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Diane Keaton takes on death itself in her kooky afterlife documentary ‘Heaven’
02.25.2015
03:13 pm

Topics:
Belief
Movies

Tags:
Diane Keaton
theology


 
In 1987, the news that Diane Keaton had directed a movie about the celestial firmament was met with bumfuzzled curiosity among the general populace, who had hitherto not had the slightest notion that she had harbored any such ambitions. The resultant movie, Heaven, was about as distinctive a film as came out in the 1980s and certainly did a good job of representing Diane Keaton.

The movie is a combination of found footage and subject interviews, most of whom appear to have been rounded up in a dragnet at Venice Beach. The movie feels very California, both in the number of pop culture references that get dropped as well as Keaton’s evident assumptions that the Christian heaven is most likely bunk and that the New Agers or the Zen people probably have it figured out. Of God Himself, one intense lady says, “I see him like Groucho Marx, and he’s always playing tricks on us. When we think we’ve got it, we’re sitting in a pile of cow manure, so he really is a practical joker.” One fella muses that in heaven “I’ll be just like Burt Reynolds or any other star” while another identifies it as the site where everyone wins an Oscar. Asked whether there is sex in heaven, one dude blurts, “Heaven is an orgasm! I mean, why not? It’s the best!” which comment embarrasses his girlfriend no end. Just in case we get bored, there arrives the unmistakable image of boxing promoter Don King to explain his take on heaven.

The music on the movie was the responsibility of frequent Cronenberg collaborator Howard Shore (who also worked on some Tolkien movies) as well as CD compilation empresario Hal Willner. The canny musical choices include the Dream Academy’s obscure gem “Heaven” and The Residents’ “Walter Westinghouse.”

One of the best elements of the movie are the incredible art deco intertitles, which were done by Geppetto Studios in Brooklyn. Here are a couple examples:
 

 

 
The found footage relies a lot on hokey black-and-white movies as well as bizarre footage from evangelists and so forth. The middle American true believers come in for a hard time in Heaven. Two of the quotes are so good that I’m going to reproduce them here in full; the first we only hear as an audio track:
 

The summer is ended, and you’re not prepared to meet God. The summer is ended; why has God let this happen to us? GONE will be the late night drunkenness, GONE will be the massage parlor, GONE will be the nude beaches, GONE will be the bars on every corner, GONE will be the automobiles and the riches, GONE will be the television sets and the movies, GONE will be the Chevy Chases and the Erik Estradas and the weirdos of Hollywood!


 
I don’t know about you, but I’m not soon going to forget the frenzied cry of “GONE will be the Chevy Chases and the Erik Estradas and the weirdos of Hollywood!”

In the second one, we have video—I’d love to find out who this guy is, he’s the big beardo who pops up during the “sex” segment around minute 43 to explain,
 

Sex is all right. I like spitting, too. I like washing my eyes, too. I like getting a haircut, too. I like scratching. But I’m not gonna miss it, no. You see, if you miss something, that’s because you’ve made it your god. But if sex is your god, which it usually is, look down that perverted town of Hollywood. On Fag Day, when they got their giant phallix parading up and down the street. You see, this is their god! You see? Well, one day, their god will be dead! They’ll be alone, and they won’t have a big phallic to lay on, to cuddle, fondle, and enjoy.


 
Oh shit, Fag Day is coming up and I haven’t even started shopping yet!

Heaven probably would have benefited if Keaton had gotten out of El Lay and found some folks in a less west coastal environment to talk to, and the use of found footage feels dated, like a segment on Night Flight. It’s almost disorienting to see a documentary on a subject that almost by definition, nobody knows anything about, but in a way, that very fact excuses Keaton’s offhanded approach. It might have been better to corral a handful of people who had had life-after-death experiences and really figure out what was going on there, but that’s not what Keaton was interested in. If Heaven is about anything, it’s about the folly of people. It’s a difficult movie to dislike, and it’s a hell of a lot more rewarding than the otherwise similar, but insipid, What the #$*! Do We Know!?
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Teeny-tiny models of early synthesizers and analog recording equipment
02.25.2015
01:19 pm

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
synthesizer


 
I’m smitten with these tiny models of vintage synthesizers called “Analogue Miniatures” by artist Dan McPharlin. You know how something is so cute you kind of want to squeeze it to death. Yeah, I’m feeling it with these.

“Produced between 2006 and 2009, the “Analogue Miniatures” series was my attempt to pay tribute to early synthesizers and analogue recording equipment. Rather than replicating existing machines, the focus was on creating a revisionist history where analogue technology continued to flourish uninterrupted,” says Dan.

