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Of flying monkeys & Fellini: Seattle movie mecca Scarecrow Video turns 30 (help them stick around!)
06.05.2018
07:05 am
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“I love movies. It’s still my candy store, and I’m the biggest kid in it.”

—Scarecrow Video founder and owner, the late George Latsios

In the early 90s, Scarecrow Video founder George Latsios would spend every Saturday night behind the counter of his store, offering movie recommendations to customers he knew by their first and last names, including young Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana. Scarecrow buyer for the last 25 years Mark Steiner fondly recalls his former boss and friend saying, “There was no other place George would rather be on a Saturday night.”

In the early 80s, Latsios started loaning out selections from his 600-800 title collection of giallo and horror VHS tapes through Backtrack Records and other locations. By 1995 Latsios and his then-wife/Scarecrow co-founder Rebecca Soriano had amassed approximately 26,000 titles (noted in the book Videoland: Movie Culture at the American Video Store). 1995 would also mark the year Latsios received a life-altering medical diagnosis—he had brain cancer and only six months to live.

At the time of his diagnosis, Scarecrow had been doing business at their 5030 Roosevelt Way North East location for several years and was in dire financial trouble. Instead of shuttering Scarecrow’s doors, Latsios focused on expanding the store’s video collection. He also aspired to open other stores not just in the U.S. but globally in destinations like Japan—one of Latsios favorite spots for buying trips. To some, Latsios’ spending habits and his aversion to paying taxes in a timely fashion appeared reckless. But as Steiner plainly states, this was far from the truth. Latsios was very “level-headed,” and those who knew him didn’t confuse actions driven by his passion for film as symptoms of failing health. Was George in denial about his spending habits? Perhaps a little bit. This chapter of Scarecrow Video’s history sounds like the plot of a gritty-yet-endearing film, which seems fitting as it illustrates Latsios’ love of cinema and his desire to share it with everyone. Here’s more from Steiner, who I spoke to in Scarecrow’s homey in-store screening room last week, on what made George Latsios tick:

“He spent money to curate the store he believed in. It was his baby, and we (the employees of Scarecrow) were all his family. He treated us generously like you would treat your actual family. We’d have meals together, and they were always special. If your paycheck bounced, he’d turn on a dime and ask you how much money you needed to tide you through and go get it from the till. One of the most telling things about George is when you consider the name “Scarecrow.” You see, the endearing Scarecrow was his favorite character in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. He often wore an old t-shirt with the Scarecrow’s famous quote/lament “If I Only Had a Brain.” One of my favorite memories of George was the time a woman and her young teen daughter came to the store and struck up a conversation with him. At some point, the woman asked George to help her understand the difference between an R-rated film and an NC 17 one. After a brief pause, George replied, “An R-rating = titties with no bush, and an NC 17 rating = titties with bush.”

By 1999 Latsios was over-burdened with financial woes, and reluctantly put Scarecrow up for sale. Then, as if from a movie, two Scarecrow customers who happened to be making a pretty good living during the day over at Microsoft, John Dauphiny and Carl Tostevin, joined forces and bought the store. Though they told George they would love for him to stay on as long as he’d like, Latsios declined and moved back to his native Greece where he passed away at the young age of 44 in 2003. For three decades, Scarecrow has been a come-one-come-all custodian of pop culture for Seattleites and host to avant-garde and counter-culture heroes of the movie industry like John Woo, Troma‘s Lloyd Kaufman, Alex Cox, and Alejandro Jodorowsky. There was also the time director Quentin Tarantino, in town for the SIFF International Film Festival and without a car, called the store to ask for walking directions, noting he was “not going to take the bus, alriiiight.” Later, as Steiner was jawing with a friend while on his way to work, he noticed a very sunburned Quentin Tarantino striding up Roosevelt Way North East and into Scarecrow. During his visit, Tarantino asked permission to browse through the store’s vast library, which he did for several hours, later hanging out with the staff.
 

A very sunburned Quentin Tarantino hanging out at Scarecrow Video in 2001. Photo courtesy of Mark Steiner.
 
