An elegant and modern chess set has been created by London designers Ian Flood and Chris Prosser, with pieces crafted to represent the architecture of their home city.
In our London set Pawns are terraced houses, Big Ben is the Rook, with the London Eye playing the Knight. The Gherkin is cast as the Bishop, and the Shard lends its elegance and might to the role of the Queen. No other building than Canary Wharf would be better suited to play the King, and this piece stands at four and a half inches tall.
As you’ll see in the photos, the set is quite a stunner, and I wonder, where has this concept been? Given the symbolic value cities put on buildings, it seems like such a natural idea, but for the most part, niche chess sets currently seem to be marketed largely at geek culture—there are Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, LOTR, and Doctor Who sets. And Monopoly knockoffs that appeal to regional vanity by representing cities other than Atlantic City, NJ do quite well, so it’s sort of strange that the notion hasn’t been applied to chess. (That said, Monopoly is kind of way out of control with the licensed editions—Who’s buying the Seinfeld Monopoly board? WHO?)
This could be taken so far it’s ridiculous—what about sets that reflect sports rivalries? Manchester vs Liverpool? Pittsburgh vs Cleveland? (I’m envisioning a Cleveland set with crumbling, foreclosed houses for pawns, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for bishops, Dennis Kucinich for knights, so what if he’s not a building…) Per an article on If It’s Hip It’s Here, Prosser and Flood have New York and Paris sets in the works. If you like what you see here and would like a set of your city, the pair offer customization.
Lucy In London was an hour-long 1966 Lucille Ball musical variety TV special that jumped off from a regular episode of her sitcom, The Lucy Show called “Lucy Goes to London.” The comedy of that episode revolved around “Lucy Carmichael” never having been on a jet before as she travels to New York (en route to London from Los Angeles) with lovable curmudgeon “Mr. Mooney” (Gale Gordon) on a free trip won in a dog food jingle contest.
In the special though, she’s actually in London, where the entire thing was shot. Lucy is expecting a limo, but instead she gets Anthony Newley, her Cockney motorcycle-riding tour guide who manages to get Lucy dumped in the Thames, takes her shopping for mod togs on the King’s Road and performs “Pop Goes the Weasel” with her. There is mime involved. The whole thing is supposed to happen during the course of just one day, as this is what the prize calls for, a single day in London.
Of note is that the special was sponsored by none other than the Monsanto Company. Another point of interest might be the Phil Spector penned and produced title tune (several sources on the Internet say that’s Spector singing, too). And then there’s the matter of pervy actor Peter Wyngarde (yes, THAT Peter Wyngarde) whipping her ass repeatedly as they act out a scene from The Taming of the Shrew!
In the Wikipedia entry for Lucy In London, it mentions that Lucille Ball wasn’t really happy with the way it turned out (despite the show tying for #1 that week on the Nielsen ratings) and so she let it pass on her contract with CBS to do two additional specials. Too bad because the among the ideas that were discussed for a follow-up included a Middle Eastern comedy to be called “Lucy in Arabia”!!!
Can you imagine? This might have been Lucille Ball’s The Day the Clown Cried, you know? I’d pay $100 to see “Lucy In Arabia” right now, wouldn’t you? It’s a crying shame that never got made.
Sadly, the entire thing isn’t online, but does appear as an extra on the DVD box set of The Lucy Show: The Official 5th Season. This clip, however, will probably suffice for most people. Note cameos by Twiggy and The Dave Clark Five, who sang “London Bridge is Falling Down” in the special.
Director and Kinks fan, Julien Temple beautifully captures Ray Davies’ wistfulness in his excellent documentary on the former-Kink, Ray Davies: Imaginary Man. Davies is allowed to gently meander around his past life, talking about his childhood, his family of 7 sisters and 1 brother, his early days with The Kinks, the development of his writing skill (the quality and consistency of which now makes him seem at times better than, if not on par with Lennon & McCartney, Jagger & Richard), and onto his life of fame, of parenthood, of growing-up, all of which seemed to happen so fast.
It would seem Davies has always lived his life with one eye on the past—from the nostalgia of The Village Green Preservation Society through to his film Return to Waterloo, Davies takes solace from the past. It gives his music that beautiful, bittersweet quality, as Milan Kundera reminds us that:
The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.
