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Skinheads, 1979-1984
10.07.2014
07:51 am

Topics:
Art
History
Punk

Tags:
skinheads
Derek Ridgers


“Margate during a bank holiday, 1981.”
 
I can’t look at these poignant pictures of skinheads and punks in the U.K. around 1981 and not start humming “No Thugs in Our House” by XTC, which, as it happens, was recorded in late 1981.

You might imagine that the photographer, Derek Ridgers, was a compatriot of these young rebels, but that’s not the case. Ridgers had studied at the Ealing School of Art around 1970 (one of his fellow students there was one Farrokh Bulsara, a.k.a. Freddy Mercury), and in the 1970s Ridgers worked in advertising. In 1981 Ridgers turned 29 years old.

Says Ridgers of his becoming one of the first serious documenters of the skinhead scene: “It was pure beginner’s luck, helped by the photos being timely and available. And because of my advertising background, I had chutzpah and was fairly shameless in touting them around.”
 

In early ‘79 I was already engaged in what eventually turned out to be a lengthy photographic study of the New Romantics (though back then they were not known as such). I’d been documenting this nascent scene in the Soho nightclub ’Billy’s’ and, one evening, a group of about half-a-dozen skinheads turned up. They saw me taking photographs and one of them, a guy called Wally, asked me if I’d like to take some photos of them too. They seemed pretty friendly and not at all camera shy. I took a few snaps, we got talking and Wally suggested I go with the whole gang on one of their Bank Holiday jaunts to the seaside. That was what led, eventually, to five years of photographing skinheads. In those five years I got to know some of the skinheads quite well and liked many of them.

 
Interestingly, Ridgers was so not one of them that he almost entirely misjudged the identity of his subjects. “I must have been pretty daft. At first I assumed that Wally and his friends were just dressing up as skinheads. I thought that they’d probably all come from art schools or fashion colleges and they were benign, skinhead revivalists. … I proved to be seriously misinformed.”

Ridgers’ new book Skinheads was released in September. The captions are Ridgers’ own and come from this gallery at the Guardian website.
 

“I entitled this photograph ‘Smiler’ since he’s got it written on his jacket. His real name was Wayne and his street name was Wally. In an email he informed me that he was 16 when I took this photograph in 1984.”
 

“Kevin, photographed next to The Last Resort shop in Goulston Street, 1981. “
 

“Two skinhead girls photographed on a bank holiday in Brighton (this is the image later used by Morrissey on the Your Arsenal tour).”
 

“Kate, left, and Lesley, Shoreditch, 1979. “
 

“Skinheads hanging around outside The Last Resort shop in Goulston Street, 1981.”
 

“This is John and Dave (gleaned simply from looking at their tattoos) in Chelsea in 1981.”
 
More of Ridgers’ pictures of skinheads after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Hüsker Dü on ‘Live in London,’ 1985
10.03.2014
06:26 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Husker Du


 
On May 14, 1985, Minneapolis, MN hardcore/proto-grunge unfuckwithables Hüsker Dü played their first show outside the USA, on rented equipment, for a UK television show called Live in London. The set spans 20 songs in a bit under an hour, and draws heavily from the albums Zen Arcade and New Day Rising, though the luminous “Makes No Sense at All” from the then still-forthcoming Flip Your Wig makes a preview appearance.

This has turned up occasionally on VHS and DVD bootlegs, but never officially. The excellent Hüsker Dü database at thirdav.com has the set list and some screen grabs. The footage has of course turned up online, and it’s really fantastic—an energetic set full of great moments. Though the version below is clearly digitized from VHS (“PLAY Hi-Fi SP”), the audio and video quality are quite good, apart from a small handful of annoying-but-hardly-fatal sound drops. Since this has been yanked from YouTube before, you might want to enjoy it soon

Hüsker Dü’s former singer Bob Mould will be touring Europe in November. Like a dumbass, I missed his US tour, and am told by folks I abidingly trust that he completely slayed it. His new LP is Beauty & Ruin.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Birdbrain’: Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist punk single, 1981
10.03.2014
04:54 am

Topics:
Literature
Punk

Tags:
Allen Ginsberg


 
Most of Allen Ginsberg’s recorded music consists of the poet chanting to the accompaniment of his harmonium. While I enjoy the mantras, original folk songs (particularly “Father Death Blues”), and interpretations of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, my favorite Ginsberg tune is “Birdbrain,” a six-and-a-half minute punk novelty record made with a Denver band called The Gluons. As friends, relatives, lovers, neighbors, passengers and passersby will attest, I’ve been known to listen to this thing for hours on end.

