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Vintage documentary charts the rise of the Superstar DJ

John Peel
Once upon a time, long, long before TV and computer technology made them irrelevant, the radio disc jockey was the person millions turned to in order to hear the latest, hippest, grooviest sounds their earholes could handle.

Radio DJs were the arbiters of sound, music, information, gossip, jokes, fashion and news—a bit like the Internet, except far more cuddly and user friendly.

In Britain during those promiscuous 1970s, millions of youngsters were shocking their parents by going to bed with John Peel and then waking up with Tony Blackburn… and his dog Arnold. The sound of the DJs could be heard everywhere—from cars, shops, kitchens, homes, factories, schoolyards and those dinky little pocket radios that everyone and their Mom seemed to have, dangling from plastic wristbands.

The music revolution of the 1960s really began with the arrival of cheap polyvinyl chloride in the fifties which meant record companies could mass produce singles and albums. Previously record discs had been made of the far more expensive Bakelite. The PVC revolution tied in very neatly with the incredible flourishing of young musical talent—and so the Swinging Sixties were born.

Suddenly youngsters wanted to hear music before they bought it, or even if they didn’t buy it. This gave rise to Pirate Radio. At the time the BBC was the only organization in Britain with the license to transmit radio shows. However a small loophole in maritime law allowed DJs to broadcast from ships anchored just outside UK waters. And so pop-pickers Pirate Radio was born.
Radio genius Kenny Everett.

In 1967 the BBC admitted defeat and launched Radio One—a youth radio station for pop music. Radio One became the biggest and most successful radio station in the country with generation after generation of youngsters learning their love of music or finding their inspiration to form bands from listening to the station’s DJs.

This delightful BBC documentary from 1970 looks at the rise of the Radio One DJ and features Emperor Rosko, John Peel, Kenny Everett and Tony Blackburn—four very different radio hosts. The program takes a rather condescending tone throughout and even suggests, in commentary that sex with fans was one of the perks of working for the BBC!

Radio One belongs to the taxpayer and doesn’t splash princely salaries around for men like Emperor Rosko. He accepts the BBC’s shop policy of paying low wages as both sides know about the big big perks that can accompany the adulation of this new empire—British teeny boppers.

The interviewer also tries to dish dirt from these innocent little teenyboppers, grilling one poor girl about her infatuation with Emperor Rosko:

“I listen to him and I like listening to his voice and I get carried away” says one young besotted teenager about the subject of her adoration DJ Emperor Rosko:

“What do you mean you get carried away?” says Ms. Prim from the BBC

“I just hear his voice and I imagine him…” says adoring young fan.

“When you say you imagine him…you imagine him doing what?” continues our interrogator.

“Talking and smiling and…all the actions with it. It’s just good.”

“And where do you do your listen to this?”

“In the bedroom.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Legend of Bruce Lee’: The little-known syndicated comic strip
11:46 am


Bruce Lee

The world premiere of Enter the Dragon, the kung fu crossover hit, happened in Hong Kong on July 26, 1973, six days after Bruce Lee’s shocking death at the age of 32. Less than a month later the movie hit America, sparking a global sensation into that most charming of martial arts heroes.

The absence of Lee from his own worldwide phenomenon made it an inviting prospect for others to cash in. This led to the advent of “Bruceploitation,” analogous to the dozens of Beatles imitation LPs that were released in 1964 and 1965, in which “Lee-alikes” were cast in obvious imitations of signature Bruce Lee classics like Fists of Fury or Game of Death.

The kinetic skill of Bruce Lee doesn’t seem like the greatest starting point for a syndicated comic strip, but then again, that bizarre Amazing Spider-Man daily strip has been around for decades and is still going strong. At any rate, there were several attempts to do a Bruce Lee strip in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Actually, one of the widely acknowledged legends of cartooning, Milton Caniff, known for his work on Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon, almost got involved with a daily Bruce Lee strip. In 1977 he and Noel Sickles (of Scorchy Smith renown) produced at least one strip for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate before Caniff lost interest, which you can see below (click for a larger view):

According to Allan Holtz, author of American Newspaper Comics: An Encyclopedic Reference Guide, “Caniff grew disgusted with what he considered nitpicky suggestions from the syndicate and dropped the project.”

