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The Screamers logo has been stolen for a (Billy Idol-themed?) novelty firework
07.07.2017
10:20 am
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I have often dreamed of a career naming novelty fireworks. How do you describe one particular sparkler that looks almost identical to all the rest of ‘em, in one snappy title? By use of a great stretch of creativity, of course. I’m sure some of you are familiar with much of the web’s “best of fireworks brand names” collections, including clever titles such as the Psycho X-Girlfriend, Nuclear Sunrise, One Bad Mother-In-Law, The Golden Shower, Uncle Sam’s Answer, Forced Entry, and one for the entire family, the Poopy Puppy.

The latest from this year’s Independence Day collection arrives with one for the nation’s imaginary population of patriotic punks. Produced by a company out of Osage City, Kansas (but made in China, natch), the Rebel Yell novelty firework (obviously) packs much of the same punch as Billy Idol’s hit song of the same name. Its description reads:

Three stage whistle cake will leave you screaming more, more, MORE!

It seems pretty obvious that they thought this logo was meant to represent Billy Idol. While this is not the first novelty firework with this name (another contains Confederate flag imagery because there’s a market for that), it is perhaps the first ever to utilize the explosive logo of first-wave Los Angeles electropunk band, The Screamers. The iconic image, which was designed by artist and cartoonist Gary Panter, is almost too perfect for use on a firework that I’m actually surprised it took someone nearly forty years to rip it off!

More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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07.07.2017
10:20 am
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‘Killer’ video of Alice Cooper on the Fourth of July, 1971
06.29.2017
09:29 am
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Enjambment as marketing technique: ‘Love It to Death’ ad in Creem, 1971 (via SickthingsUK)

The greatest achievement of American democracy was Alice Cooper’s perfect Warner Bros. debut, Love It to Death. (As Bill Maher says “I don’t know this for a fact, I just know that it’s true.) Fittingly, a few months after the LP’s release, the group celebrated 195 years of U.S. independence from the hated English crown by playing Love It to Death at the Sunshine Inn in Asbury Park, New Jersey, a musket ball’s bounce from Monmouth Battlefield. Or playing most of it, anyway—it’s hard to know, because the video of the show cuts out during the seventh number, “Black Juju.”

It’s primitive, black and white, 1971 video, to be sure, but this upload sounds and looks way better than the quavery zillionth-generation copies of the “Stone Pony show” I’d seen before. (Tape traders misidentified the venue as the Stone Pony, as I understand from the timeline at The Original Glen Buxton, which confirms this date and location.) You can watch it for pleasure, even, and while cutting off the end of “Black Juju” is a fucking scandal, AC’s outstanding (and intact) TV performance of that number on Barry Richards’ Turn On will comfort you in your time of loss.

Independence Day, Asbury Park. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Could the Boss have been in the crowd at the Sunshine Inn that night, raising a glass to Lady Liberty?

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.29.2017
09:29 am
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Home for sale in Arizona is move-in ready IF YOU’RE A CRAZY CAT PERSON
06.13.2017
09:23 am
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These may not be particularly original observations, but two things are true of cats—they find more of interest in our houses than we do, and they’d be happier still living in labyrinths of cat-sized Habitrail tubes. But what if there was a middle option—what if you needed a human house decked out entirely for the comfort and enjoyment of cats?

If you’re OK with living on the outskirts of Nowheresville By God Arizona, you’re covered.

A property for sale at 669 Stanford Drive (Country Road 8235) in unincorporated Concho, AZ, is convenient to expanses of hot dirt and little else. But you’re not moving here to be right in the mix, you’re here for your furbabies (and if you unironically call your pets that I’m not 100% sure we can be friends). Every room in the place is essentially Pee-wee’s Playhouse for cats. I’m powerless to further describe the 2,500 sqft of eyebleedy cat toy that is this house, I can only let the realtor’s photos do the talking.

