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Hawkwind poet Robert Calvert’s prophetic sci-fi noir ‘The Kid From Silicon Gulch’
10.26.2014
08:07 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Hawkwind
Musicals
Computers
Robert Calvert

Detective Sparks (Robert Calvert) is ready to solve the case!
 
In 1981, the idea of something like the Internet and its physical conduit, the personal computer, becoming deeply intertwined with our work and lives, still seemed like something out of a science-fiction novel. Granted, home computers were already in existence back in this time, but only for a small demographic that was mainly consumers with a healthy-sized wallet and a technology-inclined brain to match. There had been a number of sci-fi works, both films and prose that did include plot lines involving a world tied to computers, but none of these could quite touch the futuristic noir/stage musical, The Kid from Silicon Gulch
 
Robert Calvert during his time in Hawkwind.
 
The Kid from Silicon Gulch starred Robert Calvert, who also pulled in triple duty as both the main writer and co-director. Calvert was best-known for being the band poet and occasional lead singer for the space rock sonic phenom Hawkwind, throughout most of the 1970’s. Calvert, while often considered to be the “mad” one of the band, was also an incredibly forward thinking artist and writer, with all of those attributes shining brightly in Kid.
 
The musical stars Calvert as Brad Sparks, the sole private dick, not counting his personal computer assistant, ZYTE B128, at the “Non-Stop Computerized Detective Agency” in an unnamed time in the future. It’s an electro-noir universe with appropriately pulp-novel worthy lines and an eerie nod to the future partially turned into our present. Just look at Calvert’s intro from the original script;

“This is my beat. The heat drenched empty sidewalks and all the millions of lonely electronic hotel rooms and cybernetic apartments. No one goes out any more. They all stay in their rooms pressing their buttons, staring at their terminals. I call it The Gulch. Silicon Gulch.”

 
Detective Sparks is ready for action.
 
Sparks’ world soon is rattled by the arrival of one Baroness Spencer, whom Brad refers to as “Countess.” Blonde, gorgeous, pixie-built but with a big-regal swagger, the Countess (Jill Riches) has come to Detective Sparks to help investigate the death of her husband, Hymy. The police are calling it an accident but the Countess feels like it is murder, with the accusation being that the suspect is not “whom” but “what.” The what in question being Hymy’s own “micro-computer.” Given the mention a little bit later on in the play when Sparks’ is interviewing Hymy’s “micro-computer,” the latter states that everything it says is done in a merely imitative manner. In short, there’s a potential hacker running around the Gulch, manipulating machines to execute the criminal biddings of man…. or woman.

The death numbers start to add up as Sparks peels the layers of this case in an onion-like manner, uncovering some clever twists and great songs along the way. As someone who usually gets a little nervous with the phrase “stage musical,” thanks to a theater geek past that entailed seeing all strains of deep cheese of the Oklahoma variety, the music in The Kid from Silicon Gulch is refreshingly modern and flat out good. Some of the songs, especially “Silicon Neurotic Blues,” “Day Called X” and “On the Case” (which was later covered by Calvert’s former bandmate, Hawkwind backbone and founder, Dave Brock, whose guitar work also appeared on some of the music used in the show) sound borderline No Wave. Calvert’s ability to frame his lyrics perfectly with an assortment of melodies, a skill that served him so well both in Hawkwind and in his solo career, is bar none. Sadly, the soundtrack for Kid from Silicon Gulch were never officially recorded, but thanks to both the video recording efforts from Sandy Cameron and James Heyarth, as well as Calvert’s son, Nicholas, who uploaded the taped segments online, we can enjoy this show on YouTube.
 
Confrontation between the Countess and Sparks
 
The cast, while as minimal as the sets, are great fun. Riches, who also has illustrated a number of book covers, including work for another Hawkwind wordsmith, Michael Moorcock, is appropriately cool and slightly dangerous here as the Countess. (Riches would soon change her name to Jill Calvert, after becoming Robert’s third and last wife.) Peter Pavli is likable as the bumbling Sgt. Karelli. Another cohort of Calvert’s, Pavli also pulled multi-tasking duties here, since he helped create a lot of the music used throughout Kid.

