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Hey now: The Godlike Genius of ‘The Larry Sanders Show’

In the past weeks, my lovely wife Tara and I have watched every single episode (89 total over six series) of The Larry Sanders Show. What a masterpiece of comedy. It’s awe-inspiring, a tremendous artistic triumph. One that was sustained at a very, very high level for many years. The final two years were the best of all. It truly went out on a high when it left the air in 1998

The Larry Sanders Show features one of the greatest ensemble casts in the history of television comedy: Garry Shandling in the title role, Rip Torn as Artie the show’s producer, Jeffrey Tambor as “Hey now!” Hank Kingsley, Janeane Garofalo and Penny Johnson, understated but so brilliant as Larry’s personal assistant, Beverly. Scott Thompson was also fantastic in later seasons as Hank’s assistant, Brian.

The celebrity cameos the show was so famous for came from the likes of a then up-and-coming Jon Stewart, Carol Burnett, Sharon Stone, Mimi Rogers, Billy Crystal, Alec Baldwin, Elvis Costello, Ryan O’Neal… real celebrities playing often awful fictionalized versions of themselves (a neat trope Ricky Gervais, a huge fan of Sanders, availed himself of for Extras). I thought Ellen DeGeneres, Lori Loughlin and especially David Duchovny were standouts guests. Even The Butthole Surfers (who actually sang about Garry Shandling in one of their songs) were musical guests on the series (Larry acts like he wants to hang out with them, in a really insincere way and they sneer at him).

The Larry Sanders Show is simply one of the best things I’ve ever seen and it has aged like a fine, fine wine. I got the same kind of high watching Sanders as I get from listening to great classical music. Every element of the show is orchestrated perfectly. It’s a marvel to behold.

When the show actually aired, I didn’t have cable, and so I was never really exposed to more than an episode or two. Viewing all 89 episodes compressed into a matter of a few weeks like this (we’d watch 4 or 5 of them a night) was an especially good way to appreciate the perfection that each and every episode represents. There really is no end to the superlatives I could heap onto onto the production. It’s comedy cut like a multifaceted diamond. There’s not a single bad episode in the bunch and even the “worst” one would still be a 9/10.

Garry Shandling is a comedy god to me. He’s in the pantheon of the greatest greats in my book. There’s no wonder that he’s kept a relatively low profile in the years after Larry Sanders: How the hell do you top something this great? Why squander that kind of cultural capital? Writer/producer Judd Apatow went on to his own numerous successes, of course.

In any case, The Larry Sanders Show, wow. I may be a little late to the party on this—13 years, in fact—but chances are that some of you reading this, some of you like me, who spent the 90s doing anything but watching TV, might have missed it, too. Fear not, for you can watch the entire series on Netflix and I noticed that the 17 DVD set of the entire series of The Larry Sanders Show is on sale at Amazon.

Jeffrey Tambor is a genius:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Soul-crushing Monday
11:28 am



(image via Publique)


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Evil Liberal overlord Van Jones challenges Glenn Beck to debate

Van Jones, the former White House green jobs adviser and activist, is the lefty Boogeyman that Glenn Beck returns to again and again and again. To hear Beck tell it, Van Jones is some Darth Vader-type evil overlord behind the dark forces of Liberalism, right up there with George Soros hisself. Jones gave a fantastic speech at the Netroots Nation convention last week, where he first called Beck out:

I issue a personal challenge to my beloved brother Glenn Beck. I will debate you anytime, anywhere, at any point. I’ll give you an hour, you give me five minutes. And I will stand up for our values. But you would have to stop talking about us and start talking to us.

You got one week left before your show goes off. My phone is ringing. Call me! Call me, Glenn Beck! And let’s have this fight. Let’s have this discussion. Let’s have this argument. Let’s have this battle of ideas. Battle of ideas. And let’s fight for liberty and justice for all.

It was Beck more than any other conservative mouthpiece who hounded Jones into resigning from his White House post, but now Jones is challenging Beck to a debate. MoveOn is trying to raise money to air this 30 second spot during the final days of Beck’s Fox News program.

Fantastic, this is a debate I’d LOVE to see. If you’d like to see this, too, you can donate to MoveOn here.

A debate of IDEAS? I wonder if Beck will accept the challenge?

