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Iggy & The Stooges playing at a high school gym in Michigan, 1970
01.28.2015
09:03 am

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History
Music

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If you’ve got room for more 1970 Detroit so soon after yesterday’s John Lee Hooker post, then feast your eyes on these wonderful snapshots of Iggy Pop, shirtless (does he even own any shirts?) and becollared (because you know what he wants to be) for a Stooges performance at suburban Detroit’s Farmington High School (GO FALCONS!) in December of 1970, which was historically noteworthy as James Williamson’s first gig with the band. I found them on the wonderful blog Black Coffee Bonus Cup, but they first made their way to the web via Detroit rock lifer Jim Edwards of the Rockets, who posted them to Facebook. (I can no longer find that album, so I presume it’s either deleted or set to friends-only, now):

I got these slides from a guy at work. He walks up to me and says, ‘You’re a musician, right? I got these old slides from a show at my high school, Wanna see ‘em?’ I held the first one up to the light and nearly shit myself!

Black Coffee Bonus Cup offered this info about the gig:

The gig was late due to Iggy being arrested earlier that evening and The Stooges played only four songs but I bet it was the end of innocence for all the unsuspecting teen students attending this show when the 23-year-old Iggy appeared shirtless, wearing a dog collar and jeans with cut-out crotch, revealing his red briefs, and performed his legendary on-and-off stage stunts…

 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Mad Monk’s junk: Is this the mythically massive member of Rasputin?
01.28.2015
08:38 am

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Amusing
History
Sex

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Romanov svengali Grigori Rasputin is so steeped in legend, he’s become more myth than man, but in my opinion the most fascinating bit of Rasputin rumor pertains to this jarred pickle right here—reported to be the Mad Monk’s massive member. The manic-looking man holding the jar is Igor Knyazkin, Head Physician of the Prostate Center of Russian Academy of Sciences and the founder of The Museum of Erotica in St. Petersburg Russia—that’s right, an actual doctor, who put together a museum of his own creepy collectibles. Obviously we have no way of confirming this is actually Rasputin’s junk (I guess it got misplaced in all the commotion after he was supposedly, poisoned, beaten, stabbed, shot and castrated), but since the artifact is between 11 and 13 inches long it remains a novelty in its own right, though some suggest the specimen is actually animal genitalia.

If this is the Mad Monk’s junk, it’s traveled extensively! The jarred pee pee’s journey can allegedly be traced back to Paris in the 20s, when it was apparently worshipped for its mystical fertility powers until Rasputin’s surviving daughter intervened. At one point there was definitely a false phallus floating around, inherited by the same daughter. After her death, it was willed to a Rasputin biographer who learned upon testing it that it was actually a sea cucumber (how embarrassing!). I don’t much mind a man with 15,000 sex objects using a bit of famous phallic flash to get people into his weird museum. My main “beef” with Knyazkin is that he claims viewing “little Rasputin” can correct sexual dysfunction—if anything, looking at the specimen on display at this museum might leave you impotent!
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The transgender women of Singapore’s ‘Boogie Street’
01.28.2015
06:59 am

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History
Queer
Sex

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Singapore’s Bugis Street was renowned as a meeting place for trans women to mix, mingle and have fun during the 1950s-1980s. Each evening, a fabulous parade of glamorous trans women would walk up-and-down the rundown streets at Bugis Junction, flirting with tourists, sailors and G.I.s, often charging them to have their photograph taken, inviting them to a bar for a drink, or taking them to a quiet room (or rooftop) for sex.

Bugis Street was a popular area for touring British servicemen in the 1950s, who became fans/lovers of many of the trans women, and rechristened the area “Boogie Street”—a mispronunciation of the district’s name that stuck in 1970s with the rise of disco.

For thirty years, Bugis Street thrived as a haven for trans women and their admirers, until the government cracked down on what was described as “shameful” and “lewd behavior” in the 1970s. Many servicemen were arrested at gunpoint, tourists were threatened and frightened away, the bars were closed and many trans women were arrested. Eventually the hard-line puritans won and old Bugis Street was demolished in the mid-1980s and replaced by a shopping mall and entertainment outlet.

