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The Doors’ last charting single, ‘The Mosquito,’ as marketed by Presbyterians on Christian radio
06.15.2017
09:54 am
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One hears a lot of contrary opinions, spending year after year in the orbit of musicians, record collectors, and resentful nerds. That the Beatles “sucked” before they started dropping acid; that the Sex Pistols weren’t a “real” punk band; that Robert Plant or Jimmy Page (!) or John Bonham was the “weak link” in Led Zeppelin; that Henry Rollins ruined Black Flag; that Bill Ward did not play the drums well in Black Sabbath; that Robert Fripp can’t take a solo; that the Doors would have been great if not for Jim Morrison. It feels so good to hold contrary opinions, and it feels best when they are incorrect! “Fuck you, the truth, my will is very big!”

Anyone who’s worked in a record store for even a few weeks should have a ready answer to the complaint about the Doors. “Right this way! I’ve got just the thing for the sophisticated palate of a discerning head such as yourself. Sir or madam, you are going to love these albums the Doors made after Jim took his terminal bath, Other Voices and Full Circle. Really paved the way for Robby and John’s later work in the Butts Band! Now let me show you our $100 wall copy of the Velvet Underground’s Squeeze...”

Robby Krieger is a supremely gifted guitarist and songwriter. He wrote “Wishful Sinful,” one of the Doors’ loveliest songs, all by himself. So I imagine it was kind of disappointing when, the Lizard King having abdicated his fleshly throne, it was Krieger’s turn to sing, and out came such sub-Jimmy Buffett entertainments as “Variety Is the Spice of Life” and “I’m Horny, I’m Stoned.” Then again, there was probably plenty of disappointment to go around in 1972.
 

 
“The Mosquito” was a worthy sequel to those efforts. Krieger’s Latin-inflected update of “Wake Up Little Susie” made it to #85 on the Billboard Hot 100 with lyrics that flatly contradicted “Break on Through”:

No me moleste mosquito
No me moleste mosquito
No me moleste mosquito

Why don’t you go home?

No me moleste mosquito
Let me eat my burrito
No me moleste mosquito
Why don’t you go home?

(They also contradict a significant line in Oliver Stone’s The Doors. Jim wants all of “us” to go out and “get some tacos”; Robby wants to be left alone with “his” burrito. Why are you trying to close the stable doors of perception when the horse of subjectivity has already bolted, dude???)

Incredibly, just three years after Miami and a single year after Jim’s death from la bebida and la droga, the “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!” band was endorsed by the Presbyterians. Ray Manzarek gave an interview to TRAV, the Television, Radio and Audio-Visual Committee of the U.S. Presbyterian Church, which produced “What’s It All About?”, a series of “religious public service programming” promo records profiling musicians. (Can’t wait to hear the one they made with DEVO.) In ‘72, TRAV issued discs promoting the Doors’ pretty “Ships with Sails,” from Other Voices, and Full Circle‘s “The Mosquito.”

I’ve only heard the episode of “What’s It All About?” embedded here, and it’s weird…

Listen after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.15.2017
09:54 am
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From comic book to art gallery: The brilliant and beautiful art of James Jean
05.08.2017
03:00 pm
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‘Bouquet’ (2016).
 
My closest, kindest and best friend has a family motto, “Per ardua surgo.” “I rise through difficulties/difficult things.” It’s a sentiment that could easily apply to the brilliant artist James Jean, who has risen through his own personal difficulties to achieve incredible success as an artist and designer. What could be more personal than an unnecessarily long, painful, and acrimonious divorce where a spouse refuses to settle? This is what apparently happened to Jean. His ex-wife refused to settle, leaving the artist allegedly penniless, homeless, utterly depressed and “neutered.” Eventually, Jean had to move overseas where he lived on “subsistence and barter.” Yet, even when his art was being commodified by lawyers as potential future assets, Jean kept drawing, kept painting, and kept illustrating his way through.

