Somewhat lurid New York cable access interview with a booger-flicking Sid Vicious and a quite talkative Nancy Spungen from 1978. Also on hand are Dead Boy Stiv Bators and his then-girlfriend, Cynthia Ross, of the all-female Canadian punk group, B Girls.
I never got the whole Sid Vicious “icon” thing. I always look askance at a kid wearing a Sid Vicious tee-shirt, especially ones where Sid is pictured sporting a tee-shirt with a swastika. What a role model. He’s one step above G.G. Allin, if you ask me. An icon of stupidity, heroin addiction and… murder?
Nancy’s assertion that Sid is a feminist around the 10.40 mark is kind of ironic, all things considered, as she was dead less than a month later. When a female caller flirts with Sid, she gets her dukes up: “You better keep your fucking hands off him, dearie, or I’ll kill you!”
And what’s with her fake English accent? Christ, look at these two. Who would want them around?
Last night during the fourth (or was it the fifth?) session of the (incredible) two day Everything Is Festival at the (awesome) Cinefamily establishment here in Los Angeles, they had a “Found Footage Battle Royale.”
Now what that means is that the entrants had to submit 2 minute clips and then they’d face off against each other with the audience “applause-o-meter” deciding the winner of each round, who’d then move on to the next. The winner was a fellow named Uneven Eagle who presented clip after clip of an enigmatic Wausau, Wisconsin cable access fitness instructor named “Jim.”
Once “Jim” was unleashed, no one else stood a chance.
For over 20 years, “Jim” has hit record and videotaped himself brandishing a scimitar, his monological musings on having a “little body,” “fat farm boy hands” and the price of magazines, pork chops and apples, as well as his thoughts on the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Because “Jim” edits his show “in camera” (i.e. starts and stops the camera between scenes) he has to hold still for several seconds after each set up to avoid the camera preroll erasing the previous scene. So he just stares into the camera. The winner of the contest had a final clip of these moments all cut together. Maybe it was the free beer, but the entire audience was shrieking in hysterics. The clips below are pretty much arranged in the order that the audience saw them in.
Above: “We can pretend we’re Hercules and we’re crushing…something. Something evil.”
“1:97 Scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft - US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator with Display Stand”
While you may remember that US unmanned drones have killed 178 children so far, these particular killing machines do present a unique opportunity for childhood desensitization to war. You can’t make land mines, Agent Orange, or Napalm into adorable little toys, can you? Of course, it would be absurd to do that, right, since Napalm and Agent Orange are banned outright, and land mines are all but banned.
At least the fine people in the Amazon comment section are giving us this sardonic, commiserative gold to chew on:
‘Hours of Racist, Imperialist Fun!’
I bought this for my son and he spent countless, blissful hours simulating massacres of weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings of brown skinned foreigners! He even realized that if he circled the drone back around on the first responders, his effective kill rate soared! Neat-o!
Educationally, this toy can’t be beat - inculcating a predilection for indiscriminate, imperialist violence against non-combatants from oppressed and marginalized communities is precisely in accordance with truly “American values!”
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Nothing teaches your kids about the fact that they may one day be the target of an extra-judicious execution by executive order via a flying death robot from the movie Terminator, then this beautiful piece of replica toy war crimes.
I remember playing with toy bulldozers when I was a young boy thinking how cool it was to be able to destroy things with my awesome machine. God what I would give to be able to be a child my sons age these days. They can make believe destroying houses and buildings from miles away up in the sky. They don’t have to get dirty, and are more environmentally clean than those dirty diesel engines. Plus, as an added bonus, the little brown people don’t have a warning to be able to run away so you get to kill many more people while you destroy the buildings. Plus, the mindset that this instills in my son will one day, I hope, allow him to become a productive member of the ruling class.
So feel free to join in, add a comment, and exercise the only voice you have in American war culture—that of a consumer!
As best I can tell from my rudimentary knowledge of sartorial paleontology, the trajectory of the Mom Jean goes like this:
In the late 1970s earl 1980s, you had your sleek, high-waisted silhouette, aided by the blend of polyester into the denim. This was a tricky look, generally thought to be best-suited to the long and lean. Think Brooke Shields in her Calvins.
By the 80s, poly-blends felt dated, and waist-lines dropped a bit (failed experiments in pleating and strange washes were rampant, but we’re sticking to the basics here). By the 90s, the snugness relaxed, perhaps in response to the influence of grunge (and high fructose corn syrup?).
