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  • ‘Freedom for the Wolf’: The rise of Illiberal Democracy

    Earlier this year, at the opening ceremony for the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament, makar or national bard Jackie Kay read from her poem “Threshold.” The poem is a rallying call for people to come together and protect the nation’s “incipient democracy”:

    Find here what you are looking for:
    Democracy, in its infancy: guard her
    Like you would a small daughter -
    And keep the door wide open, not just ajar…

    Though I don’t regard Scotland as nation with an infant democracy—our history tells us otherwise—it is fair to say the poem’s sentiment is well-intentioned—if a tad cutesy. Democracy must be guarded responsibly if we are to enjoy its freedoms.

    The issues of freedom and democracy are at the heart of a new feature-length documentary by writer and director Rupert Russell. His film Freedom for the Wolf is epic in scale—covering events on four continents—finely made, thoughtful and nuanced. It examines how different people across the world—from Tunisian rappers to Indian comedians, from America’s #BlackLivesMatter activists to Hong Kong’s students—are joining the struggle for “the world’s most radical idea—freedom—and how it is transforming the world.”

    This sounds all very exciting—though I don’t think the struggle for freedom as something new—it has been a central thread of human history for millennia. Yet every generation comes afresh to politics (most recently the Occupy Movement and Bernie Sanders revolution) and sex (Fifty Shades of Grey)—and so it is with Freedom for the Wolf.

    That said, Russell’s film does highlight how different movements, primarily youth movements, are fighting the threat of governments combining dictatorships with democracy to create what is termed “illiberal democracies.” In other words, countries replacing real democratic freedom with consumerist choice—the right to liberty exchanged for the right to shop—or, as Juvenal put it, “bread and circuses.”
    Occupy demonstrator in Hong Kong.
    Rupert Russell was born and raised in England. He is the son of the brilliant film director Ken Russell. Rupert graduated from Cambridge University before he went on to study for a PhD in sociology under Orlando Patterson at Harvard University.

    Patterson is a preeminent historical and cultural sociologist—best known for his work Freedom in the Making of Western Culture (1991), which won a National Book Award. Born in Jamaica, Patterson has long had an interest in the cultural meaning of freedom. His interest was inspired by his birth country’s association with slavery. Slavery has shaped our understanding of freedom. Patterson examined slavery from a long historical perspective pointing out that the derivation of the word slave comes from the ethnic group Slavs. Blond, blue-eyed Slavs were once the main ethnicity of slaves—further the “vast majority of slaves for over 2,000 years of Western history were white.” But it’s a different kind of slavery that threatens democracy today.

    Patterson appears in Russell’s documentary and his work on freedom—what is it? what does it mean? how is it being eroded today?—underpin some of the film’s central themes—as Russell explained to me when I spoke with him over the phone:

    Rupert Russell: Our original intention was to examine what freedom meant in different cultures around the world. I’d been thinking about freedom and the paradox of freedom for quite a while and I decided to do a bit of exploration into not only what freedom means in different cultures but how does it relate to power.

    My advisor at Harvard during my PhD was Orlando Patterson who had already done quite extensive research on this. For example, he examined how ordinary Americans when you ask them to talk about “freedom” there were all kinds of things they said from being naked on a beach to driving their car. But invariably what they they didn’t talk about was voting.

    Orlando’s hypothesis actually explains how people such as George Bush and other politicians of the Iraq war era were able to use the idea of freedom in the forefront of their rhetoric while at the same time eroding democratic institutions through things like the Patriot Act.

    I was already aware there was a very sophisticated way to think about the relationship between freedom and power—the different definitions of freedom and how they can interplay with each other. How we may emphasise in a culture too much of a personal version of freedom and not connect that with a democratic or institutional version of freedom upon which our personal freedom depends.

