follow us in feedly
Neil Diamond fans, this excellent BBC ‘In Concert’ show from 1971 is a must-see
08:10 am


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
follow us in feedly
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on ‘MTV Live ‘N’ Loud,’ 1997
05:55 am


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

In 1997, around the release of The Boatman’s Call, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds taped an episode of MTV’s Live ‘N’ Loud. Since Boatman was a significantly more sedate record than its predecessor, Murder Ballads, the “Loud” part of the title maybe wasn’t such a hot fit for the band’s music at the time, but the broadcast nonetheless featured a superb short set, shot in low-key black and white, of four Boatman songs, plus “The Carny” from 1986.

This MTV taping came less than a year, mind you, after Cave declined his nomination for an MTV music award with one of the funniest refusals of all time. (His problem wasn’t with MTV per se, but with competitions in the arts, though he has plenty of other awards, so who knows what was really up.) The jaw-dropping passage “MY MUSE IS NOT A HORSE AND I AM IN NO HORSE RACE AND IF INDEED SHE WAS, STILL I WOULD NOT HARNESS HER TO THIS TUMBREL—THIS BLOODY CART OF SEVERED HEADS AND GLITTERING PRIZES” would, in a better world, be immortal. The letter is still published in its entirety on Cave’s site, and also here on Dangerous Minds, so if you wish to read it at either of those places, knock yourself out, the video will still surely be here when you’re done.

Here’s the set list with rough start times if you want to skip to something:
00:21 “Into My Arms”
05:02 “Brompton Oratory”
08:51 “West Country Girl”
11:46 “Far From Me”
17:46 “The Carny”

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
When Iggy Pop was on ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’

In 1998 Iggy Pop guest-starred on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a Vorta overseer named “Yelgrun” from the planet Kurill Prime. Admittedly I never watched the Deep Space Nine series, but had I known back then that James Osterberg was going have a small role on it, I would have definitely tuned in.

Producer Ira Steven Behr was a massive Iggy fan and had always wanted him to be on the show. According to Memory Alpha:

...Behr made a point of visiting the set during production of the episode, which was something of a rarity due to his busy schedule. “For Iggy I would not be denied!” Behr joked. “I was a happy boy.” Similarly, Hans Beimler recalled, “Ira was thrilled! For cryin’ out loud, Iggy Pop has been a hero of his for years. I’ve heard about Iggy Pop since I’ve known him. I’ve seen Iggy Pop posters in his home. What can I say? The man was in heaven.”

Though he was excited to have Pop onboard for the episode, Behr did have concerns that the character perhaps wasn’t the best match for the singer, known for his wild stage presence. “I knew that the role was going to be tough for Iggy, because he’s a very kinetic performer”, Behr commented. “His physicality is certainly part of who he is, and unfortunately we cast him as a Vorta, one of the most immobile of characters.”

Behr declared that Pop was wonderful to work with and thought he nailed “...that demented quality the Vorta have, like Weyoun has-think Caligula! He was just a delight.”

Ira Steven Behr and Iggy Pop

Below, a video montage of Iggy’s most memorable scenes as “Yelgrun” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Magnificent Ferengi.”

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Bob Dylan, slapstick comedy hero? It almost happened.

Larry Charles is a force in contemporary comedy, but to most people he’s little more than a name. Odds are pretty decent that he’s been involved in the creation of something you love—he was a staff writer for Seinfeld for five years; he directed three Sacha Baron Cohen movies, including the immortal 2006 release Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan; he was executive producer on The Tick; he has directed more than a dozen episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Clearly, if you look at that resume, Charles can count Jerry Seinfeld, Baron Cohen, and Larry David as some of his most fertile collaborators. But he has a significant collaborator that hasn’t garnered as much notice—that being Bob Dylan. In 2003 Charles released his first directorial feature, a star-studded “comedy-drama” (per Wikipedia) called Masked and Anonymous, with Bob Dylan as number 1 on the call sheet, as they say in Hollywood (i.e., the top-billed actor). Charles directed the movie, and Dylan and Charles co-wrote it, using the pseudonyms Sergei Petrov and Rene Fontaine, respectively.

