I don’t really care that much about LEGOs, but this “Legolize It!” weed-themed exhibition showing at the Known Gallery in Los Angeles May 26 - June 9, looks like a can’t miss art show.
In the wake of increasing raids on Medical Marijuana dispensaries by local, state and federal drug enforcement agencies, the LAgo brand’s brand-new, flagship storefront is set to open on May 26, 2012 at Known Gallery located at 441 North Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. The LAgo brand, as a perpetual “harvest” of healing power, has been especially commodified to meet the addictions of anyone who has ever wanted to experience the transaction of purchasing medical marijuana – or fine art – at a legal business organization. Synthetic starter-plants, seedlings, clones and a totally huge selection of intoxicating, fake plastic buds- all built with LEGO bricks to resemble some of the finest strains of medicinal marijuana ever grown- will be on display and available for limited purchase.
The LEGO grow room is the best. Genius!
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The film will include exclusive archival photographs, concert footage and interviews with dozens of bands, artists, label owners, zine publishers and others who helped mold and nurture DC’s underground community during this inspired decade of music.
Starring John Stabb, Ian Mackaye, Henry Rollins, Dave Grohl, Alec Mackaye, and many more.
The release date will happen some time in 2013. Watch the trailer below.
We’re all familiar with the concept of the “low information voter” (a term that can be used interchangeably, and with wanton impunity, of course, with “Fox News viewer” and “your average Depends-wearing, scooter-riding old Tea party fart”). Without low information voters, the Republicans would have virtually no chance of winning elections. They rely on them as a stalwart voting bloc every time and they never disappoint.
Lately I’ve been wondering if there should be a brand new term coined to describe a voter with even lesser cognitive abilities?
Take this new advertisement for Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher’s Congressional run in Ohio against popular Democrat Marcy Kaptur. There’s something that is so amazingly… what’s the word I’m looking for… REVEALING, yes, that’s it, revealing about the state of US politics in 2012 captured so perfectly in these succinct 50 seconds.
If this video was made by smart people, it would be brilliant, but since it’s so obviously the work of fucking dolts, it can only be seen and appreciated through that lens, probably. You’d want to believe that people dumb enough to be suckered in by “propaganda” this pitifully stupid wouldn’t even know how to register to vote or even how to acquire a driver’s license, but clearly a sizable amount of the American electorate IS THAT DUMB. So dumb, in fact, that Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is seen as a freakin’ credible GOP candidate for Congress… I mean… what?
There are so many ridiculous subtexts going on here that anyone with half a brain would just snicker a bit at the tools on their screen who thought this lameness counted as “satire.” BUT, to someone with LESS than half a brain, the obvious Fox News-watching target of this ad, this must be how they see the world around them.
First there is the portly, shiftless, white, middle-aged “hippie” Occupier (who confusingly looks exactly how I picture the average Fox News viewer to look, but never mind that or the even more curious Rod Blagojevich t-shirt he’s wearing!) who mooches off “the system” while biting the hand that writes those sweet, sweet government checks. This lazy leftie bum is juxtaposed against hardworking, conservative “Joe the Plumber,” a man who takes care of business, his family and who pays his taxes, fair and square (despite Wurzelbacher’s own tax troubles, but he’s obviously counting on no one remembering that).
Which one of them is supposed to be Justin Long and which one is John Hodgman???
And what kind of mongoloid would watch this and think “Hey, Joe the Plumber! That’s who I’ll vote for”???
Unsurprisingly, the dumbest man in the Congress, Colonel Allen West, has endorsed “Joe the Plumber.” (“We stupids gotta stick together” his endorsement communicates, doesn’t it?). It makes you wonder, at what point will the balance tip irrevocably in favor of the really stupid people in this country? When they made all of those cuts to education during the Reagan years, THIS is what the result was, ultimately, that clowns like these two can be considered credible candidates for the United States Congress. The idea that West, a man who makes Sarah Palin seem, well, not so bad, has been bandied about as a VP candidate this year is… well, par for the fucking course, isn’t it?
Devo were right! From George Washington to THIS GUY? Unless the educational system gets turned around quickly, America is fucking doomed.
[I’d like to take this opportunity to remind our readers from outside of the United States who feel all smug and superior to us that we’ve got the big guns. That is all.]
How far would you go for love? Would you give up all your possessions? Renounce this world and all its cruelty? Would you die for love? Would you kill for love?
