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‘All life is a blur of Republicans and meat!’: Zippy the Pinhead… live?
10.17.2014
03:25 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
comics
Zippy the Pinhead


 
One of the more improbably durable comics in American popular culture is Zippy, the adventures of “Zippy the Pinhead,” Bill Griffith’s non sequitur-spouting polkadot muumuu-wearing Ding Dong and taco sauce-obsessed pinhead everyman. Because so many readers are totally baffled by it, there is a primer for “Understanding Zippy in Six Easy Lessons” on the Zippy website. Robert Crumb called Zippy “by far the very best daily comic strip that exists in America.”

Zippy was born in 1971 when Roger Brand, an underground/mainstream comics writer-editor-illustrator asked Griffith to “Maybe do some kind of love story, but with really weird people” for Real Pulp Comics #1. The name comes from P. T. Barnum’s famous sideshow performer Zip the Pinhead (who probably wasn’t an actual microcephalic) but the character’s features and clothing are patterned after Schlitzie from Tod Browning’s Freaks.

After Griffith launched Zippy in The Berkeley Barb in 1976, his character went on to a daily strip in 1986 and a Sunday funnies version debuted in 1990. The comic is distributed by King Features Syndicate.
 

 
In 1980, Griffith wrote the scripts for a handful of live-action Zippy shorts that were (I think) produced and directed for San Francisco cable access by Erik Nelson and his Videowest production company. Here are some of my favorites (all are on YouTube if you search for “Videowest” and “Zippy”). It’s worth noting that the reporter we see in a few of these pieces is a fellow named Tony Russomanno, then of KSFO Radio in San Francisco, who was the sole radio reporter to cover the mass suicides at the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana.

Zippy is played by Jim Turner of NPR’s Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre comedy troupe. Turner would go on to play MTV’s presidential candidate “Randee of the Redwoods” and you might also recognize him from HBO’s Arli$$ series where he played a sports agent.

The theme music is “Laughing Blues” by The Bonzo Dog Band.

“Zippy Stories—Take 1”
 
More live action Zippy after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Rock legend Ian McLagan this week on ‘The Pharmacy’
10.16.2014
12:37 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Pharmacy
Ian McLagan


 
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:

Ian McLagan of The Small Faces and Faces. He’s also played with the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Nikki Sudden.

Topics include:

The original Mod scene, joining Small Faces and the formation of The Faces when Steve Marriott departed to form Humble Pie and Rod Stewart and Ron Wood joined after leaving The Jeff Beck Group; destroying Holiday Inns from coast to coast, playing on Some Girls with the Rolling Stones and the origins of that distinctive “rooster” haircut sported by Rod, Ronnie and Mac…
 

 
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:

Intro
Come on Children - Small Faces
Tainted Love - Gloria Jones
Intro 1 / 25 Miles - Bill Doggett / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 1
My Baby Loves to Boogaloo - Don Gardner
Own Up Time - Small Faces
The Girl Can’t Dance - Bunker Hill
Jerkin’ the Dog - The Mighty Hannibal
Here Comes the Judge - Pigmeat Markham
I Can’t Believe What You Say - Ike and Tina Turner
Intro 2 / Hot BBQ - Brother Jack McDuff / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 2
Bad ‘n’ Ruin - Faces
Bert’s Apple Crumble - The Quik
Rip It Up - Little Richard
Night Time - The Strangeloves
The Wig - Lorenzo Holden
Almost Grown - Small Faces
Bring Down the Birds - Herbie Hancock
Intro 3 / The Point - Mac Rebennack / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 3
Look For Me Baby - The Kinks
Do the Whoopie - Sugar Pie DeSanto
The Boo Boo Song - King Coleman
Don’t You Want My Lovin’ - The Orlons
You’ve Got Me Uptight - Evie Sands
Out In The Street - The Who
Intro 4 / In The Midnight Hour - Billy Preston / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 4
Big Bird - Eddie Floyd
Keep On Keepin’ On - Nolan Porter
My World is Empty Without You - The Supremes
Heatwave - Martha and The Vandellas
I’m Rowed Out - The Eyes
Green Light - The Equals
Down Home Girl - The Rolling Stones
Red Beans and Rice - Booker T & the MG’s
Intro 5 / Soul Dressing - Rx / Booker T & the MG’s
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 5
We’re a Winner - The Impressions
I’m The Face - High Numbers
Out of Sight - James Brown
Intro 6 / Grits - The JB’s / Rx
I Gotta Dance to Keep from Crying - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Outro

 
You can download the show in its entirety here.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Social Schizophrenia, Social Depression: What does TV tell us about America?
10.13.2014
02:02 pm

Topics:
Politics
Pop Culture

Tags:
Charles Hugh Smith
R.D. Laing


 
This is a guest post from Charles Hugh Smith. Read his essays daily at his Of Two Minds. Smith’s latest book is Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.

The difference between what we experience and what we’re told we experience creates a social schizophrenia that leads to self-destructive attitudes and behaviors.

What can popular television programs tell us about the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) of our culture and economy?

It’s an interesting question, as all mass media both responds to and shapes our interpretations and explanations of changing times. It’s also an important question, as mass media trends crystallize and express new ways of understanding our era.

Those who shape our interpretation of events also shape our responses.  This of course is the goal of propaganda: Shape the interpretation, and the response predictably follows.

As a corporate enterprise, mass media’s goal is to make money—the more the better—and that requires finding entertainment products that attract and engage large audiences.  The products that change popular culture are typically new enough to fulfill our innate attraction to novelty—but this isn’t enough. The product must express an interpretation of our time that was nascent but that had not yet found expression.

We can understand this complex process of crystallizing and giving expression to new contexts as one facet of the politics of experience.
 

 
The Politics of Experience

It is not coincidental that the phrase politics of experience was coined by a psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, for the phrase unpacks the way our internalized interpretation of experience can be shaped to create uniform beliefs about our society and economy that then lead to norms of behavior that support the political/economic status quo.

Here’s how Laing described the social ramifications in Chapter Four of his 1967 book, The Politics of Experience:

“All those people who seek to control the behavior of large numbers of other people work on the experiences of those other people. Once people can be induced to experience a situation in a similar way, they can be expected to behave in similar ways. Induce people all to want the same thing, hate the same things, feel the same threat, then their behavior is already captive - you have acquired your consumers or your cannon-fodder.”

For Laing, the politics of experience is not just about influencing social behavior – it has an individual, inner consequence as well:

“Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act according to the way we see things. If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive. If our experience is destroyed, we have lost our own selves.”

How the media shapes our interpretation affects not just our beliefs and responses, but our perceptions of self and our role in society. If the media’s interpretation no longer aligns with our experience, the conflict can generate self-destructive behaviors.

In other words, mass media interpretations can create a social schizophrenia that can lead to self-destructive attitudes and behaviors.

Social Analysis of TV

By its very nature as a mass shared experience, popular entertainment is fertile ground for social analysis.

Here’s a common example: what does a child learn about conflict resolution if he’s seen a thousand TV programs in which the “hero” is compelled to kill the “bad guy” in a showdown? What does that pattern suggest, not just about the structure of drama, but about the society that creates that drama?

Analyzing entertainment has been popular in America since the 1950s, if not earlier.  The film noir of the 1950s, for example, was widely deemed to express the angst of the Cold War era.  Others held that the rising prosperity of the 1950s enabled the populace to explore its darker demons—something the hardships and anxieties of the Depression did not encourage.

Many believe the Depression gave rise to screwball comedies and light-hearted entertainment featuring the casually wealthy precisely because these were escapist antidotes to the grinding realities of the era.

