Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of the passing of Lux Interior, the great frontman of The Cramps, one of the most influential bands of the last 40+ years. Lux lived up to all expectations and truly walked it like he talked it in such a way that he just might be in a group of one. As has been written by myself and a great many others, this band created a style. Not just music, but in every area of life from film subcultures to sexual freedom and just about everything in between, whether they planned to or not. And it’s showing no signs of stopping.
As we learn over and over again, with the Cramps, when we think there’s nothing left to find, something always pops up! Yesterday on the actual anniversary of Lux’s passing, this rare, very early unheard 1981 interview from radio station KALX appeared! This is an early (and interesting) interview as it was done right when guitarist Kid Congo Powers (who is still going strong and making incredible records) joined the band. So let’s transport ourselves 38 years back in time and listen to the beginning of a journey. Who can conceive of a band like this happening now??
And to quote that 50s rockabilly song, “Rockin’ Bones,” made popular in the punk era by The Cramps:
I wanna leave a happy memory when I go
I wanna leave something to let the whole world know
That the rock in roll daddy has a done passed on
But my bones will keep a-rockin’ long after I’ve gone
Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
Well, when I die don’t you bury me at all
Just nail my bones up on the wall
Beneath these bones let these words be seen
This is the bloody gears of a boppin’ machine
Roll on, rock on, raw bones
Well, there’s still a lot of rhythm in these
You don’t have to be a child to appreciate the genius of Stephen Hillenburg. I think that’s why his passing especially hurts. I still watch Spongebob and Rocko’s Modern Life regularly. And I’m pretty sure both are even better as an adult.
Before he was an animator, Stephen Hillenburg taught marine biology. As a visual aid to his course curriculum, Hillenburg wrote and designed an informative comic book titled The Intertidal Zone. It was about anthropomorphic tide-pool animals and featured a particular sea sponge - one who would go on to warm the hearts of millions. As the story goes, the educational comic eventually developed into the fifth longest-running animated series in American history - Spongebob Squarepants.
Hillenburg always had a passion for the arts. When he was in third grade, in 1970 and during the Vietnam War, his teacher commended him for an illustration that he did featuring “a bunch of army men… kissing and hugging instead of fighting.” It was at that moment that Stephen’s creative talent (and potential) was first recognized. After getting the nautical comic book idea turned down by publishers (it still is unpublished), Hillenburg followed his artistic ambitions and enrolled in animation school at CalArts.
‘The Green Beret’
Stephen Hillenburg created two animated shorts while at CalArts, both in 1992. The first was The Green Beret. It was about a Girl Scout with enormous fists who toppled homes while trying to sell cookies. Rife with political satire (George Washington in the war trenches) and a hint of farce directed at American excess and television culture, the short contained the same tongue-in-cheek humor that made Hillenburg’s later works so satisfying. The Green Beret kind of reminds me of Meet the Fat Heads, the absurd in-universe cartoon program that had several cameos in Rocko’s Modern Life.
The only online evidence of ‘Wormholes’
Hillenburg’s thesis film was a seven-minute animation titled Wormholes. It was based on the theory of relativity and while the short does not exist anywhere on the web, Hillenburg has been quoted as describing it as “a poetic animated film based on relativistic phenomena.” The film was shown at several international film festivals, including the 1992 Ottawa Film Festival, where Hillenburg met Joe Murray, creator of Rocko’s Modern Life. After seeing Wormholes, Murray offered Stephen the directorial role on his new cartoon for Nickelodeon. And the rest was history.
It is without a doubt that Stephen Hillenburg has inspired something special within us all. May he rest in peace.
Watch Hillenburg’s first animated short film ‘The Green Beret,’ after the jump…
As we approach 2019, let us take a moment to brace ourselves for the oncoming onslaught of Manson Family “tributes” destined for the 50th anniversary year of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Here at its epicenter, in the city of Los Angeles, it seems like every other week that there are murmurings about the new Tarantino flick, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. And I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there will be two additional Sharon Tate films released next year as well - The Haunting of Sharon Tate and Tate. Manson’s orders may have led to the gruesome murders of eight innocent individuals between August 8-10, 1969, but we will always remember Sharon Tate.
