Meet California-based Sister Kate and Sister Darcy, who grow, cultivate and harvest medicinal marijuana. The nuns label their medicinal remedies with their moniker The Sisters of the Valley. The Sisters—who consider themselves nuns but who are not Catholic or traditionally religious—prepare their remedies observing the cycles of the moon and “in a spiritual environment.”
Selective memory can be a marvellous thing. It ensures we are never wrong, always right and (best of all) that we have always had such impeccable taste in music.
In Britain there were a lot of drugs about in the nineties—a lot of bad drugs—which might explain why so many of us—who lived through that heady decade—only recall the really good stuff rather than all that crap we apparently really enjoyed—Mr Blobby? Babylon Zoo? Rednex? Will Smith?—well, somebody bought this shit, how else did it all get to #1?
Personally, I have no recollection (officer) as to how all these records charted, but I can certainly give you a brief illustrated history of what we were actually listening to and what we all supposedly liked.
Exhibit #1: Select magazine
Select was arguably the magazine of the 1990s—the one that best represented (or at least covered) what happened during that decade—well, if you lived in the UK that is. Select had attitude, swagger and wit and was very, very opinionated. It didn’t tug its forelock or swoon before too many stars—though it certainly had its favorites.
Select kicked off in July 1990 with his purple highness Prince on the cover. It was a statement of the kind of magazine they were going to be—cool, sophisticated, sexy, sharp. Prince was good—everybody loves Prince. It didn’t last long. Over the next few months, the magazine struggled to find a musical movement it could wholeheartedly endorse. In its search for the next big thing—even The Beatles (rather surprisingly) featured on its cover.
Select threw its weight behind such bands as Happy Mondays, Primal Scream, Blur and most significantly Suede—who never quite managed the level of success the magazine hoped for. Then Select did something remarkable—rather than follow the trend the magazine decided to shape it.
In April 1993, Select published an article by journalist Stuart Maconie entitled “Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mr. Cobain?” In it Maconie made a very convincing case for abandoning the influence of American music (grunge) and taking up with the “crimplene, glamour, wit, and irony” of local British talent.
Maconie offered up a list of bands he thought would make it big—Suede, Saint Etienne, Denim, The Auteurs and Pulp—lumping them together under the title “Britpop.” Within a year—the idea of one journalist had become a movement of disparate bands, genres and styles—from Oasis to Blur, Elastica to Pulp, Sleeper to The Verve.
Maconie’s idea gave Select their drum—one they were going to bang until everyone was deaf or the thrill had gone.
Select lasted for just over a decade 1990-2001. Its final cover featured Coldplay—which might explain where Britpop had gone wrong. Some kind soul has scanned all of the back issues—inside and out—and a trawl through their covers tells the story of what was in, what was hip, and what was “going on.”
If you’ve a hankering for the past or just want to relive the heady days of the 1990s, then check here to read, view and enjoy the whole archive of Select magazine.
Prince on the very first cover of ‘Select’ July 1990.
Something old, something new… a taste of what’s to come…
Something very old: The Beatles—but a hint of what this magazine hoped to find in the 1990s…Britpop. November 1990.
You get the feeling this bloke’s gonna feature a lot in this magazine…Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder, January 1991.
More Select covers for selective memories, after the jump…
Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art diptych painting Whaam! would not be as powerful without the giant yellow lettering spread over a large part of its canvas depicting the sound effect of a missile hitting a target and a plane blowing up. What the image cannot convey, the word ‘Whaam!’ signifies. There it is in stark bold letters—a brilliant sound effect open to a million academic interpretations.
In the 1960s, the much-loved Batman TV series interjected fight scenes with wonderful descriptive graphics of the various sound effects: “Ka-Pow!” “Smash!” “Aiiieee!” “Awk!” “BAM!”. These colorful images added greatly to the excitement of watching Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) defeat the Joker, the Riddler, Catwoman, the Penguin and all their other arch nemeses.
Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!’ (1963).
Comic books, of course, have always had panels filled with such wonderfully onomatopoeic words that greatly add to the reader’s enjoyment. Away from the usual superheroes and action comics, artist Dan DeCarlo and Archie Comics brought a whole new level to the power of graphic book sound effects. DeCarlo has been described as:
...a master at framing a scene, clearly portraying the action, and conveying the appropriate emotions of the characters…. not as easy a task as you might think.
