Steve McQueen was one of several Hollywood celebrities placed on a “Death List” allegedly compiled by Charles Manson. The other names were Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones.
On August 9th, 1969, members of Manson’s “Family” carried out the brutal murder of Sharon Tate and 4 of her friends.
McQueen had briefly dated Tate, and had planned to visit the actress the night of her death.
In December 1969, Manson and the killers had been arrested.
When McQueen heard he might be targeted by Manson’s followers, he started carrying a gun. In October 1970, a still cautious McQueen wrote to his lawyer to find out if any “Family” members were still active, and to have his gun license renewed.
A SOLAR PRODUCTION
October 17, 1970
Mr. Edward Rubin
Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp
6380 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90048
As you know, I have been selected by the Manson Group to be marked for death, along with Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones. In some ways I find it humorous, and in other ways frighteningly tragic. It may be nothing, but I must consider it may be true both for the protection of myself and my family.
At the first possible time, if you could pull some strings and find out unofficially from one of the higher-ups in Police whether, again unofficially, all of the Manson Group has been rounded up and/or do they feel that we may be in some danger.
Secondly, if you would call Palm Springs and have my gun permit renewed, it was only for a year, and I should like to have it renewed for longer as it is the only sense of self-protection for my family and myself, and I certainly think I have good reason.
Please don’t let too much water go under the bridge before this is done, and I’m waiting for an immediate reply.
Slavoj Žižek might just be the world’s foremost intellectual prostitute, but it still feels novel to hear him riff on these bulwarks of relatively recent mass culture, not to mention relate “Gangnam Style” (“your first reaction is maybe, ‘fuck them stupid Koreans’”) to his beloved Jacques Lacan.
And who’d have thought he’d seen Kung Fu Panda five times!
These are the kinds of tattoos that could drive a clinically sane person into the awful act of chewing their own arm off. Yes, self-amputation is the better alternative to a life with these abominations on your flesh. Or a full-body flesh peel is an option. It’s agonizing but so are these tattoos.
“I said I wanted a tattoo of my baby small, not Biggie Smalls!”
Fun with Ron and Russell Mael, interviewed by Julie Brown on Music Box in 1985. Ron (as one commentator notes) is particularly “perky,” perhaps due to the excellent review in Sounds that claimed he was a better song-writer than Lennon and McCartney. Ron disagrees, but admits he is maybe a better song-writer than George Harrison.
In George Trow’s marvelously observed New Yorker article from 1974, “The Biggest Event This Year,” the writer tells the tale of Sly Stone’s wedding at Madison Square Garden:
On Friday, May 3rd, in the late afternoon, Sly Stone, the sleek black singer, called the office of Epic Records, his record company, and talked with Stephen Paley, his main man there. During the conversation, Sly announced to Paley that he planned to marry Kathy Silva, a striking young Hawaiian girl, who has been an actress in California, and who is the mother of his eleven-month-old son. Sly said he planned to marry Kathy almost immediately. “I might do it in Hawaii,” he told Paley. “Or I might do it when I come to New York.”
“Why don’t you do it in Madison Square Garden?” Paley asked facetiously. “Before your concert.”
“Yeah,” Sly said. “I could be my own opening act.”
There were over 21,000 fans present on June 4th, 1974 as Sly and his bride took about four minutes to exchange their vows. Soul Train‘s Don Cornelius was the master of ceremonies and Geraldo Rivera was an usher. Edgar Winter, model Penelope Tree, Andy Warhol, Amanda Lear and Diane Von Furstenberg were among the guests. A reception was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.
Within two years, Kathy Silva would leave Stewart. She later told People magazine:
“He beat me, held me captive and wanted me to be in ménages à trois,” Silva says. “I didn’t want that world of drugs and weirdness.” Still, she remembers, “He’d write me a song or promise to change, and I’d try again. We were always fighting, then getting back together.” After Sly’s dog mauled their son in 1976, however, Silva left.
We all know what happened to Sly… angel dust and cocaine.
There’s no stopping those crazy kids at the Alamo Drafthouse in their continuing assault on good taste and all that is holy. Sommeliers across the planet are going to recoil in horror when they see what Tim League and his crew have unleashed on the world of vinification: Silence Of The Lambs Signature Wines. This is one of those ideas that have you muttering to yourself “why didn’t I think of that?”
Beyond the sublime goofiness of it all, these are serious wines. Hannibal Lecter would never sell a wine before its time.
