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Here you go, the first 16 episodes of the classic L.A. punk TV show ‘New Wave Theatre’
10.18.2016
05:41 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk
Television

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Last year DM alerted readers to the possibility of viewing all twenty-five episodes of the classic local music show that ran on Los Angeles area UHF station channel 18 from 1981 to 1983, New Wave Theatre. At that time we ended the post with the statement “Enjoy it before someone yanks it off of YouTube!” Well, sad to say, that warning proved all too apt, as the video has indeed since been pulled from YouTube.

In the intervening months I’ve received some requests as to where one could find the episodes, so I’m confident that there is some interest in this subject. It turns out that a YouTube user named TheSnappySneezer has uploaded first sixteen episodes of the show, so if you want to enjoy the punk and new wave madness, now’s your chance.

New Wave Theatre had an frenetic DIY vibe that perfectly mirrored the energy of the L.A. punk and new wave scenes. In Josh Frank’s book In Heaven Everything Is Fine, Ken Yas described New Wave Theatre as “Ed Sullivan on acid meets American Idol on cocaine.” New Wave Theatre provided a showcase for acts like the Angry Samoans, Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, Fear, the Plugz, X, Circle Jerks, and many more.

It’s impossible to discuss the show New Wave Theatre without confronting its memorable host, Peter Ivers. Ivers was an L.A. musician who wrote “In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song)” for David Lynch’s 1977 masterpiece Eraserhead (many years later, it was covered by the Pixies). In 1983 In early March 1983 Ivers was found murdered in his apartment, beaten to death with a hammer. The crime is officially unsolved but all indications appear to implicate one of his business associates.

After the jump, episodes 1-16 of New Wave Theatre….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Forget ‘HyperNormalisation,’ Here’s Adam Curtis Bingo!
10.17.2016
11:52 am

Topics:
Amusing
Current Events
Television

Tags:

3adamcurtisbingo3.jpg
 
Famed BBC documentarian Adam Curtis has a new documentary out. It’s called HyperNormalisation.

Maybe you’ve seen it?

If not—even if you’re just vaguely familiar with his films—you can probably guess what it’s all going to be about. Or at the very least what it will look like. You know, bits of seemingly non-related archival footage from the Beeb’s vast library of potent historical imagery cut together with ponderous shots of people looking worried standing by big-assed mainframe computers intercut with nuclear testing in the Pacific. And terrorism. Lots and lots of that.

In other words, what Adam Curtis does better than anyone else...

Which brings me to this wonderful idea created by Chris Applegate called Adam Curtis Bingo.
 

 
The idea is simple: Just check off each of the usual Adam Curtis trademark tropes while watching HyperNormalisation.

Things like:

“This is the story of…”

Presenting a dichotomy between order and chaos

5 minute video clip of some sort of atrocity

Trent Reznor track plays

BBC archive footage of “That’s Life!”

 

 

People in the 50s or 60s dancing

Mention of any of the bin Laden family

80s Russian punk musicians

Consequences of something turn out to be opposite of what was intended

You get the idea….

In fact, you could almost use this handy little bingo card to make your very own Adam Curtis documentary. Then who knows? maybe an “Adam Curtis documentary generator” which could utilize randomized retro YouTube clips and a limited arsenal of deep thinking quotes for the voiceover and graphics.

The full ‘Adam Curtis Bingo’ game, and more, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Plan 9 from Bikini Beach’: Glamourous beatnik ghoul girl ‘Vampira’ goths it up back in the 1950s
10.14.2016
01:05 pm

Topics:
Fashion
Heroes
Movies
Television

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Maila Nurmi (aka ‘Vampira’) looking gorgeously goth at the beach with her umbrella, mid-1950s.
 
Maila Nurmi the captivatingly gorgeous Finnish model and actress with a tiny nineteen-inch waist, created an instant sensation when she attended a masquerade ball in Hollywood in 1953. She was dressed as the cartoon character created by longtime New Yorker contributor Charles Addams that would later become the inspiration for “Morticia Addams” in The Addams Family television series. After winning the top prize in the ball’s costume contest, Nurmi became “Vampira,” introducing—and often poking sly fun at—horror movies on her own local LA television program The Vampira Show on WABC. By the time that 1954 rolled around Nurmi was already a star. After doing time as a coat check girl in her early years, Nurmi was now rubbing elbows with everyone from Marlon Brando (who romanced Nurmi), to Surrealist photographer Man Ray (who shot her), to Antonio Vargas (who drew her) to James Dean (who wondered if she was possessed by something demonic). The evil “Maleficent” character from Disney’s animated Snow White was even based on her look (as confirmed by Disney), but her fame sadly didn’t last as long as it should have. She was cast in Ed Wood Jr.‘s Plan 9 from Outer Space in 1959, for which she was paid $200 but insisted on not saying a word of Wood’s lousy dialogue. It is for this mute role that she will eternally remembered.

