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Why was the best album of 2018 not on any of the year end ‘best of’ lists?
01.23.2019
11:48 am
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Jonathan Wilson by Magdalena Wosinska
 

[TL;DR: I have no idea why. It doesn’t make any sense.]

I was going to do one of those “top ten albums of 2018” listicles, but I procrastinated too much over the holidays and never got around to it. The thing was, I had dozens of albums that I loved in 2018, far more than ten, but it was like I had a clear #1 hands-down favorite and everything else was simply after it and in no particular order beyond that. However, in the past few days I’ve found myself clicking through the top 100 lists at several of the music blogs I frequent and I was a little shocked—and frankly annoyed—that what I felt was, without the slightest doubt, the single best thing released all year was not only given critical short shrift, it was hardly afforded any shrift whatsoever.

And the album I refer to, is, I can assure you, one of those affairs where you could not possibly be exposed to it—I don’t think—and not be suitably impressed, if not utterly flabbergasted by the gleaming brilliance right in front of your ears. Nothing subtle, but the kind of music, performance and production quality that is obviously next level stuff. I felt like I was seeing something that rightly should have been proclaimed an instant classic get lost in a year of tumultuous shuffle.

Not only that, I’m friends with the artist and was involved with drafting the press materials for the release. I’d interviewed him about the music and what inspired and motivated its creation, and in fact, I’ve had a copy of the album since mid-2017 making it my favorite new album of both that year and of 2018. This album was played nonstop in our house for many months. If I woke up in the middle of the night to take a piss, it was inevitably playing in my head. The second my eyes opened in the morning it was still there on a loop between my ears, often in mid song.

I refer here to the phenomenal Rare Birds by Jonathan Wilson. As I was saying above, I thought 2018 was a great year for new music, but there was for me nothing else even close to this album. Luckily for me I really don’t have to try to convince you of the resounding correctness of my opinion as you can simply press play below from the comfort of where you are reading this and have a listen for yourself. But I also know that fewer than 2% of you will bother to listen to the thing you are happily reading about. People would rather read a short description of something than to actually experience it for themselves. That seems odd to contemplate, but we all do it. Me, you, everyone does. So that’s what I’m working with here. Having said that, to those readers curious enough already to think they might just want to give it a listen, don’t wait, pause for a moment, scroll down the page a bit, hit play and come back. I’ll wait. Go on, DO IT.
 

Jonathan Wilson onstage with Roger Waters. He even sang “Money”!
 
I guess what might be in order, would be a little background: Jonathan Wilson is an American musician based in Los Angeles and the owner of a very nicely appointed recording studio housed on his hillside Echo Park compound. He is generally considered a “guitar hero.” For the past few years he was an integral part of Roger Waters’ touring band, playing lead guitar and taking the vocal duties over for the Dave Gilmour numbers. You might also know him as the creative partner/producer of Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, on Tillman’s first three FJM albums. He’s collaborated with the likes of Dawes, Chris Robinson, Bob Weir, Erykah Badu, Robbie Robertson, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Roy Harper, Will Oldham, Elvis Costello, Conor Oberst, Karen Elson, and Wilco’s Patrick Sansone. He’s toured the US with Tame Impala (a fantastic double bill, I can assure you) and in Europe he’s opened for Neil Young and toured with Tom Petty.

In England, where Wilson records for Bella Union, his first album, Gentle Spirit, was (appropriately) given rave reviews and prominent spots in several year end lists (#4 in MOJO, #16 in Uncut, #28 in The Guardian) while Jonathan Wilson himself was named Uncut magazine’s 2011 “New Artist of the Year.” Back home, the album was known to hardcore music heads, and the more clued-in Father John Misty fans, but that was about it. I did, and do, find that a ridiculous state of affairs. I watched a truly classic debut—one that should have been a bestseller and multiple Grammy nominee—fall through the cracks in real time. The astonishing follow-up, Fanfare, which I found to be equally as good as its near perfect predecessor suffered a similar fate. Not for any lack in the music, but from a baffling lack of listeners. (I’ve said it above, but will repeat: I cannot imagine having halfway decent taste in music, being exposed to Wilson’s output and not recognize that you’ve just had gold poured into your ears.)

