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Who was that mysterious middle-aged bald guy that appeared in like EVERY early ‘80s MTV video?
08.17.2015
07:15 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Superstar
Television

Tags:
MTV
videos


 
When MTV first debuted in 1981, few people believed in the fledgling network and its concept of airing music videos 24 hours a day. Their launch was plagued with technical problems and the station itself was starved for content.

MTV co-founder, Les Garland, details the shaky beginnings in a New York Post interview:

There was some fear, because we didn’t get the instant distribution some people thought we would. We used to hear, from cable operators and advertisers, “nobody’s gonna watch music on television 24 hours a day. That’ll never work.” Heard it from people in [our own] management, too. It was closer to touch-and-go than people realized. There were threats of pulling the plug.

Given the newness of music videos, the channel had only around 250 to choose from at the beginning.

One demographic that may have been initially counted out, but who undoubtedly contributed to the success of early MTV, was elementary through high-school-aged kids who had loads of free viewing time on their hands. Kids who would end up spending hours a day obsessing over this new medium—a medium which moved so much faster than what they had been used to seeing, having grown up on network television. MTV ushered in the age of ADD.

I was one of those captivated kids, and what a fascinating time it was to become “musically aware” with this brand-new, content-starved format repetitively pumping-out clips from whatever handful of (mostly new wave) acts that were forward-thinking enough to devote the time and energy to shooting videos. Suddenly bands you would NEVER hear on the radio, were appearing on TV screens nation-wide and the kids were eating it up.

In those early days of obsessive MTV viewing, I began to notice this one guy. This one middle-aged, balding, bespectacled man. This one guy who was conspicuous for his squareness among pretty boy rock stars and hot models. This one guy who seemed to be in like EVERY freaking video. Was he a video director inserting himself Hitchcock style into his clips? Was he a record label president? Was he the bands’ coke dealer? Who the hell was this guy?
 

 
And so, for more than thirty years this man has been in the back of my head as “that ubiquitous middle-aged ‘80s video bald guy.”

I was recently tooling around You Tube, watching the video for Haircut 100’s classic hit “Love Plus One” and had my memory jarred. “Oh yeah,” I thought, “there he is!” “There’s that guy! The headmaster from the Bonnie Tyler video! The guy who struts down the street next to Joan Jett! The dad from the Squeeze video! The shaky-handed martini-drinker from the Billy Joel video! WHO IS THIS GUY!?”
 

 
This being 2015, and having the luxury of google and the Internet, I went to work searching for something, anything on this mystery man. Amazingly, I turned up nothing—except for other people asking the exact same question: “Who is the guy in every early ‘80s video?” 

So, next I contacted Nick Heyward of Haircut 100—because, again, we live in the future and you can just instantly access ANYONE. I sent Heyward a photo and asked “do you remember who this guy is?” Heyward replied almost immediately:

He was the wardrobe guy/actor/extra. Nice chap. Pop was a closely-knit family in those days.

There was a lead, but not much. Searches of “‘80s music video wardrobe guy, bald” turned up nothing.

From there, I took my quest to MTV’s Mark Goodman, to see if he had any inside information. Goodman responded: “No clue who the dude is but pretty funny you spotted him. You must have lots of free time!” So, great, childhood icon, MTV’s Mark Goodman, thinks I’m a total loser.

Subsequent sleuthing started to reveal a connection between the various videos that the pervasive bald guy was appearing in: a production company called MGMM.

MGMM was THE go-to company for music video production in the early ‘80s—mostly because they were one of the first companies to specialize in it. The company’s partners Brian Grant, Scott Millaney, Russel Mulcahy, and David Mallet were essentially the top directors in the burgeoning field. Their content DOMINATED early MTV, which, as we noted earlier, was quite sparse early-on. The most ground-breaking, iconic, most memorable music videos of the first three years of MTV were by-and-large all produced by MGMM. So the clues began to come together. Could the mystery middle-aged bald man be a costumer for MGMM?

Attempts to contact former partners of MGMM went mostly unanswered, but someone from David Mallet’s production company did get back to me with a name. That name was “Michael Baldwin.” Finally! A name to go with the pate!

Mallet’s company did not wish to comment any further or give additional information—and of course there’s stuff I’m still dying to know. Was it a goof among the production to have him turn up so often, or was it simply a matter of being short-staffed for extras? How many videos did he appear in? I know of at least 20. Were there more? Unfortunately, I can’t ask Baldwin himself—his Facebook page indicates that he sadly passed away due to an illness in October of 2014.

Baldwin was indeed a costumer, and an accomplished one at that. His website displays some stunning examples of his work, and clearly it was what he should be remembered for rather than his myriad of video cameos. That website is well worth a visit for Baldwin’s audio commentary on the gallery photos of his designs. He did a lot of work in the early ‘80s dressing pop stars, and obviously dressing sets with himself. But his work goes all the way back to the early ‘60s. He was even responsible for costumes on the Rolling Stones famous train-wreck Rock and Roll Circus. The guy had an impressive career outside of his bit parts in music clips.

As much as is left still unanswered, at least we can finally answer the question of “Who is that ubiquitous early ‘80s music video bald guy?”

His name is Michael Baldwin.
 

 

 
More Michael Baldwin than you can shake a stick at, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
The fabulously flatulent sounds of the world’s foremost hand-fart virtuoso
08.10.2015
07:54 am

Topics:
Music
Superstar
Unorthodox

Tags:
Hand Fart Master
manualist


 
Manualism, or as we like to call it, “hand farting,” is the use of one’s clasped hands as a musical instrument. By pushing air through the hands, the manualist is able to produce a juicy, flatulent sound. It’s not really difficult for one to make such farty noises by putting his or her hands together, but perfecting tone and pitch in order to make those noises “musical” is a significant challenge.

John Twomey coined the term manualism to describe the art form. Though the technique had been around since at least 1914, according to Cecil Dill, who is widely considered the originator of the practice, Twomey was the first superstar of the craft, having performed “Stars and Stripes Forever” on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1974.

A couple of years ago we posted about this kid who performed a hypnotic hand-fart cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” While that kid clearly has a bright future ahead of him in the manualism game, he’s an amateur act compared to Gerry Phillips of to Troy, Michigan—as you can see right here:
 

Just call him “Queef Richards.”
 
Phillips, who has spent 45 years perfecting his technique, is a hand-fart virtuoso. His You Tube channel boasts over 150 videos. His most popular video, an unbelievable hand-fart cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper,” has over 3.4 million views. The guy is a hand-fart phenomenon.

Phillips claims to have discovered his talent at the age of nine. In the time since then, he has perfected his technique to such a degree that he can hit notes—in perfect pitch—from baritone to fartsetto (yeah, I said it) with incredible speed and accuracy on a par with the world’s greatest musicians. In fact, Phillips may be too good. He stopped producing new videos four years ago, and a 2011 interview may offer an explanation:

Most songs are repetitive and boring. When I find a song that is technically hard to play and has great lead solo or I just have too many people requesting it, only then will I do it.  I feel I have done just about everything I set out to play. I always thought that when I could play “The Green Hornet Theme” or the full “Fur Elise” that I would be as good as I could get. That is why I haven’t made any new videos lately.

Imagine being so good at something, achieving such heights of accomplishment, that there was no point in continuing with it. Now imagine that thing is hand farting.

Phillips’ videos really are a treat to watch, though—not only for his astounding talent, but also for the ever-present look on his face, which manages the paradoxical combination of the smugness of knowing he’s really fucking good, while at the same time seeming to be humbled by the realization of the butt-trumpeting ridiculousness emitting from his magical hands. If humblesmug is a thing, it can be witnessed on the visage of Gerry Phillips.

The Iron Maiden cover we mentioned is a good starting place to revel in Phillips’ masterful talent, but there are so many more must-see hand-fart renditions on his channel—a channel which is quite remarkable for the musical diversity displayed. It’s so all over the map. I personally recommend his hand-fart covers of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn,”  Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene 4,” The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Frank Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia,” and the Sandford and Son theme song. Phillips is definitely pulling from all over the place in his inspired musical selections—he even does “The Gonk,” that goofball song that plays in the Dawn of the Dead shopping mall (which he performs while dressed as a zombie!).
 

