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See where 30,000 bombs fell during the London Blitz, 1940-41
11:20 am



In September 1940, the German Luftwaffe unleashed a strategic bombing campaign that targeted all of the major cities across the UK. Over 30,000 tons of high explosives were dropped on sixteen cities during a relentless over 267-day campaign, or “Blitzkrieg” (German for “lightening war”), that claimed over 40,000 civilian lives—half them in London alone—wounded over 100,000 and destroyed more than a million homes. It was an event that changed the nature of the war, and brought repercussions for Germany.

My mother was a child during the Second World War, living with her parents and sister in a tenement in the north-west of Glasgow. She can still clearly recall the regular sound of the siren warning of another German bombing raid. People decamped to the bomb shelters situated in the back gardens, where my mother listened to the whistle and blast of the bombs, land mines and other incendiaries raining down from the planes above.

In March 1941, she was briefly evacuated to a cottage in Milport on the isle of Great Cumbrae, off the west coast of Scotland. During this time, the Luftwaffe carried out two bombing raids on Clydebank—that have been described as “the most cataclysmic event” in war-time Scotland. My mother recalled how the German planes seemed to fly so low she felt she could touch them, while the flames from the raid lit up the sky like it was day.
Clydebank, near Glasgow, after the ‘blitz’ of March 1941.
Devastation in the south of London—a bus lies in the rubble of a bomb crater.
Central Coventry after a bombing raid November 1940.
Sleeping in the shelter of London’s Underground station at Elephant and Castle, November 1940.
More photos plus link to the interactive Blitz site, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Is that the Hadron Collider in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
11:29 am



Now, this little cock-up is why we should always check our spelling…

It would appear someone at the BBC was a tad over-excited by the news the Hadron Collider was back online after a two-year refit.

It’s not the first time the Hadron has been called a “Hardon”—two years ago the Daily Telegraph reported “Large Hardon Collider breaks energy record.”

The mind boggles…

Via the Independent

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Dope Rider,’ the trippy wild west comic from ‘High Times’
02:57 pm



A handful of times between 1975 and 1986, a comic called “Dope Rider” appeared in the rollable pages of High Times. Heavily influenced by the gritty, intense westerns of Sergio Leone, “Dope Rider” was the creation of a young New York comix artist named Paul Kirchner. If Kirchner’s strong compositions and clever wordplay didn’t already make him a perfect fit for High Times, the trippy visual tropes surely did, the most potent among them being the constant presence of a skeleton cowboy prowling the vistas of the American Southwest.

Kirchner himself has a blog up in which the entire run of “Dope Rider” is available as large jpegs—that’s right, every page. It turns out that “Dope Rider” didn’t even start its existence in High Times at all. The first incarnation of the character was executed on spec, so that Kirchner would have a sample ready for prospective freelance employers. It eventually appeared in the October 1975 issue of Scary Tales. Two more installments appeared in the November 1974 issue of Harpoon and the March and May 1975 issues of Apple Pie, which were actually the same magazine—the name change occurring “after lawyers for National Lampoon started clearing their throats.”

The same year “Dope Rider” found its way to High Times, where it reached its largest audience and also used color images for the first time, which certainly improved its impact on the magazine’s baked readers.

Kirchner’s High Times bio, from the August 1976 issue
The primary function of any “Dope Rider” comic was to induce an “Ohhh wooow” reaction from the zonked readers. The comic occasionally featured a locomotive engineer with a third eye in his forehead who would supply cockeyed dictionary definitions such as: “Pyramid, n., to look within, to peer amid.” Most of the comics featured either a psychedelic vista or a shootout in which the Dope Rider skeleton character was killed—if not both. In “Crescent Queen,” Dope Rider inquired of a raven how to get to Tucumcari; the bird replies, “No one gets there, man. It’s one of those places you just end up.” Right on, man…..

That first High Times comic, titled “Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch,” got Kirchner a little unwelcome attention from the Hell’s Angels:

I did one very bad thing in this story—I depicted the logo of the nation’s premier motorcycle club on the back of Dope Rider’s vest. That motorcycle club, whose New York City clubhouse was a few blocks from the High Times editorial office, sent over a contingent of large, hairy negotiators to make it clear that they didn’t care to be associated with High Times or the Dope Rider character. [High Times founder and editor Tom] Forçade let me know he would just as soon not have that happen again. I’ve blurred the logo out here in case they’re still checking up. (Love you guys!!)


