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Depressing photos of an aging mall devoid of shoppers during the holidays
12:51 pm

Pop Culture


The only two
The only two “shoppers” at the Century III, November 29th, 2015
Editor and former photographer for her high school newspaper and yearbook, Meg Stefanac took a trip back in time just before Christmas last year and paid a visit to a mall where she and her friends spent countless hours, the Century III Mall in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. As it turns out, Stefanac was one of only a scant few people traipsing around Century III on Sunday, November 29th. Luckily, she took her camera with her and captured some pretty depressing shots of the mall that hasn’t changed much since it opened back in 1979.
The deserted Century III mall carousel
The empty food court at the Century III mall
The empty food court at the Century III Mall
Stefanac’s photos remind me of the Sherman Oaks Galleria from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, only without Damone trying his best moves on a cardboard version of Debbie Harry and without PEOPLE. Here’s Stefanac’s recollections of Century III, which sound pretty much like my own memories of being an 80s mall-rat:

This was THE place to be for those living in the South Hills of Pittsburgh in the 80s. We pitied those who had to live their lives without such a mall nearby. It was always crowded and bustling, and it was frequently difficult to quickly work your way across as you navigated through a sea of neon clothing and big hair held firmly in place with Aqua Net.

The saddest arcade in America in the Century III Mall
The saddest arcade in America in the Century III Mall
The wide open spaces of the Century III Mall, November 29th, 2014
Sometimes if I close my eyes and listen to Winger, I can smell the ooze of the fabled Aqua Net Pink Can wafting a hole through the ozone. I don’t miss those days. Much.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
(Way more than) Everything you always wanted to know about the Nazi Skinhead music scene
08:14 am

Pop Culture
The wrong side of history


Today’s post is about the new book The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979 - 1993 released last month by Feral House publishing.

It should be noted that the use here of the term “Nazi Skinhead” is my own broad-brushstroke, informed by being at numerous ‘80s punk shows ruined by “White Nationalist Skinheads”—sometimes at the wrong end of a Doc Marten. This is not a term used by the authors of The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement to describe their subject.  Having just admitted my own bias on the topic of “Nazi Skinheads,” let me add that as a student of the history of youth subcultures and countercultures, I am endlessly fascinated, as a topic of study, by the Skinhead movement and its extreme right-wing offshoots.

When I first heard that Feral House was publishing the definitive guide to Nazi Skinhead history, my curiosity was piqued because I was fairly certain they would get it right. Feral House’s Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal is the go-to reference on the Satanic fascist Black Metal scene and is an absolutely compelling read. I was hoping for a similarly riveting examination of the White Power Skinhead scene.

Before going into where the book succeeds and fails, I feel the need to point out that the title, The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement: UK & USA, 1979 - 1993, may be a bit misleading. The book is more specifically a history of the “Rock Against Communism” (or RAC) music scene than an overview of Nationalist Skinheads as a political counterculture. Indeed, the original (more appropriate) title of an earlier self-published version of the book was When the Storm Breaks: Rock Against Communism 1979-1993.

It should also be noted that the majority of the enormous 610 page book is devoted to the British RAC scene. Only about 60 pages at the end of the book discuss the American RAC bands, and seems to be an added afterthought compared to the extremely well-researched history of the UK bands such as Skrewdriver, and Brutal Attack and their ilk. Actually “well-researched” is kind of an understatement. And that leads me to the pros and cons of The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement —which are mostly one in the same.

When an author goes about compiling information for the definitive history of a subject—particularly a subject they may have an affinity for—they are forced to decide between paring that knowledge down to a narrative which would make for a fascinating read to the novice, or sharing every shred for the like-minded obsessive seeking an authoritative reference. Authors Robert Forbes & Eddie Stampton took the latter route here. The wealth of information culled from interviews and historical records (mostly fanzines, naturally), would be a boon to those already immersed in the White Power music culture—not simply your basic Nazi Skinhead, but your Nazi Skinhead music über-nerd. If you are a member of this small target-audience, then you will likely find no fault with this weighty tome. If you happen to be taking all of this in as someone with a passing interest in the history of the Oi! music scene and its racist offshoots, then you are likely to become bored with plowing through the minutae of every RAC gig and band-member change. Because it’s ALL in there. I’ll be honest, this book was a struggle for me to make it through—simply because it was just TOO MUCH. Sure, it’s fascinating to see how the popularity of a group like Skrewdriver unfolded from their beginnings as an “apolitical” punk band, through line-up changes, to finally finding a rabid audience among White Power Nationalists; but entire portions of interviews with scenesters are reprinted describing “what it was like the first time I saw Skrewdriver,” when one or two pull quotes would have sufficed. The whole premise is bogged down under the weight of trying to include EVERYTHING.

