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Worst music video ever?!
08.25.2014
08:44 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Worst music video ever


 
This could be one of those old viral “Worst Music Video Ever” uploads on YouTube that I somehow missed. I couldn’t find any mirrors on YouTube, so I’m going to assume that this is new. Whatever the case may be, Wally World (the band’s name, not to be confused with “Walley World,” the theme park destination of the Griswold family in National Lampoon’s Vacation or the Wally World trailer park campsite) is serving up an epic hard rock shit sandwich.

What happened to them immediately before this was shot? What did they take? Lithium?

The drummer couldn’t look more excited to be there. And the Slash doppelgänger? He’s probably wondering why his life went so terribly wrong and considering taking some courses at a community college.

As someone points out in the YouTube comments:

“OMG guys, there’s more cliches in here than Spinal Tap.”

I’d have to agree.

 
With thanks to Jeff Albers!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Man had moth buzzing inside his head for three days
08.25.2014
08:31 am

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
insects
moths

mothpicstorypulp.jpg
 
Like the gastropod that crawled into a victim’s brain in Shaun Hutson’s Slugs, or the carnivorous insects invading human orifices in Guy N. Smith’s Abomination, this is a tale worthy of a horror story: man has live moth removed from ear which had been buzzing inside his head for three fucking days!

This nightmare began for Rob Fielding, 43, of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England, when a moth perched on his ear while he was reading in bed one night at home. Instinctively he reached up to poke it away but ended up pushing the insect into his ear canal. 

After three restless days, his wife suggested he went to hospital for an examination. The insect was eventually removed during a 90-minute operation where his ear canal was prised open and the moth pulled out with a tiny pair of forceps. Mr Fielding told ITV News:

It was awful knowing the moth was flying around inside my head and every now and then when I felt it move, it made me jump out of my skin.

 
1mothmanear.jpg
 
He now displays the dead insect on his mantlepiece as a souvenir of the ordeal.

Alas no video for this story, but here’s one that was removed earlier…(success around 2:50).
 

 
H/T Arbroath

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The return of the ‘Drugstore Cowboy’
08.25.2014
08:26 am

Topics:
Drugs
Literature
Movies

Tags:
James Fogle
Drugstore Cowboy


 
Gus Van Sant’s 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy, based on author James Fogle’s autobiographical novel about his lifelong addictions, adventures, and crimes, was an unexpected cult success. However, it did not lead to the publication (authorized, anyway) of Fogle’s other works or more films. 25 years later there is a sequel in the works, Drugstore Cowboy (Backside of a Mirror), written by Drugstore Cowboy screenwriter Daniel Yost with input from Fogle during his last years.

“The original film is almost all Fogle (though, of course, beautifully directed, acted, and photographed), as it came from a novel he sent me with the story intact and lots of dialogue,” Yost says. “The sequel started with an idea that came to me when I woke up one morning and couldn’t resist. I wrote it, then asked Jim to send me a couple of things, one being the experience of going through withdrawal. On screen this will be harrowing, rivaling what Gene Hackman’s character went through in French Connection II.”

It was Yost who first introduced then-fledgling filmmaker Van Sant to Fogle’s work and he has been an ongoing champion for its publication and development ever since. Over the years Fogle sent Yost several novels and short stories, but prior to meeting Gus Van Sant Yost was unable to get Fogle’s short stories published anywhere, even after editing and tidying them up himself.

Fogle could have become a Burroughs-like anti-hero or even a triumphant artist like Jim Carroll in 1989 upon Drugstore Cowboy’s release. He certainly had the opportunity to makeover his existence and enjoy the rewards of minor celebrity. But despite multiple attempts at clean living, his self-destructive streak remained. Much to the frustration of his friends and family, Fogle became something of a folk hero in the Northwest, with multiple arrests for (of course) expertly robbing pharmacies, with the last two times occurring in Redmond, Washington and Seattle in 2010 and 2011. All of his stories and novels were written in prison, where he spent nearly fifty of his seventy-five years, and he found it impossible to write elsewhere. At the time of his death in prison in 2012 he had been writing another novelized autobiography.
 

