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‘Circus’ by Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan. Illustrated by Joe Coleman. Narrated by Ken Nordine
02.28.2017
03:16 pm

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Activism
Art
Books
Pop Culture

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Narrated by Ken Nordine


Cover illustration by Daniel Nayari

Stories for Ways and Means is a new book that features original “grown up” children’s story collaborations by some of this era’s most compelling storytellers from the worlds of music and contemporary art. It’s being published by the long-running indie record label Waxploitation run by entrepreneur and photojournalist Jeff Antebi. The Stories for Ways and Means project lends support to several non-governmental organizations and nonprofit groups aiding children’s literacy causes around the world including Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, 826 National and many more.

Some of the featured musicians contributing to the project include Frank Black, Laura Marling, Del the Funky Homosapien, Gibby Haynes, Alec Empire, Kathleen Hanna, Devendra Banhart, Nick Cave, Alison Mosshart, Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof, Will Oldham, Gary Numan and ska great guitarist Ernest Ranglin.

You can order the Stories for Ways and Means book at SFWAM.org

The animated video below, “Circus” is based on a short story by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. It was illustrated by painter Joe Coleman and narrated by the voiceover legend Ken Nordine. It’s really neat.
 

 
Thank you kindly (and happy belated birthday) Sean Fernald of Hollywood, California!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Stirring images of two decades of political protest in New York City
02.28.2017
09:56 am

Topics:
Activism
Politics

Tags:
New York City
protest


Pro-Sandinista rally, Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, June 1979
Photographer: David Gonzalez

Clearly the election of Donald Trump has revived interest in mass protest among the rank and file of the Democratic Party and its left-leaning allies, and it may seem to some as if we’re in the midst of a “revival” of truly vital protesting after decades of apparent hibernation. One might even conclude that the 1980s and 1990s will go down in history as a quiescent era of reaction and conformity.

Don’t believe it.

In recent decades, protests have never not been a thing—in the nation’s largest city, New York, there hasn’t ever been a year that wasn’t marked by significant protests over topics like abortion, AIDS, housing, police brutality, foreign affairs, queer rights, animal rights, and anti-war demonstrations.

In the more recent political era, there has been a notion that successful protests are always peaceful protests, but “Whose Streets? Our Streets! New York City: 1980–2000,” the remarkable exhibition currently at the Bronx Documentary Center (614 Courtlandt Avenue) gives the lie to that claim as well. The powers that be, including the police, aren’t always willing to permit righteous protest to take place in a peaceful manner, and sometimes blood is shed, automobiles are overturned, and large objects are set on fire.

The show ends on March 5, so if you’re in the vicinity, make sure to get out and check it out before it closes.

(Also, take part in any protests in your area that conform to your particular views!)
 

Nuclear Freeze Rally, Central Park, Manhattan, June 1982
Photographer: Richard Sandler

 

Memorial to AIDS victims, Central Park, Manhattan, June 1983
Photographer: Alon Reininger

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Witches plan mass hexing of Donald Trump tomorrow night outside Trump Tower


 
The so-called Wiccan “Rule of Three” (also called the “Three-fold Law” or “Law of Return”) is a moral code held by many witches. Karma is another word that (more or less) covers the same general territory. The energy that you “put out there”—whether good or ill—will return to you three times stronger. It’s not something that’s really a dogma among Pagans, but more of an admonition, or warning to neophytes, that there is a reward—or punishment—in harmony with the magic you work and the intent behind it.

Spit in the wind and it comes back to hit you in the face. What goes around, comes around. Treat others as you would like to be treated and someone is less likely to turn punching your fucking Nazi face into a popular meme.

Tomorrow night, February 24th, starting at one minute to midnight and going on for six minutes until 12:05 AM, a group of witches will perform a binding spell on Donald Trump and those who enable him outside of Trump Tower, or wherever they happen to be:

Join the largest mass binding spell in history as participants around the world, individually and in groups, focus their consciousness to prevent Donald Trump from doing harm.

 

 
An unflattering picture of the babbling orange idiot who knows the nuclear codes and a candle are all it takes to participate. The event’s Facebook page is here. If you can’t be at Trump Tower at the appointed time, face east and let ‘er rip… Some helpful instructions can be found here. Facebook event page here.

Fuck it. Sometimes you just have to exorcise the Pentagon, folks…
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘How to Steal an Election’: The dirty politics musical of 1968!


 
Like science fiction becoming reality, or worse, satire becoming reality, this 1968 off-Broadway musical—or to quote the subtitle, this “dirty politics musical”—immediately opens eyes very wide in the ironic early days of America 2017. Some things never change, they just get worse.

