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‘I did one and I’ll never do it again’: Tom Waits’ dog food commercial
04.16.2018
11:04 am
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Tom Waits is in some sense the poster boy for the notion of willful independence from the clutches of corporations tempting musical artists with advertising moolah. Waits isn’t just known for not doing commercials, he famously filed suit against Frito-Lay and its advertising agency Tracy-Locke in 1988 after the mega-manufacturer of salty treats ran a commercial in which a man named Stephen Carter mimicked Waits’ unmistakably gravelly voice intoning the familiar patter of “Step Right Up,” only in this case adapted to alert viewers to the charms of its new product, SalsaRio Doritos.

Waits alerted his attorneys with alacrity—four years later he was rewarded with a whopping settlement of $2.6 million.

It might surprise you to learn, then, that Waits actually did voluntarily make his gravelly voice available for a large corporation for a commercial—one single, solitary time.

In 1981 Waits did the voiceover for a commercial for Purina Butcher’s Blend Dog Food. Here’s the text Waits was required to read:
 

As dog travels through the envied and often tempting world of man, there’s one thing, above all, that tempts him most…the taste of meat! And that is why Purina makes Butcher’s Blend. Butcher’s Blend is the first dry dog food with three tempting meaty tastes. Beef, liver, ‘n’ bacon. All in one bag. So c’mon, deliver your dog from the world of temptation. The world of Butcher’s Blend. The first dry dog food with three meaty tastes.

 
The gig didn’t pay $2.6 million but it surely put a spring into Waits’ step. The period right after 1980’s Heartattack and Vine was a heady one for Waits in that he not only ended his association with Asylum and joined forces with Island but he also somewhat acrimoniously dumped his manager, Herb Cohen. After making the decision to manage his own career (with his wife and artistic partner Kathleen Brennan) and also without his old label for the first time in almost a decade, it would be understandable for Waits to undergo a process of searching and also at least dip his toe into the advertising waters.
 

 
Waits has never seriously attempted to deny that the Butchers Blend commercial happened. In his book Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits, Barney Hoskyns quotes Waits as saying, “I was down on my luck. And I’ve always liked dogs.” Of Cohen, Waits said pungently that he had “gotten rid of my ex-manager and a lot of the flesh-peddlers and professional vermin I’d thrown in with.” (Captain Beefheart once said that Cohen reminded him of “a red marble in a can of lard.”)

Flush with SalsaRio Doritos simoleons, Waits could later afford to develop his (surely sincere) opposition to letting advertisers run roughshod all over musical artists. It wasn’t just Frito-Lay Waits took on, after all, not by a long shot. Waits has also tussled with the likes of Levi’s, MP3.com, and Audi whenever they threatened to use his likeness or vocal uniqueness in a manner of which Waits did not approve.

In 1999, during an interview conducted by Jonathan Valania of Magnet magazine, Waits made an oblique reference to his experience of selling his voice to Butchers Blend. Asked if he is truly “Big in Japan,” as the title of a new song (at the time) had it, Waits replied:
 

Haven’t played there in a long time. Last time I was there, I was on a bullet train, had my little porkpie hat, my pointed shoes and my skinny tie. There was a whole car of Japanese gangsters dressed like Al Capone and Cagney, really zooted. Everyone says, “Don’t go in there, don’t go in there,” but it was the only place with seats - everybody else was huddled together like cattle. And they are in this huge air-conditioned car, with tea and little cookies and six guys sitting around talking with cigars. I said, “Fuck, I’m gonna go in there and sit down.” And I did. It was like this big, heavy stand-off, then they all started laughing, we all tipped our hats and did that little bow. It was pretty funny. Then I brought my guys in and we all sat down, my mob with the Japanese mob. They always want me to do ads for underwear and cigarettes, but I never did them. I did one and I’ll never do it again. I used to see celebrities doing ads and my first reaction was, “Aw, gee he must have needed the money. That’s tough.” When somebody was on the slide, they would do an ad.

   
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.16.2018
11:04 am
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Amazing footage of John Lee Hooker and the Groundhogs in 1964
04.02.2018
09:08 am
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John Lee Hooker and the Groundhogs

John Lee Hooker was a guest on the BBC2 music show The Beat Room in 1964. His band at the time, the Groundhogs, had only recently started playing the blues at the suggestion of their new guitarist, Tony McPhee, who had also renamed the group after one of Hooker’s songs.

They meet their hero in the second paragraph of the bio at Groundhogs HQ:

Tony and the band played all of the gigs on the blossoming blues circuit and then backed Hooker on the final week of his first British tour. John liked the band so much that he always asked for them to back him on British tours and preferred to travel with them in their Commer van. In an interview of the time he called them the ‘number one British blues band’.