Jean first came to prominence as a commercial artist and cover illustrator for comic books like Batgirl, the Green Arrow, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and most spectacularly Fables. His awe-inspiring work earned Jean a sackful of prizes including seven Eisner awards, three consecutive Harvey awards, and a row of gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators in both Los Angeles and New York. He has also collaborated on designs for Prada.

With such a prodigious and prolific talent it was perhaps inevitable that Jean made the switch from comic books to art galleries in a series of beautiful and brilliant prints and paintings in mixed media and oils which he has been exhibited in group and solo shows since 2001.

James Jean was born in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1979, and raised in New Jersey. As a youngster, he has said he was more interested in playing the trumpet than making art. This changed under the tutelage of his high school teachers, Steve Assael, Thomas Woodruff and Jim McMullan, who recognized his artistic talent. Their encouragement inspired Jean to enroll at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1997, where he engaged with various different techniques before developing his own intricate and recognizable style. He graduated in 2001 and then began his career with DC Comics.

I think James Jean is one of the major artists of the twenty-first century who is in a direct line from Warhol, Hockney, and Koons, and further back to Dali and Picasso. The range of Jean’s work—in its diversity of technique, style, and subject—is virtually unparalleled. His oeuvre includes minutely detailed almost hallucinogenic sketches like “Samurai” to more traditional portraiture and Surreal digital work like “Aides Lapin,” to his progressive pop art of canvases like “Sprinkler” or “Bouquet.”

When once asked what advice to give young, budding artists Jean replied:

“Keep making work even if you don’t know what you have to say. You’ll only find your voice through the struggle.”

Jean has found has certainly found his voice.

See more of James Jean’s work here.
 
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‘Good Lord’ (2016).
 
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‘Flip’ (2006).
 
See more fabulous art by James Jean, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.08.2017
03:00 pm
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‘A flying saucer landing in Heaven’: The ecstatic music of Alice Coltrane is revealed
05.03.2017
10:25 am
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Photo by Sri Hari Moss

Filled with sorrow after the death of her husband in 1967, Alice Coltrane experienced visions, weight loss and insomnia before beginning on a path of Eastern spirituality. First she sought out the famed Woodstock festival-opening yoga adept Swami Satchidinanda (who’d begun on his own spiritual journey after the young death of his wife) and later the Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba. Largely leaving the secular world and the music business behind by the mid-70s, Coltrane established her Vedantic Center spiritual community as a California 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1976. She took the name Turiyasangitananda (Sanskrit for “the bliss of God’s highest song”) and performed the swamini duties as the spiritual leader of the Sai Anantam Ashram which was established in Agoura Hills, California in 1983.

Encouraged by her children to buy a synthesizer, Coltrane performed devotional music during formal and informal Sunday morning ceremonies at the 48-acre monastery. It was also the first time that she would sing, because God had told her to. Solo and group chanting with community members was accompanied by her harp, organ and synthesizers, Eastern and African percussion, and handclaps. Over time this evolved into complexly structured compositions—traditional Vedic and Sanskrit mantras filtered through the sensibilities and nervous system of a great female African-American musical genius from Detroit who’d been raised on gospel—which Coltrane laid to tape with the assistance of her longtime studio engineer Baker Bigsby, who she’d worked with since 1972’s World Galaxy. Four cassettes—Turiya Sings, Divine Songs, Infinite Chants, and Glorious Chants—were privately released to members of the ashram from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. The music heard on these tapes was not made with any sort of commercial purpose in mind—apparently only a few hundred were ever duplicated—but solely for use by the members of the ashram, so that they could tap into the divine by way of the Swamini’s music—-described as sounding like “a flying saucer landing in Heaven”—any time they wanted to, just by popping a tape into their SONY Walkmans.

Tomorrow David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label will release a compilation culled from these rarely heard cassettes The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, the first installment in their World Spirituality Classics series. In my household, this is an event. When the album advance arrived in the post over the weekend, I’d already been impatiently looking forward to it for over a month. I’ve been an Alice Coltrane fanatic for many years—I’ve even been to the ashram, twice—and I’d already been all over the extensive press website that Luaka Bop had prepared for the release, but I didn’t want to listen to any of it before the record was in my hands. I’d requested a vinyl copy as I wanted to smoke a big fat joint, kick back in the dark with headphones on and fully absorb this epic bounty.
 

Photo by Sri Hari Moss

The packaging is stunning and sturdy—befitting and respectful of what’s waiting inside—with a gorgeous colorful photo of the matriarch Turiya, looking wise and beautiful in her orange robes, surrounded by members of the community, many of them children. The liner notes are exceptional, featuring quotes from several people who were involved with the ashram including her children and her great-nephew Steven “Flying Lotus” Ellison, a musical visionary in his own right. The vinyl pressing is particularly noteworthy, with Baker Bigsby having supervised the tape transfer from the original recordings and the exquisite 1/2 speed mastering done by Paul Stubblebine. You know how you can hold certain platters in your hands and just look at the grooves and know for certain you’re about to hear something that will sound really, really good? This is one of those records. If The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda doesn’t get nominated for all kinds of Grammy awards, then these awards would be meaningless. On every level—including, or even especially, the religious one—it’s an achievement.

Even if you are not a spiritually-minded person, it’s plain to see that this isn’t bullshit.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.03.2017
10:25 am
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DON’T YOU HATE IT WHEN THIS HAPPENS: Man claims evil demon blowjob terror
04.19.2017
12:26 pm
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“Rodrique says the tokoloshe comes to his bed in the middle of the night to torment him.”

This curious tale appeared on the February 4, 2015 cover of the Daily Sun, South Africa’s largest daily newspaper with a readership of 5.7 million, but it just made its way to me. You’d think a story like this would have been, well… bigger news. Get a load of this:

Sometimes it’s a lizard who scratches him, but mostly she’s a short, beautiful woman who sucks his 4-5 . . . but there is no happy ending.

Rodrique Classen (31) said the last two years have been hell. The tokoloshe leaves him so horny that he has to leave his bed in the middle of the night and go in search of magoshas [prostitutes].

“It is only after the third big magosha that I find enough peace to go home to rest,” he said.

That’s the worst! How many times has a short beautiful demon sucked YOUR 4-5 without the expected happy ending, sending you out into the night to have sex with as many as three streetwalkers before you can finally chill out and get some sleep? We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Rodrique, who lives with his parents—no surprise there—has no money, no job and whattaya know no girlfriend, either!
 

 

“I really want a girlfriend but the tokoloshe won’t allow it. The tokoloshe does something that makes the women think I am evil and they leave me,” he said.

Gee-whiz, I wonder what that “something” might be, don’t you? I’m pretty sure his lack of success with the ladies would have nothing whatsoever to do with a cover story like this one about his demonic sex addiction appearing on the front page of the country’s largest daily. Seems just a wee bit self-inflicted to me, Rodrique… just sayin’.

A traditional Zulu sangoma healer by the name of Dumezweni Mahabuke told the paper that the tokoloshe problem originates with Rodrique’s parents’ house.

“The tokoloshe was created in the yard to destroy him and make sure he never gets into a stable relationship with a woman,” said Dumezweni. “He needs to be cleansed by being washed and the house must be cleansed through special ceremonies. That’s the only way the tokoloshe will leave him alone,” said the sangoma.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.19.2017
12:26 pm
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Rock music or Jesus? The choice is yours!
04.06.2017
10:06 am
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If you are relatively sane and not prone to low-watt brainwashing, you may be unaware of the vast library of Christian propaganda films out there. One of America’s most profitable and least-known cottage industries, these micro-budgeted religious epics had their heyday in the 70’s and 80’s when Midwest-based Mark IV Productions created their twelve-year Thief in the Night quadrilogy, a series of end times films featuring dead-eyed, polyester-clad actors moping their way through The Rapture. These films were shown to impressionable kids at Bible study classes and probably turned thousands of otherwise normal humans into conservative, sex-negative Jesus zombies. Made for pocket change, these films grossed millions. They are still be shown and sold today and paved the way for the even more profitable Left Behind series a couple decades later.
 

