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Vintage violence and the ‘dance of death’: Wild images of the ‘Apache’ dancers of Paris
05.11.2017
11:03 am
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Two ‘Apache’ dancers hanging out in a cafe in Paris in 1938.
 
I’m going to roll the clock back to my earliest recollection of seeing what was essentially a version of the “Apache” dance that was featured on, of all things one of the original installments of the Popeye the Sailor cartoon series that I saw on TV as a child during the 1970s. The short in question was the seventeenth ever produced, in 1934, called “The Dance Contest.” In it Popeye and his gangly girlfriend Olive Oyl enter a dance contest which of course Popeye’s nemesis Bluto attempts to disrupt. When Bluto finally gets his chance dance with Olive he recklessly and abusively hurls her around—much in the style of an Apache dance. Naturally, Popeye is having none of that and after downing a can of his famous spinach, he takes over the lead dancer role with Bluto who he then essentially beats to a pulp while his famous theme plays out in the background. The cartoon itself, as you may recall, was already notoriously violent so it made perfect sense to incorporate one of the most popular and viciously aggressive dance crazes of the time into its storyline. But all of that would have gone over the head of pretty much any kid watching the show several decades later and it wasn’t until I was conducting my very important “research” for this post that I actually realized that the old-timey cartoon was riffing on what some referred to as the “Dance of Death” or the “Dance of the Underworld,” aka, “the Apache dance.”

If you are not familiar with this style of dance then it’s important to note that female dancers played a pivotal part in creating the savage scenarios in the dance by helping to develop its complicated choreography. The word “Apache” was derived from a name given to members of Parisian street gangs who were formerly known as “no goods.” After a particularly heinous crime involving the murder of a man who was found with his face, nose, and neck pierced with several women’s hat pins, the news reported the story with the headline “Crime Committed by the Apaches of Belleville.” From that point forward, the dance, its dancers, as well as teenage hooligans (who were often one and the same) became synonymous with the name. The earliest known appearance of the Apache was in the 1900s, perhaps as early as 1902. Like many dances, it is thematic in nature with storylines involving arguments between two lovers or perhaps a prostitute and a john. There were full-fledged stage productions involving complexly choreographed dance numbers. Dancers, especially amateurs, would often break bones and sustain other injuries during the heated and violent routines. Some routines were so egregious looking it was difficult to tell if something wasn’t actually going very fucking wrong while everyone sat back swilling booze, smoking cigarettes and watched. The craze dominated Paris for nearly 30 years and would also be featured in several films including one from the wildly popular Charlie Chan series, 1935’s Charlie Chan In Paris.

LIFE magazine wrote a rather extensive piece on the Apache dance craze/culture in 1946, and interviewed female dancers regarding their feelings about the dance. They said they “liked being thrown around,” which at face value appears to describe an act of domestic violence, only set to a jazz soundtrack. Which brings me to another important distinction about the Apache—it’s not just the ladies who get roughed up. No. In the Apache, the female dancers also get to gracefully kick the shit out of their male counterparts. So you see, everyone wins when they do the Apache dance at one point or another.

I’ve posted some gorgeous images of Apache dancers hanging out around Paris as well as some incredible footage from Charlie Chan in Paris featuring an Apache dance scene with actress Dorothy Appleby that you just have to see. I’ve also posted that Popeye the Sailor short I referenced at the beginning of this post because, well, why not?
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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05.11.2017
11:03 am
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Meet Dorothée: The French Olivia Newton-John look-a-like who sang about Ewoks and Dungeons & Dragons


 
Dorothée is the stage name of Frédérique Hoschedé, the TV host whose hit children’s show Club Dorothée ran in France for ten years. With an insane daily schedule which included a before-school show, an after-school show, and all day long broadcasts on holidays… thousands of kids spent nearly 20 hours a week watching Dorothée on their television sets. Despite the show’s extreme popularity with children, Club Dorothée‘s tight shooting schedule made it nearly impossible for the writers and producers to turnaround any sort of quality, and many teachers, parents, and intellectuals attacked Club Dorothée for being violent, lazy, and even racist programming.

