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The nicest Lou Reed interview you’ll ever see
11.21.2014
05:26 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Lou Reed
Flo & Eddie
Midnight Special


 
So the story goes like this: In the spring of 1978, shortly after he’d released the amazing LP Street Hassle, Lou Reed was asked to host an episode of NBC’s late-night music program The Midnight Special. Reed was asked to submit lyrics to the songs he wished to perform, and, quelle fucking surprise, NBC balked at airing some of them. Rather than alter his work, Reed declined to appear, no harm done, except that an episode that could have been an all-time classic was instead ultimately hosted by—hold on to your lunch—Journey.

But Midnight Special did something exceptionally cool. Instead of just letting this matter pass quietly, they invited Reed on as a guest, in an interview segment hosted by Turtles/Zappa madcaps Flo & Eddie, specifically to talk about exactly why he wasn’t serving as the program’s host that night, and in the process they discussed censorship in broadcast media and the validity of “shock value” in pop music! At a generous seven and a half minutes long, the segment covered a lot of ground, and astutely at that. Perhaps because they were fellow weirdo musicians, Flo & Eddie got a genial, reflective Lou Reed, not the notoriously spiky prick who could and would unhesitatingly annihilate interviewers.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
‘Lou Believers’: Sonic Youth in the weirdest Lou Reed ‘tribute’ you’ll ever see
(B)Lou’s on first? Dangerous Minds sparks clash between Blue Man Group and Lou Man Group!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Beatles Electroniques’: The Beatles warped beyond recognition, 1969
11.20.2014
11:31 am

Topics:
Art
Music
Television

Tags:
Beatles
Jud Yalkut
Nam June Paik


Beatles Electroniques, 1969
 
The relationship and eventual marriage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, looked at from a slightly unusual perspective, can be seen as an alliance between the high pop mastery of the Beatles and the playful avant-garde methods of the Fluxus group. Ono was obviously one of the major Fluxus artists of the day, and in taking up with her Lennon exposed himself to avant-garde art in a particularly intimate way—and vice versa.

It would be a stretch to say that the Beatles were authentic pioneers of electronic music, but at the same time it couldn’t be clearer that McCartney and Co.’s relentless experimental incursions into the medium of pop music had an enormous effect on what was regarded as “in bounds” for rock music. The introduction of feedback on “I Feel Fine,” the use of reversed tape loops in “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the maelstrom of nonsense in “Revolution 9,” the symphonic collision of melody in “A Day in the Life,” and so on. In 1967 McCartney contributed a 14-minute tape loop composition called “Carnival of Light” to an awesome-sounding event called the The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave that has never reached the public even to this day (Harrison and George Martin loathed the piece; Harrison vetoed releasing it every chance he got). Meanwhile, Harrison himself made a key contribution to the canon of electronic music with the release of his second album, titled simply Electronic Sound, in 1969; the album consisted solely of two loooooooong Moog compositions, as my colleague Ron Kretsch ably explained on DM a few months back. Of course, Lennon himself was burrowing into weirdo musique concrete with Yoko, in various releases like Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, Two Virgins, and Wedding Album.

Once dubbed “The Artist Who Invented Video Art,” Nam June Paik was an incredibly prolific and amusing conceptual artist from Korea in the postwar era; he is most associated with his works incorporating the cathode ray tube (we usually call it a TV set), including “TV-Buddha,” “TV Chair,” and “Family of Robot,” the last of which is essentially a series of robots made out of TV sets. Earlier in his career Paik was associated with John Cage, particularly his notorious 1960 work “Etude for Piano,” which culminated in Paik cutting off Cage’s necktie and washing Cage’s hair with shampoo.
 

The Beatles, 1969
 
In 1969 Paik teamed up with Fluxus-associated filmmaker Jud Yalkut to create Beatles Electroniques, a three-minute video in which Beatles footage is messed with electronically. I would argue that Beatles Electroniques is an essential proto-Plunderphonics text. I’m tempted to call it the first important Plunderphonics work in everything but name—the term “Plunderphonics” was coined by composer John Oswald in 1985 to describe works stretching back no earlier than the 1970s. Oswald’s key recordings include the Plunderphonics EP (1988) and the Plunderphonics album (1989). Key inheritors of the Plunderphonics style are Negativland and Christian Marclay. The Residents fucked with Beatles source material in The Beatles play The Residents and The Residents play The Beatles, but that was fully eight years after Beatles Electroniques.
 

