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Ian Svenonius conducts a seance, summoning the spirits of Brian Jones, Jim Morrison & others
01:29 pm


Ian Svenonius

In 2012 Ian Svenonius, well-known D.C.-based indie rock frontman (Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, Weird War, Chain and the Gang, etc.) published a volume with the provocative title Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group for Akashic Books. It’s a highly amusing read.

Svenonius consorts with a “hostile” protester
In January 2013 Svenonius visited Candela Books + Gallery in Richmond, Virginia, and held a seance to illustrate the points outlined in the book. Before he can get going, however, he is interrupted by a “protest” organized by the UFLRSA, that is, the United Federation of Living Rock Stars of America, whose attorneys reads a statement focusing on the unfair treatment toward the working rock and roll stars of today who happen to suffer the unfortunate fate of being alive.

In what proved to be a highly scripted turn of events, Svenonius proposes a seance to bridge the differences between the living and the dead. But he has no candles, which everyone knows are required for a seance. Candles are duly produced.

In short order four volunteers are seated around a table asking questions of, in order, Paul McCartney (the hoax was true!), Little Richard (alive then, alive now), Brian Jones, and Jim Morrison, who offer useful advice to would-be rock superstars such as “it helps to be British” and “manufacture nostalgia.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Get Down with ‘The Philly Sound’: The Ultimate Guide to Philadelphia Soul Music
12:57 pm


Dick Clark

I’ve known Jason Thornton for most of my life. He’s one of the world’s consummate crate diggers and has amassed (and sold and then amassed again) a vinyl collection of epic proportions. He started collecting Elvis’ Sun Records 45s with his father when he was six years old, the two of them scouring garage sales and junk stores panning for plastic gold. By the time he was twelve, he was already an otaku-level “sophisticate” when it came to music, especially classic soul and doo-wop, rockabilly and what is now called “old skool” rap and hip-hop, but was then still a brand new thing. When I met him, he was part of a group of older record-obsessed friends in my hometown of Wheeling, WV. From time to time, when he was still in high school, he’d stay on my couch in New York and spend a few days vacuuming up amazing and obscure finds in lower Manhattan’s record stores with the zeal of a first-time visitor from Japan plotting out his record shopping with ruthlessly military efficiency.

Fast forward a… uh “few” years (okay thirty of them) and he’s a married middle-aged graphic designer working in the Boston area. In recent years Jason (the designer) and his partner Dave Moore (the writer/editor) an Englishman based in Spain have been publishing the well-respected There’s That Beat, a rare soul music fanzine. They were asked by the Swedish book publisher Premium Publishing to channel their expertise into a book on the history of Philadelphia’s music makers and the result is the absolutely mind-bogglingly detailed and comprehensive—not to mention freaking massive—guide to the City of Brotherly Love’s music scene ever published The Philly Sound: Philadelphia Soul Music and its R&B: From Gospel & Bandstand to TSOP. Chock full of rare photos, label scans, sheet music covers, vintage print ads and lots and lots of great stories, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could ever come along and top this truly definitive volume in the future. It’s nearly 700 pages, printed in color on thick glossy paper and weighs more than my dog, so I’m guessing about ten pounds.

And that’s the problem. For reasons related to the shipping costs of such a huge book, Amazon opted not to take on The Philly Sound: Philadelphia Soul Music and its R&B: From Gospel & Bandstand to TSOP, but you can buy it directly from the authors at the There’s That Beat  website.

I asked Jason and Dave some questions via email.

Dangerous Minds: A “music city”—be that Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, London or Kingston, Jamaica—presupposes an infrastructure to support the business and practical side of things (recording studios, a pool of good musicians, record labels, venues, radio stations, etc). What made Philly such a “strange attractor” for soul musicians?

Jason Thornton: Like most industrial cities, Philadelphia drew lots of black people from the south to seek jobs. Those people brought their talents up north to help create some incredible music, many honing their craft in church and under streetlamps. With the invention of the 45rpm record, it became very inexpensive for people to cut a record and get it into the marketplace. On top of that, the popularity of American Bandstand, a show that started locally and went national, was inspiring people to rush into recording studios and try for that unique exposure. Philadelphia was also a major distribution point for records getting out into the world and Dick Clark was financially linked to distributorships and record labels, not to mention all of the great influential DJs from the many radio stations that catered to black audiences. With all those factors combined, Philadelphia had the perfect terroir for all sorts of music and all of the vehicles in place to help it thrive.

