I never know what to get people during the holidays. The Holiday season is stressful. I worry that my gifts aren’t unique enough and will end up in the trash or at Goodwill. This year, however, I’m think about giving out some throw blankets. I mean, who doesn’t need a blanket when it’s cold? EVERYONE needs a blanket. Blankets are winners, but especially these blankets.
What I like about them is that not everyone has them. The links for each one is under the image. The prices range anywhere from $49 - $129 depending on the size.
The idea that there are Bootsy Collins and Peter Sellers blankets out there in the world is kinda rad.
“I predicted terrorism because I can feel it,” Donald Trump announced this week (exacting publicity and self-praise—who would have predicted that—from the massacre in Paris). “I can feel it like I feel a good location,” he continued, tastefully contrasting mass murder with picking a winning spot for a casino-hotel complex. “I really believe I have an instinct for this kind of thing.”
“Ha ha ha”, said everybody about Trump’s “superpower” of sniffing out terrorism (at least on the rational side of the American electoral brain). But not this writer! On the contrary, when Trump made this declaration, I was in the midst of writing an essay (about two thirds of which follows), on the very subject matter of the Republican front runner’s uncanny, alarmingly accurate instinct.
No shit, I’d even used the word “instinct” seven times (the very seven times that proceed) without having heard Trump use it once himself.
Instinct, then, is an interesting, mysterious quality, and one possessed by most of history’s biggest players. By “biggest players,” I mean those that took advantage of circumstances to seize radical power (as opposed to boring old figurehead-of-the-establishment-type power): the likes of Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler. Typically, such figures consider themselves possessed of some sort of second sight, a phantom patron (or perhaps “daemon” is the word I’m looking for?) that whispers in their ear (and theirs alone). Hitler, for instance, once told a journalist about how as he stood having a smoke one day behind the trenches during WWI, he heard a voice telling him to move: he did so, and then, having taken a couple of steps, a shell landed right where he’d been standing.
Many of Hitler’s associates remarked upon his incessant monologuing. Indeed, Hitler referred to himself as the “messenger from nothingness.” Neither did Hitler ever write his speeches down—he was winging it, ever loyal to his instincts, which led him from being considered a national laughing stock with shit hair to a position of absolute power.
“I go on my way,” he declared, en route to turning the world inside out, “with the ease of a somnambulist.”
When Trump first lashed out at Megyn Kelly, recall that his chief adviser Roger Stone instantly resigned in dismay, because the billionaire wouldn’t listen to “reason.” And indeed, who doubted that, with his misogynistic and absurd smear against a Fox New personality, Trump hadn’t pitched his campaign off a cliff? Trump’s instinct, however, whispered something else in his ear: that he could get his revenge on Kelly (no small matter to such a tumescent ego) without risking his popularity. This flew in the face of all received wisdom – and yet once again, Trump was absolutely on the money.
It’s happened time and time again.
Trump’s pious regard for his instincts is further evidenced in his approach to speeches. He improvises (just like Hitler did in his speeches, the ones Trump’s ex-wife said he liked to keep near the bed). When he attacked Carson last week, at the tail end of a ninety-minute unscripted speech, Trump clearly hadn’t given it any more forethought than a note written in ink on the palm of his hand to “remember to attack Carson.” In the immediate wake of the speech, commentators—slow to learn—were quick to call it the “beginning of the end” for TRUMP 2016. The latest polls show him now pulling well clear of his nearest Republican rival, the soft spoken, befuddled brain surgeon.
What else is improvisation but the purest possible adherence to instinct? “You don’t want a scripted president!” Trump told an Iowa audience a few months back. “Look at all the cameras blazing there. This is live, all over the place. We’re on Fox, CNN,” he went on, before brandishing an invisible script. “Look, there’s nothing” (Another messenger from nothingness?)
There is, I would suggest, a kind of theology at the heart of all this, that of any improviser—from Lenny Bruce to Charlie Parker to Adolf Hitler—the belief that the best decisions are made in the moment. Excessive premeditation, or consultation, these only blunt the cutting edge of genius, which expresses itself (in certain select souls) via instinct and cunning.
Yes, a vote for Trump is a vote for divination – for this is precisely what he is alluding to what he spoke of “good locations” and having a “feel” for the timing of significant global events. Here is a man convinced of the magical acumen of his intuition. It has after all already made him billions upon billions of dollars, and it is this intuition—this abnormal winning faculty, as he would have it—that Trump offers in lieu of policy, political affiliation, character, or any of the other usual ingredients that go into a presidential pie. He might be out of his depth, sure, but he’s got his instincts!
