Labor activist and anarchist Irving Abrams is my hero. I love his words of wisdom in this short clip from the documentary The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists
The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists traces the history of a Yiddish anarchist newspaper (Fraye Arbeter Shtime - The Free Voice of Labor) publishing its final issue after 87 years. Narrated by anarchist historian Paul Avrich, the story is mostly told by the newspaper’s now elderly, but decidedly unbowed staff. It’s the story of one of the largest radical movements among Jewish immigrant workers in the 19th and 20th centuries, the conditions that led them to band together, their fight to build trade unions, their huge differences with the communists, their attitudes towards violence, Yiddish culture, and their loyalty to one another.”
Watch The Free Voice of Labor: The Jewish Anarchists in its entirety after the jump…
That gorgeous heavenly body we call the moon came as close to Earth on Saturday night as it will get all year. It was downright flirtatious. At approximately 222,000 miles from our planet, the moon was 15,300 miles closer to us than usual and appeared about 14% larger than we’re accustomed to.
I caught a brief glimpse of the Supermoon from my backyard in Austin just minutes before a torrential downpour hit central Texas with monsoon-like force. Was the rainstorm a gift from the moon to the parched Texas soil? The trees and flowers seemed grateful, glutted and giddy. Or so I imagined, as my own lunar tides shifted in accordance with the will of the powerful goddess in the sky.
It’s still sinking in here that MCA-aka Adam Yauch- has died, and that, in effect, the Beastie Boys are no more. What a fucking bummer.
It’s an inescapable fact that the Beastie Boys are one of the bands that define my generation. If you were a child at any point from the mid 80s up until the late 90s you cannot have escaped their influence. And I’m not just talking about their music; their aesthetic reached everywhere, from film and music videos to magazine publishing and clothes lines.
I feel like my generation (and I use that term loosely) don’t have a singular iconic figure they can point too, like a Prince or a Bowie. You know, that one person that unites an entire age group through sheer talent and poise. Well, the Beasties may not have had the incredible album-a-year productivity rate of Prince or Bowie at their prime (in fact they were legendarily slow at making music,) but their extra-musicular activites more than made up for that, and meant that when their albums did drop it was a major event.
More than just the music on its own, more than the Grande Royale magazine and record label, more than fantastic the art work or the trend-setting X-Large clothing range, it was the Beastie Boys incredible videos that set them apart, and brought their diverse fan base together. They really knew how to work in different media while retaining their core identity, making them some of the first and most successful rap music entrepreneurs, and this placed them right at the centre of the 90s golden age of both hip-hop and music videos. And there steering the helm of most of those awesome Beastie Boys promo clips was Yauch himself, often in the guise of Swiss director Nathanial Hornblower.
My God, looking back now it’s startling to think of how these videos have influenced my life and my addiction to (and perception of) pop culture.
I caught the raunchy video for ‘She’s On It” on TV when I was about 8 years old and the image of Mike D sliding an ice cube down a bikini-clad model’s back has been seared into my brain ever since. I didn’t quite understand what was going on in that shot at the time (hey, I was too young and too sheltered) but there was naked flesh and it was naughty and exciting. I still remember that tingly feeling of not wanting my parents to walk in and see me watching the video. Even though that’s a feeling that returned often in my teenage years, I guess I can say that seeing “She’s On It” was one of my first childhood sexual experiences.
When I was 13 the promo for Check Your Head‘s opening track “Jimmy James” was a staple on late night European cable music channels, the kind I would creep downstairs and watch on low volume while my parents were asleep. It was hard to keep the volume on this one down, and the visuals themselves were a hypnotic template for everything I thought rocked in the world at the time - New York subways, vintage go-go strippers, dope looking rappers filmed in fish-eye lenses, burning 8mm film, Jimi fucking Hendrix. At this point the Beastie Boys were a bit of an unknown quantity in the UK press, as their reputation stemmed largely from the License To Ill “frat” period (Paul’s Boutique was still being seen as a costly, if interesting, flop.) Still, “Jimmy James” (and “So Watcha Want”) was THE SHIT, and helped spread the word of mouth amongst listeners and the journos alike about how great Check Your Head was.
