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‘Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead’: Growing up with National Lampoon
05:30 pm


National Lampoon

When I was a kid, along with CREEM and Crawdaddy, the National Lampoon was one of the indispensable counter culture magazines. It was simultaneously raunchy, nihilistic, intellectual, dumb and dirty. I loved it and it very often it had NAKED LADIES inside the covers. To my innocent mother’s eyes, the National Lampoon probably looked like MAD magazine. Little did she know…

Dangerous Minds readers have probably noticed our pal Michael Simmons’ occasional guest posts along with his frequent comments here. He was a consultant—and interviewee—in director Douglas Tirola’s new documentary about the Lampoon, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon opening wide today in theaters and VOD. Michael grew up Lampoon. His father was the publisher, Matty Simmons. I asked him a few questions over email.

Richard Metzger: As the son of the publisher, you obviously had a ringside seat for the rise of the National Lampoon, which was really one of the defining magazines of the 1970s. When he first told you about the new business he was starting how did you react? Did you perceive your dad as a really hip guy?

Michael Simmons: I was thrilled when he decided to publish the Lampoon — I was 15 when the Lampoon debuted in April 1970. Like many kids of bosses, I worked at “Dad’s store” after school and summers. I was already a self-defined member of “the underground” — what the media called “hippies.” I met the three Harvard guys — Doug Kenney, Henry Beard and Rob Hoffman — sometime in 1969 and immediately hit it off with Doug who was the freakiest of the three and therefore the closest to my sensibilities. 

Prior to the Lampoon, Matty had published Cheetah magazine – a slick, smart, high-quality mag that was meant to cater to freaks. It was pubbed around the same time as Rolling Stone—Cheetah went under after less than a year. So while Matty was of a different generation and cultural perspective, Cheetah had loosened him up considerably. Screaming matches about my hair length eventually ceased.

Being the boss’ son has never been the easy ride some may think. Lampoon contributor Anne Beatts claims in the documentary that her boyfriend Michael O’Donoghue quit because Matty “gave” me Anne’s desk in early 1974 – an utterly absurd fallacy. She’s been repeating this canard for 40 years. I was living in upstate New York at the time and didn’t have an office at the Lampoon. Matty was The Chairman Of The Board – not The Chairman Of Desks.

So while “The Boss’ Son” tag could be a drag, I also had adventures I otherwise wouldn’t have been privy to. When I was 19, I was company manager of The National Lampoon Show with John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, Harold Ramis, Joe Flaherty and Paul Jacobs. That was singular — to put it mildly. 

What’s “the one thing” about him that you remember the most from around that time?

Michael Simmons: Matty is often portrayed as simply “the business guy,” but it was his idea to do Lemmings, The Radio Hour, The High School Yearbook (including the infamous cover), Animal House, bringing John Hughes to Hollywood, and more. He’s the epitome of the “Idea Man.”

I like how the doc focuses on the brilliant art direction of the magazine. If you look at it year to year, issue to issue, there is an unflagging brilliance there. Michael Gross and David Kaestle were design geniuses, up there with the likes of George Lois and Milton Glaser. I feel they are unfairly neglected in the history of graphic design. Without their input it really wouldn’t have been the same thing, would it?

Michael Simmons: Michael Gross was crucial to the Lampoon’s success. As Gross and others explain in the documentary, he understood that to parody something properly, the parody had to resemble the object being satirized.

Overall, working at the early Lampoon was an extraordinary experience – the smartest, funniest, edgiest writers and artists under one roof. I’ve never experienced anything like it before and I don’t believe I ever will. The generation of the 1960s and ‘70s has been called the most educated. In addition to tits and ass jokes, there were literary references that most young people of The Twenty-Worst Century simply wouldn’t get – text messages having replaced Yeats and Shakespeare. 

Any good Michael O’Donoghue stories you’ve heard that have never made it into print or the documentary?

Michael Simmons: I could write a book filled with O’D anecdotes – “colorful” is an understatement. Underneath the rage that animated much of his work was a deep soulfulness. But his temper is correctly recalled as epic. I was his assistant for a couple of years – an interesting gig for a teenager. I had a desk outside his office from which I would do his bidding. One day I heard him telephoning the Columbia Record & Tape Club. Apparently they’d sent him the wrong records. He began screaming and threatened to send them 40 tons of bricks COD – cash on delivery – and listed a slew of other acts of vicious revenge. This escalated to the point that several staffers gathered around Michael’s office. After he slammed the phone down, he peeked out the door of his office with a devilish grin on his face, knowing that this impromptu performance art was partly for our benefit. We applauded.