In a New York Times review of a revival of the play in 2000, Scarlet Cheng wrote:

In the year of Richard Nixon vs. Hubert H. Humphrey vs. George Wallace, “How to Steal an Election” offered a compact off-Broadway primer on presidential elections bought, bartered and swiped throughout American history.

Librettist William F. Brown and composer-lyricist Oscar Brand had the notion of Jazz Age prez Calvin Coolidge materializing in the present day (that is, 1968). There he meets a couple of fervent young protesters, just back from the skull-cracking Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Disillusioned, these two have no taste for the political machine. But what’s wrong with pragmatism, Coolidge wonders? What about learning to work within a corrupt system? Thus Coolidge begins his history lesson, with vignettes and songs depicting cynical power grabs of yore.

 
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The two stars were Carole Demas who was the original Sandy in Grease on Broadway, even before it was turned into the musical we know now (It was originally a much darker, dirtier production). The cast was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (don’t even get me started). She was also one of the two strange hippie hostesses of the weird early seventies TV show The Magic Garden, a program that even as a child had me running for the remote (not that we even had a remote) to avoid twee folk songs sung to flowers.

Also starring was Clifton Davis who appeared in countless films and television shows, making all the Love Boat/Vega$/Police Story rounds right up to the present. His TV biggie was co-starring on The Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show in 1972 (or perhaps the That’s My Mama sitcom in 1974). His lifetime biggie was that he wrote the huge hit “Never Can Say Goodbye” for The Jackson 5! Now he’s a minister.

 
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Oscar Brand who passed away last year at 96 was an original folkie who, among many other things (he wrote a hit record for Doris Day, collaborated on musicals, had a TV show called Let’s Sing Out, wrote children’s records, etc.) had the longest running radio show in history.

He hosted the radio show Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival every Saturday at 10 p.m. on WNYC-AM 820 in New York City, which ran into its 70th year. The show ran more or less continuously since its debut on December 10, 1945, making it the longest-running radio show with the same host, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Over its run it introduced such talents to the world as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary, Judy Collins, the Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and The Weavers. In order to make sure that his radio program could not be censored he refused to be paid by WNYC for the next 70 years.

 
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Brand, whose radio show was referred to as a “pipeline of communism” by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and who told stories of buying food for Leadbelly when the two traveled together in segregated areas, also participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. He said the character of Calvin Coolidge in the play was originally written by him to be Satan.

...he was Satan, who had decided that the electoral process was the most interesting thing he could join in on since he got kicked out of heaven.

 
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The producer of the play Steve Mellow had this to say:

I was the producer of this play Off Broadway in 1969. It was a labor of love. I got the idea from my uncle Jake Arvey, who was a powerful political broker in Chicago.The play took three years to get on and went thru five different authors. Oscar Brand was with me from the beginning. He has written many political campaign songs over a period of seventy years. Nixon was running for President. His campaign manager asked what we were doing on him in the play. I told him to buy a ticket.

 
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If all this sounds classic, the fate of the show is a true tale of American-style “land of the free” business Hell.

From the New York Times:

“How to Steal an Election” opened to favorable reviews and was packed nightly. After 50 performances, the show was set to move to Broadway. But there was a glitch. Turns out, says Brand, the $80,000 lined up for the move was mob money, and it would only be delivered after someone on the production helped with some securities laundering. The producer ducked out, and Brand refused to cooperate. End of deal, end of production.

And that’s no trumped up charge.

More after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Missing Foundation, the long-lost industrial rockers who almost destroyed New York City
01.30.2017
11:20 am

Topics:
Activism
Art
Music

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Missing Foundation


 

“And when people feel the economic crunch & you can’t have the life that others have—you get dangerous.”—Missing Foundation graffiti.

Shortly before the Disneyfication of Manhattan, when the lower east side was still a churning ball of druggy chaos and the art scene was spewing up creeps, weirdos and bleak visionaries like Nick Zedd, Kembra Pfahler, White Zombie and the Toxic Avenger, one group emerged as the undisputed Kings of the Wasteland. They were called Missing Foundation, and they had come for your children.

Part industrial band, part neo-anarchist street gang, Missing Foundation was the fevered brainchild of one Peter Missing, who had formed the original version in Berlin in 1984 with future members of death-disco superstars KMFDM before moving to NYC and starting a new, more politically-charged version in the bowels of the Bowery. They were trouble from the beginning. For one thing, their striking logo, an upside-down martini glass (“The party’s over!”) was painted literally everywhere. It was like a virus, made all the more unnerving because very few people even know what it meant.
 
