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If ‘Get Out’ and ‘Logan’ and ‘Stranger Things’ existed as VHS tapes in the 1980s
06.01.2017
08:32 am
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It seems like yesterday, but it was actually more than two years ago that we presented readers with some recent TV and movie hits done up most excellently as old-school VHS covers. At that time the featured titles were Game of Thrones, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad.

Today we bring you the very similar output created by a shadowy figure named Steelberg, whose wildly entertaining Instagram account uses the handle iamsteelberg. The only things we really know about Steelberg is that he or she lives in California and really, really loves old VHS rental tapes from the 1980s. The cheesy details on these fanciful re-creations are priceless, from the ragged and sometimes splintered edges of the plastic casing to the gratuitous non-sequitur stickers some clerk popped on there years ago to the uninspiring typefaces.

It almost makes you want to reach for the tracking button to clear away some of the “snow” off the TV screen.

I must say that I dig Steelberg’s taste in movies. Many of my recent faves are accounted for—I was especially pleased to see The Lobster, Blue Ruin, Bone Tomahawk, and It Follows represented.
 

 
Much more after the jump….....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.01.2017
08:32 am
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‘Beside Bowie’: Watch the new Mick Ronson documentary before it gets yanked!
05.31.2017
12:25 pm
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Mick Ronson might be considered the #1 Spider from Mars. He certainly will go down in history as one of David Bowie’s chief collaborators and one of the people most responsible for the glam sound.

Ronson worked on several of the core albums of Bowie’s early period, including most obviously The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars as well as The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, and Aladdin Sane. He played on All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople and Transformer by Lou Reed, on which he was also a producer. In 1974 Ronson released his first solo album, Slaughter on 10th Avenue on which appeared the Elvis cover “Love Me Tender” and “Growing Up and I’m Fine,” co-written by Bowie.

“All the Young Dudes,” “Perfect Day,” and “Walk on the Wild Side” are just a few of the legendary songs Ronson was significantly involved with. He also worked with Bob Dylan and Morrissey. Sadly, Ronson passed away of liver cancer on April 29, 1993, at the age of 46.

Beside Bowie: The Story of Mick Ronson is a new documentary produced by Emperor Media Production in association with Cardinal Releasing Ltd. It was directed by Jon Brewer, who has also produced movies on B.B. King and Nat King Cole. Today it popped up unceremoniously on Vimeo.

The movie features interviews with Angie Bowie, Lou Reed, Tony Visconti, Ian Hunter, Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols, Roger Taylor of Queen, and Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. Bowie’s comments are uniformly delivered in voiceover.

As David Bowie once said, “As a rock duo, I thought we were every bit as good as Mick and Keith, or Axl and Slash. Ziggy and Mick were the personification of that rock and roll dualism.” Watch Beside Bowie before it gets pulled.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.31.2017
12:25 pm
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Big hair, big muscles, totally 80s: Glorious images & footage of the lady wrestlers of ‘GLOW’
05.26.2017
11:59 am
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A few of the girls of ‘GLOW’ back in the 80s.
 
Next month, on June 23rd Netflix is launching the highly anticipated series based on the gonzo television series Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling or GLOW that got its start in Las Vegas back in 1986. I can’t lie—I’m one of those people who can hardly wait to binge-watch the series because I was a huge fan of the original TV series as well as the early days of the World Wrestling Federation (or the WWF) that dominated the television airwaves during the 80s.

If just the mere mention of GLOW makes you think you smell the heavy fragrance of Aqua Net while feeling terribly nostalgic for the gift that was bad television programming from the 80s, you are not alone. The decade was jam-packed with awesome and strange shows like Night Flight, The Young Ones, and Pee-wee’s Playhouse just to name a few. That was back when you could solve all your problems just by watching the tube while under the influence of Budweiser (tallboy, of course), and a $2 joint. Sure, I could easily reproduce that very same cheap buzz I just described but it just wouldn’t be the same now, would it? Getting back to GLOW, if you recall anything about the show you recall how purely campy it was, especially when the girls tried their hand at performing comedy skits. Then there was the cultivation of the right image for the fictional characters the women played on the show. For instance, there was Queen Kong (aka Dee Booher who also played “Matilda The Hun” on GLOW) who looked like a mashup of Divine and Fred Flintstone, and the blonde duo of Brandi Mae and Malibu looked like castoffs from another show that was still on the air during the 80s, Hee-Haw.

