A strange little ditty from an even stranger record company. Homer The Happy Little Homo was released on Camp Records sometime in the early 1960’s. Here’s a brief history of this obscure novelty label:
Almost nothing is known about the mysterious 60’s record label Camp Records. They released an album and 10 45 rpm records of gay parody songs, most done with effeminate voices. I believe they were issued in the early 60’s, as they all appeared in an ad in the gay magazine Vagabond, dated 1965. The address on the album record jacket was PO Box 3213, Hollywood, California, and it credited all selections to Different Music Co, Hollywood.
The artists singing most of the songs were uncredited, or with names obviously made up, like Byrd E. Bath and B. Bubba, but one name stands out, Rodney Dangerfield. That name credited on one of the songs, and possibly another. This would have been very early in Dangerfield’s career, as his website bio says he decided to devote his career to comedy at age 40, which would have been in 1961. But I don’t think it was the comedian we know; just a prop name used for the release. Dangerfield disclaims any knowledge of it.
A second album released on the label was called “Mad About the Boy.” It was filled with mostly well-known Broadway and cabaret songs that were originally sung by women. This album kept the pronouns intact, making them very gay. They were done in lounge style, without a campy approach…in other words, done “straight.” The liner notes state: ‘The primary reason for doing this album was to prove that good songs could and should be sung by everyone. Gender should not be the determining factor as to who should sing what.’ The notes later say that the male soloist and other artists on the album are well-known ‘Hollywood, TV, and screen personalities’ but ‘we are not at liberty to reveal true names.’ I have no idea if all this is true, or simply hype. The album probably came out in 1964 or 1965, as it pictures on the back all the previous releases of the label. And it is also advertised in the 1965 issue of Vagabond (see more, below), so I believe it was the last record they released.
Speculating on how an 85-year-old Lenny Bruce would be celebrating his birthday today is as fun as it is pointless.
But it’s pretty easy to guess that edgy comedy’s patron saint would not have been able to stretch out casually on TV for 25 minutes in conversation with a legendary publisher and lifestyle creator like the Hef.
That’s what happened in 1959 on the first episode of Playboy’s Penthouse, Hugh Hefner’s first foray into TV, which broadcast from WBKB in his Chicago hometown. This was the first mass-market exposure of the erstwhile club-bound Bruce, and its high-end hepness set the tone for the show’s two-season run, which featured a ton of figures in the jazz culture scene.
Of course, the dynamic between the eloquent snapping-and-riffing Long Islander Bruce and the perennially modest Midwestern Hefner is classic as the comedian covers topics like “sick” comedy, nose-blowing, Steve Allen, network censorship, tattoos & Jews, decency wackos, Lou Costello, integration, stereotypes, medicine and more.
As requested by our own Tara M., here’s a quick Pere Ubu post. You really can’t go wrong with anything they released in their first incarnation (‘75-‘79 or so) but these first 2 7” A sides are total rock classics by any sane person’s standards (of rock). I personally spent many teen hours thrashing about in suburban bedrooms with my pals to these deathlessly perfect monster jams. True American masterpieces.
Blowhard asshole Lee Siegel continues to thrash around in the low end of the journalistic cesspool with this utterly idiotic essay in the New York Times comparing the Beat Generation to the Tea Party movement.
The counterculture of the late 1950s and early 1960s appears to be everywhere these days. A major exhibition of Allen Ginsberg’s photography just closed at the National Gallery in Washington. A superb book, by the historian Sean Wilentz, about Ginsberg’s dear friend and sometime influence Bob Dylan recently made the best-seller list. “Howl,” a film about Ginsberg and the Beats, opened last month. And everywhere around us, the streets and airwaves hum with attacks on government authority, celebrations of radical individualism, inflammatory rhetoric, political theatrics.
In other words, the spirit of Beat dissent is alive (though some might say not well) in the character of Tea Party protest. Like the Beats, the Tea Partiers are driven by that maddeningly contradictory principle, subject to countless interpretations, at the heart of all American protest movements: individual freedom. The shared DNA of American dissent might be one answer to the question of why the Tea Partiers, so extreme and even anachronistic in their opposition to any type of government, exert such an astounding appeal.
