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  • Hoaxes of Death: Secrets of the infamous death documentary REVEALED!
    02.20.2017
    10:05 am

    Topics:
    Movies
    Pop Culture
    Television

    Tags:


     
    One of the many pointless rites of passage for dopey teenage boys in the 80s (present company included) was watching Faces of Death on VHS. Originally released to theaters in 1978, the infamous “mondo” movie—a collection of “real death” scenes collected from various supposed “real” news sources and hosted by a death-obsessed world-traveling “pathologist” named Dr. Francis B. Gross (geddit?)—was a box office smash in the kind of greasy grindhouses and drive-in movie theaters where murder and mayhem reigned, eventually gobbling up a reported $35 million in box office receipts. But that was only the beginning…

    Faces of Death really became a phenomenon in 1983, when the infamous Gorgon Video company released it on a garish, big-box VHS with its crude drawing of a grinning skull on a pitch-black background with the impossible to resist tagline: “Banned! In 46 countries!”  As soon as you saw it, you just knew you had to watch it. Faces was, arguably,  the first real “viral video.” It spread largely by word of mouth, each giddy viewer embellishing its beastly atrocities in a far-flung game of VCR telephone. By the mid-80s the film’s reputation had grown so fierce that even the title could send a nervous kid into a pile of trembling sweat and goo.
     

    Don’t worry, this guy is gonna be fine.

    So did it live up to the hype? Sorta. Everyone has their “favorite” moments—the “bloody” dog fight, the brutal electric chair execution, American tourists gorging on the brains of a live monkey, the guy getting eaten by an alligator, the Satanic cult cannibal feast, the dumb camper who tries to feed a bear a sandwich and becomes the real lunch—but even the least discerning sixteen year old was left with more questions than answers. Why would a camping couple bring multiple cameras with them to film a spontaneous inter-species act? Do you really bleed from the eyeballs when you get electrocuted? Why does the chimp suddenly turn into a monkey halfway through the “feast”? But here’s the thing: it was the 80s. We had no Internet. The true story of Faces of Death was not in the latest edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. We suspected some amount of fraud, but how much and how it was created was unknown. It should also be noted that although a lot of the film seemed fishy, most of it was definitely authentic. The dramatizations in Faces of Death are littered with actual slaughterhouse and morgue footage. It’s a grim view no matter what.
     

    This monkey has some serious concerns about the ‘Faces of Death’ script.

    The beans were finally spilled thirty years later…

    Keep reading after the jump…

    Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
    Beautiful panoramic Cubist drawings of China’s urbanized landscape
    02.20.2017
    08:53 am

    Topics:
    Art
    Design
    Environment

    Tags:

    0033_1.jpg
    Panorama of Tuan Jie Hu.
     
    I spent twenty minutes looking for Waldo but was too overawed by the sheer magnificence of these panoramic drawings that I gave up looking for the stripy little fucker.

    Not that I would have ever found him in these stunning, breathtaking, incredible, ___ [fill in the blank with your own adjective] architectural drawings of Beijing’s downtown districts. These massive, painstakingly created drawings are the work of artists/architects at the Drawing Architecture Studio, China. The images form part of their Urbanized Landscape Series.

    Awesome, aren’t they?

    Just take a look at the panorama drawing above (and its details below) of Tuan Jie Hu—“old residential area located by the East 3rd Ring Road in Beijing”—which “vividly depicts the views from the daily life in this busy local community.”

    At the same time, the piece also shows some new exploration in architectural drawing techniques. Some 45-degree axis from different directions allow the viewers to constantly change their viewpoints, which is like a Cubism painting.

    The Drawing Architecture Studio was founded by architect Li Han and designer Hu Yan in Beijing. Their intention is to offer a “creative platform integrating architecture, art, design, urban study, pop culture, and aiming to explore the new models for the creation of contemporary urban culture.”

    Sounds good to me. They also sell a variety of products which you check out here. Click on the images below for a closer look.
     
    c0033_2.jpg
    Detail of Tuan Jie Hu panorama.
     
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    More gorgeous panoramic maps of downtown Beijing, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    There’s a tiny nude Trump troll doll
    02.20.2017
    08:44 am

    Topics:
    Amusing

    Tags:


     
    It’s not unusual for troll dolls to be nude, but what’s not standard for troll dolls is showcasing their teeny-tiny troll penises. That’s exactly what artist Chuck Williams has done with this vinyl Trump troll doll. There’s even a cell phone in hand so this troll Trump is “Twitter ready.”

