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Phenome-Con 2011 this weekend at Cinefamily in Los Angeles
06:18 pm

Pop Culture


Mondo movie fans, take note: Our friends at Cinefamily, here in Los Angeles are programming another of their weird and wonderful weekend festivals. Focusing on the cheesy paranormal docs and TV shows of the 1970s like In Search Of, the two-day (and night) Phenome-Con 2011 features some outrageous “psychic” fare, that was once surprisingly commonplace in American culture:

In the ‘60s, baby boomers looked for God in a sugar cube, The Beatles seeked enlightenment in India and hippies freaked over Jesus. As the post-summer of love, pre-New Age ‘70s rolled in, it seems everyone went searching for the mysteries of life. Is there a higher power? Is there life after death? Where lies the lost empire of Atlantis? Can plants read your thoughts? How do I bend a fork with my mind? Does yogurt have feelings? Psychic surgery, hypnosis, ESP, UFOs, The Bermuda Triangle—it all held a fascination for Mr. and Mrs. America. It was a Phenomena Phenomenon, if you will. Reflecting these various crazes, a host of “speculative documentaries” quickly cropped up in grindhouses and drive-ins. This weekend, not only will we watch a crop of mind-marinating films, but we’ll also explore pyramid power, mind reading and we’ll search for Bigfoot. Cinefamily invites you to investigate with us the mysteries of our universe—join us for Phenome-Con!

The schedule for Day One, Saturday, March 26:

4:00pm Phenome-Con Saturday Afternoon Party (feat. The Best of “In Search Of…”)

7:30pm-ish The Amazing World Of Ghosts

10:00pm-sh A Bigfoot Celebration (feat. The Legend of Boggy Creek)

Midnight-ish Journey Into The Beyond

2:00am-ish The Devil’s Triangle

Day Two, Sunday March 27:

4:00pm Sunday Afternoon Part feat. more selections from The Best of “In Search Of…”, a casual Sunday patio hang-out, and then it’s time for…

6:00pm-ish The Pyramid

8:00pm Concluding the Phenome-Con will be a special screening and Q&A with director Don Como (hosted by Process Media’s Jodi Wille) featuring his 1978 film, Unknown Powers.

Get tickets at

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
ALL THE KICKS: Cole Whittle opens at Pop tART Gallery in Los Angeles

Hotly-touted, Tony Visconti-produced “dirty showbiz” rockers, Semi Precious Weapons, have been touring with Lady Gaga as her opening act since 2009 with her “Monster Ball” extravaganza.

As if it’s not enough to be the bass player for a group produced by the famous Bowie and T-Rex collaborator, or to be a part of one of the biggest rock tours of recent years, bassist Cole Whittle is also a visual artist. The first show of his unusual artwork will be on display (along with Austin Young’s fab portrait exhibit YOUR FACE HERE, so you can take in both shows) at the Pop tART Gallery in Los Angeles and opens this weekend.

Whittle’s installation, titled ALL THE KICKS consists of mixed media pieces, freaky clothing, new music and video and, as they say… more.

Cole Whittle’s ALL THE KICKS opens Saturday March 26, with reception from 8pm to midnight. Curated by Lenora Claire.

Pop tART Gallery, 3023 W. 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Of angels & meat: A time-lapse view of Mark Ryden painting
05:51 pm

Pop Culture

Mark Ryden

Mark Ryden seen here in the process of painting “Incarnation” in 2009 via time-lapse photography. If you’re a fan of his work (hand raised!) this is an incredible thing to see.

I’ve examined a lot of Mark Ryden’s paintings “in the flesh,” so to speak, and I gotta tell you, it’s always been impossible for me to figure out how he “does” it. When I first saw his work, I just assumed that he used an airbrush and was one of the greatest airbrush artists of all time. Nope, he gets his signature effects using a regular brush. Even though you can “see” exactly how he works here—and it’s fucking fascinating—after watching this, the artisan magic of what Mark Ryden does to a canvas was still very much a mystery to me. I think it’s best kept that way, don’t you?

Lady Gaga should hire Mark Ryden to do a portrait and repay the favor… After all, she got a lot of mileage out of one his best-known ideas.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Françoise Hardy Collection Vol.1 (1963-1979)
09:12 am

Pop Culture

Mod Cinema

From our friends at Mod Cinema comes this fantastic forty song collection of TV performances, promo films and some wonderful duets featuring breathtakingly gorgeous French chanteuse Françoise Hardy. I was introduced to her at party in the the mid-90s and believe me when I tell you, it was a special thrill just to touch her hand. She was in her 50s at the time, and she was still one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever laid eyes on. Talk about a MILF…!