As a testament to Latsios’ unrivaled love of film, the vast majority of Scarecrow’s employees and volunteers have been working there for decades, ensuring Scarecrow can continue to provide access to the largest publicly accessible video collection in the world. A staggering selection of 130,000+ titles can be found inside, including thousands you can’t stream anywhere else (sorry, Netflix). Some titles in Scarecrow’s catalog can only be viewed on the premises, such as a series of John Frankenheimer television dramas gifted by the director personally, and Japanese 70s superhero series Spectreman on VHS in its entirety which is extremely rare. Latsios mused about Scarecrow being a candy store of sorts for film buffs, and I can attest from first-hand experience, it is absolutely a magical labyrinth full of motion picture treasures, including a well-curated selection of movie soundtracks you can purchase on vinyl. Films are expertly categorized not only by genres, but also by region of origin, director, and a dizzying array of sub-categories with intriguing classifications such as “Little Bastards” (anything small wanting to kill you), “Rock Hell” (heavy metal themed horror films), as well as both a “Women in Prison” and “Men in Prison” sections. Scarecrow has something for everyone. Even the extensive XXX section is broken down with care including by director.

As of this writing, the now non-profit is turning 30 and is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to help keep them in business for the long haul. Trust me when I say anything helps, including sharing this post to spread the word. Right now your financial contributions will be doubled thanks to a recent $25K donation from a generous Scarecrow supporter. I’ve posted photos of the store as well as some neat artifacts from Scarecrow’s past including a rare video that hasn’t been seen since the early 90s (and only then if you were watching the tube in Seattle), which drives home the importance of keeping Scarecrow, and other champions of pop culture like them, around.
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.05.2018
07:05 am
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KISS comes ‘Alive!’: How to market a band of superheroes
05.04.2018
09:22 am
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Alive II booklet
 
After the first three KISS studio LPs failed to sell, album #4 was a do or die situation for the band and their label, Casablanca Records. The company had sunk a ton of money into the group, but had little to show for it. They were so broke, they couldn’t afford to make royalty payments, forcing KISS to borrow money to stay afloat. By mid-1975, attendance for KISS concerts was on the upswing, but that wasn’t reflected in album sales. During Halloween night 1975, Casablanca president, Neil Bogart, and his vice president, Larry Harris, took Bogart’s children trick-or-treating, and saw one kid after another made up to look like their favorite member of KISS. Despite KISS’s lack of commercial success, there was certainly something brewing in the zeitgeist.
 
Kids
 
Though the members of KISS each have their own unique makeup and costumes, highlighting their personas hadn’t initially occurred to the band or anyone else in their orbit. In a TV commercial for the band’s second record, Hotter Than Hell (1974), they’re referred to as “the demons of rock,” depicted more as a marauding gang than as an group of intriguing individuals.
 

 
After KISS’s third LP, Dressed to Kill (1975), didn’t make much of an impact, it was decided that rather than go back into the studio, the group would record a live record. For a number of reasons, this was a risky proposition. Live albums generally weren’t big sellers at the time, and they acted as a kind of live greatest hits, but KISS didn’t have any hits. The release would be a double album housed in a gatefold sleeve with a booklet, adding to the manufacturing costs, which the label could scarcely afford. With band and record company hemorrhaging money, if Alive! tanked it had the very real potential of sinking both Casablanca and KISS.
 
First promo photo
Their earliest promo photo.

For the first time, an advertising agency was hired to design the packaging for a KISS album, and Dennis Woloch at Howard Marks Advertising was given the task. In the book, Shout It out Loud: The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, Woloch talks about the inclusion of handwritten messages from KISS pictured on the inside of the Alive! gatefold:

I don’t remember if it was me or Bill [Aucoin, KISS’s manager] who came up with the idea, but the image of KISS was just starting to form. We told those guys, ‘You’re different characters. You each have your own persona. How about writing a little personal note to the fans from each of you?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, sure, fine.’ They just went along with everything in those days, because they weren’t hot shit yet.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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05.04.2018
09:22 am
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Muppets with people eyes still haunt my dreams
04.16.2018
10:12 am
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This morning I legitimately woke with an image of Kermit the Frog with soulless stoner eyes staring through my soul, wondering if I was remembering a terrifying image I had actually seen on if it was conjured in the darkest nightmare-worlds of the subconscious. It bothered me enough to do a google search to jog my memory, and I was relieved to learn that I’m not actually losing my mind—Muppets With People Eyes is (or was) an actual thing.

