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By Gabriella Arrigoni - Collection: TV Party
Not always, actually quite seldom, is the distinction between art and absurdity a relevant one. And it certainly doesn’t matter when in a TV show you combine live music, in-studio party, fancy dress, videotapes, punk, disco, anarchism, new wave, visual arts, rap, interviews, phone-in sessions, shaky camera angles, crude advertising and live drug taking. All this featuring guests such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Lurie, David Byrne, George Clinton, Fab Five Freddy, Tuxedo Moon, Debbie Harry, Maripol, Iggy Pop, Chris Burden, John Feckner just to name a few. The uniqueness of TV Party, however, was not as a celebration of the apotheosis of the underground, but that this played out on the mass media it rebelled against.
Technorati Tags: Blondie, Chris Burden, David Byrne, Debbie Harry, Fab Five Freddy, George Clinton, Glenn O’Brien, Iggy Pop, Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Feckner, John Lurie, Maripol, Network Awesome, Tuxedo Moon, TV Party
Mixed in with a dozen other as yet unlistened-to tapes I grabbed from the basement a month or so ago, I found one five inch reel which certainly stood out. It contained a recording of a TV show, which I've since learned aired in November of 1959, hosted by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, titled "The Golden Circle". This show does not appear to be readily available, as far as I can tell, online or in video collecting circles. It should be interesting to those who enjoy this era of music, but it's truly "Gold" due to one moment which occurs about halfway through.
The idea was to include performers whose work put them into the pantheon of greats - Music and musicians whose records have "Gone Gold", and have sold a million or more copies. And the line-up, for the most part, lives up to the billing:
The tape recordist missed the opening of the show, so the tape starts after the opening comments, and most of the way through a performance by The Andrews Sisters, who then (after a few comments from the host) do a medley of more of their hits. Steve Lawrence then does his Bing Crosby imitation, and he and the Andrews Sisters sing "South America, Take It Away", which also includes a lengthy band interlude. Then follows the first ad (all the ads are for Oster products, and all are unfortunately cut, to one degree or another).
The show returns, and Rudy Vallee shows up! He does a song and banters with the hosts (It's "Kookie, Dad!"), before performing his hit "Kitty From Kansas City" with Eydie and the backup singers. I love Vallee's early records, and it's sort of sad to hear him here, either unable to sing or choosing not to, and instead, talk-singing the lyrics. After the song, Steve indicates that the grandchildren of Rudy's fans are crazy over that Frankie Avalon, who steps onstage to sing his latest hit, "Venus".
THEN the fun begins! There is some goofy bantering about how Frankie needs to learn how to handle his money, which somehow leads into the unlikely event of the night: Rudy Vallee and Steve Lawrence dueting on Lloyd Price's then-recent hit song "Personality", with the lyrics indicated as advice, directed at Frankie Avalon!
In February of 1990, I xeroxed 2 pages of the New Yorker magazine, to hold onto what I considered one of the funniest pieces of writing ever. It was titled Coyote V. Acme and was penned by regular New Yorker writer and NJ resident, Ian Frazier. In a nutshell, and I'll post part of it after the jump, Wile E. Coyote, plaintiff sues the Acme Company for product liability and the injuries he sustained over his career at Warner Brothers Entertainment. It's written in legalese and describes so well some of the cartoons and shenanigans involved, that you'll be able to be there with Mr. Coyote when he endures a violent feet-first collision with a boulder. Frazier published a book bearing the same name in 1996; a collection of his short humorous pieces, and has other books to his name, some humor collections like Coyote V. Acme, others full length adventures. I was reminded of the original piece the other day and wanted to share some of it, since it's been sitting xeroxed in my file cabinet in the FUN folder for decades. Ian's books are available through several online retailers. This time of year can be one of reflection and I'd like to look at the attempts of Mr. Coyote to capture his prey over the years, and the purity of his actions. Wile E. Coyote; Genius, and at some point in the Roadrunner cartoons, upgraded to Super Genius, was dedicated and single minded. He'd have made a great employee at the time of his upswing into the public eye. He was inventive beyond belief, and even when the same item would malfunction three radically different ways, he would remain a loyal customer of the Acme Company. Brick and mortars would die for a shopper like him! He is a reminder to all of us that perseverance and hard work pays off, or at least keeps you gainfully employed, and that there's a super genius lying in wait inside all of us. Perhaps it just takes an anvil to the head! There was a response to the article published in 1995, I'm not certain of the source, which more or less takes the stand that since our beloved Mr. Coyote quite often looked directly at the camera before sustaining injuries that the Acme Company's products caused, that he was faking the extent of his physical damage. Imagine that!
