follow us in feedly
Garbage Pail Kids: Where are they now?
05:58 am

Pop Culture


Garbage Pail Kids are evergreen. Invented by cartoon legends Art Spiegelman and Mark Newgarden, the Cabbage Patch Kid parodies developed a cult following as juvenile gross-out art in the 80s. The trading cards are now revered by collectors, the depth and grotesqueness of each “kid” a treasure to enthusiasts. Garbage Pail Kids don’t really need an update, but art director Jake Houvenagle and photographer Brandon Voges collaborated on a modern take that really captures the spirit of the originals. Vosges explained how the project came about:

About a year ago, my friend Jake Houvenagle (a very talented local Art Director and Designer) and I (Brandon Voges, commercial lifestyle photographer at Bruton Stroube Studios) went to lunch to hang out, talk ideas, and drink good beer.  In the middle of our conversation, Jake tells me about this concept he has to shoot Garbage Pail Kids, 30 years later…as real people, in real situations, with backstories of how their lives have played out.  I then proceeded to crap my pants, tell him of his genius and get super excited.

I believe crapping one’s pants is the exact response merited by such a notion!

And how did the “Kids” fare? Welllll… it varies. Adam Bomb survived the nuclear blast, only to live a life of regret, while Clogged Duane turned his mangled lower half into a lucrative drain-snaking business. Armpit Britt works two jobs to support her five kids (but at least she can hold down a job with those pit-locks), and Bony Tony now takes it all off for the ladies. Barfin’ Barbara became a successful private chef and Noah Body became CEO of a pencil company—all in all, a pretty decent collection of adult lives!


More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Radio Shack’s pre-recorded musical answering machine messages have to be heard to be believed
09:41 am

Pop Culture


In the 1980s answering machines first entered the consumer market in a big way—and everyone who owned one was obliged to record some kind of outgoing message to let callers know they had reached a machine. Some people (a small minority) were fond of rigging up high-production-value messages. The video at the bottom of the page represents Seinfeld‘s amusing take on this concept—that episode first aired in 1997, so if nothing else it indicates what smart folks from the 1990s thought of this oh-so-very-1980s concept.

In 2010 an WFMU employee purchased an incredible cassette at a library sale (for a dime) and posted it on their great blog. The cassette dates from 1985, and (for younger readers) the convoluted full title, “Radio Shack Telephone Answering Machine Outgoing Messages,” vaguely gestures at the idea that even then, it wasn’t super clear to all consumers what this product was actually offering. Basically, this amazing cassette offers Radio Shack’s version of George’s “Greatest American Hero” outgoing message. They cut ten 20-second (or so) songs, each with and without lyrics, and put them on this cassette for “whimsical” answering machine owners.

Let’s take a gander at the track listing to see what we’re in for:

1. Jamaican
2. 21st Century Funk
3. 50’s Rock & Roll
4. Rappin
5. Soft Contemporary
6. Vaudeville
7. Country
8. Jazz
9. Up-tempo Contemporary
10. Orchestral Pops

Oh, boy. I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I say that “Rappin” and “21st Century Funk” and “Country” represent three singular, er, “highlights” from this execrable collection of “music.” The “21st Century Funk” track sounds like some debased version of Kraftwerk, and the “Rappin” one is so bad that it took me a moment or two to realize that I was in fact listening to the rap one. Meanwhile, the main thing that makes the “Country” one so bad is that it was entirely done on some Casio (or Tandy!) product.

The “lyrics” of each song, of course, are about how the caller has missed the recipient with a request to record some contact info on the machine. Here’s a representative example, from the “Jamaican” track:

I’m sorry that I missed your call
But you don’t have to worry!
Just leave your name and number
And a message at the tone
And I’ll be back to you in a hurry!

Here’s Side A (with lyrics) and Side B (without lyrics). Note that they also made a production error—on Side A tracks 1 and 9 (“Jamaican” and “Up-tempo Contemporary”) are the same track—when you switch to side B, the two tracks are not the same, so you can get some approximation of what the “Up-tempo Contemporary” was supposed to be.

