Friday, December 28, 2007

Terminus


From Trevor Cawood. Montreal's Spyfilms.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Glass Candy - Digital Versicolor

Now for something a bit more recent. From New Jersey.


Honkey grandma indeed.

Feeling early industrial, French tonight. . .

As opposed to?


Buzz - Kennedy. French. From a 12" w/ "Picasso" and "Kennedy".


Futurisk - Army Now. 1982. Florida. Not French.


Orchestre Rouge - Soon Come Violence. 1982. (More like post-punk.) See: Passion Fodder.


Honeymoon Killers - Historie a Suivre. Amazing live footage. 1983.


Starter - Minijupe. Swiss, of course. Look at those moves.


End of Data - Sahrah. French. 1983. From Rennes.


Hard Corps - Dirty. Live, 1986.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Angel Mine


People who have read 6 Sick Hipsters often ask what "trivia" I made up and which is real. This is something the Annotated 6 Sick Hipsters website will address but here's an example: The whole "Angel Mine" section - banter between Swank (an artist who meets an ill end) and his pal - is based on a very real but really obscure film. Here is some info:

“Angel Mine (which came with the warning: ‘This film contains punk cult material!’) signalled in celluloid the arrival of punk and met with the kind of controversy you’d expect and more. ‘Angel Mine came out of nowhere and caught a lot of people by surprise,’ says Blyth. ‘Twenty years down the track I don’t know whether it’s so controversial. I’ve gone on and become far more middle of the road in terms of my film-making. … Blyth was coming to the end of his time at Auckland University where he had become influenced by European cinema rather than Hollywood as well as the values that went along with the music friends in a band were espousing. ‘We all came from the garage band. I was a garage film-maker. I used an old red Bolex and like the musicians didn’t have any formal education. They just got instruments and started making noises and I got a camera and started pointing it around the room. I thought ‘why wait to get experience?’ Everything was fermenting at the same time. The very first punk concert at Auckland University was raising money for Angel Mine. The thing about the film is that it was shot for $13,000 or $14,000, which meant I didn’t have to go to any of the authorities and have my script fettered. It was an attack on the great suburban dream of New Zealand, the whole focus on ‘get a job, get a house and a mortgage’, a whole philosophy which I guess punk was about questioning. … Despite the low budget and the controversy that followed the film’s release, many critics today, as then, have hailed Angel Mine as a superb piece of film-making.” (Mark Amery, Sunday Star-Times, 12 February 1995)

"There are no bohemians in Angel Mine. The couple, played by Derek Ward and Jennifer Redford, are confirmed city dwellers. In their sterile brand-new Lockwood show-home, isolated in the middle of a Pakuranga subdivision, haven for the nouveau riche, they try desperately to conform to the image of the ideal young couple in the commercials. They are surrounded by the material trappings that the slick advertisements insist are requisites for happiness: yet real happiness eludes them. The phantom doubles or Doppelgangers, dressed in shiny black vinyl suits, represent the physical, sensual, animalistic aspects of the couples' personalities, so effectively subliminated by the mass media." (Diana Ward/Art New Zealand, 1978)

"No locally made film has caused more hullabaloo since the advent of the State-sponsored NZ Film Commission than David Blyth's Angel Mine which premiered in Auckland in November and has since moved to other of the country's main cites. It has been the cause of renewed urgings to the Minister of Internal Affairs Alan Highet to tighten censorship law, and to the Government in general to carefully watch how the taxpayers money is being spent in the new surge towards a developed local film industry. Porn watchdog Patricia Bartlett, in particular, has been assiduous in penning letters to Government leaders and newspapers about what she sees as the degrading content of the film and the use of public money for such enterprises. In fact, Angel Mine, which has been made on a minuscule budget of about $30,000 and blown into 35mm from original 16mm footage, is much more than all the "put down" ballyhoo suggests... What it does is make a particularly strong statement about urban materialism and the corrosive nature of visual advertising in the context of the relationship - sexual and otherwise - of a suburban couple..."- (Mike Nicolaidi, Variety, January 10,1979)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Annotated 6 Sick Hipsters

Coming soon. It'll be a website, open to additions. Page by page references, etc. Should have it up by April. Have any thoughts, or want to lend a helping hand, let me know.

Williamsburg Courier

Did an interview last night with the Williamsburg Courier. Nice chat, though I may have rambled a bit. (How is it that I mentioned the Lost & Found Times?)Not sure when it will hit newsstands.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Banner


Many, many thanks to Alex Martin for this. Spread the love.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Monaco - What Do You Want From Me?


Peter Hook (New Order) and David Potts, post Revenge. 1997.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Metro NY


Metro NY interview. If you're in the city, pick up a copy.

Title Sequences


Always been a huge fan of title sequences. In 5th gade, my teacher brought in a 16mm reel of Saul Bass credits and I was hooked. This is a nice compliation. Some of these are quite obscure (Dorian Gray) and many I would not have normally considered (Death Machines - love it). Below are some of my favs:


Vertigo


Delicatessen


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


The Mysterious Cities of Gold (Seriously, how can you resist that song?)

6 Sick Hipsters - Trailer 2

Second trailer for the book. Muchas gracias to PureShot for this. Genius.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shriekback - Glory Bumps

Shriekback's eleventh studio album, Glory Bumps, is both a continuation of lead singer/songwriter Barry Andrews' long-running neo-primitive sound as well as a throw-back to the Shriek's earlier, edgier rock scuttles. Eschewing the programmed percussion that flattened the sound of Shriekback's last album, the brilliant but flawed Cormorant, Glory Bumps is something of a return to form. I say "something" because for Andrews there is hardly a form. Sure, it's not difficult recognizing a Shriekback song -- the funky bass slithers, the turtle-shell percussion, the synth noodlings and doomy washes and Andrew's grave whisper -- but musically Glory Bumps harkens back to the earliest stirrings of the band when they were more experimental forces than proper recording artists. While Andrew's songwriting remains consistent with his later output, this new album shines a light into the deep waters of what most fans may have considered thoroughly explored territory.

