Gregg Foreman’s radio program The Pharmacy is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…
This week hardcore post-punk pioneer Guy Picciotto of musical revolutionaries Fugazi and Rites of Spring.
Fugazi, with their reasonably priced records and shows, demonstrated how bands could find their own way without the preconceived notion that you needed corporate label backing to have an impact (and a career!). The conversation explores the early days of DC punk, meeting the Cramps and legendary Atlantic Records mogul Ahmet Ertegun’s attempts to sign the band, the inspiration behind Rites of Spring and so much more…
Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.
Merchandise - Fugazi
12 x U - Wire
Intro 1 - Guy Picciotto Interview Part 1
Garbageman - The Cramps
Hey Bulldog - The Beatles
Song # 1 - Fugazi Guy Picciotto Interview Part 2
For Want Of - Rites of Spring
Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys - The Equals
Intro 2 - Funky Kingston - Rx/Toots and the Maytals Guy Picciotto Interview Part 3
Greed - Fugazi
To Hell with Poverty - Gang of Four
Police Truck - Dead Kennedys
American Ruse - MC5
Intro 3 - One, Two , Boogaloo - Rx/The Light Nites Guy Picciotto Interview Part 4
In the City - The Jam
Spectra-Sonic Sound - Nation of Ulysses
I-94 - Radio Birdman
Intro 4 - Dedicated to Love - Rx/Vampyros Lesbos Guy Picciotto Interview Part 5
(I Got a Catholic Block) - Sonic Youth
New Radio - Bikini Kill
Let’s Build a Car - Swell Maps
Intro 5 - Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag - Rx/JB’s Guy Picciotto Interview Part 6
Ahemet Ertegun Tribute
Hold On I’m Comin’ - Sam and Dave
Memphis Train - Rufus Thomas
Intro 5 - Restless - Rx/The Cobras Guy Picciotto Interview Part 7
Margin Walker - Fugazi
Intro 6 - Moanin’ - Rx/Art Blakey
Message via Lux Interior
Pay To Cum - Bad Brains Outro
As a connoisseur of disgustingly sweet margaritas—with a young adulthood lubricated by MD 20/20 not so far back in my rear view mirror, no less—I’m not one to turn up my nose at a dessert-oriented booze-stuff. Alcoholic Oreos however, are clearly a monument to man’s arrogance and shall someday be punished by an angry God. This sinister aberration—the unholy creation of a mad scientist, no doubt—is made by combining the liquor of your choice with Oreo pudding mix, scraping the filling off some Oreos, and spooning the alcoholic mixture betwixt the newly emptied cookie halves.
After that, I suppose you just start wolfing down these bad boys like you’ve given up on life—or maybe just cut out the middleman and just throw them directly into the toilet?
Either way, it’s a race between diabetes and alcohol poisoning—may the best death win!
Behold the new video for “Mad Truth,” the first single in 35 years from the reformed Pop Group, directed by Dangerous Minds pal Asia Argento. There’s a warning for all the stroboscopic effects, so beware of that before you press play.
The Pop Group’s new album, Citizen Zombie comes out on February 23rd. Argento’s most recent film, the autobiographical coming of age story Incompresa (Misunderstood in English) was the single best movie I saw last year.
See the Pop Group on their US tour:
March 11th San Francisco CA – Great American Music Hall
March 12th Seattle WA – Neumos Crystal Ball Reading Room
March 13th Chicago IL – Levitation Festival, Thalia Hall
March 17th New York NY – Bowery Ballroom
March 10th Los Angeles CA – Echoplex
March 14th Toronto ON – Lee’s Palace
March 16th Brooklyn NY – Rough Trade
March 19th – 22nd Austin TX – SXSW
Call me disputatious—or not, it’s entirely up to you—my favorite Stones album has always been Their Satanic Majesties Request. It’s the only one I still play all the way through these days. It sounds so amazing as one great big, trippy chunk, that it would be a shame not to experience the whole thing in one go. It’s a fantastic headphones album, too, the closest they ever got to Dark Side of the Moon. Many Stones fans and critics hated it when it came out and saw the album as a weak attempt to out weird the Beatles after they’d unleashed Sgt Pepper’s on the world, but time has been very kind to Their Satanic Majesties Request. To me, it’s just a thing of beauty, with the normal blues-based Stones sound thrown out the window, and replaced with a colorful sonic palette the likes of which they would never return to. I’m not saying that it IS the best Stones album, I’m just saying that it’s MY favorite. (For the record, my favorite Stones song is “Monkey Man,” followed by “Stray Cat Blues,” then “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”—dark horses, all, I grant you. I’m also partial to “I Don’t Know Why,” but the Glimmer Twins didn’t write that one—it’s a Stevie Wonder cover.)