The quality of the WFMU recording is, regrettably, not very good, but thanks to a blog called Tape Findings, we have versions of some of the tracks in considerably better shape:

With lyrics:
21st Century Funk
Soft Contemporary

Without lyrics:
21st Century Funk
Soft Contemporary


Note that this cassette was the “Music Edition”; Radio Shack had other editions on the market as well, including the following: “Office/Home Edition,” “Professional Edition,” “Comedy Edition,” and even the “Rich Little Comedy Edition.” If you want to listen to Little’s shitty impression of Rod Serling dealing with your missed call, all you had to do was ask. The other “comedy edition” is also available to listen to.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Teenage Michael Stipe attends ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ in Frank-N-Furter drag, late 1970s
11:25 am

Pop Culture


A local St. Louis news broadcast from the late 1970s about the fans of the then almost controversial horror-musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the city’s Varsity Theater.

At around the 1:25 mark, you’ll see future R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, in his best Frank-N-Furter drag, talking to the camera about the film.

“We’re all quite normal, really” sez the young Mister Stipe…

The clip is not dated, but seems likely to have been taped around the period while Stipe was living nearby with his family, across the Mississippi River in Collinsville, IL (home of the world’s largest catsup bottle) before moving to Athens, GA where he would meet the other members of what would become R.E.M. at the University of Georgia.

Win a Blu-ray of the new documentary R.E.M. by MTV from Rhino here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Andy Warhol luxury surfboards
08:35 am

Pop Culture


Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol portrait surfboards
Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol portrait surfboards

By some strange twist of fate in 1968, the paths of eleven-year-old surfer Tim Bessell and pop art phenomenon Andy Warhol, intersected in La Jolla, California where Warhol was filming San Diego Surf.
Brillo surfboard
Brillo surfboard (based on Andy Warhol’s mid-sixties work, “Brillo Boxes”)
The Last Supper Andy Warhol surfboard, Series One
The Last Supper surfboard (from “The Last Supper” series by Andy Warhol, 1986)
Although the film would go unseen for 43 years, Bessell had the unique opportunity to observe Warhol and his muses up close during his formative years. According to Bessell, Warhol lived only two blocks away from him during his time filming in La Jolla and that the artist himself even ended up purchasing surfboards from Carl Ekstrom (the inventor of the asymmetric surfboard and snowboard), who was mentoring Bessel at the time.

Too young to understand the sudden culture explosion surrounding him, Bessell was content to be a curious observer, but the experience would go on to help frame his future as an artist. After graduating with degrees in Art and Architecture from San Diego State University, Bessell and Warhol found themselves rubbing shoulders once again at a mid-80’s party at the Playboy Club in New York. Bessell shared his childhood recollections of when Warhol’s “freak show” invaded his sleepy, hippie surf town during the Summer of Love. He says that this chance meeting “opened his relationship” with Warhol and ultimately led to his collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation for a decadent line of surfboards, all bearing Warhol’s unmistakable artwork.
Marilyn Monroe surfboards
“Marilyn” (Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe done in the weeks after her death in 1962)
Elvis (silver tone) and Gun Metal Elvis surfboards
“Elvis” (silver tone) and “Gun Metal Elvis” surfboards (based on “Double Elvis” by Andy Warhol, 1963)
Chairman Mao Zegong surfboard
“Mao Zedong” surfboard (from a series of portraits of Mao done by Andy Warhol in 1973)
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The day the music died: Vintage ads of pop stars selling shit
11:12 am

Pop Culture


‘When You’ve Heard Lou, You’ve Heard It All’ Lou Rawls advertising career covered insurance and booze.
Musicians have long depended on patronage from the rich and powerful to sponsor their careers as artists. As far back as composers such as Haydn or Mozart, who earned his keep with a string of patrons starting with Prince-Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg. It’s the same today with pop stars taking the cash offered by brands like Coke and Pepsi to pay for their tours or alimony or undisclosed bad habits.

