Just imagine how STRANGE this Residents’ radio special from 1977 sounded in 1977
04.24.2015
06:28 am

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Music

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The Residents


“SIAMESE TWIN TAG TEAM WRESTLERS INDEED”: Arf and Omega on the Vileness Fats set
 
In 1977, the Residents marked their fifth anniversary with an hour-long radio special. It purports to be a broadcast from RAO (Residents Arf Omega?) Studios in Houston, Texas. Along with a number of obscurities—such as the entire The Beatles Play the Residents and the Residents Play the Beatles 7-inch, the B-side of the “Satisfaction” single (“Loser ≅ Weed”), and Snakefinger shredding Zappa’s “King Kong” in the style of Les Paul—the program includes incidental music performed by the Residents, who are, we are told, “content to walk around the studio, banging on instruments and making strange noises.” Meanwhile, a hostile interviewer, one “Sid Powell,” asks Jay Clem of Ralph Records Cryptic Corporation a series of insulting questions about the group. (“Now, don’t you feel a little foolish in this position? You’re no more than babysitters to a group of malcontented young fops.”) While I generally avoid speculating about the Residents’ identities in print, I can’t help but observe that Powell sure does sound an awful lot like one member of the band.
 

The J-card from the cassette release of The Residents Radio Special
 
Ralph Records released the program on a few small cassette runs in the early 80s. In 2002, Ralph re-released the radio special on the limited-edition CD Eat Exuding Oinks (named for a lyric in “Walter Westinghouse”), now equally scarce. Long ago, at one of the Bay Area’s gigantic record emporia, I snagged one of the original unmarked white tapes, still in the J-card printed on blue construction paper, for less than one dollar. Granted, that’s more than what it’s going to cost you to listen courtesy of YouTube, but it’s significantly less than what today’s junior Residents collector will expect to pay. I bring this up not so much to illustrate a point, as to gloat.
 

 
Anyway, this Fingerprince-era artifact is a delightful piece of radio theater. You’ll hear Clem and Powell discuss the relationship between the Residents and the Beatles and the possible identity of same; the Theory of Phonetic Organization developed by the Mysterious N. Senada, who, we learn, sat in on “Kamikaze Lady” from Baby Sex; and the band’s work-in-progress Eskimo.

Hear the broadcast after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Hoarders: Photographer recreates grim scenes from his childhood
04.24.2015
06:15 am

Topics:
Art

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photography
hoarders


 
The hoarders I’ve seen on reality TV tend to be isolated and lonely. Often the shame of hoarding fosters seclusion, and/or the environment their disorder has produced alienates and repels friends and loved ones. I’ve never seen a hoarder living with children, presumably because a lucid parent (most hoarders appear to have some level of self-awareness about what they’re doing), would know that a filthy home is a health hazard. Hoarder parents would have to be more secretive for fear of losing their children, though tragically this would leave them less likely to reach out for help, preserving the conditions of an afflicted family. Photographer Geoff Johnson and his sister grew up in hoarder’s house, and his series, “Behind the Door” tells the story eloquently:

Behind the Door explores the daily life of living with a parent who is a hoarder from a child’s perspective. This work is a personal reflection from Geoff and his sister’s life growing up.

Geoff recreated images displaying how stuff not only consumed his childhood home, but deteriorated conditions for daily living, ultimately shaping who he would become.

Johnson actually went back to his childhood home to stage the scenes—the first time he’d been in the house since he moved out in 1995. The photos are immediately tragic, but there is an anxiety too, as you try to imagine little feet navigating such irregular and unstable terrain.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Everything ever recorded of Bill Hicks—EVER—to be released in 2015
04.24.2015
06:05 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes

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Bill Hicks


 
The premature death of Bill Hicks was one of the greatest tragedies to ever befall American comedy. His hilarious and unabashedly angry attacks on conservatism, complacency, and stupidity made him a cult figure in his lifetime, but cancer claimed him in early 1994, just as he was poised to achieve real fame, so we never got to see him continue maturing into the gifted comedic truth-seeker he seemed bound to become, a legitimate heir to Lenny Bruce and George Carlin. Like any tortured genius type worth discussing, Hicks was full of contradictions—he criticized the alcohol industry for peddling poison, but he took a perverse and boastful pride in his own cigarette consumption. He embraced a deeply moral we-are-all-as-one-in-the-cosmos philosophy, yet he sometimes took a sadistic glee in dehumanizing the rural underclass (as a conservative-raised southerner himself, he gets a pass on that). And though he constantly torpedoed commercial opportunists, he himself was seeking career visibility, and paradoxically, purity, in a milieu that necessitated rather a lot of commercial engagement. His career wasn’t helped, either, by his willingness to derail a performance to attack his audience, or even just a single member thereof, though that shit was every bit as golden as his prepared material. Behold:
 

