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‘My Name is New York’: NYC through the eyes of Woody Guthrie
08.01.2014
02:19 pm

Topics:
Books
History
Music

Tags:
New York
Woody Guthrie


 
For obvious reasons, it’s easy to think of the great American folksinger/songwriter Woody Guthrie as a lifelong hardscrabble dust bowl Okie, but the reality is, the man called New York City home for nearly three decades, from 1940 until his death in 1967.

Of course, that was at a time when lower Manhattan, especially Greenwich Village, was an urban bohemia, a haven and incubator for America’s artists and musicians. Those times are gone—I’m in NYC at least once a year, and every year, more and more of the Village looks like it’s been eaten by a strip mall. So it goes, but the character of what’s been lost there may be irreplaceable, as a startlingly rapid gentrification is eating into every once-affordable art enclave in that fabled city. I realize that the emergence of an arts district often heralds gentrification—I’ve long lived in such a neighborhood myself, and seen firsthand those kinds of changes, for better and worse—but from an outsider’s perspective, what’s been happening to NYC, especially the northern part of Brooklyn in the last several years, seems unusual and kind of alarming in speed and scope. So these photos of Woody Guthrie’s New York seem to me especially valuable documents. They’ll be part of a 3-disc audiobook set to be released in September, titled My Name is New York. A regular dead-trees edition, by Guthrie’s daughter Nora, has been available for a couple of years.
 

The Hotel Savoy-Plaza, 59th Street at 5th Avenue, Manhattan, at the southeast corner of Central Park. Guthrie lived here with Will Geer, an actor, activist and Communist who’d be blacklisted in the ‘50s, but would nonetheless go on to fame in the ‘70s as Grandpa on The Waltons. This is where the Apple Store is now.
 

Guthrie, rockin’ one out for the shoeshine guy.
 

Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie at Seeger’s wedding, 129 MacDougal Street, 1943. Currently an Italian restaurant, and for all I know it might have been one then, too.
 

Woody Guthrie in 1943, at McSorley’s Ale House, which still exists at 15 East 7th Street, Manhattan. Photo: Eric Schaal for Time Life. Used with permission from Getty Images. WGA.
 

31 East 21st Street, Manhattan, where Guthrie and Pete Seeger lived with sculptor Harold Ambellan in the ‘40s.
 

5 West 101st Street, Manhattan, right off Central Park West. Once Guthrie’s music started making him some money, he moved here, and sent for his wife and kids in Texas to join him. Frequent guests here included Alan Lomax, Lead Belly, Sonny Terry, and Burl Ives. The building is still there, but I’m assuming mere mortals can’t afford to live in it anymore.
 

Woody Guthrie performing in the New York City subway, 1943, a Bound for Glory publicity shot. Photo: Eric Schaal. WGA.
 

A Woody Guthrie paleo-selfie, from a subway photo booth, ca. 1945. WGA.

The audiobook set includes recorded interviews with, among others, Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bob Dylan, and totally unsurprisingly, Guthrie’s famous-in-his-own-right son, musician Arlo Guthrie. It’ll also include music, naturally, by Guthrie and others. Notably, one of the tracks is a home demo of the song that gives the package its name, “My Name Is New York.” Here are Guthrie’s typewritten lyrics, and the song itself.
 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’: Spill of poppies commemorate fallen of First World War
08.01.2014
01:29 pm

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
poetry
Wilfred Owen
World War I

11castlered.jpg
 
To commemorate the centennial of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper have produced a “staggering” installation of red ceramic poppies in the dry moat of the Tower of London.

The installation is titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” and once finished will consist of 888,246 red ceramic poppies—each one representing a British or Colonial fatality during the Great War. The red poppy is the British symbol for Remembrance Day, when the nation give homage to the war dead. Volunteers will plant ceramic flowers each day until November 11th—the day of remembrance.

Remembrance is one thing, but humanity never seems to learn from the experiences of past wars—as can be seen by current events in Gaza. If there is any real sincerity in honoring those who sacrificed their lives, then it is in the cessation of all conflict. But sadly I doubt we are ever going to see that anytime soon.

It would also have been an idea to remember not just the British and Colonial fallen, but all of the (estimated) 37 million who died in this horrendous conflict.

