While I’m a big fan of The Mothers Of Invention, I am not as enamored with Frank Zappa’s post-Mothers career as some of my co-contributors here on Dangerous Minds. His sarcasm is both his strong point and his weakness. In the context of his music, I dug his snarly, cynical attitude on Freak Out! and We’re Only In It For The Money. But, his wiseass arrogance and disdain for people grew tiresome for me. This interview with Grace Slick is a perfect example of Zappa being a supercilious prick. He obviously agreed to the interview. So why be so difficult? It’s not funny or particularly hip. He has no problem promoting his upcoming album and Broadway project, but he gets all surly and evasive when he’s asked some questions that might have actually resulted in some interesting insights, the Varese stuff for instance.
Slick is wonderfully accommodating and almost Zen-like in the way she handles Zappa’s snide attitude. Sorry Frank, I’m not impressed. But, at least you set a fashion trend for white-framed sunglasses that hipsters today have adopted along with your holier-than-thou emptiness.
This was Grace Slick during her Jefferson Starship period and I could go on about that, but it will have to wait for later. Slick’s credibility was almost deep-sixed by the hideous “We Built This City On Rock And Roll.” But, at least, she never resorted to wearing goofy sunglasses. She opted for pasta optics.
There’s very little information to be found on this 1991 “documentary” on Arthur Lee. The three key people involved in its creation are dead or, in the case of Crimson Crout, nowhere to be found. Directed by the mysterious Crout from a concept by Arthur Lee and compiled by Los Angeles writer, deejay and garage/punk/psychedelic promoter Frank Beeson, the video has amateur production values overall but is redeemed by laid back interviews with Lee (conducted by a barely present Beeson) and some decent live footage of Lee performing with latter day Love members Melvan Whittington and Joe Blocker as well as two members of The Knack, Bruce Gary and Berton Averre.
The film was made during Lee’s tentative re-emergence as an artist after a long dormant period during the 1980s. His return to the public eye was interrupted when he was incarcerated in 1995 for possession of a hand gun.
The live footage is taken from a series of gigs in 1989, during which Lee was regaining his footing as a performer.
The documentary, like Lee, is a bit ramshackle. The good news is that a decade after it was shot, a re-invigorated Arthur Lee returned to the stage for some of the best live shows of his incredible life, receiving the accolades he so richly deserved.
I can’t find anything on director Crimson Crout other than he released a 45rpm record in 1975 with two songs, “10,000 Years” and Redneck Ways.” John Einarson, author of the excellent Arthur Lee biography Forever Changes Arthur Lee And The Book Of Love was unable to track down the “elusive” Crout in researching his book. Who is this mystery man? Beeson?
Between the years of 1946 - 1961 one of the only ways to listen to American blues, jazz and rock’n’roll in Russia was to obtain smuggled records, some made on old x-rays. There’s a long article and back story about these interesting x-ray records on Spiegle.de, but it’s all in German and a little bit difficult to make sense of using Google Translate.
If you got caught with American popular music back then, you could find yourself in a world of hurt. Apparently it could get you thrown out of school or even arrested in extreme cases, but still the population wanted to hear the music. These x-ray records are physical artifacts from that era of Soviet censorship.
New York City’s Lower East Side filmed in 1967/68.
I visited the East Village in 1967 and when I moved there 10 years later not much had changed. The East Village, Tompkins Square and Alphabet City were in decay, whole areas were virtual urban wastelands. But, out of the ruins great things were rising in the arts and culture. During the mid-70s through the 1980s, the area was vibrant with a bohemian vibe. Then came gentrification and many of us were pushed out, along with the poor and elderly. The area is thriving now with fine restaurants, fashion boutiques and trendy bar after bar after bar. It’s still a wasteland - an expensive, well-maintained, cultural wasteland. Where once were bookstores, rock clubs and shops filled with hip affordable clothing there are now fast food chains, designer brand boutiques and banks popping up like a bad case of corporate herpes. Yes, I know I sound like a disgruntled ex-New Yorker. I am one.
The soundtrack is “All Tomorrow’s Parties” by The Velvet Underground.
The Your Name Here Story produced by the Calvin Company in 1960, longtime makers of “industrial films,” is the ultimate generic 16mm industrial film, built around every script and visual cliche in the Calvin arsenal. It’s wonderfully droll commentary on the process of making industrial films and of working with “budget conscious” (read “cheap”) clients. The Calvin Company made hundreds of industrial films from the 1930s until the early 1980s when they closed after more than four decades. Famed director Robert Altman got his start as a Calvin Company director in the 1950s.
The by-now legendary satire, The Your Name Here Story was apparently made for a yearly company workshop seminar to humorously instruct new employees on Calvin production tropes and poke fun at what they were doing. Read more about the Calvin Company at Archive.org.
Thank you Taylor Jessen of beautiful downtown Burbank!
In a few short minutes, the narrator slathers this documentary of Frederick’s Of Hollywood with a sticky patina of sleaze. Frederick Mellinger’s decadent department store may be to Victoria’s Secret what Depends are to crotchless panties, but it’s still a great place to visit and has been since 1947.
Actually, it’s much hipper than Victoria’s Secret. I just had to slip that Depends thing in.
Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin, currently traveling in Japan, met up with Yoko Ono and conducted a great interview with the artist/humanitarian, who had just been awarded the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize. The Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art is displaying “The Road of Hope: Yoko Ono 2011,” until October 16, 2011.
Xeni Jardin: A few days ago, you were in Hiroshima accepting an award for your your legacy of art in the service of peace. You were a young girl here in Japan when the event happened. What was that day like?
Yoko Ono: Yes, I think I was 12. It was a shock of course, but at the time, initially we didn’t know what happened. I heard about it from somebody in the village. It’s a very, very different kind of bomb, they said, we have to immediately stop the war. It didn’t make sense to me at all, in any way. We didn’t understand.
Xeni Jardin: At what point did the magnitude or the nature of what had happened become more clear to you?
Yoko Ono: Well, every day, from then on. They were reporting in newspapers and magazines what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it was just—it was something that you just could not understand. It was just so bad.
Xeni Jardin: Trying to grasp the full scope of what had happened must have been something that unfolded over many years for you, your family, and for all of your fellow countrymen and women.
Yoko Ono: Well you see, it was because of Pearl Harbor, and so the rest of the world was very, very cold to us when the bombs dropped. Like, “Oh, they deserved it.” That kind of thinking.
And of course in those days, the idea of what an enemy is, and what is fair to do to enemies were very different. For America to have bombed civilians was something that most people accepted. But women and children, old and young, they all suffered. If it had happened not to Japan but in a Western country, maybe the West would have felt differently about it. But that’s how it was. And the Japanese people, especially the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they had to endure the whole thing without any kindness or compassion from the world. Despite the meanness directed at them, even after the bombing, they stood up and survived, and they created a normal situation out of the ashes of that horror, which I believe is amazing.
The whole of Japan helped them. I learned when I was in Hiroshima, for instance, that many trees were sent from other towns throughout Japan, to be planted there to renew the bare ground. People throughout the country tried to help, but Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to stand up on their own, as well, of course.
And in a very strange way, even though they were victims and martyrs of a terrible thing, now they are not victims. They are the people who created a strong, strong recovery. They show to the world that this is what we can do, instead of all the myths that were created about those places — the myth that you could never enter those places after what happened, and that you couldn’t return into those cities. Just walking in there is dangerous.
But now, they’re two beautiful cities again. And the world sees that.
Read more of Xeni Jardin’s interview with Yoko Ono at Boing Boing.
Below, a fucking fierce Beatles/Yoko jam session in an outtake from Let It Be: