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Witness ‘Simpsons’ actor Harry Shearer’s total transformation into Richard Nixon


 
Between playing bassist Derek Smalls in the immortal metal spoof This is Spinal Tap and voicing dozens of characters on The Simpsons, Harry Shearer has been a key performer in two of the most oft-quoted entertainment franchises in living memory. For his latest project, however, Shearer’s the one doing the quoting. He’s re-enacting, verbatim, moments out of the presidency of the disgraced Richard M. Nixon, recasting the tragic president as a comic figure. The series, created in collaboration with Nixon scholar Stanley Kutler, is called Nixon’s the One. It already ran in the UK on Sky Arts earlier this year, and will soon be webcast weekly on YouTube’s My Damn Channel, starting on October 21st.

The scripts are taken from Nixon’s actual White House tapes—those notorious recordings that figured so heavily in the Watergate investigations that left his presidency and his legacy in utter ruins—and shot in a fly-on-the wall style that makes viewing feel like eavesdropping. A teaser was released about a week ago, in which Henry Kissinger is played by British actor Henry Goodman:
 

 
To play the former president, Shearer underwent some serious transformation—prosthetics, makeup, wig, the whole megillah, as this photo sequence attests.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Hat Trick Productions Ltd.

Terrific work, but this can’t go unsaid—is it maybe a little much? Shearer’s voice isn’t his only great gift as a performer, he has a marvelously expressive face, and it seems a shame to obscure ALL of it with latex appliqués. It strikes me that he could have made a better-than-credible Nixon just with the addition of a nose and some jowls. One possible reason for the full-face prosthetics could have been to DE-age the actor—this surprised the shit out of me when I looked it up, but Shearer is 70 years of age. Nixon, in the time period being recreated, was around 60.
 

 
About a month ago, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, Shearer released a similar verbatim re-creation of the unsettlingly awkward moments leading up to Nixon’s resignation speech. I’ve included the actual historic footage for comparison. The way Nixon tries to casually goof around with the news crew makes him seem more like your embarrassing perma-bachelor uncle trying to flirt with a waitress than the leader of the free world about to abandon his career in the face of nearly unanimous public contempt. Shearer’s take on that massively uncomfortable frisson works quite well as cringe comedy.
 

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
White House memo suggests Nixon ‘neutralize’ Johnny Cash, 1970
Wasted Richard Nixon talks, slurs his words to Ronald Reagan on the telephone, 1973
Reefer man: Did Louis Armstrong turn Richard Nixon into his drug mule?
Let Nixon play Nixon: Listen to tricky dick tickle the ivories, on a composition by Richard Nixon

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Wattstax’: The ‘Black Woodstock’ music festival


 
The Watts Riots are often referred to by lefties as “The Watts Rebellion.” While both are technically accurate descriptions, “rebellion” is considered the preferable word by sympathists, since “riot” has a negative connotation. For me, the word “riot” lacks any moralist stigma, since rioting has historically played a necessary role in the resistance of oppressed people. I also think “riots” paints a more identifiable picture.

In addition to less explicit economic discrimination, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles was plagued with racist attacks from both white gangs and and a militarized police force (sound familiar?). The 1965 events that incited the riots are convoluted, but (briefly) a black man was arrested for driving under the influence, his brother (who was was a passenger), left to inform the man’s mother, who showed up to the arrest. There was a physical altercation, all three black citizens were arrested, and onlookers from the neighborhood began throwing things at the cops.

Eight days later, 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries and 3,952 arrests. 600 businesses were destroyed and over $40 million was done in damages over a 46-square mile-area.
 

 
In 1972, Stax Records put on a concert featuring their artists to commemorate the riots. Tickets for the Wattstax music festival (held in the massive L.A. Coliseum) were sold for $1 each to keep the event affordable for working class Los Angeles residents. Mel Stuart, who had just directed Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (a box-office bomb, despite its classic status), documented the concert in Wattstax, the electric results of which you see below. Wattstax has been shorthanded as “The Black Woodstock,” but it’s so much more.

