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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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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.
 
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Paul Weller #2.
 
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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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Sniffin’ Glue: The definitive first wave U.K. punk zine
09.12.2016
10:27 am
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In July 1976 Mark Perry saw the Ramones open for the Flamin’ Groovies at the Roundhouse and Dingwalls. A few days later he was looking for some magazines about his new passion of punk music and was annoyed to see that there wasn’t much in that line available. So he started a zine celebrating punk music and chose as its name Sniffin’ Glue, a nod to the Ramones’ “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.”

The full name of the zine was Sniffin’ Glue & Other Rock & Roll Habits. Created with a children’s typewriter and felt markers, it wore its amateur/fan status on its sleeve. Perry was working as a bank clerk but quit his job to start the zine. It is routinely mentioned as one of the most important and influential zines in a scene that quickly generated many of them. Sniffin’ Glue provided the first venue for the writing of Danny Baker, who later moved to London Weekend Television, where he documented the new wave of British heavy metal as well as acts like Depeche Mode. Perry’s lively volume Sniffin’ Glue and Other Rock’n'roll Habits: The Essential Punk Accessory, published in 2009, is very much worth a look.
 

Sniffin’ Glue founder Mark Perry
 
After a year or so of publication, Sniffin’ Glue’s circulation had swelled from double digits to a whopping 10,000—the project had gotten so big that Perry stopped the magazine after roughly 15 issues so that he could concentrate on his band Alternative TV, which made its debut at London’s Rat Club on September 14, 1977. Early rehearsals took place at Throbbing Gristle‘s Industrial Records studio with Genesis P-Orridge on drums; you can hear those recordings on the Industrial Sessions 1977 release. ATV broke up in the spring of 1979. Perry later started a band called Good Missionaries and ATV’s guitarist, Alex Ferguson, would join Genesis and Peter Christopherson in the original incarnation of Psychic TV in 1981.

Perry’s first mention of the Sex Pistols was a negative review but he soon came around. As he wrote, “The Pistols reflect life as it is in the council flats, not some fantasy world that most rock artists create. Yes, they will destroy, but it won’t be mindless destruction. The likes of Led Zeppelin, Queen and Pink Floyd, need to be checked in the ‘classical’ music section. They’ve got to make way for the real people and the Sex Pistols are the first of them.”

As Tony Fletcher put it,
 

Within the space of three issues, Mark had connected the dots from the Ramones to the Flamin Groovies, through Eddie And The Hot Rods and the Damned, and onto the Clash and the Sex Pistols - and Sniffin’ Glue had become the mouthpiece for the British punk underground in the process. Punk germinated underground just long enough for Sniffin’ Glue to become indispensable within the scene - it had already put out five issues by the time the Pistols swore at Bill Grundy on live television and punk exploded as a media concern. As Perry and Baker note of contemporary so-called subcultures, even that short a period of gestation won’t happen again: “everything is now exposed to the masses instantly.”

 
What follows is most (not all) of the covers of Sniffin’ Glue from its short but influential run.
 

 

 
After the jump, more covers from Sniffin’ Glue…......

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.12.2016
10:27 am
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Remember when David Lynch used to do weather reports on the Internet?
08.25.2016
08:57 am
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A few days ago the BBC released its list of the top 100 movies since the year 2000, representing the consensus view of a whopping 177 (!) working film critics. Such lists are made for carping, and I’m not going to do that here, but a point of primary interest here is, What finished first? And the answer to that is David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which came out in 2003. Not bad for a movie that the director openly admits was two entirely separate project yoked together for no good reason…....

Be that as it may, let’s stick with David Lynch here. I’ve never lived in Los Angeles but I’ve heard multiple times over the years that you used to be able to get David Lynch’s weather report on the radio there every day or most days or something. I did a little poking around and it seems that Indie 103.1 was the station that presented this. Can anyone confirm? Was it really every day? How often was it? Please do chime in with your reminiscences.

