When I saw this little video of Sir George Martin giving martini-making lessons (an excerpt from his 2011 BBC profile documentary, Produced by George Martin), a few things struck me—besides, of course, his obvious foxyness, even at the age of eighty-goddamn-five.
1) A martini is made with gin. There is the (laughable and pale) variation, the “vodka martini,” but anyone ordering simply “a martini,” with no qualifiers, should expect gin. Complaints to the contrary will result in a face full of vermouth.
2) The bolder choice in mixing technique and the not-so-cliché garnish—always keep ‘em guessing, George!
3) Always—and this is pertinent—end with a dirty joke, as George does here. Stay charming! Prurient poetry, wit and wordplay can be the only difference between an insufferable drunk and an enchanting lush!
I hereby declare we rename this particular cocktail (with the lemon rind) the “George Martini”—who’s with me?
“Magick is action. Mysticism is a withdrawal from action”
If you’re a Kenneth Anger fan, be prepared to be seriously blown away by this astonishing German television documentary from 1970 that shows the master at work on Lucifer Rising. It’s fun to ponder, as you watch, what the average German must have thought about this film, which doesn’t flinch from presenting some of the most outrageous ideas and imagery ever to be broadcast to an entire (unsuspecting) nation. It’s magnificently freaky stuff.
Not only would this have been the first look the world would get of Anger’s magnum opus (which he is seen shooting Méliès-style in a tiny space) there are substantial excerpts from Fireworks, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Rabbit’s Moon, Puce Moment, and Invocation of My Demon Brother, which showed hash smoking (and cocks!) on TV. It’s impossible to imagine something like this ever getting on television in America 44 years ago, but I don’t think the BBC would have touched something this insane at the time, either.
As filmmaker Reinhold E. Thiel admits in his voiceover, it was Anger directing himself that they got on film. As he states, Anger really wasn’t that into allowing them to film him in the first place, but when he did relent it was on his terms. Anger’s interview segments were shot as he sat behind a makeshift altar, lit in magenta and inside of the magical “war gods” circle seen at the end of the film.
Of special note is we see Anger flipping through his “Puce Women” sketchbook (he’s an excellent illustrator) of his unmade tribute to the female archetypes of Hollywood’s golden era and the architecture of movie star homes (This notebook was on display at the Anger exhibit at MOCA in Los Angeles). Anger is also seen here shooting scenes with his Lucifer, Leslie Huggins (both interior shots in Anger’s makeshift studio and among the stones at Avebury) and with the adept in the war gods circle. Oddly, we can hear what the adept is saying (“Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”) whereas in the final film he just seems to be muttering something mysterious when Lucifer appears.
Anger discusses his Aleister Crowley-inspired theories of art: How he views his camera like a wand and how he casts his films, preferring to consider his actors, not human beings but as elemental spirits. In fact, he reveals that he goes so far as to use astrology when making these choices.
This is as direct an explanation of Anger’s cinemagical modus operandi as I have ever heard him articulate anywhere. It’s a must see for anyone interested in his work and showcases the Magus of cinema at the very height of his artistic powers. Fascinating.
This intimate 1959 footage of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Lucien Carr and his wife Francesca (with their three sons, Simon, Caleb and Ethan), and artist Mary Frank (and her children Pablo and Andrea) is fascinating for a couple of reasons. First of all, there’s just something captivating about seeing so many legends (especially the incredibly underrated Mary Frank) in such a domestic setting. You’d expect to see them drinking at the Harmony Bar in the East Village, you just don’t picture Kerouac with a kid on his lap while they do it. It’s hardly the louche atmosphere associated with the Beats.
Secondly, if I had to guess, I’d say this footage was probably taken by The Americans photographer Robert Frank—Mary Frank’s husband. I say this partially due to Mary’s presence, and partially because the crew’s amazing short film, Pull My Daisy was made the same year, directed by Robert Frank. You can a see similar stylistic approach in the filming, but unlike Pull My Daisy, the mood is totally organic, warm and endearing.