The film is something greater than a record of fantastic concert footage, though the performances from artists like The Staples Singers, Isaac Hayes and The Bar-Kays are mind-blowing. It’s the interviews with Watts residents, who reflect on their lives and politics and what has and hasn’t changed since the riots, that really make the film. Richard Pryor serves as a kind of Greek chorus, and his interactions with the crowd are hilarious and full of humanity. You’ll notice that nearly the entire audience defiantly stays seated during Kim Weston’s rendition of the national anthem.

If you want a good clip to sample, there’s a fantastic bit starting around the 38:30 mark where Richard Pryor riffs on black identity (and pork). It then cuts to The Bar-Kays (looking like a heavenly choir from outer space), who do a blistering version of “Son of Shaft.”
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Dictator’ cat scratch posts and litter boxes
08.25.2014
10:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Politics

Tags:
Vladimir Putin
cats
Kim Jong-un


 
OMG! What a fantastical idea… ‘dictator’ kitteh scratching posts and litter boxes brought to you by The Pussycat Riot. (They aren’t all “dictators” per se, but more “strong men” types who censor the Internet.)

Sadly, the scratching posts are bit out of my price range. They’re selling ‘em for £4,500.00 a pop. I was eyeing that Putin one. According to their website each post was “painstakingly handcrafted by a team of artists and took over 200 hours to complete.”

But-but, never fear, as the litter boxes are only £3.00. Your cat might not be able to afford claw out Putin’s eyes, but practically any kitty from any socio economic group can take a shit on him, Kim Jong Un, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Nicolás Maduro Moros of Venezuelan and Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.


 

 

 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Men of Crisis’: Woody Allen’s 1972 PBS ‘mockumentary’ that was cancelled for political reasons


 
By the time Woody Allen made “Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story” in 1971/72, messing with found footage as well as the documentary form had become old hat for the restlessly experimental moviemaker. After all, his feature-length experiment of fusing new dialogue to existing footage, What’s Up, Tiger Lily? has been released several years earlier, in 1966. His first faux documentary (and one of the first “mockumentaries” in cinema history), Take the Money and Run, had come out in 1969.
 

 
“Men of Crisis” seems more than a little perfunctory. Wallinger is clearly a substitute for Henry Kissinger, but there’s really nothing about the Kissinger-Nixon relationship (as it was perceived in 1971) that was all that funny; the humor lies in the notion of Woody being “the second most powerful man in America.” The movie was supposed to be an hour long, but the final product delivered by Woody ran only 25 minutes long. Clearly the subject of the reprehensible Nixon presidency (pre-Watergate, of course) did not really animate Woody. The movie feels a lot like an extended sketch from HBO’s “Not Necessarily the News” in the 1980s, which usually juxtaposed perfectly normal footage of e.g. Ronald Reagan with concocted footage to produce a ridiculous effect. One thing that makes “Men in Crisis” noteworthy is that it marks the first occasion Woody Allen and Diane Keaton worked together on a movie. Keaton plays Wallinger’s ex-wife, “Renata Baldwin, who attends Vassar College, where she studies to be a blacksmith.” (As a Vassar alum, I’m pretty fond of this joke.)
 

 
Richard Nixon had a knack for annoying liberal elites that was very similar to that of George W. Bush. Woody Allen was never the most political of artists; even when dealing with politics, such as in “Men of Crisis” or Bananas, the essentially surrealist nature of his humor tends to run roughshod over any particular satire. One gets the feeling, watching “Men of Crisis,” that Woody has contempt for Nixon mainly because he’s not highbrow enough (witness the gag about Nixon and Agnew knowing “almost” all of the numbers from 1 to 10).

PBS was worried about running the program, they were right to be. After all, the Nixon administration was so famously thin-skinned that Nixon personally exerted pressure on Jack L. Warner to remove the song “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” from the movie 1776 because it seemed to poke fun at conservatives. (You can watch the musical number on recent reissues of the movie; it seems pretty harmless.)
 