But it’s not just about wanting to return to some mythical past, it’s also about loss—whether this is the loss of the past, of opportunities, of career, or, even of memory—for without memory we are nothing. Memory keeps us relevant, and all artists want to be relevant. Throughout Temple’s film, Davies makes reference to this sense of loss, from the remnants of Hornsea Town Hall, to the changing landscape of London, or the songs he has written. And put together with the brilliance of the songs, the wealth of archive, and Ray Davies’ gentle narration, Temple has created a clever, beautiful, and moving film, which leaves you wanting to know and hear more.
Sharon Tate takes Merv Griffin on a tour of swinging London’s Carnaby Street, in August 1966.
A poignant piece of TV history capturing much of the innocence, idealism, and happiness that seemed to infuse the sixties. All of which is usurped by our grim knowledge of what happened to Sharon Tate only a few years later.
‘If you’ve got to ask what a Rhythm Stick is, then it may be possible you will never know the answer,’ Ian Dury tells one interviewer over the ‘phone, in this brilliant documentary from 1979. This was the first full length documentary on Dury and it captures the legendary performer’s humor, enthusiasm and sheer joy at doing what he likes best (even if it’s touring for 16 weeks, and owing more money than he earns), which all goes to making this a great pleasure to watch.
Includes performances of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, “Inbetweenies”, “Blockheads”, “Clever Trevor” and “Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part 3)”.
This short film on Member’s Only Gentlemen’s Clubs and London Club Life from 1965, may look dated and even slightly quaint, capturing a world of seedy Anthony Powell characters in run-down, thread-bare, drafty rooms, but in very real terms, little has changed.
The Old Boy’s Network of privilege and power is still very much alive, and the British Establishment is probably now stronger than it has been in decades. Look at the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee, or the sofa jingoism of the Olympics, or this week with the failure of the Church of England to vote in favor of Women Bishops, and now today, the appointment of Lord Tony Hall as the new Director General of the BBC.
Hall was chosen by Lord Christopher Patten, whose previous choice for DG had been the hapless “incurious” George Entwistle, the man who was forced to resign after 54 days in office. Now Patten has appointed Hall - without an interview - as the new DG.
Hall is a successful ex-BBC man, who currently runs the Royal Opera House. He may be a decent and honorable man, he may kiss dogs and pat babies, and help old age pensioners across the street, but he is a BBC man, steeped in the arcane and out-dated traditions of a Corporation that is out-of-touch with the reality of life in Britain. His appointment is rather like voting for a Mitt Romney rather than a Barack Obama, it’s a wishful return to an illusory past, rather than moving forward into the present century. Even some of the effusive praise on twitter harks back to an older time - this from broadcaster David Dimbleby:
‘A brilliant choice. It feels like being in the Royal Navy when they were told, “Winston is back!”’
It’s strange that a previous era of strife, hardship, bigotry and division should be seen as commendable. Earlier this year, the up-market Daily Telegraph (of all broadsheets) reported on the analysis of “the make-up of the Lords found that 45 per cent of peers also had a London club such as the Garrick Club, Carlton Club or White’s.”
The [analysis], published in the journal Sociology, also showed the enduring power of Eton and Oxbridge, with around one in 10 of all members of the Lords educated at the Berkshire school whose past pupils also include David Cameron and Boris Johnson.
Dr Matthew Bond, a sociologist at London South Bank University, who conducted the study, said that it showed that, despite reforms, the Lords continued to be dominated by those with “vested interests in traditional status structures”.
He said it showed that: “The persistent hold of the British establishment on the political imagination is not without reason.”
Those who went to school at Eton showed a particular propensity to join such clubs, the study found, while they were also popular among this with a background in the military, civil service and the church.
“These groups – hereditaries, males, Old Etonians, Tories and, to a lesser extent, business people – have vested interests in traditional status structures,” said Dr Bond.
“In their social characteristics they also closely mirror popular conceptions of an establishment which have featured in popular discussions of the British power structure since the 50s.
“If they do not have a monopoly over elite positions, they at least have a formidable presence.”
This “formidable presence” is what links Tony Blair’s working-class father’s move from Glaswegian Communism to middle-England Toryism, with Eton-educated David Cameron belief that elitism in education will mend Britain’s so-called “broken society.” This “formidable presence” isn’t tradition - it is the maintenance of an out-dated, misogynistic, divisive and malfunctioning Establishment.