Dorothée received her first break in 1973 when she was asked to host a short children’s program called Dorothée and Blablatus. Blablatus was a skinny, pink, Charles Dickens looking muppet who wore polka dot bow tie and a top hat. Program manager Eliane Victor declared that Dorothée was incompetent for the hosting job and fired her, she then spent the next several years working as a secretary in a plumbing fixture factory, as a waitress, and as a sandwich maker in a supermarket. In 1977 at the age of 24, Dorothée got a second chance at fame when she was hired to host the program Dorothée and her Friends. The show was co-presented by famous French cartoonist Cabu (who sadly became a victim of the January 2015 shootings at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices).
 
In March 1980, Dorothée released her first album Dorothée in the Land of Songs which sold 70,000 copies. She then proceeded to record one album a year from 1982 to 1997. Among her many hits were “Les Schtroumpfs” (a theme for The Smurfs), “Les petits Ewoks,” written for the Star Wars made-for-TV film movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, and “Donjons et dragons” (for the animated television series Dungeons & Dragons based on the role-playing game). “Allo allo monsieur l’ordinateur” (“Hello Hello Mister Computer”) was a tongue in cheek song about asking love advice from a machine and in “La valise” she sang about the items she put in her luggage, and released a new version of the song on every album. For her live concert performances, Dorothée would be joined on stage by actors wearing Ewok costumes.
 

 
In 1987, Dorothée and her producers were contacted by rival channel TF1 who offer her a higher budget, attractive salary, and a bigger studio. Club Dorothée immediately became an institution with its wild cartoons, sketches, and games. Children who were members of the studio audience could win a variety of prizes: everything from expensive gifts to series pins and subscriptions to Dorothée magazine. Dorothée presented several music episodes where she sang along with guest stars like Chuck Berry, Percy Sledge, Cliff Richard, and Ray Charles. “I have very good memories, it was non-stop craziness,” she said in an August 2012 interview. 
 
Adults were highly critical of Club Dorothée, they thought games and the sketches were ridiculous, stupid, and noneducational. Channel TF1 purchased a high volume of Japanese cartoons to help fill out the length of each program. These cartoons were poorly dubbed and broadcast without first being reviewed. Many parents found them to be too violent for children, and many complaints were filed to the CSA (the french equivalent of the FCC) after one particular cartoon featured a character wearing a Nazi-like symbol. Viewers also complained about the blatant lack of diversity in the show, pointing out that the only black people ever to have appeared on Club Dorothée were represented by the most archaically outdated stereotypes imaginable, such as a “comedic” dance sequence for a song called “Banania.”
 

 
In addition, the actors often complained about the bad sketches and dialogue that were presented to them on a daily basis. “We do not talk like that, the endless sentences that don’t mean anything, the tirades that have nothing to do with anything… we have been legally bound to go along with these scripts that don’t make any sense” said actor Philippe Vasseur. Terrible rumors about Dorothée began spreading in the early days of the internet: that she hated children, had previously acted in pornographic films, and was only interested in making money. As audience viewership and album sales declined, Club Dorothée was finally canceled in August 1997 after a ten-year run. When the show ended, Dorothée disappeared from the spotlight and immediately fell into the “Where are they now?” file. 
 

 

 

 

Posted by Doug Jones
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01.31.2017
12:23 pm
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Fierce vintage fetish wear from the 1920s and 1930s
07.21.2016
09:56 am
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A metal bra and chastity belt by Yva Richard (modeled by Nativia Richard), 1920s.
 
My DM colleague Tara McGinley recently posted some fantastic vintage images of kinky boots—and as I share her admiration for rule-breaking women and fashion I thought many of you would enjoy seeing some more provocative images from the 1920s and very early 1930s taken in Paris of models donning the latest in French fetish wear.
 

Animal print panties with a tail by Diana Slip, 1920s.
 
At the time there were only a small number of companies that were actually making the clothing that catered to the robust bondage loving, whip and chains-wearing fans that enjoying living out their fantasies in the clubs of Paris and in the privacy of their own home. If people were getting their freak on in an iron bra and matching chastity belt (pictured at the top of this post) it probably came from France. Two of the pioneering companies that were feeding the fetish community with their playthings were Yva Richard and Diana Slip.

