Fly the friendly skies of ‘Uniform Freak’


 
I blogged about Cliff Muskiet’s world of stewardess uniforms back in 2009. Shamefully, I haven’t visited it in a few years, but I did today and completely forgot what a treasure trove this site is! Muskiet has collected every single flight attendant uniform that has ever existed on the face of the planet. (Okay maybe not all of ‘em, but it’s pretty damned close!)

Ever since my early childhood, I have been interested and fascinated by the world of aviation. I used to collect everything that wore an airline name or logo, such as posters, postcards, stickers, timetables, safety cards and airplane models.

Sometime in 1980 I was given my first uniform by one of my mother’s friends. I was so excited and I wanted to have more uniforms. In 1982 I heard that two charter airlines were introducing new uniforms. I wasted no time, I called these airlines and as a result I was invited to pick up a set of old uniforms. Between 1982 and 1993 I didn’t do much to obtain any more uniforms, something I really regret now as I could have had many many more! Most of my uniforms were obtained between 1993 and today. At the moment my collection contains 1246 different uniforms from 469 airlines worldwide.

Uniform Freak—the name of Muskiet’s site—is truly a labor of love. And some serious eye candy if you’re a fashion designer or just someone who likes cool threads.

You’ll get lost there. I did. It’s an endless goldmine.
 

Air West / USA 1968 - 1971
 

Allegheny Airlines / USA 1969 - 1979
 

American Airlines / USA 1950 - 1979
 

Delta Airlines / USA 1958 - 1978
 

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘Sex Freak’: A young RuPaul performs on cable access TV. No band, no budget, all charisma
04.16.2014
01:07 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture
Queer
Television

Tags:
RuPaul


 
Despite my ardent endorsement of RuPaul as “America’s sweetheart,” she’s been catching a lot of criticism lately, and not from a bloodthirsty religious right (who apparently know how to better pick their culture wars these days). A feature on her hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, called “Female or She-male,” has been cut from the air after many trans advocates found it offensive. In the segment, contestants were shown pictures of body parts and asked to guess what gender or sex of person possessed said body part. Anatomical “guessing games” have certainly historically demeaned queer people, and a lot of of folks were understandably upset, finding the game “othering.” Many trans advocates have have also argued against Ru’s use of the word “tranny,” as they maintain it’s a slur used to describe trans women and not gay men who do drag.

For the record, I’m not speculating on anybody’s body parts (which is vulgar and cruel, without invitation), nor am I ever calling anybody “tranny,” but I do think time will show that RuPaul is on the right side of history. On the first count, the body parts used for “Female or She-Male” were done with volunteer participants—it was not some zoological expedition intending to “expose” the “unreal” women. On the second count, “transgender” (as opposed to “transsexual” or “transvestite”) wasn’t even a concept until the term was coined in 1979 by early trans celebrity Christine Jorgensen (interestingly, many gay men accused her of homophobia, arguing she implied that gay men were women trapped in men’s bodies). Additionally, at least until 1992,  “transgender” included “transsexuals, transgenderists, and cross dressers” according to International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy. Terminology changes to accommodate developing ideas in gender theory, and to expect everyone to retrofit their own identities to the latest language (which may or may not stick around for very long) ignores context and history.

From a purely technical standpoint, to say that “tranny” is a slur only used to describe a single type of gender nonconformity gives the bigots who use it epithetically way too much credit—they’re not really having nuanced, in-depth conversations on the difference between sex and gender identification. I’m sure RuPaul has been called “tranny” in her life (and though identities as a man, doesn’t really care too much about pronouns or identity in general)—I think it’s pretty inconsistent that she now be barred from using the word.

Regardless, I find the latest social justice culture’s obsession with “pure” language to be a bit wrong-headed, not to mention politically impotent, so I thought I’d like to post a reminder of what it is that makes RuPaul so groundbreaking. Here we see a 1986 clip from the brilliant Atlanta cable access program, American Music Show, one of the longest running public access shows, ever, and a veritable treasure trove of weirdo outsider performance. Ru is seen here performing “Sex Freak,” from his very first 12 inch EP release of the same name, and since it’s a spoken-word techno song, he romances the camera with an amazing resourcefulness. No band, no budget, and yet all that charisma and confidence still shines through!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Who was that masked man? ORION: The Man Who Would Be King


 
This is a guest post by Jeanie Finlay, director of ORION: The Man Who Would Be King

Ten years ago I was at a garage sale with my husband Steven in our hometown of Nottingham, England. On a stall filled with cheap ornaments and dog-eared paperbacks, standing proudly at the front of a box of faded vinyl records, we found the above album.

