1980 Documentary on the Making of Punk Zine Guttersnipe in Telford, England


Councillor Mrs. Mary Potts described the magazine as ‘decadent’ and ‘utter filth.’

I can’t imagine a better compliment for a zine really.

This is a 1980 television documentary produced by the BBC’s Community Programme’s Unit which specialized in what amounts to local access television. This one is a very down to earth look at a small town British punk zine called ‘Guttersnipe.’ What’s great about this film is how it lets the people do the talking. It doesn’t make the mistake that a lot of television made back in the seventies and eighties when they tried to define the punk movement in rather stilted terms which only served to expose the terror of the producers themselves when faced with something they didn’t understand.

The young people in this film speak with honesty, frustration and great humor. They weren’t willing to accept boring so they made a culture with what was at hand. We can learn a lot from these Telford punks today when we seem so in the spell of technology corporations that it is hard to imagine ever creating a culture again. How do you ever feel unsatisfied when you have an iPhone in your hand and can read anything written anywhere on earth within seconds? How do you muster the energy to stop twiddling thumbs and print something? Or play a guitar?

Sure, I love computers as much as anyone else. I find them incredibly inspiring and empowering. Perhaps it’s really the Web that’s the problem. Not the machines.

The Web has become a nearly unusable up and down scrolling mechanism so burdened underneath the weight of endless and intrusive advertising that I personally dread visiting nine out of ten web sites. There is very little pleasure in browsing anymore. It’s not a nice environment. Things pause, pop into your face, jump around the screen, go inexplicably black, stop mid video, suddenly rewind, jump left, jump right, go totally blank and infect your computer. It’s basically hell. The Web as a reading experience stinks now. No question about it.

Makes one want a zine in one’s hands to sit back and read like humans were meant to read.

Enjoy the documentary.

Prince Releases Baltimore Protest Song


About the Time Magazine Cover Photo Image

Prince has released a direct hit to the terrifying and brutal police in the United States with his new single, ‘Baltimore.’

In case you were holed up somewhere in a cave of denial, the police in this country are engaged in a merciless war against non-whites who are not wealthy. Police in many instances simply shoot people in the back as they are fleeing, stretch them out on the ground and fire bullets into them, strangle them to death with bare hands, or break their necks completely in half.

There are no good police. If there were, you would see some of them restraining cops who have just committed murder in front of them. You would see these nonexistent good police exposing racist killer coworkers and refusing to work with them. You would see police forming their own protests against police violence. You would see police hold ceremonies to mourn innocent victims of police murder.

You don’t see it do you?

There are no good police in the United States. Those days are long gone.

Prince fights with a guitar. Not a gun. But these days, the police can just walk onto a rock & roll stage and blow away the singer right in front of an oblivious audience.

Jammin’ the Blues: 1944 Warner Bros. Jazz Short


Here’s a 1944 Warner Bros. short film featuring famous jazz musicians doing a jam session with dancers. It was directed by Gjon Mili. The players are Lester Young, Red Callender, Harry Edison, Marlowe Morris, Sid Catlett, Barney Kessel, Jo Jones, John Simmons, Illinois Jacquet, Marie Bryant, Archie Savage and Garland Finney.

Bob Dylan’s Interactive Video for Like a Rolling Stone


Bob Dylan has seen fit after 48 years to create a music video for his brilliant song, ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’ He’s made an interactive television channel-surfing nightmare of an interactive video that takes you into the basement den to slouch on the couch and watch hours of scintillating daytime television. It’s the perfect thing for anyone driven to insanity by daily app updates and 24 hour breaking news.

The producers of Dylan’s video, Interlude, have built the interactive piece with Flash. The interface is simple and effective. You may get into trouble with the heavy video streaming if you start pausing and restarting. If you do, reload the page and start again. Flash won’t play on Apple mobile devices, but Interlude has a free iPad app that will play the video… sort of. In reality, the iPad app is unusable and presents the user with no intelligible interface whatsoever. So if you are trying to watch Dylan’s bombshell of a music video on an iPad, you’re just out of luck.

I appreciate this because it’s been an obnoxious few years of listening to idiots whine about the bugs of Flash while hearing scant mention of how the powerful animation and coding environment empowered many young people with small or no budget to produce incredible visual stories, some of which spawned television shows. In the history of the web there has been no piece of software that even comes close to the creative explosion set off by Flash.