In about a week residents of Chicagoland will be able to wallow in all things Bowie, as the much-acclaimed “David Bowie Is” exhibition makes its way there after its highly successful run in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, which curated it in the first place. It will be showing at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which will be the only U.S. museum to host the show. (The MCA is so excited about the show that there’s an actual countdown ticker on that page.)
Also so excited, as the Eater blog informs us, that they have created a special David Bowie-themed food and cocktails menu at the accompanying Puck’s Cafe, which means that you can expect a bunch of delicious creations thinly connected to various songs, albums, and movies from Bowie’s long and storied career. The “China Girl” cocktail description has the word “jasmin” in it, for instance.
In the mid-1970s, Bowie famously lived on a milk, red pepper, and cocaine diet—it’s noticeable that none of the items below feature any of those ingredients! It’s all just a huge missed opportunity. The special menu will be available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays only. I live in Cleveland, so I might make my way up to Chicago one of these days to check it out.
Here are the menu pages (clicking will get you a larger image):
And a text rendering of same:
Ziggy Stardust Schmaltz $13
Assortment of cheeses: drunken goat cheese, crispy parmesan reggiano,delice de bourginone, truffled cream cheese, pickled beech mushrooms, candied cashews and grilled french baguette
Thin White Duke $8
Wolfgang Puck flatbread, fontina and mozzarella cheese, confit garlic, roasted tomatoes, cracked black pepper, arugula salad
As someone points out in the comments on reddit, it’s almost as if this is some new kind of female superhero archetype. A leather clad woman (you can’t see what she’s wearing in the video. I’m using my imagination here) who rides a motorcycle and schools assholes who litter.
It’s pretty hardcore what she does. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in real life although I wish more people would.
Next we need a superhero who fucks with assholes who text and drive. Your Facebook update can wait, moron. You know who you are.
Being an aging rockstar is bad enough, but there are always the “oldies” package tours that play state fairs and casinos. Ever wonder what happened to your favorite 80s cartoon characters once the cartoon work dried up? Animator Steve Cutts gives you a bleak look into the current lives of Roger and Jessica Rabbit, He-Man, The Thunder Cats, ALF, Garfield, The Smurfs and so on. It ain’t pretty.
He-Man’s life is pretty rockin’, tho. He seems to have been smart with his money, something that cannot be said of most cartoon characters. I saw Underdog in a Starbucks recently, he looked like shit. Hasn’t worked steadily since 1967. I overheard him bitching about how Lorne Michaels had ruined his career…
In 1982, an up-and-coming dark dance-pop band from Chicago called Ministry made its first video. The band would later go on to great fame and influence for pioneering a hybrid of industrial dance and thrashy heavy metal, but at the time of that first video shoot, they were straightforward synth-pop Anglophiles, in a career phase the band’s leader Alain (later just Al) Jourgensen would soon disown. Ministry’s evolving sounds and broken fan base were discussed at some length in this Dangerous Minds post last year, so we’ll rehash none of that here, except to say that if you’re among the many who consider the band’s early years to be artistically fallow, there’s some music at that link that may change your mind.
The early years certainly weren’t cosmetically fallow.
But back to that first video: the song was called “Same Old Madness.” It’s typical for a band’s first (or second, or ANY) video to accompany a single, but “Same Old Madness” was never released in any form. In fact, it’s seeing its first-ever appearance on physical media TODAY. Thirty-two years after the video was shot, “Same Old Madness” is finally seeing daylight as part of Cleopatra Records’ expanded reissue of Ministry’s Twelve Inch Singles 1981-1984 collection, which contains more than double the material of the original 1987 version on Wax Trax.
But there’s a wrinkle—one could justifiably argue that the song in the video has STILL never been released, as the song appearing on the expanded comp has significant variations from the one in the video. I searched for a version I could embed in this post to no avail, but the collection appeared on iTunes in advance of the physical release, and the preview of the song there has all the differences on display. It’s also on Spotify in its entirety, unsurprisingly. If you compare it to the video below, you’ll note that it has some jangly guitar added to the background of the chorus, and that the vocals are just insanely tarted up. In an effort to sort out why there were multiple recorded versions in circulation for a song the band never even saw fit to put out, I asked the band’s original keyboardist, Rob Roberts, for some history.