Larry Charles and Bob Dylan
But that (likely somewhat mixed-up) feature started its existence as an HBO pitch for a “slapstick comedy” TV series with Bob Dylan in the lead role—a pitch that was green-lighted after a bizarre meeting with the head of the premium cable network. Charles was on Pete Holmes’ podcast You Made It Weird recently and told the entire story. (In the podcast the story starts around an hour and 26 minutes in, but someone has helpfully created a YouTube video of that section, which we’ve embedded below.)

I’ve transcribed a couple of sections from the story, but it’s rather long (10 minutes) and suitably aimless, being a podcast. Dylan lovers should really listen to the whole thing. The story starts out as follows:

I got a call that he was interested in doing, he’d been on the road, he does this endless tour, he’s on this tour all the time, he’s on this bus, most of the time. And he’s got a TV, this was back in the ‘90s, he’s got a TV in the bus and he watches movies and he gets into certain genres of movies, and he gets like addicted to them and just watches every single one of them. And he had been watching Jerry Lewis movies. And he’d gotten deeply into Jerry Lewis, and he wanted to make a slapstick comedy. ... He wants to do it as a TV series for HBO, so I’m called in to meet with him. He wanted to star in it, almost like a Buster Keaton or something.

There’s a great section where Charles and Dylan meet in the back of a boxing gym that Dylan owns, that’s also connected to a coffee shop, and Dylan is playing mind games with Charles, whom he’s meeting for the first time, by drinking out of his guest’s ice coffee glass just to see how he’ll react. There’s also a lengthy bit about Dylan’s writing process, at least at that date—suffice it to say that it involves writing snatches of text on whatever scraps of paper are at hand and cobbling something together later on. Very “oblique strategies.” Says Charles, “We wrote like a very elaborate treatment for this slapstick comedy, which is filled with surrealism and all kinds of things from his songs and stuff.”

Eventually they go to meet with the president of HBO, Chris Albrecht. At the meeting, Charles is wearing pajamas, which was his habit for a couple of years around then, and Dylan is dressed like a cowboy, all in black. Albrecht attempts to break the ice by bringing up Woodstock, to which Dylan says (pretty reasonably), “I didn’t play Woodstock.” After that Dylan spends the entire meeting standing with his back to the group staring out the window. At this point Charles’ agent Gavin Polone leans over to Charles and whispers, referring to Dylan, “Retarded child.”

However, despite all of that, they do in fact come to an agreement on a deal to do a slapstick TV series starring, of all people, Dylan. As they’re walking out to the elevator, Charles and Polone and Dylan’s agent, Jeff Kramer, are of one mind about the project to come, but Dylan’s head is elsewhere. As Charles tells it: “The three of us are elated, we actually sold the project, and Bob says, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. It’s too slapstick-y.’ He’s, like, not into it. That’s over. The slapstick phase is officially ended.”

So instead they worked for another year or so on Masked and Anonymous.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Orson Welles’ little-known TV pilot: ‘The Fountain of Youth’ is radical mini masterpiece
12:29 pm


Orson Welles

Orson Welles wrote, starred in, directed, art directed and even produced the music for “The Fountain of Youth,” an ingeniously devised and wryly funny half-hour that was made as a television pilot for an ill-fated anthology show that Welles developed for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s Desilu production company. Imagine a Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but with Orson Welles in the auteur/narrator’s role. The pilot was shot in 1956, but the The Orson Welles Show never happened. It ultimately aired on NBC’s Colgate Theater in 1958.

From the first minutes of “The Fountain of Youth” it’s very obviously different from any and every television show of that era, with a clever use of rear projection, consecutive photo stills, illustration, on-camera set changes, innovative sound editing, experimental narrative techniques and multilayered storytelling.

Welles’ script was based on a short story, “Youth From Vienna” by New Yorker writer John Collier. A scientist, Humphrey Baxter (Dan Tobin), searching for an eternal youth serum falls in love with a beautiful young Broadway actress named Carolyn Coates (Joi Lansing) but is forced to return to Europe to work with a distinguished older scientist. He’s gone for three years, and upon returning to New York, finds that his love has taken up with Alan Brody, a handsome tennis star (Rick Jason) closer to her own age. The spurned scientist gives the glamorous couple a single dose of the youth serum—it’s the only one in existence and it can’t be split 50/50 or it won’t work at all—for a wedding present. That’s when the fun begins…

Actor Rick Jason, who played the vain tennis pro Alan in “The Fountain Of Youth,” discussed working with Welles in his autobiography Scrapbooks Of My Mind:

“To shoot a scene, there was a slide projector sixty feet or so away from the camera that projected the still onto a huge opaque screen (which more than filled the camera lens) in front of which we worked. A few pieces of furniture, or whatever were required in the foreground to dress the set, completed the arrangement. Most scenes were in either medium or close shots and, rather than cut from one scene to the other, Welles had the actor stand in place while the opaque screen behind him dissolved to the new scene. If the actor was going from an exterior to an interior, the lights on him would go dark, leaving him in silhouette during the backscreen dissolve. As the background changed to the interior, the lights came up on his face and he removed his hat and coat as the camera pulled back revealing the new interior set.”


