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‘Some stupid with a flare gun’: Frank Zappa & the true story of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’
06.06.2016
04:55 pm

Topics:
History
Music

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Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” amirite?

Although it is among the most popular guitar riffs in history (if not the #1 most popular riff of all time, because virtually anyone, including your mom, can probably play it) and certainly a song that will never, ever fall out of the classic rock canon, the meaning of the song’s lyrics—once well-known—are becoming increasingly cryptic. It would just be confusing to most people hearing it for the first time playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band:

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

On December 4, 1971 Deep Purple were in Montreux, Switzerland. The plan was to record their next album—what would become their 1972 classic, Machine Head—in the theater of the cavernous Montreux Casino, which was closing down for renovations after a matinee show by the Mothers of Invention.

As the members of Deep Purple watched, the rockin’ teen combo led by Frank Zappa laid into their concert showstopper of the time “King Kong,” when an idiot in the audience fired a flare gun (or more likely a bottle rocket) into the venue’s rattan-covered ceiling during Don Preston’s MiniMoog solo. Although no one was badly injured, the huge casino, along with its theater, restaurants and other entertainment facilities was burned to the ground and the Mothers’ gear was toast. There was an apparently easy and orderly exit for the crowd as the fire was slow at first, but as Deep Purple’s bass guitarist Roger Glover later said “when it caught, it went up like a fireworks display.” Two of Zappa’s roadies, the last to leave, were blown out of a window, but sustained only minor injuries.
 

A postcard of the fire

They burned down the gambling house
It died with an awful sound
Funky Claude was running in and out
Pulling kids out the ground

Even if you don’t know what it means, it sounds good, right?

“Funky Claude” who was “running in and out” refers to Claude Nobs, the casino’s owner and the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival—and as luck would have it, a volunteer fireman—who helped some of the audience members escape to safety and to whom Machine Head was dedicated. He later told Gibson.com

Frank Zappa took his guitar–a Gibson, a very strong one–and he smashed the big window down with his guitar. Then a lot of people could go out through there. The people went out through that exit, and within about five minutes, the 2,000 kids were out. And the people were watching the fire thinking, “Oh, you know, Frank Zappa is just doing an incredible ending to his show.”

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A gorgeous gallery of ‘ultra-chic’ men’s hairstyles from the 70s
06.06.2016
11:29 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
History

Tags:


 
I always get a good chuckle when I see those oh-so-perfectly coiffed men’s hairdos from the 70s. I’m just marveling at the Bay City Rollers-meet-Jesus-freakiness of some of these hairy head shots, presumably taken from men’s hair magazines from the early to mid 70s. Imagine the time and effort it took to perfect these amazing looks on a daily basis? How awesome the 1970s must have been.

I wonder if when these styles will make a comeback and push aside the already passé hipster man bun? History always repeats itself. (Except for powdered wigs. That’s not gonna happen.) Trust me, you’re going to see these styles again if ain’t happening already as I type this. And I can’t wait.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Bodily Fluids: A Visual Guide to Embalming from 1897
06.02.2016
09:44 am

Topics:
Books
History
R.I.P.

Tags:

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I attended a lot of funerals when I was a kid. A consequence of coming from a large extended Catholic family. My father was the eldest of nine children—he outlived them all. During my childhood, his brothers and sisters, and a few of their cousins and kin, died within a very short time of each other. My mother came from a small Protestant family. Her parents, uncles and aunts lived longer than my father’s kin, but when they died they fell within a year or two of each other.

At most of these funerals the body of the deceased was displayed in an open casket—either in a chapel of rest or at home where the family said decades of the rosary around the coffin. Seeing a corpse never seemed strange—death was part of life. The only thing that did seem odd was the strange almost pained expressions on the faces of the deceased. I put this down to their being embalmed—but never quite understood what this entailed or how the undertakers managed to keep the deceased’s eyes closed or their mouths shut.

