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The sexy ladies of Yugoslavian computer magazines
01.05.2017
09:19 am
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“Ignore the sex slave tumbling out of my monitor, it is a standard feature with this brand of personal computer…..”

The Serbian word računari means “computers”; thus Računari was the natural name for a long-running periodical in the Balkans catering to software and hardware enthusiasts in the burgeoning age of the “personal computer.”

It’s hard to remember now, but while Apple was getting all the critical plaudits, most workplaces considered their devices too esoteric and expensive for scaled use—back then it was Windows and IBM clones that got all the love and money, and most of the programmers designed their offerings for the MS-DOS market. Nearly forgotten today, names like WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, and Visual Basic once constituted core components of the consumer computing landscape, and they all were featured prominently in Računari. That’s why you won’t see much attention paid to Apple products in these images—they had to weather the tough decade of the 1990s before resurfacing with the iMac and beyond.

It’s often been observed that Sarajevo went from being a proud and prosperous Olympic host city to one of the most hellish places on earth in the short span of time between 1984 and 1994. The end of the Cold War around 1990 brought unimaginable horrors to Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia, and it’s worth noting that Računari, which started in 1984, never went out of print during all of that tumult, persisting through to the late 1990s. So it is that these otherwise mirthful images have a darker story to tell, of consumers seeking out computing products during a bloody civil war and the advertisers and retailers wishing to serve them. 

The editors of Računari surely were well aware that their product sector was a little on the dry side, so they spiced up most every cover with a sexy lady draped over this or that piece of mechanized future landfill. As you’ll see, some of the images get a little bizarre, but hey, all the better to get those copies moving off of the newsstand and into your living room, right?
 

“I am the Windows 3.1 go-go girl…..”
 

“We hope this bizarre bondage scene incentivizes you to purchase WordPerfect for Windows.”
 
More fun with Balkan computer cheesecake after the jump…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.05.2017
09:19 am
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‘They Saved Zappa’s Moustache’: Negativland do Frank Zappa
12.23.2016
08:53 am
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It seems like only yesterday I was at a double feature of 200 Motels and Baby Snakes in Santa Monica and Gail Zappa was taking questions from the audience between movies. A scruffy guy sitting in front of me wanted to know: like, what did it mean that Frank’s birthday was December 21? With commendable equanimity and poise, she replied that her late husband had been a Sag, for sure.

Has it really been seven years since those innocent, care- and money-free days? No picnic, but I’ll say this for the Great Recession: at least it was more “Cheap Thrills” than “Concentration Moon.” Gail Zappa was then breathing air, as was Negativland’s Don Joyce, whose KPFA radio show “Over the Edge” became my first podcast subscription right around that time. But look at Don now, resting in that plastic baggie on my shelf. A picture of health he is not.
 

 
In March of ‘95, a little over a year after Frank Zappa’s death, Joyce and Phineas Narco devoted an episode of “Over the Edge” to the composer’s life and work. After playing a tape of Zappa’s 1963 appearance on The Steve Allen Show—the whole thing, with a minimum of manipulation—the pair then go full Negativland on a treasury of primary and secondary sources. For five hours, everything Zappa goes into the blender, from Lumpy Gravy and the Synclavier to interviews and glib, stupid obituaries delivered by 1993 media personalities.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.23.2016
08:53 am
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‘What, me worry?’ MAD magazine sent the best rejection letters ever
12.09.2016
12:30 pm
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Earlier this week DM posted a notorious rejection letter that EMI may (or may not) have sent to Venom in 1980; the letter (real or not) is a simple example of typewriter art, with the words “FUCK YOU” being spelled out with the respective letters (“F” “U” etc.) typed several dozen times to spell out the well-known phrase, much like the ASCII art of the mid 90s internet era.

Some have claimed, pretty reasonably, that EMI never sent out any such letter. We don’t really know one way or the other. Today’s artifact is a little bit better verified, I believe, and also not nasty or obscene in the least; in fact it is delightful. 

