Telescope was a half-hour Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television series that aired from 1963-73. Hosted and directed by producer/actor Fletcher Markle, Telescope featured examinations of various topics, as well as profiles of notable figures. Their two-part look at the career of director Alfred Hitchcock, “A Talk with Hitchcock,” aired in 1964. The program was assembled as the auteur was working on his latest picture, Marnie, and we’re treated to on-set footage of the man, along with Marnie stars Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery. But the focus of the special is the interview with Hitch—shot in his Hollywood office—in which the master of suspense is quite candid, casually discussing his oeuvre. It’s very cool to see him so relaxed, conversing with Markle as if there are no cameras present.
Hitchcock cohorts Joan Harrison and Norman Lloyd also appear, as does legendary composer Bernard Hermann. Hermann scored a number of Hitchcock films, including Psycho, a picture made all the more terrifying thanks to Hermann’s heart-stopping compositions. I especially enjoyed learning, by way of Hermann, the Psycho murder scenes were originally intended to be silent, though Hermann disagreed. Once Hitchcock watched the scenes without music and then again with what Hermann had come up with, the director changed his mind. It’s hard to imagine the iconic “shower scene”—as impressive as it is visually—lacking Hermann’s brilliant, hair-raising piece.
“A Talk with Hitchcock” was released on DVD, and though it’s now out of print, a copy can still be had by way of Amazon.
The two-part Telescope episode was recently added to YouTube as a single upload. It’s a fascinating peek into the mind, work, and life of one of cinema’s greatest directors.
Blondie is, per Kirsty Young, “the most successful American band ever in the UK.” In December of ‘79, having just topped the chart yet again with Eat to the Beat, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein paid a visit to the BBC’s Saturday morning kids’ show Swap Shop—apparently a rival of Tiswas whose full legal name was Multi-Coloured Swap Shop—where guests offered swag to lucky contestants who wrote in with the correct answer to a trivia question. Some of the dry goods on this episode come from the recently completed “rock and roll comedy” Roadie, in which Blondie’s co-stars were Meat Loaf, Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison and Art Carney.
During the best parts of the episode, Chris and Debbie press phones to their ears as the tiny, halting voices of English schoolchildren blurt out questions and wishes for a happy Christmas:
Ian Rutledge: I wanted to ask Debbie, did she participate in any sports?
Beverly Chinnick: Um, Debbie, who designs your clothes, and um, do you choose them?
Samantha Jarrett: Um, um, Debbie, did you name your group after your hair?
Paulette Baker: Can I ask Debbie a question? Was her hair always that fair color, or was it brown like the other members of her group?
Because the proceedings are so sweet, the mention of the disgraced TV host Jimmy Savile, who was revealed to have been a serial rapist of children shortly after his death, is startling. Brace yourself. (Savile does not appear on the show, though the gross likeness of his gross hair does.)
If Wikipedia is right, BBC wiped its archival tape of this episode in the late eighties. Three cheers for home recording.
Fumio Miyashita was the leader of one of Japan’s most far out space rock units, The Far East Family Band, which also included the future new age composer, Kitaro. The Boffomundo Show was a Los Angeles public access television show focusing on prog rock in the late 70s and early 80s. Boffomundo producers Aaron Weiner and Ron Curtiss partnered with a well-connected guy named Tony Harrington of a label called All Ears Records to create The All Ears Boffomundo Show, which is how Fumio Miyashita came to appear on the show, twice, all of which is soon getting a release on vinyl by Drag City.
I asked Ron Curtiss a few questions via email:
First off, tell the readers about The Boffomundo Show.
Ron Curtiss: Aaron Weiner and I started The Boffomundo Show in 1979, which featured sit-down interviews with our progrock heroes. As cable television expanded, it mandated a “public access” broadcasting option allowing local subscribers to produce their own shows. Boffomundo roughly means “big world.” Watching the TV show, Happy Days, and hearing Fonzie say “correctomundo,” I replaced the “correcto” part with “boffo,” which refers to high grosses in show biz talk and voila! At a progressive music festival in Downtown LA we met a former A&R executive from Atlantic Records called Tony Harrington, who had traveled the world in the mid-70’s with King Crimson, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Genesis. He provided us with a brilliant litany of guests: Robert Fripp and John Wetton (King Crimson); Bernardo Lanzetti (PFM); Phil Collins and John Goodsall (Genesis and Brand X) and of course, Fumio Miyashita. The show continued after Tony, into the 80’s and 90’s, where we interviewed King Crimson’s Adrian Belew, Bill Bruford (Yes, Genesis, King Crimson) and fusion guitarists, Larry Coryell and Al Di Meola.
How did you come into contact with Fumio Miyashita and arrange for him to be on the show?
Ron Curtis: Tony Harrington had his own record label called All Ears Records. He had connections to progressive bands in Japan, including Fumio, whose Far East Family Band was already legendary. The award-winning synthesist, Kitaro, was a member and they had the honor of having Tangerine Dream’s Klaus Schulze provide production work on several of their albums. Tony brought Fumio to Los Angeles in 1978, where a new version of The Far East Family Band performed at the world famous Troubadour for two nights in March of that year. In 1979, Tony invited us to Fumio’s home, where we discussed a solo appearance on The Boffomundo Show. We had never tried live music before. The studio was the size of a small bedroom, but that didn’t stop us!
Anything notable that happened behind-the-scenes during the taping?
Ron Curtiss: Fumio showed up at Theta Cable Studios in Santa Monica, CA with many synthesizers, gongs, mixers and various percussion. Somehow the Theta Cable staff pumped all the sound through one small bookshelf speaker. The speaker sat on a wooden stool with a single microphone! The sound quality was very good considering nothing like this had never been done in that studio before. In 1980, Fumio with a guitarist and bass player, graced The Boffomundo Show a second time. Both performances are brilliantly captured on the new album.
How did the release of this come about?
Ron Curtiss: Last August I got a message on our Boffomundo Facebook page from Scott McGaughey at Drag City Records. It seems that he and Animal Collective member, Brian “Geo” Weitz were fans of the show and of Fumio in particular. They wanted to remaster the sound and edit together portions of both the 1979 and 1980 shows for vinyl. Vinyl is perfect. We are honored to have these shows memorialized and dedicate the record to the memories of Fumio Miyashita and Tony Harrington.
Will there be more like it?
Since we remastered the old shows and posted them on YouTube some years ago, we have close to a million hits. The old fans and new prog kids support us all around the world. The shows were not seen by a lot of folks at the time. They capture the end of the original progressive rock movement. The highlights are the fresh memories of these amazing musicians, avoiding the softening of opinions over many years. We offered the musicians a forum to tell their tales on TV, in an intelligent, uncommercial venue. A few years ago I was approached to do a book, Robert Fripp The Boffomundo Interview 1979 and now a record! We are humbled by the reaction to the old shows and always welcome original ideas to present them to an even wider audience.
Fumio Miyashita Live on the Boffomundo Show comes out on September 22 from Drag City. Pre-order it here.
An excerpt from Fumio Miyashita’s appearance on ‘The Boffomundo Show’
On May 30th, 1977, ABC aired the pilot for a sci-fi sitcom called Stick Around. The program starred Andy Kaufman as “Andy,” an android servant that had seen better days. ABC decided to pass on Stick Around, so the pilot is the only episode that was produced. It’s been on YouTube for years, with a relatively low number of views. Kaufman’s cult is big, yet somehow Stick Around has flown under the radar. It’s not only worth a look as a Kaufman curio; watching it 40 years later, it’s clear the show had potential.
Set in 2055, Stick Around revolves around a married couple who live with their android butler. “Andy” is an older model that is a bit worn down, thus in need of constant maintenance. The droid’s also prone to erratic behavior—comic gold for an unpredictable sort like Kaufman. His portrayal of “Andy” will be instantly recognizably to Kaufman fans, as it’s very similar to both his “Foreign Man” character, and “Latka Gravas,” his role on Taxi, the successful series that premiered a year after Stick Around failed to impress executives at ABC.
I think our readers will dig the Stick Around pilot. The episode uses the sitcom format and the sci-fi subgenre, social science fiction, to explore social commentary in a way that’s a heck of lot more meaningful and interesting than the average silly sitcom that made it onto network television—then and now. Perhaps that’s what scared off the suits!