 
If nothing else, the cancellation of “Men of Crisis” had the effect of cementing Woody’s determination to work in feature movies, where outside interference could be minimized. He said afterwards that the incident had reinforced his preference to “stick to movies.” According to The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television by James Day, the cancellation of “Men of Crisis” went down as follows:
 

The politically charged atmosphere of the early seventies should have warned those of us at NET that the times were hardly propitious for political satire—and certainly not on the public medium. But so eager were we to bring an element of lightness, a laugh or two, to public television’s overarching solemnity that we unhesitatingly accepted Woody Allen’s offer in late 1971 to produce a special. We didn’t even pull back after learning that he intended to use the show to satirize the Nixon White House. Allen approached us after having produced two prime-time specials for the commercial networks, fully expecting the public medium to give him greater artistic license to write and perform the kind of humor for which he is justly celebrated. He was wrong.

…. In the opinion of the PBS legal staff, the Woody Allen show “presents fairness problems … personal attack, equal time and taste problems,” a solid guarantee that no public station in the country would risk airing it. Except, of course, our own WNET.

What I and a brace of our attorneys screened with nervous interest was a mock documentary, Men of Crisis, that mimicked the style of the old March of Time, in which authentic news footage was combined with dramatic elements, a technique Allen later perfected in his feature film Zelig. The original hour-long script had been trimmed to the twenty-five-minute “documentary,” and the balance of the hour had been filled by an interview with Allen on the nature of comedy. Men of Crisis managed not only to lampoon the Nixon White House but to needle both the president’s foes (Humphrey and Wallace) as well as his friends (Agnew, Hoover, Laird, and Mitchell). Allen himself played the fictional Harvey Wallinger, high-living confidant and counselor to the president, whose resemblance to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger was more than coincidental. As might be expected, the show included moments of questionable taste. Allen explained that “it is hard to do anything about the Administration that wouldn’t be in bad taste.”

I withdrew the show after the screening, hoping to find a broader context to make Men of Crisis acceptable to the system, perhaps by marrying it with other satiricial pieces that took aim with prudent impartiality at a broader range of political icons.

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Russia to cheeky Bulgarians: Quit messing up our war memorials

ukraine bulgaria
 
Vandalizing Soviet-era war memorials to fallen soldiers in clever ways in Eastern Europe has become an anonymous sport. Well, Russian diplomats call it vandalism. Others call it awesome street art.

The Russian government has gotten increasingly pissed off by the attacks on the frequently targeted bas relief sculptures on the west side of the pedestal of the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Russian embassy officially requested that Bulgarian authorities clean up the most recent incident this month, in which red paint was daubed on the monument on the eve of the 123rd anniversary of the founding of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, track down and punish those responsible, and do more to protect the statues instead of what they’re probably doing now, which is taking photos of it with their smartphones each time it’s vandalized.
 
bulgariancomicsoviet
 
Earlier this year the monument was spray-painted the colors of the Ukrainian flag. In 2011 the long-suffering soldier statues on the monument were notoriously painted to include Ronald McDonald, Wonder Woman, Robin, Santa Claus, The Joker, The Mask, Superman, Wolverine, Captain America, and an American flag. In 2012 balaclavas like the members of Pussy Riot wore were painted on the figures and, in separate incidents, Guy Fawkes “Anonymous” masks and ski masks were placed over the soldiers’ faces. Last August the monument was painted pink with apologies in Bulgarian and Czech for Bulgarian participation in the suppression of the Prague Spring uprising in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Pink was the chosen color in a tribute to Czech prankster and artist David Cerny, who painted a Soviet war memorial in central Prague (Monument of Soviet Tank Crews) pink in 1991. When Cerny was arrested, supporters repainted the tank pink. Similar defacement of Soviet monuments have taken place in Estonia and Romania.
 
sovietarmypink
 
Cerny is also known for floating a boat on the Vltava River containing an enormous purple hand flipping the bird at the Czech government building last fall.

People who object to this sort of behavior have asked that the Bulgarian memorial be moved to the fairly new and apparently disappointing Museum of Socialist Art. The monument’s most hostile critics think it should have been destroyed after the fall of the Soviet Union, so it’s probably fair game as a focal point for political and cultural protests by activists and general mischief.
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Karl Marxio Brothers: An 8-bit ‘Marxism for Dummies’ for the digital generation

marx8bit1.jpg
 
Dialectical materialism as explained by 8-bit philosophy, a kind of “Super Marxio” or “Marxism for Dummies” for the digital generation. Why bother with boring old Das Kapital when you can bluff your way through the exam with this four-minute video?

More low resolution gems of useful information on Plato, Nietzsche, Kant, Sartre, Zeno, Descartes and Kierkegaard can be found here, or better still, read the books.
 

 
H/T Nerdcore

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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President Lyndon B. Johnson informs his tailor that his new pants must respect his ‘bunghole’
07.29.2014
08:23 am

Topics:
Fashion
History
Politics

Tags:
Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson
 
On August 9, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson decided that he needed some new pants, so he got on the horn and called the Haggar Clothing Co. based in Dallas, Texas, and ordered himself up a new set, along with some shirts and jackets. That call has become something of a classic among presidential archive fans, for entirely obvious reasons: in his colorful, home-spun style, Johnson uses vivid language in describing “the crotch, down where your nuts hang” as well as describing an area we would today call “the taint”: “where the zipper ends, round under my ... back to my bunghole.” (Hilariously, LBJ belches right in the middle of that last description.)

Johnson lets on that his weight varies by “10 or 15 pounds a month”; add in the fact that Johnson nicknamed his penis “Jumbo” and it’s quite clear that the man needed a fair amount of space down there, lest the pants “cut” him “just like riding a wire fence.” Ouch. Any guy who has worn pants that are a bit too tight can relate.

Here’s a full transcript, from American RadioWorks:
 

Operator: Go ahead sir

LBJ: Mr. Haggar?

JH: Yes this is Joe Haggar

LBJ: Joe, is your father the one that makes clothes?

JH: Yes sir—we’re all together

LBJ: Uh huh. You all made me some real lightweight slacks, uh, that he just made up on his own and sent to me 3 or 4 months ago. There’s a light brown and a light green, a rather soft green, a soft brown.

JH: Yes sir

LBJ: and they’re real lightweight now and I need about six pairs for summer wear.

JH: yes sir

LBJ: I want a couple, maybe three of the light brown kind of a almost powder color like a powder on a ladies face. Then they were some green and some light pair, if you had a blue in that or a black, then I’d have one blue and one black. I need about six pairs to wear around in the evening when I come in from work

JH: yes sir

LBJ: I need…they’re about a half a inch too tight in the waist.

JH: Do you recall sir the exact size, I just want to make sure we get them right for you

LBJ: No, I don’t know—you all just guessed at ‘em I think, some—wouldn’t you the measurement there?

JH: we can find it for you

LBJ: well I can send you a pair. I want them half a inch larger in the waist than they were before except I want two or three inches of stuff left back in there so I can take them up. I vary ten or 15 pounds a month.

JH: alright sir

LBJ: So leave me at least two and a half, three inches in the back where I can let them out or take them up. And make these a half an inch bigger in the waist. And make the pockets at least an inch longer, my money, my knife, everything falls out—wait just a minute.

Operator: Would you hold on a minute please?

[conversation on hold for two minutes]

LBJ: Now the pockets, when you sit down, everything falls out, your money, your knife, everything, so I need at least another inch in the pockets. And another thing—the crotch, down where your nuts hang—is always a little too tight, so when you make them up, give me an inch that I can let out there, uh because they cut me, it’s just like riding a wire fence. These are almost, these are the best I’ve had anywhere in the United States,

JH: Fine

LBJ: But, uh when I gain a little weight they cut me under there. So, leave me , you never do have much of margin there. See if you can’t leave me an inch from where the zipper (burps) ends, round, under my, back to my bunghole, so I can let it out there if I need to.

