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Neil Hamburger reads Nixon’s resignation speech (and other greatest hits)
08.09.2018
08:36 am
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Richard Nixon resigned from office 44 years ago today. Many of your pundits, eggheads, critics, and other nosebreathers have never tired of kicking Nixon around. But on Independence Day 2002, one citizen had the guts to meet Dick on his own terms, in the arena: America’s $1 Funnyman, Neil Hamburger.

In the Neil Hamburger catalog, perhaps only his tribute to Princess Diana so touches the heart, and I’m not just talking about the stirring, patriotic strings in the background of “Hamburger Remembers Nixon.” No, as few others could, Neil captures the warmth of Nixon’s straight-talking 1952 speech about the joys of dog ownership; the magnanimity of his gracious concession of the ‘62 California gubernatorial race to Jerry Brown’s father; the bold vision of his remarks at the ‘68 victory party on the relative friendliness of handheld signs. Hamburger also pays tribute to the April ‘70 “pitiful helpless giant” TV address, the November ‘73 “I’m not a crook” press conference, and the August ‘74 “we don’t have a good word for it in English” farewell speech.
 

 
Listen after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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08.09.2018
08:36 am
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Jello Biafra and his father interviewed at the ‘Frankenchrist’ obscenity trial
06.22.2018
08:54 am
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Jello Biafra in court, 1987 (via Heather Harris Photography)
 
In December 1985, a Southern Californian teenager named Tammy Scharwath bought the Dead Kennedys’ latest album, Frankenchrist, from the Wherehouse at the Northridge shopping mall. Then her mother saw the poster of H. R. Giger’s “Penis Landscape” included with the record and lodged a complaint with the Los Angeles city attorney, setting in motion a series of events that culminated in the breakup of the Dead Kennedys and a 1987 obscenity trial for singer Jello Biafra.

The hysteria that surrounded rap and rock music 30 years ago is hard to imagine today, now that the anti-smut crusaders have elevated Mr. Obscenity himself to the White House, but the incoherent language of the reactionary right hasn’t changed much: at one point during the trial, in an ecstasy of outrage, the prosecutor compared H. R. Giger to the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez. (Biafra discusses the PMRC “porn rock” panic and recounts the whole ugly Frankenchrist mess from his point of view on his second spoken word release, High Priest of Harmful Matter.)

During the trial, the Canadian TV show The NewMusic sent correspondent Erica Ehm to Los Angeles, where she interviewed Jello and his father at the courthouse. How cool was Jello’s dad?
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.22.2018
08:54 am
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Here’s how to hack an election
06.13.2018
08:34 am
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Election hacking has been a pretty hot topic recently. Now that we know it is possible, you know, controlling the fate of a governed body through manipulated misinformation, we must acknowledge that it could happen again. Especially in a place like Manitoba, Canada.

The term “hacker” has been around for much longer than you think. The first reported case of an unauthorized entry into a private network was conducted on June 4th, 1903—by a magician. By this point on our technological evolutionary timeline, electromagnetic waves had been discovered and were being experimented with to communicate wireless messages. Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi had gained much international attention for his accomplishment of the first successful wireless transmission across the Atlantic ocean (2,200 miles). Marconi claimed his methods to be impenetrable and Nevil Maskelyne, the skeptic British magician, sought to prove him wrong. During a very public demonstration at the Royal Academy of Sciences, Maskelyne tapped into Marconi’s signal, which was being broadcast from Cornwall, over three-hundred miles away. The hacked messages appeared in morse code on a projector screen and consisted of several jabs at Marconi and his “secure” network. Turns out, besides magic, Maskelyne was also employed by the Eastern Telegraphic Company, whose wired system would suffer from these new innovations to communication technology.

And then came phreaking. In the 1960s, it was discovered that one could “hack” into the public phone network through the manipulation of sounds. The most notable figure of the “phone freak” movement, which predates the personal computer, was a man who went by the alias of Cap’n Crunch. Mr. Crunch got his nickname from a toy whistle that came in specially marked boxes of the sugar cereal. When blown, the whistle could emit a frequency at 2600Hz, which, it was discovered, allowed a user to tap into nexus of the AT&T phone system and place free long distance calls. More advanced techniques of phreaking soon developed, through use of “blue boxes” that were built to replicate unique tones and frequencies. Before they started Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold blue boxes to the hacker community. The first example of a fictional hacker in popular culture came with the Firesign Theatre’s 1971 comedy album I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus where the main character causes an audio-animatronic Nixon robot to malfunction by asking it surreal and confusing questions.
 

