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‘Bartkira’: Japanese anime classic ‘Akira’ gets Simpsonized

If you’ve not seen the definitive anime Akira, I highly suggest you make the time to watch it. If you’ve not read the comic it’s based on, I demand you get on that shit, like, yesterday. Set in post-nuclear Tokyo (well, technically “Neo-Tokyo,” an artificial island in the bay), Akira is a sort of post-apocalyptic coming-of-age story—just with telepathy, gang wars and terrorism. The first of the six volume series was released in 1982, but the decrepit futurism and universal themes have made it a timeless classic.It’s difficult to imagine anyone collaborating with or updating it, but the Akira/Simpsons mash-up, Bartkira, is positively inspired.

Hundreds of cartoonists are collaborating to re-create all six volumes of the series, panel by panel, recast with characters from The Simpsons—you can see the cast list (pre-determined for consistency) here. The project will run until the series is reproduced in its entirity, and you can actually submit your Bartkira fan art to the Tumblr (which has a ton of great art), or send samples of your work to if you want to contribute to the actual Bartkira comic.
As if that wasn’t ambitious enough, over fifty animators have actually produced a video trailer for the project, and it’s dead-on. If you’re wondering if this is legal, so are the artists involved:

We’re not sure. We kind of just leapt into it. To be on the safe side, we’re keeping Bartkira as an entirely non-profit operation and we’re giving all the proceeds from sales of books, shirts and so on to charity. If you’ve made merchandise from your Bartkira artwork, we encourage you to do the same. We suspect the project occupies a legal grey area protected by parody laws. Regardless, as of writing we’re a year in and we haven’t received our cease-and-desist yet.

Supposedly, Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo got a kick out of the project, and while Matt Groening hasn’t been reached for comment, he’s got a huge collection of bootleg Simpsons merch, and likely wouldn’t care. And who wouldn’t be flattered by a project this formidable? The scope and artistry of the parody is positively sublime.



H/t Jason Clarke

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
That time Chris Elliott took a huge crap on artsy mime troupe Mummenschanz on ‘Letterman,’ 1986

In his long career as a giant smartass pretending to be a know-it-all idiot, Chris Elliott has pissed off many, many people, including directors Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, and Jonathan Demme. His autobio The Guy Under the Sheets relates those tales in detail, and is well worth the time, but I was bummed that the book contained only a passing (and utterly bullshitfull) mention of one of my favorites of the many stunts he pulled on Late Night with David Letterman in the ‘80s—the time he gigantically took the piss out of the justly venerated Swiss mime troupe Mummenschanz.

Mummenschanz have been around for over four decades—I drove six hours to catch a show on their 40th anniversary tour in 2012, totally worth it as it was founding member Bernie Schürch’s final tour. Their performances conceal the artists’ identities, as they revolve largely around heavy costumery and mask play, sometimes downright pugilistic mask play, actually. A old post by my DM colleague Amber Frost does them justice, and I’d encourage you to have a look at it. (And I had to chuckle when I saw a commenter on that post had mentioned and posted the video I embedded below. Who says you should never read the comments?) They came to attention in the US during the ‘70s with appearances on TV variety shows, including a career-making guest spot on The Muppet Show, and their popularity grew to the point that they could enjoy a Broadway run from 1977-1980.

But it was during a later Broadway run, at the Helen Hayes theater in 1986, that Chris Elliott had his fun with them.

Now, I’m sure there was no mean intent in this jab, but it’s pretty audacious to make such a complete buffoonery of such wonderful and broadly-appealing artists with a golden international reputation. On Sep 30, 1986, David Letterman, brandishing a copy of Mummenschanz’s then-new book, introduced the troupe. In no time flat, it was clear that something was amiss, as the spotlight illuminated only a cheap costume-shop hot dog suit. Then came a fork and a spoon, not even really dancing, just sort of jogging in place and waving their arms like idiot children. Then out came a final dancer—later revealed as Elliott—in a mask of toilet paper rolls, which was a direct shot, as Mummenschanz actually used toilet paper roll masks. The audience is silent save for a few titters as it dawned on them that they’d been had. Someone started shouting “MORE, MORE” at the end—obviously that guy got it—and if a 2008 Rolling Stone article is to be believed, that guy was Screw magazine’s Al Goldstien. If you’re salty with me for spoiling, don’t be, the GOOD stuff is in the interview segment. Enjoy.

