Category Archives: Music

Sewer, “2154”

Supposedly this is the most pure evil and Satanic music being made today. Well they have a lot of competition. It is described as Blackened Metal Terror Goregrind. This album is called “the most haunting Terrorgore album in existence.”

Blackened Metal is absolutely a subgroup of Black Metal, which itself is quite evil and Satanic. In fact, Satanic is the very definition of Black Metal. Goregrind is also a genre of metal. This is hardcore heavy metal grind music set to gory themes. Never heard of Terror Goregrind or Terrorgore before.

This band claims to be part of a subgenre called Sewer Metal, which is supposedly the most evil Black Metal of all.

A number of Black Metal bands have come out and stated that they are racists, particularly White Supremacists. The band that nearly started the trend is a band out of Norway, a member of which blew his brains out with a shotgun. Another band member supposedly came to the crime scene and ate some of his brains. There was also a homicide associated with this band. There have been a number of other deaths associated with the genre, mostly suicides but a few homicides. Quite a few band members are described as deeply, nihilistically depressed. The music is very angry, and anger + suidicality is a very bad thing.

I don’t think too much of true evil or Satanists, but I very much enjoy this music. As an added bonus, these guys can really play. That guitarist is too much.

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Filed under Crime, Depression, Mental Illness, Mood Disorders, Music, Psychology, Psychopathology, Racism, Rock, White Racism

Can You Be Androgynous yet Be Heterosexual/Straight?

Answered on Quora.

The best definition of an androgynous man is a man who has strong masculine and strong feminine characteristics going at the same time. Remember glam rock back in the 1970’s? Many of those male rockers were quite androgynous, and most of them were very heterosexual or at least leaned straight.

Another definition of androgynous means a man who looks and acts so much like a woman that you can’t tell if he is a man or a woman. Or the opposite in a woman. Almost all if not all such cases of extremely feminine men who appear to be women and extremely masculine women who seem to be men that I have studied are in fact homosexuals. In fact they are very gay.

Now if you include men like Prince as androgynes, there are indeed some straight men like this, as Prince was completely heterosexual.
Honestly we straight men had a lot more leeway in terms of true androgyny back in the 70’s. A straight man could wear scarves, velvet pants, silk shirts, short kimonos, smoking jackets, tight jeans, dancing shoes, and four inch blue platform heels without most people suggesting you were gay. People would just say you were “styling it.” You can act a lot softer, gentler, or more androgynous. You could have a strong feminine side, especially if you matched it with a strong masculine side.

Back then, people were assumed straight until proven otherwise, and there were not many out gays anyways. Accusing a man of being gay was a very serious matter, as this was seen as a horrible insult if he was straight. So most men were simply assumed, correctly, to be straight until proven otherwise. If you wanted to accuse a man of being gay, you had better have had some pretty damn good evidence to back it up.

I am actually nostalgic for those days. I had so much more freedom back then in terms of both clothing and behavior.

Now that gays are so out, we straight men can no longer wear those wild clothes I talked about above nor can we act the way I did back then. If I tried to wear any of that stuff now that I wore back then, people would automatically assume that I was gay or bi. If I told them I was straight, no one would believe me, and they would all accuse me of lying. Compared to back then, acceptable behavior and garb for straight men has become dramatically restricted.

It’s not been a positive change. We have gone backwards in a huge way.

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Filed under Celebrities, Culture, Gender Studies, Glam, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Music, Rock, Sex

“From the Mississippi Delta to South Australia,” by Alpha Unit

Don Morrison salvages old galvanized sheet metal from sheds and farms throughout Australia. The older the metal, the better, he says; some of this reclaimed metal is over 100 years old. He takes it to his workshop in Summertown, South Australia, where he fashions it into metal-bodied acoustic guitars. Of his material he says:

Galvanised iron, or Galvo, is now an integral part of the Australian landscape and it seemed natural (to me at least!) to try it in a resonator guitar. The result is a truly awesome sound, very loud but with a surprisingly rounded tone. I should call it the Transcontinental guitar – genuine Aussie material, genuine Delta sound!

