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Blistering footage of Bon Scott’s final TV appearance with AC/DC
11.07.2017
09:02 am
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AC/DC vocalist Bon Scott showing us all what it’s like to be a real rock and roll singer back in the day.
 
Though it wouldn’t start out that way, February of 1980 was almost the beginning of the end for Austrailian juggernauts, AC/DC. The band had started the year laying the groundwork for their next studio album, Back in Black. But as we all know, the hard-partying antics of vocalist Bon Scott would catch up with the 33-year-old, and after yet another night of blackout boozing (as well as possibly dabbling in heroin), Scott was found dead inside his Renault 5 in the street by his South London residence on February 19th, 1980. There has always been a fair amount of speculation regarding Bon’s death, new details of which have been painstakingly researched by author Jesse Fink in his 2017 book about Scott, Bon: The Last Highway

Bon would perform his final live gig with AC/DC on January 27th, 1980 in Southampton, U.K. The band was no longer just a sensation in their native Australia but was finally breaking through to U.S. audiences after the Mutt Lange-produced smash, Highway to Hell penetrated the Billboard Top 200. The record would eventually smash through to the top twenty where it would peak at #17. Following the Southampton gig, AC/DC would appear on Top of the Pop’s on February 7th lipsynching to “Touch Too Much.” Three days later the band was in Madrid for an appearance on Aplauso, a popular Spanish television music program. This time AC/DC ripped through “Beating Around the Bush” (whose opening lick borrows a bit of fire from Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 single, “Oh Well”), with an unbridled lipsynching fury so hot that it’s hard to tell they aren’t actually playing “live” at times. Here’s a rough translation of the Spanish host introducing AC/DC for what would be the band’s very first show of any kind in Spain, and their final appearance with Bon:

“Today on TV Aplauso we receive a new group in Spain: AC/DC. They’re Australian and are considered as one of the best rock bands of the last generation without submitting themselves to the New-Wave or Punk. They’ve got a lot of fans in England and today for the first time in Spain, AC/DC!”

The studio audience in attendance for Aplauso is comprised of people who look like they about get a free car from Oprah...

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.07.2017
09:02 am
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Exquisite Corpses: Polly Morgan’s sculptural taxidermy
10.13.2017
10:06 am
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‘Myocardial Infarction.’
 
Polly Morgan is an artist who specializes in taxidermy to create works of disturbing beauty. Morgan describes her craft as “as part butchery, part sculpture.” While her work may not be to everyone’s taste, it should be noted that all of the animals used by Morgan either died from natural causes or had unpreventable deaths. She has a long list of suppliers, from zoos, vets, farmers, and even family members, who supply her with a range of dead animals.

It wasn’t a straight path to her chosen career. Morgan tried her hand at a variety of jobs before deciding on following-up on a long-held interest in taxidermy. She was raised in the English countryside in a household filled with a menagerie of animals. As a child, she had wanted to keep the bodies of her pets that had died. Morgan now sees her work as “an opportunity to freeze that moment.”

It was while working in a bar that Morgan started her studies in taxidermy. She had asked a friend where she could find a piece of taxidermy for her apartment. Her friend suggested rather than buying one she make one herself. After scouring the Yellow Pages, she eventually contacted George Jamieson, a taxidermist based in Cramond, Edinburgh. For around $200, Jamieson instructed Morgan on the basics of taxidermy. Jamieson gave her a pigeon to work on, which she completed within a day. This was in 2004. Since then, Morgan has exhibited her taxidermied sculptures to considerable acclaim across the world and has been fêted by the likes of Banksy and Damien Hirst.

You might think all this working death and dead animals would make Morgan a tad morbid and even overly downhearted. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Morgan thinks it silly to have an emotional attachment to something that is dead. It’s just decaying flesh. Instead, she believes what she is doing is very positive by making something beautiful out of death.

See more of Polly Morgan’s work here.
 
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‘Lovebird.’
 
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‘Just as Sudden.’
 
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Detail from ‘Rest a Little on the Lap of Life.’
 