Rare Birds, Wilson’s third album—I won’t say it’s “his best” because they are all the best—is by far his most complex offering. It is an album which demands to be paid attention to. It’s something that’s meant to be listened to all the way through, from start to finish, stoned, alone, and in the dark. A work of art, in other words, not something to stream in the background on Spotify. His first two albums were compared a lot to CSNY and Pink Floyd—a bit too much if you ask me, even if I am guilty of it myself—but it is true to say that his guitar playing on those records occupies the exact midpoint between the styles of Stephen Stills and David Gilmour. (If you won’t take my word for it, perhaps you’ll take Roger Waters’ opinion seriously?) With Rare Birds no one would make those same comparisons. Here Wilson does a full tilt 1980s Kate Bush or Peter Gabriel thing, using as many as 155 tracks on a given song. Everything is recorded to 2” analog tape through an audio board that was once used at Pye Studios in London (The Kinks, Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, and many others have recorded with it) and taken into ProTools from there before being laid off again to 2” tape for mastering. He’s the type of maniac who will use eight mics for a single drum and told me that he perceived the process of making Rare Birds as if he’d assigned himself a puzzle—a 155 multi-tracked musical Rubik’s Cube—which he then had to solve.

The overall sonic signature of Rare Birds, not heard before on one of Wilson’s albums, is the sound of multiple synthesizers and drum machines that will remind many listeners of Talk Talk’s lush Spirit of Eden (although that album, which was largely improvised, utilized the exact opposite of Wilson’s meticulously planned-by-schematic—included in the vinyl release—working methods.) Inspired by watching Roger Waters working in his studio, layers of sound effects have also been added to the mix. And did I mention that he’s also playing and singing almost everything heard on the album? There are some notable guests—Laraaji, the new age musician and Brian Eno collaborator whose otherworldly vocal contribution to “Loving You” opens the album’s third eye; Father John Misty, the vocal duo Lucius, and Lana Del Rey (instantly recognizable, her minimalist whispered vocal contribution to “Living With Myself” accomplishes so much with so little)—but by and large he’s Todd Rundgrening it here. As far as self-produced solo albums go, this one’s pretty damned solo.
 

 
Thematically, Rare Birds is a break-up album—like Blood on the Tracks, and I can assure you that I am not bringing up that masterpiece for no particular reason here. As the album begins, he’s seeing his ex everywhere. She’s driving on the 405 listening to Zappa, or walking across Trafalgar Square whistling a tune with Little Jimmy Dickens. The point is that he’s seeing her everywhere and the album as it progresses is a diary of how he processed what happened to that relationship. During the meet/cute moment she enters her name “just as ‘tight blue jeans’ in my phone, I guess you do this kind of thing…” It’s specifically about one relationship, but anyone going through a break-up and trying to heal afterward could easily project themselves onto the lyrics. It’s songs about love lost, but in the end everyone is going to be fine.

The audiophile-level sound quality of the entire affair is nothing less than remarkable. When I first got it I listened to it, for months, via speakers. Then one night I had just gotten a new pair of headphones and I decided to listen to Rare Birds with them which revealed layer upon layer and subtle details galore that I had never noticed before, despite hundreds of listens. It was astounding to me and exactly the sort of experience that I crave and seek out as a listener. Two months ago I considerably upgraded my stereo system and one of the very first things I thought to play was Rare Birds and once again, I could hear far deeper into the mix. Layer upon layer deeper. This is a much, much higher fidelity than we typically get from any artist. And it is noticeably so.*

Last year, writing about Britpop’s acerbic uncle Luke Haines, I called him the very best British songwriter of his generation—that he is—and remarked that comparing what he did to what most other pop musicians do was like comparing a master mason to someone good at putting up sheds. I feel similarly about Jonathan Wilson and have been on record for some time touting him as, in my opinion, the single best American musician working today, but Wilson can also make a guitar by hand (his axes fetch five figures), as well as build and wire an entire recording studio from the ground up. He isn’t merely a master mason, he’s handcarved all of the very elaborate furniture in the house and done the inspired landscaping. He’s a musician’s musician, with an almost unfathomable talent and breathtaking prowess on so many instruments, but the notion that he’s someone’s sideman—even to greats like Father John Misty and Roger-fucking-Waters—well that’s just not right.

But what would it take to convince you of that? A classic 10/10 gleaming audiophile masterpiece? The man’s put out three of ‘em so far. It’s time for the listening public to catch up to Jonathan Wilson in 2019.

Jonathan Wilson and his band will be touring selected American cities next month. More information and tickets here.
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.23.2019
11:48 am
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Amusing promo shots from ‘Tron’ featuring Jeff Bridges and miscellaneous randos
01.22.2019
06:52 am
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Unleashed upon the world in the same year as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Blade Runner, the Disney production Tron may not have been the best sci-fi movie ever made, but it was certainly among the most stylish. For tweens who desperately wanted to know what it might be like to live inside the Pac-Man console down at the local “arcade”—1982 being a very big year for that particular game as well—Tron was definitely the flick for that craving.

