Here’s something you don’t hear every day: Mark Andrews, 51, of Atascadero, CA, who believes he’s a werewolf allegedly shot his neighbor Colleen Barga-Milbury, 52, twice because he was convinced that she was a vampire.
Defense witness Carolyn Murphy, a forensic psychologist said, “(He believes) he transforms into a werewolf,” and “holds the spirit of the wolf.”
The first record of Andrews believing he was a werewolf, she said, dates to 1996, though she suspects he had that same delusion during his first psychotic episode three years earlier.
Murphy said Andrews believed the voice of God commanded him to kill Barga-Milbury, whom he believed was a vampire.
In 2009 Andrew became convinced that another one of his neighbors was a vampire:
Andrews believed a different neighbor was a vampire. Andrews left mounds of dirt and flour on that neighbor’s door and once pounded on the neighbor’s door, calling her a “bitch,” though she didn’t answer.
At his home, according to police reports, police found two lists of names, several marked “hate with death.”
As to why Andrews didn’t kill this particular vampire neighbor “God didn’t tell him to kill her” Murphy said.
Mark Andrews has believed himself to be a werewolf for the past 20 years. During the time of the murder, Andrews was apparently not taking his medication.
In the years following the success of her memoir The Happy Hooker and the launch of its film franchise, Xaviera Hollander dabbled fairly widely in merchandising the “Happy Hooker” name. She can hardly be blamed, it’s such a catchy phrase that it’s been cheekily co-opted by everyone from crochet hobbyists to fishermen. Hollander has been involved in drama production, written a long-running advice column (and penned plenty of sex-advice books), and she even had a Happy Hooker board game.
Lest you think I was kidding about that, here you go.
Hollander produced a kitsch artifact holy grail with her 1973 LP Xaviera! It’s mostly a spoken-word album, with tracks featuring Hollander detailing her philosophies regarding sex generally and prostitution specifically. There are a few tracks that are basically dramatizations of trysts, but the real money-shot here (sorry) is Hollander’s bonkers cover of the Beatles’ classic “Michelle.” It’s been a mix-CD staple of mine since I found it years ago on April Winchell’s old MP3 page (it’s not on her current page, but don’t let that stop you from heading there anyway to revel in all the marvelously bizarre delights contained therein), and it could not be more out of place, either on that LP, or on planet freakin’ Earth.
I don’t want to mislead, this isn’t anything like full on Mrs. Miller-level self-deuded badness. But it’s still pretty out there, and bad in a way and to a degree that make it truly compelling. At no time is the song ever actually “sung”—it’s moaned in a breathy, overwrought “Happy Birthday Mr. President” way that often out-camps most intentional campifications of sexuality. And when the most famous prostitute on Earth moans “I want you, I want you, I WANT YOU,” should it not maybe feel more believable? Fittingly, the track ended up on the Golden Throats 4: Celebrities Butcher the Beatles compilation, and as far as I know, it would be another ten years before Hollander endeavored to sing on an LP again, for the Dutch-only release Happily Hooked. (See what I mean about that branding? That shit is durable.) And even on that album—or at least the part of it that my DM colleague Amber Frost found—she still basically just talks over music. Not that exceptional singing is the reason you listen to it anyway, it’s all in good fun.
One last trivia nugget for the trainspotters: the Xaviera! LP contains a “special guest” credit to the rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins, who, apart from his own musical contributions, assembled the musicians who would come to be known as The Band. Whether his guest appearance is as the guitar player on “Michelle,” or as a male voice in one of the performances, or both, I couldn’t say.
A hobby can be an essential activity for relieving stress. Everyone should have one to clear their minds of the day’s tension and strain, whether it be stamp collecting or bird watching or model ship building or videotaping yourself pissing all over random objects in your living room.
In one of the murkier, moldier recesses of the internet you will find the YouTube channel of one “Johnny Urine.”
Johnny does one thing and one thing only. He posts videos, generally about 30 seconds in length, of himself whizzing on indiscriminate objects.
In the 25 videos posted to his channel, Johnny Urine lets loose—not only on the intended articles, but even more disturbingly, all over his living room carpet. His aim is not always true, and one wouldn’t imagine a whole lot of house guests having an extended stay in the Urine abode.
The stream of videos sadly cuts off in November of 2012, leaving us wondering if Johnny Urine may have departed this earth, leaving only a legacy of ammonia-stenched statements on the mundane objects that mock our sad existence. Let that soak in for a minute.
Fair warning, these videos are NSFW-ish.
Here, in what is certainly his greatest work, is Johnny Urine baptizing a Pink Floyd CD:
On January 1, 1976, Tinseltown’s iconic sign read “Hollyweed” after art student Danny Finegood and 3 of his college pals used $50 worth of dark fabric to transform the famous Hollywood landmark temporarily. They had practiced it first on a scale model Finegood had crafted.
It was more than a simple practical joke, Finegood considered it a statement on the relaxed California marijuana law that went into effect that day.
He also turned it in as a school assignment which earned him an “A.”
If you’re thinking of attempting a stunt like this, think again. On top of being illegal, it’s also quite difficult to get near the sign these days.
Two years after the intial alteration, in 1978, the Hollywood Sign Trust was established as a way of protecting the sign and the fragile hillside surrounding it. They’re serious about it too. In addition to a razor-wired fence, there’s 24-hour surveillance, infrared cameras, motion sensors, regular helicopter patrol visits by the authorities, and other high-security measures.
A folk song was written in 1976 about the sign-changing incident, by a man named David Batterson, with such lyrics as follows:
Now it’s finally safe
to take a little toke
In 1987, Dr. Timothy Leary paid a visit to MTV to be a guest VJ. He had a few more IQ points than some of their regular contributors. It’s a treat to hear him set up the video for Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”:
Now this is a real heavy one—I don’t know what this means. It has something to do with the third world and the exploitation by the first world and our hopes that the third world will get behind the camera and start becoming part of the cybernetic age. I don’t know. Watch it and make up your own mind. It’s a good tune.
Leary also talks about playing percussion on “Give Peace A Chance,” shows off some early CGI in the video for “Hard Woman” from Mick Jagger’s unloved She’s the Boss, and shares his thoughts on Nancy Reagan’s drug policy. It ends with a spectacular Ike and Tina Turner rendition of “Proud Mary” that’s worth sticking around for.
Buying audio equipment is an addiction for some people (99.99999999999% of these “people” being male people, of course). Although it is perhaps a more respectable addiction than either drugs or alcohol, and less expensive than gambling, it is, at its root, still an illness. For once you begin climbing on the ladder of high fidelity audio… they’ve got their hooks in you. You’re never satisfied, because there’s always something better. Buy that better amp and it’ll just expose the weakness of your speakers. The solution? Better speakers! But those new speakers don’t really blend well with your subwoofer, do they, which now sounds kinda flabby, doesn’t it? Finally you simply can’t take it anymore and replace your sub with a better one… Repeat this process several times per decade, if not annually. The story ends with the death of the audioholic or else said audioholic’s better half putting her foot down on his headphones while he’s wearing them.
That said, high fidelity audio equipment, like HDTV sets, is getting waaaaay cheaper while quality and performance is going up, up, up. A $10,000 stereo system purchased in the late 1990s is nowhere near as good as what you can buy for a fraction of that today. Over the years, I’ve owned gear from Marantz, Pioneer’s Elite line, Sony’s ES series, Carver, Klipsch, Hafler, Rotel, Harmon-Kardon, Boston Acoustics, Polk Audio, Yamaha, Philips, Panasonic and others. I am by no means an “expert” but I do research this stuff obsessively and keep up with what actual experts have to say. And I look a lot at the Amazon rankings and reviews because the group mind is seldom wrong in consumer reviews (and where do you go to demo and hear this kind of equipment in action anymore? Depending on where you live, it might take a leap of faith).
Recently a friend of mine asked my advice on building his sound system and this is the gist of what I told him…
First off, you’ll note that I’m keeping turntables out of the equation entirely. I disagree with the likes of Neil Young and others, who feel that vinyl is superior to digital. It’s not. No audio engineer thinks that. Young told a reporter at the CES show that “[vinyl is] the only place people can go where they can really hear.” Bullshit. It’s where you can really hear pops, clicks and dusty grooves. These things can be tested and measured, of course, it’s not a subjective judgment call. A pressed platter made of a petroleum product with a needle running across it isn’t going to sound as good as a CD, SACD, Blu-ray “Pure Audio” disc or a download from HDTracks.com. A record will not—will never—have that kind of sonic range.