Members Only is a fine snap shot of club life in the 1960s, which moves from gentlemen’s clubs to casinos and then onto the bohemian hang outs, such as the Colony Room (look out for the legendary Muriel Belcher) and jazz clubs, where a young Annie Ross performs.
Before coffee houses were homogenized into interchangeable Starbucks, and sucked dry of atmosphere and character, the espresso bar was a meeting place for Beats, musicians, writers, radicals and artists. Each coffeehouse had its own distinct style and clientele, and provided a much needed venue for the meeting of minds and the sharing of ambitions over 2-hour long cappuccinos.
It was the arrival in London of the first espresso machine in 1952 that started this incredibly diverse sub-culture, which became a focus for writers like Colin (Absolute Beginners) MacInness and pop stars like Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde, who frequented the famous 2-i’s cafe. This beautiful, short film serves up a frothy serving of London’s cafe scene in 1959, long before Starbucks ruined it all.
The artist, writer and dandy Sebastian Horsley claimed he was an accident, the product of a split condom. His mother drank through her pregnancy, and tried to abort the unwanted child. She failed and Sebastian was born in 1962. This might explain Horsley’s difficult relationships with women in later life, preferring to use prostitutes rather than share any emotional intimacy with another.
Horsley was originally called Marcus, which he may have preferred as it was closer to his idol Marc Bolan. But after registering his name as a baby, Horsley’s mother knew she had made a mistake, and opted instead for Sebastian. It only took her 5 years to change it by deed poll.
The name Sebastian suited Horsely. It suggested the Christian martyr Saint Sebastian, who was tied to a tree and shot full of arrows for his faith. In the same way Horsely was nailed to a cross in the Philippines for his art. Or, Sebastian Flyte - Evelyn Waugh’s character from Bridehead Revisited, whose beauty and desire were numbed by addiction to alcohol. As Horsley in his way was addicted to heroin and cocaine - a mixture of which eventually killed him. Or, Sebastian Dangerfield, J. P. Donlevy’s dissolute bohemian artist of The Ginger Man.
Horsley briefly attended St. Martin’s Art College but was kicked out after only a few months.
“I don’t think by going to college you can really achieve anything whatsoever - except perhaps they teach you how to be ordinary.”
He taught himself how to be an artist, and saw painting as a way of creating a new, unspoken language. Yet, he often felt incapable of expressing this language, and destroyed many of his paintings. He died in 2010 from an accidental overdose, leaving a life that was, in many respects, his greatest work of art.
In this brief interview from 1995, Sebastian Horsley talks about his background, his view of art, and his sartorial style.
Otis Redding was a child when he started singing and playing with the Vineville Baptist Choir. He also tried out his skills playing with the school band. His obvious natural proficiency led him to enter talent competitions at the Douglass Theatre. You see, Otis was more than just prodigiously talented he was thoughtful and kind-hearted and wanted to earn money for his family. That he did and after winning the $5 top prize 15-times in a row, he was banned from the competition.
The ban led him to start out playing with his idol Little Richard’s backing band The Upsetters, and by the early 1960s, when he was performing with The Pinetoppers, it was clear Otis was a dynamic and unstoppable talent.
In 1962, after recording tracks with The PInetoppers at Stax Records, co-owner Jim Stewart allowed Otis to cut some solo material. The result was “These Arms of Mine”.
From there, Otis Redding went onto become one of the biggest stars of the 1960s, the King of Soul. In 1967, the year of his untimely death, Redding outsold that year’s combined record sales for Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, and toppled Elvis Presley from the top of the Melody Maker‘s Best Vocalist chart. It should have been the start of an even greater career when it was cut short in a plane crash December 1967.
All these years later, you can still have sunshine on a cloudy day with Otis Redding. Here he is at his best in Paris and London performing some of his best known and biggest hits “Respect”, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, “Shake”, “My Girl”, and “Try a Little Tenderness”.
Audio of The Move playing a selection of cover versions, recorded live at the Marquee Club in London, and later released as Something Else from The Move, a 7-inch EP, in 1968. The line-up was Roy Wood (guitars, vocals), Carl Wayne (vocals), Trevor Burton (guitars, bass, vocals), Chris “Ace” Kefford (bass, vocals), and Bev Bevan (drums, vocals).
It’s a great recording which mixes old and (for the time) new songs, ranging from The Byrds’ “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”, Arthur Lee’s “Stephanie Knows Who”, Eddie Cochrane’s “Something Else”, Jerry Lee Lewis’ “It’ll Be Me” and Spooky Tooth’s “Sunshine Help Me”.
Alas, no genius compositions from Mr. Wood, but at least we have The Move.
01. “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star”
02. “Stephanie Knows Who”
03. “Something Else”
04. “It’ll Be Me”
05. “Sunshine Help Me”
“It was very much an isolated incident and nothing to do with HMV or representing our views. It would appear a member of the public popped into one of our stores yesterday and stickered a handful of CDs.
“These were spotted and quickly removed, but, before we could act, the individual concerned must have taken a photo and sent it to the media. To our knowledge there are no further stickers in our stores now.”
Forty years ago this month, a strange and distant signal was picked up on radio receivers across the UK.
Amongst the hiss, and static interference, a dialog could be heard….
‘This is London, Earth. This is London, Earth. This is London, Earth. This is London, Earth.’
‘Mothership Control in readiness. Sonic Assassins cleared for Space Flight. Countdown starting now. Thirty…’
‘Countdown started. All Units prepare for activation.’
‘Production Androids activated. Now!’
‘Audience Recept Units, activated, NOW!’
‘Music Distribution Equipment. Activated. Now!’
‘10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4…’
‘All Units activated. Countdown terminated.’
‘...3, 2, 1. Countdown complete.’
‘All Units functioning. Movement commencing. We have lift-off. We have music.’
This is the audio recording of that night’s broadcast. Hawkwind live in concert from the Paris Theater, London, September 29th, 1972. Transmitted by BBC Radio 1 on October 14th.
02. “Born to Go”
03. “The Black Corridor”
04. “Seven by Seven”
06. “Electronic No. 1”
07. “Master of the Universe”
09. “Earth Calling”
10. “Silver Machine”
11. “Welcome to the Future”
Bonus Hawkwind in concert form 2005, after the jump…
Filmmaker and musician, Don Letts was working as a DJ at the Roxy club in London in 1977 when he filmed most of the punk bands that appeared there with his Super 8 camera. Letts captured a glorious moment of musical history and its ensuing social, political and cultural revolution.
Letts decided he was going to make a film with his footage, and had sold his belongings to ensure he had enough film stock to record the bands that appeared night-after-night over a 3 month period. Eventually, he collated all of the footage into The Punk Rock Movie, which contained performances by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, Generation X, Slaughter and the Dogs, The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Eater, Subway Sect, X-Ray Spex, Alternative TV and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers. There was also backstage footage of certain bands, and Sid Vicious’ first appearance with the Sex Pistols, at The Screen On The Green cinema, April 3rd, 1977.
As they motor off into the neon-lit night, their leader, Mad John can be heard shouting, ‘Hey, if the LSD don’t get us, then the cannabis will.’ It’s part joke, part bravado, a youthful two-fingers up to the world.
Made in 1973, this is a fascinating documentary, if at times funny through its overly sensationalist tone, on the Hells Angels Motor Cycle Club of England - ‘900ccs or over’. It follows the dozen-or-so members of the London Chapter, established in 1969, by a transatlantic decree from the Californian Hells Angels. The London Chapter is run by Mad John (who first appeared in court aged 12, and had 5 other convictions at the time this film was made), and his Sergeant-at-Arms, Karl (who considers himself a psychopath, and was once so violently assaulted his eyes were popped out from their sockets, and were replaced in cross-eyed).
We follow Mad John and Karl as they prepare to take a ride down to the coast. The film tellingly reveals John’s visit to his ex-partner who is unimpressed by the Angels and their juvenile antics. Unable or unwilling to talk to his wife or children, Mad John spends the visit collecting mail and playing with his Alsatian dog Hitler. John has an naive and unhealthy interest in Nazi’s, and towards the end of the film makes an odd analogy between Hitler’s vision for an Aryan Germany with his vision for a Universal Chapter of Hells Angels.
Inadvertent comedy comes from a Python-like interview with one of the Angels’ moms (‘He’s a nice boy, really’), and the Chapter’s failure to make it all the way down to the coast. Instead, they end up on a disused canal barge Katrina, where the Angels spend the night drinking, smoking and er…watching Doctor Who.