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Danny Partridge is the Devil: Welcome to the Partridge Family Temple
02.14.2017
01:37 am

Topics:
Music
Occult
Television

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The 90s weren’t known for their frivolity. The whole idea was to be beyond fun. Fun was fucking square in the 90s, man. So naturally, when the Partridge Family Temple—a kooky hip-kid religion based on the irritating 70s sitcom—made their national TV debut on MTV’s The Jon Stewart Showin 1993 clad in impeccable Salvation Army chic and spouting frothy declarations about Shirley Partridge being the “Virgin Earth goddess mother from whose womb all Partridges came,” you instinctively knew something sinister was bubbling just below the glossy, fuzzy, c’mon-get-happy surface. And so it was.

The Partridge Family, lest we forget, was a relatively short-lived (1970-1974) TV series about the titular musical family, who toured around the country playing their gooey flared bell-bottom sunshine pop and getting into lightweight misadventures. The star of the show was real-life teen heartthrob David Cassidy who played Keith, the frontman for the family band. In the Temple, he’s the Satyr, the sex god, and his legendarily generous phallus is “the tree of knowledge and the tree of life combined.” They were wrangled by mom Shirley (Shirley Jones). A father was never even mentioned on the show, hence her placement in the cult as a sort of Virgin Shirley. Danny Partridge (perpetual walking disaster Danny Bonaduce) is the bass player/irritant, the perverse imp, the Partridge’s very own false prophet. Sister/keyboard player Laurie (Susan Dey) is…well, in the Temple she’s always involved in orgies, so maybe she’s the whore of Babylon? We don’t want to dig too deeply into this hole, really. I’m sure you get the drift.
 

The new messiahs?

So where are we, and how did we get here? In 1988, Shaun Fairlee AKA Shaun Partridge, the high priest of the Temple, was living in Denver. One weird weekend he met a rogue reverend, Adam Sleek, who tortured him with Partridge Family albums on crackly vinyl for many unsettling hours. At first, he hated them. That’s the sane reaction, incidentally. But eventually, he broke, allowing the insipid kiddie-pop of “I Think I Love You,” “I Woke Up in Love This Morning,” and “Come On Get Happy” to burrow deep into the soft meat of his brain. He saw it all, the whole virgin/whore dichotomy, his misfiring synapses creating a crazy-quilt origin story where All is Partridge and Partridge is All.. All that was left was to pick a few gold medallions and polyester shirts at the Goodwill and POOF! a new dumb religion was born.
 

He saw the light. Shaun Partridge gets happy

A vaguely sinister provocateur wrapped in a garish mid-70s clown costume, Fairlee began following (some might call it stalking) the various actors from the Partridge Family series. The Temple’s first major public disturbance was at a David Cassidy/Danny Bonaduce concert in 1991, where he was arrested for loudly preaching the gospel of the Temple to weirded-out nostalgia buffs. His stunt caught the attention of the media, and soon the Temple was making the rounds on shows like Stewart’s and on sensational tabloid programs like A Current Affair. Fairlee picked up a small contingent of co-conspirators along the way, most notably Giddle Partridge, a glamorous LA Satanist known mostly for Giddle and Boyd, her apocalyptic retro pop band with noise-rock anti-hero Boyd Rice.
 

Uneasy listening: Giddle and Boyd
 
In the mid-1990’s, they moved their act to freak-friendly Portland, where they were known mostly as creeps, fascists and women-beaters. Fairlee was in frequent barfights, and interviews would devolve quickly into the various atrocities his Temple may (or may not) have been a part of, from raw violence (sure), incest (Fairlee has threatened to marry his sister on occasion), devil worship (definitely; the Temple is rife with Satanists), and even urine-guzzling (Fairlee is very pro pee-play). They’re still around, but odds are they’ll be run out of town with pitchforks and torches any day now.
 

 
It’s hard to laugh off public beatings. I mean, people have seen it with their own eyes. But aside from the drunken rages, almost everything this group has ever done has been wrapped in so many layers of irony and sarcasm that it’s impossible to know exactly what any of this is about. I mean it’s not like they have an actual church to go to or any sacraments or even a sermon to listen to, although they do have a pretty dope house band. But it’s really just a bunch of quasi-evil 90s vintage hipsters fucking with you. Clearly, it’s satire, but what’s the joke? That religion and TV are the same thing? It’s a lot easier to just say that. You don’t need to invest 20 years into a fake cult for that. So maybe the truth has been right in front of us the whole time. Maybe, like Fairlee before us, we just haven’t watched the show enough or paid enough attention to the albums. Maybe illumination awaits, deep in the grooves of The Partridge Family’s Greatest Hits.
 

