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Demented 1988 video mixtape ‘Amok Assault Video’
07.15.2014
06:23 am

Topics:
Media
Pop Culture

Tags:
Amok


 
In the ‘80s VHS era, credible weirdness could be hard to come by unless you were well-connected. If you had that one slightly tweaked pal who hoarded nth-generation dubs of Mondo films and suchlike (and of course, some DM readers surely were that guy) you were golden. But otherwise, your average hinterlands video store probably never got any deeper into video arcana than Faces of Death, if even that.

So it was mighty cool of Amok Books to compile and distribute Amok Assault Video. Amok was an LA-based outré bookstore, noteworthy in its heyday for publishing thick catalogs, the 4th and 5th editions of which were themselves more compelling reads than some of the material they purveyed, and which could serve extremely well as a neophyte mutant’s introduction to deeper levels of cultural fuckedup-ery, even surpassing the admirable Loompanics catalog in many respects.

Though it wasn’t the most extreme stuff available, some scenes in Assault Video are nonetheless very intense. It was clearly contrived to cater to the interests of Amok’s more jaded customers—it’s an insane assemblage of footage, including questionable old cartoons, assorted Third-World atavisms, cattle mutilation, behind-the-scenes footage from Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane’s attempted Hawaiian travel doc, after the production of which he was murdered (retribution for offending the island gods?), the infamous CBS Evening News video of a dog attack on an animal control officer, a bonkers occult theory about the cartoon character She-Ra, creepy scenes of an altered seeming Alice Coltrane from her religious TV show Eternity’s Pillar, other televised religious/spiritual nuts, and OF COURSE, that disturbing touchstone of ‘80s VHS-swap culture, the Budd Dwyer suicide.

If you’re at work, you’re hereby forewarned, there’s graphic nudity and violence herein. It’s appeared on and disappeared from YouTube before, so if you’re keen to watch it, don’t dawdle.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Tell me your nightmares: ‘The Asylum for Shut-Ins: Video Psychotherapy” 80s cable access insanity

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Bin Laden may not exist’: Did Thomas Pynchon give this 9/11 interview to Japan’s Playboy… or not?
06.20.2014
08:29 am

Topics:
Books
History
Media

Tags:
Thomas Pynchon
Osama bin Laden

Pynchon & Bin Laden
 
Novelist Thomas Pynchon has a slightly overstated reputation as a literary recluse. After three ambitious novels between 1963 and 1973—the last of which, Gravity’s Rainbow, has a pretty strong claim as the best and most important U.S. novel written after 1970—Pynchon took a break from publishing new work that lasted 17 years. There are only a handful of existing photographs of Pynchon, and they’re all grainy black-and-white shots from early in his life. Despite living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for many years, not many people know what he looks like.

But he’s no J.D. Salinger. Since 1997 he’s published four novels; measured by number of pages, his post-1997 output must far outstrip the three novels and handful of short stories that established his reputation. He pops up here and there, lending liner notes to Nobody’s Cool, an album by the indie rock band Lotion, or Spiked!, a collection of tunes by Spike Jones, whom Pynchon has cited as a key influence on his work.

Pynchon’s cult of personality is strong enough that the question of his extra-fictional writings is no casual matter. So when a brief piece by Pynchon pops up in, of all places, the Japanese edition of Playboy a few months after 9/11 urging readers to regard Osama bin Laden as a “symbol,” that’s the kind of thing that sets the Pynchon obsessives to speculating. There’s not any obvious reason to believe that the article was faked, save Pynchon’s track record of pranks and the unlikely venue. It’s just barely mysterious enough that you might see it referred to as Pynchon’s “interview about bin Laden”—complete with skeptical quotation marks. Its very existence is a bit of a puzzle.
 
Japanese Playboy
 
The item exists, for English readers, in translation only, one executed by the diligent “Naoki” of the Pynchon-L newsgroup. It’s important that the piece is billed as an “interview,” because only that would explain the relatively pedestrian quality of the words. (Try to imagine James Joyce translated into Japanese and back into English again. The original text and the outcome might not be all that similar.) The text does seem tolerably Pynchonian. He remarks that he’s afraid to use the subway; there’s more about anthrax than you would find in a remembrance of 9/11 written today; he says that he can’t trust the New York Times anymore; he discusses the anomic qualities of the CNN newscasters.

Most interesting is his plea to stop taking Osama bin Laden so seriously. It’s one of those insights that’s obviously correct but also functionally useless: we were always going to take Osama bin Laden very seriously. As he says, “Even if the United States succeeds in killing him that would mean that there are still 19 bin Ladens left. Even if there is only one, there are probably many people who would take his place once they kill bin Laden. ... If we look at this from a different point-of-view, we should look at bin Laden as a symbol rather than a man. Bin Laden may not even exist.

Here’s Naoki’s translation of the “interview,” with a few typos corrected:
 

Most News Is Propaganda. Bin Laden May Not Exist.

All people who live in New York today have been talking about recently is whether they have been to the site of the World Trade Center. This is because it has become a “trendy” topic. Personally, I still cannot find myself wanting to go see the site.

The main thing that has changed in my life-style recently is the fact that I do not ride the subway anymore. Before, I got on the subway wherever I went but today, I never ride the subway in fear of biological weapons. After all, there was the case with the Tokyo Sarin Gas. I believe that the damage that can be caused by the biological weapon called anthrax is increasing and we are in a situation where someone could use biological weapons at any time.

