Dignity, schmignity! Who am I kidding, the man is shameless! Watch in slack-jawed boredom as Glenn Beck interviews himself, in a kind of idiotic (or demented, if you prefer) Swedish Chef impression.
Glenn Beck lost his mind (and the vast majority of his audience and influence) a while ago, but has Beck the showman lost his mojo, too?
He’s not even trying here. Well, he’s trying to take up airtime, I guess, but not much else. I can’t imagine too many people, not even stupid ones, would subscribe to this, or continue their subscriptions if this was the quality of the programming they would receive for their hard-earned dough. There aren’t enough hours in the day and this doesn’t even rise to the occasion of lame.
The issue was money. Sergio Leone originally wanted Henry Fonda to star as the “Man With No Name,” in his film A Fistful of Dollars (1964). But the production company could not afford such a famous Hollywood actor. The role was then offered to Charles Bronson, who turned it down, because he thought the script “bad.”
Then came the list of those who could have been and the one who eventually became the “Man With No Name:” Henry Silva, Rory Calhoun, Steve Reeves, Ty Hardin, James Coburn and Clint Eastwood.
Leone wanted Coburn, but at $25,000, he was too expensive. The role, therefore, went to Eastwood, who was $10,000 cheaper.
Having finished working on the long-running cowboy TV series Rawhide, Eastwood was not keen on making another western. But encouraged by his agent, he read the script. Eastwood recognized the screenplay as a direct lift from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Intrigued, he took the part.
What Leone liked about Eastwood was that he moved like a cat—quietly assured, self-confident. It was a quality other actors and directors would notice. Richard Burton, who co-starred with Eastwood in Where Eagles Dare, compared him to Robert Mitchum, as having a “dynamic lethargy.” Director Don Siegel said Eastwood did nothing, and made those around him appear to be acting.
A Fistful of Dollars nearly collapsed during filming as a copyright license had not been agreed upon with Kurosawa. This meant the film was only given a European mainland release, and was banned from being shown in the U.S.A. and Britain. However the film made sufficient profit to fund Leone and Eastwood in making a sequel, the aptly titled For A Few Dollars More (1965), and then a third the following year, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966).
By 1967, all license agreements had been cleared and Leone’s trilogy was released in America. The critics hated it, and damned all 3 films outright. Yet, the public rightly adored the series, and the films became Classic Westerns.
This is “Out of the West” which formed the first of a 2-part documentary on Clint Eastwood. This section looks at Eastwood’s early life (from childhood to drifter, to Army) and on to his first acting roles, success in Rawhide and working with Sergio Leone. The documentary concludes with Eastwood setting-up his own company Malpaso, and his collaborating with Don Siegel on Coogan’s Bluff, Two Mules for Sister Sara, The Beguiled and Dirty Harry.
If you have an interest in film, this is definitely one to watch before it disappears.
Rocker Willy DeVille died in 2009 at age 58 from pancreatitis and other health problems resulting from his hard-partying lifestyle. Willy’s band Mink Deville was one of the original CBGB’s house bands in New York from 1975-77 and his hipness factor has been well documented. He spent much of his solo career playing in New York, New Orleans, and Europe, where he was incredibly popular. In fact, Willy’s eclectic music was much more well received in France than in the U.S. Undoubtedly his choice to record the Mink DeVille album Le Chat Bleu in Paris and his use of Cajun rhythms and French ballads contributed to his popularity there.
DeVille had a deep-seated hatred for Los Angeles, even though he often recorded at LA studios where cocaine was plentiful, and utilized Latino musicians (including David Hidalgo from Los Lobos) to create his Spanish-Americana roots music. Willy told Sheila René for Rocknet in 1995, “I say it every time I record in L.A. — that I’ll never do it again, and I keep doing it. It’s crazy. I just record and go to the hotel, and never go out, then back to the studio. I hate L.A. It’s the worst. I think they eat their children there. I never saw any kids.”
He also had a mother-hen tendency to worry about other musicians, particularly expat Englishmen, who moved to The City of Angels.
French producer Philippe Rault, based in L.A., recalled a few years before Willy’s death:
“Willy should be worried about his own personal condition than about Englishmen coming to LA. To him, in the pantheon of myth of Willy DeVille’s mind, which is quite large, LA symbolizes Sodom and Gomorrah, the worst of the worst of everything. This is a Connecticut boy who was spooked a few times in LA and never got over it. Basically everything that has to do with LA is bad. To him, going there was a totally decadent situation and somebody was going to go off the deep end. He wasn’t completely wrong in a number of cases, because it has happened along the way. When you look at what David Bowie and John Lennon and all these guys did when they came to LA at one point in their career, it kind of equals downfall and all kinds of wild lifestyles that led to a very difficult moment. But it’s such a stereotype, it’s not even funny. They got over their chemical dependencies but Willy never got over his. My wish for Willy is to get himself back together.”