Our frame of reference today may primarily recognize her as one cult’s sacrifice to Helter Skelter. Had these random, senseless killings not occurred, however, Tate would have been known for her promising career as a beloved Hollywood actress and style icon. Emerging onto the Hollywood scene in the early Sixties, Tate was part of a new generation of actors during a renaissance of film making known as the “American New Wave.” Beautiful and naturally talented, she starred in a number of films including Eye of the Devil, Valley of the Dolls, and The Fearless Vampire Killers, the prelude of her marriage to famous director and certified-creep, Roman Polanski. It was at Polanski and Tate’s home where the murders on 10500 Cielo Dr took place.
Over the weekend, located just three miles and essentially one long street from the scene of the crime, Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills held an estate auction of the property of Sharon Tate. While there were plenty of theories online as to why, the sale’s coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of Tate’s untimely death seems aptly timed. The auction was arranged in accordance with Sharon’s sister, Debra, the owner of the former belongings and someone who has been vocal over the years toward victims’ rights and preserving her sister’s image. An excerpt of her intent to auction Sharon’s memorabilia is below:
When Julien’s first approached me with the idea of doing an auction of my sister’s considerable collection of clothes, accessories, and personal effects, I was immediately apprehensive. For 49 years I had lovingly stored and preserved these items as a way of keeping Sharon close by. While my sister is never far away in spirit, over the decades I have always been able to turn to these treasures for comfort and as a tangible reminder of the wonderful times we spent together.
Sharon was the sweetest, most gentile, most giving soul you could ever hope to meet - even more beautiful on the inside than she was on the outside. She had a special radiance, beyond the perfection of her features, that touched everyone she met. As her husband Roman Polanski said, “In those day, she was not just the love of my life, she was the love of everyone’s life.” And it’s true.
And as the years pass I have come to realize that my sister’s enormous popularity, both as an actress and as a ‘60s fashion and style icon, is continually growing. Sharon’s signature style - whether in couture, hippie chic, or her classic “Hollywood” look in Valley of the Dolls with the dramatic eye makeup and cascading blonde hair - are constantly referenced on the runway, the red carpet, and in magazine editorials worldwide. Today, my sister is loved and adored by so many fans and admirers. For this reason, and after much consideration, I now feel the time is right to share a little of Sharon with others.
As the world knows, in 1969 my sister was involved in an event that changed America in ways that still resonate. Through her fame, and the hard work of my family and I, she has become the face of a cause - Victim’s Rights - that continues to save lives to this day. That said, I always felt it was very unfair for her life to be remembered primarily for its final moments. Sharon had a magnificent life. Born into a family who loved her very much, she had a wonderful childhood. She traveled the world. She was talented. She became a film star. She met and married the man of her dreams. She experienced impending motherhood. She achieved so much in such a brief time, made a significant impact, and continues to fascinate and delight. It is important that her life be celebrated.
Among the items for auction were some of Sharon’s most favored dresses, including the one worn at her wedding, and those from film premieres, the Golden Globes, Cannes, photo shoots, etcetera. Also on display were clothing accessories such as jewelry, coats, bags, and sunglasses. And then there were souvenirs from her home, which were most likely present the night of her murder. Items like framed photos, makeup kits, treasured books, dishware, and other decorative items. Every single piece had a starting price from the hundreds to the five-digit thousands (the wedding dress sold for $56K). It was an ominous feeling in such an alluring setting. And while no one mentioned Manson, everyone was obviously thinking about him.
Raybeez, Jimmy Gestapo and Lemmy at the Ritz, 1986
This video of two members of Warzone on The Morning Show with Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford has been circulating due to the recent death of Todd Youth, whose improbable career connected Agnostic Front and Glen Campbell. When Todd was 16, he and four other members of the scene shared an enormous couch belonging to WABC. He’s sitting next to Natalie Jacobson, the show promoter and writer then attached to Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy’s Law; to his right are a Pratt student named Christine, Todd’s late bandmate Raybeez and fanzine writer Debbie.
