This piece, “The Sex Life of Robots” was one of the few segments that I didn’t personally—control freak that I am—produce in the Disinformation TV series, it was produced and shot by Doug Stone and edited by Nimrod Erez. As you’ll see, it arrived a little polished gem and was one of my favorite things in the entire series.
The character you’re going to meet here, animator Mike Sullivan will be a familiar face to a certain percentage of DM readers for his roles in both Robert Downey Sr.‘s Greasers Palace (he played Lamy “Homo” Greaser) and the low-budget early 80s slasher flick Madman. Mike was also a special effects technician on one of the Star Trek films, worked in the art department of early SNL and did many of the “Foto Funnies” strips found in the National Lampoon magazine during its heyday.
Today Sullivan runs his Cloud Studios from a dusty loft on 26th Street and 6th Ave in NYC, near the site of the weekly 6th Ave Flea Market, which he scours for Barbie and GI Joe dolls to modify and put through perverse paces for his perpetual work-in-progress magnum opus, “The Sex Life of Robots.”
NSFW or apparently Virgin Air: A few months back this segment was featured on the in-flight Boing Boing channel and there were some complaints. I was pleased to see that the show was still a lil’ controversial after more than a decade.
A truck driver called the Port Townsend Police Department on April 5, 2013 to report an allegedly naked dude (‘though the dude denies being nude) “waving around a vibrating phallic device in an attempt to flag down semi-truck drivers for a date.”
I like how the cops let him go with a warning to “engage in more traditional ways to find a date.” Good advice?
We lost one of THE heavy hitters of the disco/soul era on Saturday, a man who helped birth some of the greatest anthems of the 70s and 80s, but whose name will mean very little to the average Joe on the street.
Vincent Montana Jr was vibraphone player and band leader for both Philadelphia International’s MFSB and New York’s Salsoul Orchestra, outfits that, just between them, could rack up a near-definitive “Hits Of Disco” compilation. But that’s not even taking into account the hits he played on or produced for others…
“La La Means I Love You”, “TSOP (aka Theme from Soul Train)”, “Love Train”, “Me & Mrs Jones”, “Disco Inferno”, “Runaway”, “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got”, “Love Is The Message”, “Armed and Extremely Dangerous”, “Backstabbers”, “People Make The World Go Round”, “I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” (with Nuyorican Soul), the list goes on and on.
He also had some success with his own acts Montana Sextet and the Goody Goody Orchestra, including “It Looks Like Love”, which remains one of the keystone records in the vast cannon of disco. Like Loose Joints “Is It All Over My Face” or “For The Love Of Money” by the Disco Dub Band, “It Looks Like Love” has been responsible for turning subsequent generations onto the underground/dancefloor disco sound, and rehabilitating the genre from the sea of plastic crap that almost engulfed it.
In fact, it could be argued that “It Looks Like Love” is THE definitive “disco” record, as its stylish, graceful, sexy vibe is everything disco patrons aspired to be, and the perfect soundtrack to the time machine ride back to those clubs of the late 70s and early 80s. Others may disagree, but this is the track that does it for me. I can close my eyes and I am THERE.
For that, if nothing else (though there was of course LOTS more) we salute you Vincent Montana Jr! Play those vibes, once more time…
Dusted off my turntable and unboxed my record collection. I plan to review vinyl re-masters and reissues in the coming months and let you know how they stack up against the original pressings.
In the past few days, I’ve been listening to my Tim Hardin records and kind of wallowing in the ache of his voice. It’s a beautifully sad thing, that voice. Presently spending time with his unheralded 1969 masterpiece, the darkly poetic Suite For Susan Moore And Damon -We Are-One, One, All In One. Combining spoken word with song, the album is an extended ode to loneliness with an autumnal vibe pierced by visions of impending apocalypse. It’s one of those dark night of the soul things that are often preludes to an awakening or death. In Hardin’s case, the album may just be the purgatorial utterances of a man in a state of perpetual twilight. Like his brother in junk, Tim Buckley, Hardin seems to be aware of death hovering over his left shoulder. The result is a kind of immediacy to every cracked wail and ragged cri du couer—a trembling supplication before annihilation. It can be both terrifying and liberating. Hardin leans a lot on love to see him through the maelstrom.