The Stones “demonic” phase, inaugurated if you will, by their association with the Magus of Cinema, Kenneth Anger, was when the Stones were truly on fire. Mick was still quite into his Satan/Lucifer thing well into the Let It Bleed/Gimme Shelter era, but after Altamont, Jagger was often seen wearing a crucifix around his neck, perhaps seeking to put down all the hoodoo Age of Horus energy he’d raised? Have sympathy for the poor devil. Jagger had a shamanic current running through his body during the Sixties that killed quite a few of his friends and contemporaries. Today, like a rock and roll Dorian Gray, he hardly looks any worse for the wear.
Below is the once very seldom seen pop video for “2000 Light Years From Home.” It seems so heavily influenced by Kenneth Anger that pre-Internet, some people (myself included) thought that perhaps he’d directed it, but it’s actually the work of Michael Lindsay-Hogg (Let it Be). This was possibly shot by photographer Michael Cooper, who shot the iconic image for the Satanic Majesties album jacket (which was originally issued with a fantastic 3-D lenticular cover) and Anger’s Lucifer Rising.
Although the song’s multi-generational familiarity has leached out quite a bit of its “evil” over time, just imagine what this short film communicated to someone in 1967!!! I have no idea if this outrageous clip was ever seen on television at the time—I suspect not.
Much more, including a Rolling Stones video that you have probably never seen before…
In the summer of 1945, Stanley Kubrick, many years before he was the acclaimed director of Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, had a series of photographs published in LOOK magazine, a competitor to LIFE. He was just 16 years old. Thus would begin a relationship with the magazine that would last several years, until he began making movies in earnest around the age of 23, in the early 1950s.
Kubrick took this self-portrait in 1949 with his Leica III while working as a staff photographer for LOOK Magazine
It’s all about timing: if Vince Collins had made his trippy animation Malice in Wonderland in the sixties or seventies then it would have probably been a success, especially with freaks and acidheads. That it was made in the 1980s, when your friendly neighborhood independent cinemas were closing and a new puritanism had sneaked into political discourse perhaps explain why Collins’ short animation was booed off the screen by audiences for offensively “exploiting women.”
Malice in Wonderland (1982) is an imaginative and richly Freudian retelling of Lewis Carroll’s famous tale in which Alice repeatedly disappears up (or down) various orifices.
At the time Collins was a struggling animator who had relocated from Fort Lauderdale to California to make short animations. He was best known for his award-winning animation Euphoria, which many had thought was about (or had been inspired by) LSD but was mainly the animator experimenting with visuals. Though Collins has admitted he made his psychedelic drug films in the 1970s and his blue movies in the 1980s. Malice in Wonderland is Collins’ blue movie.
More people have watched this startling animation on the Internet than all the people who saw it on its first release. Where it was once booed, now people are more likely to ask, “Dude, what the fuck is that shit?”
Malice in Wonderland may still be controversial and disturbing to some, but I think it’s a spellbinding tour de force from an unfettered imagination—though maybe not best watched when you’re actually taking LSD.
If you look carefully at the credits for DEVO’s 1982 album Oh, No! It’s DEVO, you will spot a name that doesn’t ordinarily pop up in the DEVO universe or even the music world generally. The name is John Hinckley, Jr., and he is best known to the world as the man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, in a batshit-crazy attempt to win the amorous affections of Jodie Foster, then still a teenager. Hinckley was strongly influenced by The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and, far more pertinently, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, in which Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle considers assassinating a U.S. Senator named Palantine but then opts to murder the pimp who has rights over a teen prostitute portrayed by the selfsame Jodie Foster.