Natalie complains about her treatment on a recent episode of Donahue (“I’m sorry Phil, but you really blow”) and the way Peter Blauner portrayed her in a New York Magazine profile of NYHC bands and fans. But what may seem like a friendly reception from Regis and Kathie Lee is really just the inability to listen, see or think that made the hosts favorites of the morning-show audience. Kathie Lee wonders how the HxCx crew is different from the beatniks of her childhood; Regis asks Dr. Joy Browne to explain the hardcore phenomenon from a psychiatrist’s point of view. If you need any more proof of Schopenhauer’s doctrine that perception is an intellectual faculty, just watch Regis and Kathie Lee trying to size up the struggle and the streets.
Almost nine years ago, I was interviewing Hardy Fox, the president of the Cryptic Corporation, by Skype. He was telling me about hopes the Residents had expressed over the years for advances in stage technology: touring holographic productions that would fit on a disk, music that would cause everyone in the audience to have a simultaneous orgasm. And then he said the most surprising thing anyone’s said to me during an interview:
Actually, they always wanted to have an album, like a gatefold album that when you opened it, it was just a hole—and it would give you instant vertigo, like you would be terrified to open it because you could fall into it and get lost.
Like a bottomless pit—inside the record? Is that what you’re talking about, Hardy?
Exactly. It opens up—it would just terrify you because it would just be so empty.
I strongly suspected Hardy had more to do with the Residents than he let on, but I was too much a fan of the band to have any interest in unmasking its members, which would not only spoil the mystery, but unmask me as a discourteous jerk. Invading the privacy of the coolest people in the world doesn’t make you a brilliant sleuth; it makes you an asshole. Who wants to be the guy staking out Thomas Pynchon’s apartment with a telephoto lens? So I didn’t bring it up, nor did I have to, considering how he ended our conversation:
Actually, I feel honored that someone of your youth seems to have as much knowledge and information about things that I have spent my life working on, and so that somewhat honors me that it wasn’t just working out into the void that’s inside that album cover, waiting.
I supposed he could have been talking about all the marketing work he’d done for the Residents, but it sure didn’t sound that way.
Hardy’s former role in the Residents has been hiding in plain sight for some time now on the home page of his website. It’s right there in the first paragraph of his bio:
Hardy Fox grew up in Texas. After college he moved to San Francisco reveling in the free love days of 1967-68. He co-founded the much loved cult band, the Residents, where he was primary composer.
Hardy retired from The Residents in 2015 but continued to compose for the group through 2018. In addition to his work with that band, he has recorded as a solo artist under various names including Charles Bobuck, Combo de Mechanico, Sonido de la Noche, Chuck, TAR, among others.
Hardy talked about leaving the Residents and undergoing heart surgery in an interview with Musique Machine earlier this year. Last month, the dates “1945-2018” appeared on Hardy’s website and Facebook page, and he sent out a message to the Hacienda Bridge mailing list that began: “I’m 73. Dying of a head thing that will get me soon. So what.” On Tuesday morning, this notice turned up in my inbox, accompanied by the photo of Rod Serling below:
1945 - 2018
That evening, the Residents posted this obituary at residents.com:
It is with with great sorrow and regret that The Cryptic Corporation announces the passing of longtime associate, Hardy Fox. As president of the corporation from 1982-2016, the company benefited from Hardy’s instinct for leadership and direction, but his true value came from his longtime association with The Residents. As the group’s producer, engineer, as well as collaborator on much of their material, Fox’s influence on The Residents was indelible; despite any formal training, his musicality was nevertheless unique, highly refined and prolific. Blessed with a vital sense of aesthetics, a keen ear, and an exquisite love of the absurd, Hardy’s smiling face was a constant source of joy to those around him. He will be missed.
After a series of recent health problems, Hardy succumbed to a brief illness. He is survived by his husband, Steven Kloman.
Ave atque vale, Hardy Fox. Thanks for a billion hours of musical pleasure.
A friend of mine died at the weekend. He was a good, kind man in his forties, far too young to die. But death doesn’t care about age or family or feelings. That’s for those left behind to deal with. Miyu Kojima is 26 years old and lives in Japan. She works for a company that cleans the rooms of houses and apartments where someone has died usually on their own, what the Japanese term kodokushi (孤独死) “lonely deaths.” Such deaths mainly occur among the older generation—bereaved wives or husbands whose partners have long preceded them in death and have continued living out their last years in a fractured, isolated world.