“Birdbrain” fits Ezra Pound’s definition of literature as “news that STAYS news.” While some of the references to current events are now 33 years out of date, “Birdbrain” remains fresh if only because I don’t know of another song that treats the subject of human stupidity so sweetly. Of course we’re all one, the song says: we’re all the same drooling moron. In the same way “Birdbrain” balances its misanthropic theme with an attitude of compassionate loving-kindness, the record works as a hybrid of punk and poetry. I prefer it to “Ghetto Defendant,” Ginsberg’s 1982 collaboration with The Clash.

Recorded in Denver while Ginsberg was teaching at Naropa, “Birdbrain” was distributed by Denver’s Wax Trax! record store (a separate entity from the Chicago store and label). A dub version appears on the scarce 1983 LP Allen Ginsberg with Still Life, produced by Gluon Mike Chappelle. According to the Diamond Sutra, if you play this loud enough in your office cubicle, you will achieve Buddhahood.
 
“Birdbrain,” the single

 
I can’t find a clip of the B-side, the Gluons’ “Sue Your Parents,” but here’s a Lounge Lizards-y live version from 1981:
 
Allen Ginsberg and the Job play “Birdbrain,” San Francisco, November 1981


 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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John Lydon on Kylie Minogue’s breasts, Megadeth and Bruce Springsteen
09.29.2014
12:03 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
John Lydon

John Lydon Dreadlocks
 
John Lydon’s 1988 appearance on the low-budget video review show Video View is classic Johnny Rotten. Photographer Dennis Morris (who shot the Sex Pistols early on and designed the distinctive PiL logo), joins Lydon on the show to rate new videos from artists like John Illsley of Dire Straits and long-running Brit chart-toppers Status Quo. From the get-go Lydon is in top form, chiming in with trenchant and biting observations on the (then) current state of the music industry of the late 80’s and his opinion of Kylie Minogue’s breasts.

Lydon doesn’t hold back even when it comes to his former bandmate Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. However, it’s whatever is going on with Lydon’s hair, which appears to be the styling of an unskilled Rastafarian armed with a can of pink spray paint, that is the true unsung hero of this video. My point is this, if you want to hear a young John Lydon spitting out opinions on Bruce Springsteen or why he blames Herbie Hancock for giving him “epileptic fits,” then just hit play.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Its rubbish’: John Lydon brutally critiques the pop charts on ‘Jukebox Jury,’ in 1979

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Shock Value: New York’s underground ‘Cinema of Transgression’
09.26.2014
07:47 am

Topics:
Art
Movies
Punk

Tags:
Lydia Lunch
NYC
Richard Kern
Nick Zedd

01010zedtrangressioncinema.jpg
 
There are times in life when it seems that certain things, events, people or books have been strategically placed for our benefit. For example, I read Nick Zedd’s Totem of the Depraved which ends with the filmmaker homeless, on the streets looking for a place to stay when I was homeless, wandering streets, sleeping rough, and getting by however I could. The book was apposite and Zedd’s words kept me company through some uncomfortable nights. And of course, there was the inspiration, the small luminous epiphany—if artists like Zedd could get by, stay sane, live and create, then so could I.

