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Sylvester’s dog Princess Terry receives “celebrity pet” award, Castro Street Dog Show, 1984
12.17.2013
10:02 am

Topics:
Animals
Heroes
Queer
R.I.P.

Tags:
Dogs
Sylvester


 
Damn my terrible timing! Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of Sylvester; queer icon, incredible vocalist and Disco Diva extraordinaire. Well, I may be 24 hours late, but I couldn’t let another day pass without posting something in tribute here on DM.

And what a doozy of a clip! Yes, it’s Sylvester at the Castro Street Dog Fair in 1984, receiving the “celebrity pet” award on behalf of his pup, Princess Terry, from former Catwoman Lee Meriwether, all under the watchful gaze of a leather-vested cowboy. Yep. It really doesn’t get any more camp than this.

R.I.P. Queen Sylvester, you will forever be missed!
 

 
Major H/T to Matthew Hill!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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The Bonzo Doo-Dah ‘Mad Man’: The selected adverts of Vivian Stanshall
12.16.2013
02:14 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Heroes

Tags:
Vivian Stanshall
Bonzo Dog Band


 
In those later days when Bonzo Dog Band frontman Vivian Stanshall was short of a bark, a pen, a duck, or a round, he would offer his more-than-capable services to advertising companies, suggesting delightfully creative, entertaining and memorable ads, which he would script, voice and occasionally appear in. The results were usually pleasing, though I have to admit sometimes feeling an occasional disquiet over the reworking of a favorite Bonzo/Stanshall song, which often neared musical heresy. But then I’d think, why be a grinch, and really shouldn’t the ginger genius make some well-deserved money from his past work?

And Vivian certainly did make money from these adverts, some of which (the pay for his Ruddles ad, for example) he put towards recording new songs—the inspiration being Orson Welles, who paid for his movies through ads for cheap wine and frozen peas.

Some ads, like the those by film director Tony Kaye, immediately become works of art, and certainly Stanshall’s best commercials deserve to be considered so—his ad for Ruddles beer, for example, is a work of genuine brilliance. It was inspired by Sir Henry at Rawlinson End and features a disguised Dawn French as Sir Henry, and Stanshall as narrator who recites the following poem:

Malcolm the Porcupine went to see if a moon of green cheese would float

He exhaled a spray of ‘will you go away’

To the land where the hoppity oats

He brewed humpty of Ruddles

Which he dumpty in puddles

And licked up whenever it snowed

In final conclusion, ‘twas only illusion,

Malcolm Porcupine said ‘I’LL BE BLOWED’




Commencing his doodles

With oodles of noodles

From soup of a green green hue
,
Sir Cuthbert first faltered
,
Nonplussed, altered
,
Then called for his favourite brew



Rolling an eyeball for kicks

Is somewhere between and betwixt

But feared overbite

Or the gift of hindsight

But not a patch on a Ruddles at six

In some respects making adverts was an ideal earner for Stanshall, as his alcoholism had wreaked havoc with his health, and limited his ability to remain focused and reliable—he wasn’t exactly “reliable” on the Ruddles shoot, either, but the ad agency were so keen on working with the great man that they indulged his occasional lapses.

Stanshall’s other ads usually reworked his songs to differing comic effect—the excellent ”Terry Keeps His Cips On” for Toshiba, and everyone’s favorite “Mister Slater’s Parrot” for Cadbury’s Cream Egg. Though it was Stanshall’s collaboration with Supermarionation genius, Gerry Anderson, the man behind Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds, which used the song “The Big Shot” for Tennent’s Pilsner that captured something of the old Bonzo zaniness.
 

Ruddles Real Ale: ‘Are you ready for a Ruddles?’
 
