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‘Christianity is Stupid’: Negativland takes on religion in ‘It’s All In Your Head’
08.20.2014
02:20 pm

Topics:
Belief
Music

Tags:
Negativland


 
The other day I was pondering how I would explain the whole “Why are we here?” / “Is there a God?” concept to my (hypothetical at this point) child and discussing this with my wife who is about as religious as I am (i.e: not at all). When I was a kid, raised in a very Christian home in West Virginia, it was a pretty straight line between reading Thor comics, then Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes before I was already having my doubts about “church.” If the Norse gods, like the Greek gods, were all just myths, wasn’t the whole Judeo-Christian thang on a similarly shaky epistemological foundation? What’s the difference? I couldn’t see one. From a very young age, religion had no credibility with me, but I was lucky. Christianity ultimately had very little effect on me.

How to discourage an irrational belief in the bearded sky god without being too heavy-handed about it and causing the hypothetical kid to go in the other direction to rebel will be an interesting road to navigate. Then again maybe not. As everyone knows millennials have left their parents’ religion in droves. Nearly two-thirds of under 30s subscribe to no organized religion. At the current rate of attrition, by mid-century Christians may no longer even constitute the majority in America.

For all kinds of reasons, the movement away from religion has picked up some serious speed in the past few decades, with this in mind, I laughed out loud reading the press release for Negativland’s new album, It’s All In Your Head which describes the double CD set (packaged in an actual Holy Bible repurposed into a “found” art object, modified by hand) as being “millennia-in-development.”

It’s true if you think about it. They wouldn’t have been able to get away with something this cheeky in previous decades. In 2014, it’ll be a sought after collectible, of course. They wouldn’t have had the source material to work with, either. It’s All In Your Head provokes and entertains listeners with Negativland’s signature mix of found music, sounds, radio dialogue and original electronic noises, bleeps and boops fashioned into a musical essay that looks at “monotheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, neuroscience, suicide bombers, 9/11, colas, war, shaved chimps, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs.”

It’s monotheism, but it’s in stereo, putting me in mind of the Firesign Theatre crossed with Richard Dawkins crossed with Madlib. If that sentence is even halfway intelligible to you, the “trailer” for It’s All in Your Head, below, is required viewing, freak.

It’s All In Your Head comes out on October 28th, but if you preorder it, you’ll get it two weeks before that (I have one already and highly recommend it).
 

 
Bonus: “The Mashin’ of The Christ” music video:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Man with Alzheimer’s disease drew a series of self-portraits over the years
08.20.2014
12:17 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Alzheimer's disease


William Utermohlen’s self-portrait from 1967
 
British artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995. Utermohlen decided to document the progression of the disease by doing self-portraits until he no longer remembered his own face. As terribly sad as these portraits are, they show how rapidly—and with such fury—Alzheimer’s can affect the human brain.

Utermohlen’s widow, Patricia, said, “In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness.”

William Utermohlen passed away in 2007.


1996
 

1996
 

1997
 

1997
 

1998
 

1999
 

2000

Below, Louis Theroux’s eye-opening and poignant 2012 documentary Extreme Love: Dementia. I highly, highly recommend this documentary if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or just want to learn more about the disease. You won’t soon forget it.

 
h/t Death and Taxes

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Sleep is for Sissies: Before ‘Repo Man,’ there was Alex Cox’s mind-bending student film ‘Edge City’
08.20.2014
11:30 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Alex Cox
Repo Man


 
Edge City, a/k/a Sleep Is for Sissies, is director Alex Cox’s first movie. Made for $8,000 while Cox was a student at UCLA, the 36-minute picture already includes a number of the distinguishing features of his works. That means a repo man, a Chevy Malibu, and Ed Pansullo; references to Nicaragua and Sid Vicious; class exploitation, absurd violence, and creative sound editing. As usual, characters work at cross-purposes and don’t listen to each other. Jokes are reminiscent of Harvey Kurtzman-era MAD comics.

Cox’s sense of humor is at maximum bananas level. Shots ring out at a crowded LA pool party where a beer commercial is being filmed. A gunman is indiscriminately murdering the guests in broad daylight, but no one notices the shots, screams, or falling bodies. In another scene, when Cox, playing graphic artist Roy Rawlings, answers the phone, a badly overdubbed voice utters the meaningless line: “Hey, baby! Heh-heh-heh-hey!”

