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‘What is Punk?’: Children’s book answers that question with clay figures of Iggy Pop and the Clash
09:41 am



Last year, DM told you about a marvelous children’s book called What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock. In that post I mused a bit at how odd it was, given that punk has been identifiably a thing for roughly 40 years, that there weren’t more books explaining that musical/cultural/fashion phenomenon to kids—there are, after all, members of early punk bands who now have grandchildren, and there’ve long been punk band onesies for the offspring (sorry) of the conspicuously hip.

Well, it looks like something IS stirring in those waters after all, because now there’s the wonderful What Is Punk? published by Akashic, the imprint owned by former Soulside/GVSB bassist Johnny Temple. Akashic became widely known among normals a few years back for the amazing kid lit parody Go the Fuck to Sleep, and have been in the pages of DM before for their publication of The Jesus Lizard Book and David Yow’s Copycat. While What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock was co-written by a child development specialist and focused on DIY culture and rebellion against capitalist norms, “What is Punk?” is a different beast altogether, a whimsical primer on that movement’s early history written in verse by Eric Morse, a writer and publicist who in the oughts founded Trampoline House magazine.

Once upon a time,
there was a deafening roar,
that awakened the people,
like never before.

With their eyes open wide
they shouted in fear,
“What new sound is this?”
and covered their ears.


More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Jack Kerouac talks ‘Dharma Bums’ with Hollywood legend Ben Hecht
09:41 am



October 1958: Jack Kerouac appears on The Ben Hecht Show to discuss the Beat Generation and his latest novel Dharma Bums. Kerouac was still riding high on the first wave of success that came with the publication of On the Road in 1957, and then its follow-up The Subterraneans the following year. Now he was beginning to reap some of the rewards brought by all those long years of hard work and toil, traveling America, honing his writing to a “spontaneous prose,” where first thought was best thought—though this disguised the rewriting involved in being “spontaneous.”

As for Ben Hecht, well he was a famous journalist, author, playwright and screenwriter whose contributions to cinema earned him the nickname “Mr. Hollywood.” Between 1927 and 1964, Hecht wrote or contributed to over 150 movies—often uncredited. While some may not know the name, Hecht’s work is instantly recognizable in such classics as Hitchcock’s Notorious, Spellbound, Rope, Foreign Correspondent and The Paradine Case; or such other gems as the original Scarface with Paul Muni, or Gone With the Wind, or Stagecoach or The Front Page. Hecht was a prolific screenwriter though he thought of Hollywood as a 9-5 job rather than his career. However, he did win considerable praise and acclaim for his film work—being nominated for five Oscars, winning two, and credited with being the first writer to bring powerful and realistic dialog to the screen.
‘The Dharma Bums’ meets dapper Mr. Hecht.
Hecht had started off as a war reporter in Berlin before returning to Chicago as a crime reporter, where he mixed with the lowlifes and hustlers and learnt the language of street—this, of course, he later used to inform his screenplays. Kerouac had similarly lived the low life and learnt the lingo, and one would think this connection would have brought the two writers together, but in his interview Hecht is condescending, almost dismissing Kerouac and the Beats as the latest supermarket fashion rather than a serious literary movement.

Hecht opens with a question on the naming of the Beat Generation, before quizzing Kerouac about his philosophy being a mixture of “Catholicism and gin,” wanting to know in what proportions? Jack is stumped by the question. “G-I-N? Gin?...” he asks, before adding, “I don’t understand your question.” This is where the interview turns into an an awkward dance with both wanting to lead. Hecht asks about Kerouac’s politics (was he a Republican? No, but he liked Eisenhower) and did he believe in the Devil (again a no, as the Devil had been defeated) and what about God? and so on, and so forth. Hecht’s problem is he does not wait or listen long enough to allow Kerouac to give any insight or substance to his answers, preferring to keep the questions moving onwards to some unidentifiable conclusion that is never ultimately reached.

Kerouac sounds bemused and comes off the better of the two. While Hecht (sadly) sounds like a crusty square looking to ridicule the “Drama” bums—as he mistakenly calls them.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Crash: Apocalyptic J.G. Ballard quotes about cars on traffic signs
12:59 pm



In 1965 the British Road Sign project was launched, introducing Great Britain to a multitude of new road signs as well as two ubiquitous two new typefaces (Transport and Motorway), all of which were designed by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert, who basically invented modern road signage in the same act. It doesn’t matter if you live in the U.K. or the U.S. or the European continent—if you’ve been in a car, you’ve seen their two-dimensional pantomimes (example).

