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The sad and heartbreaking reality of Shelley Duvall’s mental health


 
“Oh, we went to a party, found a girl, and you’ve got to meet her. She is special!” Robert Altman remembered being told after screenwriter Brian McKay and assistant director Tommy Thompson returned from an engagement celebration for a local artist in Houston. They were in the lone star state location scouting for Altman’s upcoming film Brewster McCloud. At the time Shelley Duvall was studying nutrition and diet therapy at South Texas Junior College and working as a cosmetics salesperson at Northwest Mall’s Foley’s department store. Without formal acting experience or training, Altman cast her in the key role of the Houston Astrodome tour guide Suzanne Davis and a star was born. Over the next two decades, she would go on to appear in classic films such as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Robert Altman’s Nashville and 3 Women, and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Besides a successful film career she created, hosted, executive produced, (and even wrote the theme music) for the award-winning live-action children’s anthology series Faerie Tale Theatre.
 
In 1993 Shelley sold the rights to Faerie Tale Theatre to a small British entertainment company after she began to struggle financially. As an independent producer, Duvall was finding it increasingly difficult to fund new projects with tight credit and mounting production costs due to the recession. She was forced to lay off over a dozen employees that worked out of her production company, Think Entertainment, whose offices were located on the second floor of a nondescript San Fernando valley strip mall over a Chinese restaurant and a dry cleaner. Shelley retired as a producer but continued taking acting parts. In 1994 her Studio City home was damaged in the Northridge earthquake and she relocated to the small city of Blanco, TX (approximately 50 miles north San Antonio and 50 miles west of Austin) which boasted a population of 1,500 residents.
 
While she remained single without any children, Shelley moved into a modest ranch in Blanco with her collection of exotic birds and reptiles that she had begun acquiring in Los Angeles. “At home, it’s a menagerie: 70 birds, all different kinds, ten dogs, one cat, a leopard tortoise, a rabbit, four iguanas, and two desert lizards,” she said during her interview on the Marilu Henner Show in 1994. Shelley continued to accept acting roles and television appearances throughout the late ‘90s but in the early 2000’s the roles got smaller before dwindling completely. Her 2000 independent film Dreams in the Attic which shot in and around Houston and Galveston was pitched to Disney but never sold or released. Duvall’s final acting performance was in the outsider film Manna from Heaven in 2002.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Discussion
Rarely seen film footage of hippie bard Richard Brautigan
11.29.2016
10:05 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Heroes
Literature
Pop Culture

Tags:
Richard Brautigan


Photo: Baron Wolman
 
The following is an edited version of an article I wrote on Dangerous Minds back in 2012 when Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan, the then-new biography of the poet, was published. I felt I couldn’t improve upon it so am sharing it again in a different context, as a preamble to this new video I put together of footage I’d never seen before of Richard Brautigan. This is an excerpt from a documentary about The Summer Of Love which was broadcast on the Canadian TV series The Way It Is in 1967. There is very little Brautigan on film, so for fans of the bard of San Francisco this is a short, but sweet, visit with one of our great countercultural heroes.

Richard Brautigan, Jack Kerouac and The Doors were my saviors in the year of the Summer Of Love. I was stuck in the suburbs of Virginia, surrounded by jocks and greasers, mostly always alone in my room full of beatnik books, magical vinyl and a meerschaum pipe full of banana peel. It was the year I read Brautigan’s second book Trout Fishing In America and the year that I left home for San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury.

Those were the days when a book or a record album could change your life. If literature had a Beatles, his name was Richard Brautigan. It comes as no surprise that John Lennon was a Brautigan fan. They both had a whimsical point of view that started in the square inch field and expanded into the cosmos.

In 1968, I lived inside of a parachute inside of a dance hall in a ghost town near Los Gatos, California. It was my summer of In Watermelon Sugar. I read that book like a preacher reads the Bible. It was my new testament. Brautigan’s poems and prose had this uncanny ability to gently slap you upside the head while disappearing into what is being described. In Watermelon Sugar was Brautigan’s river Tao, a sweet subtle liquid that flowed through the pink flesh of our being.

William Carlos Williams famously wrote “no ideas but in things” and embodied that thought in poems like “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Brautigan wrote from a similar point of view - a kind of American Zen that was ordinary and transcendental, modern and prophetic…

  I like to think (and
  the sooner the better!)
  of a cybernetic meadow
  where mammals and computers
  live together in mutually
  programming harmony
  like pure water
  touching clear sky.

For many of us, Brautigan was a door into a consciousness that was liberating in its playfulness and here and nowness. Reading Brautigan is like taking a pure hit of oxygen. Things sparkle. There is a sense of boundless delight and eroticism in his prose and poetry - a promise of the unspeakable, where language transcends itself.

