Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Ireland’s greatest rocker, died today in 1986
01.03.2014
04:48 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Phil Lynott
Thin Lizzy

ttonphillly.jpg
 
Thin Lizzy frontman, Phil Lynott died today, 4th of January in 1986. He was just 36 years old.

Lynott had collapsed at his home after a drink and drug binge on Christmas Day. He was suffering from a serious liver and kidney infection and died eleven days later from heart-failure and pneumonia.

It was a sad end to a man who had entertained and inspired millions. Lynott was all about a good time, it’s there in his music and in the way he lived his life. At his best, his music was simple, working class rock and roll. He was also an inspiration: born and raise in difficult times, a black man in predominantly white Dublin, raised by his grandmother while his mother worked three jobs in England to support the family back home.

Lynott originally wanted to be an architect, but poor, working class lads from housing schemes aren’t allowed to be architects. Instead he was offered a job as an apprentice fitter and turner. It was a dead end job, not a future for an ambitious talent like Lynott. He gave it up for his main passion—music.

Phil first came to prominence as the good-looking singer with the Black Eagles. He then moved onto Skid Row (which later featured guitarist Gary Moore). When Phil took time out to have his tonsils removed, he was replaced as lead singer; it was only then that Lynott went on to form Thin Lizzy with Brian Downey and Eric Bell.

Fortune smiled on Phil, as when sailing from Dublin to England, he met John Peel on board the ship and told him about Thin Lizzy. Peel told him to keep in touch. It was the kind of good luck born from years of hard work that would bring Thin Lizzy massive popular success.

The Rocker: A Portrait of Phil Lynott explains why this great man was such a charismatic and inspirational figure, with a history of all his bands, and various clips from early home movies, along with excellent interview clips, this is a fitting tribute to Ireland’s greatest Rocker.
 

 
Bonus: Audio of Thin Lizzy in concert, Berlin 1973, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘The time I met Dean Martin…’ A True Story
01.01.2014
08:17 am

Topics:
Heroes
Pop Culture

Tags:
Dean Martin


 

There is a humorous recipe for “Martin Burgers” that Dean Martin came up with (grill some ground beef, pour a shot of bourbon, done!) that was posted by Letters of Note that reminded me of my own encounter with the legendary entertainer. It also involves hamburgers. And bourbon. It’s one of my favorite stories to tell. Gather ‘round, children…

This event took place in, I think, 1992, when I was 26 years old. I’d recently read Nick Tosches’ excellent biography of Martin, Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, and I was on a Dean Martin “kick” that culminated in me having a professional photo house make me a 6 ft. by 6 ft. photo mural of the above Dean Martin album cover (which Boing Boing’s Mark Fraunenfelder once described in Wired. I still have it, but it’s not hanging up).

I was absolutely fascinated by Dean Martin, the very definition of the devil-may-care roué who truly wasn’t impressed by anything or anyone. Beauty? He had more women than he knew what to do with. Fame? Come on. Money? Please! Dino didn’t care if you were the President of the United States, some hot piece of ass or the head of the Las Vegas Mafia. The man, to paraphrase the Super Furry Animals, simply did not give a fuck. Weltschmerz as an art form! Ennui deluxe! I reckon Dean Martin must’ve been the coolest man ever to live.

Janet Charlton, the Star magazine gossip columnist, seen frequently on Access Hollywood,  ET and similar shows back then, told me that Dean Martin—who was generally thought to be a complete recluse, sitting home drunk in an armchair watching movie westerns, basically—did in fact dine out nearly every night at the Hamburger Hamlet (an upscale LA burger chain) on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.

A few weeks after she told me this, Mike and Roni, two pals of mine from New York, arrived on my doorstep unannounced. They seemed quite amused by my gigantic Dean Martin album cover and when I told them that he was a regular at the Doheny Drive Hamburger Hamlet, we all three enthusiastically agreed that this was where we’d dine that evening. And we brought a camera.

