Cowboys, Pop Stars, Droogs, and Artists sporting the ‘hat that won the west’
01.18.2018
12:25 pm
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Paul McCartney.
 
John Wayne got all those cowboys wrong. So did Clint Eastwood, come to that. Most cowboys didn’t wear Stetsons or ten-gallon hats on two-pint heads but generally anything that came to hand. What came to hand for most cowboys in the late 1800s was the bowler hat. It was durable, strong, and didn’t fly off a cowboy’s head when galloping on horseback across the prairie.

That was partly the reason why the bowler was invented. London hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler were asked by a client, Edward Coke, in 1849 to come up with a hat that wouldn’t be easily knocked off or damaged by low-hanging tree branches when worn by riders or gamekeepers. Most people wore top hats when riding which weren’t very practical. The brothers came up with a design of a hard felt hat with a rounded crown and an upturned brim to give shade and keep off the rain. As the story goes, when Coke was presented with his new hat he threw it on the floor and stamped on it several times. As the bowler withstood his fearsome attack, Coke picked it up, dusted it off, and paid twelve shillings for it.

From that first sale, the bowler became the hat of choice among the working class. It was quickly exported across the world. It was soon being worn by cowboys, sheriffs, laborers, ditch diggers, snake oil salesmen, and politicians. In America, the bowler or the derby as it was called, became”the hat that won the west,” despite all what John Wayne and those American western movies tell ya.

Few hats have been as popular, or as successful, and even on occasion, as subversive, as the bowler. This old hat is the symbol of everyman. It has far-reaching associations with lowly workers and city traders; with the rogues of the Wild West like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; the decadence of the Weimar Republic (see Cabaret); the Surrealist movement (the work and dress code of the artist René Magritte); iconic movie stars like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy; deadly Bond villains like Oddjob and Nick Nack; the Ministry for Silly Walks and stand-up comics like Jerry Sadowitz; and literature like Waiting for Godot and A Clockwork Orange.

It also has links to more controversial groups like the Orange Order, the group of Protestants who march in their suits and bowler hats every twelfth of July to ironically celebrate a battle the Pope of Rome wanted their hero, William of Orange, to win. In South America, the bowler is now part of the dress of Quechua women after it was first introduced by British workers in the 1800s.

This rich mix of bowler hat wearers led me to collect together a brief gallery of suitably iconic and hopefully interesting pictures. Do feel free to add to with your own bowler hat suggestions below.
 
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Anita Ekberg.
 
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Malcolm McDowell as Alex in Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange.’
 
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The iconic cover to Anthony Burgess’ novel ‘A Clockwork Orange.’
 
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Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles from ‘Cabaret.’
 
More people sporting bowlers, after the jump….
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.18.2018
12:25 pm
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Meet Carol Doda: Pioneering topless dancer & friend of The Monkees (NSFW)
01.18.2018
10:41 am
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Exotic dancer Carol Doda held up by Peter Tork of The Monkees, and surrounded by the rest of the band (Davy Jones, far left, Michael Nesmith, left back, and Micky Dolenz, right) in 1968.
 
If you were coming of age in San Francisco in the 60s, you were probably swept up in a lot of things, including perhaps the scandalous news reported in June of 1964 about a woman by the name of Carol Doda. Doda was an exotic dancer who took off her top during a performance at the Condor Club (which also employed a young Sly Stone for a short time) in the San Francisco area of North Beach while on top of a piano. Why was this such big news you ask? Well, Doda has been credited by many as one of the first dancers to perform without her top in the U.S., making her a pioneer in the field. According to an interview with the New York Times in 1988, Doda says she was handed a topless bathing suit (a so-called “monokini” designed by Rudi Gernreich) and was told this would be her new “costume.” Doda mused about being “really stupid” but adding if someone told her to do something, she “did it.”

While this would be more than enough to propel Doda to stardom, she would further capitalize on her worldwide notoriety by injecting her breasts with silicone at the behest of her managers at the Condor Club. In twenty weeks and as many silicone injections, Doda’s bust went from a 34B to a 44DD for a mere 1,500 bucks. Soon newspapers were referring to Doda’s boobs as the “the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco.” However, not everyone embraced San Francisco’s topless establishments and at some point in the year following Doda’s topless debut, San Fran’s mayor at the time John F. Shelley made the following statement—which is unintentionally hilarious—about what was behind the alleged rise in crime in the North Beach neighborhood:

‘‘The topless craze is at the bottom of the whole problem.’‘

As funny as Shelley’s war cry on boobs was, it was followed the next day with action by the police who hit up different topless establishments, arresting the dancers for “lewd conduct” including Carol Doda. The crackdown wouldn’t stick, Doda and others were acquitted, and the topless craze spread like lightning throughout North Beach, which would soon welcome other topless spots such as an ice cream stand and a very busy shoeshine business. A few years later in 1969, Doda would take it all off much to the ire of California Governor Ronald Reagan who granted communities the legal right to stop topless clubs and such from opening in their area. Reagan launched his crusade against the topless industry shortly after winning the governorship in 1966.  There was also an effort to try to ban the word “topless” for use on signage which failed.
 

Carol Doda proudly displaying the newspaper headline regarding her acquittal outside of the Condor.
 
