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Brutal, intimate photos depict the 1980s ‘heroin epidemic’ of the East Village
03.03.2015
03:21 pm

Topics:
Art
Drugs
History

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Boy on East 5th Street (4th of July), 1984
 
Anyone who’s hung out on Rivington Street the last few years might be surprised to learn that the East Village was one of the scariest parts of New York just a few decades ago. Not for nothing did one police officer in the 1980s label Avenue D “the world’s largest retail drug market.”

Photographer Ken Schles, who lived in the East Village in the 1980s, once said that it was “like a war zone.” Schles witnessed firsthand the heroin epidemic and the AIDS crisis happening all around him. His photographs, many taken from his bedroom window, depict the urgency and hopelessness of a neighborhood in crisis. 

Schles’ building, where he also had his darkroom, was in disrepair from the moment he moved in in 1978; just a few years later, the landlord abandoned the building, leaving tenants to their own devices. Schles led a rent strike and worked to improve the living conditions, as drug gangs moved in on the space.

Unlike the romanticized imagery produced by some, Schles’ frank pictures offer no illusion as to what is being depicted. Schles himslf is disgusted by such idealized portraits and offers a refreshingly honest and pragmatic take on the era—as he says, “I don’t pine for the days when I’d drive down the Bowery and have to lock the doors, or having to step over the junkies or finding the door bashed in because heroin dealers decided they wanted to set up a shooting gallery. ... A lot of dysfunction has been romanticized.”

Schles’ shots, many taken from his bedroom window, provide blurred and grainy fragments, stories to which we do not know the beginning, even if we can guess at the grim ending. Eventually Schles’ fellow artists and gallery owners banded together to rebuild the neighborhood.

In 1988 Schles published Invisible City, which has recently been reissued, and late last year he came out with a follow-up, Night Walk. Together they add up to an intimate study of a neighborhood that is no longer recognizable.

Invisible City and Night Walk are on view at Howard Greenberg Gallery on 57th Street until March 14, 2015.
 

Couple Fucking, 1985
 

Embrace, 1984
 

Landscape with Garbage Bag, 1984
 

Drowned in Sorrow, 1984
 

Scene at a Stag Party, May 1985
 

Claudia Lights Cigarette, 1985
 
More after the jump…..
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
When sex was a crime: List of penalties for sodomy, fornication, adultery & cohabitation in the USA
03.03.2015
07:17 am

Topics:
Crime
History
Sex

Tags:

001xeslbob.jpg
 
According to this list of “Penalties for Sex Offenses in the United States” published in 1964 by Harry Hay’s pioneering “homophile” rights group, the Mattachine Society, most of us could have been at best fined or at worst arrested and sent away to prison for a very long time had we simply been doing what we take for granted today.

Take Connecticut for example, where sodomy (or “the crime against nature” as it is described here) brought a sentence of 30 years; or in Kentucky, where you could be given a two-five year sentence; or Maine one-ten years; and 20 years in either Massachusetts or Minnesota. The term “sodomy” included:

...a wide variety of “unnatural” sexual activity, with animals or with another person of either sex, both within and outside marriage.

That’s a fairly broad definition, don’t you think?

Fornication in most states brought a fine of between $20-$500 plus three months to six years jail time, or worse in Alaska where you could be fined $300 or given two years in prison. This might explain why so many Americans marry rather than live together—as opposed to Europe. According to US figures 8.1 million unmarried Americans were cohabiting in 2011, compared to 5.9 million (or 11.7%) of the UK population who cohabited in 2102.

If two years jail time didn’t make you twice about sex before marriage, then being caught committing adultery could cost you a minimum of $10 (Rhode Island) up to $500-$1000 and/or six months to one year (Nevada) or five years (Connecticut) or five years/$1000 fine (Maine).

Add to this, your time in jail and/or fine could be doubled for a second conviction—though penalties for women were less being: “$10 to $30 or 1-3 yrs.”