Dave Moore: It was the city’s emergence as a pivotal gospel center via the music of The Ward Sisters, and The Dixie Hummingbirds, alongside Billie Holiday’s blues recordings during the era of the “race records”  that first put the city’s black artists on the musical map. With the rock ‘n’ roll explosion of the 50s, white record label owners were looking for white interpreters of this musical phenomenon and Philadelphia-born Bernie Lowe’s Cameo and later Parkway, identified the Italian teen idol as being a great commercial vehicle. His company dominated the record market on the back of American Bandstand with an artist roster that included Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian.

After the Beatles and the British Invasion just about destroyed Cameo/Parkway’s business, waiting in the wings with a new kind of black music were the likes of Maurice Bailey Jr., Kenny Gamble, Joe Stevenson, Leon Huff, Thom Bell, Luther Randolph, Johnny Stiles and Weldon A McDougal III, John Madara and David White, Richard Barrett and Wally Osborne.  During the early sixties these musical entrepreneurs along with others, created a platform that delivered many of the classic Philly soul records of its golden era.  With one eye on Detroit’s successful Motown company,  the city’s musical landscape was sculpted by these people, some more successfully than others. The pinnacle of Philadelphia’s second musical coming came about when Joe Tarsia purchased a building on N 12th St just round the corner from 309 Broad St (the old Cameo Studio).

With Joe’s expertise as a sound engineer, the foundations of MFSB coming together at Frank Virtue’s Studio and Gamble and Huff enjoying success with the Intruder singles, the fuse of Philadelphia’s rocketing success was lit. International hits by Billy Paul, the O’Jays. Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, McFadden And Whitehead, Jerry Butler, The Jones Girls all ensured that Gamble and Huff’s “The Sound Of Philadelphia” took pride of place in the city’s musical achievements.

Over the decades who were the power players of Philly Soul?

Dave Moore: I guess the guys who really rose to the top of the city’s musical hierarchy are probably identified in three distinct groupings during the timeline of the 50s to the 70s.

Firstly, in the ‘50s, there were those that enjoyed the initial pop success i.e. Bernie Lowe, Kal Man and Dave Appell via America’s teenage awakening years and Dick Clark’s ascendancy with Bandstand. Although not all soulful outings, the labels they established would prove useful apprenticeships for many of the city’s future soul stars.

The 60s saw the emergence of the black influence both in front of and also behind the microphones and mixing board.  Jimmy Bishop’s WDAS radio show put him on top of the promotion pile and his Arctic label was unlucky not to recreate Berry Gordy’s success with Motown. Jerry Ross was enjoying much success with a number of acts and labels and the decline of Cameo/Parkway saw openings for Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell amongst a swathe of young ambitious entrepreneurs.

As the 70s emerged the undisputed crown kings of Philly Soul were The Mighty Three:  Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell.  Joe Tarsia had created the perfect cauldron at Sigma Sound Studios and with MFSB (and particularly Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Earl Young as its heartbeat), delivering unrivaled talent, The Mighty Three drove the juggernaut that was a worldwide international success: The Sound Of Philadelphia.     

Leon Huff, Thom Bell and Kenny Gamble

What are some songs that best exemplify the Philadephia sound? What was “the TSOP”?

Dave Moore: “The Sound Of Philadelphia” has become synonymous with the green record label bearing the same name owned by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. They could certainly lay a strong claim to be so. The music created by their company via Joe Tarsia’s Sigma Sound Studio was certainly an identifiable and unique sound of the time incorporating lush arrangements, bongo-driven intros, lavish string components and of course with the backing voices of the Sweethearts of Sigma, MFSB’s skills were allowed to breathe fully. If I had to select a solitary song that exemplified this cauldron of talent I’d plump for The O’Jays’ “I Love Music.” Comprising a tell-tale intro, metronome-like drumming from Earl Young, plus effervescent vocals from a real iconic singing group, the whole ensemble are at the top of their creative game.   
Much more after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Nirvana and Steve Albini prank Evan Dando about working with Madonna, 1993
12:38 pm