            
In an email interview Daniel Yost recently answered a few questions for Dangerous Minds about his experiences working with James Fogle and his plans for Drugstore Cowboy (Backside of a Mirror).
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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California Dreamin’: Listen to The Mamas & the Papas’ acapella vocals
08.25.2014
07:34 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Mamas and the Papas
Barry McGuire


 
“California Dreamin’” was literally written about a dream of California, and it was somewhat of a prophetic dream at that. At the time of its composition in 1963, future Papa John Phillips and future Mama Michelle were a part of Manhattan’s folk scene as members of “The New Journeymen,” but in his dreams the West coast beckoned. He awoke his young wife to help him write the song.

In 1965 Barry McGuire, formerly of the New Christy Minstrels (a group that also launched the careers of Kenny Rogers, The Association’s guitarist Larry Ramos, Byrd Gene Clark and Kim Carnes) introduced Phillips to Lou Adler of Dunhill Records, who promptly signed The Mamas & the Papas. That year McGuire had a massive hit single with “Eve of Destruction” and to repay the favor, the group let him record “California Dreamin’” for his This Precious Time album and performed the backing vocals, before using the same vocal and instrumental tracks for their own version. Denny Doherty’s lead vocal, an alto flute solo by Bud Shank and P. F. Sloan’s guitar introduction were added to complete this immortal pop classic.
 

 
Dunhill Records decided to release the number as The Mamas & the Papas’ second single in December holding off on McGuire’s version so there wouldn’t be competition from an established artist (and in turn allowing The 5th Dimension to score a hit single with an almost note-for-note cover of “Go Where You Want to Go,” after the group’s version failed to chart and was ostensibly pulled). “California Dreamin’” reached #4 in the US record charts in March after a February appearance on ABC’s American Bandstand.

McGuire was named-checked (for “gettin’ higher” with Roger McGuinn of The Byrds) in their autobiographical song “Creeque Alley,” about the group’s early years. The song ends with the line “And California Dreamin’ is becoming a reality.”
 

 
Michelle Phillips and Mama Cass’s backing vocals, along with McGuire’s totally wrong lead vocal and a harmonica solo where you’d expect to hear Bud Shank’s flute:

 
The instrumental backing track, McGuire’s original vocal was not completely wiped and can be heard briefly on the left channel at the beginning. That’s Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards and Joe Osborn on bass guitar. Papa John played 12-string guitar and the session was engineered by Bones Howe:

 
A strange semi-lip synced television performance:

 
BONUS: “Monday, Monday” with filtered backing vocals:

 
Hat tip to Dangerous Minds pal Chris Campion, who is presently writing the authorized biography of John Phillips

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Men of Crisis’: Woody Allen’s 1972 PBS ‘mockumentary’ that was cancelled for political reasons


 
By the time Woody Allen made “Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story” in 1971/72, messing with found footage as well as the documentary form had become old hat for the restlessly experimental moviemaker. After all, his feature-length experiment of fusing new dialogue to existing footage, What’s Up, Tiger Lily? has been released several years earlier, in 1966. His first faux documentary (and one of the first “mockumentaries” in cinema history), Take the Money and Run, had come out in 1969.
 

 
“Men of Crisis” seems more than a little perfunctory. Wallinger is clearly a substitute for Henry Kissinger, but there’s really nothing about the Kissinger-Nixon relationship (as it was perceived in 1971) that was all that funny; the humor lies in the notion of Woody being “the second most powerful man in America.” The movie was supposed to be an hour long, but the final product delivered by Woody ran only 25 minutes long. Clearly the subject of the reprehensible Nixon presidency (pre-Watergate, of course) did not really animate Woody. The movie feels a lot like an extended sketch from HBO’s “Not Necessarily the News” in the 1980s, which usually juxtaposed perfectly normal footage of e.g. Ronald Reagan with concocted footage to produce a ridiculous effect. One thing that makes “Men in Crisis” noteworthy is that it marks the first occasion Woody Allen and Diane Keaton worked together on a movie. Keaton plays Wallinger’s ex-wife, “Renata Baldwin, who attends Vassar College, where she studies to be a blacksmith.” (As a Vassar alum, I’m pretty fond of this joke.)
 

 
Richard Nixon had a knack for annoying liberal elites that was very similar to that of George W. Bush. Woody Allen was never the most political of artists; even when dealing with politics, such as in “Men of Crisis” or Bananas, the essentially surrealist nature of his humor tends to run roughshod over any particular satire. One gets the feeling, watching “Men of Crisis,” that Woody has contempt for Nixon mainly because he’s not highbrow enough (witness the gag about Nixon and Agnew knowing “almost” all of the numbers from 1 to 10).

