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‘Half a motherfucker’: The Legend of Pee Wee Marquette
05.03.2013
09:17 am
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Pee Wee Marquette and Count Basie

Pee Wee Marquette is another of those characters who, like Moondog, found a niche in New York’s cultural ecosystem and carved out a life for himself “back in the day.”

It was not probably what you’d call a very good life, but, what the hell, he’ll remain a sort of Jazz legend long after we’re all forgotten. Pee Wee was the 3 foot 9 inch announcer and MC at Birdland, the famous NYC nightclub, and can be heard on the intros to countless classic live Jazz records from the 50s and 60s. 

There’s even a complete CD that came out in 2008 consisting of nothing by Pee Wee’s intros, which are made all the more entertaining by Pee Wee’s deliberate mispronunciation of the names of key acts. You see, Pee Wee would pretty much make life miserable for Jazz acts at Birdland unless they paid him a “tip.” Thus, Horace Silver was “Whore Ass Silber” until Silver relented and paid ($5 in the later years, which was a lot for that time).

The diminutive, but cantankerous, Pee Wee would elbow a non-payer in the groin, blow cigar smoke in their faces, and do even less pleasant things (like telling Bobby Hutcherson to “pack your stuff and get on out of here, we don’t need you”). For this and other reasons he was dubbed by his “pal” Lester “Prez” Young as “half a motherfucker.”

According to legend (and I don’t think this story is on the Internet anywhere), trombonist Bill Watrous once caught up with Pee Wee, who was working the door of the Hawaii Kai restaurant on Broadway in his later years (dressed in a turban and a Nehru jacket, he’d stand outside and try to rustle up paying customers). Watrous saw Pee Wee getting dressed down by some tough guy, claiming that all sorts of harm would befall Pee Wee unless Pee Wee repaid the money he owed or whatever that matter entailed. Watrous saw the tough guy turn to leave and make for the stairs and then saw Marquette run over and stab the toughie in the ass several times with a switch blade before returning to his post, acting as if nothing had happened.

In the book Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond, Mort Lewis, one-time manager of the Dave Brubeck Quartet recalled Marquette:

There was a black midget, Pee Wee Marquette, who was the master of ceremonies at Birdland. And every act that played there, the musicians had to give him fifty cents and he would announce their names as he introduced the band. Dave Brubeck gave him fifty cents, Joe Dodge gave him fifty cents, and Norman Bates gave him fifty cents. Paul Desmond refused to pay one cent. And when Pee Wee Marquette would introduce the band, he’d always say, in that real high-pitched voice, “Now the world famous Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring Joe Dodge on drums, Norman Bates on bass,” and then he’d put his hand over the microphone and turn back to Joe or Norman and say, “What’s that cat’s name?” referring to Paul. Then he would take his hand off the microphone and say, ‘On alto sax, Bud Esmond.’ Paul loved that.

Some have questioned whether Marquette was actually female, and just passed as a male, but I’m pretty sure that, had that been the case, it would have made it into the legend somehow or another. Plus, his voice sounds distinctly male to my ears. Interestingly, Pee Wee was interviewed in the mid-80s by David Letterman, so somewhere out there there’s video of William Crayton “Pee Wee” Marquette, telling stories of the old Birdland from his point of view, but (Internet scrub that I am) I wasn’t able to find it.

A compilation of Pee Wee Marquette’s exuberant Birdland intros:
 

Posted by Em
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05.03.2013
09:17 am
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A 13-year-old Cher in a mug shot
05.02.2013
06:21 pm
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Apparently Cher was arrested when she was just 13 years old for “borrowing” her mom’s car. Ha!

Via Towerload

Posted by Tara McGinley
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05.02.2013
06:21 pm
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James Brown: Getting on his good foot, ‘Soul Train’ 1973
05.02.2013
05:32 pm
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Here comes the Super Brother—James Brown hitting the spot and getting mystical about education (“The only way you can live is to know. And to not to know, you can never live”) on Soul Train in 1973. He gives a slower, funkier version of “Sex Machine” (listen to that guitar) and impressive versions of “Try Me,” “Get On The Good Foot,” “Soul Power” and the excellent “Escapism.”
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.02.2013
05:32 pm
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Cover Versions: Worldwide covers of William S. Burroughs books
05.02.2013
04:54 pm
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US, 1967
 
Here are my choice selections from the dozens of book covers of William Burroughs posted by the Beat Book Covers website.