Tron had assets aside from its production design, however. The movie may not have been designed to take particular advantage of the considerable charm of Jeff Bridges, later seen in his indelible performances as the Dude, Rooster Cogburn, and Otis “Bad” Blake, but you can’t really argue with that casting choice, and in David Warner the movie had that moment’s most deliciously malevolent baddie (also appearing as Evil itself in Time Bandits and as Jack the Ripper in Time After Time).

These promo shots and/or production stills are amusing primarily for forcing the actors involved (Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan prominently among them) to do without the blue glow of the post-production special effects, revealing them to be a passel of California actors doing that make-believe that sometimes pays so very well. Enjoy ‘em.
 

 

 

 
Tons more after the jump….....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.22.2019
06:52 am
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F#ck it up Pigface: Watch the fabled industrial supergroup’s 1992 tour documentary
01.22.2019
05:56 am
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The phrase “industrial rock supergroup” is not something you hear very often. Back in 1990, Al Jourgensen assembled scene all-stars Martin Atkins (PiL, Killing Joke), Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy), and Chris Connelly (Revolting Cocks) to tour with Ministry in support of their record The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste. The onstage chaos can be seen depicted in the video companion to their live album, In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up.
 
Atkins recognized the potential of this joint effort, in more ways than what he referred to as a “Ministry cover band.” Along with Ministry’s William Rieflin, the two drummers formed Pigface. They recruited other like-minded members of the music community to perform in and collaborate with the collective, keeping it an experimental “revolving door” of participation. Both Nivek Ogre and Chris Connelly were contributors to Pigface, along with an insanely long and impressive list of rotating, alternative heavy-hitters, like Trent Reznor, Flea, David Yow, Genesis P-Orridge, Black Francis, Steve Albini, Michael Gira, Jello Biafra, and so on.
 

“The Industrial Show from the Blackest Pit of Hell”: Pigface in Ann Arbor, 1993
 

Pigface - “Suck” (feat. Trent Reznor)
 
Given that a transformative project as ambitious as this could fizzle out at any second, Pigface released a VHS tour documentary called Glitch in 1992. The video is made up of snippets of backstage interviews and live footage of their high-energy concerts, described in the film as “a circus that keeps changing every time.” The group may have released their most coherent and well-received record Fook during this span, yet the tumultuous 10+ member live performances were known to be inconsistent and oftentimes nightmarish.
 
There have been gaps in between, but Pigface has never broken up. That’s the beauty of a band with over one hundred members, although the self-inflicted anarchy at its core has made it difficult for fans to follow along. In 2016, Pigface reappeared for two shows in Chicago, featuring members both old and new. In 1996, a follow-up documentary was released, titled Son of a Glitch. There are snippets of it around Youtube, or you can get the DVD.
 
Watch industrial supergroup Pigface’s 1992 documentary ‘Glitch’ after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Bennett Kogon
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01.22.2019
05:56 am
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Brother Theodore, one of David Letterman’s all-time most memorable guests, lectures us on ‘Foodism’
01.18.2019
01:07 pm
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“My name, as you may have guessed, is Theodore. I come from a strange stock. The members of my family were mostly epileptics, vegetarians, stutterers, triplets, nail biters. But we’ve always been happy.”—Brother Theodore

I’m not sure this story qualifies as an actual anecdote or just a meandering way of introducing an amazing collection of YouTube clips, but here goes nuthin’...

As a lad growing up in Wheeling, WV in the 1970s, at approximately the age of twelve, I decided that I was no longer going to eat the food I was being served by my parents. In a home where greasy pan-fried hamburgers (or “Steakums”) were the typical main course and Kraft macaroni and cheese substituted for the “vegetable group,” I simply wanted to eat healthier. My parents were not very happy about this this demand—for that is what it was—and it seemed really insulting to them, but what could they do? The severity of my new diet must have really taken them by surprise. I became, pretty much a Fruitatarian, or a raw foodist, years before this was common. What influenced my twelve-year-old mind to do something like this was an obscure book I found in the local library with the distinctly unappetizing title, Mucusless Diet Healing System by Dr. Arnold Ehret.
 

 
I won’t go into the details of the diet, which extols the value of avoiding “mucus” and “pus” in your food—sounds like an admirable goal, right?—but suffice to say that while Dr. Ehret’s work still has many followers—he’s thought of as the founder of Naturopathy—many diet experts consider him a total quack. But I am not here to debate the merits of his ideas, pro or con, merely to offer some brief context before I send you off to read this short essay, The Definitive Cure of Chronic Constipation.