Nam June Paik
 
As Barbara London’s essay “Looking at Music” described it in the volume Rewind, Play, Fast Forward: The Past, Present and Future of the Music Video,
 

In October 1965, Paik screened his first videotapes as part of a series of “happening nights” at the Greenwich Village nightclub Cafe au Go Go—a venue that included Lenny Bruce and the Grateful Dead among its roster of performers. … Beatles Electroniques, 1966-69, made with the experimental filmmaker Jud Yalkut, is nothing less than an early black-and-white music video. Paik grabbed bits from the mock documentary A Hard Day’s Night (directed by Richard Lester in 1964), refilming and further distorting the footage through his video synthesizer (developed with engineer Shuya Abe). Snippets of the Beatles’ faces are caught in a loop of warped abstraction. To accompany the endlessly folding imagery, Paik created a sound track with Kenneth Lerner, which featured fragmented Beatles songs recited again and again. Whereas the original film is an upbeat paean to Beatlemania, Paik’s strategies of appropriation and repetition are conceptually closer to Andy Warhol’s silk-screened paintings of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, 1962, and Steve Reich’s phasing of spoken words from a publicized racial incident in his sound composition Come Out (1966). Like these works, Beatles Electroniques brought seriality into the realm of sensory overload.

 
Nobody seems to know what these “fragmented Beatles songs” actually are, so transformed are they in Paik and Yalkut’s work. Without further ado, here’s Beatles Electroniques:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Hello Arthur? This is your mother. Do you remember me?’: The comedy genius of Nichols & May
11.20.2014
11:25 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
comedy
Mike Nichols
Elaine May
Nichols & May


 
Something from the Dangerous Minds archives to commemorate the passing of Mike Nichols. This was originally posted on January 31, 2011.  

“Sometimes each of us would be thinking “Oh god, I know where we’re going,” and both of us would race to get there first.”—Mike Nichols

Over the weekend, Tara and I watched a 15-year-old PBS America Masters documentary on the incredibly brilliant 50s/60s comedy duo of Mike Nichols and Elaine May. Titled Nichols & May: Take Two, it features thoughtful discussions of the pair’s work by the likes of Steve Martin, Jules Feiffer and Tom Browkaw. What made the hour-long piece so especially exciting to watch was, well, finally getting to watch them do these great routines that I have listened to over and over and over again on records. Most of it was new to me (visually speaking, that is) and I was just ecstatically happy to see it. (Not to mention how absolutely stunning Elaine May was! Wow! What a fox!)

When I was a kid I absolutely adored Nichols & May. As Steve Martin remarked about their albums, there was really something quite musical about their comedy that leant it to repeated listens. Robin Williams compares the dance of their wit to a beautiful ballet. What they created together wasn’t really like anything else, either before or since. Their comedy albums weren’t stand-up comedy at all, of course. Nichols & May were actors and writers performing their own material, often the result of improvisations (a hallmark of their live act). Both of them have really great, expressive voices and their classic routines are absolute perfection, as honed and as precise as language can be used. Much of their material begins with seemingly random, meandering or nervous conversation that eventually comes into sharp focus. They were great at portraying pompous idiots with nothing to say and no qualms whatsoever about saying it. Although hardly risque, Nichols & May were “grown up” and probably the first satirists to include riffs on post-coital pillow talk and adultery in their repertoire during the Eisenhower administration.

A large part of the appeal for ardent Nichols and May fans was the cultural signifiers they—well, their stuffy, insecure characters—would casually drop into their routines. College-educated, upscale fans who made the high IQ duo such a success on Broadway would feel a part of the “in crowd” when presented with material referencing Béla Bartók or Nietzsche, although no one was exactly excluded by their brainy comedy, either. Routines about phone calls from foreign countries, getting ripped off by funeral homes and psychotically nagging mothers could be enjoyed by anyone, but the high falutin’ grad school references were the dog whistles that garnered them their staunchest fans. Amusing to consider that these “sophisticates” were usually the very people skewered most savagely by the double-edged sword of Nichols & May’s humor.

