Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson was born March 3, 1923 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. At the age of one, he lost his eyesight after developing a severe ocular infection that was compounded by a pre-existing vascular disorder. Watson came from a musical family, so as soon as the boy’s hands were big enough, his father placed a harmonica in them. By age five, little Arthel Lane was picking a banjo and learning chords on a $12 Stella guitar.
Spontaneously nicknamed “Doc” in his late teens by an audience member, this child would one day come to be known as “the Godfather of all flatpickers” and “a powerful singer and a tremendously influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar” according to Folklore Productions.
From the early ’60s onward, Doc became better and better known for his rare and precious ability to re-contextualize the old (some might’ve said “musty”) southern Appalachian folk traditions of balladry and bluegrass as vibrantly contemporary forms. Decades later, all of his Grammy-winning records still sound fresh– full of life and oxygen and timeless pathos.
Watson, who experienced a hell of a lot of tragedy and hardship in his lifetime, remained a humble, self-sufficient and generous artist to the last, telling a close friend, David Holt, toward the end of his life that he hoped to be remembered as “just as a good ol’ down-to-earth boy that didn’t think he was perfect and that loved music [...] I’d like to leave quite a few friends behind and I hope I will. Other than that, I don’t want nobody putting me on a pedestal when I leave here. I’m just one of the people … just me.” (via)
Last year, when a life-size bench statue of Watson was dedicated in Boone, N.C. (at the very spot where Watson had busked for pennies in the nineteen-forties and fifties to support his family), Doc requested that inscription read precisely that: simply “Just One of the People.” And so it was.
Rest in Peace, Doc Watson. (1923 – 2012)
“Teenagers in Space” (?????? ?? ?????????) is a 1974 Soviet children’s sci-fi film about evil robots. In the film, a group of clean-cut teenage “pioneers” embark to a distant planet in the Cassiopeia constellation. There, they discover that robots have taken over the planet and enslaved the humans with one intention – to make their masters happy, as the robots understood happiness.
In one memorable scene, stylish robots offer to give the young cosmonauts a “Happiness Makeover.” In the futuristic operating room, sleek white sarcofagi encase the teens while robots calibrate the machine to erase their feelings of love, sorrow, shame and self-doubt. It turns out that their robots’ understanding of happiness is the satisfactions of basic needs, and the elimination of all “disturbing” emotions.
The teens learn that a small group of humans had escaped from the “Great Enhappening” and that their descendants have been orbiting the planet for generations. Together, they figure out a way to bring down the robots’ oppressive regime.
The film is available in its entirety on YouTube, but perhaps the best way for an English-speaking audience to experience the film is through the video below, which combines footage of the film with Kraftwerk’s “Robots.” See below.
Wrong Cops is exactly what one would expect from the director of a film about a killer tire, which is to say it is bat-shit crazy. Coming off of the aforementioned Rubber, Quentin Dupieux (also known by his stage name, Mr Oizo) is back with a short film starring Marilyn Manson, Grace Zabriskie, and Mark Dunham as Officer Duke, the titular cop, which he premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Duke begins his day selling marijuana stuffed into dead rats and listening to techno music. Making his rounds he comes upon Manson’s David Dolores Frank in a park. After a tense discussion about music, Duke escorts the young man to the house he lives in with his mother in order to educate the boy further. That, I think, is about as detailed a synopsis as I wish to give. As intimated previously, it’s a bizarre thirteen minutes which, apparently, Dupieux is looking to extend into a ninety minute feature, which may be the outer limit of what I could bear. This little taste is almost more than enough.
A series of magazine covers that appeared in Blade Runner have been making the rounds. Like most of the film, many of the covers (especially Dorgon, Creative Evolution and Kill) have a modern or even futuristic feel. The fashion magazine advertises “color spliced skin inserts,” while Kill Weekly promises color close-ups of deadly accidents. You can see all the covers here.
Over at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal traces the images’ internet origins. These covers were created by production designer Tom Southwell in 1980/1982. However, the web versions that you see here were painstakingly reconstructed by a superfan known only as Kevin. You can see a side-by-side comparison in the Atlantic article.
