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Jello Biafra meets the UFO cult: The Lost Footage found!


 
This is an update of something that I posted here two weeks ago, so if it looks familiar, there’s a good reason for that.

I’m reposting it because the event that I was/am describing below—the presumed lost video footage, I mean—has been located. When Cinefamily in Los Angeles recently hosted Jodi Wille’s mega-amazing weekend-long celebration of the Unarius Academy of Science’s er… visionary cable access programs, Jello Biafra made it down from San Francisco and he brought with him DVDs containing over two hours of footage sourced from VHS copies made of just the interview segments of a video shoot that we had done at the Unarian Brotherhood center in 1992 for a Showtime pilot. (There was plenty of B-roll footage of a sparsely attended parking lot ceremony, shots around the center and an amusing moment where Biafra raided the costume room and got each of the Unarians to put on their outlandish intergalactic clobber. This is still lost. All of the camera originals and several dozen tapes of the Unarius cable access program were stolen. The only copies of anything were the tapes Biafra had.)

The footage, dubs of the camera originals, basically, were lightly edited by Biafra’s friend Erleen Nada, a graphic designer and musician who lives in Los Angeles who also happens to be a big Unarius buff herself. She also digitally blew the picture up to hide the timecode. Although it’s two hours long, it is, for the most part, highly entertaining. It’s not a documentary per se, but as a document of the several hours that an extremely quick-witted punk rock legend spent in the company of a goofy SoCal UFO cult over twenty years ago, you can’t really beat it.

Here’s what Erleen sent me in an email today:

My favorite part of this whole thing is watching him trying to hold back the laughter after every question, and his slight glances at the camera as if to say “Did you get a load of that question I just asked?”  Haha. 

I’ve probably watched the video about 50 times now, and his expressions still make me laugh every time. 

He has such a great way of asking potentially offensive questions, in a non-offensive way, and it’s complemented by the Unarians easygoing attitude about the whole thing. They were really good sports, laughing along with everything that Jello asked, they had a beautiful sense of humility about the whole thing that makes them seem that much more awesome.

I had gotten about as far as making a snarky twenty minute rough cut that incorporated a lot of footage from the Unarius TV shows, soundtrack music from Kramer’s three album set The Guilt Trip, and a voice-over narration that Biafra recorded about six weeks after we shot this in El Cajon. That’s lost and will never be found—all the tapes were stolen from the trunk of a car parked in the Playboy building in Beverly Hills. I’m sure that guy was disappointed!—but it might be that this is an even better way to watch this material. Seeing this for the first time in 22 years there were chunks of it that I could still recall from memory having edited the rough cut myself and hearing it so many times.
 

 
The original article, slightly edited for clarity:

At some point in the fall of 1992 Jello Biafra and I travelled to El Cajon, California with a small camera crew to shoot a short documentary about the Unarius Academy of Science for a Showtime pilot I was directing. The Unarius Academy of Science is a colorful (and quite harmless, no hint of a Heaven’s Gate vibe) UFO cult with their own cable access show, and was at that time housed across the street from both a center for recovering drug addicts/methadone clinic and a sleazy plasma center where you could sell your blood for cash. A Foster’s Freeze was a block or two away. There wasn’t much of anything else going on there. Just a bunch of empty parking lots and an occasional unoccupied building, some threadbare thrift stores and a funeral home. Not to say it was a ghost town, but minus the Unarians, and the junkies, in this part of town, there seemed to be almost no one else around.

To a certain extent, that might be the reason that people joined the cult in the first place: because there is next to nothing to do in El Cajon which isn’t related to gang activities, drug dealing, burglaries, car theft and crime in general. El Cajon’s crime rate is three times the national average. There are very few legitimate jobs for the people who live there, even at the best of times. Maybe some of the town’s residents looking for a little solace from a cruel universe that dealt them the shitty hand of ending up in El Cajon, might be an explanation for the goofy cult’s local appeal.

But then again, maybe nothing can adequately explain it. If you think of the Unarians as characters straight out of a Daniel Clowes comic, it might make a little more sense?
 