Thankfully, times have changed, but incredibly sodomy laws were not lifted nationally until this millennium, in 2003.
 
00listofsexpenalties.jpg
 
listofsexpenalties.jpg
 
H/T Flashbak

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
In 1976, pot-head pranksters made ‘Hollyweed’ out of the iconic Hollywood sign
02.27.2015
05:59 am

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Drugs
History

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Hollyweed
 

On January 1, 1976, Tinseltown’s iconic sign read “Hollyweed” after art student Danny Finegood and 3 of his college pals used $50 worth of dark fabric to transform the famous Hollywood landmark temporarily. They had practiced it first on a scale model Finegood had crafted.

It was more than a simple practical joke, Finegood considered it a statement on the relaxed California marijuana law that went into effect that day.

He also turned it in as a school assignment which earned him an “A.”

Hollywood sign up close
 

If you’re thinking of attempting a stunt like this, think again. On top of being illegal, it’s also quite difficult to get near the sign these days.

Two years after the intial alteration, in 1978, the Hollywood Sign Trust was established as a way of protecting the sign and the fragile hillside surrounding it. They’re serious about it too. In addition to a razor-wired fence, there’s 24-hour surveillance, infrared cameras, motion sensors, regular helicopter patrol visits by the authorities, and other high-security measures.

Back of the Hollywood sign
 
A folk song was written in 1976 about the sign-changing incident, by a man named David Batterson, with such lyrics as follows:

Hollyweed, USA
Now it’s finally safe
to take a little toke

Give it a listen:

 
via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Rusty Blazenhoff | Leave a comment
‘Satisfaction’ shootout: DEVO VS the Residents VS the Rolling Stones (spoiler: the Stones don’t win)
02.26.2015
07:19 am

Topics:
History
Music
Pop Culture

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The news release heralding Superior Viaduct’s reissue of the Residents’ deeply messed-up “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” b/w “Loser = Weed” single contains a quotation that rang oddly familiar to me:

The Residents’ 1976 version of The Stones’ Satisfaction is nearly everything the better known version by Devo from a year later is not: Loose, belligerant, violent, truly fucked up. A real stick in the eye of everything conventionally tasteful in 1976 America. Delightfully painful to listen to thanks to Philip “Snakefinger” Lithman’s completely unhinged lead guitar and mystery Resident member’s menacing vocal, this is a timeless piece of yellow plastic.

That blurb is from Brad Laner, a member of not one but two of my favorite bands and a former Dangerous Minds contributor, and in fact, it was a DM post about five years ago—a post I happen to agree with. The Residents’ “Satisfaction” IS pretty admirably unhinged, genuinely frightening, and a righteous fuck-you to a rock canon classic that, in some circles, remains beyond sacrosanct. Contemporary with their second album, the unfuckwithable Third Reich ‘n’ Roll, which, like the single, is an unsparing deconstruction of classic radio hits, many of which were still fairly new songs at the time. “Satisfaction” isn’t on the album—the Rolling Stones are represented there by a half-reverent, half-funereal take on “Sympathy for the Devil” in the album’s coda. While it did appear on the 1988 CD reissue as an extra, along with “Loser=Weed” and a couple of Beatles travesties, the wax itself is a rare collectible, fetching in the neighborhood of $35. Superior Viaduct’s colored vinyl repress, at $9, still feels a tad spendy for a 7”, but that’s way more manageable than procuring an original. It can also be had as part of a five-record bundle with reissues by Flipper, X, the Dils and the Germs, at $40 for the whole set. (I totally want the Flipper one, too, but that’s another post.)
 