I brought Michael and Anne to Max’s Kansas City to see this new comic I’d flipped over — Martin Mull. That precipitated several very liquid lunches on the Lampoon dime with O’D and Mull at full throttle. It’s rare that I have that kind of fun these days!

You were in some of the “Foto Funnies,” weren’t you?

Michael Simmons: I was and you can glimpse a young me on the left at 1:43 in a Foto Funny from the early ‘70s seen in the Lampoon documentary trailer.

When I became an editor in 1984, like previous editors I’d write Foto Funnies designed to include myself – one way of guaranteeing the company of naked models.

One of the other exaggerations told about the Lampoon is that it became a skin magazine in the 1980s. It was always a skin magazine to some degree. This increased our popularity among young men as actor Kevin Bacon points out in the documentary. Our circulation jumped when a scantily clad, attractive young woman was on the cover, so it was largely a business decision. We’ve been criticized for overdoing the under-dressed dames by a handful of bitter former employees, but they enjoyed getting a paycheck – so fuck ‘em.

How did Animal House change things in the National Lampoon orbit?

Michael Simmons: Hollywood—and Saturday Night Live – began waving money and many of our best scribes defected to the Hollywood Hills and Rockefeller Center. We became a victim of our own success.

Who owns the National Lampoon trademark today?

It’s a corporation owned by the stockholders. Two guys named Jerry Daigle and Alan Donnes currently run it.

A friend of mine (Jesse Merlin) was in the most recent Lampoon stage show a few years back and he said that he thought Matty was a really good, very dynamic and energetic producer. Is he still at it?

Michael Simmons: He is indeed still at it. My father amazes me. He’s still writing and just wrote the cover story for Reader’s Digest which my brother edits. I hope I have his energy when I’m his age.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Keith Haring tequila bottles
01:43 pm


Keith Haring

For the last 7 years 1800 Tequila has released a series of tequila bottles done up in the style of well-known recent artists. The project is called 1800’s “Essential Series.” In the past, their bottles have featured the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gary Baseman, Tara McPherson, Shepard Fairey, and Ian McGillivray, among many others.

This year 1800 selected Keith Haring for a spiffy set of 6 tequila bottles that look mighty handsome.

Each bottle costs $34.99 at a reputable online liquor purveyor.


Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘All Things Under Heaven’: Listen to the blistering evil of the new album from The Icarus Line
12:41 pm


Joe Coleman
The Icarus Line
Joe Cardamone

There is a blistering, hypnotic, exciting new album by The Icarus Line titled All Things Under Heaven that drops today. In fact, it’s dropping right into your lap, right here, right now if you are willing to just hit play.

All Things Under Heaven is a ferocious beast. Pulverizing. Intense. A snarling motherfucker of an album. I just just finished listening to it and it’s a real headfuck. (Alternately, it’s like having your head smashed against the sidewalk repeatedly, but I mean that only in the best possible way. I’m already going back for more of this punishment)

Last night, Icarus Line mainman Joe Cardamone sent out the following missive announcing the release of All Things to the faithful:

My People

It’s Christmas eve for everyone who gives a fuck about The Icarus Line. Tomorrow All Things Under Heaven will be released into the wild.  The savage hordes can rip it to shreds and devour the carcass. I don’t need to get into the details here but it was a long few years leading up to this release.  We had to endure some of the most trying circumstances even set in front of us, and that my friends is saying a lot.  I am positive all of these moments are captured in this document that we have made.  There was no better way of explaining it, so the record had to be made.  When it was done being recorded I knew that we could have gone no further, not at that moment. Everything was left there on the tape. I hardly look back on these records we make.  It’s not my record to experience any longer, making it was enough.  Now it’s offered to you.

You will have a chance to stream the album in its entirety courtesy of the great folks at Dangerous Minds. They will have it streaming for some period of time then it will shut off.  I do want to raise this notion though; if you think it’s a compelling ride, buy yourself a copy. Buy a hard copy.  All Things is made to be experienced in full, much like a film. It will hardly make any sense if you skip through or listen in the style that we are quickly being programmed to do. The fidelity of a stream will somewhat cut you off from the contents and you will have robbed yourself of a total immersion.  If you have a long drive to do, this is made for that.  Try replacing the meal that a film was supposed to fill. Having a full definition CD or LP will offer you a window into some real shit.  This document is walking into hospitals and watching people fall away from light.  It’s also heavily propelled by unconditional love for the subjects that offered its muse. Nothing is an accident but yet it all seems like one big accident. Important things get by us every day. All Things Under Heaven is a pure cut. If you have had the itch now is the time to scratch it.  This will be an exercise in burning the past. Tell the world around you and do not miss out. 

