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Christmas ornaments featuring Morrissey, Bowie, Adam Ant, Nick Cave, Siouxsie and more


 
This charming set of Christmas ornaments does a wonderful job of letting everyone in your circle know that you love St. Nick—and that the “Nick” in question is Nick Cave. Matthew Lineham designed them, and he’s done a wonderful job of working in “obscure Christmas memories and puns,” as he put it.

Many of his “obscure” references involve network Christmas programming from many decades ago. Siouxsie Sioux is transformed into Cindy Lou Who, the little girl from Whoville in Dr. Seuss’ classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Morrissey plays the part of “Snow Mozzer” and “Heat Mozzer,” the memorable characters from the 1974 stop-motion animated Christmas TV special from Rankin/Bass, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Former Oingo Boingo frontman and soundtrack maestro Danny Elfman appears as “Elfman on the Shelfman,” a reference to the 2004 children’s book The Elf on the Shelf. Robert Smith is perched atop Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and DEVO‘s familiar energy dome is cleverly done up as a Christmas tree.

Lineham calls the set “A Very New Wave Christmas” but he has sensibly gone where the name-puns and name recognition will take him rather than obey strict genre definitions. Bowie and Cave might not be your idea of “new wave” icons but they were active in the early 1980s, at least.

You can buy the rubber die cut bendable ornaments for $10 a pop (“Mozzer” pair $15), or $50 for the entire set, a significant discount. However, due to the unexpectedly high demand, Lineham wants purchasers to be aware that any ornaments ordered today will be shipped “sometime between Dec 21st & 31st,” so don’t bank on them being available for this year’s tree—however, there’s always 2017, 2018, 2019, and beyond to think of. These seem unlikely to go out of style anytime soon.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Kristmas with the Kinks, 1977
12.23.2015
01:16 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
The Kinks


 
Who says the Germans have no sense of humor? Here we have the Kinks weighing in with an energetic rendition of “Father Christmas”; it appeared on the German TV show Plattenküche (Record Kitchen) on December 15, 1977, and it’s punctuated by the kind of jokes that used to appear on Laugh-In, Hee-Haw, you name it.

I don’t really understand what the fellow next to Mick Avory (as Santa Claus) says at the very start. For that matter I don’t really understand what Avory is saying either. The other guy ends by saying (I think), “And now our hair’s gonna grow.”

The first time the boss says, “Turn on the snow!” so the employee says, “Snow. OK.” The second time the boss is obviously calling for his employee, apparently named “Nagel” (German for “nail”), for more snow. To his credit, the boss afterwards thanks Nagel for a job well done.
 

 
A bit later, the guy says to the gal, “Have you seen the weather report? I hope it won’t be fog,” to which the gal says, “It doesn’t look good, Norbert. The barometer is falling!” (Bonk.)

The next bit isn’t easy to follow, it’s VERY loose. The boss says that the two guys resemble Starsky and Hutch, and the two guys laugh sarcastically. As the blond guy peers into his mug of smoky grog, he references “a new invention from Holland,” and the boss says, “Here’s how I imagine it. Here is the turntable and here [matchbox] is the female singer. ... It has to look like that!” I’m going to guess that some of this was a callback to other stuff in the episode.

You ever notice what a weird, almost bleak song “Father Christmas” is? Santa gets beaten up by some punks! The Steve Austin reference is a nice 1970s touch, though:
 

When I was small I believed in Santa Claus
Though I knew it was my dad
And I would hang up my stocking at Christmas
Open my presents and I’d be glad

But the last time I played Father Christmas
I stood outside a department store
A gang of kids came over and mugged me
And knocked my reindeer to the floor

They said,
“Father Christmas, give us some money.
Don’t mess around with those silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over.
We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed.
Give all the toys to the little rich boys.

Don’t give my brother a Steve Austin outfit.
Don’t give my sister a cuddly toy.
We don’t want a jigsaw or Monopoly money.
We only want the Real McCoy.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We’ll beat you up if you make us annoyed.
Father Christmas, give us some money.
Don’t mess around with those silly toys.

But give my daddy a job ‘cause he needs one.
He’s got lots of mouths to feed.
But if you’ve got one I’ll have a machine gun.
So I can scare all the kids on the street.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We got no time for your silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over.
Give all the toys to the little rich boys.