Steve Albini
Evan Dando

In 1993 the biggest act in indie rock, by far, was Nirvana, but the Lemonheads weren’t all that far behind. Both acts had enjoyed a spectacularly successful 1992: Nirvana’s Nevermind had hit #1 on the album charts in January, and the Lemonheads followed suit by placing two songs off of the band’s fifth album It’s a Shame About Ray in the top 10, the title track and a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”

The lead singer of the Lemonheads was a handsome young lad named Evan Dando, a polarizing figure whose beachy good looks didn’t exactly transmit the requisite values of integrity and struggle to the indie rock faithful. The Lemonheads had jumped to Atlantic for 1990’s Lovey, an act that carried far more symbolic meaning at that time than it would today. (Yes, Nirvana made a similar jump but then, Cobain wasn’t as dreamy-handsome as Dando.) 

The Lemonheads
In early 1993, Steve Albini and Nirvana were holed up at Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, to record what would become In Utero. At that moment Dando and his band were in Australia for a series of dates that, interestingly enough, would later be documented in a VHS called The Lemonheads: Two Weeks in Australia. While he was there, Dando called up Nirvana to shoot the shit for a while.

Now, indie rockers did not generally have access to email in 1993, and intercontinental telephone calls from hotel rooms were just about the most expensive form of communication imaginable, a fact that doesn’t seem to have fazed Dando a bit. At some point the speculative size of Dando’s hotel bill must have become a topic of conversation in Minnesota because after a while the game became to find a way to keep Dando on the line for as long as possible.

Someone, I’d imagine Kurt, thrusts the receiver in Albini’s face with the mandate to make something up. Forced to improvise, Albini passes himself off as a personal assistant to Madonna, who was just indescribably huge in the early 1990s, any connection with whom would represent a BIG rise in fortune for any former Taang! Records act such as the Lemonheads.

Would Mr. Dando mind waiting on the line while Madonna attends to other business?

And waiting…. and waiting…. and waiting?

Watch Steve Albini himself tell the story after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Monsters from Outer Space: Glorious covers for German sci-fi magazine ‘Terra’
12:31 pm

Pop Culture

science fiction

After the Second World War, when everything was all kinda, um… shook-up and most people feared imminent nuclear annihilation, or World War Three with Russia, or maybe even just a little old flying saucer invasion from Mars, there came outta Germany a glorious science-fiction magazine called Terra.

Terra or Terra—Utopische Romane / Science Fiction to give it its full name made its debut in 1957. It was published weekly by Arthur Moewig Verlag until 1968. Together with its rival sci-fi mag Utopia, Terra has been described as “the most important science fiction work in the early years of West Germany.”

One look at these glorious Terra covers explains just why that might be so. Look at these fabulous mutated alien creatures doing battle with strong-jawed astronauts, or killer robots about to off some unlucky human, or just shudder at the slithering rapacious monsters about to devour a tasty spaceman breakfast. These are just awesome, thought-inspiring mini-masterpieces that made Earth seem pretty safe at a time when it could have gone up in a nuclear flash.
More awesome Terra covers, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Grindhouse Girls’ of the 50s and 60s: An eye-popping set of sexy black & white trading cards

A trading card from the ‘Grindhouse Girls’ set put out by Rigomor Press in 1992.
This set of sexed-up trading cards featuring strippers and exotic performers from the 50s and 60s was put out in 1992 by Rigomor Press who also put out a few other controversial trading card sets such as Incredible True Life Murderers in 1991 and The World’s Most Hated People in 1992.

The Grindhouse Girls set contains images of well-known adult performers such as Blaze Starr and Maria Villa who performed her exotic act with a snake. The black and white images are a fantastic throw-back to when adult performers used pasties, big hair, and kooky gimmicks to sell their sex appeal. Best of all, like many other vintage trading card sets, when you flipped the cards over you could assemble a giant puzzle—but instead of scene from Charlie’s Angels, you get to put together a picture of “Goddess of the Jungle” Naja Karamuru who was considered to be Brazil’s answer to Jayne Mansfield. Karamuru was a superstar of the burlesque scene back in the 50s and 60s and like Maria Villa, she shared her stage with a number of snakes including two pythons and a cobra. I’ve included images of all twenty cards from the set which occasionally come up for sale on auction sites like eBay if you’re interested in acquiring one for yourself. Though there isn’t any real nudity, strippers and pasties generally equal NSFW.