It takes the merest glance at any issue from the heyday of MAD (1960s-1980s?) to realize that the editors and writers there were probably real mensches—they might have been irascible but they would be dead set against any kind of corporate hardassery or uptightness. The freewheeling, exuberant, and nonconformist (fun) tone of editor-in-chief Al Feldstein’s shop is perfectly captured by a rejection letter that is undated but appears to have been sent in the 1960s, as we’ll see in a moment.

In it, Feldstein does his duty of rejecting the submission but it’s quite long and detailed and takes the trouble to treat the “contributor” as an individual (quite remarkable in what must be a form letter) and actually tells him/her to ask “What, me worry?” and contemplate the awful alternative fate of being—shudder—“ACCEPTED!”

Here it is (transcript below):
 

 
I mentioned that we know that the letter is not an Internet-era fabrication and that evidence suggests that it existed, for real, in the 1960s. I took the trouble of searching on a key phrase in the letter and was rewarded with a hit from Google Books, a periodical called The Writer dating from 1967 that references the missive as an praiseworthy example of a humane rejection letter.

Leave to the “usual gang of idiots” to identify with and empathize with the angst and pathos of submitting material to a national magazine.
 

Dear Contributor:-

Sorry, but we’ve got bad news!

You’ve been rejected!

Don’t take this personally though. All of us feel rejected at one time or another. At least, that’s what our group therapist tells us here at MAD. He says we shouldn’t worry about it.

So that should be your attitude: “What-Me worry?”

Besides - although you’ve been rejected, things could have been a lot worse. Your material might have been ACCEPTED!

Then where would you be?

MAD-ly

(Signed, ‘Al Feldstein’)

Al Feldstein
Editor

P.S. Our group therapist also mentioned that many people are so rejected by a rejection that they don’t try again. And we wouldn’t want THAT! We really WOULD like you to keep sending us your article ideas and scripts. . .so we can keep sending you these idiotic rejection slips!

 
via Letters of Note, Pulp Librarian

Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.09.2016
12:30 pm
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Drawing dicks on Donald: Art exhibit elevates US politics to a juvenile level
11.01.2016
09:25 am
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One of my favorite single-serving Facebook groups is also one of the most massively puerile. Make of that what you will, I ain’t proud. It’s called “Drawing Dicks on the Herald Sun,” and it’s exactly as it says on the box—artists drawing highly improbable members onto photos printed in Melbourne, AU’s newspaper of record, the Herald Sun. As if to prove that 8th grade is forever, the page has attracted almost 400K followers, and has even become the subject of art exhibits. Their “About” page description is a masterpiece of parsimony:

Drawing dicks on things may seem immature, but in reality it’s hilarious. My fellow workmates and I get bored at lunch, these are some of our master pieces. Feel free to share your own, but please have some creativity.

The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution has roughly the same word count and fails at that level of pristine clarity. FUCK YEAH, ‘STRAYA!

The latest exhibit elevating DDOTHS’s study-hall oeuvre to clean well lighted places is opening this Friday at ArtBoy, a pop art gallery in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs, and it focuses on the coming US Presidential election—obviously a matter of global importance. It’s called “Doodles on Donald,” and it features newspaper photos of the Donald (and, presumably for balance’s sake, a Hillary) embellished with great big veiny monster dicks lovingly rendered in pencil, paint, and ballpoint pen.

Heh heh. BALLpoint.

Over 40 pieces by 30 different artists will be on display. Naturally every single thing to follow from here is totally unsafe for work (unless of course you work with cock). Artworks were provided by Larry Boxshall, the exhibit’s organizer, and also the director of a documentary about DDOTHS. Trailers for that doc follow the images.
 

 

 
More dicks drawn on Donald after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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11.01.2016
09:25 am
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Utterly bizarre commercial for an all-crying 900 phone line
10.04.2016
08:59 am
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There’s a certain unadorned beauty to the voiceover pitch in this commercial for a deeply puzzling 900 number consisting solely of shots of people crying uncontrollably on the phone. It probably dates from the late 1980s or the early 1990s:
 

What makes people all over America break down and cry like this?