More of Polly Morgan’s exquisite work, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.13.2017
10:06 am
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Grant Hart and Hüsker Dü invent noise pop, 1983
09.15.2017
07:56 am
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Hüsker Dü
 
As many of you reading this already know, singer/songwriter Grant Hart died this week at the age of 56. Hart is best known as a member of Hüsker Dü, the group he was a part of from their very beginnings in 1979 until the moment they called it a day in 1988. Hart played drums, and he, along with guitarist Bob Mould, were the trio’s main songwriters (Greg Norton was the bassist). Though they started out as a hardcore band known for their lightning-fast performances, by their third record they began to show signs that they were outgrowing the genre’s rigid style. One song in particular would provide the blueprint for both their future path and the groups later influenced by them.

Metal Circus came out in October 1983, and though often seen as an EP, due to the fact that there are just seven songs and it runs less than 20 minutes, it’s still considered part of their album discography. Grant Hart wrote just two of the songs on the record, and they’re quite different than anything the band had attempted previously. At the time, it was Hart’s harrowing ballad, “Diane,” that got Metal Circus the most attention, but it’s his other number on the album that proved to be the game changer.
 
Metal Circus
The cover of ‘Metal Circus.’ Artwork by Fake Name Graphx (a/k/a Grant Hart).

Initially, what must have been most striking to Hüsker Dü fans listening to “It’s Not Funny Anymore” in 1983 was the tempo. This was definitely not a hardcore song. There’s also more of a focus on melody—with Hart actually singing some of the words—and hooks, like the super cool harmonics Mould plays during the chorus. The lyrics are more advanced, too, with a meta quality that seems to be addressing the new approach the band is taking with the tune.
 

 
In his book, Hüsker Dü: The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock, author Andrew Earles writes:

“It’s Not Funny Anymore” is Hüsker Dü running into the loving arms of hook-filled noise-pop. The song is a thinly veiled proclamation: “Like it or not, we are going to do this pop thing.”

When Hüsker Dü made Metal Circus, no other act was releasing music like this. Aside from the Beatles’ single version of “Revolution” and some of the early Velvet Underground material, the very idea of a lyrical pop/rock song with a thick layer of guitar distortion was essentially unheard of. Hüsker Dü continued in this direction until the very end, producing noise pop gems like “Books About UFOs” and “Makes No Sense At All” along the way.

It’s hard to imagine how modern rock would’ve evolved without Hüsker Dü. To name just a couple of bands influenced by them: the Pixies, who famously put an ad in their local paper looking for a bass player who liked both Peter, Paul and Mary and Hüsker Dü (Kim Deal was the only respondent); and Nirvana, whose melodic punk rock sounds very similar to the Hüskers. Krist Novoselic once remarked that Nirvana’s style was “nothing new; Hüsker Dü did it before us.”
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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09.15.2017
07:56 am
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The Illuminati of rock and roll: Remembering Pat Fear, a real-life Robert Anton Wilson character

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It was recently the birthday of one of my lifelong best friends, Bill Bartell (1961-2013)

Bill aka “Pat Fear” was a walking, talking anomaly, a living Robert Anton Wilson conspiracy theory, a wisecracking character out of a Firesign Theatre sketch, a Discordian trickster imp of the perverse. His credit card even said “The Illuminati” under his name (for real, I swear!). Bill also went by the names “Kixx”; “Sitting Bill”; “Pat ‘Slowhand’ Fear”; “Billy Jo Gun Rack,” etc., etc., and these are just the ones that he used on records! I can’t even imagine the secret pseudonyms he used “off stage.” I also can’t actually believe that he is not still alive. It seems like some kind of shitty cosmic joke. The world that doesn’t get to know Bill is a sad world.

Bill did so much for our culture, mostly by ridiculing it. He was a super mega ultra fan of so many disconnected things. He lived to tear down so many idols. His band White Flag was formed originally solely just to piss off Black Flag (one of his favorite bands). Bill pissed many people off, which was his life’s mission or so it seemed.
 
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He was just SO good at it!
 