Have yourself a Merry, Merry Christmas.
Have yourself a good time.
But remember the kids who got nothin’.
While you’re drinkin’ down your wine.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We got no time for your silly toys.
Father Christmas, please hand it over.
We’ll beat you up so don’t make us annoyed.

Father Christmas, give us some money.
We got no time for your silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over.
We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed.
Give all the toys to the little rich boys.”

 
In the Plattenküche clip, Avory is the only one of the Kinks with a Santa Claus costume, but in this other video, the entire gang is dressed up like Santa.
 

 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Kinks tear it up on German TV, 1965
Was The Kinks’ ‘Dead End Street’ promo film the world’s first ‘concept’ music video?

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Vintage photos of what it was like to spend Christmas in jail
12.22.2015
09:33 am

Topics:
Crime

Tags:
Christmas
prison
jail

The
The “Rock Islanders” prison band of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, 1940s

As full of joy and merriment as the holidays can be, unless you are completely out of touch with reality, Christmas isn’t always a happy time of year for a lot of folks. I mean, all you have to do is look around you to figure that one out. Of course, it probably doesn’t get much worse than spending the holidays in the clink.
 
Christmas morning in the
Christmas morning in the “drunk tank” in Downtown Los Angeles, 1952
 
Some of the images that follow date all the way back to the early 1900s and while a few of them are rather grim, there are many that actually show inmates in a seemingly jovial mood despite their jail-bound circumstances. Such as the one of an inmate at the Orange County Jail playing Santa with a mop on his head and a newspaper hat. Count your blessings, Dangerous Minds readers: It could always be worse.
 
Prisoners at the District Jail Washington, DC in 1909
Prisoners at the District Jail in Washington, D.C., 1909
 
Inmates at the Raymond Street Jail, Brooklyn New York, 1932
Inmates celebrating Christmas at the Raymond Street Jail, Brooklyn New York, 1932
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Iggy Pop wishes you a ‘White Christmas’!
12.21.2015
03:53 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Iggy Pop
Christmas


 
It’s a challenge to picture Iggy Pop chilling out next to an open fire savoring a snifter of eggnog, but versatile Iggy, that’s more or less who showed up to sing on his cover of “White Christmas,” the Irving Berlin Christmas classic mostly associated with Bing Crosby.

In fact, Bing’s version is reputed to be the biggest-selling single of all time, or at least it once was. Is it fair to say that one can hear Bing’s influence in Iggy’s gravelly and super-slow rendition?
 

 
Information on these recordings is hard to come by, but there’s also a fuzzed-out iteration, lovingly dubbed the “Guitar Stooge Version,” that appeared on a 2013 comp from Cleopatra Records called Psych-Out Christmas that also features holiday tracks by the Fuzztones, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, and Dead Meadow. It also appeared on a Cleopatra box set of Iggy singles called Gimme Some Skin that looks pretty tasty.
 
“White Christmas”:

 
“White Christmas (Guitar Stooge Mix)”:

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
A Bing Crosby death metal Christmas

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Fear & Loathing at Christmas: Watch Dr. Hunter S. Thompson burn his Christmas tree
12.18.2015
04:16 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Hunter S. Thompson
Christmas


 
When TIME magazine writer Sam Allis visited Dr. Hunter S. Thompson at home in Colorado in January of 1990, during his visit the good doctor decided that he wanted to set his discarded Christmas tree ablaze. He told Deborah Fuller, his loyal secretary of two decades: “Let’s give the journalist a memorable experience to write about. He needs to learn how to burn the creosote out of a chimney. We can’t run the risk of a chimney fire during the year.”

Of course not!

Here’s Allis’ account of what happened:

“I gave up on the interview and started worrying about my life when Hunter Thompson squirted two cans of fire starter on the Christmas tree he was going to burn in his living-room fireplace, a few feet away from an unopened wooden crate of 9-mm bullets. That the tree was far too large to fit into the fireplace mattered not a whit to Hunter, who was sporting a dime-store wig at the time and resembled Tony Perkins in Psycho. Minutes earlier, he had smashed a Polaroid camera on the floor.”

Hunter had decided to videotape the Christmas tree burning, and we later heard on the replay the terrified voices of Deborah Fuller, his longtime secretary-baby sitter, and me off-camera pleading with him, “NO, HUNTER, NO! PLEASE, HUNTER, DON’T DO IT!” The original manuscript of Hell’s Angels was on the table, and there were the bullets. Nothing doing. Thompson was a man possessed by now, full of the Chivas Regal he had been slurping straight from the bottle and the gin he had been mixing with pink lemonade for hours.