The session details involve working with Iain Burgess at, I think, Chicago Recording Company. And that version is the one featured in the video. The version with guitar and big vox FX added was kind of a rarity. I’m surprised to see it surface on this new release, to be honest. It’s the same basic tracks as the video version, but the guitar and FX and editing were added in Boston. It sure sounds like the same kind of editing that’s in “A Walk In the Park” and even the “Work for Love” dub/dance edits. The overdubs, arrangement and editing that appears on the Cleopatra release had zero input from Al or anyone else in the band. Al didn’t even play the guitar overdub. It was worked up by the crew back at SynchroSound in Boston with Ian Taylor behind the board. Neither my source nor I can remember exactly who played guitar, but it was either Walter Turbitt [Groove Brothers] or Elliot Easton [The Cars].
Those of you who take an interest in Ministry’s early years might enjoy Roberts’ extensive, thoughtful and informative Q&A on prongs.org. And that being said, I’ll not keep you from that early video any longer.
As Lemmy will tell you himself, those facial bumps are not warts they’re moles. He did have warts once, on his hands, nineteen of them with one going round his finger like a snake. But they all disappeared, one night, after he had a bath though his hands never went in the water. Or, so he claims.
Lemmy’s moles are famous. They even have their own Facebook page, with an ambition to “conquer every woman who gaze upon them.” Who knew they could be such aphrodisiacs?
They have also been the focus of much speculation from music journalists, who seem unable to resist asking why the LA-based legend has never had plastic surgery to have them removed? Usually, Lemmy just points to his mutton-chopped face and says:
What can you make out of this? What are you going to do? I think I look all right for my age, anyway.
Apart from being conversational ice-breakers, Lemmy’s moles have recently inspired one fan to make this little animation of Lemmy’s mole performing “Ace of Spades.”
20,000 Days On Earth combines documentary footage with scripted scenes to chronicle 24 hours in the fascinating life of modern renaissance man Nick Cave. Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard and co-written by Cave, the film has great energy and Cave comes off as one would suspect: mysterious, devious and hugely charismatic. What might come as a surprise to some viewers is Cave’s self-deprecating humor and the deeply spiritual yearning that pulses in the heart of his art. Cave is a man who utilizes the forces of his creativity, particularly rock and roll, as a means to connect to human energy and to transcend it.
At a recent concert in Austin, I saw a side of Cave I hadn’t seen before, a certain humility and need that manifested in an almost vampiric hunger for flesh to flesh contact with his audience. He literally bared his heart before his audience, asking them to place their hands upon his naked chest. The fire and brimstone preacher was displaying a supplicant’s self-immolation at the feet of his worshipers. The tables had turned, the wax was dripping up the candle. This aching need to be part of the world at large, to expand beyond the ordinary while maintaining his teeth in the tissue of the meat upon which he thrives results in a tension between the sacred and profane. 20,000 Days On Earth makes clear that the balance between dark and light is stabilizing in Cave’s life and the fearless provocateur is taking on some of the mellowness of a wise elder. The film is a lovely meditation on the risks and epiphanies involved when an artist puts himself as far out as they can go while still keeping time in the dance of life.
Here’s some recollections of Nick Cave and The Birthday Party’s first appearances in New York City. I think I got most of the details right.
When The Birthday Party first came to New York City in late September/early October of 1981 they were booked into several venues. The first was a shitty disco on Union Square called The Underground. I have no idea who was responsible for the booking but it was like hiring Aleister Crowley to do stand-up at a Catskills Hotel. The band plowed though three songs (“Big-Jesus-Trash-Can,” “Zoo-Music Girl,” “King Ink”) in front of a confused and hostile audience who were there to dance to a deejay spinning records by Donna Summer and The Village People. During “King Ink”, Nick leaped into the crowd and wrapped his microphone’s cord around a woman’s neck. The club owners immediately pulled the plug and the show ended.