“The Cannibal Chianti” is a DOCG wine from a vineyard situated between Florence and Sienna. It is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, balanced with smaller contributions of Canaiolo and Malvasia del Chianti. The nose is loaded with dark berry fruit with bass notes of allspice and baked quince. Its mouth feel is medium-bodied and well balanced, with savory plum and tobacco leaf notes leading to a slight sandalwood finish.
I’m looking forward to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Signature Zinfandel. I like my wines big, bold and coagulating.
For those of us outside of the UK who are too lazy to torrent it, some kind soul has uploaded quite a nice copy of director/producer Francis Whately’s new film about the radical changes in David Bowie’s work from 1971 to 1983. (The “five years” aren’t consecutive, you see. I’d have done 72-77 myself, but hey, it’s not my documentary.)
Similar stylistically to Martin Scorsese’s docs on Bob Dylan and George Harrison (which I thought sucked, frankly, they were aimless and formless films) Whately was able to uncover loads of previously unseen footage for this 90-minute film. Probably the best of the recent spate of Bowie TV hagiographies.
Mama (aka Rock And Roll Wolf) is a Romanian kiddie film with a lysergic vibe that plays out like Jodorowsky for teenyboppers. I love every candy-colored surreally sweet minute of it.
Directed by Elisabeta Bostan and based on a popular children’s story, “The Goat With Three Kids,” the movie employs performers from The Moscow Circus, The Bolshoi Ballet, surreal make-up and a poppy score to create a cinematic fantasy that is truly unique as it depicts an otherworldly realm of singing goats, evil wolves and enchanted forests…all in magnificent psychedelic colors.
Made in 1977, this is the Romanian version of Mama with English subtitles. There is an English-dubbed version that has been cut, re-edited and re-scored to much lesser effect.
If advertising is the face of free-market consumerism, what does it look like when there’s no free market behind it? Pretty brilliant, judging by a remarkable surviving 1983 Soviet commercial for ground chicken. (See video below)
From 1979 to 1989, filmmaker Harry Egipt created dozens of surreal micro-masterpieces for the Estonian studio Eesti Reklaamfilm. Glamorous models vogueing with sheep, ecstatic paeans to collective-farm oranges, teenage factory debutantes cavorting to unauthorized Rolling Stones tunes: Egipt’s commercials may have filled Western forms with Soviet ideological content, but their absurd, dramatic sensibility was wholly Egipt’s own.
Forgotten during Estonia’s post-Soviet collective amnesia, Egipt’s ads have since been seen by hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers, sampled for the Borat movie, and now collected on a DVD available through Egipt’s website. I contacted Harry Egipt via email to find him alive and well in Estonia, with a lot to say about his work. (The numbers in the interview refer to the commercials on the DVD.)
Jason Toon: What was the purpose of Soviet commercials, since the USSR did not have a consumer-oriented market with different brands competing for sales?
Harry Egipt: During Soviet times advertising had an entirely different purpose than it would have today. For example, it shows the absurdity of Soviet planned economy that the commercials produced by a state-funded agency were sometimes prevented from even being screened. The primary purpose of advertising was not to encourage people to consume, it was not to market a product or service, but rather to inform and educate people and shape their views on society in general as opposed to finding a market for a particular product. Advertisements were targeted at a wider audience, not at a specific group of consumers.
Soviet ads were absurdly twisted in the context of contemporary advertising compared to their capitalist counterparts. Selling a product was not as important as the entertainment value, thus making the ads themselves the product to be consumed. Products often vanished from the shelves without need for any advertising but ads were produced nonetheless. At other times an ad would be produced in hopes that, at the time of airing, a product would be available for sale. Quite often adverts provided a financial basis to make television programs – with less bureaucracy and more creative freedom. To this end my adverts possessed an artistic value and looked like music videos.
Jason Toon: Were you and the other creators aware of the element of absurdity involved in making ads for products that consumers could rarely buy, or that in some cases didn’t even exist?
Harry Egipt: Actually nearly all products or services that were advertised were more or less available (at the time the ad aired - ed.). For example, oranges that were not grown in USSR were rarely sold on the market. But when a cargo ship was about to arrive to Tallinn (the capital of Estonia), the advertisement for oranges was aired on local TV (nr 47 “Oranges”).
Before 1983, advertising for the car Zaporozhets (nr 56) proved to be completely absurd in the context of Soviet culture (the car was only sold for a special purchase card). But in 1983 there was a unique economic turnaround in the Soviet Union and within a month the car was available with no restrictions.