The figures in his frames are active—they are dynamic and appear to be moving and responding to the action around them. Add to this the incredible sound effects in every frame, then Betty, Veronica and their pals are suddenly in a work of surreal mini Pop Art.
A collection of ‘Batman’ graphic SFX.
However, it should be noted that it was the writer who usually picked the words to represent the various SFX and then the letterer who then placed them within the panel—as comic book writer and editor Paul Castiliglia explains:
....most of the sound effects are first indicated by the writer in the script, and then are added in to the art by the letterer after the pencil artist has drawn the figures in each panel. The pencil artist may write in sound effects (in plain text) to indicate their location in each panel but most of the time it is the letterer who determines the shape and lettering style for the sound effects and who actually renders them, inking the outlines.
Archie has employed many letterers over the years. It is highly likely that the majority of the panels you posted were lettered by Bill Yoshida; some may have been lettered by Archie’s long-time editor Victor Gorelick as well.
These written SFX often become the focus of our attention—creating a dynamism mere illustration alone could not provide. This is a little something I find quite fascinating—how did these writers come up with say “Smeerp!” to represent a kiss? Or “Sceeeee!” to depict something untoward just out of frame? Do people actually say “Awk!” when scared? Do we say “Aaaiiiiieeee!” when fleeing in terror? In fact, is there a thesaurus of these wondrous words? And if so, where can I get a copy?
This selection of Dan DeCarlo’s artwork with lettering by (most likely) Bill Yoshida and Victor Gorelick for Archie Comics are a superb example of the surreal joy of comic book SFX.
More of the joy of comic book SFX, after the jump…
Goddamn, do these photos bring back memories! I mean, this is exactly what it looked like in the ‘70s and ‘80s hanging out at arcades. I never really played the games back then as I wasn’t very good at them, but I did hang out with friends who did. I guess you could say I was an “arcade lurker.” This is all there was to do back then. This or going to “the mall.” Then again many arcades were in malls, weren’t they?
Anyway, Growing Up In Arcades is a delightful Flickr pool dedicated to all the arcades “that consumed much of our time and quarters back in the 80s.” The Flickr page is always “looking for scans of vintage games in the wild. So if you have old arcade or Chuck E Cheese birthday pics, dig ‘em up! They belong here.”
If you’re British and of a certain age then Doctor Who was most likely your first introduction to the sounds of electronic music. Apart from its famous theme tune, Doctor Who used an electronic soundtrack composed by Tristram Cary to underscore the arrival of the Daleks onto TV screens in 1963. At the time, most people considered electronic music as weird, alienating noise. Using it in a primetime TV series like Doctor Who was—as one commentator explains in the fascinating documentary What the Future Sounded Like—a rather subversive act.
Tristram Cary struck upon the potential of tape and electronic music while serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. The son of the Irish novelist Joyce Cary (The Horse’s Mouth), Tristram was one of the earliest pioneers of electronic music during the 1950s. A classically-trained composer, he had scored such movies as The Ladykillers and Town on Trial but found traditional music inhibiting. Reasoning that music was just the organization of sound, Cary began to experiment with electronic sounds, tape recordings and musique concrète, in a bid to create “music without frontiers.”
At the same, two other electronic music pioneers, the aristocratic Peter Zinovieff and engineer David Cockerell were separately testing out their own ideas. The three eventually came together to form the Electronic Music Studios in 1969. Their intention was to produce a versatile monophonic synthesiser, which could be cheaply produced for public use. While this proved tricky, Cockerell did manage to design one of the first British portable commercially available synthesizer—or Voltage Controlled Studio—the EMS VCS3. This once futuristic-looking “suitcase synth” is what Brian Eno was seen using during his tenure in Roxy Music.
Here’s Gene Wilder’s polite constructive criticism to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory‘s director Mel Stuart, after viewing early sketches of the costume:
I’ve just received the costume sketches. I’ll tell you everything I think, without censoring, and you take from my opinion what you like.
I assume that the designer took his impressions from the book and didn’t know, naturally, who would be playing Willy. And I think, for a character in general, they’re lovely sketches.
I love the main thing — the velvet jacket — and I mean to show by my sketch the exact same color. But I’ve added two large pockets to take away from the svelt, feminine line. (Also in case of a few props.)