Rewinding to eight years ago, a tumblr page with that title appeared and quickly got its fifteen minutes of fame. In this case, it was almost literally fifteen minutes. The page, created by WONDER-TONIC only lasted for about two weeks in 2010. After eleven posts, I suppose the novelty wore off, but these images—I dare say—are timelessly horrific.

There’s an “uncanny valley” quality about slapping realistic human eyes onto slightly humanoid-but-not-really forms. Our brains—or at least mine—immediately perceive such visages as foreign and threatening. The ones that don’t look straight-up terrifying, look… somehow… HIGH AS FUCK.

Muppets with People Eyes might be old news to some of our readers—possibly not to some of our younger readers. If you have never seen these off-putting images before, be forewarned: you too may awaken from a dream, a decade later, wondering if the images that haunt you are imagined… or real-life crap from the Internet.
 

 

 
More Muppets with people eyes after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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04.16.2018
10:12 am
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What Mark E. Smith liked: Lou Reed, Sex Pistols, Frank Zappa, Philip K. Dick & Kurt Vonnegut, a list
04.04.2018
12:18 pm
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When asked what he would do if he was ever elected Prime minister, Mark E. Smith replied:

“I’d halve the price of cigarettes, double the tax on health food, then I’d declare war on France.”

Daft questions got daft answers. Smart ones were few and far between. Most questions were recycled answers from previous interviews. No matter the question, Smith always stayed true to what he thought was right and what he believed in—he never softened his answer to suit more fashionably sensitive times. That’s what made his band the Fall so special—it led, it never followed, even if it was just Smith and “your granny on bongos.”

Among the more interesting questions came in 1981, when the NME asked Smith for a list of his favorite things. The list was for the paper’s column “Portrait of the Artist as a Consumer” which centered around the idea the way to the heart of artist was through the food their brains consumed. Or something like that… In his answers, Smith offered up an eclectic mix of genre and cult writers—including Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Norman Mailer and two novels by Colin Wilson; artists, in which he includes soccer player-cum-manager, Malcolm Allison; comedians where he gives a nod to “Ian Curtis derivatives,” Bernard Manning and drag artist/comedian/actor Alan (Alana) Pellay; and some of his favorite albums/cassettes. All of which ran as follows in the NME 15th August 1981:

READS

Gulcher—Richard Meltzer
A Small Town in Germany—John Le Carré
A Scanner Darkly—Philip K. Dick
The Sirens of Titan—Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
The Deer Park—Norman Mailer
The Black Room—Colin Wilson
Ritual in the Dark—Colin Wilson
Cogan’s Trade—George V. Higgins
At the Mountains of Madness—H.P. Lovecraft
Beyond Good and Evil—Frederich Nietzsche

....AND

U.S. Civil War Handbook—William H. Price
How I Created Modern Music—D. McCulloch (a weekly serial)
True Crime Monthly
Private Eye
Fibs About M.E. Smith by J. Cope (a pamphlet)


WRITERS

Claude Bessy
Burroughs


ART

Wyndham Lewis
Malcolm Allison
Virgin Prunes Manchester live, Manchester Dec. ’77


COMEDIANS

Lenny Bruce
Alan Pellay
Bernard Manning
All Ian Curtis derivatives


FILMS

Polanski’s Macbeth
Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety
Fellini’s Roma
The Man with X-Ray Eyes and The Lost Weekend starring Ray Milland
Visconti’s The Damned
Days of Wine and Roses with Jack Lemmon
Charlie Bubbles with Albert Finney


TV

Bluey
John Cleese adverts


MUSIC

Take No Prisoners—Lou Reed
Peter Hammill
Johnny Cash
The Panther Burns
God Save the Queen—The Sex Pistols
Raw and Alive—The Seeds
Pebbles Vol. 3—Various
16 Greatest Truck Driver Hits cassette
Radio City—Philip Johnson (cassette)
Der Plan
Alternative TV
Land of the Homo Jews and Hank Williams Was Queer, live—Fear (L.A. Group)
We’re Only In It for the Money—Mothers of Invention

 
MES on interviewers ‘waging war on you with your own words,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.04.2018
12:18 pm
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Ian MacKaye’s article on DC skateboarding for Thrasher magazine, 1983
04.04.2018
09:04 am
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All photos by Glen E. Friedman
 
A few months ago, I told you about the Cedar Crest Country Club and the importance it played within DC’s skate punk scene. The political climate of the capital in the early eighties inspired a revolution significant of the times, one that would continue to influence underground culture up until present day. And we have Ian Mackaye to thank for much of it.