Comparing the sexy, druggy, life embracing, progressive culture of the beats to the fascistic, xenophobic, racist, fearful and life-negating Tea Party is absolutely absurd. It’s like comparing fucking to a case of serious blue balls.
The following comment by Siegel not only posits an idiotic argument, it’s morally disgusting:
the Tea Partiers’ unnerving habit of bringing guns to town-hall meetings would have repelled the Beats. But William S. Burroughs fetishized guns, accidentally killing his wife while trying to shoot a glass off her head. Violence, implicit or explicit, comes with the “beaten” state of mind. So does theatricality, since playing roles — and manipulating symbols — is often the first resort of people who do not feel acknowledged for being who they really are.
What the fuck does Burroughs’ wife’s death have to with “manipulating symbols” or some kind of identity crisis?
The eccentric English mage, poet, painter and gourmet rice chef would be 135-years-old today if, um, he could like live forever or something…
I’m often asked “Where is a good place to start reading Crowley?” and this is a difficult question because you have to read, pretty much, all of it to make sense of any of it. Going down the Crowley rabbit hole is comparable, I think, to being a scholar of James Joyce (or Ezra Pound) because achieving a proper understanding of the subject takes years, decades even (and then what are you going to DO with all that knowledge, anyway?). But one source that I will point curious folk to is the late Tim Maroney’s excellent “Introduction to Crowley (in Five Voices)” which I published in my Book of Lies anthology in 2004.
Below, Kenneth Anger’s short film documenting several of Crowley’s paintings, “The Man We Want to Hang.”
Update: Today is also Kirk Cameron’s birthday. Is it a mere coincidence that the Darwin-denying, Left Behind actor shares a birthday with the Great Beast???
When you consider all of the famous and infamous people who William Burroughs met in his lifetime, maybe the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game should be adapted for the late Beat author (I’d have a “Burroughs” of one, as I met him (briefly) in Los Angeles in 1996). At the Reality Studio blog, there’s a fascinating tale, told in great detail, about the time Joy Division shared the same stage with Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Cabaret Voltaire in Belgium:
Joy Division was given its first opportunity to play outside the United Kingdom on 16 October 1979. That alone would have distinguished the gig for the band, but of special interest to Curtis and his mates was the fact that they would be opening for Burroughs. The avant-garde theater troupe Plan K, which had made a specialty of interpreting Burroughs’ work, were founding a performance space in a former sugar refinery in Brussels, Belgium. The opening was conceived as a multimedia spectacle. Films were to be screened — among others, Nicholas Roeg’s Performance (starring Mick Jagger) and Burroughs’ own experiments with Antony Balch. The Plan K theater troupe were to perform “23 Skidoo.” Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire were to give “rock” concerts. And Burroughs and Brion Gysin were to read from their recently published book, The Third Mind.
Before the evening’s events, Burroughs and Joy Division gave separate interviews to the culture magazine En Attendant. Graciously provided to RealityStudio by the interviewer and the organizer of the Plan K opening, Michel Duval, these have been translated from the French and are reproduced here for the first time since their publication in November 1979. You can read the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with Joy Division, as well as the French original or the English translation of Duval’s interview with William Burroughs.
After Burroughs’ reading brought the opening of Plan K to its climax, Curtis attempted to introduce himself to his literary idol. This meeting, like so many things about both Curtis and Burroughs, has already become legend — which is another way of saying that its factual basis may have receded into darkness. If you search around the internet, you’ll see sites describing the encounter in terms like this: “Unfortunately when Ian went up to talk to him the author told Ian to get lost.” And this: “Burroughs probably was tired and bored with the concerts and when Ian went up to talk with him the author told Ian to get lost. Ian got lost immediately, not a little hurt by the rebuff.” Chris Ott’s book Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures repeats the story, and Mark Johnson’s book An Ideal for Living asserts that Burroughs refused to speak to Curtis.
To anyone familiar with Burroughs, the thought of him telling a fan to get lost is perplexing. Burroughs tended to be unfailingly courteous, even a touch “old world” in his manners. Typically he was generous with fans and admirers, particularly with young men as handsome as Ian Curtis. What could have prompted such an exchange? Was Curtis insulting? Burroughs in a bad mood? Were there mitigating circumstances?