Okay? You got that? At the very least skim it. The language he uses is quite distinctive isn’t it? The total disgust he expresses about the workings of the digestive system is almost Nietzschean in its peculiar character. This absolutist tone must’ve contributed greatly to my pre-teen interest in the diet.
 

 
Now flash-forward to the late 1990s, New York City. I had become friends with the then 91-year-old Theodore Gottlieb, better-known as the infamous dark comedian Brother Theodore, a big influence on monologists Eric Bogosian, Lydia Lunch and Spalding Gray, who had been performing his totally insane one-man show at the tiny 13th Street Theater in Greenwich Village for ages and was a frequent guest on David Letterman’s late night talkshow during the 1980s. Theodore, or rather his persona, was once described as “Boris Karloff, surrealist Salvador Dalí, Nijinsky and Red Skelton…simultaneously.” That’s not far off the mark.

At his age, it was not much of an exaggeration to say that Theodore had “been around forever.” He was delivering lines like “The only thing that keeps me alive is the hope of dying young” long before I was born. What was a great gag when he was, say, 50 years old, and then to STILL be delivering a line like that at the age of 93, as he did on my UK television series, Disinformation, well that, shall we say existential tension is what made his nonagenarian performances so incredibly spell-binding.
 
image
 
His show was in the form of a stern lecture. It was nearly impossible to tell if this was an act you were seeing or if he was utterly batshit crazy, a berserk “genius” impervious to laughter as long as an audience bought tickets. The props were a chair, a table, a chalk board and a styrofoam cup. There was a single spotlight. If you were anywhere near the stage in that little theater he could totally scare the shit out of you. Of course, whenever I brought friends, I took them right down the front!

It was an act, I can assure you. Theodore in real life was a mellow old bohemian guy who lived several lives in his 94 years. He’d been in Dachau, for instance. His mother, stepfather and sister were killed, but Theodore’s release was secured by none other than Albert Einstein—his mother’s adulterous lover!—who paid his way to America after the war. He’d also been on Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and most famously on Late Night with David Letterman (Theodore, along with Harvey Pekar, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Captain Beefheart, was one of the most memorable and emblematic oddball Letterman guests of his early era).  He was in The Burbs playing Tom Hanks’ great uncle and was the voice of “Gollum” in The Hobbit cartoon. He had a cameo in Orson Welles’ The Stranger. He was even in a porno movie, an X-rated parody of Jaws called Gums (Theo plays the boat captain, in a thankfully non-balling role. The former concentration camp prisoner is also seen, rather inexplicably, wearing a Nazi SS uniform for most of the film). In his nineties he was dating a woman in her mid-forties. He rode a bike around New York City until he was well into his eighties. Theodore was an old Beatnik, that’s the way I saw him. I think that’s largely the way he saw himself.
 

 
And talk about a weird way to make a living! He really wasn’t anything like his crazed monk act in real life, though. And let me tell you, when you are in your thirties and have a friend who is in their nineties… you learn things about life. Not all of them good, either. 94 years is a long time to live. Too long, if you ask me. I’m quite sure he felt that way, too.

Theodore apparently had great difficulty memorizing lines, even his own material and so he only really ever did two major monologues—he’d switch off between them when he felt like it—for over 40 years. One was called “Foodism”—we’ll get to this one in a minute—and the other was called “Quadrupidism” where he’d extol the virtues of human beings getting down on all fours (everything went to hell when our ancestors stood up according to his theories).
 
image
 
One day I was visiting Theodore at his apartment and I was looking at his sparse book shelf. On it sat The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Baudelaire’s Les Fleur du Mal, an Edgar Allan Poe anthology, The Portable Nietzsche, some Saint Augustine, and… ta da… The Mucusless Diet Healing System by Dr. Arnold Ehret. I remarked to him that I myself was a pre-teen adherent to Arnold Ehret’s unconventional ideas about diet and he replied that it was the inspiration for his “Foodism” monologue.  “I merely exaggerated his writings. Just slightly. That was all it took!”

My jaw hit the ground. He’d managed to craft one of the most brilliant comic monologues of all time based on Ehret’s zany diet-sprach. I was awestruck at how amazing this revelation really was. I mean… how creative!!!

You read that essay about constipation, right? Promise me? Now go watch this extended excerpt from the “Foodism” lecture performed on Late Night with David Letterman in the mid-80s.
 

 
After the jump, every single Brother Theodore appearance on ‘Late Night With David Letterman!

