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Tesco Vee of The Meatmen auctioning off rare vintage toys from his ‘Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ collection
02.28.2017
03:46 pm

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Amusing
Music
Punk
Television

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The great Tesco Vee of The Meatmen sans his giant inflatable penis.
 
Perhaps it was his time teaching elementary school for a few years while working to get his zine Touch & Go off the ground that got Tesco Vee interested in collecting toys. Maybe he’s just a big kid himself. Whatever it was, during his lifetime Vee has amassed a rather large array of collectibles that include everything from ABBA dolls, to anything to do with Satan and Red Devil toys. And then there is Vee’s affinity for stockpiling vintage television related-toys such as plastic artifacts created for Get Smart, The Munsters, and The Addams Family. But these things somewhat pale in comparison to Vee’s collection of Man from U.N.C.L.E. toys which the man who still has (and uses) his wide variety of inflatable penises on a regular basis, says may be the largest of its kind in the entire world.

In a 2014 interview, Vee mused about buying a building where he could open the “Tesco Toy Museum.” There he could showcase his collection of the atomic age fun he’s been collecting since the 80s. Vee is pretty serious about his toy army and sticks by the motto “if it comes in a box, it stays in a box.” Though the reason Vee has decided to sell off 24 toys associated with his Man from U.N.C.L.E. stash isn’t clear, the fact is that he is selling it. So if one of your teenage dreams was to own a toy that was once owned by Tesco Vee, then this is your lucky day, punk.

A quick peek at eBay tells me that pristine Man from U.N.C.L.E. memorabilia is highly sought after and items such as a handheld pinball game based on the show can sell for a couple hundred bucks. All of the items up for grabs from Vee’s own basement are available to bid on over at Hake’s Americana & Collectibles including a super rare Man from U.N.C.L.E. Target Set that was originally sold through the 1965 Sears Wishbook. Zowie. I’ve included a few images of my favorite items from Vee’s auction below. Happy bidding!
 

A puppet based on actor David McCallum’s portrayal of Agent Illya Kuryakin on ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’
 

‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Attache Case circa 1965.
 

‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’ Halloween masks for Napoleon Solo (played by actor Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin. Made in 1966. 
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘We’re going mad’: The Smiths young and miserable on a bus with a bunch of kids in 1984
02.27.2017
10:17 am

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Music
Pop Culture
Television

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The Smiths have two enduring legacies. Their music is the first, of course, particularly their run of perfect early singles, a collection of gloomy, fragile, almost hilariously depressed bummer-pop songs. The second is their singer’s gloomy, fragile, almost hilariously depressed public image. So, what’s the least likely place to find Morrissey in the summer of 1984? How about frolicking in a park with a gaggle of excitable children?

We are so far away from the time and place this video was first produced that it now seems like a warped parody of itself, like a hip late-night comedy sketch from some obscure corner of cable TV or a surreal dream you had after spinning all your Smiths albums and drinking straight gin all night.

This clip is from ITV’s breakfast television franchise TVAM in Britain, presumably from 1984. It aired during their Saturday morning kid’s line-up, SPLAT. “Charlie’s Bus” was a recurring segment on the program. It allowed kids to interview and interact with various celebrities. On this particular day, a bunch of bemused pre-teens mixed it up with The Smiths, who they have clearly never heard of. And why would they have? They weren’t exactly a kid-friendly band. I mean there’s a song on their first album about notorious kid-killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, for chrissakes. But here we all are, on Charlie’s Bus on a sunny afternoon.

The kids want to know how The Smiths got their name. Johnny Marr explains that he wanted to call the band the Rolling Stones, but Morrissey thought that was too much of a mouthful.

Kid: “Where are we going?”
Morrissey: “We’re going mad.”
Kid: “I thought we were going to Kew Gardens.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Johnny Depp ‘speaker dives’ to Agent Orange in the punksploitation episode of ‘21 Jump Street’
02.24.2017
09:40 am

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Music
Punk
Television

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Though a bit late in the game in 1987 to achieve the same sort of classic punksploitation TV status held by the likes of the Quincy and CHiPs “punk rock episodes,” the “Mean Streets And Pastel Houses” episode of 21 Jump Street did give us Johnny Depp in a Discharge “Protest and Survive” t-shirt slam-dancing to a Flock of Seagulls-looking dude lip-syncing Agent Orange songs.

As embarrassing as this sort of thing often tends to be, credit is due to the producers for almost actually capturing a realistic punk-show vibe.
 

