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Klark Kent, the punk band that Stewart Copeland of the Police had nothing whatsoever to do with
05.09.2017
12:25 pm
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From 1978 to 1986 the Police were an undeniable musical force, with five classic albums and ten U.K. singles cracking the Top 10. It’s a curious fact, however, that the Police were beaten to the charts by one of their own. In 1978 an act going by the name of Klark KentStewart Copeland would always vigorously deny having anything to do with it—released a single called “Don’t Care,” which managed to hit the U.K. charts in advance of any song by the Police. In the summer of 1980, Klark Kent released a peppy mini-album of frenetic punk-pop.

Klark Kent took its moniker seriously. The name was obviously a riff on Superman’s alter ego, and in that spirit all of the original Klark Kent releases were on Kryptonite Records, and as many releases as possible were done up on green vinyl in honor of the one substance in the universe that can bring Superman to his knees. Klark Kent used green as much as possible in its album artwork and had a knack with serifs. 
 

 
In his essential book Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter’s Guide to Underground Rock, 1970-1982, George Gimarc describes the promo party for the release of the album on June 25, 1980:
 

Someone supposed to be Klark Kent showed up in a Darth Vader mask being towed around the room by Stewart Copeland of the Police. It’s a ruse that is transparent and well-blown, but Stewart is adamant that, “It’s not me, honest. Why do people keep saying that?”

 
Indeed, it was Copeland on all of the instruments—even the most cursory listen will reveal that the band sounds a whole lot like the Police circa Outlandos d’Amour.

The U.S. release of the 10-inch came in a 12-inch sleeve bearing a sticker that stated the following: “You have just purchased an I.R.S. product. Keep in mind, however, that this is no ordinary record. It has been specially sealed under clinical laboratory conditions guarded by 12 armed security officers. Upon contact with light, this 8-song album will shrink to 10 inches and turn green. Exercise extreme caution.” (Cleverly, the labels had a reduced diameter to give the visual impression of a shrunken 12-inch.)

The liner notes explaining the origin story of “Klark” find Copeland channeling Thomas Pynchon. The purported author is, ahem, “Sir Robinson Jeffries-Elder, Q.C., M.P., ex-diplomat, lecturer, bon vivant, and principal stockholder in the Klerk Kant Foundation, Limited”:
 

“Klerk Kant”, as appears to be his name, first came into my life as he was sitting next to me on the Concorde flight from Washington, D.C., to London. Speaking in what he claimed to be his native Sanskrit, he explained that he had been in Washington testifying before a congressional committee on church politics. His expertise in this subject had been attained while studying in a Moslem seminary in India. He underlined his religiosity (he claimed to be a “Sufi”, a kind of Islamic mystic that is rarely seen on the Indian sun-continent) by saying his noonday prayers in the aisle of the jet air-plane, jostling the stewardesses as they were trying to serve lunch, and annoying the passengers with his shouts of “Which way is Mecca? Which way is Mecca? Which way is Mecca?” while shifting his body to accommodate to the turns in the direction of the aircraft.

Later, he confessed, in sub-standard broken English, that he was “a mere computer programmer”, currently out of work but living on the sum of one million four hundred thousand dollars which he had won from I.B.M. in a successful suit against the company for stealing his “invention”. He was most secretive about the invention (“Do you want me to sue you? he asked coyly when I questioned him about it), but he adumbrated the notion that it had to do with capturing radio signals from distant galaxies, systematizing them through computer analysis, and reducing them to simple melodies which he played on the various instruments on which he is proficient.

I saw a great deal of Kent over the following weeks, sometimes in his elegant suite at the Dorchester and sometimes at my more modest digs, a bed-sit on Grosvenor Square. Sometimes he was morose to the point hostility, barely replying to my concerned questions with monosyllabic grunts. At other times, he was almost euphoric, waxing eloquent on his wide-ranging political philosophies. He would often descend to the vernacular, but his normal mode of speech was iambic pentameter in a-a-b-a rhyming pattern in which he produced perfectly worded, poetically beautiful expressions of deep moral intensity. (“I am a child ancient Syria / Suffering the pains of all this area” is an example.)