Next night at The Ritz, Nick smashed his head into the snare drum, drew blood, and a panicked Ritz management killed the power to the stage. Big mistake. Those of us who gave a shit about such things, felt this confirmed that unless you were a major label act The Ritz was not an artist-friendly venue. The following night’s Birthday Party booking at The Ritz was cancelled.
Other NYC gigs included two at Chase Park, a former bank (I think) with a lousy stage set-up and bad sound. The first night at Chase Park was cancelled when only one person showed up. The band’s second booking at the club was not much better than the first. The band played to an audience of a couple of dozen adventurous souls, including Lydia Lunch. The vibe was nasty and the band seemed like they couldn’t wait to get the fuck outta there.
At this point, you had to wonder who was booking The Birthday Party into these godforsaken nightclubs when CBGB and Max’s (on its last legs) were just around the corner? In the case of The Underground, it was Rudolf Pieper and Jim Fouratt expanding their reach beyond their legendary venue Danceteria. One night a week they booked The Underground with a New Romantic theme. But alas, The Birthday Party was to Duran Duran and Modern English what moonshine is to mimosas.
It wasn’t until their performance at The Peppermint Lounge on Oct. 4 (a Sunday night) that The Birthday Party played an entire set in a venue that was suited to their music. Yet even the Pep didn’t seem to know who the fuck Nick and the his posse were (check the ad below).But despite a small crowd, the band were explosive and I was there to experience it. The power, intensity, humor and theatricality of The Birthday Party was simply jaw-dropping and forever made me an admirer of the group, particularly the young Mr. Cave. While the entire band were extraordinary (I was particularly fond of bass player Tracy Pew, R.I.P.) it was Cave that shone brightest (or perhaps darkest) - brilliant, possessed, a madman out on the edge not looking back. Even in ‘81 at the young age of 24, Nick was drawing down some serious voodoo, scraping the shit of the marvelous off the bottom of his shiny black shoes.
What’s up with the question marks?
Later, after the show, Cave sat alone at the bar slouched over a drink. I joined him and we talked. He looked younger than his years, was soft-spoken, welcoming, and unassuming. We spoke about writers we liked - Rimbaud, Burroughs, Bukowski - the usual suspects. For the short time we chatted, I felt that this was a man that I could grow to like a lot. And I have. Like all great artists I love, Cave has kind of entered my DNA. He’s one of those rare creative people who continues to surprise and amaze me, who challenges me and compels me to dig deeper into that dark rich soil where art grows, where visions sprout and and bears seeds - both good and Bad. Long live Nick Cave.
20,000 Days On Earth works as a cinematic diary that flows in and out of dream. Late-night scenes of Cave driving around his home of Brighton have the cold, doomy clarity of a J.G Ballard literary riff echoing off the concrete urban desolation of a Wim Wenders’ film. But the chill is broken by whimsical flights of magic realism like when Cave visits collaborator Warren Ellis in Ellis’s Hobbit-like cottage overlooking the white cliffs of Dover. And the sudden, almost ghost-like, appearances of Kylie Minogue, Ray Winstone, and Blixa Bargeld. The movie gracefully bends time and memory into something like a living moment where all points come back to Cave’s sensing himself in the ever-present everythingness of now. Does it matter what is real or not? This is not a strict memoir. It is the person coming into being through his own creation.
Nick Cave has done something quite remarkable in the this day and age of rock bands that disappear as quickly as ice on a hotplate or those that have lingered far too long only to embarrass themselves in their utter irrelevance - he has stayed interesting. Through all of his permutations, experiments and chance-taking, Cave has, like the title of his song, pushed the sky away, not allowing even the heavens to bear down on him.
20,000 days on Earth? Who cares about time when the moment is so filled with wonder? Who cares about linear abstractions when every non-existent nano-second is laced with memory and desire? Cave has not mistaken the face of the clock for fact. He sees it for what it is. A circle. It’s not real, it’s a reel. Like film. Like your eye. Like that circular mark on your neck: that blood-red spot, that memory of a mouth, of love, of death.
20,000 Days On Earth begins its theatrical run this month. Click here for showtimes.