Poster by Marian Zazeela for a raga cycle performance at St. John the Divine, 1991 (via The Hum)
William Farley’s In Between the Notes profiles the late Pandit Pran Nath, a singer and teacher in the Kirana school of Indian classical music. It features his most famous pupils, Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, and the late, great music scholar Robert Palmer sticks his head in, too.
Kicked out of the house at the age of 13 because he insisted on becoming a musician, Pran Nath made friends with the outdoors, as this short documentary illustrates. In Delhi, he demonstrates his keen ear for bird songs; on his return to the Tapkeshwar Caves, where, on the advice of his guru, he had lived for five years as a renunciant, Pran Nath shows how the sound of rushing water can stand in for the drone of a tambura when you are a homeless sadhu.
But if it was to be a tambura instead of a babbling brook, it had better be a “Pandit Pran Nath-style tambura.” Except in the caves, Terry Riley has his arm around one of these distinctive-sounding instruments every time he appears in the movie. Pran Nath’s New York Times obituary describes his specifications for the drone axe:
He secured the instrument’s upper bridge, changed the rounding of the resonating gourd and had instruments made without paint or varnish that might clog the pores of the wood, all to give the tamboura a richer tone.
A cover painted by artist Robert Bonfils for a Greenleaf Classics Candid Reader, 1969.
For about a decade starting in the early 1960s, up until the time he retired from painting art used for pulp paperbacks and digests, Robert Bonfils (not to be confused with French artist Robert Bonfils), was employed by Greenleaf Publishing. Run by William Hamling, Greenleaf published many things including a vast number of adult-oriented books using art provided almost exclusively by Bonfils until the early 70s, paired with stories written by the wildly prolific, larger-than-life Harlan Ellison, who we just lost late last month, and Kurt Vonnegut.
During Greenleaf’s peak-adult pulp years, Hamling was known to keep his lawyer Stanley Fleishman on the payroll, as his adult books were a constant target of the morality police. While Nixon was occupying the White House in the early 1970s, he came hard for Hamling as did FBI head J. Edgar Hoover. For years Hamling fought lawsuit after lawsuit filed against Greenleaf by the Federal Government and won. Unfortunately an obscenity charge filed by the feds in 1974 did stick and Hamlin and his editor Earl Kemp were both convicted and spent time in federal prison.
Now, here’s the thing. I’m not here to tell you what is or is not obscene. This decision is up to you and you alone—and for sure it should not be up to the fucking government to decide. Of course history often tells a much different version of this battered old story concerning the First Amendment as it relates to freedom of speech and expression. At any rate, Greenleaf was forced to shut down, and the total cost of the books pulled from the shelves following the case equaled nearly a million dollars in sales as Greenleaf was and had been the top distributor of adult sex novellas since the mid-1950s.
Now let’s get to another reason Greenleaf’s books were so controversial—the graphic and shall we say sexually adventurous covers painted by Robert Bonfils. Bonfils was responsible for the vast majority of Greenleaf’s adult lit covers, producing as many as 50 a month starting sometime in the early 1960s. Even when he wasn’t painting strange sleaze for Greenleaf, his style was mimicked by other artists employed or freelancing for the publisher as “readers” responded so strongly to Bonfils’ nearly X-rated paintings for titles such as Dr. Dildo’s Delightful Machine, and God’s Little Orgy.
Which brings me to another point about many of Greenleaf’s adult books—THE TITLES. They are as hysterical as the deviant topics they mean to inform you about—case in point being 1971’s masterpiece of sleaze about swingers, Spicy Meatball Swap. As I mentioned, Bonfils retired from the pulp paperback game in the early part of the 1970s, but would remain a vibrant member of the San Diego Fine Art community where he still resides to this day. For the purpose of this post, I’ve included examples of Bonfils’ super-charged artwork for many of Greenleaf’s amusingly titled books below—all of it is NSFW. YAY!