I generally like the Hamburger Hamlet chain, but the one in Beverly Hills has got to be THE restaurant in LA with the oldest clientele, hands down. It’s the sort of place where grandparents take their grandchildren out to eat and the grandchildren are in their seventies. I’m talking OLD. Palm Springs old. Miami Beach old. A few of the faces seemed extremely familiar from sixties television, character actors who might have been on The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza or Green Acres, but who I could not place exactly due to the passing of years. What made walking into this place seem even more surreal is that it is merely a block away from all the rock clubs on the Sunset Strip.

So we get there and valet the car. I asked the maître d’, who must’ve been all of 19, if we could be seated near Dean Martin’s table. He took the money I put into his hand and looked at me like I was an idiot. Not a stalker mind you, but a complete idiot. “Oookay,” he whistled dismissively and rolled his eyes.

Martin was not there, he told us, but they did expect him. So we sat in the lobby and we waited. And waited. And waited. After looking at the grub the waiters were serving up, we decided he wasn’t going to show up and split to grab a steak at Dan Tana’s. As the valet handed me my car keys I asked him, “We heard that Dean Martin eats here all the time. When is a good day to see him?” He replied “Mr Martin? Oh, his chauffeur just phoned ahead, he’ll be here any minute.”

I tossed my keys back to him and we returned inside and were seated in the back section of the restaurant. Within a few minutes, the sultan of suave, secret agent Matt Helm, the roast-master general hisself, Dean Martin stumbled in, completely shit-faced. His eyes were bloodshot red and he looked old and he looked drunk. Very drunk. It was probably a very good thing that he could afford to employ a full-time driver, let’s just say…

As soon as he took his seat, the waiter slammed down several shots of bourbon and two beers in front of him. Dino downed two shots immediately and two more were placed in front of him in a flash.

We made our move before they brought his food out. Roni got her camera ready and asked politely, “Mr. Martin, can I get a picture of you with these guys? They’re big fans of yours!”

He looked at us like “Yeah, right” and replied quietly “Most of my fans these days are old broads.”

I told him about my giant 6 ft. mural of his album cover and that I was born and raised in Wheeling, WV, just across the Ohio River from Martin’s hometown of Steubenville, OH. He softened a bit and said “I remember Wheeling, WV. I used to swim there and mess around and hang out there when I was a boy.” (No matter how slowly I ask you to imagine this sentence being said, you’re going to make it faster in your mind than he spoke it. Pause after each word as if there is a period… or a wheeze).

Today Steubenville has dozens of things named after Dean Martin (they also hold a yearly Dean Martin festival). I asked him when was the last time he’d visited his hometown and he just snickered.

“Do you mind if we get a picture?” Roni asked again.

“I don’t think they allow that here,” he demurred, trying to avoid it.

“Who’s gonna stop us? Let’s just do it,” she replied.

Martin shook his head and exhaled with undisguised annoyance, parted his lips and clicked on a a very fake smile. Through his gritted teeth he said “Go ahead, I don’t give a shit.” Something about his manner let Mike and I know that he meant NOW, so we squatted beside his chair.

After the flash went off, his smile vanished, he looked down at his drink and completely ignored us. We knew this was our cue to leave and we took it. Outside his limo was waiting. It sported a vanity plate reading “DRUNKY.”

The story doesn’t end there: Two weeks later I get a package of two big prints of the photo and several smaller ones from Roni. I laughed my ass off, DELIGHTED at seeing this memento of our loopy encounter with Dino. I left them out on the kitchen counter and every time I walked past them I grinned and marveled at the fact that a photo existed with Dean Martin and ME in it.

Then the phone rang. It was Roni asking had I gotten the package. I was looking down at the picture when she asked me: “Did you notice that his…”

No, I hadn’t noticed it, but I did then: His pants had been unfastened and un-zipped old man-style so his gut could hang out and the camera had caught this!

The photo I had been admiring all day became a million times better before my very eyes.

But the story doesn’t end there, either: At the time, I was in the middle of writing a script with Kramer (he of Bongwater and Shimmy-Disc fame) and I gave him one of the larger prints, which he hung in his Noise New Jersey studio. Around this time, he and Penn Jillette had formed a band called Captain Howdy and they were doing a bit of recording. Apparently Penn asked Kramer who the old guy in the photo was, but he refused to believe it when told that it was Dean Martin. Eventually he relented, and the Captain Howdy song “Dino’s Head” was apparently inspired in part by the below photo (and Penn getting to use Dean Martin’s “special” German shower head when Penn & Teller were performing in Las Vegas, as is explained in the song).
 

Click on photo to view larger image.
 

 

It doesn’t end there, either. Last month, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher used the Dino photo in a bit comparing JFK to Reagan, as seen below

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Francis Bacon: Painting and the mysterious and continuous struggle with chance
12.23.2013
03:10 pm

Topics:
Art
Heroes

Tags:
Francis Bacon
David Sylvester

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Real painting for Francis Bacon was about a mysterious and continuous struggle with chance.

”Mysterious because the very substance of the paint can make such a direct assault on the nervous system; continuous because the medium is so fluid and subtle that every change that is made loses what is already there in the hope of making a fresh gain.”

Bacon believed when one talked about painting one said nothing of interest, it was all superficial. He believed it was best for a painter not to talk about painting. “If you could talk about it, why paint it?” he once said.

”The important thing for the painter is to paint, and nothing else.

“The most important thing is to look at the painting—to read the poetry, to listen to the music—not in order to understand it, or to know it but feel something.”

Yet, Bacon did talk at length about his paintings and his art. He claimed it was the Irish in him that made him so talkative. Much of what he said was recorded in a series of long interviews conducted with with the art critic, David Sylvester. These were later published as a book, and here in this documentary The LIfe of Francis Bacon they provide an exceptional background to understanding Bacon the artist and the man.

The documentary opens with Bacon’s idea of painting as a means to opening up areas of feeling, rather than merely illustration.

”A picture should be the recreation of an event, rather than an illustration of an object. But there is no tension in the picture unless there is a struggle with the object.

“I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them like a snail, leaving a trail of the human presence, a memory trace of past events, as the snail leave its slime.”

Bacon wanted to bring the sensation of life, what he termed “the brutality of fact,” directly to the viewer “without the boredom of conveyance.” To achieve this, he claimed he performed acts of violence on the canvas in a bid to make the pictures live. Bacon was a quick worker, turning paintings out in a few hours—compare this with the months Lucien Freud spent on a single canvas.

He took his ideas from everywhere—the colored plates in dentistry books; memories of his Nanny blurred with images of the slaughter on the Odessa Steps from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin; paintings by Velázquez; his asthma, Bacon’s Popes were gasping for air, not screaming; paintings by Picasso; the sadism of his father; nudes taken by Vogue photographer John Deakin; endless photo-booth self-portraits.

Bacon painted his lovers and friends, and many self-portraits. These self-portraits became more frequent as his friends died,  many destroyed by their “gilded gutter life” of drink and excess.

”Between birth and death it’s always been the same thing, the violence of life. I always think [my paintings] are images of sensation, after all, what is life but sensation? What we feel, what happens, what happens at the moment.

“We are born and we die, and that’s it, there’s nothing else. But in between we give this purposeless existence a meaning by our drives.”

It’s rare to see as many gallery paintings by an artist in one documentary as there are contained in The Life of Francis Bacon, and it’s superbly complimented by the long extracts of Bacon’s interviews, these are read by Derek Jacobi, who memorably played Bacon in the film Love is the Devil.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous MInds
Notes towards a portrait of Francis Bacon
‘Fragments of a Portrait’: Classic documentary on Francis Bacon