 
The Unarius Academy of Science was formed by Ernest and Ruth Norman, a couple of dotty New Agers, in the mid-1950s. Unarius is an acronym which stands for UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science. The story I heard was that Norman was a traveling psychic medium who put grieving WWII widows in touch with their dead husbands and Ruth was one of his clients. One of his wealthier clients, whose dead husband had left her a restaurant chain or so the story went…

The two met and were married within weeks. Soon Ernest would start self-publishing channeled books and they began having public meetings in Glendale, CA, ultimately publishing over 100 books and garnering several hundred followers. After Ernest’s death in 1971, Ruth Norman moved Unarius to the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, where she also bought up several parcels of now valuable real estate so that a landing strip could be built for the “Space Brothers” of whom Archangel Uriel (as Ruth Norman now called herself) was their emissary on Earth.

The Unarian cosmology predicted that 33 planets would simultaneously send ambassadors in spacecraft that would lock together and form a futuristic city. Uriel taught that beings outside of our direct experience and comprehension exist—she was one of them!—and that one day the Space Brothers will help us silly humans evolve, turn deserts into vegetable fields, stop wars and improve our architecture. 
 

 
In the late 1970s, “The Arrival,” an elaborate, seemingly high budget film about the Space Brothers showing up in the year 2001 was produced by the group, allegedly with the help of someone who worked for George Lucas doing special effects on the Star Wars films. Creatively fulfilled by this experience, by the early 80s, certain members of the cult began to take an interest in making a cable access television program promoting the group’s beliefs: “Everything is energy.” “You, as a form of indestructible energy, possess a soul that has recorded data from past lives.” “All happenings to you currently have their origins in past lives and past actions.” “Negative acts must be compensated for by positive acts.” And best of all, Asians are Martians and vice versa (Unarians are not racists, this is seen as a good thing, i.e. proof that the aliens have been here for millennia!). The “star” of these programs, naturally was Uriel/Ruth Norman, who took to wearing clothing that would make Liberace blush, often made with Christmas tree lights that needed to be plugged in, thereby awkwardly limiting her mobility!

Some of the shows would just be Uriel talking to her followers and others would be like super low budget “psychodramas”—think Kuchar Brothers, early John Waters, Andy Milligan, etc.
 

 
These “psychodramas” were unfuckingbelievable, featuring full outer space costumes, zany make-up and and batshit crazy scenarios. For instance, Uriel might decide that a certain Unarian had been a murderous space captain or an evil sea serpent in a past life. So the group would do these semi-improvised and somewhat elaborate plays, that were designed to “drastically relive” these past lives, so that the Unarian follower would be freed from their karma (more or less). In the one with the sea serpent, they literally videotaped it next to a swimming pool and several people got into a crappy aquatic dragon suit fashioned from floating pool furniture and inner tubes and swam around as the rest of them held a trial and passed judgement on the “creature.” A lot of their psychodramas had a “trial by jury” aspect to them. Holy shit were they tweaked. These programs made it as far as New York’s cable access weirdo home, Channel J.
 

 
The morning we got there and before Biafra arrived, we shot their Interplanetary Confederation Day, where far fewer than 33 Unarians marched around in a circle with far fewer than 33 banners representing the (hilariously named) 33 planets who were supposed to supply all 33,000 of the Space Brothers who would arrive here in 2001. A tin spaceship contained 33 doves who were supposed to spill out into the sky at the ceremony’s climax, but they didn’t figure on it being as hot as it was on the day and most of the birds could barely dribble out of the thing. Some probably fried inside as the fully-costumed Unarians marched around their parking lot to the amusement of the folks, like myself, who were there to gawk at them in amazement. Spectacular it wasn’t, but you had to admire their commitment in the face of mainly disinterest, secondarily people driving by and shouting insulting things at them the whole time and that it was boiling hot that day and they were all in their layered interplanetary garb.
 

The meaning of this painting gets explained in the video…
 
Biafra and I never did get to meet the then 93-year-old Ruth Norman herself, her health didn’t permit it, but he did speak to her on camera via a speakerphone as seen in the video. Frankly, I’m just amazed that twenty years after Ruth Norman’s death that the cult still exists. But they do. And even with their leader long gone, her prophecies that didn’t even remotely come close to passing and the sheer pointlessness of the whole thing, the Unarians persist, although the ones who we met 22 years ago are a bit longer in the tooth now (aren’t we all?) What’s weird is that they never grew out of their quirky belief systems even after the Space Brothers failed to arrive—the WHOLE THING that their belief system hinged on—in 2001. Like Jesus on Easter Sunday, Uriel herself was supposed to return then, too. She didn’t even send them a text!
 

