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  • Thomas Edison filmed strippers, drug dens, animal murders, and THE VERY FIRST CAT VIDEO
    08:55 am



    Edison’s early experiments in film were often pretty scandalous even by today’s standards. There was the time he recorded his favorite body-building stripper, rather gracelessly disrobing upon the trapeze, right down to her massive Victorian underwear. There was also Chinese Opium Den, from which only one frame survives, but you can guess the content. There’s even the time he filmed himself electrocuting Topsy the elephant. So you have sex, drugs and violence, all right there at the beginning of cinema.

    Edison really knew what the public wanted, so obviously he made a cat video!

    In 1894 Edison filmed “Boxing Cats” at his Black Maria Studio, the charming results of which you see here. Why boxing cats? The Library of Congress explains that this was a relatively popular form of live entertainment for the time:

    “The performance was part of Professor Henry Welton’s ‘cat circus,’ which toured the United States both before and after appearing in Edison’s film. Performances included cats riding small bicycles and doing somersaults, with the boxing match being the highlight of the show.”

    The Library of Congress’s summary of the film is just “A very interesting and amusing subject.” Can’t argue with that!

    Via Public Domain Review

    Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
    Turn your favorite concert ticket stub into a floor mat
    07:50 am



    You know all those concert ticket stubs you’ve held onto for so many years? (I’ve got a pretty big collection myself and didn’t really know what to do with them.) Well now you can walk all over your concert-going memories with these personalized ticket stub floor mats. The Internet has everything, right?

    You can create these one-of-kind floor mats through Lakeside Photo Works. Depending on size, each mat averages around $34. According to the website, the best way to ensure quality of your mat is to mail in your ticket stub. Apparently your ticket stub will be mailed back to you once your mat is completed. 

    Now get to it and start wiping your dirty shoes all over your treasured Gun Club or Gang of Four ticket stub!

    via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Totally awesome heavy metal cover of the ‘Stranger Things’ theme
    02:54 pm



    Winona Ryder in Stranger Things
    Whatever you think of Netflix’s Stranger Things, you can’t deny that the program is having its moment in pop culture right now. Much attention has been given to its atmospheric, synth-driven score, which was composed and performed by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon of the group S U R V I V E. Influenced by the likes of John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream, Stein and Dixon’s work contributes greatly to the ‘80s nostalgia the show invokes. Their music is first heard during the opening titles sequence, which the internet has gone gaga over, due in part to the use of a stunning font.
    Stranger Things title card
    Naturally, a ton of covers of the opening theme have been uploaded to YouTube, with some getting creative with their interpretation, including a few metal takes. The best of the bunch is the version by a guy who records under the name Artificial Fear. As much as I dig the original, I can imagine this awesome rendition being used for season two of Stranger Things.

    Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
    Golden girl: Racy images from the famous ‘Goldfinger’ title sequence
    12:15 pm



    Golden girl Margaret Nolan covered in gold paint on the set of ‘Goldfinger.’
    Pin-up model and aspiring the dangerously curvy actress Margaret Nolan was only twenty-years-old when she landed a the gig of the girl that the Bond visual and graphic artist Robert Brownjohn got to cover in gold paint for the racy opening title sequence in the 1964 film, Goldfinger.

    Margaret Nolan being used as a canvas for a projector for the title sequence of ‘Goldfinger.’
    Earlier this week I posted about the title sequences from many of the Bond films (sans credits) that both Brownjohn and the primary title sequence artist behind the rest of the Bond films up unitl 1989, Maurice Binder, created, and got caught up in the various folklore associated with the franchise. Specifically when it came to Brownjohn’s work on Goldfinger. His subject matter for the title sequences to Goldfinger seemed so suggestive the it was the first title sequence in the history of film to require an thumbs-up from a film censor. Clad in a gold leather bikini Nolan says that in all that the shoot took two to three weeks to complete. As part of her agreement to pose for the risqué segment she received a part in the film playing a brief role as “Dink,” a masseuse. Since I’m sure you’re curious Nolan said that while she found Sean Connery “lovely” he was more interested in getting busy with her identical twin sister. Because that’s how James Bond rolls. (Why not try to shag both of them, Bondy?)