Each musical instrument is handmade using “framing matt-boards, paper, plastic sheeting, string and rubber bands.”

Here’s an idea for Mattel: They need to create a Moog synthesizer savvy Barbie doll, perhaps an homage to electronic musician Delia Derbyshire and include these tiny synths as apart of her kickass accessories. Seriously, how cool would that be? A DELIA DERBYSHIRE BARBIE DOLL, DAMNIT! I want one.

Please Mattel, make this happen.  And if not Mattel, some doll maker with an Etsy shop!

You can view more of Dan’s work here.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Below, a 2009 documentary on Delia Derbyshire:

 
via Bong Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Mary Poppins goes all death metal: ‘A spoon full of glass helps the hate go down’
02.25.2015
10:28 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Mary Poppins


 
Yes, we’ve all seen dozens of these parody death metal videos. I believe the first one I saw was Louis Armstrong’s death metal version of “What a Wonderful World.” At the time I thought it was bloody brilliant. It worked.

There have been so many of them since that winner, that I do a mental eyeroll and pass them by. BUT, I did press play on this one. It takes Mary Poppins‘s earworm song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and gives it the you-know-what treatment. What’s amusing about this one in particular is that it’s done in both male and female death metal vocals. They even incorporated Dick Van Dyke’s notoriously naff Cockney accent, which I fot was a nice touch, guv’nor!

I look forward to their gruesome take on “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘We use the music as an exorcism’: Cabaret Voltaire takes over ‘Night Flight,’ 1985
02.25.2015
08:49 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Cabaret Voltaire
Night Flight


 
For many ‘80s teens, the dearly beloved USA Network program Night Flight was a gateway to a whole wide world of cool shit that wasn’t being played anywhere else. There were definitely plenty of Friday or Saturday nights I spent gaping at J-Men Forever or a full Neil Young concert. In some ways Cabaret Voltaire was a perfect Night Flight band, both finding inspiration in European experimental art of the early twentieth century: Night Flight was named after an Antoine de Saint-Exupéry book, and Cabaret Voltaire was named after a legendary dada nightclub in Zurich.

On this particular summer night in 1985—the commercials for John Candy’s Summer Rental and Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II indicate the timing—Night Flight turned over a half hour of programming for what it called an “exclusive documentary” about the Sheffield postpunk masters.

Truly, hats off to the people at Night Flight for executing this in a way that the band itself might have dreamt up. The interview portions consist entirely of footage of Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson speaking to the camera—there’s no stilted Q&A with a network stooge, it’s all suffused in an ashen b/w mode that is entirely in keeping with the videos we see, of “Just Fascination,” “Crackdown,” and “a special 8-minute version of ‘Sensoria’.” (I’m not sure, but I think this is the 12-inch version that was later included on #8385 Collected Works (1983-1985).)
 

 
In the interview bits, Mallinder says, “If we tried to be straightforward and direct, then it would be contrary to what we are as people, and music’s just an extension of what we are as people,” later saying, “We use the music as an exorcism.” Cabaret Voltaire was never a cheery bunch, and if you’re not into postpunk this entire half-hour will seem not much different from a dreary Sprockets imitation. If so, your loss, dummy!

Also heard during the segment are chunks of “Nag Nag Nag,” “Seconds Too Late,” and “Diskono.”
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘You jive white motherf*ckers!’: Jazz legend Freddie Hubbard spectacularly blows his cool onstage
02.25.2015
08:10 am

Topics:
Music
Race

Tags:
jazz
Freddie Hubbard


 
The year is 1966 and legendary jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is onstage in Graz, Austria as a sideman for Sonny Rollins.

Distracted by whistling and heckling, Hubbard furiously castigates the audience:

Fuck you white motherfuckers! FUCK YOU white motherfuckers! Well, okay. I’ll go home. If you don’t like me, kiss my ass! That’s right, cuz you jive. You jive. You jive. You white MOTHERFUCKERS! You the ones who started this shit! Lemme tell you - you the ones. Fuck you! FUCK YOU, you jive white motherfuckers! If you don’t like me, KISS MY BLACK ASS! You motherfuckers! Fuck it, I don’t care!

Johannes Probst writes on Big O:

I was talking to James Spaulding, who was in that group, and he remembered the night vividly. Hubbard was drunk and started cussing out the audience. So in the intermission the police kicked in the dressing-room door and took both Hubbard and Spaulding into custody. James was very angry with Freddie, because he had to spend the night in jail.