It is this peculiar combination of the profane and sacred which gives his music its unique appeal to young and old, simple and sophisticated, bovine and leontine, illiterate and intelligent, A/C, D/C, and A/C/D/C I, for one, like the underlying jazz sub-motif. My sons, being of primitive mold, see nothing in him but what they call “white collar punk”. In any case, to one and all, Klerk Kant’s music is the work of “true genius come home from a visit to the cosmos”, as the New York Times critic says. The eight songs of the disc run the gamut of KK’s extraordinary talents.

 
More on this mystery after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.09.2017
12:25 pm
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That time the FBI investigated the alleged murder of Trent Reznor
05.09.2017
10:58 am
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Other than the fact that the FBI, the Michigan State Police and Chicago’s finest all believed that Nine Inch Nails vocalist Trent Reznor was dead, 1989 was a pretty good year for NIN. The band released their first album, Pretty Hate Machine which contained the soon-to-be smash single “Down In It” that would help propel NIN to early stardom. Prior to the release of the first song ever written by Reznor, NIN headed to Chicago to shoot a video for the single. And that’s when this story starts to get very, very weird.

In order to achieve the aerial shots for the video, the crew attached balloons to a few cameras. One of the cameras decided to go rogue and floated over 300 miles to Michigan before landing in the middle of a cornfield (I told you things were going to get weird). The camera was then found by a farmer who, after looking at the footage of Reznor covered in cornstarch (in order to enhance his dead-guy look), surrounded by guitarist Richard Patrick and drummer Chris Vrenna, turned it into the police. The footage appeared to be authentically nefarious in nature to the cops who were convinced that the footage in the camera was either the product of some sort of satanic ritual, gang-related slaying or even a suicide.

If you’re a fan of NIN you may already be acquainted with this bizarre bit of history, especially if you also watched the television tabloid show Hard Copy back in the early 1990s. Hard Copy took NIN and Reznor to task then when they ran an exposé on the faux-murder and its lengthy criminal investigation. During the broadcast which originally aired on March 5th, 1991, the show used cheesy “re-enactments” of the “crime” as well as providing equally cheesy and condescending commentary by way of host Alan Frio and the glib curator of the segment, actor Rafael Abramovitz. They even included an interview segment with Reznor himself during which he shared his thoughts about the bizarre debacle:

“When the news came through that this was some sort of a cult killing, and that I had been killed, this great story, my initial reaction was that it was really funny, that something could be that blown out of proportion, and so many people were working on it. And I felt kinda good that the police had made idiots of themselves.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.09.2017
10:58 am
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Woodcuts of Witches, Wizards and Devils
05.09.2017
10:46 am
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Well, here’s something you don’t see every day in real life: Witches with animal heads flying on broomsticks. Fuck. Why did all the good stuff happen before iPhones were around to capture it….? Or, is it just strange, nay fantastically unbelievable, that witches with animal heads ever flew around on broomsticks?

Now, once upon a time, long, long ago in a land not so very far from here, people actually did believe in witches and warlocks and wizards and animal hybrids flying with broomsticks through the devil-dark night. It was a form of mental aberration that infected the whole of Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries.

This dreadful fear of witches began with a couple of Dominican monks, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, who together wrote a barmy treatise on witchcraft called Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) in 1486. This book reinvented witchcraft and the devil as something more than just “delusions,” as had once been believed, into something solid, active, real, and very, very dangerous. Unsurprisingly, it was a bestseller for some 200 years.

According to the Malleus Maleficarum the world was literally hoaching with witches and the only way to defeat them was by the worst kind of torture and execution. This treatise received Pope Innocent VIII’s blessing. He had already given Kramer a Papal Bull Summis desiderantes affectibus in 1484 which approved his “inquisition” into all reports and suspicions of witchcraft. This Papal Bull was included in the Malleus Maleficarum as part of the book’s preface, which meant that misogyny was not only acceptable but actively encouraged.

And so it began two centuries of terror and torture and mass stupidity.
 