    More from Rupert Russell on ‘Freedom for the Wolf,’ after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    The Yardbirds: The legendary supergroup that boasted of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page & Jeff Beck
    03:10 pm


    Jimmy Page
    Eric Clapton
    Jeff Beck

    The Yardbirds are one of those groups who didn’t quite make the jump when the drawbridge goes up between the R&B and “English invasion” beat group era and what came after, i.e the psychedelia and beyond. Very few groups of their vintage did, just a small handful when you think of it—the Beatles, Stones, Who and Kinks obviously come readily to mind—but not the Yardbirds who are often thought of as a mere footnote in the later careers of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck. The Yardbirds go somewhat a little too far back for many music fans who might otherwise love what’s on offer from them. They are seen ultimately as a B&W era rock act, if you take my point. Unlike one group of their peers—the Pretty Things—they didn’t really last long enough to bloom in that same way, although surely the promise of the Yardbirds flowered within Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Jeff Beck Group (not to mention Renaissance).

    But the Yardbirds were an absolutely amazing, astonishing and astounding group. To some, who know “of” them, but not much of the actual music they produced, they have the reputation of being merely a really good English blues band when that’s not even remotely accurate, although this still might be the impression one is left with if you end up introduced to them via a crappy CD compilation (and there are dozens of crappy Yardbirds comps). These guys were insanely great musicians, way ahead of their time, adding exotic instrumentation (sitar, tabla), Gregorian chant, shifting tempos, and screaming and distorted lead guitar solos (and feedback) to the three-minute pop song before any of that stuff was routinely done. Their exemplary mid-60s hit singles are amongst the most innovative and furthest-reaching pop music of its day. Even put up against the measure of what the Beatles were getting up to at the same time, the Yardbirds’ output demonstrated that they could more than hold their own with the toppermost of the poppermost. (Worth noting that the Yardbirds opened for the Beatles at at least one concert in Paris.)

    The Yardbirds (their name a nod to jazz great Charlie Parker) were originally formed in 1963 by lead singer Keith Relf and bassist Paul Samwell-Smith who’d already been in a band together. They were joined by guitarist Chris Dreja, drummer Jim McCarty and the original lead guitarist “Top” Topham, who was then just fifteen and much younger than the rest of them. Top was pressured by his parents to take his education more seriously and he recommended his school chum Eric Clapton to take his place. Within a matter of months of forming, the group was approached by rock impresario Giorgio Gomelsky—who ran the Crawdaddy rhythm and blues club in Richmond—to replace the ascent Rolling Stones as the house band at his hip nightspot. He also became their manager and record producer getting them signed to EMI for Five Live Yardbirds, a recording of one of their sets, featuring blues standards stretched to 5 or 6 minutes with wailing guitar solos and feedback, something they called having a “rave-up.”

    Below “Louise” with Eric Clapton on guitar:

    But when the Yardbirds wanted to do something a little more experimental—like their first hit single “For Your Love”—Eric Clapton got all “blues purist” on them and quit on the very day the single was released, not even agreeing to appear in the promotional film made for the record. Clapton soon joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Jimmy Page by that point a session musician boy wonder of some notoriety was approached to replace Clapton. Page turned them down and instead recommended that they hire Jeff Beck (who can be seen below miming Clapton’s guitar parts in the promo for “For Your Love” filmed soon after he joined the group).

    With Beck in the line-up, the Yardbirds were on fire, turning out several classic hit singles and touring America many times, where they had several hit records. When Paul Samwell-Smith decided he wanted to go off and become a record producer, again the group approached Jimmy Page about joining and this time he agreed to help out, filling in on bass until Chris Dreja could learn the instrument, whereupon Page would switch to guitar. But as fate would have it, there was very little actually recorded with the dual guitar Page-Beck pairing.

    The legendary guitar-smashing scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 60s classic Blow-Up used the Yardbirds to represent the violent energy of “mod” London. Originally—and for obvious reasons—Antonioni wanted The Who to do this, but they weren’t available. Eric Burdon turned him down, too. He thought about having the Velvet Underground in the scene but they couldn’t get a working visa in time and it would have been expensive to fly their entire entourage to London. The director thought about using a band called The In-Crowd (later Tomorrow) a group that featured future Yes-guitarist Steve Howe, but they were jettisoned in favor of the Yardbirds at the last minute. Since they’d already made prop guitars to be smashed, you’ll note that Beck is destroying a Gibson 175, the guitar Howe famously uses.