 
In the episode, Depp’s character goes undercover as a punk rocker to investigate a rash of vandalism being committed by rival bands/gangs “Klean Kut Kids” (KKK, get it?) and “Your Friendly Neighbors.”

A young Jason Priestly plays one of the gang members.
 

Jason “Wattie” Priestly
 
The episode contains classic “hello fellow kids” lines like “Ever done any speaker diving?”

The “band” in this episode, “Klean Kut Kids,” mimes to three classic Agent Orange songs from the Living in Darkness LP: “Too Young To Die,” “Everything Turns Grey,” and ” A Cry For Help In A World Gone Mad.” The song “Bloodstains” is also briefly heard.

This was about as “hardcore” as network TV got in 1987…

Watch it, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Storytelling Giant,’ offbeat Talking Heads video compilation from the 1980s
02.23.2017
12:55 pm

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Music
Television

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When MTV ran the world in the 1980s and a few years after, it was de rigueur for bands to release VHS video compilations. The Police had one, Duran Duran had one, ZZ Top had one, you know Madonna had one. Typically, They Might Be Giants decided to name theirs Video Compilation.

Talking Heads were unquestioned pioneers of the music video form, so it would be only proper for them to release such an item. The band’s last studio album was Naked in 1988, the same year that Storytelling Giant, their video comp, came out. The band would wait until 1991 until announcing that they had broken up, but it seems likely that everyone knew the writing was on the wall, so Storytelling Giant can be seen as a quasi-conscious capper to their career as music video artists.

Here’s the (slightly bizarre) writeup of the compilation from the back of the VHS box:
 

“Storytelling Giant” is a work composed of all ten Talking Heads videos made over the past decade. They are connected by random, unrehearsed, spontaneous footage of real people talking. None of the people are actors, and all of them are wearing their own clothes. Many of them know nothing of the Talking Heads, and sometimes they tell stories that have nothing to do with the band’s music. Yet, somehow, their stories bring the Talking Heads music into another place. A place of giant lizards. . . A place where little girls sit on clouds. A place where everyone has enough to eat. . . And the government provides hairdressers if you can’t afford one. A giant man walks into a bar. He begins to wrestle with three nuns. A man with a toupée stops them, and they begin to speak.

 
The compilation is very effective in that cerebral Talking Heads way—the interstitial spoken-word bits are interesting but generally short—most of the time you’re hearing a bit out of context and you’re never really supposed to know what they’re talking about, it’s all about generating arbitrary connections. 
 

 
A few notes about the videos. I’d forgotten that John Goodman is in the video for “Wild Wild Life.” That song is off of True Stories, and Goodman’s rendition of “People Like Us” is probably the high point of that movie, so that makes sense. Interesting to see him here, before he became famous.

The most pleasant surprise on this compilation, for my money, is “And She Was,” which was directed by Jim Blashfield, who has mentioned Terry Gillam’s cutouts as an influence. That makes total sense—the video kind of a 1980s version of the “Eleanor Rigby” sequence from Yellow Submarine using moving cutouts, and it’s dated extremely well in my opinion. I didn’t realize that Jim Jarmusch had directed a Talking Heads video, but there’s a reason for that, “The Lady Don’t Mind” is one of the less interesting videos here.
 
More after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘A for ABBA’: The story of the Swedish sensation as told by John Peel, 1993
02.23.2017
07:46 am

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Music
Television

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International superstars though they may have been, the members of ABBA were not, individually, all that fascinating. If you think the group identity that emerges during, say, their medley of “Pick a Bale of Cotton,” “On Top of Old Smokey,” and “Midnight Special” is less than exciting, check out what Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid had to say when they met representatives of the press in their capacity as persons. I’m not just being snotty. As I understand it, the absence of personality is a key part of ABBA’s appeal, and I’m all for it. Zero subjectivity—let’s go! In the same way Kraftwerk audiences greet robotic simulacra of Ralf and Florian with ten times the enthusiasm they muster for the actual human beings in the group, I’m counting the days until I can buy tickets to hologram ABBA, even though I probably would not get out of my chair to see plain old meatbag ABBA reform. The collective, or in this case the brand, is everything.

But the ABBA brand itself could not talk to journalists, and compelling TV the meatbags’ interviews did not make. Into this void, BBC cast John Peel, duded up in smarter attire than wardrobe provided on other occasions. Enlivening the proceedings with Peel in this 1993 retrospective were Ray Davies, Elvis Costello, Roy Wood, and Ian McCulloch. Generous helpings of these and other interview subjects, plus clips of ABBA parodies from Not the Nine O’Clock News and French and Saunders, make A for ABBA (in homage to the 1985 TV special A for Agnetha?) the best encapsulation of the band’s story for those of us who are grouchy, impatient, and easily bored.
 

