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Helmets of blood: The Lost Gospels of Al Jourgensen
11:03 am



First of all, let’s face it, there is no way to overestimate Ministry’s influence on rock ‘n’ roll. For one brief moment in time (let’s say 1988), they were the heaviest band on the planet, and they are clearly the greatest industrial-rock band of all time (unless you include fire tricks, then obviously Rammstein). And probably the best part about it is that they’ve been shepherded for the past thirty-something years by a complete maniac.

“God, I hate that guy. And he owes me an ass-fuck.”
- Al Jourgensen on Robert Plant

Frontman/chief-strategist/visionary Al Jourgensen started Ministry in Chicago in 1981. Originally they were a soppy synth-pop band (see 1983’s With Sympathy album, still a dancefloor fave among less sociopathic new-wavers), but as the 80s wore on, the drugs and the guitars and the psychiatric disorders took hold and by 1987’s Land of Rape and Honey album, the sound and vision had evolved into an ear-bleeding digital acid-metal nightmare. Shows became war zones. The band ushered in the 90s with hardcore sex and violence and enough Marshall stacks to topple the New World Order. Throughout it all, Jourgensen crawled through the muck of his own tortured psyche, drowning his psychosis with more psychosis in an endless orgy of sex, drugs and debauchery. And in 2013, he spilled the beans in a tell-all autobio, The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen,  that would swear even the most hardened drug enthusiast into a life of quiet sobriety. I mean, this is how the goddamn book starts:

“All that came out of me was blood, and there was so much pouring out of my dick and asshole that I started to panic. I didn’t want the toilet to overflow, so I took off the helmet, held it to my ass, and let the blood pour in there. I fell off the toilet and I tried to put the helmet back on, and about twelve ounces of blood matted down my hair and ran down my face, pooling with the blood that was dribbling out of my face and nose.”


A Young Al Jourgensen (with Stephen “Stevo” George) in his pre-pissing blood pretty boy days
Given that audacious opener, you may be expecting a redemption story. Well, he eventually gets his teeth fixed, but that’s about it. Mostly it’s just full-tilt gonzo, all the time. Just ask Butthole Surfers’ megaphone abuser Gibby Haynes, who is no stranger to bad craziness himself. Touring with Ministry was heavy even for him.

“I had never really done that, where it was girls, hotel rooms, girls, blowjobs. There were so many girls and so many drugs, so much nudity. I was lying on the floor, and Al glanced over at me and went, ‘Nice cock, Haynes.’ I was like, ‘Aw man, no one’s ever told me that before.’ That’s so sweet. It might not be true, but it’s nice to hear.”

Hayne is not exaggerating, either. There’s an incredible amount of really weird, gross group sex on display in this book, most of it involving Jourgensen, it being his autobiography and all.

“One night I fucked a paraplegic chick in a wheelchair. I think she had Parkinson’s. So she’s blowing a guy in our crew and I’m fucking her. She’s wearing a colostomy bag, and I was naturally curious. I stopped fucking her for a second and I started squeezing the bag back into her.”

And as soon as the fucking is over, the drugs, booze, paranoia and craziness starts back up. And it’s not just Jourgensen. Most of his cohorts are just as nuts. Here’s a snapshot from the book of life with Pigface/Ministry singer Chris Connolly:

“One day Chris comes running over, sweating and all freaked out, saying skinheads attacked him. I grabbed some pepper spray and a baseball bat; I didn’t have a gun back then. I go running outside to confront these skinheads who harassed my new vocalist. It was two ten-year-olds on their bikes. I asked him, ‘is that what harassed you?’ And he said yeah. I was like, “They’re ten-year-olds with tennis rackets. I don’t waste pepper spray on ten-year-olds.”


El Duce, only just slightly more epically fucked than the guy from Ministry
He also spent more time with Mentors’ frontman El Duce than anybody in their right mind would.

“A couple of times he passed out in the aisle of the drugstore after stealing mouthwash. They’d arrest him and then we’d have to bail him out for being drunk in Walgreens. You can’t tell me that’s not cool, man.”

S’pose not!

What does this man have in common with Al Jourgensen? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind…

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Feed your head: Grace Slick’s isolated vocal track for ‘White Rabbit’ will blow your mind
10:14 am



The great Grace Slick.
Though the epic, unforgettable Jefferson Airplane jam “White Rabbit” was in fact written under the influence of LSD by Grace Slick while she listened to Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain album, Slick maintains that the song and its references to mushrooms and chasing rabbits was not exactly about drugs per se.

Over the years Slick has said that the song was taking aim at children’s stories that in her mind were laced with drug references, specifically Alice in Wonderland, the 1865 novel by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) and its many mentions of potions and a water pipe smoking caterpillar. The fierce vocalist also noted that the anthemic conclusion of the song where she belts out the “Feed your head” bit was a call to arms of sorts about the importance of education and the idea of enlightening your mind and senses.

So now that we’ve got our little psychedelic history lesson out of the way, you might want to take a seat while you listen to the powerful isolated vocal track from “White Rabbit” that awaits after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Too much junkie business: John Cooper Clarke on ‘Confessions of an English Opium-Eater’
08:34 am



John Cooper Clarke at Thomas De Quincey’s grave (via BBC)
“Are you aware, my man, that people are known to have dropped down dead for timely want of opium?” This, one of the great all-purpose sentences in the English language, has lost none of its utility since it first appeared in Thomas De Quincey’s 19th-century drug memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. If you don’t have a personal valet to try it out on, see how it works on your boss, or when you get to the front of the line at Baja Fresh. Tapping the back of your left wrist for punctuation when you get to the word “timely” drives the point home, I find.

In this episode of the BBC series The Secret Life of Books, John Cooper Clarke, punk poet of Salford and quondam dope fiend, takes viewers on a literary journey to the bottom of a bottle of Mother Bailey’s Quieting Syrup. Though Clarke doesn’t use Alexander Trocchi’s phrase “cosmonaut of inner space,” I can’t help thinking of it when he pits dopers’ rights to the sacred disorder of their own minds against the depredations of capital:

De Quincey used opium to explore his dramatic inner world. To my mind, he was a visionary in a utilitarian age. In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, the qualities of vigor, productivity, and strength were valued over opiated idleness. And then there’s De Quincey, living like a secular monk in the tainted monastery of his own mind.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Bill Paxton, William Burroughs, ‘Blade Runner’ and the making of ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’
12:24 am



Taking Tiger Mountain is a strange film with an even stranger back story. It all began in 1974 when thirtysomething filmmaker Kent Smith saved up enough dough from making educational shorts to go off and produce his dream first feature. The folly of many first-time directors is knowing when to curb their ambitions. Smith was certainly ambitious—maybe overly so. He had an idea to make a kinda art house movie set in Tangiers—something inspired by Albert Camus’ novella The Stranger. There was no script, just a poem Smith had written on the kidnapping in 1973 of sixteen-year-old John Paul Getty—heir to the Getty oil fortune. Smith thought of his poem as the film’s framework. Add in a touch of Jean-Luc Godard and hint of Fellini and his debut feature was gonna be just peachy.

So, Smith had ambition—check. A basic storyline—check. And a nineteen-year-old actor by the name of Bill Paxton. Check.

Paxton was a hunk. A pin-up. The type of young actor who had I’m gonna be a big movie star pumping out of his pores. He had the looks, the demeanor and the talent. He was also fearless—as anyone would have to be if they were going to hook-up with Smith on a madcap movie-making adventure.

They packed their bags, leased some Arriflex Techniscope equipment and headed off to France. On arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, they discovered that their equipment had been lost in transit. It was the first of several small obstacles that eventually turned the film onto a different course. When the pair were eventually reunited with their equipment, they hired a car and headed for Spain. But the roads were like parking lots—gridlocked with holidaymakers on their way south to the coast. Eventually after a long, slow, infuriating drive, they made it to the ferry terminal and waited for the first ferry to take them across the waters to Tangiers.