When Foster enrolled in Yale University, Hinckley moved all the way from Texas to New Haven, just so he could be near her. He engaged in a lot of creepy, stalker behavior that if you saw it in a movie, you’d think it was overdone, enrolling in the same writing class as her, leaving all kinds of poems and messages for her, and calling her repeatedly. Eventually he would squeeze off six rounds outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, wounding two Secret Service agents and Reagan’s press secretary as well as (via a ricochet) the president himself.
According to Rolling Stone, DEVO got in touch with Hinckley and acquired one of his demented love poems to Foster and adapted it into a song called “I Desire.” Here are some representative lyrics:
I pledge allegiance to the fact
That you’re wise to walk away
For nothing is more dangerous
Than desire when it’s wrong
Don’t let me torment you
Don’t let me bring you down
Don’t ever let me hurt you
Don’t let me fail because
I desire your attention
I desire your perfect love
I desire nothing more
The stunt not only annoyed Warner Bros., who learned that they would be obliged to send Hinckley royalty payments for the song, but also, according to Rolling Stone, won DEVO the official attentions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
As Mark Mothersbaugh recalled, “[Hinckley] let us take a poem that he had written, and we used it for the lyrics and turned it into a love song. It was not the best career move you could make. We had the FBI calling up and threatening us.”
In November of 1982, Hinckley wrote a letter to the “Morning Zoo” crew of KZEW, a Dallas radio station, in which he professes his love for “New Wave music” (hey, me too!) and requests that the station play “I Desire” a total of “58 times each day.” Here’s the full quote:
I like New Wave music, especially Devo, since I co-wrote a song on their new album. The song is called “I Desire” and I want you to play it 58 times each day.
In the letter Hinckley also writes, “I used to listen to the song ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie when I was stalking Carter and Reagan. It got me in a strange mood. ... In March and April of 1980, I hung out at Peaches Record Store on Fitzhugh.” Peaches, which used to be on the intersection of Cole and Fitzhugh in northern Dallas, has, alas, bitten the dust.
Below, listen to “I Desire,” the only new wave ditty ever co-written by a presidential assassin:
In 1964 gangs of Mods and Rockers fought battles on the very British beaches Winston Churchill had once sworn to defend.
It all kicked-off over the Easter weekend of 30th March in the holiday town of Clacton-on-Sea, south-east England. Famed for its cockles and winkles, “Kiss Me Quick” hats, amusement arcades, its eleven-hundred foot pier and golden sands on West Beach, Clacton provided the backdrop for the first major battle between the twenty-something Rockers and their teenage rivals the Mods. Clacton was reportedly “beat-up” by “scooter gangs” and 97 youth were arrested.
This was but a small rehearsal for what was to come later that year. Over the May and August bank holidays “skirmishes” involving over “thousands” of youngsters “erupted” at the seaside resorts of Margate, Broadstairs and Brighton.
In Margate there were “running battles between up to 400 teens and police on the beach as bottles were thrown amid general chaos.” But it was the fighting in Brighton that scooped the headlines, with tales of two days of “violence” and some “battles” moving further along the coast to Hastings.
The press latched onto the story of youth out of control like a terrier and squeezed every damning adjective out of it, hyping the events into a small war. Yet, these so-called “running battles” between the two rival factions were no worse than the fights between soccer fans or street gangs on a Saturday night. Still, the press and parts of the “establishment” (the police, the judges, the bishops, the local councillors and politicians…etc.) saw an opportunity to slap down the youth, and the press created a “moral panic” outraged over the falling standards of “this scepter’d isle.”
The Rockers were proto-biker gangs—they kept themselves separate from society, were bound by their own rules and rituals, and usually only fought with rival Rockers. Though considered dangerous—often referred to by the press as the “Wild Ones” after the American B-movie starring Marlon Brando—there was a sneaking admiration for the Rockers as they epitomised a macho fantasy of freedom and recklessness that most nine-to-five workers could only dream about. The Rockers also had the added appeal of being working class and fans of rock ‘n’ roll—which was more acceptable to middle England in the mid-sixties once the God-fearing Elvis had set youngsters a good example of being dutiful to one’s country by joining the US Army.
