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Hey America, you’re fucked: Here’s the perfect song for today
11.09.2016
08:27 am

Topics:
Class War
Current Events
Politics
Punk

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A note to our readers: We might not be posting until later today, if at all.

We’re as shell-shocked as you are!
 

 
Everything seems so insignificant now. The election of Donald J. Trump—the real life inspiration for Biff Tannen, for Christ’s sake—to the highest office in the free world is a soul-sickening event.

American flunked its IQ test. One question. An EASY multiple choice.

No do-overs.

No, nothing’s amusing today unless you’re a fucking idiot. Why bother? Do you blame us? GET DRUNK AND STONED—START NOW—NO ONE WILL THINK ANY LESS OF YOU.

On a more positive note, the counterculture was reborn last night. No one knows what’s going to happen next. The goddamn storm just got here.

What are the smart people gonna do next?

Below, Alan Vega and Martin Rev let their audience fucking have it IN THE FACE with this fierce rendition of “Ghost Rider.” The perfect scream across the sky on such a dark day.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon trolls Humphrey with the most avant-garde political TV ad ever produced, 1968
11.08.2016
01:14 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Politics
Television

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In the presidential election this year, Donald Trump has been happy to paint himself as the “law and order” candidate with much talk of American inner cities as war zones consisting of little other than misery, violence, and chaos. As many have noted, “law and order” is code to racist whites about the dangers of unbridled African-American actually using their constitutional freedoms and electoral clout.

It’s actually a very old trope. Richard Nixon was its originator, the first national candidate to realize that racial panic could be used to wrest the South from the control of the Democrats. It’s said that President Lyndon B. Johnson understood that his signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act meant that the Democrats had “lost the South for a generation,” in a line often attributed to him. Nixon was the first national Republican politician to exploit these divisions, and exploit them he did, albeit not quite as overtly as Donald Trump has…

The bloody year of 1968 gave Nixon a lot to work with, what with the assassinations of RFK and MLK as well as the most violent political convention in American history. Nixon was able to use the tensions within the Democratic Party to color Vice President Hubert Humphrey, the party’s candidate, as ineffectual.

Eight days before the election, during an episode of Laugh-In, Nixon’s team ran a formally daring campaign commercial directed by documentary filmmaker Eugene Jones called “Convention.” The commercial used stills of Vietnam and the Democratic Convention in Chicago with jarring audio effects to send the unmistakable message that a Humphrey presidency would be a baaaaad trip, maaaan.

Interestingly, the familiar campaign music is called “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” and the commercial definitely plays with both positive and negative connotations of the phrase. This plays like an underground film of the era much more than it does a TV commercial.

Watch after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
William Burroughs: ‘When Did I Stop Wanting to Be President?’
11.08.2016
11:59 am

Topics:
Literature
Politics

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The March 1975 edition of Harper’s featured an interesting essayistic gallery culled from the American populace to answer the question, “When Did You Stop Wanting to Be President?” The group of respondents included Theodore Sorensen (advisor to President Kennedy), George Romney (former governor of Michigan and father to Mitt), Kevin Phillips (author of The Emerging Republican Majority), and Eugene McCarthy (longtime Congressman from Minnesota).

But there were two writers in the group that merit special attention, in part because one can scarcely imagine them sharing the same editorial space: Ronald Reagan and William S. Burroughs!!!

At that moment Reagan was a year away from a failed attempt to wrest the Republican nomination from sitting president Gerald Ford and five years away from being elected president as a reactionary fuckwit.

Reagan uses his space to spout a lot of aw-shucks baloney about not wanting to be president (“I never started”), to throw out a few potshots at FDR and government in general, and to express confidence that public confidence in the presidency is likely to go up in the future (hasn’t happened).