Of course, the real star here is Calvert himself. Physically, with his tall build, strong profile and requisite trench coat and fedora, he could not be a better fit for the hard boiled and hardworking Detective Sparks. While it will shock no one who is familiar with Hawkwind or his solo work that he handles all of the singing duties with sheer deftness, it should be noted that he is equally good with all of the attached stage acting duties. Prior to his transition into the space/punk rock poet “urban guerrilla” laureate, Calvert worked in the theatre, even founding his own street troupe entitled Street Dada Nihilismus in the late 60’s. So his multi-creative backgrounds served him very well here. One has to wonder if the creators of the UK sci-fi television show, Red Dwarf, got to attend any of the performances of The Kid. Sparks’ interaction with the assorted computers, especially his own, is reminiscent of Dwarf’s main computer network, Holly. Given that Red Dwarf started in 1988, a few short years after Kid from Silicon Gulch debuted, it is a possibility. (1988 is also the same year that Calvert passed away from a heart attack.)
 
Still from Kid from Silicon Gulch
 
Considering how many artistic bowling pins Robert Calvert could efficiently juggle, it’s a crime that he remains but a cult figure. Given how many bloated rock-egos surpassed him on the fame game, as well as the critical write-up level, the time is well nigh for Calvert’s work, both in terms of music, writing and overall performance, to get a proper hero’s welcome-style re-evaluation. The Kid from Silicon Gulch is just the tip of the iceberg of the blazing light that is the genius of Robert Calvert
 

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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‘Idea’: Incredible pop-psychedelic Bee Gees TV special, 1968


 
There was a time, long, long ago—as ridiculous as this might sound today—when being a Bee Gees fan was something one didn’t admit to in polite company. By the mid-80s, the Brothers Gibb had more or less been relegated to the “guilty pleasures” category and their second career wilderness. If you liked them, it had to be, you know, “ironic” or something.

But fuck that. It was around that time, when I was in my early 20s, that I personally started to go absolutely nuts for their music. In my world, only an asshole doesn’t like the Bee Gees. If you don’t like the Bee Gees, best to keep it to yourself around me if you want to retain my respect for your musical tastes. It’s like admitting to being secretly Republican.

I’m serious. I’ll just cut you off!
 

 
That said, as big of a Bee Gees fan as I am—I have nearly everything—I was never, ever able to get my hands on a copy of their 1968 Idea TV special from German television. This morning, while looking for something else entirely, I came across some pop art style promo clips for two of their songs that I’d never seen before and they blew me away. I assumed that these were from the wonderfully art-directed French TV series Dim Dam Dom, but upon doing a little searching around, I found that they were were in fact from Idea and that the entire special was on YouTube in very high quality. It’s phenomenal!

The German Idea TV special coincided with the release of the Bee Gees’ fifth album, Idea, in 1968 but was actually shot in Belgium. At the time, they were a five-piece band, the brothers Gibb along with Vince Melouney on guitar and vocals and Colin Petersen on drums. Their special guests are Brian Auger and The Trinity with Julie Driscoll (who are incredible) and Lil Lindfors, a Swedish singer who performs “Words” in Swedish.
 

 
It was directed by Jean-Christophe Averty, who also directed three of my very favorite things ever: the short film “Melody” aka “Histoire de Melody Nelson” starring Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, his WILD (and technically advanced) adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, and the incredible 1966 documentary A Soft Self-Portrait of Salvador Dali, which is hands down the very best film ever made about the painter. Averty has had a long and distinguished career in French TV, film and radio. The art direction, which owes much to the Beatles’ then-new Yellow Submarine, was done by the grand Guy Peellaert, the Belgian artist best-known for his cover for David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and the Rock Dreams book.

The whole thing is amazing, but here’s the title number to whet your appetite. If you don’t get high from watching this, I can’t help you.
 

 
After the jump, the entire Bee Gees’ ‘Idea’ TV special…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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After ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’: A gallery of Peter Blake’s pop art album covers

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The ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ tableau
 
British pop artist Peter Blake still receives copies of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in the mail with a fan request to add his signature and send the iconic cover back by return of post. It’s because the cover to Sgt Pepper’s is Blake’s most famous artwork, one made in collaboration with his then wife Jann Haworth.