Tomorrow we give you the whole heart, the real shit, new old language,  the stuff that’s bent back into shape.  See you all very soon.

Note the part about listening to All Things Under Heaven during a road trip. I’d say don’t put it on until the wee hours. Wait until about 2am and then let this demon posses you.

I asked Joe Cardamone a few questions via email this morning:

Richard Metzger: Most artists are starting to orient their careers more to the single, whereas this is a two-record longplayer. What sort of journey is the listener in store for?

Joe Cardamone: The listener is in store for something more akin a film in spirit. Although there are some near bite-sized scenes on this LP, most of it was conjured in the moment that it was recorded. In that sense we didn’t have a hell of lot of control over how long some of the pieces would be. We just rattled the room until shit was happening.

Where does your lyrical subject matter come from?

Joe Cardamone: My high school best friend who ended up on meth and in the mental ward. My man’s best friend who died on me. Another best friend from back in the day who started running hard on dope and threw it all away. He gave me all his belongings one day, because he knew he might die soon and he wanted his shit to be in safe hands. Basically just the people I came up with who would have never had anything written about them if I didn’t write about them. That and the war of good vs evil that is raging in the world right now. Seems to be a battle for the soul of the planet.

Speaking of a burnt past, a few weeks ago my old buddy Travis Keller and I did a lengthy conversation about the road leading to this very moment. I haven’t heard it but people say it’s a good listen.

The great heroic painter Joe Coleman is on the record. How did that come about?

Joe Cardamone: I have been a fan of Joe for some years and I had always loved that speech. While making this record that speech kept playing in the lounge at the studio, I think dvd was stuck in the player. My friend Asia Argento showed up one day to hear the progress of this very album and I knew Joe had drawn a portrait of her. I asked her if she knew him and she did, very well.  Asia put me in touch with Joe and I went to visit him in NY to ask for permission on the clip. When I met Joe at his place in NY he was gracious and we got along like gangbusters. By the end of the night he was down to let the clip be part of the album. I am honored.

What are you doing to promote the record?

Joe Cardamone: We are holding a ceremony to celebrate the release this Friday here in our home of Los Angeles. Everyone is invited but it will be especially holy to have those who have had some little hand in its creation at hand. You may not even know that you are on the record, but if you think you might be, then you probably are. I write about the folks that I know because no one else is writing about them and because the lives they lead amaze me at every turn.  We will broadcast the full LP at some point in the evening and let it soak up the air. Endurance time and party time. And we’re touring.
Listen to ‘All Things Under Heaven’ after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The original sketches for Parliament’s famous Mothership stage element
08:54 am


George Clinton
Jules Fisher

As Chris Richards of the Washington Post once wrote, Parliament’s Mothership stage element “might be the most awe-inspiring stage prop in the history of American music.”

The Mothership made its first appearance on the cover of Parliament’s 1975 album Mothership Connection, although the stage element didn’t much resemble the UFO object on the album cover, as you can see.

On WNYC’s show “Soundcheck” recently, Clinton reminisced about the Mothership:

When I told him [Dave Kapralik] after we got the hit record, you don’t get paid for records in the tail end anyway but you can get help with promotion. I said, “buy me this spaceship,” and I didn’t have to finish the sentence. He went and got me a loan from the bank for a million dollars. Jules Fisher built the spaceship, did all the costuming. I told him we wanted to be able to land it on the stage…It was a funk opera.

We landed the spaceship at five o’clock in the morning right in Times Square, right in front of the Coca Cola sign. With no permit in ‘77. The only person who came out was Murray the K, the DJ. He was ripped, he was drunk. He said, “Dr. Funkenstein, welcome to planet Earth. I am Murray the K, the fifth Beatle.” It transported us for 10 years all the way up to “Atomic Dog.”

Jules Fisher had been David Bowie’s tour producer and was also responsible for the stage concept for the Rolling Stones’ 1975 tour. He designed the Mothership, which was 20 feet in diameter. His designs for the Mothership currently reside at the Rock Hall’s Library and Archives, which is located at the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts on Cuyahoga Community College’s Metropolitan Campus in Cleveland, Ohio. Fisher graciously agreed to grant Dangerous Minds permission to reproduce these original sketches for the Mothership.

The first appearance of the Mothership was in New Orleans on October 27, 1976—but they made a basic mistake by using it at the start of the show instead of in its natural spot as a show-ender. Nothing could follow the Mothership. They soon made the necessary adjustments. The Mothership’s lifespan as a stage element lasted five years, with its last appearance occurring at the last Parliament-Funkadelic show in Detroit in 1981. (According to this listing of P-Funk concerts, at a 1981 gig in Washington, George Clinton emerged from the Mothership naked! Can anyone confirm this?)

