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‘A lot of people do bad things’: The bizarre tale of child evangelist turned conman, Marjoe Gortner
09:53 am


Marjoe Gortner

Marjoe Poster
If you’ve never had the chance to watch the fascinating 1972 Academy Award-winning documentary, Marjoe take a look at it below. Produced and directed by Howard Smith and Sarah Kernochan, it’s flat-out great, a singular document chronicling the life of former child evangelist, Marjoe Gortner who, as an adult superstar preacher, admits on film that he’s using the whole evangelist racquet to scam answer-hungry parishioners out of their hard-earned cash. Gortner works with an infiltrating hippie film crew to expose his whole dishonest practice. Watching this is a truly I-can’t-believe-my-eyes experience not just because it gives first-hand evidence that the evangelist thing’s a scam (many of us are well aware of that already), but because of the willing, even eager participation of the film’s subject. This is just a truly only-in-America film that you have to see

It starts by giving a little necessary backstory about Marjoe Gortner. Strangely, the name Marjoe is an odd combination of the biblical names Mary and Joseph, and from the age of three-and-a half, the boy’s parents, especially his bizarre evangelist stage mom, saw little Marjoe as a sanctified, Pentecostal cash cow. While other kids were out running around doing the things that kids are supposed to be doing, Marjoe was forced to memorize elaborate sermons with the threat of a pillow smothering or long dunks underwater hanging over his head when his mother got frustrated. She knew he had to appear in the public all the time to keep the money rolling in, so she didn’t want to leave any visible scars of abuse.

He would walk into press conferences as a six-year-old and tell the editor of whatever magazine that he was talking to that he was “here to give the devil two black eyes.” He blew people away while sometimes garnering all-press-is-good-press criticism. The film shows Marjoe as a child performing a wedding ceremony for full-grown adults while bedecked in a little white sailor suit with shorts and cowboy boots. He drew headlines. Preachers at the time were outraged at the sensationalism and the affront to the sanctity of marriage. Not unexpected of course. Preachers are always outraged about that sort of thing.

But all the while, despite the accolades, the controversy, LIFE magazine articles and all sorts of people telling him he was blessed with a supernatural gift sent straight from GAAAWD almighty, Marjoe Gortner never really believed it. He just knew he was a good performer trained to entice people to open their wallets, and he became very good at it.
Marjoe Gortner Child Preacher
Marjoe Gortner as a child evangelist
Quickly, the film cuts to a time years later where we find a now long and lean, tie-dye adorned, all-grown-up Marjoe Gortner in a hotel room with a very stoned looking hippie film crew. He’s debriefing them about what to do and what not to do when he lets them follow him around capturing his now thriving evangelistic enterprise on film. He’s very clear that the whole thing’s all an act, and Gortner warns the crew not to blow their cover by taking home any of the evangelist groupies (Marjoe sticks with the airline stewardesses himself) or smoking in front of anybody. He warns his far-out friends that they’re about to see people speaking in tongues, acts of faith healing, individuals writhing around on the floor, the whole nine yards.

Before you know it, film is being shot in a church and all of the above happens on camera. A lot of the “tent revival” footage throughout would be relatively unremarkable, except that you know the guy doesn’t really buy into one singular goddamned thing the he’s saying to the shouting crowds of gullible hayseeds and proto mega-churchers. You see how adept Gortner has become at getting people to hand over the “largest bill they have,” while behind the scenes we find him literally counting a pile of cash on a hotel room bed, shaking his head about how easy it is to get the money flowing. He knows he’s a business man, and he even has merch in the form of a record. He talks about how he used some kind of water-activated powder that made a cross show up on his head when he started sweating during one his “crusades.” People ate it up and, more importantly, ponied up the cash.

In a 1972 interview with Roger Ebert around the time of the film’s release, Gortner illuminates the materialist sham:

These people lead miserable lives, and suffer in silence because they know they’re going to get their reward in heaven. A preacher is a man who has been blessed by God on Earth. If he doesn’t drive a Cadillac, they don’t think much of him; God must not favor him. He’s got to look good, feel good and smell good.

There’s a moment in Marjoe where Gortner talks about imitating Mick Jagger when he throws down his stage act. He says he probably would have been a musician if he hadn’t chosen the ministry. The footage is pretty incredible. He nails it. He cock-struts, hand on his hip across the stage, the whole deal.