My action was not to be bound by Soviet doctrine. My clips demonstrated that Soviet Estonians are not afraid of capitalist glamour like socialist glamour (nr 82 “Luxury Goods”, nr 40 “Baked Apple in Pastry”, nr 78 “Perfume Plot”), nor young and beautiful dancing girls (nr 24 “Kalev Chocolates Selection”) nor other beautiful naked girls (nr 64 “Mistra Carpets” and nr 28 “Floare Carpets”).
Jason Toon: Were you familiar with Western TV commercials at the time?
Harry Egipt: Since 1970s we could see TV transmissions from Finland in the northern part of Estonia and this was our window to the western world.
Jason Toon: You worked for Peedu Ojamaa, the formidable advertising pioneer whose studio Eesti Reklaamfilm essentially invented the Soviet TV commercial. How did you come to work for him, and what was he like to work with?
Actually I have no formal education in marketing or film making. After I finished my history studies at the university in 1972, I started to work as a light technician and later became a cameraman in our only local TV broadcasting station, Estonian TV (Eesti TV). In 1979 Peedu Ojamaa made me an offer to come to work for the Estonian Commercial Film Producers (Eesti Reklaamfilm). I started as a director and pretty soon started to write scripts as well.
A documentary film titled Goldspinners gives a good overview of
how Peedu Ojamaa managed to build up Eesti Reklaamfilm.
Jason Toon: What was the creative process like at Eesti Reklaamfilm? How much autonomy did you have in making your commercials? What role did the “client” play in the process?
Harry Egipt: A customer would come to the office of Eesti Reklaamfilm and told us about the product or service they needed a commercial for. After a time schedule and a budget were agreed upon, the order ended up on my table. From here, I created an idea, did the casting, handpicked the crew, directed and produced the ad.
In general, my film projects can be considered as a one-man show since I was the author, director and producer. My work is characterized by an utterly unique style, which uses innovative ideas, fast editing, original music and gorgeous models. My ads were different from other directors and copywriters who worked for Eesti Reklaamfilm. As customer and audience feedback was very positive and clients trusted my solutions, Eesti Reklaamfilm gave me the liberty to fulfill my ideas and rarely challenged my concepts.
Jason Toon: The music in your most famous commercial, for chicken mince, is the most ominous and discordant I’ve ever heard in a TV commercial. Combined with the images of the mince coming out of the grinder, the chickens, and the models, the effect is deeply disturbing. Was this your intention? Were you hiding some kind of commentary in this ad for processed chicken?
Harry Egipt: The Chicken Meat Poultry Factory had at that time bought new and very modern equipment for their factory for making minced meat. They asked me to make a commercial where the whole process could be seen – how the chicken was put in the grinder with feathers and bones and how the machine was able to separate the meat from the leftovers. As not to upset a lot of children and animal activists, I managed to reach to a compromise so that only the final part, where the minced meat was coming out of the grinder, was shown. A famous Estonian composer, Alo Mattiisen, at that time created the music after he had seen the edited material.
Jason Toon: Did you ever do any political propaganda work?
Harry Egipt: No, never.
Jason Toon: Did you ever feel pressure to do so?
Harry Egipt: No. In Soviet times advertising existed only in the form of propaganda. Propaganda was made to glorify the Soviet way of life. The most prominent was of course political propaganda for the unopposed Communist party. Commercial advertising was nothing more than propaganda for commodity goods like my ads nr 4 “Lemon” and nr 5 “Green Onions”.
Jason Toon: How did the end of the Soviet Union affect your career? Have you continued to work in advertising?
Harry Egipt: Unfortunately Peedu Ojamaa was not able to keep abreast of the times and could not cope with the new market economy. After Estonia regained independence in 1991, many employees left the company and started their own businesses and so Eesti Reklaamfilm was disbanded.
Since then I have independently produced some TV commercials for my son Hanno – you can see them on the DVD (nr 84 “ThermiSol Rock’n’ Roll” and nr 53 “Serla
Household Paper Towels”). I have also directed and produced some ads after the DVD was issued (“Don’t Smoke, Lung Cancer Kills and Early Detection of Skin Cancer Can Save Lives”). I would still very much like to do commercials, but times have changed and in Estonia a younger generation is running the show and has different ideas.
Jason Toon: Are you surprised that your Soviet TV-commercial work has found a new audience in the West?
Harry Egipt: This is a big surprise, if it is really so.
Jason Toon: What can today’s advertising creators learn from your work?
Harry Egipt: Creativeness, advertising as an art, how to create memorable ads that viewers do not tire of, and how to produce innovative masterpieces on a limited budget.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.