Click on any of the images for a larger view.


More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sesame Street ‘original 69 monster’ T-shirt fail
08:44 am


Sesame Street
Cookie Monster

This T-shirt featuring Cookie Monster is commemorating the birth of Sesame Street in 1969.

But something is a little bit off about this.

This had to have been intentional, right? Right?

I know none of our readers need this fail explained. Quite simply, your humble Dangerous Minds correspondent is a giggling 12-year-old boy.

The shirt is available as part of a package of Sesame Street commemorative shirts being sold through Amazon.

H/T: Marc Masters

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘The Maxipad Bandit’: Man robs auto-parts store; wears maxi pads as a disguise
08:43 am


Maxipad Bandit

This is like something straight out of Gotham! (Okay, no, not really.) Apparently there was a “Maxipad [sic] Bandit” on the loose for several days earlier this week in Apple Valley, California.

A gentleman, by the name of Gary Victor aka “The Maxipad Bandit,” used sanitary napkins to conceal his identity while very publicly robbing an auto-parts store.

Because the video was so clear — and because police say they’ve dealt with the suspect before — he was tracked down and arrested this morning. He’s been identified as Gary Victor, 51. Police believe he was under the influence of something.

“We had a pretty good picture of his face cause he came to the store the first time and looked in the window without his maxipad on,” Wedell said, chuckling somewhat. “But when he came back and he had the maxipad over his eyes I guess he thought it was going to take care of everything.

Today I learned maxi pads do not do a very good job of concealing one’s identity. If only he would have used some tampons instead?


via Arbroath

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Sweet old-school pins featuring PiL, DEVO, Iggy Pop (and MORE!) from 70s and 80s
07:56 am


Elvis Costello
vintage pins

Vintage 70s Devo flicker/flasher pin
Vintage 70s DEVO flicker/flasher pin
Of the many random things I remember about my youth, one of them was the excitement of visiting the merch table at a live show. Honestly, I’ve never really grown out of that pursuit, and seldom leave a gig empty-handed.

Like a lot of 70s and 80s kids, I was a HUGE fan of covering my trashy Levis or Baracuta jacket with badges, pins and patches. So I nearly lost my mind when I happened upon the vintage 70s DEVO “Flicker” pin (sometimes called a ” flasher” pin), above.
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Nixon campaign flicker/flasher pin, late 1960s
Flicker pins were big during the 60s - for instance, politicians running for office used flicker pins (see our pal, Tricky Dick above) to display not only an image of themselves, but also their message. Because when you tilt the pin, the image changes. So naturally, curiosity got the better of me and off I went in search of pins and badges from 40 years ago. Because, why not? And my search unearthed some pretty cool and fairly rare old-school swag.
Elvis Costello vintage mirror badge, 70s
Elvis Costello mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop New Values  mirror badge style tour pin, 1979
In addition to the flicker pins, mirror badges were sort of like the crowning jewel when it came to pins (much like the enamel “clubman” style pins you probably remember ogling at Tower Records, or Spencer’s Gifts at the mall that put a giant hole in your clothes). Mirror badges were usually large and actually had a piece of glass placed on top of the image which made them rather heavy.

Vintage mirror badges are really hard to come by these days and believe it or not, sell for a good bit of cash. As do any vintage flicker pins or promotional buttons/badges/pins that were sold at live shows. Would you pay $54 bucks for a vintage 70s promotional flicker pin that was sold at a performance Alice Cooper did in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel when he recorded his 1977 live album The Alice Cooper Show?
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
Alice Cooper 1977 promotional flicker/flasher pin
I know I’m not alone when I say, yes. Yes, I probably would. In case that seventeen-year-old kid inside you just said yes, too, pretty much everything in this post is out there somewhere for sale. Tons of images follow. I also included some vintage enamel clubman pins because I couldn’t help myself.
Public Image mirror badge, early 80s
Public Image mirror badge, late 70s, early 80s
Lene Lovich mirror badge, 80s
Lene Lovich mirror badge, 80s
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Joy Division: The Documentary
07:12 am


Joy Division
Ian Curtis

It hardly seems like thirty-five years since Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide and brought to an end one of the most promising bands since The Beatles. Though perhaps not unexpected, Curtis’ suicide came at a crucial moment for Joy Division on the eve of a major US tour. Guitarist Bernard Sumner later said that if Curtis had decided on killing himself, then there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent him from doing so. Indeed, Curtis often confided in his wife Deborah that he had no desire to live past his twenties. It was a romantic notion of the artist as tortured poet. Deborah thought Ian was just going through a phase that he would eventually grow out of. However, when she discovered some of Ian’s early teenage poems she understood that the singer was darkly troubled.