That “Delta sound” refers to Delta blues, one of the early forms of blues. This music arose in the Mississippi Delta, which, despite its name, is not a part of the actual delta of the Mississippi River. Rather, it is located in the northwestern part of Mississippi, bounded by the Mississippi River on the west and the Yazoo River on the east.

This alluvial floodplain is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the world. It was here that Black field hands created the music we call blues, using chants, “field hollers,” and songs to make their work go faster. Ed Kopp writes:

While blues lyrics often deal with personal adversity, the music itself goes far beyond self-pity. The blues is also about overcoming hard luck, saying what you feel, ridding yourself of frustration, letting your hair down, and simply having fun.

The best blues is visceral, cathartic, and starkly emotional. From unbridled joy to deep sadness, no form of music communicates more genuine emotion.

Although the sound of a resonator guitar is iconic to blues, blues musicians didn’t start out playing the resonator. The earliest bluesmen played an instrument called the diddley bow.

The diddley bow has been called “the godfather of American roots instruments.” It is the simplest form of the guitar and is the first type of slide guitar used in America. It was very easy to make, consisting of a string of wire tensioned between two nails on a board. A bottle or can wedged under the wire would create tension for pitch. The player would pluck the string while sliding a piece of metal or glass on it to produce notes.

One-stringed bow instruments date back to antiquity and developed in various parts of East Asia and in the west coast and Congo regions of Africa. Rural Black Southerners crafted these instruments and taught their children to play them. They would sometimes build one-stringed zithers on a wall, “with a strand of baling wire, two thread spools for bridges, and a half-pint whiskey bottle for a slider,” as slide guitar player Big Joe Williams recalled to one researcher.

Boys who showed promise on the diddley bow could graduate to a guitar if they were lucky enough to get a hold of one. Musicians such as Lightnin’ Hopkins, Elmore James, and B. B. King all first learned to play on the diddley bow.

Once musicians could afford guitars they quickly abandoned the diddley bow. And when the resonator guitar came along, they had a way to present their music to even larger audiences. The resonator, with its crisp metallic ring, created the signature sound of Delta blues. When you listen to Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Son House, or Bukka White – among many others – you’re listening to Delta blues. Others, such as John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, started out playing Delta blues.

This Delta sound is what craftsmen like Don Morrison aim to re-create. His resonators, like the very first of their kind, have built-in amplification – a feature that came about by demand.

Back in the early 1920s guitar players performing with dance orchestras couldn’t really stand out from the other players. Since there were no amplifiers, guitars were considered a part of the rhythm section instead of lead instruments. A vaudeville performer and promoter named George Beauchamp wanted an acoustic guitar that could play melodies over the orchestral instruments. He turned to John Dopyera, a violin repairman and luthier whose workshop was close to Beauchamp’s Los Angeles home.

John Dopyera and his brother Rudy experimented with various designs to achieve a smooth and balanced amplified sound and decided to mount cone-like aluminum resonators, similar to speaker cones, inside a metal guitar body. Dopyera found that using three smaller cones instead of one big cone gave the guitar the sound he’d been looking for. The tri-cone resonator guitar was born.

Beauchamp was impressed with the new design and proposed a business venture to Dopyera, who agreed. They created the National String Instrument Corporation in 1927. National guitars quickly became best sellers. The company soon created a wood-bodied model.

There were differences, though, between Beauchamp and Dopyera. Beauchamp preferred a single-cone resonator, not only because it was louder but because it was cheaper to make. For Dopyera, excellent sound and quality were top priorities. The two men finally went their separate ways when Dopyera found out that Beauchamp had claimed the patent for the single-cone resonator. In 1928 Dopyera quit National, with the intention of manufacturing his own single-cone resonator. John and his brother Emil formed the Dobro Manufacturing Company (named for the Dopyera Brothers).

Because National held the patent for his single-cone resonator, John Dopyera had to develop a new style of single-cone resonator. The single biggest change that he made was to the bridge of the guitar.

On a standard acoustic guitar, the bridge is glued directly to the top of the guitar. It has several functions: it holds the strings securely, sets the spacing of the strings, and acts as an external brace to the guitar body. Its other important job is transferring vibrations from the strings to the soundboard of the guitar. On a resonator guitar, the bridge is a part of the resonator cone.

