I was driving through Thrall, Texas today and spotted a garden of dead cars on the side of the road. I had to film it.
The Garden Of Dead Cars is not some splashy experimental film. You may find it boring. I found it accidentally. I merely filmed what I saw. And what I saw was the shadows of leaves playing against rusted and decaying cars. It was a breezy day and the shadows were excited. What I also saw was the metal of the cars eroding and oxidizing and taking on the appearance of planet Earth viewed from deep space, hoods and door panels looking like continents adrift in massive oceans, jutting walls of monolithic desert mesas and craggy, desolate mountain ranges or topographical maps of lunar landscapes.
As I looked intently at what I was filming, I realized that even the automobile has a body that is organic and that the elements will work upon that body until a Chevrolet or Ford becomes dirt, mineral and dust. All highways lead to the all-forgiving cunt of Earth to be ground into some essential molecular construct that will generate new forms, new life. In the extreme long run, not even cars die. Carma.
The video’s audio is what was going on around me: wind, birds, and the occasional sound of a car or motorcycle revving its engine, calling out to their dead brothers.
In these images I see our past but also our future.
Special for Easter, here’s a rarely seen document from the bowels of the New York No Wave scene: Ecstatic Stigmatic directed by Teenage Jesus and the Jerks member Gordon Stevenson and starring his wife Mirielle Cervenka (older sister of Exene). Both of whom would be dead within 2 years of the film’s completion, he of AIDS and she of a hit and run driver in Los Angeles. Also appearing is DNA’s Arto Lindsay. Despite the home made proto-goth silliness this is actually pretty relentlessly creepy and the music is fantastic. Definitely worth at least one viewing and/or skimming. Extra huge thanks to our own Marc Campbell for hunting down the best possible version, cleaning it up and uploading for your viewing displeasure. Probably NSFW.
Shot in 1925, Aurelio Rossis’ fascinating film diary of his trek into the Belgian Congo, In The Land Of Giants and Pygmies, has been restored from two stencil-colored 35mm prints found in a camera store in Lyon, France.
A time lost forever if not for this amazing footage.
Pat Tillman was killed, perhaps murdered, by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan seven years ago today.
“I’m Pat Tillman! I’m Pat fucking Tillman! Why are you shooting at me?”
With those livid last words, pro-football star and Army Ranger Patrick Daniel Tillman Jr.—who gave up a multimillion-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to serve his country and become the most famous enlisted man in Afghanistan—died in a fusillade of friendly fire on a rocky hillside near the Pakistani border. The bullets, coming at him from 40 yards away at a rate of 950 rounds per minute, were from a machine gun wielded by a member of his own platoon.
Update May 3: Was Pat Tillman killed in order to keep him quiet? General Wesley Clark thinks it’s a possibility. In a July 2007 interview with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, Clark had this to say about Tillman’s death:
If there’s even a hint that there was something like a homicide or a murder in this case, it should’ve been fully investigated and proved or disproved, and we don’t really know how far up- Was it the Secretary of Defense’s office? Was it the White House? Where did the idea that you shouldn’t give any indication of what happened to Tillman. ‘Just go ahead and go through with the burial ceremony. Give him the Silver Star.’ Where did that- where was that idea blessed? You can be sure that that idea did not originate or stop at the Two- or Three-Star level. That was- someone approved that all the way to the top, because Pat Tillman was a political symbol used by the administration when it suited their purposes.”
Tillman was an intelligent man who, when he realized that the war in Iraq was based on propaganda, deceit and lies, was prepared to return to the States as an outspoken critic of the war. Tillman had contacted Noam Chomsky to plan a joint anti-war statement and support John Kerry’s presidential election campaign. Radical for a soldier, to say the least, and an indication of just how fed up he had become with the path his country was taking in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In March of 2003, Tillman told his buddy Spc. Russell Baer, “You know, this war is so fucking illegal.” He urged his platoon to vote against Bush in the 2004 election. He had gone from being a political asset to the Bush administration to their worst nightmare. Certainly, it would be in the best interest of the war machine to have Tillman eliminated.
In Amir Bar-Lev’s illuminating and heartbreaking The Tillman Story, we are confronted with the horrible truth of how our government manipulates its citizens and sacrifices its young in an effort to wage wars that are not only immoral but criminal.
Pat Tillman died for our sins—the sins of ignorance and blind allegiance to leaders who are nothing less than the embodiment of pure fucking evil. Will we be led into another pointless, endless war in Libya where once again the lines between the good guys and bad guys are so blurred that we don’t even know who to hate anymore? Maybe it’s time to hate ourselves for being weak-willed, spineless sheep. Maybe we deserve to be addressed in the same way that Pat Tillman’s father, Pat Sr., addressed the “investigators” involved in the cover-up of his son’s murder: “fuck you and yours.”
Watch the movie and then take your love for Tillman and your anger and do something with it. You can start by visiting the Pat Tillman Foundation’s website.
Patti Smith plays dress-up for a pirate-inspired photo shoot by Annie Liebovitz in the London studio where the latest Johnny Depp pirate movie is being filmed for Disney. The shoot took place last September.
In the video, Patti makes the connection between rock and rollers and pirates and manages to look like both.
I don’t know the exact provenance of these positively gorgeous stock film clips of the nearly-mythical Sunset Strip area in our beloved city that have been popping up in the last day or two via the Vintage Los Angeles FB group and Youtuber dantanasgirl. What an incredible treat, though. The building on the right in the first clip that bears the words Come to the Party would shortly become the Whisky a Go Go and further down the road Largo would become The Roxy. Certainly two of the more significant and beloved locations for my musical up-bringing! My Grandparent’s house was mere blocks from here, so these images really tweak some early childhood memories as well. Oh, internet….
British photo journalist and filmmaker Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya today. He was 40 years old.
Tim Hetherington, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker and photographer, and Chris Hondros, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer, were killed in the city of Misrata after being hit by mortar fire during fighting between Muammar Gaddafi’s forces and Libyan rebels. Two other photographers, Guy Martin and Chris Brown, were also injured.
Hetherington was a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair, and co-directed the Afghan War film “Restrepo” with author Sebastian Junger. That film was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary in 2011.
In his last tweet, Hetherington writes, “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”
As I write this, no one yet knows who killed Hetherington and Hondros but already there are accusatory fingers pointing in many different directions. Stateside, the deaths of these journalists will be used to further the agendas of the right and the left. In Libya, Gaddafi will blame the rebels and the rebels will blame Gaddafi. We will hear rumors that CIA operatives were behind this as part of an effort to ramp up USA involvement in the conflict, to escalate things to all-out war. That sound in the background is the dull fluttering of idiots flapping their lips in the chatrooms of the Huffington Post and the New York Times. Everybody will have their angle. And this is mine: both men deserve better than being reduced to fodder for propaganda. Hetherington and Hondos were just doing their jobs, which they did brilliantly, jobs that are becoming increasingly perilous.
They include 4 fatalities, numerous injuries, 49 detentions, 11 assaults, two attacks on news facilities, the jamming of two international television transmissions, at least four instances of obstruction, the expulsion of two international journalists, and the interruption of Internet service. At least six local journalists are missing amid speculation they are in the custody of security forces. One international journalist and two media support workers are also unaccounted for.
It is important that we see the images and hear the voices coming out of these war zones. Only then can we understand the depth of the pain and the extent of the horror humanity is capable of inflicting upon itself. It seems to me that without genuinely confronting this horror we are doomed to repeating it…just as we are now.
How far down do we go before coming up again? Is there a glimmering of light in the dark pulp of man’s inhumanity. Yes, even in the awful carnage of war, there is poetry. Wherever there is life, there is poetry. Finding that poetry within the deafening clatter of broken bones and battered flesh is a rare gift. To extract a shred of humanity from the cruel charnel house of war gives us some hope of redemption. In the photos and films of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, we saw and felt the human heart that beats under the veils of hate and madness. They were blood poets - artists that went down into the pit so that we didn’t have to, went down to find that last shard of humanity in that dark hole. Do you understand? They did it to save ourselves from ourselves. Their mission was to find the humanity in our human-made hell - to return with something that recalls to us the glory of being alive.
Diary is a highly personal and experimental film that expresses the subjective experience of my work, and was made as an attempt to locate myself after ten years of reporting. It’s a kaleidoscope of images that link our western reality to the seemingly distant worlds we see in the media.” Tim Hetherington.
