‘They Live’ selfie
09:00 am

Pop Culture

They Live
Ellen DeGeneres

I don’t know who’s responsible for this lil’ masterpiece that’s been floating around on the Internets this morning, but it’s a good ‘un.

Via Geeks of Doom on Facebook

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Back to her roots: See RuPaul’s New Wave band, Wee Wee Pole, 1983

RuPaul and Robert Warren, circa 1983, via Robert Warren
As RuPaul’s Drag Race enters its sixth season, hundreds of thousands of viewers are girding their loins, praying their favorite girl will be declared “America’s next drag superstar.” Yes, I am glad to live in a time when drag competitions are a televised sport, and prouder still that RuPaul has earned the mantle of America’s Sweetheart—even we NYC Lady Bunny loyalists can’t resist Ru’s gracious charisma, unflappable good humor, and glamorous demeanor. But RuPaul wasn’t always the ultimate glamazon!

Even before he had given himself much of a makeover, RuPaul was quite the event in the queer New Wave/Punk scene of Atlanta. Below you can see Wee Wee Pole featuring RuPaul and The U-Hauls making their Atlanta debut in 1983. The interviewer, James Bond, is from The American Music Show, a LOOONG running, legendary super-weird program that’s just too brilliant for anything other than cable access (ask anyone halfway cool from Atlanta about it, they will know about The American Music Show, trust me). But then, RuPaul has always held in the weird and novel in very high esteem:

While channel surfing one night, I came across a local “public access” TV show called “The American Music Show.” Obviously videotaped in someone’s living room once a week, it had a talk show/sketch comedy type format that had no format at all. Hosted by Dick Richards and James Bond and featuring a weird cast of social misfits. It was very politically irreverent, funny, sick, wrong and I loved it. In my gut I knew, I had found my tribe. I immediately wrote a letter to the show explaining how much I loved what they did and that I would love to be a part of it. Two weeks later, I got a call from Paul Burke, saying they got my letter and would love for me to be on the show after the holidays.

By the time of the Atlanta show, Ru had already played New York CIty, but was still anxious to perform for the home crowd. The band is high-energy, dancey, and a little bit nasty (in the good way). Ru himself is (obviously) warm, bubbly, and genuinely excited—a legend in the making.

Below, RuPaul and The U-Hauls introduced onstage by “perpetual write-in candidate for the Lt. Governor of Georgia,” Col. Lonnie Fain:

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Who Are You: Did Keith Moon play drums on a 1976 ‘Doonesbury’ novelty record?

Doonesbury fans will already be familiar with the character of “Jimmy Thudpucker,” Garry Trudeau’s device for commenting on the then-new archetype of the big-time 70s rock and roll star. As Wikipedia has it, “He is generally seen as a combination of Bob Dylan and John Denver (and to some extent, Loudon Wainwright III), and became a rock star in the seventies, when he was only 19. Others have compared Thudpucker to a young Jackson Browne.” To my way of thinking, Jackson Browne is generic enough to serve as an ideal model for Thudpucker; that seems about right.

Dangerous Minds readers will remember the recent post we did about the 1977 Doonesbury TV special. It turns out that there was a similar cross-pop culture injection around the same time—I refer to the Jimmy Thudpucker LP release: Jimmy Thudpucker’s Greatest Hits, released on John Denver’s Windsong label in 1977.
Jimmy Thudpucker's Greatest Hits
“Jimmy” was accompanied by “the Walden West Rhythm Section”—in the Doonesbury universe, “Walden” is Trudeau’s stand-in for Yale University.

The Walden West Rhythm Section featured some of the best session musicians available—and crazily enough, the ad-hoc outfit may have included Keith Moon for at least a little bit. Let’s look at the evidence. What’s crystal clear is that the core of Thudpucker’s backup band was made up of some very familiar names such as the album’s producer, Steve Cropper, who also played guitar; bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn; guitarist Jay Graydon; legendary session drummer Jeff Porcaro. Of course, Cropper and Dunn are both legendary figures from Booker T and the MGs; and Porcaro was a member of Toto, which formed around the same time; whereas Jay Graydon awesomely nailed the guitar solo on Steely Dan’s 1977 song “Peg.” (In fact, a number of 1977 Doonesbury strips centered on a character called Jay “Wah-Wah” Graydon.)

So far, so good, right? Still no evidence of Keith Moon. But wait. The ninth track on the album is “Ginny’s Song”—it was released as a single and (I think) came out a year or so before the album—on Warner Bros., not Windsong; that is, it may have been an entirely different session. (“Ginny” was a reference to “Virginia Slade,” an important African-American character from the early years of the strip.) Here’s a screenshot from the video linked below, of a YouTube user playing the “Ginny’s Song” single and also showing the sleeve artwork.
Keith Moon
Well, well! Another clue is that Steve Cropper was listed as one of the producers of Keith Moon’s 1975 solo album Two Sides of the Moon.