34 episodes of Elliott’s amazing and preposterous Adult Swim series Eagleheart recently turned up for streaming on HuluPlus. If you’re a fan of Elliott’s and a Hulu subscriber, I’d vigorously encourage you to dive straight on into that ASAP.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Name is Bootsy, Baby,’ the 1996 Bootsy Collins cartoon that never quite got off the ground
06:10 am


Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins is very much responsible for the insane cartoon pilot you see below. Named after his 1977 album, “The Name is Bootsy, Baby” is actually pretty fantastic; our titular hero uses his superhuman funk powers to surf through space (on his magical star bass, of course), fight crime, save hot ladies, and… battle vikings and dragons? He still makes time for the music and his legion of fans, but when some wannabe suit tries to jack his spotlight, Bootsy is forced yet again to battle the forces of anti-funk. Okay, so the premise is a little thin, but I remember 1996, and there were way more abominable attempts to sell merchandise and breakfast cereal than this one.

The cartoon wasn’t some two-bit operation either! Executive Producer Abby Terkuhle was responsible for some of MTV’s best animation—Aeon Flux, Daria, and Beavis and Butt-Head, just to name a few. Mike Judge, who gave us the voices of Beavis, Butt-Head, Hank Hill and more, lent his ridiculous vocal cords to the project. Bootsy voiced himself of course, and composed the music, but he also received a writer, director and producer credit. Obviously, “The Name is Bootsy Baby” never really got off the ground, but it’s rumored the cartoon was played before shows, making animated Bootsy his own opening act. That is some seriously meta-funkiness!

Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Furious idiot rails at NBC affiliate for changing its peacock logo to the ‘colors of gays’
10:37 am


low IQ bufoonery

If you were paying any attention to the news on Friday, the big day when the Supreme Court handed down its decision banning state-level curbs on gay marriage, thus making gay marriage legal in all 50 states, it seemed that everything was coming up rainbows, from the White House and Niagara Falls to Disney World and One World Trade Center, and that’s not even mentioning approximately 57% of the user icons on my Facebook feed, and I’m betting yours as well.

Of course, the ruling elicited, in addition to unmeasured outpourings of joy and exultation, plenty of expressions of feckless, petulant resistance from those who are not on board, or not on board yet, with the concept of gay marriage. Starting with the Justices themselves, Justice Scalia just about blew a gasket, claiming that now the United States “does not deserve to be called a democracy” (?!) and Chief Justice Roberts, curiously, wrung his hands over the fact that the “the proponents of same-sex marriage” had “lost, and lost forever ... the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause.”

As if it were the responsibility of oppressed people to go without their fundamental rights so that ........ bigots can have some kind of edifying teachable moment? That’s the best I can do with it. Today it was reported that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now insisting that county clerks in Texas have the right to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples if the clerk has a religious objection to same-sex marriage, which frankly ushers in a bizarre new chapter in legal theory (“I’m sorry, I can’t serve you alcohol at this bar, I’m a Muslim…...”).

Anyway, of all the spittle produced in behalf of monolithically hetero weddings, my favorite is probably the bit of outrage produced by Don Stair, most likely a resident of Arkansas, who, confronted with images of celebratory rainbows everywhere, decided to reach out and let a local TV affiliate know that he disagreed with their choice to join the bandwagon and switch to a rainbow logo. The problem is, the channel in question was KARK, an affiliate of NBC, and their logo is a rainbow peacock, exactly the same as it has been for literally decades.

Here was Stair’s message, on Facebook, as displayed by KARK:

(Screenshot via KARK 4 News on Facebook)
With admirable economy, KARK responded to its viewer’s outrage in the following manner:

The NBC peacock logo has actually been around since 1956, predating even Ellen DeGeneres, the Village People, Stonewall, and Dan Savage. Soon enough, some of KARK’s more liberal viewers joined in to make fun of Stair:




via Addicting Info

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pee-wee Herman and pal strut their stuff as ‘Suave & Debonair’ on ‘The Gong Show,’ 1979
11:44 am


The Gong Show
Pee-wee Herman

Paul Reubens invented his primary character Pee-wee Herman one night in 1977 while he was performing with The Groundlings. Reubens was having trouble remembering lines for the sketches, so he developed a character who was funny in a free-floating way that wasn’t dependent on dialogue. In Prime Time, Prime Movers: From I Love Lucy to L.A. Law—America’s Greatest TV Shows and the People Who Created Them, David Marc and Robert J. Thompson claim that The Gong Show represented Pee-wee’s first appearance on national television, but I’m actually not sure they mean Reubens or the Pee-wee character.

