The Art of John Lurie: a short Q&A with the coolest man on Earth
11.19.2013
08:08 am

Topics:
Art
Heroes

Tags:
John Lurie


 
John Lurie is well known for a number of things; from fusing avant garde jazz and No Wave music with the Lounge LIzards in late 70s New York to his acting work in the films of Jim Jarmusch (not to mention his many scoring credits.) Though dogged by his fair share of bad luck—including being struck with chronic Lyme disease, and his travails with alleged stalker John Perry (which we have covered previously on Dangerous Minds)—Lurie has always managed to retain his impeccable sense of cool, making him a hero for many.

One area of Lurie’s life that I personally didn’t know much about till now was his artwork. Since being affected by Lyme disease in 2000, Lurie has been focussed intently on his work with the canvas and brush, work which contains equal measures of absurd humor and genuine insight, even if it’s refracted through an almost child-like naiveté.

Last week my friends at the blog Generation Bass managed to get a short, exclusive interview with Lurie about his artwork. Having not covered this aspect of his prolific output here on Dangerous Minds before, I am glad to be able to republish some of that article here. Many thanks to the good folks at Generation Bass, in particular DJ Umb, for this brief but intriguing interview with a modern legend.
 

John Lurie “Buffalo”
 
Generation Bass: Many of us would like to think that we relate to you because we’re outsiders. For many you epitomize that “outsider” characteristic. Would that be a fair assessment of you or is it wide off the mark?

John Lurie: I am not sure what you mean by “outsider” here.  I try to stay as close as I can to what I feel is real, ignoring whatever the popular trends are.  I am not sure what I am outside of.  I think that anyone following the trail of babble and unaware of what’s really real is actually the outsider, even if there are a lot of them.

GB: You said that your painting “The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague” is somewhat autobiographical. Can you expand upon that? I mean can you tell us what the spirits were/are trying to tell you, even if it’s really fucking vague.

JL: Well that is kind of private but mostly very difficult to explain. It does seem that for a long while there, things had gone so perfectly, inexplicably wrong that it had to mean something. But was kind of a joke because you can’t really blame the spirits, has to be the receptor that isn’t working so well.
 

John Lurie “Bear Surprise”
 
GB: How did you feel when your painting “Bear Surprise” went viral in Russia in 2006 as an Internet meme

John Lurie: I don’t know. Some of the silly paintings are bad on purpose. That being one of them. So that it went viral was a little odd. I mostly just thought – What the fuck…?  And then I thought – There are no copyright laws in Russia?

GB: Which of your own work is your most favourite painting or holds most significance for you and why?

JL: Oh I don’t know, I probably have 20 favorites.  “Wednesday,”  I guess has the most significance

GB: Do you have any upcoming public exhibitions? If so, where?

JL: No, nothing. Isn’t that kind of amazing?  The art world and I don’t seem to be on speaking terms.
 

John Lurie “Wednesday”
 
GB: John, you’re notorious as a bad boy but you’re still here. Even though you can’t do films and music anymore since the onset of chronic Lyme disease, you’re still being an artist, you’re painting. You’re still in the public eye, being funny and at times, bad. Don’t you think that’s ironic? In some strange but beautiful and twisted way, you’ve become a kind of “positive” role model to people. You’re dealing with huge health issues but that hasn’t deterred your artistry. Everyday you’re battling on, still being honest and still creating beauty! You’re still an inspiration to many the world over no matter how beat up and broken you might be or feel you are.
What would you say to this?

JL: I don’t know, what’s a bad boy?

I am in a situation that is very isolated and not so easy for that reason. Then we get an email from Romania or Argentina saying how much the paintings mean to them and how they helped them through a really hard time.  In turn that helps me back through a really hard time.  Is pretty cool that.

I wonder if Tilda Swinton got letters like that after sleeping at MOMA.

GB: If you could live your life all over again, is there anything you would change?

JL: I don’t think like that. At all.

GB: If Marvin Pontiac were still alive today, what do you think is the most important lesson he would have learned in his life and what particular advice do you think he’d be kind enough to impart to the people of the world?

JL: Watch out for buses.
 

John Lurie “The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague”
 
Thanks again to DJ Umb. You can read the full unabridged piece on the Generation Bass website. You can find (and buy) more of John Lurie’s art on the website John Lurie Art.com.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan & John Cleese star in a ‘Goon Show’ TV special, 1968

1111spikesellerssecombe121212.jpg
 
Peter Sellers once received a letter from a fan requesting a “singed photograph of yourself.” Sellers obliged, delicately burning the edges of a B&W 8x10 with a cigarette, before sending the portrait off. A week or so later, the fan wrote back asking Sellers if he would be so kind to send another photograph, as the last one was “signed” all around the edges.

This tale of probable dyslexia captures something of the humor of The Goon Show, that classic radio comedy series, which launched the careers of Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan.

With its unique brand of surreal humor, The Goon Show started modern British comedy and inspired generations of comic performers. It is difficult to imagine how Peter Cook, Firesign Theatre, Monty Python, The Bonzo Dog Band,  Eddie Izzard, and The Mighty Boosh would have developed their own particular brands of comedy without The Goons.

In 1968, eight years after The Goon Show had finished, Sellers, Milligan and Secombe reunited for a specially televised recording of one of their classic scripts “Tales of Men’s Shirts.”  The trio were ably joined by a young John Cleese as the program’s announcer. Though not as brilliant as the original radio production (the visuals distract from imagining the comedy, and Milligan and co. appear to be enjoying themselves a tad too much), there is, however, more than plenty to enjoy.
 
More from The Goons (& Cleese), plus bonus documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
NBC journalist says live on air: ‘Someone should sh*t in Sarah Palin’s mouth’


 
As the editor of a blog that used to generate a lot of traffic with virtually any item, however small, that mocked Sarah Palin, believe me when I tell you that five years after her debut on the world stage, no one really cares that much about the snowbilly grifter anymore.

Not like they used to. Not even close.

Nope, an item on Sarah Palin will bring in a negligible amount of traffic, so little, in fact that it’s not even worth the effort anymore. “Sarah Palin does something stupid AGAIN” has stopped being effective as “click bait,” in the same way that “Glenn Beck says something outrageous AGAIN” has. Or “The 25 greatest moments from Murphy Brown” (as actually seen on Yahoo! earlier this week, I didn’t make that one up). Or whatever idiocy Ted Nugent is into. Who gives a shit about these assholes? No one does. At least our readers don’t. You let us know loud and clear how disinterested you are in these people and we see the evidence of this on Google Analytics, ChartBeat, and in Twitter, Facebook and Google+ shares.

Which brings up the question: Does a Sarah Palin appearance on The Today Show, or even Fox News, really bring in ANY extra eyeballs? Based on my own (admittedly left-leaning, but very large as these things go) control group, I’d have to wager that the answer is a definite “NO.” Going on what I’ve seen, she’s a total bust these days. Doesn’t move the needle on the traffic dial. Flatline. Nothing. Why do we still see her all the time saying “words” in the “lamestream media”? I honestly couldn’t tell you, but given that every newsgathering or content aggregating entity has access to the very same traffic measurement tools that I have, I don’t expect that she’s got much left cultural currency after this current round of “war against Christmas” media appearances to promote her new book that someone else wrote, for people who don’t read…

Having said all that, I certainly would have thought there would have been a terrific amount of interest in an NBC correspondent suggesting that Sarah Palin should have someone shit in her mouth and piss in her eyes, and this is exactly what Martin Bashir did in an MSNBC commentary segment on Friday that is, for the most part, only being discussed on the right.

How did this escape wider notice?

If you will hit play, you will see one of the most incendiary things I have ever seen someone say on a cable news channel about another person… ever.

Incendiary, sure, but I’d have to say… he’s right. Without further ado, here’s Martin Bashir saying what a lot of people think about Sarah Palin:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Face to Face’ with Allen Ginsberg
11.13.2013
12:38 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Pop Culture

Tags:
Allen Ginsberg
Face to Face


 
This is a fine interview with Allen Ginsberg taken from the BBC series Face to Face, in which Ginsberg opens up about his family, loves, identity, drugs and even sings.

The series, Face to Face originally started in 1959, and was hosted by John Freeman, whose skill and forthright questioning cut through the usual mindless chatter of such interview shows. Freeman, a former editor of the New Statesman was often considered brusque and rude, but his style of questioning fitted the form of the program, which was more akin to an interview between psychiatrist and patient. The original series included, now legendary, interviews with Martin Luther King, Tony Hancock, Professor Carl Jung, Evelyn Waugh and Gilbert Harding.

In 1989, the BBC revived the series, this time with the excellent Jeremy Isaacs as questioner, who interviewed Allen Ginsberg for this program, first broadcast on 9th January 1995.

Watching this now, makes me wonder what has happened to poetry? Where are our revolutionary poets? Where are our poets who speak out, demonstrate, make the front page, and tell it like it is? And why are our bookstores cluttered with the greeting card verse of 100 Great Love Poems, 101 Even Greater Love Poems, and Honest to God, These Are the Greatest Fucking Love Poems, You’ll Ever Fucking Read. O, for a Ginsberg now.

 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Check out Muhammad Ali’s Broadway chops as he performs a number from a Black Power musical, 1969
11.13.2013
10:34 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Ed Sullivan
Muhammed Ali
musicals

 Muhammad Ali
 
I use the term “chops” a little loosely here. When Muhammad Ali was banned from boxing and stripped of his heavyweight title in 1967 after refusing the draft, he began a lecture tour to pay the bills. Ali’s money troubles during this three and a half year blackball may be the reason so many cynical, cynical people assume his participation in the musical, Buck White was a ploy for cash, and not a reflection of his legitimate love of Broadway!


 
Below, you can see Ali performing the song, “We Came in Chains,” on The Ed Sullivan Show. Buck White is actually a pretty cool concept for a musical; based on Joseph Dolan Tuotti’s play Big Time Buck White, the show centers on its namesake, a militant Black Power leader who invigorates and focuses a group of radical black activists. Unfortunately, it only ran for seven performances, and full footage of Ali’s “musical talent” is near impossible to find.

Maybe if they had hired a lead with a musical background the show would be a classic?
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
Neil Young announces ‘Live at the Cellar Door’
11.04.2013
07:12 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Neil Young

neil
 
Neil Young has announced the impending release of Live At The Cellar Door, a collection of performances recorded over the course of a week in late 1970. Via Hennemusic:

The album collects recordings made during Young’s intimate six-show solo stand at The Cellar Door in Washington D.C. between November 30th and December 2nd, 1970, a few months after the release of his classic third solo album, After the Gold Rush.

The album, which features Young performing on acoustic guitar and piano, includes a mix of solo and Buffalo Springfield tracks. It also includes early, raw performances of songs that wouldn’t appear until subsequent Young albums, including the rarity “Bad Fog Of Loneliness” (which appears on Live at Massey Hall ‘71 – released in 2007- but was previously unreleased until the studio band version was included on Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972), “Old Man” (released two years later on 1972’s Harvest album), and “Down By The River” from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

The announced release date is December 10th. The track listing is as follows:

1. Tell Me Why  
2. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
3. After the Gold Rush
4. Expecting To Fly
5. Bad Fog of Loneliness
6. Old Man
7. Birds
8. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
9. See the Sky About To Rain
10. Cinnamon Girl
11. I Am a Child
12. Down By the River
13. Flying On the Ground Is Wrong

Young has released a video trailer for the album, which you can repeatedly enjoy here to your heart’s content while you wait a month for the album to drop.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
‘What Would Pussy Riot Do?’
10.30.2013
09:40 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Politics

Tags:
Pussy Riot
Anti Folk
Jeffrey Lewis

wwprd
 
Anti-Folk mainstay Jeffrey Lewis is having a busy year. Not only has he released a collaborative album with bizarro-folk founding father Peter Stampfel (who just celebrated his 74th birthday yesterday, incidentally), he’s also released the “WWPRD” E.P. and toured extensively with his band The Rain. The centerpiece of the E.P. is an idealistic, poetic tribute to Pussy Riot, the female punk band famously being held captive in Russia for the “crime” of staging a protest. Here’s a partial transcription.