In 1967, the year of Sgt. Pepper’s, Blake was the leading light of the British pop art movement, exhibiting alongside his fellow talents Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier, R. B. Kitaj, Peter Phillips, Richard Hamilton and David Hockney (until he moved to Los Angeles). What made Blake’s work special then (as it is now) was his ability to create an iconic and identifiable style of representation (through collage, paint and installation) that fully captured that swinging decade. His mix of pop culture ephemera (pop stars, soccer players) together with the semi-autobiographical self-portraiture (of artist as lapel-badge wearing kid in grey short trousers) maintains a traditional narrative form within a highly individual and modernist style.

Blake has continued to produce iconic and memorable art over the decades, and long after Sgt. Pepper’s he is still in great demand as a designer of album covers. This selection ranges from his early work for Liverpool Poet Roger McGough, to his work for his former art school pupil Ian Dury (Blake was, by the singer’s admission, his most important mentor) to Oasis and Paul Weller. Blake has also worked with Eric Clapton on three separate projects though briefly thought he had lost the job on his first Clapton commission (24 Nights) when he ‘fessed up to “Slow Hand” that he couldn’t abide long guitar solos.
 
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Roger McGough: ‘Summer with Monika’ (1967).
 
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The Beatles: ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ cover designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, 1967.
 
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Pentangle: Sweet Child’ (1968).
 
whfacedanwhopbalk81.jpg
The Who: ‘Faces Dances’ (1981). Designed by Peter Blake, with portrait paintings of The Who band members by Bill Jacklin, Tom Phillips, Colin Self, Richard Hamilton, Mike Andrews, llen Jones, David Hockney, Clive Barker, R. B. Kitaj, Howard Hodgkin, Patric Caulfield, Peter Blake himself, Joe Tilson, Patric Proctor and David Tindle.
 
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Band Aid: ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?’ (1984).
 
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Paul Weller: ‘Stanley Road’ (1995).
 
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Various: ‘Brand New Boots and Panties—Tribute to Ian Dury’ (2001).
 
In 1962, director John Schlesinger approached Peter Blake to make a documentary for the BBC about British Pop Art. From the outset, the pair did not get on—Schlesinger had ambitions to make a movie (he did, it was called Billy Liar). Schlesinger left the project and was replaced by the young Ken Russell, who was fast becoming the star director at the BBC’s Monitor arts documentary series. Russell and Blake hit it off immediately and the two developed the documentary into something bigger and better. Russell brought in artist Pauline Boty, who he had wanted to make film with, while Blake brought in artists Peter Philips and Derek Boshier. Under Russell’s directorial guidance the four artists collaborated on a dazzling and highly original film that captured elements of each artist’s personality. The title Pop Goes the Easel was apparently Blake’s suggestion, but the film’s style is all Russell.
 

 
More Blakean covers, after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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R.I.P. Jack Bruce of Cream
10.25.2014
09:22 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music
R.I.P.

Tags:
Jack Bruce
Cream


 
This morning, the home page of the great British blues/rock bassist Jack Bruce announced his passing, of unspecified causes.
 

 
Bruce was of course best known as the bassist and singer of Cream, the heavy blues-rock band of the late ‘60s that is justly credited with contributing to the invention of heavy metal, and which also featured guitarist Eric Clapton and completely insane drummer Ginger Baker. After that band’s dissolution, Bruce was the only band member not to join Blind Faith, instead pursuing a career playing bass in jazz and blues trios, and working solo, and notably, he was the bassist on almost all of Lou Reed’s high-watermark album Berlin.

Just six months ago, Bruce released his first solo album in over ten years, Silver Rails. It will presumably be his last word, though there will surely be some posthumous blood-from-a-stone compilations in the offing. There’s excellent background info on Bruce’s early career (and terrific recent interview footage with him) in the must-see Ginger Baker documentary Beware of Mr. Baker, which is streaming on Netflix. The 1969 documentary on Bruce, Rope Ladder To The Moon details his early solo career. You can watch it here. Among other great performance moments to be seen here, about 17 minutes in there’s some SCORCHING live footage of Bruce playing upright jazz bass with Dick Heckstall-Smith and John Hiseman of the British prog/jazz/rock band Colosseum. The song is “Over the Cliff” from the 1970 LP Things We Like. Naturally there’s Cream footage included, as well.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Long live the Ramones: Incredible unseen early Ramones news story!
10.25.2014
08:10 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Ramones


 
Just when you thought there was nothing left to see, that you’d watched every Ramones clip YouTube has to offer, up pops something like this. A veritable ten-minute rock and roll history lesson from the Ramones. The fact that they were put on TV this early in the midwest is shocking enough, but for an extended story that is quite unedited, where their message comes across loud and clear, a message that holds true to this day and forever, well, it’s just something else. It’s so exciting for me to revisit the open and endless possibilities of that time, to see the group embraced by small town weirdo hippies turning punk right before our eyes as the whole country got bored of so-called “rock music” and disco! And the local news (or maybe this was a local PBS newsmagazine, it’s hard to tell) totally getting it!