 
Here are some undisputed must-hear classics from Gerry Phillips’ hand-fart hit parade:
 

 
More flatulent grooves after the jump…..
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Death masks of famous people in history
07.16.2015
07:39 am

Topics:
Art
Superstar

Tags:
death masks


Lincoln and Washington
 
Back in the old days, if you did something as worthy of note as supply the basis for a Roger Daltrey/Ken Russell collaboration (also a hit by the band Phoenix), invent the Panopticon, or write Tristram Shandy, you can bet that someone was going to violate your still-fresh corpse by taking a mold of your face in repose, so that future generations (that’s us) could gawk and say “Looked like a bit of a pillock.”

These images come from the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks, located at the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.

Anyone surprise you? The most interesting are probably the masks of Lincoln and Whitman. I think George Washington’s mask absolutely matches his depictions in paintings and currency. Goethe’s would make the best gargoyle.
 

Elizabeth I, d. 1603
 

Oliver Cromwell, d. 1658
 
More death masks after the jump…..
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Moog Plays ABBA’: Australian synthesizer record rarity is fantastic goofy fun
02.25.2015
05:26 am

Topics:
Music
Superstar

Tags:
Moog
ABBA
Robin Workman


 
The mini-craze for Moog synthesizer albums that Switched-On Bach launched in 1968 yielded a bumper crop of kitschy delights, plenty of which are still waiting for you to rescue them from thrift stores. Some of them remain classics—Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman, with its indelible “Topless Dancers of Corfu,” is a keeper, as is Gershon Kingsley’s Music To Moog By, which features the ridiculously catchy “Popcorn,” but plenty of lesser-known efforts in the genre are larded with fun listens.
 

 
Specifically: in 1976, when international ABBA-mania was nearing its height, a wonderful Moog tribute to that band was released on the Australian label TeeVee Records, titled Moog Plays ABBA. The album was made by one Robin Workman, who largely built the songs around traditional rock instruments and played synth leads as stand-ins for vocals. Available biographical data about Workman is mighty scanty, though someone by that name is the longtime director of a company in Sidney called “Keyboard Koncepts.” Amazingly, within a year, following the release of ABBA’s completely HUGE album Arrival, Workman released the album anew—retitled Moog and Guitars Play ABBA: 20 Golden Instrumentals, and given a much less inspired cover—at almost double the original’s length, to accommodate remakes of almost every song from that new ABBA LP! So I guess he really liked it. Here are a few examples, and if this version of “Mama Mia” doesn’t make you smile, you have NO heart.
 

“SOS”
 

“Dancing Queen”
 
More Moogy ABBA after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
David Bowie wows Broadway as ‘The Elephant Man’

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The stage director Jack Hofsiss called David Bowie up one day to ask him if he wanted to take over the lead as Joseph Merrick in a production of The Elephant Man. The actor who was playing Merrick, Philip Anglim, was quitting the role and Hofsiss needed a replacement immediately. Bowie had 24-hours to make-up his mind.

Bowie had spent the past year on a world tour and recording a new album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) when Hofsiss called. While many would have wilted at the thought of the arduous work involved in starring in a stage play, Bowie jumped at the offer. He joined the cast in San Francisco and began rehearsing his role.

Any suggestion that Bowie’s casting was just a novelty star billing to squeeze a few more dollars out of the play were soon quashed when the cast saw the sincerity and effort Bowie put into getting his performance right. Ken Ruta who played Doctor Treves was “unequivocal about his leading man”:

“[David] was incredible. Right on the money.”

 
001davbelephmn.jpg
 
Joseph (or as he is called in the play John) Merrick was born in England in 1862 and developed a strange and still “unknown” medical condition that caused him to suffer severe deformity in his features and bone structure, leaving him disfigured. Unable to find work, Merrick was exhibited in a freak show as “The Elephant Man.” He was eventually rescued by Frederick Treves, who became his close friend and patron.

Bowie first heard of Merrick when he was a teenager after reading about “The Elephant Man” in a book on circus freaks and human oddities (which also included a chapter on A. W. Underwood, the “Paw Paw Blowtorch.”) He later said he always had an interest in freaks and those on the edges of society and claimed their lives and experiences informed his writing.

It was certainly a stroke of genius to cast Bowie as Merrick as he brought an otherworldliness to the role and revealed a sensitivity rarely seen in his music or stage persona of Ziggy Stardust or the Thin White Duke.

As part of his research for playing the role, Bowie visited the London Hospital to examine Merrick’s bones and the cardboard church he had built which formed the centrepiece to the play—a outward symbol of Merrick’s search for peace and harmony.
 