However, five years later, in 1982, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate did run a Bruce Lee strip for approximately a year in “a vanishingly small number of newspapers,” as Holtz puts it. So don’t be too surprised if you missed it in your halcyon youth, it didn’t last very long and it wasn’t in too many papers.

The strip was called “The Legend of Bruce Lee.” It was written by Sharman DiVono, who was also penning the Star Trek strip at the time, and drawn by Fran Matera, who just a couple years later would commence on a 20-year run putting out Steve Roper and Mike Nomad. Later on the strip was taken over by Dick Kulpa.

Holtz is insightful on the reasons the Bruce Lee strip didn’t get wider distribution:

The small client list might seem odd given the devoted fandom for Bruce Lee. However, we must consider a few factors. First of all, newspaper editors were pretty much convinced that continuity strips were dead, so the strip had a lot of resistance to overcome. Secondly, the market was awash in media tie-in strips at that time—Spider-Man, Hulk, Dallas, Star Trek, Star Wars and others were all jockeying for newspaper space. Bruce Lee may have just seemed like the low man on that totem pole—popular with teens, certainly, but did he have the mass appeal to sell newspapers? Strips featuring much higher-profile media stars were just limping along as it was—why take a chance on a cult figure that many older readers had never heard of?

There aren’t too many images of “The Legend of Bruce Lee” out there, but I was able to score a few. First up is this gorgeous, full-color Sunday edition (in all cases, click for a larger view):

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘A Clockwork Orange’ trading cards

The late, great Blogspot site Bubblegum Fink bit the dust several years ago, but we can ensure that the Fink’s creativity lives on for future generations to appreciate. Last spring I brought you a set of fake trading cards that might possibly have been manufactured in an alternate universe for The Wicker Man. Today we have an similarly impossible set of trading cards for children to enjoy outlining the decidedly adult plot points of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange

The Fink’s comments on this set, in part:

A Clockwork Orange is another set of trading cards, like The Wicker Man, that never could have existed at the time the film was released. But now, I would rush out to buy a box. Wouldn’t you? I’m happy with the card design, but less so with the Clockwork Orange font which I wish had been a little sharper. To do it over again, I’d just get rid of it. Of course, the cards represent a sort of edited-for-television version of the film, and it’s also the shortest set I’ve done at only 33 cards.

My favorite part is the PG, hamfisted, one might even say clueless captions (“Surprise Visit,” “Work of Art,” “Apology”).





Many, many more cards after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing
12:33 pm


Leonard Koren

Leonard Koren was surely one of the more eccentric people to ever run an influential magazine, although admittedly the category of influential publishers would not be expected to produce the most normal lot by any reckoning. Part of Koren’s charm, for sure, was his straight-faced insistence of sincere obsession over the superficially uninteresting world of baths and bathing. In the 34 issues that were published between 1976 and 1981, Koren’s signature creation, WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing was a tongue-in-cheek celebration of dousing oneself with water with a deadpan tone arguably undercut by Koren’s authentic interest in the subject of wetness.

Pitched somewhere in the general vicinity of Details and Interview and Raw, WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing showed the world, as much as anyone did, what the 1980s were going to be like. True to its title, the magazine’s visual gestalt was dominated by lush depictions of people, often women, bathing or swimming. Based out of Venice, California, it’s a contender for the most ineffably Cali periodical ever, reminiscent of say, the swimming pools artworks of David Hockney, who, surprise surprise, was an interview subject in the magazine’s 28th issue. In its interest in fashion and design, WET also pointed the way to a hard-edged, plastic decade that would be dominated by the likes of Patrick Nagel, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Jeff Koons.

Koren had the guts to forge his own path as well as a keen eye for talent. In addition to offering an early site for the work of Matt Groening, Gary Panter, Matthew Rolston, and Herb Ritts, WET featured Koren’s masterful deployment of tone, brilliantly deadpan textual style, and undisuputed visual chops in every issue.

Among other things Koren is a relentless, if frequently amusing, self-promoter, having produced two volumes (of which I’m aware) dedicated to his version of events behind the creation of WET (Making WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing and 13 Books).

Koren in San Francisco in 1985, four years after the last issue of WET
Koren’s interest in bathing is one of the mainstays of his career. Koren’s first published work, in 1975, was 17 Beautiful Men Taking A Shower, which is just that, seventeen black-and-white pictures of Los Angeles men like Ed Begley Jr. lathering up in Koren’s fancy bathroom. (Koren had wanted to do 23 Beautiful Women Taking a Bath but a friend “suggested that the less obvious artwork for a heterosexual male—and hence the more interesting—was the one with the men.” He took the advice.) More than a decade after the demise of WET, Koren was publishing works with titles like Undesigning the Bath and How to Take a Japanese Bath.

As Perry Vasquez points out, WET’s colorful, playful qualities didn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t pushing the envelope, as one of the covers late in its run indicates:

WET covers consistently presented strong and unforgettable statements. Koren did not shy away from intellectually challenging or controversial material. The image of the copulating pigs that appeared on the March/April 1981 issue is visually unforgettable but caused great anxiety among the ad sales team who feared it would make their job more difficult. By this time, WET was beginning to penetrate the mainstream so it was sold inside a brown paper wrapper to avoid giving offense at the supermarket checkout line.

Kristine McKenna, WET’s music editor from 1979 to 1981, aptly writes that the magazine “espoused a post-hippie philosophy of pleasure, sensuality and play,” but methinks in her use of the term “anti-materialist” she doth protest too much. She explains that Koren frequently didn’t pay contributors or staff but that “what Koren offered in lieu of money was an arena for people to develop whatever creative gifts they had.” Fair enough. For his own part, Koren strikes much the same note, saying that “WETs operating bywords were ‘cheap is good.’”

But would an anti-materialist liken his goals to that of the world’s largest soda pop conglomerate, as Koren did in WET’s opening issue? Read on: “WET is a magazine devoted to upgrading the quality of your bathing experience. Hopefully, in the great American tradition of Coca-Cola, doggie diapers and Pet Rocks, WET will become one of those things you never imagined you needed until you find you can’t live without it.”

Interest in bathing might technically qualify as “anti-materialist”—lavish possessions are not required to enjoy the process of aquatic submersion—but the topics, tone, and visuals of the magazine surely reeked of well-heeled entitlement, pure and simple. The style the magazine had the same shiny and sleek appeal as an expensive container of Voss bottled water when it wasn’t serving as a precursor for that most disposable of ‘80s celebrities, Max Headroom. And Koren’s manner of disbanding the operation had a similarly flippant air redolent of some kind of privilege: Once Koren became bored with the routinized process of running an established magazine, he thought about trying to sell it to someone but decided against it, commenting, “I felt better about dumping the magazine altogether and letting its memory live on undefiled.”

Still, the influence of WET can’t be denied, taking an honorable place alongside Slash, SPY, and Ray Gun as short-lived magazines that cut a bold aesthetic and editorial line that would come to be cherished by the generations to follow. For an issue-by-issue description of every issue of WET and a cover gallery, see here.



Get even WETter, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hear Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes’ morning radio show
08:58 am


Butthole Surfers
Gibby Haynes

In the years before the Butthole Surfers had a radio hit with “Pepper”—a single that, Billboard noted at the time, “borrows liberally” from a much better song by DM’s Marc Campbell—not much was heard from the band. About a year after I saw them (billed as the “B.H. Surfers”) at the bloody, fiery Castaic Lake stop on 1993’s Bar-B-Que Mitzvah Tour, I heard that singer Gibby Haynes had roomed with Kurt Cobain during Cobain’s final trip to rehab; one year after that, I caught a glimpse of Haynes at the business end of a blowjob in Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man. One day bled into the next. Butthole Surfers news was scarce, and Butthole Surfers kicks were scarcer.

(I was unaware of P until the late 90s, when I asked a record store owner to explain why the Buttholes’ 1993 promotional 10-inch, wrapped in Mylar in parody of Madonna’s Sex, was no longer prized by collectors. He told me that everyone stopped caring about the Butthole Surfers when the P album came out.)

During some of that period, Haynes hosted a radio show on Austin, Texas’ brand-new alternative rock station, 101X (KROX-FM), which has recently posted a few clips in celebration of its 20th anniversary. It’s a good time. When he wasn’t forced to play the period’s dreadful “modern rock” product, Gibby took calls in rapid succession, dispatching listeners’ requests and opinions with psychedelic non sequiturs, and he fit in some quality music when he could, too. Sometime co-host Robbie Jacks and Gibby’s father Jerry described the chaotic radio show in SPIN’s oral history of the Butthole Surfers, “Feeding the Fish”:

Robbie Jacks Gibby hit rock bottom. He had just rehabbed. He was at the point where he needed money, and he really wanted to do a morning show [on alt-rock radio station 101X in Austin], cause his dad did a morning TV show, Mr. Peppermint. We always gave out the wrong time [on the air], and Gibby always spelled the words backwards on whatever we were talking about. He’d say sgurd for drugs: “I spent all my money on sgurd.”

Jerry Haynes It was great. He was really funny. He’d introduce all the songs he didn’t like as “puke chunks.”

Robbie Jacks When the station got enough publicity out of the morning show, they told him, “You’re too rank for the mornings,” and put him on at nine at night. Instead of going to bed at nine at night, he was going to work, and so it was time to party. He just degenerated into drink. I called the station manager on the first night and I was like, “Do you want me to go down there? I mean, he’s falling apart, just listen to him.” And she was listening and she found it compelling.

One night he locked the engineer out of the door and then just rambled for two hours and he didn’t even do an air call, and it was hysterical. He had Mike Watt on the phone and he wouldn’t let him go. I think the band getting back together saved him more than anything, not AA.


Some of Billboard’s “local radio air personalities of the year,” 1996
As the unnamed station manager suggested to Jacks, if there was a problem with the show, it wasn’t the DJ or his “sgurd” habits. The problem was the miles, acres and tons of grade-N horseshit music demanded by the 1995 alternative rock format—a format I remember all too well, since it was invented in my hometown of Los Angeles, where the only entertainment option in my teenage car was a 20-year-old stock radio that picked up about three stations. Listening to these broadcasts from the grim days of the 104th Congress, I heard long-forgotten songs by Soul Asylum, Hum and Green Day that made me wonder what the opposite of the word “nostalgia” is. Take the top clip below, in which, after playing a killer set of Jon Wayne, Chrome, Mudhoney and Cycle Sluts from Hell, Gibby is reduced to setting up this “rock block” of undifferentiated hog slop:

I regret to inform you that we’ve done enough damage to radio programming in general, at this point. Now we’re forced—we’re literally being strong-armed by a woman with blood on her shoes—into playing Live, whom I hear from a reliable source cries onstage. I want to cry onstage, and I have cried onstage, and I will continue to cry onstage. One of my favorite ways to cry onstage is to do it alone while playing an acoustic version of “Daniel, My Brother.” And, uh, this would be, we’re gonna totally throw up on ourselves as we play Live, Bush and the Offspring all in a row on the X.

(Happily, Gibby improved the Offspring song with judicious use of a Jeff Foxworthy sample.)

The two longest clips (undated, I’m afraid) are embedded below, and you can find others here and here.

There’s much more after the jump!

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Home of the Brave’: Laurie Anderson in concert (with William Burroughs)
03:42 pm


William S. Burroughs
Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson’s 1986 film, Home of the Brave, a cinematic documentation of her Mister Heartbreak concert tour, was shot in Union City, NJ, in the summer of 1985, at the Park Theater. Directed by Anderson herself, the film is a great record of the tightly choreographed hi-tech multimedia theatrical gimmickry she is known for, at an exciting stage of her career.

I recall thinking when Home of the Brave came out that it was an attempt to do for Laurie Anderson’s profile what Stop Making Sense had done for the Talking Heads, but that it was even better. King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, percussionist David Van Tieghem and Joy Askew are in her backing band here and William S. Burroughs walks onstage from time to time muttering cryptic things to great effect and dances a slow waltz with Anderson.

Home of the Brave has never been released on DVD, although it was announced at one point as part of a DVD box set that never came out. A (quite decent) torrent file made from the laserdisc is pretty easy to find and is probably the source for the (quite decent) version you can see via YouTube embedded below.

Last night Anderson did a Q&A at Cinefamily in Los Angeles, where they screened a recently discovered 35mm print of Home of the Brave. There will several more screenings there over the weekend and into next week. Anderson’s new film, Heart of a Dog, opens in wider release today across the country and is getting rave reviews.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The entire print run of transgressive LA punk art and music zine NO MAG is now online
07:57 am


Ryan Richardson
Bruce Kalberg

Ryan Richardson is one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera, as well as being the Internet saint who created free online archives of StarRock Scene, and Slash magazines. He also runs, a repository of various early punk zines as well as the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.

We’ve written about Richardson’s punk altruism before here at Dangerous Minds, and well, it looks like he’s gone and done it again—bigtime.

Richardson’s gift to the world this time around is a doozy. He is hosting on his website,, the entire print run of the early LA punk and art magazine NO MAG. The fourteen issues published between 1978 and 1985 by Bruce Kalberg cover a lot of the same musical ground as LA contemporaries Slash and Flipside, but NO MAG is decidedly artier and, well, filthier than those publications. 

Be warned before you download and open these issues—they aren’t exactly safe for workplace viewing. If Larry Flynt and the Vienna Aktionists got together and published a punk zine in the late ‘70s, it would have looked a lot like NO MAG. NO MAG‘s publisher Bruce Kalberg, and the sordid turns of his life, were recently covered in LA Weekly‘s piece “Beautiful Loser, Tortured Killer.” 

From that article:

Bruce Kalberg started NO MAG in 1978 with Michael Gira, a friend from Otis College of Art and Design, who left for New York after several issues to form the early noise band the Swans. Aside from the requisite profiles of X, Fear, the Germs, Johanna Went, Phranc, Suicidal Tendencies, ad gloriam, this sub-Slash tabloid fanzine amply captured the corrosive admixture of medical atrocities, sexual pathology, gallows humor and political anarchy endemic to the times: autopsy photos; profiles of working dominatrixes; textbook entries on female circumcision and how to synthesize heroin from morphine; cartoons of “Nancy Reagan’s favorite color” (bloody Tampaxes); and house ads featuring photos of progressive gum disease, with the caption, “You liked our smile, now catch our disease” — what Kalberg once called “the old cliché of shit-and-guts imagery” by which to wage war on polite society.

It also frequently bordered on the pornographic — Susanna Hoffs topless, Belinda Carlisle naked under tights, Germs producer Geza X with his cock in his hand, the Cramps’ Brian Gregory with a semi-erection and a python, and the irrepressible El Duce shitting on a plate are a fair representation—forcing him to manufacture it in San Francisco, where printers are apparently more tolerant.

NO MAG in many ways reminds me of a flashy LA version of what Search and Destroy was doing in San Francisco around the same time period. In my opinion, this rare print run being made available is an even bigger “get” than the Slash print run recently offered by CirculationZero. It’s an edgier magazine and, in many ways because of the artistic focus, seems more timeless than its contemporaries, dated only by its political incorrectness and non-digital layouts. The sometimes-transgressive art and photography, along with the interviews of now-legendary bands, make this run a crucial historical resource.

The download of the complete set is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, or Austin Pets Alive. He has provided donation links on—go there now to download NO MAG, and while you’re waiting on that file transfer, scroll through this gallery of covers:


More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
So these are the houses where they made the punk rock
01:40 pm


Google Street View

Decatur, IL 62521
MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, issue no. 35, April, 1986
“Is this misogyny or childish ghoulism?”

Before the internet, unsigned and unheralded punk and hardcore bands used analog processes like mimeographing, mass mailings, and silk screen to get the word out and build community. For bands with zero access to a word processing program, a desktop publishing program, or any kind of email, such processes were brutally time-consuming, and many of the bands that made an impact did so by dint of humongous gobs of back-breaking work. Michael Azerrad’s engrossing 2001 book Our Band Could Be Your Life is especially good on this point. Here’s a section from the chapter on Minor Threat:

Even though it was a fairly small operation, there were still plenty of things to do. Cutting, folding, and gluing the seven-inch covers, then inserting the photocopied lyric sheets, was a lot of work, so they’d have folding parties and invite their friends. “You’d just watch TV,” [Minor Threat drummer Jeff] Nelson recalls, “and get blisters and burn your nails from folding over the paper and gluing those down.” Some copies would get a special touch: “Folding all the lyric sheets and sealing them with a kiss or a fart,” says Nelson. “That’s what we’d do on some of them, we’d write ‘S.W.A.K.’ or ‘S.W.A.F.’ on a few of them.”

Throughout the 1980s, the influential zine Maximum Rock & Roll (or, if you prefer, Maximumrocknroll) became the de facto center of the American DIY music movement—largely by adopting an ethic of integrity every bit as committed as that of, say, Fugazi. In its heyday, Maximum Rock & Roll surely published thousands of reviews of independently generated punk and hardcore demos, EPs, albums, and 7-inches, and because of that analog world, there wasn’t any at the end of the reviews so that the reader could find out more. No, what there were, very often, were mailing addresses.

