This week, Drag City is releasing a rad book of American punk rock ephemera entitled, White Glove Test: Louisville Punk Flyers, 1978-1994. This 288-page hardback is jam-packed with what David Grubbs (Squirrel Bait, Bastro, Gastr del Sol) calls “teenage folk art.” The book documents a bygone era—pre-Photoshop and before the rise of the Web—when flyers were hand-assembled and often the only means bands had to promote their shows.
“Ephemera—the most beautiful kind of refuse. Created in a moment without thought of legacy, but standing as a pure record of time, place, and without any Rashomon spin or Zapruder eye. When we were stenciling, chopping, and recombining days before a show, I barely had a thought about anyone not standing on Bardstown Road or near Iroquois Park ever giving these broadsheets another glance. There was a need to leave a breadcrumb trail for the freaks. The newspaper of record saw us as a fringe element not worthy of bulletins. It was the only way to broadcast—to cast broadly. Now they have gained an emotional sheen. The punk rock mayfly (genus Ephemera) is gone, but any of these posters is a microchip bursting with memories.” (Tara Key, a member of a number of Louisville outfits, including No Fun, now considered the scene’s first punk band)
There are over 700 flyers in White Glove Test; here are some of our favorites:
Brooklyn-based artist Kelsey Henderson paints stunning portraits in oil, recently turning to punks and more explicitly counterculture fashion plates for her subjects. The louche bodies that illuminate her canvases sometimes pose coyly for observers, but some paintings feel more like amateur photography—perhaps impromptu snapshots from a punk show. Henderson sometimes even stages the images on mock-smut magazine covers, adding a cheeky layer of niche consumerism to the viewing. From her artist’s statement:
At first seemingly influenced by fashion photography and photorealism, Kelsey Henderson’s work is a brutally honest study in perception and attraction. Her painting style is comprised of seemingly invisible layers which connect to her subjects like skin. Lying at the heart of her work, the emphasis on the skin enables the artist to continue exploring the idea of the Platonic Crush, an attraction to beauty devoid of sex, ignoring gender and embracing physical and emotional flaws. Using a desaturated palette, these excruciatingly pale portraits become almost translucent; the artist’s perception on and through the subjects’ skin. Bruises, scars, veins and tendons shine through, not as imperfections, but emblems of beauty.
In art of the less “fine” variety, Henderson also designs and sells patches and pins of S and M and fetish imagery.
There are certain songs that represent a time and a place perfectly. Not just for one person, but for everyone who was there. Without question, one of those songs is “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight,” a 1984 dancefloor smash that is probably THE most emblematic song of New York City nightlife circa 1984. Probably? I’m stumped for any other example of a song that was so large and in charge that year, but nothing else comes to mind. It was pretty much THE song. Any “period piece” film about the East Village in 1984 that left this song off the soundtrack would be remiss in their duty to be historically accurate.
By the time I personally parachuted into NYC in Fall of 1984 “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” was already quite the omnipresent dance floor staple. There’s no doubt in my mind that it provided part of the soundtrack to my first night out in the city (an evening that saw me nearly knock Andy Warhol on his ass after being shoved into him by a future murderer) and for many nights afterwards. The song never really faded away but while it was HOT you heard it nightly at Danceteria (where I hung out several nights a week), at Limelight (where I worked), at the Pyramid Club (where one of the producer’s had a Monday DJ residency) and just about every downtown club or party where you might find yourself. You couldn’t escape it if you wanted to. While the rest of America was listening to Billy Idol, Madonna and Phil Collins, NYC was all about “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight.” Even if you never consciously thought about it, you got it via osmosis if you were out at night.
I’m sure that some of you reading this could “name that tune” with but a single note, but if the song title doesn’t immediately call to mind the music, stop reading, scroll down a bit, hit play and then come back.
Defying any easy category—was is synthpop? electropop? freestyle? Latin-influenced? Euro-disco?—with what sounded like synthetic steel drums and one of the first uses of a newfangled keyboard effect called the “Emulator,” “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight” was the product of Stuart Argabright, formerly of Ike Yard (who were signed to Factory Records); vocalist Claudia Summers; Ken Lockie of Cowboy International (who’d also played drums for Public Image, Ltd.); and producer/remixer Ivan Ivan (who would go on to work with Depeche Mode, DEVO, New Order and many others). Composed by Argabright, with Lockie, about an actual dominatrix he once dated, the song’s initial sessions were recorded at the New York studio of Tangerine Dream’s Peter Baumann on gear that had been built by Conny Plank, the German producer of Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Eurythmics and many others.