Often, it was Elaine May’s characters who set about psychologically torturing the hapless male creations of straight-man Nichols. Gerald Nachman relates several examples of May’s emasculating wit in a pre-feminist era in his book Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. One tale is told of May getting wolf whistles and noisy kisses from two guys who followed her down the street. “What’s the matter? Tired of each other?” she asked. One of them yelled back, “Fuck you!” and she fired back, “With WHAT?

 

 
In their famous “Telephone” sketch, Nichols plays a hapless man, stranded and down to his final dime, trying to use a pay phone with disastrous results. May plays three different telephone operators, none about to give him his “alleged die-yum” back. To SEE them do this&8230; Ah! I was in heaven:
 

 
Plenty more Nichols & May after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Check out ‘The Internet Show,’ an hour-long PBS special from the dawn of cyberspace
11.19.2014
11:59 am

Topics:
Science/Tech
Television

Tags:
Internet
PBS


 
A YouTube user named Andy Baio has collected a number of explanatory videos dating from the very dawn of the commercialized World Wide Web (roughly 1995 for our purposes here) and created a killer playlist featuring them. Here’s Baio on the group of videos:
 

A while back, I started collecting old VHS tapes about the Internet from the early- to mid-1990s. While most of these are pretty corny, they also inadvertently captured pieces of the web that don’t exist anywhere else. The Internet Archive’s earliest snapshots were in late 1996, so anything before that is extremely sparse. The videos, silly as they are, still represent valuable documentation of the early web.I digitized the VHS tapes using a VCR connected to a MiniDV camera’s pass-through feature to my Macbook Pro. After I started putting these online, a couple more were sent to me, which I’ve included in the collection. And then my VCR broke.

 
As Baio writes of this delicious video, which dates from 1995, “Ripped from VHS, The Internet Show is an hour-long introduction to the mid-90s Internet from PBS Home Video, hosted by writers Gina Smith and John Levine.” It’s impossible for such videos not to appear hideously dated, but this program isn’t too horrible. Smith and Levine do a decent job walking newbies through the history of the Internet (ARPANET etc.) and some technical aspects no ordinary end user needs to know about (packet switching) as well as the nuts and bolts of writing an email and so forth. They bandy about a whole lot of scarcely familiar slang, such as “Internaut” (???) as well as well-nigh obsolete terminology like “cyberspace.” But you can hardly blame them for that. Pre-iPhone, pre-Facebook, pre-Google, pre-Netscape even, the Internet in 1995 seems awfully arcane to us today but in fact the essential components of the Internet were already present, including email, chat, newsgroups, spam, political activism, mapping programs, emoticons, and e-commerce—Smith and Levine touch on them all.

The general tone and the graphics and the clothing styles are purest mid-1990s, which is always amusing. One of the most surprising aspects of the video is that it’s shot not in Silicon Valley but in Texas, at Houston’s Rice University. At about 20 minutes in, there’s a nice Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference, which is all the better for the hosts not calling attention to it.
 

 
via ANIMAL

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Joan Jett and The Jam’s Paul Weller talk New Wave on ‘The Tomorrow Show,’ 1977


 
In October of 1977, Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show hosted one of US media’s early attempts at a thoughtful discussion of the then-new phenomena of punk and New Wave. Disappointingly, but still understandably, the discussion mostly features establishment figures, whose basic understanding of what was actually even happening varied wildly. Legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t get it at all. He’s here representing the old guard, and all his knowledge of the new noise appears to derive from sensationalistic rumor, though at least he admits to limited first-hand knowledge. (At one point he talks about bands burning Stars of David and wearing KKK uniforms. Wuuuuuuuut?) Also unsurprisingly, LA Times music writer Robert Hilburn offers some of the most thoughtful and informed comments. The Runaways’ producer Kim Fowley is obviously approaching the discussion from a knowledgeable position, but he clowns around and snarks incessantly—he claims to see the trend-orientation of the discussion as a farce that diverts attention from the artistry of the bands and their music, but he’s hardly one to talk about that, now, is he? Though his remarks are often too insidery to actually be informative to the civilians watching this, at least he knows what makes for good TV.