More ‘Grindhouse Girls’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Fierce and provocative vintage artwork & images from New York’s infamous Fiorucci store

A vintage 80s ad for Italian fashion brand, Fiorucci featuring Divine. Art by Richard Bernstein

“Went to Fiorucci and it’s so much fun there. It’s everything I’ve always wanted, all plastic.”

—Andy Warhol diary entry for December 21, 1983

Although Fiorucci was a global brand, it was the NYC store where Elio Fiorucci’s visionary day-glo retailing vision was best realized. Everyone from Jackie O to Andy Warhol spent time hanging out and shopping at Fiorucci—a glammy New York store that was fondly referred to as the “daytime Studio 54.” From the late 70s and most of the 80s the clothing brand founded by Elio Fiorucci in Milan was a fashion trendsetter and can be credited with many looks that defined the era. Like primary colors and “neon” fabrics, form-fitting “stretch” denim jeans and the accessories that were worn by a young Madonna, thanks to Fiorucci’s art director, jewelry designer Maripol who styled her iconic look. (Ms. Ciccone even performed at the store’s 1983 anniversary party). Maripol also dressed the likes of Grace Jones and another New York fashion icon, Debbie Harry. Keith Haring would draw on the walls. Kenny Scharf did his first art show there. Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine had office space in the store for a while, too, and it was pretty difficult to turn up at the store—across from Bloomingdale’s flagship on 59th and Lexington Ave—and not see someone incredibly famous.

Madonna and her dancers
And since this is New York we’re talking about, one of the store’s most popular employees (he was the manager) flamboyant performance artist Joey Arias appeared with David Bowie and Klaus Nomi on what would become one of the most infamous episodes of Saturday Night Live on December 15th, 1979. Because everybody was somebody in New York back then. Fashion designer Betsey Johnson

I was recently made aware of the fact that earlier this month high-end UK retailer Selfridges debuted a pop-up shop where you could actually purchase items from Fiorucci’s classic clothing catalog. Everything from the brand’s famous denimwear to an accessory I have been obsessed with since I was skating around the roller rink to Sister Sledge (who sang about the store), Fiorucci patches. Selfridges even provided a service where you could have a vintage patch, which were created in 1984, affixed to the item of your choosing. If you missed that, like I sadly did, the store is now carrying a number of new Fiorucci items including some cool, vibrantly colored t-shirts with the brand’s neon, zig-zagging logo on the front. Below I’ve posted an array of images from Fiorucci ad campaigns, marketing posters as well as a few of the vintage patches sold at the Selfridges’ pop-up store.

Sunglasses are encouraged to protect your eyes. Some are NSFW.

The famous Fiorucci logo

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
In heaven, everything is funky fresh: David Lynch’s dance mix of the ‘Eraserhead’ soundtrack
09:05 am


David Lynch

People used to approach me about my Eraserhead T-shirt in the nineties; I suppose that was part of the reason for owning an Eraserhead T-shirt. A staggering percentage of them were men in record stores who wanted to tell me about drug experiences they’d had with the Eraserhead soundtrack in college (short version: “It was like AAAAAAHHHH!!!”), drug experiences they’d induced in a tripping roommate with the album’s aid, or some variation on this theme. No one had a word to say about whooshing, hissing, or gushing, much less about Fats Waller, Peter Ivers, or Alan R. Splet. I came to understand that, if there were others like me who listened to the record for pleasure, they were not the gregarious sort of people who strike up conversations with strangers in record stores.

Around the millennium, Lynch and sound engineer John Neff worked on a number of projects together, one of which was their band BlueBOB (whose “Thank You, Judge” was an example of high-quality streaming video at the time). Another was a “restored” CD of the Eraserhead soundtrack released on Lynch’s Absurda label in 2001. “Eraserhead Soundtrack cleaned with Waves Restoration-X Plugins for ProTools treated with the Aphex 204 Aural Exciter,” the liner notes explained.

Listen after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
She’s the other funky drummer (and every woman, too): Chaka Khan in the 1970s
02:01 pm


Chaka Khan

A young, fierce-looking Chaka Khan behind the drum kit for Rufus back in the early 1970s.
Unless a significant generation gap presented itself, I would find it hard to trust someone who was not familiar with the “Queen of Funk” Chaka Khan. Likewise, I’d probably have trouble hanging out with someone that actually didn’t at least enjoy grooving to a few songs from Chaka’s vast body of work. I mean, saying you don’t dig Chaka Khan is pretty much the same thing as hating on Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner or Donna Summer. And you don’t want to be that guy, do you, dummy?