The media station that is consistently giving reports on this terrorist case is CNN. Because everybody watches CNN, it would be safe to say that the news being watched by all of the citizens is the same. However, it is dangerous when people start to believe that what they see is real news.

For the television stations this kind of situation should be a great chance to express their individuality. However, the only thing the newscasters do is read the news in a monotonous voice or when the news comes on during the report, all they do is spit out the words they receive. In any case, they talk with the mere intention of filling up the time they have on air.

The adjective “affect less” best fits the way the newscasters talk. It is a way of expression that has no connection to the human being and no emotional power at all. I deprecate this way of expression. If you listen closely to those words, it doesn’t sound like real news. It sounds more like propaganda.

Talking of propaganda, what changed the most due to the terrorist incident is The New York Times. Until recently, I would wake up an hour early to go buy this newspaper but now, there it isn’t even worth the time to sit down and read it. Even before I place my hips in the seat, I am already finished reading it by flipping through the pages. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that there is hardly any useful news. It is mostly propaganda.

The news on how there are more antibiotics to anthrax other than cipro was a little useful, but that kind of useful news has become a rarity. The New York Times is usually known to be the most reliable source of media when doing research on something that happened twenty to thirty years ago. However, that is no longer the case. The most reliable newspaper that is read by educated people today is probably England’s The Guardian. Everyone is reading it on the internet. I also believe that a lot of the information coming out of the White House is also propaganda.

The problem is that common people cannot make a distinction between news and propaganda. On the contrary, the news sent out from Israel is extremely reliable.

In any case, once a war happens, the war for media becomes a great significance and even the newspapers that look decent at first glance, you can no longer trust. About a hundred years ago, the man who started publishing the Daily Mile said the following: “News is something somebody wants to suppress. Everything else is propaganda.”

Therefore, all information that can be obtained without difficult coverage, even though it may be from the White House, you can think of as propaganda.

Bin Laden should be looked upon as a symbol

The United States has always had a tendency to look for an enemy. It is a country that cannot stand not having one. Even for this terrorist incident, it is already determined that the villain behind all of this is bin Laden, but in reality they are saying that because they cannot stand not doing so. I believe that bin Laden is someone’s clown for a rodeo.

Although my thoughts are always paranoid, I believe that I’m the only one who feels this way. It is said that NSA is on a lookout for him but I think that like an onion, new layers will be discovered. No matter how I look at the situation, it doesn’t seem like bin Laden is doing this independently. The only impression that I get is that he is some kind of star actor.

Honestly speaking, we cannot even tell if the face that comes out on television and on the newspapers is his real face. I remember someone saying right after the terrorist incident, “Come on, you want bin Laden? We’ll give you 20 of him.” Even if the United States succeeds in killing him that would mean that there are still 19 bin Ladens left. Even if there is only one, there are probably many people who would take his place once they kill bin Laden.

If we look at this from a different point-of-view, we should look at bin Laden as a symbol rather than a man. Bin Laden may not even exist.

The other day when I was surfing the net, it said that the punishment that suits bin Laden the best is to catch him alive, bring him to a hospital, give him a transexual operation, and send him back to Afghanistan. He would then understand the disservice done to the women in Afghanistan.

We cannot forget that many of bin Laden’s brothers were partners with George Bush Jr. for the purpose of oil ventures in the past. The doctor who is known to be at bin Laden’s side at all times was a member of the group who killed Sadat. When that assassination happened, Egypt became involved and there must have been people who fled to Afghanistan.

What is often said is that it is the United State’s wealth that is the cause of the terrorists’ hatred. I can understand their feelings well. When I see a wealthy person, I instinctively feel anger deep in my stomach. If you think about how Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, it is only natural for them to feel hatred toward the wealthy United States. They have no other choice but to detest them.

Even if the United States stops their support for Israel, I don’t think that everything will become peaceful. However, from their point-of-view this is the origin of all Israel’s mistakes.

On a final note, if I were to vigorously invest in something right now, I would invest in the tobacco industry. After that incident, people who had stopped smoking before have started it again.

 

On the Pynchon Wiki, two presumably well-informed commenters offer their opinion that the bin Laden piece is authentic. The reasoning of commenter “Bleakhaus” is fairly persuasive.
 

I for one am inclined to believe its authenticity. It expresses many of Pynchon’s longest- and deepest-held thoughts:

Paranoia - afraid to ride subway.
Extended thoughts on his distrust of news media - mentions CNN in particular (same station that tracked him down at one point).
He suggests that he used to like the New York Times - in fact, he wrote numerous articles for the Times.
Bin Laden as a symbol - 9/11 is treated symbolically in Against the Day.
sense of humor - consistent with Pynchon’s sense of humor in Against the Day.
The Playboy Japan article also quoted John Updike, Thomas Friedman and others. It would be odd that a bogus Pynchon interview would end up mixed in with those legitimate interviews.
Hating the rich - a very strong theme in Against the Day.

Finally, like Pynchon’s Simpsons appearance, the whole thing is just too unusual to be invented. Playboy Japan, of all things?