PBS was worried about running the program, they were right to be. After all, the Nixon administration was so famously thin-skinned that Nixon personally exerted pressure on Jack L. Warner to remove the song “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men” from the movie 1776 because it seemed to poke fun at conservatives. (You can watch the musical number on recent reissues of the movie; it seems pretty harmless.)
 

 
If nothing else, the cancellation of “Men of Crisis” had the effect of cementing Woody’s determination to work in feature movies, where outside interference could be minimized. He said afterwards that the incident had reinforced his preference to “stick to movies.” According to The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television by James Day, the cancellation of “Men of Crisis” went down as follows:
 

The politically charged atmosphere of the early seventies should have warned those of us at NET that the times were hardly propitious for political satire—and certainly not on the public medium. But so eager were we to bring an element of lightness, a laugh or two, to public television’s overarching solemnity that we unhesitatingly accepted Woody Allen’s offer in late 1971 to produce a special. We didn’t even pull back after learning that he intended to use the show to satirize the Nixon White House. Allen approached us after having produced two prime-time specials for the commercial networks, fully expecting the public medium to give him greater artistic license to write and perform the kind of humor for which he is justly celebrated. He was wrong.

…. In the opinion of the PBS legal staff, the Woody Allen show “presents fairness problems … personal attack, equal time and taste problems,” a solid guarantee that no public station in the country would risk airing it. Except, of course, our own WNET.

What I and a brace of our attorneys screened with nervous interest was a mock documentary, Men of Crisis, that mimicked the style of the old March of Time, in which authentic news footage was combined with dramatic elements, a technique Allen later perfected in his feature film Zelig. The original hour-long script had been trimmed to the twenty-five-minute “documentary,” and the balance of the hour had been filled by an interview with Allen on the nature of comedy. Men of Crisis managed not only to lampoon the Nixon White House but to needle both the president’s foes (Humphrey and Wallace) as well as his friends (Agnew, Hoover, Laird, and Mitchell). Allen himself played the fictional Harvey Wallinger, high-living confidant and counselor to the president, whose resemblance to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger was more than coincidental. As might be expected, the show included moments of questionable taste. Allen explained that “it is hard to do anything about the Administration that wouldn’t be in bad taste.”

I withdrew the show after the screening, hoping to find a broader context to make Men of Crisis acceptable to the system, perhaps by marrying it with other satiricial pieces that took aim with prudent impartiality at a broader range of political icons.

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Career R.I.P. T-shirts


 
What a brilliantly nasty concept, a Tumblr with T-shirts announcing when Macaulay Culkin or Harrison Ford started, and more importantly stopped, being relevant. I’m not real clear if there are actual T-shirts to be purchased yet, if you “get in touch @CareerRIP” you’ll get “details on how to get your hands on a T-shirt.” 

As it says on the Tumblr, “CareerRIP is a tribute to our passed heroes whose careers have sadly left us. We celebrate their brightest hours through a series of limited edition T-shirts.”
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy’: Regrettable TV movie about Robin Williams’ big break
08.23.2014
08:54 am

Topics:
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:
Robin Williams
Mork & Mindy


 
In the mid-2000s NBC must have been noticing the ridiculously stiff competition coming from HBO in the form of The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and The Wire, because at some point the traditional networks (that’s CBS, NBC, ABC, and I guess maybe Fox, for younger readers) started to give up altogether. One sign of this was that the networks started casting, filming, and broadcasting docudramas about famous sitcoms from the 1970s. On May 5, 2003, NBC ran a movie that I would assume was a successful venture called Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Three’s Company’ with Brian Dennehy as ABC executive Fred Silverman. It couldn’t be clearer that this represented the ultimate cannibalizing strategy of a dying entertainment ecosystem. Right?
 

 
I remember watching that Three’s Company movie, which was, well, a disappointment. Two years later, April 4, 2005, NBC went for the gusto all over again, with Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Mork & Mindy’. I don’t remember this one. Playing the impossible-to-portray Robin Williams is Chris Diamantopoulos, who is probably best known for portraying Moe in the recent Three Stooges full-length feature by the Farrelly Brothers (I also saw him recently on an episode of Hannibal). That Diamantopoulos makes a young Robin Williams moderately watchable is something akin to a miracle, if you think about it. So it must be conceded that Diamantopoulos did a very good job. Playing Garry Marshall is Daniel Roebuck, best known to me as the guy who played Jay Leno in the 1996 HBO movie The Late Shift, a project superficially similar to this Mork & Mindy thing. Roebuck had a recurring role on Lost and weirdly, that Three’s Company movie too.
 