Born Yvette Marie Stevens, Chaka came into the world in 1953, a few years before the Chicago music scene exploded once again in the 60s and 70s. Meaning that she was old enough to properly bear witness to the baffling number of musical acts making things happen then. I’m talking the Staple Singers, the Chi-lites, Minnie Ripperton and Earth, Wind & Fire. And this is just a small sampling of the kind of musical genius that surrounded the soon-to-be-funky-as-hell singer during her most formative years. At the age of eleven, Khan (who was still going by her birth name Yvette Stevens) was already performing with her first band, the Crystalettes along with her sister Yvonne. As she entered her teen years Chaka was exposed to the messages and activism of the Black Panther Party and at the age of fourteen, she became a part of the radical political organization. It would be during her time with the Panthers that she would acquire her new name Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi. She became deeply involved in working with underprivileged youth in Chicago. Chaka soon dropped out of school and embarked on what would be a long musical career that continues to this day.

The “curve-some” Chaka Khan in action with Rufus back in the 1970s.
When she was discovered by members of Chicago band Rufus singing in a local club in 1972, Chaka was nineteen and already divorced from her first husband Hassan Khan whose last name she decided to keep. The timing was perfect as Rufus would sign on with ABC Records in 1973 with the enchanting powerhouse that is Chaka Khan at the helm. Her partnership with Rufus would prove to be hugely successful and the band would produce six gold and platinum records over the course of four short years. And that was just a start for Chaka as her solo career would arguably eclipse her time with Rufus starting with a song that propelled her debut record into the funky stratosphere (and one that everybody knows at least seven words to), “I’m Every Woman.” Here’s the thing, I’m only really able to scratch the surface of Khan’s compelling and complicated life here today, so I’ll leave you with my final thoughts as to why we should all have the love for Chaka Khan.

In 1984 Khan got the idea to cover a song from Prince’s self-titled 1979 album called “I Feel For You.” Highly influential producer Arif Mardin was able to secure the services of both Stevie Wonder to play the harmonica on the single, and hip-hop god Grandmaster Melle Mel to provide opposing vocals to Chaka’s. While Prince never released the song as single, it was a goddamn smash for Khan and the album as a whole has stood the test of time. By the way, as mentioned in the title of this post, Khan has always been a pretty great drummer, so I posted a short vintage video of Chaka behind her kit below. I’ve also included a number of images of Chaka Khan in action, as well as videos of Khan working her magic with Rufus live back in the day. Bow to the Queen of Funk, baby.


More after the jump…

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Spoonful: ‘Hot Thoughts’ is the greatest of Spoon’s many great albums
11:58 am



The nation’s critics have duly bestowed their substantial and yet lukewarm praise on Hot Thoughts. In truth, it’s Spoon’s best and most accomplished album in what has been a staggering run starting with Telephono in 1996. The only competition for their best LP is Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but then Transference is terrific too. Conventional wisdom notwithstanding, Hot Thoughts is not the “interesting” late-period effort of established pros. No, it’s the bracing fulfillment of promises made as far back as that first album.

In the past few years Britt Daniel has had the artistic integrity to push himself ever deeper into adventurous climes, and the result has been a series of riotously propulsive and intermittently messy masterpieces that nevertheless seldom feel anything less than contemporary and wrought. Together, Daniel and Eno have been defining the state of the art of rock music for a stretch now. In the vibrancy of their textural landscapes and the density of their musical ideas, they resemble nobody as much as ... well, Kanye West comes to mind.

In case you didn’t know: I’ve followed Spoon as closely as I’ve followed any band. In 1998 I saw them play to an audience of eight in Providence in what was probably the same week that Elektra unceremoniously dumped them. In 2002 I was in the exultant Bowery Ballroom audience that, as with one voice, welcomed Britt Daniel to his rightful place among indie rock royalty after a season or three in the wilderness—a coronation that featured a bouquet of roses lofted at the stage during the sweaty second encore. In 2010 I watched a triumphant Daniel, at the cavernous arc that is Radio City Music Hall, crash up against the strict midnight curfew in a show he clearly wished would never end.