We see the band performing three numbers at the Red Lion in Champaign IL and signing autographs at the local Musicland store (‘mema them?). Johnny Ramone does most of the talking and he is already looking forward to retiring! Beyond great! Major thanks to whoever found this, it’s only been up on YouTube for a few weeks. And to think that I just received a gold record for the first Ramones’ LP (thank you Linda Ramone!) which took 38 years to happen. THIRTY EIGHT YEARS to sell 500,000 copies! I will never understand this. U2, who have a song about the Ramones on their new “download thing,”  had it put in 500 million iTunes subscribers pockets in one day. It’s not fair! But in the end it all came true as the Ramones become what they always knew they should be, one of the top most influential bands of all time… I just hope they can see it happening from whatever juvenile delinquent heaven they’re rehearsing in. Long live the Ramones!
 
kjpog
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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Mingus, Monk and more: Portraits of jazz greats painted on drum skins
10.24.2014
05:54 pm

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
jazz
Charles Mingus
drums
Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk drum skin art by Nicole Di Nardo
Thelonious Monk
 
Twenty-seven-year-old Toronto based artist Nicole Di Nardo says her desire to paint portraiture on drums skins was inspired by “tondos” or “circular” works of art whose origins have been traced as far back to 500 BC in ancient Greece, then were popularized again during the Renaissance in the 14th century and in the 15th century by Sandro Botticelli. Di Nardo gives used drum skins she obtains from the Humber College of Music in Ontario a new life by hand painting images of jazz greats, especially drummers, on skins that have been worn in a way that helps illustrate the musical passion that drove her subjects to create their music. Here’s a little bit more from Di Nardo’s bio on her creative process:
 

I source skins that are beaten to the point of near uselessness by eager young musicians. I then repurpose the skin by selecting it based on its unique design, which corresponds to the portrait I wish to render. I am interested in painting portraits of musicians who have fire in their bellies, those that reach a transcendental state while performing which is reflected in their expression. During these moments, I believe the tarnish of life fades away and the human spirit is evident most clearly.

 
Di Nardo’s subjects also include a few rockers like Janis Joplin and Tom Waits, but it’s her portraits of Charles Mingus, legendary percussionist Max Roach, and modern day timekeeper Questlove that really shine. Di Nardo’s works run around $180 dollars each over at her Etsy store.  Images of Di Nardo’s works follow. Dig it, Daddy-O.
 
Charles Mingus drum art by Nicole Di Nardo
Charles Mingus
 
Max Roach drum art by Nicole Di Nardo
Max Roach
 
Elvin Jones drum art by Nicole Di Nardo
Elvin Jones
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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The Beginning of Doves: EARLY live Marc Bolan performance from 1967


 
John Peel intros this early on—and I do mean really early on, he’d just left John’s Children—performance by his chum Marc Bolan’s brand new “little group,” Tyrannosaurus Rex.

After a single disastrous gig with a four-piece rock group, Bolan slimmed the act down to just himself and wild-man bongo player Steve Peregrin Took.

The duo are seen here performing in the legendary psychedelic nightclub, Middle Earth in late 1967. Tyrannosaurus Rex were one of the most regular acts to play the club, along with Soft Machine, Tomorrow, The Deviants and the Graham Bond Organization.

The number, “Sarah Crazy Childe,” was a John’s Children b-side written by Marc.

If there’s an earlier clip of Tyrannosaurus Rex, I’ve not seen it.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Mashup fun with Derek Jarman’s 1976 Sex Pistols footage
10.24.2014
04:04 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Derek Jarman
Sex Pistols


 
So I was searching YouTube, like one does, for interesting obscure music stuff to watch (and post to DM, of course), and lo, laid before mine eyes in the related videos column to the right of a Sylvain Sylvain video was “Sex Pistols - 1976 02 14 Butler’s Warph (sic) Earliest Known Footage,” shot by no less a luminary than the legendary underground filmmaker Derek Jarman! Now, for all I know, there may be earlier extant Pistols footage, but one way or the other, I don’t care, as the stuff is captivating. The young band is captured here in its initial burst of brash glory at a time when punk was still too young for its tropes to have become tedious clichés, and a technical happenstance rendered the footage absolutely lovely—as the captions will inform you when you watch it, Jarman shot this on Super-8 film at a nonstandard frame rate, rendering the footage soft, choppy, gauzy, and otherworldly.

