This is something every home should have Bad Little Children’s Books—-this hilarious anthology of 120 fake kids’ book covers features such devilish titles as Polly Paints a Penis, Don’t Lick the Stripper Pole, Even Girls Fart, Rockets and Missiles of the Islamic State and Uncle Creepy. Those of a certain age may recognize the original source material for these parodies which come from more innocent times—I certainly owned a few of ‘em when I was a tot.
The covers are credited to the fictional artist Arthur C. Gackley who was supposedly born in 1923 and was “the creator of many children’s books, none of which were ever actually published.”
Mysterious and hermetic by nature, he spent his life living and working in a small New England village, but was likely washed out to sea or fell penniless into an abandoned wishing well shaft in the winter of 1978. No body was ever found, but unfortunately his book parodies were.
Many treasures from Something Weird Video recently turned up on Night Flight Plus ($2.99 cheap!). Among them is Musical Mutiny, a 1970 feature directed by former RAF pilot and Nazi prison camp escapee Barry Mahon, who got into the movie business by taking a job as Errol Flynn’s personal pilot after the war. Mahon’s 1969 film Fanny Hill Meets Dr. Erotico can claim the single greatest plot summary on IMDb:
Dr. Erotico, a reputable urologist, becomes a hard core sex maniac.
Musical Mutiny was filmed for like zero dollars at Pirates World in Dania, Florida, Mahon’s headquarters during the late 60s. An enterprising fellow, he shot the bands he booked to play at the theme park and then created movies around the footage. Iron Butterfly’s performances in Musical Mutiny were padded with an original plot involving a pirate who comes out of the ocean so that the youth may rock (or something). Mahon released it as a double feature with Weekend Rebellion, a movie he created by splicing his footage of Grand Funk Railroad and others playing at Pirates World into a print of Mondo Daytona.
If it sounds like these pictures are astonishingly cheap, it looks that way too. By comparison, the comic segments in Good to See You, Alice Cooper are Lawrence of Arabia. The Something Weird catalog quotes the director to the effect that he didn’t get where he was by paying top dollar:
“l took over the studio at Pirates World, a bit north of Miami, and made Jack and the Beanstalk and Thumbelina and a bunch of pictures like that” remembered Mahon in 1994. “Pirates World’s biggest claim to fame was the rock concerts we held there. I hired Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five for $10,000! And Grand Funk Railroad and Iron Butterfly. Got all those for around ten thousand bucks. And we made a lot of money doing that.”
Though it is often maligned by Black Sabbath fans as being “one of their worst albums,” I’ve always had a soft spot for the Born Again LP. Featuring Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan on vocals, many referred to this line-up as “Deep Sabbath.” Gillan, a rock super-star in his own right, was obviously no slouch, but Ozzy and Ronnie James Dio both left big shoes to fill in the Sabbath camp. Many fans at the time expressed great disappointment over the album recorded with this line-up.
It may have been hearing “Trashed” on a K-Tel compilation as a kid that warmed me to this era of Sabbath and that song in particular, but I’ll readily admit that the production on Born Again always left something to be desired. It always sounded a bit hollow to me and a bit cheesed out with the keyboards.
Fans have always been divided on the album’s iconic cover art as well. Some decrying it as one of the worst album covers of all time or at least, certainly, the worst Black Sabbath album cover, while others have found it to be a repellant work of genius. I’ve always adored the demonic baby image and its disturbingly vibrating blue and red color scheme. One of my favorite hardcore bands of the 1990s stole their logo directly from the hand-lettered “Born Again” font on the sleeve.
The story of this sleeve almost deserves its own post, but it’s totally worth reprinting here, direct from designer Steve Joule’s mouth, speaking to Black-Sabbath.com:
The Black Sabbath Born Again album sleeve was designed under extraordinary circumstances; basically what had happened was that Sharon and Ozzy had split very acrimoniously from her father’s (Don Arden) management and record label. He subsequently decided that he would wreak his revenge by making Black Sabbath (whom he managed) the best heavy metal band in the world, which, of course they are but back then in the early ’80’s they weren’t quite the international megastars that they had been in the ’70’s. His plans included recruiting Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, getting Bill Ward back in on drums and stealing as many of Sharon and Ozzy’s team as possible and as I was designing Ozzy’s sleeves at the time I of course got asked to submit some rough designs.