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The great thing about witchcraft is that anyone could be accused of it. The accuser never had to prove the veracity of their statement. The accused always had to prove their innocence. But this usually meant forfeiting their lives. You see, innocence was often proven by use of a variation of the ducking stool—a device once used for scolds and prostitutes—whereby a woman believed to be a witch would be tied to a rope and thrown into a river or a pond. If the woman sank and drowned—then she was innocent. Hurrah! If she floated and lived, well hell, she’s a witch and must be burnt at the stake.

Usually, it never came to this, as most women ‘fessed up after hours or days of relentless torture and were then executed. Oftentimes, these women would name their accusers (or others they didn’t like) as also being witches and in league with the devil. And so it went, more and more women were questioned, tortured, and executed.

Stupidity does not discriminate—which explains why the hysteria over witchcraft was surprisingly flamed by the rise in literacy. The mass publication of pamphlets, news sheets, and books saw a great demand for stories “true” and fictional about witches and witchcraft. These stories were exceedingly popular and were spread in posters across the land like a virus. In every village and town, these reports on the occult would be read aloud wherever they were posted. The literate read the stories. The illiterate spread the tales word-of-mouth. The most potent part of these documents were the woodcuts which depicted the women (and some men) who were in league with the Devil and using witchcraft to spread his nasty ill-will throughout the land.

One of the earliest of these illustrated pamphlets was A Rehearsall both Straung and True, of Hainous and Horrible Actes Committed by Elizabeth Stile, alias Rockingham, Mother Dutten, Mother Deuell, Mother Margaret, Fower Notorious Witches first published in 1579. This booklet told the story of Elizabeth Stile, a 65-year-old widow and beggar who was accused of witchcraft and cavorting with three other witches Mother Margaret, Mother Dutten and Mother Devell, and a man called Father Rosimunde, who could (allegedly) transform himself “into the shape and likenesse of any beaste whatsoever he will.” Nice trick. Bet he never had to buy a round at the local inn.

It wasn’t just the lowly peasantry or working class who believed in such stories but the very highest members of the establishment. The first king to unify the nations of England and Scotland as King James I wrote a treatise on witchcraft Daemonologie based on his own personal involvement in the infamous North Berwick witch trials of 1590. King James believed that most women were “detestable slaves of the Devil, the Witches or enchanters” and he personally took part in the interrogation of those accused of witchcraft.

Many of these women were just dear old ladies who had lost their husbands or were destitute and had become victims to the unwelcome focus of a someone’s ire. As Jon Crabb notes on the Publlic Domain Review, it was from such poor women came the image of the “old crone” which was then promoted through books like The Wonderful Discoverie of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillip Flower, Daughters of Joan Flower neere Beuer Castle (1619), A Most Certain, Strange and True Discovery of a Witch (1643) and The History of Witches and Wizards: Giving a True Account of All Their Tryals in England, Scotland, Sweedland, France, and New England (1700). It is this image of a witch as depicted in woodcuts that is still the most prevalent depiction of a witch used today.
 
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An early though hugely influential depiction of a witch from ‘A Most Certain, Strange and True Discovery of a Witch’ (1643).
 
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Witches cooking up trouble.
 
More weird and wonderful woodcuts of witches and alike, after the jump….

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.09.2017
10:46 am
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Terrifying nuns looking down their noses at you
05.09.2017
10:30 am
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A ‘cabinet card’ featuring an image of a nun from Quebec. Notice the strategically placed crown of thorns to the left on the table.
 
After its creation in 1860, the use of the cabinet card became a hugely popular photography trend, quickly eclipsing other emerging photographic methods. Used primarily for portraiture, the styles of vintage cabinet cards were widely variable when it came to color formats, the types of card stock to which photographs were mounted, as well as other design elements such as inscription, embossing, and lettering. Cabinet cards were derived from another widely used photographic style of portraiture known as “carte de visite” which was popularized by Andre Adolphe Disderi in Paris around 1854. It is important to note that cabinet cards were much larger than Disderi’s small 2 x 4 inch photos. The idea was that they would be large enough for someone to see clearly from across a room.