From the 1972 interview:

You have to go into the heavy religion in order to give people on excuse to loosen up and enjoy themselves. When I’d do a hip movement or a jump, or start walking over the backs of the seats, they’d say, ‘Hallelujah! God’s behind him!’ But if they saw Mick Jagger doing the same thing at a rock concert, that was the work of the devil.

Lest you conjecture, as I did, that the whole coming clean thing was itself a scam, Gortner claims in the 1972 Ebert interview that he actually stood to make a lot more money simly staying in the evangelical game.

A lot of people have charged that I made the movie for money. For example, some of the hard-sell radio preachers are attacking me. That’s ridiculous. At the time I quit, I honestly think I was the best preacher on the circuit, I could cut anybody. In five years I would have been on top and probably a millionaire. One thing a lot of people forget about is the tax advantage: I was tax-deductible.

Post evangelizing, however, Gortner eventually enrolled in acting classes and used his tan, blonde, curly-haired, So-Cal look to land himself a few leading rolls in films, including 1976’s Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw across from Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter:
Bobbie Jo
Marjoe Gortner and Lynda Carter in ‘Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw,’ 1976
You can watch all of Marjoe below, courtesy of the Internet Archive.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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Diane Keaton takes on death itself in her kooky afterlife documentary ‘Heaven’
03:13 pm


Diane Keaton

In 1987, the news that Diane Keaton had directed a movie about the celestial firmament was met with bumfuzzled curiosity among the general populace, who had hitherto not had the slightest notion that she had harbored any such ambitions. The resultant movie, Heaven, was about as distinctive a film as came out in the 1980s and certainly did a good job of representing Diane Keaton.

The movie is a combination of found footage and subject interviews, most of whom appear to have been rounded up in a dragnet at Venice Beach. The movie feels very California, both in the number of pop culture references that get dropped as well as Keaton’s evident assumptions that the Christian heaven is most likely bunk and that the New Agers or the Zen people probably have it figured out. Of God Himself, one intense lady says, “I see him like Groucho Marx, and he’s always playing tricks on us. When we think we’ve got it, we’re sitting in a pile of cow manure, so he really is a practical joker.” One fella muses that in heaven “I’ll be just like Burt Reynolds or any other star” while another identifies it as the site where everyone wins an Oscar. Asked whether there is sex in heaven, one dude blurts, “Heaven is an orgasm! I mean, why not? It’s the best!” which comment embarrasses his girlfriend no end. Just in case we get bored, there arrives the unmistakable image of boxing promoter Don King to explain his take on heaven.

The music on the movie was the responsibility of frequent Cronenberg collaborator Howard Shore (who also worked on some Tolkien movies) as well as CD compilation empresario Hal Willner. The canny musical choices include the Dream Academy’s obscure gem “Heaven” and The Residents’ “Walter Westinghouse.”

One of the best elements of the movie are the incredible art deco intertitles, which were done by Geppetto Studios in Brooklyn. Here are a couple examples:


The found footage relies a lot on hokey black-and-white movies as well as bizarre footage from evangelists and so forth. The middle American true believers come in for a hard time in Heaven. Two of the quotes are so good that I’m going to reproduce them here in full; the first we only hear as an audio track:

The summer is ended, and you’re not prepared to meet God. The summer is ended; why has God let this happen to us? GONE will be the late night drunkenness, GONE will be the massage parlor, GONE will be the nude beaches, GONE will be the bars on every corner, GONE will be the automobiles and the riches, GONE will be the television sets and the movies, GONE will be the Chevy Chases and the Erik Estradas and the weirdos of Hollywood!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not soon going to forget the frenzied cry of “GONE will be the Chevy Chases and the Erik Estradas and the weirdos of Hollywood!”

In the second one, we have video—I’d love to find out who this guy is, he’s the big beardo who pops up during the “sex” segment around minute 43 to explain,

Sex is all right. I like spitting, too. I like washing my eyes, too. I like getting a haircut, too. I like scratching. But I’m not gonna miss it, no. You see, if you miss something, that’s because you’ve made it your god. But if sex is your god, which it usually is, look down that perverted town of Hollywood. On Fag Day, when they got their giant phallix parading up and down the street. You see, this is their god! You see? Well, one day, their god will be dead! They’ll be alone, and they won’t have a big phallic to lay on, to cuddle, fondle, and enjoy.

Oh shit, Fag Day is coming up and I haven’t even started shopping yet!

Heaven probably would have benefited if Keaton had gotten out of El Lay and found some folks in a less west coastal environment to talk to, and the use of found footage feels dated, like a segment on Night Flight. It’s almost disorienting to see a documentary on a subject that almost by definition, nobody knows anything about, but in a way, that very fact excuses Keaton’s offhanded approach. It might have been better to corral a handful of people who had had life-after-death experiences and really figure out what was going on there, but that’s not what Keaton was interested in. If Heaven is about anything, it’s about the folly of people. It’s a difficult movie to dislike, and it’s a hell of a lot more rewarding than the otherwise similar, but insipid, What the #$*! Do We Know!?

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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A magazine gave every San Francisco mayoral candidate the replicant test from ‘Blade Runner’
07:06 am


Blade Runner
San Francisco

There’s nothing more irritating than the evasive non-answers politicians mete out for the press and public. Education, budget, jobs—the words get thrown around a lot (and always in positive terms), but candidates are cagey and it’s nearly impossible to cut through their bullshit. If the voters want to know who these people really are, we have to ask the tough questions. Questions like…

Are you a fucking replicant?!?

Of course, no prospective leader is going to admit they’re an advanced android, which is why we have the highly scientific Voight-Kampff Test, made famous in Blade Runner. Why it’s not administered to everyone running for office, I do not know, but in 2003, The Wave magazine managed to ask every single question to all of the San Francisco mayoral candidates. The results were troubling, to say the least.

The Wave: Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.
It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. How do you react?

Gavin Newsom: I don’t have anything to put in it. I would thank them and move on.

TW: You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?

GN: I would tell him to… You know what? I wouldn’t know how to respond. How’s that for an answer? Is this a psychological test? I’m worried…

TW: They’re just questions, Gavin. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response.

GN: Oh, I got you.

TW: Shall we continue?

GN: Sure.

TW: You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. How would you react?

GN: I would quietly sit and wait for the wasp to move to the next victim.

TW: You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, Gavin, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back, Gavin. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that, Gavin?

GN: [Immediately] Not a chance. I would never flip the tortoise over in the first place.

TW: Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind. About your mother.

GN: Ethics. Commitment. Sacrifice.

CONCLUSION: Almost too close to call. Almost. Newsom displays a defensiveness when his empathy is questioned. He’s aware that he’s being probed for emotional responses, and even expresses concern about this. However, this concern is alleviated a little too easily by our crafty V-K interviewer. Newsom is definitely a replicant. Probably a Nexus 5.

My fellow Americans, that was the test for Gavin Newsom, who not only won that election, but ran and was elected for a second term in 2007, and now serves as Lieutenant Governor of the state of California. Forget about creeping sharia or David Icke’s lizard people—the replicant threat is real!

Via io9

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Dumbland,’ David Lynch’s remarkable animated series, lives up to its name
10:24 am


David Lynch

In 2002 David Lynch unveiled on his website eight short animated movies, each one an episode of a series called Dumbland. Featuring a blistering cowpunk score and a stark animated style that is vaguely reminiscent of Dr. Katz on mescaline, Dumbland may represent Lynch at his most unvarnished, revolving around a mouth-breathing troglodyte named Randy. It was released on DVD in 2006 and also appears on Lynch’s jaw-dropping multi-disc release The Lime Green Set from 2008.

Lynch said of it: “Dumbland is a crude, stupid, violent and absurd series. If it is funny, it is funny because we see the absurdity of it all.” It’s true, everything about this tossed-off show is violent and absurd; perhaps it is the detritus that lodges in one’s brain if one has been busy dreaming up crazed, animalistic characters like Frank Booth in Blue Velvet, Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks, and Bobby Peru in Wild at Heart.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau
08:37 am

Pop Culture

Richard Stanley

Richard Stanley’s one of the most fascinating human beings I’ve ever met. He’s a divinely demented film maker, necromancer, and pop culture provocateur with a rock & roll heart that beats time to a cosmic rhythm machine redeemed from some post-apocalyptic pawn shop located at the outer edges of absolute reality. He’s got the widescreen stare of a gunslinger in a spaghetti western and more than a few metaphorical bullet holes in his serape. Stanley’s been through some tribulation, the kind that can pulverize a man’s soul into a million little shards of crystallized dogshit. In the mid-90s, while still only in his twenties, this precocious and audacious filmmaker was given the opportunity to make a movie based on his visionary adaption of H. G. Well’s The Island of Dr. Moreau. What followed was a classic example of a young director’s rebel spirit bumping up against old school Hollywood politics and power games. Stanley was not only fucked over by the heads of New Line Cinema, he was also mentally brutalized by the epically malevolent ego of Val Kilmer who he had cast, along with Marlon Brando, in a leading role. Only days after the start of filming, Stanley was fired and banished from the set of his ambitious and potentially ground-breaking movie.