“Henry Winkler,” “Garry Marshall,” and “Penny Marshall”—of course
 
I should be up-front with the fact that this is not a good movie, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why. The main actors are fine (Erinn Hayes also does a fine job as Pam Dawber), but the action of the movie is uninteresting and unconvincing, that’s the main thing. Whereas that Three’s Company movie at least had “drama” in the Jersey Shore sense of the word, The Unauthorized Story of ‘Mork & Mindy’ does not. We hear a lot about shocked censors (!) and cocaine (!!) and extra-marital sex (!!!), but the main plot emphasizes the efforts of the executives (that cannibalizing thing again) to tinker with what was obviously a very effective formula ... sorry, I actually fell asleep while writing that sentence, there. For no real reason they hired actors to play Richard Pryor and John Belushi, for whatever that’s worth.
 

 
All in all, this is the kind of movie that cries out for the razzle-dazzle of a Bob Balaban.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Artist creates riverbed that fills an entire wing of museum
08.22.2014
01:31 pm

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Denmark
Olafur Eliasson


 
Olafur Eliasson’s installation, humbly titled “Riverbed,” covers the entire South Wing of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The Danish-Icelandic artist did a similar work in 2008 where he covered the floor with lava-rock rubble, but the rooms used weren’t entirely cleared out, giving the space more of a “dirty floor” effect. That rubble floor is also very similar to Walter De Maria’s 1977 “New York Earth Room”—which is still exhibited, and is literally just a dirt floor covering a few rooms in a museum.

With “Riverbed,” it’s the harsh contrast of the sterile (fluorescent lighting, blinding white walls), against the organic (remarkably natural-looking floor), that makes for an uncanny ambiance. Viewers are encouraged to wander the landscape and interact with the environment, crawling through low entrances to other portions of the exhibit and possibly getting their shoes a little soggy. Little explanation is given for the exhibit, but I’d argue the vibe is distinctly portentous, hinting at a bleak future where nature is scarce, or has to be synthesized by man in order to be experienced safely.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Hyperallergic

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Dame Edna’s alter ego: Sir Les Patterson and the Chinese Year of the Trouser Snake
08.22.2014
07:58 am

Topics:
Pop Culture
Television

Tags:
Barry Humphries


The “Aussie Ubu

The legendary Australian comedian Barry Humphries is a satirist whose subject is the monstrosity of decent middle-class people. Though I love his most famous character, Dame Edna, my favorite will always be the superlatively obscene Sir Les Patterson, who claims to be Australia’s cultural attaché to the Far East. From his loose, drooling grin to his loud, puke-stained clothes, everything about Les is repulsive. 

John Lahr’s page-turner, Dame Edna Everage and the Rise of Western Civilization: Backstage With Barry Humphries, devotes a chapter (‘Sir Les Patterson and the Chinese Year of the Trouser Snake’) to the character. Here’s how we meet him:

Sir Les bursts the seams of the real. He is a rollicking, tumescent theatrical creation whom Humphries has described as ‘on a sort of bacchic trip’. His cock, a pendulous eight inches of padded cotton, dangles beneath Humphries’ upholstered belly to his knees, making Humphries look for all the world like an Aussie Ubu. [...] Sir Les’s record Twelve Inches of Les and his book The Traveller’s Tool all draw attention to his most salient anatomical feature, which he refers to variously as ‘the pyjama python’, ‘the one-eyed trouser snake’, ‘my not-infrequently-felt-tip’, and ‘the enormous encumbancy which I’m holding down at the moment’.

 

Channel 4’s 1991 special A Late Lunch with Les
 
Sir Les has never appeared on stage or screen in the United States; Humphries, who announced his retirement in 2012 and is currently giving a farewell tour, seems to think the character wouldn’t play well here. Though Les appeared at the farewell shows in Europe, it looks like he’ll be absent from the tour’s US dates, which is too bad for us. (Of course, that doesn’t mean you should pass up your last chance ever to see Humphries live, which is the way to see him—his gift for spontaneous comedic creation is unrivaled.)
 