My personal favorites were always the girls who were decked out like the wrestling version of former Warlock vocalist Doro Pesch, who painted their faces like King Diamond, with glitter or Halloween spray-on hair color on their heads. There were a few that took on that style during the good-old-days of GLOW, following in the footsteps of season one stars Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky, “The Heavy Metal Sisters.” There was also seemingly no need for political correctness on GLOW and often girls would portray a character that was based on their actual or perceived ethnicity. “Palestina” (Janeen Jewett) was supposed to be some sort of Middle Eastern terrorist with a penchant for wrestling and Latino stuntwoman Erica Marr was dubbed “Spanish Red.” One of the show’s more popular attractions was Samoan wrestler “Mt Fuji” (Emily Dole), who was descended from actual Samoan royalty. Back in 1976 while she was still in high school Dole nearly made it to the Olympics, thanks to her shot putting skills. And it would seem that having the ability to hurl heavy, metal balls long distances also translated to being able to twirl a girl over her head before tossing her out of the ring. GLOW was good times.
 

A group shot of the girls of GLOW.
 
Don’t get me wrong here, despite its high levels of soap opera silliness, the girls of GLOW were mostly tough women who worked out hard, lifted weights and liked to show their guns off like Hulk Hogan. Some were even stuntwomen (like Erica Marr) who were trying to break into Hollywood by pretending to break their opponents’ bones in the ring. The concept of doing a show featuring female wrestlers following a scripted storyline was the genius idea of David McLane. McLane got his start working with Dick the Bruiser—the former 260-pound NFL star who started his three-decade-long wrestling career in the 1950s. McLane would quickly excel as a promoter and later as a blow-by-blow commentator for the WWA (World Wrestling Association). Now here’s where things get a little bizarre—McLane would reach out to Jackie Stallone, you know, Sly’s mom, who was running a ladies-only gymnasium in Las Vegas called Barbarella’s. He pitched his show to Stallone who in turn gave him access to the girls who frequented her gym. The pair then enlisted the talent of Italian producer, director, and screenwriter (who was also briefly married to Jayne Mansfield before she died), Matt Climber, and GLOW was born.

The show itself was shot in a ballroom at what used to be the Riviera in Las Vegas before it was demolished last year, and if there’s a more appropriate setting for a wrestling match featuring gorgeous half-dressed women, I don’t know what would be. The girls of GLOW lived in Vegas and when they were out in public the ladies were required to stay in character. Split into two classes, the “good girls” and the “bad girls” the wrestlers were not allowed to fraternize with members not in their designated groups and would be fined if they did. Many of the girls lived full-time at the Rivera which the management of GLOW paid for and received $300 bucks a week and free tickets to the hotel’s buffet for their work on the show. If all this has gotten you chomping at the bit in anticipation of the new series then I’d suggest you check out the fantastic 2012 documentary GLOW: The Story Of The Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. I don’t want to give anything away about that but my eyes leaked a little when some of the former cast members were reunited, many of whom hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for two-plus decades. I’ve posted some great vintage shots of the girls of GLOW below as well as some footage from the original show, including the infamous “GLOW Rap” that opened season one. I also threw up the trailer for upcoming series of GLOW on Netflix in case you haven’t seen it yet.

If this trip down memory lane doesn’t make you smile, your lips might be broken. You should probably have that checked out. Some of the photos are slightly NSFW.
 

Dee Booher as “Matilda the Hun.” Booher has fallen on hard times and is currently trying to raise some much needed cash for medical expenses. Help out if you can here.
 

Spike and Chainsaw Wilinsky aka “The Heavy Metal Sisters.”
 
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Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.26.2017
11:59 am
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Electric Kool-Aid Cuckoo’s Bus: Go further with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters
05.24.2017
01:51 pm
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In 1964 Ken Kesey published Sometimes a Great Notion, the follow-up to his smash novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; in order to meet certain obligations in New York City, Kesey decided to use a psychedelically-painted school bus as his means of getting there from the West Coast. The bus, of course, was called Further or, if you were in the mood, Furthur.

It was all a great romantic quest to make known the benefits of LSD, at a time when the drug was not illegal in the United States (that wouldn’t last long), and only a couple of years after Cary Grant, of all people, had been touting its benefits in the pages of the New York Herald Tribune and elsewhere.
 