 
Here’s the trailer for the recent Cinefamily event. If you aren’t familiar with Unarius, this is a good two minute crash course before you watch the Biafra footage…
 

 

 
After the jump, Erleen Nada’s Unarius-inspired “Psychedelic Spaceship” video

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Wilson and I: A personal recollection of Robert Anton Wilson


A pop art RAW portrait by Bobby Campbell

An essay that I wrote about Robert Anton Wilson has been posted as part of Boing Boing’s special “Robert Anton Wilson Week,” joining pieces by Douglas Rushkoff, Erik Davis, Antero Alli, Ivan Stang, Gareth Branwyn. Paul Krassner, R.U. Sirius and others:

As “outsider” teenage readers of Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s classicIlluminatus! trilogy in the early 1980s, it seemed to some of my friends at the time (all big Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan and Philip K Dick fans, too) that the novel’s authors were trying to communicate something “in code” to their readers, like it was a message about “the conspiracy” that was coming from an underground resistance group. I thought that was bunk and fanciful nonsense, but it goes to show how strong of an effect that book had on kids’ imaginations back then.

Illuminatus! was a touchstone for freethinking weirdos of that era, one of the rare books that even attempted to make sense of being born into an ever increasingly surreal world still reeling from things like the JFK/MLK/RFK assassinations, Watergate and the Vietnam war and where Ronald Reagan, a bad actor who once worked with a chimpanzee, had just become President.

It was also an interesting experiment in mass occult initiation—sold at shopping malls across America—that satirically tore away the veils of the modern world and (actively, not passively) imprinted a skeptical worldview on the reader. Read those books from cover to cover and there was virtually not a chance in hell that you’d be a normal person ever again. The Illuminatus! trilogy really made quite an impression, let’s just say.

Wilson’s non-fiction work, Cosmic Trigger, was of even greater interest to me with its cheerful speculations on Timothy Leary’s channeled communications from “holy guardian angels,” psychedelic drugs and Aleister Crowley. The so-called “23 enigma,” I was familiar with already because of The Third Mind by William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, but it was explained in greater depth in Cosmic Trigger. It was the first place I’d read of Robert K. Temple’s book The Sirius Mystery and it was also the first time I heard the name Terence McKenna. I can’t tell you how many weird and wonderful things that book exposed me to.

It was instrumental in forming my worldview. Simply put, it’s in my DNA. Cosmic Trigger is one of the UR-documents of my life (and career!).

The first time I met up with Bob Wilson, in the flesh, was at a day-long event called “Millennial Madness” that took place in the Scottish Rites Masonic Temple on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. It must have been around 1993. He was speaking at the event on a bill with Timothy Leary, medical marijuana guru Jack Herer and Paul Krassner. RAW was outside having a cigarette and I nervously offered him some of the spliff I was smoking, which he happily accepted and we chatted for a moment.

Read the rest at Boing Boing:
Wilson and I

Below, Robert Anton Wilson at the DisinfoCon, February 19, 2000, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York:
 

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Richard Metzger’s ‘Show and Tell’ tonight at Cinefamily
09.12.2011
05:34 pm

Topics:
Art
History
Movies
Pop Culture

Tags:
Richard Metzger
Cinefamily


Photo by Peter Berberian

Tonight at Cinefamily in Hollywood, I’ll be doing the second presentation in their “Show and Tell” series:

“A new Cinefamily series that invites artists, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural heroes to divulge their deepest, darkest media obsessions by opening their closets, digging through their attic and plundering their garages to curate an evening of whatever they want to share! From thrift store finds to late-night Tivo, from foreign film bootlegs to home movies, from the popular to the perverse –- all media will be presented live by the honored guests, as they take us on a personal tour of the audio, video and other ephemera that has inspired them, delighted them, or just plain freaked them out.

For September’s session, we’re thrilled to present a friend who is not only a true warrior collector of amazing one-of-a-kind artifacts, but also a fantastic chronicler of hidden underground culture: Richard Metzger, creator of Dangerous Minds and co-creator of Disinformation!