Cabinet cards were used for many purposes, such as remembering loved ones and commemorating events—happy or horrible, perhaps—through pictures. As demand rose, the cards virtually put photo album companies out of business, which was how people had traditionally displayed their photos during the heyday of the carte de visite. Another interesting historical fact about cabinet cards—and something that is rather relatable now—is that the individuals charged with taking the portraits also would often employ the services of an artist who could doctor the photograph to improve (or more accurately, remove) any unpleasant facial attributes in the portrait. So you see, the people of Victorian times were just like us—obsessed with looking flawless in a photo by any means necessary.

This background on the historical relevance of this type of photography doesn’t change the fact that the potently nightmare-inducing images of these nuns appear to be solemnly judging you. If you’re a collector of offbeat things, a wide variety of cabinet cards, such as cheeky partially nude models to hauntingly morbid post-mortem images from the past, can easily be found on auction sites like eBay.
 

Quebec, 1874.
 

Oregon.
 
Many more nuns after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.09.2017
10:30 am
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The low-watt spandex thrills of ‘Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills’
05.09.2017
08:58 am
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Once upon a time, there was a video series called Bikini Crime Fighter—now scrubbed from the internet—that was basically just fledgling actresses in bathing suits running around a park while some wheezy kid with a camcorder chased them.  The best part, really, was that he had no windscreen on the microphone, so all of the dialogue was, basically, “WHOOOOOOSH.” I’m not sure why that technically-challenged auteur took down his work, but I thought it was the stuff of inept, accidental genius, and I haven’t stumbled on anything quite as wrong-headed since. Until now.

This is not a hallucination caused by decades of cathode mind-rot, although it certainly feels that way. This was an actual show on an actual TV network (well, USA), targeting actual tweens in that hazy mid 90’s, pre-internet cultural wasteland when Friends was the biggest show on television and everybody was listening to the fucking Offspring. It was not a popular show and were it not for the now equally flat-lined DVD market that spawned a scruffy reissue set five years ago, it might’ve stayed dead forever. And that would’ve been a shame because Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills was clearly one of the nuttiest, kookiest, kinkiest kids’ shows of all time.
 

 
Inspired by similarly themed Japanese shows and riffing off of Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TTAFFBH was about a Godlike blob from outer space who forcibly tattoos four rich kids and makes them fight rubber monsters to save the Earth from some asshole named Gorganus. That’s it. That exact plot, over and over, for 40 episodes. The “teens” were all pushing 30 and their outfits consisted of skin-tight spandex and chrome faces that made them look exactly like they were huffing paint shortly before wandering on set.
 

This bird was once a member of The Squigtones.
 
The only cast member of note was David L Lander, AKA Squiggy from Laverne & Shirley. He voiced the bad guy’s pet bird. It’s lame and incredible all at once. It looks like it could devolve into porn at any moment or escalate into a blood-spewing gorefest. It never does either, which is probably why it was canceled in a year. Still, if you like high weirdness on a low-budget, this is well worth a look. It will steal a good chunk of your sanity, but everything’s got a price.
 
Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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05.09.2017
08:58 am
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From comic book to art gallery: The brilliant and beautiful art of James Jean
05.08.2017
03:00 pm
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‘Bouquet’ (2016).
 
My closest, kindest and best friend has a family motto, “Per ardua surgo.” “I rise through difficulties/difficult things.” It’s a sentiment that could easily apply to the brilliant artist James Jean, who has risen through his own personal difficulties to achieve incredible success as an artist and designer. What could be more personal than an unnecessarily long, painful, and acrimonious divorce where a spouse refuses to settle? This is what apparently happened to Jean. His ex-wife refused to settle, leaving the artist allegedly penniless, homeless, utterly depressed and “neutered.” Eventually, Jean had to move overseas where he lived on “subsistence and barter.” Yet, even when his art was being commodified by lawyers as potential future assets, Jean kept drawing, kept painting, and kept illustrating his way through.