Hooker and the Hogs’ studio recordings from this period have been issued under many different titles, but they first appeared in the US on the 1966 Verve Folkways album ...And Seven Nights. The song they are tearing up below, “I’m Leaving,” was not one of these, but a terrifying single Hooker cut for Vee-Jay in ‘63. (They also played “Boom Boom” on The Beat Room; there’s a kinda low-res clip of the whole appearance here.)

Paul Freestone’s biography of Tony (TS) McPhee, Eccentric Man, is available from the author.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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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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Penderecki’s ‘The Devils of Loudun’ is the sleaziest, most depraved opera you’ll ever see


 
Obtaining the original cut of Ken Russell’s The Devils is still a royal pain in the ass. But it’s easy to see this gorgeous TV movie of Penderecki’s first opera, Die Teufel von Loudun, a 1969 studio production with the original cast, conductor and orchestra, subtitled in English.

Penderecki’s opera is based on the same stage play as Russell’s film: John Whiting’s adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun. All concern the real-life Satanic panic that gripped the French village of Loudun in 1632, when a whole house of Ursuline nuns was possessed by the devil, or so it was said, and their priest, Urbain Grandier, was burned at the stake for witchcraft.

Frank Zappa named the record of this production of Penderecki’s opera—in particular, the exorcism by enema in Act II—as one of his favorites in a 1975 interview with Let It Rock:

The Devils Of Loudon: Krzysztof Penderecki. Because it’s also an extremely well-produced album and I think it’s an excellent piece of dramatic music. And also because Tatiana Troyanos who plays the main nun sounds absolutely marvellous during the enema scene. The story is about a hunch-backed nun who’s possessed by the Devil and has to have an exorcism. The exorcism involves the nun being given a hot herbal enema. In live performance the exorcism takes place behind a screen and you hear Tatiana singing and screeching whilst an orchestra plays enema music. You also hear the Devil chuckling from inside the nun’s bowel.

Ken Russell’s ending is quite special, of course, but Penderecki’s is no less terrifying. Cardinal Richelieu’s boys pull a reverse Wicker Man. Get ready to feel deeply uneasy!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.23.2018
08:07 am
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‘Arf!’: The video variety show made for dogs
03.22.2018
10:22 am
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I wish I could take my dog everywhere with me. Recently, I ran into a man on the street protesting our local 7-Eleven. He claimed that the popular convenience store wasn’t “pet friendly” enough; that they wouldn’t allow his dog “Snowball” inside with him while he shopped. I don’t believe Snowball was fit to be a service dog or anything. It’s just nice to have the company every so often. And I’m sure our dogs would prefer the company, too.
 

 
I’m fairly certain that my dog Bella gets lonely when I’m not around. It really sucks to look her in the eyes before I leave the house. I mean, who knows what kind of crazy shit is going on inside her brain? There exist several remedies for pet separation anxiety and, in an age where we can have basically everything we want, there’s now a cable channel called DOGTV.
 
The concept is pretty self-explanatory. DOGTV is a 24/7 television network made exclusively for our canine friends. Designed by animal behavioral specialists, the station’s programming supports a dog’s natural everyday patterns with its original, ASPCA-approved content of three different categories: Relaxation, Stimulation, and Exposure. Each episodical segment is 3-6 minutes long and has been color-adjusted to appeal to a dog’s unique eyesight. Common everyday scenarios such as a visit to the park or a ride through town are accompanied by a soundtrack of healing frequencies, positive affirmations, and relaxing music. The programming is even considered educational. By use of gentle, low volume exposure, unfamiliar sounds are slowly introduced to the viewer, thereby “training” him or her to grow more comfortable. DOGTV has produced over 2,000 original programs to date, including The DOGTV Hour, which is intended to be enjoyed by pets with their owners. Honestly, I enjoy the dog programming much more than I do the human programming.
 

DOGTV ‘Stimulation’ Sample Episode

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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03.22.2018
10:22 am
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Marie Osmond’s Dada freakout on ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ TV show
03.20.2018
12:49 pm
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In 1993, Rough Trade records put out Lipstick Traces, a “soundtrack” to the book of the same name by Greil Marcus. It’s one of my favorite CDs of all time, with tracks by The Slits, Essential Logic, The Raincoats, The Mekons, Buzzcocks, The Gang of Four, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, Situationist philosopher Guy Debord and others. It’s an amazing collection, but there is one track in particular that stands out from the rest, a recitation by none other than Marie Osmond, of Dada poet Hugo Ball’s nonsensical gibberish piece from 1916, “Karawane.”