The Soft Machine:


Italy, 1965
 

Netherlands, 1974
 

US, 1966
 
More Burroughs book covers after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Tara McGinley
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05.02.2013
04:54 pm
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Jack Kerouac: His last interview with the ‘Tampa Bay Times,’ 1969
05.02.2013
04:52 pm
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And of course there are those times when so much is happening—the emails to be read, the dog to be walked, the work to be done, the ‘toothpaste to be squeezed’—that a story occasionally slips by unnoticed, unacknowledged. So, it was with this piece from the Tampa Bay Times that was posted in March.

It tells the story of reporter, Jack McClintock, who:

..visited several times with Jack Kerouac at Kerouac’s home on 10th Avenue N for this story, which was published Oct. 12, 1969. Kerouac died nine days later, on Oct. 21, at St. Anthony’s Hospital.

According to Kevin Hayes, author of the book Conversations With Jack Kerouac, McClintock’s interviews were Kerouac’s last.

Kerouac was unlike the imaginary Beat writer that millions venerated. He was a maudlin drunk, who clung to his childhood beliefs, spoiled by drink, a bitter Republican, who was dismissive of the hedonistic culture his work had inspired. It’s sometimes inevitable that the youthful firebrand will evolve into the tweedy curmudgeon. Often this phase of an artist’s life is dismissed or edited out (look how Allen Ginsberg tirelessly ignored or defended, as somehow ironic, his friend’s homophobia and anti-semitism). Still, I find such phases as interesting and as valid as the sunny, glory days—in the same way “fat Elvis” is as compelling a narrative as “Sun Records Elvis,” but for wholly different reasons.

McClintock went looking for Kerouac wanting to know what happened to the Beats in the “Age of Aquarius?” After a week of no-shows, McClintock at last saw a recognizable face with “grizzled jowls and red-rimmed eyes under spikey, dark tousled hair.”

Kerouac? The face said, “Yeah,” and then: “You want to come in?”

Although the sun was two hours from taking its evening dip into the gulf 10 miles to the west, the house was dim inside. A television set in the corner was on, soundless. The sound you heard was Handel’s Messiah blaring from speakers in the next room.

“I like to watch television like that,” Kerouac said.
“You ain’t going to take my photo are you? You better not try to take my photo or I’ll kick your ass.” A threatening leer, then a laugh.

“Stella. Hey! Turn the music up!” Stella went and turned the music up. Her feet were silent on the floor.

Kerouac dragged up a rocking chair for the reporter, then slumped into another one in the corner.

He was wearing unpressed brown pants, a yellow-and-brown striped sport shirt with the sleeves rolled to the elbow. The shirt was unbuttoned and beneath it the T-shirt was inside out. He pointed to his belly, large and round.

“I got a goddam hernia, you know that? My goddam belly-button is popping out. That’s why I’m dressed like this … I got no place to go, anyway. You want a beer? Hah?” He picked up a pack of Camels in a green plastic case. “Some whiskey then?”

Kerouac has a hernia, his gut swollen over his pants, “My belly-button is popping out,” he said. McClintock wanted to know what Kerouac was working on:

“Well, I wrote that article,” he said, a trifle belligerently. His agent was busy selling a piece Kerouac had written, entitled “After Me, the Deluge,” his reflections on today’s world and what he might have contributed to it.

Anything else?

“Well, I’m going to write a novel about the last 10 years of my life …

The conversation moved onto the Beats, Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and Ken Kesey (“I don’t like Ken Kesey…He ruined Cassady”) before Kerouac began his drunken ramblings about the Mafia, the Communists and “the Jew,” and talking about his experiences with drugs:

“I smoked more grass than anyone you ever knew in your life,” Kerouac snorts. “I came across the Mexican border one time with 2½ pounds of grass around my waist in a silk scarf. I had one of those wide Mexican belts around me over it. I had a big bottle of tequila and I went up to the border guard and offered him some, and he said, No, go on through, senor.”

Kerouac laughed, remembering how that was.

“It should be legalized and taxed. Taxed. Yeah, ‘Gimme a pack of marijuana!’ But this other stuff is poison; acid’s poison, speed is poison, STP is poison, it’s all poison. But grass is nothing.”

By the end of the interview, Kerouac revealed a spark of his old self, his essence, his enthusiasm for writing:

“Stories of the past,” said Jack Kerouac. “My story is endless. I put in a teletype roll, you know, you know what they are, you have them in newspapers, and run it through there and fix the margins and just go, go – just go, go, go.”