The following embed of a notorious 1987 indie film called Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story comes to us courtesy of New Zealand-based comic book writer and artist Dylan Horrocks, who says “I remember seeing it at the Auckland Film Festival and being disconcerted, impressed, and powerfully moved. [...] The audience laughed a lot at the beginning. But by the end, we watched in stunned silence. I’ve never forgotten it.”
Richard Carpenter, upon viewing the film, was apparently enraged at its depiction of his family– especially by Haynes’ insinuations that Richard was gay. In 1989, after confirming with A&M Records that Haynes had never obtained proper music licensing for numerous Carpenters songs used in the film, Richard Carpenter served Haynes with a cease-and-desist order and sued him for failing to obtain proper clearance. Haynes offered “to only show the film in clinics and schools, with all money going to the Karen Carpenter Memorial Fund for anorexia research”, but Carpenter was unrelenting, and eventually won his lawsuit against Haynes. All copies of Superstar were recalled and destroyed. (According to Wiki, the Museum of Modern Art retains a print of the film, but has consented to never screen or exhibit it at the Carpenter estate’s request.)
More than two full decades after it was made, copies of Superstar still remain very difficult to track down. Except, of course (somewhat dubiously), on YouTube.
Black Mirror is a grim, satirical dystopian horror miniseries that aired on Channel 4 in the UK last year. Consisting of three one-hour episodes, the show, created by Charlie Brooker, is a “a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected which taps into our contemporary unease about our modern world”, with the stories having a “techno-paranoia” feel. From the program description on Channel 4’s site:
Over the last ten years, technology has transformed almost every aspect of our lives before we’ve had time to stop and question it. In every home; on every desk; in every palm – a plasma screen; a monitor; a smartphone – a black mirror of our 21st Century existence.
Our grip on reality is shifting. We worship at the altars of Google and Apple. Facebook algorithms know us more intimately than our own parents. We have access to all the information in the world, but no brain space left to absorb anything longer than a 140-character tweet.
Black Mirror taps into the collective unease about our modern world.
The writing is smart, the plots just plausible enough to send a chill down your spine. In the first (and arguably best) episode, “National Anthem,” a video of the kidnapped Princess Susannah, a beloved member of the Royal Family, is uploaded to YouTube with a ransom demand that would do 4chan proud. “15 Million Merits” shows us a dehumanizing world in which green energy, gamification and reality TV intersect. Finally, “The Entire History of You” shows us a near-future in which all memories can be recorded, replayed, stolen and shared.
As piracy continues to be a service problem, there’s no easy way to purchase/view this show outside the UK. Below are the links to streams of each episode. Watch the episodes here, before they’re gone. You won’t regret it:
Reports are coming in fast and fervent from several friends who attended this year’s Tribal Fest in Sebastopol that the following duet between Rachel Brice (featured many times on Coilhouse) and Illan Rivière (also featured here previously) was one of the most electrifying performances at the diverse and thriving event:
Illan’s solo performance and Rachel’s group piece with her PDX troupe Datura are inspiring to watch as well. In fact, the entire video list for Tribal Fest 2012 over at YouTube is chock full of beauty and splendor and kinship. It would be easy to lose hours watching all of these wonderful dancers.
By the bye… a reminder that print Issue Six of Coilhouse Magazine features a beautiful in-depth feature about Brice and the modern tribal belly dance movement. We still have copies available for sale in the online shop, and when you buy that way, you also get a free, high quality download of a Rachel Brice music video that was produced for Coilhouse by the wonderful folks at Purebred Pro.
Over at Lifehacker, Thorin Klosowski has written a clear and edifying overview about First Amendment rights in the US as they apply (or sometimes don’t apply) to taking pictures in a public place:
Nearly every modern phone has a camera attached to it and subsequently more and more people are taking photos in public places than ever before. The shot might be as simple as snapping a picture of a parade or as tricky as recording video of a riot. Regardless of the reasons, the rules for photographing in public places are the same.
For the most part, your right to take photographs and video in public places in the United States is protected under the First Amendment under free speech. This includes snapping pictures of your favorite monument when you’re on vacation or taking part in a little citizen journalism. It’s not as cut and dried as you may think and it’s good to know your rights and the caveats that come with them.
He links to this handy, free downloadable flyer explaining your rights when stopped or confronted for photography. Both are definitely worth checking out.
And, from across the pond, in the UK, there’s also I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist.
[Lifehacker link via Marisa Kakoulas, thanks!]