Man Ray never talked much about his childhood or his family background. He didn’t think it was important or relevant to his life as an artist. He never even acknowledged his real name, Emmanuel Radnitzky. He was born in Philadelphia to Max and Minnie Radnitzky in 1890, the eldest of four children (two brothers, two sisters). His father was a tailor and when the family moved to Brooklyn in 1897, Max changed their surname to “Ray” as he was concerned over the rise in anti-semitism in New York. This name-shortening led Emmanuel, or Manny as he was called, to edit his first name to “Man.”
Ray had ambitions to be an artist. At first, his parents weren’t too happy about their eldest son opting out of the family business but decided to let Ray follow his own course going so far as to rent him a studio/room in which to work. He became a successful commercial artist and furthered his ambitions by enroling in art classes.
In 1912, Ray saw the Armory Show, the “infamous” exhibition of paintings and sculptures by new “modern” artists like Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and Duchamp which caused considerable controversy and outrage among New Yorkers. It was Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.” that fired Ray’s imagination to the possibilities of art. The two met and Ray and Duchamp and became friends. Together they formed the New York Dada Group—a loose gathering of “anti-art” artists. Inspired by work he had seen at the Armory Show, Ray also started painting cubist pictures and began to experiment in different forms and techniques.
But it was when Ray moved to Paris in 1920, that he truly began his career as a photographer and filmmaker. He lived in the artists’s quarter of Montparnasse, and soon fell in love with the famous model, singer, budding actress and well-known Bohemian Kiki de Montparnasse (aka Alice Prin). Kiki became Man Ray’s lover and muse, who he began to photograph, which in turn led him to his first experiment as filmmaker Le Retour à la Raison in 1923.
Man Ray aligned himself with the Cinéma pur movement, which focussed on taking film away from narrative and plot and returning it to movement and image. Its proponents were René Clair, Fernand Léger, Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling, amongst others, and their short films were the beginnings of what is now described as “Art Cinema.”
Adhering to Cinéma pur‘s loose manifesto, Man Ray’s early films, Le Retour à la Raison (Return to Reason) in 1923 and Emak-Bakia (Leave me alone) in 1926, focussed on creating startling textural patterns through the representation of objects within rhythmical loops. The experimental techniques of Le Retour à la Raison was repeated and developed in Emak-Bakia. Many of the techniques Man Ray developed (double exposure, Rayographs and soft focus) were later co-opted by animators and filmmakers during the 1940s to 1960s.
Moving away from Cinéma pur, Man Ray experimented with narrative structures and dramatic sequences. In L’Étoile de mer (The Sea Star) (1928), he told the story of two lovers from the point of view of an (underwater) starfish. The story had been inspired by a friend who kept a starfish in a jar by their bedside, and was written by the poet Robert Desnos, who died in a concentration camp in 1945.
In 1929, Ray started work on his longest film Les Mystères du Château de Dé (The Mysteries of the Chateau of Dice). This time Ray presented the story of two young travelers who visit the Villa Noailles in Hyères—the home of husband and wife Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the patrons of Picasso, Cocteau, Dali, and many of the Surrealists—with its Cubist garden designed by Gabriel Geuvrikain. The film is surreal, dreamlike, and relies more on atmosphere and suggestion than any real narrative form. In large part it was “inspired by the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé” in particular, his poem Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance), written in 1897. This poem was published over twenty pages in various typeface and structure. It contained early examples of Concrete Poetry, free verse and presented highly innovative graphic design that would later influence Dada. Some Surrealists criticized Ray’s films for not having enough narrative but Ray was more interested in creating something that didn’t relate to what had gone before. In the same way, he never acknowledged his own history before he became Man Ray.
The Godfather of Gore, actor and FX master Tom Savini.
A bit of disclosure is required before I get into the subject of this post, horror FX master Tom Savini and his sick set of trading cards from 1988. As a bonafide horror junkie seeking no cure for my habit, I’ve been a super-fan of Savini since 1980 after seeing Friday the 13th and bearing witness to his relentlessly realistic special effects style. To this day the original Friday the 13th is one of my favorite films, and I never get tired of seeing a young Kevin Bacon getting murdered while kicking back post-coital with a joint. Will these kids never learn that having premarital sex and smoking doobies will kill you? Hopefully never, but I digress.
