Martha Stewart’s idea of a ‘punk rock party’ is the least punk rock thing that ever happened
10.24.2014
10:17 am

Topics:
Food
Media
Music
Punk

Tags:
Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart Living


 
So look: I’m a slacker to the bone, purest Generation X, product release 1970. When I was paying the most attention to pop culture—the early 1990s—Richard Linklater and Douglas Coupland were new figures to the cultural discourse, OK Soda was available in stores, Ethan Hawke was starring in Reality Bites, and Steve Albini was writing about fucked-up record deals in an issue of the Baffler with the words “Alternative to What?” on the cover. The point in me telling you all this is that (a) I’m comfortable with the term “sellout,” and (b) I’ll never not worry, at least a little, about something crossing over too much.

With these thoughts in mind, we turn to Alexandra Churchill’s recent article on Martha Stewart Living about “throwing a punk rock-inspired party,” which, I swear to god, I think may represent a new signpost in the debate about corporate cooptation of rock music, just like, say, Bob Dylan’s Victoria Secret ad. It may be the least punk thing has ever happened, right alongside the 2013 Costume Institute Gala at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which took punk as its theme to honor the Institute’s exhibit “Punk: From Chaos to Couture” (if you haven’t seen the pictures in that link, you really need to click on it).
 

 
The pictures in the Martha Stewart Living article are utterly astonishing in their entitled, privileged cluelessness. Since punks are doomy and scary, they recommend serving “Spinach Ricotta Skulls” on a coffin-shaped platter, which obviously seems a lot more “goth” than “punk.” Their vision of “punk-inspired garlands” involve the use of safety pins—yes, MSL, you got that one right—and “plaid fabric,” which ends up evoking a Burberry’s catalog a lot more than it does the Bromley Contingent.
 

 
To be fair—which I’m doing despite myself—the text isn’t quite as bad as the imagery. Churchill at least has the wit to name-check “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” and “London Calling.” Honestly, if the phrase “ransom note” had even been mentioned as a possible design motif, I’d've let them off the hook completely. Apparently that did not occur to anyone. Instead they went with coffins and fondant with sheet music on it (?).
 

 
Even the one picture on the page that is within shouting distance of punk rock—the cover of the Police’s second album, Reggatta de Blanc—has this as its photo credit: “PHOTOGRAPHY BY: COURTESY OF WALMART.” Fuck the man!
 

 
I draw two lessons from all of this. The first is that the appeal of punk rock may be far stronger than anyone imagined. Punk rock—even the words “punk rock”—might be a toothless gesture in the direction of something angry and oppositional, but the root idea of it still has impressive staying power, to the point that someone at Martha Stewart Living wants to take some of it over and make it theirs, make it represent them. The second lesson is that there is still something profoundly scary about the anger and nihilism inherent in punk, to the point that Martha Stewart Living has to repress all traces of it and pretend that it’s a neutral style choice like the Pre-Raphaelites or Art Deco. Of course, it isn’t, and that very un-neutrality may mean that we’re heading for another 1977 moment in our culture sometime soon.

Here, MSL’s Erin Furey—almost an apt name, there—teaches you how to make Punk-Rock Inspired Pumpkins, or, er, “Studly Punk-ins,” at the end of which she hilariously throws down a “sign of the horns” hand gesture because it’s so punk rock!
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
JJ Burnel: Stranglers bassist, karate master
10.24.2014
07:41 am

Topics:
Music
Punk
Sports

Tags:
The Stranglers
karate


If you find yourself in this situation, RUN.

Add this to the list of reasons to be very, very nice to Stranglers bassist and singer Jean-Jacques “JJ” Burnel, if you should ever meet him: he can kill you with his bare hands.

Burnel has, let’s say, a heavy reputation. According to the Guardian, the Stranglers’ authorized biography devotes no fewer than 20 pages to the subject “Burnel, violence.” The Stranglers’ former singer and guitarist, Hugh Cornwell, writes that he and Burnel fell out when the bassist attacked him backstage after a show in Italy, and that the incident was a factor in Cornwell’s decision to quit the band in 1990. Burnel had famously beaten up punk journalist Jon Savage in 1977 for giving No More Heroes a bad review in Sounds, and decades later, in an interview with Strangled, he was unrepentant about that encounter:

“I tracked him down one night to the Red Cow,” JJ explained. “And I punched his lights out right there in front of Jake Riviera, Andrew Lauder – our A&R guy, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe – all these people saw what I did. So yeah, we made a lot of enemies, bless ‘em, and these people got in a lot of influential positions within the music industry and literature… Tony Parsons, Julie Burchill… But we weren’t gonna suck up to these c*nts.”

 

Has anyone heard from the magazine editor who misspelled JJ’s last name recently?
 
Burnel, now 62, started training in martial arts at the age of 19. Since 1991, he has been the branch chief and chief instructor of the Shidokan GB organization. He is a sixth dan black belt, and as a teacher he has attained the formal title of Renshi. (I am just a flabby nerd from the suburbs and I do not pretend to know what these ranks and titles mean, but they scare the shit out of me.) According to the Shidokan GB website, London residents can train with Burnel at Slim Jims in Broadgate on Tuesday evenings. There are a few clips of Burnel in competition at the 1:40 mark in the segment below, from the ITV series After They Were Famous.

When most musicians say they have “chops”... oh, never mind.
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Never look bored—or unconscious—even if you are: Tips for the single woman, 1938
10.24.2014
07:16 am

Topics:
Amusing
Feminism
History

Tags:
dating tips


 
And… THIS is how you land a man 1938-style. Now put a ring on it, dammit!

It was 1938 and times were oh-so-much different then. I always find these vintage “dating tips” for single women hilarious. I mean, “Don’t drink too much, as a man expects you to keep your dignity all evening. Drinking may make some girls seem clever, but most get silly” and “Careless women never appeal to gentlemen, Don’t talk while dancing, for when a man dances he wants to dance.” 

The last image in this series is the true winner though…
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Ernest & Bertram’: Banned short on the Sesame Street love that dare not speak its name
10.23.2014
03:18 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Queer

Tags:
Sesame Street


 
Look, we’ve all had our suspicions about Bert and Ernie. It’s hardly nosey to question the nature of their relationship—right? They live together, take baths together and they bicker like an old married couple. We’re all adults here!

The 2002 short, Ernest and Bertram does a little bit of speculative fiction on their very special relationship—lifting dialogue from Lillian Hellman’s 1934 play The Children’s Hour, in which two two boarding school headmistresses are accused of having a lesbian affair. Bert has been outed by the tabloids—who are guessing, but it’s enough to put him in a terror, and motivate his girlfriend (Miss Piggy), to pack her bags. What follows is a confrontation and confession by Ernie, who questions the truth in the rumors—it ends in a (strangely moving) tragedy!

Sadly, the (surprisingly litigious) folks at Sesame Street served filmmaker Peter Spears with a cease and desist order for copyright violation. It’s a real bummer, because the film is funny (the Spartacus poster in Bert’s home is a nice touch), and Sesame Street is such a gay-friendly institution at this point it’s silly not to acknowledge this parody as a valid cultural contribution—the film was a hit at Sundance! You can compare it with the scene from The Children’s Hour here.

Don’t worry, this homoerotic Muppet contraband is all psychological and safe for work—we’re not that sick!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment