Over the weekend via that most wonderful invention known as Netflix Instant View I caught an excellent documentary on the making of the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band LP. I found it to be one of the best Lennon related documents I’ve ever seen, worth watching if only for the moments wherein the gloriously raw vocals are isolated, check out the last few minutes of the below clip. Chills up the spine !
Two cool Andy Warhol items came to my attention today that I wanted to share here. First of all, the charming letter sent to the artist in 1964 by William MacFarland, the Product Marketing Manager of the Campbell Soup Company, congratulating him on the success of his then young career and offering to send over a couple of cases of tomato soup.
The video below is a 90 second condensation of the 23 minutes Warhol spent painting a BMW M1 race car. Roy Lichtenstein and Alexander Calder also painted “art cars” for the German auto giant.
Enjoyable interview with the literary executor for the William S. Burroughs estate, James Grauerholz, who worked closely with the author for 23 years, conducted by Stephen Foland. It’s a discussion specifically about Burrough’s interest in magick—something that interests me greatly to read about, I can assure you—but what’s fun about the interview is reading between the lines as Grauerholz gently manages to provide a more, how shall I put it, secular viewpoint on the matter.
SF: William’s magickal experimentation, the aspects of recording what he called “Danger Sounds” and replaying them in proximity to his target, or using collage to hit a specific target has become the stuff of legend. Some attribute the closing of one particular establishment to William’s hexes. Is there another specific instance which you can recall that is as dramatic and apparently self-evident?
JG: Nope, not really. You are likely referring to the Moka Bar in London, where William said he received snide, snotty service and lousy, weak tea — and his tape-recorders-and-cameras mock-surveillance routine, back and forth on the sidewalk of Frith Street, and how the Moka Bar failed and was shuttered not too long after that.
Forgive me please, but my cast of mind leads me to suspect the Moka Bar, if it really did sell lousy tea with terrible service, might have been headed out of business, with or without the sound-text-tape-film sidewalk-pacing routine…
Below, Burroughs reads from Nova Express on Saturday Night Live in 1981. I remember seeing this the night it aired live and being totally flabbergasted to actually see William Burroughs on television. Something like that seemed impossible at the time!
Taking the broooooaaaaad view of things: A Conversation with James Grauerholz on William S. Burroughs and Magick (Pop Damage)
Because putting together the Phew/Aunt Sally post made me think of them and because I need a unicorn chaser after that cheesy thing I posted just now (ironically from the same time period as this), Here’s The Fall, live in Leeds, doing one of the best odes to speed that I know of, aside from this one or (duh!) this one. I drunk a jar of coffee and then I took some of these !
Phew is the name of the Japanese punk chanteuse who first came came to notoriety as singer in the band Aunt Sally. These tracks from her 1981 self-titled LP are most notable, however for her backing band: Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of Can and always brilliant producer Conny Plank. This is some wonderfully austere stuff from a period in which our man Holger could virtually do no wrong. And what a prescient sound this is. Any number of current backward looking bands would give their eye teeth for the vibe and drum/synth groove made by this unlikely combination of middle aged German gents and adorable art-waif.
Tara and I watched Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story this weekend (it’s on the Netflix VOD currently) and I absolutely loved it. It’s a truly great film, one that I have no doubt will be looked at and revered by future generations trying to understand what the hell happened in our backwards era. I recommend it to everyone who reads this blog and cares about my opinion. It was absolutely spellbinding to me. I felt as if I wanted to cheer several times to see someone say these things and say them so powerfully. Capitalism: A Love Story, or a film just like it, needed to be made. but there is only one guy who could have pulled off something like this, gotten it funded, herded through the distribution system and gotten a message this radical the deep penetration in the culture that it deserves, and it’s Michael Moore.
Surprisingly, Capitalism: A Love Story is perhaps the least polemic of all of Moore’s films, even if it does, at root, articulately advocate the necessity of class warfare, at least at the ballot box. Most of what Moore, or his protagonists, have to say in the film would be damed difficult to refute, perhaps this is why it doesn’t seem as confrontational as Moore’s films often are. You’d have to have a very closed mind to deny the reality of what you see on display here. Even Sean Hannity would have a hard time arguing with any of it (although I doubt he watched or will ever watch Moore’s film)
To say what Michael Moore says in Capitalism: A Love Story took balls and it also took amazing skill as a storyteller, underscoring his Mark Twain-like role in American society. After a mind-numbing section where the audience is introduced to the concept of the so-called “Dead Peasant” life insurance policies some major companies take out on their non-essential employees—unbeknownst to them—where they make more money if the employee dies, he cuts to an interview with Father Dick Preston, the Flint, Michigan-based priest who married Moore and his wife Kathleen Glynn (who interviewed me for a job once, she’s super cool).
He quietly asks the priest if capitalism is evil and what Jesus would think about free enterprise and his answer is devastating. This isn’t some left-wing loony he had to search out, this is the man who married him, the local priest who, like Moore, has witnessed the tragedy and destruction the loss of the auto industry in Flint, Michigan did to their hometown. Both of these men knows what greed does and how and who it harmed. People with first and last names.
And let me tell you, this priest fucking nails it. It’s a powerful, powerful cinematic moment.
Speaking as someone who took ten people on my own 24th birthday to see Roger and Me when it was in theaters—I also released This Divided State on DVD when I was at Disinformation—maybe I’m biased, but do yourself a favor and see this film. Better still, if you watch it and you like it, consider having a screening party at your house and invite 5 or 6 friends over to watch it and discuss it afterwards. It takes two hours to watch and could open the eyes of even a devout redneck Fox News watcher (well, some redneck Fox News watchers) to what’s really going on in this country. It’s not like Glenn Beck is ever going to tell them.
Below is one of the most powerful moments in a film full of them: rare footage taken right after FDR’s final State of the Union address where he lays out the concept of a Second Bill of Rights that would have guaranteed that all Americans have “a useful job, a decent home, adequate health care, and a good education.”
God bless Michael Moore. He’s a great American.
The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats to Prove it (Yahoo! Finance)
The U.S. Economy Is A Dead Horse And The American People Are Starting To Get Really Pissed Off And Frustrated (Economic Collapse)
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 ?