Simply put, Richard’s one of the world’s foremost experts on all things counterculture, conspiratorial and just plain crazy. From a childhood in West Virginia spent obsessively digging through libraries (“There wasn’t a whole lot to do except to tip cows and to read”), to a grown-up era of showcasing the work of folks he respects and admires on TV (Disinformation), in blogland (DangerousMinds.net) and in print (“Everything You Know Is Wrong”), Richard’s amassed a personal archive that overflows with impossibly cool items. This evening will be a closet-rummaging bonanza, as Richard shows you everything from his incredible archival print materials to priceless time capsule footage of the groundbreaking ‘80s NYC club scene (of which he was a part!) Plus, join us for excerpts of Richard’s music video work, highlights from the Disinformation TV show, and so much more!”

I’m going to be screening footage from my own collection and from the archive of the late NYC-based video artist Nelson Sullivan, who videotaped hundreds of hours of the East Village art scene and night life of the 1980s. A clip of Andy Warhol signing books at Fiorucci in 1987 with a wild cast of characters surrounding him, video of of the real life “outlaw party” thrown by “club kid murderer” Michael Alig in the Times Square McDonald’s as depicted in Party Monster, Bongwater, John Sex, and some other surprises and rarities.

It’s a double feature, first the “Show and Tell,” then a screening of a 2-hour interview with Robert Anton Wilson conducted by me and Genesis P-Orridge in 1997 for my old “Infinity Factory” talkshow. Ironically, what was once seen as the size of a postage stamp in a 56k modem world will be screened as if it’s Ben Hur…

Get tickets here.

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Coming soon: ‘Show & Tell’ with Richard Metzger at Cinefamily
09.09.2011
03:50 pm

Topics:

Tags:
Richard Metzger
Cinefamily

On Tuesday, Sept. 13th, I’ll be doing a special ‘Show and Tell’ presentation at Cinefamily in Hollywood, screening “deep cuts” from my personal video collection, including rare footage of NYC nightlife of the 1980s, Andy Warhol, and Michael ‘Party Monster’ Alig. Afterwards I’ll be showing a 1997 appearance by Robert Anton Wilson and Genesis P-Orridge on my Infinity Factory cable access talkshow. The evening will be streamed live with an HD webcast on Stickam. Watch last month’s Miranda July ‘Show & Tell.’ Get tickets here.
 

Photo by Peter Berberian

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Laner and Metzger in ‘What’s In My Bag?’

The fine folks at Amoeba Records—the best record store in the world (and that includes Tokyo) invited Brad Laner and Richard Metzger to come down to the store to spend $100 on camera.

What will these two arch music snobs reach for? Find out in this latest installment of the Amoeba Records web-series “What’s In My Bag?” Special thanks to Xeni Jardin!
 

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Pizzicato Five: Baby Love Child
06.14.2011
09:46 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Richard Metzger
Adam Curtis
Pizzicato Five

 
If you caught the new Adam Curtis BBC documentary series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, you may have noticed the lovely opening theme. “Baby Love Child” is from Japan’s Pizzicato Five. I thought it was a weird choice, although I love the song. In 1994 I made a music video for “Baby Love Child.”  The video mostly consists of already existing footage of Maki Nomiya, P5’s beautiful lead singer, taken from outtakes from other shoots and bits of a documentary. I shot the in-studio lip-sync, and once back in LA, I did the (primitive) art and the animated Nam June Paik-wanna be segments where I was working at the time. The budget was pretty much a free trip to Tokyo and a $1000. I haven’t seen this in years but I think it came out pretty good. If you want to hear the song I recorded with Pizzicato Five in Japan, I played it in one of the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour shows.
 

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Dangerous Minds Radio Hour, episode 20
04.16.2011
09:03 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour
Richard Metzger

Another toontastic DJing set from Richard Metzger, hisself. Some Spy-fi, a set of Lulu’s greatest hits, some (very) early Genesis, Michael Nesmith & The First National Band, the sonic insanity of the Better Beatles, a funk-jazz-space rock FREAKOUT from Larry Young and… MORE!

 
Download this week’s episode

Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at iTunes

You won’t believe your ears with this latest installment of the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour!!!!

