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  • ‘An experiment waiting to happen’: A brief history of ‘Two Tone Britain’
    05.25.2016
    12:40 pm

    Topics:
    Music
    Pop Culture
    Reggae

    Tags:

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    Jerry Dammers: the father of Two Tone records
     
    Two Tone was a specifically British, or more accurately English, musical genre that came out of punk and ska in the late 1970s. The roots of Two Tone can be traced back to the arrival of West Indians to England—the so-called “Windrush Generation”—under the British Nationality Act of 1948. This act gave British citizenship to all people living in Commonwealth countries and full rights of entry and settlement in the UK. With the arrival of these Commonwealth citizens came ska and reggae music, which was slowly adopted by the white working class.

    Most youth music is exclusive—it’s old versus young; hip versus square; mod versus rocker; slacker versus yuppie; black versus white. Few musical genres are totally or even try to be totally inclusive—there is a built-in snobbishness that comes with the package. The osmosis of ska and Afro-Carribean culture into the white British culture pointed a way towards a truly inclusive musical genre—Two Tone. It was, as Two Tone singer Pauline Black once said, “an experiment waiting to happen.”

    During the 1960s, Skinheads took ska as their own—but the growing racism of the skinhead movement led to their ostracization. Reggae replaced ska—but the skins hated reggae’s laid-back, spliffed-up vibe. Skinheads became suedeheads. Popular music moved onto glam rock, heavy metal, and prog rock. Then punk arrived in 1976. A new generation of youngsters saw that the means of music production could be theirs.
     
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    Two Tone pioneers The Specials.
     
    Jerry Dammers was a young musician in Coventry. He had been a fellow traveler in various youth movements—a hippie, a skinhead, a punk—but his first love was ska. Dammers took the energy of punk with the rhythms of ska and created a new genre of music known as Two Tone—an inclusive, socially aware, “danceable earfest.” Dammers formed the Specials AKA with like-minded youngsters and the best of local talent. The Specials pioneered Two Tone music. They got a record deal that allowed Dammers to set up his Two Tone record label. Its first release was The Specials with “Gangsters” on the A-side and Pauline Black and the Selecter—a band made up in the studio—on the B-side. Dammers quickly signed up the Beat (a.k.a. the English Beat), London band Madness, Bad Manners, the Bodysnatchers and even Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

    Two Tone’s iconic black and white label design (an image created by Dammers that was loosely based on a photograph of Pete Tosh from the Wailing Wailers) was a standard for the fans’ style—a mix of Rude Boy and Mod—baggy suit, white shirt, black tie, and porkpie hat. Two Tone brought black and white together and although The Specials could sometimes be didactic—they sent out a political message that united the young.

    The whole story is well told by those at its heart and from those who were most influenced by it in Two Tone Britain—a thoroughly enjoyable documentary that makes you realize what at its best music can achieve. (The video embedded below looks suspiciously unavailable, but we assure you, as of the time of posting, you can click on it and watch it!)
     

     

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    What advertisements for Philip K. Dick’s Ubik spray might look like
    05.25.2016
    11:11 am

    Topics:
    Advertising
    Literature

    Tags:


    The marvelous cover for the first hardcover edition, 1969
     
    For those who enjoy their realities getting fucked with, there’s no better writer for that than the great Philip K. Dick, and among his many unsettling works, his novel Ubik is held in unusually high esteem.

    Ubik is about a mission to a moon base that includes Joe Chip, a technician who works for Glen Runciter’s “prudence organization,” and 10 cohorts. The mission ends in a fatal explosion, but who lived and survived that explosion is a puzzle the book never quite reveals.
     

     
    It’s a bewildering mindfuck of a book, featuring routinized space travel, psychics and “anti-psychics,” a character who can alter reality by traveling to the past, and a mysterious (and mystical) product called Ubik (same root as “ubiquitous”) that comes in a spray can and serves as a slippery metaphor for God itself.

    One brilliant aspect of the book is the devilishly ambiguous ending—as Dick’s wife Tessa wrote,
     

    Many readers have puzzled over the ending of Ubik, when Glen Runciter finds a Joe Chip coin in his pocket. What does it mean? Is Runciter dead? Are Joe Chip and the others alive? Actually, this is meant to tell you that we can’t be sure of anything in the world that we call ‘reality.’ It is possible that they are all dead and in cold pac or that the half-life world can affect the full-life world. It is also possible that they are all alive and dreaming.

     
    Ubik was selected for inclusion on Time magazine’s list (compiled in 2010) of the 100 greatest novels in the English language written after 1923. As Lev Grossman wrote in Time, “From the stuff of space opera, Dick spins a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you’ll never be sure you’ve woken up from.”