While some stars promote things they believe in—guitars, charities—there is always a longer list of those who would sell out for some unbelievably low rent shit—Rod Stewart pimping shoes, Elton John peddling pinball, the Yardbirds shilling toiletries. Occasionally, there are those who are smart enough to use the brand to sponsor their ambitions, like Lou Rawls who sold Budweiser but used the brand to sponsor his telethons. Neat, but not all of the following are in that category.
When Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck sold perfume in sexist sixties ads: ‘She’s among the Yardbirds. She goes for groups. They go for her. She has her own group too. Named after her. Miss Disc. A very ‘in’ group indeed…’
Late 1960s, Dave Brubeck attempts to convince the gullible to buy Sears-Kenmore products in ads for magazines like Better Homes and Gardens.
Rod the Mod was once famous for his sartorial elegance, but here he is dressed as if Walt Disney puked on him.
More mighty musos shilling for money, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Take a look at The Rolling Stones 1966 tour program
06:47 am

Pop Culture


The even numbered years seemed to have been more successful for the Rolling Stones than the odd. The band formed in 1962, had their first number one album and number one single in ‘64, made their breakthrough album in ‘66, released Beggar’s Banquet, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Street Fighting Man” in ‘68, released Exile on Main St. in ‘72, Black and Blue in ‘76 and Some Girls in ‘78. While the odd numbers came at a price—in 1965 Richards was nearly electrocuted onstage, then came the drugs bust, chaos and disintegration of Their Satanic Majesties Request in ‘67, Brian Jones’ death and the murder of Meredith Hunter at Altamont in ‘69, the fires at Richards’ homes in ‘71 and ‘73, or his arrest for heroin in Canada in 1977—it’s all enough conspiracy to make a numerologist’s head spin.

1966 was a good year for the Stones—they released their fourth studio album Aftermath, which was their first album to be compiled of songs written solely by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; they had successfully toured Australia, Europe and America before returning to England for a tour of the UK and were well out of the shadow of their rivals The Beatles. 

The band was also in negotiations to make a movie, Only Lovers Left Alive, adapted from the novel by Dave Wallis, and to be directed by Nicholas Ray of Rebel Without a Cause fame.
According to the Stones, they had “waited a long time and spent a lot of time trying to find the right story for [their] first film,” and seemed to have hit on the right subject with Wallis’s sci-fi tale of tribal youth gangs terrorizing London. It was topical, apt, and tapped into both the hopes and fears of what the swinging sixties’ youth revolt may bring. Alas, the deal fell through and no movie was made until Jean-Luc Godard’s One plus One (aka Sympathy for the Devil) or The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus both 1968.

The Stones’s ‘66 tour had incredible support from the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, The Yardbirds (with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page) and Long John Baldry, whose band around this time had included Elton John on keyboards. It was a lineup worthy of a mini-festival. A copy of the tour program can fetch $125 a copy, but why pay that when you scan through the pages here?
More pages from the Rolling Stones’ past (darkly), after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The wild wild world of Japanese rebel biker culture
11:50 am

Pop Culture


Former bosozuku leader, Kazuhiro Hazuki

“I was interested in them because they were punks and they were against society.”—Kazuhiro Hazuki, Narushino Specter gang