1.) Lalo Schrifrin: Murderer’s Row
2.) Tina Turner: Acid Queen
3.) The Better Beatles: Penny Lane
4.) Michael Nesmith & The First National Band: Silver Moon
5.) Lulu: Show Me
6.) Lulu: Love Loves to Love Love
7.) Lulu: I’m a Tiger
8.) Kiki Dee: I’ve Got the Music In Me
9.) Ennio Morricone: My Name is Nobody
10.) An Old Fashioned Love Song: Paul Williams
11.) George Harrison: I’ll Have You Anytime
12.) George Harrison: What is Life?
13.) Genesis: In the Beginning
14.) Genesis: Where the Sour Turns Sweet
15.) Loop: 16 Dreams
16.) Robert Fripp & The League of Gentlemen: Dislocated
17.) Larry Young: Kahdid of Space Part Two (Welcome)

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Happy Birthday John Belushi

image
 
Happy Birthday John Belushi, who would have been 62 today. Born in 1949, Belushi’s big break came in 1971 when he joined The Second City comedy troupe in Chicago. Cast alongside Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest in National Lampoon’s Lemmings (which Richard Metzger wrote a great article on last year), Belushi’s natural comic talents shone. He moved to New York, with his girlfriend Judy Jacklin, and became a regular on the National Lampoon Radio Hour, working with such future Saturday Night Live performers Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. The rest we know.

It’ll be SNL and The Blues Brothers that Belushi will be remembered for best, and watching clips of his TV or film work now, only re-enforces what is so sad about his early demise.
 

 
Previously on DM

A Young John Belushi, Chevy Chase and Christopher Guest rock out in National Lampoon’s ‘Lemmings’


 
Bonus clips plus interview with Belushi and Dan Ackroyd after the jump…
 

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Such Small Increments: Joyce Farmer’s ‘Special Exits’

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A version of this appeared last week in The Huffington Post, but as Richard Metzger and myself think Joyce Farmer’s graphic novel Special Exits a truly amazing work, we’ve decided to re-post here.

There’s a line in Joyce Farmer’s excellent graphic novel Special Exits that hit home with me this week. Her rather more than semi-autobiographical book tells the story of Farmer’s alter-ego, Laura, as she copes with the declining, final years of her father and step-mother, Lars and Rachel Drover. In it, there’s a line said by Lars, which captures the slow erosion of time: “Things get worse in such small increments that you can get used to anything.”

The line hit home because over the past week, I found myself stranded while visiting my parents, as Scotland ground to a halt under heavy snowfall and sub zero temperatures. My father’s 84-years-old, with a heart condition, which means he may drop dead at any moment; my mother, in her seventies, is breathless but still feisty. They both thought it fortunate I was there to help clear the drive, get the groceries, do the chores, and tend to those things my parents would hope to do. As the winter moved in, we became snowbound and the snow, like age, slowly closed down the once busy highways, until all transport ceased.

Farmer’s beautiful, moving and truly exceptional book deals with the very real closing down age brings. Rarely have I read such an honest, heart-breaking, yet darkly humorous tale. It is understandable why Robert Crumb has compared Special Exits to
such classic graphic novels as Maus by Art Speigelman and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, for truly Farmer’s book is in that league.

In Richard Metzger’s interview for Dangerous Minds, Farmer explained how the impetus for the book was her step-mother’s treatment in a nursing home. “I was so outraged by her experience,” she said.

As her father was too frail and Joyce didn’t have the time to take care of both her father and step-mother, it was decided to find her
step-mom a nursing home.

“The way to do that was to take her to an emergency room, where they would then recommend a nursing home because
of the situation. And I’ve dealt carefully with this in the book, but when I took her to the emergency room the doctor said ‘She’s perfectly
healthy, there’s nothing wrong with her’ and you can take her home.”

This indifference to her step-mother’s plight put Joyce in a difficult position.

“I was forced to find the quickest nursing home I could find, because they wouldn’t hold her in the emergency room, I couldn’t take her home and then take her out again It was an ambulance trip every time and it wasn’t possible.”

One was found, and her step-mother, who was ill and blind, was admitted. What should have been an ideal respite, turned into a nightmare.