For his part, Burroughs spins a funny alternate vision of himself as “Commissioner of Sewers” (as the item is sometimes known) of Los Alamos. Turned off by the notion of the president “pawing babies and spouting bullshit,” Burroughs engages in a reverie of being able to use his exalted position as an opportunity to engage in wide-ranging graft and shenanigans, including pressuring the sheriff “for some mary juana he has confiscated and he’d better play ball or I will route a sewer through his front yard.”

Eventually Burroughs (or his fictional stand-in) realizes that he’s “simply the wrong shape” for that kind of position, noting that plenty of his “plump” boyhood friends had gone on to pull down hefty salaries in similar roles.

You can read Burroughs’ original article in the pages of Harper’s (click on “Download PDF”) or you can read a slightly different version of it in the Google Books preview of Word Virus: The William S. Burroughs Reader.

More amusing, though, is to hear Burroughs read it himself, as he does after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Jayne Mansfield for President’: Hilarious cheesecake book from 1964
11.08.2016
11:15 am

Topics:
Amusing
Politics
Sex

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Not unlike the one culminating today, the 1964 U.S. Presidential election was in dire need of some levity. The nation was still reeling from the shocking assassination of the extremely popular President John F. Kennedy, and the Republican candidate was a conservative so far to the right that he lacked support from all but the nuttiest fringes of his own party.

But those were arguably simpler times, and America had fewer problems that couldn’t be solved with boobies.

During that election cycle, actress/model Jayne Mansfield, an intended heiress-apparent to the Marilyn Monroe blonde bombshell throne, was the subject of a book called Jayne Mansfield for President: The White House or Bust. Mansfield had just become infamous as the first mainstream actress to appear nude in a Hollywood film, Promises! Promises!, but Jayne Mansfield for President goes no further than bikini cheesecake and ribald political captions. And in the introduction, there’s this amusing passage:

All right, now look down the portrait gallery of the American Presidency. What do you see there? Beards, side-whiskers, bald heads, scowls. What’s missing? I’ll tell you what’s missing, buster—a cupid’s bow smile, a false eyelash wink, a nifty cleavage. If a farmer, a clerk, a general, a Southerner can make it to the White House, why not a lady…better yet a WOMAN!

We have a stand-out candidate in mind, and we want to show you what would happen when she rolls up her sleeves throws out her chest and takes charge of the political scene.

What follows is a selection of favorite spreads. The complete publication can be viewed at Decaying Hollywood Mansions. Clicking an image spawns an enlargement.
 

 

 
More more more Mansfield after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Some thoughts on seeing Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s big concert for Hillary Clinton last night
11.05.2016
06:50 am

Topics:
Current Events
Hip-hop
Music
Politics

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I was at the Wolstein Center on the campus of Cleveland State University last night to see the much-heralded free “get out the vote” concert for Hillary Clinton featuring Jay-Z and special guest (everyone knew who it was ahead of time) Beyoncé. I had a marvelous time, it was really excellent to see America’s favorite pop stars (pretty much) alongside the soon-to-be-first female president (deep breath) on the same stage. I hadn’t actually gotten the memo that Hillary would be there as well, so it was a wonderful surprise to see her. Wisely, Hillary kept her appearance brief and let the audience enjoy its gift of excellent, free music.

A few thoughts:

1. Big arena rap shows are an awful lot of fun.. I don’t have a big point to make here, just that rap audiences put rock audiences to shame. It may have been an unusual situation because the doors opened around 5 p.m. and nobody actually performed until about 9 p.m. DJ Steph Floss was tasked with keeping the audience engaged for virtually all of that time, and he did so by playing countless rap songs by the likes of Drake and J-Kwon and Lil Wayne and so forth. The engagement of the audience during this whole stretch was impressive. Whole sections were vibrating due to the motion of people dancing, and there were frequent impromptu singalongs when Floss would cut out the volume, and so on. These people were into it. Rock audiences seldom give opening bands, often consisting of several human beings playing actual instruments, the time of day, much less pre-recorded music. This audience treated the pre-recorded music the way a rock audience would treat the Strokes. In general, the role of the audience singing along to almost everything enhanced the show.

