveillance video, watch and see what all that money’s gonna try to fix.
Some astounding images of melting Antarctic icebergs. In them, you can see the stripes that were formed over time as layers of snow reacted with various ocean conditions. Thanks for the cool pix, global warming!
Behold the DORYU 2-16 “pistol camera.” According to World Famous Design Junkies, it’s a 16mm, Japanese police-issue camera and is not at all a “toy.” It doesn’t seem capable of firing bullets, either. Yet. Or until they roll out the inevitable update of Michael Powell‘s career-killing film, the relentlessly creepy, Peeping Tom. In it, camera-crazy Carl Boehm stalks and murders women with a knife concealed in one of his tripod’s legs. Why the camera? Well, how better to capture his victim’s dying screams? Yeah, all this from man who gave us such celebratory fare as The Red Shoes, and Stairway to Heaven.
For your viewing pleasure, YouTube hosts in its entirety the Criterion version of Tom—albeit broken into 12 parts. You can start with Part I below. Oh, and interesting bit of movie trivia: Tom also features the first bit of nudity in a British film—from legendary “glamour model,” Pamela Green.