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The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy
10.29.2015
10:36 am

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Books
Drugs

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I’ve been aware of Kliph Nesteroff’s singular erudition for a number of years now. Sometime in 2008 WFMU’s incredible Beware of the Blog (which sadly stopped operating earlier this year) ran a loooong article about the early years of George Carlin—which is to say, focusing on the years before the 1967 release of Carlin’s first solo album Take-Offs and Put-Ons, an era that most readers probably had hardly any notion about. After a while came similar articles dedicated to the early years of Woody Allen and David Letterman, both of which were similarly informative. All of these articles carried the cryptic byline “Listener Kliph Nesteroff,” which seemed random enough and lent the impression that the author was perhaps a housebound retiree, former Navy during the Korean War, something like that.

How happy for us readers—as the news may portend further publications down the road—to learn that Kliph is far from a grouchy old obsessive, but rather a charming young obsessive (well, maybe a little grouchy), who for some reason has acquired a taste for unearthing and preserving invaluable scuttlebutt from the early days of comedy. For years he has run an essential blog called Classic Television Showbiz and an amusing Tumblr called Showbiz Imagery and Chicanery. The former houses his long-form interviews with some of the important figures of midcentury comedy (many on the verge of being forgotten today), including Orson Bean, George Schlatter, Peter Marshall, a category that also includes an incredible eight-part interview with Jack Carter. Showbiz Imagery and Chicanery is every bit as entrancing, consisting mostly of context-free screen shots of puzzling images and text culled from the hours Kliph spends with the inexhaustible (and expensive! do donate!) resource known as the Variety.com archives.

Suffice to say, in a few short years Kliph has put together a knowledge base on the roots of stand-up comedy that dwarfs that of anyone younger than, say, 50. By dint of curiosity and hard work, Kliph put himself into a position where he could see the linkages between the present and the past, could isolate the ways in which the patterns that structure the industry of professional comedy found their origins not necessarily in the ersatz “comedy boom” of the 1980s but in practices that stretch much further back.

It was incumbent upon Kliph, then, to write a book about all of this, and thank goodness, that’s precisely what he’s done. Next week sees the publication of The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy, and I can say with confidence that this book will be an invaluable resource for decades to come, for anyone who wants to know about the full history of comedy, stuff that predates the days when Robin Williams was saying “Nanu Nanu” on national TV. Something very similar happened in baseball a generation or two ago, when a writer named Lawrence Ritter decided to hunt down as many players as he could find from the early days of baseball (around 1900)—those interviews eventually became a book called The Glory of Our Times, which was published in 1966 and had a massive impact on the way the sport’s fans regarded the heroes of prior generations. The highest compliment I can pay Kliph’s new book The Comedians (which is available for pre-order right now) is that I think he may just have written comedy’s analogue to The Glory of Our Times, the book that—if you have not absorbed its contents—all but demands that you hold your tongue on the subject of old-time comedy.

Kliph graciously set aside some time to answer some questions from DM.

You’ve discovered a whole new area of research to mine, at least for people of our generation. Soon it will just be called “Kliphland.” How did you get started investigating the midcentury era of comedians?

Kliph Nesteroff: As a teenager I was your typical hipster scum, collecting vinyl records and raiding local thrift stores. I collected soul music, garage rock, surf music - and comedy records. The comedy LPs were by far the most worthless. I would see the same comedy records in every junk pile: Rusty Warren, Woody Woodbury, The First Family featuring Vaughn Meader.
 

 
I was already interested in comedy but had never heard of these people. Why were they in every thrift store but never on TV or in movies? They must have been super popular at one point if their records were everywhere, right? So that made me sort of curious. Then I learned that after Vaughn Meader had the best-selling record of all time (not just comedy, but any LP period) he went crazy, schizophrenic, destitution, eating out of dumpsters, eventually wandering the desert on peyote before turning Christian and reinventing himself as a local country and western performer in Maine. Clearly there was a worthwhile story there.

I was already a writer and started stand-up at the age of 18. So, I guess the subject matter was just a natural combination of interests. The creative freedom Ken Freedman provided at WFMU allowed me to experiment and write on any topic of my choosing.