For single-cone resonators, the cone has either a “biscuit” bridge or a “spider” bridge.

The National resonator used a biscuit cone, which is convex (pointing outward). Inside the tip of the cone sits a round wooden bridge (the biscuit), and set into the bridge is a small piece typically found on a guitar bridge – the saddle. The saddle keeps the strings elevated at the preferred height above the fretboard. The saddle transfers the string vibrations to the bridge and the bridge transfers them to the cone. The cone in turn vibrates, moving the air inside the guitar out through the sound holes.

For his Dobro resonator, John Dopyera decided to make his cone concave (pointing inward) and used an eight-legged “spider” bridge which straddled the cone. The vibrations from the strings travel from the saddle and down the spider “legs,” providing the cone with eight contact rods for vibration. The result is a loud, full-bodied tone.

Resonator guitars became popular in both blues and bluegrass. Dobro-style guitars, especially wood-bodied ones, were preferred by many bluegrass players. Blues players tended toward National-style tri-cone resonators. But plenty of guitarists break with tradition and use resonators in their own preferred ways.

Players liked resonators because, being louder than regular acoustic guitars, they could play for larger crowds in rural areas that didn’t have electricity for amplifiers. Street musicians, who had to set up without amplifiers, liked resonator guitars for the same reason.

Don Morrison makes both single-cone and tri-cone resonators. For his popular Rustbucket model, he says he flattens the corrugated steel sheets by walking on them so he can fit them through his ancient set of sheet metal rollers. Some of this old metal will still bear the makers’ stamps: Trademark Redcliffe, for example, or Lysaght Queen’s Head Australia or Emu Best. You’ll see these stamps on the backs of his guitars.

On some Rustbuckets he takes naturally weathered Galvo and adds an artificially rusted cone and sound holes, giving the guitar a distinctive, vintage look.

When he isn’t building resonators, Don Morrison is performing music, often Delta blues. During the ’90s his band, The Elmores, played blues classics by Elmore James and John Lee Hooker. He and his band Prawnhead are also a part of a “roots revolution” in popular music.

We honed our style on the streets and markets of Adelaide. We found the faster we played, the more money we made. We don’t play blues or folk, we don’t play country, we don’t play bluegrass, nor do we play rockabilly. But we play a mixture of all of those. We call it bluebilly.

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Filed under Acoustics, Africa, Alpha Unit, Antiquity, Asia, Australia, Blacks, Folk, Guest Posts, History, Labor, Modern, Music, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Rock, South, US, USA

Is Paul Stanley Gay or Bisexual?

Answered on Quora (Stanley is the lead singer of KISS):

Thank you! That’s an excellent question. I have studied this question for an article I wrote about gay and bisexual rock stars.

Paul Stanley is one of the most legendary womanizers in all of rock and roll. He has probably had sex with hundreds of women. No gay man does that, nor has any gay man ever done that. Any man who does that cannot possibly be gay, and he almost always leans straight. These men are frankly the most heterosexual men of us all.

Some people have said that he is effeminate, and he does have some effeminate behaviors. At least one groupie said his effeminacy creeped her out – she didn’t like it. I do not think Stanley is strongly effeminate, but he has a few behaviors like that, in particular the way he holds his hands when he sits.

Despite his reputation as a womanizer, he has long been rumored to be bisexual. Groupie boards report that he is bisexual. Ace Frehley and Ace’s wife have both stated that Stanley is bisexual. I think he is much less interested in men than he is in women. We can see this by his legendary womanizing. That is an indication of how he leans sexually. Paul Stanley is a predominantly straight man with some minor bisexual leanings in my opinion.

He is now married with children for some years.

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Filed under Celebrities, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Music, Rock, Sex

Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”

A great environmentalist song from long ago, in 1970! That’s almost 50 years ago! This was off of her third album, Ladies of the Canyon, a reference to Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles where many hippies took up residence back then. There’s no way they could afford to live there now – it’s far too expensive. I have been through Laurel Canyon before, and it’s a beautiful drive. This was Joni’s third album and it is widely praised. Joni is originally Canadian, believe it or not. But by age 22, she was living in the US in Detroit, and by age 25, she was in Los Angeles. This song was covered by several other groups, most famously by Counting Crows, but I have heard that their version is not as good as this one.

