England: Thirty-five years on from Punk, and what the fuck has changed? The Queen is still on her throne. Celebrations are underway for another jubilee. The police continue to be a law unto themselves. The tabloid press peddles more smut and fear. The Westminster government is still centered on rewarding self-interest. And Johnny Rotten is a popular entertainer.
The promise of revolution and change was little more than adman’s wet-dream. All that remains is the music - the passion, the energy, the belief in something better - and that at least touched enough to inculcate the possibility for change.
Raw Energy - Punk the Early Years is a documentary made in 1978, which details many of the players who have tended to be overlooked by the usual focus on The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Here you’ll find Jordan (the original not the silicon pin-up and author) telling us, “it’s good females can get up on stage and have as much admiration as the male contingent”; the record execs explaining their dealings with The Pistols, The Clash, The Hot Rods and looking for the “next trend”; a young Danny Baker, who wrote for original punk magazine Sniffin Glue, summing up his frustration with “all you’re trained for is to be in a factory at the end of 20 years, and that’s the biggest insult…”; the comparisons between Punk and Monterey; the politics; the violence against young punks; and what Punk bands were really like - performances from The Slits, The Adverts, Eddie and The Hot Rods, X-Ray Spex, and even Billy Idol and Generation X.
Watch as a superstitious idiot babbles incoherently speaks in tongues while making an almost comical entreaty to God almighty to spare her from his windy wrath.
Why didn’t she pray for the rest of her town to be spared, too? Fuck her neighbors! Typical American Christian!
And batshit crazy to boot…
As “EternalChaosBringer” quipped on YouTube:
“I’m pretty sure the 39 people who died prayed their asses off to be saved from the tornado too. God could have easily pulled off a miracle for them, but he chose to just coldly take their lives away.”
1972 Dodge Sportsman Royal Van, better known as the “MELVAN” Featured in many books, Cobain Unseen, Come As You Are ETC. & Many NIRVANA documentary films. This is a very unique piece of MEVINS/NIRVANA history & truly one of a kind. The KISS Mural on the side was hand drawn by Kurt Cobain using sharpie markers shoplifted from the Thriftway grocery store in Montesano Washington. (former employer of King Buzzo) This was one of the first MELVINS tour vans & was used on at least one U.S. tour. Kurt himself was often times known to drive this van to local shows, also included are two former registration’s, one signed by Roger Osborne (King Buzzo) & the second signed by former MELVINS bass player Matt Lukin !
The van is being sold by Tad Doyle “Mitch” and the winner must pick-up the “Melvan” in Montesano, WA.
In my teens, my idea of fun was to write bogus letters to various newspapers as aggrieved citizens - usually retired Colonels, widowed ladies, virginal vergers or spinsters of the parish - a typical array of supporting characters taken from Agatha Christie via Joe Orton. The letters were full of misplaced anger, malapropisms and innuendo, and I was always surprised at the number that slipped through into print. Which makes me wonder about this letter written to the Daily Mail‘s letters page. It’s a classic Daily Mail rant, which could have easily been lifted directly from the paper’s front pages or editorials.
I’m sick of it all!
I’m sick of Melvyn Bragg, Hugh Grant, Joan Bakewell, and Anne Robinson. I’m sick of Vince Cable, the entire Labour Shadow Cabinet and all politicians.
I’m sick of squatters and travellers, pop music, British food, the BBC, surveillance cameras, my rotten pension, terrorists, Anglican bishops and having no money, and I just want to die.
My country, which I loved, is ruined. It will never be happy again. It is all self, self, self, moan, moan, moan. I cannot wait to get out and rest in peace.
Harry Simpson, Northwich, Cheshire.
Alex Massie, who uncovered this catalogue of discontent, writes in his blog over at The Spectator:
Can this really be real? I am assured it is. Perhaps it is part of a contest to get the most Daily Mail letter published by the Daily Mail. Doubtless similar contests could be held at other papers.
If it is real, then poor Mr Simpson, who may be a lot happier if he saved his money and stopped reading the Daily Mail and its dreadful fear-mongering. If it’s bogus, then it is obviously a relation of Kenny Everett’s Mr. Angry of Mayfair.
Goddamn, if this ain’t somethin’ else! A fan-fucking-tastic Godzilla candelabra by artist Johan Bruninx. I’d own this puppy in a nanosecond, but unfortunately it’s not for sale. Boo-hoo! This idea really needs to be a thing.
Last Friday I posted the new video from the band SSION called “My Love Grows in The Dark.” If you haven’t watched it yet, then go and do so right now. It’s a little bizarre and rather brilliant. The album that song is taken from, Bent, was available as a free download release for one month only last year, and it was one of my favorites. This year too in fact, as it is being given a physical re-release soon by the Dovecote label.
SSION, which has existed in various forms over the years, is essentially the brainchild of Cody Critcheloe. Cody is a visual artist and video director by day (he has directed clips for Peaches and Santigold) but by night he transforms into a gender-and-preconception bending performer whose live shows have been picking up a lot of acclaim. I spoke to Cody a short while back about SSION, and his decision to release such an excellent album for free. Here’s a little taster:
Bent is a great pop album. In fact, I’d say it is surprisingly great for a free download release. How did the idea to release it for free first come about?
