Camille Paglia’s narcissistic tirade to (perceived) slight: ‘I am the Susan Sontag of the 90s!’
10:12 am


Richard Hell
Susan Sontag
Camille Paglia

“Libertarian feminist” Camille Paglia is getting press again, and every time Camille Paglia gets press, feminists are obliged to immediately declare their respective camps. There’s a camp that’s perpetually incensed with Paglia, a (dwindling) camp cheering her on, and then there’s my camp—the camp of feminists who hope that if we ignore her, she will simply go away.

To keep a very long story short, Camille Paglia just doesn’t really like women, preferring to decry her youngers, whilst simultaneously dismissing her foremothers. In fact, the only people she seems to really respect are men. Check out his charming excerpt from her latest essay in TIME, some lameass troll-bait titled, “It’s a Man’s World and it Always Will Be.”

Every day along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, one can watch the passage of vast oil tankers and towering cargo ships arriving from all over the world. These stately colossi are loaded, steered and off-loaded by men. The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role — but women were not its author. Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!

If I may dust off an old chestnut, “Cool story, bro.”  I’m sure those noble icons of manly labor are all really pleased that some bullshit academic “feminist” wrote them a weird love letter in TIME. And the prose is downright Randian in its reverence.

Yes, as far as Paglia is concerned, no one else’s feminism is quite smart enough for her—a point which she’ll readily make to you with 9,000 words on post-structuralism and a libertarian tirade. Unfortunately, I work on the Internet, which prevents me from totally ignoring her, so maybe reminding everyone how terrible she is would make me feel better? Here’s a 1993 interview with Paglia where she acts like a sputtering, defensive fool when confronted with video evidence that her formal idol, Susan Sontag, had never even heard of her.

There’s something sickeningly gratifying about seeing such an egotistical narcissist so miffed. And though I often find Susan Sontag’s work pretentious and politically unsound, the record of this moment alone is enough for me to want to defend her entire career. I have a sneaking suspicion that Sontag was probably in the “Let’s ignore her and maybe she’ll go away” camp. (Here’s Paglia’s meltdown.)

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Underground Spookshow: Nick Zedd’s ‘Geek Maggot Bingo’
06:39 pm


Richard Hell
monster movies
Nick Zedd

Alternate title screen
One of the most enticing things about delving into fringe culture is finding both the gems and scraps that even the underground tries to nudge away with their boot. Nick Zedd, one of the most notable underground filmmakers to have emerged in the past 30 plus years, has created a number of short works that still play film festivals and merit academic criticism. Titles like War is Menstrual Envy and Police State are often bandied about like a seasoned musician’s greatest hits. (Which is not a snark, since both are worth merit.) One Zedd film that is the unloved B side to his better regarded work is 1983’s Geek Maggot Bingo or The Freak from Suckweasel Mountain. The title alone is so gloriously brain damaged or drain bamaged, that it already is going to weed out the less slackful of the art house crowd.

Don’t be fooled by the play on words, since Geek Maggot Bingo has about as much in common with the teenage-surf masterpiece, Beach Blanket Bingo, as The Deer Hunter. The film begins with a quote, featuring lines like “If you cut a face lengthwise, urinate on it and trample on it with straw sandals, it is said that the skin will come off.” It’s attributed to Hagakare, Yamamota Tsunetomo’s centuries old text about the code of the samurai. Unless there’s a hidden metaphor in the film that I missed, this also has about as much to do with Geek Maggot Bingo as any beach or Vietnam war film. But, hey, that is part of the dark ride from Mars journey you are about to go on.

Zacherle being awesome
Like any cinematic carnival ride worth its salt, there is a fabulously macabre host and it does not get much more terrific than the cool ghoul himself, legendary horror host Zacherley aka John “Dinner with Drac” Zacherle. For all of you monster kids, this should be a name that holds a dark, cobweb infested place in your heart. Looking at least twenty years younger than his actual age, Zacherley laughs, mugs and says some intentionally ridiculous dialogue like “Suckweasel Mountain…That’s in Brooklyn I presume!” with warm-hearted yet sarcastic relish.