Take a look at Jones’ inspirational Netroots Nation speech and see if he lives up to Beck’s characterization of him as an evil Commie or not.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Your dog’s been shittin’ in our yard’
09:22 am



The money shot comes at the very end.

(via Arbroath)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Joy of Easy Listening
08:25 am


easy listening

A kind soul has posted the new BB4 documentary,The Joy of Easy Listening on YouTube. If this is from the same team who did the great Synth Britannia doc, it should be pretty good. Watch it quick before it evaporates:

In-depth documentary investigation into the story of a popular music that is often said to be made to be heard, but not listened to. The film looks at easy listening’s architects and practitioners, its dangers and delights, and the mark it has left on modern life.

From its emergence in the 50s to its heyday in the 60s, through its survival in the 70s and 80s and its revival in the 90s and beyond, the film traces the hidden history of a music that has reflected society every bit as much as pop and rock - just in a more relaxed way.

Invented at the dawn of rock ‘n’ roll, easy listening has shadowed pop music and the emerging teenage market since the mid-50s. It is a genre that equally soundtracks our modern age, but perhaps for a rather more ‘mature’ generation and therefore with its own distinct purpose and aesthetic.

Contributors include Richard Carpenter, Herb Alpert, Richard Clayderman, Engelbert Humperdinck, Jimmy Webb, Mike Flowers, James Last and others.

Here’s the first part, you can watch the rest on YouTube:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Miles Davis talks about his art on Nile Rodgers’ ‘New Visions’

The great Nile Rodgers has started uploading clips from his old TV show New Visions to his new YouTube account. This short clip gives a fascinating insight into the artwork made by Miles Davis, of which there is an example above, called “The Kiss”.

Here Miles talks candidly about the shapes and colours in his work and what they mean to him, in his wonderfully gravelly voice. It all seems very sexual. The only downside is that this video is agonisingly short - Nile, if you have the full length version of this episode then you HAVE to put it online for the whole world to see!

Another clip from New Visions, this time featuring guitarists John Lee Hooker, Carlos Santana, Robert Fripp and more:

Previously on DM:
Nile Rodgers: Walking On Planet C
Nile Rodgers dishes the dirt on Atlantic Records
Miles Davis Quintet skateboards
Miles Davis: Louis Malle’s ‘Elevator To The Gallows’ recording session

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘The Great Satan At Large’: The filthiest TV show of all time

The Great Satan At Large was a public access TV show that lasted one unholy episode in 1990 before being canceled by the deeply offended and seriously freaked-out management of Tucson, Arizona’s channel 49. Faced with obscenity charges and the possibility of 40 years in prison, the show’s creator and diabolical host, Lou Perfidio (the Great Satan), fled Arizona with blood-hungry Feds and rabid Christian dogs nipping at his cloven hooves.

Airing at the family hour of 6:00 p.m. on a channel known for its Christian programming, The Great Satan At Large featured dinner-time filth for the whole Satan-worshiping family. While chroma-keyed videos of Adolf Hitler, under-age strippers, titty twisters and masturbating jesters intercut with celluloid transgressions by Richard Kern and Nick Zedd glistered in the background like freshly slung wads of pixilated cum, the chain-smoking, beer-swilling Perfidio assaulted the viewer with every vile thought his unfiltered id could extrude. He was Johnny Carson re-incarnated as G.G. Allin with a twisted pinch of Anton LaVey and a schmear of Al Goldstein.

When he wasn’t incarnating Satan, Perfidio was a Temple University graduate, self-proclaimed “Greatest Pinball Player of All Time,” a contributor to Vending Times magazine, sportswriter, and raging alcoholic. His former friend Jim Goad of ANSWER Me! magazine described Lou “as a fat, bearded, farting, filthy-mouthed, passionate punk rocker” who drank so much that “in his twenties, he had the body of a sixty-year-old.”  Despite being perpetually hammered, Perfidio could write and did so on his blog I Love Misery.

Lou died at the age of 43 in 2006 of MRSA, flesh-eating bacteria, pneumonia and high blood pressure - a hellish end for a man who would be God of darkness.

Is there cable TV in Hell?