    By now we’ve probably all seen the “Tiny POTUS” photoshopped memes making the rounds on the Internet with the intention of annoying President Shit “bigly.” Will the Trump troll doll so the same? Let’s hope so!

    Right now the troll dolls have not been manufactured just yet. They’re on pre-order for $25 a pop with the hopes of the dolls being made and distributed in the next few months. (It could take up to a year, though.) Chuck Williams wants to find a quality factory to make ‘em.


     
    via Nerdcore

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Remembering the brilliant hypocrisy of Death Cigarettes
    02.17.2017
    02:25 pm

    Topics:
    Drugs

    Tags:


     
    The 1990s were definitely a time when the anti-smoking forces got the upper hand over the enemy for good. Airports became 95% no-smoking zones. In New York State, where I lived, Governor Mario Cuomo passed the New York Clean Indoor Air Act in 1990, which banned smoking in many environments, including stores, taxis, certain restaurants, schools, and most significantly, the majority of worksites. Once a normal smoker working at a normal job couldn’t smoke in the office, the jig was pretty much up. Years later came the stringent requirements in New York for separate and ventilated smoking facilities.

    The change was especially evident in music venues. A thing that would have been scarcely imaginable in the 1980s—smoke-free music shows—became commonplace. In years to come, a single plume of smoke emanating from the middle of the hall would be noticed by every individual present.

    With the advent of no-smoking signs and especially cancer warnings on cigarette packaging, a British entrepreneur named B.J. Cunningham spotted an opportunity to make a buck and also to be clever while doing it. In 1991 Cunningham started the Enlightened Tobacco Company—still have to chuckle at that name—which sold a product called Death Cigarettes with suitably doomy black packaging with white lettering and a skull and crossbones. The black packages contained the regulars, the white ones had Death Lights, jokingly referred to as Slow Death. The cigarettes themselves also had a demure little skull and crossbones on them.
     

    Death Cigarettes founder B.J. Cunningham
     
    Far from flinching at the “required” health warnings, Death Cigarettes positively reveled in them, with mordantly amusing messages like “It’s your funeral” and “Too bad, you’re gonna die.” One of their slogans was “The Grim Reaper, don’t come cheaper,” and posters for Death Cigarettes boldly bore the messages “SERIAL KILLER” and “BLOW YOURSELF AWAY.”

    For the budding goth scene, the cigarettes were all but irresistible. British artist and illustrator Matt Lyon put it succinctly a few weeks ago:

    “I’ve got fond memories of these from the early 90s. They soon became the cigarette of choice for shoegazers, goths and students alike, not least because of the packaging, but also their use of hemp paper and additive-free tobacco.”

    They were healthier?
     

     
    According to Persuasion in Advertising by John and Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, there were rumors of coffin-shaped vending machines in certain clubs. It would be great to corroborate that one—does anyone remember that?

    The post-Internet generation that was coming up was arguably more health-conscious—maybe all that legislation had a positive effect—and Death Cigarettes failed to make it past the year 1999.

    In 2015 the Hinterland Gallery in Kent, England, hosted an interesting exhibition on the product, featuring original advertising posters for Death Cigarettes as well as a remarkable Death Cigarettes-themed piano with “DANGER OF DEATH” stamped on the front.
     

     
    This mug was once available on Etsy, but no longer:
     

     

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    The Black Flag tour machine grinds to a halt in ‘Reality 86’d’
    02.17.2017
    12:08 pm

    Topics:
    Music
    Punk

    Tags:


     
    To support what would prove to be its last studio album In My Head, Black Flag did a full national tour in the autumn of 1985 and then basically repeated the process in the first half of 1986. For that second go-round—Black Flag’s last tour—they were joined by Painted Willie and Greg Ginn’s new side project Gone, which featured future Rollins Band members Sim Cain and Andrew Weiss. (Hard-hitting Cain was a sorely underrated drummer, while Weiss has production duties on several Ween albums on his resume.)

    The drummer for Painted Willie was named David Markey, one of the founders of the punk zine We Got Power! and he took along a video recorder and took a copious amount of footage during the several months. By this time Kira was gone, replaced by C’el Revuelta, and Anthony Martinez had taken over for Bill Stevenson.

    The result of Markey’s filming was an hour-long movie called Reality 86’d. The movie has enjoyed a contentious backstory. According to James Parker’s Turned On: A Biography of Henry Rollins,
     

    The results of [Markey’s] on-off filming were edited together as the tour movie Reality 86’d—still unreleased, owing to the opposition of Greg Ginn, who owns the rights to much of the music featured in the film. (Ginn was invited to attend a private screening of Reality 86’d shortly after it was completed, but walked out halfway through.)

     
    In 2011 Markey put the video up on Vimeo but today there is a notification indicating copyright infringement. Today it’s easy to find on YouTube and Vimeo.
       
    Ginn and Rollins were the last gasp of the classic Black Flag impulse, and they were growing apart. Ginn was veering towards instrumental jam music, and Rollins was sticking to his harder ethos. In Parker’s book there is a telling anecdote, according to which Ginn had requested the construction of a box that could be fitted into the back of the tour van so that he could crawl inside and put on his headphones and just “be totally alone.” The split between Ginn and Rollins was accentuated by the presence of Rollins’ close friend Joe Cole, who wrote about this tour in Planet Joe, published after his tragic 1991 death at the hands of armed robbers in Venice Beach.

    There’s an odd moment about a quarter-hour in when a shirtless Henry—although come to think of it, when was he not shirtless?—jokes in a swishy way about getting into rock to meet buff skinhead boyfriends. In the second half there’s a wonderful bit where a bunch of the guys sing the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” at the top of a picturesque mountaintop. This is followed up a silly rendition of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” which is a good indication of their location.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Stark war memorials of Yugoslavia
    02.17.2017
    11:04 am

    Topics:
    Design

    Tags:


    The Stone Flower, a structure known as a “spomenik” located in Jasenovac, Croatia. Built in 1966, it commemorates the thousands of victims who were executed during World War II at the Jasenovac forced labor and extermination camp which operated on this very location by the river Sava.

    To be honest, there is about a zero percent chance that I will ever travel to any of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Which is a shame since I really, really love vodka. However, if I did ever venture to that part of the world I would make it a point to attempt to see at least a few of the haunting sculptures or “spomeniks” that were erected all over what was formerly called Yugoslavia. These stone architectural marvels are meant to serve as grim reminders of those who fought and died in various military events that took place during significant battles, involving among other things resistance operations meant to repel the Ottoman Empire in the 1800s.

    Most of the structures were built in the late 60s. One of the most striking is the Monument to the Revolution which is located in Podgarić, Berek. The futuristic-looking sculpture was built by Croatian sculptor Dušan Džamonja and still stands as a memorial to the citizens of Moslavina who died while resisting the German forces during WWII. Others appear to be channeling the architectural design directly from 1976 and the film Logan’s Run—which is perhaps yet another reason I find them so compelling to look at. 

    While they are quite beautiful to behold, it’s critical to understand the meaning behind the monuments that serve as a reminder of time much more daunting than what we are being faced with right now. As well as the fact that those who do not remember the past—specifically the numerous historical examples in Yugoslavia that saw the people adapt to authoritarian regimes—will likely allow such events to repeat themselves. Many of the images of notable spomeniks in this post were taken by famed Antwerp-based photographer Jan Kempenaers and are the featured in his 2005 book, Spomenik. If you’re interested in learning more about the history behind the spomeniks, I would recommend spending some time at the extensively detailed online resource, the Spomenik Database.
     

    A set of sculptures that stand in Bubanj Memorial Park built by Petar Kristic. Located on a hill in Niš, it marks the location where more than ten thousand Serbian people were systematically executed by German forces.
     

    “Bulgaria’s UFO,” the Buzludzha monument. Designed by Georgi Stoilov, the monument officially opened in 1981 on the top of Mount Buzludzha which was also the infamous site of the last stand between Bulgarian rebels and the Ottoman Empire in 1868.
     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Ska, Ska, Ska: The Specials, Selecter & Bad Manners: Cool photos of the bands & their fans 1979-80
    02.17.2017
    10:36 am

    Topics:
    Music
    Pop Culture

    Tags:

    020skska80co.jpg
     
    Jerry Dammers basically ran 2 Tone Records out of his bedroom. It was a do-it-yourself label started in 1979 to record his band The Specials and promote a bunch of other ska groups—mainly friends and colleagues in and around Coventry, England.