Kirchner would later find more regular work at Heavy Metal, where he turned out a brilliant, surrealistic comic series called “The Bus” for several years. (That series is available in book form.)

Here’s a list of all the appearances of “Dope Rider” in High Times:

“Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch,” August/September 1975
“Beans for All,” December/January 1976
“Crescent Queen,” August 1976
“Taco Belle,” June 1978
“Matinee Idyll,” January 1981
“Loco Motive,” May 1986

In addition, Kirchner also worked up a single-page parody of his own series for Al Goldstein’s National Screw. In that story the character was called “Dopey Rider,” and the story was titled “Toe-Jam.”

I’ve cherry-picked a few of the more striking images for this post, but to see the entire “Dope Rider” output, you just have to go to Kirchner’s blog. He also has a Cafe Press store with plenty of great Dope Rider swag.


More “Dope Rider” after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
New Zealand newscaster moved to tears by impromptu Sharon Van Etten serenade
08:05 pm



John Campbell is a well-known news anchorman in New Zealand—the show he hosts, Campbell Live, even bears his own name. His busy schedule prevented him from catching a concert in Auckland by his no-doubt-about-it favorite chanteuse, Brooklyn’s own Sharon Van Etten, and it was really bumming him out.

One of his colleagues, Ali Ikram, decided to surprise him during a live telecast with a special remote performance by Van Etten on Campbell Live—the touched host was taken completely by surprise.

Ikram began by referencing “the secret pain that you’ve been nurturing for days” before asking Campbell oblique questions about Van Etten, such as “What’s this performer’s name, that you like so much?” and then, “What does she look like? Is she about this high?” gesturing with his hand, before the camera swiveled to reveal the diminutive singer (who didn’t have headphones on and therefore couldn’t hear the particulars of what was being said.

Campbell said, “I’m completely taken aback! I had no idea!” adding, “Sharon, you ain’t Justin Bieber.”

Ikram continued: “What you need to know about John, audience, is that he’s incredibly passionate about music,—and he gives us long dissertations about each song, and we love all of them.” Campbell responded by saying, “I love Sharon’s music a stupidly large amount.” You’ve never seen a newscaster as happy as Campbell did at that moment.

Van Etten played a lovely rendition of “Tarifa” off of her 2014 album Are We There.

As she was ending the song, Campbell said, “I can’t recommend her music highly enough. ... This has been a very magic treat.”

via The Concourse
Thank you Kevin Neudecker!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Encyclopaedia of Ecstasy,’ incredible anarcho-goth-punk zine from 1983
02:34 pm



I’ve hardly encountered a specimen from the postpunk years of the early 1980s that better exemplified how mixed up and stimulating all the categories were getting, than The Encyclopaedia of Ecstasy, Vol. 1, an utterly mind-boggling zine put out by Alistair Livingston in 1983. Livingston had/has associations with the anarchist collective/zine Kill Your Pet Puppy which ran from 1979 to 1984…. he references Crass and Bauhaus and Blood and Roses. While one wouldn’t necessarily expect that a “psychedelic goth punk fanzine,” as Livingston himself termed the project, would contain visions that might have emerged from Arthur Rimbaud‘s absinthe-drenched writings, the fact is that any movement led by Crass and Psychic TV was going to be awfully erudite and aestheticized, fueled by some pretty foreboding concerns over technology and culture. It’s so “political” that it fans out into almost pure (hyperverbal, psychedelic) sensation. In keeping with the absinthe feel, one page is titled “Vivé La Decadence, Paris 1893-London 199?”

The cover, complete with an all-seeing Masonic pyramid, reminds me a great deal of Gustav Klimt, which when you consider that it appears to have been executed purely with blocky magic markers, is awfully impressive. (The Klimt association is far from accidental—page 6 features a Xerox’d shout-out to Klimt’s “Jurisprudenz,” which was later destroyed by the Nazis.) At one juncture Livingston inquires, “why aren’t crass the psychedelic furs?” (Good question!) There are suggestive cut-and-paste headlines such as “whoops there goes another nuclear plant” or “man sees world saved by robots.” At the bottom of page 1 is an exuberant shout-out to the like-minded: “There is more… Like “Kill Your Pet Puppy” (a zine)…. The Anarchy Centres, the Black Sheep Co-op, punk lives (!), the people, the music, the squats, the whole beautiful chaoticness.”

