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Dick Clark R.I.P. - Pink Floyd on American Bandstand
06:19 pm

Pop Culture


Shit, another legend bites the dust.

On the surface Dick Clark looked about as hip as Dick Nixon and as a kid I thought Clark was somewhat dubious as a purveyor of youth culture, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate his massive contribution to rock history, particularly when he went out on the limb and booked edgy acts on American bandstand, including Pink Floyd Public Image, Captain Beefheart, Bubble Puppy, Love, and X.

Here’s something I’d never seen before and I think it demonstrates just how on top of the rock scene Clark could be. Pink Floyd on American Bandstand

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Magic, Madness & Dreamers: Tribute to William Finley
01:39 am



Finley in SISTERS
One of the most unappreciated roles in the world is the role of the character actor. It’s a cruelty, since the character actors are the ones with the real personalities and true charisma. Traditional leading stars are so bland in comparison. The Wonder White Bread of acting. Sadly, we have lost one of the best of this wondrous breed, with the passing of actor William Finley. Truly one of the most wholly unique and talented actors, Finley made an impression on me the moment I first saw him in his brief but brilliant turn as drunken carny magician, Marco the Magnificent in Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse. The shock of blonde hair, half painted Dracula make-up and the way his voice just oozed whiskey-soaked malaise bordering on malice made a mighty impression on my then teenage self. It was love at first sight, leading me to discover some of his better known work, namely with director Brian DePalma.

Both Finley and DePalma were Sarah Lawrence alumni, with a collaboration dating back to the director’s earliest underground works. This includes 1968’s Murder a la Mod and 1970’s Dionysus in ‘69, a film of an experimental version of the ancient Greek play, “The Bacchae.” (Two days before I heard of his passing, I had actually found my long lost DVD copy of this film.) One of his best early roles was in DePalma’s excellent Hitchcockian (right down to the Bernard Herrmann score) Sisters. Playing Margot Kidder’s charismatically creepy Quebecois husband Emil, Finley, with slicked back hair and a thin mustache, cuts an unforgettable figure. Despite all of his borderline villainy, he still infuses enough humanity into the role to make you feel empathy for this weird character.

However, Finley’s best known role, in a very rare leading turn, was DePalma’s rock musical, Phantom of the Paradise. Playing the titular Phantom, Finley is Winslow Leech, a gangly and passionate struggling composer who has written a rock opera based on the old German legend of “Faust.” Life takes a turn for the worse for Winslow as his work gets shanghaied by rock and roll impresario Swan (Paul Williams, who was also responsible for the fantastic score). Life soon imitates art, with the presence of the sweet and beautiful Phoenix (Jessica Harper) to further the potential heartbreak and redemption.

Phantom is undoubtedly one of the best rock musicals ever and Finley is perfect as our unlikely hero, fleshing out Winslow, an awkward genius with a temper, into a poetic, warm blooded, tragic figure. This turned out to be Finley’s only major starring role, though he did follow it up with a memorable turn in Tobe Hooper’s EC Comics film come to life, Eaten Alive, where he gets to bark like a dog and threatens to put a cigarette out IN HIS EYE. There were also smaller roles in the obscure Alan Arkin comedy Simon, DePalma’s The Fury and even the Chuck Norris flick, Silent Rage.

Roles become a little more sparse, with a few parts cropping up, like the Christian zealot/archeologist father in the 1995 Tobe Hooper film, Night Terrors. (A movie notable for Finley, equal gender nudity and Robert Englund as the Marquis De Sade, which makes it sound way better than it is.) Finley was an actor who should have been better utilized by Hollywood and the film industry at large. Like too many artists worth their salt, he did not get his proper due while he was still here.

But instead of wallowing in any past injustice, let’s make a wrong a right and celebrate the strange,stark and superb work of William Finley. The man’s acting legacy deserves it and you deserve to watch some great acting and filmmaking

Recommended Viewing: Sisters, Eaten Alive, Phantom of the Paradise, The Funhouse, Murder a la Mod,

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
Low-rent Rembrandt Thomas Kinkade R.I.P.
05:10 pm

Pop Culture


Kinkade’s D.U.I. mugshot gets the Kinkade treatment

Shlockmeister artist Thomas Kinkade, self-proclaimed “Painter Of Light,” has died at the age of 54 of natural causes.

Dying at 54 doesn’t seem natural to me. Heart attack? Maybe. Despite his sanctimonious veneer, Kinkade was a boozehound with anger issues and a fat fuck so it is possible his heart attacked him.

