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Dorian Cope: August 11, 1958, The Dockum Sit-In
08.12.2009
01:57 am
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Radical blogger (and wife of Julian) Dorian Cope on this day in history:

Fifty-one years ago today on 11th August 1958, the owner of the Rexall chain of drugstores throughout Kansas walked into Dockum?

Posted by Jason Louv
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08.12.2009
01:57 am
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Freed: Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs
08.11.2009
01:00 pm
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Severely ill and stroke-prone, Last of The Great Train Robbers Ronnnie Biggs was released by British officials into the free light of day last Friday.  After the ‘63 robbery, which involved the mail car hijacking of what would be roughly $70 million in today’s dollars, Biggs and his cohorts were quickly rounded up.  The money wasn’t—the bulk of it has never been recovered.  And after scaling a 30-foot prison wall and skipping off to Rio, it looked like Biggs wouldn’t be, either.  That is until 2001, when craving “a pint of bitter,” Biggs returned to England to resume his sentence. 

Beyond his decades as a fugitive, though, what best cemented Biggs’ outlaw celebrity status back home was his cavorting with The Sex Pistols.  Shortly after their final performance at Winterland, the Pistols flew down to Rio and recorded a couple of tracks with Biggs.  Their “collaborative” results—No One Is Innocent and Belsen Was a Gas—surfaced in both the film and soundtrack for Julien Temple’s The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, from which a vid of Innocent can be seen below.

 
In The LA Times: Great Train Robbery Outlaw Gains His Release

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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08.11.2009
01:00 pm
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Super Montage of Dan Meth’s Cartoon Influences
08.08.2009
12:02 pm
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I had a total blast watching this!  Dan Meth says, “When people ask ‘What are your cartoon influences?’, it usually stumps me?

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.08.2009
12:02 pm
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Sacrificial Virgins Of The Mississippi
08.06.2009
06:07 pm
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Fascinating review by Andrew O’Hehir in today’s Salon of Timothy Pauketat’s, Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi.  In it, Pauketat shines a light on a chapter in American history that’s long gone ignored—evaded, even.  Situated east of modern-day St. Louis and larger than London, Cahokia was once a thriving Native American metropolis, complete with plazas and pyramids, before finally succumbing to disease, dissent and destruction.  Well, there was something else:

...it also seems clear that political and religious power in Cahokia revolved around another ancient tradition.  Cahokians performed human sacrifice, as part of some kind of theatrical, community-wide ceremony, on a startlingly large scale unknown in North America above the valley of Mexico.  Simultaneous burials of as many as 53 young women (quite possibly selected for their beauty) have been uncovered beneath Cahokia’s mounds, and in some cases victims were evidently clubbed to death on the edge of a burial pit, and then fell into it.  A few of them weren’t dead yet when they went into the pit—skeletons have been found with their phalanges, or finger bones, digging into the layer of sand beneath them.

As unsavory as that sounds to today’s ears, Pauketat goes on to draw parallels between those sacrifices, and the near-complete erasure undertaken by contemporary scholars who would have most likely dismissed the notion of a Native American city as:

bizarre and self-contradictory.  Scholarly conceptions weren’t all that far away from pop culture depictions: American Indians lived light on the land, mostly in hunter-gatherer societies augmented by minimal subsistence agriculture.  While they may have had “ceremonial centers” along with seasonal villages and hunting and fishing camps, they didn’t live in large or permanent settlements.

Pauketa’s book might serve as a corrective to the old myopic views on Native American possibility, but this ritual sacrifice business seems harder to shake.  Was it just another bread-and-circus solution to curb growing unrest?  Maybe so.  As O’Hehir concludes, “Cahokia forged a new sense of community out of these rituals, one that merged church and state, and Cahokians ‘tolerated the excesses of their leaders,’ as most of us do, as long as the party kept going.”
 
In Salon: Sacrificial Virgins of the Mississippi

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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08.06.2009
06:07 pm
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LOVE, SEX, FEAR, DEATH: The Process Church of the Final Judgment
08.05.2009
12:15 pm
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Our friends at Feral House and Process Media are co-hosting this event at The Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles:

Was The Process Church truly “one of the most dangerous Satanic cults in America”? Or were they an intensely creative apocalyptic shadow side to the flower-powered ‘60s and New Age ‘70s? Scores of black-cloaked devotees swept the streets of New York, San Francisco, London, Paris, and other cities selling magazines with titles like “Sex”, “Fear”, “Love” and “Death”, and a theology proposing the reconciliation of Christ and Satan through love. Marianne Faithfull, George Clinton and Mick Jagger participated in Process publications and Funkadelic reproduced Process material in two of their albums. The inside story of this controversial group has at last emerged with Feral House’s LOVE, SEX, FEAR, DEATH by Timothy Wyllie and other former members. Feral House and Process Books present a re-creation of an actual Process Church ?

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.05.2009
12:15 pm
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Brian Wilson’s Lost Masterpiece Smile: A “New” Old Version
08.04.2009
11:01 am
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Although over the years there have been many, many fan made “reconstructed” (bootleg) versions of what Brian Wilson really intended to do with his lost Beach Boys masterpiece Smile, in 2004 his Brian Wilson Presents Smile album and tour pretty much set the record straight. And if this wasn’t exactly what Wilson had intended back in 1967 (before Mike Love, new fatherhood, mental illness and various other factors buried the project) then at the very least it’s Wilson’s final word on the piece, what he once called his “teenage symphony to God.”