My favorite line from Suite For Susan Moore... is also a brief glimpse into Hardin’s sense of humor: “We hide the truth inside our pants. It makes a secret of romance.”
In this video, Hardin performs at Woodstock and there’s no wonder it never appeared in the feel-good documentary of the festival. His various recordings and performances of “If I were a Carpenter” mostly all have a world-weariness to them. But this Woodstock version is downright haunted and he’s so stoned and scared (he dreaded public performance) that the effect is chilling and heart wrenching… and oh so naked. Standing in front a few hundred thousand people and it’s as if he’s alone in a room… except for the stage fright and the distraction of some feedback.
There’s a lot of good quality Tim Hardin records out there at reasonable prices. I suggest you get a few, if you ain’t got ‘em already.
One of my top favorite Marc Bolan songs, the criminally obscure “Jasper C. Debussy” from The Beginning of Doves album, a 1974 compilation that collected together material recorded much earlier in his career. The version on that album clipped out a bit of how Bolan actually introduced the song, but when the CD came out it was added back.
My face is finished, my body’s gone
And I can’t help but think, standin’ up here
In all this applause and gazin’ down
At all the young and the beautiful
With their questioning eyes
That I must above all things love myself “
Man, this sounds fuckin’ good. Pussy deprivation can be an excellent source of inspiration.
1976 was a difficult year for the satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye.
This was the year its then editor, Richard Ingrams received over 60 writs from disgruntled billionaire businessman Sir James Goldsmith (aka Sir Jams Fishpaste, as the Eye called him). Goldsmith had objected to 3 stories the Eye had published about him—one in particular that suggested Fishpaste had helped his friend, Lord Lucan escape Britain from a murder charge.
Goldsmith and Lucan were bonded by several things, one in particular was a belief Communists had infiltrated western media, and Britain was on the verge of a Communist revolution. It led Fishpaste and Lucan to discuss the pros and cons of a Fascist military coup over “smoked salmon and lamb cutlets.” Their conversation reflected the paranoid, Boy’s Own fantasies of a very privileged and ruthless class.
“[Goldsmith] set out to destroy the little magazine that had presumed to offend him. He sued….But he spread the net far beyond Private Eye. In a novel exercise in overkill, he issued separate writs against all the distributors and wholesalers of the magazine. There were over 60 writs. Private Eye faced a huge financial burden. It was liable to indemnify all those whom Goldsmith had chosen to sue.
The first task was to reassure the recipients of these writs that the indemnity would be honoured. Private Eye lacked the resources but had a lot of supporters. A drive to raise money began, inspirationally named the Goldenballs Fund.
Peter Cook and Richard Ingrams check an early edition of ‘Private Eye’
The legal action brought considerable media attention, and in October, the BBC made a documentary about Ingrams and Private Eye:
“Richard Ingrams’ offices are at 34 Greek Street. A former haunt of prostitutes and drug addicts. Now the main problem is writ service. Rented at sixty-pounds-a-week, the building is small and dilapidated, but it’s all that Private Eye can afford. The magazine runs on a shoe-string budget. It comes out once a fortnight, price 20 pence, and has a circulation of 90,000.”
Ingrams may have looked like an unassuming university lecturer—dressed in a corduroy jacket, with a Viyella shirt and tie, but he was (surprisingly) a reformed drinker and smoker, who believed in God and played the organ at the local church. He was, more importantly, a superb and strongly principled editor, who understood Private Eye‘s role:
“It has to be anarchic. It has to be prepared to hit everyone—even its friends. As long as you attack everybody indiscriminately, completely indiscriminately you are safe. Immediately you start taking sides, or sticking-up for somebody, or keeping quiet, then you get into difficulties.”
