Bradley Beesley’s nitty gritty documentary Hill Stomp Hollar is a captivating look into the world of Mississippi bluesman R.L. Burnside, his friends, family and record label.
Featuring Burnside collaborator Jon Spencer and fellow musicians Cedell Davis, Junior Kimbrough and T-Model Ford, Beesley’s style is unobtrusive, leaving it to the musicians to tell their hard-bitten tales.
While Hill Stomp Hollar focuses much of its attention on Burnside’s record label Fat Possum, who’ve been in and out of all kinds of financial and legal hassles, the thrill is in watching the blues legends talk about their lives and play their music. And the studio footage with the Jon Spencer Explosion is dynamite.
T. model Ford, a convicted killer, didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 50 and it wasn’t until he was 77 that he released his first album. Proof you’re never too old to rock and roll.
“My Momma told me if I messed around and played the blues, I was gonna go to Hell.” Cedell Davis
Watch the rest of the whole damn thing after the jump…
Of course Howard Stern got it right when he re-dubbed The History Channel as “The Hitler Channel” back in the early 1990s, but did you know that there actually was Nazis television programing going out three nights a week during the Third Reich? That’s correct, the German television industry was, in many respects, far, far ahead of the medium’s fortunes in either Britain or America. Most people think of television as “starting” in the 1950s, but this is simply not true. Before I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone or Your Show of Shows, there was Deutscher Fernseh-Runfunk (AKA “TV Station Paul Nipkow”), which began broadcasting from Berlin in March of 1935. The story of the little-known history of Nazis television, including some downright bizarre examples of the programming, long thought to be lost, was told in Michael Kloft’s 1999 German documentary, Television Under The Swastika:
Legend has it that the triumphal march of television began in the United States in the ‘fifties. But in reality its origins hark back much further. As early as the ‘thirties, a bitter rivalry raged for the world’s first television broadcast. Nazi Germany wanted to beat the competition from Great Britain and the U.S. - at all costs. Reich Broadcast Director Hadamovsky christened the new-born “Greater German Television” in March 1935. And it was only in September 1944 that the last program flickered across the TV screens. For a long time the belief persisted that only very few Nazi programs had survived, but SPIEGEL TV has now succeeded in tracking down a stock of television films and reports which have remained intact since the end of the Third Reich. These include extensive coverage of the 1936 National Socialist Party Convention in Nuremberg which recalls today’s live broadcasts, and of a 1937 visit Benito Mussolini paid to Berlin. Interviews with high-ranking Nazis such as Albert Speer, Robert Ley and the actor Heinrich George are among the finds, along with numerous special reports (i.e. on the Reich Labor Service), a cooking show and the lottery drawing. Television anchorwomen greet their tiny audiences in specially installed television parlors in Berlin, Munich and Hamburg with “Heil Hitler.” The entertainment programs are particularly curious. Cabaret artists are featured - alongside singers extolling the virtues of the “brown columns of the SA and SS.” This documentary by Michael Kloft will reveal a rare and intriguing view of the Third Reich, one far removed from the propagandistic presentations of Leni Riefenstahl & Co. and the weekly cinema newsreel, yet no less ideologically slanted. This is Nazi Germany expressed in an aesthetic medium that we ourselves have only really known since the ‘fifties.
Check out the hottie/haughty blonde Aryan newsreaders! And don’t you love the way the Nazis elites show the little people how they should think and live their lives!?? Looks like the Nazis beat Rupert Murdoch to the punch on the FOX News formula he and Roger Ailes later perfected….
Originally produced for SPIEGEL TV in Germany, this English version of Television Under the Swastika was aired as part of Channel 4’s Secret History series in 2001.
Extraordinarily intimate portraits of the denizens of Cape Town, South Africa’s “Les Catacombs” nightclub taken by photographer Billy Monk in 1969, when he was working as a bouncer at the club. Monk also took pictures of the revelry, which he sold to the subjects. Monk’s friendship with many of the people in his photographs is perhaps the explanation for how he got such “let it out hang out” type scenarios on film.