The kids in the audience at the UCB Theater probably have no idea that they’re enthused about an art form that was more or less invented by the Mob. You write that pretty much all comedians after Prohibition were working by the grace of one or another group of gangsters. That must have been hard!

Kliph Nesteroff: No, I wouldn’t say the Mafia invented the art form. In my book I have an anecdote from a 90-year-old comedian who argues they coined the phrase “stand-up comic,” because the Mob managed boxers they called “stand-up fighters” and called people they could rely on “stand-up guys.” But no, the Mob had nothing to do with inventing it. They simply owned 90% of the venues where comedians performed from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. So, you know, make the wrong wisecrack and you might suffer a broken limb.

You’ve spent a lot of time lately hanging out with some of the now-forgotten stand ups of the 1950s, who are now getting pretty old and crotchety too. They’ve been treating you pretty well, but they’ve probably been difficult at times too. Any stories to pass along?

Kliph Nesteroff: I don’t know. Old people get angry sometimes. I guess we would too if we had trouble peeing. Carl Reiner is considered the epitome of clean comedy, a guy who can write divinely funny scripts without cussing. I was at a Dick Van Dyke tribute once. I went to the bathroom and was at the second urinal when someone came in and went to the first urinal right beside me. It was a 90-year-old Carl Reiner. He braced himself with his left hand against the wall and the whole time he was at the urinal grumbling, “Goddamit Fuck! Come on! Go! Go! Just go! Jesus fucking bullshit, come on! Fucking goddamn fuck!”

You’ve unearthed so much valuable information about pioneers who helped forge comedy archetypes we all take for granted now, like Frank Fay and Jerry Lester. It must have been fun to spot and explain connections between, say, Bert Williams and Jim Gaffigan.

Kliph Nesteroff: Well, mapping the connections that haven’t been connected before is a little bit like playing God. Based on the reviews coming in, it sounds like I’ve laid down some kind of masterwork, a sacrosanct history of comedy, and that’s extremely flattering and gratifying - but wasn’t my intention at all. I was just writing whatever I felt was interesting. Comparing Jim Gaffigan’s under-the-breath comments to a similar gimmick the vaudeville comic Bert Williams utilized is just an easy point of reference to help the reader get it. Sort of the way lazy film critics explain new movies: “It’s Revenge of the Nerds meets Schindler’s List!”
 

 
It was interesting to read about Carlin’s drug use in such detail. I didn’t realize how central LSD was to his reinvention in the late ‘60s.

Kliph Nesteroff: George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lily Tomlin are considered the three revolutionary figures of comedy from that time. All three were primarily into cocaine in the 1970s, but before that Carlin and Pryor used LSD to positive effect. I think we as a society, y’know, as we hear The Beatles piped through at the local grocery store… we forget just how valuable psychedelics have been to expanding the artist’s inherent ability. Carlin and Pryor would have been fine talents regardless, they were born with that. But it’s because of their 1960s LSD use that their perspectives were forever altered, and why so many today consider them comic geniuses. LSD and other psychedelics can help our latent talents fuse new, uncharted neuro pathways and in turn create an original artistic temperament, unique perspective, prolific output. Groundbreaking revelations come from these experiences and they don’t wear off like a hallucination. Instead you possess new insight that will further your existing artistic ability. I mean, it’s hardly news that LSD is responsible for countless Aphrodites in music, illustration, filmmaking… But maybe the new news, as I argue in my book, is that it had the same important effect on comedy. If such theories are accepted, it’s usually in reference to the 1960s. Let’s not forget that it can still be used with the same revelatory intent today. To quote George Carlin: “More people should do acid.”
 

 
Flip Wilson was a huge deal in the 1970s, but he’s practically forgotten now. Can you describe his importance to the comedy counterculture?

Kliph Nesteroff: It’s mostly tangential. He was an early employer for Richard Pryor and George Carlin, using them as writers, and bankrolled Carlin’s best-selling comedy LPs. Flip Wilson’s significance was less on the counterculture than the mainstream. He was the very first African-American with a major network success of his own. You could argue Cosby with I Spy, but Cosby only costarred. Flip Wilson was the star of his own show… an African-American cokehead who had the number one comedy program in America. Think about that. Ten years earlier, Sammy Davis Jr, a guy who loved Sinatra’s racist jokes and endorsed Richard Nixon, could not get a sponsor for his own variety show because he was Black. Just a few years later and Flip Wilson was on the cover of every conceivable magazine. It’s incredible how quickly America changed. And despite the lunatics saying abhorrent things on cable news today, I think we’re experiencing another rapid paradigm shift akin to that era. Never in my lifetime did I expect to see gay marriage, marijuana legalization or a Black president. Nor could I ever imagine that Bernie Sanders would be a household name. Jerry Seinfeld kvetching about political correctness is not too far from Bob Hope complaining about hippie protestors. America is changing, brother. Sure, everything could dissipate like Jerry Rubin turning into a Wall Street powerbroker, but I think we’re only entering the Abbie Hoffman phase of this new era.

Order Kliph Nesteroff’s The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy from Amazon.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
MiVape: Meet the iPhone of weed
10.28.2015
10:14 am

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Drugs
Science/Tech

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I’m a fellow with an awful lot of experience burning the leaves of the cannabis plant and inhaling it deeply into my lungs. I’ve been a wake-n-bake smoker for over 35 years, which surely should qualify me for some sort of Ph.D. in weed. For most of the past eight years, at least when partaking at home, I’ve used a Storz + Bickel Volcano vaporizer, generally considered the Rolls Royce of vaporizers, and for good reason. After you’ve used practically any vaporizer, though, it’s a bit difficult to go back to the burning leaves method. I hate smoking herb out of a pipe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so snobby about it that I’ll turn it down when it’s passed my way, but it hurts my throat. Not my preference.

A couple years ago I got hipped to “dabbing” or specifically in my case, smoking via a Heath Stone, which is basically a small black disc of the same inert rocky material used in a chemistry class bunsen burner. Using what resembles a dental tool, you take a teeny, tiny amount of hash oil, wax, “budder” or whatever else you want to call your approx 70% pure THC by weight concentrated tipple and “dab” it onto this disc, which is stuck in the end of a regular glass bong via a special bowl. You then torch the wax with a three-flame lighter—a BIC lighter would just melt it—and with one quick hit, you’ve consumed about the same amount of THC as you would have had you smoked three joints of extremely strong pot by yourself. It’s back to incineration, true, but it’s also a fairly brief interaction with anything that’s going to irritate your throat or lungs. Also I prefer the high from wax, I ain’t gonna lie. For a long-time head like m’self, well, once you go wax, you never go back.

My point being that I effectively mothballed the Volcano within a matter of days (if not day) once I started using the Health Stone set-up. And for the most part I’ve been very cold on the pre-loaded cartridges for vapor pens. Portable and handy, sure. And clean, too. But most of them—and I find this to be a critical flaw—just don’t get you high. And all the flavors and shit. I don’t really want hash oil that’s Key Lime Pie-flavored. This is the kind of thing I want to get away from.

So the fact is, when the fine folks at Vapornation contacted me to ask if I wanted to review a new portable vaporizer that they were very enthusiastic about, I was initially kind of blasé about it until I realized that it wasn’t just for herb, it was also for concentrates. Once I knew that, yes, this thing is for wax, too, you know, I was kinda interested for a review model to be sent my way after all…

First off, just let me say that whoever thinks they can separate me from my portable MiVape vaporizer will have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. This is a portable vaporizer done right!

As you take the MiVape out of the packaging, you feel like you’re unwrapping an iPhone. This isn’t unintentional, I would imagine, and the notion that “If Apple made a portable vaporizer, it would be just like the MiVape” probably occurred to more than just me. It feels like an Apple product in a lot of ways. it really does.

Beyond that, it’s also pretty simple to use: set the temp once with digital plus/minus controls, turn it on, turn it off. The material, either loose ground herb or a dab wiped off on a piece of cotton gauze, goes into a thimble-sized test tube-like chamber and then snaps into place. It’s all glass on glass and it’s also a pure convection system, meaning that the “burnt popcorn” taste of cached weed from the Volcano is a thing of the past. It can’t burn.
 

 
Overall, the new MiVape, made by Vaporfection, is the best vaporizer that I’ve ever used, whether a big ol’ “desktop” version like the Volcano, or a cigarette packet-sized MiVape. Size does matter! A Volcano seems very clunky and old-fashioned when side-by-side with the slicker, hitech MiVape. The Volcano that sat on my desk for years has now been replaced with a tiny box and when I leave home, I can just scoop it up and put it into my pocket, something you can’t do with the Volcano.

After the jump, a video that explains how the MiVape works…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Deep inside the psychedelic underworld of Cleveland, Ohio’s Acid-drenched ‘Love Commune’
10.26.2015
01:07 pm

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Drugs
Movies
Music

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Sign Of Aquarius (aka Love Commune) is a hippie exploitation movie shot in Cleveland in 1970. Arriving on the heels of Altamont and the Manson Family murders, Sign Of Aquarius is a hot mess of cliches that sees the counter culture through a brown acid fog instead of rose-tinted Summer Of Love granny glasses. It’s an Easy Rider bummer filled with hard drugs, bathtub LSD and softcore flower child group gropes. Later, padded with some blaxploitation jive (power to the peepholes) it was re-titled Ghetto Freaks to bring in the Times Square crowd. The movie stinks as bad as a crash pad mattress but it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than Milos Forman’s hippie dippy crapfest Hair. And it has a weirdly compelling, occasionally amazing, soundtrack composed by Tom Baker and Al Zbacnik.
 

 
The soundtrack was released as Sign Of Aquarius on the Adell label in 1970. It’s rare as shit and I couldn’t find the soundtrack anywhere on the ‘net for downloading. But I managed to source three of these tunes from a VHS copy of the movie I own and one from the album itself. Four songs that make up the best tracks on the record: “Om, Pax, Om”, “Mousey,” “Soorangi,” and the strangely titled “We Are The Aquarius” (shouldn’t it be “Aquarians”?) are here for your listening pleasure. It’s some really dynamite stuff with the particularly awesome “Om, Pax, Om”  being, to my ears, a psychedelic classic. The other tunes are funky breakdowns with one Moogy drone bit with some jazzy sax that takes place during a bad acid trip that pre-dates some of John Carpenter’s minimalist synth work.

I had to add some light show trickery to obscure a bunch of nudity during “Om, Pax, Om” but otherwise here’s my favorite moments from Sign Of Aquarius in all of its unadulterated badassness.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Black Sabbath’s 1972 cocaine budget: $75,000
10.09.2015
10:35 am

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Drugs
Music

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Black Sabbath circa mid-1970s with Ozzy showing us where he puts his cocaine
 
All the members of Black Sabbath have been pretty open about their debauched past, but of all the stories concerning their experiences with illegal party favors, I think my favorite is Geezer Butler’s account of how the band used to have cocaine flown to them on private planes while they were recording their masterful 1972 album, Vol. 4

During that time, many of Sabbath’s drug-soaked escapades took place in the rented Bel Air mansion of John Du Pont (former heir to the of Du Pont family fortune whose high-profile 1997 murder case was recently depicted in the film, Foxcatcher).
 
Ozzy Osbourne performing with Black Sabbath in Montreal, 1972
Ozzy performing with Black Sabbath in Montreal in 1972. Ozzy’s abs courtesy of cocaine!
 
According to Butler’s mathematical calculations, Sabbath spent approximately $75K on cocaine in 1972, a whopping $15K more than they spent recording Vol. 4. Here’s more on Sabbath’s white line fever from former cocaine enthusiast Ozzy Osbourne via his 2010 autobiography (which I highly recommend), I Am Ozzy:
 

Eventually we started to wonder where the fuck all the coke was coming from…I’m telling you: that coke was the whitest, purest, strongest stuff you could ever imagine. One sniff, and you were king of the universe.

 
In the same book Osbourne noted:
 

For me, Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath’s best-ever albums—although the record company wouldn’t let us keep the title, ‘cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn’t want the hassle of a controversy. We didn’t argue.

 
It’s almost too bad that the Vol. 4 cover has now become iconic in its own right, because wouldn’t it be great if it truly had been called Snowblind?

In addition to snorting what could easily equate to mountains of cocaine, Sabbath never really discriminated when it came to drugs or booze. On one particular occasion Geezer Butler nearly committed suicide after tripping balls on acid that someone had dropped into his drink. According to Butler, it was that incident that helped him recognize that he needed to get sober. Yikes.

Here’s some choice video of Sabbath below performing their homage to Tony Montana’s drug of choice from Vol. 4, “Snowblind” in 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Because, cocaine.
 

Black Sabbath performing “Snowblind” live on June 19, 1978 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Flowered Up’s ‘Weekender’: ‘Quadrophenia’ for the E-generation
10.08.2015
02:35 pm

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Drugs
Movies
Music

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003flowerweekn.jpg
 
Every generation has at least one song that captures the essence of their era. For the loved-up clubbers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, there are more than a few generation-defining songs to choose from. Near the top of any such list would be “Weekender” by London five-piece band Flowered Up.

Released in 1992, “Weekender” was Flowered Up’s ironic paean to rave culture—a hedonistic life of partying all the time, living life for drugs and music. It was the band’s biggest chart success, just skirting the UK top twenty and was deservedly hailed as their “masterpiece.”

Formed in 1989 by brothers Liam and Joe Maher, Flowered Up had a short but bright career that promised much more than was delivered, with the group sadly disbanding before achieving their full potential.
 
001wizfloweweek.jpg
 
Apart from being a classic rave song, “Weekender” became a short film written and directed by W.I.Z. (aka Andrew “W.I.Z.” Whiston)—a hip young promo director who went on to direct music videos for Primal Scream, Oasis, Massive Attack, Manic Street Preachers, Kasabian and Dizzee Rascal, amongst many others. W.I.Z. took Flowered Up’s song and created a film that captured the hedonism of “E” culture and tied it back to its musical antecedent The Who’s Quadrophenia. Flowered Up were often “lazily compared” to “Madchester” bands like Happy Mondays and Northside, but as W.I.Z. once wrote in his obituary for Flowered Up’s lead singer Liam Maher, who died in 2009 from a drug overdose, Flowered Up were:

...much closer to The Clash or The Who, sharing the contradictions of white boys within a black music scene, Liam articulating with incandescent anger the doubts hidden by the prevailing euphoria.

W.I.Z. described Liam as “a vital poet, like Pete Townshend before him”:

...he was the first of his generation to eloquently question the sincerity of its unbridled hedonism. Nowhere more savagely succinct than in their swansong, ‘Weekender’.

W.I.Z.‘s film Weekender opens and closes with the iconic image of lead actor Lee Whitlock staring directly at the camera as he slowly descends on a window cleaning platform, while Phil Daniels’ dialog from the film Quadrophenia plays underneath.

As W.I.Z. points out:
 

There’s nothing romantic about this, as when ecstasy culture finally expired, [Liam] like many of his peers were cast-offs, left skint with crippling drug addictions, unable to reconcile the comedown and the missed opportunity (for social change) that he, before anyone else, had had the honesty to admonish.

 
A quarter of a century on, Weekender has lost none of its power and daring in capturing the hedonism of rave culture—and here it is in its uncensored glory.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Man found on floor surrounded by junk food after call to 911 for being ‘too high’
10.07.2015
02:44 pm

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Amusing
Drugs

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Stoner surrounded by junk food
 
Welp, here’s another story that is headed straight for the ever-growing Stoner Hall of Fame.

According to a story from the Seattle Times published yesterday (via The Youngstown Vindicator), last Friday a 22-year-old Ohio man called 911 because he had apparently gotten “too high” smoking marijuana. I don’t think any amount of police training could have prepared the cops for what they found upon arriving at the abode of the stoner in question.

According to a report filed by the Austintown Township police, the man was found in a fetal position on his floor, with an assortment standard stoner junk food like Doritos, Goldfish crackers and Chips Ahoy cookies scattered around him. He also complained that he “couldn’t feel his hands.” Which is sad because it sounds like he was really hungry. Johnny Law found his stash, but have yet to charge him with a crime. Although they did take away his car keys. Now how is he going to get to 7-11 the next time he gets the munchies? Poor guy.

I’ve often said that the most dangerous thing a stoner has ever done is eat too much junk food such as polishing off an entire box of Cap’n Crunch (with Crunch Berries of course) in one sitting. But the image of this guy (which is captured pretty accurately in the photo above I think) really takes the cake. I don’t know about you, but I’d do just about anything to see the “crime scene” photos from this caper.

Oh, Ohio dude, NEVER CHANGE!

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Keith Haring tequila bottles
10.02.2015
04:43 pm

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Art
Drugs

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For the last 7 years 1800 Tequila has released a series of tequila bottles done up in the style of well-known recent artists. The project is called 1800’s “Essential Series.” In the past, their bottles have featured the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gary Baseman, Tara McPherson, Shepard Fairey, and Ian McGillivray, among many others.

This year 1800 selected Keith Haring for a spiffy set of 6 tequila bottles that look mighty handsome.

Each bottle costs $34.99 at a reputable online liquor purveyor.
 

 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Life’s been good, sure, but how HIGH, exactly, is Joe Walsh in this TV performance?
09.30.2015
09:54 am

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Drugs
Music
Television

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Just how high is Joe Walsh? That is the question we’ll be addressing in this bizarre performance from a late ‘80s TV program.

There’s no doubt that life’s been good to Joe Walsh. The critically acclaimed guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter has been a member of at least five successful rock bands over the past 40+ years of his lucrative musical career. In between the bookending of his popular work that began with James Gang in the late sixties, and continuing on through his ostensibly neverending association with that monster cash machine known as The Eagles, whom he joined in 1975 and is still going strong—thanks mainly to an endless parade of “farewell” reunion tours, each of which is inexplicably followed up by yet another incredibly lucrative farewell tour (Apparently, The Eagles are a band that simply loves long goodbyes)—Walsh has also managed to find time to release a total of twelve solo albums on the side.

Joe Walsh scored a major Top 40 hit in 1978 with his solo song “Life’s Been Good.” It’s essentially a song wherein Joe recites a laundry list of how much more awesome his life is than yours. He describes the endless money, the cars, the mansions, the chicks, the debauchery, and all of the rest of the trappings of rock superstardom that most of us can merely imagine. I suppose we’re supposed to live vicariously through him, but the actual truth is that the song is one long brag fest that some might find irritating. We get it, Joe. You’re very successful, and we’re not.

Well, a complete decade after the song “Life’s Been Good” was a major hit, Joe Walsh agreed to appear on a TV show called Sunday Night in 1988. It was broadcast on NBC on (you guessed it) Sunday nights.
 

 
On this particular show, the host, (a very young) David Sanborn, introduces Walsh at the beginning of this train-wreck of a clip. It’s immediately obvious that something is wrong with the musician. He seems confused and disoriented, but luckily, he has the late, great Hiram Bullock—guitarist for the Sunday Night house band, and best known to many for his tenure as the guitarist for “The Worlds Most Dangerous Band”  on Late Night with David Letterman—doing most of the heavy lifting for Walsh during this performance that goes completely off the rails from the very beginning.

All of the guys in the house band seem to be grinning at Walsh’s inability to play or focus. They try to pull him along, but that only goes so far. Walsh begins forgetting important lyrics, and his guitar work is, uh, off. The performance deteriorates into Walsh engaging in a constant series of shrugging, mugging, winking, and generally confused facial contortions in the direction of the audience and camera. He looks like he might, at any moment, start disassembling the amplifiers onstage.

Perhaps the funniest moment (or maybe the most poignant) in this video, comes when Walsh is required to sing “I lost my license, now I don’t drive” in his obviously altered state of consciousness. These words seem legit, coming from the guy who can only shout fragments of the lyrics that he can barely remember. The beautifully ironic bottom line is that Joe Walsh is so high, he even manages to butcher that “lost license” line. It’s a testament to, and a perfect indication of, just how far gone he is. Hopefully someone took the man’s car keys.

Of course, the most hair pulling aspect of the clip below consists in the choice of the song. Here we have a rich and famous guy, a guy who’s rich and famous because we, the audience, have elevated him to that status. And yet, the man is so somewhere else that he can’t even rub it in properly about how much better his life is than ours. He disrespects us so much that he doesn’t even bother (in a very real sense) to “show up for the gig.” Instead, he writes the audience off completely and spends the 4 minutes and 50 seconds documented of this clip in a “rocky mountain way.” Of course, having said that, I have to admit that the schadenfreude factor is off the chain.

And if anyone cares to question this article’s assertion that Walsh is high out of his mind, I’d simply direct you to take a gander at Walsh’s sartorial choice for this performance. No one not high dresses like that. Not even in 1988.
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
If you do LSD, your hot dog will turn into a troll doll and speak to you!
09.23.2015
11:22 am

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Amusing
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This is from one of those outrageously bad drug scare films from 1969. It’s called Case Study: LSD and it’s so bad it’s funny. Apparently, if you drop some acid and decide to eat a hot dog, the acid could potentially turn your meal into a troll doll.

Honestly, if I saw this nonsensical propaganda back in 1969, I probably couldn’t wait to get my hands on stuff! I mean, talking troll doll hot dogs?! I’m so there!

The talking hot dog had seven kids and a wife to support. He deserved better.

 
With thanks to Rusty Blazenhoff

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Seven Up’: The mind-expanding Krautrock album Timothy Leary made on the run from the law
09.18.2015
08:49 am

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Drugs
Music
Thinkers
Unorthodox

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The tale of acid sage Dr. Timothy Leary’s prison escape and subsequent exile is among the most amusing stories in the annals of drug culture lore—though sentenced to an absurd twenty years for utterly petty offenses including possession of a couple of roaches, Leary was able to game the prison system: as a reputable Harvard psychologist, it happened that he himself had designed the psychological examinations he was given by prison administrators to determine his security and work situations. He got himself assigned to a cushy gardening job in a minimum security facility, from which he handily escaped, issuing an outlandish revolutionary screed to taunt authorities shortly after he fled. Via a series of sneaks involving the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, an arms dealer, and a socialite whom he eventually married (how has this not been a TV mini-series yet? Get on this, Netflix…) Leary ended up in Switzerland, where he met with the German Kosmiche band Ash Ra Tempel, with whom he recorded the album Seven Up.
 

 
Formed by musicians from Eruption and Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel mostly shunned structured songs in favor of lengthy and often downright fierce improvisations. Their albums typically featured two side-length compositions, a feral freakout on side one, and a more ambient, electronics-driven suite on the flip, presumably to help sand the edges off from side one. From Peter Buckley’s Rough Guide Rock:

Manuel Göttsching (guitar) and Hartmut Enke (bass) had played together in various psychedelic blues and pop combos for a few years before they formed Ash Ra Tempel in August 1970 with drummer/keyboardist Klaus Schultz, who had just left Tangerine Dream. The most cosmic of the Krautrock bands, Ash Ra Tempel became legendary for their wild improvisational free-form live jams, influenced by Pink Floyd but eschewing songs to take the concept of space-rock much further, enhanced by both Schultz’s and Gottsching’s interest in experimental electronic music.

Schultz soon left for a solo career but several other musicians passed through the group’s revolving door, and with some of them Göttsching and Enke recorded the amazing Schwingungen (1972). With the idea of recording the ultimate psychedelic trip, Ohr label-head Rolf Kaiser next took Ash Ra Tempel to Switzerland to party endlessly and to record the album Seven Up with LSD guru Timothy Leary, who was living there in exile. The results were a more song-orientated first section, with Leary singing, followed by several conventional rock songs melded into a single track divided by spacey electronic segues.

 
More after the jump…

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