Dave Markey’s 1991: The Year Punk Broke is a slab of D.I.Y. rock history. Markey films Sonic Youth and some of punk and grunge’s legendary groups as they tour the European festival circuit. This is before “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was released and Nirvana went from being an underground band to an international phenomenon.
Featuring Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Babes in Toyland, the Ramones, Mudhoney and more.
See 1991: The Year Punk Broke on Google while you can.
On April 29, 2011 videos that have been uploaded to Google Video will no longer be available for playback. We’ve added a Download button to the Video Status new window page, so you can download videos that you want to save. (The Download feature will be disabled after May 13, 2011.)
There’s a tremendous amount of cool stuff available on Google Video. Check it out. I, for one, will miss it. It’s one of the few free sites with hard-to-find and out-of-print feature length films and videos. A tremendous resource for film buffs and pop culture junkies.
1991: The Year Punk Broke is finally going to be released on DVD with lots of bells and whistles. For more info, go here.
The Discipline Of DE is a short 16mm film directed by Gus Van Sant. It’s based on a story in “Exterminator!” by William Burroughs that at times reads like Buddhist noir:
DE is a way of doing. DE simply means doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage which is also the quickest and most efficient way, as you will find as you advance in DE.You can start right now tidying up your flat, moving furniture or books, washing dishes, making tea, sorting papers. Don’t fumble, jerk, grab an object. Drop cool possessive fingers onto it like a gentle old cop making a soft arrest.”
Van Sant discusses the early stages of making the film:
This was my first film outside of my school projects, made in 1977 or so, and was the occasion that I was able to first meet William S. Burroughs, whose writing I much admired and who lived at the time in New York City. I wanted to get in touch with him to ask his permission to film this small story, and found him listed in the New York telephone book. I was under the impression that if I visited him and asked his permission in person that I would have more of a chance. And that may have been true—he did give me an okay—but also I was able to ask a few questions about the ideas in the story.
One of the things he said during our visit, not in the film or story, was, “Of course, when anyone knocks something over, or trips over something or breaks anything, they are at that moment thinking of someone they don’t like.”
...every time I knocked something over or tripped over anything I stopped to think, and I was always thinking of someone or some¬thing that I didn’t like. This was illuminating. Time and again, when I fumbled and broke something, there it was, I was thinking about some unfortunate incident in my past where I had been misjudged, ridiculed, or caught red-handed by someone, or when I stubbed my toe, I realized that I was thinking of a meeting in the future with someone about something that I didn’t want any¬thing to do with. So, the answer was possibly to not do too much moving around when things appear in your mind that could lead to someone or something that you don’t like. I haven’t mastered this one, however.
“Exterminator!” was published in 1973. A couple of years after its publication, Burroughs came to Boulder, Colorado to conduct a series of readings and workshops for the Jack Kerouac School Of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute. His concept of doing things easily fit in perfectly with the Dharma teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In an atmosphere dominated by Tibetan Buddhist iconography and terminology, Burroughs’ approach was refreshingly Western while still capturing the essence of Trungpa’s crazy wisdom, a Zen-like attitude, both rigorous and lighthearted.
Funk and soul grooves from the USA, Europe and Jamaica provide the soundtrack for vintage film footage of old school strippers, hippie chicks, biker broads and wild jungle women. XX-rated.
Russ Meyer meets James Ellroy on a street named Hot Buttered Soul.
01. Ninety Eight Cents Plus Tax - Detroit City Limits
02. Gang Train - Bernard Estardy
03. Jungle Trumpet - Pierre Dutour
04. Pepper Drums - P.A Dahan & Mat Camison
05. Chocolate Cherry - The Joe Tex Band
06. The Cat Walk - Gerry And Paul And The Soul Emissaries
07. Bongo Ring - Bernard Estary
08. Africadelic - Manu Dibango
09. My Sweet Baby - The Puzzles
10. Thing - Lowell Fulsom
11. Put Your Weight on It Pt. 1 - Filmore Street Soul Rebellion
12. Indian Pop Bass - Guy Pederson
13. Wake The Monster - Big Jullien & His All Stars
14. Rythmiques No. 2 - Pierre-Alain Dahan
15. Bullitt - Louis Jordan
16. Herm - San Francisco TKOs
17. Groovin` - The Killer Bees With Cyril Neville
18. LSD - Lee Scratch Perry