MF1
Photo by Alex in NYC

Live shows mixed angry sloganeering and anti-cop/anti-gentrification political posturing with white noise and ferocious violence. Fights between band and crowd were ubiquitous, and would often continue on the streets after the shows. On one notorious gig at CBGB’s, the band lit trash barrels with kerosene and rolled the flaming missiles into the audience. Once word got out about the band’s propensity for destruction, they took the act to the streets, playing in abandoned parking lots powered by overworked generators and vanishing in a flash once the police showed up. Perhaps most famously, in August of 1988 they played an outdoor show in Tompkins Square Park—a haven for punks, the homeless, drug addicts, and various combinations of all three—that ultimately ended in a massive riot, with unarmed street kids battling 200 armored cops in a violent, bloody, flaming 24-hour clash that rattled both sides and left dozens of people battered. To be fair, unlike some of their more overtly assaultive shows, Missing Foundation had planned a peaceful protest at the park, but afterward they became emblematic of the kind “street scum” Mayor Koch wanted to eradicate from his city.
 
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They were already agitators but from that point on they lived with targets on their backs. News crews began stalking their desiccated neighborhoods, reporting on Missing Foundation’s fictional ties to Satanism, animal torture and other nefarious cult activities. The FBI began tailing Peter Missing. Heavy stuff for a goddamn rock n’ roll band.
 
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Missing Foundation’s musical output was pretty consistent for a band of lunatics—five albums spread over as many years, with an evolving sound that was half throbby post-punk and half ear-splitting industrial noise. They were sort of an even less dance-y Cop Shoot Cop or maybe Throbbing Gristle with anger management issues. Either way, albums like 1988’s 1933 Your House is Mine and 1990’s Ignore the White Culture were a fairly accurate representation of the band’s ceaseless rage. But they’d probably have to be hurling flaming barrels at your head for you to really “get” the full Missing Foundation “experience.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Some of the best (trust me, they are tremendous) protest signs from the Women’s March


One of the many signs I saw and photographed during the Seattle ‘Women’s March,’ January 21st, 2017.
 
On Saturday I spent the better part of the day walking the streets of Seattle with a few of my “delicate snowflake” friends and approximately 175,000 other like-minded women, men and children during our Women’s March. The event, which was the largest protest in the history of the city, was by far one of the most powerful and empowering things I have ever personally experienced in my life. And while it’s not an alternate fact that our work is just beginning, judging from the numbers of people who collectively participated in the massive march in Washington DC, and the local support marches around the globe, there is still room for hope.

Many of the images of the signs in this post, were taken by yours truly and by friends of mine, old and new, who I walked with in Seattle. Others were culled from the Facebook page Pantsuit Nation and I’ve done the best I can to attach locations to each photo. While I have plenty to say on the subject when it comes to why millions of people took to the streets all over the country and the world, I’d much prefer to let the images of the protest signs that marchers carried with them on Saturday do the talking. So to the new administration and our new Commander-in-Grief, get ready because you haven’t seen anything yet. Viva la VULVA!
 

Seattle Women’s March, January 21st, 2017. Photo taken by a member of my marching group.
 

Seattle. Photo by Cherrybomb.
 

A 91-year-old retired doctor protesting in Los Angeles.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Screw our president’: Protesting kid explains why he started fire at alt-right Trump celebration
01.20.2017
10:20 am

Topics:
Activism
Class War
Heroes
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
Connor


 
A large protest raged outside the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last night where the alt-right’s “Deploraball” celebration was being held. Some protesters started a fire to burn signs and chanted “Nazi scum” as hundreds of Donald Trump’s biggest fans entered the party.

Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins asked one young protester named Connor— dubbed a “fire-starting child” on Facebook— about the fire.

“My name’s Connor and I actually kinda started this fire,” the boy responded. After Jenkins mistakenly called him “Carter” the young, media-savvy kid set him straight.“It’s Connor,” he repeated, then informed the Fox lackey that he started the fire because:

“I felt like it and screw our president.”

Connor is my new hero.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Extremely ‘Childish’ Donald Trump posters


GOP Info Poster

British cult artist/musician/poet/author and anti-authoritarian legend Billy Childish has just announced publication of a trio of specially commission poster prints commemorating “the occasion of Donald Trump being crassly maligned by the world’s press.”

The posters were created at the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop. Each measure 52.5 x 35 cm and are in stamped and numbered editions of 113 for £25.00 each. All posters come folded and in a deliberately distressed condition. The first orders will be dispatched on January 19th.

Mr. Childish is represented by L-13 in London, Neugerriemschneider in Berlin and Lehmann Maupin in New York.
 

Presidential Cunt Elect
 
More extremely Childish Trump posters after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Mickey Mouse in Vietnam’
01.10.2017
04:07 pm

Topics:
Activism
Animation
Politics

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Milton Glaser
Mickey Mouse


 
Mickey Mouse in Vietnam is a (very) short animated anti-war film produced by Whitney Lee Savage and the great American graphic designer Milton Glaser, creator of the “I♥ NY logo,” the famous 1966 poster of Bob Dylan with swirling rainbow hair, the Brooklyn Lager and DC Comics logos and countless other things. Glaser, now 87, was the co-founder of New York magazine, has been the subject of museum level career surveys the world over and is the first (and so far only) graphic designer to receive the the National Medal of Arts, which was bestowed upon him by President Obama in 2009.

The plot of the Mickey Mouse in Vietnam—which is about a minute long—is simple: Soon after arriving in Vietnam, Mickey is shot dead.

The film was long assumed to be lost when it was uploaded to YouTube in 2013 and went viral. Around that time Milton Glaser was asked about the short in an interview that appeared on the Carl Solway Gallery’s blog:

Milton Glaser: It was for a thing called The Angry Arts Festival, which was a kind of protest event, inviting artists to produce something to represent their concerns about the war in Vietnam and a desire to end it.

How did you get involved with, the director, Lee Savage in making this short?
Milton Glaser: Lee Savage was a good friend of mine, and he was in the film business of one kind or another, doing small production films — and with a little experience in animation, and all the things you have to know to produce a modest film the way we did.

What was the audience’s reaction when it was screened at the festival?
Milton Glaser: It was very moving — people responded strongly to it. But within the context of many such events and many presentations, it didn’t quite have the power that you experience when you are seeing it in isolation. But it was moving.

You know, I was just talking about it this morning, because I have not seen it many, many years. It just shows you the power of symbolism, because in some ways it’s much more powerful than seeing a photograph of dead GIs in a landscape — something about the destruction about a deeply held myth that moves you in way that is unexpected.

Speaking of symbolism, is that why you picked Mickey Mouse in particular?
Milton Glaser: Well, obviously Mickey Mouse is a symbol of innocence, and of America, and of success, and of idealism — and to have him killed, as a solider is such a contradiction of your expectations. And when you’re dealing with communication, when you contradict expectations, you get a result.

 

Watch ‘Mickey Mouse in Vietnam’ after the jump

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Vanguard: Powerful photographs of the Black Panthers
01.05.2017
12:57 pm

Topics:
Activism
Art
Politics
Race

Tags:
Black Panthers


 
This week saw six people, including the president and the director of communications of the NAACP, arrested at the office of Senator Jeff Sessions in Mobile, Alabama. At issue was Sessions’ impending nomination as President Trump’s attorney general; the protests addressed Sessions’ history of opposition to the civil rights movement in its broadest incarnations. The list of problems is quite impressive: Sessions has denied any existence of voter suppression efforts directed at minority communities and once purportedly warned a black attorney to “be careful how you talk to white folks” in addition to joking that his only problem with the Ku Klux Klan was its drug use. Further, Sessions has referred to the NAACP as “un-American” in the past and has called the Voting Rights Act a “piece of intrusive legislation.”

Sessions’ elevation to the top law enforcement officer in the nation is far from the only signal that Donald Trump has some sketchy views on race. If ever there was a moment in which one might actively pine for a return of the Black Panthers—real Black Panthers, not the Fox News bogeymen—the the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president is definitely it.

While it wasn’t a perfect organization, the three most salient facts about the Black Panthers are that (a) the resistance they advocated was richly justified, (b) they were thoroughly fucked with by the FBI, and (c) they did a huge amount of good in African-American neighborhoods, in the form of community organizing of the kind that Republicans have been known to deride. That they carried around scary machine guns, behaved like a paramilitary group and said things about armed resistance that scared the shit out of white people, well, consider what they were up against.

The 2011 documentary The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 and the 2015 documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution are both eloquent defenses of a group that constantly threatens to be lost to history in some sense. If historians are not vigilant about defending the group to white audiences, it will always risk caricature as a radical, violent organization, which the Panthers (mostly) were not.
 

 
In 1970 a book of photographs was published documenting the resistance efforts of the Black Panthers surrounding the 1968 trial of Huey Newton and its aftermath. The book was by two white photographers, a married couple named Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones. It was titled The Vanguard: A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers. (A similar book of Baruch and Jones’ photographs was published in 2002 under the title The Black Panthers 1968.) The 1970 book includes a number of informative texts, such as “Review of Panther Growth and Harrassment”, “Rules of the Black Panther Party”, and the “Black Panther Party Platform and Program.”

The photographs were taken the same year that J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panthers “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.” You don’t have to be Ta-Nehisi Coates (whose own father, Paul Coates, was a member of the Black Panthers and was internally discussed as a candidate for assassination by the selfsame FBI) to consider that judgment to be a mite premature…...... 

As they used to say of Richard Nixon, we can now say of the Black Panthers: Now, more than ever…..
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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