According to the NNDB website, Reubens “loved” The Gong Show and appeared on it fifteen times as various characters. On this occasion Reubens and longtime collaborator John Paragon were playing a silly dancing duo called “Suave & Debonair.” Paragon later played Jambi the Genie on Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

How do they dance on their toes like that??

via Televandalist

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Watch ‘Cucumber Castle,’ the Bee Gees’ goofy 1970 TV movie
07:15 am


Bee Gees


Once upon a time, a king lay dying. His loyal subjects were overcome with grief—and non-payment of wages.

So begins Cucumber Castle, a 1970 BBC film and an oddity in the Bee Gees’ oeuvre. Of course, if the Bee Gees are known for their involvement in a film, it’s Saturday Night Fever, the ‘70s disco movie that became so popular as to pose an existential threat to rock ‘n’ roll itself, but all the really good Bee Gees fans know about their original psychedelic period. If you need to be brought up to speed, this can be done briefly: the early Bee Gees’ four albums from 1967’s Bee Gees 1st to 1969’s masterpiece Odessa are indispensable psych-pop GEMS with which no fan of that era’s rock would be unfamiliar in a better world. I feel like having a home without Bee Gees 1st is as incomplete as having a home without a dog or cat. Sure, it can be done, but why would you want that?

After Odessa, the band experienced a falling-out. Vocalist Robin Gibb (RIP 2012) left the band for a brief period, leaving the group as a trio of his twin brother Maurice (RIP 2003), elder brother Barry, and drummer Colin Petersen, who himself would be soon out the door. The remaining band’s next endeavor was Cucumber Castle, an affably goofy, mildly Pythonesque musical film about a dying king (TW3 comic Frankie Howerd hamming it up through the damn roof) dividing his kingdom between his sons Frederick and Marmaduke (Barry and Maurice Gibb) into the Kingdom of Cucumber and the Kingdom of Jelly, over which spoils the brothers immediately proceed to quarrel. The Gibbs aren’t half bad comedic actors in a stilted, they’re-not-really-actors way, and the film includes appearances by Bind Faith, Spike Milligan, Vincent Price, and Lulu (who was married to Maurice at the time), with abundant uncredited cameos whom I won’t name, as it’s more fun to watch the hour-long special and do your own trainspotting. And of course there are shloads of musical numbers—though it should be mentioned here that I know of nobody who considers the Cucumber Castle LP essential.

The Brothers Gibb played host to Hit Parader’s Margaret Robin during Cucumber Castle‘s filming, and Barry offered this take, published in that mag’s April, 1970 issue.

The concept was of a Laugh-In type of show, but set roughly in Tudor England. The way that a lot of the sketches worked out was that the punch-line was in the sudden contrast between the Tudor times and a confrontation with the 20th Century.

We are very pleased with the results we have seen so far, but we know that the real art of making a comedy film is in the editing, and we are getting the best professional help that we can in that department.

It was when we began to really work on the story that we both realized that the outline of the story contained so many parables relating to reality. So it worked out that several of the sketches—for us, anyway—have a meaning above and beyond the obvious joke.


Previously on Dangerous Minds
‘Idea’: Incredible pop-psychedelic Bee Gees TV special, 1968

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Walter Cronkite introduces America to the Velvet Underground on national TV, 1965

On the last day of 1965, viewers tuning into CBS were treated to a 6-minute report presented by Walter Cronkite himself called “The Making of an Underground Film”; DM’s Richard Metzger wrote about it last year. CBS’ news story prominently mentioned and showed a new band named the Velvet Underground—their first time on TV, ever.

The actual focus of the story was the underground movie scene, in particular an experimental filmmaker named Piero Heliczer. When CBS came a-callin’ to do its story, Heliczer was shooting a 12-minute short called Dirt, featuring the Velvet Underground, and that was the scene Heliczer happened to be shooting that day. (For some reason none of the fellows in the band are wearing a shirt.) Heliczer was actually an important figure in the development in VU’s sound, as we shall see below.