The whole sordid saga of Richard Stanley’s cinematic trial by fire has been documented in the riveting Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. Directed by David Gregory and released by Severin Films, Lost Soul shares much of the same dark humor, heartbreak and intrigue of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ill-fated Dune project, as seen in that recent documentary. Stanley, like Jodorowsky, saw his concept appropriated by Hollywood and twisted into something that was to his original vision what rape is to love.

Lost Soul is as entertaining as it is sad and infuriating. Watching studio heads blathering idiotically about a film they didn’t understand and hearing the crew and cast’s disgusted take on Kilmer’s ego-driven subversion of Stanley’s efforts to make the movie his way is a far more dramatic and engaging experience than the Hollywood bomb that was ultimately released.

Eventually, Stanley’s project was handed over to the long past-his-prime director, John Frankenheimer, a hired gun with a dictatorial attitude and almost zero interest in Stanley’s vision for the film. With nothing at stake, Frankenheimer essentially took the money and ran. The film he delivered to the studio was cinematic road kill, dead on arrival.  The Island of Dr. Moreau debuted in 1996 to critical jeers and promptly crashed and burned at the box office. I actually went to see it the day it opened in New York City, mostly because of the presence of Brando and David Thewlis in the film. Overall, I hated the movie but loved Brando’s over-the-top, don’t-give-a-fuck performance. You could tell he was intent on enjoying himself despite appearing in what he clearly thought was a steaming pile of shit. I think Brando was also slyly editorializing about the way Stanley’s ideas had been altered and corrupted. He liked Stanley and in my opinion was demonstrating solidarity with the young director who had been exiled from his own film. As far as Kilmer goes, that motherfucker had blown his cred ever since appearing as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s hate letter to rock and roll The Doors. Frankenheimer made no attempt to reel in Kilmer’s narcissism and the end result ain’t pretty. Kilmer spends most of his screen time doing a silly imitation of Brando which is both unfunny and insulting. I’m sure Brando didn’t even notice. 

I met with Richard Stanley after a screening of Lost Soul during last year’s Fantastic Fest in Austin. A commanding figure with a delicate grace about him, Stanley was easy to talk to and extremely open about the passion and pain involved in creating a work of art that, had it been realized true to his vision, could have been a glorious thing.

Photo of Richard Stanley by Mirgun Akyavas.
I’m not easily impressed by most human beings these days. Few walk it like they talk it and fewer still are genuinely fearless in pursuit of their dreams, willing to take risks that could end disastrously or triumphantly or a little of both. Richard Stanley is truly an artist/warrior and he’s in the midst of a remarkable and well-deserved return to the public eye. Last week, he was the subject of an Entertainment Weekly cover story (good for you EW). The wheel of karma is spinning back in Stanley’s direction and it’s good.

In the few short hours that I spent talking with and videotaping Richard I felt like I was with a dear old friend. Before he left Austin, we met on the patio of the Alamo Drafthouse where I gave him a copy of Geoff Dyer’s book on Tarkovsky, Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room and a small bag of medicinal herb from Northern California. These were not rare or expensive gifts, they were very modest. But Richard responded as though I’d given him precious feathers of an ancient mythological bird. His reaction was so heartfelt, so sweet and unfettered, that I was somewhat taken aback as he tilted his head down and gave me a huge kiss on the cheek. This was a kiss I would have expected from my born again mother after telling her I had gotten engaged to Jesus. Richard clearly liked my gifts. “Shall we smoke it” he asked, referring to the packet of herb in his hand, all the while grinning hugely. In that moment, I saw the face of a man whose spirit is impossible to contain, who will live to his fullest no matter what gets in his way. And that’s the ultimate “fuck you” to the assholes who tried to take him down. I love it when the truly hep cat gets the last laugh.

Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau is currently streaming on Amazon and playing in selected theaters around the world. This coming weekend, February 28, he’ll be appearing onstage at Cinefamily in Los Angeles for a Q&A with the director David Gregory (and again on Tuesday, March 3). You can also catch the film at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn this weekend, 2/27 and 2/28. For more goodness, you can visit Stanley’s website’s Tera Umbra- The Empire Of Shadows and this one here.

I started the camera rolling and let Richard do his thing. His life story is quite marvelous and he’s practically breathless in the telling of it. Among many things, he touches upon his early videos for Fields of the Nephilim, Public Image Limited, his feature-length cult classics Hardware and Dust Devil, Lemmy and Iggy, fighting with rebels in Afghanistan, his abiding love for Fairuza Balk and his home in southern France where he has a magical relationship to the mysterious Château de Montségur.

Watch the trailer:

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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Watch Richard Linklater’s little-known first feature, made three years before ‘Slacker’
11:52 am


Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s mission in life has apparently been to make experimental cinema techniques as accessible as possible. As a writer, his specialty is a certain humdrum ordinariness, which has had the virtue of giving his work a dollop of generalized familiarity even as it risks being colorless, plotless, meandering, or humdrum. (I say this as a fan—seriously.) His most recent movie Boyhood was one of the most lavishly praised movies of 2014, failing to win the Oscar for Best Movie last night but was still nominated for a bunch of important awards; it did win Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette’s performance.

Despite its uncontested power to resonate emotionally, Boyhood possesses a near-total absence of plot and a protagonist, Mason, who is generic to the point of being a cipher, qualities that, as we shall see, have been part of Linklater’s directorial persona from the very start. In his career, Linklater’s efforts to represent Everyman have sometimes have resulted in movies about nobody in particular. Ethan Hawke’s Jesse from the “Before” trilogy, benefiting from oceans of dialogue, is more individuated than Mason, to be sure, and yet still flirts with becoming a statistically average member of Generation X. I had not heard of Linklater’s 1988 feature It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books until a couple of weeks ago. You can’t buy it on its own; you can obtain it only as an extra on the Criterion Collection edition of Slacker, Linklater’s breakthrough 1991 effort.

It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books, shot on Super 8, is an almost entirely plot- and dialogue-free travelogue about a young dude, played by Linklater himself, who travels all over the western half of the country, mostly by train—he starts out in Austin (of course) and visits Missoula, Montana, and San Francisco, among other locales, before returning home.. Huge swaths of the movie were shot in train stations or aboard Amtrak trains.

Linklater employs two strategies that are very helpful to the novice filmmaker, being a commitment to ambient sound and an eschewal of reverse angles. The movie reminds me somewhat of Jarmusch’s first feature Permanent Vacation, although that movie was far talkier and unmistakably “downtown New York” in spirit. Atitudinally, Linklater is unsurprisingly gentle—you may not see the point of all the footage shot out of a train window, but it doesn’t make you angry, either. The train footage is reminiscent of Yvonne Rainer’s Journeys from Berlin/1971 as well as countless other experimental movies, while the emphasis on train stations reminded me of Chantal Akerman’s later D’Est (From the East).

It might be suggested that Impossible to Learn to Plow is a mix of Slacker and Before Sunrise. Given that Linklater himself kicks off Slacker by emerging from a bus station to narrate his multiverse dream to an indifferent taxi driver, it’s fun to imagine this movie as a prequel of sorts, ending a few minutes before Slacker begins.

The closest thing the movie has to a comedic scene is a bit towards the end in which the protagonist drives in a car and dips into a whole bunch of radio stations in a vain search for some good music (it’s the ‘80s, so he gets a lot of generic pop, although he does pass the Pretenders by). At the end, Daniel Johnston, of all people, pops up briefly to inquire after the protagonist what his shirt says (it turns out to be the movie’s title) and to give him a demo tape.

LInklater is said to have consumed 600 movies a year over a ten-year period, so one of the leitmotifs of It’s Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books is the movie diet of our traveling hero. We see him watching Kubrick’s The Killing while perusing a recent obituary of Sterling Hayden with the suggestive subtitle “Actor loved the sea, loathed Hollywood” (Linklater might feel the same way). Later on he catches a few moments of another Hayden feature, I think it’s The Come On? He also catches bits of an old Carl Dreyer’s Gertrud and a Vincente Minnelli feature with Frank Sinatra and Shirley Maclaine called Some Came Running.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Hey dummy, Gwyneth Paltrow wants to sell you $300 worth of books for $685
09:35 am


Gwyneth Paltrow

I was looking at Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop earlier today…. “Why were you there?” I hear you ask. This is a good question, as I’d never been there before. I was there because Goop had opted to showcase an awesome new book of poetry written by a friend of mine, Jynne Dilling Martin. (The book is called We Mammals in Hospitable Times and yes, you should totally buy it.)

