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“All of the guards were backing up towards the doors. I went in and got in the back of a bunch of guards there because I figured when it broke, I wanted to be the first one out that door. They’d already clicked their guns. All Johnny had to do was say something – but it would’ve been a huge riot and Johnny and his family would’ve ended up dead out there. I think I would’ve made it because I was back there with the guards by the door” (Producer Bob Johnston, ‘Johnny Cash at San Quentin’ , Johnny Cash: The Biography ) Read the rest of this entry »

Price

Some time ago, roughly one hundred years, I worked in the belly of Edinburgh’s oldest filmhouse, The Cameo Cinema. In this wonderful place I had the honour of meeting a remarkable resident – esteemed manager, in-house rarity, bar-room evangelist, on-stage psychotic, all round main man; Mr Ian Hoey. A passionate advocate of screen culture, with a savage wit, he gave his heart (blackened) and soul (sold ages ago) to making The Cameo everything it should be. He was also something of a father figure for us back-house types. ‘You’re looking particularly EVIL today, Geoff’ he would say, for example, as I emerged slowly for my shift behind the Cameo’s bar taps. Ian has since become a unique voice for the BBC’s Culture Studio and a regular contributor to numerous film publications and websites.

Written for Reel Scotland, this piece is a marvellous trip back down the aisle to the horror-show that you never forgot. Ian’s recollections are, as always, replete with as much poignancy, wonder and horrific scarring as Lon Cheney’s face.

Cue dark corners, deep seats, cool momentary stillness amid the rich drapery of the auditorium.
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!robert-mitchum-calypso

“Deep down, Robert Mitchum is a wanderer, and he probably would have got to Trinidad anyway, but actually it was Hollywood that sent him there “on location” for two feature films to Port of Spain, a colorful and sunlit place where people have come from many corners of the earth, mingling accents and spilling out their hearts in a unique musical idiom called Calypso” (back-sleeve liner notes from Robert Mitchum’s album “Calypso – is like so…”)

At some point during a film shoot in Trinidad – a soak up involving music, rum, brawling with sailors and a tour of Tobago night spots with Jack Lemmon – the walking noirism that was Robert Mitchum managed to slip character and imbibe enough calypso to keep him technicolor all the way home. The subsequent release of his own calypso LP was a tropical left turn for Hollywood’s dope-dealing lead-man and on-screen psychotic. Read the rest of this entry »

 

The-Ten-Commandments

“If 1,000 years from now, archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilization, far from being confined to the valley of the Nile, extended all the way to the Pacific coast of North America.” The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille, 1959.

If epics come in pints then DeMille’s original 1923 ‘Ten Commandments’ is the full keg.

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Catfish Collins (top right) after James Brown and in the tenure of Parliament-Funkadelic, 1972.

“Catfish would always say ‘When I go, I don’t want anybody preaching or saying a prayer over me and crying, just celebrate my life the way I celebrated my life, having fun and bringing the joy. I want to have a live band, comedians, dancers, singers, poets and people that don’t get a chance to be heard or seen on stage. I want to be roasted, toasted and people drinking and having a good time in my name, no other name but The Catfish.'” (Bootsy Collins’ email on the passing of his brother ‘Catfish’)

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ComeTogether Join the Party

“Timothy Leary for Governor of California. Come Together…Join The Party!” Leary’s Governor campaign poster, 1969.

Last week the New York Public Library released hundreds of previously unpublished documents from Harvard professor turned LSD guru Timothy Leary. The 335-box trove includes Leary’s grand scheme of thoughts in the form of letters, essays, illustrations, tapes – and a pair of sneakers and Nintendo glove. But if you don’t have time to visit New York and thumb through reams of archived illumination from the author of The Periodic Table of Energy, I can suggest an alternative.

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Their first murder. To Francis. Weegee 1946 © Weegee

“For ten years straight, the New York-based tabloid news photographer slept days and took pictures at night of violent crime and murders, fires, car accidents; he captured the denizens of Skid Row and the Bowery, as well as regular New Yorkers living (and all too often dying) in his hometown… Weegee called it his “Rembrandt light” as he caught the human protagonists in the white glare of his photo flash, the scene otherwise enveloped in darkness” (Mark Svetov, Originally Published in Noir City Sentinel)

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John Lydon (Tony Mott)

John Lydon by Tony Mott. “Getting the lighting right for that was bloody difficult, especially with the punks surging – it was difficult to be in the right place, but I got it”.

“When they brought my first photo they paid me $20 or something ridiculous. And then the band’s Manager told me my name was on the door. I didn’t really know what that meant. I thought he meant my name was literally on a door. So I kept paying for about a month until he caught me and said ‘What are you doing!? Your name is on the door!’ I was green in those days…”

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LON26675

Teddy Boys, 1976. © Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos

“Cinemas, dance halls and other places of entertainment in South east London are closing their doors to youths in ‘Edwardian’ suits because of gang hooliganism…The ban, which week by week is becoming more generally applied, is believed by the police to be one of the main reasons for the extension of the area in which fights with knuckle dusters, coshes, and similar weapons between bands of teenagers can now be anticipated…In cinemas, seats have been slashed with razors and had dozens of meat skewers stuck into them” (The Daily Mail announces the birth of Teds, 27.4.54)

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Getting the jazz. The “Degenerate Music” exhibition of the “Reich Music Festival”, Düsseldorf, 1938 © Ullstein Bild

“Strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit – so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc – as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a Jewish-Freemasonic yowl – so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.” (Step 5 in Nazifing Jazz, as recalled in Josef Skvorecky’s ‘Bass Saxophone’)

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