In December 1980, French photographer Alain Soldeville was on a two-year trip to Asia and Australia when he arrived in Singapore. After a few days sight-seeing, he headed out one evening to Bugis Street.

Within an hour, strange androgynous creatures arrived by taxi. Dressed in sexy, tight-fitting dresses or satiny pants, wearing heavy stage makeup and high heels, they took over the territory. The street seemed to belong to them and their dramatic entrance was followed by scrutinizing eyes. It appeared that most visitors were there to watch the show that had just begun.

I stroked up a conversation with Anita who was of Malaysian background. She was 23 years old, with a clearly outlined masculine face, tall, thin and muscular. She wanted to know where I came from, how long I was going to stay in Singapore. During the following weeks, I became close to Anita and she introduced me to her friends: Amina, Danita, Delphine, Rosa and Susanna. They liked having me photograph them and would strike natural poses.

After five or six weeks in Singapore, short of money, I had to leave for Australia. I would return in 1984 only to learn that Bugis Street was about to be torn down to make way for the subway.

Bugis Street still has its glamorous legend, and a moderately successful film was made about the transgender women of the area in 1996. Soldeville forgot about the photographs he took in 1981 of Anita and her friends for over twenty-five years, until he rediscovered them in storage. Since then, they have been exhibited in France and Thailand.
 
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More pictures of Bugis Street, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
You HAVE to see this live footage of John Lee Hooker from 1970. Really. Just drop what you’re doing.
01.27.2015
10:28 am

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History
Music
Television

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Early ‘70s Detroiters were fortunate to have a still-thriving auto industry, the Motown scene, tons of badass underground rock bands, and on top of all that, they had WABX’s music TV show Detroit Tubeworks. That awesome footage you’ve seen a million times of Captain Beefheart doing “Woe-Is-Uh-Me-Bop” is from that show, as is approximately a shit-ton of other brilliant material from the post-hippie/pre-punk era. Perfect Sound Forever has a great post about the show’s history.

Tubeworks was one monster of a music TV show. These shows were (and are) mean enough to make the entire staff and stockholders of both MTV and VH-1 start crying and hide in the bathroom. And to boot, Tubeworks was on an early version of analog cable TV. Detroit Tubeworks was a superb example of what was really good in 1969-1974 in rock and roll. It all makes you wonder what would happen if rock and roll on TV in the ‘70’s and the ‘80’s had followed Tubeworks’ lead. Detroit Tubeworks definitely relieved the doldrums of “just the five or six channels we had otherwise then. It was really the only place where we could SEE for ourselves the jams getting kicked out by a righteous bunch of motherfuckers.

Over the weekend, the Detroit alt-weekly Metro Times dug up some incredible footage from Tubeworks of none other than the man who brought electric guitar to Delta blues and brought Delta blues to Detroit, John Lee Hooker. I can’t find the exact date of the filming or broadcast, but it’s sometime in 1970, and there’s a generous 21 and a half minutes of footage. The video is degraded, but the sound is terrific. Per the Metro Times post:

This video features two of Hooker’s own kids plus legendary percussionist Muruga Booker. It was shot in the studio in 1970 for the local Tube Works show. Make sure you turn your device up loud before you hit play on this thing. Hooker was tuned in to a cosmic frequency of electric boogie drone, after all.

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Teenage Wasteland: Photos of rebellious youth in Japan, 1964
01.27.2015
09:15 am

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History
Pop Culture

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I thought I’d share these absolutely stunning photos of the decidedly wilder side of Japanese youth culture circa 1964. The images, taken by LIFE photographer Michael Rougier, document “one Japanese generation’s age of revolt.”

From the 1964 issue of LIFE:

All through that past, a sense of connection with the old traditions and authority has kept Japanese children obedient and very close to the family. This sense still controls most of Japan’s youth who besiege offices and factories for jobs and the universities for education and gives the whole country an electric vitality and urgency. But as its members run away from the family and authority, this generation in rebellion grows.

The photos have a very raw, punky energy, if you will, for 1964. If you’re curious about who the band that everyone is rocking out to, they were called the Tokyo Beatles. I’ve added a YouTube clip of their cover of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at the bottom so you can get an idea to what the kids are freaking out about in some of these evocative photos.