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Jello Biafra on his days as a newbie punk

biafra
 
It seems unlikely that anyone even slightly familiar with American punk would need an introduction to the legendary iconoclast Jello Biafra. From his days as the brains, conscience and leader of the notorious and incendiary leftist punks Dead Kennedys, to his lengthy string of superb collaborative albums, to his politically charged spoken word performances, to his most recent work with The Guantanamo School of Medicine, Biafra (born Eric Boucher) has left a bigger stain on American counterculture than most. Unrepentantly opinionated (and to my reckoning, usually dead-on correct), Biafra can typically be heard issuing proclamations in a strident cadence that rings of Fred Schneider trying to imitate Mark E. Smith. Which was why it was actually quite refreshing to see this interview in Denver’s alt-weekly WestWord, wherein Biafra’s focus isn’t on politics, but rather a remembrance of his youth as a new initiate into the punk scene in his hometown of Boulder, CO. His journey to venerated counterculture elder statesman began with a stint as a hanger-on and later roadie for a The Ravers - a little-remembered band that later found much wider recognition under the name The Nails - which led to his ultimate Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment: seeing the Ramones in concert.

As far as I know, [The Ravers were] Colorado’s first punk band and one of the very first anywhere. It was more rooted in ‘60s garage than it was in Ramones or Sex Pistols and still an important part of my life and many other people’s. I’d been reading Marc Campbell’s reviews in the Colorado Daily, and he was much more brash and up front about what he liked and didn’t like.

So he was memorable instantly. Later, I found out he was the singer in the Ravers. They kind of centered around the old basement location on Broadway of Trade A Tape and Records in Boulder where I got a lot of my vinyl. They rehearsed in a back room and Rick Scott, one of the clerks there, was their manager.

Word got around, probably through Rick, that the Ramones were gonna come through Denver and play at Ebbets Field, opening for a major-label attemped flavor-of-the-month called Nite City. Ironically, it had to have Ray Manzarek and a pre-Blondie Nigel Harrison in it, among other people. It was an attempt at an instant FM rock hit, and the opening band was the Ramones.

So the handful of us who kind of knew who the Ramones were in the front row. Ebbets Field was a small, intimate place where everyone was expected to sit down. That’s what people did at concerts; everybody was supposed to sit down. Bill Graham would throw you out for dancing in San Francisco, and so would Barry Fey and Feyline security.

You undoubtedly know Rocky Mountain Low; Joseph Pope was one of the people in the front row with me. At the time, I didn’t really take the Ramones that seriously. I knew they rocked, but I would sit around playing the Ramones with my friends, and we would giggle at the lack of guitar solos and these boneheaded lyrics like “beat on the brat with a baseball bat” and “now I wanna sniff some glue.”

It had an impact enough to go down and see them. And out come these four, kinda degenerate looking guys in leather jackets—which is something you didn’t see very often then. One chord on Jonny’s guitar, and we knew it was going to be a louder than anyone of us were prepared for. We braced ourselves and instead of being goofy, the Ramones were one of the most powerful experiences of my entire life.

We were three feet from the stage and forced to sit down, of course. Not only were they really, really good, but half the fun was turning around and watching the Ebbets Field, country-rock glitterati, the guys with the neatly trimmed beards, Kenny Loggins-feathered hair and corduroy jackets, with patches on the elbows, as well as the cocaine cowboys and their women, with their 1920s suits with flowers, because that’s what Joni Mitchell was wearing at the time—they looked horrified. They had nowhere to go. Because Ebbets Field was so small, you couldn’t go hang out in the lobby because there wasn’t one. They just had to endure the Ramones.

It never would have occurred to me to try to go back stage and talk to the band. I didn’t know you could talk to rock bands. I was a wide-eyed teenager used to going to see arena rock at the Denver Coliseum or McNichols. At any rate, Joseph came back at one point and said, “Oh yeah, I was just back talking to The Ramones.” “What?! You can talk to the Ramones?”

That was the punk rock thing—we’re all from the same place. And that was the beauty of the live shows, too—my god, they’re so powerful, they’re so simple, anyone could do this. Shit, I could do this. Maybe I should. And that’s how it affected a lot of people in the room. The Ramones stayed an extra night and Ebbets Field let them headline, and the Ravers were going to open the show. Luckily, The Ravers needed what was then called “roadies.” So I me, Joe, Sam Spinner, and, I think, John Trujillo, were anointed “the roadies” on the spot.

Suddenly I thought, “All you people who thought I was a loser in school, now I’m somebody. I’m a roadie for the Ravers!” That meant many good times at other Ravers shows like playing with the Nerves and the big one playing on the top floor of the ex-elementary school at 9th and Arapahoe. Which was Driver which became The Nightflames and the Front.

By the way, if you’re curious about that Ray Manzarek/Nigel Harrison band Biafra mentions, I don’t recommend you trouble yourself with finding it, it’s horrible, horrible stuff.

Regular readers of this blog may have recognized that the Marc Campbell mentioned in the interview is Dangerous Minds’ own. I actually didn’t - DM‘s poo-bah Richard Metzger pointed it out to me. This, young aspiring writers, is why we have editors. Marc had this to add to Jello’s reminiscences:

The Ramones were traveling with a woman (Johnny’s girlfriend I think). She was dressed in fish nets and leather mini-skirt and reading a Nazi torture porn novel something like “Ilsa, She Wolf Of The SS.” Totally silent. Dee Dee kept talking about how scary it was flying so close to the Rocky Mountains. An animated goofball full of manic energy. Joey, Johnny and Tommy didn’t talk much. They were intimidating. All theater, seamless and perfect.

The Ramones’ show at Ebbet’s Field was a religious experience for me. Perhaps the most important rock show of my life in that it solidly re-connected me to what I loved about the music and made me want to continue playing it. Months later, The Ravers were on their way to Manhattan and CBGB and Max’s. Eric helped load up the van and saw us off. He was too young to make the trip with us, or at least his parents thought so. I think I remember him waving bye as we sped toward our destiny. But that may be the movie version. Jello will have to correct me if I’m wrong.

For a look at what that Colorado kid evolved into, enjoy “Sing Along with the Dead Kennedys,” a bonus feature from the Dead Kennedys - The Early Years Live DVD.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Sylvester’s dog Princess Terry receives “celebrity pet” award, Castro Street Dog Show, 1984
12.17.2013
10:02 am

Topics:
Animals
Heroes
Queer
R.I.P.

Tags:
Dogs
Sylvester


 
Damn my terrible timing! Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of Sylvester; queer icon, incredible vocalist and Disco Diva extraordinaire. Well, I may be 24 hours late, but I couldn’t let another day pass without posting something in tribute here on DM.

And what a doozy of a clip! Yes, it’s Sylvester at the Castro Street Dog Fair in 1984, receiving the “celebrity pet” award on behalf of his pup, Princess Terry, from former Catwoman Lee Meriwether, all under the watchful gaze of a leather-vested cowboy. Yep. It really doesn’t get any more camp than this.

R.I.P. Queen Sylvester, you will forever be missed!
 

 
Major H/T to Matthew Hill!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
The Bonzo Doo-Dah ‘Mad Man’: The selected adverts of Vivian Stanshall
12.16.2013
02:14 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Heroes

Tags:
Vivian Stanshall
Bonzo Dog Band


 
In those later days when Bonzo Dog Band frontman Vivian Stanshall was short of a bark, a pen, a duck, or a round, he would offer his more-than-capable services to advertising companies, suggesting delightfully creative, entertaining and memorable ads, which he would script, voice and occasionally appear in. The results were usually pleasing, though I have to admit sometimes feeling an occasional disquiet over the reworking of a favorite Bonzo/Stanshall song, which often neared musical heresy. But then I’d think, why be a grinch, and really shouldn’t the ginger genius make some well-deserved money from his past work?

And Vivian certainly did make money from these adverts, some of which (the pay for his Ruddles ad, for example) he put towards recording new songs—the inspiration being Orson Welles, who paid for his movies through ads for cheap wine and frozen peas.

Some ads, like the those by film director Tony Kaye, immediately become works of art, and certainly Stanshall’s best commercials deserve to be considered so—his ad for Ruddles beer, for example, is a work of genuine brilliance. It was inspired by Sir Henry at Rawlinson End and features a disguised Dawn French as Sir Henry, and Stanshall as narrator who recites the following poem:

Malcolm the Porcupine went to see if a moon of green cheese would float

He exhaled a spray of ‘will you go away’

To the land where the hoppity oats

He brewed humpty of Ruddles

Which he dumpty in puddles

And licked up whenever it snowed

In final conclusion, ‘twas only illusion,

Malcolm Porcupine said ‘I’LL BE BLOWED’




Commencing his doodles

With oodles of noodles

From soup of a green green hue
,
Sir Cuthbert first faltered
,
Nonplussed, altered
,
Then called for his favourite brew



Rolling an eyeball for kicks

Is somewhere between and betwixt

But feared overbite

Or the gift of hindsight

But not a patch on a Ruddles at six

In some respects making adverts was an ideal earner for Stanshall, as his alcoholism had wreaked havoc with his health, and limited his ability to remain focused and reliable—he wasn’t exactly “reliable” on the Ruddles shoot, either, but the ad agency were so keen on working with the great man that they indulged his occasional lapses.

Stanshall’s other ads usually reworked his songs to differing comic effect—the excellent ”Terry Keeps His Cips On” for Toshiba, and everyone’s favorite “Mister Slater’s Parrot” for Cadbury’s Cream Egg. Though it was Stanshall’s collaboration with Supermarionation genius, Gerry Anderson, the man behind Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds, which used the song “The Big Shot” for Tennent’s Pilsner that captured something of the old Bonzo zaniness.
 

Ruddles Real Ale: ‘Are you ready for a Ruddles?’
 
More Vivian Stanshall ads after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
David Bowie: Early performance of ‘Space Oddity’ on Swiss TV, 1969
12.13.2013
05:34 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Television

Tags:
David Bowie
Graham Bonney

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A very early clip of David Bowie performing “Space Oddity” on Swiss TV’s music series Hits a Go Go in 1969. The show was hosted by Graham Bonney, best known for his sixties’ chart single “Super Girl” and for later hosting the UK kids music show Lift Off.

Graham Bonney was a star in Germany and had a series of hits in the late sixties and seventies with such… um der groovy Teutonic numbers as “Das Girl mit dem La-La-La,” “Wähle 333,” “Du bist viel zu schön,” and a cover of the Scott English single “Brandy.” However, Bonney had another connection with Bowie, in that he had once been a member of The Riot Squad, the band Bowie later joined as saxophonist, guitarist and singer in 1967. It was with The Riot Squad that Bowie recorded a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man.”
 

 
This is a crisp and clean video of Bowie’s first major European TV appearance.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Call in The Riot Squad: David Bowie covers The Velvet Underground… in 1967!

‘Super Girl’ by one hit wonder, Graham Bonney

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Shell Oil gets more than they bargained for when slick pranksters invade their ‘Science Slam’
12.12.2013
07:26 pm

Topics:
Activism
Environment
Heroes

Tags:
Peng Collective


 
The Burson-Marsteller public relations firm held a “Science Slam” event in Berlin yesterday to try to burnish the reputation of their client—I believe the industry term is “greenwash”—the Shell oil company. A “Science Slam” is like a rap battle or poetry slam meets a TED talk. Presenters make—or try to make—entertaining oral presentations of their scientific concepts, inventions or advocacy, and then the audience chooses the winner. Shell can do things like this or sponsor an “Eco Race” with all electric cars or some bullshit like that and then pretend like they give a fuck about the environment.

Several of the presenters directly challenged Shell’s ethics in their presentations and a freestyle rapper offered up a spontaneous rhyming diss of the Dutch oil giant. Environmental disasters and climate change were apparently the main topics, but at the end, two “young scientists” brought out a machine they informed the audience was a CO2 recovery experiment. Once fired up, the machine sprayed black oil sludge all over the stage.

No word what the half trillion dollar oil company made of this debacle, but the audience members voted these oily pranksters—two members of the subversive activist group the Peng! Collective—as the winners. Then the contest was promplty cancelled!
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Dangerous Idea: Every American needs to SEE David Simon’s ‘My country is a horror show’ speech!


 
It’s a very big Internet, so you can be forgiven if you’ve missed David Simon’s absolutely incendiary op ed ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’ that was published on The Guardian’s website on December 7th. But if you’re reading this sentence, you no longer have an excuse and need to click over to said essay NOW and return here after you’ve read it.

You’ll thank me. Trust me, you’ll be smarter after you’ve read it. Go. Now. If there is anything worth your time, it’s THIS. Who wants to be ignorant? Not you, right? NOW.

In the days since it was published, Simon’s essay has turned into a shot heard ‘round the world. In my opinion it’s the most incredibly articulate, passionately argued, well-thought out meditation on America since, I dunno, something Mark Twain (or Kurt Vonnegut) wrote. I believe David Simon’s words to be of historical importance, that is to say future historians will read his essay in an effort to try to understand HOW the American people let it get THIS BAD and still allowed those responsible to continue to operate exactly as they had before. You’d think the economy crashing might have ushered in some change. And it has: Bad for the common man, but great for the capital-hoarding elites.

As Simon rhetorically asks—I’m paraphrasing here—“How much longer until the entire shithouse goes up in flames?”

David Simon’s words have incredible power. The kind of power that educates people, changes minds and makes them do something. It needs to be passed on and on and on until everyone has read it, even your idiot teabagger Fox News-watching Uncle Dumbshit. Especially him.

If you’ve already read Simon’s piece, what you may not be aware of (and the YouTube views thus far would seem to bear this out) is that the essay is actually an edited version of an extraordinary speech that The Wire creator gave in Australia at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Simon spoke for about 30 minutes and then there was an extended Q&A beyond.

Watch this and then pass it on. On and on and on. He’s not exactly offering much of a prescription here—that’s not his goal—but the diagnosis is spot on…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Mingus’: Powerful and heartbreaking documentary portrait of the Jazz giant
12.04.2013
06:53 am

Topics:
Heroes
Movies
Music

Tags:
Jazz
Charlie Mingus

chasmingbass.jpg
 
Tuesday, November 22nd, 1966, jazz musician Charlie Mingus waited with his five-year-old daughter Carolyn, to be evicted from his studio at 22 Great Jones Street, New York. Mingus had planned to open a music school and jazz workshop at this Lower East Side loft, but he had been frustrated in his intentions and had fallen behind in the rent.

As he waited for the NYPD and the Sanitation Department to arrive and remove his belongings, filmmaker Thomas Reichman recorded an intimate portrait of one of the jazz music’s greatest composers and performers. In the film, Mingus is seen moving distractedly amongst his boxed possessions, showing great affection for his daughter, recalling happier times living on Fifth Avenue, and acknowledging the inherent racism in America by offering his own Pledge of Allegiance:.

”I pledge allegiance to the flag—the white flag. I pledge allegiance to the flag of America. When they say Black or Negro, it means you’re not an American. I pledge allegiance to your flag. Not that I have to, but just for the hell of it I pledge allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The white flag, with no stripes, no stars. It is a prestige badge worn by a profitable minority.”

Reichman’s verite film is intercut with Mingus performing “All the Things You Are,” Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Secret Love,” at Lennie’s-on-the-Turnpike in Peabody, Massachusetts. The film ends with Mingus being arrested for possession of a rifle and a box of hypodermic needles. Outside on the street, an NBC news reporter asked Mingus:

”Do you deny taking the heroin?”

It’s the sort of low level kick-you-when-you’re-down question, that reveals everything about the interrogator and nothing about Mingus. The needles were legitimate, and were used by the musician for his Vitamin-B injections.

The following day, Mingus reclaimed the gun and needles from the police, after presenting them with all the relevant paperwork. Outside the station he quipped to reporters:

”It isn’t every day you see a Negro walk out of a police station with a box of hypodermic needles and a shotgun.”

Reichman’s film Mingus is a powerful and heartbreaking portrait of one of Jazz music’s most important artists. 
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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