Françoise Hardy covered more stylistic ground and owed more debts to pop/rock than she’s given credit for. Immensely popular in her native France, the chanteuse first displayed her breathy, measured vocals in the early and mid-‘60s. Her (mostly self-penned) recordings from that era draw from French pop traditions, lightweight ‘50s teen idol rock, girl groups, and sultry jazz and blues—sometimes in the same song. The songs are invariably catchy and the production, arrangements, and near-operatic backup harmonies excellent, at times almost Spector-esque. This DVD compiles rare footage of Françoise performing on French television. Over 40 songs including “Tous les garçons et les filles”, “Le premier bonheur du jour”, “Ton meilleur ami”, “Mon amie la rose”, “La maison où j’ai grandi”, “Voilà”, “Comment te dire adieu?”, “J’écoute de la musique saoûle”, as wells as duets with Jane Birkin, Sylvie Vartan, Patrick Bouchtey, and Sacha Distel.

This two-hour collection is an embarrassment of groovy goodness. And the quality of the clips is uniformly very high.

Order a copy of the Françoise Hardy Collection Vol.1 (1963-1979) from Mod Cinema

Below, Françoise Hardy performing “Ma jeunesse fout l’camp”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Death / Hitchcock: 36 of the master’s death scenes synchronized

It’s not enough that British early-twenty-something film nut Charlie Lyne’s Ultra Culture is one of the best cinema blogs around.

Oh no. He’s also gotta do stuff like Death / Hitchcock, a wonderful tribute to a legend, and one of the most anxiety-inducing and ultimately satisfying short simultaneous montages you may ever see.

Dare you to watch it just once.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
24 Second Psycho
Psycho at 50: Zizek’s Three Floors of the Mind
Happy Birthday, Hitchcock: The Dali Dream of Spellbound

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Iconoclast: Larry Wessel’s new Boyd Rice documentary
07:07 pm

Pop Culture

Boyd Rice
Larry Wessel

Underground film-maker Larry Wessel is back with a four-hour documentary about the life, career and personal obsessions of the notorious Boyd Rice. Wessel calls Iconoclast, which was six years in the making, “a rollercoaster ride through the fevered mindscape of one of the most controversial and unique artists of the modern age.”

Boyd Rice may well be the only person alive who’s been on a first name basis with both Charlie Manson and Marilyn Manson. His career has spanned more than three decades, during which time he has remained at the epicenter of underground culture and controversy. Rice first came to prominence in the 70’s as one of the founders of the genre known as Industrial Music, and soon gained a reputation for live shows that were deemed the most abrasive, minimalist and loudest concerts ever staged (his shows regularly clocked in at 130 decibels, whereas a jet plane taking off was a mere 113 decibels). As early as 1980, he was already hailed as The Godfather of Noise Music. Since then, Rice has extended his creative pursuits to numerous fields, even lecturing at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, despite being a high-school dropout.

“My life”, says Rice, “is a testament to the idea that you can achieve whatever the hell you want if you possess a modicum of creativity, and a certain amount of naïveté concerning what is and isn’t possible in this world. I’ve had one-man shows of my paintings in New York, but I’m not a painter. I’ve authored several books, but I’m not a writer. I’ve made a living as a recording artist for the last 30 years, but I can’t read a note of music or play any instrument. I’ve somehow managed to make a career out of doing a great number of things I’m in no way qualified to do”.

Along the way, Rice worked as a celebrity bodyguard (protecting the likes of Julie Newmar and Maureen McCormack), owned a Tiki Bar (Tiki Boyd’s), starred in an exploitation movie (Pearls Before Swine), co-edited an influential book on low budget cult films (Incredibly Strange Films), and forged close personal friendships with such diverse Pop Icons as Tiny Tim and Anton LaVey.

Order the 3-disc set of Iconoclast at

A collection of Boyd Rice’s essays: Standing In Two Circles: The Collected Works of Boyd Rice, edited by Brian M. Clark is available at Amazon

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century, the soundtrack

If I had to sit down and compile a list of my top favorite books—which would be difficult for me to do—there would most assuredly be a spot in the top fifty for Greil Marcus’s sprawling, idiosyncratic and essential, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century.

This book is about a single serpentine fact: late in 1976 a record called Anarchy in the U.K. was issued in London, and this event launched a transformation of pop music all over the world. Made by a four-man rock ‘n’ roll band called the Sex Pistols, and written by singer Johnny Rotten, the song distilled, in crudely poetic form, a critique of modern society once set out by a small group of Paris-based intellectuals.