When Trump holds his invisible script, he is mocking the existing political alternative—everyone else—a Washington made up of lobbyists, focus groups, special advisors, academics, public relations… a kind of collective antithesis of instinct: premeditation, forethought, rationalization, logic. In dominating the Republican race as he has, furthermore (doing so, indeed, at minimal expense to himself), Trump is explicitly offering the voter an example of his ability to make successful moves which are invisible to everyone but him.
What’s for good for Trump, of course, is by no means what’s good for the rest of us, but the thing is, his instincts really are impressive, and you don’t have to think he would make (as he might put it) the winningest president ev-er, to concede as much.
Yes, Trump is doing a disconcertingly effective job—thus far—of improvising his way from being considered a laughing stock with appalling hair to the most powerful man in the world.
From Mein Kampf to The Art of the Deal? Such a phenomenon would not be entirely without precedent. It’s just like Karl Marx predicted “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”
Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico and French avant-garde film director Philippe Garrel had a decade long romantic relationship between 1969 and 1979. Garrel, acclaimed in his youth as being a sort of cinematic Rimbaud, was much admired by Jean-Luc Godard, but is almost completely unknown in the English-speaking world. Nico appeared in seven of his films and sometimes gave him music for them that has not been heard elsewhere. Stills from Garrel’s films appeared on the covers of her Desertshore and The End albums, which show how interested she was in promoting his work. Garrel made his own clothes at the time and began dressing Nico, encouraging her to dye her hair crimson and cut her bangs. Their most significant and fully-realized collaboration was La Cicatrice Intérieure (or “The Inner Scar”), made in 1972 when Garrel was only 22.
During their relationship, the pair became hardcore heroin addicts, resorting to petty thievery from friends and acquaintances to support their habits. According to Richard Witts’ biography, Nico: The Life & Lies of an Icon, their Paris apartment was a “garret” that lacked gas, electricity, hot water, furniture and housed a gargantuan mountain of cigarette butts. The entire apartment was covered in two coats of glossy black enamel paint. Their bed, apparently, was Garrel’s overcoat.
To call Philippe Garrel’s films “tedious” and “self-indulgent” is a bit of an understatement. They’re preposterously tedious and self-indulgent—I believe the Monty Python “French Subtitled Film” sketch was directly inspired by Garrel’s work—but no more so than Matthew Barney’s movies, if you ask me. About half of her Desertshore album (and one otherwise unreleased song, the mind-blowing “König,” see below) is used as the film’s soundtrack. (This again seems worth comparing to Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint 9, a collaboration with his wife, Bjork, herself a big Nico fan.)
To some, Garrel, who is still making films today, is an underrated visionary genius whose work must be seen in the cinema to be fully appreciated (for years the director refused to release his films on DVD). To them he is revered as some cinephiles worship John Cassavetes. To others, his films (the ones made during his relationship with Nico at least) look like what two junkies with a camera and the financial backing of a French heiress might get up to…
La Cicatrice Intérieure‘s dialogue, mostly made up right before they’d shoot it, by Nico, consists of existential bitching, basically, as the pair walk around in barren, yet gorgeous landscapes shot in Sinai, Death Valley and Iceland. Garrel uses LONG simple linear tracking shots with minimal editing during scenes. Visually, the film is quite stunning—again think Matthew Barney—but the director forbade subtitles so unless you speak French and German, at a few places you’re bound to be confused. (A Japanese DVD with subtitles popped up in 2005).
Nico does most of the speaking in La Cicatrice Intérieure, moaning throughout the film in her humorless, stentorian voice, at times coming off like some sort of prophetess of doom. As the Time Out reviewer said of the film when it was released in 1972: “You need a bloody big spliff to enjoy this. A miserable couple who you would not wish to meet at a party [Garrel, Nico] are joined by a naked weirdo [Pierre Clémenti, best-known for his role as the gangster lover of Catherine Deneuve’s prostitute in Buñuel’s Belle de jour] with a bow and arrow and a desire to set everything on fire. That’s about it, frankly, unless I fell asleep, which is likely.”