When my beloved great aunt died, the undertaker left a few startling clues to the secret processes of making a corpse presentable.

Although she wore little make-up, someone had rendered her as an embarrassed spinster ashamed for causing such an unnecessary to-do. Her cheeks were flaming red, her lips fuchsia pink and her eyelids a cheapening smear of blue. This was a portrait of my great aunt by a Sunday painter overly influenced by Henri Matisse—it was garish and bright. Her eyes seemed wrong—flat and squint. I later found out eyelids are glued closed or covered with a flesh-colored plastic skin. Her mouth was pursed and I saw a telltale crimson thread with which her lips (her jaw) had been sewn or looped shut. Her hair was flat, as if she had been sleeping on her side. It wasn’t how my great aunt—ever meticulous and precise in her presentation—would have wanted to be remembered.

Embalming has been carried out by humans for some 5,000 to 6,000 years. The Egyptians made the greatest use of it—believing the preservation of a body somehow empowered the spirit after death. The brain and vital organs were scooped out and stored in jars. The interior of the corpse rubbed with herbs and preservatives before being wrapped in layers of linen cloth. Similar methods of embalming were carried out across Africa, Europe and China.

The modern methods of embalming developed as a result of discoveries made by the English physician William Harvey in the 1600s. Harvey determined the process of blood circulation by injecting fluids into corpses. Based on Harvey’s experimentation, two Scottish doctors William and John Hunter developed the process of embalming in the 1700s—offering their services to the public.

However, it was the slaughter caused during the American Civil War that led to embalming becoming popular with the public as families of soldiers killed on the battlefield wanted their loved ones’ bodies preserved for burial.

In 1897, Eliab Myers, M.D. and F. A. Sullivan wrote The Champion Text Book on Embalming. This book offered “Lecturers and Demonstrators in the Champion College of Embalming.” It was produced by the Champion Company from Springfield, Ohio, which manufacture equipment for use in embalming.

The Champion Text Book on Embalming gave the user a history of its subject and illustrated step-by-step guide to the process of successful embalming. From the draining of blood and bodily fluids to the dissection and removal of internal organs. The process explained in these atmospheric photographic plates is virtually the same as it is today.
 
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Fig. 15 Raising the brachial artery.
 
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Fig. 16 Injecting the arterial system through the radial artery.
 
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Fig. 17 Aspirating blood from the heart.
 
More tips on dealing with corpses from 19th century embalming techniques, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Hologram’ of George Carlin to perform at national comedy museum starting next year
06.01.2016
11:42 am

Topics:
History
Pop Culture

Tags:


 
Shortly after running this post we received the following message from Kliph Nesteroff:
 

A retraction was submitted this morning regarding the hologram. Kelly Carlin has not endorsed the hologram idea. I took a leap of logic. Kelly has been working closely to integrate her father into the museum, and the builders of the museum have been working closely with Hologram USA, however the hologram plans (of which Redd Foxx is one), does not involve Carlin. The comedy center recently put on a tribute to Carlin’s legacy at the Paley Center and announced the enormous donation of Carlin’s archives to the center. George Carlin is a key point for the Comedy Center, but not part of the Hologram USA project as I mistakenly stated.

 
Nesteroff also directed me to this now-updated post from Rolling Stone which has accurate information about the musuem’s plans.

Here is the post in its original form:

It’s no secret that we at Dangerous Minds have long been admirers of George Carlin. I know that Richard Metzger is a big fan, and as for me, let’s just say that watching Carlin at Carnegie on HBO (without my parents’ knowledge, of course) at the age of about 13 was a life-changing event.

On top of that, one of the coolest things DM did in 2015 was run an exclusive excerpt of Kliph Nesteroff’s fantastic book The Comedians, which is chock full of information about Carlin’s career. We love the guy.