The poet Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918) was a hero, soldier and poet, who best summed up the horror of war with his poem “Dulce et Decorum Est,” which strikes as hard now as it did when first published in 1920.

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
.

The phrase “Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori” means “How sweet and honourable it is to die for one’s country,” and is taken from a poem by the Roman poet Horace. It was used to encourage the young into the belief it was good to die for one’s country, or fatherland. This “old lie” is still in use today.
 
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More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Soviet anti-war animation told entirely with wooden matches
08.01.2014
12:59 pm

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
Russia


 
Garry Bardin’s 1983 short “Konflikt” has the rich color and narrative intensity often associated with his work, but unlike his other stop-motion films, which use malleable materials like clay and origami paper, “Konflikt” works almost solely with a mundane, seemingly lifeless object—the wooden match. With very little in the way of a set, Bardin constructs an entire war, from segregation (the tell-tale wall), to initial conflict, to escalation, to doomsday. It’s a strange thing to be moved by a bunch of matchsticks, but somehow they’re animated into truly expressive characters.

There’s a US tendency to assume every piece of Soviet political art is somehow centered on America, but it’s difficult to argue the short as a literal depiction of the Cold War. Most obviously, the titular conflict involves a direct border dispute and open battle, something that wasn’t the context for the US and USSR. Still, the final act of warfare in the film is so violent (yet so expected), it’s difficult to ignore parallels with nuclear fears.
 

 
Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’: An eye-opening look at ‘traveling while black’ in postwar America


 
For some fascinating insights into the second half (roughly) of the pitiable era known as “Jim Crow,” the Negro Motorist Green Book is a positive trove of information. It was founded in 1936 by an African-American employee of the U.S. Postal Service named Victor H. Green, who realized that with the new availability of automobiles to a rising African-American middle class, travelers of his race increasingly required a guide to navigate the informal and treacherous logic of discrimination. The segregation of public transport made private ownership of motorcars highly attractive to the mobile African-American, and in addition there were increasing numbers of African-American athletes and entertainers who required to travel as a part of their work. George Schuyler put it well in 1930: “All Negroes who can do so purchase an automobile as soon as possible in order to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segregation and insult.”
 
Victor H. Green
Victor H. Green
 
In many parts of America white-run hotels, restaurants, and garages would refuse to serve African-Americans or fix their vehicles. Furthermore, while avoiding public transportation made sense, that did not shield African-American travelers from the ire of whites who might find an African-American with an automobile “uppity” or the like. In short, traveling around in America as an African-American was no joke (for many non-whites, it is still not a trifling matter today, however, the U.S. has seen some improvements in these areas in the last several decades). The purpose of the Green Book was to illustrate where African-Americans could safely travel and find food, entertainment (night clubs), lodging, and other services such as tailors.
 
Negros Barred
 
On the cover of the 1949 edition is a hopeful quotation from Mark Twain: “Travel Is Fatal to Prejudice.” The guide makes frequent reference to the necessarily incomplete quality of its information and repeatedly urges readers to inform hotels and restaurants about the Green Book so that the succeeding year’s information might become more complete. Here are a few lines from the introduction:
 

With the introduction of this travel guide in 1936, it has been our idea to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trips more enjoyable.

The Jewish press has long published information about places that are restricted and there are numerous publications that give the gentile whites all kinds of information. But during these long years of discrimination, before 1936 other guides have been published for the Negro, some are still published, but the majority have gone out of business for various reasons.

 
Negro Motorist Green Book
 
The guide is essentially not much more than a long list, organized by state, of businesses that will cater to African-Americans. An example from my current home city of Cleveland:
 
Cleveland Green Book
 
To read the entries for Cleveland and Staten Island and Providence, some of the places I’ve made my home, is to give these familiar landscapes an entirely new and menacing character.

The introduction ends with the following paragraph, which if you’re anything like me will tear your heart out in its simple, plaintive confidence that better days must be on the way:
 

There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.

 
The Green Book lasted until the Civil Rights era, when ambitious new legislation passed by Congress made the book all but obsolete. We are sadly not in a country where African-Americans have “equal opportunities and privileges,” but we are closer to that goal—there is no Green Book today, after all (or maybe I just don’t know about it?). Someday, perhaps, the existence of the Green Book in the mid-20th century will not be perceived as a statement of the obvious—that the United States can be a very dangerous place for African-Americans—but rather as an outlandish artifact of long-outdated hatreds.