True to Thudpucker’s essence as a cobbled-together stand-in to represent any number of actual musicians, the tracks on Greatest Hits are all over the map. Sometimes, as on “You Can’t Fight It,” the music has a sultry, funky edge; “I Do Believe” is a pure Dylan parody; “Ginny’s Song” is white soul/pop hybrid.

The voice of Jimmy Thudpucker was actually James “Jimmy” Brewer, who, due to the in-joke nature of pretending that Thudpucker’s album was a real thing, à la Spinal Tap, was denied his due credit for his singing performance for, well, several decades. Here’s Brewer’s account, from a message board in May 2008:

I’m James “Jimmy” Brewer, the singer/songwriter who co-wrote the tunes and provided the voice for “Ginny’s Song,” the single for Warner Bros.; the film, “A Doonesbury Special,” and the LP, “Jimmy Thudpucker’s Greatest Hits,” released on Windsong Records.

For reasons still unknown to me, when all three projects were unveiled, Mr. Trudeau had completely removed my name from everything and had given the credit for my work to “Jimmy Thudpucker.” There was a “rumour,” circulated via many newspapers that regularly ran Doonesbury, that Trudeau was indeed secretly Jimmy Thudpucker. A number of the songs, including the two that were used in the film, were written before I ever met Mr. Trudeau.

I was the sole participant in all three projects whose work went totally uncredited. Twenty-five years later, after countless inquiries, he acknowledged me on his website.

“Ginny’s Song”

After the jump, all 10 tracks of Jimmy Thudpucker’s Greatest Hits…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Own the Ten Commandments, no big whoop

An actual surviving pair of prop tablets from the epic Cecil B. DeMille/Charlton Heston film The Ten Commandments is up for auction on eBay. View the auction here.





What more could one need in life? You can own the Ten Commandments. Wanna rain some wrath-of-God-ass shit down on your enemies for their heretical apostasies? THE POWER CAN BE IN YOUR HANDS! Wanna hang ‘em in a school in Alabama? NOBODY CAN STOP YOU! Feel like adding some of your own a la Moral Orel?

Thou shalt not make douchey orgasm faces whilst thou guitar soloest.

Thou shalt break it off with thine S.O. before, not after, thou schtuppest his or her bestie.

If whilst driving thou seest a pedestrian clad in a Slayer shirt, thou shalt roll down thine window and yellest ‘SLAYER!’


Yeah, go ahead, FUCK WITH ME!

OK, tone shift, here. I’d like to leave you with a very cool thing: Cecil B. DeMille himself appears in and narrates this short film about reconstructing the life of Moses.

Captain Beefheart’s Ten Commandments of Guitar Playing
The Ten Commandments of Bowieism
Hopeless Republicans: Ten Commandments Judge to Enter Race?

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Fitness guru Richard Simmons’ brain-bending TV parodies
05:19 am

Pop Culture

Richard Simmons

The celebrity weight-loss instructor Richard Simmons became a pop culture icon in the 1980s, when the success of his book Never-Say-Diet and his Sweatin’ to the Oldies workout videos drew national attention to his preternaturally upbeat and bubbly personality. He’s still going strong. TV guest appearances have literally never stopped in the intervening years, and his following remains huge (sorry).

But one TV show he’ll probably never be invited to guest on is Duck Dynasty. Not because of its star’s recently-revealed homophobia. Indeed, though Simmons is widely perceived as a gay figure—possibly due to a combination of his off-the-charts cheer, his flamboyance, and his bedazzled dolphin shorts—he has actually never made his sexuality publicly known. No, the reason Richard Simmons will probably never be on Duck Dynasty is that he made this video:

You’re welcome.

Simmons’ YouTube channel is absolutely worth a peek, but his entire online presence is trove of untrammeled joys. His Facebook and Instagram feeds, in particular, are bottomless lodes of delightfully bonkers camp. But the TV parodies are just too much! Here are his takes on Homeland and The Carrie Diaries.


I totally owe Marlee Pickles a drink for this.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Attention Sci-Fi geeks, your work day is shot: Decades’ worth of ‘Starlog’ magazine available in PDF
05:55 am

Pop Culture


Starlog, issue 37
Success is always a mixed blessing. Kurt Cobain epitomized it and knew it, always identified with “our little group [who] has always been and always will until the end.”

What were all those stories I kept reading last year, about how now that the sci-fi conventions have gotten so big, they don’t really cater to, you know, sci-fi fans anymore? Now that absolutely everyone’s a nerd, those special, original nerds are getting lost in the mix, the ones you who actually were stigmatized in high school, who actually did take a social hit for wanting to master every detail they could about the original 79 episodes of Star Trek (before it was called Star Trek: The Original Series).