Self-styled “King of the Underground” Nick Zedd was the pioneer and major player of New York’s Cinema of Transgression in the late 1970s and 1980s with his films They Eat Scum, Geek Maggot Bingo and Police State. Knowing that “History is whoever gets to the typewriter first,” Zedd edited the Xeroxed and stapled together zine The Underground Film Bulletin and wrote (under various aliases) reviews for his own films. In 1985, he composed the Cinema of Transgression Manifesto:

We who have violated the laws, commands and duties of the avant-garde; i.e. to bore, tranquilize and obfuscate through a fluke process dictated by practical convenience stand guilty as charged.

We openly renounce and reject the entrenched academic snobbery which erected a monument to laziness known as structuralism and proceeded to lock out those filmmakers who possesed the vision to see through this charade.

Zedd (writing under the pseudonym Orion Jeriko) described his comrades as “underground invisibles” and named them:

Zedd, Kern, Turner, Klemann, DeLanda, Eros and Mare, and DirectArt Ltd, a new generation of filmmakers daring to rip out of the stifling straight jackets of film theory in a direct attack on every value system known to man.

And announced what they were going to do:

We violate the command and law that we bore audiences to death in rituals of circumlocution and propose to break all the taboos of our age by sinning as much as possible. There will be blood, shame, pain and ecstasy, the likes of which no one has yet imagined. None shall emerge unscathed.

Since there is no afterlife, the only hell is the hell of praying, obeying laws, and debasing yourself before authority figures, the only heaven is the heaven of sin, being rebellious, having fun, fucking, learning new things and breaking as many rules as you can. This act of courage is known as transgression.

We propose transformation through transgression - to convert, transfigure and transmute into a higher plane of existence in order to approach freedom in a world full of unknowing slaves.

 
killsidologbsdba.jpg
 
Filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern described the Cinema of Transgression as “a loose coalition of people who just joined together in order to have a movement.”

Along with Zedd, Kern was one of the was the group’s main players, making short brutal (some might say “depraved”) films like You Killed Me First (1985), Thrust in Me (1985), The Right Side of My Brain (1985) and Fingered (1986). These films teetered on the wire, and were so personally demanding (mentally and physically and in drink and drugs) that Kern eventually left New York City for a while for the sake of his health. 

Artist, writer, actress and performer, Lydia Lunch appeared in many of Kern’s movies and saw the Cinema of Transgression as a way to “show the ugly fucking truth the truth. Period.” Around her were artists like Joe Coleman, who began his career by biting the heads off mice, and became an alchemist—turning pain into gold.

While much of the Cinema of Transgression is now mainstream or like Kern’s photos suitable for the fashion shoot or cat walk, Nick Zedd continues to plow his own visionary path as artist and filmmaker. I, at least, now have a roof over my head.

Angélique Bosio’s documentary Llik Your Idols captures the excitement, thrill and power of the Cinema of Transgression, interviewing Nick Zedd, Richard Kern, Lydia Lunch, Joe Coleman, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and others.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Lydia Lunch wants to be Louis CK’s ‘friend with benefits’


 
This was uploaded a couple of months ago, and how I missed it for this long I do not know, but No-Wave high priestess Lydia Lunch has posted a video openly soliciting a sexual relationship with the doughy ginger comedian Louis CK. I found it on the Vimeo page of photographer Jasmine Hurst, at which, if you’re a fan of Lunch, you should really have a look, as it also contains a recording of her Future Feminism monologue from a couple of weeks ago.

But back to the wanting to eff Louis CK (OK, specifically, she suggests jacking/jilling off in front of each other, but tomayto/tomahto)—it should be obvious that it’s a not-even-close-to-work-safe soliloquy, shot in a confessional-booth style, with lighting so blown out that Lunch looks disquietingly not unlike Jeff the Killer. Given that Lunch has been known to deploy sarcasm as a rhetorical tool from time to time, just once in a while, there might be some kind of satirical point to this, but I feel it can be enjoyed more fully just taken at face value. The balls are in your court, Louis.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Future Feminism: a social cultural and political vision for a feminine utopia
Dangerous women: Lydia Lunch interviews Admiral Grey of Cellular Chaos

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘A computer game called Search’: The cryptic narrative of Hüsker Dü‘s ‘Zen Arcade’
09.25.2014
07:05 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Hüsker Dü


 
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Hüsker Dü‘s great Zen Arcade. (Don’t count on a remastered version appearing anytime soon.) In case anyone else remains as baffled as I am by the story the concept album tells, here are a few hints singer and guitarist Bob Mould has dropped over the years.