Yva Richard was the husband and wife duo of L. Richard and Nativa Richard. Getting their start sometime in the early 1920s, Nativia was not only the talented seamstress making Yva Richard’s signature risque lingerie, but she also modeled much of the companies cheeky creations and would routinely appeared in Yva Richard’s popular mail-order catalog from which the kinky couple sold everything from masks to iron restraints. The Richards’ biggest competition back in the 20s was Diana Slip—a fetish wear company run by Léon Vidal. Vidal’s collection while very much marketed to purveyors of kink had a slightly more sophisticated air and was not as overtly deviant as Yva Richard’s designs.

The arrival of WWII and the subsequent occupation of France in the early 40s pretty much put the kibosh on the booming fetish business and both companies as well as others closed up shop. I’ve included some incredible examples of what both Yva Richard and Diana Slip were designing for their fetish loving French fans that I’m sure will get your blood pumping. If they don’t, you might want to get that checked out.

If this kind of thing is your thing (I don’t judge and neither should you) the French book Yva Richard: L’âge d’or du fétichisme features a large collection of photographs that chronicle the history of the French fetish wear pioneers. That said, some of the images that follow are NSFW.
 

Diana Slip, 1920s.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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07.21.2016
09:56 am
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Freaky French comic from the 70s that tells the far-out story of Frank Zappa’s ‘Stink-Foot’
06.20.2016
11:13 am
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Frank Zappa ‘Stink-Foot’ illustration.
 
The strange French comic featured in this post based on Frank Zappa’s song “Stink-Foot” from his 1974 album, Apostrophe (’) was done by French illustrator Jean Solé back in 1975 when appeared in the French satire magazine Fluide Glacial in a special comic layout called Pop & Rock & Colegram.
 

An illustration from ‘Pop & Rock & Colegram’ riffing on the RCA Victor (among others) canine spokesperson ‘Nipper’ featuring Jean Solé, Gotlieb, and Alain Dister.
 
In the comics (that were published in Fluide Glacial from 1975-1978) by French illustrators Marcel Gotlieb (known as “Gotlib”) and Jean Solé the task was to create parody-style illustrations based on popular songs from bands like the Beatles, Roxy Music, Pink Floyd and in this case Solé‘s fantastic four-page take on Zappa’s “Stink-Foot.” Translated by renowned French music journalist Alain Dister, Solé‘s illustrations of Zappa’s jazzy six-minute jam about stinky feet is pretty spot on right down to an illustration of Zappa struggling to get his smelly python boots off. Here’s a samplings of the funky lyrics from “Stink-Foot:

You know
My python boot is too tight
I couldn’t get it off last night
A week went by
And now it’s July
I finally got it off
And my girlfriend cried, YOU GOT STINK-FOOT!
Stink-foot, darlin’

Your Stink-foot
Puts a hurt on my nose
Stink-foot, stink-foot, I ain’t lyin’
Can you rinse it off, do you suppose?

Though it’s rather difficult to find, the magazine has been reprinted since 1975 and if you dig what you are about to see, it’s well worth trying to track down.
 

 
More “Stink-Foot” after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.20.2016
11:13 am
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Groove-tastic French playing cards from the 1960s
06.07.2016
01:51 pm
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I love everything about this great deck of incredible playing cards that I found at Flickr, they were put up by a user named taffeta whose real name is apparently Patricia M.

They were made by a company called Stemm in France, or maybe S.L.C. Atlanta was the company and Stemm was the product line? I don’t know. The deck seems heavily influenced by Peter Max and the geniuses responsible for the movie Yellow Submarine but it’s impossible to know.
 

 
In France the terms club, heart, spade, and diamond translate to trèfle, coeur, pique, and carreau. Meanwhile King, Queen, and Jack are represented as Roi, Dame, et Valet.

The faces are on the cards are French pop stars including Françoise Hardy, France Gall, Johnny Hallyday, Eddy Mitchell, Sylvie Vartan, Sheila, and so on. I’m pretty hopeless at matching the Google pics of those folks with these pics, so I’ll take their word for it. (Feel free to solve the puzzle in comments.)