    A few years ago a Deviant Art user going by the handle martinacecilia created three alluring posters advertising the benefits of Ubik, using a retro style and adapting “mostly vintage ads of Coca-cola.”
     

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    ‘Game of Thrones’ Hodor door stoppers
    05.25.2016
    10:55 am

    Topics:
    Television

    Tags:


     
    Okay, so I’m going to have to keep this post spoiler-free for all you Game of Thrones fans who haven’t seen the latest episode yet. All I’m going to do is park this delightful Hodor door stopper right here without explanation and let you all know it’s available on Etsy for $25.00. You can get it here.

    I’ve found other Hodor door stoppers (featured below) but I have no idea if they’re available for purchase yet.


     

     

     
    via Nerdcore

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Unsettling paintings capture a grim, post-apocalyptic future
    05.25.2016
    10:18 am

    Topics:
    Art

    Tags:


    “Patriot,” an oil painting by Fred Einaudi
     
    According to an interview from 2013, artist Fred Einaudi once took one of those bullshit “career day” quizzes in school, which duly spat out the galling result that he was a good candidate to someday be driving a bus for a living. Thankfully, Einaudi, who was already voraciously drawing monsters by the time he was in the second grade, didn’t follow that line of advice; thanks to the encouragement of his high school art teacher, a man named John Robinson, he followed his true calling, painting.
     

    “The Chocolate Donut”
     
    After giving art school a try for a year, the San Francisco-based Einaudi dropped out, preferring to draw inspiration from artists like American painter Andrew Wyeth. He was driven by a need to create “pictures out there that don’t exist and which you have a need to see.”

    Einaudi’s images feel distinctly like foreshadowing when it comes to the plight our planet is currently undergoing with respect to the rising global temperatures—many of them deliver a one-two punch to the gut as they lead the viewer to ponder a time in the future where humans will be forced to exist in a world that is very different than the one we are currently collectively destroying on a daily basis.

    That said, I am not only a fan of Mr. Einaudi’s gorgeously grim art, but also that he gave zero fucks about his “assigned” career path and instead followed one that he was clearly destined for on his own terms. More of Einaudi’s gloomy and ominous paintings follow, many of them delightfully NSFW.
     

    “The Mermaid”
     

    “Buttonmaker”
     
    Many more of Einaudi’s grim masterpieces after the jump…...
     

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Slayer, Maiden, Metallica and more in an amazing trove of ‘80s heavy metal shirts
    05.25.2016
    10:10 am

    Topics:
    Fashion
    Music

    Tags:


     
    God bless the human magpies, for without them, finds like this wouldn’t come to light: Erna “Shelly” Hammer, an erstwhile DJ for the once-mighty Z Rock chain of heavy metal radio stations (under the name “Shelly Steel,” because evidently “Hammer” was somehow an insufficiently metal surname on its own…?), is exhibiting her collection of metal and alt-rock t-shirts, ranging in vintage from the early ‘80s to the mid ‘90s. In her lifetime of collecting, she’s discarded very little—what’s on display is a fraction of what she’s kept from her many years as an avid concertgoer, and from her time on the promo gravy train.

    This is a good place to mention that this has been been a good week for vintage metal tees—Craig “The Human Clock” Giffen posted an amazing bit of pop culture archaeology (formatted in an amazingly archaic HTML style) endeavoring to catalog all the t-shirts spotted in Jeff Krulik’s classic short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot. By all means, take a minute to check it out, this post’ll still be here when you get back.

    If you happen to be in Northeast Ohio, you can see these shirts on display in a show called “You Are What You Wear” at poster artist Derek Hess’ eponymous gallery through mid-summer. They aren’t being offered for sale piece-by-piece, but when she talked with us about her, um, wardrobe archive, Hammer implied that selling them off in a single lot for the right sum wouldn’t be out of the question.
     

     
    Hammer: The first real rock shows I went to, I was 15, and this guy I worked with at this diner first took me with him and his friends to see Aerosmith, and then a few months later, Kiss. I was in awe. I didn’t really get to go to too many more shows until I was driving, so I mail ordered shirts, whatever I could get.
     

     
    Hammer: I had an awful lot, but I wore them—you can see some of them are pretty beat up, stretched, over-laundered. I bought them to wear, there was no intention of collecting. The only ones I got rid of were when I moved, I got rid of a bunch that were promo when I worked in radio, for bands I didn’t really care about. I got rid of a whole crate! All of the shirts from bands that meant something to me, I hung on to.
     