B+ for effort, seriously, but it’s all pretty dry and speculative until the real marquee names arrive. You can see the beginnings of the discussion on YouTube in three parts (1) (2) (3), but it was really only once the RunawaysJoan Jett and the Jam’s Paul Weller joined the conversation that things got significantly more interesting and relevant. It’s one thing to hear oldsters blather on about music they’d never even heard (to his credit, Snyder came around to a deeper understanding of the stuff), and another to hear about the music from the people making it. And amusingly, after Jett and Weller started talking, everyone else’s comments improved. It’s a good deal harder to throw around bullshit about swastikas and self-mutilation when you’re talking face-to-face with thoughtful artists who defy the stereotypes you’ve been fed. Watch it here, it’s good stuff.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Hitler’s home movies, starring Mel Brooks (with a young David Letterman), 1978
11.17.2014
10:37 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
Adolf Hitler
David Letterman
Mel Brooks


 
It’s well known that Mel Brooks has something of a Hitler obsession. His first directorial feature was The Producers, which centered around an irresistible ditty called “Springtime for Hitler.” In Blazing Saddles, set in the Wild West several decades before Hitler’s rise to power, Brooks managed to smuggle in the Nazis indirectly, via Lili von Shtupp, a Marlene Dietrich parody played by Madeline Kahn, as well as the Germanic baddies that show up to be part of Hedley Lamarr’s army of mercenaries. In 1983 Brooks remade the 1942 Ernst Lubitsch classic To Be or Not to Be, which revolved around actors pretending to be high-echelon Nazis, including a musical number in which Brooks’ Fredrick Bronski (dressed as Hitler) sings “A Little Peace,” a merry song of his own composition about invading every country in Europe.

The recent American Masters documentary on Brooks, Make A Noise, actually dedicates a section to Brooks’ recurring interest in Hitler and even bothers to ask Brooks if he can remember the first time he ever became aware of Hitler, a query Brooks describes as “crazy.”
 

David Letterman and Alan Oppenheimer as Dan Cochran and Miles Rathbourne
 
Brooks even played Hitler himself once, in a parody of 60 Minutes-style TV news magazines called Peeping Times, which ran on NBC on January 25, 1978. Four years before getting his own talk show on the same network, David Letterman played “Dan Cochran,” one of the show’s anchors. One of the segments purports to show recently unearthed footage of Hitler and Eva Braun in the mid-1930s. You can even hear Alan Oppenheimer’s Miles Rathbourne snort in voiceover, “He looks like Mel Brooks.” Naturally, Brooks plays Hitler for maximum silliness, dancing a little jig, getting spoon-fed by Eva like a small child, and complaining that the cameraman (Rudolf Hess) isn’t shooting the footage properly. Note that the fellow who cues up the footage is played by a young James Cromwell.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Doctor Who’s Weeping Angel Christmas tree topper
11.14.2014
11:22 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
Doctor Who
Weeping Angel


 
Okay, so I’m a bit late on this, sue me. But how late can I be since it’s not even Thanks-fucking-giving yet? Anyway, ThinkGeek is selling a Weeping Angel Christmas topper for yer tree this year for $19.99 + shipping.

You and your family simply CANNOT BLINK whilst admiring your tree.

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The entire town of Twin Peaks sculpted in clay
11.14.2014
08:04 am

Topics:
Art
Television

Tags:
Twin Peaks
Bruce Bickford


Laura Palmer (RIP), Leland Palmer/BOB and Ronette Pulaski.
 
Frank Zappa fans among you will likely recognize the name of Bruce Bickford, the animator whose painstaking claymation accompanied Zappa’s music in Baby Snakes and The Amazing Mr. Bickford. Well, it comes as news to me that Bickford is a fellow Twin Peaks obsessive. He has sculpted the entire town in clay, along with some key scenes from the series and movie. In the Twin Peaks-themed gallery at Bickford’s website, a clay Leland carries Laura Palmer’s plastic-wrapped corpse out of the railroad car, and a clay Cooper steps into a miniature Glastonberry Grove.
 