Nico described the film like so:
“[It’s] an important film, a great film. It concerns the fragility of life. The film treats the story of a lunatic who starts to kill all of his sheep. It is not clear if he is a shepherd or a prince. He has no identity until I show up [of course!]. I am a queen on a journey. A queen finds a kingdom wherever she goes. There are more songs than dialogue in the film which I think is a good idea [of course!].
In the case of La Cicatrice Intérieure, she’s probably right about that, and although the film does have its perplexing, often gorgeous, merits, as our own Marc Campbell put it, La Cicatrice Intérieure is “a gorgeous looking folly that, despite its abundant tracking shots, is so inert it makes L’Avventura look like The Fast And The Furious.” La Cicatrice Intérieure is now in the public domain and there is even an HD version of it floating around on the torrent trackers that elevates the viewing experience quite a bit and is worth finding (Hint, looky here). Yet another fine example of an absolutely M.I.A. film that you can see today without even getting up from your seat. La Cicatrice Intérieure was once the litmus test for obscure, nearly impossible to see movies, but there’s even a quite good version of the film on YouTube (see last video).
“My Only Child” and “All That Is My Own” are heard in the following two sequences. The child is Nico’s son, Ari Boulogne. Note how the camera moves constantly.
Before he became known as the “Marc Bolan” we all know and still love (you know - the guitar-wielding god-of-glam done up with eyeliner and with tons of hair?), Bolan was still going by his birth name “Mark Feld,” and resembled Donovan more than his soon-to-be bonafide rockstar self.
Marc Bolan (who was still using his birth name of “Mark Feld”) at age fifteen modeling as a “John Temple Boy” in 1962 (far right)
A young Marc, early to mid-60s
When he was just fifteen, Bolan did a little modeling as a “John Temple Boy,” (for John Temple menswear) sporting a short, mod haircut and Savile Row-style clothing. A far cry from his future, super-glammy “I’m gonna suck you” look that Bolan would go on to cultivate during his days with T.Rex. Even the publicity photos for Bolan’s first single with Decca, 1965s “The Wizard” feature a nearly unrecognizable short-haired version of Bolan.
In the 2001 book, Glam Musik: British Glam Music ‘70 History, Bolan’s future publicist Keith Altham said Marc would frequently walk into a bar called the Brewmaster with his new record in tow proclaiming that he was going to be “the greatest thing since Elvis Presley.” And he sure wasn’t wrong about that bit. Loads of photos of a young Marc Bolan (many of which were taken in the early to mid-60s), follow.
Already famous in hip-hop circles as the DJ in Stetsasonic, Prince Paul was much in demand as a producer after he worked on De La Soul’s momentous debut 3 Feet High and Rising. In addition to De La’s second and third albums, he produced Boogie Down Productions, Slick Rick, Queen Latifah, 3rd Bass and Big Daddy Kane; as “the Undertaker,” Prince Paul formed the pioneering “horrorcore” group Gravediggaz with RZA, Frukwan of Stetsasonic, and the late emcee Poetic.
So hot a property was Prince Paul that Russell Simmons gave him his own label, which Paul named Dew Doo Man (sometimes stylized Dewdooman) Records. The debut of a trio called Resident Alien, It Takes A Nation Of Suckers To Let Us In, was to have been the first album on Dew Doo Man—the November 1991 issue of SPIN even included it alongside Nirvana’s Nevermind in the list of staff favorites—but Rush giveth, and Rush taketh away: the label was scuppered and Nation Of Suckers was never released. Alex Ogg’s The Men Behind Def Jam quotes Paul on Dew Doo Man’s sad story:
[Prince Paul had] been approached by [Lyor] Cohen and [Russell] Simmons after De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising made him one of the hottest producers in rap. “I was like, quote, this up-and-coming producer that crossed a lot of quirky rap over to pop audiences,” Prince Paul recounts of their overtures, “[and they were] pricing dollar signs, ching ching… ‘Paul, do this label. We have RAL [Rush Associated Labels], whatever you want to call it.’ I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do it.’ I just want to produce records. I’m just so happy, I was like a really naive kid, I want to produce records, don’t want to do nothing else. Then I was getting calls at the house: ‘Paul, why don’t you think about doing the label?’ ‘No, I don’t want to do the label.’ At the time I had Russell managing me, and then my lawyer starts calling me: ‘Russell’s calling me up and wants to know if you want to do the label.’ So I’m like, ‘OK, I’ll do the label, fine.’”
