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The Suicide Commandos make a music video in front of their own burning house, 1977
08.27.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Suicide Commandos
Minneapolis


 
DEVO fans take note: Chuck Statler, the director of the spuds’ “The Truth about De-Evolution,” “Come Back Jonee” and “Satisfaction” videos, also made this 1977 video for the Suicide Commandos’ “Burn It Down.” It’s a simple song with a memorable message, namely that you should set fire to anything you don’t like.

The video, Statler’s second, captured the band playing “Burn It Down” on the street as the condemned house where they lived and practiced burned to the ground behind them. (Statler hired drunks from a Twin Cities unemployment line to bowl in DEVO’s “Come Back Jonee” video, and he seems to have used a similar casting technique for the beginning and end of this one, in which local folks wearing fire helmets take turns slurring the band’s name.)
 

The Suicide Commandos “Burn It Down”
 
Now legendary, the Suicide Commandos were a Minneapolis power trio comprising singer and guitarist Chris Osgood (also Bob Mould’s guitar teacher), bassist Steve Almaas and drummer Dave Ahl. Their debut album, The Suicide Commandos Make a Record, was the second and final release on Mercury Records’ Midwestern punk imprint, Blank Records, which perished because its roster was too good for this wicked world. Pere Ubu’s The Modern Dance had been the first Blank release, and the Bizarros’ debut LP was to have been the third.
 

 
“Chuck Statler made the video of our house which got condemned because it had no heat or running water,” Osgood told Minnesota Public Radio in 2012. Band members would walk down the street from “Utopia House” to a tennis club to shower. “It was October of ‘77 when Utopia House got burned down, and we knew that it was going to be demolished, or going to be burned [and used as] fire department practice. So I wrote ‘Burn It Down’ so that that could happen, and we had the idea of playing in front of our house as it burned down, ‘cause Chuck Statler had made a little musical movie with a band called DEVO from Akron, and there you go.”

The Suicide Commandos Commit Suicide Dance Concert, the Suicide Commandos’ equivalent of The Last Waltz, was the first LP released by Minneapolis’s Twin/Tone label. Improbably, their music was actually used for a Target commercial in 2004.
 

 
Hüsker Dü fans take note: here’s one of the Commandos’ best songs, “Complicated Fun,” from the Twin/Tone compilation Big Hits of Mid-America Volume III. Hear anything familiar?

The Suicide Commandos “Complicated Fun”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘Tase me, bro!’: Portraits of people getting tased—but by a loved one
08.27.2014
08:10 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art

Tags:
Patrick Hall
tasers


 
Patrick Hall, Charleston-based photographer and founder of fstoppers, recently posted the fruits of a strange and delightful photo shoot in which “each person was tazed by their friend or significant other.” As Hall writes in his project description, “The emotions on both sides of the taser were extremely entertaining to watch. The person getting tazed was almost always nervous and jittery with either a sense of fear or anxiety. The participants doing the tazing had a different demeanor altogether. Most of them were excited to cause pain to their friend and only showed remorse immediately after executing the shock.” 

The video at bottom, which shows some of the tasing in slow motion, is wildly entertaining. There’s a surprising amount of mirth in the video, which is surely part of Hall’s point, about the deflecting need to veer into humor when something unpleasant is going on.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via designboom

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Breaking Bad,’ the Opera
08.27.2014
07:56 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Breaking Bad


 
Just a couple nights ago, Breaking Bad beat out True Detective, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones to win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series for the second year in a row. Breaking Bad had a great night, picking up three acting awards and a writing award as well. The glorious and gut-wrenching fifth and final season, which came to an end last September 29, was an authentic cultural phenomenon, which the pile of Emmys merely confirmed.
 

 
One relatively unexpected product of Season 5 is an actual operatic adaptation of Breaking Bad. The composer, Sung Jin Hong, also the artistic director of One World Symphony, was so inspired by the series that he wrote the entirety of “Breaking Bad—Ozymandias” in the four or so months between the end of the series and its premiere in New York on January 26, 2014. “Ozymandias” is the title of the 14th episode of Season 5, and is a reference to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1818 sonnet of the same name, which touches on the fleeting nature of empire.

Sung Jin Hong was urged by his sister to watch “the best show ever” (she’s certainly not alone in this judgment), and before he knew it, the show had become “an addiction.” As Sung Jin Hong says, “The eureka moment probably occurred after I explored and exhausted many possibilities. I had been sketching for almost a month and had not committed to a motif or rhythm. After a long morning run in early November in Prospect Park, I felt as if I could hear my heart beating. I immediately committed to elaborating on what has become the Heisenberg chord and his rhythmic heartbeat in my composition.”
 