Friend, do you like a good yarn? If so, watching this movie might not be the leisure activity for you. Its “trippy, associative editing style,” which Cox says was influenced by Nicolas Roeg and Lindsay Anderson, just about obliterates whatever narrative was there to begin with. “At one point there was a 50-minute version which was sort of intelligible,” Cox explains in Alex Cox: Film Anarchist, “but I was embarrassed by it after a while because the story seemed so mundane. Then I deliberately cut 10 minutes to make it more obscure.”

In his engrossing book X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker, Cox elaborates on the perversity of the film’s final cut:

Inevitably, the film reached a crisis point. The screenplay had been 35 pages or so – the length of a 35-minute film. By the time I’d cut in all the scripted stuff and the improv’d scenes and images from downtown, Edge City was a sturdy 55-minute creature. I only needed to shoot another 30 minutes, and I would attain that much-coveted grail, the independent feature.

This was what all of us UCLA auteurs wanted: a 90-minute feature film. Right? Perhaps not. [...] Colliding with the ambition for a feature was an artistic instinct – imagine that! – which distrusted Edge City. Artistically, aesthetically, the film already seemed too long, in danger of acquiring a familiar narrative. Letting it get still longer would make it more normal. Ambition, routed, retreated without firing a shot.

I pruned the picture back to a 36-minute, weirdo film. I think this was the better option (especially for the viewer). It was also shorter and cheaper, which was a consideration when you were shooting film and paying for it yourself.

“Shorter and cheaper” was also the guiding principle when it came to the music on the soundtrack, assembled from Cox’s record collection. Among other things, you’ll hear Metal Machine Music, Another Green World, Tonio K.‘s “The Funky Western Civilization,” Tangerine Dream’s Sorcerer soundtrack, and Sid’s “My Way.”

Good luck figuring out what’s going on. Headphones are indispensable, as is this synopsis from X Films:

The script – written in a fragmented fashion in the style of the director Nick Roeg – told of one Roy Rawlings, an English commercial illustrator based in L.A. Roy seeks to stay one step ahead of his creditors while (a) getting the girl and (b) pursuing his Big Break. His agent is the sinister Smack Hasty, who pays him in drugs. Roy wants to meet the author of the book he’s illustrating, but Smack keeps putting him off.

Roy meets Krishna, a rich hippy girl, at a party, and invites her to the ruined house he lives in. He promises her ratatouille, but when she comes to the party there is none. However, he does have Quaaludes, which restore her equilibrium. While Roy is at the supermarket, Krishna swallows too many Quaaludes, and drowns in the bath.

On his return, Roy is surprised to find two soldiers, or vigilantes, eating the contents of his fridge. He flees just as Krishna’s body is discovered, and heads out to the desert in his sports car, where he meets the mysterious author, and various secrets are revealed.

 

Edge City part 1
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Fugazi: Red Medicine for the White House, live in Washington, DC, 1991
08.20.2014
10:44 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Fugazi
Ian Mackaye


 
Dischord Records, the independent punk label of immeasurable historic importance founded by Minor Threat/Fugazi/Evens singer Ian Mackaye, made an intriguing announcement recently:

In January 1988, after only ten shows, Fugazi decided to go into Inner Ear Studio to see what their music sounded like on tape. They tracked 11 songs, ten of which were ultimately dubbed to cassette tape and distributed free at shows, with the band encouraging people to share the recording.

The only song from the session that has been formally released was “In Defense of Humans,” which appeared on the State of the Union compilation in 1989. Now, some 26 years later, Dischord is releasing the entire demo including the one song (“Turn Off Your Guns”) that wasn’t included on the original cassette. The record has been mastered by TJ Lipple and will be available on CD and LP+Mp3.

This release will also coincide with the completion of the initial round of uploads to the Fugazi Live Series website. Launched in 2011, the site now includes information and details on all of Fugazi’s 1000+ live performances and makes available close to 900 concert recordings that were documented by the band and the public.

 

 
The label’s coyness about the actual release date of the demos is a bit of a drag, but it may have something to do with the near impossibility of getting timely vinyl pressings done these days. Given that these are finally being widely issued, perhaps one can hope that someday we’ll get an official release of Steve Albini’s demos for the album In On the Kill Taker? They’ve been repeatedly taken down from various blogs, but if you can track them down, you may agree with me that they kicked a lot more ass than Albini or Fugazi ever gave them credit for.
 

 
Those Fugazi Live Series pages are worth a good, thorough combing-through if you’re a fan. They not only boast an exhaustive list of the band’s concert dates (what would you give to have been at “Jan 20, 1988, East Lansing, MI, USA, Matt Kelly’s Basement?”), but also offer recordings of many of them, some made by the band, some by fans. Where they exist, the recordings are offered for sale at the price of—all together now—five dollars per show, in a surely intentional echo of Fugazi’s eminently fan-friendly move of demanding that their concert admissions be capped at $5. One almost has to half-kiddingly wonder if Mackaye’s bed isn’t literally stuffed with five dollar bills.

Since the US is evidently going to be in Iraq for freakin’ ever, it seems fitting to punctuate this post with the show that serves as the subject of Fugazi Live Series FLS0308, the Gulf War protest in Lafayette Park, Washington DC, January 12, 1991. I was in DC for those protests, but to my lasting regret, I had no idea this show was happening right in front of the White House.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The 1960s photography of Dennis Hopper
08.20.2014
08:44 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
Dennis Hopper


Self-portrait
 
I am a child of the 1970s, so Dennis Hopper really means two things to me, Blue Velvet first and Easy Rider second. For me, Hopper doesn’t have much of an identity before Easy Rider, which goes to explain why I had scarcely any idea of his excellent photography (and excellent connections to the art world) during the 1960s. This information helps inform some of his filmmaking career, for instance his artistic intransigence over The Last Movie—only someone steeped in modernist art and abstract expressionism would ever have made such a stand. Everyday I Show brings us an excellent selection of Hopper’s b/w pics from the 1960s, be sure to click there to see more of them. Hopper wasn’t in the league of a Diane Arbus or a Garry Winogrand, but he clearly knew what he was doing and also had some great subjects in the form of Jane Fonda, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, plus Teri Garr (!).

Three years ago Taschen came out with a gorgeous book dedicated to Hopper’s early photographic work, Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967.
 

Jane Fonda (with bow & arrow), Malibu, 1965
 

Biker Couple, 1961
 

Ed Ruscha, 1964
 

Double Standard, 1961
 

Andy Warhol and Members of the Factory (Gregory Markopoulos, Taylor Mead, Gerard Malanga, Jack Smith), 1963
 

Ike and Tina Turner, 1965
 
More of Hopper’s terrific pictures after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Get hypnotized by the psychedelic slo-mo hula hooping for Bishop Allen’s new album
08.20.2014
08:39 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
psychedelia
hula hoops
Bishop Allen


 
Bishop Allen is one of those indie bands that’s been quietly buzzing around for nearly ten years—I knew about them because they’re a former Brooklyn-based group with the weird distinction of being on Dead Oceans, a label based out of Bloomington, Indiana (my home before all the good bartending gigs dried up). The new album Lights Out is full of the kind of sunny, poppy, electronic-infused tunes one might use to round out the last of days of summer. It’s got a lot of darling hooks and bitter-sweet warmth.

However, I’m well aware that the Dangerous Minds crowd can be a bit… anti-sunny—or at least, anti-Brooklyn Indie Rock. If you feel a curmudgeonly tirade coming on, fear not! There is another component to Lights Out that may yet seduce you!

Perhaps in an attempt to humiliate Beyoncé (we can only speculate, but I believe there is a bitter feud going on between them), Bishop Allen has also released a video to go along with every track on the album, connected as a continuous playlist below. The twist is that every video is some variation on the same theme—their friends hula-hooping, in slow-motion. Now we here at Dangerous Minds would never advocate drug use, but I will say that if you’ve partaken of some “entertainment insurance,” then the videos have a hypnotic effect I’d liken to a liquid light show.

If you want to catch some shimmery synths in person, Bishop Allen just kicked off a big tour. If you are personally affronted by the thought of seeing a sunny Brooklyn Indie band, relax and enjoy the hula hoops.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Bogie and Bacall’s forgotten radio drama
08.20.2014
08:19 am

Topics:
History
Pop Culture

Tags:
Lauren Bacall
Humphrey Bogart


Promotional standee for Bold Venture sponsored by Genesee Beer, 1951.

When the great Lauren Bacall died recently at 89, her obituaries routinely mentioned her relationship with Humphrey Bogart, and their onscreen chemistry in the four classic films they made together.

