The trouble with getting famous when you’re young and cherubic is that you’re forced to grow up in public—a public that still wants you to be the nerd from The Breakfast Club, no less, when you’re Brat packer Anthony Michael Hall. Hall attempted to buck typecasting with his role in the 1986 stinker, Out of Bounds, a “gritty” film directed by no other than Richard Tuggle—who wrote the actually gritty Clint Eastwood film Escape from Alcatraz. Trouble is, Anthony Michael Hall isn’t Clint Eastwood or even in the remote vicinity, and his role as an Iowa farm boy searching for the LA drug kingpin that murdered his brother is not his finest moment.
It is so bad. Between stilted dialogue and Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to pull off a tough-guy act, we’re talking hilarious 80’s cable TV B-movie fare here. The soundtrack however, is from Stewart Copeland of The Police, and it is surprisingly good, if a little schizophrenic! With music from Copeland and Adam Ant, Night Ranger, Belinda Carlisle, The Smiths, The Cult, The Lords of the New Church(!), Sammy Hagar, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, who actually had a cameo in the film—you can see the performance below. Don’t get me wrong—the hamfisted inclusion of some good music for cool cred does not save this bomb, but maybe they’re enough to make it a cult classic?
Ouch: The x-ray of a Jack Russell Terrier who ate a 10-inch bread knife.
The excuse of the dog ate my homework might not be so far fetched as these X-rays of things our fine four-legged friends have swallowed shows.
Dogs are supposed to be carnivores, but omnivore or hoover might be more appropriate, as some of the items gulped down by these intrepid pooches include knives, a skewer, a phone charger, a light bulb and a rubber ducky. The images come from the They Ate What? competition, where vets submit X-rays of the most shocking items discovered inside family pets in the hope of winning a $1,500 prize. This selection is things the dogs ate….but don’t worry all foreign objects were successfully removed—to the relief of both dogs and owners.
This dog ate a phone charger.
Shish-kedog: A dog from Germany called Marley ate this kebab skewer.
Stoned: A seven-year-old Jack Russell from the UK devoured 80 small stones.
Marvel’s Daredevil only debuted on Netflix a couple of weeks ago, and it already seems poised to assume Breaking Bad levels of fan chatter and devotion—it’s got sharp writing, excellent acting, and it’s unsparingly grimy in its depictions of the underworld and its brutality, with intense and furious fight scenes that push at They Live duration. If it keeps up to the promise of its first season, I could just watch the shit out of it forever—I haven’t read superhero comics since I was probably 12, but Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin? God DAMN, pass the popcorn!
So I got a big laugh out of the frisson of this video that recuts Daredevil scenes to parody the affably goofy intro sequence of the ‘80s ensemble sitcom Night Court. Pretty much exactly like that video from a few years ago that perfectly transformed Kubrick’s horror classic The Shining into a heartwarming family comedy, this totally jettisons the dark feel of its source material to hilarious effect. Opportunities were missed, though—the screamingly obvious visual joke of Richard Moll’s “Bull Shannon” and Kingpin goes bafflingly unmade, but it’s still well worth 40 seconds out of your life.
Noah Wall is a NYC-based musician who contributed to the soundtrack of the documentary Print the Legend and released a really enjoyable LP called Hèloïse, among many other projects, but this week he released something mighty awesome. Wearing a pair of microphones designed to fit on one’s ears, so as to make incognito stereo recordings as close as possible to exactly what one is actually hearing, Wall made multiple visits to a Manhattan Guitar Center store over the course of three days, and released an album of those field recordings he picked up at random in the Walmart of musical instruments.
March 27, 2015. It’s about 3 on Friday. School’s out and people are headed to Guitar Center Manhattan. I’m going there to do some field recording. A block away, I put on a pair of microphones you might find in a spy catalog. They look like earbud headphones but are actually binaural (stereo) mic’s that go in each ear. No one suspects I’m recording them - more like listening to music or something.
