I completely adore this huge ceramic John Waters head bong by artist John de Fazio. The piece is currently on exhibit in Los Angeles at Venus Over Manhattan. (Looks more like a “pipe” to me, but the Internet is calling it a “bong.”)
Fun fact: During his brief tenure at NYU in 1966, a young John Waters was involved in the first major pot bust on a college campus. University authorities asked the students involved to keep quiet about the incident, but Waters called the New York Daily News the next day giving the tabloid paper an interview about what had happened.
According to Discogs, the National Association Of Progressive Radio Announcers, Inc. made only three records. On the first, 72 Vote P.S.A.‘s, everyone from Howdy Doody to Daniel Ellsberg pleaded with you, the 18-21 head so lately enfranchised by the passage of the 26th Amendment, to register and vote in the Nixon-McGovern contest.
NARPA’s other two releases were Get Off (1973) and Get Off II (1975), collections of anti-drug PSAs by practically the whole cast of 70s showbiz: Alice Cooper, the Eagles, Dr. John, Brewer & Shipley, Black Oak Arkansas, Yes, Papa John Creach, Grand Funk, the Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, George Carlin, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, War, the Staple Singers, the O’Jays, Robin Trower, Bill Withers, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, John McLaughlin, Three Dog Night, Dave Mason, and Star Trek‘s Kirk and Spock all contributed. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the great Mel Blanc appeared on Get Off II as himself and five of his Looney Tunes characters, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, and Yosemite Sam.
As you can probably tell by looking at the cover of Get Off II, these PSAs were strictly against hard drugs. Because I grew up during the absolutist D.A.R.E. years, I was relieved to hear that Bugs just wants me to stay away from smack and downers. He doesn’t say a word about pot, acid, or mescaline, bless him!
Blanc’s PSAs start out upbeat and lighthearted. As the band strikes up “Hail to the Chief,” Daffy addresses the nation:
Hello, America, this is Daffy Duck! I may be daffy, but I’m not crazy. I’m smart enough to know that hard drugs like heroin and downers are a bummer. Don’t fool with ‘em! Take it from yours truly—dangerous drugs are despicable! See ya.
But they quickly turn dark. Foghorn Leghorn demands, “What are those red and yellow pills you got there?” Porky Pig sounds like he has been severely traumatized by going to a party where everyone was “m-m-mumbling” and using “hard drugs, l-l-like smack and d-d-downers.” And Yosemite Sam complains that there are no tough guys left because they have all been turned to “mashed potatoes” by the ravages of skag. It’s like a real bummer, man…
The late great counter cultural figure, poet and publisher Felix Dennis collected an incredible array of psychedelic advertising posters during his lifetime, from the 1960s and 1970s.
Dennis (1947-2014) started off as co-editor of Oz magazine and was responsible for the legendary issue #28 of the magazine better known as “Schoolkids Oz” which led to the magazine’s famous obscenity trial in 1971. After his experience with Oz, Dennis went onto become a very rich and successful publisher of various magazines like Maxim, Fortean Times, Bizarre and Viz Comics.
Apart from publishing, Dennis also had a passion for collecting—the scale of which was only apparent after his death in 2014. Dennis collected original American underground comic book artwork, woodcuts by Eric Gill, and some 23,000 books—including rare editions by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson. However, books and comics were for reading and enjoying—his real passion was collecting original psychedelic posters.
Dennis was very particular in which posters he collected—he was more interested in following individual artists than “obsessively ticking things off a list.” He was a fan of original Oz artist Martin Sharp, and followed other graphic artists such as Hapshash & the Coloured Coat, Victor Moscoso and Ivan Tyrrell.
The following selection is but a small selection from the Felix Dennis Collection—but gives a rather dazzling (if retina burning) flavor of 1960’s psychedelic art in all its glory.
Bob Dylan: Martin Sharp‘s poster ‘Mr Tambourine Man – Blowin’ in the Mind,’ 1967.
The enormous 871-page hardcover 1994 Scientology Handbook features over 700 insane and strangely haunting illustrations that promise positive effects in today’s turbulent society. The ultra-saturated photographs use vivid, heightened colours in a traditional comic book format to help navigate the reader through a world rampant with conflict, drugs, illiteracy, crime, terrorism, immorality… the list seems endless. “To have any decent future at all, you need to know this manual for living and use it.” The actors and sets were photographed in the early ‘90s on full-sized sound stages belonging to Golden Era Productions in Riverside County, California. Next door to the sound stages lies a computer facility with an uninterruptable power supply so when the rapture happens you will still be able to get onto America Online and check your email.