Rault wrote to me recently:
Let’s look at the real facts of Willy’s career. If failure and addiction warped his vision of Los Angeles, this was mainly a result of his early encounters with two important local music business entities. For starters Capitol Records, which signed Mink de Ville in 1977 and thoroughly sabotaged the group’s career within the framework of a three albums deal, starting with Cabretta. The Capitol executives thought they had signed a ‘punk’ band out of CBGB’s and were expecting to have inked their own Ramones or Television. They probably never listened to the original demos that their scout Ben Edmonds had brought from New York, definitely no punks here. So that was misunderstanding number one. The second album, Return to Magenta, got totally embroiled in a dispute between the band and the company, mostly over money. Le Chat Bleu, the final album recorded in France, was never even released in America and strictly left to the French division of Capitol/EMI, Pathé Marconi to put out. Only Frenchmen with strange musical affinities would appreciate and enjoy that one. And they did, paving the way for Willy’s future European career.
Then there was Jack Nitzche, the musically super talented but also very twisted man Willy described several times as ‘my crazy uncle.’ He was the incarnation of excesses of all types, L.A. style, and consequently brought along a heavy doom and gloom vibe… So associated with the dark side of L.A. that he contributed in a big way to block that celebrated California sun out of Willy’s eyes. Jack produced the first two Mink de Ville albums and Steve Douglas, Jack’s protégé, would produce Le Chat Bleu. Then Jack returned and produced Coup de Grâce in 1981, this time for Atlantic. After that Nitzche kept coming back and knocking at Willy’s door. In 1991 he was due to produce Willy’s first FNAC Music album Backstreets of Desire, but by this time Willy and his wife Lisa had finally seen the light. Willy had started straightening himself out from his heroin addiction and he decided to get away from his crazy uncle.
So much for that complex and ambiguous relationship with the record company and the producer. Career failure and drugs were certainly not the exclusivity of Los Angeles, but symbolically they surely contributed in Willy’s mind to associate the place with distrust and the dark side.
Now let’s see what ended up in the plus column in his association with Los Angeles.
His only ever gold album emerged from Los Angeles in 1992 and launched a whole new phase in his professional life, bringing him artistic and financial success that he had never enjoyed before. Not in America of course, but in Europe. This is the town where a great mariachi band, Nati Cano’s ‘Los Camperos,’ helped Willy create a new rendering of ‘Hey Joe,’ which would ignite his prospects in a big way. I had the privilege to produce that record and even though we did not know we had a hit at the time, we sensed something exciting and unique had happened in the studio. The Mexican touch gave a completely new spin to that hackneyed neo-folk song which had peaked in 1967 with Jimi Hendrix’s take on the story of the man running south of the border to escape the law and the consequences of his crime. Willy totally identified with the ‘bandido’ persona and slid into that character like a hand into a glove. The follow-up video shoot took place in Tijuana, naturally. His first and only gold single, right out of Los Angeles with an all Mexican musicians band, in a studio on Vineland Avenue in North Hollywood.
Also in L.A. I introduced Willy to John Philip Shenale in 1992, in that unhip place known to the world as the San Fernando Valley. This introduction resulted in a long and very creative relationship, which would generate four albums: Big Easy Fantasy, Loup Garou, Crow Jane Alley, and his final album in 2008, Pistola. Phil Shenale did great work with Willy out of his North Hollywood compound, with albums that maintained Willy’s career in Europe in a major way, as he had, in all practicality, given up on his American career. By then Willy did not want to work in the U.S. any longer and the music business here returned the favor. No label wanted to touch him. He was a junky, a has-been, an unreliable entity you did not want to get close to. Only Gary Stewart and Rhino Records’ Forward label attempted to make a go for it in the U.S., without success unfortunately, with the Backstreets of Desire album.
These are the hard facts in Willy’s career and should be taken into consideration as they run contrary to the myth and perspective he liked to propagate of Los Angeles as a ‘plastic’ town, an unholy place to avoid, a locale made for final artistic hell. One can truly argue that in the second phase of his career Los Angeles was quite good to Willy, as he was at last getting his life together again. For a recording career point of view, it turned out to be a very beneficial place for him to work from after all.