    The actual “golden girl” in the movie, “Jill Masterson” was played by actress Shirley Eaton who appeared on the cover of LIFE magazine painted gold. Her character’s death—caused by skin suffocation from being painted head to toe in gold pain—led to the “urban myth” that the actress herself had died during the filming. Eaton appeared in an episode of MythBusters to disprove the rumour.

    The Goldfinger title sequence cost approximately $6,500 and the hard-partying Brownjohn used every last penny to create one of the most memorable moments in cinema history. The images you are about to see (some of which are slightly NSFW) were taken on the set by Herbert Spencer (the founding editor of pioneering graphic design journal Typographica) and were shown back in 2013 at MoMA as a part of the exhibition Goldfinger: The Design of an Iconic Film Title. As I mentioned previously I’m a huge James Bond film junkie and I had never seen any of the images in this post until just recently and they are utterly impossible to look away from. Unless you find the image of a beautiful woman painted gold in a barely-there bikini unappealing of course—which seems highly unlikely.


    More of the golden girl who “knows when he’s kissed her….” after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Badass bikers, drugs, and hot chicks: The outlaw biker art of David Mann
    11:41 am



    ‘Tijuana Jail Break’ commissioned by Ed Roth for ‘Choppers Magazine’ by David Mann, 1966.
    Artist David Mann loved motorcycle culture and his paintings bring his own personal experiences as a member of the El Forastero Motorcycle Club to life. El Forastero members were notorious for large-scale drug running operations and theft rings whose number one target were motorcycles back in the mid-60s—and many of Mann’s paintings document club events like biker weddings and debaucherous parties fueled by booze and drugs. Mann’s father was an illustrator and a member of the prestigious Society of Scribes & Illuminators in London—one of the most highly regarded calligraphy organizations in the world, and it is clear that Mann inherited some of his father’s artistic genes.

    ‘Hollywood Run.’
    Mann started sketching images of fast cars during high school in which would lead him to his first gig as a car pinstriper. After high school Mann set out for California where he fell in love with motorcycles—specifically Harleys and began what would become a lifelong love-affair with biker culture in which Mann would express himself in every way possible. Eventually Mann would land back in his native Kansas City and upon his return would purchase his first bike—a 1948 Harley-Davidson “Panhead” and painted his first biker-centric painting dubbed “Hollywood Run.”  The painting would be among the entrants to an art show held at the Kansas City Custom Car Show in 1963 where it caught the eye of El Forastero founders Tom Fugle and Harlan “Tiny” Brower who in turn hipped the publisher of Choppers Magazine, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth—the fast car enthusiast and artist responsible for the revolting hot rod-loving vermin Rat Fink.

    Roth immediately commissioned Mann to create a large number of posters for Choppers and the works would launch Mann’s career, which included a long relationship with another magazine that is synonymous with biker culture, Easyrider. That alliance would last nearly until the moment which Mann would sadly draw his last breath at the young age of 63 in 2004. If you dig what you see in this post you can purchase reproductions of Mann’s art here. Prints signed by Mann sell for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Many of the badass posters that Mann created for Choppers Magazine included Roth’s name on the panel. Roth put his own copyright on the prints as they were commissioned works, but they were all done by Dave Mann.

    ‘The Blackboard Cafe,’ 1966.

    ‘Tecote Run,’ 1966.
    More Mann after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Vintage postcards featuring go-go dancers, beach parties and swinging sixties nightclubs
    10:29 am

    Pop Culture


    Galaxie Night Club, San Francisco.
    Going solely by these promotional postcards for hip and happening nightclubs this was where all the beautiful people hung out in the late 1950s and 1960s. Apparently. Beach parties in Miami. Go-go clubs in San Francisco and Florida. Discotheques in New York. Youngsters twisting the night away in South Fallsburg? Most of the postcards are promotional fliers for hotels, motels and restaurants hoping to lure in that lucrative youth market.

    Once upon a time, I collected postcards like these. I found them more fascinating than say collecting stamps or coins. Postcards offered a touchstone for creating stories about other people’s lives. Which kinda makes me sound like that freaky kid who didn’t like to mix. Well, yes probably.

