Goggle-eyed comedian Mantan Moreland is most famous for being chauffeur “Birmingham Brown” in the Charlie Chan movies, for his supporting role as one of Lucifer Jr.’s “idea men” in Vincente Minnelli’s all-black musical Cabin in the Sky, and for playing the hapless mailman in the “sick humor” cult favorite, Spider Baby. You know how some people are just so naturally funny that the minute you see them, you’re primed for laughter? Mantan Moreland has always had that kind of effect on me.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have inflicted King of the Zombies on unsuspecting friends in the 1980s. It’s a terrible, terrible film, but his scenes are hilarious. I’ve watched it a lot. Too many times!
The Beastie Boys must’ve been Mantan Moreland fans, too, as there is a particular punch-line from one of his rude-n-crude “party records” of the 1970s sampled in a song called “B-Boys makin’ with the Freak Freak” from 1994’s Ill Communication album. The line—“Shit, if this is gonna be that kind of party, I’m gonna stick my dick in the mashed potatoes!”—is (inexplicably) hilarious on its own, but here’s the entire routine from Mantan Moreland’s album “That ain’t my finger!”
It starts a bit slow, but stay with it.
Below, Moreland is basically the star of King of The Zombies, but he’s not given top billing, the white actors are. My favorite scenes are when he gets hypnotized into believing that he’s a zombie and the scene where he leads the zombies into the kitchen to be fed. He says a line in the scene that begins at the 54:00 minute mark that I have used as a “catchphrase” for decades: “As I member, I has privileges.” No one ever knows what I mean when I say that, but I laugh.
And it’s pretty clever and cool! Available in blue or red, the print is done the style of a French Country Toile, but depicts the imagery of Brooklyn. There’s Biggie Smalls, Coney Island’s famous Cyclone Roller Coaster, pigeons, and even a Hasidic Jew!
I’m sure a few curmudgeons will scoff, but come on; Mike D is actually Mike Diamond, a 47-year-old father of two. He’s been married to the same woman for 20 years—a music video director who wrote a vegetarian cookbook. He was born to an upper middle class Jewish family and he went to Vassar. How has he not already designed a wallpaper?
The idea was his, but it was executed by Vincent J. Ficarra and Adela Qersaqi of Revolver New York. Flavor Paper produced the design as wallpaper. The product is eco-friendly, and available for as low as $7 per square foot. That seems pretty affordable for an accent wall, right? (I have no idea, my walls are all crumbling drywall and exposed brick.)
Talking to [Kenzo creative director] Humberto [Leon], I wanted to honor what he was inspired by: American hardcore like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks but then I wanted to update it, or maybe couldn’t help put to update it… I have been listening to a fair amount of trap records and I think that found it’s way into things on this for sure… I definitely shared Humberto’s passion for American Punk and that raw energy and I think that informs the collection and the soundtrack I did.
Animated version of a 1985 interview the Beastie Boys did with Rocci Fisch for ABC News Radio in Washington, D.C. Topics include touring as Madonna’s opening act, nearly being arrested for saying “motherfucker” and “being stupid” in general.
Okay, this is an excellent way to end the workweek: A tribute to Paul’s Boutique by DJ Cheeba, DJ Moneyshot and DJ Food.
3 years in the making, 3 DJs working with over 150 tracks to recreate one of the seminal sampling albums of all time, at last Cheeba, Moneyshot and I can reveal ‘Caught In The Middle Of A 3-Way Mix’. Our tribute to the classic Beastie Boys album ‘Paul’s Boutique’ remixed and re-imagined from all the original samples plus a cappellas, period interviews and the Beasties’ own audio commentary from the reissued release.
It’s still sinking in here that MCA-aka Adam Yauch- has died, and that, in effect, the Beastie Boys are no more. What a fucking bummer.