Hugely popular among Christians, many of his paintings depict religious themes that border on self-parody, Kinkade claimed to be a devout Christian, but his behavior often mimicked that of another deeply religious celebrity, Mel Gibson.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that some of Kinkade’s former colleagues, employees, and even collectors of his work say that he has a long history of cursing and heckling other artists and performers. The Times further reported that he openly groped a woman’s breasts at a South Bend, Indiana sales event, and mentioned his proclivity for ritual territory marking through urination, once relieving himself on a Winnie the Pooh figure at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim while saying “This one’s for you, Walt.” In a letter to licensed gallery owners acknowledging he may have behaved badly during a stressful time when he overindulged in food and drink.

In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion (“about six years ago”) Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried & Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting “Codpiece! Codpiece!” at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother. Dandois also said of Kinkade, “Thom would be fine, he would be drinking, and then all of a sudden, you couldn’t tell where the boundary was, and then he became very incoherent, and he would start cursing and doing a lot of weird stuff like touching himself.” On 11 June 2010, Kinkade was arrested in Carmel, California on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol.”

Well before Kinkade became a multi-millionaire selling his kitsch paintings, he worked as a background artist on Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta’s animated film Fire And Ice. In a 2008 New York magazine interview, Bakshi took an affectionate swipe at his old employee:

That son of a bitch! Kinkade was the coolest. If Kinkade wasn’t a painter, he’d be one of those cult leaders. Kinkade came into my office with James Gurney when I was looking for background artists [for Fire and Ice]. He’s a good painter, and he did a spiel. He made all these deals. How he went out and did what he did is beyond my understanding now. He’s very, very talented, and he’s very, very much of a hustler. Those two things are in conflict. Is he talented? Oh yeah. Will he paint anything to make money? Oh yeah. Does he have any sort of moralistic view? No. He doesn’t care about anything. He’s as cheesy as they come.”


Kinkade (far right) working on Fire And Ice. Photo via James Gurney.

Here’s a fascinating documentary on the making of Fire And Ice. Featuring art spun from the darker side of Thomas Kinkade.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Exclusive: Frank Quitely celebrates Moebius
04:10 pm



Last Saturday saw the passing of the legendary French comic book artist Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius. A simply stunning artist, apart from being huge in the world of comics, Moebius’ influence extended to the spheres of science fiction, record sleeves, animation and films. He drew storyboards for both Alien and Tron, created character and set designs for Jodorowsky’s aborted Dune project (among numerous collaborations with the director), and unsuccessfully sued Luc Besson for what he claimed was The Fifth Element‘s infringement of his own work with Jodorowsky on The Incal.

If there is any illustrator working in comics today worthy of inheriting Moebius’ mantle, it’s Scottish artist Frank Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman and Robin, We3, The Authoirty.) Quitely cites Moebius as one of his favourite artists, and his influence in clear in both the crisp line work and the command of form. I asked Frank to share a few words celebrating the work of this great artist and to choose some of his favourite Moebius illustrations:

“Moebius was an inspired artist, whose life’s works have inspired others, artist and non-artists alike. He was uncommonly good at drawing, and he used this skill to share his internal world with others.”

“Everything that makes his designs, comic covers, illustrations and individual drawings and paintings beautiful, striking, well composed and effectively realized, is also employed in his strip-work. The ability to make not just a collection of wonderful images, but to make those images work together in sequence, is a whole other art-form in itself, and Moebius excelled as much in the fluidity of his storytelling as he did in the brilliance of his linework.

There’s real beauty in his work. It’s quite a rare thing for an artist to be able to translate so much of the scale and grandeur and detail of their own imaginings into simple, elegant lines that can be so easily shared with others. There’s an underlying essence that’s apparent to varying degrees in everything that he drew, supporting the assertion that what he drew was coming from his very core.”

“His sheer mastery of his art (and the craft of that art) has really enriched the lives of countless people around the world and across the years, and that same body of work that he’s left behind will continue enriching lives forever.”
You can see some of Frank Quitely’s own art here, and Moebius’ official site (in French) is here. The book The Art Of Moebius also come highly recommended.

Many thanks to Vincent Deighan!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Farewell, Dear Friend: Peter Bergman (1939-2012)
05:19 pm



Dear Friends,

It is with a very heavy heart that I post this.

One of my very first heroes in life when I was a kid—and one of my dearest and most valued friends as an adult—Peter Bergman of the legendary Firesign Theatre, died this morning of complications from leukemia. He was 72.

The last time I talked to Peter was a few weeks ago. I’d picked up the Albert Ayler Holy Ghost box set, and there, on one of the live discs recorded in Cleveland in 1966, was Peter introducing the band! I called him up that morning and he excitedly told me about that event and we laughed a lot and I told him that he just HAD to write his autobiography.