Orion: Reborn. Sun Records. Collector’s gold vinyl. Release date on the back said 1979. No songs we’d ever heard of, but that coverWho was this mysterious masked man, standing hand on hips, with his perfect raven hair and sta-press trousers? What the hell was his story?

We took the record home, put it on and within seconds the mystery deepened. Whoever this guy was, he sounded exactly–and I mean exactly—like Elvis. Except these weren’t songs that Elvis ever recorded, and there was no mention of the King on the record. But there was the fact of Sun Records and this odd story on the back sleeve about this guy called Orion Eckley Darnell and something about a coffin, and a book… Most of all, though, there was this guy in the blue rhinestone-studded mask with the voice of Elvis. I had to know more.
 

  

The story I uncovered was one of the strangest I’ve ever encountered. As a documentary-maker, I’ve long been fascinated with stories that peek under the surface of popular culture and the machinations of the music industry, or explore just how important music is in our lives. Stories like The Great Hip Hop Hoax–about two Scottish chancers who faked their way to a record deal by pretending to be American rappers; SOUND IT OUT about the very last record shop in my home town in Teesside or Goth Cruise a documentary about 150 goths (along with 2500 “norms”) taking a cruise in the sunshine to Bermuda.

But this story had it all. A roller coaster tale of the Nashville music scene in the wake of Elvis Presley’s death, taking in deception, a quest for success, a search for identity and ending in brutal and tragic murder.

Even if you’ve never heard of Orion, you probably know about the “Elvis is Alive” myth. What I uncovered was that the story of Orion is the story of how that myth got started. 
In the marketing offices of Sun Records, maverick producer Shelby Singleton came up with the plan to utilize the incredible pipes of Alabama singer Jimmy Ellis – a voice which was both a blessing and a curse to the singer. Ellis had found it hard to get a solid foothold in the industry because of the similarity of his voice to Elvis’ –a similarity which was wholly unpracticed. Jimmy didn’t try to sound like Elvis, he just did. That made it hard for any record company to use him.
 

 
Shelby had already tried one tack, dubbing Jimmy Ellis’ vocals uncredited onto the Jerry Lee Lewis tracks in the Sun catalog, releasing the recording under the name of Jerry Lee Lewis “and friends.” He’d leave it up to the audience to come to the conclusion –if they saw fit—that it might just be a previously unheard recording from the depths of the Sun vaults. After all, it sounded just like Elvis…

 

“I was born in Sun Records, in the studio.”

But it wasn’t until Shelby came across an unpublished manuscript by Georgia writer Gail Brewer Giorgio that the stars aligned for Jimmy Ellis.  Orion was the story of the world’s greatest rock star and how he fakes his own death. As a character, her “Orion” was not a million miles away from a certain Memphis-dwelling King. It was a fantasy that so easily could be true. A fantasy that could be made true… In a move that Shelby himself later described as “part madman, part genius,” Sun Records put a mask on Jimmy Ellis, rechristened him “Orion” and unleashed him on an unsuspecting world. In Jimmy Ellis, Shelby had “The Voice.” And the book gave him a name, and a backstory.
 

A copy of the letter announcing the name “ORION” for the first time. The mask was the beginning of the Orion mystery.

In May of 1979, one month after his announcement of the imminent arrival of “ORION,” Shelby Singleton sent the first single to the radio stations. The cuts were “Ebony Eyes” and “Honey,” but there was no label on either side. Shelby wanted to build the mystery. The voice was the thing. He knew that the moment they heard that voice, they would have a million questions. And they’d want to see the mouth it came from…
 

 
Orion’s first album was readied – but hit controversy when there were complaints about the depiction of the masked singer appearing to rise from the dead from an open casket. (It was replaced by the blue cover above, which was later to catch my eye.)

Orion was now out in the world. Performing across America, always in the mask, always in character (legend was that Shelby would fine Jimmy if he were caught not wearing the mask at any time). And the crowds came. Hundreds and thousands of them, many coming for that voice–and many simply coming for the fantasy, the fantasy that the thin mask kept precariously in place. But for Jimmy, it was a frustrating ride.
 

 
Orion traveled the world while on Sun–including, bizarrely, performing with Kiss in Germany—putting out seven albums on Sun in just five years, but Jimmy hated the mask; the gimmick that provided the all-important mystery was ultimately a trap.  He could never be himself.
 

“Look Me Up”

When the gimmick wore thin, Ellis discarded the mask. The fragile spell was broken – but Jimmy was free. However, he struggled to step out of the shadow of Presley and the voice he was “blessed and cursed” with. He tried out many different identities – Ellis James, Mister E – he put the mask back on, then took it off again - but he never really found the same bright spotlight again. In December 1998, back in Orrville Alabama, the town he had left many years before to find success in music, Ellis was brutally murdered in his pawnshop during an armed robbery. A tragic ending for the man with the voice of a legend.
 

 
For the past four years, I have tracked down the people that were close to Orion to discover his story and I am raising finishing funds for ORION: The Man Who Would Be King on Indiegogo so that I can finish the documentary. You can support getting this story to the screen by pre-ordering the film, getting some original Orion memorabilia or even a bejeweled Orion mask.
 

Orion and author Gail Brewer Giorgio interviewed in 1979 TV news report.
 
More Orion, the man who would be King, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Kurt Cobain asks William Burroughs to appear in a Nirvana video
04.14.2014
09:37 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
William Burroughs
Kurt Cobain

coburainough.jpg
 
In August 1993, Kurt Cobain wrote William Burroughs to ask if he would appear alongside his band Nirvana in the first video release from their album In Utero. Though Cobain had been in touch with Burroughs before, the pair had not yet met. Cobain had previously supplied music for Burroughs’ spoken word disc The “Priest They Called Him.

Interviewer: How did you get on with William Burroughs when you recorded together recently?

Cobain: That was a long distance recording session. [Laughs] We didn’t actually meet.

Interviewer: Did he show a genuine awareness of your music?

Cobain: No, we’ve written to one another and we were supposed to talk the other day on the phone, but I fell asleep — they couldn’t wake me up. I don’t know if he respects my music or anything; maybe he’s been through my lyrics and seen some kind of influence from him or something, I don’t know. I hope he likes my lyrics, but I can’t expect someone from a completely different generation to like rock’n’roll — I don’t think he’s ever claimed to be a rock’n’roll lover, y’know. But he’s taught me a lot of things through his books and interviews that I’m really grateful for. I remember him saying in an interview, “These new rock’n’roll kids should just throw away their guitars and listen to something with real soul, like Leadbelly.” I’d never heard about Leadbelly before so I bought a couple of records, and now he turns out to be my absolute favorite of all time in music. I absolutely love it more than any rock’n’roll I ever heard.

Burroughs was one of Cobain’s idols, and he hoped he could convince the writer to appear in the video for the song “Heart-Shaped Box” as an old man on a cross who is pecked by crows. In his journal, Cobain explained that birds are “reincarnated old men with tourrets syndrome.”

“. . . their true mission. To scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth . . . screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears but sadly we don’t speak bird.”

Burroughs knocked back the offer to appear with Cobain in the promo, though he would later make his final appearance in a piece of shit video by U2.

August 2, 1993

Mr. William Burroughs
WILLIAM BURROUGHS COMMUNICATIONS

Dear William:

It’s a bit odd writing someone whom I’ve never met but with whom I’ve already recorded a record.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to do the record—it’s a great honor to be pictured alongside you on the back cover.  I am writing you now regarding the possibility of your appearing alongside my band (Nirvana) in the first video from our new album, “In Utero.”

While I know Michael Meisel from Gold Mountain Entertainment (my management company) has been speaking to James Grauerholz, I wanted the opportunity to personally let you know why I wanted you to appear in the video.

Most importantly, I wanted you to know that this request is not based on a desire to exploit you in any way.  I realize that stories in the press regarding my drug use may make you think that this request comes from a desire to parallel our lives.  Let me assure you that this is not the case.  As a fan and student of your work, I would cherish the opportunity to work directly with you.  To the extent that you may want to avoid any direct use of your image (thus avoiding the aforementioned link for the press to devour), I would be happy to have my director look into make-up techniques that could conceal your identity.  While I would be proud to have William Burroughs appear as himself in my video, I am more concerned with getting the opportunity to work with you than I am with letting the public know (should that be your wish).

Having said that, let me reiterate how much I would like to make this happen.  While I am comfortable letting Michael and James discuss this further.  I am available to discuss this with you at your convenience.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Best regards,

Kurt Cobain

 
222burrocoba.jpg
 
While on tour with Nirvana in October 1993, Cobain visited Burroughs at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. In Nirvana: The Day-By-Day Chronicle, Burroughs recalled the meeting:

“I waited and Kurt got out with another man. Cobain was very shy, very polite, and obviously enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t awestruck at meeting him. There was something about him, fragile and engagingly lost. He smoked cigarettes but didn’t drink. There were no drugs. I never showed him my gun collection.”

Along with his family and his child, Cobain counted meeting William Burroughs as one of the high points of his life.
 
11cobaburro.jpg
 
Below, Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” video. Imagine how extra amazing this video would have been with WSB hanging from that cross!
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
When Kurt Cobain met William Burroughs
 
Via FuckYeahBeatniks!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Invoking blackface, conservative idiot whines that Stephen Colbert is racist towards conservatives!


 
I seldom write about political matters anymore on DM because there’s an assumption that if you hate Republicans then you must automatically be a Democrat and I got tired of offering the disclaimer that the only reason I would ever vote for a Democrat is to keep the Republican out of office. Not only that, once-reliable traffic-generators like “Glenn Beck says something OFF THE WALL (again)” or “Sarah Palin says something IDIOTIC (again)” don’t really bring in that much traffic anymore. Republicans are fucking idiots. If they weren’t, then they wouldn’t be Republicans. Most people who read this blog probably don’t need anyone, including me, explaining that to them. I prefer to ignore them.

Today, though, I’m making an exception for the #1 dumbest rightwing reaction to Stephen Colbert taking over for David Letterman. This is just too good.

Young Ben Shapiro was once the wimpy “boy wonder” to Andrew Breitbart’s blob-shaped crusader and he usually makes about as much sense as his blustery late mentor, except that no one takes him nearly as seriously. Lil’ Ben is now the editor of a silly blog called Truth Revolt that no one reads except for lefty bloggers who want to mock him. He’s written a new book called How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them and he’s proud of the fact that he was still a virgin on his wedding day.

Shapiro possesses pretty much the most punchable face I think I’ve ever seen. He fills me with visceral hatred. Which is kind of funny because in his latest Truth Revolt “think piece” Shapiro makes an inadvertently hilarious argument for the comedic genius, not to mention vital cultural importance of Stephen Colbert by complaining that:

“It is nearly impossible to watch an episode of The Colbert Report without coming away with a viscerally negative response to conservatives.”

Sharply observed, fuckwit! Give that man a Kewpie Doll…

But in the wake of all the conservative hand-wringing about Colbert replacing Letterman (Rush Limbaugh said that CBS was declaring “war” on the heartland with this pick) Babyface Ben sees something far more sinister going on:  Colbert IS a racist! He’s a racist against conservatives!

Blackface, which has an ugly history dating back to at least the fifteenth century according to historian John Strausbaugh, was used to portray demeaning and horrifying stereotypes of blacks. Such stereotypical imitation has not been limited to blacks, of course; actors tasked with playing stereotypical Jew Shylock often donned a fake nose and red wig, as did actors who were supposed to play Barabas in The Jew of Malta. Such stereotypical potrayals [sic] create a false sense of blacks, or Jews, or whomever becomes the target of such nastiness.