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Bill’s side project, but really his life’s work as it was so open-ended was a grouping called Tater Totz. This project dealt with Bill’s obsessions. As it grew, many people from his obsessions wound up on Tater Totz records. Who? Man, so many! Always Redd Kross of course, but also members of the Runaways, Germs/Nirvana, Partridge Family, Sonic Youth, Lovedolls, Tesco Vee, El Vez, The Zeros, The Posies, Jimmy McNichol (!!??!!), Hole, Sator, Starz, Zeros, Melvins, Shonen Knife, Go-Go’s, Adolescents, Pandoras, Roman Coppola, Circle Jerks, Frightwig, Chemical People, Sin 34/Painted Willie, myself and just about everyone else who came into Bill’s orbit. The main focus of Tater Totz was Bill’s Yoko Ono obsession, followed closely by his interest in Os Mutantes, the Beatles, Blue Oyster Cult, even a mashup of John Lennon and Queen. Their greatest moment, in my opinion, was when they showed up at a Beatlefest convention and did all Yoko Ono songs, driving the Beatle nerds to violence and riot! They literally chased them out of the building and down the street like the villagers did to poor Frankenstein’s monster! Part of this is on YouTube and can be seen here on Dangerous Minds (link at bottom of this post). Bill, of course, immediately put it out as a double seven-inch bootleg EP called Live Hate at Beatlefest, one of the best titles ever, obviously.
 
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Bill Bartell also single-handedly turned the entire world onto Os Mutantes, a bizarre Brazilian band from the 60s whose first LP his sister, an exchange student there, brought back to him in the Sixties. Bill went around throughout the 80s with a Walkman with Os Mutantes on it and plopped the headphones on to everyone he met.

This is in fact, how I met him.
 
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He also did this to his buddy Kurt Cobain who, when he got famous, and toured in Brazil, went on the news and asked where Os Mutantes were, and said that his friend Bill who “has a mustache” told him about them. He then held up a drawing he did of Bill. This, from the then biggest rock star in the world! Os Mutantes, who had broken up for decades have publicly stated that their resurgence was totally due to Bill and they came from Brazil on their own dime to play at his memorial in LA.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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09.13.2017
11:06 am
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Sweet Apple’s new video, filmed in a haunted train car
07.26.2017
08:52 am
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In Steuben County NY on August 30, 1943, the Lackawanna Limited passenger train drove at 70 miles per hour into a freight engine that hadn’t cleared the track. The wreckage was brutal; published estimates vary, but around 110 people were injured and 28 died. But most gruesome was their manner of death—only one passenger, one Frank Meincke, was crushed in wreckage. The rest were trapped in a coach that landed atop the freight engine, which emptied itself of steam into the coach. The victims were basically cooked alive. From The Troopers Are Coming: New York State Troopers, 1917-1943:

The Lackawanna Limited struck the left side of a freight engine, tearing up three hundred feet of track and leaving a twisted mass of wreckage scattered along the right of way. A steam jacket torn from the freight engine allowed escaping steam to enter some of the passenger coaches, causing agony and death. Twenty-eight passengers and crewmembers were killed and 117 passengers were injured.

 

 

Images via the Painted Hills Genealogy Society

But though it entombed over two dozen people, the passenger car itself was unharmed, and this grim piece of transportation history remains not just intact, but restored in the disused B&O roundhouse that now serves as a museum and restoration workplace for the Midwest Railway Preservation Society. Due to that key event in the car’s past, it’s acquired a reputation as a haunting site, and is referred to as “The Death Car.” According to Seeks Ghosts, a web site for paranormal enthusiasts,

While this old passenger car was at this yard being renovated many people connected to this society began to believe it was haunted. In fact, the volunteers at this yard dubbed this car—the ”Death Car.”

One volunteer, Charlie Sedgley who works for the society restoring cars believes he encountered at least 17 separate ghosts in the 1943 wrecked passenger car.

The society gives tours of the old train cars they restore. A trustee of the society, Steve Karpos was leading one of these tours when he led his group into the Death Car.

As he spoke a female member of his tour group interrupted him to ask why he didn’t let the other man behind him speak. Karpos didn’t know what she was talking about. She then asked about the “man dressed in the funny suit.”

Karpos recalls that, “Everyone else was saying there was a ghost in the car.” When the tour exited the Death Car several members saw, “a ghost sitting on the roof with his feet hanging over.”


