Early David Bowie music video for “Ching-A-Ling” taken from the Love You till Tuesday promotional film. Made in 1969, but unreleased until 1984, this film also features Hermione Farthingale (Space Oddity’s painfully intimate love-song “Letter to Hermione” was for her, obviously) and his friend Jono “Hutch” Hutchinson. The trio performed under the name “The Feathers.” The filming for Love You till Tuesday would be the last time Bowie and Farthingdale would see ever each other.
Note that Bowie is wearing a wig: He’d had to cut his hair for a role in a film called The Virgin Soldiers. “Ching-A-Ling” was recorded on the sly at Trident Studios by famed producer Tony Visconti in 1968. The harmonies would be revisited on The Man Who Sold the World’s “Savior Machine.”
After the jump, another early Bowie video for “Sell Me a Coat.”
I’m going through one of my periodic Captain Beefheart obsessions, mostly due to being immersed in John “Drumbo” French’s harrowing memoir. It’s always been a point of pride for me as a life long denizen of the San Fernando Valley that much of Beefheart’s history took place here, so in planning a pilgrimage to the Woodland Hills house where the Trout Mask Replica LP came tortuously into being, I happened to notice the place is stillon the market for a much reduced 325k. Mind you in 2006 it was going for 849k ! Hard to believe a Matt Groening or a Julian Schnabel hasn’t snatched it up yet !
Stefan Nadelman’s Terminal Bar is a document of the infamous New York City dive located across the street from the Port Authority bus terminal near Times Square. Stefan’s father, Sheldon, was a bartender at the Terminal from 1972 to 1982 and took thousands of photographs of the drunks, drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes that hung out at what was considered to be the roughest bar in NYC.
Sheldon also photographed the bartenders, bouncers and porters that worked the joint. I can’t imagine a tougher gig. I used to poke my head into the Terminal back in the late 70s. Its notoriety drew artists and punks and the curious. But, it wasn’t welcoming to slumming hipsters or bush league Bukowskis. It was an enclosed society with it’s own brutal code, not easily cracked by the voyeuristic aesthete.
Stefan recalls what it was like to live among the images of the Terminal:
Our house [was] basically my father’s gallery, I grew up looking at these faces of the Terminal Bar. My father would also paint on the matte around the photos to further make his point. He used a lot of wordplay…like GRAPE/RAPE/APE (the effects of wine). Each picture had its lesson or story and I think they subconsciously warned me of the ramifications of heavy drinking. Looking back, I can see how odd it may have seemed to have your house’s walls filled with 16x20’s of drunken strangers.
Terminal Bar is a stunning achievement, an evocation of a period in New York City’s history when the streets were wild with life and filled with the stench of garbage, booze, sex and death. The city is cleaner now, domesticated, safe, but lacking that certain soulfulness that is at the heart of Sheldon Nadelman’s dark and deeply human photographs.
Here’s the trailer and a clip from Terminal Bar. The entire 23 minute film is available on DVD here. Stefan is working on new video vignettes using his father’s photographs and I’m looking forward to future installments.
Chicago-based Iraqi director Usama Alshaibi seems to be one of the most prolific Arab filmmakers in the American independent film scene—and he’s almost certainly the most experimental. Working often in close collaboration with his wife Kristie, Alshaibi has jump-started the canon of what we might term transgressive Arab-American film.
In his over 50 short films, Alshaibi has updated the techniques of transgressors like William Burroughs and Kenneth Anger to transmit his obsessions with culture-clash, technology, religion, violence, sexuality and identity. He’s finished four features, two of which deal with porn and STDs, one with cross-cultural relationships and another with the personal reality of post-Saddam Iraq. He has three in production or post-production now, two of which—American Arab and Baghdad, Iowa—portray growing up Arab in the heartland in the in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and today, and the third, Profane, about a Muslim dominatrix in spiritual crisis.
As the news media shamelessly reduces the complex relationship between America and its Arab and Muslim communities into a dopey controversy over where to build a friggin’ cultural center or mosque, we need the perspective and imagination of Alshaibi’s work now more than ever.
Like most hard-working indie filmmakers, Alshaibi can always use financial help making his vision manifest. Click to donate to help him finish Profane or American Arab.
After the jump, check out a clip from American Arab…
At Folsom Prison with Dr. Timothy Leary is an extraordinary counterculture document, filmed during Leary’s incarceration there. Under 30 minutes in length, this 1973 film shows Leary at his most engaging and personable. It’s a testament to his considerable charm that he was able to pull off such a performance, considering that the prison warden and other officials were sitting across the room listening as this was filmed.
Leary discusses his jailbreak (intimating that the daughter of a United States senator he refuses to name helped him), the revolution in consciousness and drugs, Eldridge Cleaver and what it feels like to be an imprisoned philosopher.
At Folsom Prison with Dr. Timothy Leary was used to raise awareness of the reasons Leary was imprisoned in the first place and to raise money to fight his sentence. Joanna Leary, who was behind this film, also introduces it.
Square grouper is smuggler slang for bales of pot dropped from airplanes or thrown overboard from boats. It’s also the title of a new documentary that’s going to be released this fall.
I love true tales of dope smuggling. They’re full of cliffhanging adventure and intrigue. But as pot slowly becomes legalized, smuggling will become a lost art and smugglers a dying breed. Check out Square Grouper on Facebook.