Call 1-900-740-3500 and hear it for yourself.

Two dollars per minute.

If you’re under 18, ask your parents before you call.

1-900-740-3500

 
I think it was a “sob story” phone line, a number you could call if you wanted to hear sad stories. Are there people who are kind of addicted to sad stories, to the point that they would spend dozens of dollars for an hour-long session, say?

We have obtained the expert testimony of “Paul d” on a YouTube comment that “when I was younger I called this, it is just prerecorded calls where people describe sad stories, when I called a girl was talking about how her husband died in a motorcycle accident, me and my friends were like this is stupid lol.”

Anybody remember calling this number?

Also, where did they get the sad sob stories from?

Here’s the commercial. There’s an identical commercial with a different number, 1-900-9099-CRY, which you can see here.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.04.2016
08:59 am
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Amazing (or goofy?) ‘Twin Peaks’-themed fashion spread from the pages of Sassy magazine, 1990
09.30.2016
12:39 pm
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The debut of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s groundbreaking ABC series Twin Peaks occurred on the night of April 8, 1990. And for a solid year media-savvy people were capable of talking about little else. As a proof, witness this remarkable and unintentionally hilarious fashion spread that appeared in the October 1990 issue of Sassy.

Lynch and Frost were able to deliver their surrealist mindfuckery to an audience of millions by peppering their Pacific Northwest landscape with young hotties of both genders (Mädchen Amick, Sheryl Lee, Dana Ashbrook, Lara Flynn Boyle, James Marshall, Sherilyn Fenn) and a good old-fashioned dose of whodunnit. You can swallow a lot of WTF? when attractive people are caught up in a murder plot.

The Sassy spread was titled “Anytown, U.S.A.” and perhaps it demonstrates that the distinctively alluring tone of the series wasn’t all that easy to reproduce. Here’s your tryin’-too-hard intro text:
 

ON the surface, the quaint rural BLISS of dirt roads, diners AND sawmills. But underneath the age-old Douglas firs lurk mysteries EVEN the sheriff doesn’t know about. COULD be your town. Could be YOU. So dress the part in clothes that are INNOCENT and sexy, naive and SOPHISTICATED — a look that’s MEANT to intrigue.

THEN WAIT for the FBI.

 
Obviously the log lady pic gets the biggest LULZ here. As widely reported, the series returns on Showtime in 2017 with a cast of dozens.
 

 

 
More of these great pics as well as a fashion spread with the real Twin Peaks actors…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.30.2016
12:39 pm
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Number 666: The Aleister Crowley issue of Flexipop!
09.29.2016
08:28 am
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I learned many things during my recent conversation with David Tibet (Current 93 and related projects) and Youth (Killing Joke, the Orb, the Fireman, Brother Culture, Pink Floyd, et al.) about their fabulous new album as Hypnopazūzu. One of these was that during the early 80s, a British pop magazine had, at Tibet’s urging, numbered its final issue 666 and put Aleister Crowley on the cover. Tibet had written the cover story, too, about the Beast and his influence on pop musicians.

Both Youth and Tibet seemed to think the magazine in question was Smash Hits, but in fact Flexipop! was the one that employed Mark Manning/Zodiac Mindwarp as art editor and concluded with the Crowley issue. Though I wasn’t there, Flexipop! seems much hipper than Smash Hits from my vantage point: Every issue came with a flexi disc, and alongside the shit (and not) pop stars of the day, they profiled quality bands like the Birthday Party, Pigbag, Motörhead, Bauhaus, and Killing Joke (Youth dropped his pants in the pages of No. 19).