And this is precisely what Colbert does with regard to politics: he engages in Conservativeface. He needs no makeup or bulbous appendage to play a conservative – after all, conservatives come in every shape and size. Instead, he acts as though he is a conservative – an idiotic, racist, sexist, bigoted, brutal conservative. He out-Archie Bunkers Archie Bunker. His audience laughs and scoffs at brutal religious “Colbert” who wishes to persecute gays; they chortle at evil sexist “Colbert” who thinks men are victims of sexism. This is the purpose of Colbert’s routine. His show is about pure hatred for conservatives in the same way that blackface was about pure hatred of blacks. In order to justify their racism, racists had to create a false perception of blacks; in the same way, Colbert and his audience can justify their racism only by creating a false perception of conservatives.

No, no Ben, you’re confused. Colbert gives a very, very, very accurate portrayal of conservatives. Didn’t you just write:

“It is nearly impossible to watch an episode of The Colbert Report without coming away with a viscerally negative response to conservatives.”

It’s because conservatives are assholes, Ben. Like you. Someone who doesn’t get the fucking joke..

The comments below Shapiro’s logic-addled rant are as delicious as you might expect:

The only thing this article accomplished is making me think that I might not be too sad if society as a whole started systematically disenfranchising and dehumanizing conservatives. After all, if this guy is that attached to the blackface metaphor he should at least get to experience it for real firsthand.

Here’s another:

Is this an article or a rationalization? Sounds like more right wing sour grapes to me. Colbert’s character is successful because it is such a dead-on satire. You can listen to Rush and Fox News and conclude that Colbert is misrepresenting them as somehow worse, or more extreme than they really are? Laughable. Go re-examine your life. You’re on the wrong side.

Tee-hee. Expecting self-awareness from the likes of lil’ Ben seems a tad far-fetched, though.

Oh, brother. There’s this thing called satire and it always exagerrates its subject. That’s how it works. Minstrel shows weren’t satire. They were mockery and cultural appropriation. Is Mr Shapiro claiming that people are born conservative and Mr Colbert is stereotyping the entire conservative “race?”

Or…

BUT WHOOOOO WILL THINK OF THE BILLIONAIRE INDUSTRIALISTS AND UNEDUCATED SOUTHERN WHITE BIGOTS??

What about?

it’s almost as if you’re providing the source material for him to be successful…oh wait, you have

Here’s another good one:

You just compared the schtick of a comedian on a comedy network to the institutional and societal approved degradation of a entire race of people. Which in addition to being monumentally stupid is also precisely why folks like Colbert mock conservatives, your feigned attempts at equivocating always shines a light on the underbelly of your magnificent ignorance.

Not sure if Ben Shapiro and Truth Revolt are important enough targets for Colbert and his writers to take notice of—some attention from him is what Shapiro seems to be aiming for with this insipid drivel—but it would be amusing to hear their take on how the author of How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them scored such a humiliating own goal.

Meanwhile, Colbert did what he does best on last night’s program, totally pwning “Papa Bear”:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Nailed it!: Fashions of the future as imagined in 1893

1900-1912

 

 
Here are some amusing illustrations of what fashion might’ve looked like “in the future” according to W. Cade Gall from the January 1893 issue of The Strand magazine.

Oddly, the fashion styles really don’t evolve much from decade to decade. The change is nearly nonexistent. Everyone seems stuck in a Wizard of Oz meets Hieronymus Bosch mode throughout the 20th century.

Personally, I think fashion has gone tits-up since the late 80s. I studied fashion design and today the topic just bores me to tears. There’s nothing “new” anymore. I get that fashion trends usually just recycle old designs from yesteryear and add a “new” spin on ‘em, but honestly, recycling 90s fashion in the year 2014 is not very interesting. Neo-grunge??? Gimme a break! It was boring then, and it’s boring now. I’d far prefer to see W. Cade Gall’s idea of what the fashionistas of 1993 would be wearing on the streets of LA or NYC in 2014, now that would be interesting. Perhaps slightly uncomfortable and a bit stifling, but interesting nonetheless…

1920s

 

 

1930s

 

 

1940s

 

 

1950s

 

 

1960s

 

 

1970s

 

 

1980s

 

 

1993

 

 
Via Public Domain Review and h/t WFMU

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
El Vez, the Mexican Elvis: Che Guevara meets ‘Viva Las Vegas’
04.10.2014
06:42 pm