Mods on the other hand were an unknown quantity—ambitious, aspirant working class kids, politically astute, unwilling to take “no” for an answer. They were feared for their drug taking—speed was their tipple of choice—and their interest in looking good and wearing the right clothes. Dressing sharp was considered “suspect” and if not exactly effeminate, being fashion-conscious was not an attribute traditionally thought of as a masculine one. For an older generation, the Mods were the face of the future looming—the red brick universities, the council estate, the supermarkets, the motorways and self-service restaurants—these entitled brats were the very children for whom they had fought a war.
The events of that heady summer inspired The Who’s Pete Townshend to write his rock opera Quadrophenia. Anthony Burgess, who was never shy about making a headline, said his book A Clockwork Orange had been inspired by these “loutish” and “hoodlum” youth—even though his book had been published in 1962. Fifty years after the infamous “fighting on the beaches,” the BBC made a documentary revisiting the Mods, Rockers and Bank Holiday Mayhem that interviewed some of the youngsters who were there.
The intention of the filmmakers in this short extract from the “exploitation” documentary Primitive London is to take a pop at tribal youth culture and its fashions. The four youth cultures briefly examined are Mods, Rockers, Beatniks and those who fall outside of society.
The Mods are dismissed as “peacocks;” the Rockers are seen as lumpen and shall we say knuckle-dragging; the Beatniks don’t really know what they believe in as they are against everything, man; and finally there are the ones who are not part of any group as they consider themselves to be outside of society—apparently these guys “dissipate their identity in complete passivity”—now that sounds like a group I’d join.
Mostly it’s all about the Beatniks, who are filmed hanging out in their local bar getting drunk, answering questions on fashion, work, marriage and all the other concerns middle-aged producers thought were important in 1965. As a footnote, the bar seen in this clip is the one where Rod Stewart (aka Rod the Mod) hung out. The featured musicians are Ray Sone, harp (later of The Downliners Sect) and Emmett Hennessy, vocals, guitar.
The Bobby Fuller Four’s version of Sonny Curtis’ “I Fought the Law” has been a beloved fixture in the American pop song canon for very good reason. It’s got a lot going for it: a catchy riff, a wonderful, wistful vocal performance, lost love, rebel cache (“I fought the law…”), fatalism (”…the law won”), and one of the most indelible singalong choruses in the entire history of choruses. And for those who know Fuller’s life story, the song has an undercurrent of the tragic to it—he was found dead under shockingly tawdry and mysterious circumstances just months after releasing the record that would finally bring him enduring fame.
But while the last half-century has been very kind to the song, 2015 is already shaping up to be a great year for it. The 1966 Mustang Records single has been inducted into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame despite never actually having won a Grammy—to be fair, in the categories it might have qualified for, nods went to Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and the Mamas & the Papas, all obviously worthies, so it’s not like the song was slighted—and Fuller’s original self-recorded demo of the song is finally getting a proper release, on the long-running archivist/garage label Norton Records, as a 7”. It’s been on some limited rarities comps here and there, but has never until now known the tender kiss of sweet, sweet vinyl.
I’m actually kind of excited about this, way out of all proportion to how much I usually give a fuck about the nth reissue of a song I’ve heard a million times since childhood, because for all the world, I think the demo version is just flat-out better than the official release we all know. Bobby Fuller experimented heavily with recording process. During some of the years he spent striving to become known as a musician, he also ran the independent record label Exeter, and he did his own engineering. In the new Fuller bio titled—oh, you’re never gonna believe this—I Fought the Law, co-authored by Fuller’s brother/bassist Randell and Norton Records honcho Miriam Linna, Fuller pal Rick Stone recalls:
“I was at a recording session of I Fought the Law. Bobby set up everything, ran the whole show, did all the work setting up and running things. He had to run through the den, then through the garage and into the storage room, which was his control booth. He had two Ampex machines in there and he’d built some cubicles out of chicken wire and burlap just before that session, so he was really going for a home version of a real recording studio at that point. I got over to his place about 9:30 and Bobby was still working on it at 4:30. It was pretty wild.