Less widely known, and rarely mentioned however, is Bold Venture, the radio show they starred in together in 1951-1952. Bogart and Bacall played the owners of a hotel in Cuba and a boat called the Bold Venture, romantically sparring while getting mixed up with smugglers, spies, con men and corrupt cops “in the sultry settings of tropical Havana and the mysterious islands of the Caribbean.” If the writing isn’t quite To Have and Have Not, it delivers enough sharp wit to keep the couple’s classic chemistry alive and enough tension to keep the drama moving.

57 half-hour episodes have surfaced and they’re available to listen to and download for free at archive.org. If you’ve ever wished Bogie & Bacall made more movies together, Bold Venture is the next best thing.
 

 

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall aboard their private yacht, Santana.

This is a guest post from Jason Toon of Seattle, Washington.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Johnny Cash’s musical ad for the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, 1971
08.20.2014
07:48 am

Topics:
Advertising

Tags:
Johnny Cash
Richard Nixon


You are in no position to give health advice, Mr. Johnny Cash!
 
Johnny Cash certainly lived his paradoxes—a champion of the rebel, yet oddly reverent of the powerful. He sympathized publicly with the margins of society while simultaneously invoking a kind of nostalgic, rural wholesomeness. That in mind, it makes total sense that he’d do a public service announcement on physical fitness for Richard Nixon.

It’s not totally without its charms, either! The tune is catchy. “The man I used to be” is a pretty clever euphemism for “I got fat,” and the whole thing lends itself to that wistful reminiscing you want from a Johnny Cash. This was recorded only one year in of a seven-year period of sobriety. Before 1970 he was still doing insane amounts of pills, and engaging in super-wholesome activities like driving out to the wilderness all cranked up and accidentally setting fire to 508 acres of California National Forest.

I guess Nixon thought America needed a fitness spokesman who wouldn’t make us all feel bad about ourselves?
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Entertainment: Gang of Four, live in Zagreb, 1981
08.20.2014
07:20 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Gang of Four


 
A blog I will never be able to read recently posted a gleaming gem of a video—professional footage of six live Gang of Four songs, performed in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia, of course), around the height of the band’s strength. This was the Solid Gold tour. While that album isn’t quite the stone classic that their debut Entertainment! is, songs like “Outside the Trains Don’t Run on Time,” “Paralysed” and “What We All Want” easily rank with the band’s best work. The performance was recorded at Music Biennale Zagreb in 1981, the first year that long-lived festival featured rock music.

Though Gang of Four were on the rise at this time, they were also near the end of their original lineup. In a change from which the band wouldn’t ever recover artistically, bassist Dave Allen would soon leave to form the more dance-oriented Shriekback. In a dismal irony, Go4 themselves would become a markedly tamer, more accessible, dancier band after Allen’s departure. (Mind you, that incarnation of the band STILL slayed in concert—hell, singer Jon King was still an electrifying frontman even in Go4’s why-did-they-bother mid ‘90s resurrection attempt.) But in this Zagreb footage we can see the band still riding their initial burst of ferocious, jagged, Marxist-inspired salvos against leisure class complacency and economic injustice. God damn, they were glorious.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Dialectics & disco: post-punk Marxists Gang of Four get funky on ‘Dance Fever,’ 1982
Entertainment: complete Gang of Four show, 1983

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Electric Würms: ‘I Could Only See Clouds’ exclusive video premiere
08.19.2014
03:51 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Wayne Coyne
Electric Würms
Steven Drozd


 
The world premiere of the decidedly lysergically-informed new Electric Würms music video, “I Could Only See Clouds” directed by Wayne Coyne. The song comes from Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk (“Music that’s Hard to Twerk to”) out today on CD, vinyl and iTunes from Warner Bros. Records and available via the Flaming Lips online store.

Electric Würms is the side project of Flaming Lips Steven Drozd and Wayne Coyne (who steps away from his normal frontman role here and plays bass) working with Nashville-based psych-rockers Linear Downfall. It’s a spacey, raw cosmic jam that Pitchfork called a “Live-Evil-era Miles (by way of Yoko Ono’s Fly) psych-funk shriek.”

What are you looking for? What are you really, really looking for? Maybe you’ll find it here. It’s worth a try, right?
 

 
Bonus: Würms on Würms…

Posted by Electric Würms | Discussion
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