Topics:
Art
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Zeros
ELvis
El Vez


 
Although he regularly tours internationally—and he might not even live here anymore—I tend to think of El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, as one of the best things about the city of Los Angeles. One of my very, very first nights out “on the town” when I first moved here involved catching El Vez and the Elvettes—totally by accident—at the Atlas Bar and Grill on Wilshire Blvd. Claiming to be the bastard son of Elvis and Charo, his act was super fun—reminding me of John Sex, Deee Lite or The B-52s—and the sort of multilayered political and racial satire and hilarious dog whistles that went into his material like “En El Barrio” made me an instant fan. Over the years I’ve seen El Vez (real name Robert Lopez) at least a dozen times and it’s always been a blast. He’s a local institution. (Still in high school, Lopez co-founded LA punk legends, The Zeros way back in 1976. He can also be seen as part of Catholic Discipline in The Decline of Western Civilization.)

El Vez doesn’t only do Elvis songs. He might do something by ABBA or The Clash or T.Rex or David Bowie (El Vez had his “Thin Brown Duke” phase), but it’s always ultimately filtered through his “Chicano power” persona, one part Che Guevara, one part Viva Las Vegas. The guy pays attention to the details and the revolutionary politics in his idiosyncratic (and very, very funny) artform. Is it just a novelty act? Well, sure, but only to someone too stupid to get all the jokes. He’s like The Simpsons, even someone thick would enjoy seeing El Vez do his thing.

El Vez will be touring with his Cinco de Mayo review. Dates are listed on his website, where you can also buy a lock of his hair (in a “deluxe” ziplock bag) for just $3.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Much more El Vez after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Kick out the jams with ‘Brother’ Wayne Kramer of The MC5, this week on ‘The Pharmacy’
04.10.2014
01:59 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
MC5
The Pharmacy
Wayne Kramer


 
Gregg Foreman’s radio program The Pharmacy is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…

This week’s guest is the Wayne Kramer from the legendary MC5:

  • Where The MC5 came from and what “the Revolution” was all about
  • Why the MC5’s first record was a live record which was rather untraditional at the time , and the differences between the records and recording ...
  • The MC5’s affinity with free jazz musicians like like Sun Ra and Albert Ayler.
  • Why The MC5 were the only band to show up at the 1968 Democratic Convention…
  • Wayne’s post-prison band, Gang War with Johnny Thunders

Plus some advice to the kids…


 
Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.

Set List

Mr.Pharmacist - The Fall
Ramblin’ Rose - The MC5
Pow! To the People - The Make Up
INTRO 1 / Boogaloo - Rx/Carol Kaye
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 1
Tonight - MC5
Night Time - Strangeloves
Camel Walk - The Ikettes
Le Responsable - Jacques Dutronc
INTRO 2 / Sliced Tomatoes - Rx / Just Brothers
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 2
1969 - The Stooges
I Can’t Stand It - James Brown
Action Woman - The Litter
Oh How to Do Now - The Monks
INTRO 3 / The Swag - Rx / Link Wray
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 3
The American Ruse - MC5
Blank Generation - Richard Hell and The Voidoids
All This and More - Dead Boys
I Can Only Give You Everything - Them
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 4
Kick Out the Jams - MC5
I’m Ready - Fats Domino
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 5
The Wig - Lorenzo Holden
Twine Time - Alvin Cash and the Crawlers
Chasing a Fire Engine - Wayne Kramer and the Lexington Arts Ensemble
Outro

 
You can download the entire show here.
 
Below, the absolutely terrific documentary MC5: A True Testimonial:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Pete Townshend and the Auto-destructive art of guitar-smashing
04.10.2014
07:33 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Who
Pete Townshend
Gustav Metzger

ratiugtwons.jpg
 
Pete Townshend said it was an accident the first time he smashed his guitar. He was playing with The Who in a small cramped room at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, west London. The ceiling was damp with condensation, the room smoky, a smell of sweat and stale beer. The Who were playing “Smokestack Lightning,” “I’m a Man,” and “Road Runner” when:

I scrape the howling Rickenbacker guitar up and down my microphone stand, then flip the special switch I recently fitted so the guitar sputters and sprays the front row with bullets of sound. I violently thrust my guitar into the air—and feel a terrible shudder as the sound goes from a roar to a rattling growl; I look up to see my guitar’s broken head as I pull it away from the hole I’ve punched in the low ceiling.  It is at this moment that I make a split-second decision—and in a mad frenzy I thrust the damaged guitar up into the ceiling over and over again. What had been a clean break becomes a splinter mess. I hold the guitar up to the crowd triumphantly. I haven’t smashed it: I’ve sculpted it for them. I throw the shattered guitar carelessly to the ground, pick up my brand-new Rickenbacker twelve-string and continue the show….