2015 being the 50th anniversary of the British Road Sign, this summer the MADE NORTH Gallery celebrated the design landmarks with a project in which they invited “leading British artists and designers to transform the familiar circle, triangle and square signs.” The participants were encouraged to “create their own content for the signs developing concepts that evolve from current signs function of instructing people of speed limits and directions to poetically disrupting our everyday with designs that makes us stop, look and think about design and our environment in a slightly different way; less instructions and more pauses for thought.”

J.G. Ballard behind the wheel of a 1904 Renault Park Phaeton, 1971
Possibly the most intriguing entry came from the well-known British designer Jonathan Barnbrook, whose past projects include the album art for David Bowie’s 2002 album Heathen as well as his 2013 release The Next Day; he also collaborated with Damien Hirst on his restaurant Pharmacy. Barnbrook crated two “anti-signs,” if you will, signs that could never serve any proper public service but whose very inutility prompts the viewer to engage with them in a more conceptual, artistic way. More interestingly, Barnbrook’s two signs incorporate lengthy quotations from the patron saint of automobile crashes, J.G. Ballard, the one man on earth who might fairly be said to disagree with the need for traffic signs to prevent fatal accidents.

Both signs are essentially illegible in the usual sense, and simply offer up a perverse Ballard sentiment about cars in forbidding combinations of red, white, and black. The first features a sentence from Ballard’s interview in Penthouse, which appeared in the magazine in the September 1970 issue (incidentally, three years before the publication of Ballard’s magnum opus on automobile accidents, Crash, but the same year as Ballard’s thematically similar multi-media work The Atrocity Exhibition).

For the record, the full line is “A car crash harnesses elements of eroticism, aggression, desire, speed, drama, kinesthetic factors, the stylizing of motion, consumer goods, status—all in one event.” You can read Ballard’s full Penthouse interview here.

Barnbrook’s second sign appropriates a comment about the eventual demise of cars (one that has proven to be not very prophetic at all) that comes from an essay Ballard wrote for the Autumn 1971 issue of Drive called “The Car, the Future”:

This sign is far more cluttered, with too much text really. The quotation reads as follows: “The car as we know it is on the way out. To a large extent, I deplore its passing, for as a basically old-fashioned machine, it enshrines a basically old-fashioned machine, it enshrines a basically old-fashioned idea: freedom. In terms of pollution, noise and human life, the price of that freedom may be high, but perhaps the car, by the very muddle and confusion it causes, may be holding back the remorseless spread of the regimented, electronic society.” You can read the full essay “The Car, the Future” here.

After the jump, director Harley Cokeliss’ 17-minute meditation on Ballard’s “Crash” thematic, featuring an appearance by Ballard himself…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
New York City BAD BOYS: Intimate photos of Punks, Poets and Provocateurs, 1977-1982
11:05 am

Pop Culture


Johnny Thunders, 1978
Johnny Thunders 1978

From interviews with William Burroughs and Richard Hell, to in-depth revelations and photographs of the people who helped shape popular culture and music, a new book from photographer Marcia Resnick, Punks, Poets and Provocateurs: New York City BAD BOYS * 1977 - 1982 transports you back to a time when there were no rules. A time before many of Resnick’s subjects too quickly burned out like the bright lights they were.

For example, here’s an evocative excerpt (and an image) of David Byrne from Punks, Poets and Provocateurs in which Byrne “predicts the future” back in 1977. It was taken from an interview Byrne did with Traveler’s Digest in which he made a total of 46 predictions about the future. The following ten turned out to be rather unfortunately, spot-on.
David Byrne
David Byrne, late 70s, early 80s

In the future, half of us will be “mentally ill”

In the future, water will be expensive

In the future, everyone’s house will be like a little fortress

In the future, there will be mini-wars going on everywhere

In the future, people will constantly be having plastic surgery

altering their features many times during their lifetime

In the future there will be many mass suicides

In the future there will be starving people everywhere

In the future, the crippled, retarded and helpless will be killed

In the future, there will be so much going on nobody will be able to keep track of it

William Burroughs and photographer, Marcia Resnick
William Burroughs and photographer, Marcia Resnick

Resnick (who very much reminds me of a real-life punk rock version of ass-kicking journalist Lois Lane) and her lucky lens were able to capture powerful and often poignant images of the most legendary bad boy rule breakers (as well as a few girls) from the past. I spoke to Victor Bockris, the author of Punks, Poets and Provocateurs and asked him to share his thoughts on Resnick when it came her uncanny ability to capture this hedonistic period in time on film. A time that would drastically change with the arrival of the AIDS epidemic.