Having reached the kabbalistically significant number 32 with their second-to-last issue in June 1983—featuring both Killing Joke sans Youth and Brilliant, Youth’s new band with Jimmy Cauty—Flexipop! made a daring editorial decision at its perch atop the Tree of Life. For the cover of their valedictory number, instead of Paul Young or Sting, they took a chance on this fresh-faced, golden-voiced up-and-comer with a song in his heart and an Enochian key on his lips.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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09.29.2016
08:28 am
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Trading cards of some dangerous minds, deep thinkers & radical intellectuals

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For those with an interest in big ideas, these trading cards from Theory.org should fire up your neurotransmitters.

Between 2000-2001, a set of twelve trading cards was released monthly via David Gauntlett’s website Theory.org. This original set of cards featured theorists (and their concepts) from the world of social and cultural theory, gender and identity, and media studies. The first out of the pack was British social theorist Anthony Giddens who devised the theory of structuration and wrote the book on The Third Way. This was followed by theorist Judith Butler whose book Gender Trouble argued that “biological” sexes were just as much as a social construct as gender. Then came the great controversial French thinker Michel Foucault with his ideas about sexuality, gender and power structures. The deck included some interesting choices like artists Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George and concepts like Postmodernity and Psychoanalysis.

This official set of twelve trading cards was thought by some to lack a few key players and its release inspired various academics, students and alike to produce their own cards. These additions included Karl Marx, Carl Jung, Simone de Beauvoir, Edward Said, Germaine Greer, Walter Benjamin and Marcel Duchamp.

Described as “Creative knowledge you can put your pocket™” these cards can be used to play a game of trumps—in which players can match strengths, weaknesses and special skills. For example, Foucault’s special skill of happily rejecting old models and creating new ones, might not quite beat Duchamp’s ability to confuse the hell out of everyone.

The full set is below—but if you want to own a set of these super brainy trading cards (and who wouldn’t?) then deal yourself in by clicking here.
 
card01GIDDENS.jpg
#1 Anthony Giddens—British social theorist.
 
card02BUTLER.jpg
#2 Judith Butler—American philosopher and gender theorist.
 
card03FOUCAULT.jpg
#3 Michel Foucault—French philosopher, theorist, philologist and literary critic.
 
More thinkers and some big ideas, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.28.2016
11:55 am
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Monster Magic Action trading cards from the 1960s are crude, colorful masterpieces
09.27.2016
02:47 pm
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“The Magic Lens is the secret of its action!” With this sentence the Abby Finishing Corp. lured kids to purchase its amazing set of 24 lenticular monster trading cards in around 1963. For the most part, we think of the pop culture artifacts from that time as being pretty cheesy, but these cards are anything but, incorporating a bold use of color and crude, arresting compositions. I’d love to see one of these take up a full wall in my house!

The lens seems really simple, just a plastic rectangle really. The instructions were simple: “Place the magic Lens ROUGH SIDE UP on picture, and wiggle both together; or place Magic Lens ROUGH SIDE UP on picture, and slide Lens only.”

As the 3D Review online magazine asserted about these cards, “When using the Magic Action viewer, the cards would come to life showing a flying monster’s wings flapping or the tail of a giant lizard whipping up and down or people fleeing.”

You can buy a complete set for $95 on Amazon.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…...

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.27.2016
02:47 pm
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The Eighties will flash before your eyes with these covers from The Face magazine
09.15.2016
09:59 am
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001the-face-the-specials-cover-issue-1.jpg
The Specials’ Jerry Dammers on the cover of The Face #1.
 
I had a weekend job in a small newsagents in Easter Road, Edinburgh, working behind the counter selling papers, magazines, cigarettes, sweets, ice cream and fizzy drinks. You got to know the customers by what they bought. The woman with the Pekinese who always ordered a quarter of Parma violets on a Sunday afternoon. The old drunk who chain smoked in the shop while waiting for the Saturday night sports final. The kids who thought I didn’t see them trying to steal penny chews when my back was turned. It was a fun job. I liked it. The people were good, the work was easy—if the hours long.

