“There are no coincidences, but sometimes the pattern is more obvious.”—Neil Innes
Attention, smart people! There is a MAJOR POLITICAL EVENT that’s happening—TODAY July 29th, 2015—across this nation that you might not have heard about for Bernie Sanders. Tonight Sanders will be speaking via the Internet to over 100,000 heavily-motivated people meeting for the first time at 3,520 Bernie-related house parties and get-togethers in bars and restaurants and union halls and church basements, etcetera, etcetera, all across the United States.
Yes, over 100,000 people have found other like-minded people in their area via this map and RSVP’d to get informed and to volunteer for Sanders’ increasingly astonishing campaign. I live in Los Angeles where there are well over 100 such gatherings. I’m married, but I would assume that a lot of smart, good-looking people would attend such events. Aren’t you even curious? Of course you are. Why not search for your zip code and see what happens?
Has there ever been a larger, more dynamic and more INSTANTANEOUS grassroots movement in American history? If there has been one, they must’ve kept it a secret. Even the Tea party movement didn’t grow nearly as fast as this. And after today’s event, what happens next?
I can’t wait to find out.
The sky’s the limit, but the goal is the White House. This can happen, people.
Here’s what I know about sculptor and artist Rainman, the man responsible for the sinister as fuck action-figure of Alex from A Clockwork Orange (pictured above), and many others that are about to blow your mind. Rainman is a rather secretive cat, but according to his his Facebook page he’s based in Korea and currently works for video game giant CAPCOM (the makers of the 1987 video game Street Fighter). He studied animation at Kyungsung University, a private school in Busan, South Korea. Rainman is an accomplished painter and in 2013 he released a 500-page book called Not Afraid, which featured his conceptual artwork. He also likes Dr. Dre.
That’s pretty much all I know about this incredibly talented man.
As I often post about unique action figures here on DM, I knew when I found Rainman’s creations I had struck gold. That is because Rainman’s collection includes some of the most bad-ass members of cinematic history. Like Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, Alex from A Clockwork Orange (who comes with a glass of milk and other “accessories”), Tyler Durden from Fight Club, Jack Torrance from The Shining and many, many others. In some cases, Rainman will put together what I can only describe as “play sets” for his figures. For example, one collection of figures from The Shining not only included Jack and his trusty, door-busting ax, but also Danny Torrance along with a replica of his little blue bike, the Grady Twins, and a small version of the infamous carpet from the hallways of the Overlook Hotel.
Let’s have at look at Jack and his pals, shall we?
While Rainman’s articulated sculptures are breathtakingly life-like, I am equally impressed by the “secret items” that he often includes with his various figures, such as a miniature version of the last book Vincent Vega ever read, Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise (included with his sculpt of John Travolta from Pulp Fiction), Jules’ “Bad Motherfucker” wallet, a teeny-tiny version of the “TIME: Man of the Year” mirror from The Big Lebowski (that comes with his “Dude” figure), and the skanky blue bathrobe that comes along with his “Fighter 1999” figure (aka, Tyler Durden from Fight Club).
Dee Dee Ramone and one of his Fender Precision basses
According to the folks at musical gear auction site Reverb, some posh punk has paid $37,995 to become the proud owner of one of Dee Dee Ramone’s personal bass guitars (like the one pictured with Dee Dee above).
Dee Dee Ramone’s Fender Precision bass guitar that just sold for $37,995
Dee Dee Ramone’s hard shell Fender bass case that sold along with his Fender Precision
According to the listing, the Fender ‘75 precision bass (with black pickguard pictured above) has been hanging out in a private collection since the 80’s, gifted to its owner by the Ramones themselves. The bass is said to still be in playable condition and even came in the original case (with a Ramones stencil on the back). Also included was a letter from Monte Melnick, the band’s former road manager, validating the instrument’s authenticity. Dee Dee played the Fender Precision for most of his too-short career and used them pretty much exclusively from 1974-1988, favoring the model with the black pickguard from 1975-1977.
Another of Dee Dee’s Fender Precision basses (the all-white one you can see Dee Dee playing in the video below when the Ramones performed on the Old Grey Whistle Test on February 26, 1985), sold at a 2014 auction for a cool $37,694.48.
The Ramones perform “Wart Hog” (with Dee Dee on lead vocals) and “Chasing the Night” (from 1984’s Too Tough to Die) on The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1985
James Ellroy sits reading Jack Webb’s The Badge in the Clark Gable-Carole Lombard suite of the Alexandria Hotel, downtown LA, in the Fall of 1994. I’m there as interviewer—asking him questions for a documentary on the “Demon Dog of American Literature” called White Jazz. A preliminary Q&A was filmed the day before at a motel off Hollywood where Ellroy gave his pitch (“Woof, woof! Hear the Demon Dog bark…”) and want to find out who’s the man behind this well-rehearsed front.
We talk books: Ellroy’s telling me how his father Lee gave him a copy of The Badge for his eleventh birthday—a book of true tales of LA crime and the LAPD, in amongst which was the “brutally, graphically sexually explicit” story of the unsolved murder of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short, which became known as the Black Dahlia killing. Ellroy said this explicit ten-page tale had haunted him.
I thought it a strange book to give a kid who was used to reading the Hardy Boys and especially a child whose own mother, Geneva Hilliker, had been strangled with her own stockings and her body dumped in El Monte just a year before in 1958. So, I ask him: Didn’t he think this was a strange book to give a child? Ellroy stops. He says he doesn’t get the question. I think he’s stalling, but ask again. Still he doesn’t get the question—doesn’t seem to understand or want to understand or really want to answer the question.
The Badge is part of Ellroy’s myth—a key to understanding what he wants to be known about himself as it deflects as much as it reveals. It’s the book that pointed his imagination towards writing crime fiction and was the source of his teenage obsessions where he merged the murder of his mother with that of the Black Dahlia—feeding his fantasy of saving Dahlia/Hilliker from person or persons unknown and setting the world to right. Setting the world to right is perhaps why some writers do write—the world they create is containable.
Director Nicola Black, camera Jerry Kelly with James Ellroy, LA 1994.
The documentary White Jazz was produced and directed by Nicola Black. It came about after Black had filmed Ellroy (in cold damp Victorian prison cell off the banks of the River Clyde in Scotland) for a previous documentary on the world’s first private detective Allan Pinkerton—a drama-doc which starred Peter Capaldi. Made over one intense week with Ellroy in LA, October ‘94, White Jazz followed the Demon Dog around the sites of his childhood, his criminal youth, and sober years as a writer. The film then opens out to follow Ellroy’s personal investigation into the unsolved murder of his mother, with the help of ex-County Sheriff’s Department Detective Bill Stoner—a calm, lean, genial man, eyes twinkling, full mustache, whose quite demeanour belies the horrors he has seen—he helped solve the Cotton Club killing—picking-up a victim’s exploded, shattered teeth on a desolate hillside. Stoner takes Ellroy through Hilliker’s morgue file—the black and whites of crime scene, body, ligature marks, bruises, and autopsy report—before visiting her last known locations where seen and the suggesting possible suspects. Ellroy’s collaborative investigation with Stoner became his non-fiction book My Dark Places (1996).
This award-winning documentary is seldom seen online—though pirate copies can switch hands for mucho dinero—and it’s a moving, fascinating and revealing portrait of James Ellroy, in which he takes the viewer on a personal odyssey through his life, his work and his obsessions with the city of Los Angeles—his “smog-bound Fatherland.”
In every generation there is a moment when some writer, artist, politician or whatever comes forward to announce that their generation is at the start of a revolution—some seismic shift in culture and society that will change everything for the better—forever. It’s rather like the way each generation appears to think it is the first to discover sex or sexuality and flaunts it through clothes, songs or horrendously written books.
A case in point is this roundtable discussion with a young Harlan Ellison from sometime in 1969-70, when the author declared “We’re in the midst of a revolution.”
It’s a revolution of thought, that is as important and as upending as the industrial revolution was—sociologically speaking. We’re coming into a time now when all the old “-isms” and philosophies are dying. They don’t seem to work any more.
All the things Mommy and Daddy told you and told me were true were only true in the house—the minute you get out in the street, they aren’t true any more. The kids in the ghetto have known that all their lives but now the great white middle class is learning it and it’s coming a little difficult to the older folks—which is always the way it is.
We are no longer Kansas or Los Angeles or New York—it’s the whole planet now. They got smog in the Aleutian Islands now; they got smog in Anchorage, Alaska; they got smog at the polar icecaps—can you believe it, smog at the polar icecaps. There is no place you go to hide anymore. So the day of thinking that the Thames or the English Channel or the Rocky Mountains is going to keep you safe from some ding-dong on the other side doesn’t go anymore. A nitwit in Hanoi can blow us all just as dead as a nitwit in Washington.
We’re beginning to think of ourselves not as just an ethnic animal, or a national animal, or a local or family kind of animal—we are now a planetary animal. It’s all the dreams of early science-fiction coming true.
That Ellison could have made this speech in nineties or the noughties, or indeed any decade, only shows how each generation discovers certain truths that are eternally consistent.
Humans, he continues, are now aware of a bigger picture and that by not taking responsibility for our actions—whether thoughtlessly throwing away a cigarette butt or garbage—is “screwing up the ecology.” Which is apposite considering the news of some scientists claiming Earth is on the brink of its sixth extinction.
But Ellison—in sunglasses looking like a Jordanian revolutionary—is only warming up to his theme—the importance of speculative fiction (or that dreaded word “science-fiction”) in imagining (shaping) the future. He has a very valid point—but again one that is made generation to generation-six years before this the writers of previous generations C. S. Lewis, Kingsley Amis and Brian Aldiss held an informal chat on the same subject where they agreed:
...that some science fiction really does deal with issues far more serious than those realistic fiction deals with; real problems about human destiny and so on.
Harlan Ellison is one of those very rare writers who is always inspirational or thought-provoking in everything he writes or says. Like most people, I came to his work through TV before having the greater pleasure of reading him. His seminal episodes of Outer Limits, “Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier” (which James Cameron later used as a basis for Terminator), or his script for Star Trek or “The Sort of Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair” and “The Pieces of Fate Affair” on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. stayed with me long after viewing and were cause for my seeking out his fiction. This interview comes from just after Ellison had edited the classic volume of speculative fiction Dangerous Visions, which he hoped might lead to a revolution in the mind of its readers.
It probably did, but the revolution is always moving, changing, evolving.
The conclusion of Harlan Ellison’s talk, after the jump…
Oh man. Some very bad, very sad news just crossed my desk in the form of this short email from Taylor Jessen, archivist extraordinaire, of the Firesign Theatre:
I’m very sorry to report that Phil Austin died last night at his home in Fox Island, Washington. Phil had been suffering from multiple cancers and had chosen to keep his condition private, so this was a sad and terrible surprise for us all. At his request, no memorial service is being planned.
Born in Denver, Colorado in 1941, but raised in Fresno, CA, Phil Austin went to Bowdoin College and then UCLA, before joining the staff of KPFK radio in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. It was at KPFK’s North Hollywood studio where he met his future partners in “the Beatles of comedy,” David Ossman and Peter Bergman, and later Phil Proctor, who’d been a friend of Bergman’s at Yale. Together as the Firesign Theatre (each of the troupe was an astrological “fire” sign), they recorded around thirty albums, including their Library of Congress recognized masterpiece, Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers, and other classics like Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him, Everything You Know is Wrong and I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus. He is survived by his lovely wife Oona and their menagerie of pets.
Below, Phil Austin stars as “Happy” Harry Cox, a trailer-dwelling New Agey conspiracy theorist that Art Bell seems to have based his entire career on in the Firesign Theatre short Everything You Know is Wrong (This will be on the upcoming Firesign Theatre DVD in much better quality. Keep checking their website for the release date.)
There’s really not much to say about this fantastic painting of Divine and John Waters taking the place of the old prairie couple in Grant Wood’s iconic 1930 painting “American Gothic.” I simply dig it.
I had a hard time tracking down the artist as I misread the signature as GG Allin. To be honest for a few moments there I actually thought the late shit-hurling hate rocker painted this. The artisit’s name is spelled GIGI ALLIN and here are links to her Instagram and website.
I should say right off that I am really qualified to be your commencement speaker. I was suspended from high school, then kicked out of college in the first marijuana scandal ever on a university campus. I’ve been arrested several times. I’ve been known to dress in ludicrous fashions. I’ve also built a career out of negative reviews, and have been called “the prince of puke” by the press. And most recently a title I’m really proud of: “the people’s pervert.” I am honoured to be here today with my people. ~ John Waters
Seriously, just stop what you’re doing and give your undivided attention to John Waters as he gives one of the best commencement speeches EVER to the Rhode Island School of Design’s graduating class of 2015. Waters nails it. Every damn bit of it.
You’re lucky. When I went to school, my teachers discouraged every dream I ever had. I wanted to be the filthiest person alive, but no school would let me. I bet RISD would’ve. You could possibly even make a snuff movie here and get an A+. Hopefully you have been taught never to fear rejection in the workplace. Remember, a no is free. Ask for the world and pay no mind if you are initially turned down. A career in the arts is like a hitchhiking trip: All you need is one person to say “Get in” and off you go. And then the confidence begins.
Never be like some of my generation who say “We had more fun in the ’60s.” No, we didn’t! The kids today who still live with their parents who haven’t seen them in months but leave food outside their bedroom doors are having just as much fun shutting down the government of foreign countries on their computer as we did banning the bomb.
If you’d like to read the entire transcript, you can find one here.
I don’t like beer. It’s not that I didn’t like it “back in the day.” Budweiser was truly the king of all party beverages when I was in high school. Which is also probably the reason I don’t drink beer anymore. Nostalgic thoughts only meaningful to me aside, after I heard this audio clip from a vintage 1983 radio ad that Ronnie James Dio did for Budweiser, I immediately felt the need to raise a tall boy to my lips in honor of the late, great king of metal. When toothing through the comments on YouTube (generally an ill-advised practice at best) someone actually made the observation that there was seemingly nothing Ronnie James Dio could do wrong. Not even when he’s shilling for a beer that tastes like someone took a warm fizzy piss in a can.
Usually when an artist you admire “sells-out,” it’s an utter disappointment. An exception to that rule (and there are a few) would be the super-snappy jingle written by Brian Jones that the Rolling Stones recorded for a 1964 Rice Krispies television commercial. Here’s a line: “You wake up in the morning and there’s a crackle in your face.” Brilliant. The jingle matches the perky cereal’s personality perfectly. As with the Stones, hearing Dio singing the praises of Budweiser to the tune of one of his best-known anthems, “Rainbow in the Dark” is absolutely one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard. The trademark slogan “this Bud’s for you” even gets the heavy metal treatment at the end. Will it make me drink Budweiser again? No. It did however bring me back to days, now long past, when listening to Dio and drinking beer out of cans on a Friday night was all you needed.
In 1974, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley of 10cc invented a nifty little musical device that should have revolutionized the guitar world. The Gizmotron® was an attachable device that had the ability to create “authentic sounds of such stringed instruments as violins, violas and cellos,” and maintain “infinite sustain.” It was a remarkable invention by any standards and should have achieved what it said on the can and made much moolah for its inventors. Sadly, it hasn’t yet. However, it was (unfortunately) part of the reason why 10cc split-up in 1976.
As Godley and Creme spent more and more time recording with the Gizmotron® working on the triple album Consequences, which they hoped would promote the device, they had less time to dedicate to 10cc. Their fellow bandmates, Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart wanted to carry on recording and touring, that’s what they loved, but Godley and Creme didn’t. So they quit to finish Consequences, while Gouldman and Stewart carried on with 10cc. In that reliable trope hindsight, this decision was a mistake—as Godley and Gouldman have since (separately) said the band were successful enough to have been able to take a year off and allow the maverick inventors time to concentrate on their product. That they didn’t was a sad day for quality pop—though this is not to take away from Stewart and Gouldman, who continued to make music to high order as 10cc—but was a bit like, say, The Beatles without a Lennon or a McCartney.
10cc—the way they were.
Indeed, 10cc followed on from where The Beatles’ Abbey Road left off, via a twist of Frank Zappa and a flavoring of the Beach Boys. Godley and Creme gave the band its irresistible art rock, while Gouldman and Stewart supplied songs of sublime pop. Their pedigree was strong: Stewart had been in Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders, and Gouldman had written a jukebox of chart hits for The Hollies (“Bus Stop,” “Look Through Any Window”), The Yardbirds (“For Your Love”) and one of the most perfect pop songs ever written—Herman Hermits’ “No Milk Today.” Godley and Creme first met in the late 1950s and were in a variety bands including The Mockingbirds with Gouldman. Together the quartet complimented each other beautifully. Their first incarnation as a group was Hotlegs—releasing the single “Neanderthal Man,” and the album Thinks: School Stinks—before they evolved into 10cc.
Their advantage was that they had four singers, four songwriters and four highly competent producers. As a group they created four distinct classic albums—10cc, Sheet Music, The Original Soundtrack and How Dare You!—that offered a level of quality songs, songwriting and production that had not been heard since The Beatles. Not only were they superb on vinyl, they were equally impressive live, managing to deliver complex songs with considerable aplomb.
More on 10cc plus their classic ‘In Concert’ from 1974, after the jump…