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Shania Is a Punk Rocker: Celebrities wearing Ramones t-shirts
10.30.2014
10:30 am

Topics:
Fashion
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Ramones
celebrities

Joey Ramone
Joey Ramone

It’s been a good decade-plus now, but at some point wearing faded band t-shirts from the 1970s and early 1980s started to become a trendy thing to do. Eventually celebrities got in on the act, and these days the very famous are frequently photographed sporting vintage (or faux vintage) band tees.

The t-shirt that’s all the rage amongst actors and pop stars is the one featuring the classic Ramones logo (seen above). The iconic tee has been worn with pride by faithful Ramones fans for nearly forty years, and that logo is so freakin’ awesome that its coolness couldn’t help but rub off on the punks who wore the shirt—partially due to the fact that even members of the Ramones could be seen in a Ramones t-shirt.

But now the rich and powerful want a piece of the hip pie, too. Knowing the group’s music doesn’t even seem to be a prerequisite for these celebs (does anyone really think Paris Hilton listens to the Ramones?).
 
Paris Hilton
 
Who knows, maybe Harry Styles from teen pop sensation One Direction actually likes the leather-clad punks from Queens, but he seems to over-compensating or something, as there’s a shit-ton of photos of him online dressed in the iconic t-shirt.
 
Harry Styles
 
Like Harry, most opt for the classic logo, but really any Ramones shirt will do.
 
Megan Fox
Megan Fox prefers Marky Ramone

Image-conscious celebrities co-opting cool isn’t anything new, so we shouldn’t be surprised. Maybe they genuinely appreciate the Ramones and are using their platform to expose the masses to the band. Perhaps we should be thanking them for keeping the spirit of punk alive?

Nah.
 
Fergie
Fergie
 
Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan
 
More celebrities in Ramones t-shirts after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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Do you really want to out me?: The trial of Kirk Brandon vs. Boy George

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The golden rule: Never sue anyone unless you know you are going to win.

Eighties pop star Kirk Brandon should have considered this when he sued Boy George (aka George O’Dowd) for “malicious falsehood over allegations of homosexuality” contained in the singer’s autobiography Take It Like A Man and his song “Unfinished Business.”
 

 
Brandon is known as the frontman of band Theater of Hate, who had several hit singles in the 1980s most notably “Do You Believe in the Westworld?” Boy George is Boy George, and as everyone knows has achieved global success as a solo artist, DJ and with the band Culture Club notching up a string of number one records. Back in 1980, Brandon and George were members of the Blitz Kids—the young trendsetting New Romantics who were creating a club scene and were soon to dominate the pop charts.

In 1997, Brandon was incensed that George had “outed” him by writing about the couple’s “alleged homosexual relationship in the early 1980s.” (What’s wrong, I wonder, with just saying “relationship”?) Brandon said the “gay allegations” had damaged his career as a musician, claiming he “was terrified of being ridiculed as `some blond peroxided poof’.” A damning quote that tells you all you need to know about Mr. Brandon.
 
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The Blitz Kids: Kirk and George, 1980.
 
By 1997, Brandon was married and had a child, his wife Christina said, “It’s every woman’s worst nightmare to be told their partner is gay”.

Christina, 28, first read about the alleged affair in the gender-bender’s autobiography, Take It Like A Man, which was published in July, 1995.

And as she skimmed through the book in a bookshop her world fell apart.

“We had only been married a year and I just couldn’t believe what I was reading,” she says. “I knew that Kirk had been friendly with Boy George. I loved hearing about their time together. But, all of a sudden, I was reading about this intimate, sexual relationship they were meant to have had. I felt confused. Betrayed and humiliated. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. Then I felt angry.

“I rushed home to confront Kirk. I wanted the truth. Why he had lied to me? This could so easily have destroyed our marriage.

“But I know Kirk really well and I believe him when he says it’s not true.”

Yet, Brandon’s litigation was to prove otherwise.
 
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Brandon and George in the early 1980s.
 
When the case came to trial in April 1997, bucking the trusim that the man who is his own attorney has a fool for a client, Brandon represented himself. He told the court how he had helped Boy George from his first band and that they were good friends, adding:

He would sometimes stay at the singer’s squats—but was away on tour when he is alleged to have had the affair.