Lipstick Traces, well, traces the critique of capitalism from the Dada art movement through the Situationist International and the May 1968 uprisings in Paris, through to the Sex Pistols and the punk rock explosion. In other words, it is the hidden history of the artistic opposition to capitalist society. It was heavily influenced by the revolutionary avant-garde punk zine “Vague” (a parody of Vogue, if that’s not obvious). I was reading “Vague” from my late teens—I still have most issues—and it had a great deal to do with shaping how I see the world. Marcus cribbed a lot from Tom Vague for Lipstick Traces, which is not to take anything away from Greil Marcus at all, but to simply give credit where its due.

Although I can recall a lot of criticism that was leveled at Lipstick Traces by reviewers when it first came out, the book’s thesis was, in my opinion, on pretty firm ground. It has certainly stood the test of time and has remained in print to this day. I’m told that it’s often used in college courses, which is unsurprising. A twentieth anniversary edition of Lipstick Traces was published by Harvard Press in 2009

But what many ardent admirers of the book don’t know, it that Rough Trade released a companion “soundtrack” CD to Lipstick Traces that came out in 1993. Like the book, it’s always had pride of place in my vast collection of “stuff.” The CD was rarely encountered in a world prior to (there’s not even a listing for it on Amazon today, either) but now, thanks to the fine folks at Ubuweb, these rare audio documents, lovingly assembled by Marcus, can be heard again. The selection runs the gamut of weird old hillbilly folk, doo-wop, to punk rock from the Slits, Buzzcocks. Gang of Four, The Adverts, Kleenex/Liliput, The Raincoats, The Mekons, a recording of the audience at a Clash gig, and best of all, the blistering mutant be-bop of Essential Logic’s “Wake Up.” Interspersed between the music is spoken word material from French philosopher Guy Debord, Triatan Tzara, Richard Huelsenbeck and even Marie Osmond reciting a brain-damaged version of Hugo Ball’s nonsense poem “Karawane” that must be heard to be believed.

Below, Benny Spellman: “Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)”


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Wendy James wants to blow your mind

In the late 1980s, Wendy James was the goddess of choice for many a teenager’s bedroom. She was sexy, beautiful and her band Transvision Vamp dominated the UK charts with their post-punk pop. Wendy was everywhere, a teenage wet dream, which kinda overlooked the singer’s real talent and incredible energy.  

It was her unacknowledged talent (and a fan letter from Wendy) that led Elvis Costello to write the pop princess her first solo album, Now Ain’t the Time for Your Tears in 1993. It was a bloody impressive recording, which kicked even her harshest critics into touch. But let’s not forget, the pop world is fickle, and riddled with jealousies, which means, sadly, there are always those who will not think about Wendy beyond the pull-out posters that once decorated their bedroom walls.

Now, this should be about to change, as Wendy James has released the best album of her career so far, I Came Here To Blow Minds, which she has written and produced herself. I spoke to Wendy over the ‘phone last week and asked her about the process of writing the album. 

Wendy James: ‘I wrote it in summertime in New York. I went up onto the roof of my apartment, with my guitar and worked on my songs up there. I write all the time, and have notebooks full of writing and songs all around. Then one day it just starts, and I have an outpouring of these songs and ideas, for about two months. And when I write I have to lock myself away. I just can’t enjoy other things. It’s kind of like a pressure cooker, and you put a lid on to stop it boiling over, but then you can’t stop it boiling over.

‘For me, it’s a very solo outpouring. It takes everything you’ve got for that moment in time. But it’s the ultimate thing for being an artist.’

It’s a cathartic process, and writing the last song, is like ‘waiting to exhale.’ On I Came Here To Blow Minds, Wendy’s songs range form the punky “New Wave Flowered Up Main Street Acid Baby”, through “Municipal Blues” and the jangly indie pop of “One Evening in a Small Cafe” and “You Tell Me” to the sixties’ Marianne Faithfull-like “Where Have You Been, So Long?”. The musical references are all there, and have developed over Wendy’s twenty-plus year career, from teenage pop star to older, wiser solo artist.

It started in her teens, when Wendy saw Joe Strummer of The Clash in concert and thought “I want his job.” Her wish soon came true, when she formed Transvision Vamp with Nick Christian Sayer in 1986. Sayer wrote the songs and James supplied the image. Three albums and a slew of hit singles were released, including “I Want Your Love” and “Baby, I Don’t Care”.