In my opinion it’s more fun not knowing who the people are—it turns the deck into a gallery of random 60s swingers…...

For a nearly full deck, check out taffeta’s page.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.07.2016
01:51 pm
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Hara Kiri: The magazine so ‘stupid and evil’ it was banned by the French government
04.27.2016
08:46 am
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The cover of Hara Kiri magazine #132
The cover of ‘Hara Kiri’ magazine #132.The text reads: ‘What young people want? Eat the old.’
 
French adult satire magazine Hara Kiri, was one of a few magazine published back in the early 1960s that helped further along the proliferation of adult-oriented satire magazines like its American counterparts MAD and National Lampoon. Since the European outlook on humor was, let’s say, much more “open-minded” than in the U.S., Hara Kiri was able to blaze a trail bound straight for the gutter when it came to its unique brand of depraved comedic imagery.
 
A page from Hara Kiri magazine depicting a BDSM equipment salesperson
A page from Hara Kiri magazine depicting mother introducing her young daughter to BDSM ‘equipment.’ The sign reads ‘The Little Whore.’

So boundary-pushing were the staff of Hara Kiri (that for a short time included an illustrator revered by Fellini, Stan Lee and Hayao Miyazaki, Jean Henri Gaston Giraud who drew cartoons for the journal under the name “Moebius”), that it was banned from being sold to minors by the French government after the magazine lampooned the death of former President of the French Republic, Charles de Gaulle in November of 1970—suggesting that the press coverage his demise was excessive compared to the news reports surrounding the deaths of 146 people (most of them just teenagers) at the infamous fire at the French disco, Club Cinq-Sept eight days earlier.

Full of sharp and demented political satire, and gleefully dark, observational humor (such as portraying a child being usefully reappropriated as a broom, or the mother introducing her young daughter to BDSM equipment, pictured above), Hara Kiri never stopped going after organized political or religious institutions in the most inexplicable ways. To this day the decades-old images still resonate the rebellious, non-conformist spirit Hara Kiri embodied during its heyday.

I’ve included many images from the strange covers of the magazine (who enjoyed referring to itself as a “Journal bête et méchant” or “Stupid and evil journal”), as well as some of Hara Kiri’s perplexing pages from the magazine. What I wasn’t able to include in this post were some of the magazine’s best known images that are simply so perverse it’s just not possible for me to show them to you here in a family publication. But that’s what Google’s for, right?
 
The cover of Hara Kiri #186
The cover of Hara Kiri #186. The text reads (in part) ‘Pope condemns hammer blows to the mouth.’
 
A page from the French magazine Hara Kiri
A page from Hara Kiri. The text when translated reads: ‘Your child is stupid? Make it a broom!’
 
The cover of Hara Kiri #17
The cover of Hara Kiri #17. Text reads: ‘Beat your wife.’
 
Much more from the deviant pages of Hara Kiri, some which might be considered NSFW, follow after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.27.2016
08:46 am
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‘Legs & Attitudes’: Vintage French leg fetish magazine from 1930
01.14.2016
01:49 pm
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Jambes Et Attitudes or
Jambes Et Attitudes or “Legs and Attitudes” a French leg fetish magazine from that was published in Paris around 1930
 
Fetish magazines started popping up around Paris in the late 1920s and some of these very first titillating publications glorified women’s “jambes” or legs.
 
Jambes Et Attitudes or
A leg fetish model from Jambes Et Attitudes
 
One of these magazines was called Jambes Et Attitudes which when translated to English is the equally super-hot sounding, “Legs and Attitudes.” The magazine was published in Paris for about a year starting around 1930, and contained photos that were supposed to give you the impression that the images you were looking were candid - which they clearly are not. But they are incredible to look at (and slightly NSFW), which is what you should do right now. If this subject interests you, vintage copies of Jambes Et Attitudes can be found out there for anywhere from a hundred to a few hundred dollars a pop.
 