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.18.2019
01:07 pm
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Why Iggy Pop’s guest role on ‘Miami Vice’ never aired
01.18.2019
09:29 am
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Iggy and dominatrix 1
 
Mid-1983 through 1985 are considered Iggy Pop’s “quiet years,” but he was still active and looking for ways to challenge himself. Acting was one such endeavor, with Pop taking classes and auditioning for various roles. This included a 1984 tryout for a part on a new NBC program, Miami Vice. During a 1986 newspaper interview, casting director Bonnie Timmermann talked about Iggy’s audition for the show.

He came in with his big eyes and black hair and sat and stared at me. Despite his reputation as a wild man, he was gentle. I immediately liked him. Iggy came in for a biker role, but we ended up giving him another part.

The Ig was slated to play opposite fellow Michigander Glenn Frey in a February 1st, 1985 episode named after Frey’s song, “Smuggler’s Blues.” But Pop didn’t turn up on set, and his absence was widely reported in the press. “He was supposed to be in the show. We announced it,” said an NBC spokesperson in January 1985. “But when it came time to make the arrangements, we couldn’t find him.” It seemed Iggy had simply flaked.
 
Iggy clipping 1
 
But that wasn’t the case. When Iggy saw a February 1985 article in the San Francisco Examiner about his “no show,” he was stunned. He never knew he had been given the part.
 
Iggy clipping 2
 
Miami Vice must have accepted this explanation, as Iggy was cast in another season one episode, entitled “Evan.” Pop’s part was that of a police informant named Thumper, a proprietor of a S&M-themed club. A scene was shot in the club’s setting, and Iggy’s guest role was noted in newspapers, but when the episode aired on May 3rd, 1985, the Ig was nowhere to be seen.
 
Iggy and Don
A publicity photo of Iggy Pop and ‘Miami Vice’ star, Don Johnson.

So, what happened with Iggy and the show this time?

This scene was cut by NBC Censors (Broadcast Standards Division) due to its S&M content. Camille Sands, an actress who had the small part of a dominatrix called Velvet, remembered later that the scene contained a customer of the S&M studio being molested on a torture rack while Don Johnson talked to Iggy Pop. The urge of NBC to cut this out led to the first serious argument with the Miami Vice producers, who refused to alter the episode. Subsequently, NBC used its contractual right of final cut, and cut the whole scene. (from the Unofficial ‘Miami Vice’ Episode Guide)

What would have been Iggy Pop’s dramatic television debut remains unseen to this day. All we have are a handful of publicity photos and snapshots taken on set.
 
Iggy as Thumper
 
Iggy and dominatrix 2
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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01.18.2019
09:29 am
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A TARDIS that Grows Weed with Artificial Intelligence
01.17.2019
04:25 pm
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Credit: Ron Kretsch

Or “How I, a complete novice, got here, from there…”

I am a 53-year-old wake-n-bake stoner and I’ve been high since… well… since 1979. Leaving much of that, er, loaded statement aside (and yes, as a definitive study of one, I do plan to leave my body to science) think of all the money I’ve spent staying massively stoned since I was fourteen. At approximately $20 a day over 365 days per annum ($7300) for 39 years that comes to $284,700 but do consider that I had to make nearly twice that and pay tax on that income before I could spend it on herb. Money doesn’t grow on trees, of course, but there was a time not all that long ago when an ounce of pot and an ounce of gold were the exact same price, for a little perspective.

I kid myself that all my money was spent on books and records, but I know the truth. And the truth is, I have no regrets. Frankly I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without marijuana nor do I wish to try. It seems obvious in retrospect that I was, and am, self-medicating, but who cares about that? I simply don’t feel right until I’ve smoked around ten bong hits and I have always been this way since the very first time that I smoked pot. But again, add up all the money I’ve spent each and every day since 1979 and it only makes sense that with legalization I would want to start growing my own.

Now I’ve been around quite a few grow rooms—some really sophisticated ones—and I have good friends who are master growers, but I myself have never grown anything, not even tomatoes, let alone cannabis plants that resemble Venus Fly Traps. Nevertheless my enthusiasm—I’m finally going to grow pot!!—was not to be dampered by my utter cluelessness as to what the task at hand actually called for. Standing in my new home I announced to two friends that I was going to start growing pot and they started pelting me with annoyingly reasonable questions. Questions that I could not answer. Questions like “Where are you going to do it?” 

“In the garage. Or the attic.”

“You can’t do that. You’ll get spider mites.”

“Or mold”

“You know you’ll need a grow tent, right?”