DM: Can you give DM’s readers any first-hand insight into Marcia’s expertise when it came to capturing the compelling and emotionally charged images that are featured in Punks, Poets and Provocateurs?

Victor Bockris: Marcia worked on this project over a period of five years so there were many sessions. What they shared in common was the way Marcia turned every session into a game of fantasy seduction. As she writes, she dressed provocatively with a girlish flair, which included a splash of Lolita. Despite the fact that punk was the first rock movement in which the girls were equal to the boys, punk rockers were particularly drawn to the Lolita Syndrome. This is not to suggest that Marcia was anything but a fine artist. It was her ability to keep her sessions on edge with displays of coy sexuality that drew from her subjects such light in the case of Josef Beuys, or dark in the case Belushi responses. I once noticed that in all the pictures the moments she intuitively captured are moments of tenderness she evoked. There’s a lot of trembling in her work. She was one of the most remarkable girls in that truly remarkable scene. And she played it to the hilt.
John Belushi, 1981
John Belushi, 1981. This was Belushi’s last photo session before his death on March 5th, 1982

Despite the notoriety of many of Resnick’s subjects, it was her ability to draw tenderness from her “bad boys” that allowed for such familiar faces such as Mick Jagger and Johnny Thunders, to be viewed freshly. Bockris’ (as well as Resnick’s) encyclopedic details of the past make for an addictive page-turning read. While reading it (something I’ve done several times already), you may also feel like the world that existed during that all too brief six-year period might disappear before your eyes if you close its pages.

The 272 pages of hedonistic gratification that is Punks, Poets and Provocateurs will be available in November. Pre-orders are happening now. Many images that were graciously provided for your perusal by Marcia Resnick (as well as a old-school interview I dug up with glam metal pioneer and NYC club promoter, Tommy Gunn) follow.
Arthur “Killer” Kane of the New York Dolls
Brian Eno
Brian Eno, 1978
H.R. of Bad Brains
More punks, poets and provocateurs after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Weird bus stops of Soviet Russia
01:13 pm



Photographer Christopher Herwig spent roughly a dozen years roaming the vast expanses of the former Soviet Union, in search of the wild roadside shelters, for want of a better term, dotting the landscape in locales as exotic as Shymkent, Kazakhstan. Last year Herwig successfully funded a print run of 1,500 copies of his photo book of Soviet bus stops on Kickstarter, and now FUEL Publishing has decided that it merits a larger audience; the book, Soviet Bus Stops, will be released at the end of the month.

It turns out that bus stops were a medium of startling vitality with a great deal of local control in the otherwise repressive Soviet Union. Local architects apparently didn’t think too much about budgets, and experimented in a variety of styles including brutalism or outright weirdness. During his journey Herwig covered more than 18,000 miles in 14 countries of the former Soviet Union, traveling by car, bike, bus, taxi and who knows what else. There are examples from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Abkhazia, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Estonia.



Many more of these wild Soviet structures after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ralph Steadman’s endangered ‘boids’
01:08 pm



Blue-throated macaw
Renowned for his memorable visual interpretations of the writings of Hunter S. Thompson, Ralph Steadman has since transitioned to a less gonzo subject matter—birding. Next week sees the publication of a new book of Steadman’s paintings of endangered birds called Nextinction, as a follow-up to his 2012 book Extinct Boids, which, obviously, focused on “boids” that are, ah, no longer endangered. Both books were cowritten by Cari Levy. Nextinction came out in July in the U.K., but the U.S. publication date is September 15.

According to the Guardian, 1 in 8 species of birds is threatened by extinction. Steadman’s interest in the animal kingdom is not limited to these two books; he also published The Ralph Steadman Book of Cats and The Ralph Steadman Book of Dogs as well as The Book of Jones: A Tribute to the Mercurial, Manic, and Utterly Seductive Cat.

For more information on endangered avian species, you can check out the website for Endangered Species International. If you want to help endangered bird species, one of the concrete steps you can take is to build a pond in your backyard.

California condor

Red-crowned crane
More of Steadman’s “boids” after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Game Theory/Loud Family’s Scott Miller honored with posthumous reissues and biography
10:36 am



Though the extraordinarily gifted musician Scott Miller died almost two and a half years ago, the idea that there will never be another Loud Family album, or that the Game Theory reunion he was readying will never happen, remains very hard to take.