As I didn’t want to lose my gig with the Osbourne’s I thought the best thing to do would be to put some ridiculous and obvious designs down on paper, submit them and then get the beers in with the rejection fee, but oh no, life ain’t that easy. In all I think there were four rough ideas that were given to the management and band to peruse (unfortunately I no longer have the roughs as I would love to see just how bad the other three were as sadly my booze and drug addled brain no longer remembers that far back), anyway one of the ideas was of course the baby and the first image of a baby that I found was from the front cover of a 1968 magazine called Mind Alive that my parents has bought me as a child in order to further my education, so in reality I say blame my parents for the whole sorry mess. I then took some black and white photocopies of the image (the picture is credited to ‘Rizzoli Press’) that I overexposed, stuck the horns, nails, fangs into the equation, used the most outrageous colour combination that acid could buy, bastardized a bit of the Olde English typeface and sat back, shook my head and chuckled.
The story goes that at the meeting Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were present but no Ian Gillan or Bill Ward. Tony loved it and Geezer, so I’m reliably informed, looked at it and in his best Brummie accent said, “It’s shit. But it’s fucking great!” Don not only loved it but had already decided that a Born Again baby costume was to be made for a suitable midget who was going to wear it and be part of the now infamous ‘Born Again Tour.’ So suddenly I find myself having to do the bloody thing. I was also offered a ridiculous amount of money (about twice as much as I was being paid for an Ozzy sleeve design) if I could deliver finished artwork for front, back and inner sleeve by a certain date.
As the dreaded day drew nearer and nearer I kept putting off doing it again and again until finally the day before I sprang into action with the help of a neighbor, (Steve ‘Fingers’ Barrett) a bottle of Jack Daniels and the filthiest speed that money could buy on the streets of South East London and we bashed the whole thing out in a night, including hand lettering all the lyrics, delivered it the next day where upon I received my financial reward. But that wasn’t the end of it oh no, when Gillan finally got to see a finished sleeve he hated it with a vengeance and hence the now famous quote “I looked at the cover and puked!” Not wanting to sound bitchy but over the years I’ve said the same thing about most of Gillan’s album sleeves. He also allegedly threw a box of 25 copies of the album out of his window. Gillan might have hated it but Max Cavelera (Sepultura, Soulfly) and Glen Benton (Deicide) have both gone on record saying that it is their favorite album sleeve.
I think many us have been there: broke and looking for any kind of gig that will get us enough money to make it from one day to another. I did phone sales of subscriptions to a right wing Orange County newspaper. I was 16 and living on the streets of L.A. and needed money… badly. I worked with a dozen or so runaway kids sitting in a miserable loft dialing numbers all day and spewing made up stories of how the subscription revenue was going to help our high school build a new gym (I was a high school dropout) or help Vietnam vets get back on their feet (if they still had any). I lied all day, every day. And for all my bullshitting, I rarely walked with any money. The lying was easy. I read from a script. When I got really bored, I’d improvise. Back then people were polite on the phone. A lot of them bought into my rap. I couldn’t stand myself. I didn’t last a week. Selling beat drugs on Sunset to weekend hippies seemed like a slightly better karmic option.
Andrea Arnold’s powerful, poetic and liberating new movie American Honey deals with “mag crews,” young people going door to door in mostly affluent neighborhoods selling magazine subscriptions, using lies and artful scams to make a few bucks. For every subscription sold, the magazine clearing houses and publishers get a percentage and the rest is split between crew leaders and the kids doing the selling. Whatever hook it takes to sell a subscription—school projects, charities, scholarships, etc.—is used to separate a customer from their money. Selling magazine subscriptions in the digital age is hardly a ticket to the big time. But desperate times require desperate measures… even when they’re stupid.
Director Arnold (Fish Tank, Red Road) first discovered the mag crew world when she read Ian Urbina’s article on the subject in the New York Times. She decided to make a movie based on the article. She flew from England to America, rented a car, and drove alone along 1000s of miles of America’s highways. She saw all of the things that make America beautiful, wretched, intimidating and heartbreaking. She encountered hopelessness in a lot of small towns that have gone to hell because of poverty and drugs—the kind of drugs that become intertwined with a sense of there being no future.
American Honey follows a mag crew as they make the kind of trip that Arnold made. A small family of lost souls traveling across America getting stoned, singing along to rap, rock and country songs, living in the moment while the quiet dread of the unknown permeates the air like invisible thunderclouds. At times exhilarating, often tense and foreboding, American Honey subverts most of the viewer’s expectations at every turn. The film seems bleak on the surface but rays of light are constantly breaking through the darkness. Underneath the hardened exterior of these kids are layers of softness, sweetness and pain. Cuddling and sleeping together in sleazy motel rooms they appear as they are: children.
Blue Diamond Sales is typical of the kind of companies that use mag crews to generate revenue. Their website paints a rosy picture of the road to success:
Blue diamond subscriptions sells door to door subscriptions to magazines and books. Blue diamond travels the entire country helping young adults who wish to earn experience in the sales industry.
But their YouTube channel gets closer to reality:
The mag crews are tight knit bands with an almost cult-like devotion to their crew leaders—very much like a hooker’s relationship to their pimp. They travel in small groups in battered vans, crisscrossing America desperate to grab hold of the lowest rung of the American dream. From hustling truckers at truck stops to millionaire good ol’ boy ranchers and lonely, extremely horny guys working the oil fields of Oklahoma, the girls in American Honey go to where the money and easy marks are. These scenes are filled with tension, effectively tapping into the audience’s horror flick presumptions. But this is not a slasher film. The knives are psychological and go deeper beyond bone and flesh into the seat of the soul. A scene where a little girl in an Iron Maiden t-shirt sings The Dead Kennedys’ “I Kill Children” while her crackhead mother lies comatose in the background makes the torture porn of “Human Centipede” seem like “Happy Days” with hemorrhoidal itch. Reality has now entered a zone that even horror movies struggle to find resonant metaphors.
The mag crews aren’t much different than many of the kids who ended up in The Haight in 1968, the year after the Summer Of Love. They weren’t looking for an Aquarian age, they were looking to get out of bad situations back home. Many had suffered abuses of every nature. They came to the Haight to hook up with kindred spirits and forge communities. They weren’t hippies but they were open to anything that might give them a sense of better days. A sense of love. Ten years later on New York’s Lower East Side there was a similar influx of suburban kids looking to get away from the soul-deadening schools, shopping malls, and apathy that gutted whatever feelings of freedom they felt entitled to. The crews are a slightly better dressed version of the crusty punks I see camping in the woods behind my store in Austin.
Unlike the hippies or punks, the mag crews haven’t turned their backs on capitalism or the American Dream. The kids in American Honey see Wal-Mart as an oasis in the tattered streets of Crack Town. They want money. And they want it now. Bling is their thing and the rap songs on the movies soundtrack set the tone. These kids are white but their frame of reference is Black. Together they create a sense of mattering. They matter to each other.
Comparisons will be made to the films of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, but American Honey is more lyrical and less cynical than Kids or Spring Breakers. Clark’s Ken Park has moments of the kind of tenderness and bittersweetness of Arnold’s film. Both movies celebrate humanity over complete despair. And in each film, sex is threatening as well as liberating. Arnold’s point of view is that of a woman who knows from day to day experience that men are unpredictable animals and American Honey is suffused with an atmosphere of sexual peril without being gratuitous or exploitative.
American Honey is three hours long and it rambles and careens like the crews bouncing from state to state in their Econoline van. The length of the film never seems overlong. Its length actually gives the viewer the sense of being along for the ride. There are no big dramatic moments – except for the ones in the audience’s heads. The movie constantly subverts expectations. The drama comes in the small observations and the occasional emotional explosions. All of it moving along to a soundtrack composed of 24 wildly eclectic songs ranging from Kevin Gates to The Raveonettes, Springsteen, Steve Earle, E-40 and Mazzy Star. It all works sublimely and for every moment of suffocating emptiness there’s an epiphany fueled by music, a bottle of cheap whiskey and lots of pot.
American Honey won awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival including best actress for Sasha Lane. This is her film debut. Shia LaBeouf is perfectly cast as a cocky hustler. Sporting an American flag bikini, Riley Keough (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) is the cold-hearted crew leader and she’s amazing. The entire cast of non-professional actors ARE the real thing. Robbie Ryan’s cinematography is glorious, capturing the American landscape in a fugue-like state between night, day and what lays in between.
American Honey is opening this Friday in a few major cities and then nationwide on October 7. It’s an important movie. One that gets almost everything right about what’s bad and what’s good about America in the era of Trump. Being bombarded by dark prophecies from a sociopath running for President plays into the deeply pessimistic view young people already have of their future. American Honey hints at a way out:love
The year 2018 will see the release of an omnibus anime feature film based on Force of Will, a fantasy trading card game first launched in 2012 in Japan—the project sounds vaguely similar to 2003’s The Animatrix based on the Matrix universe. Excitingly, one of the six movies is called “Cthulhu” and is based on H.P. Lovecraft‘s famous monster. Other narratives in the movie are called “Pinocchio,” “Monkey King,” and “Zombie.”