Phreakers unite
 
2600: The Hacker Quarterly was started amid the phreaker scene in 1984. The seasonal publication, edited by a guy with the Orwell-inspired pen name of Emmanuel Goldstein, has served as an important resource within the hacking community as it has evolved over the years. Rather than focusing on the deliberately destructive and malicious tactics of hackers often portrayed in the media, 2600 benefits the less illegal intentions of the “grey hat hacker,” who is merely demonstrating his/her capabilities of penetrating into an off-limits system. In our complex digital world, the publication today has taken on more of an activist approach toward our digital and personal freedoms.

More of a dark-grey hat than anything, the Autumn 2007 issue of 2600: The Hacker Quarterly contained an article about hacking an election.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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06.13.2018
08:34 am
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Ulrike Meinhof’s teenage riot TV movie


“If you obey, they are happy because you are ruined. Then they are cool because they have crushed you.”
 
Right before she embarked on a campaign of left-wing terror, Ulrike Meinhof produced her screenplay for Bambule, a TV movie about the miserable lot of girls in a juvenile reform institution. It was supposed to air in 1970, but the broadcast was canceled after Meinhof helped the Red Army Faction bust Andreas Baader out of prison.

The title means “prison riot,” though apparently the bambule originated as a form of nonviolent prison protest, making a “Jailhouse Rock”-style racket by drumming on anything available. “You lousy screws!”

During one scene, the girls beat a frenzied tattoo on their doors. But in Meinhof’s own definition of the term, from a 1969 radio report (quoted in Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the R.A.F.), there is no mention of noise:

Bambule means rebellion, resistance, counter-violence – efforts toward liberation. Such things happen mostly in summer, when it is hot, and the food is even less appealing than usual, and anger festers in the corners with the heat. Such things are in the air then – it could be compared to the hot summers in the black ghettoes of the United States.

 

(via ARD.de)
 
Meinhof based the screenplay on her conversations with girls at the Eichenhof Youth Custody Home, for which Bambule is not much of an advertisement. They had a prescription for teens like Monika, expelled from a convent for kissing another girl: discipline and work, with occasional breaks for obeying the rules. The only pleasures in Bambule are the small acts of disobedience available to teenagers. They smoke cigarettes, curse out a few fuckwords, write graffiti about LSD and hash, play the Bee Gees’ “Massachusetts.” All relationships with adults are characterized by violence, cruelty and exploitation; everyone over 20 is dead inside. It’s like watching an episode of Dragnet written by a militant leftist.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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05.11.2018
08:56 am
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When Bowie got busted: Local news reports from his & Iggy’s 1976 arrest for nearly a pound of weed
04.03.2018
09:30 am
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On March 21, 1976, David Bowie was on his “Isolar” trek around America (aka “The Thin White Duke tour”) and “Golden Years” was high on the US pop singles charts. But when the tour pulled into Rochester, NY for a concert at the War Memorial Arena his golden years could have been derailed when the singer and Iggy Pop were arrested on marijuana charges for an impressive amount of herb, about half a pound. Under the harsh Rockefeller drug laws, that could have resulted in fifteen years in prison, but ultimately resulted in nothing other than a minor inconvenience for Bowie, and one of the very best celeb mug shots of all time.

John Stewart reporting in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle of March 26 1976:

After silently walking through a crush of fans, police and reporters, English rock star David Bowie pleaded innocent to a felony drug charge yesterday in Rochester City Court. Bowie, 28, entered the Public Safety Building through the Plymouth Avenue doorway at 9:25 a.m., just five minutes before court convened, with an entourage of about seven persons, including his attorneys and the three other persons charged with him.