So let’s A/B the versions! Here’s the one everyone’s used to, the Mustang Records release from 1966:
And here’s the demo version, freshly remastered for vinyl. YouTube compression is probably eating some of that nuance for breakfast, but the differences that really count are plain as day.
Nice, no? I love the double-tracked vocals, the slightly rounder lead guitar sound, and the looser, more spirited overall feel of the demo recording. I also like that in this version he’s “robbing people with a SHOTgun” instead of a “six-gun.” In fact, here’s some trivia, related to me by Miriam Linna—you can tell which version of the song you’re listening to by what kind of gun our hero is brandishing. In the demo, it’s a shotgun. On the 1964 Exeter single (the recording described in the above quote), it’s a zip-gun. And of course, on the 1966 Mustang single, it’s a six-gun. There you go. You can drop that science for trainspotter cred next time you’re trying to get that cute record collector you’ve been chatting up to come home with you. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
Okay, so this post has nothing to do with the topics normally considered to be within our wheelhouse—no punk rock, cult films or other avant garde zaniness here—but if you or someone you know suffers from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or severe tendonitis from working on a computer all day, read on, I hope this will be of (great and lasting) benefit.
As the editor of a blog and a small business owner, I’m generally online most of the day and it’s not at all unusual for me to be at a keyboard for twelve hours at a time with few breaks. I fit into the category of extreme workaholic, but since around May of last year, my body has been trying to send me a message I wasn’t heeding: a painful tendonitis afflicting my right hand and arm due to squeezing a mouse and right-clicking all day. It went very quickly (a matter of weeks) from being a minor but persistent irritation to becoming a “9” out of ten on the pain scale. From my wrist to my elbow, my inner arm felt raw, red and swollen.
The top of my hand was worse, with my “mouse finger” feeling like it was soon going to become useless altogether, as in my hand felt like it was on the verge of no longer functioning much like a hand anymore. Not only did it really hurt when I was working, even when I was away from my desk, it made common activities like washing dishes, opening a car door, brushing my teeth or even wiping my ass excruciatingly painful. Anything I had to grip at the gym was a problem. I began to wonder how much longer I could take doing what I do for a living before I had to go on a long break, or get an operation or some sort of physical therapy.
I mean it really sucked. BIGTIME. And no one ever feels sorry for you for having a repetitive strain disorder unless they’ve been troubled with it themselves. You seem fine, and you look just fine, but the reality is, it’s super depressing when you lose the proper use of your hand and your livelihood itself causes you lots and lots of pain. A little over three weeks ago, I dropped and smashed a Coke bottle in the shop around the corner. It slipped right out of my hand as I stood in line and exploded on the floor. It was embarrassing enough, but I’d dropped something equally messy the day before in the very same shop. I didn’t even feel it slip out of my grip. Like I say, depressing!
After that I decided to get aggressive and went online to research my options. The first advice you read—and it’s sage wisdom—is to STOP doing whatever it is that you are doing that is causing the problem in the first place (i.e. what I was doing at that very minute). That’s great advice if you don’t have to worry about making a living, but unsatisfying for those of us who do.
Nearly ready to admit defeat, as of three or four weeks ago, I was starting to investigate speech recognition software and picking up the phone again for the first time in years instead of writing email. I bought another mouse that’s shaped like a pen, an Anker vertical mouse (which I like and use, but it’s not perfect) and one that works sort of like a joystick. Nothing really produced any sort of improvement (save for the RollerMouse Red) let alone a breakthrough.
Reading on Amazon about the various CTS “splint glove” arm guard options and then realizing that most people say they don’t work at all (which seems obvious the minute you put one on) I kept clicking until I came across the inexpensive M BRACE RCA. It was $20 and had amazing reviews. Why not? If it brought ANY relief whatsoever, it was worth more than 20 bucks and if it turned out to be snake oil, it was only 20 bucks. Despite the stellar reviews, my hopes were muted.