Hugo Ball was a follower of anarchist philosopher Mikhail Bakunin and became one of the founders of the Zurich nightclub, Cabaret Voltaire, the nexus of the Dada art movement. He would go onstage dressed like this and basically, uh, do you know, avant garde things:
 

 
Ball’s unusual costumes were later ripped off by David Bowie, and then Klaus Nomi after him. Another of Ball’s Dada poems, “Gadji beri bimba” was adapted into the Talking Heads number “I Zimbra” on 1979’s Fear of Music album.

Here’s the story behind this, I think you’ll agree, most excellent clip. From the Lipstick Traces liner notes:

As host of a special (Ripley’s Believe It or Not) show on sound poetry, Osmond was asked by the producer to recite only the first line of Ball’s work; incensed at being thought too dumb for art, she memorized the lot and delivered it whole in a rare “glimpse of freedom.”

Believe it or not…

Some additional insight into how this unlikely TV event transpired via Professor Jed Rasula (author of Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century) who was then working as a researcher for the show:

The one other byproduct of my “Imagining Language” file at Ripley’s came later, when Marie Osmond became co-host with Jack Palance. In the format of the show, little topic clusters (like “weird language”) were introduced by one of the hosts. In this case, the frame was Cabaret Voltaire. Marie was required to read Hugo Ball’s sound poem “Karawane” and a few script lines. Much to everybody’s astonishment, when they started filming she abruptly looked away from the cue cards directly into the camera and recited, by memory, “Karawane.” It blew everybody away, and I think they only needed that one take. A year or so after it was broadcast, Greil Marcus approached me, wanting to use Marie Osmond’s rendition of Hugo Ball for a CD produced in England as sonic companion to his book Lipstick Traces; so I was delighted to be able to arrange that.

 

 
After the jump, Marie sings “Paper Roses”

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.20.2018
12:49 pm
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Holy Diver: Pat Boone goes metal, Christians go berserk


Pat Boone and Alice Cooper on stage at the American Music Awards on January 27th, 1997.
 

“I describe myself as the midwife at the birth of rock & roll.”

—Pat Boone on his decision to record an album full of heavy metal covers in 1997

On January 27th, 1997, ABC aired the 24th Annual American Music Awards—an early 70s creation of the Dick Clark which determines its winners by tabulating votes from the public and album sales. Contrary to the less-than-riveting nominee list the ‘97 AMAs had a few cool moments such as Tupac Shakur’s posthumous win for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and D’Angelo scoring an award for Favorite Soul/R&B Artist. The most memorable moment of the show, and perhaps the year, depending on how riveting your own life was in 1997, was the appearance of conservative Christian crusader, actor, writer, and musician Pat Boone. Boone was about to release his latest record In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. The album was full of swing/big band-style covers featuring the vintage crooner’s adaptations of Dio’s “Holy Diver,” Judas Priest’s “You Got Another Thing Comin’,” “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll)” by AC/DC among other metal classics. Boone also procured musical contributions from Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow), Dweezil Zappa, and drummer Sheila E. Ronnie James Dio even provided backing vocals on Boone’s cover of “Holy Diver” calling Boone “a really cool guy who really loves metal music.”

To help promote the album set for release the following day, Boone walked the red carpet of the AMAs looking super buff in a leather vest and pants, no shirt, covered in fake tattoos which he accessorized with a studded leather dog collar around his neck, and a dangling silver earring. Later on the show, Boone would show up on stage with Alice Cooper to present the award for Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist. People in the audience went fucking NUTS at the sight of Boone looking like he would now be worshiping exclusively at the altar of Satan. At least that’s what Boone’s rather devout followers thought when they saw photos of their squeaky-clean idol looking like he had run away with Mötley Crüe or worse (if there is something worse than that). Perhaps the best part of the very un-Christian caper is that it sprang from the imagination of Dick Clark himself who proposed that Boone and Alice Cooper “switch images” for their award presentation moment. Initially, Cooper was all for it but shortly before the show decided that it was too corny and showed up looking exactly like Alice Cooper. To his credit, Boone kept his side of the Clark-brokered bargain and his seeming transformation into a heavy metal heathen would become a huge media story.  Unless you didn’t have a television in 1997, you most likely saw the then 63-year-old shirtless Boone and probably wondered “WTF” yourself. Which is precisely what Boone’s employers over at the Trinity Broadcasting Network thought—minus the F-bomb naturally.
 

Feel the BOONE!
 