You can download the entire 1949 edition of the Negro Motorist Green Book here.

Here is a brief documentary about the Green Book:
 

 
via Map of the Week
 
Thank you Lawrence Daniel Caswell!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Women taking photobooth ‘selfies’ from the 1900s to the 1970s (and beyond)
08.01.2014
10:21 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
photobooth
selfies

1950bpbw.jpg
 
Going to the photobooth at the local Woolworth’s was a special event, which meant getting dressed up, smoothing down hair, wearing those clothes kept for Jesus on a Sunday. This was a chance to show what you were truly like to a loved one, or a friend, or a distant relation, or maybe a blank official stamping your passport. The photobooth was a private place to show your public face, to be seen how you wanted the world to see you.

In the 1970s, I recall how a lot of teenagers spent their money crammed in photobooths taking a strip of four snaps that sealed their love or friendship, or some idealised vision of themselves. The local bus stop had a large glass covered map of the city detailing the bus routes and times. Into this glass display were slipped dozens of photobooth portraits of youngsters (looking straight at camera) wanting some kind of recognition for being alive, like a low-tech Facebook

The patent for the first photobooth machine was filed by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltimore in 1888. Apparently it was never built, and the first working model didn’t appear until French inventor T. E. Enjalbert produced one for the World Fair in Paris in 1889. This was followed by the first commercially available photobooth called the “Bosco“ and created by Conrad Bernitt in 1890.

The modern photobooth as we know it today only came into common use when Anatol Josepho arrived in New York from Russia in 1923, and established the first 25c photobooth on Broadway in 1925. The booth took ten minutes to produce eight photos, and during its first six months was used by 280,000 people.

This selection of women taking pictures, reveals how the privacy of the booth allowed people to express themselves—as can be seen in the pictures of two women sharing their love for each other, circa 1900s, when such signs of affection were not permissible.
 
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1940bpbw.jpg
 
1970apbw.jpg
 
1970bpbw.jpg
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
This 1977 David Bowie outtake sounds just like Throbbing Gristle
08.01.2014
09:25 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
David Bowie
Throbbing Gristle


 
Have a listen to this insane instrumental outtake from David Bowie’s Low which first appeared on Rykodisc’s Low CD reissue in 1991 and later on All Saints: Collected Instrumentals 1977-1999 an expanded version of a CD that Bowie gave out to friends for Christmas of 1993 (only 150 copies were produced, making it a highly sought after collectible). At the proper volume, this song can almost knock you off your feet.

Joe Stannard, writing at The Quietus describes it ably:

This track, from the Berlin recording sessions which produced Low, is almost indistinguishable from early Throbbing Gristle. Play it back-to-back with TG circa 1979 (as compiled on 1986’s CD1) and you’ll see what I mean. A gnarly squall of low-end electronic noise punctuated by sprite-like coils of treble, this track more than matches the original industrialists for uncompromisingly ugly beauty and offers a stark contrast to the far less visceral instrumental pieces which made the album’s final cut. In truth, Bowie’s decision to leave this piece off Low is understandable; it seems likely that the other tracks would have simply withered in its proximity. Bowie wouldn’t properly release anything as harsh as this until 1995’s flawed but fascinating reunion with Eno, Outside, by which time the term ‘industrial music’ meant something completely different.

Stannard’s observation about the wisdom of leaving the (I think) quite incredible “All Saints” off the track listing of Low is probably right on the money. Can you imagine what the mainstream rock press would have made of a song like this in 1977? Low was already considered to be an uncompromising and impenetrable album at the time, the inclusion of “All Saints” would have seen the critics questioning Bowie’s sanity.

And YES, it most certainly sounds just like Throbbing Gristle. I wonder if that’s an accident? In any case, if you want an amazing, vintage Bowie rarity to blow your doors off, turn this up super loud and let it wash all over you.
 