Pussy Riot went to prison
Just to make some people listen
They say church & state’s corrupt
It must be true ‘cuz they’re locked up
Before we lose democracy
You ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
WWPRD?

Put in jail for two years each
Just for punk rock public speech
What is this, the middle ages?
Let those women out of those cages
Before you choose complacency
You ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
WWPRD?

Minds can open in a flash
when hit by art or hit by cash
Money wins as like as not
Imagination’s all we’ve got
So let’s just have the decency
For you to ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
WWPRD?

‘Cause progress is not guaranteed
I say Pussy Riot is what we need
This ain’t the old Red Army Faction
This is bold, non-violent action
To change the world, the biggest hint is
art is really what convinces
That’s why they always try to buy it
But they couldn’t buy off Pussy Riot
So when you see bands on TV
You ask yourself, and I’ll ask me -
WWPRD?

Permit me a mild irony in posting commerce links after that last bit, but in case you might want to support Lewis’ work, the E.P. is available digitally from Amazon and in multiple formats from Rough Trade.

Here’s the poem, performed in Cologne by Jeffery Lewis and the Rain, posted by YouTube user haengendegaerten.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Heartwarming video of lesbian couple applying for marriage license in NC: ‘Y’all sign right here’
10.15.2013
01:26 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Queer

Tags:
marriage equality
North Carolina


 
This morning, Drew Reisinger, Buncombe County, North Carolina’s Register of Deeds became the state’s first government official to seek approval for the granting of same-sex marriage licenses.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has already signaled that the licenses will not be given—although he claims to personally support marriage equality—but Reisinger was undeterred and has forced a bit of a public confrontation over the matter.

“I will let each couple know that it is my hope to grant them a license, but I need to seek the North Carolina Attorney General’s approval,” he said. “I have concerns about whether we are violating people’s civil rights based on this summer’s Supreme Court decision.” (He’s referring here, in part, to North Carolina’s constitutional “Amendment One” banning gay marriage which passed with a comfortable margin—61% of the vote to 39% against—in 2012. Civil unions are not recognized in the state either.)

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

With a crowd of about 100 in the deeds office lobby cheering them on, same-sex couples filled out paperwork for marriage licenses beginning about 8 this morning.

Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory, of Fairview, were first in line. “We are hopeful that Attorney General Cooper will do the right thing and recognize our right to marry after 25 years in a committed relationship,” Clark said.

Reisinger said he will accept and hold same-sex marriage applications and push the question of equal marriage rights to Cooper, the state’s chief legal adviser, Reisinger said in a statement Monday night.

Drew Reisinger, you are truly a fine example of a public servant. And talk about the rock and the hard place that Drew and these charming ladies have put poor Cooper between. The guy says he’s pro equality. If so, why would he choose to vigorously oppose it in his state?

Cooper is widely expected to make a bid for governor in 2016. That’s why. Marriage equality isn’t something a pol in North Carolina—even a Democrat—wants hanging around his neck right now. He personally supports it, but so what if it’s politically risky? Cooper shouldn’t be able to have his cake and eat it on this issue. This is a matter of right and wrong and not political expediency. If this video makes the rounds the way it seems poised to—have your Kleenex ready—it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Roy Cooper to do the right thing.
 

 
Via Joe.My.God

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
How Superman singlehandedly thwarted the Ku Klux Klan
10.11.2013
07:32 am

Topics:
Heroes
History
Pop Culture

Tags:
Superman
Ku Klux Klan

Superman
 
We all know that Superman generally battles evildoers in the fictional city of Metropolis. If you watched the disappointing, overcranked Man of Steel earlier this year, you remember that his nemesis was General Zod.

It’s a little weird to learn that not all of his enemies are make-believe. There was a time when the popular Kryptonian was deployed to sideline a very real threat in the United States: namely, the Ku Klux Klan.

Our story begins with an intrepid young folklorist and activist from Florida named Stetson Kennedy. He noticed that the Klan was experiencing a resurgence—as an example, a few weeks after V-J Day, the Klan burned a 300-foot cross on the face of Stone Mountain near Atlanta (!)—one Klansman later said that the gesture was intended “to let the n*ggers know the war is over and that the Klan is back on the market.”
 
Superman versus the Klan
 
The fiercely committed Kennedy decided to infiltrate the group and expose its secrets. He was quite successful in this—for example, he learned that when a traveling Klan member wanted to find other Klansmen in an unfamiliar part of the country, he would ask for a “Mr. Ayak”—“Ayak” standing for “Are You a Klansman?” The desired response was “Yes, and I also know a Mr. Akai”—“A Klansman Am I.”

When he took his information to the local authorities, he found, much to his surprise, little inclination to act on his findings: The Klan had become powerful enough that even the police were hesitant to take action against it.

Eventually he realized that he needed a different approach. In the 1940s, Superman was a radio sensation—children all over the country were following his exploits ravenously. Kennedy decided to approach the makers of the radio serial to see if they would be interested in an epic “Superman vs. the Klan” plotline. He learned that they were interested in such a thing.
 
Stetson Kennedy under cover
Stetson Kennedy under cover
 
In a funny way, Kennedy’s needs and the needs of the Superman radio writers coincided. Superman had spent the war fighting the likes of Hitler and Hirohito, but in 1946 that was a dead letter, and they were on the lookout for fresh villains.

On June 10, 1946, a Superman plotline began bearing the title “Clan of the Fiery Cross.” The episodes were broadcast daily, so the 16th and final episode appeared on June 25. In the story, Jimmy Olsen is managing a baseball team, but when he replaces his top pitcher with a more talented newcomer, the sorehead kid who has lost his slot ends up in the clutches of the “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” who volunteer to intimidate the “insufficiently American” star pitcher with burning crosses and the like. Jimmy Olsen (of course) takes the issue to Clark Kent, and in short order the Man of Steel is taking on the men in white hoods.

Over the course of about two weeks, the shows exposed many of the KKK’s most guarded secrets, including code words and rituals. The Klan relied a great deal on an inscrutable air of menace and mystery, and the Superman serial stripped the Klan of that mystique utterly. Almost overnight, the Klan’s recruitment efforts began drying up completely.

How successful was Kennedy in his efforts to take down the Klan? In their 2005 hit book Freakonomics, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt called Kennedy “the greatest single contributor to the weakening of the Ku Klux Klan.”

There is a much bigger story here than can adequately be covered in a post like this—there’s a great deal of information out there. Stetson Kennedy seems to have been a genuinely remarkable person, and his Wikipedia page lists a lot of resources if you want to learn more. A good resource is Richard Bowers’ Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate.

All sixteen of the Klan-related episodes of the Superman radio serial are on YouTube, complete with innumerable advertisements for Kellogg’s PEP cereal—the first two are linked below, and you know how to find the others.
 
“Clan of the Fiery Cross,” episode 1 of 16 (June 10, 1946):

 
“Clan of the Fiery Cross,” episode 2 of 16 (June 11, 1946):

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
Ridiculous celebrity ‘wall art’ we urge you not to put in your home
10.07.2013
07:28 am

Topics:
Heroes
Pop Culture

Tags:
wall art

Tom Cruise wall art
Tom Cruise

Seriously, do you really want these people staring at you all day, every day?

Sylvester Stallone wall art
Stallone

Britney Spears wall art
Britney Spears

Oasis wall art
Oasis

Andrew Garfield wall art
Andrew Garfield

Charlie Sheen wall art
Charlie Sheen

Twilight wall art
Twilight
 
More shitty celebrity wall art after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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