When Spoon first arrived, the obvious touchstone was Wire. The unexpected glory of Britt Daniel is that he was not content to run Texas’ most honed and enignmatic power trio. The man has evidently been inhaling Philip Glass and Brian Eno of late; in their spirit, every album sets standards that are unmistakably its own.
Bandwagoneers fond of stumbling upon Spoon’s music in automobile advertisements or Will Ferrell vehicles will insist that Spoon’s strongest period “obviously” starts with Girls Can Tell. Don’t believe it. That album and the next two merely laid an inoffensive foundation for the intrepid and great albums that begin with 2008’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. That run of releases has catapulted producer Jim Eno (who also drums) into a category of one; nobody in the landscape is producing albums with as much care and skill. (Here’s a lofty comparison: If Girls Can Tell is Spoon’s Revolver, this latest album is something like their Abbey Road/White Album, as you please.)

The Spoon albums of the last decade bear some similarities to the second half of Beck’s career, during which he has put out a lot of accomplished, resonant albums that never quite got their due, c’est la vie. But Daniel is undertaking comparable feats with no net, cutting songs off mid-phrase, generating soundtrack music for a very cerebral Charles Bronson movie of my invention. Every Spoon song sounds confident as fuck, and that’s the residue as well as the purpose of Eno’s production. The background is constantly pulsating with gusts of chord.

One doesn’t exactly go to Spoon for sincerity; Daniel’s enigmas were always unresolvable and, by the bye, vastly more fun unresolved anyway. Ever the searcher, Daniel has always absorbed his influences with unusual diligence. For years now he has assigned himself the obligation of honoring all of his influences as unremittingly as he is capable ... This year the murderer’s row consists of Coltrane, Moroder, Grandmaster Flash, John Carpenter, Kraftwerk, Bowie circa Lodger, Jim O’Rourke….. that weight can’t be easy, but well, he manages it.

It’s a fact that Hot Thoughts grows unkempt as it careens toward its beatific conclusion. The album’s first two songs, “Hot Thoughts” and “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” combine funk, atmosphere, and forward momentum as well as anything Spoon has done since “Finer Feelings” off of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The album’s hypnotic and endlessly interesting fulcrum, “Pink Up,” which carries the listener to the second needle drop, resembles a locale Yo La Tengo would’ve loved to stake out but could never quite find. Some of the late numbers overstay their welcome by a modalic cycle or two, a point that all the reviews dutifully mentioned. The criticism has no bite, however, for the simple reason that every passage on the album is so pleasurable in a pure sonic sense, and that’s a tradeoff I’ll take every time.

More Spoon after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Wild portraits of Dali, Bowie, Jimi, Jagger, Bruce Lee, Basquiat & more made from junk

A portrait of David Bowie made out of junk by Bernard Pas.
French painter, photographer, and sculptor Bernard Pras has been creating pictures out of everyday objects such as toys, wood, clothing and whatever else he happened to come across for over two decades. Many of the finished products are remarkable portraits of some of the world’s most famous faces such as David Bowie, Andy Warhol, Bruce Lee and Jack Nicholson as “Jack Torrance” from The Shining.

Pras is very discerning when it comes to the selection process for his individual pieces—and it is that thought process that helps the the dexterous artist create a sense of life in his elaborate portraits and other works comprised of objects that he perhaps collected from Goodwill bargain bins filled with doll parts, bits of clothing and even food. I’ve included a nice selection of Pras’ portraits, one of which is quite NSFW which you can see at the very end of this post.

Jack Nicholson as his character “Jack Torrance” from ‘The Shining.’

Jimi Hendrix, 2000.
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Alien’ Chestburster Plush Toy
10:49 am



A few days ago I blogged about the Alien Xenomorph egg cookie jar. I really wanted to get one but the damned things are already sold out. Boo! What I didn’t notice at the time was this freaky-looking Alien Chestburster plush toy! I would have added that with with my cookie jar post had I known about it. Apparently you people can’t get enough of your Alien swag.