 

Obviously, 9/11 is an ideal subject for a writer who plumbed the subject of paranoia so thoroughly in The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity’s Rainbow. What “Bleakhaus” couldn’t have known when he or she wrote this is that, while Against the Day (2006) may touch on 9/11 symbolically, his 2013 book Bleeding Edge deals with it literally—it’s part of the book’s plot.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Vintage smut from the 1950s-70s

wndmoioie.jpg
 
Once upon a time, porn was kept on the top shelf, or under-the-counter, in discrete brown paper bags, or sent by post in anonymous manilla envelopes. Nowadays, porn is everywhere catering to everyone. And always remember kids, with the Internet, you’re only just one click away from somebody masturbating.

Compared with today’s no holes barred imagery, these pictures of vintage smut from the 1950s-70s, look almost tasteful—the kind of thing that wouldn’t look out of place in ads for Dolce and Gabana, or American Apparel.

The cover for Men Only seems more like an invite to cocktail party, while the S&M mags have more than a hint of today’s latex catalog, rather than something that might frighten the horses. Even the “pin-ups” range from arty sketches to forty-year-old guys sucking in their stomachs.

These magazines were photographed by the best-selling horror-writer, film critic, journalist, blogger and photographer Anne Billson, who for reasons that now escape her, photographed her friends porn collections in the 1980s.

A lot (though not all) of the publications were vintage even then, though nowadays magazines that were published in the 1980s are themselves considered pretty much antique. Perhaps I thought I was performing some sort of public service, or compiling a historical record, or (more likely) vaguely imagining the pictures would come in useful for research purposes in some sort of never-to-be-written article that would one day definitively establish me as a brilliant journalist who dared tackle subjects that writers more prudish than me would never have dreamt of touching with a bargepole.

Apart from all her superb writing and photographic work, Anne has a damn fine Multiglom blog, where she posts about films, art, and photography—check it out.
 
000wndmil.jpg
 
kaval.jpg
 
muscbocov.jpg
 
wortran333.jpg
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Jack Nicholson got bare-ass naked for the cover of Esquire in 1972
06.06.2014
07:21 am

Topics:
Media
Sex

Tags:
Jack Nicholson
George Lois
Esquire


 
This is one of those weird episodes that you’d think you would hear more about….. I can hardly find anything about this on the Google machine. As a result I suspect I’m missing some key points of information.

Let’s start with George Lois. Graphic design students and professionals alike revere the work that George Lois did as art director for Esquire between 1962 and 1972. It’s easy to see why: Lois supplied incredible conceptual oomph and rigor in a forum that was not only culturally relevant; it was culturally sizzling. His covers of Muhammad Ali as St. Sebastian, Andy Warhol drowning in a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, Richard Nixon having makeup applied to his face, Roy Cohn as a cynical angel, Ed Sullivan wearing a Beatles moptop wig—all of these are just a handful of examples of Lois defining the very pinnacle of magazine cover design. As a result, for those years Esquire’s hefty cultural relevance index combined the fun of Playboy and the intellectual heft of, say, Harper’s. There are plenty of big-ass coffee table books celebrating Lois.

As Wikipedia indicates with its usual dry understatement, “Lois has been accused several times of taking credit for others’ ideas and for exaggerating his participation.” To read his book Covering the ‘60s: George Lois, the Esquire Era is simultaneously to gape at the sheer visual genius behind the covers and to cringe at the sheer magnitude of the the ego on display (in his accounts of how the covers came to be). Often his stories have more than a whiff of a self-aggrandizing tall tale that is short on a few key details. If you click on the links in the last paragraph, you can read some of his ego-fueled prose for yourself—really, he seems like a spirit animal for Robert Evans.

So by 1972, Esquire had spent several years being one of the most talked-about magazines in America. Landing a Lois cover wasn’t just a good placement, it was the most happening place you could be. So in 1972, after Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Carnal Knowledge, and Drive, He Said in rapid succession, it was becoming increasingly clear that Jack Nicholson had become an actor to seriously reckon with. So when Lois asked if Nicholson would agree to appear naked on the cover of Esquire, it’s not so strange that Nicholson said yes with alacrity.
 
Jack Nicholson
 
The crazy thing about Lois’ account of the October 1972 cover with a naked Jack Nicholson on it is that he never quite says out loud that the cover never made it to press. There’s an allegation of Nicholson’s agent shitcanning the cover and a tale of a power play in which Esquire editor Harold Hayes and Lois were forced out, but while we’re reading that, our eyes are taking in the visual evidence of a perfectly finished October 1972 Esquire cover with a naked Jack Nicholson on it. But in fact, it never ran. Here, read for yourself:
 

The manuscript was all about the high jinks of L.A.‘s Hollywood community. So photographer Timothy Galfas and I convinced the biggest movie star of them all to be photographed, bareass. Since the story related how hotdogging Jack Nicholson had greeted the writer wearing nothing but sandals, a hat, and a cigar [!], convincing the irascible rogue to post in the buff was a cinch. He loved my covers and wanted to support what he called “the best magazine ever.” Esquire’s ad boys, of course, once again thought “Lois has gone too far.” But this time, even as the covers were roaring off the high-speed printers, management shouted: “Stop the presses!” Nicholson hadn’t told his agent he had agreed to pose, and the concerned agent was threatening to sue the magazine. In 1972, nudity was no joke. Well, when Harold Hayes called to say the owners had killed the cover, in effect cowtowing to the oncoming power of the celebrity and their business agents, I knew it signaled the end of an illustrious road for Hayes at Esquire.

 
It goes on in that vein for a little more. I love Lois’ characterizations of what other people think of him, Nicholson “loved my covers” while the “ad boys” think “Lois has gone too far,” etc. Hell, maybe it’s all the gospel truth. (Personally, I don’t really buy this story of the agent being the heavy here, that’s the role of the agent, to take on the client’s worst aspects, to represent his or her self-interest. It’s entirely possible that Nicholson changed his mind….) I also adore his dated gossip columnist’s patter, “high jinks,” “irascible rogue,” “in the buff,” “cowtowing,” etc.

Fortunately it doesn’t take but a minute to find out what Esquire actually had on its cover for October of 1972, and in fact, the cover that ran was almost as interesting—a picture of a young and un-mustachio’d Burt Reynolds, naked from the chest up, peering down at his nether regions in a dismayed fashion next to the words “The Impotence Boom.”
 
Burt Reynolds
 
The odd thing is that this shitcanned cover seems to have had virtually no echo. If you Google, in various combinations, the terms “Jack Nicholson,” “George Lois,” “Esquire cover,” and “October 1972,” there isn’t that much out there to find. Apparently nobody’s that interested that Nicholson came that close (hold thumb and index finger a little apart) to appearing naked on the cover of Esquire.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad world! The origin of counterculture icon Alfred E. Neuman
06.05.2014
08:51 am

Topics:
Amusing
Media

Tags:
Mad Magazine
Alfred E. Neuman

fbbghn
 
While going through a box of old papers, an article I cut out of the New York Times when I was 14 (January 10, 1975) fell out. Just as important to me now as it was then, it is about a subject dear to my heart, Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman (not Newman). This face of total idiocy spent at least 50 years as an icon for cool rebellious youth (only in recent years does the 62-year-old publication seem to have become homogenized, sadly), a signpost to the training ground for smartypants the world over from the ‘50s to the ‘80s, and recognizable to just about anyone on earth, whether they liked it or not. A generation of heavy counterculture leaders can be identified as having read Mad Magazine, as it was like an underground press for pre-teens waiting to be old enough for initiation into the real underground. Anyone from Abbie Hoffman to R. Crumb to Jimi Hendrix was trained in “fuck you, haha” by the true geniuses at Mad. Alfred E. Neuman was entered into the presidential race for many decades until “that was a bigger joke than ours,” said Al Feldstein, longtime Mad editor (R.I.P.) who gave Alfred his name.

But where did Alfred come from? Any Mad fans or weirdo collector types will tell you he was around long before Mad existed. Here’s a nice piece of history, this Times article I found, about the history of our beloved grinning idiot, written by Mad co-founder (with William M. Gaines) Harvey Kurtzman.
 
jhgfcs
 

  MOUNT VERNON, N.Y.-There’s a question that nags wherever I go. Again and again I am asked, Where did Alfred Neuman come from? For those of you who didn’t hear a bell ring at the mention of Alfred N., he is the face you see on the covers of Mad Magazine. And for those of you who ring, let me put the eternal question to rest, once and for all.

The face first came to my attention when i was doing the comic book Mad for publisher William Gaines in the middle fifties—I think it was 1954. We were working with Ballantine paperback books on the first of a series of Mad reprint collections.

Since I was Mad’s chief cook and bottle washer at the time, there wasn’t a moment of my waking life that wasn’t devoted to the search for more and more Mad material.

In this condition, and while passing the time of day in the office of an editor, Bernard Shir-Cliff, I noticed on the Ballantine Book bulletin board, a postcard with this face. The card had some ad message-I don’t recall what.

And the face itself was printed alongside in a space, maybe an inch by an inch and a half. The face was not unfamiliar. I associated it with the funny-picture postcards in Times Square penny arcades and tourist traps, this one with the caption “What, Me Worry?” under the bumpkin portrait-part leering wiseacre, part happy-go-lucky kid.

But what interested me about this Ballantine version was that of all the reproductions I remembered, this one looked like the authentic, original-source portrait—the real goods.

While everything I’d seen before was cartoon, this seemed to be a photograph of the actual face! So I pocketed the card and rushed back to the workshop where I inserted the “What Me Worry?” face on and in subsequent issues of Mad magazine.

I was very fond of plastering Mad with inanities-Items like Potrzebie, Melvin Cowznofski, Alfred E. Neuman. The readers apparently liked them. Potrzebie was a word clipped at random from a Polish-language newspaper. Melvin was borrowed from the old Ernie Kovacs Show, as Alfred E. was borrowed from Hollywood by way of the old, old Henry Morgan show.

Alfred Newman (the late) was in reality a movie-music man whose credits were legion on the silver screen.

Morgan would use the name for various innocuous characters that passed through his show, and I did it in Mad, after Morgan’s fashion. And even though the face was, and ever would be, to me, a What, Me Worry? kid, our fan mail insisted on calling him Melvin Cowznofski and Alfred E. Neuman.

As a matter of fact, in the ensuing fan enthusiasm over the face, we ourselves became curious as to his genealogy, and in our letters page we asked the readers for whatever source information they might have.

The answers were astonishing. The face dated back to the 19th century. It was supposed to have been used for selling patent medicine, shoes and soft drinks. the kid was depicted as a salesman, a cowboy, a doughboy, and was rendered in dozens of slight to grossly altered variations.

But the answer I have always liked to believe was that the face came from an old high school biology text—an example of a person who lacked iodine.