For those of you not as well versed in all that is Tom Savini, let me help you understand the vital role he has played in the realm of horror films since the 1970s. After acting and helping to create the special effects for several films, Savini got a gig working for another godfather of the horror genre, director George Romero, doing makeup for the vampire flick Martin. Romero would then engage Savini’s services again for 1978’s game changer, Dawn of the Dead, sealing their long working relationship. After this, Savini and his penchant for blowing up horror movie victim’s heads would be seen in nearly a dozen films including 1980’s Maniac, where Savini (as his character Disco Boy) got to blow off his own dome after failing to make it in a car with a hot chick covered in glitter.
According to Savini, the horrific things he saw during his three-years as a combat photographer in Vietnam have driven his desire to achieve “anatomical correctness” as it pertains to his masterful FX work. This is not meant to imply Savini entered into his line of work because of the gruesome stuff he witnessed in Vietnam, but what that experience gave him was the ability to create authentic, realistic effects—a talent Savini has elevated to a high art form during his long career. Even as a vegetarian, I can’t help but admire one of his most colossal cinematic moments (to me anyway) from 1985’s Day of the Dead. Using a good portion of the 44 pounds of pig entrails obtained from a packing plant, Savini—assisted by another FX guru—Greg Nicotero, the death of the evil Captain Rhodes (memorably played by actor Joseph Pilato) is one of the most decadent demises in zombie-movie history, and I will arm-wrestle anyone trying to convince me otherwise.
Now that you have a good sense of the line of work Tom Savini is in, please enjoy a look at the highly collectible NSFW set of Grande Illusion Trading Cards featuring some of Savini’s FX work up to 1988. I’ve also included a few images from Savini’s 2013 book,Grande Illusions: Books I & II.
A card from the set showing Savini at work doing the makeup for actor Ari Lehman (Jason) in 1980’s Friday the 13th.
A surreal shot of Jayne Mansfield floating in her pool surrounded by her novelty hot water bottles designed by Don Poynter.
“I stayed in California sculpting her for the mold for a week. I could have done it in two days but thought — why rush it?”
—the creator of whiskey-flavored toothpaste and other weird delights, inventor and designer Don Poynter musing about his collaboration with Jayne Mansfield
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Don Poynter showed an aptitude not just for creating things, but also possessing a good head for business as a young child. When he was eleven, Poynter began making and selling remote-controlled tanks with working cannons. While a student at the University of Cincinnati, Poynter formed Poynter Creations (later changing the name to Poynter International) and the company would begin its weird journey making bizarro novelties of all kinds for decades, the first being the wildly successful partnership of booze and good oral hygiene, Whiskey-Flavored toothpaste in 1954. In the early 60s he created the boozehound icon “melting wax” that appears to drip from the top of Maker’s Mark whiskey bottles. In 1967 he put out “Uncle Fester’s Mystery Light Bulb” (an homage to actor Jackie Coogan’s portrayal of lightbulb-loving Fester Addams in The Addams Family television show) and sold a staggering fourteen million of them. He was a champion baton twirler at UC, and this particular talent got him a gig touring with the Harlem Globetrotters. As cool as Poynter’s many life achievements are, there are few things cooler than the nearly two-foot-tall hot water bottle he sculpted in the image of blonde temptress—and good pal of Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey—Jayne Mansfield.
Poynter had a knack for taking the public’s temperature as it pertained to embracing novelty items. In other words, Poynter knew you wanted a talking toilet seat before you did. When the idea came to him to make a hot water bottle in the image of Jayne Mansfield in a black bikini, he was fully confident such a product would sell like crazy. He spent weeks sculpting the water bottle while negotiating with Mansfield’s Hollywood honchos, who weren’t at all keen on the idea of their star becoming one of Poynter’s novelties. It seems Jayne was fond of the idea from the start and she asked Poynter to come to Hollywood so they could work on their joint venture.