Monk’s contact sheets and negatives were found in 1982 by Jac de Villiers who arranged an exhibition at the Market Gallery in Johannesburg. Monk never saw the ehibition as he was shot dead in a fight two weeks after the show opened. Jac De Villiers has revisited Monk’s work and curated a new exhibition of Monks classic images and some previously unseen at the Michael Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town, from March 1 to April 9, 2011.
Well, it’s been almost fifteen years and Jarvis Cocker still hasn’t gotten his much deserved knighthood for jumping onstage during Michael Jackson’s ludicrous “messianic” performance at the 1996 Brit awards when the King of Pop implied he had the power to heal children and sick people. While the incident is well-known, of course, in the UK, this story is less known outside of Britain.
As Cocker told BBC’s Question Time in 2009:
“He was pretending to be Jesus. I’m not religious but I think, as a performer myself, the idea of someone pretending to have the power of healing is just not right. Rock stars have big enough egos without pretending to be Jesus – that was what got my goat, that one particular thing.”
Cocker and his friend, former Pulp member Peter Mansell jumped onstage and caused comic confusion before being led off by security. It was reported at the time that Jarvis “mooned” Jackson (that’s what I always believed) but this is not true at all.
The incident itself, which took place on live television. GENIUS!!! Even if you’ve seen it before, it’s still laugh out loud funny.
The police detained the Pulp frontman on suspicion of assault. A former attorney, comedian Bob Mortimer represented Cocker, who was released without charge.
Noel Gallagher, of Oasis proclaimed, “Jarvis Cocker is a star and he should be given an MBE.” Clearly the editors of the Melody Maker felt the same way. I was already a huge Pulp fan at the time, but this made me love them—and their lanky, fashionable and intellectual frontman—all the more.
After the jump, Jarvis Cocker’s press conference about the incident, Cocker looking back on the Brit awards stage invasion in 2009 and how the story was reported on at the time in Amercia..
Two of the planet’s most dangerous minds, Timothy Leary and Paul Krassner, meet in a video shot by Nancy Cain, Paul’s wife, a few months before Leary’s death.
There is an aura of sadness (perhaps mine) laced with much humor and hope in this intimate video. Understandably wistful and distracted at times (he’s dying), Leary becomes most alive when talking about death. He seems to be genuinely excited about exploring the psychedelic possibilities of the final frontier (or is it?), the ultimate out-of-body experience, THE death trip. In these moments you see the fearless shaman who always embraced expanding his realities, regardless of public outcry or legal persecution. And it is both moving and inspiring.
In an e-mail message to Dangerous Minds, Nancy reminisced about Leary and that day in September of 1995:
Paul and Timothy had been friends since the early days at Millbrook when the famous LSD experiments took place. Now that Timothy had inoperable prostate cancer that was moving into his bones, we stopped by more often to visit him at his home up Laurel Canyon. Even though he was not well, Timothy was ever the perfect host. On the afternoon of this interview I had tagged along, and Paul and Tim were happy to have me record what would probably be one of the last times they would be together. Paul interviewed Tim. I could feel the sweetness and the warmth that they felt for each other. The back and forth and banter was wonderful. Tim’s remarks about technology and the future still seem fresh and innovative today.