“You’re a big man, but you’re in bad shape. With me it’s a full time job. Now behave yourself.”
It’s Michael Caine as Jack Carter, intimidating a small-town gangster, Cliff Brumby, in the 1971 film, Get Carter. Within seconds, Carter has shown Brumby, played by future TV soap star Bryan Mosley, who’s boss - a quick karate chop and Brumby’s on his knees. That’s what Carter does. He’s a hardened criminal, a killer, and now he’s back home to find out who murdered his brother.
Taken from the novel Jack’s Return Home by Ted Lewis, Get Carter changed modern crime fiction. Firstly, it created a new genre British Noir; secondly, it kicked in the French windows at St. Mary Mead, and replaced the anaemic Miss Marple with the harsh reality of professional criminals, and the brutality of their lives, from which ever succeeding British crime writer has taken their cue.
Lewis was born in Manchester in 1940, and raised on Humberside. He showed skill as an artist and as a writer, and attended Hull Art School. In 1965, his first novel All The Way Home, and All Through The Night was published. Lewis then worked as animator on The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, before writing Jack’s Return Home. He wrote a further 7 books, including 2 more Jack Carter novels, and the classics Plender, Billy Rags and GBH. He died too soon, too early, and almost forgotten in 1982. What a fickle fucking world we live in.
At its heart, Jack’s Return Home was in part inspired by a real-life killing that took place during the height of the swinging sixties.
In August 1967, criminal Angus Sibbett bullet-riddled body was found in his Mark Ten Jaguar under Pesspool Bridge, County Durham. Sibbett was a bag man involved in extortion and collecting slot machine money.
Sibbett was employed by notorious, North-East gangster Vincent Landa, a man considered “more important than the Prime Minister”. Sibbett worked with London criminal Dennis Stafford and Landa’s brother, Michael Luvaglio. Luvaglio had no previous convictions, but Stafford, who went under an alias, had served a 7 year sentence for possession of a firearm, and had notoriously escaped from Dartmoor and Wandsworth prisons, eventually fleeing to Newcastle, where he set up a company, which was a front for fraudulent activities.
When Sibbett was discovered creaming off Landa’s takings - pocketing £1,000 a week - he was killed.
It seemed an open-and-shut case. The police came after the gang: Landa fled the country, while Stafford and Luvaglio were arrested for Sibbett’s murder. But both men claimed their innocence. However, they were tried, found guilty and sentenced to gaol.
Stafford believed he was charged because of his previous activities whilst on the run in Newcastle, and has since stated, “If it had not been for me, Michael would never have been charged.”
While Luvaglio has said: “When I was arrested, the police told me that I only had to say that Stafford had left me for a while that night and I would go free.”
In hindsight, the whole case seemed like a fit up, as the evidence against both men was flimsy to non-existent. Importantly eye-witness statements and forensic evidence, which could have cleared both men, was ignored.
On that fateful night, Sibbett was to meet Stafford and Luvaglio in The Birdcage nightclub in Newcastle. Eyewitnesses vouched for both men, apart from a period of 45-minutes around midnight - the time Sibbett was murdered. This 45-minute window proved crucial, as the police claimed Stafford and Luvaglio had left the nightclub, driven 16 miles, pushed Sibbett’s vehicle off the road, then pumped 3 bullets into him, before returning to the club.
In 1967, even in a souped-up cop car, traveling at full-speed, lights flashing, it wasn’t possible to do what was claimed. But it didn’t matter. Luvaglio and Stafford were set for punishment. It was a warning to any other London criminals (most notably London’s notorious Kray twins) against moving their operations north.
Stafford served 12 years but always insisted his innocence, claiming a Scottish shooter committed the crime. This was confirmed in a TV documentary by John Tumblety, who said on camera that he in fact had driven the real murderer back from Pesspool Bridge to the Birdcage club and that man was neither Luvaglio nor Stafford.
In May 2002 Sibbett’s slaying (now renamed The Get Carter Murder) made news when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the British Home Secretary had kept Dennis Stafford in jail longer than was necessary and ordered £28,000 compensation to be paid.