I have always worked outside of labels, and the way it goes I’ll put out a record every four years. I’ll take a while to develop it and work out what I wanna do with it. At the time there’s wasn’t anyone anxious to put it out, so it seemed like the right thing to do. I thought if a label really wants to be a part of this they’ll figure out a way to go about this, because SSION is such a different kind of project. It seemed like a big FU to put it out and let people get it and listen to it, and I like the idea of people being able to get it, so people who aren’t even your fans can still get into it.
What has your fans’ reaction been to the download release?
It’s crazy ‘cos I think in the long term it’s gonna pay off. The shows we’ve played in New York have all been really amazing, and everyone knows the words to the songs already. It’s been instant, like this has already had an effect, an effect outside of any label being behind it to pump it up or publicize it. Everything that has happened to SSION is because of people who are genuinely interested and really into the music. I love the fact that there’s gonna be a physical release ‘cos I put a lot of work into the art work, but I could also take it or leave it. If it doesn’t work out I can still have a life. I still somehow survive off doing these things and other projects. I’m just into it as a very punk way of going about things.
But what about an effect on sales?
The thing about it is, the last record we had you can find it online for free, so why not make it available for everyone? And it’s crazy too because our other records are on iTunes and we still make money of them every month, even though people could easily get them for free.
Attention old skool hip-hop fans, there is a little seen, uh, cinematic relic from the mid-80s, the Run DMC-starring Tougher Than Leather that’s been recently posted on YouTube. You might want to clap eyes on this one pronto because I don’t think it will be there for long.
Directed by Rick Rubin, produced by Russell Simmons, with a screenplay written by Rick Menello and Rick Rubin, Tougher Than Leather is a mind-blowing mix of a blaxploitation flick and a spaghetti western. It co-stars the Beastie Boys, iconic 80s punky pornstar Lois Ayres and actor/musician Richard Edson (Stranger Than Paradise and a gazillion other films).
Run-DMC’s “Tougher Than Leather” is vile, vicious, despicable, stupid, sexist, racist and horrendously made. Call it rap-ploitation, but since it’s a pure product of Russell Simmons’ Rush/Def Jam rap empire, that’s just another word for business as usual. Sometimes there’s no difference between in-house and outhouse.
Blacks, Jews, women, gays—they’re all fodder for this gang. Are crass exploitation and ugly race- and gender-baiting excusable because the perpetrators are often themselves victims? No, particularly when it’s done as gracelessly as it’s done here.
Dangerous Minds pal, photographer Glen E. Friedman had this to say on his blog this morning:
If you’ve never seen this fictional 1988 “student film” of Rick Rubin’s then you must ASAP, especially If you are a fan of Run-DMC, The Beastie Boys, Rick Rubin, or Def Jam during the early years, (there’s also a classic Junk Yard band performance at a backyard party, and Slick Rick to name a few.)
I have no idea how long Tougher Than Leather will last on YouTube, and it’s not on DVD as far as I know, but it’s a classic, tasteless epic, that needs to be seen to be believed. It actually played in theaters to riots. Some great cameo’s too (Rick’s dad, Russell Simmons dad [RIP] who put in two of the greatest performances in the film, to name a few, besides the infamous Richard Edson, and Lois Ayres, George Drakoulias and I running down the street for a hot second at around the one hour mark too).
If you live in lower Manhattan you may also recognize some of the locations all within a walk from the original Def Jam offices at 298 Elizabeth street. I shot some stills on the film that I’ll add below (the poster up top was based on one of my photos as well.)
Enjoy, I know you will. I’m re-watching, after not seeing it for over 20 years, as i’m putting together this post, and it’s blowing my mind.
When this film was shot, in 1986, I actually lived two blocks away from the Def Jam office (I was on Elizabeth and Spring, Def Jam’s HQ was just north of Houston Street in a little house between tenement buildings). It’s difficult to imagine this now, but 25-years ago that neighborhood was so full of crack dealers that I carried a switchblade with me at all times (My rent was $250 for what would rent for $2500, or more, today).
A roommate of mine, who didn’t actually live in the apartment, he just used it as a photography studio, also shot some set stills for Tougher Than Leather . I came home from work one day, still wearing the ridiculous Von Trapp family-esque uniform of a restaurant where I was working at the time. Usually I changed right after my shift, but that day I was too lazy and just wore it home on the subway. With my key still in the door, the three members of Run DMC turned and looked at me like I was a strangely-dressed bug. I recall quickly changing into my normal clothes and slipping out to let them finish, mortified at what they saw me wearing. True story and one I can tell better in person, but it’s more embarrassing than this version!
The New York Dolls deranging the airwaves in 1975.
1. (There’s Gonna Be a) Showdown
2. Stranded in the Jungle
5. Don’t You Start Me Talking
6. Personality Crisis
The shock heard around the block…the rest of the world didn’t get it. But don’t blame me. I bought tickets for their show at a strip joint in Boulder, Colorado but the Dolls canceled. Not enough advance ticket sales. The hippies and mountain climbers were too busy smoking dope and waiting for Poco to pull into town.