Timothy Leary and Neal Cassady on the storied bus Further
 
Tom Wolfe chronicled the memorable trip in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but if you’re looking for a more audio-visual account of the journey, you could do a lot worse than Tripping, which appeared on Channel 4 in Great Britain on August 7, 1999.

Kesey called the whole idea of their magic bus “an American glyph,” which is interesting. As Kesey says, Further was a powerful symbol of a vehicle that will pick you up and safely transport you to a place where your mind will be expanded.

Go further, after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.24.2017
01:51 pm
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‘Gandhi & Martin Luther King were great womanizers’: That time Roger Ailes interviewed Joan Baez
05.23.2017
12:44 pm
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Fox News founder Roger Ailes died last week, thus escaping any future ramifications in this terrestrial realm stemming from his alledged proclivity for sexual harassment, a tendency attested to by many accusers, including Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and Andrea Tantaros.

Ailes was forced to resign as president of Fox News last summer after news of the sexual harassment claims became national news. Just a month ago, it was reported that Fox News is on track to pay more than $85 million in settlements connected to the sexual harassment allegations involving Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and possibly others.

Ailes’ inappropriate libido aside, his death afforded many observers an opportunity to observe that more than almost anyone in the American landscape, Ailes had an enormous impact on American news and politics over the last 20 years, and almost all of it tilted the country in a partisan, shrill, and stupid direction.

If Mike Judge’s prescient movie Idiocracy ever had a spirit animal in real life, it’s Roger Ailes. Except that Ailes was no idiot, far from it: he was a certifiable genius when it came to manipulating dummies.

Before 1990, Ailes’ primary identity was that of a cunning if somewhat morally suspect media consultant for Republican candidates. Together with Lee Atwater, Ailes was credited with achieving the election of George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis in 1988, in a contest that featured no shortage of not-so-subtle race-baiting from the Republican side.

In 1996 Rupert Murdoch hired Ailes and asked him to helm the new right-wing news channel he was putting together. The result was Fox News and politics since then has been dominated by older white people under the hypnotic influence of a never-ending parade of charlatans and assholes such as Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Steve Doocy, assisted by literally dozens and dozens of nearly interchangeable leggy blonde women. In Fox Land, every black man is about to commit vote fraud and/or violent uprising, every Muslim is a terrorist hell-bent on blowing up a local library in rural Nebraska, and every trans person with a full bladder is a crypto-pedophile. Roger Ailes invented that kind of TV news, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Ailes made it possible for Donald Trump to become president.

For that last fact alone, his name should be scorned in the annals of history until the end of time. May he rot in Hell.

Interestingly, right before Ailes landed at Fox News, there was a brief period where he was not actively being a scumbag and destroying the country. From 1994 to 1996 he was president of a news channel that had spun off from CNBC called America’s Talking, and Ailes himself had an hour-long interview show called Straight Forward in which he tried to pass himself off as a relatively normal person—conservative, sure, but not a fire-breathing troglodyte.

His bid to be a “normal” talk show host was convincing enough that he even had the arch-liberal folksinger Joan Baez on as a guest on Straight Forward for a charged yet basically pleasant couple of segments with a minimum of serious leftie-baiting. The program ran on December 15, 1994; Baez was there to publicize a 1993 CD collection called Rare, Live, and Classic. In the intro to the program, Ailes states that he is a big fan of Baez’ music and admires her even though he dislikes her positions—“like Ronald Reagan,” she stuck to her principles over the decades and he can respect that!

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.23.2017
12:44 pm
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Swedish TV accidentally puts children’s subtitles over political debate, and it’s f*cking hilarious!
05.22.2017
01:54 pm
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Civic-minded Swedes who tuned in to a political debate early last year didn’t expect to witness an interplanetary underwater battle involving dinosaurs, but thanks to an innocent mixup at the SVT2 TV station, that’s what they got.

It was probably more entertaining, not to say true-to-life, than what was actually happening in the debate, which involved Environmental Minister Åsa Romson, Liberal People’s Party leader Jan Björklund, Education Minister Gustav Fridolin, and Urban Ahlin, Speaker of the Riksdag, the national legislature of Sweden.
 

 
The subtitles depicted dialogue from the PBS children’s TV show Dinosaur Train

The head of the channel’s subtitle department, Anna Zetterson, smells a rat (or is it a dinosaur?), it seems. It turns out that on some older television models you can swap out the “teletext” page from another channel while keeping the current image. On Facebook she wrote in Swedish, “On some older TVs can still choose the old teletext page for the different channels’ subtitles, while checking on a different channel. So SVT, or any operator, didn’t send these out. But it is something you can amuse yourself with on an older television set.”