     
    Hammer:  I never thought about selling them. When I got asked to do the exhibit, I was even skeptical about that, I asked “do people really want to look at a bunch of shirts?” and they assured me it would be cool. But there’s always a price on everything, you know. And eventually, after turning 50, it’s normal to want to start downsizing. So they could be for sale. But there’d still be one or two I’d have to hang on to.
     

     
    Hammer: The one thing I love about shirts, it’s kind of like a club. When you see someone in a concert shirt by a band you like somewhere, especially if it’s a remote place where you don’t expect it, you feel a brotherhood or sisterhood with that person you know saw the same show as you did—they’re conversation starters!
     

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
    That time the Clash appeared in Martin Scorsese’s ‘The King of Comedy’
    05.24.2016
    05:50 pm

    Topics:
    Movies
    Music

    Tags:


     
    An interesting cinematic footnote to the Clash’s time spent in New York City in the early 1980s—while they recorded their sprawling three-record Sandinista album—is their “blink and you missed ‘em” appearance in Martin Scorsese’s dark classic The King of Comedy.
     

     
    Apparently both Scorsese and Robert De Niro were huge Clash fans and saw them during their famous series of seventeen concerts at Bonds International Casino in Times Square during May and June of 1981. Aside from the band going out to bars a few times with the director and actor, it’s mentioned in several Clash biographies—and several about Scorsese, too—that Gangs of New York was originally something he envisioned for the group!
     

     
    Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and some of their cohorts—sometime manager Kosmo Vinyl, singers Ellen Foley and Pearl Harbour and filmmaker Don Letts are credited in The King of Comedy as “Street Scum.”

    Here the are in action, take a look:

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    ‘Secret Life of the Human Pups’ reveals the men who like to dress up as dogs
    05.24.2016
    02:06 pm

    Topics:
    Animals

    Tags:


     
    Tomorrow evening large numbers of U.K. viewers are expected to tune into what is being hyped as a startling documentary on Channel 4 called Secret Life of Human Pups. The documentary is about a fascinating subculture of men who have a secret predilection for dressing up as dogs in their spare time, including the donning of special plastic dog outfits, sleeping in cages, eating dog biscuits—they especially adore going out for walks on a leash, or on a “lead” as the British term it.

    This morning, on a talk show called This Morning on ITV, British viewers received a sneak preview of the documentary’s content when a fellow named Tom, who likes to dress up as a Dalmatian named Spot, appeared for an interview with a close friend and former fiancée named Rachael. To put it mildly, the program has provided many Britons with a juicy fodder for water cooler conversation.

    Tom is a sound and lighting technician in everyday life, and he has spent more than four thousand pounds—that’s nearly $6,000—on his canine accoutrements. Tom has a custom-made rubber suit and a dog crate that he uses for his nighttime slumbers. He says, “It doesn’t look comfortable, but you can curl up in different ways, there is more space than you think.”

    According to the documentary, as many as 10,000 “secret pups” live in the United Kingdom. Many of them insist that the practice is not sexual in nature but is rather a response to stress in daily life, a reversion to a simpler state of being. As Tom says, the practice is “an obsession and an escapism. It would be a very boring life if there was no puppy play.”

    Baffled viewers took to Twitter to express their befuddlement—and also to register their skepticism that the practice has no sexual component. One woman named Kirsty tweeted: “I’m sorry but him saying it isn’t a sexual thing is lying! It’s extreme bondage gone weird.”

    One man quoted only by his puppy name Dynamo, commented, “A lot of them work in high pressure jobs and control a lot of people, they are CEOs and it is a way for them to express themselves in a way they can’t as a human.” Another fellow who becomes a rottweiler named Chip says “When I am not running around on all fours I work in catering.”

    After the documentary airs tomorrow night, you can expect a whole new round of office conversation to start up again.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Kicking Against the Pricks: How Pauline Boty’s pioneering Pop art bucked the art world’s boy’s club
    05.24.2016
    02:01 pm

    Topics:
    Art
    Feminism
    Heroes
    Movies

    Tags:

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    Pauline Boty was an artist, activist, actress and model. She was one of the leading figures of the British Pop art movement during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her contemporaries were Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and David Hockney. But when Boty tragically died at the height of her fame in 1966, her work mysteriously disappeared. Not one of her paintings was exhibited again until 1993.

    Boty was all but forgotten by the time a cache of her paintings was rediscovered on a farm in the English countryside in the early 1990s. The paintings had been stored in an old barn for safe-keeping by her brother. Their rediscovery placed Boty firmly back into the center of the Pop art boy’s club.

    Throughout her life, Boty kicked against the men who tried to hold her back. Born into a Catholic family in 1938, her father (a by-the-book accountant) wanted his daughter to marry someone respectable and raise a family. Instead she chose to study art to her father’s great displeasure. In 1954, Boty won a scholarship to Wimbledon School of Art.

    At college, Boty was dubbed the “Wimbledon Bridget Bardot” because of her blonde hair and film star looks. She went onto study lithography and stained glass design. However, her desire was to study painting. When she applied to the Royal College of Art in 1958, it was suggested by the male tutors that she would be more suited studying stained glass design as there were so few women painters. Though Boty enrolled in the design course she continued with her ambitions to paint.

    Encouraged by the original Pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi, Boty began painting at her apartment. Her makeshift studio soon became a meeting point for her friends (Derek Marlowe, Celia Birtwell) and contemporaries (Blake, Boshier, Hockney and co) to meet, talk and work. Boty started exhibiting her collages and paintings alongside these artists and her career as a painter commenced.

    In 1962, Boty was featured in a documentary about young British pop artists Pop Goes the Easel alongside Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips. The film was directed by Ken Russell who created an incredibly imaginative and memorable portrait of the four artists. Each was given the opportunity to discuss their work—only Boty did not. Instead she collaborated with Russell on a very prescient dream sequence.
     

     
    It opens with Boty laying out her paintings and drawings on the floor of a long circular corridor—actually the old BBC TV Center. As she examines her work a group of young women appear behind her. These women walk all over her artwork. Then from out of an office door, a nightmarish figure in a wheelchair appears and chases Boty along the seemingly endless twisting corridors. Boty eventually escapes into an elevator—only to find the ominous figure waiting inside.

    Her performance in Russell’s film led to further acting roles—in Alfie with Michael Caine, with James Fox on the stage, Stanley Baxter on television and again with Russell in a small role opposite Oliver Reed in Dante’s Inferno. Boty was photographed by David Bailey, modeled for Vogue, regularly appeared as an audience dancer on Ready, Steady, Go!, and held legendary parties at her studio to which everyone who was anyone attended—from the Stones to Bob Dylan. Boty was the bright flame to whom everyone was attracted.

    She was a feminist icon—living her life, doing what she wanted to do, and not letting men from hold her back. But the sixties were not always the liberated decade many Boomers would have us believe. Boty’s critics nastily dismissed her as the Pop art pin-up girl. The left-wing party girl. A dumb blonde. Of course, they were wrong—but shit unfortunately sticks.

    Boty’s work became more politically nuanced. She criticised America’s foreign policy in Vietnam; dissected the unacknowledged sexism of everyday life; and celebrated female sexuality. She had a long affair with the director Philip Saville—which allegedly inspired Joseph Losey’s film Darling with Dirk Bogarde and Julie Christie. Then after a ten day “whirlwind romance” Boty married Clive Goodwin—a literary agent and activist. She claimed he was the only man who was interested in her mind.

    In 1965, Boty was nearing the top of her field when she found she was pregnant. During a routine prenatal examination, doctors discovered a malignant tumor. Boty refused an abortion. She also refused chemotherapy as she did not want to damage the fetus. In February 1966, Boty gave birth to a daughter—Boty Goodwin. Five months later in July 1966, Pauline Boty died. Her last painting was a commission for Kenneth Tynan’s nude revue Oh! Calcutta! called “BUM.”
     
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    Pauline Boty in her studio holding the painting ‘Scandal’ in 1963.
     
    0_0bghan60pb.jpg
    ‘A Big Hand’ (1960).

    More of Pauline Boty’s paintings plus Ken Russell’s ‘Pop Goes the Easel,’ after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    The Adventures of Schoolly D: A Gangster’s Story
    05.24.2016
    01:24 pm

    Topics:
    Hip-hop
    Movies
    Music

    Tags:


     
    At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged white guy character in a Mike Judge film, the improbable soundtrack to my life for the past two weeks has been Schoolly motherfuckin’ D. For whatever reason, I pulled out an old CD of his—maybe for the first time this millennium—to listen to in the car the other day and now I can’t get enough of it. Alone in the car I play “P.S.K. (What Does It Mean?)” at an ear-splitting volume that I’m pretty sure bounces my conservative European automobile like a low-rider with tricked-out suspension. I probably look like an idiot, I grant you, but I don’t really care. This shit is amazing. I appreciated it when it came out—I saw him live—but why it captured my attention so much again thirty years later I couldn’t tell you. It just did.