It’s an inescapable fact that the Beastie Boys are one of the bands that define my generation. If you were a child at any point from the mid 80s up until the late 90s you cannot have escaped their influence. And I’m not just talking about their music; their aesthetic reached everywhere, from film and music videos to magazine publishing and clothes lines.
I feel like my generation (and I use that term loosely) don’t have a singular iconic figure they can point too, like a Prince or a Bowie. You know, that one person that unites an entire age group through sheer talent and poise. Well, the Beasties may not have had the incredible album-a-year productivity rate of Prince or Bowie at their prime (in fact they were legendarily slow at making music,) but their extra-musicular activites more than made up for that, and meant that when their albums did drop it was a major event.
More than just the music on its own, more than the Grande Royale magazine and record label, more than fantastic the art work or the trend-setting X-Large clothing range, it was the Beastie Boys incredible videos that set them apart, and brought their diverse fan base together. They really knew how to work in different media while retaining their core identity, making them some of the first and most successful rap music entrepreneurs, and this placed them right at the centre of the 90s golden age of both hip-hop and music videos. And there steering the helm of most of those awesome Beastie Boys promo clips was Yauch himself, often in the guise of Swiss director Nathanial Hornblower.
My God, looking back now it’s startling to think of how these videos have influenced my life and my addiction to (and perception of) pop culture.
I caught the raunchy video for ‘She’s On It” on TV when I was about 8 years old and the image of Mike D sliding an ice cube down a bikini-clad model’s back has been seared into my brain ever since. I didn’t quite understand what was going on in that shot at the time (hey, I was too young and too sheltered) but there was naked flesh and it was naughty and exciting. I still remember that tingly feeling of not wanting my parents to walk in and see me watching the video. Even though that’s a feeling that returned often in my teenage years, I guess I can say that seeing “She’s On It” was one of my first childhood sexual experiences.
When I was 13 the promo for Check Your Head‘s opening track “Jimmy James” was a staple on late night European cable music channels, the kind I would creep downstairs and watch on low volume while my parents were asleep. It was hard to keep the volume on this one down, and the visuals themselves were a hypnotic template for everything I thought rocked in the world at the time - New York subways, vintage go-go strippers, dope looking rappers filmed in fish-eye lenses, burning 8mm film, Jimi fucking Hendrix. At this point the Beastie Boys were a bit of an unknown quantity in the UK press, as their reputation stemmed largely from the License To Ill “frat” period (Paul’s Boutique was still being seen as a costly, if interesting, flop.) Still, “Jimmy James” (and “So Watcha Want”) was THE SHIT, and helped spread the word of mouth amongst listeners and the journos alike about how great Check Your Head was.
Early 1994 saw the release of “Sabotage”. Sure, the clip was directed by Spike Jonze, but Yauch’s fingerprints were all over it. I don’t think I need to write much about this video, only to say that it really was a cultural milestone for people my age. Almost single handedly it ushered in a new era. Out went heroin-chic and woe-is-me grunge, and in came a new sense of fun (with a healthy dose of irony.) Here was an appreciation of pop-culture’s bargain bin that tied in nicely with Tarantino, some new looks that were equal parts vintage and street, and most importantly of all an incredibly broad musical palate where anything went.
Beyond the stone cold classic video, “Sabotage” pushed boundaries musically. Yeah, so it may be a straight forward punk song, but how many ‘rap groups’ had ever done something like that? In fact, me and my friends didn’t really perceive the Beasties as strictly a ‘rap group’ per se, even though (obviously) they rapped. They were more than that. Presumably because they were white and played actual instruments on occasion, they weren’t talked about in the same hallowed tones as Cypress Hill or Public Enemy. But they were very much a gateway to those bands, and the more commercial hip-hop that followed, and their blessing of the above mentioned acts with tours and remixes made it feel ok for middle-class white kids to define themselves as “rap fans.”