As Paxton told Variety in 2015:

We got to Tangiers around midnight, and all of our equipment was impounded because we hadn’t paid the baksheesh. We got out in about 48 hours, and my attitude was “What the f–k?” I remembered I knew someone in South Wales when I was a foreign exchange student, so we drove there, and that’s where we shot the film.

A young Bill Paxton as seen in the film.

Paxton and Smith traveled back up through Spain and France to England and then to Wales where things got “even crazier.”

We had purchased black-and-white short ends (film stock) from the film Lenny, and we sort of shot things as we came across them.

One guy had a Kenyan vulture, so we used that for a scene of eating my entrails. We met some girls and talked them into doing some nude scenes with us.

Basically it was a bunch of hippies running around naked. It was all silent, black-and-white footage.

They shot ten hours of footage—but what the hell to do with it all? They returned to the States. Paxton began making inroads into big screen movies, while Smith sat with his rushes wondering how to make a movie out of it.

In 1975, Smith showed the footage to a student at the University of Texas called Tom Huckabee. Nothing happened until Smith relinquished the rushes over to Huckabee in 1979. That’s when Huckabee started logging and assembling the ten hour’s worth of material together as he explained to Beatdom:

I started building scenes using the script they had which was loosely based on the J. Paul Getty kidnapping. There was no sci-fi element, no assassination, no prostitution, no feminism, or brainwashing. It was a dream film about a young American waking up on a train – with amnesia, maybe – who wanders into a Welsh town, meets a lot of people, has adventures, bad dreams, and then gets killed on the beach, or does he?

Once I had assembled all their footage into what seemed like a narrative flow, I started thinking about what the story could be. I didn’t like their story much, it was too languid for me,  disconnected, but mostly they had only shot half of it and I knew I couldn’t go back to Wales. I’d been reading Burroughs and a lot of other avant-garde, transgressive, and erotic literature. Story of the Eye was a big influence. I started reading The Job. I got the idea that he was an assassin… and maybe the idea to set it in the future.

Huckabee’s friends were all chucking in their two cents’ worth. A “mysterious guy named Ray Layton” had “the idea to make it about feminist terrorists brainwashing Billy…. and the prostitution camps.” Then Huckabee read William Burroughs’ novella Blade Runner (a movie) and the whole thing began to take shape in his mind.

I lucked into finding a backer who promised $30,000, and that’s when it got real. I remembered seeing another short film that Kent and Bill had made; a thinly veiled homoerotic portrait of Bill, called D’Artagnan. I thought it could be used to represent Billy’s brainwashing. By then I’d acquired the MKUltra transcripts and was heavily into The Job.

Huckabee approached Burroughs and obtained his permission to adapt Blade Runner into his movie. This was now the early 1980s, Ridley Scott was making a movie version of Philip K. Dick’s cult sci-fi book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Scott had also approached Burroughs to buy his title Blade Runner for his movie.

It took at least a year to write the script to conform to the footage, which by the way was 60 minutes. I knew I needed 75 min. minimum for it to be a feature. So I built five minutes of dream sequences out of outtakes, including one where I threw the film in the air and put it together as it came down – cheating a lot.

I should mention that I was fairly regularly during this time, maybe once every one or two months, on acid, mushrooms, and baby woodrose seeds… this, added with all the experimental film I was seeing, and avant-garde and erotic and left wing and feminist political literature I was reading, kept my mind open to outré thematic and formal tropes… so, say, if a scene wasn’t working I could always run it upside down and backwards… Also by then I was thoroughly versed in MKUltra brainwashing, psychic warfare, so in that respect I think I was getting a lot of that independently from Burroughs, maybe from the same source he was getting it.