“Pete, you’re the ‘Zelig’ of the rock era! You’ve been in a film with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Farrah Fawcett. You coined the terms “love-in.” You smoked a joint with Bob Marley and the Wailers when they were your opening act [True, the Wailers opened for Proctor and Bergman in Boston. Pete told me the joint was “arm-sized”!]. You guys gigged with the Buffalo Springfield. You’ve worked with Spike Milligan, and now here you are with Albert Ayler, for god’s sake! I mean, come on! You have to do this!”

Peter seemed to like the idea of writing an autobiography (a lot) and we talked about electronic publishing and Kindles and stuff like that. I had heard just a few days before, from my best friend, Michael Backes, that Peter was sick, but Mike said he played it off very cavalierly, like “Hey, if you’re going to get leukemia, this is the best kind of leukemia to get!” (meaning the most easily treated and managed with medicine).

I waited for the topic to come up on the phone that day. It didn’t, but just as I was about to broach it, Peter got another call and hopped off the line. It was the last time I spoke to him.

This morning I got a call from my wife, Tara, as I was standing in line with 4000 other people waiting to pick up my press credentials for the SXSW Festival. It’s a rainy, shitty day here in Austin, TX and with that call it got a whole lot worse:

“Honey, I’ve got some bad news for you. Some really bad news. Peter died last night. Taylor Jessen just sent you an email, but I didn’t think you’d heard.”

I stood in a room full of 4000 strangers and and quietly cried to myself, wondering how the rest of the Firesign were handling the awful news.

I’d lost a good friend, but they’d lost their brother.

From the Firesign Theater website:

Peter Bergman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the day after Russia invaded Finland and the day before Winston Churchill (Peter’s hero) turned 65. Peter’s comic career began in the sixth grade, writing comic poems with his mother for library class - a penchant that developed into co-authoring the ninth grade humor column “The High Hatters,” and his own creation “Look and See With Peter B.” for his high school newspaper.

Peter’s audio career was launched in high school as an announcer oh the school radio system, from which he was banished after his unauthorized announcement that the Chinese communists had taken over the school and that a “mandatory voluntary assembly was to take place immediately.” Russell Rupp, the school primciple, promptly relieved Peter of his announcing gig. Rupp was the inspiration for the Principle Poop character on “Don’t Crush That Dwarf”.

While attending high school, Peter formed his first recording group called “The Four Candidates,” turning out a comedy cut-up single titled “Attention Convention,” parodying the 1956 democratic convention. Released on Buddy records, it received air play in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

At college, Peter was managing editor of the Yale comedy magazine. He wrote the lyrics for two musical collaborations with Austin Pendleton, both of which starred Phil Proctor. He graduated as a scholar of the house in economics, and played point guard for the liberal basketball league whose members have since lost their dribble but not their politics.

Peter spent two graduate years at Yale as a Carnegie teaching fellow in economics, and as the Eugene O’Neill playwriting fellow at the drama school. After a six-month stint as a grunt in the U.S. Army’s 349th general hospital unit, he went to Berlin on a Ford foundation fellowship where he joined Tom Stoppard, Derek Marlow and Piers Paul Read at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. There he wrote and directed his first film, “Flowers,” and connected with the Living Theatre - a major influence on his art.

Peter worked briefly in London with Spike Milligan and the BBC before returning to America in 1966. Back in the U.S., he secured a nightly radio show on Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles: “Radio Free Oz,” around which the Firesign Theatre coalesced and gestated.

Peter coined the term “Love-In” in 1967, and threw the first such event in April of that same year in Los Angeles. That event ultimately drew a crowd of some 65,000 people, blocking freeways for miles. This so impressed Gary Usher, a Columbia Records staff producer, that he offered the Firesign Theatre their first record contract.

In the 1970’s, Peter diversified his comic career as the president of a film equipment company. He also helped produce a machine for viewing angio cardiograms and measuring the blockage of the arteries of the heart.

In the 80’s Peter turned to film and tape, producing the comic feature “J-Men Forever” with Phil Proctor, as well as producing television shows that featured various members of Firesign.

Starting in 1995, Peter began touring the country as a “high tech comedian”, delivering lectures and keynote speeches to computer oriented companies and conventions. He worked on publishing the web site for one of the candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles.

His latest venture, in association with David Ossman, started in the summer of 2010: the podcast revival of Radio Free OZ.

I called Mike to commiserate and he said something that was true for me, too, and I’lll end with his words: “I don’t think there is ANYTHING that defines who I was in high school more than being that kid listening to Firesign Theatre on headphones stoned out of my gourd. I think the way I think because of the Firesign Theatre. I phrase things the way I do because of the Firesign Theatre. I look at the world the way I do because of them. There might not be anything that had a bigger formative influence on who I am today when I really think about it!”