    Probably the original original gangster rapper—even Ice-T admitted in his autobiography that he might’ve taken a bite out of Schoolly D‘s style—the Philadelphia native, on his self-released records at least, perfectly played the role of the scary black gang member/rapper, alluding to, cataloging and boasting about the nefarious activities of the “Park Side Killers,” the local posse of bad boys he ran with. Schoolly—real name Jesse Weaver Jr.—was backed by his DJ Code Money and rapped about violence, guns, raunchy sex, “bitches,” crack and “cheeba”—Salt-n-Pepa or Run DMC were never going to mention such things, or use the “N” word in their raps. Schoolly D shied away from none of these topics or that word.
     

     
    He told the Philadelphia Citypaper about where his lyrical inspiration came from in a 2004 interview:

    “A couple of guys I know, Abdullah, Disco Man and my man Manny, were like, “Why don’t you write a song about us, why don’t you write a song about Parkside Killers?’ It was one of the easiest songs I’d ever written. I wrote it sitting at my mom’s dining-room table, smoking some weed at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

    Armed with his newfound inspiration and a large amount of weed, Schoolly hit the studio. Out of necessity he was forced into recording in a studio designed for classical music.

    “They had these big plate reverbs, that’s why you got the “PSK’ sound because nobody used the real shit. We did everything live, and if you listen you can hear my fingers programming the drum machine. We just kept getting higher and higher and higher, and smoking and smoking and all of a sudden the song just took on this whole other life because we were just so fucked up. It just made this sucking sound like “boosh, boosh’ and we just looked at each other and were like, “Yeah, do more of that shit.’”

    The “boosh” sound is what really made “PSK” stand out as something that, until that time, had never been done. The tweaked-out reverb bass caused a sensation.

    “I got home and I put the tape in the tape recorder and I was like, “What the fuck did I do?’ Nobody had ever done something like that before, with all the reverb, nobody. And I was like, “I gotta go back and take some of that reverb out because this shit just sounds kinda crazy.’ But I didn’t know that everyone else was making tapes and passing out copies to everyone in Parkside, so by the time that I wanted to go back to the studio it was already out everywhere, and motherfuckers was going crazy, they was like, “That’s the baddest shit we ever heard in our whole fucking life.’”

    Keep reading after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    Lee Ving of Fear—now in bobblehead form
    05.24.2016
    09:50 am

    Topics:
    Amusing
    Music
    Punk

    Tags:


     
    Fear singer/honcho Lee Ving is a divisive figure who’s been called a LOT of things ending in “-head.” The unabashedly juvenile and boneheaded misanthropy in Fear’s lyrics makes him a hero to anti-PC reactionaries (he’s called himself an “equal opportunity offender” in interviews, which right there is a huge dog whistle), and a juvenile misanthropic bonehead to everyone else. He’s basically a loudmouth who unabashedly speaks his mind, a quality considered highly praiseworthy by people who happen to think like him. I can think of another figure who appeals to reactionaries for “speaking exactly what’s on his mind.” I’ll shut up now.

    But whatever you can say about Ving’s assholiness, his band left a pretty remarkably big musical stain on Hardcore. In their 39 year history (of the original band only Ving remains) they released only two truly significant albums—1982’s The Record and 1985’s More Beer. Since then their output has been paltry, sporadic, and lacking in fire. It’s clear the band exhausted its trove of ideas early; their last album, 2012’s The Fear Record, is merely a re-recording of their debut. But that debut was sufficiently loaded with classics that it practically constitutes a best-of in its own right. That, and the publicity generated by their infamously chaotic Saturday Night Live appearance (the were invited by John Belushi) made the utterly misanthropic and hostile Fear, for better or for worse, the band civilians thought of when they thought of Hardcore at all, which let’s face it, didn’t do punk a whole lot of favors in the public relations department. As with all things Ving, your mileage may vary.

    So whether you think he’s a savior or a destroyer, it’s fairly inarguable that he genuinely deserves the honor of his own bobblehead figure. Ving lately joins DEVO, Descendents, Mike Watt, Wendy O. Williams, and GG Allin, among other underground heroes, in Aggronautix’s “Throbblehead” line of punk rock bobbleheads. He’s the 30th punk icon so honored, and his edition of figures is limited to 1000, numbered. And it looks a damn shot cuddlier than the real-life model. If these don’t sell, maybe Aggronautix can lop off the middle finger, scrub the Fear logos, and try to pass these off as Joe Strummer.
     

     

     
    Pre-orders are happening now at Aggronautix’s web site. The figures are expected to ship this summer.

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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