The Residents, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction)”
 

 
Of course, DEVO’s version of the song is the one that most aggressively vies with the Rolling Stones’ original for definitive status, and how could it not? Obviously, the original is indisputably classic in every sense of the word, and after five decades, it’s still one of the most widely covered ‘60s songs this side of “Stepping Stone.” But who can really believe that song from Mick Jagger? By the song’s mid-1965 single release, he was already a gazillionaire rockstar heartthrob who probably had illegitimate children in all 48 contiguous US states, so did anyone seriously believe there was anything unsatisfying about that man’s life? For all its musical timelessness—good LORD, that riff!—the Stones’ version edges out Britney Spears’ cover for plausibility (neither singer was particularly “on a losing streak” at the time their version was released), but that’s about it. None of that does all that much to dull its effectiveness as an anthem, but I buy a song about sexual frustration and contempt for commercialism much more readily in the anxiety-ridden version by the brainy midwestern dorks in DEVO. Unlike the Residents, DEVO aren’t shooting for a takedown or a deconstruction; their version feels more like a successful effort to finally put the song in a proper context. Alan Myers’ freakishly asymmetric drum beat and Gerald Casale’s rubber-band bass line are every bit as capable of inducing existential dread in a socially insecure geek as Keith Richards’ ingenious three-note intro riff is of inducing “fuck yeahs” in a classicist, and doesn’t that speak more closely to the intent of the lyrics—not a single word of which DEVO changed?

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Bloody hell: Disney made an animated ‘period’ short about menstruation
02.24.2015
05:57 pm

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History

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Walt Disney The Story of Menstruation
 
Beginning in 1946 and continuing into the 1960s, Disney gave young women the “talk” about their periods with an educational animated short titled The Story of Menstruation. The 10-minute stylized animation, produced by Walt Disney Productions, was backed by the company behind tampon brand Kotex (then it was the International Cello-Cotton Company, now it’s Kimberly-Clark). Kotex boasts that it taught 105 million girls, in health education classes across the United States, about puberty and good ol’ Aunt Flo.
 
Fallopian Tubes
 
All these millions of girls were also given Very Personally Yours, a propagandic booklet that expands on the film’s knowledge.
 
Bathing on your period
 
The female narrator explains that this booklet “explodes that old taboo against bathing during your period.”

Not only can you bathe, you should bathe. Because during menstruation, your perspiration glands are working overtime.

 
Suck it up
 
These young women were also given pointers on how to suck it up when they are feeling irritable:

Don’t let it get you down. After all, you have to live with people. You have to live with yourself too. And once you stop feeling sorry for yourself and take those days in your stride, you’ll find it’s easier to keep smiling and even tempered.

 
Bicycle riding on your period
 

And as for the old taboo against exercise, that’s nonsense. Exercise is good for you during menstruation. Just use common sense.

Darnit.

Watch it for yourself and see if you learn anything new about that time of the month.
 

 
via Mental Floss

Posted by Rusty Blazenhoff | Leave a comment
Noise music is for the children: The Shoreditch Experimental Music School, 1969
02.24.2015
06:08 am

Topics:
History
Music
Television
Unorthodox

Tags:


 
My education in experimental music came in my college years. Between volunteering at the campus radio station and living in a cheap apartment building in a neighborhood that had historically been a freak magnet, I hooked up with a cadre of students from a nearby music school who were into the weird stuff, and were cool enough not just to clue me in on 20th Century classical, the New York School, atonality, musique concrète, et al, they even invited me to make music with them. Over the course of two or three years, we filled up a metric shitload of blank tape and killed a lot of innocent cannabis plants, and it was all time very, very well spent. But seeing this BBC documentary on a late ‘60s experimental music program in the schools of Shoreditch, London, UK, made me wish I’d been from a time and place where I could have had many of those experiences (likely minus the cannabis, or maybe not) in elementary school.

The doc puts student works on display, starting with a piece exploring “heat, radiation, relentlessness, intensity, stillness,” with instructor Brian Dennis (the man who literally wrote the book on Experimental Music in Schools), who then gives a conducting demonstration, and a demonstration of tape effects. There’s a lengthy, edifying, truly wonderful visit to a class of very young children learning the creative use of tape recorders, and a science fiction story by one of the students, scored with music and sound effects made by his classmates. Then we’re treated to a lively and cacophonous student composition, scored with an invented notation. The program concludes with a genuinely creepy piece of drama, written, scored and acted by the students, wouldn’t you know it, about a cholera epidemic.
 