I also think the vest is both appropriate and lovely.
And I love the same white, flowing shirt and the white gloves. Also the lighter colored inner silk lining of the jacket.
What I don’t like is the precise pin pointing in place and time as this costume does.
I don’t think of Willy as an eccentric who holds on to his 1912 Dandy’s Sunday suit and wears it in 1970, but rather as just an eccentric — where there’s no telling what he’ll do or where he ever found his get-up — except that it strangely fits him: Part of this world, part of another. A vain man who knows colors that suit him, yet, with all the oddity, has strangely good taste. Something mysterious, yet undefined.
I’m not a ballet master who skips along with little mincy steps. So, as you see, I’ve suggested ditching the Robert Helpmann trousers. Jodhpurs to me belong more to the dancing master. But once elegant now almost baggy trousers — baggy through preoccupation with more important things — is character.
Slime green trousers are icky. But sand colored trousers are just as unobtrusive for your camera, but tasteful.
The hat is terrific, but making it 2 inches shorter would make it more special.
Also a light blue felt hat-band to match with the same light blue fluffy bow tie shows a man who knows how to compliment his blue eyes.
To match the shoes with the jacket is fey. To match the shoes with the hat is taste.
Writer, musician, raconteur Dave Hill is the author of the upcoming comic anthology Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Dave Hill is a very, very funny man. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Dick Cavett, Andy Richter, Malcolm Gladwell and John Hodgman also think he’s pretty hilarious. John Oliver must like Dave, too, because he uses “Go” by Dave’s band, Valley Lodge, as the jaunty theme tune for his Last Week Tonight with John Oliver show on HBO. Apparently Samantha Bee is a Hill fan, as well, since she had Dave on her new Full Frontal program earlier this week, serenading some college-educated Donald Trump supporters with a little ditty he’d composed about Trump especially for the occasion (see below).
And Dave actually knows what he’s singing about from experience. He really knows Donald Trump. Or at least he is—or was—once very, very briefly acquainted with the Donald for about an hour or so back in 2004…
The year was 2004. Both NBC’s The Apprentice and really fun cell-phone ringtones had taken an unsuspecting public by storm. I had managed to elude both—I kept my phone on vibrate and was ready to stare in bemusement at anyone even thinking of telling me I had been “fired.”
But I needed money, so when the call came to write ringtones for Donald Trump, a quiet businessman from Queens who had been reluctantly thrust into the spotlight by the seventh-most popular program on network television at the time, I said yes. I had been doing some freelance writing and one of my clients was among the tangle of corporations assigned to the case. Fortunately, they decided to throw me a bone.
Of course, I knew a thing or two about Trump already. He had flawless hair; he slept on piles of money each night; given the choice between having something not gold-plated or entirely gold-plated, he chose door number two every time. Still, I wanted to do the best job possible, so I had one of Trump’s minions send me copies of two of his books, Trump: The Art of the Deal and Trump: The Art of the Comeback, as well as an anatomically correct Trump doll that would tell me all sorts of things every time I pressed its back, something I couldn’t help but do repeatedly as soon as it came into my possession.
“You really think you’re a good leader?” the doll would ask, seemingly out of the blue. “I don’t.”
A little harsh, maybe, but also something I probably needed to hear.
Despite all the hours I spent playing with that doll, though, I had my work cut out for me. Somehow, in what I can only assume was the result of someone putting a gun to Trump’s head, NBC owned the rights to his electrifying catchphrase “You’re fired!” The challenge was mine to figure out what else he might say—to write some slogans people might want to hear coming out of their phones besides those two magical words that had already galvanized a nation.
“Your services are no longer required at this place of business!”
“Please stop showing up here for work, okay?”
“Die, you anus!”
These are but a few of the alternatives to “You’re fired!” that I proposed. In the end, though, it was decided that Trump’s ringtone avatar would be less cutthroat and more inspirational, encouraging cell-phone users to answer promptly so they could take advantage of a big business opportunity or maybe just hurt someone’s feelings. I whipped up a few dozen Trumpist gems. Track ‘em down if you like; I imagine they’re still out there somewhere, priced to move.
“This is Donald Trump. I have no choice but to tell you . . . you’re getting a phone call.”
“I’m Donald Trump and this is the call of a lifetime!”