I love Joni Mitchell, one of the great hippie folk-rock singers from the 1970’s. She was a genuine hippie. She lived in a large house on substantial acreage where she liked to wander about naked, smoke pot, and entertain various boyfriends.

And I would like to wish Joni Mitchell a happy 74th birthday. Yes, she is still with us. One more thing – she was always so beautiful. I have seen a photo of her at age 55, and she still looks fantastic. She was one of the greatest songwriters of our modern era.

Great epitaph for our planet with Donald Trump in the White House and Scott Pruitt as EPA head. Why do people who call themselves environmentalists vote Republican? How could they? Are there actually people who refer to themselves as environmentalists who nevertheless vote Republican? How can they justify it? Survey after survey shows majority support for all of our environmental laws, including the much-maligned Endangered Species Act. Yes, even the ESA has strong majority support. So majorities support environmentalism across the board, but a lot of them march off and vote Republican every year anyway. Go figure.

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Filed under American, California, Culture, Environmentalism, Folk, Government, Law, Music, Politics, Regional, Republicans, Rock, US Politics, USA, West

Van Morrison, “Brown-eyed Girl”

Truly one of the all-time rock and roll great songs. They don’t call him Van the Man for nothing. Astral Weeks, only his second album recorded in 1968, is out of this world. It’s a song cycle, a whole document in song with a beginning, middle and ending. One thing about great albums is that you will often find that every single song on the album is good. There will not even be one lousy song. This is true of Astral Weeks. Astral Weeks almost reminds me of very early Bowie when he was nearly a folkie. If you have never heard or God forbid heard of Van Morrison, you really need to check him out.

Moondance was also a very good album, I believe. Once again, not one bad song and the feeling of a seamless whole.

Brown-eyed Girl is one of his most famous songs. It was actually one of the first solo songs he wrote after he left Them, a great band in its own right. It appeared on the very first album, Blowin’ Your Mind, released in 1967. The song was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hey, where did we go?
Days when the rains came
Down in the hollow
Playing a new game
Laughing and a-running, hey, hey
Skipping and a-jumping
In the misty morning fog with
Our, our hearts a-thumping
And you, my brown-eyed girl
You, my brown-eyed girl
Whatever happened
To Tuesday and so slow?
Going down to the old mine with a
Transistor radio
Standing in the sunlight laughing
Hide behind a rainbow’s wall
Slipping and a-sliding
All along the waterfall
With you, my brown-eyed girl
You, my brown-eyed girl
Do you remember when we used to sing
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah?
Just like that
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
La dee dah
So hard to find my way
Now that I’m all on my own
I saw you just the other day
My, how you have grown!
Cast my memory back there, Lord
Sometime I’m overcome thinking about
Making love in the green grass
Behind the stadium
With you, my brown-eyed girl
You, my brown-eyed girl
Do you remember when we used to sing
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah?
Laying in the green grass
Sha la la la la la la la la la la dee dah
Dee dah dee dah dee dah dee dah dee dah dee
Sha la la la la la la la la la la la la
Dee dah la dee dah la dee dah la
D-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d

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Cat Stevens, “Morning Has Broken”

Cat Stevens, Morning Has Broken, 1976.

That sure is great music, isn’t it? I used to love Cat Stevens, and I think I still do. I don’t see why you can’t love Cat Stevens and the Sex Pistols both at the same time. After all, there’s really only two kinds of music, good music and bad music. All the genres are pretty useless, especially when people get chauvinistic about them.

He later converted to Islam and became Yusuf Islam, moved to the UK, and idiotically got on the US government’s No Fly List. Is Cat Stevens a terrorist? Come on! He made some lousy statements about Salman Rushdie, suggesting that the ayatollahs were right to put out a death threat on him. Shows what happens when you convert to Islam. A decent man can convert to Islam and become a monster because even a normative interpretation of Islam (apostates must be killed) is brutal, extreme, and homicidal. I’m not saying that this is always what happens, but Islam is hardly a religion. The rule about dealing with apostates shows right there that this is no peaceful religion. No sir!

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Filed under Celebrities, Islam, Music, Religion, Rock, Terrorism

Sex Pistols US Tour 1978: The Last Rock and Roll Band on the Last Rock and Roll Tour

How is that these shows were played a full forty years ago?!

I’ve seen testimonies by people who were at these shows. They typically go like this: “My friends and I saw this concert. It was incredible. None of us were ever the same after that…” There are things called peak experiences in life. This must have been one of them.

“Anarchy in the UK,” Sex Pistols at The Great Southeast Music Hall, Atlanta, Georgia January 5, 1978.

Wow! That’s one of the most exhilarating performances I have ever seen. For the whole 37 minutes, they never stop cheering once. Too much man, too much!

Johnny Rotten is actually in top form; he’s better here than he was just starting out. It’s barely even rock and roll anymore. It’s shading off into pure performance art.

Notice the crowd is cheering wildly all the way through the song. I’ve been to more concerts than I can count, and you almost never see that at a show – a crowd roaring with raucous cheer from the beginning to the end of a song. Notice that the crowd doesn’t stop cheering when the song ends and they are already cheering before the song begins. I wish I could have seen one of those shows, but they only came to San Francisco. I knew some punks in LA who actually bought plane tickets to fly up to Frisco to see the Pistols.

The band deliberately booked shows at rowdy redneck dives in the South and Southwest. They were trying to book in the places where they would be hated the most and would provoke the strongest reaction. Johnny Rotten played his part. He would start out the shows in Texas by screaming, “You cowboys are a bunch of faggots!” After that it was on, of course.

The punks vastly outnumbered the cowboys at every concert. The punks were mostly happy, even overjoyed and good-natured at all of these shows. There was very little fighting or violence among them. Why should there have been. They  should have been happy. They got to see the Sex Pistols!

Sex Pistols at Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1978.

People who went to this show said every punk from 90 miles around was at that show.

Check out the Jesus Freaks with the 1970’s long hair. I used to have hair exactly like that. We think it’s corny now, but women and girls went nuts over long hair like that. Mine was a head full of curls and females of all ages were always going into trances, saying, “I love your hair..” and rubbing their hands through it. Young, hyper-religious, often long-haired former hippie super-Christians were called “Jesus freaks” back then. Nobody really hated them, but we thought they were a bit of a drag. They were mostly male. There were not many Jesus freak chicks, thank God.

The Jesus freaks outside this show are insisting that the Pistols are from the Devil and they are playing the Devil’s music. This is interspersed with wild shots from the show. Looking at Rotten on stage, you can’t help but wonder if the Jesus freaks were right about this band.

“New York,” Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo, San Antonio, Texas.

The problem with this San Antonio show was that a bunch of idiot cowboy rednecks showed up just to hate the band and cause trouble. The shit-kicking rednecks were booing, yelling, throwing stuff and trying to incite the band to violence all through the show. You can see at the end of this song that Sid Vicious hits one of the rednecks in the head with his guitar! The redneck deserved it as he was trying to start a fight with Sid. Be careful what you wish for, rednecks! Sid also hit another redneck with his guitar when the cowboy tried to climb on stage. Then a redneck threw a half bottle of beer that blew up on Sid’s bass! Sid picked up the broken bottle and slashed his chest with it!

That’s punk rock, dammit!

After that, the rednecks calmed down and backed off. Rednecks love to fight with dangerous people, but nobody wants to fight a crazy dangerous person.

“New York” by the Sex Pistols, from Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, 1978. 

This song “New York” is very misunderstood. It is usually parsed as the Sex Pistols attacking the New York Dolls because they hated the Dolls. Not so. The Dolls were a bit influence on the Pistols. You can draw a straight line from the Dolls to the Pistols, with the Heartbreakers bridging the gap. In fact, the song was about the Japanese tour where McLaren had the Dolls dress up in patent red leather outfits and perform under a Communist flag. The tour was a failure and many British punks at the time thought it was a sellout. The song is the Pistols attacking the Dolls for this sellout tour.