After disappearing from the Tinseltown spotlight Nurmi continued to be a sort of real Hollywood vampire, even ghoulishly cavorting with the Misfits and performing with a pubk band called Satan’s Cheerleaders during the 1980s when she was in her sixties. At one point Nurmi got into some legal disputes stemming from the rights to Vampira’s image including one lawsuit Nurmi launched against Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson for ripping off her Vampira image, which was dismissed. Despite this, Nurmi’s “Vampira” character continues to endure since she conceived of her over 60 years ago. She was played by Lisa Marie in Tim Burton’s film, Ed Wood.

Somewhat rather underappreciated during her time, Maila Nurmi was lovingly profiled in the 2012 documentary Vampira and Me which featured newly restored kinoscopes of her TV appaearances. Some of the photos that follow (though tame) might be slightly NSFW because, bikinis.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Disgusting hyper-realistic busts of Ren and Stimpy
10.14.2016
09:17 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture
Television

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The Ren & Stimpy Show, often simply called simply Ren & Stimpy, was a madcap and often subversive cartoon show produced by John Kricfalusi for Nickelodeon between 1991 and 1995. The sometimes controversial program featured Ren, “an emotionally unstable chihuahua,” and Stimpy, “a good-natured, dimwitted cat,” and was filled with gross-out humor and and jokes that only the adults in the audience were likely to get. The show paved the way for more adult-themed cartoons such as Beavis and Butthead and South Park, and still enjoys a large cult audience today.

Artist Andrew Freeman of Immortal masks has recently paid homage to Ren Höek and Stimpson J. Cat by creating “hyper-realistic” silicone busts of the duo.

The masks are absolutely grotesque, keeping in line with the original show which often featured disgusting close-ups of the cartoon pair. The intricate details on these busts are amusingly disturbing, from the gross rotten teeth to the “magic nose goblins” in Stimpy’s nostrils.

The full silicone busts were designed, sculpted and painted by Andrew Freeman with the assistance of his team at Immortal Masks, and the finished pieces are being displayed at Think Tank Gallery in downtown Los Angeles October 8 through the 31st

Happy happy, joy joy!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
24 Hour Party People: New Order’s tongue-in-cheek 1984 TV documentary for ‘Play at Home’
10.13.2016
05:48 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

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In the early to mid-1980s, Channel 4 in the U.K. had a series called Play at Home in which various bands were given an hour to do with as they pleased. Someone at Channel 4 had good taste: among the bands that participated were Big Country, the Angelic Upstarts, XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Echo and the Bunnymen. The entry from Siouxsie was utterly singular, but the 1984 submission from New Order was unexpectedly fascinating and weird as well.

For one thing, there’s a high quotient of humor in this thing, some of it quite sophomoric—not exactly the headspace I was expecting New Order to put me in. The opening sequence (executed in part by Peter Saville) resembles one of the mock-lofty moments from Monty Python’s Flying Circus (the example in my mind is “The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights” for some reason but Python did plenty of voiceover-heavy exterior bits). With the camera trained on a comely bit of landscape, a stentorian voice intones, “Factory Records: a Partnership, a Business, a Joke.” In short order the authority of that voice dissipates as it reads the “cast of characters” in a ridiculous and rapid register.

The star of the proceedings is really Tony Wilson, which makes this movie an interesting companion piece to 24 Hour Party People, which also centered on Wilson (as embodied by Steve Coogan). Wilson spends much of the documentary in a bathtub (naked), and one of the first things that happens is that Gillian Gilbert jumps into the bathtub (clothed) and starts to interview him.
 

