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  • Even after 16 years, Chris Morris’ ‘Jam’ is still the sickest, darkest, bleakest TV comedy EVER made
    03:19 pm


    Chris Morris

    It’s quite something that what was undoubtedly the oddest, most extreme and certainly the most sinister “comedy” series of the year 2000 would still be all of those same things when revisited over a decade and a half later, but this was the conclusion that I invariably came to last week when I re-watched Chris Morris’ legendarily fucked-up Channel Four series Jam. Nothing’s come even close to dethroning it in the intervening years.

    Based on audio material that had initially been worked out for a late night radio show called Blue Jam that was broadcast from 1997 through 1999 on BBC1, Jam often had the actors who’d done the original radio work lipsync those same bits for the camera, giving the show an organically disturbing element that was difficult to pinpoint. Indeed, from the very first seconds of Jam, it’s patently obvious that the viewer is about to witness something that’s not only meant to fuck with their heads, but that’s going to accomplish this goal quite successfully. I first caught an episode of Jam in a London hotel room (I was there doing publicity for the second series of my own Channel Four show) and I was utterly flabbergasted by not only what I was seeing before my astonished eyes, I was also gobsmacked (as the Brits are fond of saying) that something like this, something this post-post-post modern, this forward-thinking, this incredibly bleak, moody and just plain fucked-up had made it to television in the first place, having been green-lighted by the very same people who foolishly allowed little me to have a TV show around the same time.

    Someone I knew at C4 mailed me VHS tapes of Jam back in New York, and I became an evangelist for it, forcing joints into mouths and making all of my friends watch it. Some of them even thanked me. (One person I’ve not heard from since…)

    But enough of these… words, it’s not like one can “explain” Jam, so let’s take a break now and roll tape. Here’s the first episode of Jam. I know you’re busy, we all are, but for your sake—I’m not doing this for me—watch at least the incredibly brilliant opening sequence and the first sketch, where a worried couple at their wits end (Amelia Bullmore and Mark Heap) lay something quite dark and heavy about their son on his godfather (Kevin Eldon) and ask for a rather big favor.

    Breathtaking, is it not?

    Much more ‘Jam’ after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    Becoming Bowie: High-end made-to-order ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Aladdin Sane’ costumes!
    03:16 pm


    David Bowie
    Ziggy Stardust costume

    Space Oddity’ custom-made costume by Wanda Cobar.
    So if after reading that headline you went running for your credit card (like me) then congratulations—you my friend have good taste and a great sense of adventure just like our dearly departed David.

    A lovely and talented individual by the name of Wanda Cobar has created a number of made-to-order costumes based on some of the most memorable stage outfits worn by David Bowie during his time as “Ziggy Stardust” and they are not your average run-of-the-mill “Costume Superstore” type of get ups by any means. Cobar actually made the material herself for the “Space Oddity” jumpsuit (pictured at the top of this post) because she wasn’t satisfied with the conventional offerings available to her and ZOWIE did she nail it. The same goes for Cobar’s fantastic interpretation of Bowie’s little fishnet number with strategically placed lizard hands on the chest. When the original costume attempted to make it’s debut on The Midnight Special (as part of Bowie’s “1980 Floor Show”) it caused quite a stir, as the Dame recalled in 2002:

    I did one particular song, can’t remember what it was now but I had a strange kind of string knitted costume made with three hands on. Two of them on my chest, looking like I was being gripped from the back…And a third one on my crotch. I nearly started a riot with the Americans. They said: “Oh we can’t show that, that’s subversive.” We went through hell, so I had to take the hand off my crotch. And then of course they didn’t like the black pouch piece that was down there, that the hand was stitched to…so I had to change all that. So, like the ‘Diamond Dogs’ thing that they airbrushed the dick off, I was having more erasure problems. It followed me all through the Seventies. It’s funny that I can remember the costume and not the song, totally indicative of what the time was like.

    I’m pretty sure the price tag on Cobar’s incredible costumes might give you sticker shock—which is understandable as they range in price from $179 to $699 for an one-of-a-kind girlie version of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” suit that comes complete with red wig and gold crown. If for some inexplicable reason Bowie isn’t your thing, Cobar also has a couple of sweet Prince-inspired costumes such as a full-on polka-dot number that the Purple One wore in the late 80s and a pretty cool version of the two-piece number Prince wore on the cover of 1986’s Dream Factory mashed up with the iconic purple suit worn from the 1984 album Purple Rain. Images and links to Corbar’s soon to be super busy Etsy page follow.

    The ‘Jean-Genie’ costume.
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Pure Imagination: Gene Wilder tribute portrait as Willy Wonka made entirely out of candy
    12:33 pm


    Gene Wilder
    Willy Wonka

    I love this homage portrait of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka made entirely out of candy. It’s fitting. The piece is done by unconventional mosaic artist Jason Mecier.