I’ve never owned a Chia Pet before, but if I was going to, you better bet it would be a Bob Ross one. If you’re going to have a Chia Pet, what better subject than a soft-spoken white man with a permed afro and a long-running show on PBS? Imagine my delight when I discovered this wonderful creation existed! It’s just perfect. I must own one. Now.
Wanna hear a great factoid about Bob Ross? Of course you do. The reason he always spoke so quietly is this: Before becoming a TV painting instructor, Ross held various jobs in the military that required him to be, as he put it himself, “tough” and “mean.” Ross was “the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work.” Tired of all of that agro, Ross vowed that after he left the military, he would never scream again.
The Bob Ross Chia Pet is available here for $19.99.
The rambling plot of the movie Salvador Dalí made for West German public TV in 1976, Impressions of Upper Mongolia (Homage to Raymond Roussel)—whose title has also been translated as Voyage in Outer Mongolia, and which more precisely concerns the region of Occidental Upper Mongolia—takes in golden circuit boards that replicate the painter’s brain, the giant, hallucinogenic, fictitious mushroom champlinclis histratatus domus biancus, and “the cruel mouth of Hitler.” Inspired by the writer Raymond Roussel’s Impressions of Africa, the film does not lend itself to a one-line summary; I would love to see the TV Guide entry.
José Montes Baquer, who directed the movie (though it’s “a film by Salvador Dalí,” of course), provided this useful synopsis in a 2007 interview with Tate Etc.:
The story was: in ancestral times, in order to deal with a wave of starvation, the princess was forced to administer hallucinogenic powders from a gigantic soft mushroom to her subjects. This substance produced a collective madness among the inhabitants of her principality, who created rock paintings that were discovered on boulders by a Dalínian expedition to this dreamland.
In the same interview, Baquer recalled that the collaboration began with a gift from Dalí, who spoke these words as he handed the filmmaker a plastic pen from the Hotel St. Regis with a specially treated metallic band:
In this clean and aseptic country [i.e., the USA], I have been observing how the urinals in the luxury restrooms of this hotel have acquired an entire range of rust colours through the interaction of the uric acid on the precious metals that are astounding. For this reason, I have been regularly urinating on the brass band of this pen over the past weeks to obtain the magnificent structures that you will find with your cameras and lenses. By simply looking at the band with my own eyes, I can see Dalí on the moon, or Dalí sipping coffee on the Champs Élysées. Take this magical object, work with it, and when you have an interesting result, come see me. If the result is good, we will make a film together.
I love a happy ending. Baquer got a half hour of footage out of magnifying the band on Dalí‘s magic piss pen, and the two men turned it into this cinematic act of blunt force head trauma. If you persevere, you will see the pen from the Hotel St. Regis, and you will see Dalí lament that, “in this dreadful time of pornography,” Standards and Practices won’t let him whiz on it on camera.
We’ve blogged often about various cool pop culture Russian nesting dolls here on Dangerous Minds before, but I think these Addams Family matryoshka dolls might be my very favorite. They’re just so lovely! The dolls are made by Mothmouth and it appears this set was a custom order for a client. Sadly, there’s no price. You can contact Mothmouth here to see if she can make more and check on pricing.
Since the matryoshka dolls by Mothmouth aren’t readily available, I did find another set of Addams Family nesting dolls by Bobobabushka. The handmade set of wood and acrylics sell for $210 on Etsy. I dig these, too.
The Grateful Dead perform a delicate “Mountains of the Moon” and a rip-snortin’ “St. Stephen” from their 1969 Aoxomoxoa album on Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After Dark TV show. Aoxomoxoa is considered a strong highlight among the group’s studio output by fans, but “Mountains of the Moon” and “St. Stephen” were thought to be too hard to play live by Jerry Garcia—there were only thirteen live performances of “Mountains of the Moon” in total and after 1971 “St. Stephen” was only pulled out on very rare special occasions.
Despite this, Garcia once remarked that “Mountains of the Moon” was “one of my favorite ones. I thought it came off like a little gem.” It does, like something you’d hear at a Renaissance fair. And if I had to pick just one song by the Dead of this vintage to see them do live, it would probably be “St. Stephen” (no, “Dark Star,” no, “St. Stephen,” no, “Dark Star”...). Even with the hatchet-like unsubtle edits in this clip, it’s still pretty fantastic.
Next week, over 450 theaters nationwide will present the Grateful Dead‘s seventh annual “Meet-Up at the Movies” a one-night-only event featuring the screening of the Dead’s previously unreleased July 12, 1989 concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., a show that was performed in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 40,000 fans. Produced by Fathom Events and Rhino Entertainment this year’s Meet-Up is being held on August 1 and is timed to celebrate what would have been the 75th birthday of Jerry Garcia. Get tickets at the Fathom Events website, where you can enter your zip code to locate the nearest of the 450 theaters that are hosting a screening.
Once upon a time, families gathered in front of the fireplace to have their photographs taken. The flickering flames, the giver of warmth, the focus of a family at rest was quickly and dramatically usurped by technology—first the wireless then television from the 1950s onward. Now kith and kin gathered together to pose in front of the flickering cathode ray. Next time some know-it-all from the last century tut-tuts your obsessive use of a smartphone or numerous hours spent clicking “like” on Facebook, just remind them that once upon a time they too did the very same when they sat and supped from the glass teat of television.
Though television has been around in one form or another since the 1920s, it wasn’t until the fifties that TV became the first choice for family entertainment. America pioneered the way, producing a golden age of dramas and serials and films. For most people, TV sets were expensive, very expensive. They were considered valuable assets, signifiers of a family’s wealth and status. To own a color TV in the 1950s was to be part of a much-hyped affluent jet set (and presumably a big Perry Como fan as his show was just about the one thing to watch in color during that decade). Up until the late 1960s color TV sets were still pretty much a rarity.
I was a wireless kid. My parents first rented a TV sometime in the late sixties-early seventies. Even then, a new TV was way too expensive for many British families to buy outright, so most people rented their TV sets from companies like Granada or Radio Rentals. “Great service you get/Renting your color set/From Granada” went one of the cheesy ads for TV rentals in 1977. TV sets came in ornate boxes sometimes with doors on the front to disguise the set as some kind of tasteful item of furniture—a drinks cabinet maybe or a redwood sideboard credenza. And don’t be fooled, most TV pictures were pitiful when compared to today’s 4K sets as TV signals were atrocious. The public spent most evenings fiddling about the TV aerial trying to find a better picture. Applying a ball of tinfoil was the sole option to improve the signal, decidedly low tech “hack” that was a common enough sight.
Yet, TV was everything. And that’s why people posed for photographs in front of their expensive, valuable, and trusted friend the electronic eye.
For the past decade or so, artist Oliver Wasow has been collecting found images on the Internet and organizing them into some kind of order. Pictures of families celebrating birthdays, or blurred images, or teen titans working out, or people holding cameras, or children holding guns, or just couples arm-in-arm or dressed for a night out. One set that particularly attracted my attention consisted of people standing beside TV sets looking proud and happy as if introducing a new family member to the camera: “Here’s our new grandchild,” or “Here’s my new husband.” These images brought back memories of how TV sets were once such very potent symbols of status. And how people once considered the TV set as being a part of the family—a companion—strange though that may seem today. Just look at the joy some of the following people show on their faces while in proximity to their little box of delights.
More found photos of people posing with their TV sets, after the jump…
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, the house band from The Muppet Show are arguably the coolest Muppets in existence. The band, comprised of Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot, and Animal first appeared in 1975 on The Muppet Show pilot “Sex and Violence.”
Illustrator and designer Michael De Pippo created five retro concert posters for an imaginary one night only gig by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
De Pippo on his Muppet poster series:
My idea was simple; create a vintage concert poster for each band member (Dr. Teeth, Janice, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Zoot, and Animal). Using clean, crisp vectors, negative space, and few colors, I wanted to keep them as simple and stylized as possible; reminiscent of retro posters from back in the day.
The Animal poster, pictured at the top of this article, is quite reminiscent of the movie poster art for the Japanese film Hausu.
I love this crisp style. De Pippo did an amazing job with these. His website seems to be currently down, so I’m not sure if these are available for sale.