The history of the use of so-called “holograms” in the news and entertainment business has seen mixed success, to put it mildly. On Election Night in 2008 CNN broadcast an interaction between Wolf Blitzer and a holographic image of correspondent Jessica Yellin, who was reporting from Chicago, in an inadvertent nod to Princess Leia in a similar scene in the first Star Wars movie. In 2008 a hologram of Tupac Shakur sang “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” at Coachella.

In neither case was the projected image actually a hologram—it’s similar to the artistic license that allows the makers of a certain kind of self-balancing scooter to call it a “hoverboard.”

So ordinarily we’d want to make fun of news that an entity known the National Comedy Center, scheduled to open in Jamestown, New York, in 2017, announced that a “hologram” of George Carlin will “perform stand-up sets” at the museum. But the fact of it being Carlin admittedly has me interested. Recently Carlin’s family donated a massive trove of the comedian’s archives to the museum, which will make these “holographic” renditions of his comedy act possible.
 

 
Almost as newsworthy is the information that the aforementioned Kliph Nesteroff is the chief curator of the National Comedy Center. There is nobody else in the world better qualified for such a position, and we congratulate Nesteroff on the good news.

Nesteroff commented recently that the Carlin family was a major sponsor of the museum and told the Hollywood Reporter that the comedian would serve as the center’s main attraction:
 

The main gimmick to bring people to Jamestown—which you may imagine is not an easy thing to convince people to do—is the George Carlin hologram. So they’re building this fake comedy club in one corner and George will be onstage, performing like old times ... He’s the credibility here. People have tried to do comedy museums before and failed. When you hear “comedy museum” and you’re a comedian, your first thought isn’t, “Oh, that’s cool,” it’s “Oh, that sounds terrible.” But in the comedy community, there are very few who would say that weren’t influenced by George Carlin. It helps.

 
The comedian’s daughter, Kelly Carlin, has donated eight trunks full of script drafts, eight-track tapes, performance videos, and photographs. One fascinating artifact promises to be the report from Carlin’s arrest on charges of obscenity from a 1972 show in Milwaukee.

I first learned about Nesteroff in 2008 after reading a lengthy and engrossing account of Carlin’s early years (1956-1970) on a blog hosted by the WFMU radio station. Nesteroff demonstrated his talent for excavating fascinating information that sheds light on some obscure corners of the comedy world, and he hasn’t let up since. This new position at the library represents some kind of closing of the circle for the energetic researcher, who has conducted countless interviews with many nearly-forgotten comedians whose heyday was several decades ago. 
 
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Post-mortem photographic portraits from the Victorian era unite the living and the dead
05.27.2016
01:07 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:


 
It’s difficult for the modern mind to apprehend the importance of the invention of the daguerrotype in 1839. All of a sudden, people had the capacity to retain a perfect image of a loved one—it must have been mind-blowing.

As the cost of the technology went down, the practice of using photography to execute a proper remembrance of loved ones who had passed on must have been irresistible. Unlike today, when just about anyone you’d be likely to meet has been photographed countless times, in the late 1800s and early 1900s a person might live his or her whole life without leaving behind a photographic portrait.

Enter the practice known as post-mortem photography. In North America and Europe a practice arose of taking pictures of beloved relatives who had recently died—-and often including other family members who were still alive. It was a way to bring together the living and the dead, to establish continuity in the passage of time. We find it creepy today, but we’re happier with our deceased well out of view.
 
As Meghan of Cvlt Nation writes,
 

one hundred years ago in America and the UK, seeing portraits of dead relatives or children on people’s walls was totally normal, and in fact expected. While today, we prefer to remember our ancestors as they lived, the Victorians felt that capturing their dead flesh was a way to pay respect to their passing.

 
If you are interested in this subject, the aptly named Jack Mord (“Mord” is actually German for “murder”) provided the definitive account in his 2014 book Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem & Mourning Photography.