Kojima has been cleaning “death scenes” for four years. She became involved in the work after her father died. She cleans an average of 300 such locations every year. Kojima describes the work as hard, difficult, and often disturbing. She also claims the atmosphere in homes where someone has been murdered or has committed suicide as far more oppressive “(“the air is heavier”).
As part of the grieving process, photographs are taken of the room in which the deceased was found. These are sometimes used to help relatives (or friends) come to terms with the loss of their loved one. However, Kojima feels these images do not always provide the necessary closure. She therefore started making miniature replicas of the death scenes she worked on. Though not trained as an artist, Kojima taught herself the skills necessary to build and sculpt these miniature rooms. Each model takes four weeks to produce.
Part of the reason Kojima makes these miniature death scenes is the deep regret she feels over her father’s death. He had separated from his wife. One day, when her mother came to discuss details of their divorce, she found him lying unconscious in his apartment. He was in a coma. At the hospital, the doctors said to Kojima that her father might hear her if she spoke to him. When she did, tears appeared in his eyes. He died shortly thereafter. Kojima felt regret that she had not been able to have a closer bond with her father. By making her miniature death scenes, Kojima hopes she can help bring those who feel (as she once did) estranged or distant to their families closer together.
More miniature scenes of ‘lonely death,’ after the jump…
The gatefold image from ‘Speak of the Devil’ featuring Ozzy and John Edward Allen as Ronnie the Dwarf (also sometimes called Ronnie the Midget). For what it’s worth, this photograph was unapologetically taken of the author’s original U.S. pressing of the album from 1982.
While on tour in support of both Diary of a Madman (1981-1982), and his follow-up live album, Speak of the Devil (1982-1983), Ozzy Osbourne‘s live show included actor and dwarf John Edward Allen. You may recall Allen not only participated in the live shows but also appeared on the inside of the infamous gatefold (pictured above) of the Speak of the Devil album, made up to look like a bloody, undead disciple of Ozzy clad in a hooded black robe. My young mind could barely handle the image when I cracked my copy open on Christmas of 1982 (proof my parents are the coolest ever). I even got to see Ozzy “execute” Allen on stage by hanging him as he did nightly, typically when it came time to perform “Goodbye To Romance” from Osbourne’s first solo record, Blizzard of Ozz. During the band’s set, Allen would periodically come out on stage during the banter breaks, bringing his employer drinks and towels while Ozz regaled the crowd with his never-ending demand to let him see their “fucking hands.”
John Edward Allen was born on March 27th, 1950, in Southampton, Hampshire, England. He found work as a tailor in Southhampton but always had his sights set on acting. He would fulfill his dream performing live theater in London first, then heading to New York’s off-Broadway scene—even performing for President Jimmy Carter at the White House in the late 70s. Allen landed parts in several Hollywood films starting in 1978 with his minor role in the super-creepy John Carpenter-penned film The Eyes of Laura Mars. Other roles would follow, including his memorable portrayal of Kaiser in 1982’s Blade Runner. While all this sounds like a pretty charming existence for Allen, he was a pretty troubled guy. Allen, as it turns out, loved to drink, about as much as Ozzy himself liked to drink—which in itself is an alarming claim to make about anyone considering Osbourne’s track record with booze.
Initially, Ozzy was hell-bent on adding a dwarf to his live show and gave Allen the gig giving him the name of Ronnie the Dwarf—a direct swipe at Black Sabbath’s new vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Between Ozzy’s epic use of party favors and Allen’s love of drink, things often ended badly for Allen after the show was over.
A lovely portrait of Allen in his dressing room in 1985. Photo by author and photographer Mary Motley Kalergis.
