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A musical tour of Osaka’s Expo ‘70: Beautiful time capsule of futuristic design
04.05.2017
09:39 am

Topics:
Design
Music
Television

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Osaka Show 1970 was a hour-long musical produced by Valerio Lazarov for TVE (the national television station in Spain). It featured its countries biggest pop stars at the time: Massiel, Karina, Julio Iglesias and Miguel Ríos singing, strolling and galavanting through the amazing, colorful, awe-inspiring grounds of Expo ‘70 in Suita, Osaka, Japan. The TV special serves as a beautiful time capsule of the Metabolist movement. With a groundbreaking masterplan by Kenzo Tange and his team of a dozen Japanese architects, they successfully turned the expo park into a modern city with radical, urban design concepts which envisioned sea, sky, and space as future sites for human habitats.

The theme of Expo 70 was “Progress and Harmony for Mankind” and over 78 countries participated. As these Spanish pop stars take you on a utopian tour through the various pavilions you’ll see no shortage of incredible architecture, design, sculptures, waterfalls, skyways, modern furniture, roller coasters, monorails, animatronics, mirrored glass, domes, and people movers. Kenzo’s Tower of the Sun building which also served as the symbol of Expo ‘70 stands larger than life, Willy Walter’s Switzerland Pavilion illuminates with over 32,000 glass bulbs, while amazing details inside the pavilions are seemingly endless: The “Fuji Symphoni Toron” for example demonstrates a robot operated organ that could have served as the centerpiece of your living room today.

More after the jump…

Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
Harry Nilsson’s demo recordings for the Monkees
04.04.2017
12:01 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

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The Monkees ran on NBC for the first time in September of 1966. The brainchild of Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, the program was a canny attempt to mimic the playful hijinks of the Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night and Help! in a way that would attract viewers in the American TV system. The experiment was successful, to say the least, leading to two lively seasons of programming, a succession of million-selling albums, the strange and mesmerizing feature release Head, and so on.

Every Monkees fan knows that the four young lads weren’t really allowed to play their own instruments or write their own material, but over time they struggled mightily to garner more creative control. As a “manufactured” band that was constantly attempting to transcend or leave behind the synthetic nature of their origins, the Pre-Fab Four relied to a great extent on hired songwriters—until, increasingly, they didn’t.

In 1966 RCA Records signed a bright young singer-songwriter named Harry Nilsson—who had been doing computer work in a bank on the night shift and hawking his songs around town during the day—and in early 1967 Nilsson submitted some material for use by the Monkees. The two acts were essentially label mates—the label that released the Monkees’ albums, Colgems, was a joint venture of RCA and Screen Gems, which was the television division of Columbia Pictures.
 
So on March 17, 1967, Harry Nilsson recorded several demos for the Monkees. Among them was “Cuddly Toy,” which would find its way onto Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., which was released in November 1967. A month later, Nilsson would release his own debut, Pandemonium Shadow Show

Nilsson’s relationship with the Monkees grew over the years. Davy memorably sang and danced (with choreographer Toni Basil) to his “Daddy’s Song” in Head. Nilsson and Micky Dolenz became close enough that when Nilsson traveled to Ireland to meet his fiancee’s parents, Dolenz joined him for the trip. Dolenz occasionally used Nilsson’s London flat, a notorious residence in rock and roll history in that both Mama Cass and Keith Moon died there (er, not together, however).
 
After the jump, hear Nilsson’s demos for the Monkees…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sausage and eggs: Tom Waits upstages EVERYONE on ‘The Mike Douglas Show,’ 1976
04.03.2017
02:33 pm

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Music
Television

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Unusually among singer-songwriters, Tom Waits invented a schtick that was so original that it traded somewhat in shock value. Most everyone has a “the first time I ever heard Tom Waits” story; the palpable need of listeners to testify to Waits’ baffling qualities is unique in entertainment, I think.

Imagine what it was like as the renown of Tom Waits slowly began to seep past the cognoscenti and into the wider world. In the mid-1970s, with perhaps three albums under his belt, Waits began to appear on TV talk shows, and the interface between the observers’ naivete about what performers are and can do and Waits’ own messed-up thing began to reverberate more widely.

To be blunt: the more Tom Waits began to appear on TV, the more opportunities there were for people to say, “How did that homeless guy learn to play the piano so good?”

Case in point, Tom Waits’ November 17, 1976, appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, during which most of the questions Douglas (not unsympathetically) asked could simply be replaced with a series of thought bubbles with “WTF” inside. Small Change was the album he was supporting, but on the previous album, 1975’s Nighthawks at the Diner, Waits made the single most consequential transition of his career, adopting for reasons unknown his signature gravelly voice and also taking on the distinctive persona of a louche denizen of seedy late night dives.