An imitation from New York
You’re made in Japan from cheese and chalk
You’re hippy tarts hero
‘Cause you put on a bad show,
you put on a bad show
Oh don’t it show

Still out on those pills
Oh do you remember
You think it’s swell playing Max’s Kansas
You’re looking bored and you’re acting flash
With nothing in your gut
You better keep yer mouth shut
You better keep yer mouth shut
In a rut

Still out on those pills
Do the sambo
Four years on you still look the same
I think about time
You changed your brain
You’re just a pile of shit
You’re coming to this
Ya poor little faggot
You’re sealed with a kiss
Kiss me

Think it’s swell playing in Japan
When everybody knows Japan is a dishpan
You’re just a pile of shit
You’re coming to this
You poor little faggot
You’re sealed with a kiss

Still out on those pills
Cheap thrills
Anadins Aspros anything
You’re condemned to eternal bullshit

You’re sealed with a kiss
Kiss me
A kiss a kiss
You’re sealed with a kiss
A looking for a kiss
You’re coming to this
I want to kiss
You do just about anything
Oh kiss this
Eh boy

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Filed under Music, Punk, Regional, Rock, South, Texas, USA, West

It Was 80 Years Ago, or It Was Yesterday

Somewhere over the Rainbow, from The Wizard of Oz (1939).

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?

How can you not love it? It’s only one of the greatest songs ever written in one of the greatest movies ever made? What more do you want?

Judy Garland looks like a very young girl in this movie, but she was a quite mature 16 year old girl when she shot the film. She sure is adorable, an immaculate example of that finest of all of God’s creations, the teenage girl.

This is a happy song, but it’s also sad. Sort of like life.

Sad because Judy later claimed to have been forced into various sex acts with Hollywood higher-ups during the shoot. So this was going on when she was recording this very song. When you think about that and listen to the song, it makes its dreams of escape all the more painful.

Sad because Judy Garland led such a sad life of heavy drinking and drug use, suicide attempts, mental hospitalizations, bitter divorces, and she finally stared into the abyss, took a handful of Seconals, and flung herself into the darkness, dead of a drug overdose.

Sad because only two months after this great ballad of wistful hope was recorded and this fairy tale classic movie was released, Britain declared war on Germany, and World War 2 began. Our longed-for dreams came crashing down in cataclysmic ruin. But isn’t that the way it always is?

Sad because everyone in this movie is now dead. But if you can suspend belief, if you dare, for just one bare moment, and dream your once upon a time, you just know that that entire cast is over the rainbow, watching all of us.

A little known fact:

This song was recorded twice for the movie – once in the first five minutes after Auntie Em tells her to find herself a place where she won’t get into trouble. She wanders off, talking to Toto a bit, then breaks out into song. This is the well known version.

However, originally there was another version in the movie. When Dorothy was imprisoned by the Wicked Witch of the West in her prison, with the hourglass of her life running out and her death drawing near. She then sings this song again, this time amidst real tears. She cries all the way through the songm unable to finish. Then she cries out, “I’m scared, Auntie Em!” She sees Auntie Em in the hourglass, only to be replaced by the Wicked Witch taunting her cruelly.

There is a third version of the song, an instrumental only version that plays over the ending credits.

The film is lost to time, history, the dust bin, and the cutting room floor, but the audio survived and is included in a 2 DVD version of the movie released in 1995. Might be nice to hear that.

Garland made this her signature song, performing again through her career, singing it on stage for the next 30 years.

Rip Judy Garland.

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Trailer for William S. Burroughs Documentary

Human faces tentative flicker in and out of focus. We waded into the warm mud-water. Hair and ape flesh off in screaming strips. Stood naked human bodies covered with phosphorescent green jelly. Soft tentative flesh cut with ape wounds. Peeling other genitals. Fingers and tongues rubbing off the jelly-cover. Body melting pleasure-sounds in the warm mud. Till the sun went and a blue wind of silence touched human faces and hair. When we came out of the mud we had names…