“I spent a few hours and read the entire Scientology Handbook. It gave me a sense of knowingness I’ve never had before. I knew that I was prepared for any situation in life and I’d know what to do. I began applying the technology from the book and now I’m considered a miracle worker and someone who knows what she’s doing. All my life I’ve tried to help people, but now with The Scientology Handbook, I can really help them!”
We hope you experience the same results as K.J. shared in her Amazon customer review.
I think many us have been there: broke and looking for any kind of gig that will get us enough money to make it from one day to another. I did phone sales of subscriptions to a right wing Orange County newspaper. I was 16 and living on the streets of L.A. and needed money… badly. I worked with a dozen or so runaway kids sitting in a miserable loft dialing numbers all day and spewing made up stories of how the subscription revenue was going to help our high school build a new gym (I was a high school dropout) or help Vietnam vets get back on their feet (if they still had any). I lied all day, every day. And for all my bullshitting, I rarely walked with any money. The lying was easy. I read from a script. When I got really bored, I’d improvise. Back then people were polite on the phone. A lot of them bought into my rap. I couldn’t stand myself. I didn’t last a week. Selling beat drugs on Sunset to weekend hippies seemed like a slightly better karmic option.
Andrea Arnold’s powerful, poetic and liberating new movie American Honey deals with “mag crews,” young people going door to door in mostly affluent neighborhoods selling magazine subscriptions, using lies and artful scams to make a few bucks. For every subscription sold, the magazine clearing houses and publishers get a percentage and the rest is split between crew leaders and the kids doing the selling. Whatever hook it takes to sell a subscription—school projects, charities, scholarships, etc.—is used to separate a customer from their money. Selling magazine subscriptions in the digital age is hardly a ticket to the big time. But desperate times require desperate measures… even when they’re stupid.
Director Arnold (Fish Tank, Red Road) first discovered the mag crew world when she read Ian Urbina’s article on the subject in the New York Times. She decided to make a movie based on the article. She flew from England to America, rented a car, and drove alone along 1000s of miles of America’s highways. She saw all of the things that make America beautiful, wretched, intimidating and heartbreaking. She encountered hopelessness in a lot of small towns that have gone to hell because of poverty and drugs—the kind of drugs that become intertwined with a sense of there being no future.
American Honey follows a mag crew as they make the kind of trip that Arnold made. A small family of lost souls traveling across America getting stoned, singing along to rap, rock and country songs, living in the moment while the quiet dread of the unknown permeates the air like invisible thunderclouds. At times exhilarating, often tense and foreboding, American Honey subverts most of the viewer’s expectations at every turn. The film seems bleak on the surface but rays of light are constantly breaking through the darkness. Underneath the hardened exterior of these kids are layers of softness, sweetness and pain. Cuddling and sleeping together in sleazy motel rooms they appear as they are: children.
Blue Diamond Sales is typical of the kind of companies that use mag crews to generate revenue. Their website paints a rosy picture of the road to success:
Blue diamond subscriptions sells door to door subscriptions to magazines and books. Blue diamond travels the entire country helping young adults who wish to earn experience in the sales industry.
But their YouTube channel gets closer to reality:
The mag crews are tight knit bands with an almost cult-like devotion to their crew leaders—very much like a hooker’s relationship to their pimp. They travel in small groups in battered vans, crisscrossing America desperate to grab hold of the lowest rung of the American dream. From hustling truckers at truck stops to millionaire good ol’ boy ranchers and lonely, extremely horny guys working the oil fields of Oklahoma, the girls in American Honey go to where the money and easy marks are. These scenes are filled with tension, effectively tapping into the audience’s horror flick presumptions. But this is not a slasher film. The knives are psychological and go deeper beyond bone and flesh into the seat of the soul. A scene where a little girl in an Iron Maiden t-shirt sings The Dead Kennedys’ “I Kill Children” while her crackhead mother lies comatose in the background makes the torture porn of “Human Centipede” seem like “Happy Days” with hemorrhoidal itch. Reality has now entered a zone that even horror movies struggle to find resonant metaphors.
The mag crews aren’t much different than many of the kids who ended up in The Haight in 1968, the year after the Summer Of Love. They weren’t looking for an Aquarian age, they were looking to get out of bad situations back home. Many had suffered abuses of every nature. They came to the Haight to hook up with kindred spirits and forge communities. They weren’t hippies but they were open to anything that might give them a sense of better days. A sense of love. Ten years later on New York’s Lower East Side there was a similar influx of suburban kids looking to get away from the soul-deadening schools, shopping malls, and apathy that gutted whatever feelings of freedom they felt entitled to. The crews are a slightly better dressed version of the crusty punks I see camping in the woods behind my store in Austin.
Unlike the hippies or punks, the mag crews haven’t turned their backs on capitalism or the American Dream. The kids in American Honey see Wal-Mart as an oasis in the tattered streets of Crack Town. They want money. And they want it now. Bling is their thing and the rap songs on the movies soundtrack set the tone. These kids are white but their frame of reference is Black. Together they create a sense of mattering. They matter to each other.
Comparisons will be made to the films of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, but American Honey is more lyrical and less cynical than Kids or Spring Breakers. Clark’s Ken Park has moments of the kind of tenderness and bittersweetness of Arnold’s film. Both movies celebrate humanity over complete despair. And in each film, sex is threatening as well as liberating. Arnold’s point of view is that of a woman who knows from day to day experience that men are unpredictable animals and American Honey is suffused with an atmosphere of sexual peril without being gratuitous or exploitative.
American Honey is three hours long and it rambles and careens like the crews bouncing from state to state in their Econoline van. The length of the film never seems overlong. Its length actually gives the viewer the sense of being along for the ride. There are no big dramatic moments – except for the ones in the audience’s heads. The movie constantly subverts expectations. The drama comes in the small observations and the occasional emotional explosions. All of it moving along to a soundtrack composed of 24 wildly eclectic songs ranging from Kevin Gates to The Raveonettes, Springsteen, Steve Earle, E-40 and Mazzy Star. It all works sublimely and for every moment of suffocating emptiness there’s an epiphany fueled by music, a bottle of cheap whiskey and lots of pot.
American Honey won awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival including best actress for Sasha Lane. This is her film debut. Shia LaBeouf is perfectly cast as a cocky hustler. Sporting a Confederate flag bikini, Riley Keough (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) is the cold-hearted crew leader and she’s amazing. The entire cast of non-professional actors ARE the real thing. Robbie Ryan’s cinematography is glorious, capturing the American landscape in a fugue-like state between night, day and what lays in between.
American Honey is opening this Friday in a few major cities and then nationwide on October 7. It’s an important movie. One that gets almost everything right about what’s bad and what’s good about America in the era of Trump. Being bombarded by dark prophecies from a sociopath running for President plays into the deeply pessimistic view young people already have of their future. American Honey hints at a way out:love
Since I don’t wear a watch, I thought I’d throw this one out there to you fine folks since this sucker seems right up our readership’s strasse. It’s a really cool Timothy Leary watch from the 1960s. Each hour on the watch is tagged as some type of drug.
As in “It’s a quarter to meth” or “Half-past hash.”
According to the listing on eBay the watch still works.
I didn’t want to write this post, but the burden of TV history weighs heavy on my shoulders. The 50th anniversary of Star Trek came and went, and in all the fanfare, I saw no mention of the original series’ single most bizarre episode. Forget the one where they’re back in the 1920s, or the one where they’re at the O.K. Corral with Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, or the one where Kirk and Spock fight Genghis Khan alongside Abraham Lincoln; this right here is the goods.
Before last night, I hadn’t seen “Wolf in the Fold” for about 30 years. I watched it again to make sure my memory was accurate, and I can confirm that this is without a doubt the most insane episode of Star Trek that ever made it to the screen. It is actually even weirder than I remembered. A space séance is involved.
I don’t want to give away much more of the plot, but you’ll see what I mean if I set it up briefly. Kirk, Bones, and Scotty go whoring on the “hedonistic” planet Argelius II, which looks just like foggy London town. Next thing you know, Scotty’s standing over a dead belly dancer with a bloody knife in his hand. Kirk asks what kind of legal process they have in this jerkwater, when the Prefect, making a grand entrance, declares:
The law of Argelius is love.
Then comes the Jack the Ripper business and the whole crew getting messy on tranks. And there is so much more I’m deliberately leaving out.
Time Out New York‘s Christina Izzo reported yesterday that Bill Murray would be tending bar on Saturday and Sunday evening at 21 Greenpoint, a Brooklyn restaurant owned by Syd Silver and Bill’s son Homer Murray.
Murray has some experience tending bar—as was widely reported at the time, in 2010 he infamously materialized with Wu-Tang Clan at the Austin bar Shangri-La during SXSW and spontaneously started sloshing tequila into every shot glass he could find before retiring to a corner to hang out with GZA. (Hey, nobody said that Murray was actually good at bartending….)
The news from Time Out New York had the effect of bedazzling those star-struck would-be dipsomaniacs into thinking they’d have Murray running back and forth all evening doling out tequila shots, but alas, the story’s been updated with the news that the two evenings are “a private event” and are “invite-only.” Good luck scoring an invite!
Well, think of it this way, if it were truly open to the public, the place would have been mobbed by thousands of Garfield fans, and who needs that?