Even television shows that were denigrated as superficial in their own time (for example, Bewitched in the 1960s) can be seen as politically inert but subconsciously potent expressions of profound social changes: the “witch” in Bewitched is a powerful young female who is constantly implored by her conventional husband to conform to all the bland niceties of a suburban housewife, but she finds ways to rebel against these strictures.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Rich kids and poor kids of Tehran duke it out on Instagram
10.09.2014
08:42 am

Topics:
Class War
Pop Culture

Tags:
Iran
Instagram


 
One of the enduring lessons of the Internet, if not life itself, is that if you’re rich you have to take care about how you present yourself. Most people like and admire the wealthy—or at least aspire to their status—but when rich people get together to show off what they have, in virtually no time it can lead to a nexus of pride, envy, and schadenfreude that can turn into a potent brew of ressentiment. In short, rich people got to watch out, it’s super easy to come off looking like an arrogant, clueless asshole, no matter what the original intent was.

Some affluent folks in Iran recently learned this lesson. In mid-September someone started an Instagram account called Rich Kids in Tehran showing wealthy young people posing in luxurious hotels, next to expensive cars, and dolled up in designer duds. In just three weeks, the account caught a little positive attention and blew up to 50,000 followers (it currently has more than 95,000 followers).

As The Daily Beast reported, the site quickly sparked a backlash, despite the purportedly innocent intentions of the Instagram’s creators. As one of the managers of the account wrote, “We are trying to show the good side of Tehran/Iran to the whole world. Iran is always in the news regarding negative things and we are not interested in that. We are just trying to show what they don’t show in the news channels.” There was no shortage of tut-tutting, for instance from Iranian-American author Firoozeh Dumas (Funny in Farsi) who objected to the sensationalization of “a slice of materialistic, shallow and downright embarrassing Iranian culture. I just want to shout, ‘We are not all like that!’”

Some clever person in Iran decided that the best way to fight back was through satire. On October 5 a new Instagram account called Poor Kids in Tehran materialized, showing the bitter reality behind the facade of all of the luxurious escapades the rich kids were enjoying. The account takes a deadpan approach; most of the images are more about squalor than actual want.

Rich Kids of Tehran may shrug off any accusations of ill intent, but they must be feeling more than a little defensive. The following message appeared on the Rich Kids’ Instagram yesterday:
 

We Love our city of Tehran. We are in no way trying to put a difference between rich and poor. We are trying to show the world how beautiful Tehran and people from Tehran are. The Middle East is always on TV receiving negative attention and we just wanted to show that Tehran is not like that. This page is in no way political and we never had any bad intentions. We never thought the page would make headlines all over the world. Some of the people featured in this Instagram account don’t live in Iran.

 
I’ve curated a little gallery of images from the two Instagram accounts. See if you can tell which ones came from which account—they’re all from the most recent images, so you can easily check your work.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via Vocativ

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Russian nesting dolls of ‘Spinal Tap,’ ‘The Young Ones,’ ‘Rocky Horror,’ ‘Heathers’ and more
10.06.2014
08:01 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
nesting dolls
Russian dolls

This is Spinal Tap nesting dolls
This is Spinal Tap
 
Australian artist Irene Hwang’s Etsy shop Bobobabushka is full Russian “Matryoshka” nesting dolls that bear the likeness of alt-cinema misfits from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, This is Spinal Tap, Ghost World, Heathers, cult BBC TV show The Young Ones and various troublemakers from the films of Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers.

Hwang’s customers even harassed her into making a nesting doll based on the lower-than-low-budget 1966 cult film, Manos: The Hands of Fate and they are as excellent as Manos is horrible. A few of the cooler sets of Hwang’s hand-painted dolls ($120 - $190 a set) follow. 
 