 
The sophistication on display here, even from some of the much younger students, makes me weep for the ultrashitty way US public schools treat arts education. (While athletics, naturally, are the inalienable milieu of young gods…) To keep myself from indulging in a rant about this—and I’d say nothing that hasn’t been said better by others, really—I transcribed my two favorite quotations from teachers in the program. There IS great educational value in difficult music, to wit:

“The children in this school have a great variety of creative experiences, musically, and we do try to make sure that the music is part of activity. All children are very interested in tape recorders, televisions, radios, in fact that is nearer their experience than are a great many nursery rhymes. Creative tape recording teaches them self-discipline, because they soon realize that if they talk at the wrong time it spoils somebody else’s work.”

“The children do have bizarre noise-making sessions as play, but I think this is quite a valuable experience. They soon learn that once they get used to the sounds, they need some other form of organization if they’re going to get more enjoyment. So naturally they progress to electing a leader or conductor, and they find there’s some need for notation of a sort, so they invent one, and they’ve progressed then from play to composition without actually being taught.”

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Langley Schools Music Project: children’s choruses sing Beach Boys, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac
 
With thanks to WFMU on Twitter

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Revel in the batshit numerology of the ‘Ancient Order’ flyers!
02.19.2015
12:42 pm

Topics:
History
Kooks
Occult

Tags:


3-7-00
 
Reading these flyers, distributed in Chicago in 1999 and 2000, is a very dizzying experience. I think we all have an idea what numerology is and how it works; it’s quite another thing to see it practiced with such vigor.

The author of these flyers is unknown. Here is the author’s declaration, taken from 2/1/00, of the conspiracy he or she is purporting to uncover, which is about an “ancient order” that controls most of the important events that happen on earth: “The ANCIENT ORDER not only tells the future; they decide it. The ANCIENT ORDER decide what outcome they want. Then they use this (over 300 years old) Laser Ray system to control the public, who do not know.”

They were found by Marc Fischer inside free newspaper dispensers on the streets of downtown Chicago between March 1999 and March 2000. Here is Fischer’s account of finding the mysterious photocopies:
 

These photocopied flyers were found over the course of a year in downtown Chicago. The main purpose of each flyer is to bring to light the mysterious workings of a group called “The Ancient Order” - who this group is, when they will strike in the future, what they were responsible for in the past, and how they have left their mark throughout history. Neither I nor anyone I know ever saw the person that was behind these flyers. The flyers were often hard to find if you weren’t paying close attention or in the right place at the right time. Every flyer is a single sided 8 1/2” X 11” photocopy, though several are longer and feature two or more pages stapled together.

The flyers were only found inside free newspaper dispensers. Like newspapers, the flyers were always dated, and were folded so that the bold headlines could be read along the top. Only the most recent flyer was ever available; back issues did not recirculate. The flyers were frequently left in the same locations but distribution was erratic and unpredictable. Usually only one copy of the day’s report was available in a dispenser. The dispenser’s clear plastic display window was always used for maximum visibility, but extra copies were rarely left inside the boxes. I have never seen more than three copies of the same flyer and I doubt that many copies of each one exist. There was never a contact address on the flyers or a way to subscribe.

Almost exactly one year after I first saw an Ancient Order flyer, they seem to have stopped circulating completely. The last flyer I found, “The Ancient Order and the Pearl Harbor Prevision”, is dated 3-17-2000.

 
 
In addition to the ones selected here, you can see the entire set at Ubuweb, along with Fischer’s description. There are 40 “issues” spanning 47 pages. Most of the issues are a single-page long, with the longest covering six pages.