What we are left with is the Mom Jean: a garment of no determinable silhouette, often, but not always, fraught with details like pleats and trouser pockets. It has the unholy power to make even the shapeliest of posteriors into bulky, amorphous blobs, and the leanest of them into the long, flat ass of defeat.
I laugh, but there will be a million Brooklyn girls sporting these, looking somehow lovely. It’s an anomaly prevalent in young Brooklyn I like to call “uglimmunity,” where a girl is so conventionally attractive, she can literally wear the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen, and will somehow appear irreverently chic.
But I, as a mere mortal, do not possess the powers to rock the Mom Jeans, especially not the Mom Jeans never even intended for moms to wear. No, these Valkyries of fashion will appropriate the ceremonial garb of moms simply because they can.
It’s early December and the first snow of winter is falling across the west coast of Scotland. Friends tweet their excitement, their child-like hopes for a white Christmas, posting images of blurry snow on lamp-lit streets. At her home in the north of Glasgow, Noise Artist Elizabeth Veldon stands in her garden, recording the sound of the snow falling.
Veldon is one of the most prolific and talented Noise Artists working today. Her work includes some of the most beautiful, brilliant, challenging and powerful soundscapes recorded. Her albums, such as A Blasted Victoriana, work on multiple levels offering up an intelligent critique of history, politics and sex. Others, including the beautifully mesmeric Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, a haunting celebration of the winter solstice.
When asked about her background, Veldon says there’s not much to tell. She was born in Scotland, into ‘a poor village with massive unemployment and a strict demarcation between Catholic and Protestant .’ This she says ‘probably led to my less than forgiving approach to religious belief.’ Veldon moved to Cambridge to study English Literature at college. It was as a student that her interests in the themes of gender, sexuality, feminist critical theory, poetry and politics, which would influence her musical work.
Returning to Scotland, Elizabeth met her partner 8 years ago. Her partner has been ‘a guiding force in my music.’ Over 6 years ago, Veldon started recorded her first CD. It sold out, and was collected by the Scottish National Library. From this Veldon started recording on a weekly then a daily basis. ‘I launched my bandcamp site around a year-and-a-half ago and since then have uploaded over 100 albums to it. I also formed my own label Black Circle records’ around 1 year ago, as a way to publish music based upon ideas of co-operation, collaboration and community.’
Paul Gallagher: When did you become interested in music and creating noise music/soundscapes? What were the key moments/influences?
Elizabeth Veldon: ‘I’ve always been interested in music, but I suppose this really took off when I met my present partner and two people obsessed with music got together.
‘I don’t know exactly when I became interested in making music but I remember why: I wanted to show that it was possible to make music without studios or finances, a kind of democratisation of the music making process. I began posting these on myspace (back in the days when everyone used myspace) and got positive feedback so I kept going. Originally I improvised tracks by playing multiple pieces by other artists over each other and recorded this to tape using a stereo with no speakers connected. This was then recorded back to my computer and then used as one of the tracks in a second layer and so on and so on until I had a completed piece.
‘As I began taking this process seriously, I started to think of it in terms of John Cage’s Fontana Mix, and began half-jokingly referring to it as Fontana Mix Without A Score, and John Cage has stayed my primary influence since then. I think it’s his belief that music is that which is produced by an artist or composer that most captures my imagination.
‘This led me to try to produce music that echoed the ideas of Pure Abstraction that is something which was not inspired by an external object or sensation. It was this that led me to experiment with feedback and wave forms.
‘More often than not the germ of a work comes from something read in a book or something I hear. For instance The English And Their Dogs came about from my partner saying ‘The Germans love children the way the English love their dogs’. While Satan Is A Very Poor Fellow was inspired by the cover of a book about German artists in exile during and after World War Two.
‘Other influences have included geometric abstractionism (in that it gave me a way to think about producing abstract music), 90’s feminist punk such as Bikini Kill, Derek Jarman (for his fearlessness) and early music.
‘That sounds like the most pretentious list of influences ever.
‘Lately I’ve found myself interested in landscape and finding inspiration from that and then, of course, there’s politics which is always present in everything I do.’
Reggae singer/session keyboardist/producer Lloyd Charmers’s death in London a few days ago brings into sharp focus the steady passing of musicians from a generation that saw Jamaica become independent during their 20s. But it also sees the passing of one of the island nation’s premier producers of the dirty reggae song artform.
Charmers was born Lloyd Tyrell in 1946 in the Trench Town district of Kingston, Jamaica, and very little is documented of his early life. After getting his feet wet in Jamaica’s late-‘50s shuffle R&B scene, Charmers started his first group, the Charmers in 1962 with Roy Wilson, and after they split, he kept using the Charmers name for many of his subsequent records.