Here are a few of Meghan’s bone-chilling finds, with, as she writes, “with a minimum of dead babies, they are by far the creepiest!”
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Peep Shows, Pimps and Prostitutes: A Walk on the Wild Side of New York in the 1970s
05.27.2016
10:19 am

Topics:
Crime
Drugs
History

Tags:

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Leland Bobbé started his career as a photographer in the mid-1970s shooting street scenes around Times Square and the Bowery in New York City. Bobbé was living downtown near the Brooklyn Bridge. He played drums with a band on the CBGBs/Max’s Kansas City scene.

Because I didn’t write music, I eventually realized through taking pictures I was able to make more of a personal statement than playing rock n’ roll written by others.

At night Bobbé drove a taxi. He scouted the streets in different neighborhoods. During the day, he returned to these neighborhoods to take photographs of the people who hung around the sidewalks, peep shows, bars, and flop houses.

Hard as it is to remember now, at that moment New York was kind of on its ass. Crime was at a high. Destitution and poverty were spreading like plague. Drugs and vice seemed to be the only booming enterprises. The Son of Sam slayings terrorized New Yorkers. The city was virtually bankrupt—President Gerald Ford told New York to “drop dead,” as the New York Daily News famously had it. He eventually relented and stumped up a loan to save the Big Apple. Bobbé‘s photos captured the city long before its gentrification as a rich hipster’s playground.

Bobbé often shot from the hip using a 28mm to avoid detection. Others were shot with a telephoto lens. The resulting photographs are stunning, gritty and powerful—filled with character and atmosphere that captured the city at an unforgettable point in its history.
 
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More of Leland Bobbé‘s gritty photographs of New York in the 1970s, after the jump…..
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
A nostalgic look at American malls of the late 1980s
05.19.2016
11:02 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
History

Tags:


 

Malls are not the center of our cultural sphere anymore. They’re not new and shiny. We’ve moved on, and now we have the Internet. ~ Michael Galinsky

For the past few years I’ve seen these photos making the rounds on the Internet—usually uncredited—and I never really knew their provenance, but I was always intrigued by them. Well now I know where they’re from. The photos, of American malls and the folks who occupied them, were shot back in 1989 by the then 20-year-old photographer and student, Michael Galinsky.

Starting in the winter of 1989 with the Smith Haven Mall in Garden City Long Island, Galinsky photographed malls from North Carolina to South Dakota, Washington State and beyond. The photos he took capture life in these malls as it began to shift from the shiny excess of the 1980s towards an era of slackers and grunge culture.

Malls Across America is filled with seemingly lost or harried families navigating their way through these temples of consumerism, along with playful teens, misfits, and the aged with best ps3 bluetooth headset. There is a sense of claustrophobia to the images, even in those that hint at wide commercial expanses – a wall or a ceiling is always there to block the horizon. These photos never settle or focus on any one detail, creating the sense that they are stolen records of the most immediate kind.

The images are nostalgic as hell and bring me back to the days of Aqua Net hairspray, food courts and acid-washed jeans.

If you’d like to see more images like this, they’re available in Galinsky’s book Malls Across America.


 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Abuse of tea’ and other strange reasons for admission to a Scottish insane asylum, 1847
05.17.2016
12:33 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:

001grampasy.jpg
Click here to read larger image.
 
We’ve previously posted a rather shocking list of reasons for admission to the West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane—aka the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum—back in the late-1800s. Well, here’s another list of causes for admission to the Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum in 1847—which contains some strange and troubling reasons for being committed including:

Sedentary Life
Tea drinking (“Abuse of Tea”)
Vegetable Poisoning
Acute Rheumatism
Cancer of Breast
Prolonged Nursing
Childbirth
Religious excitement
Loss of Property
Disappointment in Love
Fright

And if none of these common symptoms fit the bill, there’s the catchall: “Cause not ascertained.”
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
List of Reasons for Admission to an Insane Asylum from the late 1800s

Via NHS Grampian Archives.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Try not to think of sex: Pictures of enormous zeppelins entering their enormous hangars
05.16.2016
01:10 pm

Topics:
History
Sex

Tags:


 
If there can be said to be a “golden age of the zeppelin,” it would be the 1920s and 1930s—a more precise span would be 1910 to 1937, but World War I interrupted widespread adoption of the primarily German technology. The year 1910, according to Wikipedia, marked the first time that zeppelins were flown commercially, by a company called Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG). Over the next four years, DELAG would transport more than 10,000 fare-paying passengers on over 1,500 flights.