Gillian Gilbert and Tony Wilson
 
One of the most memorable moments is a bird’s-eye shot of the two of them in the tub, Wilson’s hands placed strategically over his privates, as he attempts to answer Gilbert’s question, which happens to be “Are you a capitalist?” That question, and the related question of Wilson’s financial relationship to the band, provides the seething subtext of hostility that percolates throughout the movie. At one point Wilson prefaces some banal point by saying “As Trotsky once said….” and sure enough, the band uses that line against Wilson elsewhere in the movie.

There’s a wonderful line uttered by Richard Boon in the context of the shortcomings of The Haçienda nightclub—co-owned by the group, their manager and Wilson—namely that it’s too well lit, doesn’t have a back room, and therefore lacks dark corners where a patron can go and hide:

“There’s got to be some sex and some threat.”

Watch after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
A young Steve Buscemi in ‘Borders,’ 1989 TV doc about the philosophy of Robert Anton Wilson
10.12.2016
12:22 pm

Topics:
Television
Thinkers

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In 1989 an hour-long movie called Borders about Robert Anton Wilson, author of The Illumnatus! Trilogy and the Cosmic Trigger series, was produced for public TV (WGBH Boston was one of the production companies behind it). The movie, directed by Merrill Aldighieri and Joe Tripician, is a blend of dramatic and documentary elements that also occasionally includes charmingly rudimentary computer graphics.

The first few minutes of Borders is an extended scene involving Ted, who is possibly a scientist named Ted who is doing something to subvert the company he works for—something like that. Whatever it is, his lack of integrity is enough for his girlfriend to leave the weekend house he has lined up for them. Unfortunately, we never find out what Ted’s situation was all about, because we’re never shown a second sequence to flesh out the promising start.

At first blush, the title Borders seems inapt for a documentary about a figure whose intellectual reach is as impressive as Wilson’s, but in short order its true significance becomes clear. As Wilson says, in his life he has passed through many conceptual borders—leaving the Catholic Church for Trotskyism, only to abandon that for agnosticism—and integral to his thinking is the project of detecting, decoding, and resisting the various “borders” that mankind erects for itself to keep up separated.

Early in the program Wilson expands on this idea:
 

Borders are a basic mammalian territorial imperative. All mammals want a territory, and they claim it by making excretions that make a topological outline, that’s the territory they claim. That’s why your dog pees on every tree when you take him for a walk. That’s the way the dog is marking his territory. Chimpanzees mark their territories with excretions too. The difference between human beings (or domesticated primates) and the other mammals is we mark our territories with ink excretions on paper—land titles, peace treaties, and so on. Every national border in the world marks a place where two gangs of domesticated primates fought until they were exhausted, and then made a territorial mark. That’s how national borders are created. We don’t throw excretions at each other like the chimpanzees, we throw chemicals and bombs and so on, but it’s basically the same mammalian process. The only intelligent way to discuss politics is on all fours.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ramones, Butthole Surfers, Violent Femmes and more, covering Saturday morning cartoon theme songs
10.12.2016
09:22 am

Topics:
Animation
Music
Television

Tags:


 
In 1995, MCA Records released Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits, a compilation of then current alt-rock stars and also-rans transforming the 30-60 second theme songs from classic children’s shows into three-minute pop songs, accompanied by a full length home video that featured all the songs on the comp with the linking device of Drew Barrymore watching them all and commenting with her central-casting Gen-X friends. It dovetailed both with the vogue for alt-rock tribute comps and the ongoing popularity of the Television’s Greatest Hits series, which by then had been around for ten years.

Though they win points for sporting cool Glenn Barr cover art, both the CD and video were pretty crummy overall, but naturally, amid the dross of tepid mid-’90s radio alt (Sponge, Semisonic, Collective Soul, Sublime—I’ll bet you just can’t wait to hear it now, right?) there were some terrific moments. How could the Ramones doing the unforgettable theme to those endearingly cheap 1967 Spider-Man cartoons be bad? IT CANNOT. Violent Femmes went on a marvelously weird tangent. Instead of covering the Jetsons actual theme song, they did a deep cut: “Eep, Opp, Ork, Ah-ah!” by the in-universe teen idol Jet Screamer. It’s pretty great. The Reverend Horton Heat did a roaring psychobilly medley of the Jonny Quest theme and another deep dig, “Stop That Pigeon” from the short-lived Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The Butthole Surfers, though they were well past the height of their powers by then, did a mindwarping take on the Underdog theme. And there’s perhaps the album’s most perfect pairing of artist and material, the Aussie folk-pop band Frente! doing a really charming “Open up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine In),” a 1954 song about rejecting the Devil, which became huge when the infant Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm sang it on The Flintstones.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Heavy Metal Kids: The missing link between glam rock, punk, cult TV and William Burroughs
10.11.2016
10:00 am

Topics:
Music
Pop Culture
Punk
Television

Tags:

01HMKGHsounds.jpg
 
File under Missing Links. Or perhaps: Good Bands who should be better known because they tie a lot of other things together.