Upon entry, I grab and prominently display the Absolute Beginners Guitar Chords book under my arm. This helps others dispel the possibility of musical prowess on my end. Gets me closer to the action.
This is my third and last day recording here. Some cliques gather in the acoustic guitar room and the occasional couple show off for one another but this place is mostly loners. Trying out a guitar or amp or whatever, they probably didn’t come here to jam with others. But the din has an ensemble effect and the unintentional group is abiding some unspoken rules. There’s a general respect in terms of volume, and sometimes strangers play in the same key and seemingly with one other. On two different days, two different people on two different instruments in two different rooms play the same Jackson 5 song.
In the mere days since he posted the album on Soundcloud, Wall has won new admirers, and prompted discussion of whether making an album this way is even legal. And he posted this wonderful graphic on his Facebook page, compiling social media responses to the work.
Chubby Checker, born Ernest Evans, holds a place in rock history as the man who popularized “The Twist,” a song originally a minor hit for Hank Ballard. Evans was given the name “Chubby Checker” by (American Bandstand host) Dick Clark’s wife, as a play on “Fats Domino,” whom Evans did impressions of in his act.
Checker’s recording of “The Twist” was a number one Billboard Hot 100 smash in 1960—and again in 1962. The song kicked off a nationwide dance craze, and Checker followed it up with such diverse hits as “Twistin’ USA,” “Let’s Twist Again,” “Slow Twistin’,” “Twistin’ Round the World,” “Twist It Up,” and (not really, but according to a bit of hilarious wikipedia vandalism) “You Stopped Twisting. Why?”
After all but dropping off the music charts in 1969, Chubby came back hard in a poignant 1988 duet with The Fat Boys:“The Twist (Yo, Twist!).”
Chubby certainly is an important figure in rock history, and no one thinks so more than Chubby. I was recently unpacking a box and ran across a page from the July 28, 2001 issue of Billboard Magazine. This page was actually stuck to my refrigerator door for ten years before my last move, and is a full-page, paid-letter from Chubby Checker addressing “the Nobel Prize nominators and the nominators of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, TV, radio, motion pictures, entertainment, entertainers, and the general public at large, world wide.” It’s seriously one of the strangest things I’ve ever read, and I was surprised to do some research and find its contents haven’t really been discussed, at length, by “the general public at large, world wide.” A full-page ad in Billboard couldn’t have been cheap, even in 2001—so whatever Chubby had to say must have been really important.
Click on image for larger version.
In this rambling letter, Chubby Checker ranks himself in terms of greatness amongst Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Dr. George Washington Carver, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney, and suggests that he alone is responsible for people “dancing apart to the beat.” According to Chubby, “dancing apart to the beat is the dance that we do when we dance apart to the beat of anybody’s music and before Chubby Checker it could not be found!” As he clarifies in the letter, essentially, if you dance with someone and you are not touching—and you are dancing to the beat… well, Chubby Checker invented that shit.
In the letter, Chubby demands that he get his own private space, away from other performers, in the courtyard of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where they are to erect a statue on a “thirty foot or so” pedestal of Chubby in the pose from his “Chubby Checker’s Beef Jerky” logo (!!!)
In the letter, he is somewhat dismissive of Elvis and The Beatles, who, in his eyes were nothing new, though they did improve upon the artists that came before them—just as Chubby improved upon the hit song which he covered. But Elvis and The Beatles, after all, didn’t invent dancing—as Chubby states, “let’s face the truth… this is Nobel Prize territory.”