 

 
Below, hear the influential bebop trumpeter completely lose his shit on a room full of jive white Austrian motherfuckers:
 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Discussion
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Forget that shitty ‘CBGB’ film, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ from 1978 takes you inside the real CBGB


 
Three aspiring musicians: Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd were looking for a place “where nothing was happening” for their band Television to play. If nothing was happening then the bar owner had nothing to lose. One day, down in the Bowery, Verlaine and Lloyd spotted a place initialed CBGB-OMFUG. They sidled across, went inside and talked to the owner a former singer and musician Hilly Krystal. As Lloyd recalled in Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s essential oral history of punk Please Kill Me, Hilly wanted to know what kinda music they played. They answered with a question:

‘Well, what does ‘CBGB-OMFUG’ stand for?’

He said, ‘Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gourmandizers.’

So we said, ‘Oh yeah, we play a little of that, a little rock, a little country, a little blues, a little bluegrass…’

And Hilly said, ‘Oh, okay, maybe…’

 
01blitzramonebop.jpg
 
In fact, the only real stipulation for appearing at CBGB’s was to play new music, and although Suicide and Wayne County had already appeared at CBGB’s (after the demise of the Mercer Arts Center), it was not until Television, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads and The Dead Boys started taking up residency that CBGB’s changed from something where nothing happened to somewhere it all happened.
 

 
If you were disappointed by the shitty CBGB’s movie made a couple of years back starring Alan Rickman, then you will get a better sense of the energy, talent and musical revolution that took place at CBGB’s in the mid-1970s with this hour-long TV documentary Blitzkrieg Bop . Focussing on The Ramones, Blondie and the The Dead Boys, Blitzkrieg Bop mixes live performance with short interview clips and a racy newscast voiceover. It’s recommended viewing.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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A magazine gave every San Francisco mayoral candidate the replicant test from ‘Blade Runner’
02.25.2015
07:06 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Politics

Tags:
Blade Runner
San Francisco


 
There’s nothing more irritating than the evasive non-answers politicians mete out for the press and public. Education, budget, jobs—the words get thrown around a lot (and always in positive terms), but candidates are cagey and it’s nearly impossible to cut through their bullshit. If the voters want to know who these people really are, we have to ask the tough questions. Questions like…

Are you a fucking replicant?!?

Of course, no prospective leader is going to admit they’re an advanced android, which is why we have the highly scientific Voight-Kampff Test, made famous in Blade Runner. Why it’s not administered to everyone running for office, I do not know, but in 2003, The Wave magazine managed to ask every single question to all of the San Francisco mayoral candidates. The results were troubling, to say the least.
 

The Wave: Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.
It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. How do you react?

Gavin Newsom: I don’t have anything to put in it. I would thank them and move on.

TW: You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. What do you do?

GN: I would tell him to… You know what? I wouldn’t know how to respond. How’s that for an answer? Is this a psychological test? I’m worried…

TW: They’re just questions, Gavin. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response.

GN: Oh, I got you.

TW: Shall we continue?

GN: Sure.

TW: You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. How would you react?

GN: I would quietly sit and wait for the wasp to move to the next victim.

TW: You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, Gavin, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back, Gavin. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that, Gavin?

GN: [Immediately] Not a chance. I would never flip the tortoise over in the first place.

TW: Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind. About your mother.

GN: Ethics. Commitment. Sacrifice.

CONCLUSION: Almost too close to call. Almost. Newsom displays a defensiveness when his empathy is questioned. He’s aware that he’s being probed for emotional responses, and even expresses concern about this. However, this concern is alleviated a little too easily by our crafty V-K interviewer. Newsom is definitely a replicant. Probably a Nexus 5.

My fellow Americans, that was the test for Gavin Newsom, who not only won that election, but ran and was elected for a second term in 2007, and now serves as Lieutenant Governor of the state of California. Forget about creeping sharia or David Icke’s lizard people—the replicant threat is real!

Via io9

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘He’s a Woman, She’s a Man’: The Scorpions’ transgressive transgender lust anthem
02.25.2015
06:27 am

Topics:
Music
Queer
Sex

Tags:
heavy metal
Scorpions


 
Sure, everyone knows Germany’s Scorpions from their 1980’s (thinning) Hair Metal hits “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “There’s No One Like You,” but The Scorpions career goes back much further. Their first album, 1972’s Lonesome Crow is (surprisingly great) proggy Krautrock. Over the course of the bands next four releases they shifted their approach to more of a hard rocking, proto-metal sound—a sort of Deep Purple on speedball. By the release of 1977’s Taken by Force, The Scorpions were in full-on assault mode.