Watch the clip after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
The secret artists Michael Jackson hired to paint insanely bizarre portraits of himself
11.28.2016
10:26 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Michael Jackson


Titled “Michael,” this oil painting by David Nordahl depicts Jackson as Michelangelo’s David surrounded by cherubs.
 
In April 2009, just two months before Michael Jackson’s sudden and unexpected death, Julien’s Auctions hosted a four-day public exhibition of 1,390 personal items from Neverland Ranch at the abandoned Robinsons-May department store in Beverly Hills. The exhibit was a fascinating look into the King of Pop’s personal treasures: from his iconic white-jeweled glove to a wonderland of 19th-century antiques and sculptures. One couldn’t help but notice the high volume of utterly bizarre works Michael Jackson had commissioned just for him: A life-sized statue of himself as Batman, a custom hand-painted Beverage-Air cooler, and a custom golf cart featuring an image of himself as Peter Pan painted onto the hood. However, what stood more than anything else was the exotic menagerie of oil paintings and murals of the pop star. Over many years Jackson paid dozens of artists to immortalize himself and his fairy-tale worldviews on canvas in scenes that depicted him as a figure of modern-day royalty in mythical tableaux. Where did Michael Jackson find the artists to help him amass such an insane collection of vanity? Why did somebody who was never satisfied with his looks spend millions of dollars to have his portrait painted?
 

Céline Lavail’s 1998 “Peter Pan” Neverland Ranch golf cart painting (from Julien’s Auctions Michael Jackson Exhibition catalogue).
 
Summer 2003, Leon Jones, a self-taught artist from Buena Park was airbrushing portraits of celebrities such as Lucille Ball, Jennifer Lopez, and Tupac Shakur on the sidewalk outside Café Tu Tu Tango at Universal Citywalk. A strange gentleman approached and asked if he was available to do some work for “his boss.” Jones was skeptical but agreed to meet the man at a gas station in Santa Barbara two days later after being persuaded by $500 in cash. Leon Jones and his nephew then followed the man through Los Olivos, CA, and were amazed when their final destination was revealed: Michael Jackson’s extremely secluded Neverland Ranch. Jones was then commissioned by Jackson to paint two, 15-feet-high murals at the Neverland train depot which took him several months to complete. One of the murals depicted Jackson in knight’s armor donning angel wings and the other showed Jackson surrounded by winged children pointing toward the heavens. “It was unreal, like you were on a different planet,” Jones said of his experience.

47-year-old American painter David Nordahl randomly received a phone call from Michael Jackson at his home in Santa Fe late one evening in early 1988. He thought it was a prank at first, but Jackson convinced the artist it was really him after describing a painting of Nordahl’s he had just seen in Steven Spielberg’s office earlier that day. After their initial hour-long conversation, Jackson invited him to the Denver stop of the Bad tour in March 1988 and soon after a partnership was formed: Nordahl left the commercial art world to become Jackson’s personal portraitist. Over the next seventeen years this creative collaboration resulted in thousands of drawings and roughly a dozen large-scale commissions. Jackson spent millions of dollars paying artists like Nordahl to transform his surreal and mythological ideas into fantasy art.
 

“The Storyteller” Nordahl shows Jackson as a Peter Pan-like figure surrounded by children including his sister Janet who is depicted as a fairy.
 

In Nordahl’s “Field of Dreams” Michael leads children of all nationalities (including sister Janet, AIDS activist Ryan White, actor Macaulay Culkin, and Pippi Longstocking).
 
Jackson paid up to $150,000 for the larger pieces and began referring to David Nordahl as his “favorite living artist” (Michelangelo being his favorite artist historically). Nordahl became a close friend, trusted adviser, and confidant who helped design Neverland Ranch carnival rides and joined Jackson for family trips to Disneyland. In 2004, Jackson and his children paid Nordahl a surprise visit on memorial day weekend, dropping by his Santa Fe home on their plush private bus. Jackson suggested a movie outing. “I thought we were going to a screening room,” Nordahl says. “His driver pulled into DeVargas Mall. He was friends with Roland Emmerich (the director of The Day After Tomorrow), and it was opening weekend. The mall was jammed, and there was no place to park. I took the kids, got the tickets and popcorn, and we went in. Michael came in after the lights went down. The lights came up, and nobody noticed him. He had on a baseball cap and these Chinese silk pajamas.”
 