Kill For Love is the new album by Chromatics, a band from Portland, Orgeon led by the producer Johnny Jewel of Italians Do It Better renown. I’ve written about the Italians Do It Better label before, drawing a comparison between the IDIB roster’s sound, and the lo-fi, tripped-out, “haunted retro” aesthetic of acts like Ariel Pink and John Maus.
The Italians Do It Better sound is rooted very firmly in late 70s and early 80s disco music, particularly the more soundtrack-oriented work of Giorgio Moroder, Claudio Simonetti and Patrick Cowley. As those names would also suggest, Johnny Jewel (who produces practically everything on the label) LOVES the sound of analog synthesizers. Jewel was the original choice to compose the soundtrack to last year’s 80s-noir sleeper hit Drive, and with his trademark throbbing, moody sound, it’s not hard to see why.
Chromatics are one of Italians Do It Better’s flagship acts, and one of its most popular, so expectations for this new album are high (particularly as it was originally due for release in 2010.) Thank god then that it doesn’t disappoint. It goes without saying that there’s nothing radically new here, no re-invention of the wheel, but when a form and function are just so perfect, why would you want to reinvent them?
Having said that, there is less of a reliance on arpeggiated synth lines on Kill For Love as there has been on past Chromatics releases. Of all the IDIB acts, Chromatics seem most like a “real” band, in that they aren’t afraid to adopt the “traditional” band roles of bassist, guitarist and drummer. In fact, the addition of live electric guitar on a lot of Kill For Love is perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the album.
Still, that chilly John Carpenter-vibe is present and correct, like a sliver of ice through a beating heart, as are the hauntingly distant female vocals of singer Ruth Radelet. The opening cover of Neil Young’s “Into The Black” is simply stunning, one of the musical highlights of the year so far for me, and as an opener it sets up the rest of the album perfectly. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Jewel explained the rationale behind that particular cover version:
It was very, very intentional in terms of rock mythology. You can’t underestimate the power of the guitar for an American audience. It’s a really strong symbol—just everything the guitar and Western culture represent—and Chromatics is part of that fantasy. The Neil Young song was recorded in 2009, and I knew I wanted to open the album with it, for multiple reasons. Part of it was a challenge to us as beatmakers or mood-makers, to see if we could actually write songs that could stand up in a pop sense. Because if you cover a song like that, you’re biting off a lot. You can’t touch Neil Young, but I wanted to challenge us to go beyond the loop and think about songs more.
The rest of that interview is well worth a read.
You can hear (and download) the Chromatics cover of “Into The Black” right here:
Here’s another free download from the album, the single “Kill For Love”:
Moved by the news of Donna Summer’s death, South Bronx-bred aerosol artist and DJ, SERVE (a/k/a SERVE ONE), wasted no time painting the stunning mural pictured above in homage to the late singer. With “Last Dance” – the title of Summer’s 1978 classic – emblazoned by an iconic image from the cover of her Live & More LP of the same year, it’s a beautiful piece of work. “I just had to do it…” SERVE wrote on his Facebook wall to the enthusiastic response of friends. Props, SERVE. RIP, Donna Summer.
Here’s another thing of rare beauty, Donna performing the wonderful “Spring Affair” from the Four Seasons Of Love EP on Soul Train:
Here’s one man band Gull (aka Nathaniel Rappole) performing “Fast Enough” at the WreckRoom music space in Brooklyn.
Gull has been around for awhile but seems to be averse to any kind of self-promotion. He’s a busker, plays occasional festivals and club gigs. His recorded output seems to be pretty much limited to the CDs he sells at shows and on the street. He’s from Richmond, Virginia and currently lives in Philly. I’d like to tell you more, but that’s about the gist of what I could find…without breaking a sweat. His website ain’t exactly informative.
When it’s finished, this documentary might provide a bit more info on the talented Mr. Rappole: later this month, Gull will be traveling to Nairobi, Kenya as part of “The Street Muse Project,” a free short film about worldwide street musicians.
For more on the WreckRoom, check out their website. You can download some Gull music there.
I consider this to be fucking great. And he’s only got half as many members as Lightning Bolt or Death From Above 1979.
Terms like “interactive theater” may give you visions of cheesy plays, bad magic acts and pretentious performance art. However, if you root around to the modern day origins, with such art constructs as the Theatre of Cruelty, there are rewards to be found. Namely, Brian DePalma’s Dionysus in ‘69. “Dionysus” is part filmed documentation of a live theater event and part experimental cinema, complete with being shown mostly in split-screen. (Predating 1973’s dual-vision feature Wicked Wicked, starring Tiffany Bolling and Ed “Kookie” Byrnes, by at least three years.)