McClintock has written a powerful and memorable portrait and the whole article can be read here.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats


 
Via the Tampa Bay News
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.02.2013
04:52 pm
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Rupert Sheldrake speaks on the TED censorship controversy
05.02.2013
04:20 pm
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Last night, acclaimed author and biologist (not to mention public enemy to skeptics and atheists) Rupert Sheldrake gave a lecture in Maryhill, Glasgow.

At the talk, Sheldrake spoke about his recent experience of being censored by the TED organisation. If you are not aware of the story, this past January in London Sheldrake was invited to give a TEDx talk on his book The Science Delusion—a book that calls into question some of the fundamental beliefs of science—which was filmed and uploaded to the TED website.

Sheldrake’s video was subsequently removed from the site as it was deemed to be “unscientific,” and his own reputation was called into question (along with fellow speaker Graham Hancock, the video of whose talk on consciousness was also removed). Understandably, this action upset quite a lot of people, both members of the public and professionals in various fields of science alike. A group of scientists and philosophers have publicly addressed the issue, and the response from TED’s Chris Anderson, at the Huffington Post.

In this audio clip, which was recorded by Innes Smith (of the Scottish Society for Psychical Research) Sheldrake talks openly about the controversy, the people he thinks were behind the initial censorship, and, having spoken to Anderson directly,  believes he was pressured into the removing the video and now regrets it:

 
With thanks to Innes Smith. The Scottish Society for Psychical Research can be found here. Sheldrake’s talk can be found here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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05.02.2013
04:20 pm
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The joys of ‘Cosmarxpolitan’: Humor where Marx meets ‘Cosmo’
05.02.2013
02:44 pm
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The collective behind Cosmarxpolitan describe themselves as “Smug college students” with too much time on their hands.

General Secretary of Cosmarxpolitan is Clara, who also blogs at That Girl Mag, and collaborates with The Central Committee of People’s Commissars (Andrew, Ken, Lucas, Mark, and Nicole) to produce these witty and amusing fake Cosmarxpolitan covers. As explained on the site’s FAQ:

The intention of Cosmarxpolitan is to ridicule the awful advice and backwards attitudes of magazines targeted at women; not to poke fun at those who suffered under communist rulers.

For those of you who think that we promote stereotypes that marginalize certain groups and privilege a deeply distorted narrative, it’s because we’re doing our best to channel Cosmo.

Only one of the collective is a Marxist (Ken), the rest are “just bourgeois scum, to varying degrees,” who hope that (once revolution comes) they will be “stripped of the chains of oppression, (and having other things to do), article writing will flourish.”

Vive la (r)évolution, comrades!

Follow Cosmarxpolitan on twitter and check Cosmarxpolitan here.
 
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More glossy revolutionary covers, after the collective jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.02.2013
02:44 pm
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Unedited interview with Kim Gordon from 1988
05.02.2013
02:42 pm
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Here’s an interesting interview with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, shot on a roof in downtown Manhattan in 1988. This footage is completely raw and unedited, with cuts and sound interruptions intact. As such, it takes Kim a couple of minutes to get into the swing of things, but she talks about life as a woman in a rock’n’roll band, art, sex, playing bass, her projects Harry Crews (with Lydia Lunch) and Ciccone Youth, and she reads extracts from a book called So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star. The interview is about 20 minutes long and is split into two parts.
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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05.02.2013
02:42 pm
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Women’s group accidentally dress up as pirates for speech by former Somali pirate hostage
05.02.2013
12:04 pm
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You can file this one under the “Oh dear, oh dear” category (it’s what they call a “Double O’Dear” in the blog industry)

Members of a North Devon Women’s Institute thought they were going to a speech about piracy. Well, technically they were… just not that kind of piracy. The members came to the talk dressed as pirates unaware that the speech was actually by/about Captain Colin Darch’s seven-week hell as a Somalian hostage.

As you can imagine, North Devon WI were left a little embarrassed by their garb… Bless.

From the looks of things, Captain Colin Darch took it in stride: “Of course I didn’t take offence or mind. It was more like the Pirates of Penzance.”

Via This Is North Devon

Posted by Tara McGinley
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05.02.2013
12:04 pm
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‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot’ trading cards
05.02.2013
11:04 am
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Not sure how I stumbled across these gems online, but I did. I’m also not sure who designed these or of their provenance? Were they a part of a special DVD box set of Heavy Metal Parking Lot (and the sequel of sorts, Heavy Metal Picnic)? Or were they just simply made for shits and giggles? Were they ever even printed? I don’t know, but the concept made me laugh.

You can see the rest of the set at this Flickr photostream.


 

 

 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Tara McGinley
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05.02.2013
11:04 am
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