As it turns out, Trinity Broadcasting Network—the massive Christian faith-based television company, considered Boone’s appearance on the AMAs a pretty serious misstep, and after fielding thousands of complaints from their viewers, they pulled the plug on Boone’s popular weekly show, Gospel America. Did this send Boone off to work on his hysterical crying game to ensure his apology to his fans would be as dramatic as hooker-loving Jimmy Swaggart’s 1988 “I have sinned!” sob-fest? Nope. Sure, Boone apologized but was also quick to say that Christians needed to “lighten up.” Here are a few more words from Boone on the death-rock debacle that cost him his show:

“Little did I dream that the media and a lot of Christians would take it seriously. I was really stunned that Christians, evidently by the thousands, having known me for 35 to 40 years, would think that overnight I just radically changed my orientation and all my priorities. Just because I wore some leather pants and fake tattoos and non-piercing earrings doesn’t mean that I’m a fundamentally different person.”

Now that you know all you ever wanted to know about Pat Boone (or read this to sum up his last few decades), let’s take a listen to a few sweet jams from In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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03.19.2018
11:04 am
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David Bowie talks Burroughs, Iggy and Ziggy, 1982-83
03.16.2018
08:15 am
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David Bowie
 
What we have for you here are two early ‘80s interviews with David Bowie for the New Zealand TV show, Radio with Pictures. Though the conversations occurred only twelve or so months apart, oh, what a difference a year makes.

The music program Radio with Pictures premiered in 1976 and was a Sunday night TV staple in New Zealand for over a decade. Bowie was interviewed for both segments by Brent Hansen, the producer/director of Radio with Pictures. Hansen was later hired by MTV and went on to be the president of the network’s European division.

In 1982, Bowie was in New Zealand acting in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and the interview was conducted at the Auckland Railway Station during a break in filming. A number of topics are addressed, including the prospect of re-recording some of the tunes he and Iggy Pop wrote for Iggy’s solo albums, The Idiot and Lust For Life. Bowie would subsequently do just that, the first of those being “China Girl”. He also reveals that his iconic “Ashes to Ashes” video was influenced by master of film surrealism, Luis Buñuel, and that the cut-up technique, a method he would occasionally employ when writing lyrics, was introduced to him by William Burroughs. Bowie appears relaxed throughout, but there is one question he takes very seriously—it concerns the first record he ever bought.
 


If the play button isn’t visible, hover your cursor over the image.

Bowie’s 1983 Radio with Pictures interview transpired under significantly different circumstances. In the 1982 piece, he had talked about how he was looking forward to recording his next LP, which would turn out to be Let’s Dance. Bowie had been very famous for some time, but the worldwide success of the album turned him into a global superstar. The November 1983 chat took place during the tail end of his Serious Moonlight Tour, which began the previous May. On the Oceanian leg of the world trek, Bowie played two big shows in New Zealand. The first was held on November 24th at Athletic Park in Wellington, which drew over 40,000 fans. Two days later, the turnout at Western Springs stadium was double that, with approximately 80,000 people in attendance. It was not only the biggest single show of the entire tour, but was cited by the 1984 Guinness Book of Records as “the largest crowd gathering per head of population anywhere in the world.”
 
Ticket
 
For an article that appeared in the 1997 issue of Live! magazine, Bowie gave a glimpse into what his mindset was like during the Serious Moonlight Tour.

I remember looking out over these waves of people and thinking, ‘I wonder how many Velvet Underground albums these people have in their record collections?’ I suddenly felt very apart from my audience. And it was depressing, because I didn’t know what they wanted.

 
Bowie and Alomar
Bowie and Carlos Alomar, 1983.

The 1983 discussion was taped on November 26th, before the Auckland gig. Though Bowie is largely cordial, he gets a bit testy at one point, and his overall demeanor is noticeably different when compared with the 1982 exchange. He looks tired, which is totally understandable. He answers the first question by declaring that he’s “never enjoyed a tour as much as this one.” Other subjects covered include the impending release of the Ziggy Stardust motion picture, a film he says is “very funny,” and his desire to make another record with Iggy (Bowie would co-produce Pop’s next record, Blah- Blah-Blah, co-writing six of its songs with Iggy).

More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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03.16.2018
08:15 am
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The subversive Addams Family get their own comic book, 1974
03.13.2018
11:13 am
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Dangerous Minds doesn’t have an official mascot, but if the possibility ever manifests, I’d like to suggest Morticia Addams, as embodied by the delectable Carolyn Jones, for the position. Morticia and her brood made the potentially awkward leap from the pages of The New Yorker, where they were a tad more convincingly ghoulish—a classic panel involved the family tipping hot oil on a gaggle of trick-or-treaters—to the mass medium of network television in the mid-1960s, a transition the entire gang achieved with remarkable aplomb.