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Jason Silva’s Turning Into Gods

Dangerous Minds pal and Singularity enthusiast Jason Silva—you might know him from Al Gore’s Current TV—is working on a documentary on the next stage of human evolution, aptly titled Turning Into Gods.  Alongside the concept trailer below, you’ll also find him waxing philosophical on the “Extended Mind Thesis” put forth by cognitive philosophers David Chalmers and Andy Clark, as well as having an “ecstatic dialogue” with Transcendent Man director Barry Ptolemy. 

Jason will be joining Dangerous Minds as a contributor, writing (and ranting) about the intersection of science and art.  Jason recently completed a pilot produced by Bill Maher for HBO. He has written for Vanity Fair, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Big Think, and will have an article in the October issue of Playboy magazine.  Follow Jason on Twitter here: @jason_silva



Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Richard Morris’ ‘Tyler: The Creator, or an Old Skool Sexist?’

Amid the ongoing internet brouhaha surrounding Tyler The Creator’s lyrical content, this article from the website Soundblab is the best I have read on the subject so far, and pretty accurately nails the problems I have with Tyler’s approach to writing about sex and abuse. Yeah, I get that he’s still a kid so hasn’t had a great deal of real life experience in these areas, but like so many of the other excuses brought up in this debate, that’s still pretty weak. Richard Morris writes:

Now, there are three arguments being put forward to explain, excuse and otherwise justify Tyler’s lyrical concerns. These arguments are the same ones which get put forward time and time again when hip hop artists produce dubious lyrics: he’s just reflecting his background; he just repeating what’s everywhere in hip hop culture; he’s playing with a persona. A moment’s reflection is all you need to work out that that last excuse can’t exist with the first two. Either Tyler is honestly reflecting where he comes from and the culture he’s surrounded by, or he’s concocted a character as satire or narrative aid. It can’t be both.


However, if you still want to buy into any or all of those arguments listed above, fine, but I have a question for you: where are all the songs by female artists about attacking and raping men? If that seems a ridiculous thing to ponder, ask yourself why. Why does it make sense for a man to rap about raping a woman but not the other way round? The answer, when you pick it apart, is probably that there would be no audience for those kind of songs. Similarly, there’s not much call for songs where gay artists have a go at straight people. No one would buy into that kind of stupid prejudice. Gay activists would condemn it as counter-productive.

Tyler, the Creator has identified an audience and, with the media’s help, he’s milking that for all it’s worth. That audience is primarily made up of white young men. A couple of weeks ago, Hamish MacBain took Tyler to task in the pages of NME, pointing out that Odd Future had bypassed the traditional hip hop audience, instead crossing over quickly to the kind of alternative music fans who read Pitchfork, the Guardian and, hey, Soundblab. It’s exactly these alternative, typically liberal-leaning fans who repeatedly let hip hop artists off the hook when it comes to misogynistic and homophobic lyrics.

For me the problem is not so much that these excuses are not applicable - it’s that twenty years after the release of Death Certificate we’re still having the exact same debate. We’ve not moved on. It’s disheartening to see that popular hip-hop has devolved into a negatized musical format whose primary function is to piss off suburban parents, and where shock tactics outweigh genuine insight. Much of the blame for this can be heaped on the feet of the media, but surely the music is just as much at fault too? Because to me Tyler’s lyrics do not feel in any way transgressive. Really, they don’t, they’re the same old thing I have heard countless times before. If you do think they are transgressive, then I would say you are part of a social group that has thankfully never been subject to the threat of rape or abuse. Tyler’s lyrics simply re-enforce the status quo, and as such they’re just boring.

Read all of Richard Morris’ excellent article here. Soundblab also has another article defending Tyler’s lyrical content, by James Bray, which you can read here.


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Fantastic rendition of ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by Queenie Watts

It doesn’t get more Lahndan Tahn than than this. Taken from a 1979 BBC TV Play For Today drama written by Barrie Keeffe and directed by RIchard Eyre, this clip sees Ray Davies’ mid-60s paean to young romance belted out on a rickety ole joanna by Queenie Watts. Watts was a well-loved Cockney performer who appeared in such classic British TV shows as Dad’s Army and Steptoe and Son. She and her husband Slim also ran the Rose and Crown pub in London’s East End, where they would perform with a band, entertaining a mixed crowd of locals, celebs and gangsters. Queenie’s take on The Kinks’ classic makes the connection between the swinging 60s and the city’s earlier music hall history, and it just drips Cockney charm. Cor blimey!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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