To ensure the nursing staff knew her step-mother was without sight, Joyce wrote the word ‘BLIND’ on a sign and placed it above her bed. Joyce hoped the staff would see the sign and then help her step-mother to be fed and looked after properly.

“When I would visit her, every time I visited her, she was enormously hungry, and I didn’t realize they weren’t reading the sign, and then I’d go and the sign would be torn in half or non-existent. I realized there was a bunch of angry people taking care of helpless people in the nursing homes.

“Ten days after this healthy woman went into the nursing home, they left the sides of her bed down, and she decided to go get her own
food. She was hungry, and she fell and broke her hip, and the nursing home hospital didn’t recognize this for several days and when they did, there was nothing that could save her and she just ended her life after two-and-a-half months of pain and suffering. It was beyond my ability to handle anything at that point. I was completely outraged at the nursing home and how they took care of elderly patients.”

It was this sense of outrage that later inspired Joyce to start work on Special Exits. Over thirteen years, she worked on the book, drawing, penciling, inking, writing each page frame-by-frame. She worked in black and white, as Farmer thought she might have to publish the book herself, and didn’t know how to publish in color, let alone know who would take her stories or even if they would be interested.

But Farmer shouldn’t have feared, for this was really a return to her talents than starting something anew. Back in the 1970s, Farmer and creative partner Lyn Chevli kicked off a feminist revolution in comics.  Horrified at the “violent take on women” depicted in the
underground press and through magazines like Playboy and Penthouse, they decided to do their own “violent take on men and get even.”

“But we soon realized we couldn’t do violence, and we thought, ‘What else can we do?’ We’re angry and we realized none of these magazines that were out there at the time, that thought they had a bead on what women wanted, were all off track and just saw women as photographs that needed to be air-brushed and women who were bed mates and not much else. We started looking at ourselves and our sexuality and we realized our idea of sex had a lot to do with birth control, and menstruation and sanitary pads going FLOP on the ground when you didn’t want them to.”

This was how Farmer and Chevli started the legendary proto-punk Tits & Clits Comix, which ran intermittently from 1972-87. Tits & Clits was condemned on both sides, but has now rightly proven to be an inspirational influence on younger feminists, as it “exposed the phoniness of what men thought about women.”

In the same way her comics changed views on sexism in the 1970s, Farmer hopes Special Exits will inspire people to think differently about older people and the aging process today.

“If anything I hope the book gets people who are working with the elderly, to understand that the elderly have had a past life that is way more interesting than you’ll ever know. And if that’s interesting to you, well that’s interesting to them, and they should be honored for having lived that long.”

 
Special Exits by Joyce Farmer ($26.99) is available from all good bookstores or direct from Fantagraphics
 

 
Via The Huffington Post
 

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The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour, episode 10 w/ all female artists!
12.05.2010
09:29 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Dangerous Minds Radio Hour
Richard Metzger

image
 
This week: A rested and refreshed Richard Metzger returns to the ever lovin’ Dangerous Minds Radio Hour for a solo session. Won’t you join him in story and song?

This week, for you groovy little fuckers, it’s an ALL FEMALE SHOW!

The Liquidator—Shirley Bassey & Lalo Shiffren
Earthbeat—The Slits (from the incredibly awesome, must hear Return of the Giant Slits)
Uptown Top Ranking—Althea & Donna
Pizzicato Five (with Towa Tei)—Contact (from Romantique 96)
This Year’s Girl #2—Pizzicato Five (interviewer: Richard Metzger, from the Five By Five EP)
Fancy—Bobbie Gentry (from Chickasaw County Child: The Artistry of Bobbie Gentry)
Okolona River Bottom Band—Bobbie Gentry (from Chickasaw County Child: The Artistry of Bobbie Gentry)
The Devil Lives in My Husband’s Body—Pulsallama
Gotham Lullaby—Meredith Monk (from Dolmen Music)
You Don’t Love Me When I Cry—Laura Nyro (from New York Tendaberry)
Beware of Young Girls—Dory Previn (from On My Way to Where)
The Perfect Man—Dory Previn (from Mary C. Brown & The Hollywood Sign)
Witches Egg—Susan Tyrrell (from Forbidden Zone)
The Captain’s Fat Theresa Shoes—The GTOs (from Permanent Damage)
You Made Me The Thief of Your Heart—Sinead O’Conner (from the In The Name Of The Father OST)

 

 
Download this week’s episode
 
Subscribe to the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour podcast at Alterati

Below, Althea and Donna performing Uptown Top Ranking on Top of the Pops.
 