Then I wrote the opening scene and shot it… and started dubbing in dialogue. I forgot to mention Woody Allen’s Tiger Lilly as an influence. First I hired a lip reader to tell me what the characters were saying and many of them were speaking Welsh.

Huckabee finished his film. Now called Taking Tiger Mountain—the title lifted from a Chinese opera—it was released in 1983. The film was described as a “unique sensory experience.” Set the near future Taking Tiger Mountain follows Paxton as:

Billy Hampton, a Texan who [has] fled from occupied America to British island in order to avoid compulsory military service. Once there, he [is] abducted by a group of sophisticated feminist terrorists, who have been opposing the oldest profession [prostitution] legalization, creating assassins by brainwashing and then setting them on the prostitution camps leaders. (They also specialize in redirecting sexual orientation and sex change operations.)

At the start of the film:

[A] quartet of middle-aged women analyze Billy and persuade him to believe that an aging major is actually a tiger sent by God to kill him. That prologue is a combination of sequences with Huckabee’s signature and those from a short film that Smith and Paxton had been working on prior to their arrival to Wales. What follows could be described as a sporadically wet psychotropic nightmare, with hypnotic soundtrack composed of gloomy drones, overdubbed dialogues, confusing monologues and omnipresent radio announcements about the war [and its] aftermath and the use of thermonuclear weapons on the United States…

More ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘All Day’: Daniel Johnston sings with the Butthole Surfers, 1987
09:53 am



A Texas Trip, the wonderful 1987 compilation produced and recorded by the Butthole Surfers, was the first release on the group’s Latino Buggerveil Records. Like the label’s second release, Double Live, it’s highly recommended if you can find an affordable copy, and just like the title says, it is a trip: a psychedelic audio tour of the Surfers’ Bloodrock-damaged Southern milieu.

There was Steve Fitch, later immortalized on My Album By Me By Steve Fitch, singing “In The Neighborhood” in his impossibly deep voice. (All I know about Steve Fitch, I learned from the handwritten liner notes to A Texas Trip: he was born in the same town where surgeons operated on President Reagan’s butt, and 30 years ago, he could be reached at Kobe Steakhouse in Nashville, Tennessee: (615) 327-9083, now the restaurant’s fax line.) One of the two songs submitted by the terrifying Dallas punk outfit Stick Men With Ray Guns was the definitive version of “Kill the Innocent,” and the Surfers themselves contributed “Flame Grape,” later to become “Jimi.”

Daniel Johnston gave Latino Buggerveil “Don’t Play Cards with Satan” and “Grievances,” and the troubled singer-songwriter joined the Buttholes on the disorienting, nine-minute drone and percussion jam that closed side one, “All Day.” Again, the liner notes don’t exactly, ah…


Several years later, during the brief, post-Nevermind craze for quality, Buttholes guitarist Paul Leary produced Johnston’s major-label debut (and major-label swan song), Fun.

Listen to “All Day” after the jump, plus Gibby Haynes’ interview with Daniel Johnston. Acid comes up…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Remembering the brilliant hypocrisy of Death Cigarettes
02:25 pm



The 1990s were definitely a time when the anti-smoking forces got the upper hand over the enemy for good. Airports became 95% no-smoking zones. In New York State, where I lived, Governor Mario Cuomo passed the New York Clean Indoor Air Act in 1990, which banned smoking in many environments, including stores, taxis, certain restaurants, schools, and most significantly, the majority of worksites. Once a normal smoker working at a normal job couldn’t smoke in the office, the jig was pretty much up. Years later came the stringent requirements in New York for separate and ventilated smoking facilities.

The change was especially evident in music venues. A thing that would have been scarcely imaginable in the 1980s—smoke-free music shows—became commonplace. In years to come, a single plume of smoke emanating from the middle of the hall would be noticed by every individual present.