When I muted the sound to answer a phone call, I noticed something—absent the Pistols’ music, it kind of reminded me a little of the video for “Here’s Where the Story Ends” by the Sundays. (If you don’t know it, click the link and take a few minutes to check it out, it’s a very pretty pop song that begins to border on shoegaze. It was popular among the 120 Minutes set in 1990, and it holds up quite well.) So suddenly, I was on a mission. I opened some new browser tabs and tried playing a couple dozen shoegaze, indie, dream-pop and post-rock songs along with the silenced Sex Pistols footage.

There are far worse ways to kill an evening.

I found something out rather quickly—there’s such a thing as too slow. Stuff I tried by Slowdive, Mogwai, and Godspeed You Black Emperor just didn’t work well at all. The music that seemed to work most satisfyingly was dense and trippy, but still uptempo. I encourage you to do some searching on your own—and please post your wins in the comments, of course, as I’d love to try them out—but I included some embeds that I liked in the hope that might start things rolling. Oh, and tiresome punk purist fogies getting ready to agonize at me about how HORRIBLY WRONG it is to play a Lush song over this precious heavenly golden dewdrop of rebel history? It’s a bit of fucking fun, lighten the hell up. I MEAN IT, MAAAAAN.

Here’s that Pistols film, to begin with, and a pile of alternate soundtrack options follows. I don’t even have to tell you to try playing them all at once, right?
 

 
It continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Appreciating the peculiar Euro-disco genius of Boney M.
10.24.2014
01:17 pm

Topics:
Dance
Music

Tags:
Boney M.


 
In addition to being a hell of a lot of fun, the 1970s Euro-disco sensations known as Boney M. are an academic paper on gender and ethnicity in popular music—or three—waiting to happen. Boney M.‘s best years were from 1974 to the early 1980s, a pretty healthy run for a genre that often favored one-hit wonders.

Operating out of Germany, Boney M. were an outfit consisting of one man and three women, all four of whom were from the Caribbean and read as “exotic” in the lily-white Vaterland. (Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett were from Jamaica; Maizie Williams was from Montserrat; and Bobby Farrell was from Aruba.) As their producer, Frank Farian, later attested, Farrell made almost no vocal contributions to the group’s studio output, while Farian himself performed the male parts for the recordings. Farrell’s primary functions were to look awesome and (just as with the three women) to dance his ass off, often in that synchronized Spinners sort of way. The vocal hooks were often quite infectious, and the busy beat gave people something to dance to. When Boney M. were good, they were very, very good.
 

 
They never did much damage in the U.S., but Boney M. were a force in Europe. Farian had a sense for how to get the most out of “unlikely” combinations of talents. His most notorious act (by far) was Milli Vanilli, who if you notice, followed a very similar template to Boney M., attractive black people pretending to sing vocal tracks they had not sung in the studio (to be fair, Boney M. generally did sing their own vocals in live settings). We encountered Farian a few months ago when we wrote about “Wow,” the Milli Vanilli opera. As Wikipedia blandly says of Farian, “His tendency to create bands with a visual image distinct from the recorded musical performances led to controversy in the case of Milli Vanilli.”
 
 
In any case, 1975 wasn’t 1990, so the media police were quite willing to let Boney M. persevere with their quasi-lip-synched presentation—of course, Boney M. never won any Grammys. Their first hit, “Baby Do You Wanna Bump?” was inventive disco to be sure (ripping off the horn riff from Prince Buster’s 1964 ska hit “Al Capone”—a song also “homaged” in The Specials’ “Gangsters”) but generic in terms of subject matter. With “Ma Baker” and “Rasputin,” Boney M. cashed in on the exoticism implied in their group’s concept.
 