 
As with the series itself, one of the more attention-getting aspects of the opera has been the character Jesse Pinkman’s propensity for using the word bitch in conversation. “Breaking Bad—Ozymandias” features a “Bitch Aria” that requires significant audience participation (see video below). The opera was performed twice on January 26 & 27, 2014, at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea in Manhattan. The two performances required the use of folding chairs to accommodate demand, and the reviews appear to have been very positive.

On this page are two snippets of songs from the opera in a format that we unfortunately cannot embed here. The first song is called “The Moment,” and was inspired by “Fly,” episode 10 of Season 3. Here are a few lines from it:
 

That was the moment
that night
I should have never left home
Maybe things would have…
I was at home watching tv
Skyler and Holly were in another room
She was singing a lullaby
Ah
If I had just lived right up to that moment and not one second more
That would have been perfect

 
Soprano Dorothy Smith Jacobs, who played the part of Jane, Jesse’s drug-addicted friend from Season 2, said, “I think there is a need for operas to be 2014 scandalous, not 18th-century scandalous, while never ever sacrificing musical integrity.”
 

 
Perhaps emboldened by the success of “Breaking Bad—Ozymandias,” Sung Jin Hong has chosen as the inspiration for his next work another televised embodiment of pure evil: Hannibal Lecter.
 

 
“Bitch Aria”

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Anarchy in Paris: Métal Urbain, classic French punk rock group
08.26.2014
09:39 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
France
Métal Urbain


 
Métal Urbain were Francophone contemporaries of the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Formed in 1976 by Clode Panik, Hermann Schwartz, Pat Luger and Eric Debris, the French punk rock group’s harsh and noisy sound replaced the rhythm section with a synthesizer and drum machine. Sonically, they came across as aggressive—if not more so—as their English or American counterparts with the exception of maybe Suicide or The Screamers. Lead singer Clode Panik sounds a bit like a French version of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith.

The group’s second single, “Paris Maquis” was Rough Trade’s very first record release and John Peel showed his support on his BBC 1 Radio show, going so far as to record a “Peel Session” with them. Sadly they never really made it and broke up in 1979 as there was no appreciable French punk scene to begin with and the media in their home country just couldn’t be bothered with them. Métal Urbain’s distinctively raw guitar sound is said to have had an influence on Big Black’s Steve Albini and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Métal Urbain reformed in 2003 and toured the US. The New York-based Acute label compiled Anarchy in Paris! that year gathering up their complete output during the life of the band with a few outtakes and alternate versions. In 2006, Jello Biafra produced their album, J’irai chier dans ton vomi, in San Francisco. An EP followed in 2008.

Below, Métal Urbain lip-synching “Paris Maquis” on French TV in 1978:

 
More Métal Urbain after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Littering Says A Lot About You’
08.26.2014
02:55 pm

Topics:
Idiocracy
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:
littering


 
I’m very much feeling this anti-littering campaign by Live Green Toronto. I think it’s pretty effective in shaming lame-ass litterbugs. I feel like putting these under the windshield wiper of my neighbor who throws his fast food debris right outside of his car nearly every single day. It often ends up on my front lawn. We’re talkin’ chicken bones, cups, crumpled burger wrappers, lollipop sticks and mounds of cigarette butts.

Everyone knows it’s him! It’s right beside his car on a daily basis!

There needs to be one of these ads that reads: “Asshole.”


 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Behind-the-scenes photos of ‘Barbarella,’ 1968
08.26.2014
11:21 am

Topics:
Fashion
Movies

Tags:
Jane Fonda
Roger Vadim
Barbarella


 
Here are some fun behind-the-scenes of the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella. I’m primarily posting these images because of the amazing costumes and because everyone is just so gosh darned gorgeous. Talk about intergalactic glamor. How could it ever be topped?

Sci-fi babes and boys at their finest.
 

Jane Fonda and director (and then husband)  Roger Vadim
 

Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda
 

Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda
 
More photos after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Here are the Young Men’: Classic Joy Division live footage, 1979-1980
08.26.2014
10:19 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Joy Division


 
While you won’t find many people questioning the aesthetic merit of Joy Division’s music, it’s also hard to argue that the tragic suicide of singer Ian Curtis didn’t contribute mightily to the band’s enduring allure. But there was another component that nurtured JD’s mystique—scarcity. All a fan in the US could readily get without paying a hefty import premium were Unknown Pleasures, Closer, and the iffy, posthumous, blood-from-a-stone compilation Still. A lot of single and EP tracks were difficult to come by here until the Substance compilation arrived in 1988. The Heart & Soul set eliminated a lot of scarcity issues as regards JD material, but that didn’t arrive until the late ‘90s.

Resorting to bootlegs wasn’t such a great option, as a hell of a lot of JD boots sounded like total garbage. I remember when a much sought-after Italian JD bootleg called Dante’s Inferno turned up in a record shop I frequented, when I was 17. I snatched that thing up fast and excitedly brought it home to play it, only to find that the music was barely audible. Was I pissed off? OH YES, I was pissed off.
 

 
Concert videos were even slimmer pickings. While today, between DVD and YouTube there’s plentiful Joy Division vid easily available, in the ‘80s pretty much the only JD concert footage available through legitimate channels was the Factory release Here Are the Young Men. Inexplicably, it’s never been released on DVD (except by pirates), but if you’re the gotta-own-it type, old VHS copies are priced within reach of mere mortals. The video’s title is borrowed from the lyrics of the song “Decades,” and the video is compiled from footage shot at three shows—the Manchester Apollo on October 28 and 29, 1979, and at Effenaar in Eindhoven, Netherlands, on January 18, 1980. Included at the end, but not included in the track listing on the box, was the music video the band produced for the single “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
 

 
Since this was pretty primitive looking stuff in the first place, worrying about finding the “best” version on YouTube would have been quixotic, and anyway, I kind of like the rawness of this. As mushy as it looks and sounds, a lot of these performances are face-melters, particularly the stuff from the Dutch show. I selected this version because a few of the band’s BBC television appearances are tacked onto the end. Enjoy.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The ‘Fawlty Towers’ hotel meticulously recreated in LEGO
08.26.2014
10:08 am

Topics:
Amusing
Television

Tags:
Lego
Fawlty Towers

0towersf.jpg
 
One of the funniest and most enduring sitcoms ever made continues to have inspire fans almost 40 years after it was first broadcast.

Nathan Feist has painstakingly recreated the famous Fawlty Towers hotel out of LEGO. He included such precise details as the reception desk, the broken-antlered moose head, the fire extinguisher and even the design of the lobby’s tiling.

Originally Feist had planned to build the set of Number 6’s apartment from The Prisoner or the combat information center from Battlestar Galactica but, as these had either been built or the LEGO parts were not available, opted instead for the Fawlty Towers set.

Nathan’s incredible homage was exhibited at BrickFair Virginia–-an annual LEGO convention—held in July and August.
 
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If you’re a fan of Fawlty Towers or even all things LEGO, then you might enjoy this little tribute video from a few years back.
 

 
H/T The Poke and Metro

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Decadence, fame & excess at Les Bains Douches, the Parisian answer to Studio 54
08.26.2014
09:57 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
nightclubs
Les Bain Douches


 
From the late 1970s through the 1990s, Les Bains Douches was a nightclub in Paris located at 7 rue du Bourg l’Abbé in the 3rd arrondissement. What made it distinctive from most other nightclubs were the availability—as the club’s very name promised—of large baths for its patrons to cool off or generally frolic in. It was originally built in 1885 by the Guerbois family and soon became one of the most famous thermal baths in Paris. Originally it was used by workers in the area who would come there after an arduous night shift for a shower and a coffee. At the same time Les Bains Douches also a more affluent clientele massage as well as sulphur and steam baths.

In 1978 it was re-conceived by famed designer Philippe Starck as a nightclub. Starck cannily chose to retain the baths and the original tiles. Fans of postpunk music may recognize the name from the title of an excellent Joy Division live album that saw an official release in 2001; the album is simply called Les Bains Douches 18 December 1979. For the next couple of decades Les Bains Douches would become a magnet for the rich and famous to rival only Studio 54 and the Chateau Marmont. Of course, its location in Paris guaranteed that its selection of celebrities would have a more European cast, but that did not prevent many of the ultra famous from dropping in, including Jack Nicholson, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, alongside such European figures as Roman Polanski, Brigitte Nielsen, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julie Delpy, and so on.

By the 2000s, the heady era of fame and excess was rapidly becoming a memory. French DJ David Guetta and his wife bought the club but soon encountered management problems. In 2010 the club finally shut its doors for good. In 2013 it was the site of a street art exhibition, and it is expected to reopen later this year.