The origins of skateboarding are rooted in Southern California surf, but many can say its attitude came from DC punk. Bands like Government Issue, Bad Brains, SOA, and of course Minor Threat, brought a much needed edge to the sport, substituting the sunny beaches with grit and concrete. The only issue was, in DC there was nowhere to skate. So, the punks had to improvise. Later in 1986, the ramp at Cedar Crest Country Club opened, a steel halfpipe oasis just an hour outside the city.

In October 1983, Ian MacKaye, founder of Dischord Records and frontman of Minor Threat, Fugazi, Embrace, and Teen Idles, penned a “scene report” for skateboarding magazine, Thrasher. The article, set to describe the skate vibe of the nation’s capital, characterizes Ian not as a hardcore punk legend, but rather as a DC kid who lives to skateboard. The young MacKaye was a member of ragtag boarding crew Team Sahara, along with another punk forefather, Henry Garfield (now known as “Henry Rollins”). Ian’s piece is a nice little snapshot of the spirit of skate culture during the era; his feature goes on to describe the team’s favorite ramps, a legendary wipeout by Rollins, their first empty pool, and an infamous team session at the Annandale halfpipe. Also in the issue is a photo spread of vertical sequences, a story on a Swedish skate camp, competitions in Del Mar and Oceanside, and a music piece on a punk band called The Faction.

Read Ian MacKaye’s article in Thrasher magazine, along with a complete transcript below:
 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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04.04.2018
09:04 am
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Polaroids from ‘Return of the Jedi’

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Harrison Ford wanted his character, Han Solo, to die in Return of the Jedi. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan agreed. Kasdan thought Solo’s death would freak out the audience and make ‘em appreciate no one was safe. George Lucas nixed the idea. Lucas wanted Return of the Jedi to deliver a huge payload from merchandising and as Ford later explained, “George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”

Merchandising was certainly one influence in making of Return of the Jedi. Stars Wars merchandise had given Lucas a “Golden Ticket” and he was determined to use it to get everything he wanted. Lucas had ambitions to use this money to fund his dream of an independent studio, Skywalker Ranch. It’s long been discussed by fans as to just how much Lucas changed things to help him achieve his ambitions. Keeping Solo alive was one. Changing the Ewoks from butt-ugly lizards to cutesy teddy bears was another. As were the multiple feel-good endings—something probably inspired by the double-ending of Oscar-winner Chariots of Fire. At one point in its development, Return of the Jedi closed on Luke Skywalker wandering off into the sunset like a war-weary samurai. In another, he turned to the Dark Side after the death of his father Darth Vader. These were a bit too downbeat for Lucas who wanted to make a “kid’s film.”

Aside from the merchandising and “Nub Yub,” Lucas had some far-out suggestions for the film’s director. He originally wanted Steven Spielberg, which is understandable, but then he offered the film to David Lynch and then David Cronenberg which would have been pretty awesome if one or the other had signed-up. They both turned the offer down. It was eventually given to BBC TV director Richard Marquand to helm, as Lucas wanted a safe pair of hands as he thought movie-making really happened in the cutting-room. It’s also been long rumored Marquand didn’t direct all of the film as he had a difficult relationship with the cast.

Return of the Jedi merchandise made Lucas gazillions. It may not be the best of the first three Star Wars movies made but it is a damned sight better than some of those that were made afterward.

As any fule no, during a movie’s production, make-up and wardrobe take Polaroids of cast members in their different costumes and slap to ensure continuity. Here’s a little collection of continuity Polaroids featuring Luke, Hans, Princess Leia, and co.
 
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More on-set Polaroids, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.02.2018
09:08 am
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What Netflix might have looked like in 1995
03.27.2018
10:38 am
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Everything would look better if it were made in the ‘90s, right? No? Nostalgia for the heartwarming simplicity of early technology has, in recent years, had many of us reimagining what our lives would look like if certain present day inventions or creations had existed just a decade prior. You may recall the tongue-in-cheek parody commercial on “The Facebook” that came out a few years ago. Presented in late night television “friend-helping-friend” format, the ad explores the hypothetical, crude components of the social media platform pre-DSL, pre-selfies, even pre-Cambridge Analytica.
 