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The real reason the BBC wanted to keep George Orwell off the radio
01.21.2015
07:27 am

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Amusing
Heroes
History
Media
Politics

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When George Orwell died at the age of forty-six on January 21st 1950, he was considered by some of London’s fashionable literary critics as a marginal figure—“no good as a novelist”—who was best known for his essays rather than his fiction.

This quickly changed in the years after his death when his reputation and popularity as a writer grew exponentially. Over the past seven decades he has come to be considered one of the most influential English writers of the twentieth century.

This massive change in opinion was largely down to Orwell’s last two books Animal Farm first published in 1945, and Nineteen Eighty-Four published the year before he died. The importance of these two novels has enshrined Orwell’s surname, like Dickens, Kafka and more recently J. G. Ballard, into the English language as a descriptive term—“Orwellian”—for nightmarish political oppression, while many of his fictional ideas or terms contained within Nineteen Eighty-Four have become part of our everyday language—“Big Brother,” “Room 101,” “newspeak,” “doublethink,” “thoughtcrime” and so on.

Both of these books have become essential texts for radicals and conservatives in their individual campaigns against perceived invasive and totalitarian governments. After the Second World War Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four were considered damning critiques of Stalinist Russia, and their subject matter limned the growing paranoia between East and West during the Cold War. When Edward Snowden exposed the covert surveillance by US intelligence agencies on millions of Americans, copies of the book were sold by the thousands. Nineteen Eighty-Four‘s flexibility of interpretation has meant the book has been used to condemn almost everything from the rise of CCTV and wind farms, to the George W. Bush/Tony Blair war against “the axis of evil,” the rise of jihadist Islam, the spread of capitalist globalization, Vladimir Putin’s political “grand vision”, and (rather laughably) “Obamacare.” 

But it wasn’t the meaning of Orwell’s writing that caused the BBC to sniff condescendingly about their employee during the 1940s, rather it was his actual voice which was considered by Overseas Services Controller, JB Clark as “un-attractive” as this secret internal BBC memo reveals:

Controller (Overseas Services)      19th January, 1943

GEORGE ORWELL                                 STAFF PRIVATE

1. A.C. (OS) 2. E.S.D.

I listened rather carefully to one of George Orwell’s English talks in the Eastern Service on, I think, Saturday last. I found the talk itself interesting, and I am not critical of its content, but I was struck by the basic unsuitability of Orwell’s voice. I realise, of course, that his name is of some value in quite important Indian circles, but his voice struck me as both un-attractive and really unsuited to the microphone to such an extent that (a) it would not attract any listeners who were outside the circle of Orwell’s admirers as a writer and might even repel some of these, and (b) would make the talks themselves vulnerable at the hands of people who would have reason to see Orwell denied the microphone, or of those who felt critical of the B.B.C. for being so ignorant of the essential needs of the microphone and of the audience as to put on so wholly unsuitable a voice.

I am quite seriously worried about the situation and about the wisdom of our keeping Orwell personally on the air.

JBC/GMG (J.B. Clark)

The reason Old Etonian Orwell’s voice may not have sounded attractive was that he had been shot in the neck during the Spanish Civil War. However, Orwell got his own back on the BBC by naming Nineteen Eighty-Four‘s infamous torture room after “Room 101” in Broadcasting House, where he had to sit through long, tedious meetings about political vetting.
 
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The only known footage of George Orwell (or Eric Blair as he was then) can be seen in this clip of him playing the “Wall Game” with fellow pupils at Eton—he’s fourth on the left and in the clip between a very young Melanie Griffiths and Grace Kelly.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘A Few Tunes Between Homicides’: Never before released song by Lead Belly! Dangerous Minds exclusive
01.20.2015
06:12 am

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Crime
History
Music

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That great American blues/folk artist Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter was born on January 20, 1888 (or 1889), making today the 127th (or 126th) anniversary of his birth. He’s known today for popularizing songs like “Goodnight Irene,” “Midnight Special,” and “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” as American folk and, eventually, rock ‘n’ roll standards, but in his day, Lead Belly was widely renowned for having been in jail. A lot. Thrice, in fact—once on a weapons charge, once for killing a man, and a third time for trying to kill a man.

Remarkably, Lead Belly literally sang his way out of prison! His second stint was cut short by a pardon issued after Lead Belly wrote a song honoring the then-Governor of Texas Pat Morris Neff, and he repeated the stunt during his third hitch, in Louisiana (though as he may have been eligible for a good-behavior release anyway, it’s disputed whether it was really the song that did the job). It was while he was serving that third sentence that Lead Belly was recorded in performance by the famous father-son team of folklorists John and Alan Lomax, which of course is how we know him today. From an essay by Smithsonian Folkways archivist Jeff Place, which will appear in the forthcoming 5-disc retrospective Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, and which we’ve edited for length:

Angola was one of the worst prisons in the South; it was probably as close to slavery as any person could come in 1930. Lead Belly became known around the prison for his singing and guitar playing. This was the situation when John Lomax wrote the prison warden L.A. Jones about visiting on behalf of the Library of Congress to record prison songs.

John Lomax and his young son Alan were traveling and recording African American folk songs in prisons in the South. They were hoping to find older African American vernacular music not “contaminated” by the popular blues and jazz of the present day, and they felt long-term prisoners who had been isolated from society might just be the answer. Fresh from recording some of Lead Belly’s fellow prisoners at Sugarland on July 5, 1933, they arrived at Angola on July 16. Lead Belly was suggested to them as a good singer to record, and they realized they had really made a “find.”

The Lomaxes made 12 recordings. Lead Belly saw an opportunity in this situation for himself and “wondered if a pardon song” might work again. Unlike Neff, Louisiana governor O.K. Allen did not tour prisons, so Lead Belly didn’t have access to him. When the Lomaxes returned the following July to record 15 more songs, he had a special one prepared, “Governor O.K. Allen.” He asked if John Lomax would deliver a recording of the song to Allen’s office. Lead Belly had previously written asking for a pardon as well. It is not known whether Allen listened to the song, but Lead Belly was officially granted a pardon on July 25, 1934. Again, the state maintained it was purely on the basis of “good time.”

Lead Belly’s meeting with the Lomaxes was re-enacted for a short newsreel film that, luckily, survives. Here it is, featuring Lead Belly and John Lomax woodenly playing themselves, with a darkened garage standing in for a prison yard. It’s kind of ridiculous, and to a viewer today it’s full of embarrassing values dissonance (loads of “yassuh” racism, unsurprisingly) but on the other hand, it’s motion footage of Lead Belly performing “Goodnight Irene!”
 

 
After his third release, in 1934, Lead Belly made a go of a singing career, abetted by the Lomaxes, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and tantalizingly lurid newspaper descriptions like “Murderous Minstrel,” “Virtuoso of Knife and Guitar,” “Two-Time Dixie Murderer Sings Way to Freedom,” and by far my favorite for its sheer over-the-top sensationalism, “Sweet Singer of the Swamplands Here to do a Few Tunes Between Homicides.” Lead Belly fell out with Lomax in 1935, but his career continued, and in 1948, he would make his final recordings. Again from Jeff Place:

During the 1940s, Lead Belly met two individuals who would become important to his final years of life, Frederic Ramsey Jr. (1915–95) and Charles Edward Smith (1904– 70). Both men were record collectors and jazz scholars and had recently jointly published a book, Jazzmen (1939). They were interested in researching early African American music from the South to search for the roots of jazz. Lead Belly’s repertoire was a perfect resource in this quest. Ramsey felt that Lead Belly’s repertoire had been under-recorded and wanted to get as much of it as he could on tape.

Ramsey got to know Lead Belly socially after the war. “Lead Belly used to come up and visit, and people would come and visit, and we would really throw parties, and you couldn’t stop that guy from performing. I mean, he did it, you could have paid him nothing, he’d come there and have a good time and he would play”. One night Huddie and Martha were invited to the Ramseys for dinner, and Ramsey showed Lead Belly the new machine. Ramsey had hung drapes in his apartment to simulate the sound dampening in a recording studio. Lead Belly wanted to try it out, although he had not brought his guitar, not planning on playing. Ramsey had only a cheap microphone. With Martha’s occasional help he recorded 34 songs that night. Better yet, the tape deck allowed the recording of the introductions and the stories behind the songs. There would be three evening sessions (with the guitar at the other two, along with much better RCA mics borrowed from Moe Asch), and more planned. Lead Belly left for a European tour before additional sessions could be arranged. “Anyway, I think we had maybe three or four gatherings, and I could be wrong about this, it certainly wasn’t all done in one evening, but he used to come and once he… he was a guy who got really comfortable, once he got started, he wouldn’t stop.”