Back in the 1970s the term bōsōzoku (or “speed tribes”) was first used to describe Japanese biker gangs that routinely fought in the streets with rival gangs and the police. Often dressed like Kamikaze pilots, the bōsōzoku wreaked havoc speeding through the streets on their illegally modified bikes, blowing through red lights, and smashing the car windows of any motorist that dared defy them with baseball bats. Foreigners were an especially favorite target of the bōsōzoku’s aggression.
Bosozuku photo from a Japanese biker magazine with modified bike and helmet
Bōsōzoku biker with illegally modified bike and helmet (taken from a Japanese biker magazine)
Bosozuku bikers, 1970's
Bōsōzoku bikers, 1970’s
Bosozuku biker with his bike and bat, 1980's
Bōsōzoku biker, 1980’s
Bosozuku biker with bike and bat
The earliest incarnation of the bōsōzoku, the kaminari zoku, appeared in the 1950’s. Not unlike their idols from the films, The Wild Ones or Rebel Without a Cause, the group was formed by the youthful and disenchanted members of Japan’s proletariat, and the gang provided a place for the emerging delinquents to call their own. A fiercely disciplined and rebellious group, the bōsōzoku once boasted more than 40,000 members. By 2003 the bōsōzoku’s numbers had dwindled to just over 7000. According to first-hand accounts from former senior members, the modern version of the bōsōzoku (known as Kyushakai) no longer embody the rebel spirit of their predecessors. In fact, some have returned to homaging their rockabilly idols by donning elaborate Riizentos, a style of pompadour synonymous with disobedience. These days many ex-bōsōzoku parade around on their bikes in non-disruptive groups and enjoy dancing, performing music and socializing in groups in Harajuku, an area well known for its outrageous fashion.
Harajuku Black Shadow dancers (ex-bosozuku), 2008
Harajuku Black Shadow dancers (ex-bōsōzoku), hanging out in Harajuku, 2008
Ex-Bosozuku hanging out in Harajuku, 2008
Many factors are to blame for the demise of the traditional bosozuku. A former leader of from the Narushino Specter gang in the 90s (and one time Yakuza loan shark), Kazuhiro Hazuki recalls that the police were once content to allow the bōsōzoku to run riot and no matter how many times they were arrested, a gang member never had their license revoked. Over the years, revised traffic laws have led to a rise in the arrest and prosecution of the bōsōzoku. Some also point to the inclusion of women as bōsōzoku riders, now a common sight in Japan, and a less than robust economy (many bōsōzoku bikes can cost as much as ten grand) for the drastic reduction in the gang’s numbers.
Modern day Bosozuku
Modern-day bōsōzoku
Bosozuku biker girl
Modern Kyushakai bikers
Modern Kyushakai bikers
If this post has piqued your interest of vintage Japanese biker culture, there are several documentaries and films based on the bōsōzoku and other speed tribes in Japan, such as 1976’s God Speed You! Black Emperor, 2012’s Sayonara Speed Tribes, a short documentary that features historical perspective from the aforementioned Kazuhiro Hazuki, or the series of films from director Teruo Ishii based on the bōsōzoku that began in 1975 with, Detonation! Violent Riders. If you are a fan of Japanese anime, the story told in the cult film Akira deeply parallels the real world of the bōsōzoku in their heyday. Many images of the bōsōzoku of the past and their mind-boggling motorcycles follow.
Bosozuku biker, early 1970's
Bōsōzoku biker, early 1970’s
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Your favorite comic book superheroes caught in compromising, mundane and very HUMAN positions
07:11 am

Pop Culture


Superheroes capture our imagination because, for the most part, they are ordinary people who have been granted some particular power and must reconcile the responsibility of that power with the fact that, at heart, they are human beings with regular human faults and complexities.

Indonesian photographer Edy Hardjo has made it his mission to demonstrate this reconcilliation between superpower and ordinary human behavior. Hardjo’s work uses humor to show us that, in spite of their given better-than-human abilities, superheroes are just regular schmucks like the rest of us. Hardjo’s photographs give us an insight into the mundane worlds of The Avengers, Wolverine, Spiderman, Batman and other characters from the Marvel and DC universes.

Hardjo utilizes 1/6-scale figures and Photoshop to produce hilarious and sometimes risque insights into the the everyday life of a superhero.

These are some of our favorites:


More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Vintage cinema sleaze: Remarkable ‘neo-retro’ video covers and poster art
10:31 am