Early 1994 saw the release of “Sabotage”. Sure, the clip was directed by Spike Jonze, but Yauch’s fingerprints were all over it. I don’t think I need to write much about this video, only to say that it really was a cultural milestone for people my age. Almost single handedly it ushered in a new era. Out went heroin-chic and woe-is-me grunge, and in came a new sense of fun (with a healthy dose of irony.) Here was an appreciation of pop-culture’s bargain bin that tied in nicely with Tarantino, some new looks that were equal parts vintage and street, and most importantly of all an incredibly broad musical palate where anything went.
Beyond the stone cold classic video, “Sabotage” pushed boundaries musically. Yeah, so it may be a straight forward punk song, but how many ‘rap groups’ had ever done something like that? In fact, me and my friends didn’t really perceive the Beasties as strictly a ‘rap group’ per se, even though (obviously) they rapped. They were more than that. Presumably because they were white and played actual instruments on occasion, they weren’t talked about in the same hallowed tones as Cypress Hill or Public Enemy. But they were very much a gateway to those bands, and the more commercial hip-hop that followed, and their blessing of the above mentioned acts with tours and remixes made it feel ok for middle-class white kids to define themselves as “rap fans.”
Last year’s video for “Make Some Noise” brought the band back in to the limelight, not least for the starry cast list: what other modern act would be able to convince Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Elijah Wood to play them in a clip AND THEN rope in Ted Danson, Kirstin Dunst and Will Ferrell for additional cameos? But the real fan treat was the clip for “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”, which featured G.I.Joe-style puppet versions of the band doing battle underwater, on ice, and even at a music festival.
Adam Yauch was a visionary, and should be remembered for his film work just as much as his music. In fact, he brought music and film together better than anyone else up to that point, and for that has to be counted as a huge influence and inspiration on the artistic endeavours of myself and my peers. I probably wouldn’t do what I do now if it weren’t for him.
And he did it while wearing a ginger wig and lederhosen. Here’s a strange (and strangely touching) short film of Yauch David Cross [? - what’s going on here?] as Hornblower, shooting the shit on a NY Street and engaging in a game of chess with a labrador:
Adam Yauch, aka MCA, aka Nathanial Hornblower (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012.)
Rest In Peace.
After the jump, videos for the above mentioned Beastie Boys songs, and a 1992 interview with the band featuring Yauch (yes, definitely Yauch this time) in full Hornblower attire…
The artist Edward C. Zacharewicz died yesterday at a hospital in New Jersey, he was 51. A message on his website Decay Art reads:
Sadly, on Friday May 4th 2012, Edward passed away. He leaves behind him a legacy of creativity and a large community of friends and supporters who will carry on his memory. He has enabled and encouraged many other people to follow their creative dreams and become the artists that they were meant to be, and he will be sorely missed. We love you Ed. This world lost a great artist and a great man.
I never met Edward, our friendship came by chance 2 years ago, I saw some of his paintings (breath-taking) and this led to our introduction. The conversation started and grew through messages and emails, wee small hours discussions about painting, deppression, happiness and life. He was a kind, thoughtful and wonderful man, and I greatly admired him and his artwork.
In 2010, I interviewed Edward about his art and life, and only last month we planned to do a follow-up piece. Here is an extract from that original article in tribute to Edward C. Zacharewicz.
The artist, Edward C. Zacharewicz has a large collection of antique paintings and religious prints. The collection is a reminder of the images from his childhood that inspired him to start painting.
‘I was kid and going to Catholic Church with my parents and sitting there and just looking at the paintings and murals and how beautiful they were.’
It was the colours of the paintings – the bright flame of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the royal blue dress of the Virgin Mary, the scourged body, the pierced side, the hues and textures of the crucified Christ.
Colors were important even then. His parents bought him painting-by-number sets and Edward filled them diligently.
‘I always enjoyed coloring, still do. I actually didn’t start to draw until I was 8 or 9 years old. I think it was working with color that led me to paint in the style I do.
‘Color can show much emotion without being in a physical form.’
For me, Zacharewicz’s paintings are amongst the most powerful abstract paintings of recent years.
When you look at a Zacharewicz, you can understand why his favourite painter is William Turner, the man he describes as ‘the master of making colour show power and emotion.’
Turner was the ‘painter of light’. His work anticipated Impressionism, and his use of brush on canvas suggested elements of Abstract art.
Like Turner, Zacharewicz creates layered puzzles.
‘All my paintings have to do with something from my life, a situation, a feeling, a thought, a person or place. I never decide, it just happens. I have a title for the work before I start.
‘I really don’t have a routine….sometimes I go weeks without painting, then all of a sudden I get this burst of wanting to paint…it might be a situation, it might be a spoken word.’
One of his most recent paintings was inspired this way.
‘It’s Not That Kind Of Party came from a conversation I was having with my friend Jessica Paris, who is the singer for Honey Spot Blvd.
‘I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but somehow that was said in the conversation and I told her I was going to use it as a title for a painting. The colors I used were based on her – bright, happy colors that work well with others.’
‘Sometimes, it takes me days to finish a painting, when there has been times were I have finished one in a few hours. It depends on the colours, if I want to blend them, layer them, or drag them.
‘I basically paint with acrylics, sometimes I do add oils to a painting because I love the texture it can give. Also on some I have used oil pastel crayons for a different look.
‘There are times when I look at a painting for a few hours figuring out if it is done or not. But, I always know when it is finished.’
R.I.P. Edward C. Zacharewicz 1960-2012
Love and Sorrow (2010)
More paintings by Edward C. Zacharewicz, after the jump…
As sardonic and dead-pan as its subject, London-based artist Krent Able’s “Dr. Cave” comics are a beautifully drawn and darkly hilarious series of adventures featuring rock n’ roll’s most lovable misanthrope.
Able is really quite brilliant. Visit his website and be prepared to have your mind blown. His work is a perfect balance of wit and stunning craft.
Able has a great idea for his images of Nick dancing with a duck and astride a monkey: “repeat it as a pattern, and then sell it as children’s wallpaper. Such a treat for the darling little ones!”
Krent Able is a regular contributor to one of the smartest music mags on the ‘net, The Stool Pigeon.
Although I try to stay away from the Internet as much as possible on weekends, I would not be serving the interests of our Bay Area readers—and indeed points elsewhere—if I didn’t post this item, this morning, so that they still have a chance to catch a great rock show tonight.
I have many times raved here on Dangerous Minds about Fear Fun, the new album by former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman, released under the Will Oldham-esque nom de plume of “Father John Misty” on Tuesday. (The album’s release was preceded by two singles, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” and “Nancy From Now On”). You can read past DM posts on FJM here, here and here.
Last night Tillman and his band played a smokin’ hot gig amid the dinosaur bones at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, that Tara and I attended. We were waiting in the will call line for tickets and I overheard the guys behind us talking about the headliner. It was obvious that both were musicians and that they knew Tillman. They were there for the same reason we were: “Josh’s album is like THE album for me right now,” one of them said. “I can’t wait to hear it played live tonight with a band.” That’s what I was feeling, too and my expectations were as (cough) high as I was. I have listened to Fear Fun in very heavy rotation for the past seven months—as I’ve written here before, it’s my favorite album of the year already—and I was blown away hearing it played live last night by an excellent, extremely tight, well-rehearsed band.
On Fear Fun there’s very much a “classic rock” feel, the album’s lush analog varnish being the work of ace producer Jonathan Wilson (who also plays on the album) and engineer/mixer Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, Built to Spill). It gets said in every review that the FJM sound is a gumbo of influences like Waylon Jennings, All Things Must Pass and Harry Nilsson (and this is all pretty accurate) but live the songs have a swampy, confident, bluesy swagger that recalls the Stones circa 1972. Lanky Tillman, arms flailing like a revival preacher hopped up on goofballs, led the band through Crazy Horse-like guitar rave-ups that took the music into the stratosphere at several points during the set. He’s got a great fucking voice, too. Dude sings like Roy Orbison.
Truly, last night’s Father John Misty gig at the Museum of Natural History was a terrific rock and roll show from a band that will playing “big rooms” and rock festivals soon. If you have a chance to see the upcoming month-long tour (which travels to The Bottom of The Hill in San Francisco tonight), I highly recommend it. This album is going to be HUGE, it was obvious last night watching half the audience singing along with songs that were released just days before. (The other half of the audience, I think might have been there randomly because the show was part of the “First Fridays” concert series at the museum, but from the first song, those folks were pushing to the front, too, to check out what was happening onstage. They were won over, quickly and easily. My wife even danced and she never dances anywhere, ever).
Anyway, mark my words, this current month-long tour might be the last time you get to see Father John Misty in a 200-300 capacity club. If you trust my tastes in music, then get in on the FJM action now, it’s like seeing Neil Young live after he left the Buffalo Springfield. Seriously. Tillman’s a major American artist, as America is about to discover. He’s going to be around for a long, long time.
May 5 Bottom of The Hill, San Francisco CA
May 7 Neumos, Seattle WA
May 8 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland OR
May 11 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis MN
May 12, Schubas Tavern, Chicago IL
May 14 The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ONT
May 15 Petit Campus, Montreal PQ
May 16 Brighton Music Hall, Allston MA
May 18 Mercury Lounge, New York NY
May 19 Knitting Factory, Brooklyn NY
May 20 The Rock and Roll Hotel, Washington D.C.
May 26 The Mohawk, Austin TX
Fear Fun is out now on CD and limited edition pink vinyl on Sub Pop Records. Until last night, I had not seen the deluxe “billfold” packaging, which includes two poster sized print-outs of an entire Richard Brautigan-esque novel written by Josh Tillman and an amazing cover painting by New York-based artist Dimitri Drjuchin. It’s a really slick, impressively wordy package (think Thick As A Brick as a digipak) and provides more than enough for fans to get lost in Tillman’s unique literary—and mythic—rock and roll vision. Clearly the label indulged the artist, but I expect they’ll make their investment back many times over (the package makes it worth investing in the physical product). You can stream the entire album here.
FJM appeared on Late Night with David Letterman earlier this week and at the end you could tell that Letterman really liked what he heard. David Letterman seems to be someone who it would be tough to impress, but his enthusiasm post-song was pretty clearly stated, three times.
After the jump, FJM session on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic…
May 4th is Star Wars Day. I’m not sure what people do on Star Wars Day, but I’m keeping an eye out for random light saber attacks and stashing a bottle of air freshener in my pocket just in case.
I’ve always been more interested in the Star Wars phenomenon than the films themselves. The passions and obsessions that the movies generate among their fans is truly mindboggling to me. But I understand the need within the human psyche to dream and fantasize and the power of movie myth to give our world some order and a sense of good and evil, while all the while letting us escape from our own gravity.
From ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Jedi’: The Making of a Saga is a nicely done documentary written and produced by film critic Richard Schickel in 1983. A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at George Lucas’s alternative realities.
Dangerous Minds’ friend and fan Clint Weilor from Music Video Distributors sent us this timely press release.
This geekily cool Darth Maul flash drive went on sale today (May 4) in a limited edition of 504 copies (get it? 5/4).
I’m no fan of the George Lucas space operas, but if you are and want one these, visit Mimoco here. They’re only 20 bucks for the 8 gig version.
Available in 8GB to 64GB capacities, Hooded Darth Maul MIMOBOT® lets you channel your emotions, (even the dark ones), as you store and transport all your digital music, pics, documents, and more. And with exclusive preloaded digital extras that include Star Wars-themed icons, avatars, screensavers, wallpapers, and the mimoByte™ sound software that plays authentic Star Wars audio clips when MIMOBOT is inserted or ejected from your computer, your limited edition Hooded Darth Maul MIMOBOT will make this May the 4th the best Star Wars Day ever!”
As far as these things go, this is kind of badass.