See the effects of untreated toxoplasmosis on the human mind, after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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06.13.2017
09:23 am
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‘Memorial Day 2000’: Disgusting ‘found footage’ classic of drunken hillbilly white trash insanity
05.16.2017
11:05 am
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The front cover of ‘Memorial Day 2000’
 

Memorial Day 2000 is the finest find in the history of found stuff.”—Davy Rothbart, founder of Found Magazine, as quoted on the back of the Memorial Day 2000 VHS cover

Memorial Day 2000 was “discovered” by noise musicians Twig Harper and Carly Ptak of Nautical Almanac at a Michigan yard sale. It’s the low-fi record of a massive hillbilly bender that took place on a campground in Silver Lake State Park, Michigan on Memorial Day weekend of 2000. There’s fire jumping, lots of driving around in the mud, plenty of peeing and puking, (and chanted group puke encouragement), wrasslin’ and even a really severe… er… sewage issue.
 

 
Drop what you are doing and watch this video right now. Grab yourself a tallboy or two of Steel Reserve High Gravity Lager, a Manwich—well maybe not a Manwich, and definitely not sausage—and indulge in the luxuries of this repulsive but FUCKING HILARIOUS fly-on-the-wall experience, as you encounter everyday midwestern white trash indulging in unadulterated racism, misogyny, and booze-fueled debauchery. And of course, there are plenty of candidly soused interviews with the participants. This is Heavy Metal Parking Lot without the glamor of Judas Priest. American Juggalo without the face paint and Faygo. Yep, this is Lord of the Flies on Lake Michigan. What joy-filled mirth awaits you!

Many people discovered this video via Nautical Almanac’s merch table and over the years its legend has grown. Compulsively watchable, in fact, you could say that Memorial Day 2000 is “the fuckin whip shit of all fuckin shitter bongers.” (This will make a little bit more sense after you’ve watched it.) To deem the mighty MD2K NSFW is a laughable understatement. It’s not safe for anything or anyone at any time. Got that?

As you watch, ponder what percentage of these idiot Memorial Day 2000 revelers probably voted for Donald Trump.

Watch—if you dare—after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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05.16.2017
11:05 am
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Tiny Tim + Edith Massey + Jesus = Opal Covey: The singing, would-be mayor of Toledo, Ohio


 
The American political system has long produced colorfully aberrant and utterly quixotic recidivist candidates for public office, whether they’re tenacious delusionals with lunatic fringe appeal like Lyndon LaRouche, satirists engaged in performative protests like Pat Paulsen, or memetic stars of the internet era like Vermin Supreme or Jimmy “The Rent Is Too Damn High” McMillan. Hell, a total goddamn freakshow candidate defied all conventional wisdom to occupy the highest office in the USA, but few such candidates ever succeed electorally, and since pretty much every region has at least one, they can (mostly) be safely regarded with indulgent affection and granted local-color oddball status, however bonkers their platforms may be.

Toledo, OH has Opal Covey, not just an Evangelical Christian but a self-professed prophetess who has attempted five Mayoral runs on the basis of her belief that God told her she’d be elected Mayor, which of course could still happen eventually. In 2015, she received less than 1% of the vote but nonetheless insisted that she won, and promised that if she wasn’t sworn in, “…destruction is gonna come. And I’m standing back and I’m gonna let it happen.”
 

 
Covey is also noteworthy for utterly bonkers interviews in which she speaks in tongues, and for her singing, which sounds like Tiny Tim losing his grip.
 
Much more Opel after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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04.18.2017
08:17 am
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‘How to Steal an Election’: The dirty politics musical of 1968!


 
Like science fiction becoming reality, or worse, satire becoming reality, this 1968 off-Broadway musical—or to quote the subtitle, this “dirty politics musical”—immediately opens eyes very wide in the ironic early days of America 2017. Some things never change, they just get worse.

In a New York Times review of a revival of the play in 2000, Scarlet Cheng wrote:

In the year of Richard Nixon vs. Hubert H. Humphrey vs. George Wallace, “How to Steal an Election” offered a compact off-Broadway primer on presidential elections bought, bartered and swiped throughout American history.

Librettist William F. Brown and composer-lyricist Oscar Brand had the notion of Jazz Age prez Calvin Coolidge materializing in the present day (that is, 1968). There he meets a couple of fervent young protesters, just back from the skull-cracking Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Disillusioned, these two have no taste for the political machine. But what’s wrong with pragmatism, Coolidge wonders? What about learning to work within a corrupt system? Thus Coolidge begins his history lesson, with vignettes and songs depicting cynical power grabs of yore.