The authors seem close to their subject matter. One of them perhaps too close for comfort, if you are the sort of person who is a stickler about giving your money to those who hold opposing ideologies to your own. According to this review of When the Storm Breaks, “Eddie Stampton is involved with the Nationalist movement, Robert Forbes writes from a neutral position, intrigued by the subject but not involved in the dogma.”

The end of the book contains the following disclaimer:

The political views expressed in this book may or may not necessarily be those of the authors. No hatred is aimed at any people or races mentioned within, however, for realism when relating to certain events or situations, the authors feel some quotes from others will need be entered into the text to make the mood or feelings of those at said events or situations as true as possible. The authors must stress their own aversion to any acts of hatred or violence towards others. This book is a historical commentary, nothing more and nothing less.

At the same time, the front of the book contains a “Rest in Peace” dedication to notable Nazi Skinheads, including Clive Sharp of No Remorse, Ian Stuart of Skrewdriver, and Nicky Crane (famously violent Skinhead who later came “out” as homosexual). Some may be bothered by the inclusion of such a dedication, while others will overlook it in the interest of having an authentic insight.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Watch and listen to Lemmy’s early bands The Rockin’ Vickers and Sam Gopal
11:28 am

Pop Culture


The path to success can often have many false starts. For Ian Fraser Kilmister—the man, the myth, later known simply as Lemmy—his early success was a useful apprenticeship for his later career.

The first real clue as to what he would do with his life came when Lemmy saw the Beatles at the Cavern Club in 1963. They were thrilling, they were fab, and they were doing something Lemmy knew he would be good at too. But how the fuck do you get started? He’d left school, was working in dead end jobs and playing in bars with local bands for kicks. Seeing the Beatles made him focus on his music career.

After a few misfires, Lemmy joined The Rockin’ Vickers as guitarist in 1965. The group was originally called Reverend Black and The Rocking Vicars—known for their upbeat live act and clerical dog collar outfits. The band came to the attention of American record producer—known for his work with The Who and The Kinks—Shel Talmy and a record deal was signed.
A few singles and tours followed. By the time Lemmy joined, the band had shortened their name to the Rockin’ Vickers—as “Vicars” was thought by some to be “blasphemous.” The Vickers were (allegedly) the first band to play behind the Iron Curtain—Yugoslavia in 1965—and with Lemmy on guitar were hailed as “one of the hardest rocking live bands around.” Lemmy played guitar “with his back to the audience ‘windmilling’ power chords (like Pete Townshend)” but the sound, their sound—well their sound on disc—was just like many other beat combos of the day, which can be heard on their singles “It’s Alright” and—a cover of the Ray Davies’ song—“Dandy.”

‘It’s Alright’—The Rockin’ Vickers.

‘Dandy’—The Rockin’ Vickers.
Lemmy moved to Manchester, but covering songs and playing guitar was soon not enough for the nascent rocker. In 1967, he quit the band and moved to London where he shared a flat with Jimi Hendrix’s bass guitarist Noel Redding. Lemmy—still using the name Ian Willis—briefly worked as a roadie for Hendrix before joining tabla player Sam Gopal and his band (aka Sam Gopal’s Dream).
Sam Gopal’s Dream was a psychedelic rock band that had achieved some success on London’s underground scene in 1967. Following a line-up change in 1968, Gopal brought in Lemmy as lead singer, along with Phil Duke and Roger D’Elia—shortening the band’s name to just Sam Gopal.