Here’s the full text of the letter, just in case it sounds like I’m making any of this shit up (Checker’s grammar left intact):
This is my message to the Nobel Prize nominators and the nominators of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, T.V., Radio, Motion Pictures, Entertainment, Entertainers, and the general public at large world wide. Should you choose me I’ll consider it honorable. However I have conditions for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
To place the “Twist” symbol that’s on Chubby Checker’s Beef Jerky, this statue on top of a thirty foot or so pedestal in the courtyard of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. l would like to be alone, thank you. I changed the business. I am often called the wheel that Rock rolls on as long as people are dancing apart to the beat of the music they enjoy. Before ”Alexander Graham Bell”...no telephone. Before “Thomas Edison”... no light. Before “Dr. George Washington Carver”...no oil from seed or cloning of plants. Before “Henry Ford”...no V-8 Engine. Before “Walt Disney”...no animated cartoons. Before Chubby Checker…no “Dancing Apart to the Beat”. What is “Dancing Apart to the Beat”? Dancing Apart to the Beat is the dance that we do when we dance apart to the beat of anybody’s music and before “Chubby Checker” it could not be found!
Elvis Presley is the King of Rock & Roll, no doubt, and we love him. However Rock & Roll was already here. He just became the king of it. The Beatles who we all love so dearly, their likeness was done by the Beach Boys, Buddy Holly and The Crickets. But it’s evident that they did it much, much better. Hank Ballard wrote and recorded the “Twist”. The inner city kids made a dance to that song. The record died on radio. Radio stopped playing the record. The “Twist” was dead. No one was going to hear the record and no one was ever going to see the dance. We re-recorded the “Twist” and campaigned the song and the dance at DJ dance parties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Radio stations started to play the “Twist” by Chubby Checker. We finally made it to American Bandstand and showed the world what it was. Chubby Checker changed everything. He gave movement to a music that never had this movement before. The styles changed. The nightclub scene is forever changed. Checker gave birth to aerobics.
He gave to music a movement that could not be found unless you were trained at some studio learning something other than dancing apart to the beat. It’s fun. The “Twist” the only song, since time began, to become number one twice by the same artist. Oh yes, we’re Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But lets face the truth. This is Nobel Prize Territory.
The “Twist” is very recognizable when you dance apart to the beat. But “The Pony”, two on one side and two on the other side, the dance that I introduced in 1961 is the biggest dance of the century. They do it to everything, in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and now 2000’s. And what about my “Fly”? To explain it better, throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. If you “Fly” you automatically do the “Shake”. From I959 to this moment it’s either the “Twist”, the “Pony”, the “Fly”, the “Shake” or some other nasty stuff in between.
Please l urge you not to look upon my comments as self-centered, proud love thy self. This is not what this is about. Since l have such a unique situation in the music business, I feel only I can explain it. If the music industry knew or understood this reoccurring phenomenon, that’s renewed every time the beat begins, they would have explained it through decades. Yes, “Dancing Apart to the Beat” is Chubby Checker. Everybody is doing it everyday, every month, every year, since it’s discovery in 1959. Chubby Checker’s given the music business something great. Now he wants his greatness returned.
I want my flowers while I’m alive. I can’t smell them when l’m dead. The people that come to see the show have given me everything. However l will not have the music business ignorant of my position in the industry. Dick Clark said, and l quote, “The three most important things that ever happened in the music industry are Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Chubby Checker”. Now l ask you. Where is my more money and my more fame? God bless and have mercy. You know I love you.
P.S. l am also placing this letter on www.chubbychecker.com for the world to see. It would grieve me to have them ignorant of what l stand for in the music industry. Chubby Checker is King of the way we dance worldwide since 1959.
Original pressings of Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album included a 15-second track called “Farewell to John Denver,” in which the late poet laureate of Colorado sings a line of “Annie’s Song” before he is strangled to death. In the Pythons’ defense, Denver begs in the lyrics: “let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms” (though he does not, as far as I can tell, come on Annie’s pillow).
The track was removed from the album when Denver sued the Pythons for unauthorized use of his song. Terry Jones replaced it with a stammering apology to the listener titled “Omitted on Legal Advice.”
The item which follows has been omitted on legal advice. Uh, once again we apologize for that pause in the record which was owing to the, uh, original item being omitted on legal advice. However, I’m pleased to say we can now go on with the record, so here we are with “Finland, Finland.”
