While the 1987 BBC documentary The Confessions Of Robert Crumb lacks the intensity and insight of Terry Zwigoff’s masterful Crumb it is still an invaluable introduction to one of the world’s most fascinating and enigmatic artists. Fans of Crumb will find it short on revelations but initiates should be charmed.
Love him or loathe him, there is no denying that Crumb was way ahead of his time when it came to toppling sacred cows and shattering taboos. Discovering his comix as a teenager in the late Sixties was one of those formative events that fucked me up for life…in a good way.
A truly fantastic idea by San Francisco agency Pereira & O’Dell to promote Snoop Dogg’s Kingsize Slim Rolling Papers: Rolling Words. Rolling Words is a book made entirely out of hemp where each page is a rolling paper with Snoop Dogg’s lyrics and witticisms written on them (in non-toxic ink of course). Also, the spine of the book has a match striking surface so you can smoke up on the run.
Folks attending Coachella this year will get to sample Snoop’s creation.
BBC news program Week In, Week Out covers the the heroin problem in Wales. Your host: John Cale.
The director of the documentary, Nick Skinner, talks about making the film with Cale:
The world I explored with John Cale was much darker. In the rundown post-industrial towns of South Wales, and the backstreets of Cardiff and Swansea, we came in contact with a the dark side of drug use. Teenagers shooting up because their mates do it, because there’s nothing else to do, because they are blocking out the pain of an abusive past. Adults trapped in a downward spiral of drugs, crime, prison and more drugs.
DM pal Mark MacLachlan passed on this oddment, Distant Drummer: Flowers of Darkness, an anti-drug film from the 1970s, which has a rather interesting pedigree, as Mark explained:
It’s 40 year old documentary on the growth of opium into heroin and how you stop it… It’s narrated by Paul Newman and directed by Glasgow writer Bill Templeton.
Templeton’s centenary is next year and nobody appears to be aware of how important a writer he was, particularly during the golden era of US television, when he penned programmes like Robin Hood, The Untouchables, 1984, Sword of Freedom, The Desilu Hour etcetera.
In his film work he wrote additional dialogue for Graham Greene’s The Fallen Idol directed by Carol Reed. All round a pretty incredible forgotten talent, whom Walt Disney fired after discovering a bottle of whisky at his desk. Inevitably he died back in Glasgow from the booze…
This was Templeton’s last film, and was originally part of a trilogy made for NBC, with Newman, Robert Mitchum and Rod Steiger narrating the different sections. It starts off even-handedly enough (nature has generously provided humanity with the means to get high) but soon falls into an anti-drug stance. However, it does give consideration to treatment and rehabilitation, rather than imprisonment, and contrasts the change in laws from 1956 to 1966. This is one for those with an interest in media and drug culture, or with a liking for quirky public service films.
Here’s the trailer for the newly restored Yellow Submarine.
The digital clean-up of the film’s photochemical elements was lovingly done entirely by hand, frame by frame. Having seen the world premiere of the restored version at this year’s SXSW, I can attest to its eye-searing intensity and lysergic beauty. While the story obviously remains the same, rather thin with a script comprised of surreal non sequiturs and bad puns, the overall experience of watching the film in a pristine digital format overwhelms the narrative with colors and artwork so you rich you can practically taste it. And the stereo soundtrack sounded wonderful.
Coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 29 with 5.1 surround sound. Expect to be astonished.
Mod Odyssey is a groovy short documentary on the creation of Yellow Submarine. Enjoy.
Étienne Sauret’s documentary Dirty Pictures is warm-hearted and appropriately shambolic look at the life of Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, the man who discovered the psychedelic effects of MDMA and a variety of other home-brewed synthetic compounds that alter, expand and raise consciousness.
A former Dow Chemical drug developer who early on saw the light (a mescaline trip), Shulgin moved on to independent research in the mid-1960s. With his wife Ann, he developed and tested hundreds of psychoactive drugs, mostly analogues of phenethylamines (which include MDMA and mescaline) and tryptamines like DMT and psilocibyn.
“I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyze its availability.” A. Shulgin.
Shulgin’s books PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved) and TiHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved) combine autobiography and research into essential reading for anyone who is interested in the science and history of psychedelics and the life of a spiritual revolutionary who has fearlessly led the fight to wrest consciousness from the brain police.
Here’s a clip from Acid Delirio Dei Sensi (Acid, Delirium Of The Senses), a very obscure acid exploitation film directed by Giuseppe Maria Scotese. Italian language bootlegs on DVD are available of this over-the-top psychedelic mindbender. I’ve yet to find one with English subtitles.
While few people have actually seen the film, poster art for Acid Delirio Dei Sensi is coveted among collectors. I own two, which I purchased 20 years ago before they became priceless.
From the early 1970’s into the 80’s, Robert Abel and Associates were pioneers in the use of computer graphics in TV commercials. His style was clearly influenced by Peter Max, Yellow Submarine, Milton Glaser, Stan Vanderbeek, Fillmore poster art and psychedelic culture in general. In addition to commercials, Abel did special effects work for films like Tron, The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek.
Abel’s style was nicknamed ‘photo-fusion,’ the combining of still photography with video. In his 1975 7-Up commercials, Abel used back-light techniques called ‘candy-apple neon,’ a highly stylized type of animation that created a day-glo effect. In 1982, Abel used ‘candy-apple neon’ to create the look of Tron.
Here’s a selection of Abel’s trippy commercials. The 7-Up ads are particularly lysergic. In addition to the commercials, I’ve included demo-reels and a short documentary on Abel.
Apparently Thorazine was the answer for almost every aliment known to mankind back in the late-1950s. I had no idea that Thorazine was ever prescribed like this! Can you imagine? Shocking to say the least.
One notable—and irreversible—side effect from taking too much Thorazine is Tardive dyskinesia (involuntary body movement).