Let’s have a look at the technique of the author. This excerpt, which comes from 12-17-99, is chosen almost at random:
 

President Lincoln was assassinated on 4-14-1865, the 23,846th day of the 1800’s. 36,535 - 23,846 = 12,679. Lincoln was assassinated 12,679 days before theend of the 1800’s.

13,000 - 12,679 = 321. Notice how far 12,679 is from 13,000. The difference is 321, just like 3,2,1, a countdown. Now look at Lincoln’s name total:

A(1) B(2) R(18) A(1) H(8) A(1) M(13)=44
L(12) I(9) N(14) C(3) O(15) L(12) N(14)=79
44+79=123

President Lincoln’s name adds to exactly 123. And that was from the day he was born in 1809. He was assassinated 12,679 days before the end of the century and 12,679 is exactly 123 away from 13,000. 123 & 321 are the exact opposite of each other.

 
Lest anyone think I’m out to distort the author in some way by truncating the arguments contained in the flyers, I emphasize that this bit of prose is complete on its own terms. The significance of the number 13,000 is not explained, nor is the significance of the “countdown” number 123.

Some of the manipulations are not numeric but alphabetical in nature, like anagrams or noticing that three important presidents (Lincoln, Nixon, and Clinton) can be linked by the I-O pattern in their last names, stuff like that. The near-anagrams “Dorian” and “Gordian,” as in “Gordian Knot,” get quite a workout.

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the author was able to shoehorn any event at all into the numerological scheme of the Ancient Order. Here is a partial list of topics that (so the author claims) the Ancient Order caused or was involved in:
 

Adolf Hitler
the Los Alamos nuclear test sites
Voltaire
George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
the assassination of John F. Kennedy
the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
the death of Lady Diana
the OJ Simpson case
the Branch Davidian showdown at Waco
the Oklahoma City bombing
Ellen Degeneres
the Dred Scott case
the Holocaust
the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr.
the Columbine killings
Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution
Oscar Wilde and The Picture of Dorian Gray
the Susan Smith murders
the impeachment of Bill Clinton
the death of Bruce Lee
the murders committed by John Wayne Gacy
the murders committed by Jeffrey Dahmer
the murders committed by Charles Manson and the Family
the murder of Gianni Versace
the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan
the Pearl Harbor attack
the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby
the March of Dimes
the assassination of Julius Caesar

 
In hindsight we can perhaps be grateful that the author apparently ceased production of these flyers before 9/11. If he or she lived to see it, we can only suppose that this defender of the peoples of the earth from the malign influence of the Ancient Order fairly went out of his or her mind.

Here are a few tasty examples of the Ancient Order flyers. Clicking on any of the pictures will spawn a much larger image.
 

4-9-99
 
More tweaked numerology after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Death Is Their Destiny’: Home-movies of London punks 1978-81
02.19.2015
08:37 am

Topics:
History
Movies
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:

00pnkkrd11.jpg
 
London 1977: By day Phil Munnoch was a mild-mannered copywriter working for an ad agency in the heart of the city. He was neat, he was clean, he looked smart in his collar and tie, sharp pressed trousers and bright, shiny shoes. But Phil had a secret that he kept from his colleagues. At the end of each working day, like some postmodern superhero Phil would change out of his work clothes into tight fitting bondage trousers, studded dog collar and badge-covered plastic jacket to become his punk alter ego Captain Zip.

Captain Zip hung out with the other punks who idly wandered up and down the King’s Road every evening. He enjoyed the freedom, the camaraderie, the sense of adventure and the sound of punk music blaring out of shop radios. Zip was older than these young punk rock fans and was wise enough to know he was a part of something very, very important.

Being part of the gang allowed Munnoch access to film his friends and acquaintances and between 1978 and 1981, in the guise of Captain Zip, Munnoch documented the street life of punks on the King’s Road. In the 1980s, Munnoch collected the first eight of these Super-8 home movies together to make the short documentary film Death Is Their Destiny that captured the subculture of punks in London.
 