“David Bowie: The Un-Aired Interview, 1977” is all the information offered by the YouTube uploader, but the context is fairly obvious anyway: He’s being interviewed in a hotel room during a 1977 press junket in Holland to promote Heroes. It’s pretty long and if you’re a Bowie fan, it’s quite entertaining. He’s especially “real” and down to Earth here, obviously a rarity in his 70s interviews until this time (as he cops to, admitting that every interview he was doing during the Ziggy Stardust era was “in character.”)
Bowie charmingly and enthusiastically discusses his plans to produce DEVO (who the Dutch interviewers have never heard of), working with Eno on Heroes and the slog of show business rituals such as the one that they are all involved in at that very moment.
In the middle, Bowie does a lip-sync of “Heroes” while the camera stays in the control room. Afterwards there’s a photo session with dozens of photographers during which two young boys present him with a book about Egon Schiele (Bowie intended to play the artist in a film biography around that time) which he’s obviously psyched about! Then the footage ends back in the hotel room for more Q&A.
Prankster Erik Meldik is better known in his Czech homeland as one half of the ViralBrothers—a kind of Eastern European Jackass. Together with Čeněk Stýblocarry, the ViralBrothers carry out stunts that “punk” hapless members of the public with supposedly comic results. Last month, Meldik pranked his girlfriend, Dominika Petrinova into believing he had accidentally put her pet dog into the washing machine. Dominika was understandably distraught, but rather than just smile and gracefully accept being pranked, she decided to have her revenge on Erik.
Dominika decided to glue two hair removal wax strips onto a plastic chair. She then blindfolded a naked and freshly showered Erik, before leading him into the living room, where she had him sit on the specially prepared chair. Instead of the expected birthday bj, Erik literally found himself on the receiving end of a rather painful revenge prank.
Filmmaker Peter Adair is best known for his seminal queer classic, Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, a 1977 collaboratively directed documentary featuring 26 gay men and lesbians. The film, created with his lesbian sister Nancy, showed a truly diverse array of subjects speaking plainly about their lives and experiences. (The interviews were also later compiled and edited into a fascinating book by Nancy and the siblings’ lesbian mother, Casey.) Adair’s impulse for treating his subjects with sympathy wasn’t totally personal though. Ten years before Word is Out, he made Holy Ghost People, an intense but humane document of a Pentecostal church in Scrabble Creek, West Virginia.
With unembellished, almost flat narration, Adair describes the practices of Scrabble Creek Pentecostals. (Note that minimalist composer Steve Reich was one of the audio recordists on the film.) Adair interviews attendants and records their four to six hour long services, where they sing and play music, pray for divine healing and “speak in tongues.” They jerk, shudder and drop to the ground in religious ecstasy, some of them “paralyzed” by the experience, and of course, there is the most infamous of Pentecostal traditions—snake-handling. Adair even records a non-lethal bite.
As someone with some exposure to Pentecostal churches and environments, it’s worth noting that denominations like this are often considered marginal by the more mainstream flocks, perhaps more so as rural Appalachian enclaves continue to change and (sort of) modernize. At the services I attended, “catching the spirit” (the shaking and convulsing) wasn’t particularly common (possibly because the spectacle interrupted the music). Speaking in tongues was even rarer, and generally gossiped about later in skeptical murmurs. Praying collectively for a “brother” or “sister”‘s health was common, but actual faith healing was done at special services or events, rather than during regular sermons. And I only saw snake-handling a few times at tent revivals—children weren’t allowed to participate, or even witness, but there were snakes, so (obviously) we found a way.
It was also generally accepted that a lot of snake-handling was vaudeville flash, with little risk of actual death. The snakes used were considered “docile,” and it was always rumored they had been defanged, or at least “milked” beforehand to exhaust them of most of their poison. Supposedly, you could make a pretty penny from popping a snake’s fangs through a bit of cheesecloth stretched taut with a rubber band over a mason jar. Many parishioners said that nearby hospitals would purchase the subsequently expelled venom to produce antivenom, adding to skepticism surrounding the “spirituality” of snake-handling. That being said, Pentecostals do sometimes die from snake bites, though when word of a death—or even near-death—reached to our church, it was rare enough to elicit little more than an exasperated head shake—no one ever thought it wasn’t dangerous, most thought it was idiotic.