 
Retro-nerd YouTube channel Squirrel Monkey has captured the very essence of nineties-style “new technology” videos with its latest presentation on the online movie platform, Netflix. Founded just two years after the spoof is intended to take place, in 1995, the video is a how-to introduction to streaming movies through the website. Obviously, things would have been much different back then and this video does a pretty excellent job of capturing the nuances of the not-so-distant past. In a nutshell, in order to watch your favorite films online, you will need a fast computer (Windows ‘95 preferable), a reliable dial-up connection, and have to sign up to receive their Welcome Package, an homage to the free AOL CD-ROMS that littered the decade. But after everything is said and done, don’t expect to “Netflix and Chill” at ease. As you would probably predict, the quality of the stream would either be indistinguishably slow, or it would take nearly half the day to load!
 
Watch Squirrel Monkey’s ‘Streaming Netflix movies in 1995’ after these stills:
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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03.27.2018
10:38 am
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Comics from Hell: Before Video Nasties and Splatterpunk there was the gory horror of ‘Weird’
03.26.2018
09:15 am
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Cheap, nasty, gruesome, and revolting, blah, blah, blah. And these were just the good points of Eerie Comics’ gory publication Weird which ran for 69 issues between 1966 and 1981.

The brainchild of “gun-toting” publisher Myron Fass and editor Carl Burgos who “ground his axe against the entire comics industry,” Weird rehashed pre-code comic strips with violent, shocking, blood-splattered tales of Frankenstein’s monster, “Sewer Werewolves,” “Flesh-rippers.” and the “Horrorama of Squirming Demons and Vampires.”

Taking its lead from EC’s Tales from the Crypt and Warren’s Creepy, Weird eschewed any pretence for good taste and decorum and aimed straight at the teenage jugular. It literally chewed the face off its competition with nasty, badly-drawn tales of the most gruesome excesses—cannibalism, torture, murder, and sordid occult rites. If there is a need to show evidence that brutal horror does not corrupt innocent minds, then may I present Exhibit A.: Weird.
 
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More cheap ‘n’ nasty horror covers, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.26.2018
09:15 am
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You can own Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac and Jimi Hendrix’s apartment doors from the Chelsea Hotel
03.23.2018
09:44 am
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We here at Dangerous Minds have written about a LOT of peculiar and astonishing auctions. Just from memory: Elvis’ pill bottles (twice), Marilyn Monroe’s hair and her pelvic x-rays (separately), John Lennon’s school detention records, a motorcycle from Easy Rider, a guitar destroyed by a member of the Misfits, claymation figures from a Zappa video, Alice Cooper’s prop guillotine, the actual Maltese Falcon… The list goes on for quite a while, but we may have reached the apotheosis or nadir of weird specificity today: coming up for exhibit and auction next month are celebrity apartment doors.

The Hotel Chelsea on West 23rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues is one of the great landmarks of New York City’s rapidly disappearing Bohemian culture. Built and opened as a co-op in 1884, and re-opened as a hotel in 1905, it has served both short and long-term residents, and its register of long-timers is basically an absurdly long list of incredibly accomplished people in the worlds of letters (Mark Twain, Arthur C. Clarke, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, basically all of the beats), music (Iggy Pop, Cher, Patti Smith, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, and the Chelsea Girl herself, Nico), and visual art (Robert Mapplethorpe, Diego Rivera, Robert Crumb). Madonna photographed her infamous Sex book there. Sid (maybe) killed Nancy there. Andy Warhol famously made a really long, formally experimental film about its residents, and if you get a chance to see it screened as was intended do not pass it up.

There’s a Jon Bon Jovi song about it too. Can’t win ‘em all.

Even if seemingly everyone who’d ever been awesome in the 20th Century hadn’t lived there, it’d be an architectural treasure, and it’s been closed (except to long-term residents, obviously) for several years for long-needed renovations; it’s supposed to re-open later this year. Those years of renovation are where we come around to the forthcoming auction: specific doors known to have belonged on the rooms of various notables are going on exhibit on April 5th at the Ricco/Maresca Gallery (529 W. 20th, so basically a stone’s throw away from their original home), and they’ll be auctioned off by Guernsey’s on April 12th. Doors verified to specific individuals so far include those of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Janis Joplin, Jack Kerouac, Thomas Wolfe,  Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol. More may be identified as research into the doors’ provenance continues, according to Guernsey’s:

Through exhaustive research, roughly half of these large wooden doors can be traced to the iconic individuals who lived behind them. And although the research is continuing, it is expected that some doors can only be confirmed to be from the Hotel without a more precise personal connection. But even in those cases, owning a piece of Chelsea history is significant. Indeed, behind these doors lived the talented and famous (and infamous like Sid Vicious), where the Hotel served as home, workplace, artist’s retreat, hideaway, and love nest for the hippest, most talented, and most outrageous.

The doors are being consigned by one Mr. Jim Georgiou, a one-time Chelsea resident who took it upon himself to rescue the artifacts. Per his instruction, a portion of the proceeds from the auction will benefit City Harvest, a pioneering food-rescue non-profit (Mr. Georgiou himself once suffered a period of homelessness and hunger). If the prospect of owning a hero’s apartment door appeals to you but you can’t be in New York on April 12th, absentee bidding will be conducted on liveauctioneers.com and invaluable.com. Good luck to all who plan to bid.
 

Andy Warhol
 

Humphrey Bogart
 

Bob Marley
 
More doors after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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03.23.2018
09:44 am
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‘Behind the Mask’: Michael Jackson’s posthumous cover of the Yellow Magic Orchestra


 
We learned a lot from the insane Quincy Jones interview from a couple weeks back. To recap, and this is all according to an unfiltered 84-year-old Quincy Jones, the Beatles were notoriously bad musicians, Marlon Brando and Richard Pryor were lovers, Chicago mobster Sam Giancana killed JFK, and… Jones once dated a twenty-four-year old Ivanka Trump. Probably the greatest reveal of them all, however, was about Michael Jackson, whom Jones worked with as the pop star’s producer.

Immediately into the interview, Quincy declares Jackson to have been “as Machiavellian as they come,” alleging that he would steal material from other artists for his own personal gain. More specifically, Michael Jackson supposedly stole the riff from Donna Summer’s “The State of Independence” for his smash hit “Billie Jean.” Vangelis and Jon Anderson from Yes originally wrote “The State of Independence,” which was covered and popularized by Summer the following year. Quincy Jones arranged an all-star cast of guest vocalists for the newly revamped track, Michael Jackson being one of them.

Bizarrely enough, “Billie Jean” wasn’t the only song with supposedly “borrowed” material intended for Jackson’s 1982 best-selling album, Thriller. In the early eighties, Quincy Jones discovered a song that he felt could work well for Michael Jackson’s upcoming record. That track was “Behind the Mask” by Japanese electronic synthpop pioneers, the Yellow Magic Orchestra. The song was originally a synth instrumental written for a 1978 Seiko quartz wristwatch commercial. YMO later re-recorded the track, with lyrics written by British poet Chris Mosdell and vocals performed by songwriter Ryuichi Sakamoto using a vocoder. The song appeared on Yellow Magic Orchestra’s highly influential 1979 record Solid State Survivor in Japan, and their ×∞Multiplies album in the US and Europe.
 

The first version of ‘Behind the Mask,’ recorded for a Seiko wristwatch commercial
 

The classic, album version of ‘Behind the Mask’ by Yellow Magic Orchestra
 
Jackson liked the “Behind the Mask” and agreed to record his own version of it during the Thriller sessions. With Sakamoto’s permission, additional lyrics and an extra melody line were added to Jackson’s version. The new lyrical content turned the focus to Jackson’s girlfriend, who he felt would often hide her emotions behind a symbolic “mask.” Conceptually, this was much to the contrary of the original YMO version, which contained a discordant thematic approach to “the mask.” Lyricist Chris Mosdell had this to say about the adjusted context:

“When Michael Jackson took it, he made it into a love song about a woman. It was a completely different premise to me, I was talking about a very impersonal, socially controlled society, a future technological era, and the mask represented that immobile, unemotional state. But hey, I let him have that one.”

 

 
Michael Jackson’s “Behind the Mask” was an anticipated smash hit and made the final cut for Thriller. A royalties dispute involving YMO’s management and Sakamoto, Mosdell, and Jackson ended up preventing the track from getting released. It wasn’t for another 28 years that a reworked version of “Behind the Mask” would be released…

More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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03.06.2018
09:32 am
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