As thin as a matchstick with a freshly ignited flame at the tip, David Bowie makes an appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in November of 1974. Chatting about Diane Arbus, mime, his wife Angie and his son Zowie, this makes for a fascinating and intimate 30 minutes. Songs get sung, including “1984,” “Young Americans” and “Footstompin’.”
Watch as the Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick becomes the very first person in history to say “fuck” on American television on August 19th, 1969, the day after Woodstock, on The Dick Cavett Show. Slick actually sings “motherfucker” if you want to split hairs.
“We Can Be Together” was the lead-off number on the Airplane’s radical Volunteers album and the B-side for the “Volunteers” single. Due to the group’s unique contract for the times—they had complete artistic control—RCA had to go along with whatever the Jefferson Airplane wanted, including “shit” and “motherfucker” appearing in their lyrics. For the single, the “motherfucker” was mixed low, but not actually bleeped.
The song’s music and lyrics were written by Paul Kantner, inspired by the Black Panther Party’s use of the “Up against the wall, motherfucker” battle cry, itself a phrase 60s activists often heard coming from police and national guardsmen during that tumultuous era.
Apparently Kantner also cribbed some of the lyrics from something called “The Outlaw Page” in the East Village Other underground newspaper, a polemic written by a guy called John Sundstrom, a member of an anarchist/Situationist-inspired Lower East Side-based “street gang with analysis” called the Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers [UAW/MF] whose name came from a poem titled “Black People!” by Amiri Baraka. The Motherfuckers, whose unprintable name made them press-proof, were involved with storming the Pentagon, setting up crash pads in New York City for counter culture types and the occupation of Columbia University. Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse’s stepson, Tom Neumann was an early member.
We are all outlaws in the eyes of America
In order to survive we steal cheat lie forge fred hide and deal
We are obscene lawless hideous dangerous dirty violent and young
But we should be together
Come on all you people standing around
Our life’s too fine to let it die and
We can be together
All your private property is
Target for your enemy
And your enemy is We
We are forces of chaos and anarchy
Everything they say we are we are
And we are very
Proud of ourselves
Up against the wall
Up against the wall Fred (motherfucker)
I wasn’t able to locate the text of “The Outlaw Page” but some Internet sources claim that the lyrics from “We Can Be Together” are nearly word for word taken from it.
The longtime friendship between Woody Allen and Dick Cavett is well-known and Allen’s appearances on the various incarnations of Cavett’s talkshows in the 70s and early 80s have been highlights of both men’s small screen oeuvres. Woody Allen used to be on TV a LOT, but he was never better than when he had the always witty Cavett as his comic foil.
In the clip below, Cavett and Allen discuss women, not as the title would have you believe, particle physics, although I’m sure they could make that topic funny also…
There are 14 hours of Cavett interviewing comedic legends like Woody Allen, Groucho Marx and Bob Hope (especially interesting because he does the interview straight, not mugging for laughs) in the fascinating DVD box set The Dick Cavett Show - Comic Legends, which is where this clip comes from.
As hatched by a team of writers that included Sam Shepard, and wife of Bernardo Bertolucci, Clare Peploe, the plot of Zabriskie Point wasn’t terribly complex. Rebel Angelenos (my favorite kind!) Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette (who go, in the film, by their real names), hook up in the desert, have sex in the sand, then separate to meet their own explosive ends.
More complex, though, was the anger and confusion the film provoked at the time. Typically gorgeous cinematography aside, cineasts looking for a worthy philosophical successor to Blow-Up were left disappointed by Zabriskie’s relatively unnuanced take on capitalism. Hollywood watchers were appalled that Antonioni squandered so much time and money ($7 million in 1970 dollars) on something that, despite it’s notorious “desert orgy” sequence, managed to rake in barely a million hippie-box-office dollars.
Fortunately, 5 years later, Antonioni secured cinematic redemption with The Passenger. Daria Halprin acted in only a handful of films, but went on to become, briefly, Mrs. Dennis Hopper. After her marriage to Hopper fizzled, Halprin developed an interest in art therapy, and now, with her mother, runs Marin County’s Tampala Institute.
The future was far less kind to Mark Frechette. You can read the Rolling Stone article about his “sorry life and death” here, but the shorthand goes like this:
He was the apparent victim of a bizarre accident in a recreation room at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk, where Frechette had been serving a six- to 15-year sentence for his participation in a 1973 Boston bank robbery.
Frechette’s body was discovered by a fellow inmate early on the morning of September 27th pinned beneath a 150-pound set of weights, the bar resting on his throat. An autopsy revealed he had died of asphyxiation and the official explanation is that the weights slipped from his hands while he was trying to bench press them, killing him instantly.
What the above leaves out, though, is that prior to his incarceration, Frechette was living in a commune run by American cult leader Mel Lyman. The entirety of Frechette’s Zabriskie earnings were tithed to Lyman’s “Family,” and it’s presumed that whatever money Frechette hoped to abscond with post-robbery would have wound up there as well.
Before all this, though, back when television talk show guests could still indulge in a cigarette, Halprin and Frechette found themselves—along with Mel Brooks and Rex Reed—on The Dick Cavett Show.
As you can watch below, Cavett had yet to see Zabriskie Point—and Frechette makes him pay for it. In defending Lyman, Frechette also goes on to argue the fine line between “commune,” and “community.”
I have revered Gore Vidal my entire life. He’s a great writer and he’s a great American, perhaps THE great American gadfly amongst men of letters. The older he gets, the more spiteful he becomes about the state of this country. Interviews with Vidal in recent years fall into one of two categories, sometimes they’re terribly amusing, but alarming, other times just alarming. Lately, he’s really letting it rip. He’s 83, why should he pull any punches? In this long interview from London, a cranky Vidal holds forth on the Obama presidency with a jaundiced eye:
Gore Vidal is not only grieving for his own dead circle and his fading life, but for his country. At 83, he has lived through one third of the lifespan of the United States. If anyone incarnates the American century that has ended, it is him. He was America’s greatest essayist, one of its best-selling novelists and the wit at every party. He holidayed with the Kennedys, cruised for men with Tennessee Williams, was urged to run for Congress by Eleanor Roosevelt, co-wrote some of the most iconic Hollywood films, damned US foreign policy from within, sued Truman Capote, got fellated by Jack Kerouac, watched his cousin Al Gore get elected President and still lose the White House, and ?
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.