One final very positive and important event in Willy’s tumultuous life also happened in Los Angeles. He met his third wife at Capitol Records. Nina Lagerwall, the woman who in the last nine years of his life would stand by him and take care of him in his most difficult moments, until his demise in August 2009.
French guitarist Freddy Koella, who played and recorded with Willy (and shared a love for James Trussart guitars) explained in an e-mail this week why Willy did so much better in France than here:
“[Willy] represented a poetic picture of the American. The Europeans are still fascinated with the U.S. Willy also loved Europe. Its art. Europeans were touched by it. With his different costumes during the years, he was also very entertaining and difficult to grab. A certain mystery. The drug factor also played a role for the fascination. Europeans are also more forgiven about personal battles. He was the beautiful loser. For him to be popular in the U.S, he would have had to get aligned with the norm and work hard. He couldn’t do that. Fighting hard wasn’t his thing.
When he used substances, he was unpredictable. We can consider that a sickness. His team knew it and was ready for that. At times, yes, drugs affected his work.. But physically he had a strong nature, so he was able to manage most of the time. But when he was on his game he was very easy to work with. A very good heart, good sense of humor, a genuinely good person. A friend. It was frustrating at times. But we would forgive him.
He was a very good musician, singer, very instinctive. He had his vision and stuck to it. He loved to emulate his heroes, the old blues guys. He had a very unique voice. You heard his voice for two seconds and you recognized him instantly. That’s the mark of a great artist.”
Bell’s idea and essay were entitled “Assassination Politics,” and if you haven’t encountered it before, well, you’re in for a bit of a shock, particularly as the nuts and bolts necessary are rapidly coming into place: Anonymous and untraceable digital cash (leveraging Bitcoin), uncrackable Internet traffic mixers in the form of the TOR network, and TOR hidden services. (According to Bell the idea is inevitable—it’s coming—though I’m personally quite skeptical of that claim. But no matter…)
Basically, the idea is this: What if there was a system that took bets on which politicians, military leaders or water-privatizing CEOs would be assassinated and when? And what if the system preserved the anonymity of any and all bettors and could pay those who “guessed” correctly without identifying them? Using modern cryptographic techniques such a system is indeed technologically possible and described (see video below). Remember The Dead Pool, Clint Eastwood’s final “Dirty Harry” film? Kinda like a high-tech crypto-anarchist version of that, but seen as a practical way to destroy the Shitstem. Big fun.
Now in case you’re tempted to believe that this is merely the dream of a Libertarian crackpot, it’s worth noting that Bell not only received a chemistry degree from MIT, he was a relatively early employee at Intel and even started a computer storage company. In other words, Bell, who admittedly is a bit of a weirdo, is most certainly not an intellectually challenged man and the AP idea makes use of a smattering of cryptographic techniques that have largely come to exist in the years since he first proposed it. So it probably can be done.
So now, you might ask, What’s so controversial about what is essentially a market for predictions? So what if people are betting on the deaths of world leaders? We all have to die sometime. Well, the key to note here is that the bettors can bet and get paid (if they are correct) without revealing their identity or location (read: IP address) on the Internet. Bell believed that this combination would prove truly irresistible to certain murder-non-averse types who a) Like lots of money and b) Like to kill people and, oh yeah, c) Who don’t mind knocking off hated dictators or other “enemies of mankind” (to quote Samuel Fuller). Indeed, according to Bell’s formulation, the system is designed precisely to encourage someone to, let’s just say, increase their odds of winning the “dead pool” substantially. Universal hatred of a specific figure would increase the odds of his or her impending transience greatly, as an enormous bounty is accumulated via all the bettors betting on (and thereby encouraging) a rapid demise.
In his essay Bell then went on to predict the collapse of world governments as they are understood today, because it would become just far too dangerous for even local petty bureaucrats to remain in their position and alive at the same time. Further claims by Bell and others predicted fewer wars, as aggressive military leaders got knocked off via gaining the opprobrium of the masses (thereby accumulating a huge payoff against his name) and then attracting legions of fortune-seeking assassins, one of whom is eventually successful and who can then cryptographically and anonymously collect his huge payout.
Of course, claims of the end of war or even the end of governments as we know them sound suspiciously like early comments about the Gatling gun: It’s such a terrible weapon that no one will start a war again (though it wasn’t too much longer before WW I showed us exactly how insightful that comment was). And does anyone really want a world in which, theoretically, anyone’s name can show up on a worldwide kill list? That’d kinda suck for American Idol contestants and pundits from the right and left. But the point here is that if the Brabecks and Koch Brothers of the world keep trying to put the rest of humanity into a great big headlock by attacking our water through fracking and privitization (an interesting combination, BTW), people with serious cypto skillz may get pissed off enough to actually build a secure AP system and load it up with a couple of names. You know: just for fun.