Reporter Peter Beard begins his report standing outside the Bridge, a theater located on 4 St. Marks Place in the East Village, an early center for alternative arts. In fact you can plainly see the word “FUGS” next to Beard on the facade of the Bridge. Remarkably, Cronkite interviews “the godfather of American avant-garde cinema,” Jonas Mekas and the undisputed king of über-experimental abstract movies, Stan Brakhage. CBS even shows more than 30 seconds of a Brakhage movie, presumably part of Two: Creeley/McClure, which is predictably a rapid-fire montage of stutter-y and blurry images—it almost feels like CBS’ little joke on the underground scene. Naturally, CBS also looks at Warhol’s Sleep and documents Warhol filming one of his own parties, at which Edie Sedgwick is joyousy bopping away.

One impetus for the CBS story was an interest in this new phenomenon, “underground” art. In Victor Bockris’ Up-Tight: The Velvet Underground Story, Sterling Morrison explains:

Whenever I hear the word “underground,” I am reminded of when the word first acquired a specific meaning for me and for many others in NYC in the early Sixties. It referred to underground cinema and the people and lifestyle that created and supported this art form. And the person who first introduced me to this scene was Piero Heliczer, a bona fide “underground film-maker”—the first one I had ever met.

On an early spring day John [Cale] and I were strolling through the Eastside slums and ran into Angus [MacLise] on the corner of Essex and Delancey. Angus said, “Let’s go over to Piero’s,” and we agreed.

It seems that Piero and Angus were organizing a “ritual happening” at the time—a mixed-media stage presentation to appear in the old Cinematheque. … It was to be entitled “Launching the Dream Weapon,” and it got launched tumultuously. In the center of the stage there was a movie screen, and between the screen and the audience a number of veils were spread out in different places. These veils were lit variously by lights and slide projectors, as Piero’s films shone through them onto the screen. Dancers swirled around, and poetry and song occasionally rose up, while from behind the screen a strange music was being generated by Lou, John, Angus, and me.

For me the path ahead became suddenly clear—I could work on music that was different from ordinary rock & roll since Piero had given us a context to perform it in. In the summer of 1965 we were the anonymous musicians who played at some screenings of “underground films,” and at other theatrical events, the first of which was for Piero’s films (I think that Barbara Rubin showed “Christmas on Earth” and Kenneth Anger showed a film also).


Around this time, somehow, CBS News decided that Walter Cronkite should have a feature on an “underground” film being made. By whatever selection process, Piero was able to be the “underground film-maker”; since he had already decided to film us playing anyway, we got into the act (and besides, we had “underground” in our name, didn’t we? Maybe someone at CBS reads Pirandello).



Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Christ versus Warhol: Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test,’ 1982
06:23 am


Julian Cope
The Teardrop Explodes

WHOA. Bits and pieces of this excellent show have been floating through the Internet ether for some time, but I’ve never seen all of it, and I’ve definitely never seen the entire thing intact. This is Liverpool’s brightly and briefly burning post-punk psych messiahs the Teardrop Explodes in an April 1982 appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test, on an upswing amid the band’s numerous ups and downs. Here, they’re shaking off the disappointing sales of their initially misunderstood second album Wilder and mixing in new material that would feature on their third album, had they indeed actually finished one without, er, imploding.

The Teardrop Explodes were contemporaries and rivals of Echo and the Bunnymen, and were at first the more popular band, launching the career of veteran cosmic polymath Julian Cope. They favored a more organ-heavy approach to post-punk neo-psych than the Bunnymen, but the bands weren’t especially dissimilar, and they grew more musically ambitious more or less in parallel (Cope and head Bunnyman Ian McCulloch had briefly been in a band together prior to their fame). The Teardrops’ lineup did some revolving during their lifetime, but here it’s Cope, founding drummer Gary Dwyer, on-again-off-again keyboardist David Balfe, guitarist Troy Tate, and bassist Ronnie François, supplemented with occasional horns, possibly Wilder session players Luke Tunney and Ted Emmett, but I can’t confirm that. Here’s the set list. Note that there’s not a single tune from their revered debut Kilimanjaro here, save for “Suffocate,” which was only on the US version.