 
Bonus: Here’s another lesser-known Bowie number, recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti for “Heroes.” The original name of this brooding, almost mid-period Can meets dubstep-sounding instrumental is unknown, but the title “Abdulmajid” is a tribute to his wife Iman (it’s her maiden name). Again, you can see why he left this off the album, but it’s stunning nonetheless.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Life-size Jarvis Cocker and Judi Dench cakes, anyone?
08.01.2014
08:42 am

Topics:
Amusing
Food

Tags:
Jarvis Cocker
cakes
Judi Dench


 
To mark “Yorkshire Day” today, Yorkshire Tea created life-size cakes of Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker (who’s from Sheffield) and Judi Dench (who’s from North Yorkshire). There were other life-size cakes made of Spice Girl Mel B and Louis Tomlinson from One Direction. Sadly, there are no photos.

I was in Sheffield a few months ago and saw the premiere of Pulp’s documentary Pulp: A Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets during the Sheffield Doc/Fest. They’re proud of their local heroes there. Even the Pizza Express had paintings on the walls of Jarvis, Phil Oakey from the Human League (no mistaking that asymmetrical hairstyle for anyone else) and Richard Hawley so you could look at them while you ate.

This takes it to a whole other level, though…


 

 
via The Star and h/t Nicholas Abrahams

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Laughing gimp mask with teeth is a f*cking nightmare
08.01.2014
07:31 am

Topics:
Amusing
Animation
Art
Fashion

Tags:
Gimps
Tokyo Ghoul
cosply


 
Gimp masks don’t normally bother me, but gimp masks with smiling teeth do! Dear lord!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is a cosplay mask honoring a character from Japanese manga series Tokyo Ghoul?


 

 
via JWZ, 東京喰種 カネキマスクの作り方 その6, Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘48% Bug-eyed, unblinking, creepy staring’: Werner Herzog movies in chart form
08.01.2014
06:10 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies
Science/Tech

Tags:
Werner Herzog

Fitzcarraldo
Fitzcarraldo
 
The editorial brain trust of The Dissolve has released an amusing feature breaking down sixteen mostly early Werner Herzog movies and presenting them as bar graphs. The sixteen movies correlate to the ones selected for Herzog: The Collection, the new box set from Shout! Factory.

Herzog is so prolific that many recent favorites aren’t represented, so no Grizzly Man, no Cave of Forgotten Dreams, no Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. However, you can still learn that Aguirre, The Wrath Of God is 2% “Klaus Kinski intimidating a horse” and that Stroszek is 50% “Thinly populated corners of Wisconsin.” (Have to say, those numbers seem about right to me.) Every movie gets points for “Beauty,” “Terror,” “Madness,” “Ambition,” “Success,” and “Reality,” which is what the bar charts represent.
 
Stroszek
Stroszek
 
Nosferatu the Vampyre
Nosferatu the Vampyre
 
Woyzeck
Woyzeck
 
My Best Fiend
My Best Fiend
 
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
 
Cobra Verde
Cobra Verde
 
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
 
Catch the rest at The Dissolve.
 
via Biblioklept

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Samuel Beckett Motivational Cat Posters’
07.31.2014
02:25 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Animals
Heroes

Tags:
Samuel Beckett
cats


 
At some point, you knew this would happen, didn’t you? No one asked for it, but here it is, a Tumblr completely devoted to exploring that place in the Venn diagram that intersects the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” demographic and admirers of Irish avant garde writer Samuel Beckett.

That’s right, photos of cute cats with captions explaining their bleak and intolerable existence!


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Long-Lost Go-Go’s: Elissa and Margot


Original bass player Margot Olavarria (far left), Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock, and Belinda Carlisle

The Go-Go’s hit songs from the early ‘80s have been Disneyfied to death over the past decade, but that unfortunate fact doesn’t diminish their influence as one of the most important bands to emerge from L.A.’s early punk scene.

However, their early history was as fraught with drama as any other band from the same period and place. In fact, the cutthroat machinations prior to their mainstream success alienated many friends and fans from their punk days at the Masque.

The first lost Go-Go, founding member bass player Margot Olavarria, was “a Valley Girl with dyed day-glo hair and chola make-up whose friends called her ‘Popsicle Head.”  After seeing The Sex Pistols perform in the U.K. as a teen-ager, she returned to L.A. with the intention of starting her own band. She was introduced to drummer Elissa Bello and the two of them started the first incarnation of the band, briefly called The Misfits (no connection to Glenn Danzig’s early band in New Jersey), in 1978 with—according to Elissa—Margot choosing guitarist Jane Wiedlin and singer Belinda Carlisle. Guitarist Charlotte Caffey was added a few months later.