As TV presenter and record company supremo Tony Wilson once remarked, punk rock said “Fuck off,” Joy Division said, “We’re fucked.” The idea of being fucked came in part from Curtis’ own sense of alienation and the environment in which he, and his fellow bandmates Sumner, Peter Hook (bass) and Stephen Morris (drums) grew up—a dilapidated industrial wasteland being slowly bulldozed to make way for high rise buildings and shopping centers.
This was Britain in the seventies: a twice bankrupted country, deprived inner cities with no amenities, where buildings were collapsing, services defunct, unemployment and poverty rife. This is all too easy to list, but take one example of what conditions were like—this was a country where a vast number of homes did not have indoor toilets. The demand for change was not just inspired by a sense of political or social justice but by the arrival of American television programs—detective shows like Cannon, Columbo, Ironside, and kids shows like The Monkees and even The Banana Splits—which presented an alternate technicolor world where people had spacious apartments with central heating, air conditioning, hot and cold running water, matching curtains, scatter cushions and an affluent lifestyle. Joy Division’s hometown of Manchester—like Glasgow or Newcastle or Liverpool or Leeds or Birmingham—was Dickensian in comparison, and the lack of shared communal, creative experiences led many to focus inwards.

When punk arrived in the form of a Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester in 1976, Curtis and co. saw a way out. Joy Division: The Documentary tells the story of Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris from their beginnings as a punk-inspired band Warsaw to recording their seminal and generation defining records Unknown Pleasures and Closer. It’s a story of how lasting success is created by the disparate involvement of managers, producers, designers, club owners, friends, but most importantly talent.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Watch ‘Slade in Flame,’ ‘the ‘Citizen Kane’ of British pop movies’
06:34 am



Slade in Flame (a/k/a Flame) is a lot of fun—duh, it’s got Slade playing in it—but it’s also the only rock movie I know of that shows how desperately sad and awful show business can be. Set in the ‘60s, the movie starts out in the dingy, Broadway Danny Rose world of small-time entertainers: the cramped offices of talent agents who book jugglers and rock bands alike into bingo halls, wedding tents and bars. From there, Slade’s alter egos, Flame, climb to the top, but I wouldn’t say things get better for them.

Andrew Birkin (brother of Jane) based his screenplay on road stories he heard from Slade and their manager and producer Chas Chandler, who had a story or two to tell, having played bass in the Animals and managed Jimi Hendrix. Slade wanted Birkin and director Richard Loncraine to put the harsh reality of the rock biz onscreen, as Noddy Holder explained in a 2002 interview about the movie (embedded below):

When we read [the treatment], we liked the story, the basic idea of the story, but it wasn’t true to life of what a band’s all about. Unless you’ve been in a band, [screenwriters] tend to write about the myth of rock ‘n’ roll, not the reality of rock ‘n’ roll, and we wanted to show what rock ‘n’ roll was really like behind the scenes, not what the fantasy out front is, y’know, that everybody sees, the glitz and glamour and the parties and all that—we wanted to show the other side of the business.

Though the soundtrack and book were enormously successful in the UK, drummer Don Powell’s book, Look Wot I Dun, reports that Slade didn’t see any profits from the movie itself. However, Slade in Flame has consistently appeared in best-of lists since its release, and critic Mark Kermode has called it “the Citizen Kane of British pop movies.”

Watch it here before it gets yanked!

After the jump, a nearly hour-long interview with Noddy Holder that was an extra on the 2004 DVD of ‘Slade in Flame’...

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Jeb Bush quotes said in a Kim Kardashian-style voice reveal the inner eye roll within
02:40 pm


Jeb Bush

Much has been made of the recessive and reactive—and borderline petulant—campaigning style of Jeb Bush, son and brother of the last two Republican presidents. The Bush name ought to be mud right about now—even if GWB’s wretched tenure served to make his dad’s performance on the job seem a lot less miserable than it seemed at the time.

The website Death and Taxes has taken to publishing somewhat prickly recent quotations from Jeb as read aloud in a “millennial” tone of voice—lots of question-mark-style upswings? At the end of most of the sentences?—and with the trademark speech inflection of the generation known as “vocal fry,” which comes about when you elongate a vowel sound and needlessly inject the back of your throat into the action, as in these canonical examples. (The term “vocal fry” apparently derives from a 2011 article in Science; it seems that it is mostly something younger women do and that it is a trend started by none other than Kim Kardashian.)

The actual reader of the quotes is Death and Taxes writer Jamie Peck.