December 23, 1979, Germs play the Masque Christmas Ball at Whisky-Au-Go-Go, performing what would be dubbed on-stage "art" by singer Darby Crash, self-proclaimed "Manimal" and possessor of "television and supervision," who read "every Bible story," and was educated in mind-control by public school Scientologists, an A+ hustler whose world-famous catchphrase was "buy me a beer" and whose demands for "beer and damage" do not go unheeded this night. Watch as Darby, spolight directly in his eyes, eats a lit book of matches, transforms into a panther, demands each audience member "hit the person next to you," sets fire to his (A+) lyrics (balls-on-fire-great teenage Blake) all before guitarist Pat Smear kicks a bouncer in the head (several times+) for crossing number one invisible line in rock n roll: the artists own the stage.
By Kristen Bialik
Nashville Tennessee has earned a star on the map for many things: state capital, “Music City,” “Athens of the South,” and for Robert Altman fans, the site of the 1975 classic Nashville. Befitting a place known for twangy tunes and an imitation Parthenon, Altman’s two and half hour long tragi-comic epic follows 24 protagonists’ lives as they’re interlaced in the Nashville music industry and political scene. The stories are snapshots over a 5-day weekend ending in political rally for an outside (and unseen) presidential candidate running on the Replacement Party ticket. At the same time, most characters are all reaching for some level of fame or success in what’s portrayed as a microcosm of the United States, and one that is personally shallow, politically empty, and commercially tapped-out.
Though many fans and critics believe Nashville to be one of Altman’s greatest films, actual Nashvillians and country music die-hards looking for an extended tribute were more than a little disappointed. Both camps took the film pretty hard, seeing Altman’s signature cynicism as unduly harsh and patronizing. The
Caught this Tim Buckley performance from the non-stop-excellent media feed of master drummer Hamish Robert Kilgour, whose brother once asked the immortal question, "Is it wrong or is right to be a beatnik?" Pulled from the final episode of The Monkees, in which the Pre Fab Four tussle with a sentient potted plant from outer space, Buckley's immaculate "Song To The Siren" is as out of place as can be. Out of place even further in its inclusion on Buckley's farthest-out studio album Starsailor, where it lies hidden behind a wall of free jazz shreik and moan, the free-floating 12-string strum, like lapping waves in the sunset, further rippled out in electric reverb.
By Robert Ham
The spare beauty and narrative economy of the film work of Charles & Ray Eames should really come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the couple's design work. Their fabric patterns, chairs, buildings...everything they did was approached with an eye for combining simplicity, functionality, and beauty.
Applying those principles to films is a much trickier prospect than one might realize. Just take a look at any Hollywood creation from the last 15 years and you'll see what I'm talking about. In comparison, the Eames films are almost meditative to watch. They unfold slowly and patiently, getting the subject matter across using simple narrations and augmenting it all with a bouncy jazz score. It is impressively easy to drink in and absorb everything they are trying to accomplish and, yes, communicate.
Because for as much as scholars like to point to their 1968 documentary Powers of Ten as being their
By Chris Cantino
Marianne Trench’s 1990 documentary on the world of cyberpunk observes digital outlaws on the forefront of new technologies, fighting for freedom of information. Founded upon the spirit of the first cyberpunk novels by William Gibson, the movement is a networking hub for politically-concerned technophiles who poke around inside protected digital databases and occasionally wreak mayhem by inducing malicious software. Sometimes for fun, and sometimes to extract information, the hackers are concerned with increasing access to knowledge and generally throwing a wrench into the system. Often set in dystopic near-futures in which the lower class is dramatically underrepresented, cyberpunk (and sci-fi literature in general) helped develop the context in which we discuss the arrival of new technologies: with a guarded interest, and sometimes fear that they might eventually wreak similarly undesirable results.
Unfortunately, this cyberpunk prescience is starting to look less and less like fantasy. Gibson once described his fictional futures as “social Darwinism designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button,” where the ones calling the shots cut corners at the expense of the
Last week's post on satanic animation found the specter of David Bowie waiting in the wings, The Thin White Duke serving as model for the rock star villan of Rock & Rule; and as a commentor noted, a sample of Beelzebub from The Devil & Daniel Mouse turns up on the b-side to the Bauhaus "Ziggy Stardust" EP.
As quoth the poet, "Ziggy really sang" so to the horse's mouth we go.
Looking for footage of the Future Legend, stumbled on an entire Youtube channel solely devoted to David Bowie's "Year of The Diamond Dog" -- 1974. The anonymous user had gone to great lengths to digitally rectify and stitch together silent home-movie footage with best-available source audio. A labor of love in ultimate fandom. The June-July Diamond Dogs Tour, stretched through Canada, The Midwest and The South before hot settlements in Philadelphia (band-contentious David Live recording) and NYC (MSG) hauling to every stop three trucks full of stage props.
By Thomas Michalski
Merle Allin Senior was a deeply religious, and by all accounts, a deeply disturbed man, so when he decided to name his first child Jesus Christ Allin, the implication was clear: he believed his son was going to be a great man, perhaps even a savior. That the boy would end up being the self-proclaimed savior of rock ‘n’ roll instead had to be the furthest thing from his mind, except, of course, for the extreme lengths his son would go to recover the music’s soul. Only a few short years into the young boy’s life, he would be free from his tyrannical, frightening father and be unofficially rechristened G.G. (a nickname derived from his little brother and future band mate Merle Jr.’s stammering attempts at pronouncing “Jesus”) and plunge headlong into a life-long career -- or a crime spree depending on how you look at it -- that would make him a hero to some, and the most reprehensible villain to others.
A bit of quicksilver dislodged by last week's run-through with the Panavision camera reminded me to finally get down and find the title of The-Weird-Cartoon-Special-Seen-Once-In-Early-Childhood, which a simple search for keywords “Faustian, Animated” would have produced fairly instantly, had only the hazy memory of a jazz singer signing her name in blood flickered more frequently. The flick in question, The Devil & Daniel Mouse, a 1978 television special made by Nelvana, the same animation studio that produced that other piece of the media memory puzzle, The-Weird-Cartoon-Movie-Taped-Off-Cable-And-Watched-Over-Again-Over-Again, in this case the 1983 sci-fi furry musical Rock and Rule. Rewrites of each other, both feature shapeshifting monster dandies in the mold of Rocky Horror / Phantom Of The Paradise, tempting and attempting to control the talents of “sexy” humanoid rodents who triumph in the end through vocal harmony, all written in the language of decadent post-Ziggy David Bowie dystopia (Year Of The Diamond Dog, 1974).
I have collected 200 Public Service Announcements into a playlist on youtube. Everything from vintage to present, serious to silly, disturbing and nonsensical. Drug abuse, sexual abuse, forest fires, littering, drinking and driving, texting while walking, bullying, farting, menstruation, and more. Take a walk down memory lane or learn a thing or two along my little detour of the information superhighway. It could make you delirious.
FULL SCHEDULE AFTER THE BUMP:
By David Seldin | Watch more on Network Awesome
History, even punk history, is written by the winners. In the late 70’s, just before the straight edge aggro of hardcore swept the board, there bloomed in L.A a punk scene that was as musically adventurous as its suburban SoCal counterpart was orthodox. The light that burns the brightest often burns only briefly and for three or four years L.A was in flames. Among those fueling the fire were Tomata du Plenty and The Screamers.
Greetings, audio sports fans! Today we have a stellar matchup between two heavyweights of the arts. WFMU Erzatz Sports is proud to present: the challenger, Sebastian Cabot, weighing in at...well...nobody exactly knows. His acting skills will be pitted against the feather-light, but jam-packed-with-talent Mr. Bob Dylan, who will defend his title as master poet and songwriter against this man-mountain of ham and cheese - Mr. Cabot, known to his rivals as "Killer Cabot", or just "The Grease Monkey".
Today we will hear match (side) one of this famous bout, in six rounds. With album production credits as follows: arranger, Irving Spice; director, Lou Stallman; conceived by, Stan Catron; and director of engineering, Val Valentin. Fans of William Shatner's The Transformed Man will be better prepared to endure the carnage which ensues in this fight. We'll be back in two weeks to broacast the resulting final six rounds of this classic mis-match (on Saturday, October 15th, at six pm EST). The full album cover art front and back is found here - and a special bonus Fight Poster can be found here. Everyone will want a program for this historic battle!
By Gabriella Arrigoni
Part of the "Network Awesome Salute To Drugs"
The day after always comes with a loose, altered idea of fullness and emptiness. The salty furred taste of the day after the party: your ears are still throbbing with a crowd of sounds that don’t belong to your quiet bedroom, but are, somehow, still there, and you’re not sure you really want them to go away. It seems pretty undeniable that every subculture came with its own favourite drug, and that we cannot give a complete account of the history of contemporary music without devoting at least a few words to the world of chemicals and narcotic consumption. This might be true for the times of bebop improvisations and heroin-addicted Charlie Parker, later on for the lysergic hippie psychedelia, and the spiritually dense rhythmic skank of raggae, but even more for everything we put under the definition of rave culture and the evolution and devolution of dance music from the mid 1980s to the late 1990s through acid house, trance, gabber, techno, hardcore, breakbeat, braindance... All this wouldn’t have been the same without MDMA. Not even remotely the same. But I’m not going to talk about the music: to describe music, looking for metaphors to convey its feelings and moulding appropriate synaesthesia for its beats and loops makes me feel terribly ashamed. Moreover, even though our focus here is the so called “godfather of ecstasy”, Alexander (Sasha