Wayne Ewing, the director of Breakfast with Hunter wrote a delightful secondhand account of what had happened that evening on his Hunter Thompson Films blog:

Of course, there’s a fine line between burning the creosote out of a chimney and starting a creosote fire that burns at 2100 Degrees Fahrenheit and sounds like a jet airplane taking off just before it explodes through the sides of your chimney and burns down a log cabin style house like Owl Farm.

In preparation, Deborah gathered all the fire extinguishers in the living room, while Hunter set up a video camera since I wasn’t there to shoot it. (I was back East, finishing a TV special for NBC News with Tom Brokaw called The New Hollywood. Believe me, Hunter was a hell of a lot more interesting to hang out with than Tom Brokaw, but as they say in show business: “Theater is life. Film is art. TV is rent.”)

Visitors to Owl Farm usually came in search of an experience with Hunter that would make a good story whether they were journalists or fans, and Hunter always delivered. But, the story wasn’t necessarily what they expected. In this case, Hunter got more than he bargained for as well; you can see how desperately he pokes at the burning Christmas tree, trying to contain the raging fire. The heavy wooden mantle still has the burn marks to this day.

Before he put the tree in the fireplace, there was a small fire burning already. The mass of the tree almost snuffed out the first fire when he jammed it in, so Hunter threatened to splash lighter fluid on it. In the original video, you can barely hear Deborah and Allen [he means Sam Allis] screaming, “NO, HUNTER DON’T DO IT” above the Cowboy Junkies playing “Misguided Angel” at maximum volume over the array of living room speakers.

Hunter gets a bit of lighter fluid onto the tree, and then throws a match after it, creating the conflagration you see in the film and then in the aftermath below. The flames were coming out of the top of the chimney in a four foot cone of fire, like the exhaust of a jet engine. Hunter, Deborah and Allen retreated to the front porch where Hunter taped the inferno with pride. No one remembered to carry out the manuscript of the latest book in progress which was lying on the living room table.

Thompson’s Owl Creek home has hardly changed in the years since his death and his widow, Anita Thompson is planning to turn the property into a museum.

You’ve read the story, now watch the video…
 

 
Via Open Culture/Gothamist/Hunter Thompson Films

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A treasury of Bettie Page Christmas memories - NSFW
12.10.2015
08:02 am

Topics:
Art
Pop Culture
Sex

Tags:
Christmas
Bettie Page


 
With her coy smile hiding as many secrets as the Mona Lisa and her iconic bangs which are still emulated by wanna-be pin-up queens the world over, Bettie Page was and is America’s Sweetheart.

Here’s a Christmas treat, just like Grandpa used to peep out in the shed on a cold Winter’s day: a gallery of lowbrow art photographs from the mid-20th Century depicting Bettie, celebrating the most wonderful time of the year.

God bless us, each and every one.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
There’s a ‘Hipster Santa’ in Portland, Oregon
12.08.2015
09:36 am

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
Christmas
Hipster Santa


 
Perhaps one of the dumbest culture-related things I’ve spotted so far this week—it’s ONLY Tuesday, tho—is the “Hipster Santa” as seen in a Portland, Oregon shopping mall. “Hipster Santa” sports stupid hipster hair, skinny black jeans, Ray-Ban eyewear, a Big Lebowski-style sweater, corresponds with a typewriter and rides a bike instead of a sleigh. The only thing that’s missing is his collection of holiday classics in vinyl. Where the fuck is Santa’s vinyl?!

Can we make this official by retiring “hipster” and “man bun” anything? It’s just not funny anymore. It hasn’t been funny in years. It’s about as “hilarious” as the official office “ugly Christmas sweater” party. Let’s mark this as the final nail in the coffin and kill the meme. Douse it in kerosene and throw the match. I demand it.

 
via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Turd-related Christmas traditions of the Catalans
12.08.2015
08:50 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief

Tags:
Christmas
Caga Tio
Caganer
Tio De Nadal


 
Each December 8th, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, families in the Catalonian region of Spain bring out Tió de Nadal or Caga Tió  (which means “shitting log”). The log is painted with a smiling face and stands on two tiny stick legs.
 