Two geniuses: Lucille Ball levitated by Orson Welles
Although the director, notorious for going over budget did go a little bit over budget on the pilot for The Orson Welles Show, he didn’t go too crazy, as Arnaz had told him the show was being produced with his own “‘Babalu’ money.”  The show won Welles and NBC’s Colgate Theater a Peabody Award in 1958. Look for a cameo appearance by Nancy Kulp, better known as “Mrs. Hathaway,” the shrewish secretary on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
‘Memory Hole’: Your best source for America’s most DEMENTED home videos

Do you realize that America’s Funniest Home Videos is currently in its 25th season? Well, it is. It’s on ABC, every Sunday evening. I didn’t know it was still on.

Someone who knows it’s still on are the geniuses behind Memory Hole, the most striking recent entry into the well-populated found-video universe. What Memory Hole does is, they take videos that did not make the cut to be on America’s Funniest Home Videos and they add creepy audio and abrupt edits (Actually, the videos aren’t 100% un-fucked-with, but the bulk of the effect comes from the addition of new audio and jarring cuts.) That recontextualization transforms videos submitted to a nationally televised “laff-riot” suitable for the broadest of audiences America has to offer, into an avant-garde commentary on the inherent strangeness of the American people.

As we reported in September, Memory Hole is what happens when the Everything Is Terrible found-video collective somehow obtains access to storage space containing a whopping 300,000 videos belonging to the producers of America’s Funniest Home Videos. The crazy thing that you realize is just how much footage is out there, countless thousands of people have been sending ABC their nutty little videos for a generation now—as well as some videos that aren’t so nutty. (For fear of legal action, I reckon, Commodore Gilgamesh, one of the found-video geniuses behind the site, is obliged to refer to his source material as coming from “the longest running prime-time television series in history,” which, apparently, it is.)

Some of the Memory Hole videos are single-take masterpieces, whereas others are compilations on a theme—few are longer than about a minute. Two of my favorites are “Is She Sleeping?” in which the game is to try to figure out if Grandma is dead or alive, and “Shaving Cream Torture,” in which ... well, you just have to see that one for yourself. Another fascinating one is “Body Horror,” which is a compilation of double-jointed-and-who-knows-what-else-what people showing off the quirks of their insane bodies.

The great thing is that, much as with Adult Swim’s Too Many Cooks, which Richard brought you yesterday—that’s a must-see—or Chris Elliott’s brilliant Action Family one-off from 1986, which I wrote about earlier this year, you realize that virtually anything can be made “funny” as long as you put some sprightly music nearby and pipe in a canned laughtrack. In that sense, the creepy music added by Memory Hole is helping expose the true nature of this ridiculous footage, in some cases.

It makes you realize how much America’s Funniest Home Videos actually was the YouTube of the 1990s. This is the most “Tim and Eric” thing I’ve seen in a while, and it was all done without manipulating video imagery (much), it’s done by manipulating audio, in the manner of one of my favorite fucked-with TV intros, the “creepy” version of the intro to Diff’rent Strokes. It’s a simple trick but it works wonders.

Two more Memory Hole videos after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Watch this… watch the whole goddamn thing
02:30 pm


Adult Swim
Too Many Cooks

Too Many Cooks aired last night at 4am in the Infomercials slot on Cartoon Network.

This is one of the most amazing and uh, inexplicable things you’ll ever see. By a minute and a half in, I was laughing so hard I was crying and then it starts to get very, very weird.

Hit play. The less said the better!

Thank you kindly Syd Garon!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Karen Black fronts L7 and Exene Cervenka reads her conspiracy poetry in ‘Decoupage 2000’

Decoupage! was a fever dream of a public access show cooked up in 1989 by visionary amateur producer Kathe Duba and drag queen Summer Caprice (Craig Roose, if you want to get technical). Envisioning a kitschy 70’s variety show aesthetic, Craig and Kathe scoured thrift stores to furnish elaborate sets—an episode could take as many as twelve hours to set-up, videotape and break-down (those are Cecil B. DeMille terms for public access). The show attracted counterculture legends like “all-American Jewish lesbian folksinger” Phranc and Vaginal Creme Davis (appearing with her “mother,” Susan Tyrrell). Caprice exuded a fun atmosphere of irreverent, arty, DIY weirdness, and the guests really seemed to enjoy themselves. 

I’d argue the “jewel” of the Decoupage series was actually Decoupage 2000: Return of the Goddess—a 1999 retro-futurist sci-fi version of the original show coordinated after a five-year hiatus. Check out cult queen Karen Black singing Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang,” with grunge goddesses L7 for her band! If you didn’t know, Karen Black has a fucking amazing voice, and her chemistry with L7 is golden.

The most compelling segment though, is Exene Cervenka (using her actual surname, “Cervenkova” here) performing a spoken-word piece, “They Must Be Angels.” Themes of alien visitation and abduction, psychic abilities and metaphysical spirituality make the monologue a perfect fit for Decoupage‘s retro-futurism, but as Exene expounds, her tangents become more conspiratorial, and you’re left wondering if work like this was the germ of her eventual Alex Jones-levels of delusion. You can never be sure how someone got from Point A to Point Raving, Vicious Crackpot, but man does this piece feel like a red flag; and still, Exene is magnetic, and the performance is mesmerizing.

I’m unsure of exactly how many episodes of Decoupage! were made in total, but there is a Decoupage! YouTube channel with some great clips.

More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Music for Spaceports: Wil Wheaton is making ambient cut-up music, and it’s actually pretty good

Not unlike Star Trek TOS’ George Takei, The Next Generation‘s Wil Wheaton has forged a thriving Trek afterlife as an internet presence. But while Takei has flourished as Planet Earth’s living avatar of goofy online ephemera, Wheaton has gone from playing the single most hated character in the entire Star Trek franchise to being a worthy ambassador for geek culture.

Wheaton has blogged a lot about gaming, sci-fi, and cosplay, and he’s also made a point of expressing his love for ambient music. And recently, he’s made the laudable transition from appreciator to creator.

I made a thing, which I believe is best experienced as ambient background noise, projected onto a bare brick wall. This is not something that you sit down and watch, the way you’d watch a movie or a TV show.

This work was created by combining audio and visual works obtained from the Internet Archive, at The visuals are from Panorama Ephemera, which was found in the Prelinger Archives. The audio was remixed and processed in Audacity, and comes from several different sources, also originally found at the Internet Archive.

Everything used to make this video is in the public domain, or is licensed for remix and reuse.

And I’ll be damned if it ain’t half bad! Sure, there’s better out there, but there’s plenty worse, too. I look forward to hearing more, and if there’s ever a Wil Wheaton ambient LP, I’ll be among the first in line to pick it up.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Beck, Thurston Moore, and Mike D’s ridiculous jam on MTV, 1994

Mass culture machines love the status quo—a salesman, after all, is fattest and happiest when he knows what’ll sell and how to sell it. So when a sudden zeitgeist shift catches them with their pants down, it can be illuminating to watch them try to pull them back up. When the reset button got pushed in the early ‘90s and cult figures whose worldviews revolved around aggressive abnormality suddenly became the new rock royalty, things could get pretty damn funny.

One noteworthy moment was when Sonic Youth‘s Thurston Moore guest hosted MTV’s late night alternaghetto 120 Minutes. In the 1980s, that show featured some legitimately outré artists, but by 1994 watching that show was no longer significantly different from listening to commercial radio. Because of Moore’s untouchable underground bona fides, featuring him injected a fresh dose of off-the-path credibility into that show, and his interview with the then newly-rising Beck was pretty hilarious. Watch it here, it’s worth a few minutes of your life.

But weirder still is this bit of insanity from the same broadcast—Moore, Beck, and the Beastie Boys’ Mike D collaborating on a noise jam. This is what happens when you let the freakshow into the big tent—Dada in mass media. Rigoddamndiculous.

Hat-tip to Mr. Rob Galo for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
follow us in feedly
Page 2 of 139  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›