 
One thing we cultural anthropologists of the amazing future year 2017 know that contemporary viewers of this program did not: the lone ABBA LP in John Peel’s collection was their disco record, Voulez-Vous. An orthodox ABBA fan, Peel asserts in A for ABBA that Stig Anderson was the group’s fifth member, ignoring the heresy of the Tretowist deviation. Without discipline, the party of ABBA is nothing!

More ABBA after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Oil paintings of ‘Seinfeld’ reruns
02.20.2017
01:36 pm

Topics:
Art
Television

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In 2012 New York-based artist Morgan Blair was asked where she would be in 10 years. Among other things she looked forward to knowing “how Breaking Bad ends.” In the same interview she cited “whoever made the paintings above the Drake’s TV and couch in Seinfeld season 4 episode 22 “The Handicap Spot’” as her favorite artist. (I went and looked them up; they didn’t seem all that to me.)

Blair clearly had Seinfeld on the brain around that time, which is also when she began turning out Seinfeld canvases. As she later stated,
 

My process involves watching episodes of Seinfeld on my computer with my fingers poised to take screenshots at key moments, specifically when characters are covering their faces, at close-ups on plot device objects (a hand holding a business card, an eclair in the trash, etc) or any kind of situation that looks like a painting to me. Then I just go into each one trying to stay free, without really rendering them into blatant fan-art type images. Ultimately, I want the screenshots to serve as compositional jumping off points for more abstract studies, but sometimes they turn into more devoted representations of the characters.

 
Blair’s website does not emphasize that the canvases are for sale, but she has sold a few of them, it seems.

Not much of Elaine to be seen in the paintings on the website; George appears to be her favorite subject.
 

 

 
Check more out after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Jane Birkin: The Mother of all Babes’
02.20.2017
11:48 am

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Music
Television

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Jane Birkin was—is—the unlikely girl who became a kind of royal figure in France due to her marriage and decades of collaboration with the country’s nonpareil musical genius Serge Gainsbourg. The Mother of All Babes is a documentary from 2003 directed by Birkin’s friend Gabrielle Crawford, who produced the DVD for Birkin’s Arabesque concert at the Odeon in Paris as well as published a book of photos of Birkin.

When Birkin went to France to do a film test for Pierre Grimblat’s movie Slogan, she had already appeared in Richard Lester’s The Knack and How to Get It as well as a memorable romp in the nude in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up.
 

 
Birkin’s first time meeting Gainsbourg, at that film test, was seemingly inauspicious. Discomfited by Gainsbourg in a taciturn mood, she demanded to know why he hadn’t asked “How are you?” “Because I don’t really care,” was Gainsbourg’s typically blunt reply. Birkin’s husband of three years, Goldfinger composer John Barry, had recently left her, and Birkin’s emotional state as well as her incomplete command of French made the test a challenge, but Gainsbourg gallantly assisted her and helped her get the part.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hoaxes of Death: Secrets of the infamous death documentary REVEALED!
02.20.2017
10:05 am

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Movies
Pop Culture
Television

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One of the many pointless rites of passage for dopey teenage boys in the 80s (present company included) was watching Faces of Death on VHS. Originally released to theaters in 1978, the infamous “mondo” movie—a collection of “real death” scenes collected from various supposed “real” news sources and hosted by a death-obsessed world-traveling “pathologist” named Dr. Francis B. Gross (geddit?)—was a box office smash in the kind of greasy grindhouses and drive-in movie theaters where murder and mayhem reigned, eventually gobbling up a reported $35 million in box office receipts. But that was only the beginning…

Faces of Death really became a phenomenon in 1983, when the infamous Gorgon Video company released it on a garish, big-box VHS with its crude drawing of a grinning skull on a pitch-black background with the impossible to resist tagline: “Banned! In 46 countries!”  As soon as you saw it, you just knew you had to watch it. Faces was, arguably,  the first real “viral video.” It spread largely by word of mouth, each giddy viewer embellishing its beastly atrocities in a far-flung game of VCR telephone. By the mid-80s the film’s reputation had grown so fierce that even the title could send a nervous kid into a pile of trembling sweat and goo.
 

Don’t worry, this guy is gonna be fine.