    2 Tone was the start of a ska revival. At one point nearly every new British ska band was on Dammers’ label—The Specials, Madness, Selecter, The (English) Beat, Bad Manners, The Bodysnatchers and even an indie act named Elvis Costello.

    The world was turning black and white. Quite literally as it turned out when The Specials toured America. At the Whisky a Go Go in February 1980, the whole exterior of the building was painted in black and white checks.

    That summer was the last great high for the ska revival. The UK pop charts were crammed with ska music. The Specials scored another top ten hit with their fourth single “Rat Race.” They were recording their second album and played a sell-out seaside tour of England with support from The Bodysnatchers. They had also made a legendary appearance on Saturday Night Live with “Gangsters” which according to some was a performance that stands out as one of the best in the show’s history. The Specials also toured Japan where their opening gig at Osaka sent the audience into a frenzy of ecstasy. The audience rushed the stage and mobbed the band. As a result of this, the band’s manager was arrested and their further shows canceled. In Japan audiences were forbidden from standing or dancing at concerts—something these young fans found all but impossible to do.

    Yet for all the success, the Specials were falling apart. There was infighting between lead singer Terry Hall and guitarist Roddy Radiation and loud disagreements between Dammers and other band members over the new direction the Specials’ music was heading. At the end of the year, Lynval Golding was brutally stabbed in a racist attack outside a concert in London. It began to look like the great multicultural pop movement represented by the Specials and all the other ska bands was coming to an end. The following year, the Specials split. Ska was replaced by the New Romantics and synth-pop.

    These photographs capture the bands and fans of 2 Tone during 1979 and the summer of 1980 when ska united a nation.
     
    02skanstaplesjdammers.jpg
    Neville Staples and Jerry Dammers of The Specials, circa 1979.
     
    05skasjbodys80.jpg
    Sarah Jane Owen of The Bodysnatchers, 1980.
     
    More memories of the summer of ska, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    ‘It’s A Complex World’: Long-lost rock n’ roll comedy with Captain Lou Albano, NRBQ & mad bombers
    02.17.2017
    09:11 am

    Topics:
    Movies
    Music

    Tags:


     
    In 1978, Rhode Island filmmaker Jim Wolpaw directed the fantastically rough n’ ready short-form documentaryCobra Snake For a Necktie: Bo Diddley and the Young Adults. The film captured a raucous night at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, a then-new rock venue in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Bo Diddley, still riding high on the heavy funky of his classic ‘74 album Big Bad Bo tore up the stage. So did local comedy-rockers Young Adults, as funny and nearly as wild as their San Francisco counterparts The Tubes. But the real stars of the show were the audience members, including a tenacious drunk who dragged most of the participants—including a put-upon Diddley—into witless conversations. It’s funny and weird and it captures the heart of Saturday night in a very authentic and spontaneous way.

    Clearly, the spirit of that time and place stuck with Wolpaw because ten years later, he created a fantastically dark and hilarious ode to Lupo’s, (It’s A) Complex World, a low-budget, high-energy rock n’ roll musical comedy about one extremely eventful night at the storied rock dive.
     

     
    Complex World was shot at the club over two years in the late 1980s. The plot is pretty loose, but the general idea is that a terrorist cell (led by Daniel Von Bargen, AKA George Costanza’s irresponsible boss Mr. Kruger on the final season of Seinfeld) has planted a bomb in the basement of the club at the behest of an evil state Senator, the father of the club’s owner. The terrorists want some kind of vague revolution and assume someone will give in to their demands before they blow the club up at midnight. The Senator actually wants to destroy the place with his son in it to garner enough sympathy to win his next election. Meanwhile, the mayor hires a biker gang (led by wrestling legend Captain Lou Albano) to terrorize the clubgoers for no solid reason.
     

    Captain Lou Albano, who was an entirely believable maniac biker.