Losing Peter Bergman is a great personal loss. Farewell, my dear friend, farewell. And to the rest of the Firesign Theatre, know that I am feeling the same things that you are today.

Below, the Firesign Theatre’s anarchic 1969 TV ads for a local Los Angeles car dealer, Jack Poet Volkswagen.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Life Goes On
05:42 pm



I think I’ve seen a few of these at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Photo by Flickr user s_kessler.

The above photo was taken at St Pancras Old Church in the UK. Click here to see larger image.

Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
An elegy for Davy Jones: Carole King’s demo for ‘Porpoise Song’
11:32 am



In light of the unexpected passing of Monkee Davy Jones, here’s Carole King’s original demo for Head’s “Porpoise Song” (co-written by Gerry Goffin). The Gregorian chant thing she’s got going here (it’s the Mass of the Dead, remember this was the song playing during Micky Dolenz’s “suicidal” jump off the bridge in the beginning of the film) seems like a fitting thing to post in Jones’ honor.

Sound quality is what it is, but no matter, this is still pretty amazing. Listen LOUD!

Thank you Simon Wells!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Ding dong: Andrew Breitbart is DEAD at 43!
10:01 am

The wrong side of history


The rage-aholic conservative blogger is no more…

Death at such a young age (although he looked so much older) is normally a tragedy….but in my opinion, the Grim Reaper couldn’t have visited a more deserving recipient. Hooray! It’s a gift!

You can just bet that the fact checkers did a triple check on this death notice. Via Huffington Post:

Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger and journalist, died suddenly on Thursday morning, according to his website Big Journalism. He was 43.

The site said that Breitbart died of “natural causes” shortly after midnight on Thursday. ABC News confirmed that Breitbart had passed away. Breitbart’s attorney also confirmed the news to CNN.

“We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior,” the post said. “Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.”

Breitbart came to be well-known for his work with the Drudge Report (he also played an early role with The Huffington Post), and would go on to found the Big Journalism, Big Hollywood and websites. He was also an author, columnist and ubiquitous commentator in the media.

They say you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, so I deleted all the stuff I wrote about pissing on his grave, doing a happy dance of joy over the good news and feeling elated to know that one of the single nastiest, most sociopathic human beings ever to stain American civic life has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Karma’s a bitch, ain’t it? Fuck Andrew Brietbart. All he accomplished with his life was to make his world a meaner, shittier place to live in. I’m glad he’s dead.

He’s in a better place now..!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The other Monkees react to the death of Davy Jones
07:21 pm

Pop Culture


Gathering up the reactions of remaining Monkees Mike Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter to the passing of Davy Jones

Mike Nesmith:

All the lovely people. Where do they all come from?

So many lovely and heartfelt messages of condolence and sympathy, I don’t know what to say, except my sincere thank you to all. I share and appreciate your feelings.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

While it is jarring, and sometimes seems unjust, or strange, this transition we call dying and death is a constant in the mortal experience that we know almost nothing about. I am of the mind that it is a transition and I carry with me a certainty of the continuity of existence. While I don’t exactly know what happens in these times, there is an ongoing sense of life that reaches in my mind out far beyond the near horizons of mortality and into the reaches of infinity.

That David has stepped beyond my view causes me the sadness that it does many of you. I will miss him, but I won’t abandon him to mortality. I will think of him as existing within the animating life that insures existence. I will think of him and his family with that gentle regard in spite of all the contrary appearances on the mortal plane.

David’s spirit and soul live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many, including us.

I have fond memories. I wish him safe travels.

Peter Tork posted the following on his Facebook fan page:

”It is with great sadness that I reflect on the sudden passing of my long-time friend and fellow-adventurer, David Jones. His talent will be much missed; his gifts will be with us always. My deepest sympathy to Jessica and the rest of his family. Adios, to the Manchester Cowboy.

Peace and love, Peter T.”

Micky Dolenz released a statement:

“I am in a state of shock; Davy and I grew up together and shared in the unique success of what became The Monkees phenomena. The time we worked together and had together is something I’ll never forget. He was the brother I never had and this leaves a gigantic hole in my heart. The memories have and will last a lifetime. My condolences go out to his family.”

Below a forever young Davy Jones makes a prom date with Marcia Brady.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Malcolm X: The truth is eternal
05:35 am

Class War


Malcolm X was assassinated 47 years ago today.

In this two hour compilation of speeches, the brilliance of Malcolm reaches through time and space to touch us and remind us of the harsh truth that almost a half century after the man was killed America is still struggling with most of the same problems we were struggling with back then. Technology, drugs and the silhouettes of cars may have changed, but the reptilian brain still keeps us anchored in the murk of class war, racism and injustice.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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