I suspect that old Jeb will somehow pull off this stupid race for the GOP nomination, but boy, he’s making it look pretty unlikely right about now…..

Jeb-Bush-as-whiny-millennial, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Dangerous Finds: EVERYTHING recorded by Dylan in 1965 & 1966; Jeb sucks; Ready for a New New Deal?
02:18 pm

Current Events

Dangerous Finds

Bob Dylan Bootleg Vol. 12: Every take recorded by Dylan in 1965 and 1966 – the motherlode for every Dylan fan – to be released in November: 6-disc set premieres unreleased studio recordings – including never-before-heard songs, outtakes, rehearsal tracks, and alternate versions – from the Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde sessions. (MOJO)

David Cronenberg Passed on True Detective Season Two Because ‘the Script Was Bad’: The poor, maligned runt that is True Detective season two just keeps getting kicked around. (Vulture)

Is it Time for a New New Deal?: Our economy is broken. Could a universal basic income, child allowances, and worker-owned cooperatives fix it? Well, none of these things would hurt the general population, would they? (The Nation)

Jeb Bush Defends Racist Name of Football Team Whose Owner Backed Him With Big Bucks: “It’s a sport, for crying out loud,” Bush said. “It’s a football team. Washington has a huge fan base—I’m missing something here, I guess.” Like the fact that Redskins owner Dan Snyder gave you $100,000 recently? You mean, like that? (Mother Jones)

HP Employees Won’t Give Carly Fiorina a Dime: Out of the thousands of people she worked with, why are only two giving Fiorina a reportable amount of cash? I suspect it might have something to do with her being an incompetent CEO, as well as an evil and shitty person. That’s just one man’s take on it, not that Fiorina is a subject exactly dripping with nuance. She just sucks no matter how you slice it. (The Daily Beast)

Bernie Sanders, Not Hillary Clinton, Deserves Union Endorsements: And it’s not like she’s exactly unworthy of union endorsements, not at all, it’s that Bernie is simply more deserving of that support. (Huffington Post)

Senate Dems call on Boehner to disband Benghazi panel: The jig is up on this. Come the fuck on. (The Hill)

Sanders Takes to Senate Floor, Condemns Price Gouging by Drug Companies: Comparing drug prices in the United States to those in other countries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today condemned pharmaceutical companies that charge American consumers the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. “It is unacceptable that the top three pharmaceutical companies made a combined $45 billion in profits last year and spent more on sales and marketing than they did on research and development,” Sanders said in a speech on the floor of the Senate. “The United States is the only major country on earth that does not in one form or another regulate prescription drug prices and the results have been an unmitigated disaster.” (Bernie

Oregon becomes third U.S. state to allow recreational marijuana sales: Marijuana sales for recreational use began in Oregon on Thursday as it joined Washington state and Colorado in allowing the sale of a drug that remains illegal under U.S. federal law. Come on O-high-O! (Reuters)

“If I win, they’re going back”: Why Donald Trump’s threat to refugees is the key to his campaign: Now that “the Donald” has turned his sights from immigrants to refugees, we can see his warped vision of America. (Salon)

Muslim man beaten to death over rumours he had eaten beef in India: Mohammad Akhlaq was attacked by around 100 people and despite being taken to hospital, police said “his life could not be saved.” (Telegraph)

Conservatives push to ‘Fire McCarthy’ before he takes speaker’s gavel: If I didn’t already loathe California Representative Kevin McCarthy, I’d almost feel sorry for him. (On Politics)

Psychologist blinds woman with drain cleaner - because she wanted to be disabled: Not the feel good story of 2015. Or any other year. (The Mirror)

Hurricane Joaquin spawns storm memes in face of uncertain path: Making light of a dark situation. (PopSci)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Toke up for the Mystery Tour: Wu-Tang meet the Beatles
10:51 am


Wu Tang

When Danger Mouse released The Grey Album, his notorious—and quite illegal—mashup of Beatles tunes and Jay-Z’s a cappella wordplay in 2004, EMI Records immediately issued a cease and desist order. The album became a bit of a cause célèbre, with the “information wants to be free” types providing download links and seeding torrent files all over the Internet. Take that, evil EMI!

Cut to today and the mashups genre has a pretty well-established presence on the Web and, well… yawn. Who cares, right? Most mashups are clunky ear-bleeders, better read about than actually listened to, the main joke being, “Hey, I remixed Patsy Cline with Black Sabbath” or “Hey I mixed Glen Campbell with Sunn O)))!” or whatever zany thing those crazy kids on the Internet will think of next. Amusing? Kinda of, in a very last decade sort of way, but do you actually want to listen to it?