 
Background on Phil Munnoch and Captain Zip plus interviews, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
How Low Can a Punk Get? Bad Brains in a cheesy local TV segment, 1981
02.19.2015
06:19 am

Topics:
History
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:


 
In 1981 (it may have been 1980, different uploads of the video sport different dates), many among suburban Washington, D.C.‘s population of normals were introduced to Bad Brains—arguably the inventors of hardcore, definitely a crucial musical incendiary device—via the agency of that aggressively bland franchised newsmagazine program PM Magazine. History and the internet do not yield for me the name of the announcer for that segment, but man oh man, was he ever a DICK.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, lower the volume and meet the Bad Brains. Not what you’d call the crowning achievement of modern culture, but definitely a part of it. A loud part of it.

For starters, chump, we do not lower the volume when Bad Brains are playing “Attitude.” Second, they are absolutely goddamn contenders for crowning achievement of modern culture. And lastly… well, OK, I certainly can’t argue with “loud.” The clueless announcer—who puts me in the mind of the guy Patton Oswalt made notorious in his bit about local news movie reviewers (and this would be roughly the same part of the country)—goes on to disparage the band’s dancing fans and to amusingly refer to their music as “a genuine social phenomenon called ‘Punk New Wave Rock and Roll.’”

Despite the awkward frisson of the segment being voiced by the whitest man ever to live, there’s great interview footage with the band, and stellar performance clips with some jaw-dropping acrobatics from singer H.R. Here’s the best looking and sounding upload of the segment I could find. That weird glitch around 02:12 is in all of them, so I couldn’t tell you what you missed, but it doesn’t seem like any significant meaning was lost.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Knockin’ ‘Em Down in the City’: Iggy Pop on Cleveland local news, 1979
Before Bad Brains, there was Pure Hell, the first African-American punk band
A totally trippy interview with H.R. of Bad Brains

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Wish you were vaporized: Charming postcards from the atomic age
02.17.2015
10:35 am

Topics:
History
Pop Culture
Science/Tech

Tags:


 
One of the strange things about the Cold War, especially the first couple of decades, was the outpourings of public enthusiasm over atomic energy. In the abstract, it might not be so odd to celebrate the awesome power of the atom, discovered by brilliant scientists, with the ability, in theory, to solve the species’ energy problems for ever. But in the event, atomic energy was introduced to the public in the near-annihilation of two Japanese cities, and all of the rhetoric around the technology occurred in the context of a deadly game of global brinksmanship between the United States and the USSR. Add to that the scary disasters at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, disasters that the skeptical had been predicting for decades, and it’s hardly possible for happy-go-lucky celebrations of atomic energy to seem anything other than dopey.

These fascinating postcards from the end of WWII up to the 1970s and beyond constitute an irony-free zone.  They come from the dazzling volume Atomic Postcards by John O’Brian and Jeremy Borsos, published in 2011 by the University of Chicago Press. Perhaps the cards represented a kind of “poker face” in the deadly no-blink game of mutual assured destruction between the two Cold War superpowers but also China, Israel, and Japan—if you can write a cheery postcard about it, clearly you are not worried about the deadly destruction your enemies can muster.

At DM we have looked at this side of the Cold War before, when we looked at “Tic, Tic, Tic,” Doris Day’s jaw-dropping ode to the geiger counter in Michael Curtiz’s 1949 movie My Dream Is Yours, which counts among its fans none other than Martin Scorsese.

As Slate’s Tom Vanderbilt writes, “Taken as a whole, the postcards form a kind of de facto and largely cheery dissemination campaign for the wonder of atomic power (and weapons). And who’s to mind if that sunny tropical beach is flecked with radionuclides?”

These pictures are in approximate chronological order, to reflect the progressive phases of wish-you-were-here atomic propaganda.
 

 

 

The is the reverse side of the image above it.
 

 

 

 

The is the reverse side of the image above it.
 

 

 
More astonishing atomic postcards after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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