He was ushered into a side corridor by police and was arraigned within 10 minutes, as a crowd of about 200 police, fans and reporters looked on. Bowie and his group ignored reporters’ shouted questions and fans’ yells as he walked in — except for one teenager who got his autograph as he stepped off the escalator.

His biggest greeting was the screams of about a half-dozen suspected prostitutes awaiting arraignment in the rear of the corridor outside the courtroom.

Asked for a plea by City Court Judge Alphonse Cassetti to the charge of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, Bowie said, “not guilty, sir.” The court used his real name — David Jones. He stood demurely in front of the bench with his attorneys. He wore a gray three-piece leisure suit and a pale brown shirt. He was holding a matching hat. His two companions were arraigned on the same charge. Bowie was represented by Rochester lawyer Anthony F. Leonardo, who also represented his companions, James J. Osterberg, 28 of Ypsilanti, Mich., and Dwain A. Vaughs, 22, of Brooklyn. Osterberg, described as a friend and Vaughs, described as a bodyguard, also pleaded innocent to the drug charge.

Osterberg also is a rock musician and performs under the name of Iggy Stooge. Bowie has produced at least one of Osterberg’s album in the past. Judge Cassetti set April 20 for he preliminary hearing for the three men. He also agreed to set the same date for the Rochester woman charged with the same offence, Chiwah Soo, 20, of 9 Owen St., who was also in the courtroom. Cassetti allowed Bowie to remain free on $2,000 bail, as well as continuing the $2,000 bond on the other three persons charged. Bowie and the other three were arrested by city vice squad detectives and state police Sunday in the Americana Rochester hotel, charged with possession of 182 grams, about half a pound, of marijuana in his room there. Bowie was in Rochester of a concert Saturday night.

 

 

Bowie’s arrangement was witnessed by his fans, some of whom had waited two hours to catch a glimpse of him. All remained quiet in the courtroom and scrambled after his arraignment to watch his exit from the building. But fans and reporters were disappointed as city uniformed and plain-clothes police slipped him out unnoticed. Using a maze of elevators and stairwells, police took Bowie and his entourage out a side exit, across the Civic Center Plaza and into Leonardo’s office on the Times Square building’s seventh floor.

Only about 30 fans were on had to yell goodbye as Bowe and his friends left from Leonardo’s office at 12.30pm. Bowie, for the first time, waved to the crowd as his limousine pulled out from a parking space on West Broad Street, made a U-turn and headed for the expressway and the drive back to New York City. The blue-and-black Lincoln Continental limousine had been ticketed for overtime parking, but a plainclothes policeman took the ticket, and put it in his pocket.

Bowie had remained silent throughout the morning but granted a five-minute interview to newspaper reporters in Leonardo’s office. Leonardo, however, wouldn’t allow any questions directly concerning the arrest, saying it was the first criminal charge he’d ever faced. He complimented city police, though, for the protection they provided him yesterday.

“They (city police) were very courteous and very gentle,” Bowie said. “They’ve been just super.” Quiet and reserved, Bowie answered most of the reporters’ questions with short answers, shaking hands with them when they entered and left. Asked if the arrest would sour him on returning to Rochester, Bowie said “certainly not, absolutely not.” He also said he was “very flattered” by the fans who turned out for this arraignment. “I felt very honored,” he said.

Bowie and his entourage arrived in Rochester about 4am after performing a concert in the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island Wednesday night, Leonardo said, he will appear tonight at Madison Square Garden, his final concert of his America tour, Pat Gibbons, said.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.03.2018
09:30 am
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When Iron Maiden’s mascot knifed Margaret Thatcher
03.29.2018
08:45 am
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Derek Riggs’ original artwork for the ‘Sanctuary’ single sleeve
 
Who doesn’t love the metamorphoses of Iron Maiden’s cover star, Eddie? (Don’t answer that.) To flip through a stack of Maiden LPs is to revisit his many guises: ancient Egyptian pharaoh, lobotomized mental patient, time-traveling cyborg, zombie shock jock, outer space alien, outer space alien outlaw in an outer space saloon, and so on.