So he dutifully set about rounding up some neighbourhood friends, including Resident Alien and Mic Tee Lux, before producing a series of demos. According to Prince Paul, Simmons thought they were “dope” and green-lighted the project. But when it came to releasing the records he demurred, which hit Paul straight in the pocket because he’d financed most of the recording costs and had been turning down other production work in the meantime. “I just lost a whole lot of time and when everything was said and done, it was like, I got jerked. You know what I’m saying, it wasn’t Russell’s fault. I mean I could get mad at him all day, but I was just dumb and young and I just went, crawled [out] under the pressure.”
Prince Paul’s mid-90s business card
Of the Resident Alien album’s 20 tracks, only the single “Mr. Boops” and the twelve-inch promo “Ooh The Dew Doo Man” entered circulation before Simmons pulled the plug on Prince Paul’s label. During the recent period of internet-enforced glasnost, videos for both songs (embedded below) have surfaced, as have sound files of every song on It Takes A Nation Of Suckers To Let Us In. This YouTube playlist is missing a few tracks from side two, so if you want to hear the full album, you’ll have to go to the blogs. Assuming Double Brain, Dragon and Mr. Bug still have their green cards, would a reunion be too much to hope for?
“Stickball” is an improbably strange—and very NSFW—adult novelty record from the early ‘70s, apparently the work of singer Tony Bruno working under the pseudonym “P.Vert.” I found my copy at Downstairs Records in New York (which was actually upstairs) at some point in the mid-80s and I still have it. It’s a 45rpm single backed with another song—a pretty-sounding ballad—called “Fuck Me Forever” by Connie Lingus.
Wouldn’t you buy that? Well I did.
About a week later I was in the same store with my old friend Nate Cimmino and he scored a copy of “Stickball,” too. Nate worked part-time behind the counter of the legendary New York record store Bleecker Bob’s, which was owned by the notorious Bob Plotnik, a man who was not afraid to tell you exactly what he thought of you, let’s just say. A cantankerous fellow. Some might—charitably—describe him as an “obnoxious asshole.” (Like the real life “Soup Nazi,”he was even parodied on Seinfeld.)
One day I went into the shop to say hi to Nate and Bleecker Bob was there. He said “Metzger, you’re so fuckin’ smug, you think you know everything, but YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT. I am the mogul of moguls. Name me any record title and I will tell you the artist. Name me any artist and I will tell you at least one of their song titles.”
Nate and I looked at each other, each knowing what the other was thinking.
“Stickball,” I replied confidently. It was the single most obscure thing I could think of, sure to stop him dead in his tracks.
Bleecker Bob laughed his loudmouthed Brooklyn wiseguy laugh.
“YOU FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!! I PRODUCED FUCKIN’ P.VERT! YOU TRIED TO STUMP ME BY NAMING MY OWN FUCKIN’ RECORD! HAHAHAHAHAHA….”
He spun around and pulled a copy right off the shelf. The producer’s credit he pointed to on the label read “D.Ment.”
What were the odds?
He gloated, but I thought that it was extremely funny and so did Nate. I mean seriously, what were the odds of that occurring? And to be bested by an asshole like Bleecker Bob in such a manner of my own choosing, ultimately? Well, try having that experience in a New York record store these days, kids! Priceless!
So I had posted the above text on Dangerous Minds back in 2010. We’ve changed content management systems since then, but not long after I originally posted it, Tony Bruno himself left a comment saying that he’d never even heard of Bob Plotnik and that he didn’t produce that single or to his knowledge have anything whatsoever to do with it, which to my mind makes the story even better.
Okay, this is a pretty clever design of a ouija board area rug and a coffee table in the shape of a planchette. The conceptual design was imagined by Dave Delisle of Dave’s Geek Ideas. Dave came up with idea back in 2013. The good news is that apparently now you can actually own this set!
According to Dave, “If you absolutely want one, contact my friends at Tom Spina Designs for an estimate, they can build it for you.”
I just checked out Tom Spina Designs’ website. I couldn’t find any images of a finished area rug and coffee table on there. I’d love to see it in the real world.
Yep, you read this headline correctly. It is exactly what it says. West Australian police are on the hunt for a group of bros drunk driving motorized picnic tables in the busy streets of Perth. According to reports, the police are not amused.
“Police are concerned for the safety of those riding on the tables with no protective clothing, especially when on roads alongside motor vehicles,” a Western Australian Police statement said.