Craig Lee, the late guitarist for The Bags and Catholic Discipline, profiled Hüsker Dü in the Los Angeles Times on the eve of a December 1984 Club Lingerie show. Lee’s article includes this contemporary summary of the Zen Arcade narrative:

The LP’s songs tell the story of a farm boy who runs away, wonders whether to join the army or a cult, becomes a musician and finally winds up at a computer company before waking up and realizing that it was all a dream. The narrative may not be that explicit, but Mould wanted the record “to leave things up to people’s imaginations instead of making concrete definitions. We didn’t want it to be a rock opera.”

A cult, sure: that must be “Hare Krsna.” The army, OK: “Newest Industry.” It was all a dream: “Dreams Reoccuring,” “Reoccuring Dreams.” Let’s see if Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Albums of the Eighties” entry (#33) adds any detail:

According to Mould, Zen Arcade is about a young computer hack from a broken home who dreams about killing himself after his girlfriend dies of a drug overdose. Instead, he lands in a mental hospital where he meets the head of a computer company who hires him to design video games. “Then he wakes up and goes to school,” Mould said. “The only thing we never agreed on was the name of the video game. We thought it was Search.”

Girlfriend dies of drug overdose, check: “Pink Turns to Blue.” Mental hospital: could be “Whatever.” Video game, ah. . . Here’s what I take to be Mould’s definitive statement about the Zen Arcade concept, from his memoir See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, co-authored by Michael Azerrad:

Zen Arcade started like all albums do: a few songs here, a few general ideas there. But at some point we realized that it could be so much more and ambition kicked in. We didn’t sit down and say, “Let’s write a semiautobiographical opera; let’s amalgamate the fact that Greg’s parents are divorced, Grant’s situation is this, and Bob’s conundrum is that, and weave it all together.” There wasn’t a conscious effort to construct a composite character, but that seems to be the end result of the writing for Zen Arcade.

The early ‘80s marked the beginning of video game culture, and we used that as the jumping-off point for the album’s loose plot: a bright kid leaves his broken home and heads to Silicon Valley to design a computer game called “Search.” We started writing songs and loosely creating characters: the kid who designed the video game, his girlfriend, Pinkie, his cigar-smoking boss. It built from late 1982 through most of 1983. Once we saw what was happening with the narrative, the flow of the album became clear, and it became easier to put things in order.

[...] Zen Arcade is regarded as this momentous work that requires deep explanation. The fact was, we were rehearsing and touring nonstop, not spending a lot of time thinking about it. We were doing it. We were living it. It was a visceral statement. It felt right.

It’s a very good record, but it’s the sum total of the experience, of that moment, that grabbed people. Now I hesitate to say this, but here goes: Zen Arcade means a whole lot more to others than it does to me. I began to outgrow and move beyond those feelings almost at the moment I documented them, but the fact that they resonate so deeply with my audience, the critics, and generations of fellow musicians—there is the reward.

After the jump, raw footage of the Hüskers ripping through three Mould songs from side one of ‘Zen Arcade’ at Philadelphia’s Love Hall in 1983

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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The Cramps want to know: ‘Can Your Pussy do the Dog?’
09.25.2014
06:34 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:
The Cramps


 
The pop music show The Tube ran on UK’s Channel 4 for five years in the 1980s. Hosted by, among others, Jools Holland and Paula Yates, the program showcased live (as in actually live and not mimed) performances by three or four emerging bands every week, including, in March of 1986, some high badassery from the legendary rockabilly/horror/sleaze/punk band The Cramps.
 