The album opens with the anthem, "Hooray for Everything". It's all loud rolling drums and crawling synth revs and it's somewhat similar to Snog's equally satiric "Hooray!!" "The Bride Stripped Bare" is a fierce monster of snarls and quietly disturbing piano interludes that fades out into a grimy little riff. Glory Bump's first real standout track is the impressionistic funeral dirge on acid, "Burying the Bunny." It's New Orleans via Midian and is highlighted by wolf howls and skeletal keys. Andrew's turns up the ghastly humor in lines like "this benediction isn't something I desire/it was a while ago before I felt so sunny/it's all ridiculous to that I am resigned/and that intensity is very, very funny." A real treat. "Bittersweet" is, as the title implies, a quieter affair and it's as close to anything from Big Night Music that the band has come in the past decade. Choice lines include: "raking through some existential drivel/it was grudgingly sublime, perhaps a waste of time." Glory Bumps finest song is the achingly beautiful "Amaryllis in the Sprawl." Like Oil and Gold's "This Big Hush" or Big Night Music's "Underwater Boys," "Amaryllis in the Sprawl" is a languid meditation (Martyn Baker's percussion is just dead on and the didgeridoo is exquisite) with a soul elevating chorus that is begging for some cinematic use. Best listened to driving at night, it's a Shriekback masterpiece. "Mahalia" is a companion piece to Big Night Music's "Running of the Rocks," all barren but beautiful tumbling chorus and driving, jazzy rhythm. This wouldn't be out of place in a spaghetti western. ("It's a deeply satisfying sound/Mahalia.") The title track, "Glory Bumps", is something of an oddity, a one-off. A snide attack on evangelical thumping, it's loud and aggressive and over-the-top. While the lyrics and clever and cutting, the stagy music is just a bit too shapeless to really deliver the goods. Like Cormorant's "Bonehead", "Squanderer" is a funky cutter. Andrew's falls back on his lyrical listing (a trope from the very beginnings of the band) and some of it is quite silly ("I wanna get a lick of the exorcist stick" Note: Barry clarifies that it's actually "ecstasy stick") but the harmonica infused chorus is undeniably catchy. "Devil's Onions" continues the dusty jams and sounds surprisingly like something from late-90s The The. Great key work and some really nice horns over the "golden age" chorus. The album wraps the instrumental "Yarg 7", similar to Cormorant's burbling "Huytfi Dbl Plus" but without the beats.

All in all amazing.

Buy the album at Malicious Damage Records (see link). There is a limited edition Advent calendar/double vinyl release of Glory Bumps with three additional tracks. Here is more info: "...beautifully packaged in a rapture-ready endtime advent calendar, complete with little windows that open revealing all your little symbols of approaching end-of-the-worldness... the vinyl is packaged in a pure white sleeve and can be stored separately while the calendar can be hung on the wall to impress the vicar when he comes round for tea... there'll also be a numbered personalised certificate of authentication signed by the reverend andrews and a malicious damage representative, plus a few other bits and bobs..." Only 100 made so get it while you can.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Musik

"One of those massive Euro hits sung by a bloke who doesn't seem to want to be here..."
Ah, stuido rat bands get no love. Chief among them is New Musik, Tony Mansfield's prescient electro-pop band. Despite the slick and airy sonic touch the lyrics were all dour and apocalyptic. This stuff drives a lot of people crazy but that ultra-modern gloss makes me feel clean. This is bleach for your ears.


Straight Lines (1979)- watch for shots of the bored teeny boppers looking at everything other than the band.


World of Water (1980)


Living by Numbers (1979)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cinebomb #7: The Shout


How fitting that David Cronenberg cast Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimoski as Naomi Watt's irascible uncle in Eastern Promises. While Skolimoski is a good character actor, I suspect the casting had more to do with Cronenberg's affinity for Skolimoski's films than his burly personality.

Skolimoski has directed over twenty films, the majority Polish language. Most western film audiences were introduced to his work via the startling Deep End (1971). But his lone horror outing, The Shout (1978), has deservedly become something of a cult favorite. Why? It's oblique, dreamlike and frustratingly formless. In other words, a perfect cinebomb.

The late Sir Alan Bates (Women in Love) stars as the enigmatic Crossley, a traveler who slips in between John Hurt and Susannah York. Using aboriginal magic he learned during an 18-year drift in the Australian outback, Crossley beds York and drives Hurt nuts. All of this smarmy intrigue is offset by Skolimoski's outlandish (and many times absurdist) touches. (Crossley talks of how aboriginal witch doctors can bring down rain by cutting a flap of skin around their waists and pulling it up. We see just such a scar on Crossley.) The film's titular trick - a shout that can literally kill - is surely one of the creepier, if understated, devices in film history. Seeing Crossley blast down a herd of sheep is truly mind-boggling. Like The Wicker Man, The Shout is a great example of '70s experimentalism running headlong into metaphysical (and "native") horror.

Now, if you could only find a decent copy in the states.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Gable Film

Just in time for Halloween. Found(?)8mm film. Creepy as all get out. Hmmmm. Catch this while you can.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jason Starr's blurb

"6 Sick Hipsters is a wild, poignant, twisted, bitterly funny page turner with dead-on dialogue and a wonderful ensemble cast. Rayo Casablanca has written the big novel the hipster generation has been waiting for. "

This comes from Jason Starr, NYT bestselling author of eclectic noir like The Follower, Lights Out, Slide and Bust. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bigfoot (1970)

Bigfoot families, bellbottoms and buxom blondes.

Rouge's Malady


Monitorpop, Crippled Dick Hot Wax's DVD arm, has released David Cronenberg's early shorts "Stereo" and "Crimes of the Future." If you haven't seen any of Cronenberg's early stuff, this is a nice place to start. Used to be that David was obsessed with "body horror." His early films, like "Crimes of the Future" and "Shivers," meet at the freaky intersection of medical science and revulsion.

Here's his 1967 short "From the Drain." Sketchy transfer but try and watch for the tendril:


2 EARLY FILMS BY THE MASTER OF BODY HORROR: DAVID CRONENBERG

Stereo – In a scientific institute, a group of carefully selected subjects is submitted to experimental surgery, various drugs and longterm isolation in order to increase their potential for telepathic communication.

Crimes of the Future - Millions have died from Rouge’s Malady – a disease caused by cosmetics and discovered by mad dermatologist Antoine Rouge who has subsequently dissapeared. In his clinic, patients’ bodies start producing mysterious, functionless new organs…

Supplied by Industrial indeed


In Gary's autobiography (I had to shell out 40 pounds for that bad boy, but it frequently goes for $150) he says that right around "Warriors" he started getting hair plugs done. Yea, you read that right. And no, he's not ashamed. Every night of the Warriors tour he had to bleach his "new" hair and it almost wrecked his head. Ah, but you can't have the Mad Max look without a blonde mullet. Right? Cheers and rock on, Gary.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Shriekback - Glory Bumps


Barry's still got it.

6 Sick Hipsters Cover



Many thanks to Kristine Mills-Noble.

Eric Spitznagel's blurb

Does it get better than this?