“Penning a Friend” from Jambes Et Attitudes
 
More legs and additional attitudes after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.14.2016
01:49 pm
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Anarchy in Paris: Métal Urbain, classic French punk rock group
08.27.2014
12:39 am
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Métal Urbain were Francophone contemporaries of the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Formed in 1976 by Clode Panik, Hermann Schwartz, Pat Luger and Eric Debris, the French punk rock group’s harsh and noisy sound replaced the rhythm section with a synthesizer and drum machine. Sonically, they came across as aggressive—if not more so—as their English or American counterparts with the exception of maybe Suicide or The Screamers. Lead singer Clode Panik sounds a bit like a French version of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith.

The group’s second single, “Paris Maquis” was Rough Trade’s very first record release and John Peel showed his support on his BBC 1 Radio show, going so far as to record a “Peel Session” with them. Sadly they never really made it and broke up in 1979 as there was no appreciable French punk scene to begin with and the media in their home country just couldn’t be bothered with them. Métal Urbain’s distinctively raw guitar sound is said to have had an influence on Big Black’s Steve Albini and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Métal Urbain reformed in 2003 and toured the US. The New York-based Acute label compiled Anarchy in Paris! that year gathering up their complete output during the life of the band with a few outtakes and alternate versions. In 2006, Jello Biafra produced their album, J’irai chier dans ton vomi, in San Francisco. An EP followed in 2008.

Below, Métal Urbain lip-synching “Paris Maquis” on French TV in 1978:

 
More Métal Urbain after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.27.2014
12:39 am
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‘Miles Davis bores us’: Miles gets knighted in France, 1991
07.16.2014
09:50 am
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On July 16, 1991, just two short months before his death, iconic/iconoclastic jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis was honored with knighthood in France’s Legion of Honor, one of the highest cultural honors bestowed by that nation. From a New York Times wire service article:

Jack Land, French culture minister, described Davis as “the Picasso of jazz.”

“With Miles Davis, you are in constant musical adventure,” Lang said. “He has been able to cross all the eras while staying eternally avant-garde.”

Davis, 65, has recently given several concerts in France, which have not been well received. The headline on an article in Libération, a left-of-center national daily, read: “Miles Davis Bores Us.”

 

 
It’s tempting to write that kind of dismissal off as French radicals being, well, French (Libération was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, so it can hardly get any more radical or any more French in this particular instance) but by that time, Davis’ output was basically slick pop like Tutu, and his close-but-no-cigar attempt to catch up to acid jazz on the posthumously-released Doo-Bop. Trombonist and Village Voice jazz writer Mike Zwerin, who forever cemented his untouchable credibility by playing on Davis’ Birth of the Cool, wrote in an article in the International Herald Tribune the following day:

This summer he blanketed Europe under kliegs, playing not only a bass-heavy backbeat but also his hits of yesteryear (“Boplicity,” “Sketches of Spain”) and leading an all-star assortment of ex-employees (Jackie McLean, Herbie Hancock). For at least a decade he has refused to look back, and I cannot help but wonder if this unexpected flurry of eclectic activity at age 65 is some sort of last roundup.

His current working sextet has been playing pretty much the same set and solos night after night, including Michael Jackson’s tired “Human Nature,” which has become his “Hello Dolly.” The band has lacked creative energy since freethinkers like Al Foster and John Scofield left in the ‘80s. No longer leading the way in the ‘90s, he is getting by on his (considerable) charisma, which is holding up better than his boredom-detector. When the French minister of culture, Jack Lang, made Miles Dewey Davis a knight of the Legion of Honor on Tuesday, it seemed somehow like final punctuation.

The article’s complete text is here. It’s excellent, very personal, and given how short a time Davis had to live, it serves accidentally as a fine eulogy.

Enjoy this brilliant footage of Davis in 1970, with Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, and Jack DeJohnette, among others, at the Tanglewood Festival, performing “Bitches Brew.”
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.16.2014
09:50 am
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Parisian subway etiquette guide is a French New Wave period piece
12.11.2013
04:26 pm
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Subway etiquette
 
In New York, subway etiquette is primarily informed by human instinct and enforced with corrective glaring. It’s not the best system, since the self-absorbed, mentally ill, and tragically oblivious are often immune to the expectations of the world outside their own noggins and earbuds. France, however, is leaving nothing to chance, and keeping patrons informed, with style.