We don’t care. Maybe nobody made a mixup and it was all a plot to tickle our brains. All we can say is, mission accomplished!
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.22.2017
01:54 pm
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The Monkees’ last stand: Their final 1969 TV special ‘33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee’
05.22.2017
12:34 pm
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After the glorious fiasco that was the 1968 movie Head, the last project that the Monkees undertook as a quartet was a TV special for NBC called 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee. It’s basically the TV equivalent of Head, complete with corny jokes, audacious cameos, hummable ditties, and stuff that makes you scratch your noggin in puzzlement.

Like the band itself, 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee, which aired on April 14, 1969, is thoroughly of the Sixties, somehow managing to blend (say) the Batman TV show and Barbarella with musical performance shows of the day like Shindig! (which makes sense, as the producer of Shindig!, Jack Good, was involved with this as well.

The Monkees enlisted Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll to take care of the half-baked framing narrative, a crazed musical impresario (errr, Don Kirshner?) who turns the four Monkees into mindless automatons so that he can “brainwash the world!!” (I told you it was right out of Batman.) The Monkees’ arrival is highly reminiscent of the “beaming” effect on Star Trek, which had been out for a couple of years by that point, so that counts as a reference.

About a third of the way through the show, Auger (still in “sinister” character) explains the nature of the musical mind-control properties of the rock and roll piano chords via an audacious device—the camera shows Auger at the piano and strategically pans away from the action to reveal that Auger’s piano is perched on a piano played by Jerry Lee Lewis, which is perched on a piano played by Little Richard, which is perched on a piano played by Fats Domino. Like this:
 

 
It was probably no accident that the band chose a metaphor of being controlled by a sinister puppet master. After all, the Monkees’ story is the most vivid example in rock history of a band struggling to seize the means of production (we call them “instruments”) from the corporate overlords that had conjured them into being in the first place—in the show, Auger actually uses the word conjure to summon them into being. Later on in the show, the four fellows sing a discordant little ditty called “Wind Up Man” (as wind-up men), which included lyrics like this:
 

I’m a wind up man
Programmed to be entertaining
Turn the key
I’m a fully automatic
Wind up man
Invented by the teeny bopper
Turn me on
And I will sing a song about a
Wind up man

 
As mentioned, it would seem that the stress of being the world’s first purely manufactured rock and roll TV sensation had gotten to the boys…...

More fun than a barrel of Monkees after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.22.2017
12:34 pm
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Guided by Voices make their drunken TV debut on ‘The Jon Stewart Show’
05.19.2017
10:39 am
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Before he took over the hosting duties of The Daily Show in 1999, comedian Jon Stewart had his very own late-night talk show, The Jon Stewart Show, which aired weeknights on MTV. The short-lived program lasted just two seasons (1993-1995) but despite its failure to garner high ratings, Stewart would achieve much fanfare among the MTV clientele. Besides launching Stewart’s career as a TV host, The Jon Stewart Show boasted an impressive list of musical guests, many getting exposure to a mainstream audience for the first time. Memorable performances include those by Quicksand, Killing Joke, Slayer, Body Count, The Breeders, Marilyn Manson, Sunny Day Real Estate, Bad Religion, Rocket from the Crypt, Naughty by Nature, Danzig, Warren Zevon, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Notorious BIG, Redd Kross, and many more.
 
The sixty-fourth episode of The Jon Stewart Show saw appearances by celebrity guests Anthony LaPaglia, Lisa Rinna, Matt Borlenghi and featured the television debut of lo-fi indie rock heroes Guided by Voices. The performance, which aired on March 30th in 1995, contained three numbers from GBV’s seminal album Alien Lanes, which would be released later that week on Matador. Almost as noteworthy as Guided by Voices’ relentless musical output of simplistic rock ballads (under two minutes), was their celebrated pastime of bigtime boozing. Their alcoholic aspirations were even pursued on live television performances, as vocalist Robert Pollard can be seen throughout the first half gripping a red Solo cup—the sign of a pro (see also Bannon, Steve) just moments away from full-blown inebriation.
 