Last year’s video for “Make Some Noise” brought the band back in to the limelight, not least for the starry cast list: what other modern act would be able to convince Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Elijah Wood to play them in a clip AND THEN rope in Ted Danson, Kirstin Dunst and Will Ferrell for additional cameos? But the real fan treat was the clip for “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”, which featured G.I.Joe-style puppet versions of the band doing battle underwater, on ice, and even at a music festival.
Adam Yauch was a visionary, and should be remembered for his film work just as much as his music. In fact, he brought music and film together better than anyone else up to that point, and for that has to be counted as a huge influence and inspiration on the artistic endeavours of myself and my peers. I probably wouldn’t do what I do now if it weren’t for him.
And he did it while wearing a ginger wig and lederhosen. Here’s a strange (and strangely touching) short film of Yauch David Cross [? - what’s going on here?] as Hornblower, shooting the shit on a NY Street and engaging in a game of chess with a labrador:
Adam Yauch, aka MCA, aka Nathanial Hornblower (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012.)
Rest In Peace.
After the jump, videos for the above mentioned Beastie Boys songs, and a 1992 interview with the band featuring Yauch (yes, definitely Yauch this time) in full Hornblower attire…
Footage from the 1989 record release party of the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique album on the rooftop of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood. Hard to imagine that this iconic building is being converted into condos!
I sent this clip to my old pal Sean Fernald, who was a marketing exec at Capitol at the time and he wrote back saying that he “remembered that day well.” They really were beastie boys back then. Now they’re beastie men...
For its 20th anniversary in 2009, Paul’s Boutique was remastered in 24-bit audio that significantly improved upon the murky mastering of the original CD.
Before Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City hit the markets in the late ‘80s, New York culture maven Michael Holman first made the move to put hip-hop culture on TV with the show Graffiti Rock.
In 1984, Holman—who played music with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Vincent Gallo in the legendarily obscure band Grey—got a bunch of banker friends to put together $150,000 to shoot the pilot for the series at Madison Ave. and 106th St. It screened on WPIX channel 11 in June 1984.
Holman turned the show into a seminar on the culture. Alongside future superstars Run D.M.C., Kool Moe Dee and Shannon—and cameos by “Prince Vince” Gallo and Debi Mazar—he featured his own crew the New York City Breakers, pieces by graf artist Brim, and hilarious slang translations. For the time, the show is pretty slick and ready for prime-time. Holman picks up the tragic story from there…
So the show airs and actually does much better than people thought! We got great ratings and aired in 88 syndicated markets, nationwide. But when we went to Las Vegas to sell the show at NAPTE (National Association of Producers of Television Entertainment) we hit a wall. First, the station managers (the people responsible for purchasing new shows in their markets) didn’t understand why “Graffiti Rock,” and hip hop was different to what Soul Train was offering. Secondly, certain stations wouldn’t take the chance to buy “Graffiti Rock,” unless other, larger markets did first. Chicago was waiting on L.A. to bite, and L.A. was waiting on New York. But the major New York syndicated stations at the time, were controlled by unsavory characters, and they wanted money under the table to put the show on the air! My main investors refused to deal with these forces (I of course would have done whatever I had to to get it on the air, and am still pissed they didn’t play along!)...
Graffiti Rock proved a legendary snapshot into what hip-hop TV was about to be. What a shot in the arm it would have been for the culture. Gnarls Barkley would later lovingly spoof Holman and the show for the video for their 2008 hit “Run” and before that, the Beastie Boys sampled Holman’s excellent little seminar on scratching in pt. 2 on their tune “Alright Hear This.”
I’ll leave part 3 of the YouTube of Graffiti Rock off this post in an appeal for you to reward a culture hero like Holman by buying the DVD.
So the Beastie Boys are back, with their new album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.