Let’s begin with Malcolm McLaren—that cultural magpie who took his inspiration from some very unlikely quarters. When he was punting the Sex Pistols as modern day Artful Dodgers he was taking a cue from another band the Heavy Metal Kids. McLaren was never one to be shy of pinching other people’s ideas to confabulate something of his own. The Heavy Metal Kids were a gritty rock band who had a fanatical following in and around London during the early-mid 1970s. As McLaren used pub rock bands (like Kilburn and the High Roads) to show the Pistols stagecraft, he also saw something usable in Heavy Metal Kids’ frontman Gary Holton’s appearance—a style, a presence, a definition of how he wanted to sell the Pistols. Holton dressed like a Dickensian street urchin. He looked like Keith Richards dressed as the Artful Dodger in top and tails swinging an umbrella menacingly around in his hands. Holton’s swagger, his pure theatricality made a good rock band into something better, something bigger, something more dangerous and out of control.

The Heavy Metal Kids formed out of two other bands—Biggles and Heaven—Holton had been lead singer of both. Biggles were given a lot of hype by the record industry which proved to be money well wasted as Biggles proved to be a “Disaster. A very expensive disaster.” However, all was not lost as it was decided to merge the two bands and create a new one called Heavy Metal Kids in 1972.

The band’s name came from the gang of street kids featured in William S. Burroughs novel Nova Express. It was apt as juvenile delinquency and teenage street crime were rife across London at the time. Bovver boys. Skinheads. Gangs aping Alex and his droogs from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange were running riot. The Metropolitan police even ‘fessed up on a BBC documentary that teenage criminality was at an all time high and that one of the city’s most notorious burglars was an eleven-year-old kid.
 
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Gary Holton plugging the Heavy Metal Kids support tour with Alice Cooper.
 
The original line-up of Heavy Metal Kids was Mickey Waller (guitar), Ronnie Thomas (bass and vocals), Gary Holton (lead vocals), Keith Boyce (drums) and Cosmo (guitar). With Holton’s powerful rock ‘n’ roll vocals and supreme stage swagger, the Heavy Metal Kids were soon spotted by Dave Dee—better known as singer/guitarist with sixties hit combo Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich—who signed them up to Atlantic Records.

The Heavy Metal Kids probably thought of themselves as a rock band but their hard-edged sound was an early sign of the oncoming punk tsunami. Their music mixed hard rock, proto-punk and Weimar cabaret. They were anti-establishment, political to an extent (Holton famously railed against the cops), and idolized by their fans—many of whom (Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies, Paul Simonon and Chrissie Hynde) went onto form their own bands. The Heavy Metal Kids’ gigs were legendary and infamous as Holton related to Sounds music paper in 1975:

“[W]e got banned from just abaht every ‘all we played in. Our act’s a bit lewd, and I fink the management of some of the venues was rather shocked. I was stickin’ knives into the stage durin’ one gig, and afterwards a guy come up to me and said: ‘I wish you ‘adn’t splintered it all up like that, we’ve got a ballet on tomorrow!’”

They supported Alice Cooper on his Welcome to My Nightmare tour and were the only band Keith Richards claimed he listened to in the mid-seventies:

In those days, the mid 70s, about the only thing I remember listening to is the Heavy Metal Kids.

See what you’ve missed with the Heavy Metal Kids, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
DEVO shills for Pioneer’s futuristic new LaserDisc format, 1984
10.10.2016
02:16 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Music
Science/Tech
Television

Tags:


 
The early 1980s were such a heady time for personal entertainment technology. The Sony Walkman was introduced in the U.S. in 1980, the same time that VHS and Betamax found themselves embroiled in the canonical “format war” to determine control of the videotape market. Meanwhile, CDs were giving a geneation of Boomers a reason to buy Electric Ladyland a second time, and laserdiscs represented that slightly unwieldy and expensive format that was a “cut above” to signal the affluence and distinction of the serious cinephile.

Pioneer Electronics, having purchased a majority stake in the format, had ample reason to push the devices as well as the brand name LaserDisc. To that end, in 1984 Pioneer hired Ohio’s staunchest believers in “devolution,” known to all of course as DEVO, to appear in a 12-minute in-store demo disc touting the innumerable advantages of the laserdisc format.

The band appears wearing tuxedos in a variety of colors and matching fright wigs, each creatively adorned with a single large googly eye and painted eyebrows guaranteeing a quizzical expression. (Surely DEVO is in the Fright Wig Hall of Fame by now?) After introducing themselves, DEVO quickly cedes the floor to Ray Charles, who testifies that the format certainly sounds good and (so he is assured) looks good as well. Blind pianist George Shearing joins him to double down on the gag.
 

Ray Charles, video entertainment expert
 
It’s a little depressing to hear, after Ray Charles delivers his spiel, Mark Mothersbaugh (of all people) intone the following copy: “Was that just advertising hype? Listen a minute, and let your own ears decide.” Sigh. Let’s hope they were all paid well for this.

The rest of the video consists mainly of clips pimping Pioneer’s laserdisc catalogue of that moment, including WarGames, Tootsie, Flashdance, Sophie’s Choice, The Wiz, Carlin at Carnegie, and so forth. Pioneer was proud of laserdisc’s improved audio playback, so popular music artists were a big part of the pitch—it’s a little funny to hear DEVO touting the virtues of Duran Duran and Sheena Easton, but am I imagining it or does Mothersbaugh give the phrase “the heat of Fleetwood Mac” extra ironic oomph?

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
A young Patti Smith and Jonathan Miller star in a 1971 BBC doc about New York City
10.07.2016
09:05 am

Topics:
Literature
Music
Punk
Television

Tags:


 
Jonathan Miller became famous in the cast of the great 1960s comedy show Beyond the Fringe, sharing the stage with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and—I can’t tell if a heart emoji would be out of place here—playwright Alan Bennett. To this day, Dr. Miller is well-known in the UK as a public intellectual, prominent atheist, TV documentarian and opera director. (During the early 1980s, Miller was briefly famous in America, too, as the host of the popular PBS history of medicine, The Body in Question, and as the author of the best-selling book of the same title. He was often a guest on Dick Cavett’s talk show for an entire week at a time.)

In 1971—YouTube says ‘72, but I’ll take Miller’s biographer’s date—Miller returned to New York, a city he’d first visited when Beyond the Fringe played Broadway a decade before, and he brought a BBC camera crew. West Side Stories: Two Journeys into New York City juxtaposed his impressions of New York City and those of a very young Patti Smith.
 

 
She looks and sounds like Rimbaud if he just stepped away from a stickball game, which is to say she’s already, as Oliver Stone made Ray Manzarek say, “making the myths.” Patti talks Godard, rock journalism, “slopping the hogs,” spending the whole day on 42nd Street for fifty cents, and the first porno double feature she watched (Orgy at Lil’s Place and Blonde on a Bum Trip), all with unusual verbal facility and charm for a 24-year-old.

In my whole life, no matter where I lived—Chattanooga, Chicago, South Jersey—I was always an outcast. Y’know, even in my own neighborhood, even in my own family. I looked different than my whole family. I always felt alien. Not that I wasn’t loved, but people thought I was weird-lookin’ and skinny and all that. I had an eyepatch which I’ve since got rid of. And I never had no friends or boyfriends. When I came to the city, my whole life changed.

The uploader of this footage, YouTube user Pheidias Ictinus, claims it was the cameraman’s idea to interview Patti:

This film was made by the director Tristram Powell. At the suggestion of his cameraman he went to meet Patti and she ended up as an integral part of the film he was making with Jonathan Miller. The decision was made on the fly, during filming in New York, it was not part of the original concept. That’s what you call creative freedom.

Who would Jonathan Miller’s cameraman tell him to interview in today’s Manhattan? Some tech guy? I can’t wait to turn on the TV in 2047 and hear some tech guy reminisce about New York on the roof of the Chelsea Hotel. Lord, take me now. . .
 
Watch after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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