  • You’ll feel like you have an actual film prop to cuddle! Ages 3 and up.
  • This Chest Burster Plush is an officially licensed 20th Century Fox 1:1 scale replica of the original nymph-stage xenomorph from Aliens. Constructed of smooth velour that matches the color of the original design, the soft plush measures 48-inches long! Inside, a wire runs from the head to the tail, allowing you to pose the Aliens Chest Burster Plush just the way you want it.
  • It can even stand up on its own! Arms, teeth, and inner jaws are all finely detailed.
  • To hug or not to hug? 1:1 scale plush replica of the original Aliens Chest Burster! Fully poseable, it can even stand up on its own! 48-inches long! To hug or not to hug, that is the question. Now you can know the pleasure of owning your very own Aliens Chest Burster… without the parasitic infestation or the resulting xenomorphic carnage!
  • Be careful when bringing to dinner. Known to make messes.

Anyway, it’s 48” long from head to tail and as gross as that scene was in Alien with the Chestburster, this toy is kind of equally cuddly and adorable.

You can get it for $29.99 here.

Below, an extended version of the classic scene:


Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Months later, Bob Dylan is STILL trolling the Nobel Committee! (Updated)
09:31 am


Bob Dylan
Nobel Prize

After last year’s surprising choice of Bob Dylan to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, some observers surely saw it coming that the prototypical trickster Dylan would largely ignore the experience and—implicitly—deny the Nobel Committee’s authority even to make such a distinction.

Initially, Dylan did not deign to mention the fact of the award in public, maintaining a silence so thorough that it tolerably irked the Nobelites: A few days after the announcement, writer and Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg referred to Dylan as “impolite and arrogant” for neglecting to utter a word on the matter. Interestingly, a few days after that Dylan positively gushed over the event, calling it “amazing, incredible” and asking “Whoever dreams about something like that?” But he soon announced that “pre-existing commitments” would force him to miss the ceremony. Patti Smith performed a Dylan classic in his stead.

Dylan never really stops touring, and 2017 is no exception. Dylan has a six-week tour of Europe coming up, and the first two shows take place in Stockholm on April 1 and 2.

According to literary omnivore Michael Orthofer, who helpfully deciphered some foreign-language reports, even though he will be a matter of blocks away from the Swedish Academy, Dylan has not made contact with the Swedish Academy in any way:

But, as the lady in charge, Sara Danius, now admits/reveals… well, they apparently haven’t been able to get him on the phone for months. So they have no idea what his plans are, or aren’t. As she says: “Vad han sedan beslutar sig för att göra är hans ensak”.

Interestingly, delivery of a lecture is practically the only demand placed on Nobel laureates, and Dylan’s apparent lack of interest could theoretically endanger his receipt of the hefty check that also comes with the Prize—Danius has indicated that failure to comply would result in nonpayment.

The prevailing theory is that Dylan is wealthy enough not to mind losing the check.

As Orthofer snarked, “This continuing humiliation train-wreck is something to behold. But I bet they all have their concert tickets…..”

Update: Much to the relief of the Swedish Academy, mere hours ago Dylan agreed to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature. Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy quoted above, commented:

The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend.

The academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel prize in literature.

The ceremony will be “small and intimate,” with no media present. Danius added, “Only Bob Dylan and members of the academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.”

Dylan will submit a taped version of his required lecture, which is not unprecedented. Much as Michael Orthofer predicted, the Swedish Academy does have a group outing planned for one of Dylan’s Stockholm performances.

It’s good that Dylan does actually have the basic politeness not to snub the Swedes as thoroughly as seemed to be the case just a few hours ago. Dangerous Minds still holds to the view that Dylan is doing the absolute minimum he can do to acknowledge the award and still collect his 8 million Swedish Krone, which is after all nearly a million dollars.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Bob Dylan raps on a Kurtis Blow album, 1986
Bob Dylan, slapstick comedy hero? It almost happened.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Trophy Wife Barbie

Like most boys of a certain generation, I had an Action Man. Action Man was the British equivalent of America’s G.I. Joe. A twelve-inch doll with movable parts, “gripping hands,” short-cropped hair, and sometimes a stubbly beard. It sounds like a sex toy. Maybe it was. Most likely not as Action Man didn’t have a dick.

I never thought of him as some kind of ideal man. Action Man may have had a ripped body, a macho scar on his cheek, and a military wardrobe the envy of every tin-pot dictator but he had no dick. Action Man was just a piece of plastic that I gave meaning by inventing various games by which to play with him. This was mainly fighting Nazi zombies, escaping Frankenstein’s laboratory, and the occasional scientific experiment like testing the law of gravity by throwing Action Man out of a bedroom window with a homemade handkerchief parachute. Action Man was just a toy that lived through my imagination until books, records and girls came along.