2. Donald Trump and his organization could never have organized an event that was anything like this. During his remarks in Pennsylvania the same night, Trump essayed a jab at the Wolstein event, saying that he draws huge crowds and doesn’t need “J-Lo and Jay-Z” to do it. And that’s true enough. Just ask Scott Baio. But Trump’s line sparked another thought, for which it helped to be present in the arena last night.

It is simply this: Trump and his organization have shown no ability to mount a show like this. Hillary Clinton can and did do it. The show featured several high-profile rappers in a boda-fide arena show with a great many specialized voting-specific graphics that were specific to the event. Having been at the Wolstein from about 6 p.m. to about 10:30 p.m., I can attest that the event was very well run.

One of the biggest worries about Trump isn’t so much his terrible racism/xenophobia or the effects his awful policies would have but just his sheer incompetence and inability to execute long-range plans. This insight about the arena show addresses that concern. In a way I’m really complimenting Hillary here, she has high standards that were utterly reflected in every aspect of this event. Trump has shown in this campaign that he cannot manage a large organization (preferring a small one), and his “ground game” and internal polling operations are widely believed to be laughable. Trump may make fun of the Dems’ coziness with creative superstars, but Trump wouldn’t be able to leverage such relationships even if he did have them.

Amusingly, I don’t think the word Trump was mentioned a single time from the stage. It was a kind of game, they’d say “her opponent” or whatever and move on to something else.

3. Beyoncé is the one person in America you want behind you if you are a Democrat. Simply put, Bey is amazing. It’s not exactly an original thought. Before she went on, Jay-Z had occupied the stage for many songs, and had demonstrated why he is considered a rapper of unusual flow, presence, and intelligence. He was very, very good. Chance the Rapper, Big Sean, and J. Cole all had extended turns while Jay-Z rested up, and they all were deserving of the roars of appreciation they received from the audience.

Beyoncé made all of them, including Jay-Z, look like amateurs.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘My name is my cocaine’: That time Michael Caine had a hit with a song about an IRA informer
11.02.2016
11:24 am

Topics:
Movies
Music
Politics
Pop Culture
Superstar

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01mauricemharry.jpg
 
Apparently, the easiest way to improve your Michael Caine impersonation is to say:

My name, is my cocaine.

See. It works.

Now, Peter Sellers used to do a superb Michael Caine impression which began something like that and then going on to detail some utterly trivial boring fact (a bit like the one above…) before finishing, “Not a lot people know that.”

“Not a lot of people know that…” became the catchphrase most associated with Caine though he never actually said it. However, the great movie star did say “My name is Michael Caine” for a top ten chart hit by band Madness in 1984.

Anyone who has seen Caine’s stellar performance in the movie Little Voice will know that he is not the world’s greatest singer. Thankfully no singing was required with the song “Michael Caine.” When first approached by London’s nutty boys Madness to add his voice to their single, the great actor knocked it back. But then he had a change of heart as he explained to William Orbit in 2007:

My daughter, who was 10 at the time, said: ‘You’ve got to do it, dad, it’s Madness!’ I did it for her.

 
03mauricesinglecu.jpg
Caine as he appeared on the back cover of the single ‘Michael Caine’ by Madness.
 
Written by Madness sometime vocalist and trumpeter Carl Smyth (aka Chas Smash) and drummer Daniel Woodgate “Michael Caine” might at a first listen sound like some strange hybrid pop song about spies and celebrity and wanting a photograph or something or other. But the song is actually far more complex than its catchy little tune suggests.

I recall it was the NME that first highlighted the deeper (darker) significance of the song “Michael Caine” in its inky black pages. The NME revealed Madness’ eighteenth single was in fact about an IRA informer “forced to live under an assumed name.” When the strain becomes too great for this unlucky chap—he “cracks under the pressure” and all he has as a reminder of his past life is a photograph.