Jean first came to prominence as a commercial artist and cover illustrator for comic books like Batgirl, the Green Arrow, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and most spectacularly Fables. His awe-inspiring work earned Jean a sackful of prizes including seven Eisner awards, three consecutive Harvey awards, and a row of gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators in both Los Angeles and New York. He has also collaborated on designs for Prada.

With such a prodigious and prolific talent it was perhaps inevitable that Jean made the switch from comic books to art galleries in a series of beautiful and brilliant prints and paintings in mixed media and oils which he has been exhibited in group and solo shows since 2001.

James Jean was born in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1979, and raised in New Jersey. As a youngster, he has said he was more interested in playing the trumpet than making art. This changed under the tutelage of his high school teachers, Steve Assael, Thomas Woodruff and Jim McMullan, who recognized his artistic talent. Their encouragement inspired Jean to enroll at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1997, where he engaged with various different techniques before developing his own intricate and recognizable style. He graduated in 2001 and then began his career with DC Comics.

I think James Jean is one of the major artists of the twenty-first century who is in a direct line from Warhol, Hockney, and Koons, and further back to Dali and Picasso. The range of Jean’s work—in its diversity of technique, style, and subject—is virtually unparalleled. His oeuvre includes minutely detailed almost hallucinogenic sketches like “Samurai” to more traditional portraiture and Surreal digital work like “Aides Lapin,” to his progressive pop art of canvases like “Sprinkler” or “Bouquet.”

When once asked what advice to give young, budding artists Jean replied:

“Keep making work even if you don’t know what you have to say. You’ll only find your voice through the struggle.”

Jean has found has certainly found his voice.

See more of James Jean’s work here.
 
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‘Good Lord’ (2016).
 
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‘Flip’ (2006).
 
See more fabulous art by James Jean, after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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05.08.2017
03:00 pm
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Horrifyingly detailed images of surgical procedures from the early 1800s
05.08.2017
01:17 pm
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‘Strabismus’ 1831. From The Complete Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery by Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery. Illustration by Nicholas Henri Jacob.
 
Jean-Baptiste Marc Bourgery began what would equate to his life’s work, Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme comprenant la médecine operatoire or The Complete Treatise or the Anatomy of Man Including Operative Medicine in 1830. A series of eight books in total, Bourgery would complete the final publication just before he died in 1849. The massive 2108-page work would finally be published in its entirety in 1853.

Though the book would not have been possible without Bourgery’s deep knowledge of surgical technique and the inner-workings of the human body, it is the color lithographs by artist Nicholas Henri Jacob, a protegee of famed French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David, that make the publication truly remarkable. Jacob took on the task of creating lithographs that visually depicted medical scenarios such as the surgical removal of a rifle bullet, to horrifyingly detailed images of other kinds of surgical correction performed on the genitalia or eyes.

The lithographs, 726 in all, are startlingly beautiful and to this day Bourgery’s work along with Jacob’s realistic artistic interpretations is still considered to be one of the greatest contributions to the medical world where it was often utilized by the medical community as well as by artists that incorporate aspects of anatomy into their own work. In 2005 Taschen released a 714-page version of the book with the help of two French anatomy professors, Jean-Marie Le Minor and Henri Sick, both of the Louis Pasteur University of Strasbourg. I’ve posted a large selection of Jacob’s work below—all of which are NSFW in one way or another.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.08.2017
01:17 pm
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Stevie Nicks will fuck you up
05.08.2017
11:49 am
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In the 1980s, Fleetwood Mac employed an Australian bodyguard named Bob Jones. This would have been around the time the band was recording Mirage. Jones was an ambitious sort with some ideas about a harness that could be used in the water to assist in training known as the “swim-a-sizer.” He also was eager to write a book about self-defense that women could use to ward off attackers.

One day Stevie Nicks asked how his ancillary projects were going. As Jones tells it:
 

One day we were over at Stevie’s, and she’d asked how it was coming along. She was keen to understand the concept of how I intended to make it a train-at-home-alone manual.

“What can I do to help?”

“How about a photo shoot of you and me for the cover?”

Swear to God, I honestly meant this to be a throw-away line.

“It all sounds fabulous! I’d love to!”