    The Willy Wonka candy portrait will live on forever at Giddy Candy in San Francisco.

    Click on the image to enlarge to see all the detail. Wonderful.


    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    A young Depeche Mode perform a slice of synthpop perfection on Swedish TV, 1982

    A few years ago there was a theory that Kraftwerk was the “most influential group in pop history.” The pitch goes something like this: The Beatles’ influence lasted about thirty-plus years while the electronica heralded by Kraftwerk continues to be of influence to this day. One of the chief proposers of this argument was Andy McCluskey from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark who said:

    When you listen to pop now, do you hear the Beatles, or do you hear electronic, synthetic, computer-based grooves?

    It’s a moot point as nearly everything is electronic today. McCluskey clearly remembers the day he first heard the future of music—when Kraftwerk played the Liverpool Empire on September 11th, 1975. Though the venue was about half-full, this gig had far-reaching consequences. It was a starting pistol announcing the launch of bands like OMD, the Human League and Cabaret Voltaire who were to pioneer electronic music in Britain.

    When OMD signed to Factory Records, McCluskey was utterly horrified when label supremo Tony Wilson said their music was the future of pop. OMD saw themselves (quite rightly in many respects) as creating serious artistic music. Though McCluskey vehemently disagreed at the time, Wilson has been proven right. Yet it wasn’t until Gary Numan, Visage, Soft Cell, and in particular Depeche Mode, could synthpop be said to have truly arrived.

    Depeche Mode was originally a guitar band from Basildon, Essex called No Romance in China. It was formed by two schoolmates Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher in 1977. The line-up changed as different members came and went until the band morphed into Composition of Sound with the arrival of Martin Gore on guitar.

    When Clarke saw OMD in concert in 1980, he reinvented the group as wholly synthesizer-based band. With the addition of Dave Gahan on vocals, Depeche Mode were complete.

    Clarke was the principal songwriter and main driving force behind the band. At the time he was working as a delivery driver for a lemonade company to pay for his synthesizer. They recorded a demo and hawked it around to different labels, yet, it wasn’t until Daniel Miller—head of the newly formed electronic record label Mute—saw Depeche Mode play a gig in London that he offered them a deal on the spot

    Miller was one of the pioneers of electronic music. As The Normal he released two seminal singles “T.V.O.D.” and the J.G. Ballard-inspired “Warm Leatherette.” One of the reasons he offered Depeche Mode a contract—apart from the obvious synthpop association—was the fact people at the gig weren’t watching the band play, but dancing joyously to their songs.

    Watch Depeche Mode perform, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Attention lefty hipsters: Stop it with the dumb f*cking Black Flag T-shirts celebrating Jill Stein
    10:10 am


    Black Flag
    Jill Stein

    I’m writing this from Austria, where the Green Party routinely achieves 10-15% of the vote and a similar proportion of the seats in the legislature. Due to the vagaries of runoff voting systems, Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received a narrow majority of the votes in May to become the nation’s president (an almost entirely ceremonial figure), but the Austrian Constitutional Court annulled the result based on suspicion of tampering, resulting in a re-do of the election, in which it is devoutly to be hoped that Van der Bellen wins a second time, because the alternative is a far-right type named Hofer with vaguely Trumpy (i.e. anti-EU) views.

    So that’s Austria. They have a real, functioning Green Party that provides actual services to residents just like regular elected officials do. In our two-party system, we unfortunately have a Green Party that seldom gets more than 1% of the vote in presidential elections and currently has a woman named Jill Stein running. Unlike Alexander Van der Bellen, Stein has somewhere south of zero of ever being elected POTUS.

    All this is to explain why this rash of Black Flag T-shirts remixed to celebrate Jill Stein kind of piss me off. Say what you will about Black Flag’s take on punk, Jill Stein just has nothing to do with it, or them, in any way shape or form. Not tangentially, not at all. These “Green Flag” tees are not creative or witty mash-ups, they’re fucking stupid.

    As a service here is a photograph of Dr. Jill Stein:

    This picture reminds me of that time in 1980 when the Hermosa Beach cops kicked Black Flag out of town
    Sorry to be so hard on Dr. Stein, but this was just the last straw. I’d love for the Greens to be putting up a really good candidate, but Stein just isn’t it. And I simply loathe these dumbshit shirts.

    Here are some more pics of deluded hipsters (well, models) wearing these awful Black Flag shirts. Why are there so many varieties to choose from? Has anyone seen these out in the wild?

    More nauseating “Green Flag” T-shirts after the jump…...

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Woman hypnotizes rabbits, 1954
    10:00 am



    Here’s a video shot back in 1954 of a Mrs. Irene Burton from Orpington in Kent, who could apparently hypnotize her pet dwarf rabbits to astonishing effect. Admittedly I was shocked when I saw the video. I thought she had some sort superpower over her rabbits. I had a pet rabbit myself growing up, and I recall seeing him do this once or twice. And no, I wasn’t trying to hypnotize him, he just did it.