Later versions of how the band formed skim over the original line-up and Margot’s role entirely, even though to this day there are original L.A. punks who still earnestly describe her as the heart and soul of the band.

Elissa Bello was fired and replaced by Gina Schock in late June 1979. The band’s manager, Ginger Canzoneri, later claimed that the band “just weren’t happy with Elissa’s abilities as a drummer.” Elissa went on to play in other bands like Sexsick, Alarma!, Castration Squad, The Boneheads, Interpol, Suave Bolla, and Pasional. In an interview shortly after her firing from The Go-Go’s she said:

I was chucked out on my ass. I was dating this girl (Kari Krome of The Runaways) whose ex-girlfriend (Ginger Canzoneri) decided to become the new manager of The Go-Go’s. She just happened to know a drummer who had been playing for years and had her own truck, and great equipment, etc. Plus her father made her these great drum cases.

I never joined The Go-Go’s, as you can see. Margot and I put the band together. Although it was Margot who picked the girls. I wasn’t too happy with some of her choices, but Margot was relentless. I think she may have regretted those choices later on…

Margot lasted another year and a half.

The Go-Go’s toured the U.K. with Madness and The Specials for three months in 1980. In their absence the L.A. punk scene had shifted to hardcore and a predominance of angry white boys, but The Go-Go’s were developing more of a pop sound. Margot objected to the turn the band was taking, particularly since they had originally aspired to a sound similar to The Buzzcocks. She was increasingly estranged from the others and became ill with Hepatitis A in late December. As a result of her illness and the contagiousness of the disease, everyone else had to get shots right along with her. To make the year an even worse one for her she was also arrested for buying cocaine for someone else. X drummer D.J. Bonebrake kindly bailed her out of jail. 

While Margot was ill, the others began auditioning supposedly temporary bass players to fill in for six sold-out shows at the Whisky a Go Go. They settled on Textones guitarist Kathy Valentine, who, despite no experience as a bassist, acquired a bass and learned their songs in a few days. She fit in well with their new disarming, fun, cleaner, de-fanged style, and the three Go-Go’s decided to allow her to replace Margot permanently. The band sent their manager Ginger to break the news to Margot, since they were too cowardly to do it themselves. This decision angered and alienated many people from the early L.A. punk scene, not least of all friends of Margot’s like Exene Cervenka and Pleasant Gehman, who thought she was treated shabbily.

The Go-Go’s debut album on I.R.S., the iconic Beauty and the Beat, was released July 8, 1981, with no mention of or thanks to Margot in the liner notes. The only person credited with writing “We Got the Beat” was Charlotte Caffey. Margot had appeared on the original single version of “We Got the Beat”, recorded for Stiff Records and released in the U.K. July 27, 1980. The re-recorded album version was released as a single in the U.S. on January 16, 1982, and is the one most listeners are familiar with.

In Brendan Mullen and Marc Spitz’s book We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk Margot said:

I had no indication that it would be that successful. My mind wasn’t set on those heights. I was really pissed off. Beauty and the Beat was number one and I was squatting in an East Village apartment full of holes. I was still being recognized in the club scene as a Go-Go. That sucked, it really sucked.

Margot sued the band in 1982, but the case was settled out of court in 1984. Meanwhile she had moved to New York City, where in 1983 she joined drummer Martin Atkins’ first post-Public Image Ltd. band, Brian Brain, replacing Pete Jones on bass. Martin described Brian Brain as: “early punk/anarchic performance art meets disco madness…Brian Brain was pretty wild.” 

Martin later told Opening Bands:

I started a label called Plaid after I left PIL, and I had a band called Brian Brain, which was my self on drums and vocals, Margo from the Go-Go’s, she was the original bass-player for The Go-Go’s and she co-wrote ‘We Got the Beat;’ and this guy Jeff [Geoff Smith, Margot’s husband] on guitar. We did a four song EP, put it out on Plaid, we had a distribution deal with a company called Greenwall, they went bankrupt, with 5,000 of our EP’s and that was it.

Margot appeared on Brian Brain’s 12” singles, EP’s, and one album (Time Flies When You’re Having Toast) until Martin moved on to other projects in 1987. Still a friend of Martin’s, Margot (now a PhD), edited and contributed the essays “Roadies,” “Detained for No Reason,” and “Grrrrrrl’s Guide to the Road” to in his 2007 book Tour: Smart.

The Go-Go’s, still with Margot, in Urgh! A Music War:

The Go-Go’s live at the Whisky, 1979:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
‘Rumpole’ novelist John Mortimer defends Sex Pistols in ‘Bollocks’ trial, 1977


 
Nothing represents the Sex Pistols’ ability to push buttons as well as the choice of the word “Bollocks” to appear in the title of their first record in 1977. Unquestionably vulgar in an in-your-face way, the word was nevertheless not obviously obscene, or “indecent,” to employ the legal terminology used at the time. It was offensive enough that Her Majesty’s Government sought to suppress the display of the word in public—but not offensive enough for that position to carry the day in court. “Bollocks” clearly has some relationship to the word “Balls,” but it’s not a 1:1 relationship—it’s a little like the word “freaking” to substitute for “fucking,” but better and more vivid. Bollocks to that! “Bullshit” would be an a close synonym for American English. It’s the perfectly rude Sex Pistols word.

On Saturday, November 5, 1977, a policewoman named Julie Dawn Storey spotted the Never Mind The Bollocks display in the window of the Virgin Records store in Nottingham. She went inside, confiscated a couple of albums, and informed shop manager Christopher Seale that the appearance of the word “Bollocks” in the display violated the 1899 Indecent Advertising Act. Then she arrested him. For the couple of weeks before the trial, nobody could risk the legality of the album’s name—shop owners were forced to sell the album under the table, and a Pistols’ expensive ad campaign appeared to go to waste because no publications would dare to run it. Naturally all of this had the effect of adding to the Pistols’ reputation as the most controversial band in Britain.
 
Christopher Seale
Christopher Seale and the Sex Pistols’ immortal album art
 
On November 24, 1977, the court convened to rule on the fate of the shop owner, Christopher Seale, and Virgin Records. Defending the Sex Pistols was a fusty-looking chap who didn’t look like he belonged on the same continent as the Sex Pistols, much less the same courtroom. His name was John Mortimer, and by the time of his death at the age of 85 in 2009, his status as one of the most beloved attorneys and novelists in British history would be rock-solid.

Before the “Bollocks” trial, Mortimer’s primary claim to fame as a lawyer was his work on obscenity cases. He successfully defended the publication in Britain of Hubert Selby Jr.‘s Last Exit in Brooklyn in 1968, and three years later lost a similar case involving the scandalous Danish book The Little Red Schoolbook. In 1976, he defended Gay News editor Denis Lemon for the crime of publishing James Kirkup’s poem “The Love that Dares to Speak its Name” against charges of blasphemous libel; Lemon lost the case but it was overturned on appeal.

Although he would achieve much greater fame later, Mortimer had already been a writer of fiction for some years, which may partially explain his interest in obscenity cases. In the 1960s he had written A Voyage Round My Father, an autobiographical play about his relationship with his blind father (also a barrister)—it was later made into a TV movie with Laurence Olivier and Alan Bates. With his wife, Mortimer also wrote the script for Otto Preminger’s 1965 movie Bunny Lake Is Missing. In 1975 Mortimer began his lengthy series of bestselling comic novels revolving around Horace Rumpole.

In 1978, just a year after the Pistols trial, Thames Television launched Rumpole of the Bailey, its immensely popular series about a rumpled—if you will—and principled barrister who defends his clients against the weight of the Crown with everything he’s got. Rumpole was portrayed by Leo McKern, who became synonymous with the role—although DM readers might know him better as the heavy in the Beatles movie Help!.
 