So I’m there at Goop and I notice as a sidebar a weird product you can buy, which is called the “New York City Book Set,” whereby you pay Goop $685 (!) and they send you eight books. The books are New York: A Portrait of a City by Reuel Golden;
New York: A Photographer’s City edited by Marla Hamburg Kennedy and Helena Fang; New York in Color by Bob Shamis; Manhattan Classic: New York’s Finest Prewar Apartments by Geoffrey Lynch; New York Transformed: The Architecture of Cross & Cross by Peter Pennoyer, Anne Walker and Robert A. M. Stern; Central Park NYC: An Architectural View by Bernd H. Dams and Andrew Zega; New New York by Jake Rajs; and New York at Night by Jason Hawkes and Christopher Gray. What sets Goop’s product apart is that the books come with custom jackets that (when combined) create a handsome little picture of an architectural detail from New York’s Grand Central Terminal.

These all seem to be fine books, wouldn’t say a single negative thing about any of them. It’s safe to say, isn’t it, that nobody has ever thought about books in quite this way, right? Like books as ... a puzzle visual element centerpiece? That’s a new one for me. Note that the price of this .... display is $685, and you can get all of these books on Amazon for a total price of right around $300. So okay, they’re marking them up—A LOT—that’s not what bothers me here. What bothers me is that this is a crazy way to think about books.

I’m trying to game out what visitors are supposed to think when they enter your salon and see a pile of books that have connived to form a winsome picture redolent of old New York? “What are the odds?”

Or perhaps they’d feel pity for you for being such an idiot that you spent $385 on FUCKING BOOK COVERS.

Most people I know who like books, they have strong likes and dislikes about this or that author, and so the possibility that, you know, “I’ll never read a book by that guy again!” and so forth is always a live possibility…. now, probably nobody has such strong feelings about any of these nice picture books of New York but my point is, people who like books are likely to resent seeing them used as jigsaw puzzle pieces—or to be precise, as nothing more than jigsaw puzzle pieces. Sarah Palin writes books for people who don’t read, but Gwyneth takes this concept in a very different direction looking for her more upmarket marks. John Waters made that crack about refusing to sleep with anyone you went home with who didn’t own any books, but these Goop books don’t count.

There are two similar products for sale at Goop. The New York product has a counterpart, the “London Book Set,” which also costs $685. This set includes London: A Portrait of a City by Reuel Golden; The Light of London by Jean-Michel Berts; Living in Style: London by Geraldine Apponyi and Monika Apponyi; Great Houses of London by James Stourton and Fritz von der Schulenburg; Unseen London by Mark Daly and Peter Dazeley; David Gentleman’s London; London Interiors by Barbara Stoeltie, Rene Stoeltie and David Gill; and Creative Living London by Emily Wheeler and Ingrid Rasmusse. This product combines to create a little picture of Big Ben with some double decker buses rolling toward the camera, and to be honest I like this picture a little more than the Grand Central Terminal picture. This set of books, if purchased individually, can be also purchased on Amazon for $300.

There’s also a thing called the “Goop Cookbook Club” but it costs just $295 and I find the idea of a six cookbooks arrayed to simulate a carving knife on a cutting board not too bad, really.

Anyway, all of this is to say, it might be that Gwyneth Paltrow is the Jay Gatsby of our time. A number of you may already have thought of this passage from chapter 3 of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald—it seems perfectly apropos:

A stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was sitting somewhat drunk on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. As we entered he wheeled excitedly around and examined Jordan from head to foot.
“What do you think?” he demanded impetuously.
“About what?” He waved his hand toward the book-shelves.
“About that. As a matter of fact you needn’t bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They’re real.”
“The books?”
He nodded.
“Absolutely real — have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and — Here! Lemme show you.”
Taking our scepticism for granted, he rushed to the bookcases and returned with Volume One of the “Stoddard Lectures.”
“See!” he cried triumphantly. “It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too — didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?”
He snatched the book from me and replaced it hastily on its shelf, muttering that if one brick was removed the whole library was liable to collapse.