In 1957 Poynter flew to Hollywood where he would remain for a week sculpting the actual Jayne in his studio on a daily basis. Poynter had to throw away his original sculpture of Jayne and start from scratch after realizing the 5’5 actress was not as tall as he had imagined. He also had the pleasure of shopping for a cheeky nightie for Mansfield to wear in a pin-up-style promotional ad for the bottle. Jayne didn’t own any herself as she slept in the nude.
Poynter paid Mansfield five grand for her time, and before the actress’ untimely death in 1967 his company sold 400,000 water bottles for ten bucks a pop. As of this writing, as far as I can ascertain, Poynter is still hanging out in Cincinnati “acting much younger” than his age of 94. Photos of Jayne and Poynter posing with her water bottle, and the gloriously bodacious bottle itself follow.
Another shot of Mansfield in her pool with her water bottles.
The illustrated ad for the Jayne Mansfield Hot Water Bottle. One should presume Mansfield is wearing the nightie purchased by Poyner for the promotional ad.
A very pleased looking Poynter pictured with Mansfield and her hot water bottle.
A portrait of our current president by Chest Strongwell.
I present to you a few of the best photoshop jobs I have seen in quite a while which also just so happen to poke fun at members of our current administration and other fascistic enablers and foul miscreants. Not all photoshopped images are created equal—and these images set the bar a bit higher if you ask me.
I don’t know much about Chest Strongwell outside of the fact that Strongwell is probably not really his real name (duh), he is a professional, left-leaning Internet troll, and a stay-at-home Dad claiming to have one thousand balls. I also know Chest has some sharp photoshop skills, and Republicans hate him, which I’m sure is just fine by Chest. At any rate, ole’ Chest has recently upped his online taunting directed at right-wing politicians with a few beautifully executed photoshopped images of 45’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” posse in the style of old-school KMart and JC Penny Portrait Studio photos from the 70s and 80s. Repulsive individuals such as Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Vice President Mike Pence have never looked BETTER if you ask me.
So since I know we could all use a good laugh, please enjoy some of the best shopped-up images of some of the worst people in the world. God bless America, and god bless Chest Strongwell. Whoever you are.
Former mayor of New York City now acting as an attorney for Trump, Rudy Giuliani.
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.
White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The arresting artwork from a vintage package of Black Bat flashlight crackers made in Macau, China.
Aside from an annual 4th of July family event I am quite fond of attending (let’s drink together next year, Atlanta), I’m not huge into celebrating Independence Day. One of the reasons is as a pet owner and animal lover, I hate to see how dogs, cats, and other animals in the wild react to the sound of fireworks. Alternatively, I have zero sympathy for the parade of idiots who end up parting with their fingers or even an entire hand lighting off fireworks. Every year someone blows off bodyparts on the 4th of July—it’s a stone-cold fact. They also start fires and one set off by fireworks in September of 2017 burned 48,000 acres I have traversed through extensively in the majestic Columbia River Gorge. Sure, I’ll kick back and watch firework shows on the television because guess what? The other thing I hate is crowds—especially if the said crowd is A: drunk, and B: armed with matches and packages of firecrackers and cherry bombs. My holiday crankiness aside, as a lover of art, I can’t help but appreciate the vintage artwork used to adorn packages of fireworks. Whoever came up with the idea of using a werewolf to help sell fireworks is a damn genius as I’d buy a pack for this reason alone.
So in honor of Independence Day, let’s take a look at some old-school firecracker and firework packaging. Many are from Macau, a region of China located on the country’s south coast. During its heyday, the Taipa area of Macau was the largest producer of fireworks, employing more than one-third of Macau’s residents. In a single day, the factory was capable of turning out three million firecrackers. The Iec Long Firecracker Factory (established in 1926) still stands after closing its doors in 1984 in an effort to help to preserve the long history of firework manufacturing in Macau. In the latter part of the 80s, Macau looked once again to its history with fireworks and threw the first Macau International Fireworks Display Contest. The contest has since expanded to several days of firework displays in September and the first week of October. Anyway, enjoy the kooky photos below, get your pet some earplugs, and try not to shoot your fingers off this week!