“The people using these vehicles could face a number of charges including driving an unlicensed vehicle, driving an un-roadworthy vehicle and drink driving.”
The screenshots I’ve posted come from CCTV footage.
Below, a short video of the dudes in action on their picnic tables:
Though it only existed for five years, from 1978 to 1983, NYC’s Mudd Club served as one of New York—and American—underground culture’s most crucial incubators. Talking Heads and Blondie were fixtures there, and artists that emerged from the scene it galvanized included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Madonna, the B-52s, Kathy Acker… you get the point. It was the gnarly, buoyantly creative flip-side of Studio 54’s disco-glamour coin, a lightning-in-a-bottle moment that can’t be recreated.
This week, Mudd Club co-founder Steve Mass has contrived a Mudd Club rummage sale to benefit the Bowery Mission, a long surviving homeless shelter/food kitchen that remains in NYC’s onetime Skid Row, now, like basically all of Lower Manhattan, a playground for the privileged. The event will be held on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at Django at the Roxy Hotel. Admission ain’t cheap. It’s $200 a head to get in, but again, the money goes to a homeless mission. What that gets you is a chance to buy a Vivienne Westwood dress donated by Debbie Harry, an original painting donated by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and other items donated by Sting, Maripol, Patti Smith, and other members of the Downtown demimonde.
Mass assures us that, rather than being a Sotheby’s-style auction, the rummage sale will be “like we had it in the old days,” with $50 dollar trinkets casually laid out next to more expensive items. “If Marc Jacobs donates a dress from that period and it’s $4,000 or $5,000, it might be next to a pair of shoes of someone who lost them in the Mudd Club in 1980.”
That pastiche, Mass said, was true to the club’s sensibility. “We were merging all these disciplines, which hadn’t been done before in a club,” said Mass, citing the presence of filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow, writers like Candace Bushnell and Jay McInerney, photographers like Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin (both of whom are hosts), and fashion designers like Anna Sui (another host) and Marc Jacobs, both of whom had early shows there.
The event will be open-bar, and will feature performances by the B-52s Kate Pierson and the Patti Smith Group’s Lenny Kaye, plus DJs and more to be announced.
Here’s some BADASS footage of the Cramps at the Mudd Club in 1981, from the contemporary NYC access cable program “Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube.”
Like many of you, I was once an avid collector of comic books. While it’s still in my nature to pick up an occasionally graphic novel (my last one was The Big Book of Mischief from the great UK illustrator, Krent Able), I was naturally drawn to the illustrations of the punks from the 70s done by several artists who would go on to make great contributions to the world of comic book art in a publication from 1981, Visions of Rock.
Visions of Rock by Mal Burns (on the cover Chrissie Hynde, Rod Stewart and Debbie Harry)
Although including Rod Stewart on the cover is a bit perplexing (as are some of the illustrations in the book itself) loads of incredibly talented illustrators contributed work to Visions of Rock such as Bryan Talbot (who worked on Sandman with Neil Gaiman), Brett Ewins (of Judge Dredd fame who sadly passed away in February of this year), Brendan McCarthy (who most recently worked with George Miller on a little film called Mad Max: Fury Road, perhaps you’ve heard of it) and Hunt Emerson whose work appears in nearly every book in the “Big Book Of” series.
Inside you’ll find comic book-style renditions of your favorite 70s punks like Sid Vicious (equipped with a chainsaw no less), Elvis Costello, Brian Ferry (wait, he’s not a punk rocker…), The Stranglers and others. Here’s a bit of the backstory on the making of Visions of Rock from comic book illustrator, David Hine (who worked with Marvel UK back in the 80s and whose work appears in the book):
This company that put out Visions of Rock, Communication Vectors, was run by a guy called Mal Burns, who also produced the comic Pssst! It was a weird setup, I think the (our) money came from a mysterious French millionaire. We were all paid about $200
I must admit, I’m a huge fan of Brendan McCarthy’s caricature of John Lydon (at the top of the post) looking like a crazed super villain descending upon London, compelled by the powers of both filth and fury. If you dig the images in this post, Visions of Rock can be had from third-party vendors over at Amazon for about $20 bucks, or less.
Sid Vicious by Brendan McCarthy
Elvis Costello by Hunt Emerson
More comic book versions of punk rock royalty after the jump…