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WTF?!? movie trailers: ‘Eat this dog soup! I’ll make a girl soup outta you!’
03:40 pm


Song of the Blind Girl

Apparently the American International Film Festival will consider just about anything that comes out of a video or film camera and maybe even award it prize money. Lots of it, too!

Song Of The Blind Girl and The President Goes To Heaven are two features that recently premiered at the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based festival. Both low-budget films are from writer-director Tom Charley, who apparently won the $100,000 prize for his bizarre movies, as well as an additional $10,000 prize for best trailers(!). I don’t exactly know the back story of this festival, but if the competition was so weak that these films (and trailers) won an actual six-figure monetary prize, well, that’s, pretty pathetic. (The same guy won the year before, too, with his 2010 film Lucy’s Law.)

Song Of The Blind Girl is about a PTSD-suffering Irag War vet who kidnaps children he mistakes for his own, to reconstruct his family. The President Goes To Heaven is about a dictatorial US President who can’t get past the pearly gates.

Alert the cinematic schlockmeisters at Severin Films, I think they might have another Birdemic on their hands, maybe two!

First the $10k winning trailer for Song Of The Blind Girl. Was this cut with scissors or what?:

You’re asking yourself “What the fuck is this?” right now, aren’t you?

Now carry on to the trailer for Tom Charley’s eariler “award-winning” film, Lucy’s Law, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Simon Wells: ‘The Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust’

The recent News of the World ‘phone hacking scandal wasn’t the first time the red top used illicit means to obtain stories. Back in the swinging sixties, the paper regularly bartered with the police for information to use in its pages. 

One of the News of the World’s tip-offs to the cops led to the most infamous drugs trial of the twentieth century, where Mick Jagger, Keith Richard of The Rolling Stones, and art dealer Robert Fraser were imprisoned in an apparent attempt to destroy the band’s corrupting influence over the nation’s youth.

For the first time, the true story behind the arrests and trial is revealed by Simon Wells in his excellent book Butterfly on a Wheel: The Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust. Wells’ previous work includes books on The Beatles and The Stones, British Cinema and most recently, a powerful and disturbing biography of Charles Manson. In an exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds, Wells explained his interest in The Stones drugs bust:

‘As a student of the 1960s it was perhaps inevitable that I would collide with the whole Redlands’ issue at some point. Probably like anyone with a passing interest in the Stones, I first knew about it mainly from legend - the “Mars Bar”, the fur rug, the “Butterfly On A Wheel” quote etc. However, like most of the events connected to the 1960s I was aware that there had to be a back story, and not what had been passed down into myth. This story proved to be no exception, and hopefully the facts are as sensational (if not more) than what has passed into mythology. Additionally, as a Sussexboy - I was familiar with the physical landscape of the story- so that was also attractive to me as well.’

Just after eight o’clock, on the evening of February 12 1967, the West Sussex police arrived at Keith Richards’ home, Redlands. Inside, Keith and his guests - including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, the gallery owner Robert Fraser, and “Acid King” David Schneiderman - shared in the quiet warmth of a day taking LSD. Relaxed, they listened to music, oblivious to the police gathering outside. The first intimation something was about to happen came when a face appeared, pressed against the window.

It must be a fan. Who else could it be? But Keith noticed it was a “little old lady”. Strange kind of fan. If we ignore her. She’ll go away.

Then it came, a loud, urgent banging on the front door. Robert Fraser quipped, “Don’t answer. It must be tradesmen. Gentlemen ring up first.” Marianne Faithfull whispered, “If we don’t make any noise, if we’re all really quiet, they’ll go away.” But they didn’t.

When Richards opened the door, he was confronted by 18 police officers led by Police Chief Inspector Gordon Dinely, who presented Richards with a warrant to “search the premises and the persons in them, under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965.”

This then was the start to the infamous trial of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Robert Fraser.
More on Simon Wells ‘The Great Rolling Stones Drugs Bust’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Excellent Animated Comic Book Covers

Awesome animated comic book GIFs by Kerry Callen. I’m digging on The Amazing Spider-Man #33!

More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The Inner Man: A review of the first biography on J G Ballard

I wonder what imagined slight led John Baxter to write such an insidious biography on J G Ballard? Does Baxter, a failed science fiction writer, who started his short-lived career around the same time as Ballard, have some deep-seated grudge against the guru of suburbia that his new biography The Inner Man - The Life of J G Ballard was aimed to settle? From its opening introduction, which begins with Baxter describing Ballard soliciting ‘automobile porn’ from his Danish translator, one wonders what exactly is Baxter’s intention, other than to diminish Ballard’s talent and originality.

If we are to believe Baxter then Ballard was an ad-man who got lucky, a psychopath scarred by childhood experiences as a prisoner of war, his whole life and career merely an exercise in skillful “image management”.