Annelies Hofmeyr uses her imagination to cast Barbie in various satiric images that challenge gender identity. Hofmeyr is a South African conceptual artist who operates under the name WIT MYT. This is pronounced as “vit mate” and according to Hofemyr:

WIT stems from the Afrikaans word for WHITE and MYT, a derogatory term for a domestic worker, a job usually reserved for coloured (mixed race) and black people. The same phonetic word in Dutch (the colonisers of South Africa), means girl.

Hofmeyr was born in South Africa sometime in the 1980s, the daughter of a gunsmith father and a British mother. She studied Fine Art and Graphic Design in Cape Town before beginning her peripatetic life traveling around the world due to a “combination of study debt” and South Africa’s “strained political situation.” Living in various countries, Hofmeyr studied a Contemporary Jewelry course in Melbourne, Australia. This started her career creating “Contemporary Adornment” and conceptual art.

Hofmeyr started her Trophy Wife Barbie pictures on the day of her divorce. Her first photograph featured Barbie clutching Ken’s decapitated head with the caption “Yay! My divorce went through today!” underneath. She posts her pictures on her Instagram page. Hofmeyr uses Barbie to make satirical and politically-charged comment about gender and everyday sexism. As Hofmeyr has said:

She has been judged by her appearance and now that her situation has changed (and she’s no longer a wife) she needs to find her identity outside of her label.

Prints of Trophy Wife Barbie are available at $18 a pop. See more of Hofemyr’s work here.
More Trophy Wife Barbies, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The world’s spider population could eat every human being in a year
03:17 pm



If you’re scared of spiders, don’t read this post.

Seriously, don’t read this.

The great evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane once wrote of “our Creator” that he “would appear as endowed with a passion ... for beetles ... for the simple reason that there are nearly 300,000 species of beetle known ... as compared with somewhat less than 9,000 species of birds and a little over 10,000 species of mammals.”

Well, God may like beetles, he also has an inordinate fondness for spiders, for there are very, very many of them.

A pair of biological researchers, Martin Nyffeler at the University of Basel in Switzerland and Klaus Birkhofer of Lund University in Sweden, recently published some fascinating findings involving the biomass of spiders in The Science of Nature earlier this month.

If you were to add up all the spiders in the world, they would collectively weigh 29 million tons. Nyffeler and Birkhofer attempted to measure the amount of food spiders consume in a given year. As you know, spiders subsist largely on insects, but it does happen sometimes that spiders eat lizards, birds, and even small mammals.

According to the two biologists, all of the spiders on the earth consume somewhere between 400 million and 800 million tons of prey in any 12-month period. Just in case you’re insufficiently impressed by the big numbers being thrown around, the quantity of meat and fish that humans consume every year is around 400 million tons. Therefore, it’s quite possible that the world’s spiders are eating more animal biomass than humans are.

It gets worse.

How much do you think that all human biomass weighs? According to estimates, the total weight of all human adults is 287 million tons, and even if you add in all of the children in the world, you still don’t reach 400 million tons, which is the low end of the estimate for how much spiders eat in a year.

Is there a spider in your house? Is he watching you? If so, what is he thinking about?

If spiders ever get their act together, we’re fuuuucked.
via Wonkblog

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
99 million year-old erect spider penis has been discovered
Spiders ‘tune’ their webs, just like guitar strings

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bizarre hospital images from a very strange cache of Japanese stock photos
02:25 pm


Sukima Nurse
stock photos

Japanese nurse blowing through a conch shell
There’s a website called Sukima Nurse that offers pictures of a Japanese nurse holding unusual objects in a hospital and similar locales. The pictures fall generally into the stock photo category, although with a very, very narrow focus. It’s difficult to imagine anyone having any reason to use a picture of a Japanese nurse blowing through a conch shell, but that is the very thing that makes the pictures so hilarious.

In some of the pictures there is also a male patient looking at her or (sometimes) interacting with her.

It’s some millionaire’s kinky turn-on, right? It has to be.

Japanese nurse walking through hospital with a baseball bat and glove

Japanese nurse wearing too many wristwatches
Lots more after the jump…......

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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