But before he set out on any of these merry adventures, Eddie spent an unforgettable evening with Mags. There he is on the cover of the “Sanctuary” single—the one with Maiden’s best singer, the future inmate Paul Di’Anno, pleading for “sanc-choo-ree from the lahhhhhhhhhhhh-hawwwwwwwww”—there’s Eddie the Head, fresh from knifing the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on a desolate streetcorner. He does not appear extra jazzed that you, the viewer, have caught him in the act.
 

The censored version of Riggs’ artwork on the Japanese ‘Prowler’ single
 
Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden says the depiction of Thatcher was the band’s idea, some kind of goof on her nickname, “the Iron Lady.” In Run to the Hills: The Official Biography of Iron Maiden, Mick Wall places the image in the context of UK politics and tabloid reporting c. 1980:

A knife-wielding Eddie is depicted crouching over the slain, mini-skirted figure of a woman that, on close inspection, appears to be Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative prime minister who had been swept into power in Britain at the 1979 general election. Judging by the scene, Eddie had apparently caught the malingering PM in the unforgivable act of tearing down an Iron Maiden poster from a street wall, a crime – in Eddie’s mad, unblinking eyes – worthy of only one punishment. The blood is still dripping from his twelve-inch blade as we catch up with them. However, the single’s release had coincided with a series of highly publicised real-life acts of violence perpetrated by the various disaffected members of the British public against several top-level Tory government officials. (Lord Home had reportedly been set upon by a gang of skinheads at Piccadilly Circus tube station and Lord Chalfont was given a black eye by another closely cropped youth while walking down the King’s Road.) [...]

On 20 May, The Daily Mirror reproduced the uncensored version of the ‘Sanctuary’ sleeve under the banner headline “It’s Murder! Maggie Gets Rock Mugging!” Soon questions were being asked in Parliament. “Premier Margaret Thatcher has been murdered – on a rock band’s record sleeve,” reported The Mirror in shocked tones. Hilariously, it quoted a ministerial spokesman as saying, “This is not the way we’d like her portrayed. I’m sure she would not like it.”

 

There’s no such thing as society’: the ‘Women in Uniform’ single
 
On the advice of their publishing company, Zomba Music, Maiden’s next single was a cover of Skyhooks’ “Women in Uniform” recorded with AC/DC producer Tony Platt. (Can you guess what Zomba Music was trying to achieve, and in what part of the Australasian subcontinent?) The sleeve art picked up the continuing story of Eddie and Maggie: as the ghoul struts down the street with a girl on each arm, just around the corner, the PM lies in wait in beret and olive drabs, ready to cut them all in half with a few blasts from her submachine gun.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.29.2018
08:45 am
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Ladykillers: Murder ballads and the country women who sang them


 
Country music is my favorite genre to listen to if I want to hear really dark shit. My favorite tunes should probably come with warning labels. These amazing songs sound ridiculously upbeat to the point where they are disturbing as hell. If you can’t stomach true crime podcasts, serial killer interviews or horror films, perhaps relaxing with a drink and a Porter Wagoner album isn’t for you.

Thus we come to my favorite socially unacceptable subgenre: the murder ballad. Being a badass feminist, it IS weird that I love an entire collection of music where the majority of tunes are about men killing women or visiting horrific violence upon them. I can’t help it though. I can’t get enough of these songs.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The country music world has always been male-centric. For every forgotten woman like Rose Maddox, Wilma Lee Cooper or Moonshine Kate, there are ten famous male stars like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, or Merle Haggard. So when I come across my murder ballad-singin’ women, I rejoice!  Bring that gore to the floor, ladies! Country women who sing about murder and violence are extra subversive, especially if they are making that narrative gender-flip of and sing those stories usually sung by men with murder on their minds… 
 

The Coon Creek Girls

The Coon Creek Girls formed in the 1930s and were the first all-women string-band. Their manager, an exploitative jerk named John Lair, went so far as to change the band name from their self-chosen Red River Ramblers to Coon Creek Girls because he “thought it sounded more country.” Apparently he thought the low/working class exoticism of that band name would sell these Appalachian-raised women better at shows. It didn’t. These gals sold themselves!
 