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Russian nesting dolls
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
 
Ghost World Russian nesting dolls
Ghost World
 
Heathers Russian nesting dolls
Heathers
 
The Young Ones Russian nesting dolls
The Young Ones
 
The Big Lebowski Russian nesting dolls
The Big Lebowski
 
Manos: The Hands of Fate Russian nesting dolls
Manos: The Hands of Fate
 
Devo Russian nesting dolls
DEVO
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Motörhead Russian Nesting Dolls

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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‘Apocalypse Pooh’: The pre-Internet video mashup of Winnie the Pooh and ‘the horror’
10.02.2014
03:09 pm

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
Winnie the Pooh
Apocalypse Now


 
Think back on the era before the Internet—what savages we were! Ubiquitous genres of media like the mash-up were barely in their infancy and relegated almost entirely to the art world (aside from druggy pastimes like syncing up Wizard of Oz and The Dark Side of the Moon, the political détournée of René Viénet’s Situationist comedy Can Dialectics Break Bricks? or comedic dubs like What’s up, Tiger Lily?). Apocalypse Pooh, a surreal 1987 cut-and-paste of Apocalypse Now and Winnie The Pooh, was one of the first 100% recycled mash-ups, and was distributed almost completely through an ‘80s tape-trading underground.

Video artist (and former childhood TV addict) Todd Graham created Apocalypse Pooh in art school, and it was a mini-sensation among tape-traders. It rarely got much credit from the art world—a reception Graham attributed to the oh-so-serious world of video arts’ lack of humor (he also did a mash-up of The Archies doing “God Save the Queen), but today the video is considered groundbreaking. Apocalypse Pooh is as strange and funny as anything you’d find of its genre on the Internet now, and here it is, remastered in crystal clarity, so you can really see the napalmed Hundred Acre Wood!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Legendary letterhead: P.T. Barnum, Adam Ant, Terry Gilliam, Richard Simmons, Marilyn Monroe & more
10.02.2014
08:10 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
letterhead


 
As if any further proof were needed that the World Wide Web has a home for every obsession, I offer you Letterheady, an online compendium of celebrity stationery. It’s a project of Shaun Usher, a curator of “online homages to offline correspondence” who is also the collector behind the web sites and books Lists of Note and Letters of Note both of which are exactly as described on the box.

I am utterly enrapt by this collection. (And for space reasons, I kind of wish I’d hit upon this idea before I became a record collector.) Even the very plain examples—John Steinbeck, J.D. Salinger, Rita Hayworth, Kate Bush—are compelling to me in their way, for reasons I am powerless to articulate, but some of the graphically designed pieces are just fantastic. (Also, I love that two of the most crucial graphic artists of the 20th Century had such sparse letterhead—I want to show those to every editor from my years as a magazine designer who ever handwaved my insistence that pages needed white space.) It was difficult to narrow them down to what I could show you here, so I have to recommend that you consider spending some time at the site itself.
 

Adam Ant
 

Martin and Lewis
 

Terry Gilliam
 

Anais Nin
 
More letterhead of the famous after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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We Are Gumbo! Pop culture soup can art featuring Devo, The Cramps, Divine & more
10.02.2014
07:14 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
Andy Warhol
The Cramps

The Cramps pop art soup cans by Zteven
The Cramps, Lux Interior and Poison Ivy
 
I’ve been an admirer of Atlanta-based pop artist Zteven for a while now and own many pieces from his pop culture-inspired soup can series (Lemmy Kilmister-flavored Bouillabaisse anyone?). In an interview earlier this year, Zteven cited the very moment his artistic inspiration was born after he saw Andy Warhol’s appearance on The Love Boat (which incidentally aired on October 12th of 1985 during season nine/episode three). The young Zteven was instantly mesmerized by Warhol’s “awkward coolness.” He developed an insatiable appetite for comic books, music and TV magazine, as well as the occasional tabloid while accompanying his grandmother to the beauty parlor.

Zteven is an 80’s kid to the core, and his artwork celebrates the many highlights of this glorious decade that often gets a worse rap than it deserves. Sail on over to Zteven’s Popmania! Etsy shop to see more.
 
