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‘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
The amazing old Paramount Records ads that inspired R. Crumb


 
The story of Paramount Records is a fascinating one—the beginning is set about 100 years ago, in a Wisconsin furniture company that began pressing records in hopes that’d help them sell record players, which in their early years were indeed whoppin’ big ol’ pieces of furniture. The middle sees that furniture company curating and releasing a jaw-dropping and still legendary catalogue of classic early jazz and Delta blues 78s by the likes of Charley Patton, Ma Rainey, and Blind Lemon Jefferson. The end of the story sees the closing of the company and disgruntled employees flinging those now priceless shellac records into the Milwaukee River and melting down the metal masters for scrap. The whole story can be found in greater detail online, or in the books Paramount’s Rise and Fall and Do Not Sell At Any Price.

What concerns us here are the label’s print ads, which ran in The Chicago Defender. I’ve tried mightily to find the names of the artists who drew these. People in a better position to know than I assure me their identities are lost to the years, though they may have been staff illustrators at a Madison ad agency. The loss of that knowledge is a damned shame, because without knowing it, those artists altered the history of underground comix, by serving as an acknowledged influence on that form’s grand pooh-bah, Robert Crumb. Even a superficial glance at some of these ads reveals a precursor to Crumb’s famous signature style (it’s strikingly evident in the slouching posture of some of these characters), and Crumb paid direct homage to these artists in a series of trading card sets that have been compiled into the book R. Crumb’s Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country—the comix artist’s abiding passion for the music of the early recording era has never been a secret.

Here are a few of those ads. Where the ad copy is adequately readable, I encourage you to give it a look, because some of this stuff is priceless—I’m wondering how many old blues songs weren’t about wangs and adultery. Bear in mind, please, that the ads I chose to post here weren’t necessarily selected for resemblance to Crumb’s work. Some I simply felt like sharing because they were just too much!
 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Horrifying masks give you EXTREME plastic surgery look
10.23.2014
11:06 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
plastic surgery


 
From a wild art installation titled “Too Good to be True” by German artist Meike Harde. Meike designed these masks in order to raise questions about contemporary beauty standards. The work asks: How much is too much plastic surgery?

The installation Too Beautiful To Be True was developed on the occasion of the exhibition Fine Arts in Saarbrücken, Germany. Masks which picture the eye and mouth area correspond to the current ideal of beauty. When put on, however, they cause a contortion of the face. This is meant to show that artificially produced beauty is not always beautiful; instead it can evoke the very opposite. The pictures with the masks should be allegorical for effect of artificially produced beauty.

I noticed there were no plastic surgery-style masks for men. Apparently, Meike has never seen Bruce Jenner’s or Kenny Roger’s mugs. Men can take it too far too, ya know!
 

 

 

 

Below, the video for “Madame Hollywood” by Miss Kittin and Felix Da Housecat.

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Ridonkulous ‘Beat Club’ showcase featuring Captain Beefheart, MC5, Alice Cooper, NY Dolls and more!


 
Beat Club was the German TV show dedicated to rock performance that later became Musikladen (Music Store), a show we’ve featured here at DM many times. I don’t know exactly what kind of acid they put into the performers’ (or the producers’) drinks, but this compilation, known as “The Crazy World” (and originally released on a Laserdisc) is totally out-o-sight and generally kicks ass. Enhancing all the rockin’ are a lot of groove-tastic green screen effects. The visuals on this show were almost as mind-bending as the audio.
 

The Three Faces of Vliet
 
The music is tuneful and heavy, all around. I’d scarcely heard any Flo & Eddie, but they hang right in there with the rest of them. I was prepared not to dig the Slade number much, but it rocked. Everything on this compilation rocks, even the otherwise sprightly number by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

They really don’t show music like this on TV anymore, like ever. I’m not sure people can even make music like this any more, maybe the iPhones are slowly sucking it out of us. Hmmm. I’m open to hypotheses.
 

Track listing:
Alice Cooper: “I’m Eighteen”
Alice Cooper: “Public Animal #9”
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: “I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby”
Phlorescent Leech and Eddie: “Feel Older Now”
MC5: “Kick Out The Jams”
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: “Fire”
Slade: “Goz I Luv You”
New York Dolls: “Lookin’ For A Kiss”
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: “I’m The Urban Spaceman”

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
John Butler: Changing the world one animation at a time
10.23.2014
10:37 am

Topics:
Animation
Politics

Tags:
Marxism
John Butler

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Award-winning speculative fiction animator John Butler, one half of the Butler Brothers, will be making a rare appearance at the Exchange Rates Expo in Brooklyn, New York from October 23rd to 26th. John will be exhibiting alongside artist and filmmaker Patrick Jameson and artist Ellis Luxemburg, as part of the Glasgow’s Queen’s Park Railway Club at the Fuchs Projects, 56 Bogart Street.