Whatever the truth might be, Mad adopted the face as its mascot, and we used it like a trademark on all of our covers.

With the success of Mad, disputations arose. Readers laid copyright claims to the face, and eventually the issue went to court—not to just any court, but the Supreme Court of the Land. In this lofty council, Mad won, once and for all, the right to use the face. The What, Me Worry? kid was permanently baptized Alfred E. Neuman by Albert Feldstein, the editor who came after me.

So that’s the story, once and for all. Don’t ask me anymore.

 
There you have it, from the horse’s mouth, the closest yet description of the origins of our boy Alfred.
 
kfjfhxl
 
By the 1960s Alfred E. Neuman and Mad Magazine were so massive worldwide that this record would be made by crazy teens in Sweden in 1965. The band is called The Madmen, the song, “Alfred E. Goes Surfin’”.
 

 
So identifiable was Alfred E. Neuman’s face that by the late 50’s on his huge TV special Another Evening With Fred Astaire, Mr. Astaire could, without uttering one word, do an entire act revolving around him having been expertly made up exactly as Alfred E. Neuman. Notice the surely, mostly adult reaction. (Starts at 1:55)
 

 
And, last but not least, this incredible song (performed by The Dellwoods), originally released on a cardboard record in a Mad special issue, then included on the LP Fink Along With Mad (the follow up to Mad Twists Rock ‘N’ Roll) and officially released on a 45 with a great picture sleeve in Germany (as “Alf Newman”!). Lux Interior of The Cramps and many others cite this as the greatest rock n roll record ever made, I have used it as my closing song in every DJ gig I have done for decades. Here he is “vocalising” for your dis/pleasure, Alfred E. Neuman himself, with his greatest hit…“It’s A Gas!”
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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Douglas Rushkoff: Media Theorist for the Age of Occupy
05.27.2014
12:47 pm

Topics:
Activism
Media
Thinkers

Tags:
Douglas Rushkoff


 
Congratulations are in order for Dangerous Minds pal Douglas Rushkoff, make that Professor Douglas Rushkoff, as he’ll now be called in his new position at Queens College. From his website this morning:

It’s official. I’m a university professor - and at a public university where you can all come and study and work and devise the future of civilization for cheap. The official press release is below. The skinny? I’ve taken my first university post, as a professor of media studies at CUNY/Queens College, where I’ll be helping to build a first-of-its-kind media studies program. Instead of training people to become advertisers or to write the next useless phone app (and raise VC), I’m going to support people who want to see through the media, and use it to wage attacks on the status quo. This is media studies for Occupiers.

The undergraduate program is in full swing. The graduate program is accepting applications for Spring.

This is my answer to the emails I get every week from people asking where they can study media theory and activism. Come and get it.

Smart professors like Douglas Rushkoff attract smart students and smart students attract even more smart students. A few years back Doug had to be out of town and so I was the guest instructor for one of his NYU graduate studies classes. Smartest bunch of young people I’ve ever been in a room with and the reason they were all there was because of my old friend, that much was obvious.

If there was something like this when I was of college-going age, well I probably would have gone to college myself…

From the press release:

Rushkoff’s move to academia reflects his interest in social justice and the need to build media literacy in the rapidly evolving global media environment. “This is a rally for consciousness,” says Rushkoff. “The essential skill in a digital age is to understand the biases of the landscape – to be able to think critically and act purposefully with these tools – lest the tools and companies behind them use us instead.”

“I wish to foster a deeper awareness and more purposeful implementation of media, and this can be best accomplished at a mission-driven public institution such as Queens College,” says Rushkoff, a native of Queens who was inspired to join the school because of its rich legacy of social dialogue and engagement. “I want to teach a diverse range of students without putting them into lifelong debt. Besides, where better to work on media in the people’s interest than a public university?”

The school’s Media Studies Chair, Professor Richard Maxwell said “The college, with its unique community of students, creative artists, and scholars, has a tradition of cultivating a learning environment supportive of critical thinking and social consciousness. Rushkoff’s contributions to current thinking in technology, media, and society are at the forefront of the evolving study of media. He’s a great fit for our program and will complement our existing faculty in providing a transformative learning experience.”

Good move on the part of Queens College to hire Doug—I mean Professor Rushkoff—he’s a prestige name for the CUNY system in general. Starting in August, Rushkoff will be teaching courses in propaganda and media theory. The new Master of Arts in Media Studies program will be in full swing by Spring of 2015.

Below, a recent Rushkoff talk at the DLD conference earlier this month. I was going to post this anyway, and this announcement gave me the perfect excuse.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘101 things to love about New York City’ list from 1976 is mostly incomprehensible
05.05.2014
08:45 am

Topics:
Amusing
Media

Tags:
New York City

New York City
Garbage piles up between buildings during the 1976 strike of Local 32B-32J members in New York City.
 
1976 was a real interesting moment for the New York Times to commission a disposable little one-pager on “101 Things to Love About New York City,” but commission it they did. In the mid-1970s New York famously almost declared bankrupt, leading to the immortal Daily News headline of October 30, 1975: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD,” and aside from that, New York’s image (not without reason) was of a violent, cramped, dirty hellhole. It was also something of a creative mecca for artists, musicians, comedians, and what have you—artists could afford cheap lofts in Soho, and the tensions of the city were or would soon be reflected in a remarkably wide-ranging and multicultural brew of rap, punk, avant-garde art, salsa, disco, graffiti, and who knows what else.

The Times piece, by Glenn Collins, appeared in the June 16, 1976, edition. Today such items are commonplace, but one imagines they weren’t so common before the advent of consumer-friendly “alternative” newspapers and the like. The article is amusing for several reasons: the highly mordant tone of the article, the difficulty of thinking up 101 actual reasons to like living in NYC (although such padding is almost a requirement of the genre), the lack of overlap with the reasons some of us would have liked to live in New York, and the utter incomprehensibility of a good portion of the list. The world’s gone from analog to digital, moneyed interests have taken over Manhattan and much of Brooklyn, and well, some things just change.
 
New York City
 
Here they are in a more readable format:
 
New York City
 
Now, first things first. I was a resident of Staten Island for several years until quite recently, and I’m having difficulty imagining a New York City where the Staten Island Advance, SI’s hardy daily newspaper, is the #6 thing that occurs to a person writing about why to love New York. Thanks to the good works of the ScoutingNY blog, which discovered the list in the first place, and its readers, we know that 873-0404 was the “Dial-A-Satellite hotline, providing you with daily information about passing satellites.”

Anyone know what #45, “Degree days,” signifies? I must confess, I enjoy #46, “More movies, plays and ballet than anywhere else, and not going,” there is nothing more New York than that. Do people remember #12, which referenced strange PSAs the local news would run, or something. I don’t know if they were a local thing or a ‘70s thing in general. I do remember them quite well. The entry at #22, “New York’s proximity to Montauk,” is kind of interesting because the whole Long Island experience has been utterly transformed in the last decade or two; I don’t think anyone actually finds it charming anymore.
 
New York City
 
Over on this half of the list, I really enjoy the concept of #85, “the rabbit hanging out near the World of Birds at the Bronx Zoo.” The diaspora reflected in #69, “East Siders on the West Side,” will puzzle anyone who isn’t aware that the Upper West Side was something of a wasteland as far as posh people were concerned, before the creation of the Lincoln Center arts complex in the mid-1960s. “A winning OTB ticket,” at #60, is a little hilarious, considering I’ve never set foot in an Off-Track Betting outlet and would never desire to.

Overall, this is a cranky, creaky, weary list. At least twenty or thirty of the items signify what an awful place New York is, and a handful directly reference the fiscal problems New York was going through.

But most of all, there’s pretty much no mention of the things the average reader of DM would be likely to think of, which probably isn’t very surprising: great music, great art, great food, accessible drugs, an AIDS-free social-sexual environment (can’t fault the NYT for missing that one), cheap downtown rents, the assertion of Latino and African-American and queer identity, public eccentricity everywhere, and on and on.

Not quite contemporaneous but close enough, here’s the annoying 1982 “I Love New York” promotional ad campaign:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Dear Boy: Advice column for ‘Sassy’ teenagers from Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis
04.23.2014
07:06 am

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Sex

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Sassy


 
The Gen-Xers among you will surely remember Sassy, that transcendent turn-of-the-‘90s magazine for teenaged girls. It was noteworthy for being uncommonly smart, accessible well outside its target audience, and in its music coverage, every bit as friendly to under-the-radar bands as Spin was at the time. Their regular “Cute Band Alert” feature once highlighted the ferociously uncute Poison Idea, and they infamously declared Nation of Ulysses’ singer Ian Svenonius the winner in their 1990 search for the “Sassiest Boy in America.” Males of any age were “boys” to Sassy, and there was certainly no exception for their “Dear Boy” column, in which established and emerging alternarock luminaries would impart to curious young women the life lessons only years in the van could teach.

The column featured such “boys” as Iggy Pop, Mike D, Beck, and the gentleman who concerns us today, Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis.
 

 
Via Girls of a Certain Age:

What’s with boys and commitment?
—Margie

This is the first answer J gave us: Boys — yes it’s true — are reluctant to commit. But what would happen if the guy let the girl know he was psyched for this heavy commitment? She would get bored and blow him off. If he had “let’s settle down” all over his face, he’d never get lucky. Face it girls, it’s guys who want the commitment, but they know you’d break their hearts if they gave you half a chance.

This is the revised answer J gave us two weeks later: Face it, guys are psycho. You can’t pin them down. They’ll change their minds from minute to minute. You may think that boys tend to avoid commitment like the plague, which is true, unless of course you girls aren’t into it. You gotta keep him guessing.

I hear celebrities hate when people spaz out over them. Is this true? What should you do when you see or meet them?
—A Speechless Fan

Try to talk to them about ordinary things as if they’re normal. Don’t ask them any questions about their profession.

Shopping for a guy — that’s worse than taking the pop quiz your calculus teacher throws you on Monday morning! Do you have any ideas on gifts for members of the male species?
—TP

Blank tapes are always good, because you’ll buy the wrong bands if you try store-bought tapes or CDs. Clothes are negative. Flashlights are always fun. Candles, fireworks — anything with a pyro angle. Stuffed animals are usually OK if they’re not too sappy.

I am 16 years old and I have a 19 year old boyfriend who’s in jail. I don’t know how to deal with him being there. Do you have any suggestions?
—Imprisoned by Love

It depends on what he’s in for, and if you feel like sticking by him. Just don’t get too obsessed and freaked out about it. If he stays cool, keep an open mind and don’t let prison ruin your life too.