Dylan’s video gives us many channels on what appears to be daytime television that we can hop between while watching every anchor, actor, athlete, reality TV moron, pundit or spokesperson lip-synch to his song. It’s as if some maniacal hacker got into the airwaves and plastered Dylan’s song on top of every broadcast. Or perhaps the viewer is simply distracted and the multiple inputs of song and television merge into one general dream impression. It’s depressingly brilliant. It turns the TV into the internet.

You can also watch it on Bob Dylan’s official web site. It was produced by Interlude.


R.E.M. Blue: A Film by James Franco

Let’s just be clear about one thing first, there’s really no such thing on the planet as a ‘music video.’ There are films. Period. I don’t give a damn if you work on celluloid, draw them on wax paper or use a video camera. You are making a film and that’s just the way you need to think.
James Franco made this. There’s a lot of amusement about him and I guess that’s what he gets for stepping out into the world and declaring himself an artist. He’s too handsome to get away with that apparently. He could probably solve it the way Marlon Brando did by breaking his nose a little.
I picked Franco’s film because I notice that he seems to try to work in a similar way to me. He enjoys layering images to some extent and he tries to capture that dirty, glaring, subtle, harsh, gentle, dry, shimmering air of Los Angeles. He is aware of the long avant-garde tradition in film and immerses himself in the jiggering, jumping, hallucinatory techniques that have fascinated filmmakers for a century. You’ve got to look at this film as poetic expression, not like a piece of confusion as at The Playlist who write about the film but can’t seem to figure out why they are writing about it.
I see a little too much star power being thrown around this film. Just a hint of hey look at us. Although Lohan’s performance will be seen as yet another artifact in the starlet’s easily-predicted short life. The only reason you’d put Lohan into a film like this is because you are smart enough to know she’ll be gone soon and you want to capture a little wiff of that death glamor. Franco’s no fool and he’s bastard enough to use dumbass Lohan for her death magic.
But he doesn’t use her enough. He backs off to show himself working when he should be glorying in her doom and squalor. There’s nothing so Los Angeles as a slightly stupid pretty girl getting herself measured for a coffin. Franco misses the beat. Afraid to be the kind of creep any real filmmaker wants to be. Franco’s a good boy with a nice mom at home and a well-rolled joint in his mouth.
To work this way a filmmaker must be willing to lose themselves in the shots, must sink into the material and allow the film to emerge from the unconscious. There is absolutely no other way. If it takes six months to a year for five minutes of film, then it does. Franco has hit on some shots and some overlaps but missed on others. You cannot make a film to go with a piece of music, the film must come first. I don’t know how you get around this working with a band. If I were going to do it the film might not finish when the band’s song did. I might keep going so the band would have to start up another one I guess. Why would a filmmaker obligate themselves to a band? R.E.M.’s not good enough to do that to me. Maybe Franco has a better disposition than I do. Franco’s impression that he may have been making a music video weakens the film.
To get a film like this made one falls in love with Los Angeles. You snoop around and try to tease out what fascinates about this place. What have all those private-eyes seen? Where’s Bogart? The criminals? The moguls? Who lived in that Art Deco building trying to be a star and never beat the laundromat? Why does that dying girl think she’s beautiful?
Franco should look at the still image in this post. It’s an overlapp during a fade from one shot to another. This is an area where I tend to function, it’s the zone in which my films exist. The overlap is everything. Because the image here is a damn good one. But did Franco notice it? I’m not sure, and in this kind of film I have to be sure. It’s got to be not an accident.
I don’t think Franco has quite enough balls to get this film made. But he tried. He admires a way of working and it shows. He’s in a club and he wants to prove himself. I like that, because after all it’s experimental anyway. The whole point is to reach and miss and reach again. Only nice boys smoke pot, Mr. Franco. The artists never waste that kind of time. They’re too busy killing with their cameras.

Rolling Stones: Doom and Gloom

The Rolling Stones need none of my help selling anything, but damn I like what they do in this single! This is some Rock. I love reading the lyrics in the video because they are so damn good. They punch and drawl and leer with all of Jagger’s wit and silk-tempered vitriol. The man is a goddam world treasure and we shall never see his like again. If you can, go see this band play. It is like a bolt of lightening. Nobody does it better.