Exchange Rates is an international expo of art and art galleries in around the Bushwick area of Brooklyn presenting work by exchange artists from around the world:

Conceived and produced by arts organizations helmed by artists and curators in Bushwick, Brooklyn and London, England, Exchange Rates—known also in this inaugural iteration as The Bushwick Expo—is an international exposition of artworks and curatorial programs in which host spaces in one art community open their doors and share their walls with kindred spaces on visit from elsewhere.

Some exhibits will be integrated, some collaborative yet autonomous, some even spontaneous or virtual.

The rates of exchange, as such, will fluctuate, while the currencies of exchange—ideas and culture—remain fixed.

 
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As regular readers to Dangerous MInds know, I am a big fan of John Butler’s work and have been banging the drum for his speculative animations for some considerable time. For those who don’t know his work, Butler, to give a snapshot, is a hybrid of J. G. Ballard, John Carpenter via Stanley Kubrick—an imaginative and intelligent dystopian, who has an exacting and precise style to his animated films.

Today, Butler will be premiering his recently completed speculative science fiction animation, the so-called Amazon cycle of four films (a reference to working practices of the company rather than the South American river) contained in Descention along with The Terminal Node. Butler’s recent work examines the processes by which capitalism uses technology to dehumanize a workforce.
 
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As Butler explained via email:

Descention draws a straight line from military robotics to retail cybernetics, from DARPA to Amazon.

Refusnik, G.O.L.E.M., M.O.N.A.D. and Mutator are all episodes in an adaptive odyssey that evaluates human utility in the age of artificial indifference.

Through a series of mutations, the human candidate is gradually purged of all non-essential attributes in an attempt to meet the imperatives of growth.

This process of adaptive degradation eventually leads to the distillation of human demand into an intelligent algorithm, fully able to realise it’s own destiny.

It is similar to The Incredible Shrinking Man except that his mutation is driven by the market rather than radiation.

 
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Below the Butler Brothers Descention which will be screened at Exchange Rates. More information here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Like Punk Never Happened’: Remembering Smash Hits, the ‘totally 80s’ pop magazine

Culture Club cover of Smash Hits July 19, 1984
Culture Club on the cover of Smash Hits, July 19, 1984
 
Music magazine Smash Hits started out in 1978 and was a mecca for pop fans. It had a strong rotation of writers back in its heyday such as Dave Rimmer (author of the 1985 book, Like Punk Never Happened), Mark Ellen (MOJO), Steve Beebee (Kerrang!) and Neil Tennant of The Pet Shop Boys. Regular content included interviews and pictorials but Smash Hits also published some fun features like “Bitz” (a smattering of industry information like fan club addresses and such), and was filled with pages of lyrics to the current top 20 songs (you know, so you didn’t have to keep trying to write them down on your own). There was always a centerfold spread, and in addition to the magazines eye-catching covers they also ran a special “back cover” with glossy photos of hot at-the-time artists like Limahl the spiky-haired vocalist for Kajagoogoo or the Thompson Twins.
 
Limahl of Kajagoogoo Smash Hits May 24th, 1984
Limahl of Kajagoogoo, May 24th, 1984

In 2009, Smash Hits superfan Brian McCloskey, an 80’s kid who had hung on to his copies of Smash Hits since youth, decided to rescue his collection from his parents’ attic at his childhood home in Derry, Ireland. McCloskey had the magazines shipped all the way to his home in California, tracked down copies he was missing in his collection from the magazines inception, then took on the painstaking process of scanning and uploading every page of every issue he had to his blog, Like Punk Never Happened. McCloskey’s collection of Smash Hits represents every issue of the magazine from 1979 to 1985.
 
Big Country Smash Hits April 14th, 1983
Big Country, April 14th, 1983

As I can’t help but admire his dedication to this pop-culture gem, I contacted McCloskey to learn more about his recollections from the early days of Smash Hits.