Sir Les Patterson live in 1988

His career started with Dada. In 1952, when he was a student at Melbourne University, Humphries put on “the first Pan-Australian Dada Exhibition.” Among his works on display were packages of a fictitious platypus poison (“PLATITOX”), a pair of Wellingtons filled with custard (“Pus and Boots”), and an image of Queen Elizabeth II with stubble (“Her Majesty’s Male”). Other pieces were made out of cake, lambs’ eyes, shoes, and tomato sauce.

From there, Humphries moved on to disruptions of everyday life. These were not performed for an audience or documented in any way, just carried out like acts of terror. Lahr describes one such action:

In one notorious escapade, Humphries had his accomplice, John Perry, dress as a blind man and take a seat in a non-smoking compartment of a Melbourne commuter train. Perry had dark glasses, his leg in a cast and was reading from a piano roll that looked as if it was braille. Humphries entered the compartment and began to smoke. He was dressed garishly and reading a foreign newspaper. Later, as he got up to exit, he unleashed a barrage of foreign-sounding gibberish, grabbing the ‘braille’ and tearing it, kicking at the ‘blind man’s’ leg, throwing his spectacles to the floor and leaving. ‘Commuters were invariably transfixed in horror,’ Humphries says. ‘No one ever pursued me. Mind you, I ran as fast as I could. People tried to comfort John Perry. He would always say, “Forgive him.” It was also very funny to do, and very hard not to laugh. It’s a bit hard to say what effect the stunt was meant to have, since it was meant to amuse us, a kind of outrageous public act.’

And another:

Later, Humphries would get himself banned temporarily from Qantas flights for tipping a tin of Russian salad into a sick bag, loudly feigning illness, and then eating his ‘vomit’. ‘If an air hostess sees you,’ he said, ‘it can produce what I call the Chain Chunder. Five minutes later the pilot is throwing up.’

 

Sir Les’s autograph
 
In his official capacity as cultural attaché to the Far East, Patterson reported on the 1997 return of Hong Kong to China for the BBC. He approached the story with the cultural sensitivity for which he is famous.
 

 
More of Sir Les after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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‘Wow’: Milli Vanilli, the opera
08.22.2014
07:11 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
opera
Milli Vanilli


 
Opera is renowned for its receptivity to the most intensely dramatic moments, which may be why there has lately been something of a trend in the world of modern opera to turn to celebrity headlines and reality TV for fodder—witness the mid-2000s phenomenon of Jerry Springer: The Opera as well as the more recent opera Anna Nicole, about the curtailed life of former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, which had its U.S. premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last September. (At the New York City debut of Jerry Springer: The Opera at Carnegie Hall in 2008, Harvey Keitel played the role of Jerry Springer—I sure wish I had seen that.) Last November DM reported on the existence of a Toronto production of Rob Ford: The Opera.

So it may not be so terribly surprising that the brief and controversial career of Milli Vanilli would eventually become the inspiration for a serious opera. To recap for the uninitiated, Milli Vanilli consisted of Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, who under the guidance of producer Frank Farian became a German R&B pop duo responsible for several hits, most particularly “Girl You Know It’s True.” “Rob and Fab” didn’t have the best command of English, which prompted some observers to wonder about their verbal fluency on their songs.
 

 
As Wikipedia tells it,
 

The first public sign that the group was lip-synching came on July 21, 1989 during a live performance on MTV at the Lake Compounce theme park in Bristol, Connecticut. As they performed onstage live in front of an audience, the recording of the song “Girl You Know It’s True” played and began to skip, repeating the partial line “Girl, you know it’s…” over and over on the speakers. They continued to pretend to sing and dance onstage for a few more moments, then they both ran offstage. According to the episode of VH1’s Behind the Music which profiled Milli Vanilli, Downtown Julie Brown stated that fans attending the concert seemed neither to care nor even to notice, and the concert continued as if nothing unusual had happened. In a March 1990 issue of Time magazine, Pilatus was quoted proclaiming himself to be “the new Elvis”, reasoning that by the duo’s success they were musically more talented than Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger.