 
If you’re skeptical of Hicks’ counterculture bona fides, consider that one of his most infamous bits was a call-to-action for the entire advertising industry to commit suicide.
 

 
A 1997 drop of CD releases on the Rykodisc label kept Hicks’ memory and work alive while introducing him to those who missed out. Four were issued in the first batch, the excellent Dangerous and Relentless, which were reissues of albums released during Hicks’ lifetime, and Arizona Bay and Rant in E Minor, which Hicks completed and mixed, but were only released posthumously. Those latter two feature Hicks’ guitar playing layered in with his standup, to deeply mixed effect—there are significant portions of Arizona Bay where Hicks’ words are rendered maddeningly inaudible by his psych guitar efforts, while Rant is the Hicks album to get if you can only get one. It was recorded after his cancer diagnosis, and is unparalleled in its bitterness and audacity—as though cancer were vitriol and he was trying to purge himself— and good GOD, it is funny as hell. The bit about Rush Limbaugh in the bathtub alone could have made Hicks a legend.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘The Twilight Zone’ meets M.C. Escher meets Dali in the philosophical comic strip ‘the bus’
04.23.2015
02:08 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Books

Tags:
Heavy Metal
Paul Kirchner


 
A few weeks ago I highlighted “Dope Rider,” the trippy Wild West cartoon that appeared in High Times over a number of years in the 1970s and 1980s. The talented artist of those comic strips was Paul Kirchner, whose masterwork may well be a thoughtful and surreal strip about a municipal bus that appeared regularly in Heavy Metal over the same period, from 1979 to roughly 1985. That strip, “the bus” (always scrupulously set in lower-case), provided an ideal starting point for Kirchner’s fertile imagination, as the strip explored many variations of futility and disaster, fueled as much by The Twilight Zone and Godzilla as the paintings of Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher. As Kirchner himself writes in the afterword to a dandy collection of “the bus” published in 2012 by a French company called Éditions Tanibis,
 

The humor was inspired by the crazy logic of Warner Brothers cartoons; the paranoia of the Twilight Zone television program; and the surrealistic artwork of Bosch, Magritte, Dali, and Escher.

 
Escher, for sure—although the comic strips remind me of nothing so much as the playful, deadpan philosophy presented in the works of Jorge Luis Borges.

The book collects 73 of the strips (if my counting is accurate), which would represent almost precisely six years’ worth of output, as reflected in Kirchner’s account. According to Kirchner, he had wanted to present the strip in a horizontal format in the hopes of selling it to the Village Voice, but an editor at Heavy Metal had the shrewd idea of reducing the size:
 

Shortly after getting my foot in the door, I approached editor Julie Simmons [at Heavy Metal] with a comic strip called “the bus” (always written in lower case). I had drawn the first ten episodes in a horizontal format because I had intended to sell it to a weekly newspaper, the Village Voice. However, the Village Voice turned it down, though the art director was gracious enough to tell me it was the best thing he had ever rejected. Julie liked it and decided to run it as a half-page feature, as Heavy Metal often sold half-page ads and had to fill the remaining space.

 
Many, though not all, instances of “the bus” have precisely six panels, and most of my favorites are wordless. Tanibis to be saluted for rescuing these great strips from obscurity—even Kirchner himself admits that he never had much idea if anyone really liked the strip:
 

In those days before the internet, I rarely got feedback from readers about my work. It was published and I was paid, but what did people think of it? I didn’t know.

 
According to Tanibis, Kirchner has recently started doing “the bus” cartoons again, and Tanibis intends to publish an updated collection before the year is out. Very good news for all of Kirchner’s fans.

(For all the comics embedded in this post, clicking on the image will spawn a larger version.)
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment