Death Goes To The Movies

31 07 2007

So if you weren’t paying attention to the Spears/Federline bust up, you will have noticed the death of Ingmar Bergman. But another giant of post-war art cinema, Michelangelo Antonioni passed on the same day, bad luck for him because I don’t think he got the ink he deserved. Everyone will have his own take on the legacy, but from the perspective of the ARChive, let me point out that for a guy devoted to expressing the alienation of modern life he had a lot of pop culture cred. I was going to tell you to go rent Blow Up, but nuts to that – form a posse, don’t forget to bring pitchforks and torches, and storm your local revival house and demand they show it. There really is no point to watching this thing on tv, no matter how wide or flat the screen. (I think that’s why these movies are becoming more obscure, video killed the art-house star – but I digress.)


This picture has everything you ever needed to know about 1966: dolly birds, hippy mimes, fashion photography elevated to performance art, drugs, upper class decadence, the Yardbirds, Jane Birkin, a very hot Vanessa Redgrave, David Hemmings before got fat. Here’s Jeff Beck pretending he’s Pete Townsend.

Bergman was great too, but he didn’t capture that ’60 youthquake vibe in such hits as Wild Strawberries, which had the delightful Bibi Andersson, but no Pretty Things.

– Jonny

Goodbye Tom Snyder

30 07 2007

CNN’s reported that Tom Snyder died yesterday.

Snyder had lots of important musicians through his various shows over the years, including John Lennon, Johnny Rotten, Kiss, Iggy Pop, The Plasmatics, U2, the Grateful Dead and this band, The Clash:

Garage Sale Find

30 07 2007

Last week the Baroness Von Oomph and I made the scene in the swingin’ Finger Lakes region of New York State. If you are a fan of Coneys (local white hot dogs) root beer, drive-ins and very skinny lakes, go there. Nuff said. And did I mention world class thrift stores? Here’s one score which we will be donating to the ARChive.


It’s a British book about singles which hit number one in the UK during the Sixties. There is one entry for each month of every year of the decade. A lot of records you would expect, but also some one-hit-wonders and Brit specific hits to add a little variety, such as:

March 1968 – Esther And Abi Ofarim, “Cinderella Rockafella” (strictly from corn.)

December 1962 – Frank Ifield, “Lovesick Blues” (Warwickshire hillbilly covering Hank Williams covering Emmet Miller!)

April 1960 – Lonnie Donegan, “My Old Man’s A Dustman” (roots rock used to be called skiffle, children, and you know all your fave Beat groups were grooving on this platter.)

December 1968 – Scaffold, “Lily The Pink” (always loved this side, only in Britain would a creaky old drinking song like this go to number one.)

A fun read, and your price at the Salvation Army in Waterloo, NY?


– Jonny

Anti iPhone Contest: All Systems Go!

29 07 2007


Hey kids! Remember our Anti iPhone Contest? Well, it’s still on [not really – check below]! But what’s changed is that I can now listen back to your submissions! As you can see, my New Edison-style Cup Phonograph Kit is here, it’s together and it’s fabulous. Really, it’s exceeded my expectations. Now, don’t buy this expecting a top-of-the-line field recorder. Think of it more along the lines of a Fisher-Price PXL-2000 for the audio set – built for awesomeness, not for speed. (BTW, how cool are PXL-2000 films? If you’ve never seen one, check out this goth music video by the band The Vanishing and this totally awesome stop motion noir film starring GI Joe action figures – wicked cool.)

As you can see, the grooves track FAIRLY evenly:


The reason for this is the threaded guide that keeps the recording head moving along at an even pace. It makes for good recording and relatively easy playback.

Sure, it takes a little practice to figure out how get the machine to give you an acceptable track (word to the wise – be LOUD), but I find that what you will get is well worth the effort. Have a listen to me playing “The New York Barndance”:

Greatest recording ever, right? I think the momentary drop outs were because I was sitting on the same surface as the recorder and bounced slightly as I played. In my defense, though, it was the best angle for getting the banjo’s sound directly into the horn. All in all not bad for a first go. (BTW, if you have any questions about the machine itself, leave them in comments and I’ll answer them as they come.)

So now it’s up to you. The ARChive wants to preserve TWO parties on plastic cup. Two cases of Moxie hang in the balance. Let’s get on it, folks! The streets just can’t wait any longer!


UPDATE: due to high levels of non-participation which led me to drink up the prize, the contest is suspended until further notice.

Queens in Space

26 07 2007

Congrats to Brian May, for FINALLY turning in his doctorial thesis, “Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud,” to supervisors at Imperial College London. May explained he had placed the draft in a guitar case in 1970, while he was still a student. Then with the success of Queen, well, other velocities took over.

If you keep picking at it, it’ll never heal.

26 07 2007


A band most of us here had never heard as of two weeks ago is now part of our life.  We found this while cataloging today.  I bet it’s the best record ever.

Carolina Chocolate Drops

26 07 2007

The opening act at NYC’s Downtown River to River Festival series tonight was a group called the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  The group consists of Justin Robinson (fiddle, vocal), Rhiannon Giddens (banjo, vocal), Dom Flemons (banjo, guitar, jug, vocal) and Sule Greg Wilson (percussion, vocal). You’ll see them described in press coverage as:

“An African-American string band based in the Triangle area of North Carolina rooted in the traditional music of the foothills and mountains of North and South Carolina.”

Which is in part correct – they are indeed rooted in a local Carolina black string band tradition (they take their spiritual guidance from an important older-head fiddle player named Joe Thompson). However, they aren’t really constrained by the usual kind of dogmatism one finds among those who police the borders of traditional music — they’ll take anything out of the African-American musical tradition and adapt it. Last night, for example, Dom Flemons, for example, did “Viper Mad,” a weed song associated with jazz musician Sidney Bechet, while Rhiannon led a fiddle/vocal version of Blue Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style” — complete with Robinson beat-boxing. It was way cool.


Their stage presence was great (very easy going without feeling “staged”) and their sound was crisp. If they come through your town, do yourself a favor and go see them. They’re a really, really good band and you’d be crazy to miss them.

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