Mr Brandon said: “[Boy George’s] career took off and his mind was otherwise occupied. He was totally ambiguous and never confirmed or denied any sexual preference, terrified of rejection and the obscurity which would follow.

“Unbeknown to me, in the midst of his wealth, his obsession for me turned into something bitter, some might call it evil, a grudge. Somewhere in his mind he believed I had dumped him. Perhaps somewhere in his drug problems or whatever, his hatred focused on me. Some years later became a cleverly calculated possibility. As [George] stated himself, his book would be his revenge. He wrote his book and wrote of the relationship he really imagined he had had.”

Mr Brandon said he also believed that the attempt to ‘out’ him which would gain publicity for the book and song was part of a ‘sickening and totally reprehensible strategy.’

 
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Brandon’s opening gambit made him sound as if he was the man obsessed with Boy George, and bitter at his former lover’s success. He then began to interrogate Boy George asking him if he thought outing people in the public arena was a good idea? A question that implied Brandon himself had been in the closet.

“I don’t think you should be ashamed of what you are,” O’Dowd replied. “I don’t think you should wilfully drag people out of their closets, but our relationship was public knowledge. It was not something you denied at the time, You denied it later on.”

He told Brandon he was being “homophobic” in bringing the court action. “I said in my book that you were very talented and I loved you,” O’Dowd said. “Where is the damage in that? I am much more brutal about myself in the book about myself than anybody else.”

Avoiding the accusation of “homophobia,” Brandon changed tact accusing George of having “a kind of vendetta” against him:

“Why have you been obsessed with me all your adult life?”

O’Dowd: I am not obsessed with you.

Brandon: You were obsessed and you probably still are. Have you ever thought of leaving me alone?

O’Dowd: I would not say I am obsessed. I would say the obsession would be more on your part if you thought I was insane, why take this action? Why not just shrug and say: ‘He’s mad?’

Brandon: I would say you are a professional liar.

 
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The questioning shifted to the lyrics of Boy George’s song “Unfinished Business” from the album Cheapness and Beauty that George admitted was about Brandon.

He said the lyrics the lyrics included the line “You lie” and “You walk like a jack but are more of a queen”.

He added: “It says that [Brandon] has lied about our relationship and continues to do so. Songs are a way of exorcising feelings.”

Brandon: You get pleasure out of writing vindictive songs.

O’Dowd: Kirk, you were in a band called Theatre of Hate. You weren’t called the Blushing Flowers.

Brandon: Theatre of Hate was an art-house name.

 
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The questioning sounded like the petty tiff of two former lovers rather than a formal cross examination. Any points Brandon thought he had scored were undermined by the appearance of one of Brandon’s former lovers Naimi Ashcroft who suggested the two men had been sexually intimate.

She said that she and Brandon had to hide from O’Dowd in nightclubs: “He did say George was upset and was looking to beat me up.”

Brandon told her: “You are here to fit Mr O’Dowd’s jigsaw. Can’t you just simply forget about me and get on with your own life?”

Every piece of a jigsaw has its own place and the picture the trial revealed was not one that Brandon particularly wanted to see.
 
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Brandon admitted sharing a bed with George in a squat in central London in 1980 but denied any sexual activity.

George recalled: “I said, ‘I don’t have a spare bed,’ and he said: ‘I will be safe won’t I?’” Both kept their T-shirts and underwear on as they shared the mattress.

George added: “Kirk pulled hold of me and we started kissing.

“But on the first night, it was mainly hugging, kissing and touching, very affectionate, but no sexual activity.”

George admitted that in the morning he was unsure if he would see Brandon again in such an intimate way, but he returned with a bag and stayed for several days at the squat. George admitted he was very inexperienced at the time.

“Kirk never said he thought of me as a woman, but outside of the bed I did a very good job of looking feminine,” added george, “We slept together more than 100 times.”

George went on: “We were very close. Kirk was the great love of my life at that time. We were inseparable, holding hands in public and I was walking around in high heel shoes.”

Eventually the relationship finished and Brandon moved out claiming he needed “space.” George described how he “smashed up” his room and “cried for a while and walked in the rain.”

The trial lasted seven days at the High Court in London, with Judge Douglas Brown ruling in favor of Boy George, describing him as “an impressive witness.” As he gave his verdict, Kirk Brandon sat staring straight ahead as the Judge said:

“It’s difficult to believe Mr Brandon did not have a physical relationship with Mr O’Dowd.