The final result feels like Antonin Artaud meets Charlie Manson, with a growing sense of witchiness that lays dormant until a little past the half-hour mark. It snakes out and slowly wraps around you until the shocking and darkly funny ending. Adding to the Helter Skelter vibes, intentionally or not, all of the Dionysus devotees could be siblings of Atkins, Fromme, Watson, Beausoleil, Krenwinkle, Van Houten, et al. The only thing missing is a reference to the Beatles’ White Album. (Though if my had my druthers, I would use a Mort Garson album for the score. Though the live soundtrack, ranging from loose music to chants, is quite fine too.)
The first half hour, while good, comes across as what you would expect from a bunch of college students and actors putting on an alternative version of the famous Greek play, “The Bacchae.” It’s all half nudity, smiles, chanting, with the proceedings taking place in a large garage rather than a traditional stage set-up. It’s not until our lead Dionysus (the late, great William Finley) breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience, introducing himself as the former William Finley and is now the “reborn” Dionysus. We then get to witness the surrealistic ceremony of squirming bodies and our lead deity born.
The seemingly sweet hedonism quickly has a menacing flower-child in the form of a slight but strong in presence Pentheus (William Shepherd, whom DePalma fans might recognize as the freak-out concert goer in the finale of “Phantom of the Paradise”). Initially lurking around the pseudo-orgiastic goings-on like a bad penny until he makes himself known, revealing his intentions to murder Dionysus. But, it is only a matter of time before Pentheus is seduced by the lanky, golden-curled god. As the seduction happens, the sexuality and vibe in general goes from hippie-free-love to something in the milk ain’t right. At one point, audience members get involved in the breathing-tomb of flesh, while cult-like humming and chanting can be heard in unison for minutes on end in the background. It’s hypnotic and pregnant with ill-will until the inevitable death of Pentheus, as he is ripped apart by Dionysus’s followers.
But that’s not the real end and thanks to the glory of YouTube, you too are privy to the brilliant and dark as dirt finale. Despite the ancient roots of the play, Dionysus in ‘69 is more en point with the cultural and social atmosphere of the late 1960’s. Which is terribly fitting since no one quite did witchy and disturbing like the ancient Greeks. This is a tradition beautifully and faithfully upheld in DePalma’s infant work here. Now, if only more theater pieces were this good, then or now.
Happy birthday Dennis Hopper. You were one of the great mad geniuses of American pop culture.
During the Sixties Taos was a rural hippie Mecca. Communes like New Buffalo, Reality Construction Company and The Hog Farm popped up around this Northern New Mexican town like ‘shrooms in a field of cow pies. In 1969 I spent a few weeks at the Lama Foundation, a commune 20 miles outside Taos, where I lived in a small A-frame and spent most my time reading books and staring off into the endless New Mexico sky. This quiet mountain area was propelled into the national consciousness when Dennis Hopper shot footage in the vicinity of Taos for Easy Rider. It kind of changed things forever. Taos went from being a low key destination to a center for hippie tourism. The locals hated it.
I moved back to Taos in 2002 and lived there for seven years. The legacy of Dennis Hopper and Easy Rider still color the town and what was once seen as an intrusion by a bunch of Hollywood hipsters has now become an honorable part of the town’s history.
Hopper ended up living in Taos for a short time. He bought the historic Mabel Dodge Lujan house and the El Cortez movie theater in 1970. Throughout his life, Hopper would return to Taos. He was made honorary Mayor of the town and is buried in Jesus Nazareno Cemetery, Ranchos de Taos.
It was in Taos that Hopper struggled with his follow-up film to Easy Rider, the misunderstood, flawed, masterpiece The Last Movie. Hopper practically lost his mind (some say he did lose it) while trying to edit the film into a commercially viable product. He spent a year doing so and the end result was both a critical and commercial disaster.
I saw The Last Movie when it was released in 1971. I found it an amazing head film that rivaled Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo for sheer mind-blowing brilliance. But my first viewing was enhanced by some Nepalese finger hash and subsequent small screen viewings of the movie haven’t been quite as psychedelically satisfying.
While Hopper was madly trying to edit The Last Movie, he called upon the help of Jodorowsky and the Chilean brujo went to Taos to offer his insight.