 
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The two stars were Carole Demas who was the original Sandy in Grease on Broadway, even before it was turned into the musical we know now (It was originally a much darker, dirtier production). The cast was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (don’t even get me started). She was also one of the two strange hippie hostesses of the weird early seventies TV show The Magic Garden, a program that even as a child had me running for the remote (not that we even had a remote) to avoid twee folk songs sung to flowers.

Also starring was Clifton Davis who appeared in countless films and television shows, making all the Love Boat/Vega$/Police Story rounds right up to the present. His TV biggie was co-starring on The Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show in 1972 (or perhaps the That’s My Mama sitcom in 1974). His lifetime biggie was that he wrote the huge hit “Never Can Say Goodbye” for The Jackson 5! Now he’s a minister.

 
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Oscar Brand who passed away last year at 96 was an original folkie who, among many other things (he wrote a hit record for Doris Day, collaborated on musicals, had a TV show called Let’s Sing Out, wrote children’s records, etc.) had the longest running radio show in history.

He hosted the radio show Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival every Saturday at 10 p.m. on WNYC-AM 820 in New York City, which ran into its 70th year. The show ran more or less continuously since its debut on December 10, 1945, making it the longest-running radio show with the same host, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Over its run it introduced such talents to the world as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Huddie Ledbetter, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary, Judy Collins, the Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger and The Weavers. In order to make sure that his radio program could not be censored he refused to be paid by WNYC for the next 70 years.

 
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Brand, whose radio show was referred to as a “pipeline of communism” by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and who told stories of buying food for Leadbelly when the two traveled together in segregated areas, also participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. He said the character of Calvin Coolidge in the play was originally written by him to be Satan.

...he was Satan, who had decided that the electoral process was the most interesting thing he could join in on since he got kicked out of heaven.

 
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The producer of the play Steve Mellow had this to say:

I was the producer of this play Off Broadway in 1969. It was a labor of love. I got the idea from my uncle Jake Arvey, who was a powerful political broker in Chicago.The play took three years to get on and went thru five different authors. Oscar Brand was with me from the beginning. He has written many political campaign songs over a period of seventy years. Nixon was running for President. His campaign manager asked what we were doing on him in the play. I told him to buy a ticket.

 
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If all this sounds classic, the fate of the show is a true tale of American-style “land of the free” business Hell.

From the New York Times:

“How to Steal an Election” opened to favorable reviews and was packed nightly. After 50 performances, the show was set to move to Broadway. But there was a glitch. Turns out, says Brand, the $80,000 lined up for the move was mob money, and it would only be delivered after someone on the production helped with some securities laundering. The producer ducked out, and Brand refused to cooperate. End of deal, end of production.

And that’s no trumped up charge.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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02.02.2017
09:50 am
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‘Screw our president’: Protesting kid explains why he started fire at alt-right Trump celebration
01.20.2017
10:20 am
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A large protest raged outside the National Press Club in Washington, DC, last night where the alt-right’s “Deploraball” celebration was being held. Some protesters started a fire to burn signs and chanted “Nazi scum” as hundreds of Donald Trump’s biggest fans entered the party.

Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins asked one young protester named Connor— dubbed a “fire-starting child” on Facebook— about the fire.

“My name’s Connor and I actually kinda started this fire,” the boy responded. After Jenkins mistakenly called him “Carter” the young, media-savvy kid set him straight.“It’s Connor,” he repeated, then informed the Fox lackey that he started the fire because:

“I felt like it and screw our president.”

Connor is my new hero.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.20.2017
10:20 am
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Fun Boy Three cover the Doors, burn the American flag on TV, 1983
01.19.2017
09:44 am
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Waiting, the second and final Fun Boy Three LP, produced by David Byrne
 
At the most recent meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of the Doors Study Group, my friend and former bandmate Jessica Espeleta showed her favorite video on all of YouTube: a TV performance of “The End” by Fun Boy Three, complete with flag-burning.