But sometimes—not often—something wonderful happens when two great tastes that shouldn’t necessarily taste great together get mashed up anyway.  In 2010, an Englishman named Tom Caruana decided to take some Wu-Tang raps and painstakingly construct a new song using Beatles samples on his Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers project. And what’s even more surprising than his flagrant flaunting of EMI’s copyrights is that the resultant mashups are really good! If Wu-Tang’s resident geniuses ever decided to delve deep into the Beatles catalog instead of soul obscurities for inspiration, this is the album they might have come up with. While most mashups sound like horrible musical Frankenstein monsters created in Pro Tools, this one sounds less like a mashup and more like an actual Wu-Tang record that uses Beatles samples. You can hear the Beatles, clearly, in the mixes (as well as Beatles songs covered by orchestras and “easy listening” combos) but it’s more covert than overt in this case.

Listen to Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers via the Tea Sea Records website. The enterprising Caruana has also bumped Wu-Tang into Jimi Hendrix for Black Gold.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
After Voter ID law—SURPRISE—Alabama closes DMV offices exactly where most black people live!
09:39 am



You remember in high school history, when the teacher brought up the old, bad days of Jim Crow? With tales of poll taxes and literacy tests to ensure that access to the ballot remained exclusive to white people?

We like to think that those days are gone, that the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s remedied the worst abuses of systematic white racism. After all, the current occupant of the White House is a descendant of Kenyans. It has to be better.


Well, no.

Those days aren’t gone. They aren’t gone at all.

Most readers are aware that the Republican Party, given to using to a race-baiting rhetoric of resentment that alienates many of the demographic categories required to gain office in many jurisdictions, has adopted a bullshit agenda to fix the scarcely existent problem of “voter fraud” to justify restrictions on voting that—what do you know!—just happen to benefit an electorate that is whiter, older, more affluent, etc.—in other words, more Republican. 

Since Republicans are having trouble winning elections, they are trying to reduce the voting population to the citizens that vote Republican. Nice trick, eh?

Cut to yesterday, when the website for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced that it would be closing 31 of its offices throughout the state, leaving 29 counties without a place where teenagers can take a driver’s test. (For convenience, I’ll using the term “DMV” to stand for such offices.)

As it happens, in 2011 the Alabama state legislature passed a voter ID law as described above, making it impossible to vote in Alabama without a government-issued photo ID. For most Americans, of course, the most common form of government ID—by far—is a driver’s license.

From here, Alabama journalist Kyle Whitmire picks up the thread:

Look at the list of counties now where you can’t get a driver’s license. There’s Choctaw, Sumter, Hale, Greene, Perry, Wilcox, Lowndes, Butler, Crenshaw, Macon, Bullock ...

If you had to memorize all the Alabama Counties in 9th grade, like I did—and even if you forgot most of them, like I have—you can probably guess where we’re going with this.

Depending on which counties you count as being in Alabama’s Black Belt, either twelve or fifteen Black Belt counties soon won’t have a place to get a driver’s license.

Now, I’m going to be honest with you. When I read Whitmire’s article yesterday, I instantly became skeptical. It did not look, to me, that the overlap between the Black Belt and the affected, soon-to-be-non-DMV counties was that strong. After all, if you eliminate services in 29 counties, some of the counties are going to be in the Black Belt, that’s only fair and not necessarily an indication of shenanigans. In fact, to my eye, the map of the affected counties looked like it might be a fair distribution in geographical terms to spread the inconvenience around the state equally.

But I may have underestimated how devious the planners were.

I decided to crunch the numbers, with the help of the 2010 census results for Alabama, which of course have demographic data on race associated with each county. You can find that data here

What I found was extremely concerning, if you are troubled by the rise of a new Jim Crow.

Alabama has 67 counties. Of that set, 29 of them are going to find themselves without DMV services, while 38 counties will continue to have DMV offices. If you take the 29 counties that will not have DMV services, the average percentage of black population is 35.2%. For the other 38 counties, the ones that will still have local access to a DMV office, the average black population is considerably lower, at 22.2%.

I’m going to repeat that:

29 counties without DMV: 35.2% black
38 counties with DMV: 22.2% black

It gets worse.

Of the top 10 “blackest” counties in Alabama (Bullock, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Sumter, Wilcox), fully 8 of them will no longer have a DMV. If you restrict the set to the 6 blackest counties (Bullock, Greene, Lowndes, Macon, Sumter, Wilcox), none of them—repeat, none of them—are going to have a DMV office.

Meanwhile, of the top 10 whitest counties in Alabama (Blount, Cherokee, Cleburne, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Marion, Marshall, Winston), only 4 will be deprived of a DMV office. For the more restricted set of the 5 whitest counties (Blount, Cullman, DeKalb, Marshall, Winston), only 1 will have its DMV office taken away.

