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Bad motherf*ckers: Action figures from ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘The Shining,’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and more

Alex Clockwork Orange figure by Rainman
Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange
 
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.
 
Alex from A Clockwork Orange by Rainman
 
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?
 
Jack Torrance from The Shining figure by Rainman
 
Danny Torrance and his bike figure by Rainman
 
Danny Torrance and the Grady Twins figures by Rainman
 
Danny Torrance (for scale) figure by Rainman
 
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).
 
Miniature sculpt of Modesty Blaise by Rainman
Miniature version of Modesty Blaise
 
More after the jump…
 

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The Demon Dog: Filming with James Ellroy in L.A., 1994
06.24.2015
07:21 am

Topics:
Books
Crime
Heroes

Tags:
Nicola Black
James Ellroy

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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.”

But time moves on, and Ellroy is currently selling his Hollywood Hills residence for $1.39m—if you want to take a peak at his monkish orderly abode check here. He also has a new book out LAPD ‘53, in which he illuminates 85 duotone photographs from the LAPD archive that are “representative of a day in the life of America’s most provocative police agency.”
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Harlan Ellison is revolting: Speculative Fiction and the revolution of the mind

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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…

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‘Nick Danger’ RIP: Firesign Theatre’s Phil Austin, 1941-2015
06.19.2015
12:42 pm

Topics:
Heroes

Tags:
comedy
Firesign Theatre
Phillip Austin


 
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.)
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
American Gothic version of Divine and John Waters


 
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.


The work in progress via Instagram
 
Via Divine on Facebook

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully’: John Waters’ commencement speech at RISD
06.08.2015
08:07 am

Topics:
Current Events
Heroes

Tags:
John Waters


 

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.

~snip

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.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
This Bud’s for you, headbangers: Ronnie James Dio’s 1983 Budweiser ad
05.11.2015
07:20 am

Topics:
Advertising
Heroes

Tags:
Ronnie James Dio
Vintage ads

Ronnie James Dio
 
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.
 

 
Via Metal Injection

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A teargas of a time: Sublime pop from 10cc ‘In Concert’ 1974

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Hands up if you like 10cc.
 
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.
 
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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…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Own a piece of music history: Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Steven Severin is selling his amp

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For sale one amp, slightly used. Previous owner Steven Severin.

If you fancy owning a piece equipment once used by Siouxsie and the Banshees, then you may be interested in bidding for Steven Severin’s Fender Super Six Reverb Amplifier, which is currently up for grabs on eBay.

This is a vintage amplifier from 1974. It has a small tear on the upper left grill and a bigger one at the base. It has been repaired and buyers can be “assured that it works and sounds great, having been recently tested and repaired.”

The repairs carried out include:

Replace 13A plug
Replace speaker leads
Replace 5x resistors in output stage
Repair reverb tray lead connector
Test and bias output valves
Replace 3 speakers
Clean inside amp and all controls
Test amp
Labour: 3 hours
Parts: 5 x resistors, 1 x RA jack for reverb tray. 3 x eminence 10” speakers
Test Amp

This amp is loud and has 6 x 10” speakers, sounding like the fender twin silver face but with and additional 4 speakers.

It has the serial number: A77617, which dates it to 1974

 
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Mr. Severin adds:

Hi,

I’m finally parting ways with my trusty guitar amp. She’s been in my possession since late 1979 and made her first appearance on the track TENANT from 1980’s KALEIDOSCOPE album. She has spent most of her life in my home studio but on the odd occasion when I’ve felt the desire to thrash 6 strings as opposed to four - she’s been my weapon of choice. She got an outing on THROW THEM TO THE LIONS & I PROMISE, for example. I’m now in Edinburgh surrounded by banks of computers so it’s time to relieve the caretaker, my friend Demian of a few items that have outgrown my use and give him back some valuable space. It’s a real beauty. Happy bidding!

p.s. It’s a bit of a beast so collection only I’m afraid.

S.Severin

Asking price is £1,000 (around $1500) and you have a week in which to make your bid.
 

 
See photos of Severin’s amp, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
John Lennon becomes the first Beatle to admit to taking drugs, in 1965: A DM exclusive

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It was fifty years ago today…well, almost…

While it has been long believed that Paul McCartney was the first Beatle to ever admit taking drugs during an interview with Independent Television News (ITN) in June 1967, it can now be revealed that John Lennon was in fact the first Beatle who owned up to the band being “stoned” two years before this in an interview with an American journalist.

Writer Simon Wells discovered Lennon’s comment in a rarely heard interview while researching his book Eight Arms To Hold You—a definitive history on the making of The Beatles’ second movie Help!. Wells is the best-selling author of Coming Down Fast (a biography of Charles Manson), Butterfly on a Wheel: The Rolling Stones Great Drugs Bust, Quadrophenia: A Way of Life and the drugs, sex and paganism novel The Tripping Horse.
 
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February 1965, The Beatles had just arrived on location at New Providence Island in the Bahamas to film Help!.  On being asked what The Beatles had been up to on their flight over, Lennon replied “We got stoned.” There is a stunned silence before the interviewer says: “Alright. I know you’re only kidding.”

Of course, Lennon wasn’t kidding, as The Beatles had been popping pills since at least 1960 and smoking weed since being “turned-on” by Bob Dylan in 1964. Simon Wells exclusively explains for Dangerous Minds:

The Beatles took a chartered jet to the Bahamas for the start of filming of Help! on Monday 22nd February 1965. Perversely as it may seem, the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had become intoxicated with the idea of tax shelters and havens—and after his dismal performance of selling off the Beatles rights to A Hard Day’s Night for little more than the average house price in Britain, he sensed an idea to set up an offshore interest in the Bahamas, hoping that the money from the film would escape the extortionate financial red tape and punitive taxes that would attract to the film’s future successes.

To defer suspicions, Epstein cooked up the idea of filming part of Help! in the Bahamas and so eager was he to establish a presence there, filming for what would be the finale of the movie was shot first. Temperatures at a constant high for the area, the group would have to shield themselves from the likelihood of considerable tanning – an issue that would have colored (excuse pun) the earlier shots in the film, all set in London. Nonetheless, The Beatles knew little about this, and happily trundled onto the caravan of filming—the shores of Nassau were far more attractive than a gloomy British February. Equally, it meant a break from the rigours of touring, something they had grown to hate.

The group’s plane continued the majority of the film’s attendant circus, plus a few liggers and reporters to help things along. The nine-hour flight requiring more than just alcoholic sustenance, the band happily tugged on a succession of marijuana joints to elevate the time between touching down in the Bahamas. Since August the previous year when Bob Dylan famously turned the band onto the magical herb, the group had indulged heavily in the newly found pursuit. The effects were immediate on their dress and music, heavy shades and dissonant chords were now pitting their senses; introspection tossing “boy meets girl” out of the window.

While the media were well aware that The Beatles (and most of the other groups of the period) took drugs, there was no need for them to spill the beans and spoil the party. By 1965 standards, The Beatles were still good cheeky copy—guaranteed to bring a smile to the nation’s breakfast tables, and still with the consent of Britain’s parents, the girls and boys could shower them with unbridled adoration. Behind closed doors in Buckingham Palace and at (the Prime Minister’s home) Number 10 Downing Street, plans were already afoot to adorn the band with the M.B.E. If an admission of naughty chemical use had surfaced prior to the award announcement, it would have clearly stymied the whole pantomime. The press knew this too—so all was on course to preserve the Fab’s innocence—for the time being.

For those who chart such things, this is the first admission from a Beatle that drugs were now a part of their lives. The evident shock from the reporter is testament to the disbelief that these sweet boys could ever do such a thing. Predictably, the comment was not used in print, and it remained buried on the reporter’s tape – until now!

Simon Wells new book on The Beatles Eight Arms To Hold You is available from Pledge Music, details here.
 
After the jump, hear the recording…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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