Pop Culture


They Live BluRay box art, 2014
John Carpenters’ They Live Blu-Ray cover art (UK), 2014
In the early 80’s it was rumored that the UK had the largest number of VHS players per household, than anywhere else in the world. This interesting and perhaps plausible factoid (since the first home video recorder, The Telcan hit the UK consumer market in 1963), comes straight from the mouth of UK born illustrator, film poster designer and VHS aficionado, Tom Hodge, aka “The Dude Designs.
King of New York for DVD/BlueRay art for Arrow 2012
King of New York DVD/Blu-Ray cover art for Arrow, 2012
Like so many of us, Hodge’s obsession with cinema began thanks to easy access to VHS (Video Home System) tapes and frequent visits to his local “video van man.” Much like the movies themselves, the glorious cover art that continues to entice VHS collectors from all over the world, was quickly burned into his psyche. In 1995 Hodge began his formal education with graphic design and visual communication before launching his career as a professional designer in 2000. Since then, Hodge has designed dozens of DVD and Blu-Ray covers as well as salacious film posters for titles put out by Arrow Films, Scream Factory, and Magnet, among others. His art is seemingly possessed by the spirit of the seedy underbelly of vintage grindhouse, horror and exploitation cinema.
Brian DePalma's Obsession DVD/BluRay cover 2011
Brian De Palma’s Obsession DVD/Blu-Ray cover art, 2011
If you also love all things VHS with a passion as Mr. Hodge, Yale University’s film archive would make you weep. The Ivy League school boasts a collection of almost 5,000 titles; 2,700 of them on VHS. Of particular interest in Yale’s archival is the fact that it is primarily comprised of horror films, thanks due in part to the “direct to video” marketing tactic used by fringe filmmakers in order to circumvent the Hollywood machine. What is also significant about both Yale and Hodge’s cultural curation of VHS, is that there are an endless number of VHS titles that simply cannot be found (or never will be released) on DVD or Blu-Ray. In other words, the only way to see many of the films that reside in Hodge’s or Yale’s archives requires that you pull your VCR out of storage, and view it on old-school magnetic tapes. 
Hobo with a Shotgun movie poster for Magnet, 2011
Jason Eisner’s Hobo with a Shotgun. Movie poster for Magnet, 2011
Recently, Hodge put together an archival of his own that is chronicled in his book, VHS Video Cover Art: 1980’s to Early 1990’s. Nearly half of the VHS films featured in the book are straight from Hodge’s own collection. Although many of the titles in Hodge’s book may be more recognizable to a UK video junkie, any child of the 80’s will undoubtedly recall many of the hundreds of images of VHS tapes (front and back mind you, squeee!) within the books covers.
From Parts Unknown film poster, 2014
From Parts Unknown (Fight Like a Girl) film poster, 2014
Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla (Australia) film poster, 2013
Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla (Australia) film poster, 2013
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
That time all those Avengers appeared on ‘Late Night with David Letterman’
09:51 am

Pop Culture


It’ll be hard for me to imagine life without David Letterman on the tube. He’s been on late night TV since 1982, and as someone who was a tween during that era I’ve been watching him since probably 1984 or so. In high school he was one of my main heroes, and a lot of what I think I know or appreciate about comedy can be traced back to obsessive late night viewings of Brother Theodore, Pee-wee Herman, Marv Albert, Chris Elliott, Harvey Pekar, Biff Henderson, et al. on the kooky public/secret clubhouse he had going on NBC for quite a while there. At the risk of editorializing, I have found Dave’s CBS show far less essential, to the point that I don’t even really care that much that he’s retiring; the turning point in that process may actually have been the institutionalization of the top ten list, which started out as just another random segment, just like viewer mail. The problem besetting his show post-1988, say, is the same syndrome that has happened to the rest of the late night talk spectrum, which is that watching ultra-prepped actors winkingly play beer pong with Jimmy Fallon (or whomever) has basically no relation to the truly unscripted, fairly snide, and attitudinally aggressive antics that used to occur around 1 a.m. most weeknights during the 1980s.

After Late Night with David Letterman had been around a year or two, a lot of savvier people began referencing it. It felt during this time like renegade entertainment, an unusual commodity that was obscurely about the entertainment industry if not quite of it, and therefore it became a kind of a trope, if you could work “David Letterman” into your story you added a slight buzz of disposable knowingness, much like referencing some of the guests he had on (Pee-wee etc.). In effect, Letterman became a kind of punchline for the smarter set. The idea of John McEnroe or Charlie Brown or Tootsie or Hulk Hogan visiting Letterman’s NBC was a joke in and of itself.

Case in point, issue 239 of the Avengers from Marvel, the January 1984 issue, which trumpeted on its cover, “THE AVENGERS ON LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN!” See? It was mildly ridiculous, as everything that appeared on Late Night was mildly ridiculous.

In the issue, aspiring actor Simon Williams (a.k.a. Wonder Man) gets booked on Late Night, whose producers request a larger cast of Avengers to appear. A few of the reserve Avengers join Wonder Man on the show, not knowing that serial pest Fabian Stankowicz seeks to sabotage their appearance by planting various booby-traps around the set. Eventually Letterman konks Stankowicz on the head with a giant doorknob.

Here are a few images from the issue—if you click on them, you’ll get to see a slightly larger version.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Page 3 of 185  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›