After that, there’s a colorful beginning credits sequence involving some striking art portraying each character in the film, all courtesy of Donna Death who will pop up later. In true ham-boned 1950’s sci-fi/horror style, we meet the formerly esteemed and currently mad Dr. Frankenberry (Robert Andrews). You’ve heard it before. The brilliant but insane Doctor is obsessed with not only reviving dead tissue but with creating a new super race of enlightened beings. His boss, Dean Quagmire (Jim Giacama), is fed up with Frankenberry’s (groan) “unholy experiments.” It gets better, when the Dr. pulls out the evidence that his research has been fruitful. This “evidence” ends up being one Quasimodo Residue, an adorable white & beige kitten with magic marker markings on its dirty looking fur.

Does such cute proof win the Dean over? Absolutely not, though this leads to the Dean’s best line, where he goes on about how “that poor cat has been humiliated for no reason!” Fantastic.

Fresh out of a job, the Doctor puts an ad out for an assistant, a position quickly filled by Geeko (Bruno Zeus), a new wave looking hunchback with a rich history of assault and murder. Naturally, the Doctor loves Geeko’s resume and he quickly puts his new hire to work. “Do you know anything about prostitution?” segues into Geeko dressing up as a flea bitten hooker, luring a john that fell right off of the “night of the living dorks” truck. Instead of an evening of diseased hunchback loving, Geeko hacks away at the man & takes pieces of the “fresh specimen” back to the Doctor.

Buffy confronting her father
Meanwhile, the Doctor’s tarted up daughter, Buffy (comic singer Brenda Bergman) is nagging him about the basement. More specifically, what exactly is he up to in the locked room. She finds out quicker than you think, since Geeko comes back from his kill in record time, causing the bleach blonde harridan to pass out shrieking.

The average person’s libido would be more than likely quelled after getting a faceful of severed limbs, but Buffy is not your typical All American girl and is quickly sneaking her beau, Flavian (Gumby Spangler, real name), in the castle for some full on starkers, limp noodle soft core shenanigans. But of course, Geeko has to ruin Buffy’s fun and scares the bejeesuz out of Flavian, to the extent that he jumps out of a window?! Running in the woods, still completely nude, he has the misfortune of running into Scumbalina (Donna Death), a Morticia styled vampire who makes lunch with the Warhol-bewigged “actor.”

The Doctor decides to fully satisfy his daughter’s curiosity and has Geeko bring her to the lab. There’s a method to his madness and he goes on a long speech (a specialty of the mad Frankenberry’s!) ranting about how he needs her seamstress skills for sewing up the parts of his creation. He actually convinces her but she sees the monster, who is off screen, screams and passes out. Not catching a break, Buffy is later on visited by Flavian, who bites her but doesn’t fully turn her into a vampire. Just yet. Realizing that a potential vampiric epidemic is on the rise, the Doctor decides to work on his maddest creation yet: The Formaldehyde Man. Along the way, the alcoholic Rawhide Kid (Richard Hell) shows up and in an even stranger twist, so does the the Dean. Will the Doctor be able to save his daughter and the rest of humanity from Scumbalina? Will the Dean find his son? Will the Rawhide Kid find more booze?

Rawhide Kid sings
Geek Maggot Bingo is like one living, creature feature themed Mad Lib. The plot makes sense in only the foggiest of ways, the set and props toe that line between expressionist absurdism and a 3rd grade play and the acting ranges from hammy to laughable. It is these elements that have garnered this film some pretty bad reviews over the years, however, it is actually one of the things I enjoy about it. It’s not only goony, but it knows it is goony. In fact, it thoroughly revels in its ridiculousness, with lots of loving nods to everything from 1960’s sexploiters to B-Horror films from the 1950’s. The special effects, especially with some of the gore and monster design, courtesy of noted effects craftsmen Ed French (Riot on 42nd St, Terminator 2), Tom Lauten (Class of Nuke’em High, King Kong) and Tyler Smith (Tales from the Darkside), are actually quite good, especially taking the uber-low budget into account.