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‘The Ethical Governor’ and the Genius of John Butler

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According to the dictionary, the definition of the word genius includes:

n., pl., -ius·es.

Extraordinary intellectual and creative power.

That’s good enough for me, for by this definition, digital animator John Butler is a genius.

If you don’t know John’s work, then here’s a good place to start - an article Richard Metzger wrote up for Dangerous Minds, taken from an interview carried out with Butler earlier this year.

John is that rare and distinct thing, a creative talent with a unique and powerful vision - one that informs his analysis of current events into original speculative fictions. Underpinning this, John uses the terms and language of the military and financial sector, subverting them to reveal their true meaning.

All of which can be seen in his latest presentation The Ethical Governor, described as:

This presentation demonstrates a prototype of the Ethical Governor, a key component in the ethical projection of unmanned autonomous force.

In an exclusive interview with Dangerous Minds John Butler talks about the ideas behind The Ethical Governor and how they reflect today’s political, corporate and military world.

“I’ve been very interested in all aspects of what is now branded as the Long War, which I see as a war between Finance and Humans, rather than East versus West, Capitalism versus Islam, or whatever. 

A military invasion to secure resources and a financial austerity package to placate bondholders are all part of a unified process. It’s just that force is applied in a somewhat cruder manner in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Africa.

What I’ve done is transposed the action to the Homeland, where it will eventually arrive anyway. The Drones are Chamber of Commerce assets, part of the elite Milton Friedman Unit.”

What is the inspiration for the presentation?

“The piece is based on actual systems being developed in universities right now in anticipation of fully autonomous war fighting. What I’ve done is resynthesised an academic presentation to reveal it’s true intent.

The language comes from the Military Educational Complex, but has been rewritten by the Butler Brothers to fictionalize it, and therefore make it more effective.

Concepts like the “Ethical Adaptor” actually exist. I liked that aspect most of all, the calibration of guilt, and the option to override the Ethical Governor when convenient.

I think that says it all about battlefield ethics. I like the idea of robots being “in Harm’s Way”, one of my favourite phrases.

How does this relate to what’s happening just now in the world?

“The anti IMF riots in Greece and the protests in Ireland and here are attempts by Humans to react to the Process.

Young people in Britain have no access to home ownership now, which is a detail that might have been overlooked, so they seem to have less to lose that Thatcher’s generation.

What are you working on next?

“Thinking up a companion piece just now, provisionally called Triage. It would be great to project this somewhere soon, as part of a Forum for the Future.”

Update

John Butler has forwarded Dangerous Minds an article on War Machines: Recruiting Robots for Combat from the New York Times, which confirms much of The Ethical Governor‘s theory, including:

“A lot of people fear artificial intelligence,” said John Arquilla, executive director of the Information Operations Center at the Naval Postgraduate School. “I will stand my artificial intelligence against your human any day of the week and tell you that my A.I. will pay more attention to the rules of engagement and create fewer ethical lapses than a human force.”

Dr. Arquilla argues that weapons systems controlled by software will not act out of anger and malice and, in certain cases, can already make better decisions on the battlefield than humans.

 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

An Interview With Avant Garde Animator John Butler


 

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Dangerous Minds Radio Hour episode 4

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Welcome to episode 4 of the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour. Your hosts Richard Metzger and Brad Laner once again present for you a delectable plethora of magickal musical moments accompanied as always by the many quality insights and opinions that you’ve come to expect from the thinking fellows of Dangerous Minds.