That many of these last recordings were recorded unaccompanied was sadly prophetic. Lead Belly would soon be exhibiting the symptoms of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), which robbed him of his ability to play before took his life near the end of 1949.
 

 
The aforementioned Folkways set, Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, is the most comprehensive career-spanning retrospective of his work yet, and is scheduled for release on February 24th, 2015. Packaged in a 140 page 12x12” book, it features over 100 songs on five discs, 16 of which have never been released. One of those unreleased songs comes from that guitar-less session at Frederic Ramsey’s apartment. It’s called “Everytime I Go Out,” an original composition that doesn’t appear to have ever been recorded in any other form. We at Dangerous Minds are thrilled to be able to debut it for you today.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
The only film footage of blues/folk legend Leadbelly
Kurt Cobain and Mark Lanegan’s short-lived Leadbelly tribute band
The amazing old Paramount Records ads that inspired R. Crumb

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Republicans block historical marker of Ku Klux Klan massacre
01.19.2015
01:04 pm

Topics:
History
Race

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On November 3, 1979, members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party shot and killed five protesters at a “Death to the Klan March” in Greensboro, North Carolina. Of the protestors killed, four were members of the Communist Workers’ Party (the organization responsible for the march), and one was a supporter. Despite clear video evidence and many witnesses, both of the two criminal trials resulted in acquittals by all-white juries. Six years later, a civil suit accusing police of collaboration with the Klan resulted in a $350,000 judgment against the city and both hate groups, but to this day only one plaintiff (the widow of a doctor who ran a clinic for low-income children) has received her payment.

Despite none of this being in dispute, the Greensboro Massacre, one of the darker moments in American history, is currently the subject of a partisan friction. Recently, the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee voted to erect a commemorative marker reading, “The Greensboro Massacre—Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party members, on Nov. 3 1979, shot and killed five Communist Workers’ Party members one-tenth mile north,” but the project remains in deadlock over objections from City Council members. The marker’s major suporters on the council are two black Democrats, and a few members remain ambivalent. Those most ardently opposed? You guessed it—two white dudes from that Grand Old Party!

The idea that this is some kind of conflict is both frustrating and predictable, but in lieu of a diatribe, here’s actual footage of the Greensboro Massacre. It’s violent, but not gory; the ugliest thing about seeing it is knowledge of the future, where justice is evaded and history is whitewashed.
 

 
Thank you Eric M. Fink

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Photos of California high school life, 1969
01.16.2015
10:46 am

Topics:
Fashion
History

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No, these aren’t photos from last year’s Coachella festival—which is beginning to look more and more like Spring Break for dumb and pretty trust fund kids, but I digress… They were taken at various high schools around Southern California in 1969 by LIFE photographer Arthur Schatz.

I wonder if H&M took any style inspiration from these photos for their new “H&M Loves Coachella” line? Aside from the plastic surgery, not much has changed…


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Scenes from a West Virginia county fair, 1938
01.06.2015
01:17 pm

Topics:
History

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In 1938, LIFE magazine sent famed photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt to a county fair in West Virginia where he captured some wonderfully evocative images. You can practically smell the funnel cakes, kettle corn and hot dogs.

As LIFE wrote back in 1938:

But their major preoccupation was bodies—human bodies, animal bodies, bodies that looked half-human, half-animal. The “girlie” shows, which were hot and smutty, drew smaller audiences than the freaks from crowds made up of farmers, breeders and hillbillies. Only a few city people were present, although some urban sophisticates have discovered the county fair and are beginning to make America’s great harvest-time diversion a city-folk fad.

Take a gander at what the city-folk were a gawkin’ at back in the day…
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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