"What separates 6 Sick Hipsters from every other thriller about serial killers ritualistically murdering Brooklyn's cultural elite is that it's just so darn informative. Before reading Rayo Casablanca's weirdly fascinating debut, I didn't realize it was possible to have an out-of-body experience while taking a crap, or why you shouldn't accept acid from a morbidly obese Phillip K. Dick fan, or how knitting your own clothing can temporarily delay blindness. Sure, it's got gripping plot twists and hilarious characters, but it's also brimming with practical advice, like what to do if you're attacked by a feral baboon or how to avoid being shot in the asshole. Think you're gonna get that kind of life guidance from James Patterson or Michael Connelly? Don't count on it. If you're like me and you've always suspected that the meaning of life can be calculated with geometric stripping, and that cannibalism just might explain why everybody around you is so stupid, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this book. If Casablanca had just included a few Feng Shui tips and maybe a recipe for spicy hummus, 6 Sick Hipsters would be the only book you'd ever need. As it is, it's still pretty damn indispensable."

- Eric Spitznagel, author of "Fast Forward: Confessions of a Porn Screenwriter" .

Be Kind Rewind


Why I love Gondry.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Owen King's Blurb

Owen King, author of the charmingly funny and strange We're All in This Together, writes:

"Rayo Casablanca's first novel is thoroughly amusing and utterly demented. It features a killer baboon, sewer diving, men in silly jumpsuits, hipster assassins that will stop at nothing to get what they want, and interesting information about paleontology and knitting. What else do you need to know?"

Love it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Thrashing Doves - Matchstick Flotilla



Live - Whistle Test - 1987. The Thrashing Doves were a sorely neglected Brit pop oddity. Their debut album, the excellently titled Bedrock Vice, had hints of Dylan twang and some scathing and brilliant lyrics. One of the few cassettes I broke playing too often.

NM, 1985 - Mat Smith:
"Playing a sweet but not sickly style of Seventies' pop, The Doves come on like a down-to-earth Cockney Rebel — a bit T. Rex but without the fake rebellion. Like any pop group, they invite a whole host of comparisons — to the above you could just as easily add anyone from a lightweight Echo to a heavyweight Teardrops — though their songs are a little too soft and their smiles too wide for those Television rumours to stick. The Thrashing Doves want to be number one. Sure enough they'll toy with psychedelia and fiddle with feedback but only in the way The Thompson Twits might. To their credit, they bow out with a wicked trashing of The Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil". They'll never be as young as The Jesus And Mary Chain but that's not what it's always about, is it?"

Ken Foreman (vocals/guitar)
Brian Foreman (keyboards/harmonica)
Ian Button (guitar)
Kevin Sargent (drums)
Hari Sajjan (bass)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kavinsky - Testarossa Autodrive


Another clip by Jonas & Francois of Production 75. Kavinsky (a.k.a. Vincent Belorgey) partners with Mr. Oizo and Dopplereffekt on his 2006 Teddy Boy EP. The music: Miami Vice meets Tron. His latest EP is titled 1986 and has some nice Goblin -esque stuff going on. Oh and Kavinsky is a zombie. Yeah, he died in a car wreck in 1986 (see the video). Now he's back scaring up beats. Or maybe beatz. Or better brainz.

Justice - D.A.N.C.E.


Jonas & Francois' (Production 75) brilliant video for Justice's "D.A.N.C.E."

Hubert Kah - Machine Gun

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Palahniuk's Rant Bio


Here it is, my little bio for Chuck.

This is from The Cult - Chuck's official fan site:

The grand prize winner was Rayo Casablanca, (writing as John "Breaker" Liffin) who has walked away with a limited edition copy of 'Rant', which includes a never before seen afterword by Chuck and a special slip case. Our runner-ups, who received first edition hardcovers of 'Rant' are Peter Derk, Mike Dudeck, and Eric Stoveken. Congratulations to all of you for writing the most creative and compelling tales. Read all of their stories below.

(Note: The object of this contest was to submit your testimony or story (truth or fiction) about Chuck Palahniuk's life. Using reviews, newspaper articles, hearsay, blog posts, personal experience, and/or most importantly, your imagination, you were to write your entry in under 200 words.)

John "Breaker" Liffin (Mechanic/Technical Writer): My earliest repair manuals, it was Palahniuk daring me to play with words like "constant throttle valve" and "external kickdown switch." Him over my shoulder saying things like, "what if you pushed the lubrication angle?" or "can't you add a bit more about the bushings?" These little tricks and substitutions, he was finding smut in technical descriptions of transmission repair. And he was playing it up. He said forget the repair, it'll get done. Always he said that the key to making it work was highlighting the sex in it and not making it obvious. This is toying with the unconscious, he said, secretly stroking the animal part of the brain. With his engine repair manuals, you'd get truckers popping wood reading about throttle components. Gearjammers beating off to Chuck's description of the gap between the master cylinder and the remote brake fluid reservoir adaptor. Once I remember having to rush to the bathroom after just two paragraphs of ring gear size specifications in a Palahniuk manual. Provoked women too, one secretary was writhing in her chair reading a recall on a school bus fan clutch. Mine, they never had that same effect.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kemble Scott's Blurb

Yup, another one in. Love it.

"6 Sick Hipsters is a wild ride into the underworld of hip that takes more daring, shocking, bloody turns than Pulp Fiction. Rayo Casablanca pulls no punches. Oh, but you'll take 'em... and love every jolt."

-Kemble Scott, author of the bestselling novel SoMa

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Jeff Parker's blurb

Speaking of blurbs - Jeff Parker, author of Back of the Line and Ovenman (see link above), gave me a really nice blurb for 6 Sick Hipsters.

"Rayo Casablanca's 6 Sick Hipsters is a wild ride of a novel. Something of a magical-realist noir that brings a whole new meaning to the fashionable idea of the death of the hipster. It's enough to make one nervous about leaving the house in a Pavement t-shirt."

Chuck Palahniuk Oral Biography Contest


I won!

Super cool. Got the Limited Edition Rant with the entertaining (but short) "Automotive Afterword" and my quasi-fictional (but short) bio of Chuck will be on the Rant website in the coming weeks. Who could ask for more?

Now, if I could just get a blurb for 6 Sick Hipsters...

BomberGirl and the Mechanic


Combining Nina Hagen-esque theatricality with New Wave synth noodlings, BomberGirl and the Mechanic sound surprisingly like the devilish offspring of Gina X Performance and OMD. Their first CD release, Flamingo, runs from electro pop ("Roller Round") to spaghetti western styled techno ("Cowgirl"). Fans of Hagen's more commercial output (Fearless) are advised to check this out. It's mutant diva disco for the masses.