While in person Ballard had “the voice of a born advertiser, paradoxically preaching a jihad against commerce: the contradiction at the heart of Jim’s life”. Even his ambition to become a science-fiction writer could be seen as “an aspect of his psychopathology, for it echoes the hostility of someone trying to hide a physical or psychological dysfunction - epilepsy, dyslexia, illiteracy”.

Baxter continues:

In person, Jim presented a veneer of good-fellowship, slick as Formica and just as impermeable…

...This reflexive affability disguised a troubled personality that sometimes expressed itself in physical violence…

...Jim never denied that his psychology bordered on the psychopathic.

Really? But he never admitted it either. And as for the “physical violence” Baxter supplies no evidence, no eye-witnesseses, other than a now refuted quote from author Michael Moorcock. So what are we to make of Baxter’s book?

There is something interesting going on here, Baxter has created a fictional biography filled with factoids - things that look like facts, sound like facts, but are in truth fictions. It’s the kind of technique mastered by the likes of Adam Curtis or the Daily Mail, where unrelated facts are linked to support strange or spurious arguments.  Sadly, The Inner Man is riddled with such factoids, with Baxter concluding:

Jim’s skill was to speculate and fantasize, evade and lie. ‘Truth’ was not a word he regarded with much respect, least of all in describing and explaining his life. In its stead, he deployed the psychopath’s reverence for the instant present, for frenzy, for the divine, and for those forces, natural and unnatural, that are forever slipping beyond our control.

The whole biography is like an ident-i-kit photograph constructed by a man suffering from the worst affects of a bad acid trip - the image may contain likenesses of eyes, nose and mouth, but the whole is disturbingly inhuman.

There is no warmth to his vision of Ballard, everything is seen as a cynical ploy by a man who is cast as an “intellectual thug”, and whose “paramount skill was his ad man’s ability to remarket himself.” There is no explanation as to how he coped with bringing up 3 children after his wife’s tragic death while on family holiday in Spain. How he buried her in a little Spanish cemetery, then drove home with the children, having to “pull over to weep uncontrollably.”

Not surprisingly, Ballard’s children, and his partner Claire Walsh, did not take part in Baxter’s cut and paste assemblage. Moreover, there are no quotes from any of Ballard’s books, only brief synopses, which only reminded me of Terry Johnson’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe from his play Insignificance, where the glamorous star can recite Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but hasn’t a clue what it means. Baxter can sub Ballard’s novels, but he has no real understanding of what they are about.

There are also some glaring mistakes - Eduardo Paolozzi was not a “burly Glaswegian” but was born in Leith, Edinburgh. It was Friedrich Nietzsche who said, “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you,” and not H. G. Wells. If Baxter (and his editors) can’t get the verifiable facts correct, why should we believe him on any of his unsubstantiated assertions?

This is why Baxter’s biography fails.

He also fails to see Ballard and his work within a wider cultural perspective. Before Ballard and his family were imprisoned at the camp in the Lunghua, George Orwell predicted the world that Ballard was to write about and make his home for most of his life, in his 1941 essay “England Your England”:

The place to look for the germs of the future England is in the light-industry areas along the arterial roads. In Slough, Dagenham, Barnet, Letchworth, Hayes - everywhere, indeed, on the outskirts of great towns - the old pattern is gradually changing into something new. In those vast new wildernesses of glass and brick the sharp distinctions of the older kind of town, with its slums and mansions, or of the country, with its manor houses and squalid cottages, no longer exist. There are wide gradations of income but it is the same kind of life that is being lived at different levels, in labor-saving flats or council houses, along the concrete roads and in the naked democracy of the swimming-pools. It is a rather restless, cultureless life, centering round tinned food Picture Post, the radio and the internal combustion engine. It is a civilization in which children grow up with an intimate knowledge of magnetoes and in complete ignorance of the Bible. To that civilization belong the people who are most at home in and most definitely of the modern world, the technicians and higher paid skilled workers, the airmen and their mechanics, the radio experts, film producers, popular journalists and industrial chemists. They are the indeterminate stratum at which the older class distinctions are beginning to break down.

Orwell could have been describing Ballard’s future vision of Shepperton - a world of swimming pools, airmen, film producers, industrial chemists, who live on the arterial roads, on the outskirts of a great town.