Here’s footage of Bill Murray tending bar six years ago at SXSW in Austin:
7up has existed as a drink since 1929, but it wasn’t until 1936 that it was given the name 7Up. From the mid-1930s to the early 1950s, the advertising slogan for the drink was “You Like It, It Likes You.” In its incredible directness, simplicity, and dishonesty, it ranks as my favorite advertising slogan of all time.
“You Like It, It Likes You.” Oh, does it now? 1947 advertisement for 7Up
In 1967 ad execs at J. Walter Thompson Company in Chicago pitched a radical repositioning of 7Up as a way of reviving dormant sales of the drink—the idea was to capture the new hippie market for 7Up. The new nickname for the drink was to be “The Uncola” and if you’re older than about 50, you’ll have no trouble remembering that name and possibly a memorable series of TV spots starring Geoffrey Holder.
The Uncola campaign stretched from 1969 to 1975, and it used a wide variety of hyper-colorful, psychedelic posters that reminded many people of Peter Max, even though the images used in the campaign were not done by him. (Max did submit images to J. Walter Thompson, but his designs were not used.)
The Uncola campaign was perhaps advertising’s most adventurous foray into truly psychedelic imagery, even to the point of appearing to endorse LSD use as an activity fit for 7Up-consuming adults.
David Bowie’s chance meeting with a faded rock star who thought he was Jesus Christ was the first of the building blocks that led to Ziggy Stardust.
Bowie was a teenage Mod fronting his band the Lower Third when he regularly bumped into Vince Taylor at the La Gioconda club in London. Taylor was an “American” rocker who had been a major star in France. By the time Bowie met him, Taylor was a washed-up acid casualty who had fried his brain after ingesting waaaaaay too much LSD.
Taylor was born Brian Maurice Holden in Isleworth, England in 1939. He was youngest of five children. In 1946, the family emigrated to New Jersey, where Taylor grew up on a diet of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. When his sister Sheila dated Joe Barbera—one half of animation team Hannah-Barbera—the family moved to California.
Like millions of other young American teenagers, Taylor wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roll idol. His singing was so-so but he could do a good Elvis impersonation. Barbera offered to manage him. Through Barbera’s contacts Taylor got his first nightclub bookings singing rock standards with a band. He later joked he was only ever chosen to be the singer because of his teen heartthrob looks.
While rock ‘n’ roll was ripping the joint in America, Taylor was surprised to find that back in his birth country the biggest star was a toothsome all-round entertainer called Tommy Steele. With his boy-next-door looks and wholesome cheeky chappy banter, Steele was loved by both the moms and daughters across the land. Taylor figured if this was English rock ‘n’ roll, then he would clean-up with his Elvis routine.
(Sidebar: While Taylor clearly pinched Presley’s act, Elvis later pinched Taylor’s black leather look for his 1968 comeback show.)
When Joe Barbera traveled to London on business—he took Taylor with him. This was when Brian Holden adopted the name “Vince Taylor.” “Vince” from Elvis Presley’s character “Vince Everett” in Jailhouse Rock. “Taylor” from actor Robert Taylor.
Taylor adapted his stage act from Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. He added a biker boy image—black leather jacket, pants, gloves, and winklepickers. He wore makeup and mascara. What he lacked for in voice, he made up in performance. Taylor was a wild man. Utterly unrestrained. His body jerked as if he’d been hit by 100,000 volts of electricity. He wiggled his hips and thrust his pelvis at the hormonal teenyboppers who screamed his name. He was sex on legs. Vulgar. Nasty. Every parent’s nightmare, every teenage girl’s pinup.
His early shows in England during the late fifties-early sixties brought him a record deal. He cut a few disc and wrote the classic song “Brand New Cadillac” (later recorded by the Clash). Taylor garnered mega column inches in the music press. But when he should have been heading to the top, Taylor sabotaged his own career by failing to turn-up for gigs. The reason? His jealousy.
Before a gig he would phone his girlfriend to check up on what she was doing. If she didn’t answer the phone—off Taylor would pop to hunt down his girl and the man he imagined she was with. This meant his backing band the Playboys often performed the gig without their iconic front man. This unreliability damaged Taylor’s reputation in England. The Playboys split-up and reformed around the band’s one consistent member—the drummer.
To make money to pay his debts, Taylor took a gig in Paris in 1961. He was bottom of the bill. Top of the bill was Wee Willie Harris (later immortalized in “Reasons to Be Cheerful—Part Three” by Ian Dury). Taylor was pissed with the billing. He decided to show the promoters who was King. During rehearsal for the show, Taylor gave one of his greatest most violent most outrageous performances. He was a rock ‘n’ roll animal. The promoters saw their error and gave Taylor top billing.
This gig made Taylor an overnight star in France.
More on the rock-n-roll ‘Naz(arene) with God-given ass,’ after the jump…