Monster Skeleton!
The cast is a fun, hot mess. Andrews is endearing as the crazed and highly verbose Doctor. He manages to inject some gravitas into his live-action cartoon of a role. Zeus makes a great, pervy assistant and while he doesn’t come into the film until it is halfway over, Hell is pretty funny as the Rawhide Kid. If you ever wanted to see a respected DIY legend in writing and music sing cowpoke songs that lyrically are more on the side of Dada than Will Rogers, this is your film. The fabulously named Gumby Spangler is horrible and is often out-acted by his wig, which is quite terrific. Donna Death doesn’t have a whole lot to do, other than look pretty-menacing.

There’s also a cameo by original Fangoria editor, Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin, doing an impression of one of the magazine’s former writers that is about as accurate as anything else in this film. (I’ll save that surprise for anyone who makes it to the end credits.) Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the glory that is Zacherley. The legendary horror host is as great as he always is here. If you need further proof, seek out his slack-laden appearance on the Uncle Floyd Halloween special or his voice work as Aylmer in Frank Henenlotter’s Brain Damage.

Geek Maggot Bingo is deliriously stupid and plays out like a strange, acid-laced make out session at your local carnival’s dark ride. It might not be one of Zedd’s more heralded works, but it is a lot of fun and even if you loathe it, you cannot say it is dull.

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
Blank generation on the TV station: Richard Hell visits a morning talk show
04:27 pm


Richard Hell

Two out three gone. The needle and the damage done.
Richard Hell makes an appearance on Seattle morning talk show New Day Northwest. The host/interviewer is Margaret Larson and I think she’s quite charming.

My first encounter with Richard Hell was seeing his band the Voidoids at CBGB in 1977. The group was intense, complex and exhilarating. In the years following ‘77, I became aware of Hell’s decline into junkiedom. He seemed like a prime candidate for an early death.  Had you told me he’d be appearing on a morning chat show in the year 2013 I would have called you “crazy.” Had you told me I’d be alive and reporting on it, well…

With I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, Richard Hell now joins Patti Smith and John Lydon among a growing number of ageing punk musicians that have written memoirs of real merit.

Rock ‘n’ roll survival tip number one: Put down the needle and pick up the pen.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Read the first chapter of Richard Hell’s autobiography

Richard Hell’s autobiography I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp is hitting the streets on March 12. But you can read the first chapter here right now.

I wanted to have a life of adventure. I didn’t want anybody telling me what to do. I knew this was the most important thing and that all would be lost if I pretended otherwise like grown­ ups did.”

The first chapter is devilishly good with a similar feel to Patti Smith’s wonderful Just Kids.

Before you rush off to read Hell, check out Richard and The Voidoids doing “Love Comes In Spurts.” From Pat Ivers and Emily Armstrong’s video and film archives.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Punk Magazine’s ‘The Legend of Nick Detroit’: With Richard Hell, David Johansen & Debbie Harry

This is rather special - pages from John Holmstrom and Legs McNeil’s revolutionary Punk magazine, as held by The San Francisco Academy of Comic Art Collection and the Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

These pages come from issue No. 6, which featured The Legend of Nick Detroit, a fumetti or photo-story written and directed by McNeil and edited by Holstrom, with Roberta Bayley as director of photography.

The fictional Nick Detroit was a “...former top international Agent and super-killer now become world-weary mercenary battling the infamous Nazi Dykes and their schemes for world domination.”  The strip starred Richard Hell as Nick Detroit, with David Johansen as Mob King Tony, and Debbie Harry as Debbie Nazi Dyke. There were also appearances by Lenny Kaye, David Byrne, and “a ton of others including Terry Ork, Anya Phillips, and Nancy Spungen (in a crowd scene).”

Check more details here and here.

Best of Punk Magazine is available here.
With thanks to Wendy! Via University Libraries Blog
More from ‘The Legend of Nick Detroit’, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Richard Hell and The Voidoids in ‘Blank Generation’
02:32 pm


Richard Hell
Blank Generation

Ulli Lommel’s Blank Generation is not the movie it could have been but what it is will have to do. Imagine a lower tier Fassbinder lensing a movie about the angst and ennui of New York’s Lower East Side as embodied in the life of disheveled punk rocker Richard Hell as he struggles to struggle with an emotional attachment to a Godard-spewing French film maker named Nada (Carole Bouquet looking more like a Bond girl than a Bond’s girl). If life in the New York City of the late 1970s was this dull and depressing, we’d have all left for Brooklyn a whole lot sooner.

