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Bad Bunny: True children’s stories of violent, drug-fueled family life presented as a kids’ book
07.07.2017
10:48 am
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Childhood is sometimes described by those privileged enough to know as the best years of our lives. This may be the case for the few but not always so for the many.

An American educational charity called Youth Ambassadors, which helps underprivileged kids reach their full potential, has come up with a rather simple idea to highlight the often grim reality of how some young people spend their childhoods. It’s a fake children’s book called Welcome to My Neighborhood.

It’s presented just like any other kids picture book with friendly, cuddly bunnies, cats, and mice telling the story of their lives. The big difference is this ain’t no Beatrix Potter or Wind in the Willows. This is a collection of disturbing true stories of domestic violence, drugs, crime, murder, and prison as recounted by disadvantaged children from some of America’s most deprived places. Not even the seemingly family-friendly illustrations can disguise the brutality of the children’s lives as drug-addict Daddy Rat beats his kids, the Bunny Brothers whack people, and Mister Fox is a gung-ho, trigger-happy cop.

Whether Welcome to My Neighborhood will actually make any real difference to the plight of these youngsters other than being something the chattering class will smile knowledgeably about over their quinoa salads and tofu chai latte, I ain’t so sure. But it’s certainly 10/10 for originality and effort. Download a PDF of this book here or, if you’re interested in doing some good, find out how to help Youth Ambassadors here.
 
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More sad tales, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.07.2017
10:48 am
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‘Do the Oz,’ John and Yoko’s benefit single (and hopeful dance craze) for OZ magazine


John and Yoko march for OZ, August 1971 (via Meet the Beatles for Real)
 
“I think that everyone should own everything equally and that the people should own part of the factories and they should have some say in who is boss and who does what,” John Lennon announced to Hit Parader during his militant period. When he and Yoko Ono joined a march in London in August ‘71, holding up the latest issue of the Marxist newspaper Red Mole, they were demonstrating in support of both the IRA and the underground magazine OZ, whose editors had just been sent up the river on an obscenity beef.

John and Yoko took up the cause of the “OZ Three.” For their now-famous “school kids issue,” number 28, OZ had solicited and printed contributions from teenage readers, and was alleged thereby to have struck a mighty blow against the morality of English youth. During the ensuing obscenity trial, the defense actually called an expert witness to testify that just seeing the cover illustration was not enough to turn a healthy young person into a lesbian.
 

Note the “OZ Obscenity Trial” souvenir T-shirt, featuring R. Crumb’s character Honeybunch Kaminski
 
In the end, the editors got fifteen months in prison, and the hip community rallied to their defense, Jon Wiener reports in Come Together: John Lennon in His Time:

The OZ defense committee announced it would appeal, and John and Yoko joined the fundraising effort. They wrote the songs “God Save Us” and “Do the Oz,” released as a single by Apple in July 1971. John played on both and sang lead on “Do the Oz,” calling the group “the Elastic Oz Band.” Full-age ads appeared in all the British underground and radical newspapers: “Every major country has a screw in its side, in England it’s OZ. OZ is on trial for its life. John and Yoko have written and helped produce this record—the proceeds of which are going to OZ to help pay their legal fees. The entire British underground is in trouble, it needs our help. Please listen—‘God Save Oz.’”

Bill Elliot (later of the Dark Horse band Splinter) sings the A-side of the Elastic Oz Band single, which Lennon originally called “God Save Oz” but retitled “God Save Us.” Both sound the same in a Liverpool accent, I think Lennon is telling Sounds here:

First of all we wrote it as God Save Oz, you know, ‘God save Oz from it all,’ but then we decided they wouldn’t really know what we were talking about in America so we changed it back to ‘us’.