‘Escalator’—Sam Gopal (written and sung by Lemmy).
Lemmy started writing songs and the band recorded them for the album Escalator. Released in 1969, it showcased Lemmy’s compositions and vocals.

To get an idea of the kind of psychedelic thing Lemmy and co. were into here he is lip syncing (badly) a number called “The Sky Is Burning” with Sam Gopal on a boat for French TV circa 1969.

More early Lemmy, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Listen to Radiohead’s unused theme for song for James Bond movie ‘Spectre’
08:36 am

Pop Culture


Merry Christmas from Radiohead, who have just posted their unused theme song for the latest James Bond romp Spectre on social media today.

Commenting on Facebook the band explain:

Last year we were asked to write a theme tune for the Bond movie Spectre.

Yes we were. It didn’t work out, but became something of our own, which we love very much. As the year closes we thought you might like to hear it.

Merry Christmas. May the force be with you.

Though many are called—few are chosen, and Radiohead now join the long list of (sadly) rejected artists whose songs are often better than the ones chosen—certainly true with this little number. Radiohead had been favorites to record the Spectre theme with one punter betting a staggering $22,000+ (£15k) on the band snagging the deal. Alas, it didn’t happen—so now the band have shared the song as a rather awesome Christmas present.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Santa Claus Conquers Your Brain
03:42 pm

Pop Culture


Here’s your alternative Yule log.

Santa Conquers The Martians is considered by many to be among the worst films ever made. Personally, I love this surrealistic mindbender that stars an eight-year-old Pia Zadora only slightly smaller than her adult self. Between the goofy D.I.Y. costumes and sets intercut with stock footage of jets and missiles, director Nicolas Webster’s 1964 holiday head trip is filled with as much bizarre wonderfulness as anything by David Lynch or Jack Smith.

Music by:

The Bubblemen
400 Blows
Cabaret Voltaire
Nitzer Ebb
23 Skiddoo
Hard Corp
Naked Lunch
Ledernacken And Band
Diseno Corbusier

This is what happens when I’m left alone in a room with video tapes, records, a bottle of Zinfandel and 50-year-old blotter acid. If you’ve never seen Santa Claus Conquers The Martians before, this is the lysergic version. The original may even be more trippy depending on your point of view.

Holiday greetings from Mars.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Make your very own Jarvis Cocker Xmas ornament
10:22 am

Pop Culture


If you fancy having Jarvis Cocker hanging off your Christmas tree this Holiday season, then hop on over to BBC Radio 6 Music where you can download your very own Jarvis Cocker tree decoration.

Other poptastic baubles include Laurie Anderson, and…er…Paul Smith and Peaches. Each decoration comes in its own festive non-denominational colors and is as easy to fold together as a drug wrap. Download yours here.
Tune into Jarvis Cocker’s festive radio show from 2011, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘80s goths spied dancing in their natural habitats
08:54 am

Pop Culture


I always get a little excited when I run across some previously unseen vintage footage of dancing goths that has bubbled up to the surface. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of documentation of early ‘80s goths dancing in their natural habitats. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that goths have traditionally been viewed as terrible dancers? We’ll just roll the footage and let our readers be the judge of that.

First up on this goth dancing hit parade is a clip which purports to be from 1983. The song in the clip is the extended single mix of The Cure’s “Let’s Go To Bed” which was released in 1982. Unfortunately the upload doesn’t offer more info as to the location of the club. If anyone knows, please comment. Some of the outfits here are wonderfully racy.

More dancing goths from the 1980s, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
A sackful of holiday greetings from Divine, Edie the Egglady & Miss Jean Hill (NSFW)
09:11 am

Pop Culture


Here are the grand goddesses of John Waters’ Dreamland repertory company, Divine, Edith Massey, and Jean Hill, making spirits bright for the holidays in this collection of pin-up photos.

Though all three performers have sadly left this planet (Divine in 1988, Edie in 1984, and Jean Hill in 2013), their beauty and glamour lives on.

The majority of these photos were taken for novelty Christmas cards in the ‘80s—the sort you would have found at a Spencer’s Gifts back in the day.