 
[Spoiler: It doesn’t.]
 

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Discussion
None more black: The grim American gothic horrors of ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’
02.13.2017
11:56 am

Topics:
Books
History
Movies
Occult

Tags:


Black River Falls’ Miss Congeniality circa 1890

Between the years 1890 and 1900, something terribly wrong happened to the good people of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. A tiny mining town populated mostly by Norwegian and German immigrants lured by the promise of cheap land, the once-bustling community fell into disrepair in the late 1880s when the inhospitable climate caused the mines to shut down, essentially dooming the town and everyone in it. While the town did ultimately survive, the ensuing decade was merciless to Black River Falls residents. A thick, impenetrable darkness descended on the town as the population withered, succumbing to poverty, disease, madness, murder, and worse.
 

 
In 1973, Michael Lesy told the terrible true tale of Black River Falls in Wisconsin Death Trip, a book that juxtaposed stark images shot by photographer Charles Van Schaick, who documented the town’s downward spiral in a series of jarring portraits, with matter-of-fact newspaper reports of all the murder, mayhem, devil-worship, suicide, hauntings and general bedlam that infected the town like a virus. If ever a place was cursed, it was Black River Falls, and Wisconsin Death Trip remains one of the bleakest, most devastating accounts of rural American life ever published. Seriously, this place was essentially Hell on Earth.
 

All this and diphtheria, too: a typically unsettling slice of life death in Black River Falls.
 
Witness, if you will, just a smattering of the horrors within:

A ten-year-old boy and his younger brother run away from home, find a remote farm several miles away and promptly blow the owner’s head off. They spend the rest of the summer frolicking at the ill-gotten farmhouse until the farmer’s brother comes for a visit. The boy is sentenced to life in jail.

A funeral director is suspected of botching a burial. The woman’s body is exhumed and the woman is found to have been buried alive, her fingers bitten half off in madness after discovering her horrific fate.

A sixty-year-old woman, afraid that the rash on her back would kill her, steps into her backyard, douses herself with gasoline and self-immolates.

A young mother takes her three children out for a day at the beach, and then drowns them, one by one, while the others watch. A fifteen-year-old Polish girl burns down her employer’s barn—and his house—because she wanted some “excitement.” 

A young German man, having only moved to Black River Falls a month prior, attempts suicide by train, lying down on the tracks and refusing to move. He is finally removed by four men. He later vanishes.

A teenage girl, jilted at the altar by her fiance, goes mad with grief, hanging herself in the local asylum. Meanwhile a young man, also recently jilted, shoots his ex-fiance and then himself. A recently divorced man shoots his ex-wife and her family dead in the crowded town square.

An outbreak of diphtheria kills off a score of local children. The school is closed and the houses of the afflicted burned to the ground. A formerly world famous opera singer moves to town and within a month is reduced to eating chicken feed to survive.

A farmer decapitates all of his chickens and burns down his farmhouse, convinced that the devil has taken over his farm. A drifter is taken in by a kindly family. He has dinner with them and as they sleep, he shoots them all and then himself.

And there’s more, so much more. Just endless misery death, murder, mutilation, arson, starvation, cruelty and unrelenting depression. And all in the space of just a few years.
 

 
In 1999, a highly unsettling documentary based on Lesy’s book was released. Also titled Wisconsin Death Trip, it showed the photographs, recounted the newspaper reports, and recreated many of the crimes in black and white, bringing Black River Falls’ grisly past to life. The film also juxtaposes the town’s lunatic ancestors with dead-eyed portraits of the then-current residents, less murderous but still as dazed and depressed as ever, staring blankly into the camera at nursing homes or bus stops, clearly waiting for the Lord or somebody merciful to end their dreary, pointless existences. I would not recommend consuming both the book and the documentary in one sitting unless you have a bucket of Prozac handy, but I will say this: You might think you’re pretty goth ‘n all with your serial killer books and your Bauhaus records, but you are definitely not Black River Falls goth. Those motherfuckers were the real deal.