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers - “I’m Your Witchdoctor”
The Flying Burrito Brothers - “Hot Burrito #2”
Pink Floyd - “Heart Beat Pig Meat” (from Zabriskie Point S/T)
Phil Manzanera featuring Brian Eno - “Miss Shapiro”
Dave Grusin - “Birth By Descent” (from Candy S/T)
P.J. Proby - “You Don’t Love Me No More”
Harry Nilsson - “Are You Sleeping?”
Human League -  “I Love You Too Much”
Renaldo and the Loaf - “A Medical Man”
Residents -  “You Yes Yes Yes”
Genevieve Waite - “Love Is Coming Back”
Van Dyke Parks -  “Riverboat”
P.J. Proby - “Hanging From Your Loving Tree”
Angel Rada -  “Basheeba”
Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark - “New Stone Age”
End - “Shades of Orange” (produced/written by Bill Wyman circa ‘67)
Paul McCartney -  “Secret Friend”

 

 
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Material, featuring LaBelle’s Nona Hendyrx, on The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour

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Calling all rock snobs! In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve started to make podcasts of The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour available on the blog. Every couple of weeks, Brad Laner and I will get together and do our best to entertain you with fun, obscure, and often wacky avant garde music, hit singles and… more.!

If you were listening you’d have already heard this amazing track, “Take a Chance” by Material, featuring LaBelle’s Nona Hendryx, a fierce, spaced-out, glammed up soul diva if ever there was one.

Have a listen. You don’t know what you’ve been missing, so how will you know if your life is complete without The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour in it? Listen to show #3 here.

To download episodes or subscribe to the podcast please go to our Internet radio partner Alterati.com
 

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Dangerous Minds Radio Hour episode 3

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It’s the 3rd episode of the fortnightly Dangerous Minds Radio Hour !  Join Brad and Richard as they settle in and follow their deep and abiding love for dusty old records, somehow finding heavy connections between each selection. From sublime melody to astringent noise, you needn’t believe in God to appreciate the catholic tastes of the amiable gents from Dangerous Minds.

Glen Campbell: “Guess I’m Dumb” (produced by Brian Wilson)
Spring: “Everybody” (produced by Brian Wilson)
Simon & Garfunkel: “My Little Town”
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band: “Touch Me” (with John Lennon and Ringo Starr)
Keith Levene: “Killer in the Crowd”
Public Image Ltd.: “The Cowboy Song”
The Slits: “Man Next Door”
Leo Graham/The Upsetters/King Tubby: “Three Blind Mice/Three Times Three”
Barry Adamson: “007, A Phantasy Bond Theme”
Bee Gees: “Red Chair Fade Away”
Cher: “A Woman’s Story” (produced by Phil Spector)
All Tiny Creatures: “An Iris” (with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver)
The Pentangle: “Light Flight”
Family: “Anyway”
Polly Brown: “(Up Up Up) In a Puff of Smoke”
Wha Ha Ha: “Akatere”

 
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Hollywood Ending: Metzger on digital piracy, the Mediapunk interview
06.24.2010
03:35 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Richard Metzger

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Klint Finley conducted an interview with me last month about digital piracy, the death of the Hollywood business model and right-wing fucktards:

So your position is that piracy is going to completely undermine these businesses models?

Well, it’s not just piracy. It’s also changing consumer habits and what consumers will put up with. Price points that make sense and are viable in the consumer’s mind are not going to be the same sorts of numbers that sustain big Hollywood blockbusters. Shrek 4 was just released this weekend and in New York City the ticket prices edged north of $20. And it didn’t do that well. Because I think what they found is that there’s a pain threshold above which the consumer is saying “Fuck it!” Who the fuck is going to pay that much to see a Shrek movie instead of something else? It’s utterly ridiculous.

And then the other news, which shows that the Hollywood studios are ready to throw the theatrical distribution industry under a bus, is that they’re going to shorten the distribution window between theatrical release and DVDs in stores. Day-and-date releasing is something that Steven Soderbergh and Mark Cuban have done with their movies, but they got a lot of push-back. Hollywood studios are embracing this now. What does this do effectively? It’s like burning down the only grocery store in town. It doesn’t make any sense to do this from a selfish point of view –or an accounting, cash flow viewpoint–given current business realities. Yet they can’t not do it either!

There was one really compelling thing we found that stood out amongst all the facts about where the entertainment business is inevitably headed. Domestic box office basically pays for 15% towards what is goes to make tentpole motion pictures profitable these days. 85% is home viewing, including 59% for DVD sales. Hollywood is doomed, or at least the current way of business is doomed. That much is certain.

Read the entire interview at Media Punk

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