If you are someone who “feels” vinyl sounds better than a CD, that’s fine by me, but let’s not pretend that the technology is superior. After all, it’s Neil Young himself who is hawking the “high definition audio” 192kHz/24-bit downloads for his PONO device. His was the first major artist Blu-ray box set, too, so his message seems muddled at best. Nevertheless, Young should applauded for at least trying to educate the public about better sound quality. He’s done more than any of the major labels ever have, that’s for certain.
So how best to work with the newfangled audiophile formats like Blu-ray audio and HDTracks digital downloads kept on an external disc drive? There’s really only one obvious solution, if you ask me, and that is an OPPO universal Blu-ray player. The top of the line OPPO players are packed full of super high quality features and components like the SABRE32 Reference ES9018, the world’s best performing 32-bit audio DAC for high-end consumer and professional studio equipment, 4K video upscaling and a proper headphone amp. In a word, they are magnificent.
My first bit of advice: Make an OPPO player the centerpiece of ANY home theater AV system. More than a mere universal disc player, it’s a full featured, powerful digital media nerve center/switcher that can even take the place of a high quality pre-amp—there’s simply no longer a need for one—and handle just about any kind of format you can throw at it. This Amazon review gave me a hard on. Read it now and then come on back, I’ll wait.
We all know Apple fanboys, well I’m an OPPO fanboy. Listening to music is one of the greatest pleasures in life and my life noticeably changed for the better the day that my OPPO BDP-105D was delivered. Unboxing it was a lot like getting a new Mac, come to think of it, and the OPPO player’s solid, obviously high quality build is impressive indeed, just like getting your hands on a new Apple product for the first time. (It’s also VERY heavy. When the Fedex guy handed it to me, I wasn’t prepared for this and nearly toppled over.)
Everything I had sounded better on it. I am currently still in the process of rediscovering my entire music collection through fresh ears, and hearing nuances I have never heard before in familiar songs. That’s really a gift, isn’t it? In the event of a fire, after my pets were safe, my OPPO BDP-105D and the drive with my music on it are the very first things I’d grab.
Now the OPPO BDP-105D player is their most expensive model ($1299), a hot-rodded version, if you will, of their OPPO BD 103, with the addition of aforementioned DACS, headphone amp and something called Darbee Visual Presence Technology, which is essentially a subtle drop shadow/luminance value effect that brings out insane levels of extra fine details of an 1080 line video signal (something users of HD projectors will REALLY notice, especially with wide shots) and even improves upon standard definition video sources. (Here’s a video that explains how Darbee works.)
Bear in mind that a good outboard DAC can cost $1000 and a decent headphones amp about the same or more. If you’re on the more demanding team of audiophiles, you’ll have to have the BDP-105D—it’s drool-worthy—but the rest of the OPPO line are pretty damned amazing, too and are priced starting at around $499 for the OPPO BDP-103 (a decent VHS player cost $600 in the mid-1980s for some perspective) and $599 for the OPPO BDP-103D with Darbee Visual Presence (a stand-alone Darblet costs $200).
As I was saying at the start, acquiring a better component—and let’s face it, the OPPO BDP-105D player is the ultimate better component—can expose the weaknesses of your system. The OPPO line features 4K video upscaling so you’re going to want a receiver that can handle 4K too and that would mean something introduced to the AV market in the past year or so. If I was going to buy a new, mid-priced receiver right now, I might go with something like the Onkyo TX-NR636 which has really nice specs, sounds great, handles Dolby Atmos multidimensional sound and is 4K video ready. If you are buying a new receiver today, you’d want something that won’t become obsolete too quickly and the Onkyo TX-NR636 is a popular model that’s a great value (it lists for $600 but Amazon sells it for around $430) and about as “future proof” as you are going to find today considering that 4K sets are about to become the next new thing in home entertainment. It’s even got a phono stage if you want to hook up a turntable.
(Some of you reading this might get sniffy at the idea of a mid-priced receiver, but do keep in mind that much of the circuitry present in receivers costing from $300 to $3000 is EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF.)
Which brings me to some utterly amazing—and as these things go, dirt cheap—speakers. A few years ago, Pioneer put out a line of low cost speakers designed by their chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones, a man known for making reference speakers that sell for $70k and now even audiophiles who can afford speakers that are that expensive find themselves preferring his cheap ones. Jones set himself the challenge to make the best possible speaker for the lowest possible price utilizing Pioneer’s vast resources, bulk purchasing power and production chain. The result is that the various models in the line of Andrew Jones Designed speakers have absolutely mind-blowing sound for a fraction of what it normally costs to buy sound gear that is this crazy good. A pair of Jones’ bookshelf speakers—perhaps the best smaller speakers I have ever heard—cost just $127. Two of the towers will set you back around $260, the subwoofer around $156 and the center channel speaker $97, but the sound is pretty priceless if you ask me. Amazon also sells the entire Andrew Jones 5.1 home theater speaker package for $549.
So if you add all of that up, for a totally kickass 5.1 home theater surround system, 4K video ready to boot, it would be around $1500 for a system utilizing the OPPO BDP-103 and $2100 for one built around the OPPO BDP-105D. I think the modded audiophile add-ons of the BDP-105 are well worth it for getting the most out of the newer digital audiophile formats, and the Darbee processing highly desirable for use with HD projectors, but with any OPPO model, you really can’t go wrong.
In conclusion, some of you reading this will think “He’s right, that’s not a bad little system for the money” and others will probably totally disagree with me, although I suspect near universal agreement on the merits of the OPPO BDP-105D, because it’s just that amazing of a device and is, if you ask me, not only a total game-changer in the AV marketplace, but something that should be incorporated into ANY attempt to put together a high quality home theater system. (They rated the hell out of an OPPO BDP-105D on Audioholics, tests which showed levels of distortion almost too low to measure. It’s so close to perfection already that it would almost be impossible to improve on its specs… well, for years to come.)
Quibble with the details in the comments, please do, but I think I gave my pal some damn good advice. Although the price is certainly right, this is no mere “entry level” audio system that I suggested—with all of his money Tom Cruise can’t buy a better universal media player than an OPPO BDP-105D and neither can you.
*Fun fact, our own Marc Campbell’s video rental store in Taos, NM was the first authorized OPPO retailer. These days Marc’s the proprietor of The Sound Gallery in Austin, TX, probably the world’s largest retail selection of vintage audio gear.
Below, a reviewer from AudioHead on the OPPO BD 105.
Turkish parliament, fighting over a security bill.
One of the fun parts about living in a (sort of) democracy is transparency (at least, ostensibly). Governments like to make overtures to the people, meaning there is the promise that you may witness legitimate battles of power between politicians and representatives. In America, this means a lot of sniping, bitching, disingenuous rhetoric and sometimes maybe a little yelling. In other countries, this can mean actual fighting.
Below is a series of shots from recent Skirmishes between lawmakers from various countries. I’m not going to say it’s a better way to do politics—Ukraine apparently does this a lot, and they don’t really seem to have their shit together—but there’s something refreshing about this kind of legitimate passion. Part of me suspects that this doesn’t happen in America because most politics are actually done behind closed doors, between politicians and private interests.
Then again, you’ve got Rob Ford who just blindly stampeded a woman to go after hecklers. Ignoble of course, but more interesting than C-SPAN!
Ukrainian parliament, brawling over a presidential decree to activate reserve troops.
South African lawmakers who accused the president of corruption were removed by police
Someone threw a chair at a Nepali Constituent Assembly meeting.
A Jordanian member of Parliament fired a Kalashnikov (though not towards anyone) outside of parliamentary chambers.
Rob Ford goes after hecklers, knocking over a colleague in the process.
A brawl erupts Taiwan’s legislature in July 2010.
Below, Venezuela MPs in punch-up over disputed election
These delightful scans of the Playboy Club Bunny Manual of 1968 come from “Bunny Regina,” who worked at the Detroit Playboy Club from July 1968 (if her inscription is any indication) to sometime in 1969. Maybe Debbie Harry can dig hers out as well? After all, she was a Bunny at New York City’s Playboy Club from 1968 to 1973. (If you’d like more information about that weird institution of the Playboy Club that was so culturally iconic in the 1960s and 1970s, check out The Bunny Years: The Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs and the Women Who Worked as Bunnies by Kathryn Leigh Scott.)
“The Bunny has become what the Ziegfeld girl was to another generation,” burbles the introduction with evident pride. Here are some of the rules and so forth Bunnies had to master:
No fraternization, either with “other employees of the Club” or with “Keyholders.” ... “She is also not permitted to give her last name, home address or phone number.” No chewing gum or eating while on duty, no alcohol consumption while “in the Club.” No drinking of “soft drinks, lemonade or even water” while one is “in view of keyholders and guests.” (Backstage is OK.) Bunnies get one free meal per day worked.