With the advent of no-smoking signs and especially cancer warnings on cigarette packaging, a British entrepreneur named B.J. Cunningham spotted an opportunity to make a buck and also to be clever while doing it. In 1991 Cunningham started the Enlightened Tobacco Company—still have to chuckle at that name—which sold a product called Death Cigarettes with suitably doomy black packaging with white lettering and a skull and crossbones. The black packages contained the regulars, the white ones had Death Lights, jokingly referred to as Slow Death. The cigarettes themselves also had a demure little skull and crossbones on them.

Death Cigarettes founder B.J. Cunningham
Far from flinching at the “required” health warnings, Death Cigarettes positively reveled in them, with mordantly amusing messages like “It’s your funeral” and “Too bad, you’re gonna die.” One of their slogans was “The Grim Reaper, don’t come cheaper,” and posters for Death Cigarettes boldly bore the messages “SERIAL KILLER” and “BLOW YOURSELF AWAY.”

For the budding goth scene, the cigarettes were all but irresistible. British artist and illustrator Matt Lyon put it succinctly a few weeks ago:

“I’ve got fond memories of these from the early 90s. They soon became the cigarette of choice for shoegazers, goths and students alike, not least because of the packaging, but also their use of hemp paper and additive-free tobacco.”

They were healthier?

According to Persuasion in Advertising by John and Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, there were rumors of coffin-shaped vending machines in certain clubs. It would be great to corroborate that one—does anyone remember that?

The post-Internet generation that was coming up was arguably more health-conscious—maybe all that legislation had a positive effect—and Death Cigarettes failed to make it past the year 1999.

In 2015 the Hinterland Gallery in Kent, England, hosted an interesting exhibition on the product, featuring original advertising posters for Death Cigarettes as well as a remarkable Death Cigarettes-themed piano with “DANGER OF DEATH” stamped on the front.

This mug was once available on Etsy, but no longer:


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Marijuana bouquet delivery service
10:04 am



Okay, so it’s the day after Valentine’s Day and I’m sorta late blogging about this glorious cannabis bouquet by Californian weed farmers Lowell Herb. But does it really only have to be Valentine’s Day to send someone you care a bouquet of cannabis? No. This is perfect for any occasion, if you ask me. Any occasion.

Apparently, the bouquets were going for $400/ounce. I’m uncertain which strain they’re using. I wonder if you can choose from a sativa, indica or hybrid bouquet? Something in a Strawbery Cough, please. That would be excellent.

From what I understand, this was only meant for Valentine’s Day. BUT, they’re still featuring the bouquets on their website with a contact email. Perhaps this will be a year-round gift? I sure do hope so!


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Was Groucho Marx’s famous anthem ‘Hooray for Captain Spaulding’ actually a celebration of cocaine?
12:42 pm



Rule of thumb, the earlier a Marx Brothers movie was made, the better it probably is. The initial impulse of the brothers’ manic energy and inventive wordplay was difficult to reproduce as time wore on, although they did make seven first-rate Marx Brothers movies before tailing off (the last really good one being A Day at the Races from 1937). 

The first two Marx Brothers movies were The Cocoanuts (1929) and Animal Crackers (1930), and both were based on successful Broadway musicals. Monkey Business from 1931 was the first script that was originally developed to be filmed by a Hollywood studio, that being Paramount.

For my money, Animal Crackers might be the quintessential Marx Brothers movie. Groucho plays an African explorer named Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding, and the movie opens with a bang when four African men carry Capt. Spaulding into a hoity-toity gala party in a sedan chair. Groucho immediately breaks into “Hello, I Must Be Going,” which prompts the entire chorus, including Margaret Dumont and Zeppo, to break into “Hooray for Captain Spaulding,” in which Groucho actually doesn’t do much singing, he mainly does funny dances between the choruses.

The song was written for the stage musical by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby in 1928. Interesting choice for a name, “Captain Spaulding,” because that name was actually associated with a cocaine dealer who had gotten into serious legal trouble a few years earlier. It’s hard to project back in time to know what it meant to name a Groucho Marx character Captain Spaulding, but it seems a fair supposition that for certain ears, the phrase “Hooray for Captain Spaulding” might essentially have been the equivalent of “Hooray, my coke dealer is here!”