Livingston is still active, he has run a stimulating blog called greengalloway for years—in this entry from 2005 he quotes from his own diary from this same era, name-checking Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Lou Reed, Blood and Roses, et al.

This is a pretty rare item—you can get one from Portland antiquarian project Division Leap for $125.

(If you click on any image in this post, you can see a much larger version.)

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘My life couldn’t fill a penny post card’: A glimpse of Andy Warhol’s early correspondence
12:47 pm



In its December 1949 issue Harper’s published a short story by John Cheever—the story was called “Vega,” and it was illustrated by a young artist named Andy Warhol, who was all of 21 years old at the time.

The editor of Harper’s at the time was Russell Lynes, and at some point he wrote Warhol asking him for some biographical information. Warhol responded with an unmistakably Warholian document, featuring a cute drawing, an upbeat greeting, and a bare minimum of upper-case letters (there are five in all). Perhaps fittingly, Warhol plays the humble card, insisting that his “life couldn’t fill a penny post card” and that he has spent the previous few months “moving from one roach infested apartment to another.” (Warhol lived in at least two such apartments with his old school chum Philip Pearlstein.)

The short letter dates from an interesting time in Warhol’s life. He was fresh out of college, and the alacrity with which he secured some high-profile illustrating gigs may have been a sign of future successes to come. He illustrated two album covers, A Program of Mexican Music by Carlos Chávez and a recording of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky by the Philadelphia Orchestra. He worked as a commercial artist for Glamour, Vogue, and Seventeen and also, we get this tidbit from the Tate Modern in London: “Infatuated with the writer Truman Capote, Andy inundates him with fan letters and telephone calls until Capote’s mother asks him to stop.”

Here’s a transcript of Warhol’s letter:

Hello mr. lynes
thank you very much
biographical information

my life couldn’t fill a penny post card i was born in pittsburgh in 1928 (like everybody else — in a steel mill)

i graduated from carnegie tech now i’m in NY city moving from one roach infested apartment to another.

Andy Warhol.

The letter comes from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. It appears in the dazzling new book More Than Words by Liza Kirwin, published by Princeton Architectural Press (for more information about the archives, visit It’s highly recommended, as it’s jammed with visual treasures just like this one.

(Click on the image for a larger image.)


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The loopy, hilarious Vines of the late Harris Wittels
09:01 am



The comedy community of Los Angeles received a profound shock two weeks ago when Parks and Recreation actor and writer Harris Wittels was discovered dead of a probable overdose. Parks and Rec fans will forever remember Wittels as one of Pawnee’s two hilariously incompetent animal control guys. In 2012 he also published Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty, a very sharp book based on a pretty genius idea.

I actually saw Wittels do standup once. It was 2007, he was just 23 years old, and he appared as part of a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in NYC called “Cavalcade” a friend of mine had organized—the show also featured Joe Mande, Jim Gaffigan, and Anthony Jeselnik. I don’t remember anything about his act. I confess that I found Wittels, as a comedian to follow, kind of confounding; in retrospect I didn’t catch him in his best contexts, and I mistook his giving-zero-fucks and deep hostility towards affectation and insincerity as a sort of laziness. On podcasts I was just beginning to tune into his deeply silly, low-key deadpan style when the news of his death hit the news.

One of the best episodes of any comedy podcast in 2014 came last November, when Wittels made his second appearance on Pete Holmes’ podcast You Made It Weird. After a half-hour of goofing around, Wittels suddenly revealed to Holmes that after “successfully” going through rehab a couple years earlier—which Holmes already knew about—he relapsed pretty badly and had to undergo a whole second, more serious round of rehab, which Holmes had not known about. That comment sparked a wild, hour-plus-long narrative of Wittels’ grueling second descent into addiction hell, a story that is (of course) made all the more powerful and moving because of Wittels’ passing.