Producer Arthur Baker heard the song and wanted it for his Streetwise Record label, where it was released in Spring of 1984. But when the group began to play live in clubs around the city to promote the record, Claudia Summers was replaced with model Dominique Davalos after she was cast as the dominatrix in the music video by underground filmmaker Beth B. Although the video is actually pretty tame (see for yourself) it wasn’t played on TV at the time, but is now a part of the permanent collection at MoMa. The song had a second wind after it was used on the soundtrack of the 1997 John Cusack movie, Grosse Pointe Blank.
If you are one of those intrepid crate-diggers making the rounds this weekend for Record Store Day, you might want to make a beeline for Get On Down‘s special deluxe pink vinyl repressing of “The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight.” Like all of Get On Down‘s high quality “for the discerning collector” products, it’s an especially nice trophy to bring home today, a heavy, sturdy recreation of the original 12” (down to the labels) with a glossy 16-page book that includes press clippings about the song and input from Argabright, Ivan Ivan and Dominique Davalos.
The trouble with getting famous when you’re young and cherubic is that you’re forced to grow up in public—a public that still wants you to be the nerd from The Breakfast Club, no less, when you’re Brat packer Anthony Michael Hall. Hall attempted to buck typecasting with his role in the 1986 stinker, Out of Bounds, a “gritty” film directed by no other than Richard Tuggle—who wrote the actually gritty Clint Eastwood film Escape from Alcatraz. Trouble is, Anthony Michael Hall isn’t Clint Eastwood or even in the remote vicinity, and his role as an Iowa farm boy searching for the LA drug kingpin that murdered his brother is not his finest moment.
It is so bad. Between stilted dialogue and Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to pull off a tough-guy act, we’re talking hilarious 80’s cable TV B-movie fare here. The soundtrack however, is from Stewart Copeland of The Police, and it is surprisingly good, if a little schizophrenic! With music from Copeland and Adam Ant, Night Ranger, Belinda Carlisle, The Smiths, The Cult, The Lords of the New Church(!), Sammy Hagar, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, who actually had a cameo in the film—you can see the performance below. Don’t get me wrong—the hamfisted inclusion of some good music for cool cred does not save this bomb, but maybe they’re enough to make it a cult classic?
Ouch: The x-ray of a Jack Russell Terrier who ate a 10-inch bread knife.
The excuse of the dog ate my homework might not be so far fetched as these X-rays of things our fine four-legged friends have swallowed shows.
Dogs are supposed to be carnivores, but omnivore or hoover might be more appropriate, as some of the items gulped down by these intrepid pooches include knives, a skewer, a phone charger, a light bulb and a rubber ducky. The images come from the They Ate What? competition, where vets submit X-rays of the most shocking items discovered inside family pets in the hope of winning a $1,500 prize. This selection is things the dogs ate….but don’t worry all foreign objects were successfully removed—to the relief of both dogs and owners.
This dog ate a phone charger.
Shish-kedog: A dog from Germany called Marley ate this kebab skewer.
Stoned: A seven-year-old Jack Russell from the UK devoured 80 small stones.
Marvel’s Daredevil only debuted on Netflix a couple of weeks ago, and it already seems poised to assume Breaking Bad levels of fan chatter and devotion—it’s got sharp writing, excellent acting, and it’s unsparingly grimy in its depictions of the underworld and its brutality, with intense and furious fight scenes that push at They Live duration. If it keeps up to the promise of its first season, I could just watch the shit out of it forever—I haven’t read superhero comics since I was probably 12, but Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin? God DAMN, pass the popcorn!
So I got a big laugh out of the frisson of this video that recuts Daredevil scenes to parody the affably goofy intro sequence of the ‘80s ensemble sitcom Night Court. Pretty much exactly like that video from a few years ago that perfectly transformed Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining into a heartwarming family comedy, this totally jettisons the dark feel of its source material to hilarious effect. Opportunities were missed, though—the screamingly obvious visual joke of Richard Moll’s “Bull Shannon” and Kingpin goes bafflingly unmade, but it’s still well worth 40 seconds out of your life.
Noah Wall is a NYC-based musician who contributed to the soundtrack of the documentary Print the Legend and released a really enjoyable LP called Hèloïse, among many other projects, but this week he released something mighty awesome. Wearing a pair of microphones designed to fit on one’s ears, so as to make incognito stereo recordings as close as possible to exactly what one is actually hearing, Wall made multiple visits to a Manhattan Guitar Center store over the course of three days, and released an album of those field recordings he picked up at random in the Walmart of musical instruments.