“This is Donald Trump. Answer your phone now—it might be me calling.”
Maybe not my finest hour, but, hey—the customer is always right. After that, I assumed my work was done, but I ended up being asked to attend the actual taping, too, at none other than Trump Tower.
“You mean I’ll actually be in the room while Donald is saying the stuff I wrote?” I asked a guy from the ringtone concern.
“Yes,” he said, placing a hand on my shoulder for emphasis. This was officially about to be the biggest thing anyone in my family had ever done, including fighting in wars or any of that other crap my older relatives always went on about. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to tell them.
“I’m working with Donald Trump,” I told my mom over the phone.
“Who?” my mom asked.
“Donald Trump,” I told her. “The guy from The Apprentice.”
“David got a job with Tony Crump,” my mom yelled to my dad in the next room.
“That’s nice,” my dad yelled back.
They were pumped.
When the big day rolled around, I put on a suit and tie and worked as many hair products into my scalp as possible before heading over to Trump’s offices in midtown Manhattan to meet the other dozen or so people required to complete a task of this magnitude.
As expected, Trump HQ was beyond opulent. It was as if a blind decorator had been given an unlimited budget and told he’d never work in this town again.
“This way, please,” a Trump representative, who was difficult to focus on amid all that sparkle, said before leading us to a conference room. Along the way, I spotted Donald Jr. sitting in an adjacent office, his hair perfect, as he no doubt bought or sold something without even thinking about it. It ruled.
“You have one hour,” the rep announced, prompting everyone in the conference room to spring into action, turning it into a makeshift recording studio. A few minutes later, the doors opened and in walked Trump, somehow looking even Trumpier than I’d anticipated. He wore a suit and tie and, of course, his trademark scowl. And though he stood mere feet from me, I found I had no further insight into his hair-care regimen. Looking into his coiffure did nothing to demystify it. In fact, it only confused me more.
“Right this way, Mr. Trump,” a ringtone specialist said, gently urging him toward the microphones while being careful not to actually touch him.
“Let’s make this quick,” Trump grunted, already sounding like the ringtones I’d written. “I’ve got a busy day ahead of me.” At this point, a mild panic set in as everyone in the room became convinced he or she might very well be “fired” or at least told to wait by the elevators at any moment. As for me, though, I couldn’t help but relax a bit; it had suddenly occurred to me that Trump might not be the oblivious blowhard everyone thinks. I mean, sure, he was a blowhard, maybe even the biggest blowhard of all time, but he also seemed totally self-aware, like he knew he was just playing a character, and that as soon as we left, he’d run into Ivanka’s office, shut the door behind him, and squeal, “I got ‘em again, honey!” Something about that made me actually kind of like the guy, if I sat there and thought about it long enough.
Moments later, after a technician had scrambled to hit any and all record buttons, Trump began barreling through the ringtones, printed on large cue cards that would remain easily readable even when he squinted judgmentally, which was always. Occasionally he’d give emphasis to a different word or see if getting angrier might help sell things a bit more. Meanwhile, everyone else in the room remained pinned to the wall, just trying to get through the proceedings intact.
Things seemed to be going well enough until about twenty minutes later, when Trump paused abruptly and began scanning the room in the manner that, by now, haunts people’s dreams the world over.
“Who wrote these things?” he barked, pointing at the cue cards like he wanted them taken out back and shot.
“That guy! Dave Hill!” at least five people volunteered in unison, their tone suggesting they would happily stab me right then and there if Trump would just say the word.
I figured I might start gathering my things at this point, but before I could, Trump looked at me, dropped his scowl, and said, “You’re a very good writer.”
“Thanks,” I said with a nod, sensing a trap. For the remaining forty minutes or so of the recording session, Trump refused to address anyone in the room but me. Others tried to intervene, but as soon as they finished talking, Trump would turn to me, his right-hand man, and ask, “What do you think, Dave?”
It was a weird kind of trust to have earned, sure, but it was also kind of cool—especially considering that otherwise I probably would have been just sitting at home scanning Craigslist for missed connections.
As the session wrapped up, I recalled something else I’d learned about Trump through my tireless research: he hates shaking hands. Naturally, this made my mission clear. This will be the true test of our love, I thought as I stood waiting for any others brazen enough to approach Trump to say whatever they were gonna say with their hands glued to their sides before get- ting the hell out of his sight, dammit.