    The song they’re seen performing here, one of the rare instances of a dual lead from Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck is called “Stroll On,” a rewrite of their earlier “Train Kept A-Rollin” hit with the lyrics changed by Keith Relf to avoid any legal problems with the original songwriters.

    Plenty more Yardbirds after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    Vintage driver’s licenses once issued to Alfred Hitchcock, Johnny Cash, James Brown & more!

    Johnny Cash’s California driver’s license issued in 1964.
    Back in 2013 my Dangerous Minds colleague Tara McGinley put together a post containing images of passports once used by David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin (among others) which I found very entertaining. Mostly because the celebrity subjects look less than thrilled to in their photos—with the exception of Joplin who is grinning from ear to ear. Perhaps the result of an unplanned acid flashback, who can say? At any rate, while conducting my ongoing “research” for my “job” here at DM I came across one of Cash’s old driver licenses from 1964 and that discovery led me down a rather intriguing rabbit hole that was full of other vintage driver’s licenses—some with equally intriguing backstories to go with them.

    Robert De Niro’s taxicab licence from 1976.
    Cash’s California state driver’s license (pictured at the top of this post) was sold in an auction in 2014 for $4,480 and even made an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman along with the man who had acquired it, Rick Harrison (the star of the reality television show Pawn Stars) who purchased it from an individual who brought it into his store in Las Vegas. Not one to be outdone by the Man in Black, a license once belonging to Alfred Hitchcock (which you can see below) sold at an auction for the tidy sum of for $8,125. Whoa

    Then there’s the coolest one in the lot I dug up belonging to a 33-year-old Robert De Niro (pictured above) issued by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in 1976. Known for his commitment to getting as “method” as possible when it came to his acting roles, De Niro prepped for his role as Travis Bickle the aspiring vigilante about to go off the rails in Taxi Driver by spending a number of weeks driving a New York City yellow cab. According to folklore associated with De Niro’s time behind the wheel, when he was recognized by one of his passengers they actually believed that De Niro was still working as a taxi driver after winning an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in The Godfather II for his impeccable portrayal of young Vito Corleone. Who knew?

    When it comes to the story behind Manson’s alleged driver’s license things are a little sketchy. In the 1971 book The Family author Ed Sanders was able to substantiate that Mason lived at the address noted on the license in Santa Barbara—705 Bath Street—along with Lynn “Squeaky” Fromme and Manson Family member Mary Brunner (the mother of Manson’s son Valentine) sometime during 1967—two years prior to his participation in the brutal slayings of director Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate and four others at Polanski’s home in Benedict Canyon. The license notes Manson’s date of birth as November 11th—which is a point of contention between historians and criminologists alike as Manson’s date of birth has also been said to fall on November 12th. So while the jury is still out on the actual authenticity of this creepy artifact, it’s still nothing short of chilling to actually see a mundane personal document belonging to the one of the most notorious criminals in history.

    You can see Manson’s maybe driver’s license as well as others that once belonged to Davy Jones of the Monkees (RIP), Joe Strummer, Dean Martin and a beaming James Brown all of whom look about as happy as we all do (with the exception of Brown of course because, cocaine) in our DMV photos which proves that the DMV does in fact hate everyone.

    California driver’s license allegedly issued to Charles Manson in 1967.

    Back in 2008 this driver’s license once belonging to Alfred Hitchcock sold at an auction for $8,125.
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    George Carlin recorded vicious anti-cop bit just before 9/11, now hear the uncensored material

    Carlin being arrested in 1972
    One distinct post-9/11 memory I have was purchasing Is This It, the debut album by The Strokes, and noticing that it was missing a track. It turns out the song “New York City Cops” had been removed—the NYPD had essentially been canonized and absolutely no one wanted to be seen as critical of first responders. It turns out the same thing happened to the great George Carlin, who recorded some some anti-police material just a few weeks prior to 9/11, only to have it shelved in the wake of terrorist attacks and subsequent ennobling of the NYPD. Now via SiriusXM’s “Carlin’s Corner” you can hear the offending bit below.