In his 1926 story “The Call of Cthulhu,” Lovecraft described his most famous creation, Cthulhu, as “a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.”
If you’ve seen Iggy Pop play live, you’ve probably seen his pubic hair—it’s a veritable trope of his stage show, kind of like Gallagher and his watermelons. Recently, a small group of art students got to examine it in a new way when Pop posed for a nude life drawing session at the New York Academy Of Art. The session took place on February 21, 2016, and 21 artists participated in the session, which was conceived by artist Jeremy Deller.
The resultant sketches will be on display in an upcoming exhibition called “Iggy Pop Life Class” at the Brooklyn Museum that runs from early November through late March 2017. The sketches will also appear in a book called Iggy Pop Life Class, to be released in the U.S. by HENI Publishing on October 25.
Of the choice of Pop for the project, Deller said, “For me it makes perfect sense for Iggy Pop to be the subject of a life class; his body is central to an understanding of rock music and its place within American culture. His body has witnessed much and should be documented.”
Indeed. His body has witnessed much.
Below, you can see some of the sketches from the session:
I’ve spent some serious quality time steeped in Beatle lore, so it’s not often that something of which I’ve never heard crosses my radar, and yet, here’s Blindman. It’s a 1971 Ferdinando Baldi spaghetti western that featured Starr second-billed after the redundantly-named genre mainstay Tony Anthony, and it’s really quite good.
Anthony is the titular Blindman, a man-with-no-name figure (everyone just calls him “blind man”) who’s tasked with escorting 50 mail-order brides to a group of miners in Texas. He’s double-crossed when an associate sells the women to a Mexican criminal named Domingo (Lloyd Battista). Starr plays Domingo’s semi-sympathetic brother Candy (absolutely nothing to do with the 1968 film Candy in which Starr also had a role—as a Mexican gardener), who shows very little interest in the family’s slave/brothel business, and who’s undone by his forlorn love for a rancher’s daughter.
Despite his eponymous handicap, the Zatoichi-like Blindman fights and shoots with eyerollingly improbable Book of Eli-ish canniness, but when the plot demands a clumsy blind guy who knocks things off of tables and breaks stuff, he obliges. His penchant for dynamite abuse is amusing, as is his (I’m not even fucking kidding) seeing-eye horse. But though his part is smaller, Starr is quite fine here. This isn’t just celebrity stunt casting, he actually gives the rather limited role of “lovesick bandito” some heft. There’s been much said lately—and justifiably—about the casting of white actors in non-white roles, but since the film is 45 years old, I’ll leave that be, as he plays the part so well. (And now I’ll be earwormed with Ringo’s version of “Act Naturally” for a few hours.)
Besides, casting isn’t even Blindman’s most notable values dissonance between its time and the present. The movie—as is to be expected from a western about mail-order brides and sex traffickers—is rapey as all hell, and all of its Mexican characters are villainous or cartoonishly lecherous. Even Candy, who we’re supposed to kind of like, is forcing himself on the rancher’s daughter Pilar, who’s mighty upfront about her disinclination to having him around, which is the only personality trait with which that character was written, making her the second most rounded female character in the film after Domingo and Candy’s one-dimensionally corrupt sister. Try drinking a shot every time Blindman says “I want my fifty women” and YOU’LL end up blind. But this being a western, just desserts are meted out quite unequivocally to the abusers. Mostly.
You’re only as good as your word. That’s what I was always told when I was young. Never say something unless you mean it. That was another. Both taught me that words had meaning, purpose, importance—their own intrinsic value—a kind of verbal contract.
(I believe you lovely Americans phrase it “Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash.”)
German film director Werner Herzog is a man of his word. You can trust him. You know if he says he is going to do something—well, hell, he’s going to do it. Or at least try his damnedest. And here’s the proof…
Sometime in the late 1970s, Werner Herzog made a bet with a young filmmaker named Errol Morris. Herzog said he would he eat his shoes if Morris ever got round to making a film. Herzog had listened to this young wannabe filmmaker go on and on and on about the kind of films he was going to make—one day. Of course he did, but no one knew that then. Anyway, somehow all Morris’s talk about his great big movie plans never seemed to come to fruition. It was this seeming lack of purpose that irked Herzog and led to his now legendary bet.
Herzog met Morris at Pacific Film Archive (PFA) on the University of California, Berkeley campus. Morris was studying philosophy but ditched it in order to spend time hanging out with all the other filmmakers congregating round the PFA. It was here Morris first met and became friends with Herzog.