Under his editorship, Private Eye had a golden decade in the seventies. It attracted some of the very best writers, journalists and artists, who brought an excellence other magazines (Punch) could only dream about. There was Auberon Waugh who produced an hilarious and corruscating diary; Paul Foot who delivered brilliant investigative reports; Peter Cook offered memorable comic contributions; and “Grovel” the Eye‘s (in)famous gossip column written by the late, Daily Mail diarist, Nigel Dempster, who claimed:
“We live in a banana peel society, where it gives no-one greater pleasure than to see someone trip up.”
Not all of the Eye writers were happy with Dempster’s column, Christopher Booker thought it edged too close to exaggeration, without thought of the damage done.
This lack of thought had led a 100 people to sue Private Eye by ‘76, which had depleted much of the magazine’s profits. But then the Eye was never really that interested in profits—it was a product of those patrician attitudes Public Schools can afford to inspire.
The magazine’s original quartet Richard Ingrams, Christopher Booker, Paul Foot and William Rushton had all met at Shrewsbury School, where they had produced their own teenage satirical magazine—a first issue was covered with hessian and embedded with free seeds. After school, university, where Ingrams hoped to become a leading comic actor. It didn’t happen, and the Famous 4 regrouped to produce the very first Private Eye in 1961, from typescript, Letra-set and cow-gum. It is interesting to note how this amateur, home-made style has remained very much the template for the Eye ever since.
This new magazine chimed with the so-called satire boom, in which Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller conquered the world with Beyond the Fringe, and producer Ned Sherrin made a star of David Frost (who Booker later described as a man with “..a peculiar ambition to be world-famous simply for the sake of being world-famous”) on the highly successful That Was The Week That Was—which proved so successful it was canceled after 2 series.
The Eye continued long after both these shows and the satire boom had run out of laughs, in part much aided by the backing of Peter Cook, who helped finance the magazine until his death in 1995.
What makes Private Eye essential is the ephemeral nature of its exceedingly good journalism. As Auberon Waugh once wrote (in the introduction to Another Voice—his essential collection of writing for The Spectator), “Timeless journalism is bad journalism”:
“The essence of journalism is that it should stimulate its readers for a moment, possibly open their minds to some alternative perception of events, and then be thrown away, with all its clever conundrums, its prophecies and comminations, in the great wastepaper basket of history.”
Though it has been occasionally wrong (MMR comes to mind) and wrong-headed (comic attitudes towards race, women, and gays have been questionable), Private Eye is indispensable and essential reading for those with an interest in the follies of politics and business of contemporary life, or the strong tradition of good investigation journalism, which most newspapers appear to have abandoned long ago. This is what made, and still makes Private Eye truly great.
Sir Jams Fishpaste launched his own magazine Talbot!, which soon disappeared without trace, before forming the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Margarine Party, a popular movement that failed to be..er..popular. He died in 1997.
Richard Ingrams quit Private Eye in 1986, and appointed alleged schoolboy Ian Hislop as Editor, who has managed the magazine with great success ever since.
Ingrams started a new magazine The Oldie in 1992, which has been described as “the new Punch and the new New Yorker,” which he continues to successfully edit today. Richard Ingrams is 94.
J. G. Ballard once said, if by some terrible calamity all art from the 20th century was destroyed except for the work of one artist, then it would be possible to recreate all of the century’s greatest artistic developments if that artist was Eduardo Paolozzi.
Deliberate hyperbole, but there is an essence of truth here, as Paolozzi produced such an incredible range and diversity of art that it has been difficult for critics and art historians to classify him. He began as a Surrealist, before becoming the first Pop Artist—a decade before Warhol put paint on canvas. He then moved on to print-making, design, sculpture and public art to international success.
Born in Edinburgh, to an Italian family in 1924, Paolozzi spent much of his childhood at his parent’s ice cream parlor, where he was surrounded by the packaging, wrapping and cigarette cards that later inspired his Pop Art. This early idyll of childhood was abruptly ended when Italy declared war on Britain in 1940. Paolozzi awoke one morning to find himself, along with his father and uncles, incarcerated, in the city’s Saughton Prison, as undesirables, or enemies of the state. Paolozzi was held for 3 months, but his father and uncles were deported to Canada on the ship HMS Arandora Star, which was torpedoed by a U-boat off the north-west coast of Ireland. The vessel sank with the loss of 630 lives.