“Great Stevie, I’ll ring your publicist to do a photo shoot here by the pool.”

 
And that was that. Nicks followed through on her promise to do a shoot for Jones’ book. The book came out in 1983 with the title Hands Off!, and there Nicks was, as promised, on the cover. Amazingly, Nicks showed up for the shoot wearing her trademark flowy gowns and the most incredible pair of platform boots, which prove her to be highly skilled in the martial arts indeed!
 

 
According to Jones, Nicks’ publicist professed to be astonished that Nicks had agreed to do the shoot, because she had recently bollixed up his negotiations with “one of the world’s top monthly magazines” (ahem, Playboy) by turning down an offer of $250,000 for a photo spread. I’m guessing it wasn’t the fact of doing a “photo shoot” that had caused Nicks to object. 
 

 
It all makes you want to tremble at the very thought of getting your ass kicked by Stevie Nicks in a dark alley, no? She’d probably use witchcraft on you too!

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.08.2017
11:49 am
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Cowboy boot roller skates are a thing
05.08.2017
11:26 am
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I have this thing with hatin’ on shoes here on Dangerous Minds. Previous examples of my shoe-hating posts include: The worst f*cking shoes on the planet: Cowboy sandal boots and The second worst f*cking shoes on the planet: Basketball shoe cowboy boots.

Maybe it’s just that I dislike any sort of cowboy boot mash-up shoes? I have nothing against cowboy boots—I don’t personally wear them—but there’s something about adding an additional (and uncalled for) new element to the boot that doesn’t jive with me.

For instance, cowboy boot roller skates. Maybe I’m wrong here and these are the best creations ever. But I don’t think I’m wrong, though. They’ve got shitty theme restaurant uniform written all over them, amirite?

If you’ve just gotta own a pair of these boots, then WaynesWesternWheels.com will turn some cowboy boots into roller skates for you. The site is currently under construction. You can visit their Facebook page and contact them there about purchasing and pricing.


 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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05.08.2017
11:26 am
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‘And Keith Haring on Magic Marker’: Keith Haring creates a mural onstage while Material get funky
05.08.2017
10:50 am
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Without much question, Material, the New York-based jazz/funk/hip-hop combo founded by bassist Bill Laswell and keyboardist Michael Beinhorn in 1978, has a rightful place on any list of the most interesting bands of all time. Somewhat like Brian Eno, Nile Rodgers, Steve Albini, and Was (Not Was), Material combined performance and composition with significant production credits. To give you an idea of the kind of terrain Material comfortably occupied, here’s a partial list of Material’s more notable collaborators: Nona Hendryx, Afrika Bambaataa, John Lydon, Whitney Houston, Fab Five Freddy, Sonny Sharrock, Kool Keith, Daevid Allen, Bootsy Collins, and William S. Burroughs.

If nothing so far has rung any bells, you probably are aware of Herbie Hancock’s 1983 album Future Shock and Hancock’s most famous track “Rockit,” which was a big hit in the early days of MTV. Material was all over that album, and its hard electronic funk sound was quite typical of Material’s music.
 

 
In 1983 Material did some European dates and someone hit upon a cool idea. Keith Haring would create an improvised mural on the stage set while Material went through its compositions. I don’t know how often this happened but it happened at least twice, once at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 13, and once in Milan at the Milano Suono Festival on July 20. On both occasions the lineup was (as two YouTube videos have it) Bill Laswell, Michael Beinhorn, Grandmixer D.ST., Sonny Sharrock, Henry Kaiser, J.T. Lewis, “and Keith Haring on Magic Marker.”

Many years later Laswell told the Quietus about Haring’s onstage involvement with Material:
 

I think I was playing with Sonny Sharrock, D.ST who is a DJ, and Henry Kaiser. Again, it was improvised but with a rhythm section. It was a long time ago, and probably a lot more in the avant-garde! But we did play pieces that featured the turntable. It was also the first time I had ever seen live music with live painting. So Keith Haring painted live while we were playing and when the music stopped, the painting was finished, which was kind of a trip for the audience.

 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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05.08.2017
10:50 am
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