As I indicated, I didn’t want to take some journalist’s word that there were electoral shenanigans going on (although in principle I was perfectly willing to believe that such things do happen, of course). But a quick look at the numbers does suggest that some nefarious things are going on with the closing of these drivers’ license agencies.

If you are the powerful interests in a state, and you cannot win elections legitimately, then you will find illegitimate ways to win elections. Such shenanigans are legion, and almost always concentrated among conservative interests. My favorite for sheer dickishness are the myriads of leaflets that get distributed in impoverished and minority-heavy locations that helpfully remind citizens “to vote this Wednesday!”—i.e. one day AFTER Election Day, or the ones in the same neighborhoods that imply that outstanding parking tickets may cause one to be ineligible to vote—which of course is nonsense.

Remember, nowadays, whenever you hear of anyone complaining about voter fraud, they’re actually trying to deprive Democratic voters and minorities and lower-income people of their right to vote. And when you hear about the closing of driver’s license offices, it’s likely that there is some connection with VoterID laws that require a driver’s license to cast a ballot.

After the jump, helpful maps and demographic data so that you can crunch the same numbers yourself!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Cheeky vintage ashtrays featuring nude ladies and racy pinup models
07:34 am



Vintage ashtray, 1950s
Back in the 40s, 50s and throughout the 60s and beyond, hotels, diners and and other establishments (especially casinos) used ashtrays as a means to advertise their business. In many cases, the middle of the ashtray contained an image or illustration of a scantily clad and sometimes nude pinup model. As it had also become more acceptable for women to smoke, ashtrays also evolved into beautiful ornate sculptures in order to appeal to female smokers.
Nude woman ashtray, 1950s
Ashtray with nude woman, 1950s
Vintage topless woman Art Nouveau style ashtray
Vintage topless woman Art Nouveau style ashtray
As I mentioned, the idea to put an image of a nude woman on an ashtray was quite the thing for a few decades, and there were a few cool designs. Such as what is often referred to as a “nodder” in the collectable world of vintage ashtrays (below). Contrary to popular belief, I’m no ashtray expert, but if I understand it correctly, nodders generally hail from Japan and were made of ceramic or porcelain. Parts of the piece are movable (as with the legs of the nodder below) and have a hollow core in which to deposit your spent butts in, but by far my favorites are the pinup novelty ashtrays that bore the names and numbers of a local divey hotel or tavern looking to attract new customers.

“Nodder” style ashtray, 1950s
If you find these kinds cheeky chachkies appealing, they are fairly easy to find on auction sites like Etsy and eBay. Some of the more rare nodders are on the spendy side running a couple of hundred dollars a pop, while the super kitschy pinup ashtrays can be had for around $20 - $50 depending on the state of undress of the illustration and its condition. NSFW images follow, but that’s part of the fun now, isn’t it?
Travel Inn Cafe, Harmony, MN pin-up ashtray
Travel Inn Cafe, Harmony, MN pin-up ashtray
Aleman's Club Rodeo, California nude pin up ashtray
Aleman’s Club Rodeo, California nude pin up ashtray
Many more nudie ashtrays after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
That time Peter Cook plugged Sparks with a hidden message on their singles

There is a well-worn myth about Peter Cook that his career went into sad, alcoholic decline after his longtime comedy partner Dudley Moore, who became a famous Hollywood star, ended. Poor old Cook supposedly spent his days pissed out his brains, counting his millions, bemoaning the loss of his once great talent while raging with jealousy over Moore’s success. Of course the truth is never quite as simple or as boring—in fact Cook rarely stopped using his talents to amuse, entertain, experiment or just fuck about for the hell of it—albeit at times on a somewhat smaller stage.

In 1979, while bringing down the house as the judge in The Secret Policeman’s Ball—where he ruthlessly lampooned the dubious summing-up in the infamous trial of Liberal politician Jeremy Thorpe for the attempted murder of his alleged lover Norman “Bunnies” Scott—and hosting the chaotic punk music TV show Revolver, Cook squeezed in time to record two improvised adverts for Sparks’ album No. 1 in Heaven. These ads were hidden on the inner grooves of the twelve inch singles for the Mael brothers’ hits “Beat the Clock” and “Tryouts for the Human Race.”
Picture discs, colored vinyl, 12-inch singles and alike were all part of the many gimmicks used to sell records in the late 1970s, and credit must be given to whoever it was that thought up the jolly wheeze of hiding a wee plug from the subversive Mr. Cook on the latest toe-tapper from Sparks—it was certainly a novel way to shift merchandise.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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