What’s unmistakable is that Waits was in high form that day. Douglas asks Waits, “How would you describe what you’re doing?” and Waits answers, “I’m an unemployed service station attendant most of the time.” Later on he says that his preferred audience would be composed of “four-speed-automatic transvestites, and unemployed shortstops, that sort of thing.” Douglas asks him about the roughness of his voice, and Waits replies, “I just talk this way on the weekends.” Marvin Hamlisch, observing the exchange, allows as how Waits probably smokes too much.
 
Special praise, however, for Douglas’ relative equanimity, considering that a few hours earlier, Waits had not been permitted access to the set on account of clearly being some kind of vagrant, and Douglas’ own first reaction upon seeing Waits backstage was identical, according to an account of Waits’ appearance written by Don Roy King in 1999—King was producer of The Mike Douglas Show at the time. King had seen Waits perform in his carnival barker persona a couple of years earlier, and had admired the nerve of it, calling it “gutsy.” But he did think it was an act. The trouble King faced after booking Waits was that maybe it wasn’t an act at all:
 

Tom was asleep in the lobby. Now it was my turn to panic. Tom Waits shuffled into the studio, mumbling something about South Philly, scratching a three-day beard, balancing an inch-and-a-half ash on a non-filtered cigarette. “Oh my God,” I thought, “It wasn’t an act!!! I pushed for this guy to be on our national television show, and he’s going to panhandle the audience!!”

 
King adds, “Mentally, I was typing my resume.” But Waits was booked and they were just going to have to get through it as best they could.

Fortunately, everything worked out, as King describes:
 

Tom was mesmerizing and he knew it. We all knew it. ... In three riveting minutes the painting was done. It was harsh and hard-edged and very real. But there was an abstract rush to it, too. Some steady hand had splattered reds and blacks and yellows in a way that opened up a dark and unknown world and let us in. We’d been escorted to those back streets we fear, those alleys we’ve never seen after dark. And there we met and almost got to know some poor loser named Small Change. I almost sent flowers. Mike jumped up at the end, rushed over to Tom. I could tell he was surprised and happy and relieved (not nearly as relieved as his director, however). I seem to remember Mike putting his arm around him, probably catching his ring on the rip in Tom’s jacket. Tom mumbled a thank-you, and the show went on. ... But things were never quite the same. Every camera operator, every band member, every writer on that show did Tom Waits impressions for weeks.

 
Watch after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Everything on the Internet is a LIE (except for this)
04.01.2017
10:19 am

Topics:
Advertising
Amusing
Animation
Art
Television

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I reckon my pal Cris Shapan is a bonafide comedy genius. If he weren’t so dagblasted funny, then I honestly doubt I would laugh so much at his gags. But laugh I do, my painfully cramped stomach testament to the obtuse brilliance of his singular comedic vision. But he’s a funnyman with a difference, as you’ll see. He’s an entire comedy genre of one.

Cris Shapan’s comedy is all about the little details. He might have the most exactingly detailed comic mind on the planet. His work is complex, multi-layered and maniacal. It also brutally takes advantage—in the nicest way possible, mind you—of how gullible people can be on the Internet. You see, prior to when he started working on various cult television programs—you’ve seen his stuff on Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Kroll Show and Baskets—Cris was a corporate art director working for evil entities like American Express. Taking what he learned employed on the darkside, his idiosyncratic output—clearly inspired by a misspent youth obsessively reading National Lampoon—creates counterfeit realities that are bust-a-gut funny, but often sail right over the heads of the very people sharing them on Facebook (who quite often unwittingly announce this fact as they post them. Which then makes his gags TWICE as funny, of course).


 
Nope, the members of Spooky Tooth never did a print ad for Birds Eye frozen vegetables, but try telling that to their Wikipedia page! And poor Brian Eno having to deny that he did an advertisement for Purina in the mid-70s with his blasé cat Eric. Stevie Wonder never did an Atari ad, either, sorry to break it to ya pal. It never happened.

And that guy on Facebook posting one of Cris’s album cover parodies and announcing that “My dad had this record when I was a kid!” (and all of the Facebook “Me, too-ers” as well)? He’s either a bold-faced liar… or else he truly does “remember” his father owning a record that has never existed. And maybe he ate some Potato Fudge while he listened to it… Why assume the worst in people, right?

For this special April Fool’s Day post, I asked some questions over email of the man, the myth Cris Shapan

Richard Metzger: I know who you are, but for the sake of all the young, impressionable minds out there reading this, how would you describe yourself?

Cris Shapan: I’m a hack. I started decades ago in movie advertising, did a bunch of years in corporate art departments, and then 13 years ago I answered an ad on Craigslist and wound up working on Tom Goes to the Mayor at Tim and Eric.  Since then I’ve been bouncing around on the fringe of edgy comedy, on shows like Awesome Show and Kroll Show and Baskets, doing silly art & deliberately awful effects.  It’s a high-pressure gig for an artist, but it can also be a whole lot of fun.
 