Among other visits with Tim in Laurel Canyon, I recall one Sunday afternoon with guests Ed Moses, the painter, Harry Dean Stanton, the actor, and Aline Getty, the heiress (by marriage). Aline was currently touring with Timothy, doing college gigs. They had a traveling psychedelic video show and gave a talk on the subject of death. They were both near it. Death, that is. Aline had AIDS and Tim had senility (so he said). They did a flashy good show, which I had seen at Chapman College in Orange County. That afternoon Aline was playing us the videotape that she and Tim shot the previous week when they were busted at the airport in Dallas for smoking a cigarette inside the terminal. They set the whole thing up (perhaps more of an art event, I thought), arriving in a silver stretch limo and video of them looking around the airport for a police officer to light up in front of. The nice young cop said, “Oh, please go outside to smoke—don’t do this—you give me no choice.” So Aline and Tim were busted and carted off to a place where the camcorder couldn’t go. They were the first, I think, to get popped for any nicotine-related crime, other than Connie Francis (smoking on an actual airplane). I think it was quite satisfying for them. Especially for Aline. Tim, after all, had already had some rather more astonishingly terrifying adventures, including escaping from prison and being a fugitive.
On an afternoon not long before he died, I recall Tim asking each of his guests to join him in a balloonful of nitrous oxide. At first I said no, but Timothy pointed out, “Why not?” He shuffled over to his closet carrying a gigantic wrench, pulled back the sliding door and revealed the hugest tank of nitrous I had ever seen.
During the political conventions in 1972 in Miami, there was a lot of nitrous. We had what they called E-tanks full of the gas. Hudson Marquez, of TVTV, scored it by posing as a whipped-cream artist. Nitrous is used to propel whipped cream, which I hadn’t known until then. An E-tank of nitrous, which is the size you see at the dentist’s office, is heavy but it can be carried. The tank in Timothy Leary’s closet would need to be moved on a dolly. Anyway, Timmy took his wrench to the thing and expertly filled the first balloon. “Here ya go. Take it back over to the bed so you can fall back if you like. But wait till we all get there so we can do it together.” We had our twenty seconds that day.
On the day Timothy Leary died, Friday May 31, 1996, on Channel 9 they said it happened a few moments after midnight. The news crew interviewed a friend who was standing out on Timothy’s driveway. She said that he suddenly sat up in his bed and said, “Why?” Then a moment later, “Why not?” He seemed excited and he died. Channel 9 then showed a recent clip of Timothy standing outside a club on Hollywood Boulevard wearing a jazzy black and white sport jacket. On TV, Timothy was disregarding the reporter altogether and looking directly into the camera. “Don’t ask me anything,” Timothy was saying. “Think for yourself.” Then he added, “And question authority!”
We’re pleased to share Nancy Cain’s video of Paul Krassner interviewing Timothy Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) on September 5, 1995 in its entirety.
For insight on the cultural impact of video read Nancy’s fascinatingly informative “Video Days.”
Paul Krassner’s homepage is a motherlode of wit, insight, provocation and counterculture history. Indispensable.
The other day I was looking at some old issues of the Village Voice from the later part of the 1960s and the early 1970s that I have in boxes in my garage. They’re really interesting and you can read some “coded” things in between the lines of a lot of the advertisements, such as coyly-worded ads for head shops and various diversions for people looking for something kinky to do. I think the preservation of the Village Voice as an archive of life in NYC will provide quite a lot for future anthropologists who’ll want to better understand how we lived in the second half of the 20th century and how quickly sexual mores changed over the decades. Launched in 1955, the Voice was really the first underground paper. New York City would obviously be one of the best microcosms of society to view at any time for the sheer diversity and number of its residents, but when you zero in on the time between 1965 until the end of the 1980s, and you look at the subculture, a hell of a lot changed in the margins before going wider in the culture. Some of the seeds planted then are still blooming today.
One thing that I noticed is that as the Sixties went on, the advertisements for gay-related films such as Jack Smith’s notorious Flaming Creatures, and Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks or Scorpio Rising start to creep into the listings for films like Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls and other more, uh, mainstream “underground film” fare of the era. And it’s always these same films, like they were playing constantly at the same two or three theaters, for like… years. Usually on a double or triple bill. Later Vapors directed by no-budget gay “outsider” auteur Andy Milligan gets rotated into the prurient programing circulating at these Times Square sin pits that had names like “The New David Cinema,” “The Adonis Lounge” and “The Tomkat.”
To the average Joe on the street, to the average Village Voice reader in 1967, or even to the NYPD’s vice squad, there was nothing much alarming in and of itself that a film titled Vapors was playing in Times Square. To someone who knew what Milligan’s short film was about (an awkward encounter in a gay bathhouse) these ads took on an entirely different connotation. In other words, these films were coded “dog whistles” indicating most likely that cruising (at the very least) would be tolerated in the balconies and toilets of these run down cinemas, often in buildings owned by the mob.
The fleabag movie theaters catering to an all male clientele ultimately lined 8th Ave. near 42nd Street until they cleaned up Times Square in the early 1990s. By the 1970s, the demure ads in the Village Voice ads were dispensed with completely and explicit gay porn ads begin to appear for movies with titles like Inches and Ramrodder. (Interesting to note that the Voice had quite an anti-gay tone in the 1960s until petitioned by the Gay Liberation Front to stop using terms like “faggots” when reporting on the Stonewall riots).
Another movie that showed up a couple of times in the pages of the Voice back then is French author Jean Genet’s short film, Un chant d’amour (“A Song of Love”). Directed by Genet in 1950, based loosely on his novel The Miracle of the Rose and with the rumored assistance of Jean Cocteau, the film was impounded in France when it was first screened and it became circulated as gay porn for French intellectual homosexuals in the years following. The silent b&w film shows the encounters two men in a French prison have, their dreams and fantasies, and the voyeurism of a sadomasochistic guard who is titillated by their relationship, spies on them and abuses one of them because of jealousy. It seems to be very influenced by Anger’s Fireworks, a film Genet most certainly would have seen via Cocteau, who considered the young Ken Anger his protege.
Fifteen years or so later, bootleg prints of Un chant d’amour must have made it to Times Square and this obscure work of poetic homosexual quasi-porn with a literary pedigree, more about the longing for human contact than the actual contact itself (flowers, a gun and cigarettes stand in—for the most part—for male genitalia) sent the Bat-signal to those for whom it was meant and they assembled by its flickering lantern to do who knows what?
By the mid-80s, when I saw Un chant d’amour on a triple bill with documentaries on Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir at the Thalia Cinema arthouse, not a single vice cop in New York City would have given a shit about something as ultimately kinda tame as Genet’s film. Still, bearing in mind that it was once something confiscated by police, became something that was passed around hand to hand amongst gay French intellectuals like a stag film, then screened in cinemas straight out of John Rechy’s novels, how odd/weird/amusing (or alarming, I suppose, depending on your viewpoint) is it to think that Un chant d’amour (and Vapors and Anger’s films and Jack Smith’s as well) can now be watched on YouTube?
And here is a chunk of Andy Milligan’s Vapors, from 1965, one of the very first films of its kind: a narrative softcore homosexual exploitation film.
In terms of political philosophy, reggae has leaned largely towards Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. Here are a couple of exceptions, salutes to the man who we celebrate today in the U.S.
First, “Martin Luther King” by Max Romeo from Reconstruction, his 1979 follow up to his landmark album War Ina Babylon.
Here’s “Martin Luther King”, one of the tracks on studio wizard Scientist’s 1983 album International Heroes Dub with the Forces of Music band. Other track titles include “George Jackson”, “Ho Chi Minh”, “Malcolm X” and “Desmond Tutu”...
In 1978, at a time after the end of the Sex Pistols, but before Public Image Ltd. was formed, John Lydon gave an actual friendly interview to Janet Street-Porter. Cheerful, not at all rotten Mr. Lydon—seen here looking even more Dickensian than usual in a top hat he says he purchased at Disneyland—discusses how he’d like to see Malcolm McClaren dead, how he made no money whatsoever from the Sex Pistols and he touches ever so briefly on his recent trip to Jamaica, where he’d been scouting reggae talent (and meeting some musical heroes) for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records.
Lydon also reminds us that tickets for the USA Sex Pistols tour cost two bucks!