There’s a whole merit/demerit system that smacks a lot of the military, or at least a military school. You earn merits by working on your day off when the club needs a replacement, working a private party, or transferring to another club when management needs it. (These merits do turn into hard cash, by the way.) There are lots of actions that bring one demerits, including tardiness, failure to attend a “Bunny Meeting,” poor service, untidy lockers, and so forth. The most eye-popping reason for a demerit is “repeated costume offenses,” which include improper positioning of bunny ears (yes, this is totally in there) and “unkept tail,” which while suggestive in that spelling almost certainly was supposed to say “unkempt.”
Then there’s smoking. The rule about smoking is so important that it is set in ALLCAPS: “IN ALL CASES WHEN A BUNNY IS SMOKING WHILE ON DUTY, SHE IS TO ‘TAKE A PUFF’ AND SET THE CIGARETTE IN AN ASHTRAY. BUNNIES ARE NOT TO STAND OR SIT HOLDING A CIGARETTE.”
If you’re a Bunny, all sorts of things are tax-deductible, so keep your receipts! Legitimate tax deductions include “bunny hose,” wigs, cuff links, and cosmetics.
In 1977, a small label out of Ft. Lauderdale, Soul Deep Records, released the debut LP by one Frederick Michael St. Jude. Here Am I was conceived as a commercial album, and though it didn’t make the Billboard charts, as was hoped, it did eventually earn a cult following thanks to St. Jude’s unique take on pop music. His distinctive vocal quiver, reminiscent of Bowie, Ferry, and Jobriath, sits atop a varied set of catchy tunes. Some songs are bleak and futuristic, others show a country influence, while a couple of tracks conjure up the drama found in musical theater.
Not long after Here Am I was released, St. Jude visited the office of his label, only to discover Soul Deep had closed its doors and the owners were nowhere to be found. Luckily, St. Jude was able to salvage the Here Am I master tapes, as well as those for his in-progress second album, from the company’s dumpster. Inspired by the circumstances, he set aside the songs he had written for the Here Am I follow-up, and went about composing material for a bold new project, a dystopian rock opera about gangs. Though an album’s worth of material was recorded and an abbreviated version was released on a 1982 EP as Gang War – A Rock Opera, the remainder of the recordings were shelved. Subsequently, St. Jude began pursuing other endeavors, such as magazine publishing and acting, including multiple appearances on an now iconic ‘80s TV show.
Advertisement for the EP
In 2013, the Chicago-based record label Drag City re-issued Here Am I, and they’re about to unleash Gang War, which means Frederick Michael St. Jude’s rock opera will finally be released in its entirety.
Cover art by Frederick Michael St. Jude
After the introductory, opening theme sets the stage, it quickly becomes apparent that Gang War isn’t exactly about gangs, but is a metaphor for the personal and professional struggles of life. St. Jude incorporated an interesting amalgamation of styles for the album, as the songs bring to mind glam rock titans, Bowie and Bolan; the softer side of Led Zeppelin; the futuristic, dystopian imagery of Gary Numan; and anthemic arena rock by the likes of Styx, Queen, and REO Speedwagon. It’s funky, punky, and rocks with a fist in the air. It’s quite a record.
Here’s our interview with Mr. St. Jude, which was conducted via email.:
What was your creative vision for Gang War?:
Frederick Michael St. Jude: With me, it all begins with strumming chords on the guitar, to be truthful. I had just changed the strings on my Giannini twelve-string and began the initial “break-in”...giving them a stretch, when the series of chords I was playing just sort of clicked. I was overwhelmed with a melody line and the lyrics just came crashing in. We are talking about the main theme song now [“Gang War Theme”]. By the time I was finished, I sat there, stunned. I had been writing songs for years and most came pretty effortlessly, but this…this amazed me. It didn’t take a thud to me head to realize I was onto something important. Especially once I realized it was more than just a song. It was more of a prophecy. From that point on, I was in high gear and the songs just came ripping in. The year was 1982 when this miracle all took place. I say miracle because I am still stunned at how all of it fell into place. I don’t know if Gang War is my “swan song”...I am still writing and recording with my co-producer, Norman Titcomb via computer, but it will certainly do until that “swan song” (if any or another) gets here.
Read more and hear a song from ‘Gang War’ after the jump