More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Someone colorized the opening credits to ‘The Munsters’
08:41 am

Pop Culture


Most people dislike the colorization of old B&W films and photographs. I’m one of those people. The colors never look real enough to me and they add a certain “fakey” modernization to the film or photograph. That’s just my opinion. However, this is not the case with the colorization of the opening to the 1964 TV sitcom The Munsters. This one totally works. Perhaps it’s because it’s extremely well done or maybe it’s because the Munsters were such a colorful, cartoony family that it’s not offensive to see them in color. I don’t know.

Pop Colorture explains the painstaking process of getting The Munsters opening right:

I spent a day or two thinking of how I was going to approach colorizing hundreds upon hundreds of individual images and I finally streamlined a process. After importing all 1,317 frames of the 44-second opening, I broke them down into scenes. Each scene consists of an establishing shot of the character, followed by a quick zoom into a closeup. The establishing shots and close ups would be easy enough, but the zooms seemed like a challenge when coloring frame by frame. Using the same color palette for both parts of the shot did not work well, so I had to color each section (establishing and close-up) separately and find a way to transition the colors during the zoom.


I fully colorized several images, almost as key frames, throughout the entire segment, then adjusted for the small movements in between. I knew I would be working frame by frame, but I was not prepared for the sheer amount of time required for this adventure. In the end, I colorized every single frame by hand and even re-colorized the portions of Eddie and Marilyn when I decided on better color choices. In all, I colorized nearly 2,000 images over the course of 80 hours in one very, very full week.

That’s dedication. But like I said in the previous paragraph, it’s really well done. I don’t think you’ll hate it. I think you’ll dig it.

via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Turkish Star Wars’: May the Farce be with you!
08:05 am

Pop Culture


Directed by Çetin Inanç and starring Turkish action superstar Cüneyt Arkin, The Man Who Saved The World is an amazingly over-the-top knock-off of George Lucas’s Star Wars. Popularly known as Turkish Star Wars for reasons that are clearly apparent, this Turkish slab of cinematic taffy stretches the boundaries of disbelief to the breaking point. And that’s what makes it a far more entertaining film than the one it rips off. I’ve forgotten most of the original Star Wars but I’ll never forget Cüneyt Arkin doing battle with a gigantic psychopathic shag carpet using only a cardboard sabre (completely lightless) and some well-placed karate chops.

Or the bizarre make-up effects on some of the indigenous space people.

Turkish Star Wars action figures included this close encounter of the turd kind.

Turkish film writer Evrim Ersoy sums up Turkish Star Wars nicely: 

Director Çetin İnanç‘s attempt to create the ultimate Turkish science fiction epic has all the trademarks of the genre: a mash-up of American cinema tradition and Turkish mythology bound together by the insane desire to reach infinitely beyond its microscopic budget. Two pilots who find their ships mysteriously crashing on an alien planet end up fighting an evil dictatorial emperor plotting to destroy Earth. But no summary can do this wild mix justice. From its z-grade, beautiful inhabitants to the endless borrowed shots literally spliced in from the actual STAR WARS, this is lo-fi filmmaking at an unparalleled best.

The cast and crew of Turkish Star Wars. Making movies on the run with no money and no time. Attempting to reach warp speed in an Econoline van.

As I watch the hype around the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens and listen to my many friends losing their shit over this new installment I realize that there’s an age gap between me and the fanatics. In 1977 (the year Star Wars was released), I was 26 years old, had started a punk band, and was planning my move to New York City. I thought Star Wars was hopelessly square, a space western in disco drag. But my friends who are still creaming over Star Wars were children when they first saw it. So perhaps they saw it differently than I did. Maybe their minds were wider open than mine. Maybe it’s a generational thing. All I know is that I prefer the cheesy rip-off that is Turkish Star Wars over the Hollywood original. It has the primitive energy and purity of a great punk rock song. It’s The Ramones to Lucas’s epic Emerson, Lake and Palmer slog.

In honor of Turkish Star Wars D.I.Y. spirit, I’ve put together this mix of 31 Turkish rock, prog and punk songs as a soundtrack to the movie which you can watch now in all of its goofy glory. The song list is on my Vimeo page.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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