 
This was a transitional time for the band. Since the departure of guitarist Kid Congo Powers, The Cramps—wildman singer Lux Interior, fuzzgrinding guitarist Poison Ivy Rorschach, and drummer Nick Knox—were unable to find a permanent replacement guitarist, and elected to add a bass to their lineup for the first time ever, only to find themselves unable to settle on a bassist. They were also tweaking their image, tilting their focus away somewhat from their ghoulish b-movie horror side towards a more colorfully cartoonish and kitschy hypersexuality. In accord with that change, representative song titles from that year’s A Date With Elvis LP include “The Hot Pearl Snatch” and “Can Your Pussy Do the Dog?” both of which are featured in their Tube set, along with the single “What’s Inside a Girl?” The bass player issue was settled, for their tour, at least, with the addition of Hollywood Hillbillies’ Fur Dixon, who’s seen playing in the videos below. She certainly fit the bill visually!
 

 
More bad music for bad people after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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5th grade girl discovers Dead Kennedys CD at school library; writes diary entry about it
09.19.2014
12:23 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Punk

Tags:
Dead Kennedys


Dead Kennedys photo by ©Laura Levine
 
Okay, so this adorable letter supposedly written by a 5th grade girl has been making the rounds on the Internet the past few days. I hesitated posting it because there was no real information about its provenance. Is it too good to be true? I don’t know.


 
Click here to read larger image.
 
Here’s what Vanyaland has to say about it:

A 20-year-old from Indianapolis named Taylor-Ruth has a much cooler story — discovering Dead Kennedys at the library when she was in 5th grade, and on September 26 of that year she sat down to write pretty much the best grade-school letter anyone has ever written. Though the note was posted to her tumblr last year, it was recently retweeted by Jason Isbell, and the other day Devin Faraci of Badass Digest did some sleuthing to piece it all together.

Now some folks are calling shenanigans on the letter because they say there’s no way a librarian is going believe a 5th grader is a 15-year-old teen. I’m not too sure about that, I got a tattoo when I was 12 years old. The tattooist asked me if I was 18 years old, I said “Yep!” and she then said, “Hop in the chair then, and let’s do this.” When I got home, let’s just say… my parents were not pleased. But what were they going to do about it at that point. Besides that, my father had gotten one when he was just ten…

Below, “The Beatles” perform “California Über Alles”:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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’What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock’ is a real children’s book that actually exists


 
The Ramones’ 40th anniversary celebration just happened at Bowery Electric last weekend, and the last living original member of the band died, aged 65, just a couple of months short of being able to attend. Punk rock is OLD, and yet, through generations, it persists. As ways for a kid to rebel go, punk has been extraordinarily durable and flexible. Its most basic and superficial tropes were long ago rendered cartoonish or outright mainstreamed, but the defiant outlook they express is eternal.
 

Eh, why not? It’d beat them turning Juggalo.

The very idea of punk as a staid cultural institution, let alone toddler-book fodder, might be met with wounded howls of opposition from some circles—as it should be—but again, 40 years. There are OG punks who are grandparents now. I have an 11-year-old Godson who spent his infancy decked out in Ramones and DK’s onesies. So as weird and implausible as a children’s book frankly explaining punk may sound at first blush, one could make a case that by now, it’s pretty well overdue. What Every Child Needs To Know About Punk Rock was released about a week before the Ramones’ 40th anniversary show, and it’s actually kind of awesome. I’ll let these spreads speak for themselves.
 

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The book is credited on the cover to “Brad and Marc.” Sounds pretty casual, but both of them are highly credentialed.  Marc is researcher and healthcare analyst Marc Engelsgjerd, and Brad is child behavior expert R. Bradley Snyder. The two have co-authored several books in this series, penning What Every Child Needs To Know About board books on a topics as trivial as pizza and coffee, and as serious as cancer and the economy. I can think of a few adults in pretty dire need of that last one.
 

Click to enlarge

Spreads reproduced with permission from Need to Know Publishing

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Napalm Death on children’s TV, 1989
Before Harry Potter there was ‘How to Make Magic’: A childrens guide to practicing the occult
Right-winger accuses ‘Sesame Street’ of corrupting America’s youth with self-esteem
Barbarian metal is for the children: Manowar on Nickelodeon

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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