These pictures were taken by the nightclub’s resident photographer, Foc Kan. They are true unadorned documents of the moment in all their smeary splendor. You can practically smell the cocaine, can’t you, and there’s plenty of libido to go around too (a good many of Kan’s pictures were taken before AIDS had exerted its check on promiscuity). It’s worth clicking through to see many more vintage pics of the goings on at Les Bains Douches.

 

Iman and David Bowie
 

 

Mick Jagger
 

 

Iggy Pop
 

Emmanuelle Seigner and Roman Polanski
 

Robert De Niro
 

 

Nicolas Cage and Grace Jones
 

Keith Haring
 
More pics after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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End of an era: NYC’s legendary cinephile paradise Kim’s Video closes (1987-2014)
08.26.2014
09:27 am

Topics:
Media
Movies

Tags:
Yongman Kim
Kim's Underground
Kim's Video


 
For anyone who hung out in the East Village between 1987 and 2010, the various Kim’s Video locations, which would sprout up and disappear depending on the economic vagaries of the moment, constituted an essential cultural landmark. Founded by Korean businessman Yongman Kim, initially when he rented out part of his Avenue A dry cleaning store to a fellow with a large collection of VHS tapes and then opened up a store down the street for him to manage. Kim’s Video lasted through the days when Napster reigned supreme and even after LPs made a comeback. When you stood in a Kim’s Video, it was easy to imagine that you were existing in an idealized community of punks, freaks, and artists, you could watch Stranger Than Paradise, After Hours, The Brother from Another Planet, or Do the Right Thing and know that those movies were shot in this same city and that the filmmakers themselves might walk through the door any minute.

Yesterday, August 25, was the last day of the last remaining location of Kim’s Video, at 124 First Avenue. For a certain kind of scruffy video-literate New Yorker, it was a sad day indeed.

Kim’s was one of the country’s great video stores, part of a community that included such hallowed places as Four Star Video Heaven in Madison and Scarecrow Video in Seattle. If you wanted to watch an Ozu movie or a Kenneth Anger film in the days before DVD, you had to go to a store like Kim’s. Kim’s ordered their shelves by filmmaker—the Godard shelf had a sign that read simply, “God”—and for hard-to-get movies that had never had an official release, they were perfectly content to stock bootlegs (this tendency would eventually get them into trouble). The only time in my life I had a 9-to-5 job in New York City was between 1997 and 2001, and those were also, not coincidentally, my prime Kim’s years (not that I used Kim’s for videos all that much—I lived up near Columbia University, where there were more convenient options). I can remember renting, over a period of a few weeks, the entire oeuvre of Errol Morris as well as selected early masterpieces by Wong Kar Wai. In my mind the quintessential Kim’s movie was Superstar, Todd Haynes’ 1987 movie that used Barbie dolls to tell the Karen Carpenter story and ended up getting withdrawn from circulation after Haynes lost lawsuit filed by Richard Carpenter.

In the late 1990s and into the 2000s it kept getting raided by the FBI for bootlegs, which were often displayed blatantly. I remember visiting one of the stores one day and learning the next day that a serious raid had occurred a couple hours after I left. Kim’s was legendary for its condescending clerks, but my only good Kim’s story involved a considerate and helpful clerk, so whatevs. (I received my share of eyerolls, I’m sure, but I must have shrugged them off.) I was visiting the Kim’s Underground location on Bleecker (formerly the site of both the Bleecker Street Cinema and the Cafe a Go Go), and at the time I was obsessed with the band Spoon, who disappeared for a couple years there after Elektra dropped them in 1998. I made it a habit of checking the CD bins for Spoon releases, and I was invariably disappointed. On this occasion I asked the music clerk (this location emphasized movies more than the others, and the CD section was pretty small) about Spoon, and he indicated that he had a stack behind the counter of perhaps a dozen copies of a newish promo, the “30 Gallon Tank” maxi-single, that Elektra had obviously given up on. The clerk reached back and gave me one, no charge.

Be sure to check out this detailed oral history of Kim’s at Bedford and Bowery. It does a far better job of filling in the blanks than I ever could. I didn’t realize that so many prominent people worked there as clerks—for instance, Todd Phillips, director of the Hangover movies. Here’s a choice quote from Louis CK about Kim’s you can read in there:

“When I first moved to New York there was a place next door to my apartment called Kim’s Video which was a sort of artsy video store. Instead of arranging the videos by title, they had them arranged by director or even photographer, so I educated myself. I went through the Godard section in one week and then Pasolini.”

Today the huge Kim’s video collection is languishing in Italy and the last of the stores is no more. I moved away from New York City last December for related reasons. New York’s still a great city but without places like Kim’s around, I’m not really sure who it’s there for anymore.
 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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