In other words, Herr Brabeck, you might want to rethink your position a bit. Do you REALLY want to make an enemy of practically all of humanity? Just stick to poisoning the world with your powdered baby milk formulas and candy bars and maybe you’ll live to a ripe old age.
Yep, UK-based luxury chocolatier company Edible Anus believe they’re onto something with their bumhole chocolates which are “lovingly cast and crafted from the delectable posterior of our stunning butt model.”
We believe the anus range can dissolve the cultural boundaries of race, gender, class and sexual orientation. Join the uprising, spread the joy and let’s teach the world to love the anus.
I think a better name for this product would have been “Assterisks,” but hey, that’s just me…
Taylor Swift may look the part but but she’s no Marianne Faithfull. Not by a long fucking shot. Not only can’t Swift sing, she has no emotional grasp of the song she’s singing. “As Tears Go By” is one of the most beautifully melancholic songs ever written. Swift and the increasingly pathetic Jagger do a staggeringly insensitive and clueless rendering. Tears? Indeed.
Rolling Stones, you’ve managed to wipe out your own fucking legacy. You’ve stomped it into the ground and turned it into something that no longer remotely resembles the rock ‘n’ roll you once made that changed my life. Go fuck yourselves!
Solo Trans is an uneasy blend of unfunny skits with a 1984 solo concert by Neil Young in Dayton, Ohio. Neil is in Kraftwerk meets Gene Vincent and Bo Diddley mode with some of the bits feeling downright Daft Punkian.
Solo Trans was directed by Hal Ashby and released on long-out-of-print laserdisc. While it’s not Young at his most sublime, it is an entertaining document of Young at his most whacked-out, unpredictable, contrarian and prophetic. Here’s a rare chance to see it. Thanks YouTube.
“Heart of Gold”
“Don’t Be Denied”
“I Got a Problem”
“Hello Mr. Soul”
“Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me”
“Do You Wanna Dance?
Yes, before he was the king of terrible waiting room music, Michael Bolton (then performing under his real name, Michael Bolotin), was in a butt-rock band called Blackjack. While they only really existed for about two years, the drunken karaoke material they produced is immeasurable in value. Blackjack’s promotional film from 1979 borders on being an unintentional Spinal Tap-type parody of the most insincere (or possibly just coked out) elements of the music industry.
I know they were paid to say it, but the assurance with which the producer (that’s Grammy award-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Tom Dowd, who worked with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Derek and the Dominos, Rod Stewart, Cream, Lulu, Chicago, The Allman Brothers Band, Joe Bonamassa, The J. Geils Band, Meat Loaf, Sonny & Cher, The Rascals, Willie Nelson, Diana Ross, The Eagles, Kenny Loggins, The James Gang, Dusty Springfield, Charles Mingus, Herbie Mann, Booker T. and the MGs, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin, among others) and industry dude (“Doctor” so and so) tout them as The Next Big Thing is kind of awesome—definitely the product of a bygone era in the music business.
Fun fact: Blackjack once toured with Ozzy.
Below, a promotional film containing two gloriously dated videos of Michael Bolton fronting a rock band, with all the hallmarks of the era.
I shit you not. Apparently the G8 leaders and their entourages are such delicate flowers that they can’t bear to see the effect of the global recession on the towns they drive through, such as upcoming host Enniskillen in Northern Ireland.
Local councils in Northern Ireland have painted fake shop fronts and covered derelict buildings with huge billboards to hide the economic hardship being felt in towns and villages near the golf resort where G8 leaders will meet this month.
Northern Ireland’s government has spent £2m (€2.3m) tackling dereliction over the past two years, the environment department said. Some buildings have been demolished and others have been given a facelift in an attempt to make areas more attractive.
Almost a quarter of “dereliction funds” were freed up for local councillors in Co Fermanagh in anticipation of Britain hosting the annual Group of Eight leaders’ summit there on 17-18 June. More than 100 properties have been spruced up. In the one-street town of Belcoo, the changes are merely cosmetic.
At a former butcher’s shop, stickers applied to the windows show a packed meat counter and give the impression that business is booming. Across the street, another empty unit has been given a makeover to look like a thriving office supply shop.
Locals are unimpressed. “The shop fronts are cosmetic surgery for serious wounds. They are looking after the banks instead of saving good businesses,” said Kevin Maguire, 62, an unemployed man who has lived all his life in Belcoo.