    After watching the video, I started to question Mrs. Irene Burton’s hypnotizing capabilities over rabbits. Could she really be this good? According to what I’ve read online this trance-like state is called “Tonic Immobility” or “TI,” and it’s actually a defense mechanism motivated by fear.

    TI is considered a last attempt for prey to escape being eaten by a predator. When rabbits are tranced, they are at the highest possible fear level, and they can possibly die from fear.

    So, yeah, Mrs. Irene Burton wasn’t actually hypnotizing her rabbits at all, but basically scaring the living shit out of them. That’s not nice, Irene!

    via Arbroath

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    The unauthorized Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ amusement park ride is a REAL thing!
    09:48 am


    Michael Jackson
    amusement parks

    Le train Fantôme Thriller
    Michael Jackson fans living in France can experience Le train Fantôme Thriller, a traveling ghost train ride that pays homage to the King of Pop’s multi-platinum selling album and iconic music video. Totally not authorized by the Jackson family estate, this three-story attraction is chock-full of hungry zombies that are ready to devour you alongside a very familiar soundtrack from 1982.
    The ride was created by Stéphane Camors, the descendant of a family of funfair attraction developers dating back a century and a half. Stéphane had previously created two popular ghost train attractions: “Fantom Manor” and “King Kong.” While searching for an idea of a more contemporary and innovative ride, inspiration struck when he came across his children watching the John Landis-directed “Thriller” music video on the internet. Stéphane immediately began consulting with manufacturers, set decorators, and visual artists. After fourteen months and 18,000 hours of construction, his dream became a reality.
    You can track the location of Le train Fantôme Thriller via its official Facebook page. Alternatively, you can rent it during the off-season and assemble it yourself in your own backyard (mounting the ride takes just three days, only two days to disassemble).
    Le train Fantôme Thriller at night
    Le train Fantôme Thriller
    See Le train Fantôme Thriller in action after the jump…

    Posted by Doug Jones | Leave a comment
    ‘U.S. sorry for fake Hiroshima’: The ill-advised ‘re-enactment’ of the Little Boy bomb drop, 1976
    09:27 am


    atomic bombs
    Paul Tibbets

    Colonel Paul W. Tibbets of the Army Air Forces standing next to the Enola Gay

    Paul W. Tibbets held a unique distinction in the annals of history. He was the pilot of the Enola Gay (which was named after his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets) and thus was the man who carried out the command to drop the atomic bomb known as “Little Boy” on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, making him the first person to detonate an atomic bomb in warfare. As was the conventional view for Americans of his time, Tibbets never expressed any pangs of regret about the act of killing upwards of 60,000 people in a matter of minutes, tending instead to emphasize the combat fatalities averted by bringing the World War II to a speedier end.

    It is likely that he was even less apologetic about his participation in an air show 31 years later in which he re-enacted the Hiroshima bombing using a restored B-29 Superfortress (the same model as the Enola Gay) named “Fifi,” a reference to the co-pilot’s girlfriend. This event took place on October 10, 1976, in front of a large paying crowd reported as 18,000 (but possibly as large as 40,000) in Harlingen, Texas. Tibbets reenacted his historic Enola Gay mission—the event actually included a “simulated” atomic explosion—and repeated the flight twice the next day.

    The impetus of the event was to raise money for a WWII aircraft preservation group called the Confederate Air Force—today the group goes by the name the Commemorative Air Force. Fascinatingly, the U.S. Army supplied a detonation team to assist with the “atomic-bomb simulator,” in other words “a barrel of explosives” that produced the crowd-pleasing mushroom-shaped cloud, which you can see in the news article reproduced below.

    This was not the first time the Hiroshima bombing had been re-enacted. On October 27, 1945, the Los Angeles Coliseum hosted an event called “Tribute To Victory.” According to Daniel Tiffany’s book Toy Medium: Materialism and Modern Lyric, “this early simulation of an atomic blast hinted at the ‘devastation’ associated with Hiroshima—an image ‘almost too real’ for the crowd.” That event, however, did not garner a crowd of forty thousand—it drew roughly a hundred thousand! Considering that the Coliseum event was just a few months after the end of World War II, the morbid curiosity and willingness to offend the Japanese were a little bit more understandable.

    It’s doubtful whether many of the spectators in attendance found the 1976 air show in Harlingen to be in poor taste, but in any case it did cause a minor international incident. Understandably, when the citizens of Japan learned of this event, they were none too happy about it.