Wendy James: ‘Without really knowing, I was in Transvision Vamp. I didn’t really know what I was doing. But you learn really quickly, it was a fast track, you learn how to rehearse, how to deliver. It all came together so quickly. On the first album, I was just singing. By the second I wanted more.’

Their second album, Velveteen was a massive hit, but Wendy was growing up.

Wendy James: ‘Something in my soul was telling me I had to live in my own world. I had to do my own thing. Something was going on inside, and by the third album, it wasn’t enough.’

Then Elvis Costello wrote an album for her. 

Wendy James: ‘But still there was this inner voice, you know, these were Elvis Costello’s songs, and not mine.’

It took time. In 2004, James returned as Racine - ‘...the name I called myself for two albums…’ - and then began writing the songs for I Came Here To Blow Minds, which she recorded in Paris. Now, Wendy has plans to tour the UK, Europe and the US later this year. She is also working on songs for her next album.

An initial pink vinyl pressing of ‘I Came Here To Blow Minds’ is now available

Wendy James: “New Wave Flowered Up Main Street Acid Baby”

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Morgan Spurlock sells out at SXSW

Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a riotously funny, dead serious look at product placement, advertising and marketing in entertainment and the world around us and how it literally fucks with our heads. The entire movie was funded by the companies whose products are blatantly featured throughout the film. The movie exists thanks to the cash that Spurlock managed to extract from the very system he is critiquing. Exploiting components of the $412 billion marketing industry, Spurlock has created the cinematic equivalent of a virus devouring its host. It’s an ingenious bit of guerrilla theater that makes its frightening points while being highly entertaining.

Spurlock describes the concept behind The Greatest Movie Ever Sold:

Brands are everywhere these days. It seems like I can‘t go to any event these days without someone ―sponsoring it. Sporting events, concerts, anything. So, why not a movie? Better yet, why not a movie that examines the whole phenomenon that is actually paid for by the companies themselves. That was the jumping off point.
The movie documents both the absurdity and pervasiveness of product placement in our daily lives and I saw my role on this film as both a filmmaker and an anthropologist.”

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold was funded by Hyatt, POM Wonderful, Sheetz, Jet Blue, Mini Cooper, Ban deodorant and half a dozen other brands. The product placement and commercials that occupy virtually every frame of the movie have made the $1.5 million documentary profitable before it even opens in theaters on April 22.

Here’s the Q&A with Morgan after the screening of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at SXSW on March 13. This footage was shot on a Sony HD camcorder by Dangerous Minds’ Marc Campbell who was wearing Levi jeans and Converse sneakers while sucking on an Altoid mint.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Is Lady Gaga a member of the Illuminati?’

Of the most searched-for topics on Google that lead random people to Dangerous Minds, perhaps the single most popular is “Is Lady Gaga a member of the Illuminati?”

I kid you not, there is usually at least one person, at all times of the day or night, who is visiting us to research whether or not the world’s biggest pop star is, in fact, a member of that most secretive of secret societies.  Another way way it gets phrased is “Lady Gaga” and either “Satanic conspiracy,” or “Revelations” but that’s obviously a dead giveaway of a Christian conspiracy theorist. Apparently, some people truly seem to believe that Lady Gaga figures into Bible prophecies (and it’s not just Gaga, it’s Jay-Z as well). This post is dedicated to them. It will be one of our most popular posts ever, in the long run, trust me.

Not saying that she is in the Illuminati, but if she is, Lady Gaga is certainly milking her membership for all it for all it’s worth to forward teh gayz agenda. From Joe.My.God:

The fastest-selling single in iTunes history, “Born This Way” has already sold millions of copies worldwide and has gone to #1 in more than 30 countries. Whether you’re a Gaga fan or not, you cannot deny the unprecedented impact of hundreds of millions of people singing out loud, that yes, we were born this way. Lady Gaga is pushing the movement forward in ways few could have possibly fathomed.

He’s absolutely right. That song is a wonderfully subversive, absolutely unstoppable meme. It’s a magical incantation of social engineering—it’s a spell—and Lady Gaga knows this. The nursery rhyme simplicity of the lyrics gnaw their way into your brain and don’t let go. The idea of a homophobe having that song stuck in their head all day is a pleasant notion, and you know fully well that’s happened a lot.

I think you really have to hand it to Lady Gaga. When she turned down the Target deal after they wouldn’t guarantee to her that they would shun donating to all anti-gay politicians, she was truly proving to her fan-base that she is who she says she is. It took a lot of integrity to turn down that much money. There could have been a way to “spin” it and still collect their cash. She could have played it off, if she wanted to, and yet she didn’t. The Illuminati could use more like her!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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