The lyrics are certainly oblique enough to disguise any direct correlation between a world class movie actor, spying, the IRA and “The Troubles”—which was the rather twee term used to describe the war in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1998. Anyhow, the lyrics go as follows:

He’s walking where I’m afraid I don’t know
I see the firemen jumping from the windows
There’s panic and I hear somebody scream

He picks up useless paper
And puts it in my pocket
I’m trying very hard to keep my fingers clean
I can’t remember tell me what’s his name

And all I wanted was a word or photograph to keep at home
And all I wanted was a word or photograph to keep

The sun is laughing its another broken morning
I see a shadow and call out to try and warn him
He didn’t seem to hear
Just turned away

The quiet fellow follows and points his fingers
Straight at you
He had to sacrifice his pride yes throw it all away

His days are numbered he walks round and round in circles
There is no place he can ever call his own
He seems to jump at the sound of the phone

Staring out the window there’s nothing he can now do
All he wanted was to remain sane
He can’t remember his own name

 
04madmaur.jpg
Madness.
 
It’s obvious from these lyrics the song’s about something nasty in the woodshed. But wait—this was Madness who weren’t exactly known for putting out deep political songs. They were considered “a singles band” which was greatly unfair considering the magnificence of their fourth studio album The Rise & Fall—which is to be frank is their Sgt. Pepper moment—a literal classic. But yes, Madness was seen as a jolly, happy, fun bunch of guys whose ska-influenced music was deeply joyous entertainment.

But then again “Michael Caine” wasn’t the band’s first foray into politics…

Watch ‘Michael Caine,’ after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Garbage Pail Kids take on the 2016 Election
11.01.2016
11:06 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Politics
Pop Culture

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I’m not going to get all political here with my own personal (Fuck Trump) politics and thoughts (Fuck Trump) about the 2016 election. Besides, who gives a shit what I think, anyway? (Trust me, I don’t care what you thnk either) I’m simply just going to post these election Garbage Pail Kids trading cards here, sans commentary. You can decide where you stand, okay? (Just fuck Trump.)

The cards are by Topps, and according to their website the cards are only available to purchase for 24 hours. It appears a lot of these are already sold out. Boo!


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Pop Group meet the Bomb Squad: Stream new album ‘Honeymoon on Mars’—a Dangerous Minds premiere
10.24.2016
10:53 am

Topics:
Hip-hop
Music
Politics
Punk

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The Pop Group emerged from relatively out-of-the mix Bristol, England in 1977 with a devastating mix of noisy art-punk with straight funk and dub that underpinned strident and often just flat-out hectoring leftist lyrics. While both the music and singing were often pointedly tuneless, the band’s jagged rhythms and allegiance to dancefloor sounds set in motion a scene in Bristol that reached an apotheosis in Trip-Hop, and continues today with Grime and post-Grime. The band’s singer/polemicist/leader Mark Stewart has a kind of godfather/elder statesman status, and keeps closely engaged with those scenes’ developments, and the second new Pop Group album since their 2010 reconstitution, Honeymoon on Mars, reflects that continued engagement.

It’s DM’s pleasure today to debut the stream of that entire new album; digital and physical will be available for purchase on Friday. It shows a band completely reinvigorated by the new—contemporary underground beats and electronic experiments dominate the songs, and it’s a much more daring LP than its predecessor, their comeback Citizen Zombie. The lead-off single, “Zipperface,” has been out for a minute, and it’s already been remixed by Hanz, and an intense video was made by Bristol videographer Max Kelan Pearce. But to produce an album that pushes into new territory, the band recruited some old hands. Dub producer and Matumbi bassist Dennis Bovell, who produced the band’s first album Y, has returned to collaborate with TPG again, but perhaps the more exciting news is that they also worked with a producer for a very different band, which also combined energetic and noisy music with heavy politicking—the legendary Bomb Squad mainstay Hank Shocklee, who of course is best known for his dizzying and utterly groundbreaking work with Public Enemy. It was my extreme pleasure to talk to both Stewart and Shocklee about the collaboration’s origins and their creative process.

MARK STEWART: This is the story—the Pop Group, straight out of school, were flavor-of-the-month in New York, us and Gang of Four. We were out there all the time, playing in the No Wave scene with DNA, Bush Tetras. I was constantly trying to dig out things I was interested in in New York, and one of our roadies and I, we had these ghettoblaster radios and we were recording things, and suddenly we heard these huge piledriver noises—it was the first scratching I’d ever heard, and it completely blew my mind. It was DJ Red Alert, from Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation, doing an early hip-hop show. I’d heard rapping before—Bristol had a good import shop—but this was the first live scratching I’d ever heard by a proper DJ. We took those tapes back home—we’d recorded like 14 or 15 shows—and duplicate, duplicate, duplicate on our double-cassette machines, and that kickstarted the scene that was to become Bristol trip-hop.

For me, I was enabled by punk, but I was given a real shiver down my spine by deep roots dub music. That’s why we worked with Dennis Bovell when we were kids, and when we were trying to think of who could pull things together for us now, when we’re trying to pull in all these newer influences like post-grime, trap, Goth-Trad, The Bug—we’re getting all this kind of new rhythmic programming. And who could pull this together? And I remember what Dennis did for us when we were kids, all running off in different directions, and I thought he could help get these new songs together. Then, I thought some of the hard rhythmic stuff, was very hip-hop sort of stuff, and by chance, Dave Allen from Gang of Four was at South By Southwest when we were there and he asked if he could bring Hank Shocklee to one of our shows. I nearly wet my pants.

HANK SHOCKLEE: I saw the Pop Group at South By Southwest. I was introduced to them by Dave Allen, the bass player for Gang of Four. And it turned me on, man! They only played for like five minutes, because the sound wasn’t right, then they got cut off for cursing at the sound guy, then it got to be a fight with the sound people, and I was just like “WOW!” The energy was reminiscent of the early days of hip-hop. [laughs] The attitude was straight punk. Then I saw them another night, and they were really great musicians, it was an eclectic mix of dub, and punk, and funk, they can go into a little bit of jazz. They have that ability, like a traditional classic band from back in the days, when even though bands were into rock ’n’ roll, they’d have other disciplines like classical or jazz, so this way they could go into other variations. I thought that was interesting so I talked to Mark, and said “You know, if you guys ever want to do something, I’m interested.” And lo and behold, he reached out and said he wanted me to do something for the album.

STEWART: When Public Enemy broke in England, it was a sea change. For a place like Bristol, where it’s very multiracial, suddenly loads of people I knew, a couple years younger, had an identity. What Hank was doing with these kind of sheets of noise, when I first heard Public Enemy, I stepped back and nearly kind of gave up, because he was doing similar kind of experiments in a slightly different way that I had only dreamt of. But for this album, nobody was trying to reproduce anything from the past. This is the first time since we’ve re-formed that we’re really what we’ve wanted to be, sort of pulling on things and reacting, and feeding off the now, to try to occupy the future with my brain. Not the whole future, there’s room for other people. [laughs]

Since the beginning of the band, I’m kind of a hunter-gatherer. I just kind of collect bass lines and play with musique concrète, trying to throw loads of stuff into the pot, it’s always cut-and-paste and juxtaposition. Then things would evolve live, and then we’d twist them again. On our album Y, we suddenly started doing loads of editing, we’d have 80 pieces of tape up on the wall for these mad mushroom editing sessions. This kind of evolves again—I’m executive producer, it’s me pulling in all these things and trying to focus on different directions, but I find that you get the best out of people if you don’t tell them what to do too much. In the end, if you look at it like a prehistoric burial site, there’s bronze age things, iron age things, and I throw some dice into the procedure, then they pick up the dice and start doing something, while me and Gareth [Sager, guitarist] have always got our ears open for mistakes. If something interesting is happening, we’re not focusing too much on that. We’re aware of a machine breaking down.

SHOCKLEE: Once they got it all together, they sent me stuff they were working on where they didn’t have an idea where to put it, where it would fit, what it would be. They were ideas in development. I just said send me the stuff that you have, and it was over 40 tracks of ideas that they was trying to put together, but they couldn’t get it all together. I listened to most of the stuff, and I just said “Wow, they have something here,” so I organized it, stripped it back. I brought in my engineer Nick Sansano, who worked with me on all the Public Enemy records, and he partnered up with me in helping produce and shape the tracks and try to create a theme, try to create a story, and try to move it into an area where it becomes a little more cohesive.

I wasn’t able to be there in England to work with the band face to face, but it was very similar to the P.E. process, where I’m going through records and organizing them in terms of samples and arrangements in order to make it fit the agenda that I’m trying to get across. So I looked at the tracks like I had a bunch of samples and a bunch of records, and I just shaped them, and chopped them up, straighten out the bassline, emphasize the beats more, and arrange the tracks to they have, to me, a more consistent flow. I wanted to bridge the gap between what you would hear in electronic music and what you would hear on traditional pop records.

Listen to ‘Honeymoon on Mars’ after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa wants you to ‘vote like a beast’
10.20.2016
01:50 pm

Topics:
Music
Politics
Television

Tags:


 
Vote suppression is in the news again. In August, Donald Trump, likely recognizing that he was going to lose the election, started talking about the need to prevent voter shenanigans in “certain sections” of Pennsylvania—“you know the ones,” he told them—clear code to his supporters that black people in Pennsylvania’s urban areas were plotting to steal the vote on behalf of “Crooked” Hillary Clinton.

The truth is something like the opposite. Acutely aware that it has a purchase on a dwindling minority of voters, the Republican Party has for some years used the specter of vote fraud to enact legislative measures that would require increased documentation at polling places, measures that are likely to have the effect of limiting the turnout of low-income and/or minority voters, both of which are reliable Democratic constituencies. The “voter fraud” scare is now widely seen as itself to be a voter suppression gambit, as some high-level Republicans are sometimes unwise enough to actuallly admit to in public.

The crucial importance of the vote can be seen in the centuries-long struggles over who gets to vote and who does not. In a sense, artificial or scarcely justified limits on the franchise are as American as apple pie, as Your Vote, a 1991 program for The Learning Channel hosted by none other than Frank Zappa, explains.
 

 
Frank Zappa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1990, after the disease had progressed unnoticed for roughly a decade. Obviously, as he neared his untimely death, which eventually occurred in December 1993, Zappa’s illness restricted his ability to travel or undertake arduous projects. Zappa is hardly the vigorous figure here that he had once been, but his commitment to the cause of participatory democracy was such that he did the project anyway.

The show begins with footage of George Herbert Walker Bush and Michael Dukakis, the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees for the most recent national election in 1988. It would be easy to frame the story of franchisement in the United States as an optimistic one, with the vote being granted to ever more groups, but that is not the tone adopted here. In this program, the emphasis is squarely on the unjustifiable shenanigans that prevent people from exercising one of the most basic human rights.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Artist erects naked Hillary Clinton statue in NYC; fight erupts
10.18.2016
11:43 am

Topics:
Art
Politics

Tags:


Photo by Geńenne on Instagram

Perhaps inspired by all the naked Donald Trump statues popping up all over the United States, 27-year-old artist Anthony Scioli created his own “naked Hillary Clinton” and placed it outside Manhattan’s Bowling Green subway station (in the heart of the financial district) this morning.

Onlookers were apparently not amused.

It appears the large breasted Hillary statue has devil-like cloven hooves for feet. A Wall Street banker-type fondles her. It also looks like she’s stomping all over her deleted emails. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here.

Below, a video of passerbys’ reactions to the statue:

A video posted by Michael (@michael.o_brien) on

 
via Gothamist

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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