 
The track we’ll be examining today is so musically (and lyrically, as we’ll see) ahead of its time, that I dare call it proto-thrash. The performance here from a German television show (how did this get on TV?) rocks so unbelievably hard that you can almost forgive Klaus Meine’s interpretive jazz-hands dancing.

What makes 1977’s “He’s a Woman, She’s a Man” so breath-taking is the stark way in which it deals with the subject of transgender that’s light years beyond what The Kinks were ambiguously laying out in 1971’s hit “Lola.” Granted, The Scorpions’ 1977 English-as-a-second-language is not necessarily sensitive to the titular character referred to as “it” throughout the tune; but a breakdown of the lyrics reveals the storyteller encountering a person of indeterminate gender, at first expressing shock and disbelief, but ultimately essentially saying “fuck it, I’m horny and attracted to this person regardless of my Teutonic heavy metal dude confusion.” The first two verses express bewilderment, the second two express acceptance.

I saw it walking lonely down the street
Cool like a cat and like a crazy dream
I’m looking twice again and can’t believe
It turned around and then it looked at me

I thought, “Oh, no”, it really couldn’t be
It was a man and was a woman too
He’s a woman, she’s a man

I think it really came from far away
I’m feeling hypnotized, I have to stay
It takes my hand and says, “Come on, let’s go”
We’re going home there’s nothing more to say

He starts to move, she starts to play
I need a body, why not you?
He’s a woman, she’s a man

The Scorpions were no strangers to being sexually confrontational in their art. The album which preceded this one, Virgin Killer, featured in its shocking original cover art a nude prepubescent girl with slivers of cracked glass just barely covering the area over her pelvic girdle. The cover, which frequently makes “worst LP cover of all time” lists, was banned in the US, as was the Hipgnosis-designed cover for their Lovedrive LP.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Discussion
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Houses in Motion: The spellbinding ‘Flying Houses’ of Laurent Chéhère
02.25.2015
05:30 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Laurent Chéhère

Laurent Chéhère 1
 
Award winning French photographer, Laurent Chéhère beautifully lifts the viewer into the stratosphere with these mesmerizing works of photo manipulation from his “Flying Houses” series. The simple images that include clotheslines, neon signs, graffiti, power lines and intimate internal scenes are slightly unsettling with these normally grounded structures pulled free from their moorings.

A few of Chéhère’s photographs from the series will be on exhibit through February 22 at the Muriel Guépin Gallery in New York City.  From the gallery’s website:

In his second show in the United States, award-winning French photographer Laurent Chéhère will present 5 new iconic “Flying Houses” at Muriel Guépin Gallery. Laurent Chéhere, a French photographer born in 1972 in Paris, makes images of flying houses and other dwellings that are informed by his wanderings in the hidden neighborhoods of Paris and by his love of cinematic history. The charming manipulated images, part digital, part analog depict a dreamlike world where his reconstructed houses appear to float in a silvery sky.

You can find more of Chéhère’s work on his website.
 
Flying Houses 2
 
Flying Houses 3
 
Flying Houses 4
 
More flying houses after the jump….

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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‘Moog Plays ABBA’: Australian synthesizer record rarity is fantastic goofy fun
02.25.2015
05:26 am

Topics:
Music
Superstar

Tags:
Moog
ABBA
Robin Workman


 
The mini-craze for Moog synthesizer albums that Switched-On Bach launched in 1968 yielded a bumper crop of kitschy delights, plenty of which are still waiting for you to rescue them from thrift stores. Some of them remain classics—Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman, with its indelible “Topless Dancers of Corfu,” is a keeper, as is Gershon Kingsley’s Music To Moog By, which features the ridiculously catchy “Popcorn,” but plenty of lesser-known efforts in the genre are larded with fun listens.
 

 
Specifically: in 1976, when international ABBA-mania was nearing its height, a wonderful Moog tribute to that band was released on the Australian label TeeVee Records, titled Moog Plays ABBA. The album was made by one Robin Workman, who largely built the songs around traditional rock instruments and played synth leads as stand-ins for vocals. Available biographical data about Workman is mighty scanty, though someone by that name is the longtime director of a company in Sidney called “Keyboard Koncepts.” Amazingly, within a year, following the release of ABBA’s completely HUGE album Arrival, Workman released the album anew—retitled Moog and Guitars Play ABBA: 20 Golden Instrumentals, and given a much less inspired cover—at almost double the original’s length, to accommodate remakes of almost every song from that new ABBA LP! So I guess he really liked it. Here are a few examples, and if this version of “Mama Mia” doesn’t make you smile, you have NO heart.
 

“SOS”
 

“Dancing Queen”
 
More Moogy ABBA after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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