    The mayor of Hiroshima at that time was a man named Takeshi Araki, and apparently it took some doing to get him to believe that the incident had actually taken place. Araki called the re-enactment “a blasphemy” and “grotesque.” In a later press release he addressed the organizers of the air show: “What you have done insults the Japanese people who suffered from the bomb. I feel real rage and we shall protest to the U.S. government and all concerned.” Here was the reaction of Foreign Minister Zentaro Kosaka: “A bomb and a mushroom-shaped cloud is a real nightmare for the Japanese. Although it was a civilian air show, I cannot refrain from feeling badly. They lacked consideration for the feelings of others.”

    October 10 was a Saturday; on Wednesday, October 14, 1976, the U.S. Embassy in Japan issued an apology for the Texas air show, triggering this memorable headline:

    Right-wing nuts insist that Barack Obama apologized for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks, but that’s not true. The United States has still not apologized for those events—but at least we apologized for the fake Hiroshima bombing! One out of two ain’t bad!

    The U.S. government may have apologized but of course the CAF did no such thing, issuing a statement that included these words: “We feel that this demonstration was altogether proper and presented in an appropriate manner. We do not owe an apology to anyone.”


    You can see actual footage of Tibbets participating in the re-enactment—complete with the mushroom cloud effect—by jumping to the 1:50 juncture of this video, which we unfortunately can’t embed.
    via Conelrad

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    There’s a blog full of downloadable Haçienda DJ sets. You’re welcome.
    09:27 am


    Acid House

    I have a friend, as big a music nut as I am, who was in school in Manchester while the Haçienda was still open, and he never went. I love the guy—he’s basically family—but that one fact about him makes me wonder how I understand him AT ALL.

    The Haçienda was an epochally important nightclub opened by Factory Records and New Order in 1982, and it quickly became an important hub for Manchester’s already important music scene—the Smiths’ and Happy Mondays’ earliest gigs occurred there, as did Madonna’s UK debut. But within a few years, the importance of live concerts was eclipsed by the club’s global importance to the emergence of DJ culture. The Haçienda was a crucial incubator for the Rave scene, which led to packed houses just for DJs. This was both blessing and curse—the club had a huge audience, but that audience preferred ecstasy and LSD over alcohol as party-fuel, so while the bar went broke, the drug dealers cleaned up. With dealers come turf disputes, and with those come violence, and so security was as big a factor in the club’s 1997 closure as was financial failure.

    Blog51 has amassed a huge collection of Haçienda DJ sets, all downloadable in MP3 format. I’m not sure how these all came to be preserved, or how the blogger (a frequent patron named Andrew Mckim) managed to collect them all, but it’s a pretty amazing document of a scene over time. Between November of 2012 and May of 2014, Mckim posted dozens of DJ sets spanning from ’83 to ’97. The majority of the sets are understandably from the club’s in-house guys Graeme Park and Mike Pickering, but there’s plenty more to find in there—as I write this I’m listening to a 1994 set from Chicago House Godhead Frankie Knuckles.

    This short documentary on the Haçienda is hosted by Factory Records honcho Tony Wilson’s son Oliver, who as a small child had a front row seat for some of the most amazing developments in late 20th Century pop music. Enjoy.



    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
    ‘The Curious Dr. Humpp’: Outrageously pervy 60s softcore zombie sex cult film (TOTALLY NSFW)
    02:52 pm


    cult films


    “From every act of pleasure comes an equal act of perversion!”

    In The Curious Dr. Humpp, a demented Argentinian doctor (who gets his instructions from a talking, megalomaniacal brain-in-a-jar that is all that’s left of his late mentor) kidnaps attractive and horny couples—as well as a few hippies, strippers and lesbians, natch—and uses them for his own nefarious ends.

    Dr. Humpp and his team of goofy, rubber-masked zombie henchmen (and a buxom blonde nurse who likes to be smacked around) keep them prisoners in his creepy island mansion. They are injected with an aphrodisiac drug that turbo-charges their sexual desires and they have orgiastic group sex as the doctor drains a “sex particle” fluid from their bodies. The resultant libido smoothie prevents him from doing a Dr. Jekyll and turning into a blood-thirsty monstrous Mr. Hyde


    “The strength of human body-fluids taken during coitus … they help me go on!”

    The original early 1960s Argentinian film—which must have been pretty racy to begin with—was spiced up with additional sex footage when a North American distributor picked up this tawdry cult item in the early 70s. The name was probably meant to call to mind the XXX box office smash, I am Curious Yellow, although the two films have absolutely nothing in common, except for perhaps a high nipple count.

    “Sex dominates the world and now I dominate sex!”

    I doubt that I’d have ever heard about this kooky celluloid atrocity had it not been for these two brothers, slightly older than me, who went to my parents’ church. When I was like ten or maybe even younger, my parents were visiting their parents and they showed me how they lived behind a drive-in movie theater. But not just any old drive-in showing Herbie Rides Again or Jaws, but one that often screened R and even X-rated movies!

    Keep reading after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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