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Bowie performed the role without make-up and each evening forced his body into painful and twisted positions to become Merrick. His co-star Ruta said there was “a basic honesty” to his performance, but his best gift was his ability to listen to other’s dialog when acting. As Paul Trynka wrote in his biography of Bowie Starman:

His fellow actors found Bowie’s physical transformation into Merrick equally impressive. ‘He seemed to have captured that—better than all the other ones who wanted to be glamorous. He wasn’t doing glamour, he was doing Merrick,’ says Jeanette Landis. When Ken Ruta later watched John Hurt play Merrick, swamped under prosthesis, in the movie The Elephant Man, he found the experience far less involving.

As the play toured, the productions were mobbed by Bowie fans who wanted to see their pop idol or steal some personal belonging or item of clothing—even used cigarette butts were taken. Bowie took to carrying a few belongings in a cardboard suitcase and rather than living with the cast in an upmarket hotel, he stayed in rundown rented apartments where no one but a select few could find him.

However, the incessant attention from fans could be terrifying as it was utterly relentless. In Chicago a group of young female punks stalked the show attending every performance. On the final night, the group of six girls suddenly made a move for the stage. “It was instantaneous,” Ken Ruta told Bowie’s biographer:

“They were all tackled from the sides by I don’t know how many plain-clothes men. And they were carrying something in their purses, metallic—they were there to do something dirty. It was cuckoo that night.”

The production ran at the Booth Theater in New York from September 1980 to January 1981, where it received rapturous reviews with Bowie being singled out for special praise. The show was a sellout, with the opening night attended by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, David Hockney and Andy Warhol. During Bowie’s brief Broadway run, Lennon was assassinated by Mark Chapman.
 
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003dabbelephmnprog.jpg
 
In October 1980, Tim Rice interviewed David Bowie in new York for the BBC TV show Friday Night, Saturday Morning. Bowie talked about The Elephant Man, working in theater and his album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
London in the 1960s, when ‘quick change artist’ just might mean ‘cross dresser’
11.04.2014
06:29 am

Topics:
History
Queer
Superstar

Tags:
drag
Ricky Renee


 
Ricky Renee was—ahem, is—a cross-dressing cabaret performer. He was born in 1925 in Indiana and is still fabulous to this very day. (Here’s his website.) In 1967 Britsh Pathé did a short news item about him called “Quick Change Artist,” which is hilarious and a bit poignant in what they are and aren’t saying out loud. Basically Pathé‘s strategy with a cabaret artist as self-evidently awesome as Ricky Renee was to present him as essentially, a magician.
 

 
Ricky grew up in Florida but quickly made his way to NYC and then London and the European continent after that. Information about him isn’t the easiest to come by. It’s telling that there is an entry for him at wikipedia.de, the German Wikipedia, but none whatsoever at the English-language Wikipedia. Here’s his bio from wikipedia.de, translated into English:
 

At the age of 12 Ricky left Indiana and moved to Florida. At 14 he went to New York, where he worked as a dance teacher and an elevator operator and in cabarets. In addition, he studied acting with Katherine Dunham and for several years perfoemed at the “Jewel Box.” Finally, he put together his own show, for which he served as choreographer, designed and sewed all the costumes, and in which he conducted his orchestra. He then made his way to London, where his international show career began.

Ricky Renée performed with, among others, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Jayne Mansfield, all of whom he imitated on the stage. He toured with his show in Paris, Vienna, Rome and along the French Riviera.

 
In her book Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show, Rachel Shteir has a passing reference to Ricky that reads as follows: “Like female strippers, each drag artist developed his own style. Ricky Renee began in a silver bra, which, after taking it off, he held to his chest to disguise the absence of breasts. He stripped down to a silver G-string with a question mark on the front.” Yeah!
 

 
He had a part in Goodbye Gemini (a.k.a. Twinsanity), a 1970 British thriller featuring Michael Redgrave, and he also appeared in Bob Fosse’s great 1972 movie Cabaret.