That article goes on to say that the MRPS no longer owns the car, but it is indeed still there, and Sweet Apple have used it as the setting for “World I’m Gonna Leave You,” the first of four videos from their new LP Sing the Night in Sorrow. Sweet Apple is made up of members of Dinosaur Jr, Witch, and Cobra Verde, and the song includes vocal contributions from Mark Lanegan and Bob Pollard. The video is far cheekier than the train car’s grim history would suggest—the band’s namesake bassist Dave Sweetapple enters the haunted car and is bedeviled by—well, the Devil played by singer John Petkovic in a cheap mask. Drummer J Mascis and guitarist Tim Parnin also appear, as do eleven other passengers and, evidently, at least 17 separate ghosts.
 
Watch after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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07.26.2017
08:52 am
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No tears: Tuxedomoon’s Peter Principle dead at 63
07.17.2017
02:45 pm
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Sad to learn that Peter Principle (real name Peter Dachert), the bassist and guitar player of the great American avant-garde musical group Tuxedomoon died today at the age of 63. His passing was announced on Facebook by fellow band member and longtime friend Blaine Reininger, the violinist and keyboardist of the group.

It is my very sad duty to inform the world that our colleague and brother, Peter Principle has left this world behind. He died this morning, July 17, 2017, apparently of natural causes. We are all stunned.

A further statement on the Tuxedomoonnews blog indicated that he…

“... was found in his room at Les Ateliers Claus in Brussels, where Tuxedomoon has been preparing a new tour and new music. He was the apparent victim of a heart attack or stroke.”

Dachert’s stage name was inspired by the so-called “Peter principle” management theory formulated by Laurence J. Peter and published in the 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong which describes how many corporate managers “rise to the level of their incompetence.”

When the Sex Pistols and the Ramones were churning out retread rock-n-roll, Tuxedomoon was in San Francisco doing something truly dangerous, pioneering “new wave” and post-punk before either term existed. Principle became a member the band in 1979 and joined the others when they chose to go into exile in Europe after Ronald Reagan’s election. They finally settled in Belgium where they founded a record label, Crammed Discs. After some years apart, the band reformed in 2000 and has been productive and active since, touring and releasing new music, film scores and archival box sets.

After Tuxedomoon’s Bruce Geduldig died in 2016, they continued on with David Haneke taking over Geduldig’s visual duties onstage with the band during their 2016 tour. The group’s continuing status is unknown with an August 4th show planned for London now in question. Peter Principle lived in New York City where he was born. He will be missed.
 

Tuxedomoon appear on Glenn O’Brien’s ‘TV Party’ cable access program.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.17.2017
02:45 pm
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Ghost Rider still alive after Suicide: ‘IT’ is the HEAVY Alan Vega release from beyond the grave!
07.14.2017
09:57 am
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Alan Vega the solo artist and lead singer of the groundbreaking synthpunk duo Suicide who passed from this mortal plane almost exactly one year ago (7/16/16) is not done with us just yet and this is the best news I’ve heard in ages…

My own personal experiences and encounters with Alan Vega are varied, and over many decades, sometimes very near and sometimes far away, but always intense. Not like scary movie intense but like escaping death intense. As an innocent 16-year-old going to Max’s Kansas City in 1976 determined to get in “this time,” and being very under age, everything lined up right: my parents went out for the night and I got a friend from school to go with me, but the bands I knew about (Ramones, etc.) weren’t playing but anything would have been good.

Back then every band played two sets each night. We got there right on time for the early show and saw a band called The Cramps playing their third gig ever! (That is a major revelation I have gone into elsewhere many times). When Suicide hit the stage it was not packed but pretty crowded. I had been very into weird music for many of my young years but nothing on earth—I repeat, nothing—could prepare me for what I was about to go through. I had seen “bands.” And for God’s sake I had just seen The Cramps for the first time, but two guys come up, NO guitar, NO bass, NO drums and SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEGH#%&*#!$#@ PLAY THE LOUDEST THING I HAD EVER HEARD!! 

I had never seen a band with “no” instruments and they were louder than any band WITH instruments. I had never been literally scared of music and people I paid to “have fun” watching. By this point the singer was bleeding from pummeling his own face with his microphone. And it just got louder and louder. Vega would lean into the audience and people would run to the bar! I was mesmerized. I was glued to my seat. I went into another galaxy and I was changed forever. My friend was long gone, outside I found out, and he’d been outside since thirty seconds after they’d come onstage. This in itself was the dividing line between myself and the rest of my entire world as I knew it. The deciding factor that I needed to exist in THIS world and not the world I had known up until this point. This was a gigantic psychotic green light that I had never known existed but was waiting for my entire young life.

Between the Cramps and Suicide I had found my heart and soul. And I wanted more. And I have never for one moment stopped searching for that something “more.”
 

 
By the 1990s I had followed this path for quite a while and was familiar with and friends with many of these people, and was one of them. When my band D Generation was recording our second LP No Lunch at Electric Lady studio with producer Ric Ocasek, chosen much for the fact that he could work with Suicide and The Bad Brains (musically AND personally), the idea came up for us to have Alan Vega pay a visit. Once there, we thought he’d be tickled about a song we had just finished called Frankie about a tough cross-dressing punk type, a sort of homage to his Frankie Teardrop. Next thing you know he is in the studio recording a vocal. All I can think about was that first life changing night at Max’s Kansas City which was then twenty years prior (now forty one) as I watch and listen to him give Ric and the engineer instructions to take all the music out except the kick drum, the bass (yay!) and Jesse Malin’s vocal. He then went to work squirming and shrieking and saying all kinds of wild heavy stuff. It was truly a privilege to be a part of that.
 
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The author with Alan Vega
 
After that we knew each other better. Jesse brought him to meet Bruce Springsteen and Alan and Jesse became close. Alan once did a set doing the first Suicide LP live at Jesse’s club Bowery Electric. Jesse’s sideman Derek Cruz (with my help or at my suggestion I believe) sampled all the sounds from the LP and played the sounds on pads so it sounded exactly like the record! Amazing! But not exactly as planned as the sound man didn’t know the record and since I did (and I knew the soundman) I ran into the sound booth and asked him where the echo was and to turn it on and I did the echo frenzy on Alan’s vocal just like the record throughout the show. His beautiful wife Liz Lamere thanked me, as did audience members. That was a perfect experience to bring my life as far as Alan Vega is concerned to a perfect circle.

Until now.
 
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Photo by Bob Gruen
 
Almost a year to the day after Alan Vega passed he has sent us all a massive electronic slap in the face. And like the first time I was exposed to his music, it is harsh, exciting and necessary. Electronic meditations on sorrow, loss and darkness from the Suicide king. The new album, titled IT hits the streets on July 14th and is truly a message from beyond. IT can be downloaded digitally and bought on vinyl, with a 2-LP gatefold including unpublished drawings, writings, and photos by Vega. The digital album is now available for pre-order here, and the standard vinyl can be pre-ordered via Amazon.com here. A special limited release of IT will also be available on transparent orange vinyl, sold exclusively at select indie retail locations, the list of which will soon be announced.

Leading up to the one-year anniversary of Vega’s passing, New York City will host a series of events deemed “Alan Vega Week” including exhibits and performances in Alan’s memory. On June 30th, INVISIBLE-EXPORTS opened an exhibition featuring Vega’s historic light sculptures, as well as his final series of work including acrylic and graphite paintings. Depictions of a single mythical man, they also form, together, a shifting, serial self-portrait. Additionally, on July 18th, Jeffrey Deitch will open “Dream Baby Dream,” a memorial exhibition commemorating Vega’s life and work, including video projections of historic performances by Suicide, and a selection of Vega’s sculptures and works on paper from the 1960s to his last works in 2016. Stay tuned for additional memorial events around “Alan Vega Week” to be announced.
 