 
Every night until the 24th, as tradition dictates, the children are instructed to give the tió a little bite to “eat” and cover him with a blanket to keep him warm and cozy. On Christmas Eve, the tió is placed partly under his blanket and the children order it to defecate. The children beat the log with sticks, while singing the Tió de Nadal song, in order to make it shit presents.

Parents place presents under the log’s blanket while the children close their eyes and pray for the really good shit.

The children’s song to Caga Tió is absolutely adorable:

“Caga tió,
caga torró,
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
caga tió!”

Translated:

shit, log,
shit nougats,
hazelnuts and mató cheese,
if you don’t shit well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
shit, log!

Here are some children getting very excited for the poop bounty they are about to receive:
 

 
Logs of different sizes are used by the parents to simulate the log “growing” from the food given to it by the children. It teaches the children a valuable lesson about caring for and nurturing something just before you literally beat the shit out of it with a stick on Christmas.
 

 
Coaxing turds from Caga Tió is a wonderful Christmas custom, but not the only scatalogical Catalonian tradition. Even more popular and beloved is the Caganer, whose name literally translates to “the crapper” or “the shitter”. The Caganer is a figurine, traditionally in peasant garb, who is bent over and taking a dump. This figurine is placed among the other figures in the Nativity Scene. The figure is hidden away in the Nativity and the children are instructed to try and find the Caganer.
 

Traditional Caganer
 
It’s not known for certain why the pooping character has been added to the Nativity, but it seems to have been around since at least the 18th Century. Some claim that the character represents fertilization of the Earth and others believe the Caganer represents “the spoil-sport we all have within us.” No one is really sure, but the character maintains a massive popularity despite some governmental attempts to ban the public display.

The Caganer statuettes are sometimes fashioned in the likeness of well-known figures from pop culture or politics.
 

 
The Caganer is very popular with children. What child doesn’t want a little pooping guy coloring book? Finally a good use for that brown crayon! There’s also a sort of Where’s Waldo—if Waldo was a little shitter.

The Catalonians love that little crappin’ dude.

The following celebrity Caganers can be obtained via Caganer.com:
 

Caganer Dali
 
More after the dump er… jump, sorry…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Behold the evil glory of the Baphomet, Krampus and Cthulhu tree toppers!
12.07.2015
08:48 am

Topics:
Amusing
Occult

Tags:
Christmas
Cthulhu
Baphomet

Baphomet glass tree topper
Baphomet glass tree topper
 
The good folks over at Middle of Beyond have a pretty sweet collection of anti-Christmas decorations—but nothing says “fuck jolly old St. Nick” quite like a glass Baphomet or Cthulhu tree topper. Ah, being on the the naughty list really is the best
 
Cthulhu glass tree topper
Cthulhu glass tree topper
 
Little Baphomet and this cutie Cthulhu are both 7.5 inches high and will run you $19.99 (which if you flip the nines around is $16.66, nice one Middle of Beyond). There are also a few other notable and refreshingly evil Christmas ornaments in MOB’s shop such as a variety of Krampus designs and a glass-blown homage to Room 237, the mythical room at the Overlook Hotel in Stanely Kubrick’s The Shining that gave the fascinating 2012 documentary film, Room 237 its title.
 

‘The Shining’ hotel key glass ornament
 

Glass Krampus devil tree topper

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cthulhu fhtagn: 2016’s ‘Lovecraftiana Calendar’ makes an eldritch Christmas gift

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Mama Weer all Christmazee Now: Season’s greetings from Slade
12.25.2014
12:42 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
Slade


 
I love Slade so much. While a lot of the ‘70s glam movement’s extra-musical lexicon emphasized the trashed elegance of the beautiful, untouchable, rock-star-on-a-pedestal figure (basically the Ziggy Stardust template), Slade were unabashedly lumpen, ugly cusses embracing a joyous buttrock stomp and bare-knuckle production values. This wasn’t a rejection of glamor, but a livelier embrace of it, and a roadmap for how the proles could join in the fun, bringing it all down to Earth even as their guitarist dressed up like a spaceman.