Smash Hits took music very seriously, but they didn’t take musicians seriously. A very sensible distinction. I think that people have either forgotten or didn’t realize to begin with that Smash Hits was quite a serious magazine. During their peak years they would receive thousands of letters - handwritten letters! You could read great interviews with real artist like Paul Weller or Ian Dury. After the magazine’s redesign at the end of 1981, the snark really took over. I’m glad that the my archive has reminded, or opened people’s minds to the early days of Smash Hits.

Gary Numan Smash Hits September 1983
Gary Numan, September 1983

Smash Hits continued to publish issues well after its official decline in the early 90’s, then ceased its print run in February of 2006. McCloskey updates his site with new vintage issues every two week and hopes to continue posting issues beyond 1985 with the help of fellow fans. I highly recommend you get comfortable, set your Pandora station to “80’s Pop,” then head over to McCloskey’s blog and lose yourself for a few hours. A number of images published during the years 1982-1984 from Smash Hits follow.
 
The Belle Stars Smash Hits February 3, 1983
The Belle Stars, February 3, 1983

Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby lyric sheets from Smash Hits March 29th, 1984
Cyndi Lauper and Thomas Dolby lyric sheet, March 29th, 1984

Scritti Politti Smash Hits June 7th, 1983
Scritti Politti lyric sheet, June 7th, 1984

Thompson Twins Smash Hits November 24th, 1983
Thompson Twins, November 24th, 1983

Billy Idol Smash Hits July 19, 1984
Billy Idol, July 19, 1984

Adam Ant Smash Hits December/January 1982
Adam Ant lyric sheet, December/January 1982

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The surreal teapots of Richard T. Notkin
10.23.2014
08:59 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
Surrealism
teapots
skulls

Teaset
Teaset “Iraq 2007”, 2007
 
According to the biographical narrative of sculptor Richard T. Notkin, the Helena, Montana-based artist has been creating surreal and politically charged ceramics for almost 40 years. Of note in Notkin’s long career is his fondness for creating odd-looking teapots; an affinity that was born from his early love of Chinese Yixing teapots. Notkin was so enamoured with his subject that he spent most of the twelve years between 1983 and 1995 creating surrealist-looking teapots. Notkin’s works are also meant to represent his disdain of politics, war and other important societal issues.

Notkin on why he chose the teapot as a way of expressing himself:

Although the vast majority of my work created between 1983 and 1995 consists almost entirely of teapots, I consider myself a sculptor with a strong commitment to social commentary. My chosen medium — the material I love to work with — is clay. The vessel is the primal “canvas” for the ceramic artist, and my vessel of choice is the teapot, the most complex of vessels, consisting of body, handle, spout, lid and knob. This allows me the widest latitude in juxtaposing the many images I use to set up my narrative pieces.

Notkin’s works have been displayed by museums across the world, including locations in New York, Los Angeles, London and Japan. I’m especially fond of the teapots that follow.
 
Light bulb teapot 1984 Richard T. Notkin
Light bulb teapot (variation #6), 1984
 
Nuclear Nuts teapot 1987 by Richard Notkin
“Nuclear Nuts” teapot (variation #12) 1987
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Gidget Goes to Hell: Meet enigmatic punk/New Wave legends Suburban Lawns
10.23.2014
08:34 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Suburban Lawns
Su Tissue


Su Tissue on the cover of Slash Magazine, 1979
 
They don’t make them like this anymore. One of the great Californian punk/new wave bands, Suburban Lawns was formed by singers, multi-instrumentalists and CalArts students Su Tissue and Vex Billingsgate in 1978. Joining with drummer Chuck Roast and guitarists Frankie Ennui and John Gleur—in Long Beach, of all places—they called themselves the Fabulons and Art Attack before choosing the name Suburban Lawns.

A former Doors roadie named E.J. Emmons produced their first two self-released singles, “Gidget Goes to Hell” and “Janitor,” as well as their classic self-titled album on IRS. It is an outrage against common sense, basic decency and public opinion that this stone masterpiece has languished out of print for decades. The band’s final EP, Baby, also enriches collectors’ hoards.
 

 
I don’t have any evidence that Ray Manzarek ever said “Su Tissue was a shaman,” but if he didn’t say it, I bet he wished he had. For my money, she is the single most fascinating and enigmatic figure of the West Coast punk scene, Darby Crash be damned. Tissue released a solo album of piano recordings called Salon de Musique in 1984, after Suburban Lawns broke up, but her trail runs cold following an appearance in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. (Demme and Jack Cummins had co-directed a video for “Gidget Goes to Hell” that Saturday Night Live aired in 1980.) Wherever she is, I hope she’s enjoying her studiously showbiz-free life.