So did it live up to the hype? Sorta. Everyone has their “favorite” moments—the “bloody” dog fight, the brutal electric chair execution, American tourists gorging on the brains of a live monkey, the guy getting eaten by an alligator, the Satanic cult cannibal feast, the dumb camper who tries to feed a bear a sandwich and becomes the real lunch—but even the least discerning sixteen year old was left with more questions than answers. Why would a camping couple bring multiple cameras with them to film a spontaneous inter-species act? Do you really bleed from the eyeballs when you get electrocuted? Why does the chimp suddenly turn into a monkey halfway through the “feast”? But here’s the thing: it was the 80s. We had no Internet. The true story of Faces of Death was not in the latest edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. We suspected some amount of fraud, but how much and how it was created was unknown. It should also be noted that although a lot of the film seemed fishy, most of it was definitely authentic. The dramatizations in Faces of Death are littered with actual slaughterhouse and morgue footage. It’s a grim view no matter what.
 

This monkey has some serious concerns about the ‘Faces of Death’ script.

The beans were finally spilled thirty years later…

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Kate Bush’s first live appearance on American TV, 1978
02.15.2017
09:50 am

Topics:
Music
Television

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01kbwidhammerhcov.jpg
 
Once upon a time, way back in the late seventies, Kate Bush seemed to be a regular feature on British television. Turn on some late night talk show and there was Kate singing two tracks from her debut album or chatting with zoologist Dr. Desmond Morris. Or tune-in to the breakfast news and there was Kate discussing her thoughts on music and dance or giving a list of the authors (Kurt Vonnegut, C.S. Lewis) who influenced her writing. Hard to imagine the reclusive star doing this today. Not that she even needs to do this of course. But there was something quite delightful, quite wonderful, in all of Kate’s TV appearances back then. She later said circa 1982 that all this media attention was down to the fact that when she first appeared:

...it was incredibly unusual for a young female to be writing her own songs and singing them…

Which shows how far we’ve come and how pioneering and exotic Kate Bush seemed to the media at the start of her career. Admittedly there was Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and even Lynsey de Paul but nothing quite like Kate Bush. There was something different, ethereal and downright odd about her. Nobody sang like her. Nobody looked quite like her. And nobody quite mixed music, dance, mime and performance the way Kate did.

She also seemed incredibly innocent and vulnerable—which was probably a lot of male projection as Kate was hardworking, ambitious and driven. She was sixteen when she signed to the world’s largest record company EMI. She was nineteen when she had her first number one and conquered a large swathe of the pop music world with “Wuthering Heights.” And just twenty when she had EMI bankroll her first (and until very recently her only) tour in 1979. There’s not many stars who ever managed that.  Kate eventually gave up touring as there wasn’t then the technology to give her the full artistic control she desired. That’s either true perfectionism or control freakery. Or a decent enough excuse?

In December 1978, Eric Idle introduced Kate Bush to America on Saturday Night Live. This was Kate’s first appearance on a US broadcaster, where she performed “The Man With the Child in His Eyes” and “Them Heavy People” live. This was rather daring and risky as Kate had failed to chart with either her debut album The Kick Inside or her first two singles in the US. In part due to this appearance “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” made #85 in the Billboard chart and America sound discovered what the rest of the world loved about Kate Bush.
 
Watch Kate Bush in early appearances on American, German and UK TV, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Melvins mind-melting first ever television appearance from 1995
02.14.2017
01:20 pm

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Amusing
Heroes
Music
Television

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An early shot of Washington State fuzz kings, Melvins.

Sound FX was a short-lived show on the FX Network back in the mid-90s. Its greatest claim to fame was when it had the honor of hosting the Melvins’ very first national television appearance in 1995.

This clip features the band absolutely slaying “Revolve” from their eighth album Stoner Witch in front of an audience that clearly has NO idea what was happening on stage or how to handle it. It’s an awesomely awkward experience from beginning to end as during the performance the show rolled a bunch of Melvins’ factoids on the screen to hip their viewers to the band. Such as the fact that none of them drink or do drugs—and even featured an artist sketching the band while they played.

But things get really uncomfortable when the band and King Buzzo sit down with one of Sound FX‘s hosts—and future host of the reality series Survivor—Jeff Probst who was tasked with interviewing the band. The trio had just released Stoner Witch which Probst carelessly describes as more “user-friendly” than other records their catalog. Yeesh. The entire affair is highly amusing to watch as the Melvins quite literally roll all over Probst and his silly questions and then thankfully take the small stage again and murder out a version of “Goose Freight Train.” Nice. The fifteen minutes of footage is ready for you to watch below.
 

The Melvins’ first national television appearance on the FX Network show ‘Sound FX’ in 1995.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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