As it existed on TV, the Addams Family was the approximate correlative of Bizarro in the Superman universe. Since you can’t roast little children on a spit on prime-time TV, the gang took a left turn to perversity. Many gags played on some humorously “opposite” reaction to events (“Oh thank you, this makes me totally miserable!!”), and that very bent for unorthodoxy turned the Addamses into natural and unwitting (?) stand-ins for bohemians, beatniks, freethinkers, and weirdos of all stripes.

The subversiveness of the Addams Family, if it needs spelling out, involves an extreme embrace of tolerance and a perhaps-radical notion that even weirdos could raise a good family. Morticia and Gomez (played wonderfully by John Astin) loved their children every bit as much as the Cleavers did, and said children almost certainly ended up with fewer neuroses. Gomez was some kind of mad millionaire, and for her part Morticia may have been the most refined creature available for view on network television. It can’t be missed that the Addams brood is notably heterogeneous—in other words, composed of a diverse variety of freaks. The Addamses embraced difference as well, opening their doors even to those lacking a torso, or an epidermis. Nobody expressed relish, zeal, or ardor with more brio than Gomez, and Morticia’s alert form of ennui had a certain proto-postpunk edge to it.

The show ran from 1964 to 1966. In 1974 Gold Key Comics ran three issues of a projected Addams Family comic book. One of Gold Key’s early titles was called Space Family Robinson, and if you think that sounds a lot like Lost in Space, Gold Key’s legal team held much the same perspective. Another feather in Gold Key’s cap was its status as the first comic book publisher of any type to run a Star Trek title, one of its longest-running features, and it also found success with a Twilight Zone title. Gold Key also had many, many licensed titles along the lines of The Flintstones, Beetle Bailey, and The Pink Panther.

According to Wikipedia, many of Gold Key’s flirtations with licensed material “were characterized by short runs, sometimes publishing no more than one or two issues.” The Addams Family outlasted that, at least—it ran for three issues. It’s noteworthy that the cover images are copyrighted to “Charles Addams,” and indeed, the pictorial representation of the gang does hark back to the characters’ New Yorker origins.

What follows are the remaining two covers (you’ll find the third one at the top of this page) and a few representative panels.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…....
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.13.2018
11:13 am
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Video of Andy Kaufman acting in college, 1969
03.12.2018
11:08 am
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Andy Kaufman’s yearbook photo from Grahm Junior College
 
This video of Andy Kaufman as “Indignation” Jones in a production of Spoon River Anthology was shot in 1969, when Kaufman was enrolled at Grahm Junior College in Boston. Lost in the Funhouse says the young actor got to show off his range in Don Erickson’s TV production class:

He became a stalwart among TV thespians in the innovative live-tape class productions conceived by Don Erickson, climbing into whichever personas were requested of him—he would somberly sing Jacques Brel dirges or issue grandiloquent soliloquies or pantomime street loon histrionics in sync to Top Forty hits. He inhabited several deceased lamenters who populated the ghostly town of Spoon River, Illinois, in Spoon River Anthology—a failed Broadway show based on a collection of woebegone poems by Edgar Lee Masters, which Erickson adapted for a class television project. He played a dead laughing guy and some dead old guys and a dead mystical guy and one dead extremely angry guy who spouted scorn through pursed and smacking lips that flapped and pouted under his thick-droop mustache (this was a very good look for a mean bastard, he thought)—“You saw me as only a rundown man with matted hair and a beard and ragged clothing!” he bitterly groused. “Sometimes a man’s life turns into a cancer—after being bruised and continually bruised until it swells into a purplish mass like growths on stalks of corn!!”

There doesn’t seem to be a tape of Andy’s reading of “MacArthur Park” in character as an aggrieved 80-year-old Jewish man (“Someone left their cake out in the rain? Oyyy, I don’t think that I can take it”), which Erickson later remembered as an outstanding performance. Kaufman read “MacArthur Park” again years later, in his Saturday Night Live audition, but he read it straight.

Below, Andy reads “Indignation” Jones’ part in Spoon River Anthology. (A maddening video here claims to show Kaufman’s performance of Jacques Brel’s “The Desperate Ones,” but ends before he appears. It does not, however, omit a second of Don Erickson’s introduction, in which he answers, at length, an Esquire article uncharitable to his productions. By the time he pauses in reading a letter from Lynne Margulies to complain that Esquire never ran his eight-page rebuttal—about 10 minutes in—you’ll envy “Indignation” Jones.)
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.12.2018
11:08 am
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