“Mr Brandon agrees he knew Mr O’Dowd was a homosexual who was sexually interested in him, but went and stayed in his bed without protest, and without asking whether there was an alternative place to sleep.”

The judge added he did not believe Brandon:

“I am satisfied he has not been truthful about their physical relationship.”

Brandon was ordered to pay an estimated £250,000 in costs, but said he was unable to do so as he was bankrupt. Outside the High Court, he told reporters he had no regrets in taking Boy George to court:

“It was a matter of honour.”

The trail wasn’t about “honour” it was about Brandon’s misplaced personal sense of pride and vanity. His actions made him look foolish, petty, and dishonest. Boy George was vindicated, and left the court telling reporters that the verdict was “a great, great day for gay rights.”

A gallery of photographs of Boy George and Kirk Brandon in the early 1980s and clippings about the trial from 1997 can be found here.

A now bearded Boy George and Culture Club tour the USA this November details here. Theatre of Hate tour the UK this December details here.
 

 
H/T The Blitz Kids.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | 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).
 
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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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Horrifying masks give you EXTREME plastic surgery look
10.23.2014
11:06 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
plastic surgery


 
From a wild art installation titled “Too Good to be True” by German artist Meike Harde. Meike designed these masks in order to raise questions about contemporary beauty standards. The work asks: How much is too much plastic surgery?

The installation Too Beautiful To Be True was developed on the occasion of the exhibition Fine Arts in Saarbrücken, Germany. Masks which picture the eye and mouth area correspond to the current ideal of beauty. When put on, however, they cause a contortion of the face. This is meant to show that artificially produced beauty is not always beautiful; instead it can evoke the very opposite. The pictures with the masks should be allegorical for effect of artificially produced beauty.

I noticed there were no plastic surgery-style masks for men. Apparently, Meike has never seen Bruce Jenner’s or Kenny Roger’s mugs. Men can take it too far too, ya know!
 

 

 

 

Below, the video for “Madame Hollywood” by Miss Kittin and Felix Da Housecat.

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Like Punk Never Happened’: Remembering Smash Hits, the ‘totally 80s’ pop magazine

Culture Club cover of Smash Hits July 19, 1984
Culture Club on the cover of Smash Hits, July 19, 1984
 
Music magazine Smash Hits started out in 1978 and was a mecca for pop fans. It had a strong rotation of writers back in its heyday such as Dave Rimmer (author of the 1985 book, Like Punk Never Happened), Mark Ellen (MOJO), Steve Beebee (Kerrang!) and Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys. Regular content included interviews and pictorials but Smash Hits also published some fun features like “Bitz” (a smattering of industry information like fan club addresses and such), and was filled with pages of lyrics to the current top 20 songs (you know, so you didn’t have to keep trying to write them down on your own). There was always a centerfold spread, and in addition to the magazines eye-catching covers they also ran a special “back cover” with glossy photos of hot at-the-time artists like Limahl the spiky-haired vocalist for Kajagoogoo or the Thompson Twins.
 
Limahl of Kajagoogoo Smash Hits May 24th, 1984
Limahl of Kajagoogoo, May 24th, 1984

In 2009, Smash Hits superfan Brian McCloskey, an 80’s kid who had hung on to his copies of Smash Hits since youth, decided to rescue his collection from his parents’ attic at his childhood home in Derry, Ireland. McCloskey had the magazines shipped all the way to his home in California, tracked down copies he was missing in his collection from the magazines inception, then took on the painstaking process of scanning and uploading every page of every issue he had to his blog, Like Punk Never Happened. McCloskey’s collection of Smash Hits represents every issue of the magazine from 1979 to 1985.
 
Big Country Smash Hits April 14th, 1983
Big Country, April 14th, 1983

As I can’t help but admire his dedication to this pop-culture gem, I contacted McCloskey to learn more about his recollections from the early days of Smash Hits.

Smash Hits took music very seriously, but they didn’t take musicians seriously. A very sensible distinction. I think that people have either forgotten or didn’t realize to begin with that Smash Hits was quite a serious magazine. During their peak years they would receive thousands of letters - handwritten letters! You could read great interviews with real artist like Paul Weller or Ian Dury. After the magazine’s redesign at the end of 1981, the snark really took over. I’m glad that the my archive has reminded, or opened people’s minds to the early days of Smash Hits.