Apart from their music and their abundant love of plaid, Slade were known for goofy misspellings in their song titles—“Mama Weer all Crazee Now,” “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me,” “Look Wot You Dun,” and my favorite of their songs, “Gudbuy T’Jane.” After the band slipped into decline in the late ‘70s, they experienced a sudden, unexpected early ‘80s US breakout when the L.A. pop-metal band Quiet Riot had a huge out-of-nowhere hit with a totally half-assed cover of “Cum On Feel the Noize,” which sold well enough to make them the first heavy metal band to score a US #1 album. This in turn drove a renewed interest in Slade themselves, who by then had jettisoned their tartan-and-lamé glam trappings in favor of a broader hard-rock approach, which actually did goose their UK success. Their 1983 album Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome was re-released in the US under the title Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply, which, on the backs of the incredibly fun single “Run Runaway” and the obligatory power ballad “My Oh My,” became Slade’s first and only US top-40 LP.

So it’s astonishing that Slade’s single biggest song has never been especially well known in the US. In 1973, the band threw its mirrored top hat into the Christmas music ring—and why the hell not? If your holiday song connects, you’re looking at mailbox money every winter in perpetuity, it’s a career triumph and retirement fund stuffer second only to penning a sports arena anthem. The affable “Merry X’Mas Everybody” is a perennial holiday favorite in England, and has been in the UK top 40 more than ten times, but, bafflingly, was never released as a single in the US, even at the band’s height. It can be found on Slade’s 1985 holiday cash-in Crackers and the 2011 4-disc Slade Box, an anthology covering the band’s beginnings as a ‘60s skinhead outfit to the end of its original lineup in the early ‘90s.

This video is cobbled together from several of the surely zillions of times the band mimed the song on British TV. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and to everyone else, enjoy the long weekend!
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Slade: proto punk heroes of glam rock

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Five merry & macabre Ralph Steadman Christmas cartoons from way back in 1957
12.24.2014
05:12 pm

Topics:
Media

Tags:
Christmas
Ralph Steadman


 
Ralph Steadman‘s path to the splattered and hyperbolic cartoons that went so well with the gonzo journalism of Hunter Thompson was neither short nor straightforward. Steadman’s first published comic (about Egypt) appeared in the Manchester Evening Chronicle in 1956. As he said in an interview in 1989, “It was done in sort of quasi-David Low style, because that was the sort of thing that was expected: if you did a political cartoon, it had to look like David Low. Nothing had come on the horizon yet for me. I hadn’t yet found George Grosz. I hadn’t even found Picasso. I had not really found anybody at that time.”

A year later, for Christmas, the same newspaper ran five single-paneled cartoons on the theme of Christmas by Steadman; the date was December 21, 1957. He was all of 21 years old.

The Evening Chronicle was trying to make Steadman into a local and beloved figure with a nickname to match his signature of that time—“STEAD.” The title of the Christmas gallery of cartoons is “STEAD Looks at Christmas.” It’s interesting to see signs of the scathing and acidic negativity that would come later in Steadman’s career here, when his style was relatively anonymous—“quasi-David Low,” as he said. His concept of a cute punchline was pretty negative, whether it’s a Santa in the Sahara or Santa having to buy an unfathomable number of stamps or, in the most Steadman-esque of the bunch by far, a frenzied paterfamilias exasperated with “Aunt Agatha” while he cuts the Christmas goose.
 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Having a soulful Christmas with Martin Mull
12.24.2014
10:02 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Christmas
Martin Mull


 
Before he became a TV star playing a smarmy wifebeater on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Martin Mull was primarily a musician who made comedy records. You know “Dueling Banjos” from Deliverance? Mull’s take on the tune, “Dueling Tubas,” reached #93 on the Billboard chart in 1973.

Later that year, Mull took another shot at the big time with a novelty Christmas record. “Santafly,” sung in falsetto over a backing track that crudely approximates Curtis Mayfield, celebrates Santa in the style of a blaxploitation theme song. “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be superbad for goodness’ sake,” sing the backing vocalists. Under my roof, we don’t listen to Andy Williams during the holidays. We listen to this two-minute throwaway over and over, until we start to feel ill, to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas.

In the mid-90s, Sonic Youth released an utterly brain-damaged version of the single’s B-side, “Santa Doesn’t Cop out on Dope.” Mull’s original is here.
 