J G Ballard deserves a good, solid, informed biography, unfortunately, John Baxter’s The Inner Man - The Life of J G Ballard is not it.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Postcards from J G Ballard


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Hunter S. Thompson: Live at UC Auditorium, Boulder from 1977

Audio of Hunter S. Thompson at UC Auditorium, Boulder, Colorado, from November 1 1977, where the good doctor discussed:

01. Intro, American Dream, Tex Colson
02. Nixon and Football, Vietnam Books
03. Tom Wolfe
04. Trudeau, Running For Office
05. Rockefeller, Tri-Lateral Commission
06. Rush, Eldridge Cleaver
07. VD, Disco & Rolling Stone
08. World Series, MK - Ultra
09. Kesey, Canada
10. Evil As Nixon?, Uganda, Degeneracy
11. Steadman, Gonzo
12. More Kesey, Avoiding Jail
13. Silver Platter, The Slide
14. Carter Argument
15. Drug Question, Drunk And Loud
16. Three Wishes, Fascist
17. Grateful Dead


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Philip K Dick: Interview with Charles Platt, from 1979

An incredible interview between Philip K. Dick and Charles Platt from 1979, where the legendary author discussed his life, his writing and the strange events that inspired his famed Exegesis. At nearly 2 hours long, this interview is essential listening for anyone with an interest in PKD.

With thanks to John Butler

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Nile Rodgers’ ‘Le Freak’: Music biography of the year

Yes, I am aware that Marc Campbell writing on this blog last month claimed that Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson is the music book of the year—which is why I have fudged the terms here and inserted the word “biography” into the headline. Shouldn’t there be a distinction between writers on music and musicians who write anyway? Well, it doesn’t really matter if you are more interested in the story or the music, as Nile Rodgers’ autobiography Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny is packed to the last page with stories and anecdotes that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.

If you consider yourself a music fan, then Nile Rodgers needs no introduction. He is a hardcore, bona-fide music industry legend. He not only co-wrote some of the biggest hits of the Seventies with his partner Bernard Edwards in the band Chic (“Le Freak”, “Good Times”, “We Are Family”), and produced some of the biggest records of the 80s (Madonna’s Like A Virgin, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, Duran Duran’s Notorious, Diana Ross’ Diana.) His skills as a guitarist are beyond any doubt and have influenced a generation of musicians not only in the disco, funk and dance genres but further afield in post-punk and even hard rock. At a recent gig in Manchester, Rodgers’ Chic Organisation was joined onstage by The Smiths’ Johnny Marr who sat in on “Le Freak”—the pairing might seem unusual, but listen to their guitar styles and the influence is clear.

Le Freak is Rodgers’ candid autobiography, and what a tale he has to tell. Not only is this one of the most fascinating stories in modern music, with a cast list of some of the biggest stars in the world, but it’s also one of the most under-documented so to hear it coming from the proverbial horse’s mouth is a delight. There’s drugs, sex, rock’n’roll, drugs, booze, disco, hippies, drugs, Black Panthers, bohemians, buppies, drugs and some more drugs for good measure. The years spent playing and writing in Chic, while not given short thrift, are not the main focus of the book. Chic have been well documented elsewhere, in particular the book Everbody Dance: Chic and the Politics of Disco by Darren Easley. But where that book leaves off—namely the coke-fuelled 80s—is where Le Freak really kicks in to gear, with Rodgers working with Ross, Bowie, Ciccone and snorting his way through the GDP of a small country. Any mere mortal would be dead from the amount of coke Rodgers scoffed, but what’s even more impressive is his hardcore work ethic and the fact that he managed to keep it all together (and tight!) while under the influence.

But it’s the early years of Rodgers’ life that are the unexpected highlight. To call his upbringing unusual would be an understatement. Born to his mother when she was just 13, and only a few years before she became a full-time heroin addict, Nile travelled with his mother or one of his grandmothers between New York and LA during the 50s and 60s. His musically gifted father wasn’t present, but Nile ran into him in a couple of times on the street, and got to witness his vagrant lifestyle first hand in a couple of heart-breaking reminiscences. In Los Angeles, at the age of 13, Rodgers drops acid at a hippie pad and ends up hanging out with Timothy Leary. In New York, at the more wizened age of 17, he finds himself tripping balls in a hospital emergency ward as Andy Warhol is wheeled in, having just been shot by Valerie Solanas. This being the kind of incredible life that Rodgers leads, he is able to meet both men later on in life, in very different circumstances, and recount these tales directly to them. He credits events and coincidences like this in his life as something called “hippie happenstance.”

Yet, despite all the major celebrities who make regular appearances throughout the book (I particularly liked the story of meeting Eddie Murphy), this remains distinctly the Nile Rodgers story. It’s clear how important family is to the man, and despite his own family’s unusual set-up and dysfunction, it’s the Rodgers’ clan who are the anchor in this wild tale (even despite their own wild times consuming and selling drugs). Nile’s parents may have been junkies, and genetically predisposed him to his alcoholism, but they taught him about fine art, music, fashion and culture, which is not how heroin-addicted parents are generally perceived by the public.

Le Freak is an excellent book, and worth reading whether you like disco music or not. Nile Rodgers’  is one of the most important composers/musicians/producers of the 20th century, and it’s good to see him finally getting his due. But despite creating the biggest selling single for his then label, Atlantic, and producing the biggest break-out records for a generation of 80s pop superstars, it still packs a punch to read about the discrimination that Rodgers and his music faced from within the industry:

A few weeks later I did a remix of a song of [Duran Duran’s] called “The Reflex”. Unfortunately, as much as Duran Duran liked the remix, their record company wasn’t happy, and I was soon in an oddly similar situation to the conflict Nard and I had had with Diana Ross’ people.

Nick Rhodes called me moments after the band had excitedly previewed my retooling of “The Reflex” to the suits at Capitol Records. “Nile” he began, his monotone stiff-upper-lip English accent barely hiding his despair. “We have a problem”.

My stomach tightened. “What’s up Nick?”

He struggled to find the words. “Capitol hates the record” he finally said.

I was stunned. “The Reflex” was a smash. I was sure of it. This was déja vu all over again.

“How do you guys feel about it?” I asked a little defensively.

“Nile, we love it. But Capitol hates it so much they don’t want to release it. They say it’s too black sounding.”

Too black sounding? I tried not to hit the roof, but in a way it was nice to hear it put so plain. Finally someone had just come out and said it.

Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco and Destiny by Nile Rodgers is available here.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Nile Rodgers dishes the dirt on Atlantic Records
Miles Davis talks about his art on Nile Rodgers’ ‘New Visions

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Dark Shadows comic book covers (1968-1976)
12:01 pm


comic books
Dark Shadows

The Monster Brains blog recently posted some delightful high-resolution scans of Dark Shadows comic book covers based on the 60s gothic soap opera.  I really like the top one from 1970.

Visit Monster Brains to view the rest of the collection.

One more choice selection after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Beatdom: David S Wills & Spencer Kansa keeping to the Beat

Those with an interest in writers following on from the Beat tradition may like Spencer Kansa‘s first novel Zoning. The story is about zoning - traveling without moving - and the strange interactions between teenage occultist, Astral Boy and Skyrise Kid, a young budding porn star.  We’re in familiar territory here, and Kansa is a fan of William Burroughs, who said of Spencer’s book:

“Zoning reads like an urban Celine.”

It’s the first imprint from Beatdom Books, a small independent publisher, set up by a young Scot, David S Wills, in 2007. Willis also publishes a non-profit literary journal dedicated to the study of the Beat Generation, publishing Beat inspired poetry and prose. He has also issued Beatdom’s second book The Dog Farm - based on Wills’ experiences of living and working in South Korea.

Beatdom is well worth checking out and you can find details of Spencer’s novel Zoning and Willis’s The Dog Farm here.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Spike Milligan’s Meaning of LIfe: An Autobiography of Sorts

For thirty-six years, Norma Farnes was Spike Milligan’s manager, agent and Mother Confessor. She was also his friend. Since Milligan’s death in 2002, Norma has shown a loyalty to their friendship, which our world of social networks, Friending, Following and +1ing may never replace. For Ms. Farnes has been collating and editing the millions of words written by the late, great comedy genius, into a series of books - Box 18: The Unpublished Spike Milligan, The Compulsive Spike Milligan, Memories of Milligan - and now, Milligan’s Meaning of Life, his “autobiography of sorts”.

Who else but Norma Farnes could have edited together this fabulous collection of loose threads, extracts, and letters, which make Milligan’s Meaning of Life, such a brilliant autobiography.

As Norma explains in her introduction:

‘A sort of autobiography’. Yes, Spike would have liked that. I can hear him saying, ‘Yes, well, I suppose I’ve had a sort of life.’

...His many followers will, no doubt, find gaps, but it wasn’t my intention to give a complete account - rather an impressionistic journey. I did my best, but as Spike used to say to me: ‘That’s what worries me.’

Farnes should have no fears, as she has compiled a marvelous book, cherry-picking from the best of Milligan’s various writings. Farnes has a terrific eye for the telling phrase and revealing sentence, which presents Milligan as a bruised, sensitive, mercurial, inspired and very funny man. A man who had long bouts of severe depression, suffered terrible nervous breakdowns, was riddled with shyness and insecurities, yet through it all produced some of the our best, funniest and most memorable comedy.

During his life, Milligan produced over eighty books, ranging from poetry (Silly Verse for Kids to Small Dreams of a Scorpion), prose (most notably Puckoon, one of the best comic novels written), and his 7 volumes of War memoirs, starting with the hilarious Adolf Hitler - My Part in His Downfall, plays (The Bed-Sitting Room and countless radio scripts form The Goons and his own classic comedy series Q. In very real terms, Milligan produced more work, and of a higher quality, than most novelists or writers ever achieve in a lifetime.

Milligan’s Meaning of Life Edited by Norma Farnes is available from Penguin Books / Viking Books. Check here for details

Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Paranormal Peter Sellers

Michael Bentine: The Goon who got away

More from Milligan, plus bonus clips, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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