The end date of the period is pretty obvious: May 6, 1937, when 97 individuals decided to collaborate on some extremely expensive album cover design when a zeppelin known as the Hindenburg caught on fire in Manchester Township, New Jersey:
 

 
If you want to know more about the history of the zeppelin, you could almost certainly do worse than Zeppelin! Germany and the Airship, 1900–1939 by Guillaume de Syon.

As with any other form of airborne transport, there had to be a way of storing the vehicles overnight in such a way that they were protected from the elements, so along came the advent of the zeppelin hangar. These enormous structures were created to house the enormous rigid airships (yes, “rigid airship” is the name of the class of vehicles to which zeppelins belong), and pretty much any photograph of a zeppelin in its hangar is extremely likely to make observers think of sex. 
 

 
More smutty pictures of zeppelins after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Where did this popular children’s farting song originally come from? (+ the Doctor Who connection)
05.11.2016
02:08 pm

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:


 
Rufe Davis was an American actor, singer and “imitator of sounds.” He was best known for his “rural” comedic radio act, “Rufe Davis and the Radio Rubes” during the 1930s, for being a co-star along with Hoot Gibson, John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers in dozens of Hollywood B-Westerns and for his role as “Floyd Smoot,” the train conductor of the “Hooterville Cannonball” on the 60s CBS TV comedy series, Petticoat Junction.

Davis’ rendition of “The Old Sow Song” was his musical calling card for obvious reasons and something that those of us of a certain age might remember from a popular 60s kiddie record made by Mel Blanc and others called Bozo And His Pals (which is where I first heard it—and loved it—as a tyke), although it was originally released as a 78rpm record many years before that. The same song was also given away as cardboard record in cereal boxes. His version of the song was probably what kept the song “alive” in the 60s and 70s, and even beyond, but there was another famous version that we’ll get to in due course.

Maybe you heard “The Old Sow Song” from one of your grandparents singing it to you? They might’ve heard it in a vaudeville theater. It might also be something that was passed down from long before that, an actual working class English folk song. I’ve also seen it described as a Yorkshire farmer’s song. It’s claimed by Scotland and Ireland, too. One of the earliest recorded versions was one done in 1928 by Albert Richardson. It was also recorded by Cyril Smith and Rudy Vallee, as well as by opera singer Anna Russell. Novelty songsmith Leslie Sarony did his hit version of “The Old Sow Song” in 1934. Apparently John Ritter performed the song on Three’s Company but sadly I could find no clip of this. According to YouTube comments, Hee-Haw featured more than one rendition of “The Old Sow Song.”

Perhaps many of you learned “The Old Sow Song” at summer camp or grade school, where I am guessing it can still be heard to this day, since children’s songs with farting noises never truly die. This evergreen sing-a-long is up there with “Bingo was his name-o” and “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” but neither of them has blowing raspberries as an integral part of the song. Can you imagine what the sheet music must’ve looked like?

I’m truly delighted that a vintage visual representation of “The Old Sow Song” exists. I don’t have an exact year for the clip, but it’s described as a “talkie” or “soundie” in the descriptions of the various uploads which might indicate that this was an early sound film, and yet there is a Hitler reference, so I think it might be a bit later than the uploaders think.

I high recommend taking any—and all—drugs you have handy before hitting play. If Rufe Davis’s face doesn’t turn green and if time doesn’t seem to bend like taffy and come to a complete standstill while you watch this, then you clearly haven’t taken enough drugs. So take more.
 

 
After the jump, the Doctor Who connection!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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