To this day, both men continue to campaign to clear their names of the crime they didn’t commit
In Get Carter the film’s slot machine king was played by playwright, John Osborne, whose character Cyril Kinnear, lives in Dryerdale Hall, Durham, the very building Landa used as his gangland HQ.
In 2002 Landa said :
“The two (Stafford & Luvaglio) men were wrongly convicted and the evidence was incorrect. If they were tried today they would never have been found guilty. It was a political trial. The Home Office had suffered at the hands of gangs like the Krays and the Richardsons and they stepped in to smash what they thought was an organised crime ring.”
These aren’t the only characters Lewis adapted for his novel, and later the film. Property developer Cliff Brumby was a hybrid of Newcastle City councillor, T. Dan Smith and architect John Poulson. Both men were notorious in the sixties, and were later found guilty of bribery, corruption and giving backhanders to MPs and councillors in order to have shoddy building plans passed.
The pair destroyed most of Newcastle and built cheap concrete housing and offices. At the trial, the judge said that the scandal “now couples corruption with the north east.” So far reaching were their underhand activities that Conservative Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling resigned over the scandal.
Smith was accused of infiltrating councils across the North of England and corruptly forcing them to give business to architect John Poulson. Smith used £500,000 of Poulson’s money as bribes. Smith ruled with an iron hand and was described as a “demagogue”. He ended his life championing pensioners’ rights from the 14th floor council flat in a block he had built.
Get Carter was a flop on its release, described by critics as “soulless and nastily erotic…virtuoso viciousness”, a “sado-masochistic fantasy”, that “one would rather wash one’s mouth out with soap than recommend it.” Since then Get Carter has become arguably the greatest British crime film ever made.
Spurned on from a rumor Publishers Weekly overheard at the Frankfurt Book Fair, David Bowie’s website has confirmed that he’ll be publishing a coffee table book cum object d’art called Bowie: Object.
Bowie: Object is a collection of pieces from the Bowie archive, wherein, for the first time, fans and all those interested in popular culture will have the opportunity to understand more about the Bowie creative process and his impact on modern popular music.
Bowie: Object features 100 fascinating items that give an insight into the life of one of the most unique music and fashion icons in history. The book’s pictorial content is annotated with insightful, witty and personal text written by Bowie himself.
Designed by Barnbrook, Bowie: Object is simply and boldly designed and each of the objects is photographed in a clean, contemporary style.
Below is one of the objects that they strongly hint will be in the book, a Kirlian Photographic Device that Bowie was given by Dr. Thelma Moss at the Dept. of Parapsychology, UCLA, in 1975. There was a picture of it contained in the Station to Station tour guide memento. If the aim of this book is to show Bowie’s impact, not only on music, but culture in general, then this is a very good example.
Why you ask? To give you a personal (and very small) example of the multitude of ways David Bowie has influenced little old me, when I was 10 years old and Bowie was the guest on Dinah Shore’s afternoon talk/variety show, he was able to invite Dr. Moss on as a guest as well. Moss demonstrated the ability of the Kirlian device—a high voltage electric field “camera”—to basically take snapshots of plant and human “auras.” Because Bowie was fascinated by this wild new science of Kirlian photography, then, hey, so was I and—this is true—I built a home-made version of the Kirlian Photographic device for a grade-school science fair!
It was made with a battery, a wood base, some wires, a metal plate and used 2” by 2” film, which was placed under the plate, and sent a jolt via the battery to expose the film. Now, granted, at that age, I wasn’t testing the “before and after” side-effects of snorting cocaine on my aura (see above) like Bowie was—-I used leaves and my thumbprint—but still, you can see clearly in this stupid example of how I, a little kid at the time, saw David Bowie as this like, larger than life cultural avatar of the newest and coolest things around. I must say, I’m really looking forward to this book!
And if you haven’t heard, there is a brand new, just released massive 5 CD/3LP/DVD collector’s box (two different ones, actually) of Bowie’s monumental 1976 album, Station To Station, including the much-bootlegged “Nassau Coliseum ‘76” show from that tour and a new 5:1 surround remix of the album.
Below, A shit hot version of Station to Station’s “Stay” performed on Dinah! in 1976.