Gary Numan Smash Hits September 1983
Gary Numan, September 1983

Smash Hits continued to publish issues well after its official decline in the early 90’s, then ceased its print run in February of 2006. McCloskey updates his site with new vintage issues every two week and hopes to continue posting issues beyond 1985 with the help of fellow fans. I highly recommend you get comfortable, set your Pandora station to “80’s Pop,” then head over to McCloskey’s blog and lose yourself for a few hours. A number of images published during the years 1982-1984 from Smash Hits follow.
 
The Belle Stars Smash Hits February 3, 1983
The Belle Stars, February 3, 1983

Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby lyric sheets from Smash Hits March 29th, 1984
Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby lyric sheet, March 29th, 1984

Scritti Politti Smash Hits June 7th, 1983
Scritti Politti lyric sheet, June 7th, 1984

Thompson Twins Smash Hits November 24th, 1983
Thompson Twins, November 24th, 1983

Billy Idol Smash Hits July 19, 1984
Billy Idol, July 19, 1984

Adam Ant Smash Hits December/January 1982
Adam Ant lyric sheet, December/January 1982

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Insane Salvador Dalí haircut & other follicle follies


Salvador Dalí
 
San Antonio-based artist and hair stylist Roberto Perez AKA Rob The Original creates these pretty nutty haircuts with the scalp as a blank canvas and a photo of the subject to work off of for reference.

A lot of Rob’s subjects crafted on heads are of pop stars, sports stars and reality TV dum-dums (none of which I care about). I did, however, find of few of his works I really dig like Salvador Dalí, Bruce Lee, Cesar Chavez and a few others. I’d imagine the two dudes who got the Cheech & Chong hairdos would always have to stand together though, because it would be rather confusing to onlookers if they were separated with just a Tommy Chong on the one head. Where’s Cheech, dammit?!

I would also like to see these haircuts after two weeks of hair regrowth. Do they all turn into the Wolfman? I mean Tupac as the Wolfman would be kinda of hilarious and inexplicable to sport on yer head, no? You’d still have a lot of explaining to do. 


Bruce Lee
 

Cesar Chavez
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘All life is a blur of Republicans and meat!’: Zippy the Pinhead… live?
10.17.2014
03:25 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
comics
Zippy the Pinhead


 
One of the more improbably durable comics in American popular culture is Zippy, the adventures of “Zippy the Pinhead,” Bill Griffith’s non sequitur-spouting polkadot muumuu-wearing Ding Dong and taco sauce-obsessed pinhead everyman. Because so many readers are totally baffled by it, there is a primer for “Understanding Zippy in Six Easy Lessons” on the Zippy website. Robert Crumb called Zippy “by far the very best daily comic strip that exists in America.”

Zippy was born in 1971 when Roger Brand, an underground/mainstream comics writer-editor-illustrator asked Griffith to “Maybe do some kind of love story, but with really weird people” for Real Pulp Comics #1. The name comes from P. T. Barnum’s famous sideshow performer Zip the Pinhead (who probably wasn’t an actual microcephalic) but the character’s features and clothing are patterned after Schlitzie from Tod Browning’s Freaks.

After Griffith launched Zippy in The Berkeley Barb in 1976, his character went on to a daily strip in 1986 and a Sunday funnies version debuted in 1990. The comic is distributed by King Features Syndicate.
 

 
In 1980, Griffith wrote the scripts for a handful of live-action Zippy shorts that were (I think) produced and directed for San Francisco cable access by Erik Nelson and his Videowest production company. Here are some of my favorites (all are on YouTube if you search for “Videowest” and “Zippy”). It’s worth noting that the reporter we see in a few of these pieces is a fellow named Tony Russomanno, then of KSFO Radio in San Francisco, who was the sole radio reporter to cover the mass suicides at the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana.

Zippy is played by Jim Turner of NPR’s Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre comedy troupe. Turner would go on to play MTV’s presidential candidate “Randee of the Redwoods” and you might also recognize him from HBO’s Arli$$ series where he played a sports agent.

The theme music is “Laughing Blues” by The Bonzo Dog Band.