Since his death I’ve become increasingly convinced, based on the testimony of Aziz Ansari, Dan Harmon, and others, that we did lose some kind of comic genius last month—one thing I never understand before was just how highly regarded his scriptwriting skills were. Sitcom director Rob Schrab did us all a favor by making a single video out of all of Wittels’ Vines—it takes just a few of the stupid things (there are dozens and dozens of them) to realize how brilliant, in an offhanded way, the guy was. He was clearly a master of the form, much as Humblebrag proves that he was a master of Twitter. Prepare yourself for a barrage of silly accents, facial expressions, loopy puns…. the man was truly a wellspring of cockeyed mirth, and he will be sorely missed.

via Splitsider

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
MAD magazine’s most vicious advertising parodies, circa 1960
10:55 am

Pop Culture


From 1957 to 2001, Mad magazine ran no outside ads—a highly noteworthy feat. Ideally, advertising income should finance 100% of a magazine’s operating costs, materials, payroll, profit, everything, leaving actual newsstand and subscription revenues as mere icing on the cake (that’s how alt weeklies can pull off free-of-charge distribution—well, that and criminally underpaying their art directors BUT I’M NOT BITTER). Mad‘s model was such a drastic inversion of the usual magazine industry business template that, off the top of my head, I can think of few other long-running rags to pull that off—Cooks Illustrated and Consumer Reports, both of which, if I recall correctly, survive on at least some institutional support, and the horrifying Reader’s Digest, which finally began taking ads in the ‘70s, probably realizing via the success of the era’s televangelists what a goldmine of suckers their elderly right-wing audience could be.

Mad‘s late founding publisher and giant among beautiful freaks William Gaines refused ads for so long because he felt it would compromise the publication’s satirical bent. In this amusing TV segment, Gaines spelled out his rejection of advertising bluntly and succinctly:

We don’t believe in merchandising. We make FUN of people who suck every last dime out of a product, and so we won’t do it.

It made sense—if for example Marlboro was paying the bills, writers might feel abashed to target Marlboro, and as it happens, Mad absolutely savaged the cigarette industry, even going so far, as you’ll see below, as to compare its death toll to Hitler’s. But so if all the revenue came from the readers alone, it was the readers alone who’d be served by the publication, and the writers and artists could freely satirize any entity they wanted to. And so they did—their advertising parodies are legendary, and a Flickr user by the handle of Jasperdo has amassed an excellent collection of them. Most of them are from the late ‘50s to mid-‘60s, coinciding with the advertising industry’s so-called “creative revolution,” so naturally they all appropriate the distinctive feel of that era.



More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Stanley Kubrick shoots the N.Y.C. subway, 1946
02:09 pm



In the summer of 1945, Stanley Kubrick, many years before he was the acclaimed director of Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, had a series of photographs published in LOOK magazine, a competitor to LIFE. He was just 16 years old. Thus would begin a relationship with the magazine that would last several years, until he began making movies in earnest around the age of 23, in the early 1950s.

Kubrick took this self-portrait in 1949 with his Leica III while working as a staff photographer for LOOK Magazine
Kubrick was fond of street photography, somewhat like the recent discovery Vivian Maier, and in 1946 he did a series about the New York subway. For more on Kubrick’s photographic career, see the archives of the Museum of the City of New York. Philippe D. Mather recent book Stanley Kubrick at LOOK Magazine: Authorship and Genre in Photojournalism and Film appears to be the only decent one out there on the subject.






More of Kubrick’s stunning subway pics, after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Log Book: The man who kept a diary of every shit he took in 2014
01:22 pm



Intrepid reddit user captainmercedes kept a diary of every poop he had during 2014. He noted down every bowel movement in his captain’s “log book”—at what time he had one, its size, consistency, duration and many other relevant details. The information was kept in accordance with the Bristol Stool Chart—an academic shit comparison guide which experts use to classify the quality of turds from “nuts” and “liquid” to something that resembles “a sausage or snake.”
Poo are you? Distribution of bowel movement on Bristol Stool Scale. It would appear the captain mainly fired “a number two torpedo.” There is evidence of some late night binges throughout the year.
A Week of Poo: This chart shows how many fudge brownies our poo expert baked per day. Thursday was the day our man preferred to “drop the kids off at the pool,” while Monday and Tuesday seemed to produce the least number of brown fishies.
Log Dropping Time: 10am in the morning was the optimum time for pebble-dashing the porcelain—though note the very occasional night shift.
Toilet Punishments per day: Or, how many many fudge bombs dropped—which appears to be one on average, though there was that time he fired off five in one day—now that’s impressive. Still, what about the ranking for incomplete turds? What qualifies them as less than one?
Distance from optimal corndog condition.—a kind of sliding scale…
What our chocolate fingered maestro will do with all this information I dunno, but I certainly won’t be holding on with bated breathed…. maybe just holding my breath.
Via reddit.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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