I wonder if the pages in the books Goop is selling are cut or not…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Death Is Their Destiny’: Home-movies of London punks 1978-81

London 1977: By day Phil Munnoch was a mild-mannered copywriter working for an ad agency in the heart of the city. He was neat, he was clean, he looked smart in his collar and tie, sharp pressed trousers and bright, shiny shoes. But Phil had a secret that he kept from his colleagues. At the end of each working day, like some postmodern superhero Phil would change out of his work clothes into tight fitting bondage trousers, studded dog collar and badge-covered plastic jacket to become his punk alter ego Captain Zip.

Captain Zip hung out with the other punks who idly wandered up and down the King’s Road every evening. He enjoyed the freedom, the camaraderie, the sense of adventure and the sound of punk music blaring out of shop radios. Zip was older than these young punk rock fans and was wise enough to know he was a part of something very, very important.

Being part of the gang allowed Munnoch access to film his friends and acquaintances and between 1978 and 1981, in the guise of Captain Zip, Munnoch documented the street life of punks on the King’s Road. In the 1980s, Munnoch collected the first eight of these Super-8 home movies together to make the short documentary film Death Is Their Destiny that captured the subculture of punks in London.

Background on Phil Munnoch and Captain Zip plus interviews, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Kubrick veteran Peter Sellers HATED ‘A Clockwork Orange’

In the June 25, 1972 issue of the Chicago Tribune there appears a profile of Peter Sellers written by the paper’s film critic Gene Siskel. The article focuses on some serious health problems Sellers had recently undergone, specifically “eight heart attacks in one day.” Sellers seemed to be recovering well, in part due to a newfound interest in yoga.

The article does not mention what triggered those “eight heart attacks in one day.”  According to Wikipedia, on the night of April 5, 1964, prior to having sex with his wife Britt Ekland, Sellers took amyl nitrites as a sexual stimulant in his search for “the ultimate orgasm” and suffered a series of eight heart attacks over the course of three hours as a result. This unfortunate medical outcome forced Sellers to withdraw from the filming of Billy Wilder’s Kiss Me, Stupid; he was replaced by Ray Walston.

Knowing that Sellers was likely the world’s most famous actorly collaborator of Stanley Kubrick’s, having appeared to spectacular effect in Dr. Strangelove and Lolita, Siskel naturally inquired as to Sellers’ opinion of A Clockwork Orange, which had been out for a few months and had sparked intense discussion over the role of violence in the movies.

Much to Siskel’s surprise, it turns out that Sellers’ opinion of the movie was unequivocal: he hated it.

Sellers: I hated ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ I thought it was the biggest load of crap I’ve ever seen for years. Amoral. I think because of the violence around today it’s lamentable that a director of Stanley Kubrick’s distinction and ability should lend himself to such a subject. I’m not saying that you can’t pick up that book [the Anthony Burgess novel upon which the film is based], read it, and put it down. But to make it as a film, with all the violence we have in the world today – to add to it, to put it on show – I just don’t understand where Stanley is at.

Siskel: Are you saying that it will influence people to commit violence that they would otherwise not commit?

Sellers: I think it adds to it.

Most fascinating (and in a way, hilarious) is a passage later in the profile, which comes when Siskel is trying to get Sellers to admit that it’s okay for movies to handle violence as a subject. Sellers interrupts: “I must tell you first of all that I’m a yogi. I am against violence completely. Hare ommm. So you now know why. So there’s really no point in asking any more questions about it.”
Via A Stanley Kubrick Tumblr

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Awesome Psychotronic Video magazine covers
12:47 pm


Psychotronic Video

Does watching scary B-movies from the 1950s heighten your design skills? Improve your acuity to color? Based on these brain-melting covers of Psychotronic Video alone, I’d have to say there’s a distinct possibility.

Of course, it may just be that Psychotronic editor Michael J. Weldon is a fucking badass, that’s probably what’s really going on here. If you aren’t familiar with the Psychotronic cinema ethos, get yourself a copy of one of their books and don’t look back.

After issue 18 a bar code is present on the cover, which is unfortunate, but with images these profoundly enjoyable, it scarcely matters. (If you click on some of the images, you’ll be able to see a larger version.) 



Plenty more Psychotronic Video covers after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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