More Vivian Stanshall ads after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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David Bowie: Early performance of ‘Space Oddity’ on Swiss TV, 1969
12.13.2013
05:34 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Television

Tags:
David Bowie
Graham Bonney

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A very early clip of David Bowie performing “Space Oddity” on Swiss TV’s music series Hits a Go Go in 1969. The show was hosted by Graham Bonney, best known for his sixties’ chart single “Super Girl” and for later hosting the UK kids music show Lift Off.

Graham Bonney was a star in Germany and had a series of hits in the late sixties and seventies with such… um der groovy Teutonic numbers as “Das Girl mit dem La-La-La,” “Wähle 333,” “Du bist viel zu schön,” and a cover of the Scott English single “Brandy.” However, Bonney had another connection with Bowie, in that he had once been a member of The Riot Squad, the band Bowie later joined as saxophonist, guitarist and singer in 1967. It was with The Riot Squad that Bowie recorded a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man.”
 

 
This is a crisp and clean video of Bowie’s first major European TV appearance.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Call in The Riot Squad: David Bowie covers The Velvet Underground… in 1967!

‘Super Girl’ by one hit wonder, Graham Bonney

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Shell Oil gets more than they bargained for when slick pranksters invade their ‘Science Slam’
12.12.2013
07:26 pm

Topics:
Activism
Environment
Heroes

Tags:
Peng Collective


 
The Burson-Marsteller public relations firm held a “Science Slam” event in Berlin yesterday to try to burnish the reputation of their client—I believe the industry term is “greenwash”—the Shell oil company. A “Science Slam” is like a rap battle or poetry slam meets a TED talk. Presenters make—or try to make—entertaining oral presentations of their scientific concepts, inventions or advocacy, and then the audience chooses the winner. Shell can do things like this or sponsor an “Eco Race” with all electric cars or some bullshit like that and then pretend like they give a fuck about the environment.

Several of the presenters directly challenged Shell’s ethics in their presentations and a freestyle rapper offered up a spontaneous rhyming diss of the Dutch oil giant. Environmental disasters and climate change were apparently the main topics, but at the end, two “young scientists” brought out a machine they informed the audience was a CO2 recovery experiment. Once fired up, the machine sprayed black oil sludge all over the stage.

No word what the half trillion dollar oil company made of this debacle, but the audience members voted these oily pranksters—two members of the subversive activist group the Peng! Collective—as the winners. Then the contest was promplty cancelled!
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Dangerous Idea: Every American needs to SEE David Simon’s ‘My country is a horror show’ speech!


 
It’s a very big Internet, so you can be forgiven if you’ve missed David Simon’s absolutely incendiary op ed ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’ that was published on The Guardian’s website on December 7th. But if you’re reading this sentence, you no longer have an excuse and need to click over to said essay NOW and return here after you’ve read it.

You’ll thank me. Trust me, you’ll be smarter after you’ve read it. Go. Now. If there is anything worth your time, it’s THIS. Who wants to be ignorant? Not you, right? NOW.

In the days since it was published, Simon’s essay has turned into a shot heard ‘round the world. In my opinion it’s the most incredibly articulate, passionately argued, well-thought out meditation on America since, I dunno, something Mark Twain (or Kurt Vonnegut) wrote. I believe David Simon’s words to be of historical importance, that is to say future historians will read his essay in an effort to try to understand HOW the American people let it get THIS BAD and still allowed those responsible to continue to operate exactly as they had before. You’d think the economy crashing might have ushered in some change. And it has: Bad for the common man, but great for the capital-hoarding elites.

As Simon rhetorically asks—I’m paraphrasing here—“How much longer until the entire shithouse goes up in flames?”

David Simon’s words have incredible power. The kind of power that educates people, changes minds and makes them do something. It needs to be passed on and on and on until everyone has read it, even your idiot teabagger Fox News-watching Uncle Dumbshit. Especially him.

If you’ve already read Simon’s piece, what you may not be aware of (and the YouTube views thus far would seem to bear this out) is that the essay is actually an edited version of an extraordinary speech that The Wire creator gave in Australia at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Simon spoke for about 30 minutes and then there was an extended Q&A beyond.

Watch this and then pass it on. On and on and on. He’s not exactly offering much of a prescription here—that’s not his goal—but the diagnosis is spot on…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Mingus’: Powerful and heartbreaking documentary portrait of the Jazz giant
12.04.2013
06:53 am

Topics:
Heroes
Movies
Music

Tags:
Jazz
Charles Mingus

chasmingbass.jpg
 
Tuesday, November 22nd, 1966, jazz musician Charlie Mingus waited with his five-year-old daughter Carolyn, to be evicted from his studio at 22 Great Jones Street, New York. Mingus had planned to open a music school and jazz workshop at this Lower East Side loft, but he had been frustrated in his intentions and had fallen behind in the rent.

As he waited for the NYPD and the Sanitation Department to arrive and remove his belongings, filmmaker Thomas Reichman recorded an intimate portrait of one of the jazz music’s greatest composers and performers. In the film, Mingus is seen moving distractedly amongst his boxed possessions, showing great affection for his daughter, recalling happier times living on Fifth Avenue, and acknowledging the inherent racism in America by offering his own Pledge of Allegiance:.

”I pledge allegiance to the flag—the white flag. I pledge allegiance to the flag of America. When they say Black or Negro, it means you’re not an American. I pledge allegiance to your flag. Not that I have to, but just for the hell of it I pledge allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The white flag, with no stripes, no stars. It is a prestige badge worn by a profitable minority.”

Reichman’s verite film is intercut with Mingus performing “All the Things You Are,” Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Secret Love,” at Lennie’s-on-the-Turnpike in Peabody, Massachusetts. The film ends with Mingus being arrested for possession of a rifle and a box of hypodermic needles. Outside on the street, an NBC news reporter asked Mingus:

”Do you deny taking the heroin?”

It’s the sort of low level kick-you-when-you’re-down question, that reveals everything about the interrogator and nothing about Mingus. The needles were legitimate, and were used by the musician for his Vitamin-B injections.

The following day, Mingus reclaimed the gun and needles from the police, after presenting them with all the relevant paperwork. Outside the station he quipped to reporters:

”It isn’t every day you see a Negro walk out of a police station with a box of hypodermic needles and a shotgun.”

Reichman’s film Mingus is a powerful and heartbreaking portrait of one of Jazz music’s most important artists. 
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The Art of John Lurie: a short Q&A with the coolest man on Earth
11.19.2013
08:08 am

Topics:
Art
Heroes

Tags:
John Lurie


 
John Lurie is well known for a number of things; from fusing avant garde jazz and No Wave music with the Lounge LIzards in late 70s New York to his acting work in the films of Jim Jarmusch (not to mention his many scoring credits.) Though dogged by his fair share of bad luck—including being struck with chronic Lyme disease, and his travails with alleged stalker John Perry (which we have covered previously on Dangerous Minds)—Lurie has always managed to retain his impeccable sense of cool, making him a hero for many.

One area of Lurie’s life that I personally didn’t know much about till now was his artwork. Since being affected by Lyme disease in 2000, Lurie has been focussed intently on his work with the canvas and brush, work which contains equal measures of absurd humor and genuine insight, even if it’s refracted through an almost child-like naiveté.

Last week my friends at the blog Generation Bass managed to get a short, exclusive interview with Lurie about his artwork. Having not covered this aspect of his prolific output here on Dangerous Minds before, I am glad to be able to republish some of that article here. Many thanks to the good folks at Generation Bass, in particular DJ Umb, for this brief but intriguing interview with a modern legend.
 

John Lurie “Buffalo”
 
Generation Bass: Many of us would like to think that we relate to you because we’re outsiders. For many you epitomize that “outsider” characteristic. Would that be a fair assessment of you or is it wide off the mark?

John Lurie: I am not sure what you mean by “outsider” here.  I try to stay as close as I can to what I feel is real, ignoring whatever the popular trends are.  I am not sure what I am outside of.  I think that anyone following the trail of babble and unaware of what’s really real is actually the outsider, even if there are a lot of them.

GB: You said that your painting “The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague” is somewhat autobiographical. Can you expand upon that? I mean can you tell us what the spirits were/are trying to tell you, even if it’s really fucking vague.

JL: Well that is kind of private but mostly very difficult to explain. It does seem that for a long while there, things had gone so perfectly, inexplicably wrong that it had to mean something. But was kind of a joke because you can’t really blame the spirits, has to be the receptor that isn’t working so well.
 

John Lurie “Bear Surprise”
 
GB: How did you feel when your painting “Bear Surprise” went viral in Russia in 2006 as an Internet meme

John Lurie: I don’t know. Some of the silly paintings are bad on purpose. That being one of them. So that it went viral was a little odd. I mostly just thought – What the fuck…?  And then I thought – There are no copyright laws in Russia?

GB: Which of your own work is your most favourite painting or holds most significance for you and why?

JL: Oh I don’t know, I probably have 20 favorites.  “Wednesday,”  I guess has the most significance

GB: Do you have any upcoming public exhibitions? If so, where?

JL: No, nothing. Isn’t that kind of amazing?  The art world and I don’t seem to be on speaking terms.
 

John Lurie “Wednesday”
 
GB: John, you’re notorious as a bad boy but you’re still here. Even though you can’t do films and music anymore since the onset of chronic Lyme disease, you’re still being an artist, you’re painting. You’re still in the public eye, being funny and at times, bad. Don’t you think that’s ironic? In some strange but beautiful and twisted way, you’ve become a kind of “positive” role model to people. You’re dealing with huge health issues but that hasn’t deterred your artistry. Everyday you’re battling on, still being honest and still creating beauty! You’re still an inspiration to many the world over no matter how beat up and broken you might be or feel you are.
What would you say to this?

JL: I don’t know, what’s a bad boy?

I am in a situation that is very isolated and not so easy for that reason. Then we get an email from Romania or Argentina saying how much the paintings mean to them and how they helped them through a really hard time.  In turn that helps me back through a really hard time.  Is pretty cool that.

I wonder if Tilda Swinton got letters like that after sleeping at MOMA.

GB: If you could live your life all over again, is there anything you would change?

JL: I don’t think like that. At all.

GB: If Marvin Pontiac were still alive today, what do you think is the most important lesson he would have learned in his life and what particular advice do you think he’d be kind enough to impart to the people of the world?

JL: Watch out for buses.
 

John Lurie “The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague”
 
Thanks again to DJ Umb. You can read the full unabridged piece on the Generation Bass website. You can find (and buy) more of John Lurie’s art on the website John Lurie Art.com.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan & John Cleese star in a ‘Goon Show’ TV special, 1968

1111spikesellerssecombe121212.jpg
 
Peter Sellers once received a letter from a fan requesting a “singed photograph of yourself.” Sellers obliged, delicately burning the edges of a B&W 8x10 with a cigarette, before sending the portrait off. A week or so later, the fan wrote back asking Sellers if he would be so kind to send another photograph, as the last one was “signed” all around the edges.

This tale of probable dyslexia captures something of the humor of The Goon Show, that classic radio comedy series, which launched the careers of Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan.

With its unique brand of surreal humor, The Goon Show started modern British comedy and inspired generations of comic performers. It is difficult to imagine how Peter Cook, Firesign Theatre, Monty Python, The Bonzo Dog Band,  Eddie Izzard, and The Mighty Boosh would have developed their own particular brands of comedy without The Goons.

In 1968, eight years after The Goon Show had finished, Sellers, Milligan and Secombe reunited for a specially televised recording of one of their classic scripts “Tales of Men’s Shirts.”  The trio were ably joined by a young John Cleese as the program’s announcer. Though not as brilliant as the original radio production (the visuals distract from imagining the comedy, and Milligan and co. appear to be enjoying themselves a tad too much), there is, however, more than plenty to enjoy.
 
More from The Goons (& Cleese), plus bonus documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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NBC journalist says live on air: ‘Someone should sh*t in Sarah Palin’s mouth’


 
As the editor of a blog that used to generate a lot of traffic with virtually any item, however small, that mocked Sarah Palin, believe me when I tell you that five years after her debut on the world stage, no one really cares that much about the snowbilly grifter anymore.

Not like they used to. Not even close.

Nope, an item on Sarah Palin will bring in a negligible amount of traffic, so little, in fact that it’s not even worth the effort anymore. “Sarah Palin does something stupid AGAIN” has stopped being effective as “click bait,” in the same way that “Glenn Beck says something outrageous AGAIN” has. Or “The 25 greatest moments from Murphy Brown” (as actually seen on Yahoo! earlier this week, I didn’t make that one up). Or whatever idiocy Ted Nugent is into. Who gives a shit about these assholes? No one does. At least our readers don’t. You let us know loud and clear how disinterested you are in these people and we see the evidence of this on Google Analytics, ChartBeat, and in Twitter, Facebook and Google+ shares.

Which brings up the question: Does a Sarah Palin appearance on The Today Show, or even Fox News, really bring in ANY extra eyeballs? Based on my own (admittedly left-leaning, but very large as these things go) control group, I’d have to wager that the answer is a definite “NO.” Going on what I’ve seen, she’s a total bust these days. Doesn’t move the needle on the traffic dial. Flatline. Nothing. Why do we still see her all the time saying “words” in the “lamestream media”? I honestly couldn’t tell you, but given that every newsgathering or content aggregating entity has access to the very same traffic measurement tools that I have, I don’t expect that she’s got much left cultural currency after this current round of “war against Christmas” media appearances to promote her new book that someone else wrote, for people who don’t read…

Having said all that, I certainly would have thought there would have been a terrific amount of interest in an NBC correspondent suggesting that Sarah Palin should have someone shit in her mouth and piss in her eyes, and this is exactly what Martin Bashir did in an MSNBC commentary segment on Friday that is, for the most part, only being discussed on the right.

How did this escape wider notice?

If you will hit play, you will see one of the most incendiary things I have ever seen someone say on a cable news channel about another person… ever.

Incendiary, sure, but I’d have to say… he’s right. Without further ado, here’s Martin Bashir saying what a lot of people think about Sarah Palin:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Face to Face’ with Allen Ginsberg
11.13.2013
12:38 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Pop Culture

Tags:
Allen Ginsberg
Face to Face


 
This is a fine interview with Allen Ginsberg taken from the BBC series Face to Face, in which Ginsberg opens up about his family, loves, identity, drugs and even sings.

The series, Face to Face originally started in 1959, and was hosted by John Freeman, whose skill and forthright questioning cut through the usual mindless chatter of such interview shows. Freeman, a former editor of the New Statesman was often considered brusque and rude, but his style of questioning fitted the form of the program, which was more akin to an interview between psychiatrist and patient. The original series included, now legendary, interviews with Martin Luther King, Tony Hancock, Professor Carl Jung, Evelyn Waugh and Gilbert Harding.

In 1989, the BBC revived the series, this time with the excellent Jeremy Isaacs as questioner, who interviewed Allen Ginsberg for this program, first broadcast on 9th January 1995.

Watching this now, makes me wonder what has happened to poetry? Where are our revolutionary poets? Where are our poets who speak out, demonstrate, make the front page, and tell it like it is? And why are our bookstores cluttered with the greeting card verse of 100 Great Love Poems, 101 Even Greater Love Poems, and Honest to God, These Are the Greatest Fucking Love Poems, You’ll Ever Fucking Read. O, for a Ginsberg now.

 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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