I’m a little obsessed with Ricky. If you know anything about him and his act, by all means write a comment!
 

 
via Deviates, Inc.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Ralph Steadman: Hunter S. Thompson collaborator turns 78 today


 
The great British illustrator Ralph Steadman turns 78 today, May 15, 2014. From his beginnings as a brutally unforgiving satirist and caricaturist, through the work of his most enduring fame in the 1970s with Hunter S. Thompson and Rolling Stone magazine, to his present day work painting extinct birds and designing beer labels for Flying Dog Brewery, Steadman has produced some of the most distinctive and ferocious art ever to break through to mass culture.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Obviously there are thousands of brilliant Steadman images I could link, but as that’s not practical, I defer to the VAST portfolio and in-depth bio that can be found at cartoons.ac.uk, and, naturally, his own site. The comprehensive documentary, For No Good Reason, is finally going to be catchable in the US very soon. It was seen in the BFI London Film Festival in 2012 and the Toronto Independent Film Festival in 2013, and has had a few American screenings, most recently at SXSW. It’s already playing in NYC, and more screening dates can be found here.

The BBC doc below, 1978’s Fear and Loathing in Gonzovision, follows Steadman and Thompson on a trip through the USA. (It can also be found under the title “Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood” as a bonus feature on the Criterion edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, if you’re just dying to own it.)
 

 
More fear and loathing after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Who was that masked man? ORION: The Man Who Would Be King


 
This is a guest post by Jeanie Finlay, director of ORION: The Man Who Would Be King

Ten years ago I was at a garage sale with my husband Steven in our hometown of Nottingham, England. On a stall filled with cheap ornaments and dog-eared paperbacks, standing proudly at the front of a box of faded vinyl records, we found the above album.

Orion: Reborn. Sun Records. Collector’s gold vinyl. Release date on the back said 1979. No songs we’d ever heard of, but that coverWho was this mysterious masked man, standing hand on hips, with his perfect raven hair and sta-press trousers? What the hell was his story?

We took the record home, put it on and within seconds the mystery deepened. Whoever this guy was, he sounded exactly–and I mean exactly—like Elvis. Except these weren’t songs that Elvis ever recorded, and there was no mention of the King on the record. But there was the fact of Sun Records and this odd story on the back sleeve about this guy called Orion Eckley Darnell and something about a coffin, and a book… Most of all, though, there was this guy in the blue rhinestone-studded mask with the voice of Elvis. I had to know more.
 

  

The story I uncovered was one of the strangest I’ve ever encountered. As a documentary-maker, I’ve long been fascinated with stories that peek under the surface of popular culture and the machinations of the music industry, or explore just how important music is in our lives. Stories like The Great Hip Hop Hoax–about two Scottish chancers who faked their way to a record deal by pretending to be American rappers; SOUND IT OUT about the very last record shop in my home town in Teesside or Goth Cruise a documentary about 150 goths (along with 2500 “norms”) taking a cruise in the sunshine to Bermuda.

But this story had it all. A roller coaster tale of the Nashville music scene in the wake of Elvis Presley’s death, taking in deception, a quest for success, a search for identity and ending in brutal and tragic murder.

Even if you’ve never heard of Orion, you probably know about the “Elvis is Alive” myth. What I uncovered was that the story of Orion is the story of how that myth got started. 
In the marketing offices of Sun Records, maverick producer Shelby Singleton came up with the plan to utilize the incredible pipes of Alabama singer Jimmy Ellis – a voice which was both a blessing and a curse to the singer. Ellis had found it hard to get a solid foothold in the industry because of the similarity of his voice to Elvis’ –a similarity which was wholly unpracticed. Jimmy didn’t try to sound like Elvis, he just did. That made it hard for any record company to use him.
 

 
Shelby had already tried one tack, dubbing Jimmy Ellis’ vocals uncredited onto the Jerry Lee Lewis tracks in the Sun catalog, releasing the recording under the name of Jerry Lee Lewis “and friends.” He’d leave it up to the audience to come to the conclusion –if they saw fit—that it might just be a previously unheard recording from the depths of the Sun vaults. After all, it sounded just like Elvis…

 

“I was born in Sun Records, in the studio.”

But it wasn’t until Shelby came across a novel by Georgia writer Gail Brewer Giorgio that the stars aligned for Jimmy Ellis.  Orion was the story of the world’s greatest rock star and how he fakes his own death. As a character, her “Orion” was not a million miles away from a certain Memphis-dwelling King. It was a fantasy that so easily could be true. A fantasy that could be made true… In a move that Shelby himself later described as “part madman, part genius,” Sun Records put a mask on Jimmy Ellis, rechristened him “Orion” and unleashed him on an unsuspecting world. In Jimmy Ellis, Shelby had “The Voice.” And the book gave him a name, and a backstory.
 