Most confrontational hardcore bands had a significant interest in coming off as inscrutable, perverse, or intimidating, and in most cases a simple street address would simply and conveniently serve to fuel the imagination if a reader was so inclined. But where were these houses, anyway? Where were the places the birthed so much of American punk rock? Was it hovels in run-down urban districts, or was it posh suburban palaces? Marc Fischer of the Chicago-based art group Public Collectors decided to find out, and to do so, he had the brilliant idea of taking the addresses found at the end of MRR reviews and seeing what happens when you plop them into Google Street View. The results are pretty fascinating.

Fischer’s project, which exists as a Tumblr page, is called HARDCORE ARCHITECTURE. It’s no secret that punk gravitated more to cities, while hardcore was often an endeavor reflecting a specifically suburban anomie. But the juxtaposition of forbidding band names and sprawling prefab cubes of plenty can’t fail to elicit at least a smirk of humorous recognition. “Oh really? That uncompromising band Crippled By Society was based out of this expensive-looking McMansion?”

HARDCORE ARCHITECTURE looks exclusively at the 1982-1989 period, and it goes without saying that, well, 30 years have passed since then and now. Surely that McMansion wasn’t even there in 1985. But the beauty of Fischer’s project is that it eschews commentary, it merely presents the facts, as it were puts a face to the name.

Here is the statement that any reader of HARDCORE ARCHITECTURE encounters:

Hardcore Architecture explores the relationship between the architecture of living spaces and the history of underground American hardcore bands in the 1980s. Band addresses are discovered using contact listings found in demo tape and record reviews published from 1982-89 in the fanzine MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL (MRR). Google Street View is used to capture photos of the homes. Street names and numbers are removed to respect the privacy of people currently living at these addresses.

While care is taken to confirm that the home in the photo matches the street number listed in MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, accuracy is not guaranteed. Some addresses have been confirmed using real estate websites. When multiple homes are built close together, the band-associated home is the house in the center of the composition. If you are a member of a band on this page and notice an error, please feel free to contact me. This research will later be supported by additional writing and exhibitions.

Every post presents the picture of a location, a band name, and then the name of the municipality, the relevant issue information of MRR and then the datestamp of the picture (obviously quite recent), and finally a sample quotation from the review and the identity of the reviewers. (Fischer uses an initial system—so “TY” stands for Tim Yohannan, “Jel” stands for Jello Biafra, and “TV” stands for Tesco Vee.) Specific street addresses are not published, although obviously anyone interested enough to find out could do so.

From Half Letter Press you can purchase a “booklet, flyer, and print pack” for just $20 (limited run of 100)—other items are cheaper and not part of a limited run.

Criminal Mischief
Reno, NV 89509
MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, issue no. 35, April, 1986
“There’s some metal damage but not to a distracting degree. Power and production are tops; intense lyrics too.”

Sonic Youth
New York, NY 10002
MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL, issue no. 21, May/June, 1985.
“We’re bordering on ambient slow-burn here, but I’m still drawn…no, sucked into this band’s whole thing. They simply can do no wrong. I’m the biased jerk who really shouldn’t be reviewing this babe. Not for everybody, but then neither is good taste.”
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Wendy O Williams, Bozo the Clown, and more in National Lampoon’s ‘Mad as Hell’

Sometime during the mid-‘80s, I stopped buying MAD every month and begun habitually picking up National Lampoon. Both publications were in decline at the time, though in my teens I hadn’t the perspective to know that. I think I was probably flattering myself that the more collegiate content of the Lampoon was more my speed, but in any case, in 1985, I picked up an issue of the Lampoon that I would hang onto for decades to follow.

It was dated November, 1985 and titled “The Mad as Hell Issue.” Apart from a handful of fucked-up cartoons, it featured none of the magazine’s usual content, and instead was an open forum for celebrities of varying degrees of fame from the worlds of show business, publishing, music, et al, to vent about what irked them, and none were written by contemporary NL staffers, though some past names from the publication’s masthead were included. It can easily be found on eBay and Amazon, and naturally it’s part of the CD Rom release of every issue in the magazine’s entire history. Editor Matty Simmons introduced the issue thusly:

This issue of the National Lampoon is completely different from any other issue of the magazine published in its more-than-fifteen-year history. It has, first of all, basically been written by guest contributors, most of whom are not humorists. Second, much of what appears on these pages is not intended to be humorous. In many cases, the text is an expression of absolute anger, or, at least, pique. Other “mad as hell” pieces are indeed written humorously. It’s a mixture. And it’s a fascinating first for this or possibly any other national magazine.