 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
The Dangerous Minds last-minute shopping guide for rock snobs, audiophiles & culture vultures
12.19.2014
01:03 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Christmas


 
Every year I try to compile a list of the stuff that I’d be happy to get if I didn’t already have it. I’m a difficult person to buy for—I edit a popular blog, so people send me free stuff every single day. Truly I want for nothing when it comes to pop culture products, so I think this list might actually be useful if you’ve got someone infuriatingly difficult to buy for on your Christmas list…

Books

My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles (edited by Peter Biskind) One of the best books I’ve read all year, one of the best books I’ve read period, My Lunches with Orson is a delight from cover to cover. Bitchy, gossipy, profound, funny, wise, egotistical, self-doubting—this book—culled from transcripts of dozens of hours of tapes—probably represents the final great trove of undiscovered Wellesiana. I pray for a sequel and an audiobook version!

The Graphic Art of the Underground: A Countercultural History (Bloomsbury) Ian Lowey and Suzy Prince’s book takes an ambitious survey through the decades of the underground press, psychedelic poster art, punk graphics, album covers, “lowbrow” pop surrealism, the work of Jamie Reid, R. Crumb, Linder Sterling, Winston Smith, Gee Vaucher and more, legitimizing rebel visions and putting them in their proper historical context.
 
 

Conspiracy theories 101: Two great books from Feral House that I could not put down this year were The Essential Mae Brussell: Investigations of Fascism in America, a reader of the written work of the mother of all conspiracy theorists, Mae Brussell (she was normally a radio broadcaster in the 70s and 80s, do a search for her on YouTube and it’ll send you down a rabbit hole from which you will take months to return from) and Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and the Garrison Investigation by Adam Gorightly about the man who was Lee Harvey Oswald’s one time army buddy as well as being the co-founder of the joke religion of Discordianism popularized by Robert Anton Wilson. I was already a huge fan of Gorightly’s earlier Thornley bio, The Prankster and the Conspiracy and this expanded book really sucked me in with its twisted plot. Wait, plot? This is a biography!

Original Art

Cal Schenkel’s amazingly cheap art sale: Long associated with Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, American artist Cal Schenkel has created some of the most striking, freaky and enduringly classic images ever seen on album covers. I’m a big admirer of his work and I was floored to find out how inexpensive his prints—and even his paintings—are going for on his site. Any Zappa or Beefheart nuts in your life? They will love you long time for a piece of art from the great Cal Schenkel!

Music

Speaking of Beefheart, there’s also Sun, Zoom, Spark: 1970 to 1972—this excellent new box set collects the Magic Band’s classic early 70s albums Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot along with a fourth CD of primo, never before heard out-takes. The sound quality of this is exquisite and at long last there’s a version of Clear Spot on CD that doesn’t cut off the last part of the “long lunar note” at the end of “Big Eyed Beans from Venus.” Sacrilege!

If you haven’t noticed—and it would be easy not to, because the format isn’t showing up in many retail outlets yet, mostly just Amazon—over the course of the past two years UMe, the catalog division of Universal Music Group that puts out all of those “super deluxe” sets of classic albums, has started releasing high definition Blu-ray “Pure Audio” discs. These BD discs should be considered as close to the master tape, as heard in the recording studio, as is possible to recreate and experience in your own home. In terms of their HD-DTS Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD tracks, it’s probably not possible to give any more definition to a digital audio signal and expect the human ear to be able to detect it.

So far UMe’s roster of “High Fidelity Blu-ray Pure Audio” discs includes stalwart titles like Nirvana’s Nevermind and In Utero, Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, Miles Davis’ soundtrack album for Louis Malle’s L’Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud, White Light/White Heat and The Velvet Underground & Nico, Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, Derek & The Dominos’ Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, the fifty song Rolling Stones GRRR! comp, Let It Bleed, and Exile On Main St., Ella & Louis, I Put A Spell On You by Nina Simone, Selling England By The Pound by Genesis, John Lennon’s Imagine, Queen’s A Night At The Opera, Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing, Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire De Melody Nelson and a handful of jazz and classical offerings, about fifty in all. 5.1 surround mixes of The Who’s Quadrophenia and an expanded version of the Legend collection of Bob Marley’s greatest hits came out this summer via UMe and the label also released a three BD set of three complete 1970 Allman Brothers concerts at the Fillmore East.

The UMe BD releases, especially the ones with 5.1 surround mixes (which sadly ain’t all of ‘em) are nothing short of stunning. The two best that I’ve heard, in terms of their audiophile ability to knock your socks off are Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (you can actually hear the sound of his foot on the pedal of his grand piano) and Beck’s Sea Change (I normally don’t care about Beck, but this album is the first thing I grab to demonstrate the possibilities of high resolution surround sound.)