The pictures you see here are a from a book of subway etiquette created by the Paris transport authority. The manual contains twelve rules, all of which fall into one of the four “pillars of civility.” (You can see/read the whole thing here.)

Like French film, the manual is attractive, but it doesn’t patronize your intelligence. Unlike French film, it will be completely ignored by pretentious assholes.
 
Subway etiquette
 
Subway etiquette
 
Subway etiquette
 
Subway etiquette
 
Via Gothamist

Posted by Amber Frost
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12.11.2013
04:26 pm
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Village People or village idiots: French homophobes are totally gay for heterosexuality!
07.30.2013
01:28 pm
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They must not have Chick fil-A in Paris

Proving that stupidity among conservatives knows no national boundaries, “Hommen,” France’s most militant in-your-face anti-gay organization, largely comprised of ostensibly heterosexual males in their late teens and early 20s, have taken to protesting against the country’s marriage equality laws by taking their shirts off, writing anti-gay slogans across their bare chests and parading around shooting off flares like mentally-deficient members of the Hitlerjugend modelling for an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog.

Their name and the topless nature of their protest is a razzing of Ukraine’s topless Femen protest movement (who they abhor, one Hommen rep called Femem “terrorists”), but obviously these dudes haven’t really thought the whole topless thing all the way through in their particular context and the hilariously mixed message that their distinctly homoerotic protests communicate.

Because nothing says “virile young heterosexual males protesting against gay rights” like large masked groups of ‘em oiled up and naked to the waist with nary a woman in sight!
 

Nothing gay about it.
 

DEVOlution in Nantes
 

“I have ze ‘Democracy’ right ‘ere!”
 

“Liberté the Pony Boy” likes to give his pals in Hommen free rides. Clip-clop!
 

On their knees against gay rights.
 

You’ll have to come up with your own caption for this one!
 

A hunky Hommen protest in Lille back in May.
 
Via AMERICAblog

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.30.2013
01:28 pm
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Samuel Beckett: Reads from his novel ‘Watt’
10.12.2012
04:25 pm
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image
 
I have never heard Samuel Beckett’s voice, so I do hope that this is genuine. If it is, then it is a very rare recording indeed, as Beckett was averse to having himself filmed or recorded.

In this short clip (uploaded by Oranj Telor Theatre) Beckett reads an extract from his difficult and complex second novel, Watt, which was written “just an exercise”, while on the run from the Gestapo during the Second World War. “No symbols where none intended.”
 

 
An even shorter Q & A with Beckett, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.12.2012
04:25 pm
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Woody Allen: Fascinating documentary made for French TV in 1979

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I was never much of a fan of Annie Hall. I couldn’t honestly believe anyone would want to spend time with someone who seemed to be so alienated from their own feelings. I sat in the cinema thinking “Get oan wi’ it. Dae something”. But all that happened was introspective discourse and humor as deflection. Sure it had funny moments, but it seemed a million miles away from my life and the lives of those around me. And it seemed indulgent.

Yet, Annie Hall marked the turning point when Allen’s unique brand of humor conquered the world, and changed film and TV comedy for the next 3 decades, right up to Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Allen was suddenly everywhere - from the covers of Newsweek and Time, to lengthy interviews on French TV and the South Bank Show. He was the pin-up of geeks and the bourgeoisie, and Annie Hall was a lifestyle choice.

Still, none of that takes away from the fact Woody Allen is a comic genius, and a brilliantly talented writer and director of films.

This fascinating documentary captures Allen not long after his Oscar success with Annie Hall and the release of his follow-up movie Interiors. Made for French TV in 1979 by Jacques Meny, and actress/journalist, France Roche, this documentary takes the neurotic King of Comedy through his childhood, early career, and success as writer filmmaker. Though the voice over is French, Allen’s interview is in English. 
 

 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.28.2012
07:11 pm
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Chris Marker: Director of ‘La Jetée’ has died

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Chris Marker the influential French artist and film-maker has died aged 91. Marker died on his birthday, July 29th, which oddly reminded me of the time traveler in his 1962 film La Jetée who returns back in time only to see his own death at Orly Airport.