“Zippy Stories—Take 1”
 
More live action Zippy after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Rock legend Ian McLagan this week on ‘The Pharmacy’
10.16.2014
12:37 pm

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Pharmacy
Ian McLagan


 
Gregg Foreman’s radio program The Pharmacy is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…

This Week:

Ian McLagan of The Small Faces and Faces. He’s also played with the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Nikki Sudden.

Topics include:

The original Mod scene, joining Small Faces and the formation of The Faces when Steve Marriott departed to form Humble Pie and Rod Stewart and Ron Wood joined after leaving The Jeff Beck Group; destroying Holiday Inns from coast to coast, playing on Some Girls with the Rolling Stones and the origins of that distinctive “rooster” haircut sported by Rod, Ronnie and Mac…
 

 
Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.

Set List:

Intro
Come on Children - Small Faces
Tainted Love - Gloria Jones
Intro 1 / 25 Miles - Bill Doggett / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 1
My Baby Loves to Boogaloo - Don Gardner
Own Up Time - Small Faces
The Girl Can’t Dance - Bunker Hill
Jerkin’ the Dog - The Mighty Hannibal
Here Comes the Judge - Pigmeat Markham
I Can’t Believe What You Say - Ike and Tina Turner
Intro 2 / Hot BBQ - Brother Jack McDuff / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 2
Bad ‘n’ Ruin - Faces
Bert’s Apple Crumble - The Quik
Rip It Up - Little Richard
Night Time - The Strangeloves
The Wig - Lorenzo Holden
Almost Grown - Small Faces
Bring Down the Birds - Herbie Hancock
Intro 3 / The Point - Mac Rebennack / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 3
Look For Me Baby - The Kinks
Do the Whoopie - Sugar Pie DeSanto
The Boo Boo Song - King Coleman
Don’t You Want My Lovin’ - The Orlons
You’ve Got Me Uptight - Evie Sands
Out In The Street - The Who
Intro 4 / In The Midnight Hour - Billy Preston / Rx
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 4
Big Bird - Eddie Floyd
Keep On Keepin’ On - Nolan Porter
My World is Empty Without You - The Supremes
Heatwave - Martha and The Vandellas
I’m Rowed Out - The Eyes
Green Light - The Equals
Down Home Girl - The Rolling Stones
Red Beans and Rice - Booker T & the MG’s
Intro 5 / Soul Dressing - Rx / Booker T & the MG’s
Conversation Ian McLagan Part 5
We’re a Winner - The Impressions
I’m The Face - High Numbers
Out of Sight - James Brown
Intro 6 / Grits - The JB’s / Rx
I Gotta Dance to Keep from Crying - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Outro

 
You can download the show in its entirety here.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Social Schizophrenia, Social Depression: What does TV tell us about America?
10.13.2014
02:02 pm

Topics:
Politics
Pop Culture

Tags:
Charles Hugh Smith
R.D. Laing


 
This is a guest post from Charles Hugh Smith. Read his essays daily at his Of Two Minds. Smith’s latest book is Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.

The difference between what we experience and what we’re told we experience creates a social schizophrenia that leads to self-destructive attitudes and behaviors.

What can popular television programs tell us about the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) of our culture and economy?

It’s an interesting question, as all mass media both responds to and shapes our interpretations and explanations of changing times. It’s also an important question, as mass media trends crystallize and express new ways of understanding our era.

Those who shape our interpretation of events also shape our responses.  This of course is the goal of propaganda: Shape the interpretation, and the response predictably follows.

As a corporate enterprise, mass media’s goal is to make money—the more the better—and that requires finding entertainment products that attract and engage large audiences.  The products that change popular culture are typically new enough to fulfill our innate attraction to novelty—but this isn’t enough. The product must express an interpretation of our time that was nascent but that had not yet found expression.

We can understand this complex process of crystallizing and giving expression to new contexts as one facet of the politics of experience.
 

 
The Politics of Experience

It is not coincidental that the phrase politics of experience was coined by a psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, for the phrase unpacks the way our internalized interpretation of experience can be shaped to create uniform beliefs about our society and economy that then lead to norms of behavior that support the political/economic status quo.

Here’s how Laing described the social ramifications in Chapter Four of his 1967 book, The Politics of Experience:

“All those people who seek to control the behavior of large numbers of other people work on the experiences of those other people. Once people can be induced to experience a situation in a similar way, they can be expected to behave in similar ways. Induce people all to want the same thing, hate the same things, feel the same threat, then their behavior is already captive - you have acquired your consumers or your cannon-fodder.”