In a 2008 interview with Damien Love, Jodorowsky discussed the Taos experience:
I had showed El Topo privately around the studios, I showed it to Metro Golden Mayer, Universal. And, all the time, the people at the screenings were enthusiastic, but then, when the salesmen came along, they would say, “We don’t know to sell this picture.” And Dennis Hopper was at one of these private shows, and he liked El Topo a lot. And so he invited me to come to Taos. And in Taos, he had four or six editing machines and twelve editors working. At that time, he didn’t know what to with The Last Movie. And I saw the material, I thought it was a fantastic story. And I said, “I can help.” I was there for two days, and in two days I edited the picture. I think I made it very good. I liked it. But when he went to show it to Hollywood, they didn’t want it, because by then he was in conflict with them. Later, I think that Dennis Hopper decided that he couldn’t use my edit, because he needed to do it himself. And so he destroyed what I did, and I don’t know what he did with it later. I never told that to anybody through the years, but I am sure that if, one day, they found my edit, it was fantastic. Because the material was fantastic. I took out everything that was too much like a love story or too much Marxist politics. For me it was one of the greatest pictures I have ever seen. It was so beautiful, so different. I don’t know what it is like now, how it has been edited, the final thing, I don’t know if he conserved anything of mine. But it was a fantastic film. One thing I do remember from back then, though, was how strong the smell of Dennis Hopper’s underarm perspiration was. It was so strong, and one day — he had I think ten women there — and I put everyone in a line in order for them to smell the perfume of Dennis Hopper. Because he never changed his shirt, for days upon days. He smelled very strong. That I remember.
My good friend Bill Whaley, who has been a seminal part of Taos’s art culture since the 1960’s, wrote about his encounters with Hopper around this time in local paper The Horsefly, of which Whaley was the publisher. Here’s Bill’s account of first seeing The Last Movie at a private screening in Taos and a rumination on what Hopper was going through while editing the movie.
If I’m not mistaken, El Topo was first shown at El Cortez Theatre in Rachos de Taos, Dec. 13, 1970. At the time, I managed the theater for Dennis Hopper. Then he was still editing The Last Movie at the Mabel Dodge House. The latter was about four to six hours in length. David or Dennis or perhaps Diana Schwab, David’s secretary phoned me and asked me to arrange for a special screening of a film on Sunday afternoon, which turned out to be El Topo. After watching El Topo, which blew everyone’s mind, we watched the rough version of The Last Movie. That evening, we showed the regularly scheduled feature: Fellini’s Satyricon. My mind was deluged by too many images. I never recovered. Due to its complex themes and brilliant cinematography, I remember thinking that Dennis might turn out to be the next American Fellini if he could edit The Last Movie with some sense of its mimetic qualities. That promise remained unrealized.
In Taos, the real Dennis Hopper appeared to get all mixed up with the artistic conceit or character represented up there on the screen of The Last Movie. Whether due to the demons or stimulants that dominated his psyche, he had committed himself to a course of action that ultimately undermined his project. As Dennis edited The Last Movie he appeared to call on the same techniques of personal emotion that a method actor uses as inspiration, but this time employed to cut the film. Somewhere in the cross over between film and life, Dennis appeared to lose access to the rational faculties and objective reality that are also a necessary part of life and the artistic process–at least in terms of the conventions of story telling and a semblance of acceptable behavior.”
Hopper stories in Taos are legend. He could be a loud-mouthed, gun-toting drunk - he showed up hammered at a city council meeting toting a shotgun - who tried to fuck every flower child that moved (foreshadowing Frank Booth). He could also be a gentle, stoned philosopher who appreciated the deep spiritual aura radiating from the magnificent Sangre de Cristo mountain range that towered over Taos like great stone gods. He hung out with artists and hippies and did his damnedest to support the local culture. But in a small town where locals have trouble accepting outsiders, Hopper may have been too much of shit stirrer, too big of a presence and too batshit crazy, even for the open-air madhouse that is Taos.
Locals claim that Taos Mountain will steal a piece of your soul so that you must stay in order to feel whole or the mountain will ultimately reject you, sending you on your way. With Hopper, the mountain did a little of both. Ultimately, it accepted him…or else one day he’s gonna crawl out of his grave and come raging into town with shotgun barrel blazing.
In L.M. (Kit) Carson’s 1971 documentary The American Dreamer we follow Hopper as he struggles with the film making process, hot tubs with groupies, rambles, pontificates, mindfucks, and gradually goes gloriously mad while wrestling with celluloid and the visions in his ever-expanding brain.
For more of Bill Whaley’s tales of Dennis Hopper in Taos, visit The Horsefly archives.