"We Know" opens with a wash of strings and thunderous percussion that sips like Ladytron but with an LSD aftertaste. The album's best track, "Saltwater Eyes," is an elegiac industrial piece -- something a cargo cult obsessed with early 4AD might make. "Paper Crane" combines static drenched waves with bike-chain grinds. Soaring over it all is Abbey's operatic styling. There are a few missteps, "Champagne" sounds flat and "Synchronize" plays up the worst Erasure pap, but overall the album is quite intriguing and exceedingly strange. Lene Lovich fans will be drooling.

Thanks to Warren Ellis for the tip.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Style Wars


Nice 1983 documentary on NYC graffiti. A Public Arts Film Inc poduction. 70 mins.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cinebomb #6: All This and World War II


How's this for wrongheaded? Susan Winslow's 1976 "documentary" pits the Beatles catalog (as performed by various stars (and unknowns) like Elton John, Ambrosia, Rod Stewart, Keith Moon, Frankie Valli, Tina Turner, The Bee Gees, Brian ferry, etc.) against newsreel footage and old Hollywood films of the Second World War. We get clips of Tora, Tora, Tora with "Sunk King" and "I Am the Walrus", scenes of fighting in North Africa play to "Help", Nazi's march in reverse to "Get Back" and so on and so forth. It even ends with a reggae cover of "Give Peace a Chance" by Hot Chocolate. All This and World War II was withdrawn from theaters after only two weeks because of ghastly reviews (20th Century Fox released it). Despite the film's failure the soundtrack was quite popular.

So, what's the deal? How the hell did this thing see the light of day? The initial idea was inspired by a dream exec. producer Russ Regan had. It was bought by Fox but even as it went into production it was unclear exactly what the film would consist of. Would it be funny or serious? At one point Christopher Guest and Bill Murray were involved. The end result is a real headscratcher - neither funny nor serious, it's both sleep inducing and oddly, insanely captivating. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Knife


The Knife, live in Gothenberg, April '06. These clips (1 "Silent Shout", 2 "Marble House") highlight Andreas Nilsson's surreal and enigmatic visuals. Get your dada infused, art damaged synth-pop right here.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Bravery

I'll admit I liked the first Bravery album. Sure it was faux-New Wave trash but it had a nice sensibility to it. It sounded a bit raw, a bit amateurish, more heartfelt than The Killers' slick buzz. The entire album just kind of swooped and swooned from one chord lick and synth pound to the next and lead singer Sam Endicott certainly had the low drone and self-effacing look of a trashy electro god. Too bad his lyrics are for shit.



I had high hopes for the follow-up album. The Killers dug themselves an early grave with Sam's Town, a Springsteen inspired mess. They got too full of themselves, too confident. They decided -- perhaps correctly -- that the whole New Wave revival had reached it's zenith and it was time to push in a new direction. But Springsteen? That's all sorts of f.u.b.a.r. This was The Bravery's chance to rise above the clutter and stake their claim, unfortunately they made the same mistake The Killers did. They got self-absorbed and serious. They ditched the scene and started making… yes, "meaningful music." Fuck that.

Thing is, as soon as I saw the title of this album I cringed. "The Sun and the Moon?" It just conjures up all manner of ghastly Stevie Nicks comparisons. Would it have a unicorn on the cover? Would there be smoke and witch hazel? No, instead the cover looks just like every cover ever made by any Beach Boys inspired band. The Killers may have looked to the almighty Springsteen for their licks but it turns out that The Bravery said, "Forget Duran Duran and Soft Cell we're kicking it Beach Boys style." I wish I were only kidding.

Maybe the failure of "The Sun and the Moon" has something to do with producer Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Incubus). He took the teeth out of The Bravery's sound. So much so that it's almost like they never had teeth. It's almost like the very first album was something I dreamt. Something I conjured up after a particularly greasy night at some smarmy dance club in 1988.

The album starts off on a ridiculous foot with something called "Intro" that is only a few seconds long. I guess it is an intro but why bother. The first song, "Believe", throws down with every cliché imaginable for this type of pap -- we get bored and banal lyrics, we get strings, we get "live" drumming and we get tons of sap. The only songs that break the mold are "Every Word is a Knife in My Ear" (which is really nothing more than the same title phrase repeated endlessly) and "Fistful of Sand" (did I hear a synth buried in there?). But what really kills the album is the la la las and do do dos. Every. Single. Fucking. Song breaks, at some point, into vocal harmonizing. It's mind numbing.

Sure, the first Bravery album was shameless and cheesy but at least it wasn't desperate. This, this you'll just be hearing playing softly over the loudspeakers while you're browsing the aisles at Dillards.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The National


NY hipster quintet in a small apartment channel that early Factory sound. Good stuff.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ignatius Jones


The song is incredible, the video is... Well, the less said the better.
Ignatius Jones "Like a Ghost" from the 1982 12".

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Junk Culture: Getting Your * Published - Part 1 (Demons and a reason to write)

This is pretty basic stuff but if you're going to be writing something you better know why you're writing it. (And if you hope to have that something published you should have a really clear idea of why it should be published. I'm not saying you need to present some concise argument like you're trying out for the debate team, but it wouldn't hurt.) So, why are you writing?

There is only one answer: demons.

If you answer anything other than demons, if you say something along the lines of money (you're an idiot) or fame (you're delusional) or it sounds like fun (you're naive) or you like a challenge (you've got too much time on your hands), than you're not going to be writing a novel.

Now, I know there are these people out there (not naming names) who decide on a whim to do something and usually they do it badly. I know more than a few people who woke up one sunny morning with the intention of become a painter. Forget the fancy training and the classes (or even a real drive to create), they were just going to the art supply store (or worse the hobby shop) to get paint to make modern art. What happens with the majority of these people is that 99% of them fail miserably and find something else to tackle -- like books. Then they fail miserably at that. Can I count on one hand how many people I've met who have crummy books in a box in their closet (or tucked into an obscure corner of their hard drive)? Yes, every week.

Demons, my friends.

They can be the horned kind. They can be green and scaly. Or they can have pigtails, glowing red eyes and elongated incisors. Regardless of how they appear to you, if you've got demons you have a reason to write. And most writers find that their demons actually push them to write. It's the same with most artists I've met. There has to be something driving you creatively for you to, well, create.

Demons can trail you from just about anywhere: bad childhood, addiction, sour romance, depression, mania, loneliness, desperation, anger, fear, loss. The trick is taming them and making them do your bidding. If you can take that demon, hoist it up on your shoulder and then have it direct your output you're half way there. Take away the bottle and put a pen in your hand and let all the fear and spite and sadness spill out onto paper. Now, I'm not arguing that all writing is born of strife. No, much of my writing comes from a very happy place. But it's the drive to write -- the need to put down that description of the beautiful landscape of your lover's face -- that is born kicking and screaming from some damaged place. You find me one person who is driven to write because of a wonderful, carefree life and I'll find that person's hidden demon. The conflict is the key.

You also need to be a reader. A fastidious, all encompassing reader. You need to eat, breathe and sleep books. If you're a movie fan who reads a magazine once a year and a novel one a decade you're in for serious hurt. That doesn't mean that all library whores would make excellent writers but it does mean that they can recognize good writing (one would hope). Recognizing good writing is a nice first step, but it tends to fall under that old "eye of the beholder" rule.

Writing can be an addiction. Speaking personally, if I don't take a few hours out of every day and write something -- anything -- than I feel an enormous sense of failure. That sucks and that's my demon. If I don't create every single damned day, then my demon will be riding my ass and whispering sweet nothings like "You suck" in my ear. When I do write, and especially when I have a good run and produce more than five pages a day, then its top-of-the-world time. It's better than Cats. And the demon's patting me on the back and telling me what a swell guy I am.

You need drive to write. You need to be devoted to the craft of it (that sounds like workshop speak and I'll get to that later, say, around part 4) and wrestle with it. If you don't wrestle with your work, if you don't come out of a good writing session either bruised and bloody or sweaty and smiling, then you're missing something. Maybe that's just me, but I really doubt it.

Okay so you've identified your demon and you're spinning words on the page. You've got an amazingly clever plot and fantastically developed characters. What's next?

Junk Culture: Getting Your * Published - Intro

I get a ton of questions about publishing. And I'm hardly an expert, but you people pushed me to this. It seems that whenever someone learns that my novel is being published (and honestly, I don't wear a sign around my neck or carry a banner announcing it) they say, "Oh, I wrote a novel once" or "I'm thinking of doing that" or "My grandma's life would make a great book." The follow up, most often than not, is: "So, how do you do it? Do you mail your idea to a publisher and then get some money?"

Its tough breaking the news to people that getting a book published -- particularly fiction -- is really, really freakin' difficult and getting harder all the time. Fact is, you can't mail an idea to a publisher and expect anything other than your mail going in the trash. I'm not going to talk about non-fiction (that's a different beast and no, you can't mail in an idea there either) but for fiction, you need more than an idea. In fact, you need about 60,000 words more. You need an actual novel. Not part of a novel, not 80% of a novel but a whole novel. And that novel needs to be not only spellchecked but proofread like a forty-five times. No kidding.

Next you need an agent and no, you can't buy one or "hire" one in any traditional sense. "But it must be pretty easy getting an agent, right?" Wrong, bucko. It's the hardest part of this whole crazy scheme. I read a while back (and I've been at this for a good five years) that only 2% (yes, that's two percent) of writers get agents. Of those who get an agent, 50% are published. You can do the math there. The worst...I'm getting ahead of myself here... And as I type this out I can see it's going to take a whole hellovalot of space than a simple entry.

Here's the quick rundown of how you get your novel published, I'll expand on these in the coming weeks.

1) Demons and a reason to write
2) Write for the market but not really
3) Don't buy any books about publishing
4) Don't take any classes and don't go to workshops
5) Write a query and don't mail jack
6) Sign with an agent who gets your work
7) A word of advice on agents: mum
8) Keep writing and don't stop
9) Learning the lay of the editorial land
10) The final step is never final

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Jodorowsky


Today marks the release - first ever official - of Alejandro Jodorowsky's films El Topo and Holy Mountain on DVD. But it also marks the first time in over 50 years that Jodo's first film, The Transposed Heads, can be viewed. Shocking is a better word for it. Jodo told me a few years ago there was only one print of the film in existence and it vanished in the late '50s. He had, at the time, given up all hope of ever finding it. Apparently, the short film was discovered in a German attic in '06. I worked on a Jodo bio for a bit. It's sitting on my desktop still and hopefully I'll get around to working on it again. Here's what I wrote about The Transposed Heads:

"Entitled “The Transposed Heads” (but known colloquially as “The Severed Heads”) the film was a fable adapted from Thomas Mann’s short novel “The Transposed Heads” (1941). The entire 40-minute film, shot in color on 16 mm, was done in mime, with an introduction by Jean Cocteau. The key performers were Raymond Devos, Marthe Mercure, Micheline Beauchemin, Saul Gilbert, Jodorowsky and Gilbert’s wife Ruth Michelly, a children’s book illustrator. Jodorowsky describes the film as, “the history of a woman who has an intellectual husband, who is very weak physically. She also has a muscular but idiotic lover. She cuts the heads off of the two men and the interchanges them. She remains with the muscular body and the head of the intellectual. However, after a certain time, the body of the athlete is softened and the body of the intellectual becomes vigorous and muscular. Thomas Mann wanted to thus say that it is the intellect which makes the body.”

"Thomas Mann’s original “The Transposed Heads” (“Die vertauschten Köpfe”) is a retelling of an Indian fable. The story concerns two friends, Nanda and Shridaman. Nanda is the son of a blacksmith, earthly and robust, a man of the earth. Shridaman is the son of a merchant with priestly lineage. Though the boys are polar opposites they build a friendship. While walking one day they spy a bathing beauty named Sita, and thus begins a bizarre love triangle. Sita and Shridaman are married, but Nanda is quietly waiting in the wings and eventually with the help of the goddess Kali, heads are switched.

"The film made its debut at the Cinema Auteur festival in Rome in 1957, where it was awarded first place. Sadly, the film, of which there was only one extant print, was lost. Jodorowsky says that Ruth Michelly took the film with her to Germany after Saul Gilbert died of cancer. Where the film, and Ruth Michelly, is today are mere matters of speculation. It seems quite likely that “The Severed Heads”, shown only once, will never be seen again."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Vonnegut's *



It's not often that someone asks you to send them an illustration of what you imagine your asshole looks like (unless your social circle is a lot more interesting than mine). Just such a thing happened a few weeks ago and it actually made some sense. The story begins with the late Kurt Vonnegut and "Breakfast of Champions." In the novel Vonnegut draws simple illustrations of all manner of things, one of which is his asshole. It is represented as an asterisk. This got Eric Spitznagel (of Salon, The Believer, McSweeney's, Maxim and the Ron Jeremy bio) thinking and here's what he came up with:

"Not long ago, I was enjoying a post-book reading cocktail with a few writing friends in San Francisco when Vonnegut's asshole (for reasons that still confound me) became a topic of conversation. It was suggested that it might be interesting to find out how other authors would've illustrated their own sphincters. Would it, they wondered, resemble Vonnegut's crudely drawn asterisk, or would they take more creative license and draw something a bit more unique?