Do boys like it when girls ask them out?
—Aggressive

In general, if you’re not a total spaz about it, guys are completely psyched if you ask them out. We’re a lazy breed, so the more you ladies do, the happier we are. The vaguer you are, the easier it is to get out of it if he completely blows you off. Just stand near him and smile a lot. Try to talk to him if you can, but don’t overdo it. Casual is key.

I am a 16 year old girl and I’ve had sex before. I’m not sure if I like it or ever want to have it again. I’m very interested in guys, but when sex is brought up, I feel sick and turned off. The problem is, my friends all say how great sex is and how much they love it. Am I totally weird?
—Scared and Confused

I don’t think girls start digging it for a while, but you’ll probably turn around. Just don’t worry about it; you’re definitely not weird. Don’t do anything you don’t wanna do. Don’t feel weird if your friends talk about it. You don’t have to compete.

Do boys like big butts?
—Kim France

I am baffled by this question. Butts are so awesome that obviously the bigger, the better. Any guy who’s not a weirdo will take as much butt as he can get. I don’t know if you’re worried that yours is too big or too small, but it can’t be too big. Whatever it is, just get into it.

I asked this guy to the Snow Ball about a month ago. We were just supposed to go as friends, and it was going to be really cool. Anyways, he calls me up about three weeks before and asks me if it’s all right to take his girlfriend with us. I have my dress and shoes already. What should I tell him?
—Dissed

I would be enraged. I think you gotta throw a total fit and make sure he and anyone who knows him hears about what a complete jerk he is. Try to go with someone else, if you can stomach it, just to torture him and make sure he has a miserable time. Guys will try any scam. It’s up to you not to let him get away with it. He’s testing the boundaries of sanity and good taste. Make him pay. You can’t blame the guy for trying but I think you gotta make him pay.

I like this boy. I hope he likes me, ’cause he teases me a lot. How do you know when a boy likes you? Also, how do you get a boy to like you?
—Confused

You can tell if a boy likes you if he looks terrified whenever you’re around. He points his head at the ground, shakes and stutters, if he can get the nerve up to talk to you at all. You’ll see him around a lot and wonder how he got there. You’ll see him stare at you and dart his head away when you catch him. Either that or he’ll do all he can to completely avoid you. Try to talk to him calmly whenever possible, and smile and flutter your eyes. Basically, guys like girls who like them. It’s pretty simple. So make him think you dig him and he’s yours.

 

 
In the years since he dropped all that wisdom on the youth, Mascis has dissolved and reconvened Dionsaur Jr, performed with the Fog and Witch, and most recently, released The Golden Age of Glitter with Sweet Apple, his band with his Witch bandmate Dave Sweetapple, and Tim Parnin and John Petkovic of Cobra Verde, with whom Mascis has served as touring guitarist. The album’s been getting favorable attention from some unlikely places, and the video for the lead-off single, “Wish You Could Stay (A Little Longer)” featuring guest vocals by Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan, was released last month. Another video, for “Boys in Her Fan Club,” shot at the Rose Bowl, made its debut shortly after.
 

 

 
Cute Librarian Alert—many thanks to Beth Piwkowski for this sassy find!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Camille Paglia’s advice to the lovelorn
04.02.2014
06:46 am

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Spy


 
In the late 1980s, Spy magazine pioneered a dark, snarky take on political and celebrity reporting that in many ways paved the way—for better and worse—for that strain of disdainful irony that grew deep roots into American culture in the early to mid ‘90s. Rather than lionize tycoons, socialites and celebrities, Spy mercilessly and unrelentingly assailed them for their smugness, stupidity, and venality—their writers often played audacious pranks on political officeholders, Hollywood moguls and powerful people in media for the sole purpose of embarrassing such figures with their own greed and arrogance. They regularly ran the amazing cartoon work of Drew Friedman, and the concept behind their famed “Separated At Birth” feature still lives today online as TotallyLooksLike.

At its best, Spy was absolutely GLORIOUS.

In 1993, the magazine gave an advice-for-the-lovelorn column to Camille Paglia (born April 2, 1947, so happy birthday, ma’am), the controversial, oft-dissenting, sometimes narcissitic feminist academic author of Sexual Personae and Sex, Art, and American Culture. Paglia espouses an unabashed love of trash culture, and is the well known feminist most likely to be rebuked as not-even-a-feminist by other well known feminists (like every time she says something jaw-droppingly rapey). So giving a love and sex advice column to a contrarian bigmouth like her at the height of the P.C. era was, pardon the expression, kind of a huge balls move.
 

 

Dear Camille:I’ve been severely disappointed by my lady friends, who come across as intelligent women with common sense but end up making bad choices when it comes to men. Jolted Joe from Brooklyn

Dear Joe: You are puzzled by the irrational perversity of sexual attraction. Dionysus is a maelstrom. Love will never be tidy or safe. Jump in the boat and row for your life.

Dear Camille:I’ve been with a woman for ten years. Should I propose marriage? My concerns are (1) her loathsome, self-pitying complaints and (2) my suspicion that I could not remain faithful. Despondent in Oregon

Dear Despondent: The crystal ball shows a tacky picture of a nag and a philanderer hurling crockery around the kitchen. Misery has enough company already. In fact, they’re parking on my lawn.