JH: Right

LBJ: Now be sure you have the best zippers in them. These are good that I have. If you get those to me I would sure be grateful

JH: Fine, Now where would you like them sent please?

LBJ: White House.

JH: Fine

LBJ: Now, uh, I don’t guess there is any chance of getting a very lightweight shirt, sport shirt to go with that slack, is there? That same color?

JH: We don’t make them, but we can have them made up for you.

LBJ: If you might look around, I wear about a 17, extra long.

JH: Would you like in the same fabric?

LBJ: Yeah I sure would, I don’t know whether that’s too heavy for a shirt.

JH: I think it’d be too heavy for a shirt.

LBJ: I sure want the lightest I can, in the same color or matching it. If you don’t mind, find me somebody up there who makes good shirts and make a shirt to match each one of them and if they’re good, we’ll order some more.

JH: Fine

LBJ: I just sure will appreciate this, I need it more than anything. And uh, now that’s a..about it. I guess I could get a jacket made outta that if I wanted to, couldn’t I?

JH: I think that—didn’t Sam Haggar have some jackets made?

LBJ: Yeah you sent me some jackets some earlier, but they were way too short. They hit me about halfway down my belly. I have a much longer waist. But I thought if they had material like that and somebody could make me a jacket, I’d sent them a sample to copy from.

JH: Well I tell you what, you send us this, we’ll find someone to make it

LBJ:ok

JH: We’ll supply the material to match it

LBJ: Ok, I’ll do that. Uh now, how do I—can you give this boy the address because I’m running to a funeral and give this boy the address to where we can send the trousers—don’t worry, you’ll get the measurements out of them and add a half an inch to the back and an give us couple of an inch to the pockets and a inch underneath to we can let them out.

JH: What you ‘d like is a little more stride in the crotch

LBJ: Yeah that’s right. What I’d like is to give me a half a inch more then leave me some more. Ok here he is.

JH: Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the others

 
Here’s a cute animation of the call by Tawd Dorenfeld for Jesse Thorn’s Put This On:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Homeless street kid is ‘math genius of Dapitan’
07.28.2014
12:31 pm

Topics:
Politics

Tags:
children
UNICEF
mathematics

stretkidgenius.jpg
 
A homeless child on the streets of Dapitan city in the Philippines entertains tourists with his genius for math. The Philippines is the 39th richest economy in the world, with a gross domestic product (nominal) of $272, 207 billion. Yet kids as talented as Gerald are living on the streets.

Gerald is nicknamed “Boy Square Root,” which will become apparent from this video taken by Chelsea Mae S. Luzanta from Antipolo in the Philippines, who is a student at the University of Santo Tomas.

Who knows what the full story is, but taken as reported, then Gerald should be at school, should be enjoying his childhood, not having to hustle to survive. Support UNICEF’s children’s campaigns here.
 

 
Via Arbroath

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Men’s rights WTF commemorative coin mystery, solved?
07.18.2014
09:21 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism
Politics
Sex

Tags:
coins
men's rights

A Voice for Men
 
A couple of weeks ago the “men’s rights” website A Voice for Men put up a post calling attention to a “commemorative coin” celebrating the First International Conference on Men’s Issues. The coin was designed by Peter Vinczer, the son of men’s rights activist Attila Vinczer; it contains 1 ounce of .999 fine silver and costs $58.88.

Readers of the Lawyers, Guns & Money and We Hunted the Mammoth websites have been trying to figure out what on earth the image is supposed to represent. David Futrelle, author of the post at We Hunted the Mammoth, wonders whether Judy Chicago designed it.