    George Carlin, let’s not forget, had very good—and personal—reasons to resent the police, having been famously arrested himself for obscenity in Milwaukee in 1972 for performing his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine—an off-duty police officer who was in the audience dropped a dime on him for using profanity onstage. As the well-known story goes, Carlin’s wife Brenda got onstage during her husband’s set to let him know that the police were congregating and waiting to arrest him. Carlin’s performance ran 30 minutes longer and he brought the house down, all the while making to ditch the cocaine in his pocket right before the cops nabbed him. Carlin only spent a few hours in jail and was freed on $150 bail, but it was a narrowly missed disaster over some dirty jokes.

    The bit about cops, titled “Rats & Squealers” will be on the upcoming album of previously unreleased material I Kinda Like It When A Lotta People Die available from MPI Media/Eardrum Records on CD, limited edition vinyl and digital platforms on September 16, 2016.

    Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
    Bob Dylan raps on a Kurtis Blow album, 1986
    09:34 am


    Bob Dylan
    Kurtis Blow

    It’s a cliché by now that Bob Dylan’s singular 1965 track “Subterranean Homesick Blues” qualifies as one of the building blocks of hip-hop. What is possibly not quite as well known is that Dylan himself made a brief appearance on a track by one of the founding fathers of rap, Kurtis Blow.

    Between the magisterial high points of, say, Blood on the Tracks and Time Out of Mind lie the yawning 1980s and most of the 1990s, a period marked by Dylan’s Christian period, the Traveling Wilburys, and “We Are the World.” As Dylan himself conceded later, it was a time when he was feeling out step with the world, with Reagan in the White House, MTV on cable television, and his Boomer cohort veering into suspect activities like junk bonds and jazzercise.

    In 1986 Kurtis Blow released his 8th album Kingdom Blow—the album’s opening track, “Street Rock,” is a nearly nine-minute composition that features a single quatrain in Dylan’s voice that is used multiple times on the track, first as the intro and later as a full verse on its own on the track’s 7th minute. The album also featured vocals by George Clinton on a track called “Magilla Gorilla.”

    Dylan in 1986
    According to The Rough Guide to Bob Dylan 2, “In late March [1986], Dylan was back in America [after some gigs in Australia], oddly rapping a verse on Kurtis Blow’s release Street Rock. ‘He raps, he really raps,’ an excited Blow was quoted as saying.”

    Blow was right, the tentative verse on “Street Rock” certainly does qualify as rap of some variety. Dylan has always had a distinctive singing style—understatement of the year—but in “Subterranean Homesick Blues” he indulged in a form of Sprechgesang. Here Dylan raps—one must use the verb—that he’s “indulged in high knowledge,” including an “encyclopedia” as well as “reports in news media,” and is in despair because there are “kids starving in Ethiopia and we are getting greedier, the rich are getting richer.” It’s not terrible by any stretch but it is surely slight; the tracks true virtues all flow from Blow.

    In Chronicles, Volume 1, Dylan refers to the mid-1980s as a time when he had lost “power and dominion over the spirits,” stating that he “had done it once, and once was enough.” In the very next paragraph Dylan signals that it is the masters of the new form of rap music who have taken on that dominion:

    Danny [Lanois] asked me who I’d been listening to recently, and I told him Ice-T. He was surprised, but he shouldn’t have been. A few years earlier, Kurtis Blow, a rapper from Brooklyn who had a hit out called “The Breaks,” had asked me to be on one of his records and he familiarized me with that stuff, Ice-T, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Run-D.M.C. These guys definitely weren’t standing around bullshitting. They were beating drums, tearing it up, hurling horses over cliffs. They were all poets and they knew what was going on.

    Hear Bob Dylan rap, after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Al Jourgensen and Gibby Haynes were Timothy Leary’s psychedelic guinea pigs

    via Timothy Leary Archives
    I knew Al Jourgensen and Dr. Timothy Leary were friends. Leary’s voice opened the Revolting Cocks’ Linger Ficken’ Good (see below), and when I saw Ministry at the Hollywood Palladium a couple weeks before Leary’s death in ‘96, Jourgensen announced from the stage that Tim was in the building. Jourgensen writes in his memoir that at the Palladium, he and Leary “hung out with Joe Strummer and Captain Sensible, and the four of us did more cocaine than you can fit onto a picnic table.”

    But I was unprepared for the revelation, dropped as casually as a handkerchief two-thirds of the way through the same book, that Jourgensen lived with Leary for two years in the mid-90s, during which time both he and Gibby Haynes were test subjects for Leary’s experiments with psychedelics.

    In the context of the book, this comes as a piece of good news, because at least Al is getting something like a doctor’s care. Fix, the depressing documentary filmed on Ministry’s Filth Pig tour (or “Sphinctour”), leaves no doubt as to the severity of Al’s multiple drug problems during this time, and the corresponding chapters of the book open dark new vistas of degradation. (One of Jourgensen’s war stories from this period includes the sentence: “She’s wearing a colostomy bag, and I was naturally curious.”)

    Timothy Leary backstage at a Ministry show
    At this point in the narrative, White Zombie bassist Sean Yseult has kicked Jourgensen out of their shared apartment on Melrose, and he has moved in with Leary. And here comes Gibby Haynes:

    In addition to taking me in, Tim let Gibby Haynes stay at his house for a while. Tim encouraged us to take whatever drugs we wanted—he was the guru of LSD, after all. But as an academic and a researcher, he wanted to see what effects different hallucinogens had when they were coupled with different substances—coke, heroin, Nyquil, Hungry Man dinners. He would get all this hallucinogenic shit mailed to him from all these companies and universities and then test it on us every couple weeks. Actually, it was mostly on me. He kicked Gibby out of the house after he peed in the drawer of an antique desk in Tim’s office when he was off his head. So Gibby went and I stayed. Tim would get me to shoot up all these laboratory drugs that were based out of MDA—ecstasy and Ayahuasca, an Amazonian concoction made from shrubs, leaves, and Virola, a South American drug that you grind into a powder and cook down. Tim had me shooting up all this shit. He would be all excited and say, “Hey, I got a new package.” And I would groan, “Okay, fuck. Let’s do it.” I would shoot it up, and he would scribble down notes on how the drugs affected me. I don’t know what he was writing because to me the hallucinations were always the same.

    I’d have these horrific visions of Hell and the apocalypse: naked people with blood spouting from every orifice; skies that turned black, then silver, then white again; winged beasts with razor-sharp talons; and, most of all, spiders of all shapes and sizes. They’d fall from the sky. They’d come up from the ground. They’d creep around corners and crawl all over me. I’d be screaming and trying to brush off the bugs. And I’d always end up staggering over to Tim’s blind dog, Mr. Bodles, that Lemmy, my dog, is probably related to. I’d grab his collar, and he would take me outside so I could breathe without spiders scurrying in my mouth and down my throat. Talk about the blind leading the blind. After an hour or so Tim would come out and stare at me. Then he’d take more notes and ask me some questions about how I was feeling and what I was seeing. He’d measure the diameter of my pupils and see if I could track his fingers with my eyes. I don’t know if I passed or failed; I just know I saw spiders. The stuff he gave me was so strong that it took effect in less than twenty minutes. The visions were instantaneous, and they were never enjoyable. But I’d subject myself to it because it helped him out somehow, and I knew if I did my job, my rent was paid and I had a place to stay.


    Jourgensen and Leary horsing around
    Elsewhere in the book, Gibby Haynes shares his own memories of the Leary years in an interview with the book’s co-author, Jon Wiederhorn:

    When [Al] hooked me up with Tim Leary a lot of weird situations happened. We got kicked out of a Johnny Cash concert at the Viper Room because Tim was heckling Johnny Cash. The killer one was waking up in Tim’s study and seeing him feverishly typing three feet away from me. I was so hungover that I had pissed in his kitchen. He was nervously typing, like I shouldn’t have been in the room, and I discovered my dick was hanging out of my pants and was warm and moist.

    Errr, what caused that?
    Who knows? I guess when you sleep in Tim Leary’s study your dick comes out of your pants and gets warm and moist.

    Maybe you pissed yourself?
    I definitely pissed in his kitchen. Oh, and I let his blind dog shit in his living room. In the middle of the summer the sliding-glass doors to his house were open. I shut them in the middle of the night. I didn’t know you were supposed to leave them open because of his blind dog: It was the only way he could go outside to poop in the middle of the night. Not only did I urinate in his kitchen but I let a dog shit in his living room. I was not the consummate houseguest.

    Is that why Tim kicked you out of his house?
    The urine thing wasn’t really my fault. I was like, “Dude, your entire kitchen is white. That screams toilet to me.” There were probably three times I got so drunk in the middle of the night I got up and randomly urinated. It usually involved the color white. I peed on a couple one time, in their bed in the middle of the night. Their room was white.

    Continues after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    The rise and fall of Tower Records and how the music industry screwed the pooch in the late ‘90s
    08:33 am


    Tower Records

    I just finished watching Colin Hanks’ impressive documentary on the rise and fall of Tower Records, titled All Things Must Pass.

    While I’d recommend the film to anyone who was ever a frequent Tower shopper, I’d say it’s a must-see for anyone who has ever worked music retail, particularly those who worked during the late ‘90s to early ‘2000s, which saw the decline of physical media sales.

    The film centers on Russ Solomon who founded Tower Records in Sacramento, California in 1960, and traces the path he took in building the Tower brand from a single “supermarket of music” to a worldwide mega-chain. The documentary does a fair job at assessing the “perfect storm” that caused the ultimate collapse of the chain, culminating with the closing of their last company-owned store in 2006.

    Tower Records head-honcho, Russ Solomon
    Interviews with David Geffen, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and the obligatory Dave Grohl documentary appearance (is there some rule that says Grohl has to appear in EVERY music-related documentary?) give some insight to Tower’s cultural significance, rounding out the insider interviews with Tower’s top brass who detail the company’s rise and fall.

    While the film offers a poignant homage to the Tower concept, brand and its larger-than-life captain, Russ Solomon, where it really shines is in its deconstruction of how the music industry as a whole dropped the ball in the late ‘90s. It was interesting to see Geffen offer his theories on how the industry screwed the pooch, leading, along with over-expansion, to Tower’s eventual demise. 

    In the ‘90s I worked at a regional chain record store that modeled itself after Tower and I watched a lot of this stuff go down first-hand. Though the industry likes to point to the advent of Napster as the magic bullet that killed retail music, it was, in many ways, their own greed and shortsightedness that worked in conjunction with “illegal” downloads to kill retail. All Things Must Pass highlights the fact that the industry intentionally killed the single in order to force consumers into paying fifteen dollars for a full-length CD. I worked during the “golden age” of the CD single and “cassingle,” and those were beloved by a die-hard customer base. When the singles disappeared, we lost many customers to GAS STATIONS because the gas stations sold pirated “mixtapes” that contained all the songs our customers wanted without having to buy a hundred bucks worth of other songs that they didn’t want. Soon thereafter, these very same customers would be downloading those very same songs.

    I can remember working at the shop in 1993 when Garth Brooks became the voice of major labels looking to crush the used CD market. Brooks had pledged to withhold his latest release from any record store that sold used merchandise. He eventually backed down and WEA, UNI and Sony Music Distribution were investigated by the Federal Trade Commission and were the target of several antitrust lawsuits related to their policies against stores that sold used CDs. The labels had attempted to withhold co-op advertising dollars from shops that sold used CDs, asserting that those sales were unfairly cutting into their profits.

    I remember when one major electronics chain started its nation-wide expansion and its strategy was to open shops near existing record stores, and to sell all of their CDs for ten dollars each—and to stock damn-near everything. In many cases, they were selling CDs below actual cost as a loss-leader to get people in the doors to buy washing machines and refrigerators. But what they were also doing was destroying their competition by offering CDs at a price that could not be matched. When they effectively ran the other record stores out of business, they stopped stocking all of the deep-catalog titles and only reordered “the hits.” And then the prices magically went up—a shrewd business practice that destroyed several mid-sized music retail chains and made it impossible for music fans in many markets to buy anything, outside of the mainstream, locally… pushing them to search for music—ahem—online.