If you’d like to inhabit a world—just for a while—in which the term redshirt hasn’t become a well-worn concept and the status of Luke Skywalker’s parentage is still an open question, in which George Lucas is still everyone’s favorite human being and it’s pretty neat that Harlan Ellison wrote that one episode of Star Trek, there’s really only one place to go: to the Internet Archive and the whopping 224 issues of Starlog they’ve got there, just waiting for some nice person to come along and geek out about how the fuck they made that thing come out of John Hurt’s chest.

Just look at the cover of issue 37 up there—it’s from August 1980. What’s on it? Why, The Empire Strikes Back (no mention of “Episode V”), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Ray Harryhausen, Dr. Who, and the lightweight TV series Buck Rogers just for laffs. Now that’s some gooooooood stuff right there, and every issue is pretty much like that. It’s a serious sci-fi magazine for serious sci-fi fans.

Issue 1 came out in August 1976; topics included The Bionic Woman, Space: 1999, and The Man Who Fell to Earth, plus a detailed guide with plenty of photos of all 79 of those Star Trek episodes. In issue 224 (March 1996), the last issue represented here (the magazine folded in 2009), they were covering 12 Monkeys and 3rd Rock From the Sun. Think of all the great characters we met in between those two times: Snake Plissken, Sarah Connor, Seth Brundlefly, Officer Alex J. Murphy, Bill & Ted—it’s all covered in Starlog, and without the benefit of the hipster eye-roll.

Check out issue 100, from November 1985, in which they dared to list “the 100 most important people in science fiction,” stretching all the way back to Jules Verne. (J.J. Abrams isn’t on the list…...)
Starlog, issue 100
Here’s that link again. You can get the issues in PDF format, or text-only, or in a Kindle-ready format, and a few other ways. Apologies for making sure you get absolutely nothing done today….

Check out this 1984 commercial for “the most popular science-fiction magazine in the solar system” (they couldn’t beat out Reader’s Digest for the all-around champ, it seems):

via Cinephilia and Beyond

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Edward Snowden action figure

An Edward Snowden action for only $99.00 + shipping by That’s My Face.

I dunno, I still like the “My Talking Henry Rollins” doll better.

This package includes Edward Snowden’s custom action figure head mounted on a 12-inch action figure body with a several choices of outfit styles. By selecting Head only in the Outfit selection box above, you can also buy Edward Snowden’s head for $60 only and fit it onto your own 12-inch figurines.

Below, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden action figures just hangin’ out:

Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
No More Mister Nice Girl: Maggie Estep, RIP
05:13 pm

Pop Culture

Maggie Estep

Sad to hear that poet-novelist-spoken word performer Maggie Estep has died at the age of 50. According to friends, Estep, an East Village fixture of the 1990s, suffered a massive heart attack on the 9th and died earlier today.

She is probably best remembered for her numerous MTV and Def Poetry Jam appearances and a music video for “Hey Baby” from her 1994 album No More Mister Nice Girl. Estep was the author of Diary of An Emotional Idiot and several “Ruby Murphy” mystery novels.

The East Village Grieve blog reports that Maggie Estep had been living in Upstate New York while working on a new book.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Mr ‘96 Tears’: Question Mark from garage punk legends ? & the Mysterians, this week on The Pharmacy
12:33 pm

Pop Culture

The Pharmacy
Question Mark

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…

Mr “96 Tears” himself, Question Mark from the legendary ? &  the Mysterians joins Gregg this week. Topics include:

—Why Question Mark wanted to get on American Bandstand to show the world how to dance.

—How the band almost lost their first acetates when the engineer was shot in the head in a barroom brawl.

—The creation of “96 Tears” and translating the sound in his head to the sound of the Mysterians.

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.

Mr.Pharmacist - The Fall
Intro Rx - Rare Birds / Vanishing Point
Goodbye , So Long - Ike & Tina Turner
Thunderbird ESQ - The Gories
Intro 2 /We Had Love - Rx / The Scientists
Question Mark Interview Part One
Cheree(Suicide Cover) - ? & the Mysterians
Sur La Planche - La Femme
You Gonna Make Me Cry - O.v Wright
Wind Blows Your Hair - The Seeds
Intro 3 - Negativland - Rx / NEU!
Question Mark Interview Part Two
Hollow Eyes - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
Just What You’ll Get - John’s Children
Snatch it Back and Hold it - Junior Wells
Sex Beat - The Gun Club
The Nail Will Burn - Loop
Sometimes - Bessie Jones
Intro 4 - Java - Rx / Augustus Pablo
Question Mark Interview Part Three
96 Tears - ? & the Mysterians
In the Dark I See - The Underground Youth
The Old Man’s Back Again - Scott Walker
Intro 5 - Fuzz Wah - Rx / Fuzz Wah

You can download the entire show here.