For seven years I had an apartment on Christopher St. and Bleecker in New York’s West Village just one and a half blocks from the historic Stonewall Inn, site of the first riots for gay rights and birthplace of the Gay Liberation Front. Although there was a pretty good drama (Stonewall) that came out 15-years ago, it’s great that a proper documentary finally got these stories on tape to set the record straight. I really look forward to seeing this film.
“It was the Rosa Parks moment,” says one man. June 28, 1969: NYC police raid a Greenwich Village Mafia-run gay bar, The Stonewall Inn. For the first time, patrons refuse to be led into paddy wagons, setting off a 3-day riot that launches the Gay Rights Movement.
Told by Stonewall patrons, reporters and the cop who led the raid, Stonewall Uprising recalls the bad old days when psychoanalysts equated homosexuality with mental illness and advised aversion therapy, and even lobotomies; public service announcements warned youngsters against predatory homosexuals; and police entrapment was rampant. At the height of this oppression, the cops raid Stonewall, triggering nights of pandemonium with tear gas, billy clubs and a small army of tactical police. The rest is history.
“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” That common platitude seems entirely apropos today, on the 92nd anniversary of the attempted assassination of Communist Russian leader Vladimir Lenin by young Fanya Yefimovna “Fanni” Kaplan.
The Ukranian-born Kaplan was born in 1890 to a Jewish family and joined the Socialist Revolutionaries (or Esers) early on in life. At 16, she was busted for her involvement in a terrorist bomb plot and sent to one of Tsar Nicolas II’s Siberian prison for 11 years. Kaplan’s brutal tenure there was cut short after the February Revolution led by Lenin.
But her disillusionment with the leader came hard and fast, as Lenin’s Bolsheviks sought and succeeded to dissolve the elected Constituent Assembly, a key instrument of democracy during the revolution. Lenin’s move in 1917 to put all power in the hands of the workers councils—or Soviets—convinced Kaplan to take matters into her own hands.
As portrayed in the clip below from Mikhail Romm’s 1939 propaganda film Lenin in 1918, Kaplan got three or so shots off after the leader spoke at a Moscow factory. Lenin, who was 48 years old at the time, was hit in the shoulder and jaw—he survived, but the injuries were thought to contribute to his death by stroke 6 years later.
Fanny was shot dead five days after the attempt at age 28, and within a few hours the Red Terror—a four-year program of mass arrest and execution of counterrevolutionary enemies of the state—had begun.
In the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, black entertainers made considerable sums of money selling ghetto wine and malt liquor to their less fortunate brothers and sisters. “Liquid crack” was dirt cheap and fortified with alcohol and shitloads of sugar to get you higher faster. As Billy Dee Williams said in his TV pitch for Colt 45, “It works every time.”
40-ounce warriors were macho, sexy and hip…at least that’s what the commercials wanted the black community to think. The reality was much more grim. Malt liquors like Schlitz, Colt 45, Olde English 800, St. Ides, King Cobra and bum wines like Thunderbird and Wild Irish Rose were responsible for an increase in alcoholism, violence and crime in black neighborhoods. High alcohol content and the cost of a bottle being under two bucks was a deadly combination. Add to that the veneer of coolness that Kool and the Gang, Fred Williamson, Biggie Smalls and Snoop Dog brought to the mix and you got a problem that went viral.
Nowadays, low-rent white hipsters drink the poisonous piss in order to give them some kind of street cred while hip-hop artists have moved on to Cristal and Dom. But the high-end shit hasn’t trickled down to Skid Row yet.
While the product sold was crap for sure, the ads themselves are fascinating time capsules, some sending signals that are incredibly politically incorrect: making light of drunk driving, intimating that women will give it up after a few drinks, and using racial stereotypes that border on Stepin Fetchit caricature. And Blacks weren’t the only ones denigrated—check out the East Indian guy in the “Gunga Din” Colt 45 commercial below.
There’s also an interesting clip of Johnny Cannon wielding a Colt 45 pistol and a can of Colt 45 beer. A wise combination, don’t you think? Johnny’s expression of disgust as he guzzles the malt liquor is priceless.
Then I ask a question you brother
What the fuck is you drinkin’
He don’t know but it flow
Out the bottle in a cup
He call it gettin’ fucked up
Like we ain’t fucked up already
See the man they call Crazy Eddie
Liquor man with the bottle in his hand
He give the liquor man ten to begin
Wit’ no change and he run
To get his brains rearranged
Serve it to the home they’re able
To do without a table
Beside what’s inside ain’t on the label
They drink it thinkin’ it’s good
But they don’t sell the shit in the white neighborhood
I lived in Manhattan’s East Village from 1984 to 1991 and the sight of the great poet Allen Ginsberg around the neighborhood was a pretty common one, although it was still cool to see him each and every time, I must admit. Now the apartment where Ginsberg lived until the mid-90s has been renovated and come on the rental market. There is a link to the listing today—$1700 for the one-bedroom—on Gothamist:
Left to right: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Louis Cartwright, Herbert Huncke, William Burroughs, Allen & Peter’s new apartment, 437 East 12th Street, New York City, December 1975. Photographer unknown. (Via)
Above: Allen Ginsberg on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line TV program in 1968.