Should those dropped names mean nothing to you, you’ve got some listening to do. Game Theory was Miller’s luminous and utterly stunning ‘80s pop band, and though they earned gushing critical raves and practically ruled the college radio roost in their day, they’re largely forgotten now. They never grabbed the corporate-label brass ring, and so slipped into obscurity just before that key ‘90s moment when “college rock” became “alternative rock” and there was finally a growing audience for such indie strivers. Miller was quite a figure—he sported a HUGE mop of red hair and sang in an improbably high-pitched voice, purveying a hyper-literate guitar rock that drew from jangle-pop and the Paisley Underground—though as they were variously based in Davis and San Francisco, Game Theory were never really an actual part of that particular L.A. scene, Miller was pals and sometime writing partners with the Three O’Clock’s Michael Quercio, who even joined a later version of the band. They hit a stride mid-decade with the 1986 LP The Big Shot Chronicles and the sprawling, experimental and flat-out ASTOUNDING 1987 2XLP Lolita Nation, my copy of which has been with me since its release and will leave my shelves when I’m dead. They followed that with the straightforwardly rock Two Steps from the Middle Ages before the band’s lineup fractured. For three years, no subsequent version of Game Theory would make an album, and the best-of compilation Tinker to Evers to Chance would serve as the band’s tombstone.


In 1991, in deference to those whom he thought might be weary of him naming yet another group of musicians “Game Theory,” Miller renamed his band the Loud Family, and pursued a more musically headstrong power-pop direction, though his unbeatable lyrical IQ remained a signature feature of his songwriting. The Loud Family would release music on the independent Alias label through the quite fine 2006 collaborative album with Anton Barbeau, What If it Works? Miller continued to write until his passing in 2103, but declined to release anything. His unexpected passing came just months before an intended Game Theory reunion that could have brought him some of the recognition that was criminally overdue to him.

At the time of Miller’s death, everything by Game Theory was out of print. In a move that I will always remember as one of the coolest ever, Miller’s family posted free MP3s of everything the band ever released upon his death, so fans and the curious could hear it without getting hosed by the preposterous pricing spike in the vinyl aftermarket that invariably seems to accompany a cult artist’s death. Those MP3s are offline now, as the reissue label Omnivore is bit by bit reissuing all the band’s work, in order. So far they’re up to 1985’s Real Nighttime, and The Big Shot Chronicles is due this year. A Riverfront Times piece published yesterday hinted at unreleased material (I’d loooooooove to hear what got left off of Lolita Nation), and told about Don’t All Thank Me At Once: The Lost Genius of Scott Miller, a forthcoming Miller biography, named for a Loud Family song and penned by Boston music writer Brett Milano.

[Don’t All Thank Me At Once] promises to tell not only Miller’s story, but more generally, “the story of the college and indie-rock explosion of the 1980s and 1990s, when everything seemed possible but some of the flagship artists still managed to fall through the cracks.” Milano managed to track down and interview almost every member of Miller’s three main bands (no small feat: this includes at least two dozen people). He’s also interviewed Mitch Easter, who produced many of Game Theory and the Loud Family’s recordings, Aimee Mann, with whom he had planned to collaborate, and others from Miller’s life and career.


Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Andy Warhol, children’s book illustrator
01:12 pm



It’s well known that before Andy Warhol became the most famous artist in New York—if not the world—he worked for several years as a commercial illustrator. For instance, he did a bunch of album covers in the mid- to late 1950s, a couple of which are quite familiar to anyone who follows jazz—even if they’re not familiar “as Warhol covers.”

Another of his gigs lasted about four years, that being occasional illustrations for children’s stories in the “Best In Children’s Books” series published by Nelson Doubleday. He illustrated six stories between 1957 and 1960—since there were 33 volumes in the series at a minimum, we can be sure that the series was pretty popular. Every volume had roughly ten stories in it, and each story featured art by a different illustrator. So Warhol’s output in this series was a tiny fraction of the art contained therein. One of the other artists who did illustrations in the same series was Richard Scarry.

The cover of vol. 27 (art not by Warhol)
It’s so funny to think of the mind behind “Race Riot” (1963), “Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times” (1963), and “Sixteen Jackies” (1964) also illustrating “Card Games Are Fun,” “Magic Porridge Pot,” and “Funny Words and Riddles” just a few years earlier. (Actually, here’s a good book focusing on Warhol’s violent works from the 1962-1964 period.)

There are plenty of pictures of these drawings on the Internet, but alas, many of them come from Etsy and eBay listings, so the images aren’t always so great.