When The Charmers split, he joined Slim Smith and Jimmy Riley in The Uniques, a group that unleashed a crucial clutch of hits like “My Conversation”…
…and others which in true Jamaican style would be redone and revived as a “riddim” countless times to generate a bunch of other hits for the dancehalls, as represented by this mix…
Federico Fellini had been working on his 12th feature film Casanova. It had been a difficult experience. Filming had taken over a year to complete, and Fellini had spent in excess of $10m, using up 3 producers. He claimed he hated his leading star, Donald Sutherland. There had been union disputes, and the negative had been “kidnapped” and returned. Then the Vatican declared one of Fellini’s previous films “obscene”. But the great master was unfazed by all of this.
‘I’m sorry if I disappoint you by not describing the tears in my eyes, my role as the victim, the artist forced to sacrifice his own integrity and purity,’ Fellini explained in an interview with the BBC in 1976.
‘I’ve never compromised. But then I’ve always been lucky.
‘On the occasions that I could be reproached for compromising, was directly attributable to my own laziness, because I was in love, or I wanted to finish the film. Or, simply because I was fed-up by it.
‘I don’t think absolute liberty is necessarily a good thing for people creatively. As far as I, or people like me are concerned.
‘Being Italian, I have a particular type of psychology: I am an artist who is conditioned to the idea of delivering his work to All.
‘The Popes in the 14th and the 15th century, or the great Lords of days gone by, they always used to commission painters or writers to create a madrigal or a crucifixion for them. It’s this necessity of an obligation - a contract - it’s an authority that forces you to work.’
For Casanova that authority was the American film company. Fellini may have had control over the designs, the sets, the costumes, the cast, the script, and the direction, but ultimately Fellini was answerable to his producers. This was partly why he had chosen to work with Donald Sutherland.
‘Well, in Casanova,’ said Fellini, ‘There was a precise plan for a certain type of character. Because the film is an American film - made by an Italian crew for a major American company. My contractual position is that the producer made me make the film in English.’
Fellini made Sutherland have his head partially shaved, his eyebrows removed and his teeth “cut” by 2mm. A false nose, chin and eyebrows were then added. Sutherland had to rethink how best to interpret Casanova’s experience in terms of 18th century expression.
Fellini wanted authenticity, and he knew his film would cause outrage from the prudes and hypocrites of his homeland, who had already burnt copies of The Last Tango in Paris on the streets of Rome.
‘You’ve got a real moralistic tyranny in Italy,’ Fellini said. ‘It is fast coming to the point where people are being told how to make love, how to dress, how to shave, how to look at a woman. I feel completely bewildered and confused. Clearly what’s going on in our country is a real mess. I cannot honestly see how we are going to extricate ourselves.
‘The Italians are like confused children. They’ve had a thousand years of Catholic up-bringing which has left us uncertain in our context of life. We are incapable, apparently, of making personal judgments because we have always asked other people. We ask our fathers, the teacher, police, the ministry, priests, the Pope. We have always asked others to give their opinion for us, without ever having to judge for ourselves individually.’
Here’s a video excerpt from the New York’s World Fair of 1964 production of “The Wonderful World of Chemistry” featuring a couple of actors rapping about the virtues of Dupont chemicals Valclene, Zerex, Zepel and Freon. This is just a small excerpt of a show that lasted 28 minutes and was performed 48 times a day!
The elaborate celebration of better living through chemistry took 203 actors, actresses, singers, dancers, hosts, hostesses, musicians, technicians, projectionists, stage hands, crew members and administrative staff to stage.
Watch a longer version of this clip after the jump…
In 1993, Rough Trade records put out Lipstick Traces, a “soundtrack” to the book by Greil Marcus. It’s one of my favorite CDs of all time, with tracks by The Slits, Essential Logic, The Raincoats, The Mekons, Buzzcocks, The Gang of Four, Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers, Situationist philosopher Guy Debord and others. It’s an amazing collection, but one track in particular stands out from the rest, a recitation by none other than Marie Osmond, of Dada poet Hugo Ball’s nonsensical gibberish piece from 1916, “Karawane.”
Hugo Ball was a follower of anarchist philosopher Mikail Bakunin and became one of the founders of the Zurich nightclub, Cabaret Voltaire, the nexus of the Dada art movement. He would go onstage dressed like this and basically, uh, do avant garde things:
Here’s the story behind this, I think you’ll agree, most excellent clip. From the Lipstick Traces liner notes:
As host of a special (Ripley’s Believe It or Not) show on sound poetry, Osmond was asked by the producer to recite only the first line of Ball’s work; incensed at being thought too dumb for art, she memorized the lot and delivered it whole in a rare “glimpse of freedom.”