While there’s some good footage of Hell performing with the legendary Voidoids, there’s little else to indicate that there was a burgeoning music scene right up the block from where the movies non-action occurs. This was 1979 and CBGB was alive with the sound of music…and the aroma of beer and piss.

When he’s not singing, Hell spends most of his time sulking. But who can blame him?  With his dour Parisian girlfriend spewing lines like “What are you afraid of?” “We’re all going to die anyway, so who cares?,” who wouldn’t be feeling a bit blank. The bellicose ice queen Nada makes Nico look like Laurie of The Partidge Family.

Blank Generation isn’t a bad movie. It’s just fucking inert and filled with the sort of angster posturing and world weariness that makes you wonder if gravity has a heavier tug below 14th street. Ultimately, it’s all kind of inconsequential and as Richard Hell himself put it “there’s not a single authentic, truthful moment in the movie.” Still, you should watch it for Hell and the Voidoids, the best of the Bowery.

P.S. - I had a chat with Hell a couple of months ago in Austin. He’s a big supporter of film-preservation and was hosting a screening of a re-stored 35mm print of King Kong at the Alamo Drafthouse for Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. It was a thrill to see one of my favorite rockers looking and sounding good as he enters his mid-sixties. He was planning a road trip through Texas and in his black suit and boots he cowboy-walked down Sixth street with the self assurance of a post-modern gunslinger in a spaghetti western where blood comes in spurts and men do have names like “Hell.” 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rock outlaws: Interviews with Iggy Pop, Richard Hell, Lydia Lunch and Jello Biafra
01:57 pm


Iggy Pop
Lydia Lunch
Jello Biafra
Richard Hell

Iggy talks about lessons learned from David Bowie: “No,you’re not coming to the dinner table on heroin.”

Jérôme de Missolz’s documentary Wild Thing (2010) was made for French television and it’s a pretty good look at rock n’ roll outlaws from the 1960s thru to the present day.

Here are some excerpts featuring Richard Hell, Lydia Lunch, Iggy Pop and Jello Biafra. Lunch’s anecdote about The Dead Boys is a jaw-dropper. The Boys ate Lydia’s Lunch.

To watch the entire film (much of which is in French) click here. There’s some fascinating interviews (in English) with Eric Burdon, Genesis P-Orridge, Kevin Ayers and many more.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Richard Hell And The Voidoids’ ‘The Kid With The Replaceable Head’ cartoon

Fun, fun, fun cartoon music video of Richard Hell And The Voidoids “The Kid With The Replaceable Head.”

The version of “...Replaceable Head” used in the cartoon is the remixed and partially re-recorded version that appears on the Destiny Street Repaired album which was released in 2008, a reconstruction of 1982’s Destiny Street. The history of the record is an interesting one. In his review of Destiny Street Repaired, Bill Meyer gives us some insight to the album’s resurrection. Here’s an excerpt from Meyer’s article:

It took Hell five years to get around to recording a follow-up to Blank Generation. The Voidoids had been defunct for over a year and the man was soul sick, junk sick, and ready to give up the rock game. But he had some songs, a label ready to give him some money, a palpable need for that cash, and guitarist Robert Quine’s phone number, so in 1982 they pulled together a band — Hell on bass, Quine and the one-named Naux on guitars, Fred Maher on drums — to make one more record. Things went as planned for a week or two, but after cutting the backing tracks Hell lost his nerve and refused to come into the studio for a week and a half. According to Quine, he and Naux spent that time overdubbing every idea they’d ever wanted to try, which depending on your perspective turned the music into either “high-pitched sludge” (per Hell in the liner notes to the Spurts career retrospective) or the aforementioned glorious mess. After Hell finally dragged his sorry ass into the studio to finish the record, it sat in bad business limbo for another year before Line Records finally put it out.

Ever since then he’s expressed his disappointment with the result, and in 2008 Hell geared up to put it right by re-recording the vocals and lead guitars over rough mixes of the rhythm tracks.”