Well, word began to spread, and much to my surprise, dozens of authors (some of whom I've never even met) began sending me drawings of their assholes. No two are exactly the same, and some are downright fascinating. It seems that at least one author (who shall, for the time being, remain nameless) believes that her asshole is best represented as a blossoming flower, and another semi-famous author's asshole has an eye, not unlike the pyramid on the back of a dollar bill, that I swear is winking at me.

I've decided to post the entire collection on Vonnegut's Asshole, and I wonder if you'd like to participate. It would require very little time or commitment. Just take out a piece of paper and a handful of pens and draw what YOU think is an accurate portrayal of your asshole. Feel free to be as conceptual and unrealistic as you like. Is your asshole happy or sad? Angry or carefree? What is your asshole's personality?"

So, I drew one and I sent it to Eric and it will up online April 29th at Vonnegut's Asshole. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wild Swans - Bible Dreams



1988. Liverpool. From the album, "Music and Talk from Liverpool." Beaut.*

* Jonathan Lethem gave a reading here in Denver a few nights ago. Great performer. I now find myself talking like his character Fancher Autumnbreast (an improbably named L.A. DJ legend who speaks in halting Shatner-ish bullets) from the new novel "You Don't Love Me Yet".

Anyway, Wild Swans were from Liverpool and had a really nice Echo and the Bunnymen-like sound. A lot of fans didn't like the second incarnation of the band (this song is from that era) calling it "hit-minded." Ah, it's still got a good - if slick - sound to it.

Cheers to Brambo for this vidclip.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Vision



I threw Vision's 1982 video for "Lucifer's Friend" on GoogleVideo for your viewing pleasure. They had a few U.K. hits and recorded an album that was never released. Lead singer died in 2000. It's all sorts of Goth/Depeche Mode-styled new romanticism. Dig the Flock styled hair and the groovy ghoulie lyrics. (By the by, they were called U.K. Vision here in the states.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Batcave


Here's the Riverside Batcave doc, enhanced by h808. Essential viewing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cinebomb #5: Brewster McCloud


There are probably better ways to spend your off hours at work than watching Robert Altman's bizarro Brewster McCloud but I can't think of any. You're in luck too, 'cause the entire film (indeed) is posted on YouTube. Thank BrandPiano for that because it's really the only way you can see this film at the moment.

Brewster McCloud (originally titled Brewster McCloud's (Sexy) Flying Machine) is the late Altman's 1970 follow-up to his beloved M*A*S*H (also 1970). The film stars Bud Cort as Brewster, a kid who lives in a fallout shelter beneath the Houston Astrodome and dreams of becoming a bird. Brewster's only real companion is Louise (played by Sally Kellerman) who may be a gaurdian angel or given the long scars on her back and the fact that she sometimes warbles and coos may be a bird. A series of strange murders - all involving bird droppings left on the victims - brings detective Frank Shaft into Brewster's odd orbit. Is he really just a quirky kid building himself a pair of wings or is there something more sinister going on? (Watch for Stacy Keach's hilarious turn as the wheelchair bound Abraham Wright.)


Calling Brewster McCloud odd is stating the obvious, the film is a true cinematic freakout in the grand Bunuel tradition. Perhaps most of the credit for this odd melange of dark comedy and magic realism goes to writer Doran William Cannon who scripted the equally weirdo flop Skidoo (1968) and the seldom seen Hex (1973). (Hex is another Cinebomb classic, the re-imagined folk story of WWI biker vets mixing it up with Native American witches.) Today, Cannon teaches creative writing.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Iron Curtain


It could be debated for months, maybe lifetimes, whether a record is worth $500. When that record is something like Steve Field's obscure minimal synth project Iron Curtain, little heard outside of California, the debate can intensify even further. Why would anyone in their right mind pay half a grand for a 4 track EP of droning synth from 1982? Is it because it's just an incredibly rare but brilliant slice of DIY vinyl or is there something more? Well, you'd actually have to have heard the album to know.

Like most obscure regional vinyl, Iron Curtain's sound requires some patience. At first blush it's childlike. The same chords, the same drum loop, and endless droning. But after about the fourth listen to something like "First Punk Wars" from the Tarantula Screams EP you hear something behind the hypnotic backbeat -- there's an atmosphere that develops over the 6 minutes of the song that's undeniably appealing. Sure, it's cheap and it's dirty synth but it's catchy. Field's is no great musician, he sings like a robot on lithium, but he lulls you into a nice place. A very '80s place that conjures up all sorts of images of arcades and Tron and better tomorrows and neon super highways. Then you listen to his queasy sci-fi lyrics and suddenly you're really loving it. I mean, who envisions Metropolis replayed as a punk apocalypse? Field's sings, "All the workers are slaves... wealthy families/took their sons to universities/in the first punk wars."

The EP opens with the title track, a humming droning combination of bass and clickety-click guitar that's cloaked in an industrial fog. It's reminiscent of Peter Schilling's early work but it's not clean -- it doesn't have that sanitized German slickness. The lyrics are some acid-trip about a screaming tarantula or so I gather (there's also something about a "racing car on fire.") He could be talking about something more important but it's not clear. What is clear is the hypnotic swing of the relentless beat -- it's cold but it's not scary.

"First Punk Wars" is the second track on the A side and like "Tarantula Screams" it's got a rollicking programmed beat that hammers away on auto like a Wesley Willis abomination but hey, this was 1982. It's like Field's just pressed play and then stepped up to the mic and let the accompaniment roll in the background -- the lyrics come and go seemingly without timing, just long interludes of the drone. And there's this feedback-like synth wail (or maybe that's actually a guitar) that blankets the whole song, you only hear it on the third or fourth listen but after you pick it out it's hard to hear past it. While "First Punk Wars" is hobbled musically it's quite compelling lyrically and conjures up all manner of Mad Max-ian images.

"The Condos" is the EP's finest track musically. The programmed beat is sped up but there's more going on besides the chugg-chugg of the bass guitar and the muted synth burbles. The lyrics are further developed, though again I don't really know what's happening other than "going to the condos/me and all my friends/moving to the condos..." and a bunch of futurist talk. The song really works because Field's plays the chorus up; this is certainly the only real "radio friendly" track in the lot. Though that might be stretching it a bit.

Lastly we've got "Love Can Never Die" which starts slowly -- with a simple Casio styled rock II beat -- but builds into a swirl of synth atmospherics and half-whispered vocals. Reminiscent of Pieter Nooten's "Sleeps with Fishes." This is lighter, peppier stuff and possibly the weakest track on the EP.

Fields and crew (Doug Norton (mini-moog) and Bruce Cooper (bass guitar) with the addition of Olga Torres) returned for the superior single "Terror Story" in '83. This one, like all the others, opens with a simple beat and some stabs at keys but Field's drone is gone and replaced by spoken lyrics and a haunting chorus. The song's about a killer -- from the perspective of the killer -- and despite the simplistic beat there's something incredibly evocative here. Disturbing but arty. "Can you feel my stare? / I see you walking by me..."

The flip side is "Anorexia" a traditional Field's track of simplistic programmed beats and synth drones.

The next single was '85's "Like a Family." It's slick and not droning. More a dance record than anything else. The B side "Telephone" is poppy mulch. Field's followed that in '87 with "Shadow" in '87. It continues the dance trend with all manner of New Order-like handclaps and some stringy guitar works. Hell, Field's even tries his chops at some real singing but fails pretty miserably. ("Drifted away/Crossing the state line") The sound isn't bad -- reminds me of the first Clan of Xymox album -- but it doesn't have the tortured obscurity of the EP of "Terror Story" single. It's like Field's threw down some Duran Duran and realized, Aha! that's how it's done.

So, is either one of these worth more than a few dollars? Who can say. What is clear after a good listen is that Steven Fields - whoever the man is - remains a fascinating unknown. A guy with a keyboard and thing for sci-fi who wound up in a Santa Barbara recording studio making records that aren't really easy to classify. Sure, minimal synth works but there's something "brut" about Iron Curtain. It's simple, monotonous and droning. The vocals are buried and obscure. The instruments cheap and fuzzy. But it sinks its claws into you if you've got a soft-spot for music cobbled together in a basement from dreams and hopes and whispers. Field's recordings are the things of record collector's fantasies -- unknown, unheard but fascinating relics from a hidden corner of the world. When you own it, you join a nearly unique club. Perhaps that's worth $500? I wouldn't know -- I just downloaded the ripped tracks.

Thanks to SomebodySomewhere for the rips.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Judy's Tiny Head


Boston has produced it's fair share of bands but nothing quite like Judy's Tiny Head.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gormenghast


It's incredible how one image can shape a childhood. When I think back to my youth - 1982 in particular, when I was 7 - I think of Ian Miller's illustration of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast (above). Though I was oblivious to the story surrounding the image, I was dumbstruck by this castle perched so precariously. It fascinated me like no other. Maybe it was the color scheme, the browns and whites resembling the pale Colorado winters. Or maybe the crumbling facade of this city-like castle reminded me of houses I'd explored in my dreams. Scanning the illustration, I would creep over every nook and darkened cranny hoping to spot some semblance of life in this strange place. I think there were even times I held a magnifying glass to the image in an attempt to ferret out some hidden face or animal. Not knowing Peake's story, I made up my own. This was a post-apocalyptic city perched high on some remote mountaintop overlooking a desert valley of desolation. There were only three people who lived on here; a father and his two sons and they warred with mutants who would crawl out of the dusty landscape below. Or sometimes this was a bustling city, a place where people came for enlightenment and riches. Other times it was a city of newts. Ambulatory, intelligent newts. Okay, I was a weird kid.

Today, having read Peake's books, I understand the illustration. It fits perfectly with the tone of Peake's writing and it's now impossible to separate it out from it's intended purpose. I can still look at it with awe, more entranced today by Miller's skill, and every so often - when I stumble across it - I'll scan the page hoping to see something in there I didn't see before. Still, no luck.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

ptr svll's lphbt


Sure, it's a bit old hat. Fans of New Order and Factory records have long been aware of Peter Saville's distinctive design work, but here's an opportunity to see the (in)famous "color alphabet" in motion. I'm really not sure what this short clip was designed for but try and see how many words and phrases you can find in these 9 seconds.

Don't know how to decode the color alphabet? Torbjorn Ivarsson (posting on the Ceremony-Digest listserve way back in 1997)explains that you need to look at New Order's "Power Corruption & Lies":

"To decode the wheel, use only the outer two rings. You could divide the outer two rings into full colour, various on green, and various on yellow. The inner segments appear to be meaningless. Start with the full colour sections, the first of which will be the green one... This is 'A'. Work your way clockwise naming each colour the next letter. There are exactly 26 segments around the disc. From 'Z' work back into the full colours, the first of which is '1'. This means that the full green segment is either 'A' or '1', and the colour for 'I' is also that for '9'.

You should be able to decode the squares now. Start with the 5 on the front of Power Corruption & Lies, and you will find (if you have the vinyl) that the first 4 squares spell 'FACT' then next square is divided into two, with the lower half being '7' and the upper half being '5'. Therefore the code is 'FACT 75' which is the Factory number for this release. The code for the CD front cover is 'FACD 75'."

So, bust our your LP and start decoding! What? You don't have one? Do I have to do all the work for you?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sandra


Sure, most Sandra fans are Eastern European men with flimsy moustaches and tight Polo shirts, but you've got to admit there is something fascinating about her voice. Buried beneath Micheal Cretu's synth noodlings, when her pixie-like warblings do manage to rise above the drum pad din the effect is, well, magical. Yeah, it's Eurotrash pop. But I like it.

Sandra Cretu (formerly Lauer)is best known stateside for her work with husband, Cretu, on Enigma. She got her start in the German disco band Arabesque before striking out on her own to become a popstar. She had a string of hits in Europe -- "Everlasting Love" and "Heaven Can Wait" -- but it's her very Cretu-ish "Secret Land" that really caught on with the wavers in the late '80s. These videos were directed by Bulle Bernd. (Like that means anything to you.)

You've also heard Sandra on tracks by Peter Schilling & Hubert Kah, among others.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Scientific Americans


Band from Boston, released some really obscure vinyl in the late '70s and early '80s.Wiel is the one to thank for getting me hooked on their stuff. I would say they sound like early Devo done dub or maybe Cars with a Shriekback inflection but since the Scientific Americans never liked being compared to "pop" bands I won't. The mini-posters (ad art) here came with a 9" (or 10") flexi disc EP "Beyond Fiscal Distress" Wiel got (he posted all this in November on his blog)from the band. Very cool DIY electro punk stuff. You want to hear it, let me know.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Black Light Trap


Shriekback's "Black Light Trap" ( lead track on Big Night Music) this is from the concert video Jungle of the Senses. Barry Andrews described this once as "Gormenghast with a disco ball." As with anything Barry produces, the lyrics are key:

An eliptical Movement
With the attitude of a snake
Then make our incisions
Stand on one leg and deviate
All American action
All lemonade high
Old and cold and going gold

A fanatical schism
As impeccable as a swan
Psychadelic exactions
That lay me down or lead me on
In the ballet of Black-Light
And the agony of the fly
We divide and then collide...

IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP- We make all our mistakes
IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP- Go in and out like tiny snakes
IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP- We fool around but thats ok
IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP... In the black-light-trap...

Pornographic implosion
Sticky animals on the air
An implaccable suction
That pulls us in and keeps us there
Cryogenic excitement: Dionysian repartee
Creamed and steamed and quite obscene

All chemical all funny-man all belly-flop all dilly dally
All muddy moan all billy bolly all wobble-y all shilly shally
All chemical all funny-man all belly-flop all dilly dally
All muddy moan all billy bolly all wobble-y all shilly shally

IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP- We make all our mistakes
IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP- Go in and out like tiny snakes
IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP- We fool around but thats ok
IN THE BLACK-LIGHT-TRAP... (Watch him go now)... In the black-light-trap...

All chemical all funny-man all belly-flop all dilly dally
All muddy moan all billy bolly all wobble-y all shilly shally
All chemical all funny-man all belly-flop all dilly dally
All muddy moan all billy bolly all wobble-y all shilly shally

IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP
IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP
IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP
IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP

IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP
IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP
IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP
IN THE BLACK LIGHT TRAP

Thanks to Cleartrails/Phil Hetherington for the transcription.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Glowing in the Dark: Minimal Synth MP3 Series #3 - Moderne



The ablum is indeed everything the cover suggests and more. Here is the track "Mercenaire Solitaire." From the 1981 Arabella records LP, L'espionne aimait la musique. It's cold. It's synth. It's French. What else could you want?

Freakwave



I'll admit that one of my only true vices is the fact that I like to watch Kevin Costner's mega-flop Waterworld. Seriously, any time it's on. Actually every time it's on. I know, I know.

It's actually not the film itself that's compelling (though it's competently done) -- it’s the idea of the film. The concept is what my pre-pubescent dreams were made of. Post-apocalyptic action a la Mad Max but in the water? Man, I was so there in 1985. In fact, that's practically the only game I played in the pool - the lone survivor in a water wasteland of mutants and my brother… You get the picture.



So it comes as no surprise that I'd love Brendan McCarthy's Freakwave. This is essentially the same story as Waterworld just made ten years earlier. What? Yeah, Waterworld effectively ripped off this comic book series that has its roots in a film proposal circulated in the mid-80s. Alas, it joins the slagheap of other great ideas - Jodorowsky's Dune, the post-apocalyptic Easy Rider 2- that never materialized. At least we have a few comic panels and production art pieces.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Vasilis Lolos


How is Vasilis not in the Pantheon? I mean he's as close to a Greek God as we've got these days. (Not counting my pal Thomas "The Hairy Brows" Mavroudis.) Not only is his work on Pirates of Coney Island slam dancing it's way into my heart but the man continues to spin off strange effulvia like the upcoming Last Call. And he posts his favorite Robert Smith photos on his site! The man's a genius.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cinebomb #4: Electric Dreams


Couldn't help myself. 1984's Electric Dreams was one of my favorite films as an awkward teen and it still resonates with that inner geek. Atari-chic? Pixilated-goodness? Who know what the real appeal is but it's buried somewhere deep in this tale of a lovesick PC.

Architect and full-time wuss, Miles, played by Lenny von Dohlen, buys a new computer to sort out his life. After he spills some soda on it the computer short circuits and gains a personality, voiced by Bud Cort. Virginia Madsen is the love interest that both Miles and Edgar - the computer - compete for. This triangle deal is old hat but the film's got so much style and such a quirkly twist that it just feels fresh. Layer on some Culture Club, a Phil Oakey-Giorgio Moroder electro trashsterpeice, Heaven 17 and Bach and you've got '80s nirvana.

Director Steve Barron cut his teeth at MTV and screenwriter Rusty Lemorande (yes, seriously) got his start here before moving on to that 3D Michael Jackson masterpiece , Captain EO. Filled with Steadicam swoops and montages set to electro rock, Electric Dreams is really one of the slickest looking films of the early '80s. And it's exactly what you'd expect from the title - a visual love letter to everything the electric '80s were supposed to be.

Solarstone - bless his heart - has uploaded the entire (now OOP) film onto Youtube. Above is part one of tweleve. Dig the Virgin credit animation.

Gawker


This was inevitable.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Deal


So, yesterday my book deal was posted on Publisher's Marketplace (PM) - in the middle there. PM lists most of the deals to the major and moderate sized houses and it's been one of those benchmarks for me. When I wrote this novel two years ago I thrilled at the thought of seeing it listed on PM - go giddy just thinking about it - and like every new author I was a bit naive in how long I thought the whole process would take. Get an agent? No biggie. Get a multi-book, six-figure deal? No sweat. Yeah, right. It's amazing how difficult the whole process is and how slowly it moves - glacial, honestly. I could go on and on about the steps and details - if you want to hear about it let me know. Thanks to everyone who helped along the way and those of you who've sent kind words. Hope you enjoy the book. Cheers.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cinebomb #3: Deadlock


The Kid (Marquard Bohm) wanders into a desolate wasteland of a town with a bullet in his arm and a million bucks in his briefcase. He's found by Charlie Dump (a.k.a The Rat)(Mario Adorf)and rehabilitated in Dump's rotting junk yard. The Kid tells Dump that Mr. Sunshine (the fantastic Scot Anthony Dawson) will soon be coming for the money. Throw in an old crazy lady and her feral but beautiful daughter and you have a peculiar but thrilling slice of Euro-nihilism.

Roland Klick was one of the darlings of post-WWII German cinema. His early '60s films were counterculture gems - rarely screened outside of Germany - but it was this 1970 flick that put him on the map. With a tumbling soundtrack by Krautrockers Can, Deadlock joins Matalo! and Django... Kill! as the most unusual off-shoots of Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. And you don't get much higher praise or psychedelic credit than having Alejandro Jodorowsky describe your film as, "fantastic. A bizarre, glowing film."



Being a Western, Deadlock is as much about the swirling dust of the landscape as it is about Manifest Destiny. But Deadlock's also a crime film and the land is useless, it's the money and the women that the men who inhabit this desolation are after. Cat and mouse games, deception, it all adds up to a protracted and nihilistic ending. Hell, even The Ending. Deadlock remains an obscurity - a Spaghetti Western with Beckett-like gangster tropes, stunning camerawork and a Can soundtrack. Surely, this is a cinebomb ripe for rediscovery.