Watch ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Discussion
The Devil’s Jukebox: Why Big Stick is the greatest rock n’ roll band OF ALL TIME (if you ask me)
02.13.2017
10:31 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:


 
The more I think about it, the more I’ve come to realize that Big Stick might be the greatest rock n’ roll band OF ALL TIME. I mean, I can’t think of anybody better. Could the Beatles write a song as visionary as “Do Not Rape My Sister At the Municipal Pool” or as nuanced as “Girls on the Toilet”? Well, even if they could’ve they certainly fucking didn’t, I’ll tell you that much. Big Stick did.

Big Stick slithered up from the NYC art-rock underground in the mid-80s like brightly colored lizards, worlds apart both stylistically and sonically from the noise-damage darlings of the junkie punk scene they emerged from—Pussy Galore, Reverb Motherfuckers, White Zombie—or their high profile big mean daddies in Sonic Youth, the Swans, or Foetus. Sure, they were just as druggy, and probably even snottier than their deathtripping brethren, but they had style, and a sense of showmanship long abandoned by the then-reigning Feedback Mafia. Sorta like the more playful, less genocidal version of Jim Thirlwell and Lydia Lunch, John Gill and Yanna Trance were a live-work-fuck-kill together couple who brewed up their crazed sonic schemes in their very own secret headquarters, explaining little and revealing even less. They performed wearing elaborate masks, and all known press photos were similarly mysterious affairs, shrouding their true identities in a veil of feathers and wigs and antlers. It was crazy but sexy, and the secret-squirrel gag was the perfect compliment to their bizarre cut and paste electro-skronk.
 

 
The music that Big Stick played simply did not exist before they did, and whether directly or otherwise, their dizzying, junkdustrial, urban warfare psychedelia was the seminal first step in what became a whole host of so-hip-it-hurts rock sub-genres in the ensuing decades. Their abrasive pastiche of distorto-punk guitars, drawling slacker-rap, and cheapjack drum machine beats was pretty much the blueprint for the electroclash movement that made Satanic superstars out of Peaches and A.R.E. Weapons. The concept of a two-man (or woman) primitive blues-punk racket, pioneering when Big Stick did it, is now a guaranteed recipe for at least fifteen minutes of rock radio-baiting success. Disco punk was their thing too, way before Electric Six took a trip to the gay bar.  If being a dozen years ahead of your time was at all profitable, then Gill and Trance would be zillionaires by now. But it’s not, is it?

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Discussion
The Nihilist Spasm Band invented noise rock in 1965
02.10.2017
09:07 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:


 
Back when most kids their age were in the throes of Beatlemania, an octet of Canadian art-nerds calling themselves The Nihilist Spasm Band rewired the whole notion of popular music for their own twisted ends and created one of the most alarming cacophonies imaginable, especially when you consider they formed in a musical landscape dominated by Elvis, the Beach Boys, and Herman’s Hermits.
 

 
There were a couple of unique elements at work with Nihilist Spasm. For one, all of their music was improvised. Aside from vocals, everything they recorded was a first (and last) take, and every live performance is spontaneous. No piece has ever been played twice, at least not in the same way. Secondly, they created their own instruments, or at least modified standard instruments until they were thoroughly unrecognizable. Perhaps their most infamous re-invention is the electric kazoo. Retrofitted with hearing-aid mics stuffed inside its tinny shell, the tuneless bleating of this unholy creation is one of the band’s greatest gifts to humanity.

Their first widely-released album, 1968’s No Record, is a wild, ear-searing wall of chaotic fuck-noise that seems impossible given its time frame (Harry Partch meets The Boredoms was a pretty original concept for the era, you must admit). Naturally, it became a murky underground cult favorite quietly influencing 80’s noiseniks like Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, and KK Null. In fact, they were (and still are) huge in Japan. Well, relatively. They call them the “Rolling Stones of noise” there, at least. In 2000, there was even a documentary released about the band. I mean they’re still completely and hopelessly obscure, sure, but they had a few pops of fame here and there.
 