Lily May Ledford of the Coon Creek Girls and her banjo

Banjo player Lily May Ledford recalls:

“What a good time we had on stage… jumping up and down, sometimes ruining some of our songs by laughing at each other. Sis, when carried away by a fast fiddle tune, would let out a yell so high pitched that it sounded like a whistle. Sometimes, when playing at an outdoor event, fair or picnic, we would go barefooted. We were so happy back then. Daisy and Sis, being good fighters, would make short work of anybody in the more polished groups who would tease or torment us. We all made short work of the “wolves” as they were called, who tried to follow us home or get us in their cars.”

Tons of “I drowned my girlfriend/lover/wife” songs exist in the murder ballad canon but “Pretty Polly,” is easily one of the nastiest and most violent. That’s what makes the Coon Creek Girls’ version is especially good. While I quite enjoy the song as sung by The Byrds, it’s not as unique as the all-female arrangement. Great band, great tune. 
 

 
Plenty more after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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01.15.2018
02:58 pm
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Vocalist for clown-themed Iron Maiden cover band busted in Japan with 9.8-kilogram drug stash


 
First off, I must admit I had no idea that a clown-themed Iron Maiden cover band even existed. Sadly I was hipped to Vancouver’s Powerclown only after seeing the news about vocalist Dicksee Diànno getting caught trying to smuggle seven-million dollars worth of drugs into Japan, a nation which has maintained a zero-tolerance attitude about drug use and possession for decades.

The story goes like this; Diànno (who also goes by Dan Scum though his real name is Daniel Whitmore) stashed what was estimated to be seven million bucks worth of a “white powder” inside a guitar case. Whitmore was taken into custody by Japanese authorities at Narita International Airport on December 11 saying the illegal substance they seized in the guitar case were of the “stimulant” variety. If you are not aware, drugs have been illegal in Japan pretty much forever, and the penalties for getting pinched possessing illegal substances are HARSH. Getting caught with anything from cocaine to marijuana could get you locked up for ten years. Here’s a statement released via the band’s Facebook page by guitarist Sketchy Klown on the grim situation:

“Flags are flying half-mast at the Powerclown circus tent. I assure you, any frowns we are wearing are real. Painted on or not. All we can do is hope for the best for him. Clownery and parlour tricks, whether by him or us ain’t gonna do no good. Even with his voice, the voice of a songbird, and his velvet-painting-smooth charm, he won’t be able to talk his way out of these hijinks, even if he did speak Japanese.

While none of us clowns condone Dicksee’s actions, or recommend anyone else attempting something this foolish, we do hope for the best for our grease-painted pal. We hope that by some small…make that large…miracle, he somehow manages to slide into his cock-pink pants and dance himself back home to face this different form of music he has created for himself. We love you Dicksee. If you somehow make it back here, and we hope you do, we may even go easy on you. Maybe. No promises.”

Yikes. According to the Vancouver Sun, Whitmore told Japanese customs officials he was headed to Japan to do some “sightseeing.” As they continued to question Whitmore, he allegedly started to sweat like a lot of people do when they are carrying a 9.8-kilogram stash of illegal drugs. Whitmore, who was traveling alone, finally told the customs agents he had been asked to carry the guitar case in question by a Chinese resident of Canada and deliver it to a hotel in Narita City. His bandmates and people close to the singer couldn’t understand why Whitmore would do such a thing given the consequences. Another aspect of this strange and sad case is that on December 9th, two days before Whitmore arrived at the airport in Narita, he posted this cryptic message on his Facebook page:
 

 
You can see a news report that shows footage of what Japanese customs seized here, and it makes things look pretty bad for Mr. Whitmore. A photo of contents of the guitar case follows as well as some live footage of Powerclown performing with Whitmore in 2014.
 

A photo taken by Japanese customs agents of the drug stash in Whitmore’s guitar case.
 

Footage of Powerclown performing live with Whitmore in 2014.

Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.15.2018
09:52 am
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Blue Thunder: Nova Scotia’s Crime Fighting Police Rock & Roll Band
01.09.2018
11:00 am
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There have been plenty of songs written about cops, but what about those written by cops?

Meet Blue Thunder, the crime fighting rock and roll band from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Formed in September 1991, Blue Thunder was comprised of four acting municipal police officers and one citizen volunteer from the Halifax Regional Police Department. Yes, they were real cops.

Over several years, the five-piece would play to over one hundred schools and local events in the Atlantic Canada region. As you may have guessed it, their mission was to warn the youth of the dangers of drugs and alcohol - with a rock ‘n’ roll twist! And believe me, if you saw five cops on stage singing about shooting up, you’d put the fucking needle down, too.

In June of 1995, Blue Thunder performed at the 21st G7 Summit in Nova Scotia. Known as the G20 Summit today, the conference brought together the leaders of the world’s richest industrialized countries. Being at the right place at the very right time, Blue Thunder performed at the expo finale to a crowd of 10,000 people. Sometime around then, the band gigged its way to the post-communist Republic of Slovakia for a concert that was the focus of a one hour special on the Associated Television Network.
 

 
I reached out to the Halifax Regional Police Department for more info and was connected with (retired) Constable Steve Saunders from Blue Thunder who wrote me with the following:

The band started in the early 1990s when drummer Darryl Lysens, a crime prevention member, became aware of a number of former musicians serving in the department and wanted to put something together for a multicultural dinner/concert.

Darryl had played in the 60s with a number of musicians prior to joining the police. Cedric Upshaw soon became the lead guitar and vocalist having played in bands in the 60s and 70s heavily influenced by the blues (great voice and guitar).

Ron Morgan, Dogmaster from Dartmouth Police, played guitar having a more jazz background with bass starting with a close friend of Daryl’s, Sandy Bryson (civilian) soon replaced by Ernie Retti, a staff member working out of the police garage and well known in the music circuit.

I have a long music and sporting background having played in bands for years and even joining a high school pit band for six years for their annual musical (also coaching the high school football team).

The band really took off for the first five years playing in middle schools, public concerts, a giant G7 (now G20) concert, the Nova Scotia Tattoo and travelling to the Republic Of Slovakia to introduce western policing to police and citizens.

After the jump, watch the Blue Thunder perform in all their law-enforcing glory…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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01.09.2018
11:00 am
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Negativland’s four-and-a-half-hour mix of ‘Helter Stupid’


The cover of the original ‘Helter Stupid’ album, 1989

It seems unlikely that Negativland’s catalog will get the “super deluxe edition” treatment during my lifetime, so I have to make do with the super deluxe editions of their work that are already hiding in plain sight. Twenty-eight years ago today, Negativland’s Don Joyce dedicated a five-hour episode of his long-running Pacifica radio show Over the Edge to the group’s latest album, Helter Stupid, and its subjects, the Satanic panic and the related hysteria about backward masking in rock music.

The broadcast supplements the “Helter Stupid” side of Helter Stupid with hours of Negativlandized evangelical, tabloid, and crackpot nonsense from the PMRC years, along with a few phoned-in complaints from the Weatherman about “sewerage water.” (Not included: side two of the album, Dick Vaughn’s “The Perfect Cut,” a preemptive strike on the coming Seventies nostalgia craze. Who, other than Negativland, was working to prevent that?)
 

Ian Allen and Don Joyce of Negativland (via WFMU)
 
The germ of Helter Stupid was a bogus press release Negativland issued to announce the cancellation of a planned 1988 tour. It falsely implicated the band’s music in the real-life case of David Brom, a 16-year-old from Minnesota who murdered his parents and siblings with an axe. News reports indicated that Brom had argued with his father about a tape the teenager brought home; this, Negativland claimed, had been their own Escape from Noise, featuring “Christianity Is Stupid,” a song unloved by parents. From the detailed timeline of events in the album’s liner notes:

3/10/88    Negativland cancels the tour when it becomes apparent that the tour will lose money. The group decides to send their American label, SST Records, a phony press release for distribution which attributes the cancellation of the tour to pressure from “Federal Official Dick Jordan” who has advised the band not to leave town pending an investigation into the Brom murders. The press release implies that David and his parents had been arguing about Negativland’s song “Christianity Is Stupid” just prior to the murders. The NY Times article is distributed with the press release.

Listen after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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12.21.2017
09:20 am
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