With the path clear, I approached him for some bro time.
“Nice working with you, Donald,” I told him.
“You, too, Dave,” he said.
“Thanks,” I replied. I gingerly extended my hand. I could feel eyebrows across the room rising in slow-motion panic.
Will he? Won’t he?
Against all odds, Trump slowly reached out and grabbed my hand, shaking it not so firmly, as if to suggest his henchmen might be waiting for me outside and not so softly as if to suggest a quality hang in Montauk was off the table. No, this was just right—perfect, in fact, almost like he was a regular human being who had done this sort of thing before. All these years later, that shake still feels like a victory of some sort, but I’m not sure for whom.
As I sit here writing this in my underpants, Donald Trump continues his disturbing bid for the American presidency. And I find myself hoping more than ever that he really is only playing a character, that maybe he’s just the greatest performance artist of our time, a modern-day Warhol or slightly chattier Marina Abramovíc who will any day now say “Tada!” and take a bow, then go open an all-you-can-eat shrimp joint in the Outer Banks or something.
With each passing day, I fear I may be wrong. Still, whatever happens, it’ll always be nice to look back on that day at Trump Tower and think, “Sure, he’s a hate-spewing boob who somehow manages to sound even angrier and crazier than that doll I still can’t help but drag out from under the bed every once in awhile…and, yes, he’s even got that certain awful something to win the endorsement of the unicellular Sarah Palin. But put the two of us in a room together for an hour and, goddamn, do that son of a bitch and I make one hell of a ringtone.
Okay, we’re going to do some cute here on Dangerous Minds today. Here’s father and son duo, Andrew and Hudson covering Kraftwerk’s “The Robot.” Kudos to dad for turning his son onto the good stuff instead of all the horrible manufactured pop drivel that most kids listen to nowadays. Parenting done right, in my opinion!
We’ve blogged about this wicked-cool board game—loosely based off of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream—by artist Alyx Baldwin back in 2009, but I see it’s making the rounds again. Plus I think it’s time to give this game another go-round because it deserves the attention. Just look at how much thought and consideration was put into this board game!
The term “genius” has been so devalued by its inanely ubiquitous overuse by the media one can no longer be certain what it means. Read any music review, film critique or general piece of hagiography typed by some blogger and you’ll stumble over the word “genius” as frequently as a drunk stubs a toe against furniture in the dark.
For example, Kim Kardashian apparently has “a genius” for clothes. Her husband Kanye West is, of course, a self-confessed genius. What the word genius means in these two examples I’m not really sure. Unless, of course, it means “tasteless” and “delusional.”
Genius once meant something exceptional. It was the laurel crowned on the head of only the greatest talents. A friend once suggested there was greatness and then there was genius. His example went something like this:
Genius pervades all aspects of an individual’s life. The talent, the taste, the originality of thought. For example, David Bowie was once asked by Coldplay to collaborate on a song. He declined claiming the song on offer wasn’t very good. David Bowie had genius.
Brian Eno produced Coldplay’s fourth album. Brian Eno has greatness.
Whether this is a fair or even correct assumption to make—docking Eno for deigning to associate with that lot—who am I to say?
When I first heard of the multi-talented polymath Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno—the man with a name for every day of the working week—he was being hailed as “the genius” behind Roxy Music. I demurred. It was always Bryan Ferry the chief singer and songwriter who I thought of as “the genius” of that band. When Eno left Roxy—the cry went up that they were not the same without their impish knob twiddler. I couldn’t see it and wondered what the fuss was all about. Then came Eno’s first solo album Here Comes the Warm Jets and I began to appreciate what some of that fuss had been about.
By the end of the seventies as Roxy became less pop art and more soulful tunesmiths, Eno was still seeking out new projects—moving on, discovering, producing, creating, testing the parameters of music. He seemed unstoppable.
In all respects, Eno is more than the sum of his parts. He sets an example as a creator, an artist, a musician—of what it means to be alive and to do as much as possible. As he suggested in the profile of his life and career Another Green World:
All of the encouragement from modern life is to tell you to pay attention to yourself and take control of things.
Whether Eno’s merely great or a genius is immaterial. He’s a concept, an exemplar to do things better, to try them differently, to learn more, to do more.