    Keep reading after the jump…

    Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
    ONO covers the Velvet Underground on an art museum loading dock
    11:55 am


    Velvet Underground

    This blog has covered the legendary Chicago underground psych/performance group ONO before but a recap is in order anyway: musician P. Micheal Grego and mononymous singer/shaman Travis formed their theatrical anti-rock band in 1980, toiling in arty obscurity until throwing in the towel in 1986. Two decades later, they re-formed the band after interest in their two LPs Machines that Kill People and Ennui unexpectedly boomed. Since 2012, they’re released three new albums, and they finally toured outside Chicago in 2014.

    They continue to tour today, with a greatly expanded membership that includes connections to other quality Chicago concerns like Tiger Hatchery and even Ministry. Travis has swapped his trademark dreadlocks for a clean-shaven dome and a brilliant white beard, and sports luminous white clothing to match—often wedding dresses. He’s a captivating sight; there a pitifully few frontmen as engaging and just plain watchable as Travis.

    Last week, the band appeared in a concert on the loading docks of Cleveland, OH’s Museum of Contemporary Art, part of a far-too-short concert series that ends tomorrow night with a performance by concrète masters Form A Log. They shared the bill with a marvelous interactive dance performance by Space Beach and some jaw-dropping microtonal math rock from Baltimore’s Horse Lords, but ONO can’t really help but completely steal any show they appear on. Please enjoy my phone-cam footage of a delightful surprise they unleashed, a wonderfully droney nine-minute cover of the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” an apt choice for a band whose singer favors hand-me-down gowns.


    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
    This ‘Street Trash’ diorama of the infamous toilet ‘meltdown’ scene can now be yours!
    11:44 am


    Street Trash

    Behold the one-of-a-kind ‘Street Trash’ diorama based on the famous toilet ‘meltdown’ scene.
    Available for sale over at the aptly-titled Curious Goods (via Big Cartel) is this eight-inch-scale diorama depicting one of the most memorable (or impossible to forget) scenes in cult movie history—the infamous toilet ‘meltdown’ scene from the 1987 “film” Street Trash.

    Standing fifteen-inches in height the DIY diorama shows “Wizzy” (played by actor Bernard Perlman) taking his last dump after guzzling a bottle of “Tenafly Viper” and was hand painted using the various dayglo colors that were used throughout the film to enhance its gore. The unapologetic, decadently gross film was to be director J. Michael Muro’s film school thesis but was rejected for reasons that will be obvious to anyone who has seen Street Trash. And as if this isn’t enough good news for anyone who adores this flick, this one-of-a-kind piece of cinema tragedy is currently ON SALE for the low-brow price of $150.

    The film (which has been praised by horror directors Wes Craven and George Romero) was also the subject of a two-hour documentary in 2006 which you can get in a specially packaged Blu Ray from 2013 Street Trash: Special Meltdown Edition.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Fashion designer pierces meat, fruit and flowers for sexual still life arrangements

    Victor Barragan’s first fashion line combined some simple pieces with high-impact accessories—think leather gloves, denim sack dresses, and massive hoop earrings, but accented with an actual eggplant toted around as a purse. The clothes are fun, but it’s Barragan’s Instagram that I really like. He styles produce, meat and flowers with piercings—studs and hoops—for a distinctly “Retro S and M Centerpieces” vibe. Barragan’s work is very tongue-in-cheek, and he doesn’t shy away from the whimsy of his pierced still lifes, saying:

    “I started working with food a while ago, creating still lifes, using diverse elements – like gold, diamonds and piercings. My work on Instagram has a sense of humor; it’s always something weird but not creepy. I had this idea to make organic accessories that could feel like they were alive.”

    The Instagram itself isn’t actually SFW—unless you’re lucky enough to work in a gay porn friendly office?—but I’ve compiled some of the best food and floral piercings below—technically safe for work, but one or two is still a little visceral. Scroll with caution.


    More pierced meat and things, after the jump…

    Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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