Morris was movie buff—he particularly liked film noir. He also had a great interest in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and the true exploits of killer Ed Gein upon which the film was based. Herzog shared this macabre interest.
In 1975, Morris and Herzog hatched a plan inspired by their joint fascination with Gein. The pair agreed to travel to Gein’s home in Plainfield, Wisconsin, where they would disinter the killer’s mother to find out if it was at all possible for Gein to have dug her up. Of course, being a man of his word, Herzog traveled to the location and waited patiently for Morris to arrive. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Morris was a no-show. This led Herzog to abandon their joint venture.
Herzog on his way to eat his shoes.
In 1976, Herzog returned to Plainfield during filming of his movie Stroszek. Here he found Morris living in a small apartment next to Gein’s house. Morris had spent almost a year interviewing residents about the cannibal killer.
Herzog offered Morris work on his latest feature. He also gave Morris an envelope crammed with $2,000 in cash to go and finally start making a film. Morris rejected the money, tossing the envelope out of a window into a parking lot. Herzog went out to the lot, retrieved the money, and told Morris never to do that again. This time Morris took the money.
He used it to research a new film idea about a particularly “gruesome form of insurance fraud” where individuals have a limb amputated in an accident to claim megabucks insurance money. Morris visited “Nub City”—the place where all these fraudsters lived. But he gave up on the idea after receiving death threats. Instead, he decided to make another documentary, this time about a pet cemetery in Napa Valley. This was Gates of Heaven.
When Herzog heard Morris had given up on his amputation film and was now talking about some new idea about dead animals, he wagered Morris that he would eat his shoes if Gates of Heaven was ever made. Whether this was meant as a joke, or a bit of encouragement, or was in fact a genuine bet is a moot point: Herzog (as we know) is a man of his word. He made the bet. Morris had made his first film.
Now Herzog would eat his shoes.
Watch Werner Herzog eat his shoe, after the jump….
Every once in a while I accidentally get to that place on the Internet and stumble across something which I have no words for. Perfect example: This bizarre-looking vagina mask. There’s not too much information about it except that it’s handmade, “fully functional” and made of silicone. The mask is designed by San Diego-based artist Melissa Coulter on Etsy. It sells for $480 + shipping.
To be honest, it looks more like the Creature from the Black Lagoon or some weirdo alien from Doctor Who than actual ladyparts. But what would I know?
Shouldn’t there be a matching, er, dickhead mask for couples who want to go trick or treating and have the police called on them?
The allure of the “snake charmer” as an attraction in circus sideshow or perhaps as a part of a freak show was as common as other circus staples like the really tall man, bearded ladies and sword swallowers. And like other roles in the circus there were lots of women who took on the snake charmer role and played it to the hilt.
Some of the images of female snake charmers in this post date back to the 1800s such as the image above of a woman billed as the “Mexican Rattle-Snake Queen” above. By the turn of the century female snake charmers were common attractions and perhaps two of the best known and most photographed of them all was a woman known as “Octavia” who performed with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show under the title of the “Yankee Snake Charmer,” and “Miss Uno” who in addition to her snakes was well known for her out of control hair best described as a wind-blown Afro not unlike that of another well-known snake charmer Zoe Zobedia. Though Zobedia was a snake charmer she was also a part of another popular early-19th century attraction in circuses called “Circassian Beauties” who were known for their exotic hair who would style their “Moss Hair” by teasing it into massive Afro-like hairdos. But I digress from the reptilian point of this post.
Unlike their male counterparts female snake handlers were usually sexualized and would often be dressed in attire that was considered incredibly risqué as women were still wearing bathing suits that looked like dresses to the beach at that time. That said, a few of the images in this post could be considered NSFW due to some partial nudity. Of course for those of you who suffer from ophidiophobia (a fear of snakes) or herpetophobia (a phobia of reptiles, lizards and other kind of vertebrates) you have my condolences as it’s safe to assume that this post is full of pictures of girls and snakes.
And since we’re talking about pretty girls and snakes, I’ve also included footage of the gorgeous Debra Paget as “Seetha” trying to charm a cobra from director Fritz Lang’s 1959 film Das indische Grabmal or The Indian Tomb (also known as Journey to the Lost City).
The ‘Mexican Rattle-Snake Queen,’ 1800s.
‘Mademoiselle Dorita,’ 1930s.
More snakes and the women who charm them, after the jump…