You will read reflections here from governors and mayors and actors and authors and rock stars and directors and other celebrities, and some from people who are not celebrities. They’re just “mad,” and, we think, they express that anger interestingly. Why have we done this?

Maybe because there is so much to be mad about these days. Maybe because we’re all so well informed, so exposed to so many things because of television, we’ve learned to react — good or bad— more than we ever have before. It’s healthy to be “mad as hell” about things you think are wrong. Apathy is a dangerous lack of a state of mind.

Why this departure from an editorial policy which is always all-humor and usually mostly fiction? Because we think it’s an idea that works, and innovation is mostly what we’re about.

And anyway, we took a vote of the entire staff. There was one vote for doing the issue, and nineteen votes against it.

So I won.

The issue included exceptionally thoughtful long-form essays by columnist Jeff Greenfield and filmmaker John Waters, whose piece would be reprinted in Crackpot. There were “Jesus wept” length contributions from actor Mickey Rooney (“People aren’t mad enough about improving things—about themselves or our country.”) and Broadway luminary Hal Prince (“I’m madder than hell at all this trivia!”). The great clown Larry Harmon, who created the extraordinarily famous and durable character Bozo, contributed a piece about the travails of his 1984 in-character presidential run.

Click here to enlarge

Plasmatics singer Wendy O Williams offered a photo essay about dickheads who grab their junk:

Click here to enlarge

Charles Bukowski and some other unexpected National Lampoon contributors after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The time a small town booked a Rage Against the Machine show then shat its pants about it

Sometimes when I despair at the abject cluelessness and parochialism of local news “journalism,” I’m reminded that at least I live in a city, and could have WAY WORSE local news pickings were I to forsake easy access to museums and concert clubs for the quiet life. Take the small town of Spanish Fork, Utah. A quick jog south of Provo, it’s bisected by a Main Street that runs a whoppin’ five miles from its northern to southern borders, and with a roughly 10% Hispanic population, Spanish Fork doesn’t boast a whole lot of Spanish speakers. This is no bastion of urbanity, and of course that’s fine, not everyplace has to be.

But when their fairgrounds manager booked a Rage Against the Machine show, the residents and the local news all UTTERLY FLIPPED THEIR LIDS.

Local lore holds that the booking was made under the misapprehension that “Rage Against the Machine” was the name of a touring tractor-pull or monster truck rally. The fairgrounds manager and city manager both deny that in a City Weekly article published last year, but whatever the reason for the booking, hysteria ensued. A contemporary article in the LDS-owned Utah paper Deseret News reported thusly:

A rally at the city park organized by Shelley Matterson expressed some residents’ own rage against the booking of the group but acknowledged that fairgrounds manager Steve Money, who scheduled the band at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, did so in error. “He’s devastated,” said Ann Banks, daughter of Mayor Marie Huff. Banks said her mother had been subject to verbal attacks by residents who called the mayor, wondering how the controversial group could have been booked to appear there.

Most residents expressed fear that the group - known for its loud music and rough lyrics - was coming to Spanish Fork. Tash Johns urged the council in absentia to “take the bold stand and cancel the concert. We will stand behind them if they take this stand of courage,” she said.

Residents said they feared the lyrics that will be heard well beyond the fairground’s wooden fences as well as the rocker fans that would be there and the potential for injuries that one man who favors the concert said would likely result. Others expressed concern about lawsuits that could result if someone is killed or injured during the concert. They also fear a discrimination lawsuit if the concert is canceled.

Wouldn’t want the rocker fans to kill anyone now…

But that article is quite measured. It’s local TV news where out-of-touch bafflement and old-people paranoia really shine brightest. This news report was completely alarmist even though it was produced after the concert took place—and of course nothing bad happened except that a terrible rap-metal band that made “anti-establishment” “socialist” records to profit the international corporation Sony played its shitty high-fivin’ bro-down music. I kinda lost it a little at the remark about the “big city rock band.”

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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