Wilson’s ill-fated Smile, of course, became legendary amongst rock snobs. In 1993 Beach Boys fans discovered just how far along Wilson’s unfinished project got. On the Beach Boys box set, Good Vibrations, author and filmmaker, David Leaf (The Beach Boys and The California Myth, 1978) sequenced a stunning 30 minute selection of Smile outtakes. I can tell you for sure, it was a mind-blowing thing to hear. Elvis Costello described hearing Brian Wilson’s original demo for “Surf’s Up” as like discovering a lost recording of Mozart and I must agree.

What we have here, though, is the so-called “Smile [Purple Chick bootleg]” put together by some Beach Boys fans using mostly original stereo Beach Boys recordings—using Wilson’s 2004 album as a guide—to step by step recreate Smile with these vintage sources. It’s fantastic! They re-edited, pitch shifted and used a few moments from Wilson’s BWPS album to connect the tracks and the results are quite good, a revelation even. Although I am not sold on their remake of Good Vibrations (my brain just refuses to accept it) I have to say that it’s entirely valid. After all it’s what Wilson did himself. Still, I swapped that track out on the CD I made for the car (and you might want to also).

A Good Smile Bootleg

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.04.2009
11:01 am
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Website dedicated to forgotten bookmarks
08.03.2009
09:03 pm
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Forgotten Bookmarks is an amusing blog where the content consists of rather personal bookmarks found in used books.  The writer of the blog says, “I work at a used and rare bookstore, and I buy books from people everyday. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books.”

I had a great time going through the endless entries of found bookmarks. However, I did find some of the lost love letters and old photographs kinda sad.  

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Forgotten Bookmarks

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.03.2009
09:03 pm
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“That’s Incredible” Broadcasts History’s First Video Game World Championship (1983)
07.27.2009
09:47 pm
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Speaking of “Look Around You”, here’s a nifty nostalgic peek at 1983’s “That’s Incredible Video Game Invitational.”  Twin Galaxies says:

Twin Galaxies first Coronation Day Tournament is recognized as history’s first video game “World Championship”—held January 8-9, 1983 at the the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard in Ottumwa, Iowa, USA.

Co-sponsored by Twin Galaxies and ABC-TV’s That’s Incredible, the event featured nineteen of North America’s top players competing on five current titles: Frogger, Millipede, Joust, Super Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong, Jr.

The top three finalists won complimentary subscriptions to Joystik, RePlay and Playmeter Magazine and were invited to compete on the “That’s Incredible” finals in Los Angeles.

The show was aired to an international TV audience on February 21, 1983.

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Twin Galaxies & That’s Incredible

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.27.2009
09:47 pm
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Louis Wain: The Man Who Drew Cats
07.26.2009
10:57 am
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Often held up as THE classic example of a schizophrenic artist, in recent decades there has come to be greater respect for the talents of Victorian-era illustrator of anthropomorphic cats, Louis Wain.

Wain’s famous felines were born of his efforts to amuse his wife as she was dying of breast cancer. Wain would draw their cat, Peter, with eyeglasses, pretending to read. This style was developed over the years and eventually Wain’s cats began to walk upright and wear contemporary clothes. They engaged in activities like smoking, fishing, playing musical instruments and having tea parties. It’s important to remember that at this time, cats were not widely kept as household pets, mostly they were kept around to eradicate vermin.

Wildly popular in Victorian England, for several years Wain’s drawings and postcards were all the rage, but eventually his popularity began to… well, wane.  After being taken advantage of in several investment “opportunities,” Wain’s mental health deteriorated and he was interred at a mental hospital in the poverty ward. News of his circumstances were publicized by H.G. Wells, who organized the funds to move Wain into a nicer hospital with a colony of cats, along with Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald who personally intervened on Wain’s behalf.

In the final years of his life, Wain’s cats became more abstract and less whimsical. His once playful cats began to resemble fearsome, almost kaleidoscopic, Hindu deities. Many psychological textbooks feature drawings from various stages in the artist’s career to show the progression of Wain’s schizophrenia.

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Beginning in the late 60s, Wain’s work came into fashion again and has become sought after by collectors. In 2009 Nick Cave, a Wain enthusiast since the late 70s, organized the first showing of Wain’s work outside of England when he exhibited his work as part of the All Tomorrow’s Parties concert series in Australia. Artist Tracy Emin and musician David Tibet are also prominent collectors of Wain’s work.

The Chris Beetle Gallery is a good source for buying an original Wain.

Catland: The Art of Louis Wain

Louis Wain bio

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.26.2009
10:57 am
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London’s magical history uncorked from ‘witch bottle’
07.25.2009
04:20 pm
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Proof that use of bodily fluids common in ancient folk spells. From New Scientist

A rare insight into the folk beliefs of 17th-century Britons has been gleaned from the analysis of a sealed “witch bottle” unearthed in Greenwich, London, in 2004.

Witch bottles were commonly buried to ward off spells during the late 16th and 17th centuries, but it is very rare to find one still sealed.

“So many have been dug up and their contents washed away down the sink,” says Alan Massey, a retired chemist formerly at the University of Loughborough, UK, who has examined so-called “magical” artifacts and was asked to analyse the contents of the bottle. “This is the first one that has been opened scientifically.”

During the 17th century, British people often blamed witches for any ill health or misfortune they suffered, says Massey. “The idea of the witch bottle was to throw the spell back on the witch,” he says. “The urine and the bulb of the bottle represented the waterworks of the witch, and the theory was that the nails and the bent pins would aggravate the witch when she passed water and torment her so badly that she would take the spell back off you.”

London’s magical history uncorked from ‘witch bottle’

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.25.2009
04:20 pm
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