In between all this Doda found herself cast in a role which would earn her a lifetime of recognition by joining the cast of the 1968 film Head (co-produced by Jack Nicholson)—the fantastically weird flick starring The Monkees, with Frank Zappa, Annette Funicello, and Doda as Sally Silicone. Doda would continue to perform sans clothing for over twenty years before retiring from the business, though she would remain a local fixture in SF. She fronted a band called the Lucky Stiffs in the 90s and later ran her own intimate apparel shop, Carol Doda’s Champagne and Lace Lingerie Boutique. She would continue making appearances (now clothed) at various clubs in North Beach until 2009 before passing away at the age of 78 on December 9th, 2015.

I’ve posted photos of Doda doing her thing below, as well as a few choice photos of her with her darling Monkees. Most images are NSFW.
 

Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Carol Doda in a scene from ‘Head.’
 

A photo of Doda from September 7, 1968, in Ramparts magazine, accompanying an article called “Bugging Cops.” The article provided a detailed profile of well-known San Francisco sleuth, Hal Lipset, an expert in miniature electronic surveillance.
 

Doda showing off her newly augmented breasts.
 

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.18.2018
10:41 am
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Four songs from Yo La Tengo’s new LP ‘There’s A Riot Going On’
01.18.2018
10:37 am
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Since their emergence as college radio and critical faves in the late ‘80s, Yo La Tengo have been among the most revered and influential standard-bearers of American independent rock music. Though they’ve they’ve been regularly releasing music of consistently high quality since 1989’s President Yo La Tengo, they’ve never transcended cult status, but their role seems to suit them, and they’ve availed themselves fully of the creative freedom that comes with relative obscurity.

Their new album, There’s A Riot Going On, is due for release in mid-March, but we’re sharing four of its songs for your enjoyment today. The album is a departure for the band in method and in style. The album is longtime bassist James McNew’s first recording credit outside the self-recorded solo work he’s released under the band name “Dump.” He recorded the band bit by bit in their rehearsal studio, with no music written in advance, combining improvisations with unused ideas, sometimes going years between tracking sessions on some of the songs. Though YLT are most readily associated with noisy back-to-basics indie rock, Riot flows dreamily, like a post-rock or shoegaze album, recalling the hazy and elemental passages that cropped up much on 1997’s wonderful I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One.
 

 
The process sounds like the painstaking collaging Mark Hollis and Tim Freise-Greene did to make Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock, and There’s A Riot Going On is as uncannily coherent as that experimental masterpiece. That could be due to the final mix by John McEntire (My Dad Is Dead, Bastro, Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol, Red Krayola…) The band has never played any of these songs live, and are currently working out how to do so before their tour begins at the end of March.

Before we get to the music, we really need to address the title—obviously there’s a nod to Sly and the Family Stone’s difficult, cynical, and dejected (but still badass) 1971 LP There’s a Riot Goin’ On. If there’s a musical or lyrical connection intended, I am unable to detect it. The YLT press release offers this:

In 1971, when the nation appeared to be on the brink of violently coming apart, Sly and the Family Stone released There’s a Riot Goin’ On, an album of dark, brooding energy. Now, under similar circumstances, Yo La Tengo have issued a record with the same name but with a different force, an album that proposes an alternative to anger and despair.

 
Have a listen, after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.18.2018
10:37 am
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Richard Pryor, Timothy Leary, Beach Boys and more talk psychedelia on Canadian TV, 1968
01.18.2018
09:41 am
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Canadian DJs Fred Latremouille and Red Robinson on the ‘Let’s Go’ set, 1964 (via Tom Hawthorn)

The CBC television series Let’s Go, which grew out of a segment on Alex Trebek’s Music Hop, brought the music of the Sixties into Canadian houses. Along with US and UK imports—Jimi Hendrix, the Yardbirds, Country Joe & the Fish, Eric Burdon and the Animals, et al.—Let’s Go promoted Canadian acts such as the Poppy Family and the Guess Who.

Apart from a sitar performance of “Downtown,” there is hardly any music in this special episode from 1968, a report on the effects of the “psychedelic revolution” on the Vancouver scene. The camera crew talks to local hippies and peeks inside a head shop and a coffeehouse, but most of the broadcast consists of celebrities arguing for or against acid rock and its cultural appurtenances. Timothy Leary, sitting in a field, pleads the case for consciousness change; Frank Sinatra Jr., interviewed on the soundstage, rails against the heads for making the Kingston Trio uncool. The Everly Brothers and Ray Charles also weigh in on the LSD question, and Al Jardine, Mike Love and the Maharishi put in a word for TM.
 

 
The show’s editor must have been a fan of “Tutti Frutti,” because this episode serves up a cold plate of revenge from its author. At 16:32, a clip of Little Richard is expertly deployed, interrupting Pat Boone’s windy sermon on the destructive power of Beatles and Stones lyrics and flushing the crooner’s sorry ass down one of those single-gender toilets of which he is so fond:

Oh, I think it’s great. I love it. I’m talking about the music. I think it’s fantastic. Because I think a person is expressing what he feels. He’s not going by anything that is written on paper. This man is playing, he’s not playing just for money, he’s playing because his soul within is driving him to push, to let his feelings go out in music, and I believe that it’s one of the greatest things that ever happened to the field of entertainment—which, psychedelic music is rhythm and blues, of course.

Naturally, my favorite philosopher, Richard Pryor, seems to know more than all the rest of the showfolk combined. Let his wisdom unfold your mind like a thousand-petaled lotus.

Watch it, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.18.2018
09:41 am
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