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The album opens with its first single and video called Dead To Me. “Life is no joke/It’s days and nights-pure evil/Heyyyyy, sometimes the skanks save souls/DTM-dead to me.” Over a pounding atonal electronic repetitive groove, it is relentless, bleak and very heavy. Spitting out lines of endtimes doom and truth, it’s a tough pill to swallow. But surely one worth forcing down.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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07.14.2017
09:57 am
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That one time Elvis died
07.14.2017
08:01 am
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It’s easy to forget how weird Elvis was. Sure, I mean weird “like a prince from another planet,” in the New York Times’ phrase, but I also mean weird like an ordinary nerd. Kicked, punched, wedgied, swirlied, dumped-in-the-trash-can weird. Sun Records artist Barbara Pittman makes it sound like humiliating Elvis was once a kind of neighborhood sport:

My older brother went to school with him, and he and some of the other boys used to hide behind buildings and throw things at him—rotten fruit and stuff—because he was different, because he was quiet and he stuttered and he was a mama’s boy.

He could have been John Lauber, the gay schoolmate whose bleached hair Mitt Romney reportedly chopped off with scissors as a senior. He very nearly was, according to Memphis Mafioso Red West, who claims to have broken up just such a scene in the high school men’s room:

What sealed our fate forever, I’m sure: between classes, I went into the bathroom one day, and I saw these three guys and Elvis back in the corner. Two of ‘em were holding him, one guy had the scissors. Elvis was different: he wore the long hair, and all of us had crew cuts. And I walked in, looking around. “What’s goin’ on, boys?”

“We gonna cut a little hair off this boy, here, you know.”

And I said, “He don’t look like he wants it cut off, to me.”

He said, “No he don’t, but we do.”

And I said, “Well, if you cut his, you’re gonna cut mine, and I ain’t got too damn much up here to cut.” And they looked at me to see if I was serious, and they saw that I was serious, and they let him go.

Now, the story that these were football players—these weren’t football players. These were just redneck dumbasses.

 

 
So while some of the world’s mean motherfuckers consider Elvis one of their own, their claim is by no means exclusive. To be the King of Rock and Roll is to be the king of every abnormal person who’s ever been on the losing end of a fight. I’ll grant you that Elvis did not always act with these subjects’ best interest at heart, as when, in the rambling letter to Nixon he wrote on American Airlines stationery, he volunteered to use his bona fides with “The Drug Culture, The Hippie Elements, The SDS, Black Panther, etc” to infiltrate those groups as a “Federal Agent at Large.”

But Elvis contained multitudes. At least in the probably apocryphal version of the Elvis story Lux Interior of the Cramps said he heard from Sam Phillips’ son (which one?) “one drunken night,” Elvis was “The Drug Culture” of 1954, leveraging Gladys’ supply of bennies for studio time:

Yeah, we were told that Elvis wasn’t discovered as such at all! He was just some freaky-looking kid always making a nuisance of himself around Sun Studios and nobody wanted to know him. Like here’s this guy who dyed his fuckin’ eyebrows and dressed in black pimp clothes—and this was the ‘50s in the South, you’ve got to remember—and Sam Phillips and all the session guys thought he was some disgusting little faggot!

However Elvis did have this one piece of luck. His mother, right, had a really bad weight problem and the doctor prescribed her this enormous supply of diet pills which just happened to be… these pills were just pure benzedrine, right, which is a very potent form of speed.

And all those Sun guys just lived on speed, man. So when Phillips found out that Elvis could get bottles of these things, he let him hang around. So, like, here was Elvis every week bringing huge bottles of these pills to the guys at Sun until, as he was the studio’s main source of supply for speed, Phillips was more or less obliged to let him cut a record.

So like, rock ‘n’ roll was born simply because Elvis Presley was Sun Records’ number one speed dealer.

 

 
It’s fitting that the book Elvis is said to have taken with him on his fatal trip to the can, A Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus, concerned the Shroud of Turin, which is either a holy relic or a total ripoff, depending on who’s talking. He was about to pass into just such an indeterminate state, Elvis was, forever leaving behind the dimension that has toilets for the one made entirely out of meaning. And now that he’s been a pure symbol for so long, hardly anyone remembers that he used to sing. (N.B.: Elvis was fucking great!) But everyone remembers that he died on the shitter.