 
The story of “Ma Baker” is likely the most interesting in Boney M.‘s catalog. The birth name of Ma Barker (not “Baker”) was Arizona Donnie Clark, and in the early 20th century her four sons committed enough violent crimes to be called “the Barker gang”—Ma Barker traveled with them as they terrorized the midwest. She was killed in a shootout with the FBI in 1935, and of all possible people J. Edgar Hoover called her “the most vicious, dangerous, and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade.” Now that’s a resume! For whatever reason Farian felt that “Baker” sounded better than “Barker” (not that it matters, but I think he was wrong about this). So this track about a legendary American female crime lord was recorded by four black people from the Caribbean and overseen by a German—calling the music ethnologists, there are monographs to be written here…. (Probably worth pointing out right here that the b-side was a discofied take on the Yardbirds’ “Still I’m Sad” which was practically a Gregorian chant in the gloomy original!)
 

 
The exotic concept continued with “Rasputin,” which likely has the most hilarious lyrics in the Boney M. catalog—for instance, get this: “Rasputin! Lover of the Russian queen, there was a cat that really was gone. Rasputin! Russia’s greatest love machine, it was a shame how he carried on!” Alas, the Soviet Union banned the song, which probably didn’t bother Boney M. too much.
 
“Rasputin”

 
More delirious Boney M. videos after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Martha Stewart’s idea of a ‘punk rock party’ is the least punk rock thing that ever happened


 
So look: I’m a slacker to the bone, purest Generation X, product release 1970. When I was paying the most attention to pop culture—the early 1990s—Richard Linklater and Douglas Coupland were new figures to the cultural discourse, OK Soda was available in stores, Ethan Hawke was starring in Reality Bites, and Steve Albini was writing about fucked-up record deals in an issue of the Baffler with the words “Alternative to What?” on the cover. The point in me telling you all this is that (a) I’m comfortable with the term “sellout,” and (b) I’ll never not worry, at least a little, about something crossing over too much.

With these thoughts in mind, we turn to Alexandra Churchill’s recent article on Martha Stewart Living about “throwing a punk rock-inspired party,” which, I swear to god, I think may represent a new signpost in the debate about corporate cooptation of rock music, just like, say, Bob Dylan’s Victoria Secret ad. It may be the least punk thing has ever happened, right alongside the 2013 Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which took punk as its theme to honor the Institute’s exhibit “Punk: From Chaos to Couture” (if you haven’t seen the pictures in that link, you really need to click on it).
 

 
The pictures in the Martha Stewart Living article are utterly astonishing in their entitled, privileged cluelessness. Since punks are doomy and scary, they recommend serving “Spinach Ricotta Skulls” on a coffin-shaped platter, which obviously seems a lot more “goth” than “punk.” Their vision of “punk-inspired garlands” involve the use of safety pins—yes, MSL, you got that one right—and “plaid fabric,” which ends up evoking a Burberry’s catalog a lot more than it does the Bromley Contingent.
 

 
To be fair—which I’m doing despite myself—the text isn’t quite as bad as the imagery. Churchill at least has the wit to name-check “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and “London Calling.” Honestly, if the phrase “ransom note” had even been mentioned as a possible design motif, I’d've let them off the hook completely. Apparently that did not occur to anyone. Instead they went with coffins and fondant with sheet music on it (?).
 

 
Even the one picture on the page that is within shouting distance of punk rock—the cover of the Police’s second album, Reggatta de Blanc—has this as its photo credit: “PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF WALMART.” Fuck the man!
 

 
I draw two lessons from all of this. The first is that the appeal of punk rock may be far stronger than anyone imagined. Punk rock—even the words “punk rock”—might be a toothless gesture in the direction of something angry and oppositional, but the root idea of it still has impressive staying power, to the point that someone at Martha Stewart Living wants to take some of it over and make it theirs, make it represent them. The second lesson is that there is still something profoundly scary about the anger and nihilism inherent in punk, to the point that Martha Stewart Living has to repress all traces of it and pretend that it’s a neutral style choice like the Pre-Raphaelites or Art Deco. Of course, it isn’t, and that very un-neutrality may mean that we’re heading for another 1977 moment in our culture sometime soon.

Here, MSL’s Erin Furey—almost an apt name, there—teaches you how to make Punk-Rock Inspired Pumpkins, or, er, “Studly Punk-ins,” at the end of which she hilariously throws down a “sign of the horns” hand gesture because it’s so punk rock!
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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