Who was this original Captain Spaulding? For that we turn to the tragic life of one of Hollywood’s early stars, Wallace Reid, who had appeared in D.W. Griffith’s two most famous movies, Birth of a Nation and Intolerance, but was better known as a romantic lead in movies like Carmen (1915) and The Affairs of Anatol (1921). After suffering a serious injury in a train wreck in 1923, he became addicted to morphine and passed away at the age of 31.

In his biography Wallace Reid: The Life and Death of a Hollywood Idol, E.J. Fleming described the drug scene in the silent era as follows:

Drugs were plentiful and expensive. Stars used them to cure hangovers from “bathtub gin” or from fruit punch laced with 200-proof alcohol. The bigger dealers concentrated on a single studio and used a network of low-level studio employees as paid couriers. “Mr. Fix-It” served Fox, “the Man” and “Captain Spaulding” at Lasky. “Spaulding” was once arrested for selling drugs but when he threatened to name names the charges were dropped.

So one of the main drug dealers in Hollywood used the name “Captain Spaulding” in Hollywood, but there was also an incident in Paris in 1920 that gave the name a strong association with cocaine. Olive Thomas was a silent film actress who died in 1920 at the age of 24 of acute nephritis caused by accidental poisoning. Her death was eventually declared accidental, but her sudden hospitalization and initially mysterious death ensured that her case would be headline fodder for weeks. A man with the name of “Spalding” was connected to the case, and actually was given a prison sentence for smuggling cocaine into France. As the New York Herald reported on September 6, 1920: 

American is Imprisoned for Smuggling Cocaine
    An American who gives his name as Spalding has been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for smuggling cocaine into Paris from Germany.  The supply, which amounted to four kilogrammes, was concealed in a trunk which went astray and was sent to the depot for lost articles.
    Here, after several days, it was claimed by Spalding, who declared to the Customs’ officers that it contained nothing of a dutiable nature, a statement which was disproved upon examination.  In his defense, Spalding stated that the trunk had been consigned to him by a friend, one Mrs. Green, from Mainz.

This “American named Spalding” actually was a captain and was referred to as such in an article that appeared a week later.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Donald Trump bong
10:00 am



This is truly a bong that could go for any political party or group affiliation. Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, alt-right, liberal, socialist, libertarian etc. it could work for you! (With the caveat that you are smoking with like-minded individuals who feel the same way that you do about the current inhabitant of the White House who apparently doesn’t know if it’s a strong US dollar that’s good for the American economy or a weak one?)

You can hate smoke out of a Trump bong or alternately you can believe you’re making America great again with every toke of your “Grown in the USA” herb stash when you inhale it via this unique tribute to our illustrious talking yam leader. It’s entirely up to whatever you project onto Trump. Kinda genius in that way.

“Make America High Again” should be the marketing slogan for this. Lord knows we need more like it. Weed brings Americans together.

The bong is designed by Tom Mason, an artist from Byron Bay, Australia. I looked on the website where it was being sold for $89.00 and couldn’t find it. Maybe it’s already sold out? Perhaps contact the site and they’ll bring it back!


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Catnip is one hell of a drug
09:19 am



As the story goes, this cat (name unknown) supposedly got away from its owner and entered a pet store unwittingly. Apparently the cat then made an immediate beeline for the catnip section and got high as a kite on copious amounts of feline “entertainment insurance.” The rest is history as you’ll see in these two short videos, below.

This cat entered the pet store by accident and had the time of his life rolling around in catnip toys! Pure kitty bliss :D Oh, and his owner came to pick him up, so all’s well that ends well!

I highly doubt the cat “accidentally” entered the pet store. It had to have known what it was doing. It could probably smell that catnip from a mile away. I’d do the same exact thing too if I were that cat. He was probably trying to drug himself silly to escape all the political arguments on Facebook. It’s heavy out there, folks!


via Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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