There are moments of Holy Ghost People though, that will ring pretty familiar with any former Pentecostal. A woman recounts an experience following a series of surgeries where a mysterious child brings sweetened milk to her deathbed for a few days; by the grace of God, she was healed, her recovery the result of her trust in the Lord, an act of God here on earth. These deathbed stories are incredibly common. The poverty and geography of Appalachia fosters a desperate, insular kind of faith, and in the common context of poor health, the spiritual and corporeal congeal into a complex delusion of “miracles” and inexplicable, supernatural forces. While more recent portrayals of Pentecostals tend to resort to smug sensationalism, Holy Ghost People manages a dignified, compassionate look at an all too frequently spurned community.
Those who know Sean Yseult are most likely to remember her as the woman who brought some seriously HUGE ROCK BASS to the transformative ‘80s/‘90s groove-metal band White Zombie. Since the end of that band in 1998, she’s played in other, less all-consuming outfits, and has returned to her originally intended trajectory as a designer and photographer. Like many, many memorable bands, White Zombie formed at an art school, specifically Parsons, where Yseult studied photography and graphics. Even as a full-time recording and touring musician, Yseult continued to shoot. Her documents of those years are collected in the book I’m In the Band, and since then she’s attracted praise for purveying gauzy, nostalgically-charged photos that express influences from Bellocq, Weimar erotica, the antiqued surfaces and grim moods of Joel-Peter Witkin, and the decadent, occultic history of her adopted hometown of New Orleans. By all means, have a look at it on her web site.
Recently, her work has taken an unexpected turn. Abandoning the dreamy atmospherics, Yseult has produced a visually livid and unsparing series that’s interesting for what it reveals rather than what it implies. These are huge prints, starkly lit and sharp as can be, an array of mystic still-lifes and elaborately staged tableaux vivants depicting the lavish gathering of a 19th Century secret society. A show of the work, Soirée D’Evolution, will open Saturday at the Scott Edwards Gallery in NOLA. The large size is understandable—one could return to these photos repeatedly and still keep finding new things stashed away in them, and there was just so much to unpack from the things that we decided it was best to just ask Yseult to walk us through a few of them.
My sister and I were in the Louvre, in the Dutch Masters wing. We got almost lost in there for about two hours, and at some point, she said to me “you know, for your next show, you have such an odd collection of things in your house, so many antiques and human skulls and strange things, you should just create a bunch of still lifes.” That was my original inspiration for the show, looking at these enormous paintings with all these garish things going on, and that was what I decided I should do, photo-realism but with actual photos [laughs]. I’d never done such detailed color photography before, nor had I ever gone so large. The thing that stays similar to the past work is thematically I’m always kind of obsessed with history and the macabre.
I started off with one still-life based on a kind of a Catholic reliquary and votive holder, decorated with human skulls, antique musical instruments, and candles. That was the first photo I took, it’s called “Opening Ceremony.” I ended up doing a lot of research on New Orleans and secret societies and the Krewes, these very high society people who created Mardi Gras and the parades here, around the 1850s. I ended up basing the whole show around 1873, because there’s an antique store around the corner from me where I bought this French banner dated 1873. It has musical instruments on it, and some information, which when I looked it up it led me to a story about the Wild Girl of Champagne, France. That was a feral girl found in the region of France where the flag was from, she’d been living alone in the woods for ten years. She’d escaped a ship that was raided by pirates, and when she was found, she’d been living off of killing animals and sucking their blood for nourishment, or sometimes catching fish and just eating them raw. So that was the second photo, a tableaux vivant of that. That’s her holding the club, and the guy on the other side represents the abbey in that town—when she was captured she was held in a castle next to that abbey.