The M BRACE RCA is a Velcro-fastened wristband with an angled plastic piece that’s meant to fit over your wrist. THAT’S IT. My first thought was “How’s this going to work?” I looked at the box for instructions or any information about it, but all it basically said was “make a fist, pull strap tight, but not too tight, fasten” The packaging really offered… not much of anything.
I put it on at approximately 4:30 in the afternoon. I remained skeptical and I was annoyed at first by the feel of the plastic brace on my wrist. Within a few hours I noticed not just a slight reduction in pain, but actually a significant change! I had cause for optimism if this unassuming device could work that fast.
The next morning I woke up and forgot about the M BRACE RCA until my throbbing tendonitis quickly reminded me of it. I put the wristband back on and spent the entire workday nearly pain free. If I had to quantify the situation, the pain went from being a “9” (the cusp of unbearable / “I can’t take this anymore!!!” territory) to a “2.5” in LESS than 24 hours.
It was crazy. It was totally unexpected. I felt like doing the happy dance of joy it was such a major RELIEF.
The Amazon Marketplace dealer who sold me the M BRACE RCA sent an email offering to mail me, at no additional charge, padding for the M BRACE RCA should I find that it was irritating (it doesn’t) and directing me to his quite extensive explanation of how he came to find out about the M BRACE RCA himself and how it works to the actual patent application filed by the inventor, Dr. Mark A. Davini, DC, a Boston-based chiropractor.
It’s been three weeks, maybe a little longer now since I got my M BRACE RCA. The tendonitis pain has gone from a “9” to a “2.5” and today, as I type this, I’d say it’s about a “1” on the pain scale. Maybe less. The M BRACE RCA basically does one thing: it prevents your wrist from being flexible enough to cause a repetitive strain injury (RSI) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You’re forced to work slightly differently (without curtailing movement much) but this makes all the difference. It also creates the space to allow the wrist’s median nerve to heal, which for me continued rapidly for over a week until I was virtually pain free.
I don’t want to make this post overlong because I want the message to be simple: Try this thing, like I did. It costs practically nothing and if it doesn’t work for you, who cares, you’re not out very much. It worked GREAT for me and for most of the reviewers on Amazon.
Additionally, I wanted to stress how getting rid of the mouse, or more specifically switching to the Contour RollerMouse Red (which requires no constant gripping, you could probably operate it wearing oven mitts) really helped in my case. Without the M BRACE RCA I wouldn’t be saying that, but I have noticed that when I use my Anker vertical mouse for too long—or not even that long at all—it starts to hurt again. For me, the ideal combination is the M BRACE RCA, the Contour RollerMouse Red and a standing desk, but without a doubt, the M BRACE RCA was the primary and most important factor in my own (speedy!) recovery from severe tendonitis.
If you take my advice about the M BRACE RCA and find that it works for you, too, consider leaving advice for others in the comments and spreading the word about this simple, cheap and nearly instantaneously cure for RSI, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and even severe tendonitis brought on by spending too much time on a computer.
Oddly beautiful, but still wince-making, take a gander at these x-rays showcasing the nasty health consequences corsets caused for women’s bodies. These images are from Doctor O’Followell’s Le Corset (The Corset) written in 1908.
There’s some debate as to whether or not these are actual x-rays of corsets or if they’re just x-rays of women’s torsos with the corset painted on afterwards. Others firmly believe that these are indeed very real x-rays.
If you’ve got room for more 1970 Detroit so soon after yesterday’s John Lee Hooker post, then feast your eyes on these wonderful snapshots of Iggy Pop, shirtless (does he even own any shirts?) and becollared (because you know what he wants to be) for a Stooges performance at suburban Detroit’s Farmington High School (GO FALCONS!) in December of 1970, which was historically noteworthy as James Williamson’s first gig with the band. I found them on the wonderful blog Black Coffee Bonus Cup, but they first made their way to the web via Detroit rock lifer Jim Edwards of the Rockets, who posted them to Facebook. (I can no longer find that album, so I presume it’s either deleted or set to friends-only, now):
I got these slides from a guy at work. He walks up to me and says, ‘You’re a musician, right? I got these old slides from a show at my high school, Wanna see ‘em?’ I held the first one up to the light and nearly shit myself!
Black Coffee Bonus Cup offered this info about the gig:
The gig was late due to Iggy being arrested earlier that evening and The Stooges played only four songs but I bet it was the end of innocence for all the unsuspecting teen students attending this show when the 23-year-old Iggy appeared shirtless, wearing a dog collar and jeans with cut-out crotch, revealing his red briefs, and performed his legendary on-and-off stage stunts…
Romanov svengali Grigori Rasputin is so steeped in legend, he’s become more myth than man, but in my opinion the most fascinating bit of Rasputin rumor pertains to this jarred pickle right here—reported to be the Mad Monk’s massive member. The manic-looking man holding the jar is Igor Knyazkin, Head Physician of the Prostate Center of Russian Academy of Sciences and the founder of The Museum of Erotica in St. Petersburg Russia—that’s right, an actual doctor, who put together a museum of his own creepy collectibles. Obviously we have no way of confirming this is actually Rasputin’s junk (I guess it got misplaced in all the commotion after he was supposedly, poisoned, beaten, stabbed, shot and castrated), but since the artifact is between 11 and 13 inches long it remains a novelty in its own right, though some suggest the specimen is actually animal genitalia.
If this is the Mad Monk’s junk, it’s traveled extensively! The jarred pee pee’s journey can allegedly be traced back to Paris in the 20s, when it was apparently worshipped for its mystical fertility powers until Rasputin’s surviving daughter intervened. At one point there was definitely a false phallus floating around, inherited by the same daughter. After her death, it was willed to a Rasputin biographer who learned upon testing it that it was actually a sea cucumber (how embarrassing!). I don’t much mind a man with 15,000 sex objects using a bit of famous phallic flash to get people into his weird museum. My main “beef” with Knyazkin is that he claims viewing “little Rasputin” can correct sexual dysfunction—if anything, looking at the specimen on display at this museum might leave you impotent!
On October 30th, 1992, Nirvana were booked to play a major show in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They were so big at that point in time that they just about sold-out José Amalfitani Stadium, which can hold nearly fifty thousand people. Prior to their set, Kurt Cobain witnessed the negative reception their hand picked opening act received, and was so incensed that he considered canceling the gig. Nirvana ultimately did perform that night, but they were sloppy and their set-list was more than a little unusual, as they purposely incorporated rare songs from their catalogue that they knew most of the audience wouldn’t be familiar with, including a couple of unreleased numbers. It ended up being one of their oddest shows, and it was all captured on videotape by a professional film crew.
Kurt later shared his memories of the gig:
“When we played Buenos Aires, we brought this all-girl band over from Portland called Calamity Jane,” Kurt recalled. “During their entire set, the whole audience—it was a huge show with like sixty thousand people—was throwing money and everything out of their pockets, mud and rocks, just pelting them. Eventually the girls stormed off crying. It was terrible, one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, such a mass of sexism all at once. Krist, knowing my attitude about things like that, tried to talk me out of at least setting myself on fire or refusing to play. We ended up having fun, laughing at them (the audience). Before every song, I’d play the intro to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and then stop. They didn’t realize that we were protesting against what they’d done. We played for about forty minutes, and most of the songs were off Incesticide, so they didn’t recognize anything. We wound up playing the secret noise song (‘Endless, Nameless’) that’s at the end of Nevermind, and because we were so in a rage and were just so pissed off about this whole situation, that song and whole set were one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.” (from Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects)
Kurt in Buenos Aires
If you watch the show (which is embedded below), you’ll realize that Kurt was misremembering or embellishing a bit here and there. While they did unearth a handful of rarities from their odds-n-ends collection Incesticide (which hadn’t been released yet), as well as “All Apologies” (it later turned up on In Utero), they also played most of Nevermind (but not “Teen Spirit,” which they teased before two songs), and a few of the highlights from Bleach. One thing Kurt failed to mention that they most certainly did do to annoy the crowd, was open with a strange, jam-like number that those in attendance had definitely never heard before.
Unavailable on any of Nirvana’s archival releases and believed to have been performed at just this show, the track has come to be known by the most-excellent of titles, “Nobody Knows I’m New Wave”—though there is no documentation available to confirm its validity. The go-to source for Nirvana bootleg info, Live Nirvana, believes it is just a jam, largely due to official biographer Michael Azerrad’s assessment in his book, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana:
“The first thing they played was an improvised jam, which deteriorated into a fifteen minute fest from Kurt, with breaks when he would stop to glare at the crowd.”
The circulating video of the show begins with “Nobody Knows I’m New Wave,” but lasts less than three minutes, so it’s difficult to know what Azerrad is referring to. Does the tape begin twelve-plus minutes after their set started? Or has Azerrad himself embellished or misremembered the event?
Though the majority of the lyrics were probably made up on the spot (including “I promise to shit on your head”; “I’m new wave/I’m old school”) and the racket they’re generating collapses after just a couple of minutes, structurally it does have a chorus, which makes me think it was somewhat worked out beforehand. Either way, this isn’t the sort of track most groups would start a stadium concert with.
In Come As You Are, Azerrad also notes that the band “had hardly practiced, their enthusiasm was low, and they played badly.” Regardless, there are some great moments, like the especially heavy version of “In Bloom” (though Kurt messes up a lot); when Dave Grohl brings a toy drum kit to the front of the stage for “Polly” (and Kurt cracks a smile); the aforementioned catharsis that is “Endless, Nameless”; and the intriguing opener. Is it a song or just a jam to piss-off the Argentineans? You decide.
Singapore’s Bugis Street was renowned as a meeting place for trans women to mix, mingle and have fun during the 1950s-1980s. Each evening, a fabulous parade of glamorous trans women would walk up-and-down the rundown streets at Bugis Junction, flirting with tourists, sailors and G.I.s, often charging them to have their photograph taken, inviting them to a bar for a drink, or taking them to a quiet room (or rooftop) for sex.
Bugis Street was a popular area for touring British servicemen in the 1950s, who became fans/lovers of many of the trans women, and rechristened the area “Boogie Street”—a mispronunciation of the district’s name that stuck in 1970s with the rise of disco.
For thirty years, Bugis Street thrived as a haven for trans women and their admirers, until the government cracked down on what was described as “shameful” and “lewd behavior” in the 1970s. Many servicemen were arrested at gunpoint, tourists were threatened and frightened away, the bars were closed and many trans women were arrested. Eventually the hard-line puritans won and old Bugis Street was demolished in the mid-1980s and replaced by a shopping mall and entertainment outlet.
In December 1980, French photographer Alain Soldeville was on a two-year trip to Asia and Australia when he arrived in Singapore. After a few days sight-seeing, he headed out one evening to Bugis Street.
Within an hour, strange androgynous creatures arrived by taxi. Dressed in sexy, tight-fitting dresses or satiny pants, wearing heavy stage makeup and high heels, they took over the territory. The street seemed to belong to them and their dramatic entrance was followed by scrutinizing eyes. It appeared that most visitors were there to watch the show that had just begun.
I stroked up a conversation with Anita who was of Malaysian background. She was 23 years old, with a clearly outlined masculine face, tall, thin and muscular. She wanted to know where I came from, how long I was going to stay in Singapore. During the following weeks, I became close to Anita and she introduced me to her friends: Amina, Danita, Delphine, Rosa and Susanna. They liked having me photograph them and would strike natural poses.
After five or six weeks in Singapore, short of money, I had to leave for Australia. I would return in 1984 only to learn that Bugis Street was about to be torn down to make way for the subway.
Bugis Street still has its glamorous legend, and a moderately successful film was made about the transgender women of the area in 1996. Soldeville forgot about the photographs he took in 1981 of Anita and her friends for over twenty-five years, until he rediscovered them in storage. Since then, they have been exhibited in France and Thailand.