 
That last sentence is a doozy, illustrating the perceived need for the comeuppance Milli Vanilli would soon receive. Curiously, it would take more than a year for the ramifications of that lip-synch incident to become clear. In February 1990, Milli Vanilli was awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist; only nine months later did Farian reveal to reporters that Rob and Fab had not actually sung on any of the records (the real singers were named Charles Shaw, John Davis, and Brad Howell). Milli Vanilli’s Grammy was withdrawn before the week was out (the only time such a thing has happened). Arista Records dropped Milli Vanilli from its roster and deleted their album and its masters from their catalog, making Girl You Know It’s True the largest-selling album to ever be taken out of print. A court ruling in the United States entitled anyone who had bought the album to a refund.

If nothing else, the backlash against Milli Vanilli reeked of excess. The public vitriol was intense; Milli Vanilli was instantly transformed into a laughing stock, an easy punchline. Rob Pilatus spent most of the next few years battling substance abuse, and on April 2, 1998, he died of an overdose of alcohol and prescription pills in Frankfurt.

Milli Vanilli were victims of shitty timing, to some extent. Obviously their success came at a time when the delicate technology of CD playback enabled the possibility of an embarrassing “skip,” although really any fakery always has the potential to be exposed in a humiliating fashion; for proof of that, just watch Singin’ in the Rain. But the timing of the public’s perception of artifice versus authenticity would end up punishing Milli Vanilli. When their story broke, nobody had any way of knowing that the most talked-about band in the country not even a year later would be Nirvana, whose very existence represented a punk-y rebuke to the likes of major touring acts like Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, etc. Whatever else they were, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana were perceived as being very strongly anti-artifice, and they and several other Seattle-based bands would spearhead the grunge movement, which would take as its symbol par excellence the material of flannel, available not in haute couture design houses but in every Salvation Army in America. Furthermore, the new technology behind Soundscan was bringing new rigor to the process of tracking America’s #1 hits, and the payola-ish forces that enabled Milli Vanilli’s very existence would come to feel a thing of the past very quickly.
 

Christian Hawkey, Joe Diebes, and David Levine
 
The story of Milli Vanilli has it all: a fast rise and a faster fall, issues of powerful inclusion and exclusion, race (Milli Vanilli were a multi-racial outfit), temptation and exploitation. ... above all it has everything to do with the authenticity of the human voice, which is the kind of thing an opera can make hay with. As a child of grunge myself, I’m not alway so predisposed to let Milli Vanilli off the hook; their prefabbed sound represents the polar opposite of, say, Jesus Lizard. And yet the notion that Milli Vanilli was essentially crucified to make a lavish point about integrity in the music industry seems entirely inarguable.

Such a notion has inspired composer Joe Diebes, librettist Christian Hawkey, and director David Levine to pursue a remarkable operatic work about the Milli Vanilli scandal that has been several years in the making. It’s called “Wow,” and it was performed at BRIC House in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, earlier this year. In the piece, librettist Hawkey takes pains to bring in some notable examples of mass media fakery in the pop culture arena that failed to elicit comparable outrage, including Audrey Hepburn lip-syncing her songs in the movie version of My Fair Lady, the use of a dancer in Flashdance, as well as the Monkees, who were a TV band before they became a real band. Any opera that features the line, “but the ass of the woman in Pretty Woman was not real….” has got to be worth a listen.
 

 
In an interview with the New York Times, Diebes said, “Aside from their story being inherently operatic, in terms of the Faustian bargain the duo made with the German pop producer Frank Farian. ... I am interested in the machinery that surrounded and ultimately destroyed them, and what that can tell us about our contemporary digital situation. It’s significant to me that they emerged at the same time as digital culture went mainstream, and MIDI sequencers and drum machines became common.”

As Brooklyn Paper reported earlier this year,
 

Diebes’ score is a deconstruction of Wagner’s “Der Meistersinger von Nurenberg,” which will be fed to the singers and orchestra live on video monitors, making for a new show each night. Levine’s staging is inspired by the act’s music videos.

“They had an extraordinary amount of charisma and were able to create an act that was totally singular,” said Hawkey. “There was a level of choreography and even costume that was just utterly fantastic. I love shoulder pads, and they knew how to rock them.”

“I remember feeling at the time when the scandal broke that they had been wronged,” said librettist Hawkey, a poet who teaches at Pratt Institute. “That they were probably victims of a larger corporate system that gobbled them up and spit them out.”

 
Here’s a workshop of the “untitled” piece dating from 2011, in which you can hear some of the key arias:
 

 
More after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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