…Larval people whispering flesh. Eyes ejaculated spine mud. Black gum in member. Old junky coughing limestone in the obsidian morning: the sale mirror to red sky. Manipulated spasms puppets vestigial meat. Pulsing pink shell. Red pagodas and crystal accounts. Wet dream eyes hanging in lust of dead flesh patios. Boy chrysalis in streets of postcard. Eating birds patrol black lichen. Catatonic sports sear lungs of dream clay. Lust of mud bubble coal gas the insect street. Flesh ejaculation. Penis in the broken mirror rocks of Marwan. Serving the crystal dawn photo of sex. On the Brass and Copper Street…

An evil old character with sugary eyes that stuck to you…They were ripe for the plucking forgot way back yonder in the corn hole—Lost in little scraps of delight and burning scrolls…The man opposite me didn’t look like much—A thin gray man in a long coat that flickered like old film…in these times when practically anybody is subject to wander in from the desert with a quit claim deed and snatch a girl’s snatch right out from under her assets…When the boy peeled off the dry goods he gives off a slow stink like a thawing mummy…Crab men peer out of abandoned quarries and shag heaps some sort of vestigial eye growing cheek bone and a look about them as if they could take root and grow on anybody…

William S. Burroughs, The Soft Machine, 1963.

William S. Burroughs is one of those authors that people either love or hate, but that’s the objective, the purpose of his work – to be a human lightning rod of gesticulating and mercurial passion. Like yours truly, in other words.

Always wanted to see a good movie about this maniac, who has always been one of my favorite writers.

I gave out Naked Lunch to a few of my friends, and they would bring it back warily with shaking hands convinced that I was obviously gay. Well, Burroughs’ writing is full of gay sex, but that’s not a reason to read it. The sex is boring and repetitive anyway, but the descriptions of it like all his writing are often beautiful. Gay sex scenes usually disgust me, and I end up throwing the book at the wall. This often breaks the spine and pages fall out, but it’s just as well. That book deserved that wall for the audacious travesty of daring to put that awfulness in there. But Burroughs, that I can read.

Anyway, 90% of the people who read Burroughs aren’t gay. Burroughs is so much more than a gay writer. For a while there, he may well have been the greatest writer in America.

I read almost all of his writing. Most people thought I was a freak for liking the guy in the first place. But Burroughs is not only a Beat but the original avant-garde writer and the forerunner to punk rock. More than that: Burroughs actually was a punk, decades before his team. He’s been loved by hipsters, artists, and cutting edge freaks and psychos for decades. He’s very much worth reading.

His writing is a lot of things, but it’s often also beautiful, which is strange given its often ugly subject matter. But to find beauty in the awfulness of life, the sublime amidst the squalor, is one of the purposes of life.

Viewed one way, half of life is glorious and the other half is sad. Half of life wonderful and the other half is horrible. And that’s if you are lucky. I have counseling clients who are sad. I tell them that sadness is a natural part of life and that half of life is sadness, even if the other half is radiant happiness.

“When you feel sad,” I tell them. “Say to yourself, ‘Thank God for that feeling! Sit back somewhere alone and just immerse yourself in the sadness of life. Don’t kill yourself or do anything drastic. Just be part of the reality of life’s essential sadness.”

If half of life is sad (and that’s being generous – Jack Kerouac often said that that Buddhists said, ‘All of life is sadness’ – and in way he was correct), then it only makes sense to make yourself aware of that fact and even bask or immerse yourself in it if you dare. If you do that, you may find that there is even an a transcendent beauty in sadness, something the great artists and mystics have taken about forever. Ever seen a great sad movie that moved you to tears. It was awful and beautiful at the same time, right?

Burroughs led a very interesting life. He lived in Mexico City for a while with some other Beats. One night he was playing “William Tell” at a drunken party with his wife Joan (yes he was married for a bit and even fathered a child named Billy), trying to shoot a drink glass off her head. He missed and shot her in the head instead. Police interviewed and determined it was an accident and let him off. Talking about this with a friend who liked Kerouac a lot more than Burroughts, my friend shook his head, “He definitely went crazy after that,” he said. Maybe so. But Burroughs was always pretty crazy, even as a boy. The great writers and artists often are after all.

Your task: Identify the following famous Beats and hipsters in this short film:

  1. Allen Ginsberg
  2. Lucien Carr
  3. Patti Smith
  4. Herbert Huncke
  5. John Giorno
  6. James Grauerholz (twice)

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