This is Townshend recounting the first time he smashed a guitar in his autobiography Who I Am. It’s an event that Rolling Stone magazine considered so important that it was included in their list of “50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll.”

When The Who played the Railway Hotel the following week, the audience expected Townshend to give a repeat performance of his guitar smashing. He didn’t. The next time Townshend smashed his guitar was at the Olympia Ballroom, Reading, in April 1965. This time it was done as a piece of self-promotion. The Who’s manager Kit Lambert had “invited Virginia Ironside (Daily Mail) and writer Nik Cohn along to this gig and briefed Pete to create an impression by smashing his £400 Rickenbacker, despite the expense.”

This he duly did, and Keith joined in by smashing his drums. However, Lambert had been waylaid in the bar with the journalists when this grand spectacle occurred and was reportedly horrified to find he had been taken at his word.

It wasn’t until 1966 that Townshend’s trademark guitar-smashing regularly became part of The Who’s performance right up to a concert at the Yokohama Stadium, Tokyo, Japan, where he smashed a gold Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster.
 

 
Over the years, Townshend has given various reasons as to why he first smashed his guitar in September 1964. He has claimed he deliberately did it because he “was determined to get the precious event noticed by the audience.”

Pete: I proceeded to make a big thing of breaking the guitar. I bounced all over the stage with it and I threw the bits on the stage and I picked up my spare guitar and carried on as though I really had meant to do it.

And he has also said it was “really meaningless”:

“I’ve often gone on the stage with a guitar and said, ‘Tonight, I’m not going to smash a guitar, and I don’t give a shit.’ And I’ve gone on, and every time I’ve done it. Basically, it’s a gesture that happens on the spur of the moment. It’s a performance, it’s an act, it’s an instant, and it’s really meaningless.”

“I thought, ‘It’s broken’” said Townshend. “‘Might as well finish it off.’”

But in his autobiography, Townshend ties his guitar-smashing into a more political act:

I had no idea what the first smashing of my guitar would lead to, but I had a good idea where it all came from. ... I was brought up in a period when war still cast shadows, though in my life the weather changed so rapidly it was impossible to know what was in store. War had been a real threat or a fact for three generations of my family…

I wasn’t trying to play beautiful music, I was confronting my audience with the awful, visceral sound of what we all knew was the single abso lute of our frail existence—one day an aeroplane would carry the bomb that would destroy us all in a flash. It could happen at any time. The Cuban Crisis less than two years before had proved that.  On stage I stood on the tips of my toes, arms outstretched, swooping like a plane. As I raised the stuttering guitar above my head, I felt I was holding up the bloodied standard of endless centuries of mindless war. Explosions. Trenches. Bodies. The eerie screaming of the wind.”

All this from one smashed guitar?
 

 
It’s undoubtedly good copy, and gives the young Townshend’s actions considerable cultural cachet, as The Who at this time were still little more than a pop band singing songs about white boy angst—music for young white working class kids who thought they were missing out on something, but weren’t quite sure what. By 1965, there was nothing particularly new about their music or their obsessions with girls, dancing, or their generation. But the association with Mods, and Townshend’s guitar-smashing gave the band an edge, which counterculture figures like Mick Farren would later see as making Townsend and The Who revolutionary figures offering a kind of leadership in the fight against a police state.

In the early sixties, Townshend had been a student at Ealing College of Art, where he attended classes given by the auto-destructive artist Gustav Metzger. In his autobiography, Townshend says he was “Encouraged too by the work of Gustav Metzger, the pioneer of auto-destructive art, I secretly planned to completely destroy my guitar if the moment seemed right.”