 
With your Photoshop skills you can “edit” the past—in a very Orwellian sense—and it’s frightening to see how fucking gullible people can be. I recall we posted one of your Alan Hale parody album covers and idiots on Facebook were commenting “I used to have this record!” “Me too!” and “I still have mine!” Ummm… no you don’t.

Cris Shapan: Yeah, it’s scary to see something I did purely to entertain friends become someone else’s reality.  Some claim to remember or even own something that never existed.  Others will repost a parody ad as real, especially if it reinforces some agenda they’re touting (sexism in advertising, the past was a horrible place, frankenfood, etc.).  People read the fake ad copy and leap to the wildest interpretations, often expressing outrage at something that never actually happened.  It’s just bizarre.  Some people are so convinced these parody pieces are genuine that they’ve gone in and modified Wikipedia pages to reflect their existence, which of course compounds the stupidity.
 

 
At what point did Snopes.com find it necessary to “debunk” some of your gags?

Both Dangerous Minds and The American Bystander (the only humor magazine in existence, I think) had run my ad for a product called “Johnson’s Winking Glue.”  The premise alone should have established this as a parody; it was for a product that ostensibly glued your eye shut so you could wink properly.  A few months later, some dickhead blogger reposted the ad as factual without citing the source, and it went viral on its own to the point where Snopes got involved.
 

 
Did they get it right? They’ve got a real reputation for accuracy.

Cris Shapan: Yes, thank goodness for the fine folks at Snopes - I mean that, they’re like the Sheriff of Internet Misinformation.  Not only did they track me down, but the author tracked the ad back to a photo gallery on my Facebook page.  Of course, I’ve never tried to pretend these are real or hide my tracks, so they didn’t have to Sherlock themselves too hard.  I’m glad they understood these were parodies…It pisses me off so much when people debunk my humor as a ‘hoax’ - it’s like debunking MAD magazine or Waiting for Guffman.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Of broken teeth & David ‘Boo-wie’: Iggy Pop’s endearing first Letterman appearance, 1982
03.31.2017
11:09 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes
Music
Television

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I’m very terrified of this country, the USA…some of the values are so foul and so wicked… It’s very wicked the way people are restrained, and I’m in favor of something else.

—Iggy Pop predicting our current reality in his 1982 book I Need More: The Stooges and Other Stories

I make no apologies for looking for any opportunity to write about Iggy Pop. He is as close to a god walking among us and the only deity I’d be likely to bow down to if the situation ever presented itself. Today’s deep-dive into Iggy’s illustrious past involves his very first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in December of 1982.

Iggy had just penned his book I Need More: The Stooges and Other Stories and was on the show to promote the book as well as his latest album, Zombie Birdhouse. After being introduced by Dave, Iggy jangles out onto the stage wearing bright red boots, turquoise blue eyeshadow, fierce black cat eyeliner, and blush. He spazzes brilliantly through the frenetic single “Eat or be Eaten” and then heads to the couch for the interview segment with Dave. And that’s when we get to the really good stuff.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Come with us now on a journey through time and space’: Mighty Boosh nesting dolls
03.28.2017
12:13 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture
Television

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Man, do I miss the The Mighty Boosh! We need their surreal weirdness back in our lives, please? Anyway, I discovered these magnificent Mighty Boosh nesting dolls by BoBo BaBushka. There are two sets of nesting dolls. The first one featuring Howard Moon, Naboo the Enigma, Rudi van DiSarzio, The Hitcher, and The Moon. See below:


 
The second set features Vince Noir, Bollo, Old Gregg, The Spirit of Jazz and Tony Harrison. Where’s Bob Fossil???


 
These are totally adorable and right up my alley. Now as to whether or not these are for sale… I simply don’t know. Perhaps contact BoBo BaBushka to find out!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Alice Cooper loses his head & Danny Elfman (with Oingo Boingo) loses his mind on ‘The Gong Show’
03.24.2017
11:51 am

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Amusing
Heroes
Music
Superstar
Television

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Alice Cooper, the late Chuck Barris, and a devilish Danny Elfman.
 
Like everyone else of a certain age, I spent time this week mourning the loss of Chuck Barris, the one-of-a-kind game show king and the host of often questionable “talent” competition The Gong Show. I was old enough during the show’s run in the late 70s to never want to miss Barris’ antics, as well as the never-ending parade of hopeful weirdos who flocked to the show. If you’re young enough to be unfamiliar with The Gong Show, the best case scenario was that your act didn’t get “gonged” before you were done. Worst case scenario you got frantically “gang-gonged” by all three judges, but still got to fly your freak flag high to much of America. The prize for not getting gonged and coming away with the highest collective score? $516.32.