Considered psychologically unsuitable for the army, the teenage Paolozzi studied at the Edinburgh School of Art, in 1943, before finishing at the Slade School in London, which he found disappointingly conservative in its approach to art.
After the war, Paolozzi moved briefly to Paris where he visited some of the century’s greatest artists, then resident in the city—Giacometti, Braque, Arp, Brâncuşi, and Léger. In his youthful boldness, Eduardo had telephoned each of these artists after discovering their numbers in the telephone directory. He was greeted as an equal, he later claimed, most probably because the war had just ended. The experience taught Paolozzi much, and emboldened his ideas. On his return to London, Paolozzi presented a slide show of adverts and packaging, which was the very first Pop Art.
Paolozzi developed his distinctive collages and multiple images of Marilyn Monroe long before Warhol and even Richard Hamilton, the artist with whom he showed at the now legendary This Is Tomorrow exhibition, at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956.
Paolozzi eventually tired of his association with Pop Art, as it limited his incredibly diverse artistic vision. The same year as This Is Tomorrow, he played a deaf mute, with fellow artist Michael Andrews, in the first major Free Cinema movie Together by Lorenza Mazzetti.
By the late 1950s, he had moved on to industrial print-making, before producing an incredibly awe-inspiring range of designs for buildings, sculptures and public art—from his mosaic for Tottenham Court Road tube station to the cover of Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway, through to such epic sculptures Newton, outside of the British Library, Vulcan, Edinburgh, and Head of Invention, Design Museum, London.
In 1984, Paolozzi conceived and produced a brief strange and surreal animation 1984: Music for Modern Americans, which was animated and directed by Emma Calder, Susan Young and Isabelle Perrichon, and based photocopies of Paolozzi’s original drawings.
There’s another update in the story of Barronelle Stuztman, the florist in Washington state who is being sued by the state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a consumer protection lawsuit for refusing to “participate in the marriage,” as she put it, of two gay men because of her “relationship with Jesus Christ.” Now the couple disrespected by the proprietor of Arlene’s Flowers, who would not sell them flowers for their wedding due to her belief that the Bible teaches “marriage is between a man and a woman” is fighting back. Via The Stranger:
Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed’s lawyers, working with the legal powerhouse at the ACLU of Washington, sent a letter today to Arlene’s Flowers owner Baronelle Stutzman saying she has two options: (1) She can vow to never again discriminate in her services for gay people, write an apology letter to be published in the Tri-City Herald, and contribute $5,000 to a local LGBT youth center, or (2) she can get sued for violating the Washington State Civil Rights Act.
Stutzman’s law firm, Gourly Bristol Hembree, responded to the AG on Monday with a letter promising “an immediate challenge in federal court” and contend that their client is entitled to act according to her religious convictions and that discrimination isn’t the issue. Furthermore, from what I can understand, they’re saying that the art of floral arrangement is an act of personal expression so that any demand or limitation on those expressive flower arrangements is a violation of Baronelle Stutzmans’s First Amendment rights to free speech.
Good luck with that floral arrangement defense, boys, you’ll be laughed out of the fucking courtroom for that one.
Naturally this will be portrayed in the conservative media as anti-religious bigotry, as opposed to the regular, straight-up bigotry bigotry that Barronelle Stutzman inflicted on the same-sex couple. As if bigotry becomes somehow okay when it’s justified by the words of desert-dwelling nomads in a supposedly magic book from 2000 years ago.
“I don’t know what the symbol would be, I’d have to think about that. [A cross? The vesica pisces? A sheep? Alfred E. Neuman? Just some thoughts] We’re getting to the point where these homofascists are going to force us to wear on our sleeves some kind of identifying marker so people will know who the racists and the homophobes and the bigots are, and can stay away from them.”
Irony deficient Fischer is, of course, conveniently forgetting that homosexuals were made to wear inverted pink triangles armbands and patches in Nazis concentration camps. But when has being an idiot ever stopped Bryan Fischer from flapping his lips? Never!