On one particular occasion, Ozzy was chatting with a journalist outside the band’s tour bus when a seriously blotto Allen came stumbling by. This pissed off the Prince of Darkness and once Allen was within arms reach, he grabbed him and threw him inside the luggage compartment of the bus, leaning on the door so Allen couldn’t get out. The journo recoiled in shock (which I find hilarious, because OZZY), then stammered at Osbourne telling him his treatment of Allen was uncalled for. Ozzy allegedly responded by telling the journalist he could do “what he liked with him” because he was “my dwarf.” Following this bizarre proclamation, Allen’s voice arose from the luggage compartment saying:
“He’s right, you know. I’m his dwarf, and he can do what he likes with me…”
During the North American leg of the Diary of a Madman Tour, tragedy struck when guitarist Randy Rhoads (and four other people including the pilot) was killed in a plane crash on March 19th, 1982. This devastating event sent Ozzy into an even more downward spiral. He upped his consumption of liquor and drugs, shaved his head, and constantly threatened to quit the music game forever. Of course, as we all know, the threats never came to fruition and Ozzy would keep going. Allen would continue to be ceremoniously hanged for the duration of the Speak of the Devil Tour. Following the tour, Allen was dismissed by either Osbourne, a member of his crew, or perhaps just moved on—it’s a little murky. Allen would appear in a few more films before his OD suicide in 1999 at the young age of 49. I’ve posted some behind-the-scenes images of Allen on tour with Ozzy, as well as a video of Allen on stage with Ozzy in 1982.
And now, you know...
A photo of Allen preparing to be hung on stage during his time touring with Ozzy.
Sterling Morrison died on August 30, 1995, just after he turned 53. A few days later, the movie Antártida, with music by John Cale, hit Spanish screens; on the soundtrack, Morrison and Maureen Tucker joined Cale for a rendition of Jim Carroll’s rock litany, “People Who Died.” (Chris Spedding and the Lounge Lizards’ Erik Sanko also sat in on this quasi-reunion of the Velvet Underground.)
Back in 1984, Carroll joined Lou Reed’s band onstage at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey, to sing “People Who Died.” If you play Cale’s version back-to-back with Reed’s, all the original Velvets will be gathered together again, in a way, for a moment, and you will remember some people who died: Sterling Morrison, Robert Quine, Jim Carroll, Lou Reed.
Make your own Velvets reunion mash-up, after the jump…
Without knowing the full provenance of this footage featuring golden couple Paul and Linda McCartney larking about in front of a camera, it’s a wee bit difficult to know if it is outtakes from a music promo or indeed, as claimed by the man who transferred and uploaded it to You Tube, Larry Jamieson, a “lost” home movie made by the McCartneys while holidaying in New Zealand sometime during 1997:
This is a damaged super 8 film of Paul and Linda having some fun making a home movie. I restored what was left of this film many years ago and forgot about it. It is over exposed and out of focus in parts, but it is a personal treasure.
But the clip’s provenance doesn’t really matter as what we have here is the Mozart of pop music, Paul and photographer, activist, and musician Linda McCartney making a sweet little film which is all the more moving because we know how this particular story ends.
Linda McCartney’s usual long, blonde, flowing locks have been cropped short as she was then undergoing treatment for breast cancer, which had spread to her liver. Sadly, McCartney died in Tuscon on April 17th, 1998. As a grieving Macca suggested at the time, perhaps the best way to remember Linda is to donate to a breast cancer charity—one that doesn’t support animal testing—or better still “go veggie.”
Harlan Ellison was not a head. In his review of 2001: A Space Odyssey, set in Canter’s Deli at three in the morning, Ellison tells how Rob Reiner and Sal Mineo’s raptures over the movie nearly ruined his matzo ball soup. He subjected their enthusiasm to the full 10,000-watt glare of his withering scorn, disabusing the showfolk of their fond beliefs that 2001 told a story, or had a meaning—pure bullshit, he heard straight from “one of the men listed in the credits as having devised the bloody story” (Clarke?)—and returned to slurping his chicken broth.
Now, if I had ever seen Harlan Ellison stalking the sidewalks of Los Angeles, I would have crossed the street, because I value my life. (If you think his belligerence was just an act, tell it to the ABC executive with the broken pelvis.) But somehow, despite the author’s well-documented hostility to people, places and things, the Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, an instrumental psych-rock group featuring ex-Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell, coaxed these vocals out of Ellison for their self-titled 2013 album.
Here’s Harlan Ellison’s lone essay in heavy rock, “Unassigned Agent X-27.” I love the way he pronounces the “g” in “gnat,” and the way he never curbstomped me while he was alive.