Dear Camille: I’m a 60-year-old man who has been married five times. I’m currently courting a 53-year-old Catholic missionary nun. How do I ask her to give up her vows and marry me? Amorous in Sarasota

Dear Amorous: Hot dang! Violate them taboos, baby! You’re Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the toils of that old devil Church. You may need a can opener, but it’s worth a tumble.

Dear Camille: I know that consumerism is the modern pagan religion and that the media is the altar upon which we offer up flesh sacrifices. I do enjoy watching the succession of heroes and heroines devoured by television. But I have lingering feelings of guilt, as if I am worshipping Satan. Yes, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night shouting “Consumerism is the Beast 666!” How can I loosen up, become more modern and enjoy life? Anguished in Oregon

Dear Anguished: I prescribe a daily dose of my favorite soap, The Young and the Restless. What metaphysical anxiety could survive the soothing presence of plucky Nikki, trampy Jill and teen queen Christine? Television is our Circe, and she’s a date rapist. Just lay back, relax, and spread your sense organs.

Dear Camille: I supplement my unemployment checks by selling phone-sex scripts. I’d rather sell short stories, but nobody’s buying. I seem to have a knack for cranking the stuff out. But I don’t know whether to think of myself as a cheap media whore or a valuable public servant. Nothing gobs up the creative flow more than the image of a fat, lonely, middle-aged insurance salesman lying on his bed and pulling on his weenie while he listens to my words coming over the line. He and millions of other schmucks may need the help of a prosthetic imagination. Perhaps I am helping to release potentially dangerous sexual energy in a quick, tidy gush at the end of the day. Pondering in Portland

Dear Pondering: Though it might seem like a drainage ditch, you too labor in the vineyards of art. Apollo and Aphrodite bless all makers of erotic images.

There’s a ton more like this. The column ran for much of 1993, and since ALL the issues of Spy are now archived on Google Books, you can peruse them at your leisure. Also, many of the letters and responses were published in Paglia’s book Vamps & Tramps. She also did an advice column in Salon for a short spell, but quickly transitioned to a standard essay/opinion format.

Here’s a great thing that’s nowhere near widely-enough known: in 1995, Paglia was the lone guest on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher for two consecutive episodes of rapid-fire repartee. It’s pretty amazing. There was, somewhat bafflingly, a VHS release of the episodes, but you can watch it right here.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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UFO slides found in files leaked by Edward Snowden
03.04.2014
02:13 pm

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Edward Snowden

ufsno.jpg
 
A set of slides showing supposed UFOs have been found amongst the mass of documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The three slides were included in a Powerpoint presentation prepared by the British spy agency GCHQ (aka Government Communications Headquarters) that contained 50 uncaptioned images.

The images have caused considerable speculation amongst conspiracy-theorists, UFOlogists, and followers of Mulder and Scully. 

Author of Haynes UFO Investigations Manual, Nigel Watson has said the photographs are old, well-known, and probably fakes.

“The presentation features three UFO pictures, on slides 35 to 37. The first is a black and white picture of a UFO over Redbud, Illinois, taken on 23 April 1950, the second a screenshot of a UFO video by Arturo Robles Gil filmed in Mexico and the third was taken on 01 August 2011 by a holidaymaker at Black Head, Trenarren near St. Austell, Cornwall.

“They have been explained respectively by sceptics as a hub cap thrown in the air, a deflated mylar balloon and an out-of-focus seagull taking a poo.”

 
222ufosnowden222.jpg
 
Watson believes the slides are not conclusive proof of alien visitations, rather they are possible evidence of government agencies using the “fear” of UFOs for “mind control” purposes.

“Government agencies are still aware of the power of the belief in UFOs, and that they are willing to use the Internet to exploit these beliefs.

“Such deception can be used as a means of covering-up more mundane terrestrial activities (like the testing of secret aircraft or military exercises) or to undermine the credibility of UFOlogists.

“The overall point of the presentation is to discuss how the Internet and modern media can be used to discredit people and to spread deception. Unfortunately, there is no explanatory text with the UFO pictures, so we can only speculate about what point they were being used to make.”

In other words, the slides are more likely to be part of some form of misdirection used by GCHQ to distract from more important issues. For example, shall we say a government agency attempting to discredit Edward Snowden as reliable source of information?

Nah!

Then again, it all could be part of some geeky fanboy’s pet project for UFO Con.
 
333ufosnowden333.jpg
 
On the whole, these are far more likely answers than some of the recent theories coming, for example, out of Iran’s “semi-official” Fars News agency, which according to the Washington Post claimed:

The United States government has been secretly run by a “shadow government” of space aliens since 1945. Yes, space aliens. The alien government is based out of Nevada and had previously run Nazi Germany. It adds, for timeliness, that the controversial NSA programs are actually a tool for the aliens to hide their presence on Earth and their secret agenda for global domination. This is all asserted as incontrovertible fact with no caveats.

 

 
For what little it’s worth, I believe all UFO can be explained as primarily human-made phenomena. I think it preposterous that alien intelligence would travel thousands of light years to anally probe some country bumpkin from Moosefart, Montana, whose IQ is lower than that of his livestock. I think most UFO phenomena is mere misdirection, aimed at keeping the public “Distracted from distraction by distraction.

However, if you do think “Spooky” Fox Mulder is right, well you may be intrigued by the following.
 

 
111ufosnowden111.jpg
 

Bonus: Edward Snowden German interview as repeated on BcFM Feb 7th, 2014 with Tony Gosling and Martin Summers.
 
Via Yahoo News

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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