Chelsea Girls was Andy Warhol’s first “commercial” success as a filmmaker. Co-directed by Warhol and Paul Morrissey, the film consists of twelve improvised vignettes (two were semi-scripted by playwright Ronald Tavel) featuring the druggy, draggy, seemingly morally-bankrupt freaks who constituted Warhol’s entourage and inner circle.
The film was shot in summer and fall of 1966 in the Hotel Chelsea, at Warhol’s “Factory” studio and in the apartment where the Velvet Underground lived on 3rd Street. Brigid Berlin (“The Duchess”), Nico, Mario Montez, Ondine (“The Pope”), Ingrid Superstar, International Velvet, Rene Richard, Eric Emerson, Gerard Malanga, filmmaker Marie Menken, Ari Boulogne (Nico’s son) a gorgeous young Mary Woronov—who danced with the Velvet Underground as part of “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”—and others are seen in the film’s three and a quarter-hour running time (the film un-spooled on 12 separate reels). Most cast members are listed by their own names as they were essentially playing themselves.
Chelsea Girls was booked into a prestigious 600 seat uptown theater in New York and actually distributed to theaters across the country. In 1966, it’s unlikely that middle America had any idea that people like this even existed. Cinema-goers in Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, San Diego and yes, even, Kansas City probably got their first exposure to actual drug addicts, yammering speed-freak narcissists, homosexuals, drag queens and a dominatrix when they watched Chelsea Girls. To Warhol’s delight, the film was even raided by the vice squad in Boston. The theater manager was arrested and later fined $2000 when a judge found him guilty of four charges of obscenity.
Movie critic Rex Reed said “Chelsea Girls is a three and a half hour cesspool of vulgarity and talentless confusion which is about as interesting as the inside of a toilet bowl.”
Tell us how you really feel, Rex!
The film was presented as a split screen, running simultaneously on two projectors with alternating soundtracks. It was a mixture of B&W and color footage. Edie Sedgwick’s vignette was removed from Chelsea Girls at her insistence, but was later known as “The Apartment.” A section originally screened with Chelsea Girls called “The Closet” (about two “children” who lived in one, with Nico and Randy Bourscheidt) was cut and later shown as a separate film.
For what we have here is 3 1/2 hours of split-screen improvisation poorly photographed, hardly edited at all, employing perversion and sensation like chili sauce to disguise the aroma of the meal. Warhol has nothing to say and no technique to say it with. He simply wants to make movies, and he does: hours and hours of them. If “Chelsea Girls” had been the work of Joe Schultz of Chicago, even Warhol might have found it merely pathetic.
The key to understanding “Chelsea Girls,” and so many other products of the New York underground, is to realize that it depends upon a cult for its initial acceptance, and upon a great many provincial cult-aspirers for its commercial appeal. Because Warhol has become a social lion and the darling of the fashionable magazines, there are a great many otherwise sensible people in New York who are hesitant to bring their critical taste to bear upon his work. They make allowances for Andy that they wouldn’t make for just anybody, because Andy has his own bag and they don’t understand it but they think they should
Ebert hits the nail squarely on the head. Chelsea Girls is actually a fucking terrible “movie.” If you view it as “art” or even as an important cultural artifact of the Sixties (it’s both) then you can give it a pass, and should, but if you’re expecting to be “entertained,” you need to re-calibrate your expectations. Only a few parts of the film are actually engaging (Ondine’s speed-freak monologues; Brigid Berlin poking herself with speed; the “Hanoi Hannah” section with Mary Woronov) the rest of it is… boring.
It looks good and parts of it are “interesting” because you can only hear what’s happening on one side of the split screen and so the silent side becomes somehow more intriguing, but, oh yeah, this is a boring thing to watch. It’s still cool, but yeah it’s boring, if that makes any sense.
Chelsea Girls has been next to impossible to see since its original releaseat least until it got uploaded to YouTube—usually screening just a few times a year around the globe. I caught it myself in the (appropriately) sleazy surroundings of London’s legendary Scala Cinema in 1984. There were probably six people there, including me. I admit to falling asleep for a bit of it, but I think everyone probably does.
This video comes from an Italian DVD that was given a very limited released in 2003. Probably the best way to watch this is to hook your computer to your flatscreen and do something else, sort of half paying attention, while Chelsea Girls is on in the background.