Mortimer and McKern
Mortimer and McKern, in costume as Rumpole
 
As odd a fit as it may seem, Mortimer obviously had impeccable bona fides on free speech cases, which in fact made him a perfect choice to defend the Sex Pistols in court. The website 20thcpunkarchives describes Mortimer’s strategy:
 

John Mortimer raised the question of why Seale was prosecuted for displaying the sleeve while the newspapers that used the same image as an illustration were not. Mortimer continued to outline the history of the term “Bollocks” tracing it back to roots in the Middle Ages. Mortimer continued by bringing in a Professor Kingsley, head of English Studies at local Nottingham University. Kingsley told the court that the term had been used from the year 1,000 to describe a small ball (or things of a similar shape) and that it has appeared in Medieval Bibles, veterinary books and literature through the ages. He also revealed (not surprisingly) that it also served as part of place names throughout the UK. Eyebrows were raised when Kingsley said that the term had been used to describe the clergy of the previous century. In that connotation it was used in a similar fashion as the word rubbish and used to describe a clergyman that spoke nonsense. The defense continued to intimate that perhaps the prosecution was not interested in decency of the word in question but instead were waging war against the band themselves. After making the case clear, the judiciary deliberated for twenty minutes and felt compelled to dismiss all charges against Seale. The Sex Pistols’ cover was ruled as “decent” and set a precedent that would protect other shop owners who displayed the cover.

 
Johnny Rotten had attended the trial wearing a safari hat. As he exited the courtroom, a reporter solicited his comment—I remember hearing about this line when I was in high school, and it tickles me now just as much as it did then. Rotten was quoted as saying:

“Great! Bollocks is legal. Bollocks! Bollocks! Bollocks!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
How to have cybersex on the Internet, 1997
07.31.2014
10:29 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Internet


 

I’m very horny and looking for some good cybersex. Are you interested?

A woman sporting a Bill Cosby-ish sweater gives a handy tutorial on how to have cybersex on the Internet in 1997. She even touts, “We’ll also visit others who have mastered the art of one-handed typing.”

I like the inexplicable transition in the video where she’s wearing a brown shirt and then it suddenly disappears without explanation. She’s just happily typing topless, in belted mom jeans looking for a good time on the Internets.

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Peaches sold as sexy butts
07.31.2014
09:03 am

Topics:
Amusing
Food

Tags:
peaches


 
Definitely one way to get young boys to eat their fruit. These delectable peach bums are being sold in China for the upcoming romantical Qixi Festival. Think of it as a goofy novelty gift to get the word out. A box of nine peaches in sheer panties cost around $80 or 498 yuan. Not cheap, but funny as hell.

According to few websites online, local vendors in China are stealing the sheer panty idea and are putting tiny underwear on their peaches. A Nanjing fruit vender has applied for a “panty peach patent” (yep, I just typed that) and is “filing for infringement with the intellectual property bureau.”

I’ll keep you updated on the peach panty war in China as more news comes out.


 

 
Nerdcore, Kotaku and SD China

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘The Mind Benders’: The true story behind the cult classic psychological thriller

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The writer James Kennaway was working as a publisher’s agent when he first heard talk of the sensory deprivation experiments carried out at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, during the early 1950s.

Kennaway’s job entailed traveling across England seeking out academics and scientists to contribute texts for Longmans catalog of books. The stories he heard at Oxford University were just idle chat shared over cups of milky tea or warm beer in pubs. Rumors someone had heard from somebody else that students were being paid to undergo a week of sensory deprivation—so far no one had succeeded. Though still an unpublished author, Kennaway knew he had found material for a very good story.

James Kennaway was born on 5 June 1928 in Auchterarder, Scotland.  His father was a successful lawyer, his mother a graduate of medicine. The younger of two children (his sister Hazel was born in 1925), Kennaway’s early childhood was one of tradition and privilege, with the expectation that he would one day follow in his father’s footsteps.

His childhood idyll ended when Kennaway’s father died in January 1941. Though at a preparatory school in Edinburgh, the twelve-year-old felt obliged to take up the role as “male head of the household.”  He suppressed his own emotional needs and began to write letters to his mother full of the advice and emotional support he felt his father would have given.

The untimely death made James feel that he too would die young, and this early trauma, together with the pressure he felt to succeed at school led to a fissure in his personality that would widen with age. Kennaway’s biographer, Trevor Royle described this gradual change of character as:

James was the sophisticate, Jim the “nasty wee Scot”. Later, he came to characterize the split as James the domesticated man constrained by society and Jim the artist who should be allowed any amount of license.