 
Christian propaganda films loved warning teenagers about the dangers of basically everything. Satan lurked on every corner, always looking for a way to break into the lucrative teen market. Sex, drugs, booze and the perils of disobeying your parents were popular subjects, but even listening to the radio was cause for concern. Which brings us to 1982’s awkwardly titled Rock: It’s Your Decision. Directed by John Taylor (not the Duran Duran guy, obviously, but how great would it be if it was?), Rock tells the story of Jeff, your average American teenager who goes to school and church and does whatever society tells him to. His only vice is the bullshit generic MOR rock he blasts on his stereo. But even that is too rebellious for his mom, who snitches on him to his church pastor, who challenges Jeff to give up rock n’ roll for a month. The pastor gives him a few choice tapes from his Christian pop collection to tide him over, though.
 

A glimpse into some of this film’s action-packed moments.
 
Once Jeff gives up rock music, he starts to realize just how fucked up and evil it was all along. How? By misinterpreting Santana lyrics (it goes “You’ve gotta change your evil ways,” dummy) and audience reactions (Jeff thinks swaying along to the music is some kind of thought control). He throws his best bud out of the house for digging Billy Joel and Lynyrd Skynyrd too much, and refuses to take his feather-haired blonde girlfriend to the unnamed “rock show”. He even heads down to the record store to bully people out of buying tasty rock n’ roll jams. What a jerk! In essence, Jeff becomes an insufferable asshole without rock music. He’s even worse to his mother now, accusing her of hypocrisy because of her soap opera addiction, and his climactic anti-rock rant at church even throws some homophobia (and Barry Manilow and fucking Captain and Tennille) into the mix.

Watch this shit, after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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04.06.2017
10:06 am
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Monsters and monstrosities: The marvels and wonders of the ‘Physica Curiosa,’ 1662
04.04.2017
02:48 pm
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“Monkfish” and “Bishopfish” as depicted in the 1662 publication ‘Physica Curiosa.’
 

“Demons are the cause of many of the world’s ‘monsters.’”

Gaspar Schott, the author of the ‘Physica Curiosa,’ 1662.

Published in 1662 during a time in Europe when the lines between science and the supernatural were still a bit blurred, the Physica Curiosa was intended to be used as a reference for professors, scholars, and members the aristocracy. Authored by a German-born mathematician, philosopher, and theologist Gaspar Schott, the entire run of Physica Curiosa was done by hand. Illustrations of strange animal/human hybrids and other mythical beings were copper engravings which allowed them to be viewed in great detail as they were intended to be. Historians estimate that only 500-1,000 copies of the Physica Curiosa were ever made, making it an incredibly rare document full of what are best described as “monsters”

Schott was a prolific publisher of information and between 1658–1666 he put out eleven different publications including the Physica Curiosa—which was a part of his most influential body of work the Magia Universalis. The book, which got Schott in a bit of trouble with the Church at the time, includes fictitious depictions of sea devils, centaurs, demons and even humans with various deformities who were considered to be “monstrous” thus they were included in the Physica Curiosa by Schott. There were even real animals such as mammals indigenous to South America in the volumes. Twelve books in all makeup Schott’s curious publication which has been digitized by the Smithsonian Libraries with the final six books providing data on real animals such as elephants and rhinoceroses. I’ve included a large selection of images from the Physica Curiosa for you to ponder below. Some are slighty NSFW.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.04.2017
02:48 pm
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Mad nuns, torture, witchcraft, & Satan: Silent film ‘Häxan’ narrated by William S. Burroughs


A movie poster for the 1922 silent film, ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.’
 