Hell brought in Bill Frisell, Ivan Julian and Marc Ribot to contribute to Destiny Street Repaired and the result was an album shocked like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster into new life. As Meyers puts it, the album is “more full and satisfyingly full-on.”

Despite the fact that overall there are fewer guitar tracks, the guitars are actually louder on Repaired than they are on the Line LP, and any record that showcases Ribot, Julian and Frisell in a rocking mood is nothing to ignore. The weirdly striated frequency spectrum of the original mastering job, which seemed as thin as mountain air in the higher frequencies, has been replaced by something much more full and satisfyingly full-on. And as a singer, Hell Mk 2008 manages to hit more of the notes with more force than his more desperate and debilitated self a quarter century earlier without going for any misguided notion of perfection.”

Bill Meyer’s entire review of Destiny Street Repaired can be read at Dusted.

Update 4/25: Meyer gives credit to German label Line Records for being the first label to release Destiny Street, which may be true for Germany but not the USA. In fact, it was released in the States on Marty Thau’s legendary Red Star records. In France, it was released by Celluloid. All in 1982. As to the source of the money for the making of the record, my bet is on Thau. I’ve e-mailed Marty and am waiting to hear back.
(Thanks, Mona).

Update 4/25: The always gracious Marty Thau responded to my questions regarding Destiny Street and its intriguing history:

Red Star financed the original version of Destiny Street and eventually licensed it to Line Records in Germany, who didn’t pay royalties until they were caught years later. 

Not only did Red Star finance the original version of “DS” but it’s distributor, Jem Records, manufactured it for Red Star before anyone else in the world. History must not be rewritten no matter how bad the vibes might be.

Red Star’s version of “DS” was chosen as the #3 best record of the year by the NY Times in ‘82 by Robert Palmer. I believe that Richard’s new version of “DS” doesn’t improve upon the original, as much as he’d like to think it does.
Back in the day Richard was a useless drug addict who didn’t live up to his promise. He’ll admit to that.”

“The Kid With The Replaceable Head (2008)” is available as part of the Richard Hell retrospective cd and can be purchased here.

Here are both versions;

Personally, I prefer the sludgy, raw basement sound of the original recording. The re-recorded version is a little clean with a slick sheen and the poppy background vocals up in the mix work against the punk Voidoid vibe. But, either way, it’s a great song and Richard Hell is undoubtedly a legend not to be messed with…unless he doin’ the messin.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Early, unreleased Television track ‘Horizontal Ascension’, featuring Richard Hell

“Horizontal Ascension” is an early recording by Television from a 1974 rehearsal, when Richard Hell was in the band. It appears on the bootleg Poor Circulation.The title “Horizontal Ascension” was ” ...lifted from an Elevators album’s esoteric notes,” and as Richard Hell recalled:

“I was in the band for a year…But the peak of my participation in it probably came at about three or four months…It sounds more like what the Neon Boys sounded like than like Marquee Moon-era Television. As great as the guitar playing is on Marquee Moon, the original band was more to the point. It’s more like…it came at a time when music was really…boring, you know? It was a return to the values of the Kingsmen and the Sonics and Them and the Velvet Underground. It still had this really beautiful guitar talent — ecstatic, explosive guitar — going on as well as this lyrical quality, but it was more driving and crazed.”

For more early Television recordings check here.



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Johnny Thunders and Richard Hell: The original Heartbreakers live in ‘75

Lure, Thunders and Hell.
The Heartbreakers in their original incarnation - Johnny Thunders, Richard Hell, Jerry Nolan and Walter Lure - performing “Chinese Rocks” and “Pirate Love” at CBGB in 1975. The absolute essence of snarling New York gutter punk.

Hell left the group in 1976 before The Heartbreakers recorded their first and only album, L.A.M.F.. So, for those folks who are only with familiar with that album, it’s a bit strange hearing Hell singing lead on “Chinese Rocks.” But Hell’s distinct wail in tandem with Thunders’ is as urgent as rock and roll gets. The Unrighteous Brothers. Seeing this band on the Bowery in the mid-70s was a shock to the system.

Richard Hell explains it all after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment