Original Signed Sketch, penned in black ink on a 6 ¼ in. x 8 in. album leaf. Fields, an accomplished pool shark, perfected many billiards tricks which he later used in stage and film comedy. Depicted here is one such gag: in the center of the page, Fields has drawn himself as a hapless billiards player attempting a shot with an enormous pool cue! Signed with sentiment just beneath, “Best wishes, W.C. Fields”. Minor stains; otherwise, in fine condition. A delightful image, drawn entirely by Fields himself.
The opening bid is $3500. I actually got to see Fields’ original trick pool table at the Magic Castle recently.
Marshall McLuhan would have turned 99 years old today, and his status as the god-daddy of media studies still seems pretty rock-solid. I wasn’t previously aware of how often the Canadian theorist appeared on TV, and was especially unaware of his November 1967 duet with New York novelist Norman Mailer on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show The Summer Way, bravely moderated by Ken Lefolii.
Recovered from recent treatment for a benign brain tumor he suffered while teaching in New York, McLuhan gamely tugs at a few of Mailer’s pretensions. Mailer is recently back from levitating the Pentagon with the Yippies, with the siege of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention in his future.
McLuhan pops off a bunch of gems, including:
The planet is no longer nature, it’s now the content of an artwork.
Nature has ceased to exist…it needs to be programmed.
The environment is not visible, it’s information—it’s electronic.
The present is only faced by any generation by the artist.
Communications maven Michael Hintongoesspeculative on his hero’s televised meeting with the Jersey-raised boxer-novelist, but of course it’s best to just check the thing out yourself.
The original flip sides to everybody’s favorite convicted murderer/hugely influential pop music producer Phil Spector‘s string of mega-hits issued on his own Philles label have never been re-issued in any way. Hell, they aren’t even on the above pictured Flips and Rarities LP ! It’s also damn near impossible to get information about these tracks (mostly named for the musicians playing on them or other members of Spector’s crew) let alone hear them so I was thrilled to find this collection of 15 or so of them uploaded to Youtube in bunches. It’s fascinating listening. Ostensilbly these were instrumental throwaways: Jams, half-songs, pseudo jazz workouts whose pupose, I believe, was to ensure that no DJ anywhere would be confused as to which side was the A side. But it’s obvious that Spector was also using these tracks to really push his sonic experiments: Crazy huge reverbs, echo, overloaded pre-amps (I hear the genesis of The Beatles’ Savoy Truffle horns in here), wild-ass solos, etc. I’d sure love to have these all collected and properly mastered. Until then can someone out there tell me where else to find these tracks collected ?
Sometimes it’s the more obscure tracks (relatively speaking) that I get off on the most from the Beatles catalog: Case in point, I tend to rank the non-LP Lady Madonna higher than some songs which are more overly familiar. But my favorite lesser-known Beatles song has to be Hey Bulldog, which was actually recorded during the filming for the Lady Madonna TV promo, a single that was supposed to provide a stop gap between albums whist the Fab Four went on a scheduled four-month long Transcendental Mediation retreat to India with the “giggling guru” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. We all know how that turned out.
Hey Bulldog is, in my never so humble opinion, one of the very best Beatles songs of all, but as it lived on the soundtrack for Yellow Submarine—only half a Beatles album technically speaking, although the George Martin symphonic music that comprises side two is, to my ears, utterly sublime—it’s from an album that most fans don’t tend to own. Furthermore, when the original US theatrical version of Yellow Submarine was released, they cut the song and it wasn’t until the 1999 remastered version came out on DVD, that the Hey Bulldog sequence was restored to the film’s running order.
Apparently the below video wasn’t completed until that release, either. Editors went back to the original Lady Madonna footage during the Yellow Submarine restoration process and found they were able to sync up the spirited Hey Bulldog performances up 30 years after the fact.
What fun it is to see this! According to Beatles engineer Geooff Emerick, the performance you see below is one of the last times the Beatles performed as a team, with each member bringing real enthusiasm to the task: “Paul’s bass line was probably the most inventive of any he’d done since Pepper, and it was really well played. Harrison’s solo was sparkling, too—one of the few times that he nailed it right away. His amp was turned up really loud, and he used one of his new fuzz boxes, which made his guitar absolutely scream,” he would later write in his book, Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles.
Paul McCartney recalls “I remember (it) as being one of John’s songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it’s mainly his vibe. There’s a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end. We always tried to make every song different because we figured, ‘Why write something like the last one? We’ve done that’. We were on a ladder so there was never any sense of stepping down a rung, or even staying on the same rung, it was better to move one rung ahead.”
I like the part when Lennon and McCartney are doing the whole dog barking thing and George Harrison looks over at them like they’re losing their minds.
Oh dear me. Hermann Nitsch‘s bloody/Dionysian/biblical/medical performance art rituals have haunted me since I first learned about them via my high school library’s unusually well-stocked art book section (thanks Mr. Allen !) so I’m amazed to finally see great quality footage of an aktion that I’d previously only seen hazy stills of. I think it’s the combination of the studious manner of the participants and observers and the all out bloody fucking (literally) insanity taking place that unsettles me the most. This stuff causes all sorts of conflicting emotions, and that’s probably the point. See for yourself but only if there’s no kids or really anybody with delicate sensibilities around, alright ?
Electronic and text-sound music pioneer Robert Ashley‘s video opera (developed over a period of time from the mid 70’s to the early 80’s) is, in retrospect, the kind of VHS artifact you might find deconstructed at Everything is Terrible or parodied on Tim & Eric. Only thing is, this piece comes pre-deconstructed ! it’s already one of the most fragmented and inscrutable pieces of “TV” you’re ever likely to stumble upon. Following the narrative is an experience akin to being stuck inside Ashley’s mind for a long stretch. That he also happens to suffer from a mild form of Tourette’s only serves to make that mind a very interesting place.
Motown bass deity James Jamerson had more talent and soul in one finger than in any of his peers’ standard ten. Literally. He was known amongst his colleagues as “the hook” for his single digit yet fluid as a river plucking. He also never changed his strings or messed with the controls on his instrument. Everything simply turned up to ten. I mean to feature a few isolated tracks from some of his best known sessions which are new to me and as delightful to listen to as you might imagine but I had to lead off with this already widely seen but marvelous clip of our man backing Marvin Gaye in 1973:
Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. The original line-up of The Pop Group are reforming for 4 dates and perhaps more this September! I’m sure it’s too much to ask for them to make it to the States, although I did once see Mark Stewart+Maffia play to about 50 people here in Los Angeles. Say the fellas themselves:
There was a lot left undone,....we were so young and volatile….Let’s face it, things are probably even MORE fucked now than they were in the early 80’s…..and WE are even more fucked off!
A sad day for American literature, writer Harvey Pekar has passed away at age 70. My first thought is that it’s great that he lived long enough to see his work embraced by a large audience due to the success of the American Splendor film but it’s hard to swallow the loss of another singular and utterly unique American voice. Bon Voyage, Harvey.
(Cleveland) - Famed Cleveland underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar has died at the age of 70.
Cuyahoga County Coroner’s spokesman Powell Caesar confirmed the news to WTAM 1100 Monday morning.
Pekar was found just before 1:00 am by his wife, Joyce Brabner, in their home in Cleveland Heights. The cause of death is not yet known.