Below, ? & the Mysterians lip-syncing along to their biggest hit “96 Tears” on a local Detroit TV program in 1966:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘All My Loving’: Stupendous 1968 music doc with The Who, Jimi, Zappa, Cream, Animals and Pink Floyd

Just how good a year for music was 1968? Consider this list of albums from that year:
The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
The Beatles, The White Album
The Kinks, The Village Green Preservation Society
Procol Harum, A Whiter Shade of Pale
The Band, Music From Big Pink
The Zombies, Odessey And Oracle
Janis Joplin, Cheap Thrills
Sly & The Family Stone, Dance to the Music
Cream, Wheels of Fire
Joni Mitchell, Song To a Seagull
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland
Frank Zappa, We’re Only In It For the Money
Jeff Beck, Truth
Pink Floyd, A Saucerful of Secrets
The 13th Floor Elevators, Bull of the Woods
The Monkees, Head
Can, Delay 1968
The Doors, Waiting for the Sun
Jefferson Airplane, Crown of Creation
Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Twain Shall Meet
Harry Nilsson, Aerial Ballet
Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
If those titles hold any appeal to you at all, then you are definitely going to enjoy Tony Palmer’s stunning 1968 documentary All My Loving, which purportedly was made as the result of a gauntlet that John Lennon and Paul McCartney threw down to Palmer (whose films before that had—a bit like George Martin—focused on classical music), to make an hour-long movie that captured the state of the music world in 1968. What makes the movie work, quite aside from Palmer’s adventurous editing style, fondness for tight closeups, aural brio, and impressionistic chops, is the palpable sense that something really interesting was happening in society—crucially, before the post-Altamont, post-Manson hangover had set in. It was a perfect moment for a documentary of this kind. The musical personages in the movie, many of them legends, are treated as very interesting pop stars but not much more than that, and that relative impartiality is essential to what makes All My Loving so good.

It’s difficult to overstate how wonderful All My Loving is. Stylistically, it suggests an experimental movie produced by 60 Minutes (or the English equivalent, anyway). In other words, it’s loose in form but stentorian in tone (but never unsympathetic to the youth movement). The amount of astonishing footage that Palmer managed to cram into a mere hour boggles the mind. Palmer appears to have access to just about anyone he wanted, so we get brief statements or conversations with Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, Eric Burdon, Frank Zappa, Manfred Mann, Pete Townshend, George Martin, and so on. With the possible exception of Zappa, Burdon’s the most articulate of the bunch, pointing out the similarities between taking LSD and doing a stint in Vietnam.

The movie features truly scintillating performances from Cream (“I’m So Glad” and “We’re Going Wrong”), The Who (“Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand”), Pink Floyd (“Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”), Donovan (“The Lullaby of Spring”), Jimi Hendrix (“Wild Thing”), the Animals (“Good Times” and “When I Was Young”). There is some utterly fantastic close-up footage in which The Who destroy their instruments at the end of a gig at, of all places, the Peoria Opera House as well as some similar footage of Jimi Hendrix just shredding the entire concept of rock and roll right in front of your eyes. ALL of the performance footage is remarkable.
There are also some amusing interviews with a “sleazy” music publisher with a pencil mustache who by rights should be named Monty Python (his name is actually Eddie Rogers) and a self-confident “jingle executive” from America named Jim West (motto: “Selling Spoken Here”) who explains how to use advertising techniques to con teens into coming to see the Mona Lisa. There are a handful of other British music industry types who are barely identified and don’t have to be—they’re the local color. They also get some frankly inane comments of the dismissive variety from none other than Anthony Burgess.

Palmer made dozens of documentaries from the 1960s onward, and they cover a fascinating range of personalities, including Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Rory Gallagher, Peter Sellers, Liberace, Hugh Hefner, Leonard Cohen, and on and on. He codirected 200 Motels with Frank Zappa. The governing tone of All My Loving is one of indulgent “concern,” of investigating a “problem” to be “solved”—we hear about the deafening volume of the new music and the possibly shallow values of the kids and so forth. There’s some startling imagery from Vietnam thrown in as well—never forget Vietnam. This movie goes all over the reservation to evoke 1968—and succeeds.

With its big, messy crescendo, the end of All My Loving somewhat resembles 2001: A Space Odyssey and “A Day in the Life,” and, to Palmer’s credit, the ending, which rapidly shows the breathtaking variety of images we’ve seen over the previous hour (scored to “Be-In (Hare Krishna)” from Hair), works marvelously. Set aside some time for All My Loving. You won’t regret it.

via Beatles Video of the Day

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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