There’s not a lot of the group represented on YouTube. Here’s the gorgeous video for “Janitor,” directed by Denise Gallant, a video graphics pioneer who invented an analog video synthesizer in the 1970s. It may not seem like it now, but when this came out, it was positively high tech-looking!
 

 
More Suburban Lawns after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
I’d kill for that dress: Gorgeously gothy mourning attire from 1815-1915
10.23.2014
06:21 am

Topics:
Fashion

Tags:
fashion
death
goth
Victorian
Edwardian
mourning


Evening dress suitable for late mourning, from around 1861
 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced a breathtaking new exhibit, “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire”—upper-class women’s widow couture, if you will. The clothing ranges from 1815 to 1915, when the death of a husband was met with strict social expectations among the English and sometimes American elite. During the Victorian era, a widow was expected to observe a year and a day of “full mourning,” during which she would refrain from “society” activities, veiled and wearing simple black dresses. After that, there was a nine-month period where she could drop the veil and incorporate small adornments, like jewelry or a trimmed hem. Then came “half-mourning,” where she could add grey, purple or a little white—this lasted three to six more months.

If a woman did not observe proper mourning etiquette (especially if she was still young and pretty), she would usually be considered not only gauche, but downright libidinous. Additionally, if the mourning attire was too flashy, she could also be judged as advertising her new singledom—scandalous! Widowers on the other hand, were just expected to wear dark clothes for an unofficial amount of time, and they could remarry in as little as a few months without fear of judgement.

If you can’t make it to the Met, you’re in luck! Almost all of their archives are searchable online, and I have compiled an exhibit for you right here. I even added some pieces that aren’t on display, including a dress worn by Queen Victoria herself. Kind of makes you long for the days when people died from a seasonal flu, huh?
 

1870, with veil
 

1880, not on view
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
In My Time of Buying: Pricey Led Zeppelin scarves designed by Paul Smith
10.23.2014
06:06 am

Topics:
Fashion
Music

Tags:
Led Zeppelin
Paul Smith

dddldzepsmith.jpg
 
In the 1970s nearly every glam rock band or teeny-bopper pop star had a tacky range of merchandise for sale that usually included a white silk scarf with the name of the band emblazoned on it, such as “Slade” or “David Cassidy” or “The Osmonds,” “Sweet” or the “Bay City Rollers” which fans would hold aloft with religious devotion during concerts. Now this idea of a fan scarf has been taken one step further in an unusual collaboration between Led Zeppelin and British fashion designer Paul Smith.

The talented Mr. Smith has produced a series of six “exceptional limited edition” scarves to coincide with the release of Led Zeppelin’s nine remastered albums. Six scarves are now available: five depicting the covers to the first five Led Zeppelin albums, and a sixth featuring the band.

The design of the artwork for the first three releases – “Led Zeppelin”, “Led Zeppelin II” and “Led Zeppelin III” – has been reinterpreted on three different scarves each measuring 1.5 metres by 1.5 metres. Translating the intricacy of the renowned imagery onto fabric proved a challenging task but, by taking a different approach to each scarf, Paul Smith has come up with three truly unique items.

A photographic weaving technique has been employed for the largely monochromatic “Led Zeppelin”, with the red detail being added using a fine fil coupe yarn. The eight colours of the “Led Zeppelin II” artwork demanded an alternative approach and four different quality yarns were combined to reflect the richness of the colourful design. The psychedelia of “Led Zeppelin III” is depicted with a combination of boucle and merino wool to exquisite effect.

(The spinning volvolle from inside the Led Zeppelin III album cover probably would have made for the best textile design, but what do I know?)
 
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Further designs for Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy, which “have been jacquard woven onto two further scarves and a brand new spectacular design has been created for the sixth scarf,” are also available.

The scarves come in limited editions of 50, and cost $665 (£395) each, which is slightly over the current exchange rate of $632.

You’d have to be as rich as Jimmy Page is to afford these things! I suppose once these babies sell out the next stage may be a cheaper mass produced version for the less well heeled Zeppelin fan? No?

Who would have thunk that the lowly fan scarf would one day become an expensive high fashion statement?

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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