Horacio Quiroz’s paintings are inspired by his observations of himself and the people around him. These observations form a “a deep inspection of the feelings and emotions that make us act in certain way through our experiences with daily struggles.” We are never just one thing, our sense of self alters on response.
...[T]he human experience is trapped between emotions, we live reacting among love and fear whether we are aware of our feelings or not. Humanity is capable of the most terrible acts as well as the most loving ones. We live inside this yin and yang and somehow my work tries to reflect about the dark side of it; about the things that as humanity and individuals we deny to see.
Quiroz likes to use a quote form Carl Jung to illuminate the idea behind his paintings:
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
According to Quiroz, “[W]e need to feel misanthropy to become philanthropists and vice versa – the darkness is the seed of light.”
Quiroz is a self-taught Mexican artist who came to painting after twelve years working as an art director. Working for others was fine but, gradually, Quiroz felt a need to express his own ideas, his own thoughts about existence. He says he has always been “perplexed by the human body”:
It is an amazing and beautiful machinery equipped to walk, think, pee etc… but not just that. The body for me is the container of our spiritual and temporal history. Every single cell of our body is coated with emotions, and we learn to be humans through the material nature of the body, so what I try to do with my work is to incarnate those emotions such as x-ray photographs of the feelings living within.
Quiroz’s paintings depict grotesquely distorted, often androgynous figures which are mutated by the internal turmoil of emotion and desire, stricture and conformity. He believes that we may all look different but underneath we have similar basic, animalistic, responses to life. Quiroz thinks “one of our biggest issues as the human race; learning to embrace our animal part.” He also hopes his paintings will connect with “the emotion inside” and help demystify the body and reveal the fluidity of “true human sexual nature.” See more of Quiroz’s work here or buy prints here.
‘Horazzi’s Sex Revenge.’
‘Girly Boy 1’
See more of Quiroz’s surreal work, after the jump…
Born in Romania, Victor Brauner was a significant player in the art world in the early 20th century publishing the avant-garde magazine 75HP in Bucharest in 1924 when he was 21. After heading to Paris for a short time, he met another young Surrealist, Yves Tanguy. Tanguy was already deeply involved with Surrealism, and his work had been shown in group exhibitions along with Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and many other influential creatives not only in Paris but New York, London, and Brussels. Tanguy would introduce his new friend to the Surrealist circle in Paris in 1933. A year later, the leader of the Surrealist movement in Paris, André Breton wrote a glowing introduction for Brauner in honor of his first solo show in the city. Although the Parisian Surrealist community dug Brauner, the reviews for his fledgling show were disparaging, and Brauner moved back to Bucharest to try to sort things out.
Brauner returned to Paris in 1938 where he would experience an incident thought by some to have been foreseen by the artist for several years. If you are familiar with Surrealism’s ethos, then you understand at its core it embraces the concept of tapping into the subconscious mind without restriction in order to create. Setting his unconscious mind free was not difficult for Brauner and his work is full of complexity, warped configurations of people, and perhaps a prophecy concerning his own eyes. Eyes were a widely recurring theme in Brauner’s work, appearing regularly in his paintings as early as 1931 when he painted a self-portrait of himself with his right eye gouged out. Seven years later Brauner would have a run-in at a bar with Spanish artist Óscar Domínguez trying to defend his friend, another Spanish Surrealist, Esteban Francés. In a drunken rage, Domínguez hurled a glass at Esteban. Brauner threw himself in front of his friend and the glass collided with his left eye, ripping it from its socket.
Just before the outbreak of WWII Brauner ended up in Switzerland after deciding not to re-apply for citizenship—a new requirement for all Jews living in France. This was a good move considering what was to come, and the fact Brauner painted a fantastically unflattering portrait of Hitler in 1934 made it all the more so. Following the end of WWII Brauner went back to Paris where he would continue to work until his death in 1966. Images of Brauner’s work including an odd piece of taxidermy he created in 1939 called “Loup-table” (or “Wolf-Table”) inspired by two of his paintings done the same year, “Fascination” and “Psychological Space” depicting an angry wolf incorporated into a table, follow.
Actor Bruce Campbell and his childhood pal director Sam Raimi.
Yeah, you know my kids, fortunately, have seen enough of my working life that they know it’s not all blowjobs and limousines.
—actor Bruce Campbell on the reality of being Bruce Campbell
The last week of April was a sad time for fans of Bruce Campbell after the veteran actor (and author) broke the news he was “retiring” from portraying the chainsaw-wielding Ashley Joanna Williams from the trifecta of awesomeness that is the Evil Dead film series. The story of how Ash and The Evil Dead came to be is a pretty sweet one when it comes to Hollywood folklore beginning when director Sam Raimi and Campbell came across each other in high school. When they first met, Campbell thought Raimi was a “creepy weirdo” and he tried hard to avoid him until they found themselves paired together in the same drama class in 1975. Campbell agreed to be Raimi’s assistant for magic shows he had put together for the class and the academic venture would inspire the teenagers to start making movies. According to Campbell, he, Raimi and four other aspiring drama kids joined forces spending as much time as possible making Super-8 films sharing the responsibilities of actor, director, scriptwriter, and camera operator. A short six-years later Raimi would release his first full-length film, The Evil Dead starring his buddy Bruce as Ash Williams—a role Campbell reprised in 2015 for the television version of the film series Ash vs. Evil Dead, 34 years after the wisecracking character came to be in 1981. Before the somewhat surprise cancellation of the show, Campbell said he would pull the plug on Ash himself if cable network Starz yanked the show. Once the ax fell on Ash vs. Evil Dead, Campbell confirmed his days playing Ash were over.
Cambell, aka The Chin, as he is often affectionately referred to, celebrated a birthday this past Friday—his 60th—hanging out in Sacramento, California while the Fandemic Tour dropped in for the weekend. To date, he has at least 125 acting credits to his name and many of Campbell’s fictional alter-egos, such as Ash and his portrayal of an elderly, infirm Elvis Presley in the 2002 cult film, Bubba Ho-Tep have helped to further mythologize Campbell as an actor with the ability to create characters so believable they become one and the same. Much like their days making Super-8 flicks in high school, filming The Evil Dead was a collaborative effort in every sense of the word, Campbell, Hal Delrich/Richard DeManincor (Ash’s pal Scotty in the film) and other actors routinely did their own stunts which regularly sent them off to the emergency room after being injured on set. Bruce Campbell lost a couple of teeth in a freak accident involving a cameraman and actress Betsy Baker (Ash’s girlfriend Linda in The Evil Dead) lost all of her fucking eyelashes after having a prosthetic mask removed from her face. Raimi would elude to this occupational hazard at the film’s premiere by hiring ambulances to park in front of the theater helping to build the hysteria around the blood-drenched flick. After filming principal scenes during conditions so cold it froze cameras and wiring, many actors bailed never to return The remaining crew—thirteen to be precise—took up residence in the cabin in Morristown, Tennessee where the movie was being filmed. There was no running water, no heat and as filming came to a close, the crew took to burning furniture to keep warm. The Evil Dead was a hit as was the follow-up, 1987’s Evil Dead 2, and the final film in the series, Army of Darkness.
So, in honor of Mr. Campbell reaching his seventh decade of being undeniably groovy, I thought it would be fun to take a look at photos taken on the set from all three Evil Dead films. Remember, all of this is possible thanks to a bunch of 20-somethings brave enough to go into the woods with lights, cameras, and a shit-ton of fake blood—hell-bent on creating horror history. Pretty much everything I’ve posted below is NSFW. Bow to the King, baby.
Bruce Campbell taking a look at Bad Ash with director Sam Raimi on the set of the 1992 film ‘Army of Darkness.’
Campbell in full prosthetics with cameraman James Fitzgerald on the set of ‘Army of Darkness.’