Colours Fly Away
Falling Down Around Me
You Disappear From View
Seven Views Of Jerusalem
Log Cabin
Tiny Children
Screaming Secrets
The Culture Bunker

Within months of this luminous performance, Cope would jettison François and Tate (the latter of whom would end up in a lineup of Fashion by September of ‘82), and the trio of Cope, Balfe and Dwyer would enter the Studio to record LP 3. It was doomed. Keyboardist Balfe, who’d not really seen eye-to-eye with Cope and as such had been fired from and re-hired into the band before, took over the recording process, endeavoring to create a synth record. Cope was too acid-fried to do much of anything about it besides quit after recording a mere handful of vocal tracks. What could be salvaged was released as the weird-but-not-really-in-the-good-way You Disappear From View EP, though the “last album” Everybody Wants to Shag The Teardrop Explodes was eventually cobbled together for release in 1990. Cope of course went on to a fruitful and still quite active career as perhaps the single most productive acid casualty in the history of mankind, producing numerous and wonderful pop albums, curating compilations, and writing authoritative books on Krautrock, Japanese experimental rock, and archaeology.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Frank Zappa makes an appearance on awful 70s game show ‘Make Me Laugh’ (Spoiler: He doesn’t)
01:09 pm


Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa makes a 1979 appearance on Make Me Laugh, an awful looking game show hosted by Bobby Van. Zappa nearly wordlessly promotes his then new Sheik Yerbouti album and wins a member of the studio audience a lot of consumer items (a garish bed spread, Samsonite luggage, a washer/dryer combo, plush recliner, etc) by not laughing at the idiotic Gallagher and another completely unfunny comic.

A typical celebrity guest on Make Me Laugh would be someone like Dr. Joyce Brothers or Charles Nelson Reilly. You can clearly tell that Frank hated every second of this.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘TV Wipeout’: Cabaret Voltaire’s rigorously post-punk 1984 video compilation resurfaces

John Coulthart has unearthed an utterly marvelous find from the early days of mass-produced video music content—Cabaret Voltaire’s TV Wipeout, a “video magazine” that was released on VHS in 1984. Watching it today, TV Wipeout is an excellent approximation of late-night avant-garde music programming from the early 1980s like Night Flight, albeit less scattershot and more rigorously postpunk in perspective. Of course, Cabaret Voltaire were often featured on Night Flight themselves.

TV Wipeout, videotape cover
As Coulthart explains, “This was the fourth title on the Cab’s own Doublevision label which was easily the best of the UK’s independent video labels at the time.” The compilation has plenty of gems. TV Wipeout features an interview with David Bowie on his latest movie, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, excerpts from two Andy Warhol movies (Heat and Flesh), concert and documentary footage from the Fall at their creative peak, a video by Residents discovery Renaldo and the Loaf, footage of Marc Almond covering a Lou Reed song, and excerpts from cult classics like Plan Nine from Outer Space and Eating Raoul.

The footage of the Fall was taped at the The Venue in London on March 21, 1983. Their rendition of “Words of Expectation” is interrupted by an astonishing clip of the Fall’s manager, Kay Carroll, tearing the Factory’s Tony Wilson a new asshole for using some Fall music on a video without their permission.

(Click for a larger version)
On the next-to-last video, Marc & The Mambas cover Lou Reed’s “Caroline Says II” off of Berlin. For the first half of the song, Marc Almond is holding Genesis P-Orridge’s infant daughter Caresse in his arms until she starts to cry.

Coulthart also found a pretty hilarious interview in which Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder had the following to say about TV Wipeout (source: Cabaret Voltaire: The Art of the Sixth Sense by M. Fish and D. Hallbery):

Q: The next Doublevision was the TV Wipeout video which was a sort of disposable magazine compilation. It contained a fairly wide variety of contributors, from people like The Fall and Test Dept to some more mainstream groups like Bill Nelson and Japan.

Mallinder: The point was that Virgin Films were quite happy to work with us; they even gave us money in the form of advertising revenue for using some film clips from the Virgin catalogue. We were then able to camouflage them into the whole set-up and make them look as if they were part of the whole nature of the video compilation.

Q: One of those clips was a particularly inane interview with David Bowie. Was its inclusion merely a selling point?

Mallinder: Yes, it was purely that. There are a lot of people who will buy anything with David Bowie on it. So we said “Fuck it, why not use that as a selling point!” Actually the interview is appalling, it’s terrible. Our including it was almost like a piss-take. We were saying “you really will buy anything with David Bowie on it if you buy this”.

Coulthart asserts that some clips of Cabaret Voltaire and Japan are missing from this playlist, but I think that’s not right, at least if the list posted above is right, it’s just the Japan track that is missing, and you can find that one here.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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