So, who is Gustav Metzger and what was his “auto-destructive art”?

Find out after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
The night Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter sneaked into Elvis Presley’s home
04.07.2014
04:50 am

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Ian Hunter

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Mottt the Hoople’s Ian Hunter wrote one of the best ever books written about life on the road. It was called Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, and in it Hunter told the story of Mott’s American tour in November and December, 1972.

Mott the Hoople was one of the greatest (and sadly under-rated) bands of the 1970s, who were saved from disbanding in 1971 by David Bowie (a fan) gifting them “All the Young Dudes” to record.

During thier five week American tour, Hunter kept a diary detailing the adventures, the tedium, the groupies, the second-hand guitar shops, the performances and meetings with David Bowie, Frank Zappa and Keith Moon. It’s an enjoyable read, more so because of Hunter’s enthusiasm, and child-like wonder at the novelty of life in the States.

One night, towards the end of the tour, after the band had played Memphis, Hunter (a little worse for wear) decided he wanted to visit Elvis Presley (as you do), and begged his driver Ike to take him to “the legendary Gracelands, home of the king himself”.

“We get out at the gate (the one with the notes) and survey total unreality in the cool Memphis night air. One of his many cousins comes out and we ask boldly if we can drive up the little road to his place, but the guy’s not having any. Elvis is in. He’s been here two or three days, and he’s just got back from the pictures an hour and a half ago so they won’t let anybody near the place. The best he can do is open the gate so we can get a clear view and he gives us a picture postcard. In my drunken state I decide this ain’t enough.”

The driver distracted the guard’s attention, and Hunter was pushed up onto a small sidewalk, where he casually made his way to Elvis’s front door.

“...I’m expecting any minute to be pulled back. Miraculously, the guards didn’t notice, and I was wearing an afghan, so they must have been bloody blind and I just went on.”

It was just before Christmas and Prelsey’s lawn had an illuminated nativity scene.

Blue bulbs outlined the driveway, and outside the front of the house were red, yellow, blue, green Christmas trees either side of the main door. It’s not really a huge house, in fact quite modest for the size of the grounds. There seem to be columns by the front door and two huge flashy chrome cars stood outside.

Hunter moved towards the back of the house, where there were more cars, and he heard dogs barking, “but you know what it’s like when you’re pissed.”

I walk across under the patio and there’s the back door. I turn the knob and it opens. Fuckin’ hell! Am I dreaming? I’m in the dude’s house; he’s somewhere within 50 feet of me now, but I daren’t go further. Inside the door there’s two more doors - one on the right looks like a sports room, but I’m a bit too far gone to tell properly, and the one on the left looks more like where he’d be - plush carpeting, a short hall and what looks like a staircase. I’ll never know if these doors opened or not because I didn’t try them. Instead, I knocked loudly. No answer. I knocked again and a black lady, very nicely dressed, peered at me through the window. I’ve since found out that it was probably Alberta, Presley’s maid.

‘I’ve come four-and-a-half thousand miles to see Elvis Presley - is it possible to see him?’
‘I’m sorry, Mr. Presley’s tired and he ain’t seeing anybody.’
‘Are you sure I can’t see him?’
‘Yes, I’m definitely sure.’
‘Well I’m sorry for the inconvenience, and I’ll go back to the gate. Don’t worry, I’m knocked out to have gotten this far. Thanks anyway.’
‘You’re welcome. Good night.’

I felt elated. I didn’t really want to meet the guy - he’d have only gotten angry at me staggering in in the middle of the night and invading his privacy. I felt like a 14-year-old groupie - but I’d done it for the buzz, and it had been great! To tell the truth, I’d get a bigger buzz out of Jerry Lee Lewis, but there I’d been, in the king’s house, and fooled the entire army. Actually I hadn’t fooled them that well because as I wandered round the front a wagon was waiting.”

 

 
Mott the Hoople reformed in 2009 and 2013 for a series of concerts, and the brilliant Ian Hunter continues to perform and produce records of the highest quality (most recently the superb When I’m President), and has a series of tours with the Rant Band in the US and Europe organized for later this year, and if you have the opportunity, I recommend you catch him, details here.
 

The BBC’s Ballad of Mott doc.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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