Devo pop art soup can art by Zteven
Devo
 
Marc Bolan pop art soup cans by Zteven
Marc Bolan
 

‘Strangers with Candy’
 
Polyester pop art soup can by Zteven
Divine and Edith Massey
 

‘Pink Flamingos’ triptych
 

Tura Satana
 

Little Edie and Big Edie from ‘Grey Gardens’
 

David Bowie

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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John Lennon’s nearly-forgotten 1974 Broadway flop
09.30.2014
05:13 pm

Topics:
History
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
John Lennon
Broadway


 
Although it is usually referred to as an “Off-Broadway” production—when it is referred to at all—the 1974 musical Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road, in fact, ran for 66 performances at the Beacon Theatre, which as any Westsider can tell you, is smack-dab on Broadway itself, even if it’s a cab ride away from “the Great White Way” theater district.

Likewise, I suppose it’s a bit disingenuous to say that this show was “John Lennon’s flop,” but Lennon was involved and aside from co-writing the music (duh) he attended several rehearsals and performances and helped promote the play. Paul McCartney on the other hand, may have never even seen it.
 

 
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road was conceived by Tom O’Horgan, the “Busby Berkeley of the acid set” as the New York Times described him in his 2009 obituary. O’Horgan was a proponent of experimental “total theater” and had directed Jean Genet’s The Maids at La MaMa in the East Village before moving uptown to the Broadway successes of Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar and Lenny.
 

 
From the surviving evidence of the show, it looked like it was totally insane. TIME magazine hated it, their review was titled “Contagious Vulgarity” and it went out of its way to excoriate O’Horgan’s style of musical theater. Other reviewers were much kinder and even enthusiastic, but the show which opened on November 17, 1974 was still closed by late January.

Ted Neeley, the actor long synonymous with the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar here played the Candide-like “Billy Shears.” The sexy siren “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was played by Alaina Reed (“Olivia” from Sesame Street), while the role of “Sgt. Pepper” went to David Patrick Kelly an actor best known for uttering the immortal line “Warriors…come out to play-ee-ay!!”
 

 
And then there were the dancers whose hair don’ts and dresses are a direct rip-off of Divine’s look in Female Trouble!

Apparently there’s very little documentation of the production. Opening night attendees included Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Lennon who went with May Pang, “Papa” John Phillips (whose own flop Broadway musical, Man on the Moon, produced by Andy Warhol would open two months later) and Yoko Ono who gamely supported her estranged husband.

While researching this post, I discovered that John Lennon at one point was offered the, er… Ted Neeley role in Jesus Christ Superstar but when he insisted that Yoko play Mary Magdalene, the offer was withdrawn. The jokes about her breaking up the twelve disciples would have written themselves…

One of the associate producers, Howard Dando, put together a slideshow plus some footage of opening night taken from John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” promo film. Although the producer was Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood, who also produced the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band film, there was apparently not much of the O’Horgan’s musical play that made its way into the derided movie.
 

 
Thank you kindly Chris Campion of Palm Springs, CA! Mr. Campion is presently engaged writing the authorized biography of “Papa” John Phillips.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Stevie Nicks’ selfies from the 1970s
09.30.2014
09:05 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Stevie Nicks
Fleetwood Mac


 
Never-before-seen—until now, naturally—Stevie Nicks self-portraits from the mid-1970s. There are a lot wickedly cool Nicks selfies in this collection—all of which were shot with a Polaroid camera.

(Eat your heart out Kardashian clan! Your selfies got nothin’ on Stevie!)

Some people don’t sleep at night - I am one of those people. These pictures were taken long after everyone had gone to bed - I would begin after midnight and go until 4 or 5 in the morning. I stopped at sunrise - like a vampire… I never really thought anyone would ever see these pictures, they went into shoeboxes, where they remained. I did everything - I was the stylist, the makeup artist, the furniture mover, the lighting director. It was my joy - I was the model…

Leaving aside the matter of what was keeping Ms. Nicks awake in the 70s, the Morrison Hotel Gallery is doing an exhibition of her photos in Los Angeles and New York City. You can buy prints online if any image strikes your fancy.
 

 

 

 
A few more images after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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