March 27, 2015. It’s about 3 on Friday. School’s out and people are headed to Guitar Center Manhattan. I’m going there to do some field recording. A block away, I put on a pair of microphones you might find in a spy catalog. They look like earbud headphones but are actually binaural (stereo) mic’s that go in each ear. No one suspects I’m recording them - more like listening to music or something.
Upon entry, I grab and prominently display the Absolute Beginners Guitar Chords book under my arm. This helps others dispel the possibility of musical prowess on my end. Gets me closer to the action.
This is my third and last day recording here. Some cliques gather in the acoustic guitar room and the occasional couple show off for one another but this place is mostly loners. Trying out a guitar or amp or whatever, they probably didn’t come here to jam with others. But the din has an ensemble effect and the unintentional group is abiding some unspoken rules. There’s a general respect in terms of volume, and sometimes strangers play in the same key and seemingly with one other. On two different days, two different people on two different instruments in two different rooms play the same Jackson 5 song.
In the mere days since he posted the album on Soundcloud, Wall has won new admirers, and prompted discussion of whether making an album this way is even legal. And he posted this wonderful graphic on his Facebook page, compiling social media responses to the work.
Chubby Checker, born Ernest Evans, holds a place in rock history as the man who popularized “The Twist,” a song originally a minor hit for Hank Ballard. Evans was given the name “Chubby Checker” by (American Bandstand host) Dick Clark’s wife, as a play on “Fats Domino,” whom Evans did impressions of in his act.
Checker’s recording of “The Twist” was a number one Billboard Hot 100 smash in 1960—and again in 1962. The song kicked off a nationwide dance craze, and Checker followed it up with such diverse hits as “Twistin’ USA,” “Let’s Twist Again,” “Slow Twistin’,” “Twistin’ Round the World,” “Twist It Up,” and (not really, but according to a bit of hilarious wikipedia vandalism) “You Stopped Twisting. Why?”
After all but dropping off the music charts in 1969, Chubby came back hard in a poignant 1988 duet with The Fat Boys:“The Twist (Yo, Twist!).”
Chubby certainly is an important figure in rock history, and no one thinks so more than Chubby. I was recently unpacking a box and ran across a page from the July 28, 2001 issue of Billboard Magazine. This page was actually stuck to my refrigerator door for ten years before my last move, and is a full-page, paid-letter from Chubby Checker addressing “the Nobel Prize nominators and the nominators of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, TV, radio, motion pictures, entertainment, entertainers, and the general public at large, world wide.” It’s seriously one of the strangest things I’ve ever read, and I was surprised to do some research and find its contents haven’t really been discussed, at length, by “the general public at large, world wide.” A full-page ad in Billboard couldn’t have been cheap, even in 2001—so whatever Chubby had to say must have been really important.
Click on image for larger version.
In this rambling letter, Chubby Checker ranks himself in terms of greatness amongst Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Dr. George Washington Carver, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney, and suggests that he alone is responsible for people “dancing apart to the beat.” According to Chubby, “dancing apart to the beat is the dance that we do when we dance apart to the beat of anybody’s music and before Chubby Checker it could not be found!” As he clarifies in the letter, essentially, if you dance with someone and you are not touching—and you are dancing to the beat… well, Chubby Checker invented that shit.
In the letter, Chubby demands that he get his own private space, away from other performers, in the courtyard of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where they are to erect a statue on a “thirty foot or so” pedestal of Chubby in the pose from his “Chubby Checker’s Beef Jerky” logo (!!!)
In the letter, he is somewhat dismissive of Elvis and The Beatles, who, in his eyes were nothing new, though they did improve upon the artists that came before them—just as Chubby improved upon the hit song which he covered. But Elvis and The Beatles, after all, didn’t invent dancing—as Chubby states, “let’s face the truth… this is Nobel Prize territory.”
Here’s the full text of the letter, just in case it sounds like I’m making any of this shit up (Checker’s grammar left intact):
This is my message to the Nobel Prize nominators and the nominators of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, T.V., Radio, Motion Pictures, Entertainment, Entertainers, and the general public at large world wide. Should you choose me I’ll consider it honorable. However I have conditions for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
To place the “Twist” symbol that’s on Chubby Checker’s Beef Jerky, this statue on top of a thirty foot or so pedestal in the courtyard of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. l would like to be alone, thank you. I changed the business. I am often called the wheel that Rock rolls on as long as people are dancing apart to the beat of the music they enjoy. Before ”Alexander Graham Bell”...no telephone. Before “Thomas Edison”... no light. Before “Dr. George Washington Carver”...no oil from seed or cloning of plants. Before “Henry Ford”...no V-8 Engine. Before “Walt Disney”...no animated cartoons. Before Chubby Checker…no “Dancing Apart to the Beat”. What is “Dancing Apart to the Beat”? Dancing Apart to the Beat is the dance that we do when we dance apart to the beat of anybody’s music and before “Chubby Checker” it could not be found!
Elvis Presley is the King of Rock & Roll, no doubt, and we love him. However Rock & Roll was already here. He just became the king of it. The Beatles who we all love so dearly, their likeness was done by the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and The Crickets. But it’s evident that they did it much, much better. Hank Ballard wrote and recorded the “Twist”. The inner city kids made a dance to that song. The record died on radio. Radio stopped playing the record. The “Twist” was dead. No one was going to hear the record and no one was ever going to see the dance. We re-recorded the “Twist” and campaigned the song and the dance at DJ dance parties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Radio stations started to play the “Twist” by Chubby Checker. We finally made it to American Bandstand and showed the world what it was. Chubby Checker changed everything. He gave movement to a music that never had this movement before. The styles changed. The nightclub scene is forever changed. Checker gave birth to aerobics.
He gave to music a movement that could not be found unless you were trained at some studio learning something other than dancing apart to the beat. It’s fun. The “Twist” the only song, since time began, to become number one twice by the same artist. Oh yes, we’re Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But lets face the truth. This is Nobel Prize Territory.
The “Twist” is very recognizable when you dance apart to the beat. But “The Pony”, two on one side and two on the other side, the dance that I introduced in 1961 is the biggest dance of the century. They do it to everything, in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and now 2000’s. And what about my “Fly”? To explain it better, throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. If you “Fly” you automatically do the “Shake”. From I959 to this moment it’s either the “Twist”, the “Pony”, the “Fly”, the “Shake” or some other nasty stuff in between.
Please l urge you not to look upon my comments as self-centered, proud love thy self. This is not what this is about. Since l have such a unique situation in the music business, I feel only I can explain it. If the music industry knew or understood this reoccurring phenomenon, that’s renewed every time the beat begins, they would have explained it through decades. Yes, “Dancing Apart to the Beat” is Chubby Checker. Everybody is doing it everyday, every month, every year, since it’s discovery in 1959. Chubby Checker’s given the music business something great. Now he wants his greatness returned.
I want my flowers while I’m alive. I can’t smell them when l’m dead. The people that come to see the show have given me everything. However l will not have the music business ignorant of my position in the industry. Dick Clark said, and l quote, “The three most important things that ever happened in the music industry are Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Chubby Checker”. Now l ask you. Where is my more money and my more fame? God bless and have mercy. You know I love you.
P.S. l am also placing this letter on www.chubbychecker.com for the world to see. It would grieve me to have them ignorant of what l stand for in the music industry. Chubby Checker is King of the way we dance worldwide since 1959.
Original pressings of Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album included a 15-second track called “Farewell to John Denver,” in which the late poet laureate of Colorado sings a line of “Annie’s Song” before he is strangled to death. In the Pythons’ defense, Denver begs in the lyrics: “let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms” (though he does not, as far as I can tell, come on Annie’s pillow).
The track was removed from the album when Denver sued the Pythons for unauthorized use of his song. Terry Jones replaced it with a stammering apology to the listener titled “Omitted on Legal Advice.”
The item which follows has been omitted on legal advice. Uh, once again we apologize for that pause in the record which was owing to the, uh, original item being omitted on legal advice. However, I’m pleased to say we can now go on with the record, so here we are with “Finland, Finland.”
“David Bowie: The Un-Aired Interview, 1977” is all the information offered by the YouTube uploader, but the context is fairly obvious anyway: He’s being interviewed in a hotel room during a 1977 press junket in Holland to promote Heroes. It’s pretty long and if you’re a Bowie fan, it’s quite entertaining. He’s especially “real” and down to Earth here, obviously a rarity in his 70s interviews until this time (as he cops to, admitting that every interview he was doing during the Ziggy Stardust era was “in character.”)
Bowie charmingly and enthusiastically discusses his plans to produce DEVO (who the Dutch interviewers have never heard of), working with Eno on Heroes and the slog of show business rituals such as the one that they are all involved in at that very moment.
In the middle, Bowie does a lip-sync of “Heroes” while the camera stays in the control room. Afterwards there’s a photo session with dozens of photographers during which two young boys present him with a book about Egon Schiele (Bowie intended to play the artist in a film biography around that time) which he’s obviously psyched about! Then the footage ends back in the hotel room for more Q&A.