Another audiophile Blu-ray release of 2014 that was in the “speed rack” next to the stereo for most of the year is Rhino’s CSNY 1974 box set of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s mid-70s stadium tour. Graham Nash personally supervised the mix and it sounds phenomenal. The performances are great, too. It’s so good that the first time I put it on, I listened to the entire thing in one sitting (it’s three hours long) and then when it was done, started it over again and played it all the way through a second time.

It’s a late entry, but the third installment of UME’s stellar Velvet Underground sets The Velvet Underground - 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition is another winner, in fact, as great as the first two have been, I rate this one the highest due to the inclusion of the sparkling live material from the Matrix (which was even recorded in multitrack making it arguably the very best sounding live VU set we have.) The 64-track, six-CD package is housed in a hardback book and features several 1969 recordings that were supposed to be for the band’s fourth album, but that ended up rerecorded on Loaded and Lou Reed’s first two solo albums. Those same numbers came out in the 1980s on VU and Another View, but they sounded weak and this release greatly improves upon them.

William S. Burroughs-related

This year, the centennial of his birth, saw continuing fascination with the life and work of William S. Burroughs. I recently finished reading Barry Miles’ exhaustive Call Me Burroughs: A Life, which is, and is likely to remain, the single best WSB biography. It’s 635 pages with extensive endnotes. Another Burroughs biography of a decidedly more narrow scope than Miles’ 635 page book that I also enjoyed reading in 2014 is Scientologist!: William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’ by David S. Willis. This book covers—in scholarly detail—Burroughs fascination with Scientology. Although it is widely known that the author was at one time Scientology’s #1 enemy, writing scathing criticisms in the underground press and men’s magazines, what is less known and understood is how deeply into the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard he really was. And for quite a while, too. Sets the record straight. Burroughs was a “Clear”!

Additionally, one of the most exciting developments in Burroughs scholarship in recent years is represented by the two books by Malcolm McNeil, his close collaborator on Ah Pook is Here, an ambitious graphic novel project from the early 70s that would never see the light of day. McNeil’s Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me is the memoir part of what amounts to a two volume set, while The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here is a large, glossy coffee table book collecting the gorgeous finished art and sketches of the project. No fan of WSB, unusual art or a compelling narrative (McNeil is a very good writer) will be unhappy with getting these books from you, but you should gift them both as they really go together.

Give the gift of binge watching: “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman!”


Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series (Shout Factory) I received this last year and I am now about 2/3 of the way through it. If I only got the MH, MH box set (38 DVDs, 325 episodes, plus ten episodes of Fernwood 2Night with Martin Mull and Fred Willard) in 2013, it would still would have been my best Christmas ever. It is astonishing how well this show has aged, and just how far ahead of its time the humor was, too. In a longer post about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, I said that this long lost, fondly-recalled series was arriving just in time for the binge watching generation and I am still enjoying it immensely over a year later. In a category of its own.

$$$$ (These next items are “big gifts” and would only be appropriate for someone who you really, really like)

The Complete Zap Comix box set. There is no way, none, that this hefty (23 lbs!) box set of the classic underground comic would fail to impress your loved one. Showcased in five sturdy volumes housed in an oversized box, the classic work of Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, “Spain” Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin and Paul Mavrides has never looked better and has been cleaned up nicely for this high quality publication. It even comes with beautiful lithographs of every Zap cover in a special portfolio. I’ve reviewed this beauty at length here, so I will send you there for more information. My favorite thing of the year, hands down.
 



 
This one is pricey, but it’s worth it: the OPPO BDP-105D Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Player Darbee Edition, the Swiss army knife of fine sound and vision. Forget about how amazing it sounds (and looks—it does 4k upscaling on the video) and the quality of the build—like an Apple product—I find this player especially useful for music on USB drives. If you’ve got a lot of high quality digital music, this player will change your life. It’s got all sorts of bells and whistles that make getting something like this on Christmas day comparable to getting an entirely new record collection, because every single thing you own is going to sound better played on it. Even some vinyl die-hards are coming around to digital when it sounds as good as it does coming out of the OPPO BDP-105D Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Player Darbee Edition. (Read the top reviewer, you’ll be salivating over this thing. It’s what convinced me to pull the trigger.)
 

 
Pioneer put out a line of low cost speakers designed by their chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones, a man known for making speakers that sell for $70k and now audiophiles who can afford speakers that expensive find themselves preferring these popular boxes. Jones set himself the challenge to make the best possible speaker for the lowest possible price utilizing Pioneer’s vast resources, bulk purchasing power and production chain. The result is that the various models in the line of Andrew Jones Designed speakers have absolutely mind-blowing sound for a fraction of what it normally costs to buy sound gear this crazy good. A pair of Jones’ bookshelf speakers—perhaps the best smaller speakers I have ever heard—cost just $125. Two of the towers will set you back $260, but the sound is pretty priceless if you ask me.

And finally, another item from last year that’s returning to this year’s: Dangerous Minds pal Alexander Rosson is the CEO and chief scientist/inventor behind the high end Audeze headphone line. The brand has been given every audiophile award under the sun in 2014. I describe them as being a bit like having tiny Magneplanars strapped to your head.. While Audeze headphones are certainly not cheap, it could be argued that for someone who aspires to own a $20,000 dollar stereo, but will never be able to afford it, these puppies are actually quite a bargain and built for a lifetime of use. The Audeze cans are featherlight and covered in supersoft leather. If Audeze are the Bentley of headphones, then Beats would be like… the Pinto.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Making Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ eight times as long yields a minor ambient masterpiece
12.16.2014
10:14 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
George Michael
Wham


 
It’s December 16, and If you’re a human being in the western world, you’re probably sick to death of Wham’s synthy 1984 classic “Last Christmas” by now. I argue that it’s the last song ever released to enter the Christmas canon—a friend recently argued for Mariah Carey’s 1994 song “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but I disqualify it on the basis that it’s a fuck-song, it’s a song about fucking your boyfriend, it’s not really about Christmas at all.

Anyway, “Last Christmas.” Had enough of it yet? If you have, you may find the antidote in this YouTube video, in which someone had the genius idea of slowing down the song to a length of nearly 36 minutes, which works really well. Then it sounds like some kind of 1990s dance music, like The Orb or Autechre or somebody. Slowing it down by a factor of 8 gives the sparkly and tinkly yuletime anthem an oceanic, Eno-esque aura. Sure, it’s not Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” stretched out to a brain-pulverizing nine hours, but then, what is? You have to take such pleasures where they come.
 

 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Christmas goes down the crapper (or ‘I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas???’)
12.12.2014
12:44 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Christmas
kitsch
toilets


Arguably the most “high-end” model, this Santa Claus toilet decor exhibits the closest attention to detail.
 
The original inspiration for a holiday post was this amazing piece of dinosaur-themed Chanukah paraphernalia—the Menorasaurus Rex. Hoping this objet d’art would lead me to a glut of tacky Chanukah kitsch, I scanned Etsy for similar crafts, only to find a disappointingly tasteful (and sometimes downright sublime) array of Menorahs. At the risk of sounding biased, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to holidays, no one does garish quite like the Christians.

Unfortunately, lurid displays of Christmas cheer are so predictable, it’s difficult in this day and age to find anything that even registers as gaudy anymore; A Charlie Brown Christmas was bemoaning the spectacle and commercialization back in 1965, and it’s certainly only gotten worse since then. But just when you think you’ve become completely desensitized to Christmas branding, you come across a product—nay, a slew of products—trying to cash in on the season with what can only be described as a virulent animus towards good taste.

Behold, the Freudian fever dream of anthropomorphic Christmas-themed toilet decor. These festive loo accouterments depict reindeer, Frosty and even Jolly Old Saint Nick himself as the guardians—the repositories even—of human waste, and apparently there is a subset of people for whom this idea is “cute.” If you’re one of those people, bless your flagrant disregard for decency. If you’re aspiring to be one of those people, I also threw in some (less literal) Santa-specific bathroom decor at the end, just in case you weren’t ready to commit to evacuating your bowels into Santa’s waiting mouth. This, ladies and gentleman, is why—despite my admittedly boring atheism—I will always refer to myself as “culturally Protestant.” We are the John Waters of religions and I can’t help but be a little proud of our relentless vulgarity. I mean, why treat religion like it’s something sacred?
 

A lower rent version, made all the more disturbing by the fact he has his tongue out.
 

Poor reindeer. Just because they’re animals, doesn’t mean deserve this foul indignity.
 

As members of the exploited proletariat, you sort of expect elves to deal with a lot of shit—albeit usually less literally.
 

Frosty awaits his fate with a stoic smile.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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