If you are reading this because you are interested in growing pot yourself, you probably feel vicariously defeated by what you just read. Admit it, you sighed at the thought of it: It already sounds harder than buying a clone at a dispensary, putting it under a light and giving it a squirt of Miracle Gro several times a day, doesn’t it? What’s a grow tent?

I felt like an overeager dummy. I also realized in that very moment how it was already seeming like an overwhelming task to me.

The next day I read several “how to grow pot” blog posts and the advice was, to say the least, all over the place and often contradicted the thing I’d read right before it.

I thought the obvious first place to start looking would be lights. I knew that I wanted LED lights (better, cheaper, cooler, safer) and perhaps the one place where many pot bloggers were in agreement was regarding Black Dog Lights. It was clear to me that Black Dog’s full spectrum grow lights was the way that I wanted to go, so I crossed that off the list (more on this topic later in this series.)

Something I also noticed immediately is that Home Depot’s online presence might be the single best and biggest internet source of all things hydroponic. But unlike the topic of LED lighting, with no clear grower consensus in grow tents or nutrients, I was again overwhelmed. How was I even gonna hang a Black Dog light in my (theoretical) grow tent anyway? Did I mention that I’ve never grown any plant? I did. Well I’m also helpless with a hammer and tools and so forth. I have no talent in that area whatsoever. I’ve been an apartment dweller for most of my life. So the idea of making a grow tent and hanging the lights and doing all that made this seem like it was going to be less fun than putting together an Ikea dresser. It was seriously daunting. You think it’s going to be easy, but when you want to get off the dime, you could go in a bewildering number of directions and it’s difficult to be confident that you’re not going to waste a lot of money experimenting until you get it right. That’s the way it was quickly shaping up to me.

Fortunately I have some human resources to rely on. I emailed my old friend Michael Backes, an internationally known expert on cannabis and the author of Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana. I explained my dilemma and he gave me several pieces of good advice. First he suggested that I purchase and read (and reread and then reread again) Jorge Cervantes’ Cannabis Encyclopedia. He also sent me a PDF of a study about pot growing hygiene which made a very strong case for using hydrogen peroxide to fastidiously clean all surfaces in your growing area. When I expressed exasperation about how complicated the supposedly simple act of growing a weed (properly) was shaping up to be, he suggested that he knew a consultant who was adept at setting up grow rooms large and small and that he’d probably charge me $4000 plus equipment and expenses to set me up right.

When I informed him that I didn’t see myself ever growing more than six plants, he sent me a link to the Cloudponics website and suggested this might be more what I was looking for: a truly turnkey pot growing solution. Although there are a small number of companies touting their automated grow boxes on Kickstarter and elsewhere, so far only Cloudponics had actually made it to market and they’d already launched their second iteration. I noticed that Cloudponics was utilizing Black Dog’s full spectrum LED grow lights and my interest was immediately piqued. I watched their video—a nudge-nudge-wink-wink tutorial on growing your own hydroponic tomatoes (see below)—and I realized that this was exactly what I needed, I just didn’t know it yet.

TO BE CONTINUED in Part 2 of ‘A TARDIS that Grows Weed with Artificial Intelligence’!
 

A time-traveling bud from the future. Stayed tuned…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.17.2019
04:25 pm
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Holy shit, there’s video of Fred Neil singing ‘The Dolphins’
01.17.2019
08:55 am
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Rick Danko and Fred Neil onstage in Coconut Grove (Photo by Mark Diamond, via Twitter)
 
Other than an impromptu appearance at a Coconut Grove café in 1986, Fred Neil’s last show was a 1977 set at a Tokyo event called “Japan Celebrates the Whale and Dolphin.” All of his last concerts had something to do with marine mammals: before the Tokyo gig, there had been “Rolling Coconut Revue” shows at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in aid of a dolphin rescue organization Neil helped establish, and he made an appearance at the Sacramento “Celebration of Whales” event featuring Joni Mitchell, Gary Snyder, and Gov. Jerry Brown, singing “The Dolphins” with Joni.

After mentioning St. Petersburg, Florida in my last post, I started poking around for footage of hometown boy Fred Neil performing, or talking, or pumping gas, for that matter. There is not much. In fact, as far as I can tell, there is almost nothing—only this outstanding performance of “The Dolphins” from one of Neil’s last shows. The video below, dated August 2, 1976, likely comes from one of the Coconut Grove Playhouse benefits; that’s John Sebastian on harmonica, and I reckon that’s Neil’s former partner Vince Martin stage right.

With reasons to despair growing fat and multiplying, I thought we could all use a little pick-me-up from Fred Neil, whose music is always there to remind you that, no matter how bad it gets, you can always curl up in the trunk of your car with your handguns and slam heroin.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.17.2019
08:55 am
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Watch some ball-kicking self-defense with seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul
01.16.2019
08:12 am
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Down these mean streets a pop star must occasionally go. Though they may not be mean themselves, they are sometimes trained in martial arts like Elvis Presley who was a black belt able to disarm a whole plateful of cheeseburgers at fifteen paces. Or, Stevie Nicks who could fuck you up with her four-inch platform heels. Or, the late seventies pop princess Lynsey de Paul who was so adept at kicking butt in self-defense she made her very own video to let others in on her secret ninja skills.

Lynsey de Paul may not be as well-known today as Presley or Nicks but at the peak of her career in the 1970s, she was a chart-topping star on both sides of the Atlantic. The first woman to win an Ivor Novello Award for her song “Won’t Somebody Dance With Me” in 1974 (she won a second the following year with “No, Honestly”—the theme tune to a hit TV series), de Paul scored a string of hits before her career imploded after a fall-out with her manager Don Arden—aka Sharon Osbourne’s dad. Osbourne described de Paul as “a miserable old cow” and allegedly, during one acrimonious tour, urinated in a suitcase full of the singer’s clothes.

Lynsey de Paul was born Lynsey Monckton Rubin on June 11th, 1948, in north London. Her father was a bad-tempered old git, a property-developer who regularly beat de Paul and her brother. He also spent a lot of time demeaning and undermining his daughter who he claimed would never amount to anything. At the age of eleven, de Paul vowed to get her ass out of the family home ASAP and make enough dough to live an independent life far away from her old man. It was another ten years before de Paul managed to get out, but once gone she never looked back.

My motivation was negative because I was trying to get away from something. I turned it into something positive, so that I wasn’t walking away from home but towards something better.

De Paul studied at art college and had a brief career as a graphic designer before turning her talents towards songwriting in the late 1960s. She wrote a batch of singles for Oliver! star Jack Wild before writing a song called “Sugar Me” for Peter Noone. It was only when her then boyfriend Dudley Moore suggested she should record this single herself instead of Noone that a star was born. “Sugar Me” was de Paul’s first major hit in both the UK and the US. It was the kind of song that once you started singing the opening line, it was difficult not to follow on to the next.

One for you and one for me
But one and one and one,
Pardon me, comes to three.

A simple rhythm, a clever hook and then:

Honey sweet and all the while,
Hid behind the smile was saccharine
I’m a go-between.

I must have sung those lines more times than a few headshrinkers would think healthy. The first time I heard them, I was caught, filleted, and served up ready to eat. Not just for the beauty of the singer but the cleverness of the song. Those old enough to remember “Sugar Me” will know what I mean.
 

 
Watch Lynsey de Paul’s self-defense video ‘Taking Control,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.16.2019
08:12 am
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Moebius for Maxwell House, 1989
01.15.2019
09:32 am
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In 1989 Jean Giraud, or Moebius as he is universally known in the comix world, accepted an assignment from the Paris office of Young & Rubicam. The client was Maxwell House coffee, and the job called for a series of advertisements that would appear in French magazines. The images correlated roughly to what we would today call “a New Yorker cartoon” but they also overflowed with the exacting, unmistakable, visionary touch of Moebius, collaborator of Alejandro Jodorowsky, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and Luc Besson.

Moebius completed six images for Young & Rubicam but only four were actually used in magazines. The theme of the advertisements was “Grain de Folie,” which translates to something like “a touch of madness.” The purpose of the campaign appears to have been to convince French womankind that a coffee during the daytime might be seen as a proper activity or even a reward for completed tasks, as we shall see.

The heroine of the series was “Tatiana,” a self-possessed and fashionable young woman who happens to find herself alone on a deserted jungle island or the like. Rather than display a shred of panic, unflappable Tatiana instead demurely sips her cup of Maxwell House coffee, a cup that invariably is defined as a tiny expanse of white in an otherwise completely yellow image. Tatiana is so utterly capable that even the considerable threats of the jungle are reduced (in the caption, we find) to the everyday trials of suburban domesticity. Or something.

Here are two rather grainy images of the ads more or less in action. Note that you can see a small amount of white space to indicate where the center of the image would be, in the two-page spread of a magazine. (Better images—and translations—are supplied further down, never fear.)
 

 

 
Moebius fans have been aware of these images for quite a while. In 1991, just two years after the campaign, French artist Numa Sadoul included them in a book called Mœbius: Entretiens avec Numa Sadoul. A few years later they were printed in a limited run as Coffee Dreams, the 5th issue of Ashcan Comics, a series dedicated to Moebius rarities.
 