Agent Cooper enters Glastonberry Grove en route to the Black Lodge.
 

Norma serves pie and coffee at the Double R.
 

 

“She’s dead, wrapped in plastic…”
 

The whole fucking town!

In the short clip below, Bickford says that his interest in the Twin Peaks story began with the Green River serial murders:

In my story file, I’ve got way over 150 stories in various stages of development, and up in the front corner here there’s a number of Green River stories. I started working on those stories back in the ‘80s, when the Green River murders were still unsolved. Gradually, it became three different stories, kind of a trilogy, and as it went along, when the Twin Peaks show came on TV, I started to realize there were some of the same characters in that, like the detective, Cooper. I have a character in the Green River stories called Copland. I changed the name a little bit, but it’s the same guy, basically.

 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘Knockin’ ‘Em Down in the City’: Iggy Pop rocks the Cleveland local news, 1979


 
Not sure how or why this happened, glad it did: Cleveland-by-god-Ohio’s blandly caucasoid time-filler news magazine show Afternoon Exchange visited Iggy Pop during his rehearsal/soundcheck at the Agora Ballroom one day in November of 1979. Iggy’s touring band that year featured founding Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and guitarist Brian James in-between his stints in the Damned and Lords of the New Church. Further name-drop action: the video was posted by Zero Defex bassist turned Zen Master (I’m not kidding) Brad Warner.

This all-star band performed “Knockin’ ‘Em Down in the City” from the then-forthcoming LP Soldier. Iggy being Iggy, he put on a full show for the local news cameras to benefit an afternoon audience of homemakers, unemployed, and shut-ins, all of whom surely changed their plans for that evening to come out for the concert. Iggy also gracefully endured the goofily clue-deprived questions from milquetoasty interviewer Bob “The Real Bob James” Pondillo, whose enthusiasm is appreciated, but seriously, safety pins in the cheeks? It’s amazing that so many suburban normals seemed to think that kind of thing was standard practice. And how weird is it that he couldn’t name-check the Dead Boys or Pere Ubu, but he knew who the Lepers were?
 

 
Iggy’s performance after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Neil Diamond fans, this excellent BBC ‘In Concert’ show from 1971 is a must-see
11.11.2014
08:10 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Neil Diamond


 
We’ve posted several vintage 70s BBC In Concert programs on the blog, wonderfully intimate performances featuring the likes of Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, Carole King, James Taylor, The Carpenters, David Crosby and Graham Nash taped in front of small studio audiences at the old BBC Television Centre in London. With each of the artists they featured, the BBC sets are probably the very best records we have of these performers in their youthful prime. That would most certainly seem to the case with Neil Diamond’s set for the series. It smokes.

Admittedly I’m not all that big on Neil Diamond after his early years—he loses me pretty fast by the time he’s in his “hairy chest and glittery open shirt live at the Greek Theatre” phase, plus he and Billy Joel practically invented MOR—but when it comes to the first hits he racked up in the earlier part of his performing career, numbers like “Solitary Man,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Shilo,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue,” “I Am…I Said,” “Kentucky Woman”—well, the man could do no wrong. He wrote “I’m a Believer” for chrissakes! I love Neil Diamond, but it’s a pretty specific sliver of his six decade career that I love.
 

 
So basically I only have two pre-1972 Neil Diamond CDs—this one and this one, to be exact—but believe me when I tell you that they’re never far from the speed rack or out of the car.

This is, in my opinion at least, when Diamond was at his peak. The show is seriously rad, dad and features a set list comprised of “Sweet Caroline,” “Solitary Man,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Done Too Soon,” a killer recital of “A Modern Day Version Of Love” at 16:22, “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother,” “Holly Holy,” “I Am I Said” and rounding out with a rousing “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” with its revival tent rap.

A better selection of Neil Diamond performances you simply could not ask for. Turn it up loud.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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