 
And here’s the really crazy thing: they’re still together. Fifty years on and the band still tours with an almost all-original line-up (two members of the founding group, Hugh McIntyre and Greg Curnoe, passed away in 2004 and 1992 respectively), and still play blindingly loud on crazy modified scream machines made to confuse and terrify in equal fistfuls. They’ve opened for Sonic Youth and jammed with REM and if the recent announcement of their upcoming Sonic Protest Tour is any indication, their reign of chaotic improvised terror isn’t over yet. Not bad for a group of 70-something Canadians who still haven’t learned how to tune a guitar in 50 years.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Discussion
The Black Metal Antiquarium is the Internet K-hole of teen metal mayhem
02.08.2017
11:30 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:

b1
 
You’ve seen it everywhere. The crudely-drawn goat that graces the cover of the first Bathory album is quickly becoming one of rock n’ roll’s most ubiquitous images. It’s the new Ramones t-shirt. And like the famous four’s memorable circle logo, the Bathory goat is often worn by folks who have never even heard the beastly sounds on that grisly 1984 album Bathory has endured because it’s so brutal, so inhuman, so extreme that it was literally shocking upon its initial release. It was the first real declaration of black metal war, the opening salvo in an ongoing campaign to kill Christianity (and false metal) dead with leather, spikes, and minor chords played a thousand miles an hour. Although Bathory was an actual band, it has always been identified by one character, frontman Quorthon (RIP). If anybody is responsible for ushering in the age of black metal darkness, it’s him.
 
QBM2
Quorthon, early 80’s, looking more glam than grim

But was Quorthon just a frustrated glam-rocker? I’m sure there are snowy, fjord-y pockets of Earth out there where I could get hung, drawn and quartered for even suggesting such heresy, but if the Black Metal Antiquarium is any indication, around the the time of the first Bathory album, ol’ Tommy “Quorthon” Forsberg was into Motley Crue just as much as the rest of us were. It’s just one of the many compelling nuggets in this loosely knit collection of videos and photos that paint a vibrant, bloody, and occasionally hilarious portrait of the earliest days of black metal, from its creaky 80’s proto-black beginnings to the alarming wave of murder and mayhem (and Mayhem) that engulfed the scene in the 1990s.
 
BM5
Mayhem in their rehearsal space, late 80’s, clearly getting into the spirit of things.

Inspired largely by the cartoon Satanism of 80’s Brit metal-punks Venom, Scandinavian black metal exploded in the early 90’s with misanthropic bands like Darkthrone, Immortal, Emperor, and most infamously Mayhem, the most dangerous band in the world, a shadowy outfit with an extremely thorny history that includes self-mutilation, suicide, and cold-blooded murder. And this is while most of them were still teenagers!
 
BM5
Mayhem’s Euronymous, who would later be murdered by his own bandmate, Varg Vikernes.

What’s particularly exciting about the user-generated Antiquarium is that it is curated and archived by bands and fans who were there at the time in places like Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and South America, the epicenters for musical extremities throughout that tumultuous decade. That’s helpful, because it’s sometime difficult to tell one 17-year-old Norwegian kid in corpsepaint from another, particularly when the source is a blurry fanzine photo from 1992. Of course, it does sorta seem odd that this would happen on a Facebook page. In a better, more noble world, photographs of doomed Mayhem guitarist Euronymous sporting a half-shirt and a gross catfish mustache would be locked away in a forbidden vault somewhere, pressed between the pages of an arcane tome bound in human flesh. And maybe someday they will be, but this is still pretty cool for now.
 
bm6
 
While relatively sedate at this point—the millennial take on black metal (ambient BM, “Red” BM, “Blackgaze,” etc) is decidedly less psychotic than their 90s era counterparts—historically it is still the most overtly homicidal/suicidal rock genre ever created. And that’s not even counting all the burned churches and desecrated gravestones. It is a history of outright war against humanity, littered with beatings, bleedings, hate crimes, stone-cold murder, and painful, shrieking noise. And as the Antiquarium proves, through old photos, flyers, demo covers, zine pages and fuzzy shot-on-VHS video clips, it was created mostly by dopey teenage kids smearing their faces with clown makeup and aping their fave Venom and Black Sabbath records. It’s always good to remember that even the cuddliest kittens are hiding sharp claws.

Here are a few especially juicy entries..
 
BM3
These pre-teen monster-mash goofs would grow up to become Brazilian thrash metal masters Sepultura.
 
BM4
Emperor are now considered one of the most progressive black metal bands and vocalist/guitarist Ihsahn is one the most well-respected musicians on the scene. But in 1990, when the band was called Xerasia, he was just another teenage dirtbag ripping off Alice Cooper.
 
BM6
Black metal’s goth-goblin Mortiis, back when he preferred housedresses and bathtub suicides to elf ears and leather wings.
 
More metal mayhem (and Mayhem) after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Discussion
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