On his website in the mid- to late 2000s, Lynch used to present an occasional video weather report for Los Angeles, which is quite hilarious if you stop to think about it. Few would dispute that weather reports are useful things to have—even Angelenos with their samey weather—and yet the utility value of a weather report delivered on the Internet for a specific location and updated irregularly—that’s pretty near useless and obviously part of Lynch’s whole Eagle Scout deadpan dada shtick.

All of the videos were shot in some workspace used by Lynch. A video would start with Lynch intoning the date and then looking out the window and describing whatever was there to observe in a meteorological sense, after which he would sometimes deliver the temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius as well. They’re all well under a minute long.

The mini-project gave Lynch an opportunity to engage in a blockheaded poetry of sorts. Here, for instance, was the weather report for March 12, 2009: “Mostly blue skies, some white clouds floating by, muted golden sunshine, very still, 52 degrees Fahrenheit, 11 Celsius.”

There were occasional variations. In one early instantiation of the form, Laura Dern is sitting next to him holding a piece of paper that reads “FEB 1”—for that was the date—but you can tell that Lynch hadn’t quite gotten the kinks worked out yet.

No dummy he, Lynch himself made fun of the fact that he was doing this, as evidenced in this tweet from 2010:
 

 
Several of Lynch’s video weather reports, after the jump…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.25.2016
08:57 am
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‘Musica 80’: Impressive Italian rock magazine from the ‘new wave’ era
08.24.2016
08:47 am
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Elvis Costello on the April 1980 issue of Musica 80: including features on Talking Heads, PiL, & Jonathan Richman
 
From February 1980 through April 1981 Italian fans of cutting-edge music were treated to Musica 80, a monthly magazine with a bold “new wave” aesthetic that kept readers up to date on acts like Nina Hagen, Pere Ubu, XTC, Killing Joke, the Feelies, the B-52s, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, and the Cramps, among many others. The covers used a vibrant palette of primary colors somewhat reminiscent of the first wave of releases by the Flying Lizards (themselves the subject of a feature in the October 1980 issue, as it happens).

I’ve never seen a single page from the inside of any of its issues, and I don’t speak Italian anyway, but the savvy editorial hand behind the cover art and the choice of subjects make it quite likely that this was a fairly compelling magazine in its day. Much about Musica 80 is a puzzle, from the perspective of 2016. The magazine was edited by a man named Franco Bolelli, who appropriately enough was in a band called Alphaville that contributed a few brief tracks to a 1981 comp called Matita Emostatica, which is the Italian term for “styptic pencil.” Nowadays, Bolelli is identified on Wikipedia as a “philosopher,” and neither the American nor the Italian version of his bio bothers to mention Musica 80 at all. Unexpectedly, the English Wikipedia page for Bolelli is quite a bit more expansive than the Italian Wikipedia page, noting among other things that “among his philosophical influences he mentions Nietzsche and Taoism along with the game of basketball and rock ’n roll.”

The Italian Wikipedia page for the magazine—also very brief—states that “La veste grafica era poi affidata a membri della casa occupata bolognese Traumfabrik che per l’occasione si chiamò Topographic”—in other words, the visuals for the magazine were “entrusted to” members of an “occupied house” (I think this means a squatters’ collective of some kind) in Bologna “called Traumfabrik, which on this occasion was called Topographic.” Here is a reminiscence on Traumfabrik for those fluent in Italian or adept with online translation tools.

Most of the covers presented on this page are low-quality scans from this Italian blog post, and aside from that scans are very hard to find (I did manage to find a couple others). Judging from the covers alone, Musica 80 covered a pretty impressive swath of territory considering that they weren’t operating out of London or New York.

Perhaps appropriately, given its title, as soon as the year 1980 was over with, the magazine neared its demise as well. The last issue of Musica 80 was its 15th issue, which had a cover date of April 1981. If anyone has any information or especially decent scans from the brief run of Musica 80, please get in touch!
 

Inaugural issue, February 1980, the Stones in China—which they wouldn’t actually visit until 2006
 

March 1980: Eno, Zappa, Burroughs, Fripp
 
More after the jump…..
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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08.24.2016
08:47 am
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Perversion for profit: Girlie mags from the 1960s
08.17.2016
10:00 am
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After the launch Playboy in 1953 a deluge of adult entertainment magazines spilled across America. A “flood tide of filth” as one critic described it. Magazines like Adam, Dude, Rogue, Gent, Torchy, Candid, Twilight and Sultry filled the magazine racks. These girlie mags were blamed for the “promulgation of decadence” intended to corrupt America’s youth and make it impossible “for men to revert to normal attitudes in regard to sex.

Adult magazines were deemed as great a threat to the American way of life as Communism.

Compared to today’s porn industry—these jazz mags are tame. Codes of censorship meant models were more artfully photographed. Full nudity was forbidden—well, until Penthouse broke that ban in the late sixties and Playboy followed with its first full-frontal centerfold in 1972. The focus was mainly titillation or T & A.

There was always some moralizing religious do-gooder (like future financial felon Charles Keating, see below) who claimed these images encouraged perversion, fetishised breasts and were intended to “appeal to the sodomist.” With all this in mind, it’s quite remarkable that our baby boom grannies and grandads grew up to be average, run-of-the-mill, suburbanites.

Or did they?
 
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More from this ‘flood tide of filth,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.17.2016
10:00 am
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A Covers Album: Front covers of New York Rocker, 1976-1982
07.26.2016
09:44 am
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The New York Rocker was a punk/new wave magazine founded by Alan Betrock in February 1976. It was produced by a dedicated, tight-knit group of young men and women—a “remarkable breed” of contributors—who had a passion for music that was outside the mainstream. They wrote feisty, opinionated reviews. They took their subject matter seriously, giving it the respect the well-financed music press gave to say Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Genesis, The Eagles or any other stadia-filling corporate-backed band. The New York Rocker was hugely influential early on in identifying and promoting American indie rock.

A total of 54 issues were published between 1976 and 1982 when the magazine folded. It was briefly revived in 1984 but never achieved the same success.

Just looking at these covers for New York Rocker there’s a great sense of the history and in particular the incredibly high quality of new music that came out of punk and new wave each week during the late 1970s and early 1980s—the likes of which we may never see again.
 
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More covers from the New York Rocker, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.26.2016
09:44 am
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Hilariously angry NYC news editorial tells the ‘scummy’ Sex Pistols where to get off
05.19.2016
04:30 pm
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I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, so I remember the news coverage of WPIX channel 11 from the late 1970s and early 1980s quite well. For one thing, WPIX had the best sports roundup, hosted by the acerbic Jerry Gerard.

This fantastic clip dates from May 18, 1977, and made an appearance on WPIX’s own Facebook presence yesterday, which proves that they have a sense of humor. In the clip anchorwoman Pat Harper (I remember her) throws it to a lady named Doris Lilly (don’t remember her), who apparently was “previewing” an appearance by the Sex Pistols, to take place at the Elgin Theater, that never ended up happening.
 

 
Did the Sex Pistols have a gig scheduled for the Elgin in late May 1977? Lilly says “later this month.” Please do weigh in if you happen to remember this.

The Elgin Theater was on the intersection of 19th Street and Eighth Ave., and later became the Joyce Theater, a notable center for dance. Interestingly, the Elgin was located just a couple blocks south of the Hotel Chelsea, the site of the final days of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen.

It’s well known that the classic lineup never did play New York City—in that sense, Lilly, who passed away in 1991, must have died a happy woman. The Sex Pistols would have to wait until 1996 before playing their first Manhattan show.

In any case, Lilly wants you to know that she’s had it up to here with these scummy punks and .... just watch it, it’s great.
 

 
h/t: Ned Raggett

Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.19.2016
04:30 pm
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‘The Art of the Black Panthers’: Revolutionary designer Emory Douglas
04.06.2016
04:12 pm
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Emory Douglas served as Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party and artistic director of The Black Panther newspaper from its inception in 1967. Douglas is unquestionably one of the most important artists and designers working in the political realm in the last several decades, and his work is a necessary component of anyone’s understanding of the lived experience of activism, advocacy, and resistance.