In 1983 Warhol actually did put out a children’s book of his own that was more in keeping with his well-known style, but that’s another subject.
“Funny Words and Riddles” by Alice Salaff, vol. 5 (1957):

“Homemade Orchestra” by Joseph Leeming, vol. 7 (1958):


Many more Warhol illustrations after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Animator of twisted Lewis Carroll reboot ‘Malice in Wonderland’ has done a bizarre ‘Wizard of Oz’
09:50 am



Experimental animator Vince Collins is best known for his his psychedelic nightmare Malice in Wonderland, a 1982 reboot of Alice in Wonderland that manages to completely warp its source material in four fascinating, horrifying minutes. Collins actually acknowledged in a VICE interview that the short was intended as a pornographic send-off to the psychedelic era (for example, at one point, our grotesque nod to “Alice” recedes into her own vagina, which earned him serious backlash from a few feminists). Luckily for us, Collins continues to make us uncomfortable with depraved renditions of children’s cultural touchstones!

In 2013 Collins made “Lizard of Oz,” a 3D re-imagining of Dorothy and her friends’ journey down the Yellow Brick Road. The violent, techy aesthetic equips Dorothy with an automatic weapon and the Wicked Witch of the West with a high tech drone operation—the whole thing looks cool as hell. The cartoon was apparently so controversial that it was quickly been banned by YouTube, although it was soon restored with an age warning. So enjoy, but beware—this is not Judy Garland!

Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening tells the story of The Residents, 1979
03:01 pm



The Residents, 1972
The Residents’ first fan club, W.E.I.R.D. (We Endorse Immediate Residents Deification), was founded in 1978, and one of its charter members was Life in Hell and Simpsons creator Matt Groening. As a member of the Residents’ second fan club, UWEB, I am bound by the most solemn oaths never to discuss any of the secret handshakes, passwords, ciphers, rituals, buttons, bumper stickers or T-shirts of the inner sanctum, but I can point seekers to this exoteric document: Groening’s “The True Story of the Residents.” This phantasmagoric bio of the group, first published in 1979’s The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of the Residents and reprinted in 1993’s Uncle Willie’s Highly Opinionated Guide to the Residents, gives a wild yet relatively concise account of the band’s founding myth.

The Official W.E.I.R.D. Book of the Residents (cover by Gary Panter)
You’ll notice that most of the fun facts in this true story are lies; for instance, I tend to doubt that “Six Things to a Cycle” originated as a “lengthy ballet” that “was canceled when The Residents were rumored to be selling experimental monkey depressants to grade school children.” But Groening weaves the Residents, the Mysterious N. Senada, Philip “Snakefinger” Lithman, the Cryptic Corporation, and “a squealing Boston terrier on acid flung into a barrel of live albino sand eels” into a tale that will make tears stream from your eyes and snot run from your nose. Look how he gets the band from Louisiana to its early base of operations in San Mateo:

After high school, the gang (which numbered five) split up and went their various ways—college, grunt jobs, draft evasion. They kept in touch with each other’s progress, however, and soon found themselves hopping like rabid Rhesus monkeys to rhythm and blues—particularly James Brown and Bo Diddley. James Brown’s Live At The Apollo is an album which makes them quiver to this day. But they soon found that they needed each other, and re-grouped to plot strategy. They didn’t know what the hell they were doing, but they knew James Brown made their butts twitch, and some how it would all work out. In 1966 or so, after a couple of them had made it almost all the way through college, they decided to escape the slimy Southern scourge of George Wallace. So they loaded up their truck and headed straight for San Francisco, where they had heard all the go-go mod action was goin’ down. As fate would have it, their truck broke down in a quiet suburban town called San Mateo, some 25 miles south of the big city. Behind them they left a few loyal, more balanced acquaintances who would later follow to start The Cryptic Corporation. In California they saw the minds around them already beginning to break down. Youngsters everywhere were growing their hair out and joining the “bushhead” movement. Beach boys frolicked with trained wild seals on the sand, and local cretins began electrocuting themselves with guitars on-stage while thousands chanted, “You endorse our mindless lives,” in unified spontaneity. Charles Manson pierced his nipple with a Love button while on acid, and the Psychedelic Revolution was born. The Residents began licking their lips.


To read “The True Story of the Residents” in full, go to this page in the “Historical section” of and click “Matt Groening’s TRUE STORY.” Below, Groening talks about connecting with W.E.I.R.D. and writing his “fanciful” bio in a clip from the upcoming documentary about the Residents, Theory of Obscurity.

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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