Like many of you, I share an affinity for topics of interest that involve the guy who should have built your hotrod, Satan. Given the choice between Heaven or Hell, I just want to be where my friends are. And my post today is about as satanic as they come as it involves possessed nuns; witchcraft; grave robbery; cannibalism as well as the occasional human sacrifice. If that’s not dangerous enough for your mind, then consider the fact that the unmistakeable voice of William S. Burroughs narrates the subject of this post—the mind-fucky 1922 silent film Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, a flick full of all the sacrilegious subjects I mentioned above and much much more!

Initially, Häxan is presented as a kind of historical document providing legitimate information about the origins of witchcraft and paganism. It is also widely considered to be one of the very first films to do so in such vivid detail. Director Benjamin Christensen—a former medical student—even cast himself as the devil as well as making a brief appearance as Jesus in the film. However, before Häxan could be officially released in Sweden, Swedish censors requested that Christensen omit several scenes including a rather shocking one involving a newborn baby covered in goo being held over a boiling cauldron. Many of the depictions of witchcraft in Häxan were apparently loosely based on the results of research conducted by prominent British anthropologist, Egyptologist and folklore historian, Margaret Alice Murray in her controversial 1921 book by The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology. Subsequently, after its censored release and being summarily banned in several countries, the film was heralded by members of the surrealist movement—as noted in the 2011 book 100 Cult Films—who called the film a “masterpiece of subversion.” 

Christensen’s care in making Häxan look and feel realistic truly knew no bounds. To reinforce its authentic darkness and to help convey the appropriate mood that is required for demonic possession he sent one of his cameramen to take photographs of the bleak, cloud-filled skies of Norway that he used throughout the film as a backdrop. His actors are genuinely terrifying looking and appear to be deeply tormented. In other words, Häxan looks like an actual snapshot taken in Hell.
 

A disturbed nun surrounded by an equally disturbing array of torture devices from ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’

Adding another layer of satanic panic related to Häxan is a story attributed directly to Christensen himself regarding actress Maren Pedersen who played “Maria the weaver,” a witch in the film. According to Christensen, when he discovered Pedersen she purported to be a Red Cross nurse from Denmark—though when they met she was a street vendor selling flowers. While they were in the middle of filming Pederson allegedly confessed to Christensen that she believed that the devil was “real” and that she had “seen him sitting by her bedside.” So enthralled was he by Pederson’s diabolical revelation that the director decided to include it in the film’s storyline. Presumably, because the power of Satan compelled him to, of course.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.24.2017
01:17 pm
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The space burial of Dr. Timothy Leary and ‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry


 
Twenty years ago, the perihelion of the Hale-Bopp comet coincided with the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult, whose members believed death was a sure way of hitching a ride on a spaceship. They put on new pairs of Nike Decades before eating phenobarbital and tying bags around their heads. Among the dead in Rancho Santa Fe was Thomas Nichols, whose sister Nichelle played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek. “He made his choices, and we respect those choices,” she told Larry King.
 

 
One month later, a Pegasus rocket carrying the remains of Dr. Timothy Leary, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, physicist and space colonization advocate Gerard O’Neill, Operation Paperclip beneficiary Krafft Ehricke, and 20 other former space enthusiasts launched from the Canary Islands.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.23.2017
08:54 am
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The amazing Dr. Hal, Subgenius ‘Master of Church Secrets,’ will answer any question!


Submit to the superior mind of Dr. Hal!
 
One name alone could never properly designate the spellbinding polymath who calls himself Dr. Howll and Dr. Howland Owll, though he is known to hundreds of listeners around the world as the host of the Ask Dr. Hal! show.