If you are trying to push an issue forward on the grass-roots level, whether it’s women’s health issues, the crimes of the 1%, or the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, the work of Emory Douglas is relevant to you.

Douglas was a native of the Bay Area; as a “guest” of the California Youth Authority (today it’s called the California Division of Juvenile Justice)—basically prison for teenage offenders—he was told to work in the print shop, which he called “my first introduction to graphic design.”
 

 
Huey P. Newton asked Douglas to provide the Black Panther newspaper with an effective visual style. Douglas and Eldridge Cleaver did many of the early issues pretty much by themselves.

One inspiration Douglas had was to mimic woodcuts for their ability to communicate ideas very clearly in a simple and stark visual style, an approach that proved very effective for his entire career. One factor that influenced Douglas’ style was that the Panthers could only afford one other color (aside from black and white), most of the time. So the picture would be conceived in a powerful black-and-white way and then the single color would be used to highlight some portion of the picture. In a way, it helped that the pictures weren’t too complex in terms of the color palette.
 

1969
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.06.2016
04:12 pm
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The black magic ‘hexing party’ to kill Adolf Hitler with voodoo, 1941
03.28.2016
12:50 pm
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Florence Birdseye chants above an effigy of Hitler, 1941.
 
William Seabrook was a well-known occultist (and, not coincidentally, a buddy of Aleister Crowley) who in 1940 had published a fairly popular book called Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today.

On a wet evening in January 1941, Seabrook and “a youthful band of idealists” convened at a cabin in the Maryland woods—they made sure to bring a whole bunch of rum from Jamaica, land of voodoo—with a single, lofty aim: “to kill Adolf Hitler by voodoo incantation.” A report of the event, complete with photographs, made for one of the odder features ever to appear in LIFE Magazine, under the title “LIFE Goes to a Hexing Party.”

The event had curious connections to the federal government, it seems. The tom-tom drums were borrowed, according to LIFE, from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Furthermore, LIFE described the group of voodoo practitioners as “respectable residents of Washington, D.C.,” and the cabin in which it all took place belonged to a man named Charles Tupper, who was an employee in a naval factory. The group brought, in LIFE’s words, “a dressmaker’s dummy, a Nazi uniform, nails, axes, tom-toms and plenty of Jamaica rum.” The dummy and the uniform were needed for the life-sized effigy that the group was going to create of Hitler.

One fascinating thing about this escapade is that the United States was not yet at war with Germany. That would have to wait nearly a year, when the Japanese attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7.

The ritual, prepared by Seabrook, invoked a pagan deity named Istan and incorporated the following phrases, to be intoned at the effigy:

“You are Hitler; Hitler is you! ... The woes that come to you, let it come to him! ... Hitler! You are the enemy of man and of the world; therefore we curse you. ... We curse you by every tear and drop of blood you have caused to flow. We curse you with the curses of all who have cursed you!”

After every line the whole group would repeat, “We curse you!”

They also chanted in unison: “We are driving nails and needles into Adolf Hitler’s heart!”

Incidentally, one of Seabrook’s claims to fame was that he once ... dined with cannibals! According to him, human flesh is pretty tasty: “It was like good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef . . . and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted.” Not chicken?

It took several years, but the United States and its allies France, Great Britain, and the USSR defeated the Axis Powers in 1945.

Here is a gallery of images from this oh-so-peculiar event. Clicking will spawn a larger version, for all images not in portrait orientation.
 

Revelers make their way to a “hex party” in the Maryland woods, 1941.
 

Chief hexer Ted Caldwell intones an incantation. On the right, in dark shirt and tie, is author William Seabrook. Hitler’s effigy sits with its back to the window.
 
More of these remarkable pictures after the jump….......

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.28.2016
12:50 pm
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