    Confused? Me too. But none of this matters because no one at Lupo’s cares about bombs or Senators or lunatic biker gangs, they just want to get drunk and party. The Young Adults return as the evening’s headliners and are seen onstage playing songs like “Do the Heimlich” and “Kill Yourself.” The club is full of drunks and degenerates, including cult rock legends NRBQ, who do drugs in the basement with the terrorists and attempt to contact the ghost of John Lennon with a rotary phone. Jersey garage-poppers The Smithereens loiter at the bar, a manic street preacher (Tilman Gandy Jr.), spends the entirety of the film outside the club getting the Noah’s Ark story wrong, and nebbishy folk singer and begrudging opening act, Morris Brock, riles the repulsed audience into a froth of mutual animosity.
     

    The Young Adults, who once had a local hit called “Meat Rampage”
     
    Played by local singer-songwriter Stanley Matis, Brock is the star of the show, an incredibly bitter, mean-spirited nerd who hates the club and everyone in it, and proves his point by singing spiteful diatribes like “New Jersey” (“What an empty, barren wasteland/What a crass, commercial hellhole”) and “Why Do We Feed The Broads?” He’s also a member of the terror gang, although even they find him obnoxious.
     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
    Famous Rock ‘N’ Rollers in the style of old Mani-Yack monster transfers
    02.17.2017
    07:56 am

    Topics:
    Music

    Tags:


     
    These are off-the-charts cool.

    Illustrator Tommy Bishop, the madman behind the weirdo children’s book Incredibly Strange ABCs recently introduced a killer set of die-cut vinyl stickers depicting legends from the early years of rock and roll in the style of the old Mani-Yack horror movie transfers.

    Mani-Yack transfers were the first widely available commercial t-shirt iron-ons. Their monster designs were some of their most popular in the 1960s.
     

    A sample of the classic 1960s Mani-Yack monster transfer style.
     
    Bishop has two sticker sets available, each containing three images, of iconic rockers in the Mani-Yack monster illustration style. Set one contains Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. Set two contains Esquerita, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

    I asked Bishop if he plans to do future sets and he indicated that an instrumental rocker set is in the works, likely to feature Link Wray and Dick Dale. He is also considering a James Brown set featuring three phases of Brown’s career:

    [I thought about] pulling from time periods and nicknames like the Famous Flames era, Mr. Dynamite, Godfather of Soul or Hardest Working Man in Show Biz, or Soul Brother #1… something like that.

    Bishop has also expressed interest in doing a classic country set as well.

    The sticker sets are available for $5.00 each from his web store.
     

     

     

     

    Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
    Live! from Capitol Hill: Bertolt Brecht’s Folkways LP
    02.17.2017
    07:24 am

    Topics:
    Art
    History
    Literature
    Politics

    Tags:


     
    On October 30, 1947, Bertolt Brecht gave a command performance for Congress. The House Un-American Activities Committee summoned the German playwright, poet, and Doors lyricist to the Cannon House Office Building to examine him about matters of the direst urgency and the gravest possible consequence to the Republic, such as the name of the leading actor in Hangmen Also Die! and the lyrics to Brecht’s song “In Praise of Learning.” By what vile, McCarthyist tactics they extorted from Brecht these most closely held secrets of the Third International, I dare not print.

    The recording is presented by the critic Eric Bentley, whose narration bridges edits in the tape and provides historical context. Like most Folkways records, the LP comes with a booklet; this one reproduces the transcript of Brecht’s testimony and Bentley’s voiceover along with a facsimile of the hand-corrected statement Brecht prepared for the occasion but was not allowed to read. From the booklet’s introduction:

    It is an encounter that rivals in drama some of the great trial scenes in Brecht’s plays, and it will fascinate equally both those interested in Brecht and those interested in the HUAC.

    Although tantalizing fragments of the recording have been heard in Brecht on Brecht, and the complete transcript has been printed by the government, this is the first time that the encounter has been brought to the public. Bertolt Brecht’s voice was recorded few times in any language, and this is almost certainly the only recording of Brecht speaking English.

    You know you’re talking about an old record when its subtitle includes the phrase “an historic encounter” (or, in the cover artist’s words, “an historical encounter”). But the interests of these ghosts’ voices, speaking in the Caucus Room 70 years ago, are not so remote. Over a decade before this engagement, Brecht had addressed Germans’ perplexity about truth in politics under the Nazis and what the Führer really believed in his heart in “On the Question of Whether Hitler Is Being Honest,” which cut the Gordian knot in its concluding sentences:

    Certainly, Hitler could be honest and mean well, and yet still objectively be Germany’s worst enemy. But he is not honest.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
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