    When I started underage drinking—in and around Edinburgh—it was always the small hotel bars and faded nightclubs I preferred. These once swinging sixties haunts—with their dated interiors and occasional mirrorball dance floors—were generally so desperate for customers they never checked if you were over eighteen before serving up a pint of warm, flat beer. I certainly would not have minded imbibing in a few of the venues featured below. At least the beer would have been properly chilled.
    ‘The psychedelic dance scene’—apparently.
    ‘Teenagers at the Twistick Lounge, Raleigh Hotel, South Fallsburg, New York.’
    More vintage scenes of swinging fun, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Study finds scary ‘da dun da dun’ music causes people to view sharks negatively
    09:23 am



    UC San Diego researchers studying the effects of ominous background music on the public’s perception of shark footage have recently published their findings.

    Not surprisingly, when the researchers played music that was “modal with only fragments of melody accompanied by sporadic and sparse atmospheric percussion and a repetitive flute motif [creating] an unsettling sound” over the top of shark footage, the test subjects reacted more negatively to that footage than to footage accompanied by “uplifting background music.”

    Though the findings may seem like a no-brainer, this study is the first, according to the researchers, “to demonstrate empirically that the connotative attributes of background music accompanying shark footage affect viewers’ attitudes toward sharks.”

    In the article’s abstract the researchers assert that ominous music used in films and documentaries affects the public’s perception of sharks, leading to marginalization of the creatures:

    “Despite the ongoing need for shark conservation and management, prevailing negative sentiments marginalize these animals and legitimize permissive exploitation. These negative attitudes arise from an instinctive, yet exaggerated fear, which is validated and reinforced by disproportionate and sensationalistic news coverage of shark ‘attacks’ and by highlighting shark-on-human violence in popular movies and documentaries. In this study, we investigate another subtler, yet powerful factor that contributes to this fear: the ominous background music that often accompanies shark footage in documentaries. Using three experiments, we show that participants rated sharks more negatively and less positively after viewing a 60-second video clip of swimming sharks set to ominous background music, compared to participants who watched the same video clip set to uplifting background music, or silence.


    Given that nature documentaries are often regarded as objective and authoritative sources of information, it is critical that documentary filmmakers and viewers are aware of how the soundtrack can affect the interpretation of the educational content.”

    The abstract curiously puts the word “attacks” in quotes, as if to indicate that shark attacks aren’t a real thing—perhaps one could make that argument depending on one’s definition of the word “attack,” but these shark “accident” victims might be hard to convince.

    Keep reading after the jump…

    Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
    Nico stars in gloomy, depressing 1976 French art flick ‘Le berceau de cristal’
    09:17 am



    Dark, dark, dark. Stéphane Delorme, currently the chief editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, writes of Nico’s face in this movie: “If it does catch the light it’s only to give it back to the darkness.”

    Le berceau de cristal (Crystal Cradle, 1976) is director Philippe Garrel’s fifth or sixth consecutive film starring Nico, his compagne during the 70s. None of their collaborations are what you’d call pulse-pounding thrillers; they tend to unfold at the pace of a dream, or a ritual, or a junkie tying his shoes. But this is a special case. Making it to the end of this picture requires a kind of yogic discipline, like slowing your heart rate or raising your body temperature at will. Yet, if you can master your animal nature long enough to dig its glacial pace and scry its black mirror, you’ll discover that Le berceau de cristal is really a completely empty and depressing experience.

    Dominique Sanda in Le berceau de cristal
    As background for your fantasy goth or junkie death trip, however, it’s great. Dude: Nico’s in it. Some parts are even set to a gorgeous soundtrack by Ash Ra Tempel—Manuel Göttsching says Garrel asked him for “music to make you dream”—though much of it is as silent as the grave. When Nico’s voice finally does appear on the soundtrack, deadpanning an interior monologue that turns out to consist of the lyrics to “Purple Lips” and other songs from Drama of Exile, it’s been run through a reverb box set to “stony crypt.” French actress Dominique Sanda is also “in” it. So is Rolling Stones consort Anita Pallenberg, who is seen shooting up on camera.

    Watch ‘Le berceau de cristal’ (for as long as you can stand to) after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    The Avengers opening for the Sex Pistols at Winterland
    08:24 am



    The Avengers were, as their lone studio album testifies, the great West Coast punk band. In a better world (so to speak) they and the Screamers would have looked down on the Sunset Strip from enormous billboards.

    It’s belatedly come to my attention that pro-shot footage of the Avengers’ entire January 14, 1978 set at Winterland, opening the Sex Pistols’ final (pre-90s-reunion) show, is up on YouTube. The only Avengers video I’d seen of this vintage before was the blurry and generally unsatisfying Target VHS. By comparison, this is like the color turning on in The Wizard of Oz. It’s a sharp recording of a killer performance, and if nineteen-year-old Penelope Houston’s fierce opener, “The American in Me,” doesn’t resonate with you in 2016, then like Magic 8-Ball says, “Outlook not so good.”

    You can also watch the Nuns’ full set from that night and, of course, the Pistols’. What you won’t find on YouTube is a trace of the evening’s emcee, the legendary rock critic Richard Meltzer, who was thrown out before the show ended. He writes:

    At the Sex Pistols show in San Francisco I was asked to emcee, and I went out and provoked the audience and they threw things at me and Bill Graham, who was promoting it, chucked me out of the building—what a rush.

    See the Avengers in action after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    Classic Penguin sci-fi covers from the 1970s by David Pelham
    02:34 am



    Night of Light by Philip José Farmer
    David Pelham was art director for Penguin Books during the 1970s and was responsible for a great many arresting and distinctive covers for many of the sci-fi novels Penguin put out during that time, which is one of the great periods for sci-fi writing in general. Many of the images on this page come from a series that came out in 1972-73 that used (as Penguin often did and still does) visual cues to signal that books belong together. In this case the series had in common white text and a black background, bold use of primary colors and a strong horizon line that in some cases (Sirius, A Cure for Cancer) is cleverly adapted for a slightly different purpose.

    Pelham did many Penguin covers for works by J.G. Ballard and was in close contact with the author in the process of creating them. Ballard actually named a character in “The Reptile Enclosure” after Pelham. After one meeting during which they had looked over Pelham’s mockups for a series of Ballard covers, Pelham scribbled some notes that were obviously based on Ballard’s comments, and they make for a resonant and Ballardian piece of poetry: “monumental / tombstones / airless thermonuclear landscape / horizons / a zone devoid of time.”

    Pelham’s most famous cover was for Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and fascinatingly enough, Pelham himself doesn’t think much of it:

    When I was Art Director of Penguin Books I had to create this image in one night. We planned to bring out a film tie-in of Burgess’s wonderful book to coincide with the release of the movie, and we obviously urgently needed a strong cover image that related to the film. When Stanley Kubrick unaccountably refused to supply us with promotional press shots I immediately commissioned a well-known illustrator to help out. The result was not only unacceptable but it was also inexcusably late, so we were horribly out of time. Having already attended a press screening of Kubrick’s film I had a very clear image in my mind’s eye as to how the cover should look and so, collecting up a few supplies from the art department, I sped home to my Highgate flat to create the cover myself. I remember a motorcycle messenger arriving at 4.30am to deliver the ‘repro’—that is the typography—for the paste up. This of course was a long time before the age of computers, and everything was done with ink, glue and ‘repro’, which had to be painstakingly stuck in place on a base board. Another messenger arrived at 7am to whisk the artwork off to the printer. Consequently I had not had time to properly scrutinize the image, to make the small adjustments and refinements that I still believe it needed. So now, every time I see that image, all I see are the mistakes. But then, maybe it’s those unfinished rough edges that contribute to its appeal. Who knows?

    In 1996 Eye Magazine wrote that Pelham’s covers “dignify the books with symbolic images that help to convey the conceptual sophistication of the writing inside.” For more of Pelham’s covers as well as many striking Penguin covers by other artists, check out the well-curated website Penguin Science Fiction.

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
    Many more of Pelham’s spectacular sci-fi creations after the jump…..

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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