Readers at the two websites have thrown out the following suggestions:
 

“sperm bouncing off a diaphragm”
“a condom with a hole in it”
“a puckered anus”
“a carrot hovering over a poorly-made pizza”
“a weeping butthole”
“angry pancake”
“a surfacing/sinking beaver”
“a condom turned inside out, with the hand ready to sperm jack”
“a sphincter with a drop of lube and a hand gradually encroaching”
“a diaphragm with a hole poked in it”

 
“Joe from Lowell” is one of several commenters who have probably cracked the case: “They’re throwing one little stone of masculine rationality into the ocean that is a male-persecuting society, but that one little stone will send out ripples, you betcha.” This makes sense, because the inscription on the other side of the coin, from Robert F. Kennedy, reads as follows: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
 
A Voice for Men
 
The text underneath the picture reads, “MHRA 2008-2014”—searching on “MHRA” yields extremely little on the Internet. It seems that “men rights association” or men’s rights activism” etc. are the most common phrases, but some in the movement have shifted to “men’s human rights” because it sounds less douche-y or something. In reality it just sounds confused, of course.
 
A Voice for Men
 
I’m not real sure what this video is (I certainly didn’t watch it—it’s nearly two hours long) but the coin image is at the very start, so maybe it has something to do with it.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Before Alice Cooper and The Cramps there was Screaming Lord Sutch, rock star, British politician
07.16.2014
08:31 am

Topics:
Music
Politics

Tags:
Screaming Lord Sutch


 
It seemed that Screaming Lord Sutch ran in every election and by-election in the UK from the early 1980s until his untimely death in 1999. There he would be on every election night, standing on the podium with his leopard spot jacket, top hat and rainbow rosette. Sutch was the perennial candidate of the Official Monster Raving Looney Party, which he founded in 1983. In fact, he had been standing for parliament on a regular basis under different guises since 1963, when sickened by the hypocrisy and corruption of British politics as exposed through the Profumo scandal, he started the National Teenage Party. Alas, Sutch never won, which was a shame, as his presence always ensured some anarchic, intelligent fun was added to the usual gaudy proceedings.

But Screaming Lord Sutch was more than a prickly whoopee cushion in the lives of unaccountable politicians, he was a well-loved sixties rock star, an early pioneer of shock rock, garage rock, psycho-billy who mixed monster movie aesthetics with rock ‘n’ roll long before Alice Cooper and The Cramps came along.

David Edward Sutch was born in Hampstead, London on November 10 1940. He left school at sixteen and worked at a variety of jobs, before he started his performing career at the 2 i’s Coffee Bar (the “birthplace of British rock ‘n’ roll”) on Old Compton Street, Soho in the late 1950s. Sutch took his name from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and with his eighteen inch locks, bizarre outfits (a giant headpiece of cow horns) and outrageous stage act, Sutch and his band The Savages soon attracted the ear of legendary producer (and future murderer) Joe Meek leading to their pioneering singles in the early 1960s.

When I first heard Sutch’s early recordings with The Savages, such as “Jack the Ripper,” “‘Til the Following Night” and his cover of Johnny Burnette’s “Train A-Kept A-Rollin’,” I couldn’t understand why he never became a major international star. Sutch appeared to have done most of pop’s rebellious things before anyone else (long hair, the wildest clothes, act, songs, etc. ) but never received the credit for any of it.
 
sutchheavy.jpg
 
Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages recorded and performed from the sixties to 1999, when Sutch tragically committed suicide, and during that time the line-up of The Savages included future actor/singer Paul Nicholas, guitar legends Ritchie Blackmore, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, bass player Noel Redding, drummers Keith Moon and John Bonham, and piano-wizard Nicky Hopkins.

Maybe Sutch relied too much on his “shock” tactics shows, or did too many covers of old rock ‘n’ roll classics, or was held back by his own personal problems (he suffered from depression all his life), who knows? But for sheer power, energy and good times rock ‘n’ roll, there’s nothing to beat Screaming Lord Sutch.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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