As I was busy being nostalgic watching a few vintage clips from the show, I came across a couple worth sharing. One features Alice Cooper (who called Barris one of his “favorite people in the world”) serenading him with “Goin’ Out of My Head” while stuck in his trusty guillotine. The other is a wildly out-of-control performance by cinema maestro Danny Elfman back in his Oingo Boingo days who at the time were still called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Elfman and Oingo Boingo’s antics on stage were judged by none other than Gong Show regular Buddy Hackett, a solo Shari Lewis (Lambchop must have had the night off), and actor Bill Bixby of Incredible Hulk fame. Apparently, they loved what they saw as the Mystic Knights won the contest that episode.

Watch Alice Cooper and a young Danny Elfman on ‘The Gong Show’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
When Quentin Tarantino played an Elvis Impersonator on ‘The Golden Girls’
03.24.2017
08:03 am

Topics:
Pop Culture
Television

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In 1988, before Quentin Tarantino had sold his scripts for True Romance or Natural Born Killers, leading the way to secure a deal to direct his first film Reservoir Dogs, he appeared for a few seconds as an Elvis impersonator at Sophia’s wedding in an episode of The Golden Girls.

Tarantino discussed the appearance in a 1994 Playboy interview:

“Well, it was kind of a high point because it was one of the few times that I actually got hired for a job. I was one of 12 Elvis impersonators, really just a glorified extra. For some reason they had us sing Don Ho’s ‘Hawaiian Love Chant.’ All the other Elvis impersonators wore Vegas-style jumpsuits. But I wore my own clothes, because I was, like, the Sun Records Elvis. I was the hillbilly cat Elvis. I was the real Elvis; everyone else was Elvis after he sold out.”

Indeed, Tarantino’s Elvis look doesn’t seem too far off from the look he sports in his 1987 unfinished directorial debut, My Best Friend’s Birthday, in which a character he plays in the film seems obsessed with Elvis (a theme that would carry on through other films in Tarantino’s body of work).

See QT in action as Elvis after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Revealed: David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Lemmy can’t play without the little diagrams with the dots!
03.23.2017
11:32 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:


 
In 1991 the British comedy program French and Saunders showed an amusing sketch that involved several prominent British rock musicians, including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, and Lemmy of Motörhead.

It’s a simple and repetitive premise, but it works wonderfully. Most of the sketch is a dream sequence, imagining a court case (being England, that means wigs!) against the publisher of a book of “easy” guitar guidance that doesn’t even include the little diagrams with the dots to tell you where on the fretboard to place your fingers!

The prosecution calls to the witness stand several luminaries of rock, the three gentlemen mentioned above plus Level 42 bassist Mark King and former Thin Lizzy axe-slinger Gary Moore—all of whom freely testify that they can’t read music and can’t really play any notation that lacks the little finger-placement diagrams. Each of the five witnesses struts to the witness stand in the act of playing a signature tune—”Money for Nothing,” “Ace of Spades,” “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”—only to produce atonal garbage as soon as the offending diagram-less primer is placed in front of them.

See the sketch after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Chuck Barris is dead, but the scandalous ‘Popsicle Twins’ will live forever
03.22.2017
10:05 am

Topics:
R.I.P.
Sex
Television

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Well, the CIA lost their greatest assassin today. Gong Show host Chuck Barris has died, aged 87.  Dumb but beautiful and entirely emblematic of the decade in which it flourished, The Gong Show was quintessential 1970s junk TV, a swirling, whirling dimestore cocktail of low-watt celebrity worship, vaudeville schmaltz, and punk ferocity. Half game-show, half freakshow, it allowed ordinary knuckleheads a chance to shine on national television while D-grade stars like Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, and Rip Taylor mocked them. It was like American Idol, except for that everyone was in on the joke. Lording over the whole chaotic enterprise was game-show impresario Barris, a bucket hat wearing goofball who could not care less if anybody won or if anybody died. It was so, so good, a riot of polyester, bubbles, desperation and abject failure. It made legitimate stars out of unlikely characters like Gene Gene the Dancing Machine and The Unknown Comic.

It was everything the 1970s promised and more.
 

‘Gong Show’ greatness: Gene Gene the Dancing Machine
 
Barris also created The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game and, according to his kooky autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (!), he ran his media empire while working as a spy-slash-assassin for the CIA. The CIA denied it, but of course they would.

Anyway, let us not mourn the man’s tragic passing, but celebrate his most towering achievement: the 1977 Gong Show appearance of “Have You Got A Nickel” AKA the Popsicle Twins. We could analyze it, but that’s not what Chuck would’ve wanted. All you really need to know is that sometime in 1977, The Gong Show featured 17-year-old twins eating orange popsicles on stage—that’s it—and the whole country almost had a heart attack.

Rest in peace, Chuck. You truly were a Dangerous Mind. Gong, but not forgotten…

Watch the Popsicle Twins after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
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