For Laing, the politics of experience is not just about influencing social behavior – it has an individual, inner consequence as well:

“Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act according to the way we see things. If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive. If our experience is destroyed, we have lost our own selves.”

How the media shapes our interpretation affects not just our beliefs and responses, but our perceptions of self and our role in society. If the media’s interpretation no longer aligns with our experience, the conflict can generate self-destructive behaviors.

In other words, mass media interpretations can create a social schizophrenia that can lead to self-destructive attitudes and behaviors.

Social Analysis of TV

By its very nature as a mass shared experience, popular entertainment is fertile ground for social analysis.

Here’s a common example: what does a child learn about conflict resolution if he’s seen a thousand TV programs in which the “hero” is compelled to kill the “bad guy” in a showdown? What does that pattern suggest, not just about the structure of drama, but about the society that creates that drama?

Analyzing entertainment has been popular in America since the 1950s, if not earlier.  The film noir of the 1950s, for example, was widely deemed to express the angst of the Cold War era.  Others held that the rising prosperity of the 1950s enabled the populace to explore its darker demons—something the hardships and anxieties of the Depression did not encourage.

Many believe the Depression gave rise to screwball comedies and light-hearted entertainment featuring the casually wealthy precisely because these were escapist antidotes to the grinding realities of the era.

Even television shows that were denigrated as superficial in their own time (for example, Bewitched in the 1960s) can be seen as politically inert but subconsciously potent expressions of profound social changes: the “witch” in Bewitched is a powerful young female who is constantly implored by her conventional husband to conform to all the bland niceties of a suburban housewife, but she finds ways to rebel against these strictures.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Rich kids and poor kids of Tehran duke it out on Instagram
10.09.2014
08:42 am

Topics:
Class War
Pop Culture

Tags:
Iran
Instagram


 
One of the enduring lessons of the Internet, if not life itself, is that if you’re rich you have to take care about how you present yourself. Most people like and admire the wealthy—or at least aspire to their status—but when rich people get together to show off what they have, in virtually no time it can lead to a nexus of pride, envy, and schadenfreude that can turn into a potent brew of ressentiment. In short, rich people got to watch out, it’s super easy to come off looking like an arrogant, clueless asshole, no matter what the original intent was.

Some affluent folks in Iran recently learned this lesson. In mid-September someone started an Instagram account called Rich Kids in Tehran showing wealthy young people posing in luxurious hotels, next to expensive cars, and dolled up in designer duds. In just three weeks, the account caught a little positive attention and blew up to 50,000 followers (it currently has more than 95,000 followers).

As The Daily Beast reported, the site quickly sparked a backlash, despite the purportedly innocent intentions of the Instagram’s creators. As one of the managers of the account wrote, “We are trying to show the good side of Tehran/Iran to the whole world. Iran is always in the news regarding negative things and we are not interested in that. We are just trying to show what they don’t show in the news channels.” There was no shortage of tut-tutting, for instance from Iranian-American author Firoozeh Dumas (Funny in Farsi) who objected to the sensationalization of “a slice of materialistic, shallow and downright embarrassing Iranian culture. I just want to shout, ‘We are not all like that!’”

Some clever person in Iran decided that the best way to fight back was through satire. On October 5 a new Instagram account called Poor Kids in Tehran materialized, showing the bitter reality behind the facade of all of the luxurious escapades the rich kids were enjoying. The account takes a deadpan approach; most of the images are more about squalor than actual want.

Rich Kids of Tehran may shrug off any accusations of ill intent, but they must be feeling more than a little defensive. The following message appeared on the Rich Kids’ Instagram yesterday:
 

We Love our city of Tehran. We are in no way trying to put a difference between rich and poor. We are trying to show the world how beautiful Tehran and people from Tehran are. The Middle East is always on TV receiving negative attention and we just wanted to show that Tehran is not like that. This page is in no way political and we never had any bad intentions. We never thought the page would make headlines all over the world. Some of the people featured in this Instagram account don’t live in Iran.

 
I’ve curated a little gallery of images from the two Instagram accounts. See if you can tell which ones came from which account—they’re all from the most recent images, so you can easily check your work.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via Vocativ

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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