But the B-side, “Do the Oz,” is the keeper. Mutilating the lick from “Smokestack Lightning” on guitar, John hollers the steps of his modified hokey pokey while Yoko sings the terrifying, beguiling hum of modernity. Backing them are the Plastic Ono Band and, on acoustic guitars, two contributors to the “school kids issue,” future NME contributor Charles Shaar Murray and “Michelle.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.18.2017
07:50 am
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‘Punch Nazis’ in Arabic T-shirt is the latest in alt-right resistance


 
It’s now come to this. It’s currently necessary in the United States for citizens of good conscience and opinion to signal their public opposition to white supremacy and other Nazi-esque ideas. As was widely reported yesterday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer inexplicably chose Passover to trot out a “Hitler wasn’t so bad” justification for the Trump administration’s recent air strike on a Syrian air base that, regrettably, was not solely justified by a desire to puff up a big, bad foreign despot, was it now?

After all, the Trump administration was scarcely a week old when it released a statement addressing Holocaust Remembrance Day that neglected to reference Jewish suffering in any way. Far from a “gaffe,” Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks told CNN that the wording was quite intentional, because “we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.” Yeah, right.

All of which just goes to establish that cold-hearted indifference is an easy posture to adopt if you don’t personally care about the people involved. Trump adviser Steve Bannon openly trumpets a race-based theory of some supposed decline of America, and the fact that he may be (please God) on the way out doesn’t mean that we all shouldn’t give him a forceful kick in the nuts as he (please God) exits the stage.

On the day that Trump became president, American Nazi Richard Spencer was standing on a street corner explaining the significance of his Pepe pin to an Australian news crew (seriously) when “a group of masked protesters” abruptly interrupted Spencer’s remarks by punching him in the face. That started a round of gleeful celebration by Trump haters as well as a wan debate about whether it’s morally OK (I almost said “kosher”) to punch Nazis. (It is.)

Artist Molly Crabapple has concocted a nifty T-shirt that is the ideal fashion statement for our fucked-up times—it’s a T-shirt with the words “Punch Nazis” on it, but the language chosen is the one most likely to strike fear in the hearts of white America—Arabic.

The T-shirt exists in unisex and women’s versions and comes in two colors, red and white. (The unisex version actually comes in “Heather Grey” and “Independence Red,” but whatevs.) No matter which one you get, the price is the same, 25 bucks, which is a small price to pay to symbolically punch Richard Spencer in the face. 

Plus, proceeds go to City Plaza, “a squatted, self-managed hotel in Athens which provides dignified housing for refugees.”
 

 

 
via Exile on Moan Street
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.12.2017
10:46 am
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Meaty, Beaty, Big and Beardy: Behold the hairy glory of the 2018 ‘Whimsical Woodsman’ calendar


Tim Wilson, a full-time Arizona wildlands firefighter and part-time model with his trusty chainsaw. All photo credits to Chronicker Photography.
 
2018 will mark the third year that The Whimsical Woodsman and Friends have published a calendar featuring photos of rugged pin-up dudes such as “The Majestic Mountain Man” and kilt-lifting bad-boy “The Wistful Warrior” cavorting in the woods and such.

While it would be relatively easy to dismiss this awesomeness as a purely money-making gimmick at the expense of body shaming the burly calendar boys, I’m not going to do that for many reasons including the fact that body shaming is reserved for low-lives and Internet trolls. Also, when you purchase one of the calendars a portion of the proceeds from the sale goes to support the Arizona charity Books to the Rescue, a cause close to the hearts of the calendar’s creators Chad Castigliano and his wife Jasmine. The organization provides services to children in crisis by helping to provide comfort items to first responders such as cuddly stuffed animals and of course books. If that’s not do-goody enough for you, the calendar also works pretty hard to promote body acceptance—something we all benefit from.

I’ve posted images of some of the manly men that will be a part of the 2018 wall-candy calendar below. If you’d like to pick on up for yourself or a friend, more information on that can be found here.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.05.2017
10:47 am
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She’s the other funky drummer (and every woman, too): Chaka Khan in the 1970s
03.29.2017
02:01 pm
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A young, fierce-looking Chaka Khan behind the drum kit for Rufus back in the early 1970s.
 
Unless a significant generation gap presented itself, I would find it hard to trust someone who was not familiar with the “Queen of Funk” Chaka Khan. Likewise, I’d probably have trouble hanging out with someone that actually didn’t at least enjoy grooving to a few songs from Chaka’s vast body of work. I mean, saying you don’t dig Chaka Khan is pretty much the same thing as hating on Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner or Donna Summer. And you don’t want to be that guy, do you, dummy?

Born Yvette Marie Stevens, Chaka came into the world in 1953, a few years before the Chicago music scene exploded once again in the 60s and 70s. Meaning that she was old enough to properly bear witness to the baffling number of musical acts making things happen then. I’m talking the Staple Singers, the Chi-lites, Minnie Ripperton and Earth, Wind & Fire. And this is just a small sampling of the kind of musical genius that surrounded the soon-to-be-funky-as-hell singer during her most formative years. At the age of eleven, Khan (who was still going by her birth name Yvette Stevens) was already performing with her first band, the Crystalettes along with her sister Yvonne. As she entered her teen years Chaka was exposed to the messages and activism of the Black Panther Party and at the age of fourteen, she became a part of the radical political organization. It would be during her time with the Panthers that she would acquire her new name Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. She became deeply involved in working with underprivileged youth in Chicago. Chaka soon dropped out of school and embarked on what would be a long musical career that continues to this day.
 

The “curve-some” Chaka Khan in action with Rufus back in the 1970s.
 
When she was discovered by members of Chicago band Rufus singing in a local club in 1972, Chaka was nineteen and already divorced from her first husband Hassan Khan whose last name she decided to keep. The timing was perfect as Rufus would sign on with ABC Records in 1973 with the enchanting powerhouse that is Chaka Khan at the helm. Her partnership with Rufus would prove to be hugely successful and the band would produce six gold and platinum records over the course of four short years. And that was just a start for Chaka as her solo career would arguably eclipse her time with Rufus starting with a song that propelled her debut record into the funky stratosphere (and one that everybody knows at least seven words to), “I’m Every Woman.” Here’s the thing, I’m only really able to scratch the surface of Khan’s compelling and complicated life here today, so I’ll leave you with my final thoughts as to why we should all have the love for Chaka Khan.

In 1984 Khan got the idea to cover a song from Prince’s self-titled 1979 album called “I Feel For You.” Highly influential producer Arif Mardin was able to secure the services of both Stevie Wonder to play the harmonica on the single, and hip-hop god Grandmaster Melle Mel to provide opposing vocals to Chaka’s. While Prince never released the song as single, it was a goddamn smash for Khan and the album as a whole has stood the test of time. By the way, as mentioned in the title of this post, Khan has always been a pretty great drummer, so I posted a short vintage video of Chaka behind her kit below. I’ve also included a number of images of Chaka Khan in action, as well as videos of Khan working her magic with Rufus live back in the day. Bow to the Queen of Funk, baby.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.29.2017
02:01 pm
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‘Circus’ by Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan. Illustrated by Joe Coleman. Narrated by Ken Nordine
02.28.2017
03:16 pm
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Cover illustration by Daniel Nayari

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Richard Metzger
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02.28.2017
03:16 pm
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Stirring images of two decades of political protest in New York City
02.28.2017
09:56 am
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Pro-Sandinista rally, Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, June 1979
Photographer: David Gonzalez

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

Don’t believe it.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.28.2017
09:56 am
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Witches plan mass hexing of Donald Trump tomorrow night outside Trump Tower


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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02.23.2017
02:52 pm
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‘How to Steal an Election’: The dirty politics musical of 1968!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the New York Times:

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

And that’s no trumped up charge.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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02.02.2017
09:50 am
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Missing Foundation, the long-lost industrial rockers who almost destroyed New York City
01.30.2017
11:20 am
Topics:
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“And when people feel the economic crunch & you can’t have the life that others have—you get dangerous.”—Missing Foundation graffiti.

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

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

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

More after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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01.30.2017
11:20 am
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