A copy of the letter announcing the name “ORION” for the first time. The mask was the beginning of the Orion mystery.

In May of 1979, one month after his announcement of the imminent arrival of “ORION,” Shelby Singleton sent the first single to the radio stations. The cuts were “Ebony Eyes” and “Honey,” but there was no label on either side. Shelby wanted to build the mystery. The voice was the thing. He knew that the moment they heard that voice, they would have a million questions. And they’d want to see the mouth it came from…
 

 
Orion’s first album was readied – but hit controversy when there were complaints about the depiction of the masked singer appearing to rise from the dead from an open casket. (It was replaced by the blue cover above, which was later to catch my eye.)

Orion was now out in the world. Performing across America, always in the mask, always in character (legend was that Shelby would fine Jimmy if he were caught not wearing the mask at any time). And the crowds came. Hundreds and thousands of them, many coming for that voice–and many simply coming for the fantasy, the fantasy that the thin mask kept precariously in place. But for Jimmy, it was a frustrating ride.
 

 
Orion traveled the world while on Sun–including, bizarrely, performing with Kiss in Germany—putting out seven albums on Sun in just five years, but Jimmy hated the mask; the gimmick that provided the all-important mystery was ultimately a trap.  He could never be himself.
 

“Look Me Up”

When the gimmick wore thin, Ellis discarded the mask. The fragile spell was broken – but Jimmy was free. However, he struggled to step out of the shadow of Presley and the voice he was “blessed and cursed” with. He tried out many different identities – Ellis James, Mister E – he put the mask back on, then took it off again - but he never really found the same bright spotlight again. In December 1998, back in Orrville Alabama, the town he had left many years before to find success in music, Ellis was brutally murdered in his pawnshop during an armed robbery. A tragic ending for the man with the voice of a legend.
 

 
For the past four years, I have tracked down the people that were close to Orion to discover his story and I am raising finishing funds for ORION: The Man Who Would Be King on Indiegogo so that I can finish the documentary. You can support getting this story to the screen by pre-ordering the film, getting some original Orion memorabilia or even a bejeweled Orion mask.
 

Orion and author Gail Brewer Giorgio interviewed in 1979 TV news report.
 
More Orion, the man who would be King, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘We Are Family’: Nina Hagen’s German reality TV show—yes, really
04.08.2014
06:01 am

Topics:
Music
Superstar
Television

Tags:
Nina Hagen

Nina Hagen
 
This show is SO fucking good, I really wish more of our readership could understand what they’re saying. In 2007 Nina Hagen did this reality TV show called We are Family! So lebt Deutschland (The second part translates as “This is how Germany lives”). It seems it was on the ProSieben cable network. I don’t know “how Germany lives” when the focus is on other subjects, but in Nina’s case it meant sending a camera crew out to LA and following her around for a while. They were able to generate three solid hours of programming, and it’s all up there on YouTube for all to see.

When this was filmed, Nina was 52 and her son Otis, then 16, was living with her. The announcer explains that Otis was raised in France and a few other places, and didn’t live with his mom until a few years ago. They’ve been in LA for four years. In the show, Nina takes Otis to take his driver’s exam, they go shopping, and they visit a nice house for sale with a realtor (Nina doesn’t think much of the house, apparently). The entire thing’s in German, and well, obviously Nina is a force of nature who transcends any attempt to boil her personality down to the weird confines of ANY reality show. She says whatever she wants, whenever she wants, often cackling with mischievous glee. She clearly so does not give a shit, it’s extremely refreshing. Obviously she is wearing the most garishly colorful outfit she can put together without making it seem like she gave it any thought whatsoever. In America the trend is to show “normal folks” or somewhat marginalized (i.e. desperate) C-list celebrities—it’s so awesome to see a reality show with someone who’s pretty intelligent, worldly, discerning, and so forth.

There’s a seven-minute “teaser” that just corresponds to the first seven minutes of the entire thing, which runs three hours. If you speak German or just can’t get enough of Nina no matter how little you understand—believe me, I get it—then you can enjoy both of those. Note that the long-form version has a small but irritating watermark in the middle of the frame, but you can still see everything just fine.
 
Nina Hagen
Nina inhaling deeply the alluring scent of cabbage
 
Otis seems like just about the most normal 16-year-old guy ever, which isn’t a dis; you just wouldn’t automatically assume that he was the son of the extravagantly extroverted genius who conceived and recorded Nunsexmonkrock. Otis is trilingual, it seems—his German is perfectly OK, but he does speak with an accent, it’s clearly not his go-to language. Most of what he says in the teaser is pretty innocuous, like Nina’s a great mom and they get along great, stuff like that. He doesn’t like those environmentally friendly detergents because they make his clothes smell weird.

For the shorter video, well, I’m far too lazy to translate the stupid announcer’s patter or Otis’ utterances (even if he seems very nice), so I reckon what people really want to see is what Nina says. So here is that, everything she says, in chronological order. I missed a couple things here and there, but that’s okay, and it’s loosely translated, like I gave a pretty close idea if not perfect. If you read this while watching the video it should sync up pretty sensibly. (Hint: the part where she talks about how amazing the cabbages smell, she says that when she’s smelling the cabbages.)
 

When you’re 18 years old you can destroy the environment as much as you want!

We’re like an old married couple, aren’t we? Ha!

How can you POSSIBLY live without an auto?!?

Why are they showing us this? I’ve lived in several heavenly places, I know what that looks like, more or less.

Right, left, straight ahead. Where are you, my little boy?

I love LA, here is where I feel the best, in California I can recharge my batteries, here I can make my ideas a reality the best, so I can bring them back to my home country. I belong here. I wouldn’t come here if I didn’t belong here. Hey, my colleagues at the German embassy are also here in Los Angeles. Ask them why they’re here and not in Paris. Because our karma, our destiny, positioned itself here.

Goodness, cabbage! Look Otis, have you ever seen anything like this? It makes my mouth water. You have to get me away from this container (slurps) because it smells so delicious! Cabbage! My god. (smells) [something about how sour it is] It’s delicious, what do you put it in?

Careful, careful, a sauerkraut-bomb.

God, the poor kid must be ashamed of his mom—because she’s so loud.

My son Otis is an absolutely honest guy, he’s up for anything. He knows what friendship means. And he’s still living with his mom—thank God.

My daughter somehow got away from her mother and brother very early, but we still have a very friendly and familial relationship, we talk on the phone every day, we’re always happy when she returns to LA, it’s always a great pleasure when she turns up in LA, and the two of them have a totally wonderful and special relationship, the two siblings. In spirit she is always here with us.

Why did you get Clorox? That isn’t one of the “green” ones.

He doesn’t give a shit! He wants to buy this detergent, I say it’s totally poisonous for the environment, the other supermarket has totally healthy ones.

So for a 16-year-old French-German-American young man, he’s not so interested…..

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Beatle George Harrison’s brief journey into experimental electronics
01.06.2014
06:20 am

Topics:
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Beatles
George Harrison

george harrison moog portrait
 
In May of 1969—a full eleven years before Paul McCartney baffled his fans with the goofy electronic experiment “Temporary Secretary”—George Harrison released his second solo album, Electronic Sound, consisting of two side-length explorations composed on a modular Moog synth, “Under the Mersey Wall” and “No Time or Space.”
 
electronic sound
 
Unsurprisingly, the album barely charted in the U.S. and failed altogether in the U.K.—even in a period as indulgent as the late ’60s, a novice knob-twiddler’s pair of lengthy beepscapes wasn’t going to fly with the masses—and has only been reissued once, in 1996. But as it was one of the first albums ever to feature a Moog exclusively, and because let’s face it, it was made by a Beatle, it remains an item of interest among historically bent electronic music obsessives and Beatles completists. You can hear the entire album below. For whatever it’s worth, I’m a little more partial to side two (a composition that was the subject of a minor controversy), which starts at about 18:44.
 

 
The LP was the second release on Apple Records’ “Zapple” imprint. Zapple was intended to be Apple’s avant-garde subsidiary, but it only existed for a few months in 1969 and only released two albums, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s also very rare Unfinished Music No.2: Life With The Lions being the first. The label was folded by Beatles manager Allen Klein only a month after Electronic Sound’s release—evidently enough was already enough. Harrison himself had much to say about the difficulty of curating a record label in this rare contemporary interview.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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