Fun Boy Three—the group formed by runaway Specials Terry Hall, Neville Staples, and Lynval Golding in 1981—started playing “The End” when the end of their brief career began to loom, according to The Rough Guide to Rock:

Tensions were growing within the band, aggravated by a punishing touring schedule to try to break the group in America. Including The Doors’ “The End” in their set may not have been the wisest move they ever made, especially when they climaxed it by burning an American flag.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.19.2017
09:44 am
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These creepy, shitty Presidential wax museum figures can be all yours
01.10.2017
08:53 am
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Terrible wax museums rule. Granted, good wax museums are really cool, I’ve got nothing bad to say about superior artistry or the skillful evocation of a likeness, it’s just that awful wax museums deliver different kicks, a more what-the-fuck kind of experience. Just up Clifton Hill from the actual falls area of Niagara Falls, Ontario there’s a really tacky entertainment district, which, among other gloriously, unabashedly garish attractions, boasts an incredible concentration of comically inferior wax museums. My absolute favorite, the Criminals Hall of Fame, closed down a couple of years ago, and I really wish I knew what became of its inventory (apart from its Hitler figure, which was brazenly stolen right from its case in 1999).

No need to wonder about the inventory of The Hall of Presidents and First Ladies Museum. It wasn’t in Niagara Falls, but judging by photos of its collection, it’d have been a good fit. The Gettysburg, PA institution just closed in late November—how someone could fail with a historical attraction in Gettysburg, I’ll refrain from speculating—and its figures and other ephemera are going up for auction. The collection is exemplary—exemplary for why I adore cheap wax museums. Everything about the likenesses is just off, some in subtle ways, but plenty are just marvelously, unmistakably wrong. It is truly regrettable that this place closed before it had a chance to “honor” Donald Trump.
 

Allegedly, this is JFK.
 

Per the auction catalog: “Very fine President John F. Kennedy plaster sculpture head.” Very fine indeed. Also evidently AX CRAZY.
 
More wax Presidents after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.10.2017
08:53 am
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From Brexit to Mr. Brexit: An Englishman in Texas on Election Week
11.17.2016
01:09 pm
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Photo: Christian Benavides

Here’s a picture of what, to an English, London-based US politics junkie, amounted to a peculiar sort of heaven…

It is Election Day, and I am riding shotgun in an SUV through unsmiling Texas…The back of the truck, covered in bumper stickers (‘SECEDE!’ ‘LIBERTARIAN!’ ‘Got shave ice?’), is also piled high with firearms… Rush Limbaugh is on the airwaves.

I’d heard “Rush” do his stuff before, online, back in the UK (that is, as a leftish, foreign voyeur). Now though – due to the place, the setting, and the others in the vehicle – “Rush” is no longer addressing some distant, crazy demographic, he is addressing us – and even, me.

“The bigger government gets, the less freedom there is. That’s just the way of the world, folks… “

I can feel, suddenly, how warm it must be tucked in beneath the dragon’s wing of American conservatism.

For the previous twelve-fifteen months, I had consumed at least two hours of US election news and commentary a day back in London. Chance had turned that 2-D experience into a 3-D one: I was staying in Austin to make an (unrelated) short film, and only after arranging everything realized I would be there for the vote.

Well, we had finished filming that afternoon. The driver of the SUV, Jim, was the local cameraman I’d hired. He was a conservative, a Christian, a libertarian and a sure-fire ‘Second Amendment’ sort. He’d supported Ted Cruz in the primaries, and had a modest, Glenn Beck-type aversion to Trump. He had already voted for Gary Johnson, but would very likely have gone Republican in a swing state.

In the back was Jim’s assistant and best bud, Lloyd, a thirty-six-year-old handyman. Jim and Lloyd lived a few minutes away from one another, in the pious and paranoiac suburbs of Pflugerville, where (as I witnessed) residents actually wave hi to one another, bagged-up AK-47s swaying from shoulders. Lloyd was a former Cruz supporter too, but had long since came around to – and voted for – Trump. 

Limbaugh was now reciting, with that gropingly intimate gruffness, the right-wing LIBERTY catechism. He was putting his whole self into it, too, in honor of the Historic Occasion. This catechism more than touched upon the Second Amendment. Meanwhile, my new friends and I, on our way to firing some guns, were also (politely) arguing about them.
“But what would ya do,” said Lloyd, keen to cut right to the heart of the matter, and leaning right up between the front seats. “If someone broke into your place in London, to rape your wife and kill your kids? What would you do, Thomas? Ask ’em to leave?”

Despite the facetious note at the end, this was no rhetorical question. Lloyd wanted to know.  So, by the looks of it, did Jim, who kept glancing over from his big Texan steering wheel, equally curious how one could even go about conceiving of such an event in a country that prohibits lethal weapons. (Had I, perhaps, cultivated some dangerous hand-to-hand ninja skills?)

“But that’s a ridiculously unlikely event.” 

“You can’t be too careful, Thomas,” said Jim.

“You can though!”  (Indeed, I was increasingly convinced that America was the definition of Being Too Careful.) “A piece of masonry might drop on your head and kill you, that doesn’t mean you go around carrying a metal umbrella.”

This journey is taking place because, the previous day, I had been (naively) scandalized to discover that my small crew were walking Austin’s squeaky-clean streets armed. I had never, I confessed, even held a gun. Jim and Lloyd had decided, there and then, to initiate me, intimating that the first whiff of cordite would see my English soul born again hard.

Jim flipped the dial to The Glenn Beck Show. To his amusement (take it as a testament to how closely I’d followed the damn election), I could hum along to the show’s sickly theme ditty.
 

Photo: Jordan Bunch

Finally, our SUV pulled into the Eagle Peak Firing Range.

I had half expected to encounter a devil-may-care joie de vivre therein. But no. All in all, the spirit in which “Second Amendment People” go about their pastime is achingly careful, like a weird mixture of model railroading and snake handling. I even had my wrists slapped by one of the Eagle Peak Firing Range attendants (bald and bent-double, with bright white mustache) for firing one of Jim’s semi-automatics too quickly.

“Yer Limey’s gettin’ carried away!” he told them.

Far more interesting than all the latches, barrels and banging was the thought of those millions of Americans simultaneously inching towards the voting booths, and of the mind-boggling political significance of what we were doing. Jim and Lloyd, for instance, both admitted to being “scared” by the prospect of a President Trump. He scared them – not enough, but somewhat– because of that overt streak of megalomania. Clinton, on the other hand, scared them more solely because of her perceived threat to those “second amendment rights.”
Were Americans proportionally more scared of death – or at least violent death – than other nationalities? Is it precisely this that makes them – paradoxically – so fucking dangerous?

America’s Other Half
For election night itself I was off to attend the Travis County Democratic Party’s shindig at Austin’s Driskill Hotel. Jim, very kindly braving a couple of hours of Austin traffic, dropped me off. (Conservatives, I have to say, are pretty kind people.)

It was long clear to me that, to many, Trump was a hero figure– a swaggering maverick macho sent by God to heave back the clock. What hadn’t occurred to me from the UK, however, was that cautious, data-driven, super-scripted, center-cleaving Hillary might be viewed as a hero, too. A Straight White Male want of imagination on my part, this, to be sure: taking the Driskill attendees as a local sample, it was immediately clear that Hillary was a hero to (at least) millions of American women.

This was of course in part because of the clear symbolism of the fight – ignoramus pussy-grabber versus shattered glass ceiling, and all that. However, I saw it had something to do with Hillary as an individual, too. Many of the supporters, covered in doubly pointed buttons (“I’m with HER!” “The Future is Female!” “Let’s Make Her-story!”), were ambitious, professional, young women, and were gazing up at the early election coverage with proportional but tangible admiration for the professionalism and (thus far) effectiveness of Clinton’s ascent.
After all, their candidate had done what had to be done, had worked hard, and had (again, up to that night) largely succeeded. It was a philosophy many a careerist lived by, yet for a woman, maximal establishment success in 2016, conventionally achieved vis-à-vis the unremarkable method of the Long Game, still required a fortitude that was arguably heroic.

Due to the time difference, I’d never watched US results come in live before (let alone, ‘in the flesh’), and to my virgin, outsider eyes, the main event resembled nothing other than (American) Football: an interminable, attritional contest of hard-won yards and mind-numbing strategic rumblings.

We all know, of course, how the game ultimately went.

Afterthought
Once the whole sorry contest had run its course, I got a cab back to where I staying (North Loop). The driver had voted for Hillary, and was depressed as hell.  Then he told me (upsetting my simple outline) that he was relieved he already own five guns himself: under a President Trump, he suspected he might just end up needing them.

“I think there’s going to be a war,” he put in, as an afterthought.

He was right about that, I reckoned. For all Trump’s isolationist rhetoric (the only OK thing about his campaign) it is almost impossible to imagine the Trump Era coming to term without a significant conflict. And conflict evidently remains America’s grand passion, not to mention its net surplus: the globe sits braced for export.

Posted by Thomas McGrath
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11.17.2016
01:09 pm
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