VCRs and cassette decks everywhere whirred into action on August 16, 1977, perhaps hoping to capture a glimpse or echo of EP kung-fuing his way through the pearly gates. Because I love Elvis, before I am subjected to the inevitable cable news specials marking the 40th anniversary of his death next month, I’m inoculating myself with heavy doses of raw video. There are hours of TV and radio coverage of the event. Perhaps you’d like to join me?

After the jump, nearly two hours of Elvis death coverage and ‘mini-docs’...

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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07.14.2017
08:01 am
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Fallen Angel: Evelyn McHale’s ‘Beautiful Suicide’
07.11.2017
11:14 am
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Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. On average there are 121 suicides every single day. Fifty percent of these are achieved with firearms. Just over a quarter are the result of hanging or suffocation. Poisoning makes up about fifteen percent. 

In 2015, seven out of ten suicides were white males, with the highest percentage being middle-aged men. A total of 494,169 were taken to the hospital due to attempted “self-harm.” That works out to an average of twelve people self-harming for every successful suicide. However, most suicide attempts go unreported which means there is an estimated one million US citizens who attempt suicide every year.

For those who have no access to a gun or to poison or worry that hanging might leave them paralyzed from the neck down, then jumping off a tall building or a bridge is the preferred choice for about five percent of all suicides. Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is the top spot for those who choose to jump. To date, around 1600 people have jumped from the bridge—an average of one person jumping to their death every two weeks. However, approximately one in fifty survives the fall—usually with life-changing injuries. Part of the attraction to jumping is the spectacle, as one Golden Gate suicide survivor Ken Baldwin explained in 2011:

“Jumping from the bridge was going to force people to see me….To see me hurting, to see that I was a person, too.”

The moment Mr. Baldwin let go of the rail and began to freefall downwards, he quickly realized that:

“...everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable – except for having jumped.”

He was lucky enough to survive to tell his tale after being pulled out of the water by the coast guard.
 
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Suicide has had a bizarre, and let’s be honest, dumb romantic appeal since Cleopatra was bitten by an asp. This notion was further endorsed by the English Romantic poets, in particular, Thomas Chatterton who poisoned himself at the tender age of seventeen—supposedly in fear of having caught a dose of the clap. This trend to romanticize suicide carries on to present day which sadly suggests we never learn from our mistakes. And I can ‘fess up to being that special kind of stupid having survived two suicide attempts. As Dorothy Parker noted—it ain’t worth it and we might as well live.

The photograph that perhaps captures this strange romantic idea about suicide as somehow “beautiful” was taken by student Robert Wiles on Thursday, May 1st, 1947. His photograph shows the body of Evelyn McHale atop a limousine parked outside the Empire State Building on 33rd Street, New York. Evelyn was a 23-year-old bookkeeper with the Kitab Engraving Company. She had just returned to New York from celebrating her fiance Barry Rhodes’ 24th birthday on April 30th, in Easton, Pennsylvania. Rhodes later said he had no idea of Evelyn’s intentions:

“When I kissed her goodbye she was happy and as normal as any girl about to be married.”

At some point on the train journey back to the city, Evelyn made her mind up to commit suicide. Arriving at Penn Station, Evelyn is believed to have entered the Governor Clinton Hotel where she wrote her suicide note which read:

“I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.”

The most telling part is Evelyn’s line about having “too many of [her] mother’s tendencies.”

Evelyn was the sixth of seven children born to Vincent and Helen McHale. In 1930, the family moved to Washington D.C. where her father worked as Federal Land Bank Examiner. This was the year Evelyn’s mother Helen quit the family home leaving Vincent to look after the children. It’s not known why Helen McHale moved out.
 
Read more about the ‘beautiful suicide’ of Evelyn McHale after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.11.2017
11:14 am
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William S. Burroughs’ answer to the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’


The author at home
 
It’s the 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen,” and you know what that means: it’s the 40th anniversary of the letter of support William S. Burroughs sent the band, along with his own all-purpose slogan and answer song, “Bugger the Queen.”

Victor Bockris writes that Burroughs’ piece predated the Sex Pistols’ single by three years, but even so, “God Save the Queen” was the occasion for its debut. As far as I can tell, Burroughs never mentioned “Bugger the Queen” without reference to the Sex Pistols. In October ‘77, writing from Naropa, Burroughs sent Brion Gysin a Rolling Stone feature on the Sex Pistols (presumably Charles M. Young’s contemporary cover story) along with the words to “Bugger the Queen,” which he referred to as a new song he might record with Patti Smith. Though the published letters haven’t yet caught up to the punk rock period, Ken Lopez Bookseller has made the typescript of this one available. Punctuation and spelling are WSB’s:

Dear Brion:

Enclose article from the Rolling Stone on the Sex Pistols and punk rock, in case you didnt see it. This explains the action in Paris. I guess we are classified with Mick Jaeger. I am writing some songs and may do a record with Patti Smith. Here’s one
My husband and I
The old school tie
Hyphonated names
Tired old games
It belongs in the bog
With the restofthe sog
Pull the chain onBuckingham
The drain calls you MAM.
BUGGER THE QUEEN
Whole skit goes withit illustratting everything I dont like about England.

“Bugger the Queen” was still on Burroughs’ mind one year later when he told a writer for the San Francisco punk zine Search & Destroy about his letter to the Sex Pistols (as quoted by Victor Bockris):

I am not a punk and I don’t know why anybody would consider me the Godfather of Punk. How do you define punk? The only definition of the word is that it might refer to a young person who is simply called a punk because he is young, or some kind of petty criminal. In this sense some of my characters may be considered punks, but the word simply did not exist in the fifties. I suppose you could say James Dean epitomized it in Rebel Without a Cause, but still, what is it? I think the so-called punk movement is indeed a media creation. I did however send a letter of support to the Sex Pistols when they released “God Save the Queen” in England because I’ve always said that the country doesn’t stand a chance until you have 20,000 people saying BUGGER THE QUEEN! And I support the Sex Pistols because this is constructive, necessary criticism of a country which is bankrupt.

 

The cover (cropped) of ‘Little Caesar’ #9, the first publication of ‘Bugger the Queen’ (via dennis-cooper.net)
 
The “skit” Burroughs mentions in the letter to Gysin, or a later version of it, is one of the entries in the essay collection The Adding Machine. Burroughs read it toward the end of 1978 at the Nova Convention celebrating his work. It was first published in the ninth issue of Dennis Cooper’s zine Little Caesar, whose previous number featured an interview with Johnny Rotten; International Times ran it too. The gist: chants of “Bugger the Queen” lead to a spontaneous uprising that forces Her Maj to abdicate. From the opening, a few words of inspiration, and the annotated lyrics:

I guess you read about the trouble the Sex Pistols had in England over their song “God Save the Queen (It’s a Fascist Regime).” Johnny Rotten got hit with an iron bar wielded by HER Loyal Subjects. It’s almost treason in England to say anything against what they call “OUR Queen.” I don’t think of Reagan as OUR President, do you? He’s just the one we happen to be stuck with at the moment. So in memory of the years I spent in England—and in this connection I am reminded of a silly old Dwight Fisk song: “Thank you a lot, Mrs. Lousberry Goodberry, for an infinite weekend with you . . . (five years that weekend lasted) . . . For your cocktails that were hot and your baths that were not . . .”—so in fond memory of those five years I have composed this lyric which I hope someday someone will sing in England. It’s entitled: Bugger the Queen.

My husband and I (The Queen always starts her spiel that way)
The old school tie
Hyphenated names
Tired old games
It belongs in the bog
(Bog is punk for W.C.)
With the rest of the sog
Pull the chain on Buckingham
The drain calls you, MA’AM
(Have to call the Queen “Ma’am” you know)
BUGGER THE QUEEN!

The audience takes up the refrain as they surge into the streets screaming “BUGGER THE QUEEN!”

Suddenly a retired major sticks his head out a window, showing his great yellow horse-teeth as he clips out: “Buggah the Queen!”

A vast dam has broken.

Alas, no one has stepped up to record “Bugger the Queen” during the intervening decades. I hold out hope Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye will set it to music. Below, for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in June 1977, the Pistols make themselves heard from a boat on the River Thames in what must surely be Sex Pistols Number 2.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.02.2017
09:30 am
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