There’s an interesting/confusing story about this release - the first Hot Sauce Committee record was due to drop in 2009. At the same time as HSCPt1 was being recorded, the ever-prolific band recorded a bunch of extra material for NSCPt2, and scheduled the release of the sequel for early 2011. Unfortunately the release of HSCPt1 was delayed when MCA discovered he had cancer (which he thankfully pulled through), but HSCPt2 remained on track for a spring 2011 release. And so here it is - but now with the track list swapped for that of HSCPt1. The real HSCPt1 is scheduled for release later this year, presumably featuring the material that was recorded for HSCPt2. Those Beasties, they so crazy.
So what does it sound like? Well, listen for yourself:
Moog pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey was born on this day in 1929, making him 81-years-old today. His work with partner Gershon Kingsley, as Perrey and Kingsley, provided the iconic electronic theme tunes for TV shows like Wonderama and The Joker’s Wild and inspired musicians like Air and Stereolab. Other Perrey and Kingsley songs were used prominently in Disneyland. The Beasties Boy’s The In Sound From Way Out! instrumentals album swiped both its title and art from Perrey and Kingsley’s album of the same name.
Perrey’s solo number, “E.V.A.” (co-written with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti) is one of the most sampled songs in the history of hip hop and has been used in countless TV commercials. His music has also been heard on South Park.
Over at the Village Voice website hip hop and rap aficionado Phillip Mlynar has put together a top ten list of some of the worst singing ever committed to disc by rappers. See and hear the whole list here.
In the first audio clip, Biz Markie and The Beastie Boys maul Elton John’s ‘Bennie And The Jets’.
The team’s attempt to tackle the Elton John number “Bennie And The Jets” originally appeared as a free flexi-disc with Grand Royal magazine back in the mid-‘90s. Brilliantly, at times it sounds like Biz has no idea what the original lyrics are, so instead he falls back on slurring syllables together as he blunders through the track.
In the next clip, Ol’ Dirty Bastard tears into The Foundations’ ‘Build Be Up’ with all the style of a pit bull attacking a chunk of raw meat.
“…Disturbing images of Holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity.” These are the elements cited by the Motion Picture Association of America in giving an R-rating to Israeli director Yael Hersonski’s intense-looking documentary, A Film Unfinished, which opens widely this month.
Produced and distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories, A Film Unfinished centers around the making of the unearthed last reel of Ghetto, a Nazi propaganda film shot in the Warsaw Ghetto and proffered as a document of life there. The reel contains multiple takes of staged, exoticized footage of Jewish life, including a fictionalized depiction of the contrast between “rich” and poor ghetto dwellers.
The R-rating ensures that the film can’t be shown in public school classrooms, a situation ludicrous enough to be called out by Oscilloscope owner and Beastie Boy Adam Yauch a.k.a. MCA. From what I understand, the “graphic nudity” that the MPAA cites refers to female ghetto dwellers entering a mikvah, or Jewish ritual bath. As for the atrocities, well, kids seem to be exposed to plenty of gratuitous and stupid violence on TV, movies and video games. Maybe it would be worth whatever trauma they may go through watching and discussing A Film Unfinished to not only viscerally understand genocide, but also get a classic lesson in media manipulation.
Nice work, MPAA.
Oscilloscope Laboratories will also release the Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl and the doc William S. Burroughs: A Man Within this fall.
Here’s a really wonderful interview with one of my favorite photographers and artists, Glen E. Friedman. Do yourself a favor and watch the video. From State Magazine:
It was then that I found that the most beautiful, gripping color photographs were taken by just a single photographer, a very young teenager, by the name of Glen E. Friedman. Glen would go on to take these skills he learnt as a kid and apply them to his other great love in life, music. What you’re about to hear is an interview I did with Glen, who describes for you, some of his favourite shots from the last four decades. It’s a journey which has taken Glen from the mosh-pits of American punk-rock with bands like Black Flag and Fugazi to the suburban streets with hip-hop where Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest and Ice-T all became subjects in front of Glen’s lens. So, less talk, more action; press play. After all, they say a picture is worth a thousand…well, you know…