GBV perform “King and Caroline” into “Motor Away”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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05.19.2017
10:39 am
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Happy Birthday Brian Eno: The non-musician on the importance of haircuts & more
05.15.2017
12:36 pm
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Today Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno turns 69 years old. Twenty-five years ago a filmmaker named Henning Lohner put together an hour-long documentary on the former Roxy Music contributor and producer extraordinaire. Its German title is Solo für Eno.

Lohner was raised in Palo Alto, California, because both of his parents were German-born literature professors at Stanford. In his adulthood, Lohner reconnected with his parents’ homeland, where he served as an assistant to Karlheinz Stockhausen and also collaborated with Frank Zappa and John Cage and Steve Reich, among many others. In recent years he has contributed to soundtracks such as The Thin Red Line and Gladiator.

If you do not understand German, have no fear: There is a tiny amount of German voiceover at the start, but the program is first and foremost a document of Eno in his studio. The audio track is almost entirely in English. (There are German subtitles.) Most online sources give 1994 as the date of Solo für Eno but I think it was actually shot two years earlier.

There’s a funny bit at the start where Lohner has tasked Eno with intoning a few of the weightier pronunciamentos from Eno’s past, such as “Exposure is the currency of popular art. Obscurity is the currency of high art.” He doesn’t remember saying most of them. (Brian: You said that at the talk you gave at MoMA in October 1990; it was probably the same day you found a way to pee in Marcel Duchamp’s famous urinal.)

Frustrated with his inability to impose his essence on the TV camera, he jokes that they should get Laurie Anderson to do it. Then he comes up with a kind of game, he can say them if he is fed an “attitude” in which to say them, such as gleeful, sexy, morose, arrogant…... It’s a bit like watching Eno deploy one of his famous Oblique Strategies, the artistic spurs to creativity he developed with Peter Schmidt in the 1970s.

Eno also has some penetrating remarks on the importance of haircuts…

Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.15.2017
12:36 pm
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‘My Home Town’: The unexpected union of DEVO and ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
05.12.2017
12:31 pm
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I was recently involved in a Facebook discussion of a stupid article that purported to rank “The 25 Worst Places to Live in America” or some suchlike crap. Conspicuously absent from the list were Gary, East St. Louis, and the entire deep south, but no fewer than SEVEN cities in Ohio took “honors.” As an Ohioan, I took a bit of umbrage—not TOO much since it was in the end just a clickbait article—but since a couple of those cities have experienced significant rebounds in recent years, the listicle seemed like it was based on outdated info, if it wasn’t all just an outright ass-pull. (A couple of the Ohio cities named really DO belong on such a list, I must say if I’m to be fair.)

On that thread, someone posted this WONDERFUL video of “The Akron-Canton Hometown Song,” a booster song recorded and vanity-pressed in 1962 at Cincinnati’s Rite Record Productions for Akron radio station WHLO 640AM. Credited to Terry Lee with backing vocals by the WHLO Hometowners, the one-sided record has no Discogs page, so it is now my mission to find a copy in the wild:
 

 
Is that not a delight? Between the word “Hometown” in the title and its goofy, totally guileless boosterism (“Akron, Canton, they’re sure okay!”) it made me wonder if it wasn’t an inspiration for “My Home Town”—not the droning Springsteen hit, but the song by DEVO’s Mark Mothersbaugh on the 1987 Ralph Records compilation Potatoes Volume 1. (There was never a Volume 2, though the 1989 CD reissue boasted an expanded track list.) It’s a parody of exactly the kind of optimistic civic pride expressed in the radio song, but with a cynical Rust Belt downer edge. The LP credits cite a 1976 composition date, going on to state that the song was re-recorded in 1986. I’ve been unable to find any evidence of an extant 1976 recording, but here’s the one that’s been around:
 

 
I love that song. I’ve had that album for almost as long as it’s been out, and I have belted that song out in the shower, changing the word “Akron” to “Cleveland,” which is my home town. The two cities are about 30 minutes away from one another, and their fortunes and declines have been pretty much parallel, so no other lyrical alterations are really necessary. Since Mothersbaugh is rather famously an Akronite, and he’d have been around 12 when that WHLO record came out, it didn’t seem unreasonable to wonder if he may have heard it on the radio? I mentioned my curiosity about that possible connection in the Facebook discussion and was rather swiftly corrected. THIS, I was advised, was a much more likely inspiration. Much, much, much, much, much more likely…
 
The mystery thickens, after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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05.12.2017
12:31 pm
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