Every month a selection of magazines came in—some ordered for customers, some on spec. One month, a new magazine arrived. Glossy, bright, full of articles about music, film, books, politics and fashion. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. This was no cheap youth pop mag. It was well-produced, high quality, beautifully designed (by Neville Brody) with smart intelligent articles by a college of young, sassy writers—Julie Burchill, Charles Shaar Murray, Ian Penman, Paul Morley, and Stuart Cosgrove. The magazine was called The Face. I bought it and placed an order thereafter. This was in May 1980.

The Face was the pop culture magazine of the 1980s and 1990s. No other magazine (or weekly music paper) ever came close to the quality or content of The Face. It was edited by Nick Logan from a small office on Mortimer Street, London. Logan had previously been editor of the NME when he made that paper hip, relevant and essential reading. He then started Smash Hits based around a “vague notion of a kids’ pop magazine.” It proved to be massively popular. Its success allowed Logan to try out another idea—The Face.

The Face was the bible for most late teens-twentysomethings during the eighties. In 1983, I was editing a student magazine. This collegiate journal had been a languishing students’ poetry mag. Inspired by Logan—I reinvented it as a student version of The Face. I filled it with interviews featuring the Fun Boy Three, Annie Lennox, Blancmange, Aztec Camera, Spear of Destiny, The Young Ones, Julie Walters, Neil Jordan, Fay Weldon, Tony Marchant and anyone I thought might of interest to my fellow students. Of course, as a tip of the hat I had to interview Nick Logan, the man who inspired it all. I traveled on an overnight bus to London and arrived in the offices in Mortimer Street. This was how I described him back then:

Nick Logan was born thirty-five years ago in London. He was educated at Leyton Grammar School, London. He left school at the age of fifteen. He is a thin. Smartly dressed. Wears glasses. Not easily impressed—ambitious, modest, talented. An ideas man as much as a leader.

From school Logan worked as a reporter on a local paper, the Walthamstow Guardian. He worked there for five years turning his hand to everything “subbing, proofing, editing and layout” before joining the NME as a staff writer.

I wanted to know about The Face. Logan said:

“The Face is what I would have come up with if I’d had more time at NME. I mean we used to say, ‘What could we do if we owned the magazine?’

“The first issue was started on a kitchen table and half in the corner of somebody’s office. A part of it is still done at home. My house is full of bits and pieces of The Face. You can physically trip over it at home.

“My wife [Julie] looks after back issues, keeps the books, pays contributors.”

The Face had a small staff: only two full-time employees—Logan and Intro/Front Desk Leslie White. There was also designer Brody—who was responsible for “80% of the way The Face looked” and assistant editor Paul Rambali.

The Face was individualistic. It didn’t try to compete with the weekly music press.

“There would be little point in that anyway. What we try to do is offer an alternative view or take a different line on a subject which others might cover as well.

“What interests The Face is very much what interests the staff of The Face—though that’s not to say we approve (if that’s the right word) of everything we report on.”

Each issue took four weeks to produce. The first week the staff recovered “shell-shocked from finishing the last one” and started planning the next one. Features were commissioned by the second week. Then the layout began. During the third week pages were proofed, photos reversed.

“In the fourth week: I disappear to the typesetter in Kilburn so I don’t have the hassle of people coming in. Then Leslie and Paul come down and give a hand. It’s bloody hard work. I’ll finish about six. Eat. Go home and work till twelve or one. That’s when it gets particularly nasty. You’re no longer living. You feel totally worthless. Useless. You can say it’s only one week—-but doing it after 37 issues you feel really bad.

“The short-term ambitions are to get a few extra sales. get more ads. Get better features and photos. And more readers. It’s just been standing holding up the wall collapsing.”

It was all worth it. For The Face changed so many people’s lives. I know it changed mine.

Below is a selection of covers from the first 50 issues of The Face. Check out pages from The Face here.
 
002the-face-paul-weller-cover-issue-2.jpg
Paul Weller #2.
 
003the-face-bryan-ferry-cover-issue-3.jpg
Bryan Ferry #3.
 
More choice covers from the first 50 issues of The Face, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.15.2016
09:59 am
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