A clergyman and theologian of the highest attainment in the Church of the Subgenius (“Master of Church Secrets”), Dr. Hal is a man of great learning, the numerosity of whose specializations is exceeded only by the perspicuity of his understanding, which in turn is outstepped only by the very testicularity of his hauteur. Why, Dr. Hal’s conversation makes Dr. Johnson sound like an analphabetic dirt farmer doing whip-its in an Andy Gump at the Gathering of the Juggalos, if you’ll pardon my French!
 

Ask Dr. Hal! via Laughing Squid
 
When did Dr. Johnson, so comfortably provisioned with nitrous tanks up in his ivory tower, ever give the American working stiff a break like this? “I refute it thus”: for $5, Dr. Hal will answer any question you can fit into an HTML form. Alternatively, “if you’re going to San Francisco,” be sure to wear some dollars in your hair, because your trip to the ¢ity by the pa¥ just got even more expensive: there is a run of Ask Dr. Hal! shows coming up in April at Chez Poulet in the Mission. If Chicken John likes your question, he will even pour you a shot of Fernet.

That’s Dr. Hal’s partner in the live show, Chicken John Rinaldi, the author of The Book of the IS, Volume I: Fail… To WIN! Essays in engineered disperfection and The Book of the Un, Volume 2: Friends of Smiley! Dissertations of dystopia. The live Ask Dr. Hal! show works like this, according to Chicken John:

You fill out the slip, you write your name, you write your question—any question about any topic, left or right, up or down: science, entomology, etymology, Greek mythology, sex, religion, jewelry, what’s the plastic thing on the end of your shoelace called. Aglet, by the way, on the end of your shoe. Aglet.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.03.2017
09:16 am
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African gods and goddesses drawn as ass-kicking Jack Kirby-style superheroes
02.08.2017
01:19 pm
Topics:
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Oxóssi, a spirit associated with the hunt, forests, animals, and wealth
 
You don’t have to be anthropologist Clifford Geertz to make the connection that the superheroes developed in comic books in the middle of the last century function something like a new American mythology. The Greeks had Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, and Aphrodite; the Romans had Mars, Minerva, Janus, and Juno; and the Norse had Thor, Odin, Loki, and Frigg. In America we have Iron Man, Spider-Man, Flash Gordon, and the Silver Surfer (oh, and Thor too, right). Unlike Zeus and Minerva, our mythological heroes are currently drawing millions of people to multiplexes the world over, for whatever that’s worth. Mythology is breaking box office records!

A artist named Hugo Canuto has recently looked to his own African-influenced culture in Brazil to make a similar connection for figures from African mythology, depicting them as ass-kicking superheroes drawn in the style of the legendary Jack Kirby. Many deities of modern-day Afro-Brazilian religions find their roots in the mythologies of Nigeria and Benin, and these covers reflect that, using specifically local, that is to say Portuguese, spellings of the names.

For instance, the water deity Yemo̩ja is rendered here as Yemanjá, as she is known in Brazilian culture. Oshunmare, god of the rainbow, here pops up as Oxumaré. And Oya, a major Orisha governing death and rebirth, can be found here as Iansã, for that is what she is called on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean.
 

Avengers No. 4 (1963)
 
Last year Canuto reworked an iconic early cover of The Avengers to showcase the major Orishas, called Orixas in Portuguese, which are key elemental spirits of the Yoruba religion. So “The Orixas” is the umbrella category, like “The Avengers,” that houses all of the mythological figures that followed.

Interestingly, in the early 1990s, DC Comics had a line based on Yoruba mythology, called Orishas—it was also known as “Gods of Africa” and featured characters such as Eshu, Ogun, Erinle, and Oshunmare. Anybody out there a fan of that series? I don’t remember it.

You can purchase prints of Canuto’s covers on Facebook.
 

The Orixas
 

Yemanjá, major water deity, mother of all 14 Yoruba gods and goddesses
 
Much more after the jump…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.08.2017
01:19 pm
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