Portsmouth-based portrait artist Ralph Wolfe Cowan painted Michael Jackson four times around 1993. The pop star bought the first portrait and then commissioned and paid for three more shortly after that. Cowan’s first abstract portrait depicted Jackson wearing a suit of armor, holding a sword with a parrot perched on top of it. Bubbles, Jackson’s pet monkey, was portrayed sitting loyally at his feet. After the first image of the portrait was sent to Jackson’s staff Cowan received back a strange, long-relayed message. “When I painted it, I had these dogs down in the bottom somewhere. German shepherds. Michael Jackson called up his curator, who called the guy at the gallery, who called my business manager Steve (Mohler), and Steve told me Michael didn’t want the dogs in there,” Cowan recounted. Extremely confused, Cowan insisted he hears from Jackson himself. Soon after, Cowan got a call. “Hello, this is Michael. I don’t like dogs,” he said in a soft, gentle voice. “I like monkeys.” Jackson paid about $30,000 for the 8-foot-tall painting, sans the dogs, which he hung in a living room beside his piano and can be seen in the background of Jackson’s well-known 1993 televised living room interview with Oprah Winfrey. Eventually, their working relationship deteriorated. Cowan explained how painting for Michael Jackson was really like working for a king. “He lived in a fantasy world and if he didn’t like something, you felt as if he could behead you. But the way he does it is by not calling you again. And somewhere along the line he stopped calling me and I thought I had been beheaded.”
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Discussion
Comedy gold: The Beastie Boys’ hilarious ‘Hello Nasty’ late-night infomercial
11.22.2016
04:38 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Hip-hop
Television

Tags:
Beastie Boys
Infomercials


Ad-Rock as John, the over enthusiastic audience member at a juice extractor demonstration.
 
I was up late one San Fernando valley evening in 1998, channel surfing through cable television when I happened upon a very bizarre infomercial advertising a product called “Sure Shine.” It caught my attention and I immediately stopped flipping: the commercial boasted that this multi-use product could wash your hair, polish your car, clean your kitchen counter, AND be used in the bedroom, as a spermicide. The number to call on the screen was 1-888-711-BSTE. This had to be some kind of hoax! It wasn’t exactly a hoax, rather, an ingenious marketing tactic used to promote the Beastie Boys highly anticipated Hello Nasty album on the hip hop groups’ own record label Grand Royal.

Calling the 1-888 number that flashed on the screen throughout the half-hour parody led viewers to where they could pre-order Hello Nasty and have it delivered to their doorstep on July 14, the ad also included the URL for Grand Royal’s newly launched website. The low-budget infomercial was directed by none other than Tamra Davis, wife of Beastie Boy Mike D, whose impressive credits include music videos for N.W.A., Sonic Youth, as well as major Hollywood studio films like CB4 and Billy Madison. It ran for several weeks on cable stations in Northern New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Manhattan, N.Y., Cleveland, Portland, Philadelphia, Houston, and Washington, D.C.
 

A disclaimer scrolled over the fake products that read “If you order NOW, you will not receive any car care products, but you can order the record, CD, or cassette of the new Beastie Boys album ‘Hello Nasty’”
 
This incredibly amusing advertising concept starred the Beastie Boys themselves: Mike D (a.k.a. Mike Diamond), MCA (a.k.a. Adam Yauch) Ad-Rock (a.k.a. Adam Horovitz), who, in the name of sketch comedy, slapped on fake wigs, phony moustaches, ponytails, and took on various roles to sell fake get-rich-quick scams, psychic hotlines, and even a food processor that played beats from Hello Nasty. The Beasties comedy chops hold up strong, with a parody style well ahead of its time pre-dating Adult Swim, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and so many others who a decade later would become popular parodying public-access television with bizarre faux-infomercials in a very similar fashion.

Director Tamra Davis spoke with me about how using a Home Shopping Network style approach to sell Hello Nasty came about: “Ian Rodgers (Grand Royal’s president of new media) was working with the Beasties on how to direct sell and market using the internet. This was all super new and I definitely remember us all thinking about how crazy it would be if you were at home watching TV in the middle of the night and this came on. We thought it would be hilarious.” This wasn’t Ian Rodgers’ first innovative approach to marketing in new media. After he wowed the Beastie Boys by giving a demonstration of the internet in 1994 (they hadn’t heard of it yet!) he created an (unreleased) CD-ROM entitled Don’t Mosh in the Ramen Shop, and in 1998 became one of the very first people to use MP3 technology to upload live recordings to the net while on the road with the group during the Hello Nasty tour.

The late-night infomercial was incredibly effective, with phone lines lighting up and pre-orders filing in whenever and wherever it aired. A Grand Royal telephone operator explained that a few viewers called in just to ask if the ad was real or not. “Some people have been like ‘Are you just going to go out and charge up my credit card?’ And I’ve just been telling them, ‘No, this is legit.’” Greg Pond, a cable programming coordinator at TCI San Francisco said, “This isn’t the first time that our cable systems local-access channels have been used to promote a well-known group of musicians. We aired half-hour spots for Tricky and Pulp, but those were just videos and information about the artists. They were nothing like the infomercial the Beastie Boys produced.”

Beastie Boys fans will be thrilled to see Ad-Rock as John, the over enthusiastic audience member in a juice extractor demonstration. Mike D as exercise guru Jack Freeweather in the “8 Minute Workout” that promises amazing results. “Whatever you’ve been doing in the past, you’ve been doing it wrong. Let Jack make it right.” Mike D returns later as thick-accented “Miklious Toukas” of CEO GR International. In my favorite segment, MCA plays a get-rich-quick character named Bill Swenson, a.k.a. “The Money Man.” A perfectly straight-faced MCA wearing thick, dark-rimmed glasses and a pink sweater around his neck expresses: “Money makes you feel good, money is so underestimated in our society, money is the thing that everyone needs to feel great and be who they are.” Tamra explains there was never a script for the infomercial, “We had all the ideas of the characters and what would happen but it was all improvised as far as what they said or what the guests would say. Some things they did were such inside jokes that if only five of us got it, it was worth it.”
 

MCA as Bill Swenson, a.k.a. “The Money Man.”
 

Mike D as thick-accented “Mikilous Toukas” of CEO GR International.
 
Extras casting helped fill out the traditional studio audience when they taped the ad in New York City, as well as friends, family, fellow Grand Royal labelmates, and even some real people like the Beasties stylist Tara Chaney and Tamra and Mike D’s doorman Joe. E.Z. Mike (a.k.a. Michael Simpson) from the Dust Brothers can be seen in the crowd applauding next to none other than record producer and studio engineer legend Mario Caldato Jr. Any Beastie Boys fan knows him as Mario C. by his frequent shout-outs in lyrics such as “That’s a record ‘cause of Mario” on the song “Root Down” and “Mario C likes to keep it clean!” on “Intergalactic.” Matthew Horovitz (Ad-Rock’s brother) plays Kenny Star of “Hollywood Psychics,” and Ad-Rock’s best friend from elementary school, working actress Nadia Dajani, plays Peg of “The Juice Ladies.” Actor Russell Steinberg (son-in-law of Diane von Fürstenberg) and DJ Frankie Inglese appear as Mike Lathers and Graham Noodledish of “Fantastic Finds,” showing off a miracle cleaning product that can only be applied using a compact disc.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Discussion
Love Saves the Day: An interview with the legendary NYC club pioneer and DJ David Mancuso
11.18.2016
07:02 am

Topics:
Dance
Music
Queer

Tags:
Disco
RIP
LGBT
NYC
David Mancuso
The Loft


 
As if 2016 didn’t suck enough already, Monday night saw the passing of one of the most influential (yet unheralded) figures in late 20th century popular culture. That man’s name was David Mancuso, and if you’ve ever danced to great records on a great sound system in a room full of smiling people and thought “could Heaven ever be as good as this?” then David Mancuso is the person you have to thank.

Mancuso, a one-time follower of LSD guru Timothy Leary structured his parties into three stages, and borrowing from The Tibetan Book Of The Dead (as Leary had for his guided LSD sessions) he termed them “Bardos”:

“The first Bardo would be very smooth, perfect, calm. The second Bardo would be like a circus. And the third Bardo was about re-entry, so people would go back into the outside world relatively smoothly.”

The parties Mancuso started throwing in his Manhattan home in 1970–which eventually picked up the moniker “The Loft”—are the absolute ground zero for dance culture as we know it today. This isn’t some hyperbolic statement: practically every one of the great NYC DJs who emerged during the 1970s and 80s—from Larry Levan to Frankie Knuckles to Danny Krivit to Kool Herc to Afrika Islam to David Morales to Junior Vasquez to Danny Tenaglia—are indebted in one way or another to Mancuso’s work (many being regular attendees at his Loft parties). And that’s just the DJs. Plenty of club owners were inspired to open their own nightclubs after visiting The Loft, often with the same shared values as Mancuso’s: peace, love, unity and diversity. While music was the main focus, socially the Loft was incredibly mixed. From day one the majority of the patrons were both homosexual and non-white. The freedom that could be found on The Loft’s dancefloor helped attendees fully express their (often marginalized) personalities, bond with people from both their own social circles and further afield, and helped them shape a vision together of the kind of world they would like to live in once the party had ended and they had left Mancsuo’s home. All to a spellbinding soundtrack carefully chosen by Mancuso himself, music that would later be classified as “disco,” but which was, in reality, simply the very finest in funk, soul, jazz, rock and electronica.

I was lucky enough to meet and interview David Mancuso, for my Discopia fanzine, back in 2003. He had recently come out of a period of relative inactivity, and was touring the world, trying to set up each and every venue he played in to be as close as possible to his New York home. I met him in Glasgow’s CCA, in between testing out the specially-hired audiophile event PA and beginning to blow up the hundreds of balloons that would become his party’s’ signature decoration. What follows is an abridged version of that interview, and while I would have liked for there to have been a happier occasion for digging this talk out and dusting it off, it’s still a fitting tribute to a man who changed not just my own life, but the lives of countless others. Rest in peace, David!

Dangerous Minds: You’ve been DJing for a long time. What is it that makes you still want to do it?

Mancuso: Well, actually, that was the last thing I wanted to do! And to this day it’s the thing that scares me the most.

What, DJing?!

Mancuso: Yeah. I mean it’s not something I fantasized about or wanted to do. But as I started doing my own parties I sort of found where I could be the most help. Also I was into sound systems, so there was a whole relationship there. But the DJ part of it really, and not to be vague, but the music really plays us. Really it’s an opportunity where one can shed their ego. Sort of like having an out of body experience. So I feel there’s a responsibility with the sound, with certain aspects and so forth, that I can contribute to.

Is it still going in New York?

Mancuso: Yeah, I’m about to do my 33rd anniversary. I don’t do it as frequently, as I don’t have a permanent location. The last four or five years the rents and things have gotten so astronomical and the parties are not designed to make a lot of money, okay? And I’m not into having a bar. It’s a very private, very personal thing that’s me and my friends. That’s what this is all about, it’s not about being a club. It’s not out there in the commercial world. The music relates to all these situations, yes, but it’s a very personal thing.

Can you tell me a bit about the sound system and how it is set up?  

Mancuso: Well basically it’s set up around the fundamentals of physics, of sound. And this is not magic, some kind of formula for having, you know, a really great sound system. It’s not about that at all. It is set up and designed to be honest and respectful to the music. You wanna hear the music not the sound system. Usually what happens is, you’ve probably seen this yourself, they put four stacks up, then face them toward the middle.

Right.

Mancuso: Well that’s just not how things work. Your voice is coming from there, my voice is coming from here… You get my point? It’s not coming from [over there], there’s not two more of us. But that’s a formula people have used and in some cases they just don’t know, but it’s got nothing to do with music standards. I mean if you take two flashlights and you switch two beams at each other they cancel.

So you start with the centre ‘cos there’ll be three speakers. The centre channel is mono. It has a lot to do with the vocals. You come down the room, and there’s two more, one in each corner. Then two on the sides which are delayed, but reinforce the sound. So whatever the artist is doing [it replicates], just as my voice is travelling from this point down that room as if you were sitting down there and vice versa. You relay exactly what’s happening. It’s all mathematics. So it’s set up to be as though there people, standing there playing instruments.
 

An action man styled as David Mancuso by Reggie Know
 
Over here [UK] we get told a lot about certain clubs and the Loft is one of them…

Mancuso: Correction, it’s not a club, please! Sorry, I got a little out of hand…

That’s okay.

Mancuso: ...but once you start going in that direction you start getting away from what the Loft is all about. I mean I’m here on a tour, but this is not the Loft. First of all the Loft is a feeling. While there are certain aspects that reflect the Loft and how it develops, it’s not the same. The name “The Loft” itself is not a name I gave it, it’s a given name. People eventually started saying that, ‘cos what is it? Oh, it’s my house! This is not about the club scene. I find some of them are really good, but that’s not what this is about. Sorry, I’m not trying to give you a hard time.

No that’s cool, it is a distinction that need to be made. But in terms of the clubs that people hear about over here, especially the New York stuff like the Paradise Garage and the Gallery, did you go to any of them?

Mancuso: Yeah, of course. I mean, I know Nicky [Siano] very well,  I knew Mike Brody very well, I knew Larry [Levan] very well, and the bar for quality as far as a sound system goes was much higher. Part of what the Loft did was contribute to that. People started, in about ’73, opening up other lofts and things, and they had to have a good sound system ya’know. So that’s one of the things the Loft has done. But these days the quality has gone down, in a lot of situations.

In terms of general quality?

Mancuso: Yeah, be it musical, or less musical. I mean you ever go into a place and you can’t make out the words, or you can make out some of them? It should be very precise.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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