 
That issue, which was limited to just 100 copies, fetches $500 in online auction sites today—which is true of all of the Ashcan Comics that I was able to find.

Here are better-quality pics with proper captions so that you can enjoy the full effect of these indelible Moebius images:
 

Ce petit break fut un soulangement pour Tatiana qui se lassait tant de ces blablas intellos. (The little break was a relief for Tatiana, who was sick and tired of all the intellectual blah-blah.)

 
More Moebius after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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01.15.2019
09:32 am
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Breaking bad: Mötley Crüe’s porny photo layout in OUI magazine, 1982 (NSFW)
01.14.2019
08:53 am
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An early promo shot of Mötley Crüe.
 
In an effort to not diminish the importance of heavy metal in the year 1982, I feel compelled to make a few opening remarks on the year horny metal band Mötley Crüe first terrorized the eyes of “readers” of a national publication—adult magazine OUI.

In 1982, Venom released their deeply influential second album, Black Metal, the Scorpions burned our faces off with their eighth record, Blackout, Judas Priest delivered Screaming for Vengeance, and Iron Maiden unleashed The Number of the Beast. 1982 was also the same year the Plasmatics socked it to us with Coup d’Etat, which the LA Times called “the best slice of unrelenting heavy metal since the last AC/DC album” (1981’s For Those About To Rock). If referring to the Plasmatics as a “heavy metal” band makes you shake your head, here’s an interesting fact: Wendy O. and the band recorded Coup d’Etat in Germany with Dieter Dierks who had just worked with the Scorpions on Blackout. He helped push the Plasmatics’ punk sound to a heavier, more metal realm. Reviews of Coup d’Etat have even referred to Williams as an “Iron Maiden” for her vocal work on the record. So the next time someone tells you how much music in the 80s sucked, tell ‘em to Stop. Now that we have established 1982 as a pretty damn good year for heavy metal let’s talk about Mötley Crüe’s appearance in Playboy magazine’s pornier sister publication, OUI. (Playboy’s Penthouse, if you will.)

As noted above, this would be the first time Crüe’s mugs (and more) would be seen in a magazine with national distribution. Crüe had not even been called Mötley Crüe for a year when photographer Mark Weiss came to LA to shoot the band in their natural surroundings for one of his monthly contributions to OUI which, according to Weiss, kept him busy taking photos of rock stars and naked ladies. While Weiss was in LA, he took twenty or so shots of Mötley mugging for their lives with a couple of topless blonde models, pentagrams, all of the Aqua Net, human skulls, and a motorcycle, among other heavy metal staples. The photoshoot is accompanied by a long interview with Nikki, Tommy, Mick, and Vince (the magazine mistakenly spelled Vince’s last name as “Neal”), with OUI writers Mikael Kirke and Joe Bivona. It is full of all kinds of salacious statements—as one should expect it to be. And, since OUI was a porn magazine, the 1982 version of Mötley Crüe were probably even more over the top than usual (you can read the entire interview here). Here’s one excerpt not about sex, but an account by Vince about a science experiment Crüe conducted in Canada in order to deduce how long it would take for a Sony television set to fall out of a hotel window:

Oui: Are you guys into tearing up hotels?
Vince Neil: We got thrown out of Canada for that. Don’t bring a Sony TV in front of Mötley Crüe. You won’t have it too long.
Oui: So how long does it take for a television to…
Vince Neil: To drop out of a hotel? We timed it. Everybody in the band had a TV set, and we threw them out one at a time. Mickey’s (guitarist Mick Mars) went down in exactly seven seconds, which is a little over his mark. Nikki’s went down in 6.3 seconds, but he gave it a little push. Tommy’s went down in five seconds flat and hit a hooker on the street. She must have some voice to scream that loud!

First of all, Crüe’s antics during their 1982 tour of Canada are well documented and Lee’s television tossing has been verified as fact. However, if said television did inadvertently hit a hooker on its way to its death, I can’t understand why there isn’t a news item with the title, “Tommy Lee Nails Canadian Hooker With TV,” but that’s just how my brain tries to come to terms with such conundrums. I should probably get that checked out. Lastly, there is one more heavy metal connection in this issue of OUI—the model on the cover is Cheryl Rixon. Rixon, Penthouse magazine’s Pet of the Year in 1979, appeared in a controversial layout in Kerrang! magazine in 1982 with none other than Judas Priest.
 

 

 
More photos of Mötley Crüe behaving exactly like you’d expect Mötley Crüe to behave follow after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.14.2019
08:53 am
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