La Jetée is Marker’s best known work, which questioned the form of cinema, and the role within it of image, sound, editing and script. The film consisted of a series of still images, and one film sequence, which told the story of a post-apocalyptic world where a time traveler returns to the past to change the future. The film was the basis for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, and original conceit for James Cameron’s Terminator. Today, French President Francois Hollande led tributes to Marker, saying La Jetée “will be remembered by history.”

Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve on July 29th, 1921, Marker was vague about his biography, preferring to mislead and fictionalize elements of his story. He variously claimed he was born in Paris, Neuilly-sur-Seine, and Outer Mongolia. Marker never gave interviews, and refused to be photographed, though in later years pictures were secretly taken.

Marker was studying philosophy when the Second World War broke out, he served with the French Resistance, after the war he wrote a novel, Le Coeur Net (1949), joined the left-leaning magazine Esprit, contributing to poems, stories, and co-wrote the film column with André Bazin. He then wrote for Cahiers du Cinéma, before starting the globe trotting that would continue for the rest of his life, photographing and documenting his many excursions.

Marker’s first experimental film was a documentary on the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He then worked with Alain Resnais on Les Statues Meurent Aussi, a hugely controversial film dealing with colonialism and art, which was banned in France on the grounds it attacked French foreign policy. Marker was a Marxist and his politics informed much of his work. However, Marker could be critical of Soviet Russia as he was of the west. In Letter from Siberia (1958), he famously critiqued Soviet and Western propaganda by showing the same piece of film three times, reporting it twice through East/West propaganda, and finally, ‘telling it like it is.’

Durng the 1950s, he also started a series of photographic books, one in particular on Korean women, developed Marker’s idiosyncratic style of mixing image and text, which possibly inspired the form of La Jetée.

Marker followed La Jetée with the less successful Le Joli Mai (1962), a 150 minute film made up from almost 60 hours of interview material on the lives, loves and politics of Parisians. He was then involved in establishing Société pour le Lancement des Oeuvres Nouvelles (SLON), which made collectively directed films and documentaries. Their first film was on Vietnam, and continued with the style of documentary Marker had devised with Le Joli Mai.

During the 1970s, Marker seemed to lose his way, making films about the politics of previous generations rather than the issues of feminism, sex, and personal liberty, that were central to the decade. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Marker returned to form with the cinematic essay, Sans Soleil (1983) and AK (1985), a documentary on Akira Kurosawa, making his epic movie Ran.

Marker continued working through his seventies and eighties and began developing a more personal and intimate style of film-making, focussing on his pets and zoo animals,  creating his own bestiary.

Chris Marker wrote with the camera - his best works told cinematic essays that mixed the personal with the social and political.

Chris Marker (Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve), July 29 1921 - July 29 2012
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Chris Marker: ‘Bestiare’ from 1990


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.30.2012
04:51 pm
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Why does France’s new Socialist President strike fear into the hearts of the elites?

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Hearty congratulations to the entire country of France for having the good sense to elect a Socialist president, François Hollande, and for kicking that pompous dickhead Sarkozy to the curb.

It’s not like the “Socialist” part—or even President-Elect François Hollande himself for that matter—got much play in the initial reports in the American media, although “Farewell Monsieur President!” and “Goodbye Sarkozy!” headlines were in abundance (I’d have gone with something like “France tells ‘President of the rich’ to piss off, elects Socialist”). Hollande will be the country’s first Socialist leader since François Mitterrand (the Republic’s longest-serving president) left office in 1995. It was Hollande’s ex-wife, Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, who was defeated by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

MSNBC, not mentioning Hollande in the headline, and under a picture of a dejected looking Sarkozy, natch, called the President-Elect “unassumming.” When reporters did get around to mentioning Hollande by name, it was normally to mention that he was a “socialist lite” or a “moderate.”

By American political standards? That’s a pretty meaningless and worthless comparison, if you ask me.

To take the President-Elect at his own word, his win represents “a new departure for Europe and hope for the world” because “Europe is watching us, austerity can no longer be the only option.” I personally like the way that sounds, but Lynn Parramore, writing at AlterNet fears that Hollande will end up being a “marshmallow” who talks big and then lets monied interests walk all over him (where have we seen that happen before?). She also describes him as “more like an American centrist Democrat than a Bush-style right-winger,” but I’d take that with a grain of salt (see below).

Nabila Ramdani bucked the trend writing in The Independent, calling Hollande a “fiercely left-wing leader” who would “strike fear into the hearts of France’s rich” and who should not be written-off before he even takes office on May 17th.

The 57-year-old Socialist has openly admitted that he “does not like the rich” and declared that “my real enemy is the world of finance”. This means taxing the wealthy by up to 75 per cent, curtailing the activities of Paris as a centre for financial dealing, and ploughing millions into creating more civil service jobs.

Add an explicit threat to renegotiate the euro pact to replace austerity with “growth-creating” spending, and you have one of the most vehemently left-wing programmes in recent history.

BUT… There’s always a “but” isn’t there? France is broke and mired deeply in debt. Servicing the country’s outstanding debt is the second item of the government’s yearly budget, right below healthcare:

Caution is justified, though one thing Mr Hollande will not repeat is the disastrous tax-and-spend policies introduced by France’s last Socialist President, François Mitterrand, in 1981. He was soon forced into a humiliating U-turn, and into sharing power with the right as the Communists quit his cabinet in protest.

In contrast, Mr Hollande will focus on solving the euro crisis and reversing a Gallic economic decline widely blamed on a failed capitalist system, and particularly a rotten banking sector.

A summary of Holland’s policies and proposals, according to Wikipedia, demonstrates just how very little a President Hollande would have in common with “an American centrist Democrat” (no matter what Sean Hannity might think!)

Foreign policy: supports the withdrawal of French troops present in Afghanistan by the end of 2012.

European politics: aims to conclude a new contract of Franco-German partnership and he advocates the adoption of a Directive on the protection of public services. Proposes closer Franco-German partnership: “an acceleration of the establishment of a Franco-German civic service, the creation of a Franco-German research office, the creation of a Franco-German industrial fund to finance common competitiveness clusters (transport, energy or environment) and the establishment of a common military headquarters.”

Financial system: backs the creation of a European rating agency and the separation of lending and investment in banks.

Energy: endorses reducing the share of nuclear power in electricity generation from 75 to 50% in favor of renewable energy sources.

Taxation: supports the merger of income tax and the General Social Contribution (CSG), the creation of an additional 45% for additional income of 150,000 euros, capping tax loopholes at a maximum of €10,000 per year, and questioning the relief solidarity tax on wealth (ISF, Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune) measure that should bring €29 billion in additional revenue.

Education: supports the recruitment of 60,000 new teachers, the creation of a study allowance and means-tested training, setting up a mutually beneficial contract that would allow a generation of experienced employees and craftsmen to be the guardians and teachers of younger newly-hired employees, thereby creating a total of 150,000 subsidized jobs.

Aid to SME’s, with the creation of a public bank investment-oriented SME’s and reducing the corporate tax rate to 30% for medium corporations and 15% for small.

Recruitment of 5,000 judges, police officers and gendarmes.

Construction of 500,000 homes per year, including 150,000 social, funded by a doubling of the ceiling of the A passbook, the State making available its local government land within five years.

Restoration of retirement at age 60 for those who have contributed more than 41 years.

Hollande supported same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and has plans to pursue the issue in early 2013.

The provision of development funds for deprived suburbs.

Return to a deficit of 0% of GDP in 2017.

This is “moderate”? Sounds pretty “sane” to moi.

Appropriately, Hollande’s jubilant left-wing supporters took their joyous celebrations to la Place de la Bastille where the Socialist President Elect spoke:

“I don’t know if you can hear me but I have heard you. I have heard your will for change. I have heard your strength, your hope and I want to express to you all of my gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you people of France, gathered here, to have allowed me to be your president of the republic.”

“I am the president of the youth of France! I am the president of all the collective pride of France! I am the president of Justice in France!

“Carry this message far! Remember for the rest of your life this great gathering at the Bastille because it must give a taste to other peoples, to the whole of Europe, of the change that is coming. In all the capitals, beyond government leaders and state leaders, there are people who, thanks to us, are hoping, are looking to us and want to put an end to austerity.”

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.07.2012
11:04 am
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