Or, as Kennaway later described it:

James et Jim, man and artist, wild boy and introvert.

At school “James” was the likable, eager-to-please pupil; while “Jim” was beginning his first thoughts towards a career as a writer—as Kennaway explained in a letter to his mother:

...I feel I have been granted with more than one talent; in such a life my talent of sympathy would shine but my other talents would lie buried. On my part I would get lazier and fatter every day. I might however do this at the same time as I write and really go in for writing, but I must learn more about the English language before I can write any stuff worth reading.

After school, Kennaway carried out his National Service in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders before going up to Oxford to study Modern Greats (Politics, Philosophy and Economics or P.P.E.). It was here he met Susan Edmonds, whom he married in 1951.

After university, Kennaway worked for a publishing firm, and in his spare time, started work on his first novel Tunes of Glory.
 
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Published in 1956, Tunes of Glory was the story of a psychological battle between bully Major Jock Sinclair and war-wounded Lieutenant Colonel Basil Barrow for control of over a peacetime battalion stationed in a Scottish army barracks. The story had been inspired by many of the people and events Kennaway encountered during his National Service.

Max Frisch noted in his novel Montauk that a writer only ever betrays himself; this is true for Kennaway who channeled the experiences of his life through the prism of his writing.

The book’s overwhelming success brought Kennaway more work as a writer: a commission to write an original screenplay. This became Violent Playground, which was filmed in 1957 with Stanley Baker, David McCallum, Anne Heywood and Peter Cushing. Its story of a juvenile delinquent holding a classroom of children to ransom was inspired by real siege in Terrazanno, Italy, when two brothers, armed with guns and dynamite, held ninety-nine pupils and three teachers to ransom. The brothers threatened to kill their hostages unless various demands were met. The siege ended after a teacher attacked and disarmed the brothers allowing the police to rescue the children. Kennaway followed the story in the papers, keeping numerous press clippings, and using the story for a key scene in his screenplay.
 
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The following year, Kennaway was commissioned to write another film, this time he relied on the stories he had heard from academics at Oxford in the early 1950s.

The term “brainwashing” was first used by journalist (and CIA stooge) Edward Hunter in an article he wrote for the Miami News, 7th October 1950. Hunter used the term to bogusly describe why certain U.S. soldiers had allegedly co-operated with their captors during the Korean War. Simply put, Hunter was suggesting the Chinese had used various psychological techniques to create a false sense of friendship with which they could undermine, reprogram and brainwash American soldiers. This led to Western governments commencing their own brainwashing experiments.
 
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In June 1951, a secret meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal saw the launch of a CIA-funded, joint American-British-Canadian venture to fund studies “into the psychological factors causing the human mind to accept certain political beliefs aimed at determining means for combating communism and democracy” and “research into the means whereby an individual may be brought temporarily or perhaps permanently under the control of another.”

Dr. Donald Hebb of McGill University received a grant of $10,000 to examine the effects of sensory deprivation. Volunteers were paid to lie on a bed, cradled in a foam pillow (to block out external sounds), their arms wrapped in cardboard tubes (to limit movement and sensation), whilst wearing white opaque goggles. Without any external stimuli and only short breaks for testing, feeding and use of the toilet, the volunteers quickly began to hallucinate—seeing dots, colored lights, and faces. The experiments had disturbing affects on the volunteers with only a few managing to continue beyond two or three days—no one lasted the week.

The experiments progressed with the use of flotation tanks that became central to Kennaway’s screenplay.
 
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In an article “The Pathology of Boredom” published in Scientific American, one of Hebb’s associates wrote:

Most of the subjects had planned to think about their work: some intended to review their studies, some to plan term papers, and one thought he would organize a lecture he had to deliver. Nearly all of them reported that the most striking thing about the experience was that they were unable to think clearly about anything for any length of time and that their thought processes seemed to be affected in other ways.

It was also noted during these experiments that the volunteers were overly susceptible to external sensory stimulation—making them open to ideas or beliefs they may have once opposed. In A Question of Torture, professor Alfred McCoy of Madison University, noted that during Hebb’s experiments “the subject’s very identity had begun to disintegrate.”
 
More on James Kennaway’s ‘The Mind Benders’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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