Sunday, 3 April 2022

the forbidden zone was once a paradise—your breed made a desert of it ages ago

Opening to critical acclaim and considered an instant sci-fi classic, Planet of the Apes with screenplay by Rod Serling (previously) and starring Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Charlton Heston went into general release in cinemas in the United States on this day in 1968. The original franchise spanning four sequels before the reboots, the film was based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel La Planรจte des Singes about an Earth crew of astronauts who crash-land on a strange world where simians are the dominant species.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

as is, as was / as was, as is

Together with contemporaries Jan Dibbets amd Marinus Boezem, Amsterdammer Ger van Elk (*1941 - †2014) produced an extensive body of multidisciplinary works falling within the range of conceptual art and arte povera. Exhibiting in his native city as well as New York and Los Angeles with the Tate among other prominent modern museums upholding Van Elk’s works as the chief representatives of this movement, many pieces include the themes of reflection on and reference to art history.

Monday, 13 December 2021

dewey “pigmeat” markham

Passing away this day in 1981 (*1904) and having earned his stage name from a routine in which he declared himself to be “Sweet Papa Pigmeat,” the comedy and singer began his career with travelling musical revues and burlesque shows in the 1920s and 1930s and ultimately began a regular act at the Apollo Theatre.  Among Markham’s repertoire was a courtroom satire, with Marin presiding in a graduation cap and gown to look officious, with his catch-phrase “Here Comes the Judge” set to music and charting in 1968, the song considered to be one of the precursors to the performance style of rapping.  A second turn-of-speech from Markham passed through the then-highly segregated entertainment industry and also onto NBC’s Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (previously, Hee-Haw’s Justus O’Peace was a direct appropriation for that target audience) with the admonition  to “Look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls.”

Saturday, 11 December 2021

most efficacious in every case

Reaching number one on the UK single charts on this day in 1968and made that year’s signature Christmas novelty song, the Liverpudlian folk ensemble The Scaffold, led by Mike McGear—the stage name of Peter McCartney, Paul’s younger brother—along with comedian John Gorman and poet Roger

McGough, their rendition of “Lily the Pink” was based on a traditional ballad about American Lydia Estes Pinkham who marketed a patent medicine, a tonic which most dismissed as quackery (though this lending her name to a product should not detract from her contributions in the abolitionist and civil rights) for women to treat hysteria and other feminine maladies. Memorialised in a rather bawdy series of drinking songs (see also)—as Pinkham’s forty-proof elixir was still available with prescription during Prohibition—during Canadian soldiers in World War I with a version made the unsanctioned regiment tune of the Royal Tank Corps during World War II, the Scaffold’s version was sanitised, also on the top playlists in Austria, West Germany and Ireland. Later McGear would work with the McCartneys on Wings.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

designgroep

Named after the tarot card, the psychedelic design collective based in Amsterdam, The Fool, and influenced by the hippie community of Ibiza (see previously), whose costuming for stage and album cover art include iconic outfits for Procol Harum, Cream and the Beatles, as seen in televised broadcasts of “All You Need is Love,” the Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Pepper’s inside graphics plus the largest mural in the world for a performance of Hair at the Aquarius Theatre. Much more at Messy Messy Chic at the link above.

Monday, 11 October 2021

respubliko de la insulo de la rozoj

Sadly short-lived and not tolerated by Italian authorities, regarding it as a ploy for tax avoidance (and perhaps to provide cover to marauding Soviet submarines), after the declaration of Rose Island (so named in Esperanto, its official language) on 1 May 1968, subsequent occupation at the end of June and eventual demolition the following February, engineer Giorgio Rosa, namesake and self-appointed president, we glean from Messy Messy Chic, designed and built the host platform in the Adriatic, off the coast of Rimini and in international waters.
The structure supported by nine pylons (see also) was not only the seat of government, issuing stamps and possibly a currency, the Mill—₥, now an abstraction for economic discussion, once also used in Cyprus, Mandatory Palestine, Hong Kong and Malta but also a bar and nightclub as well as a souvenir shop. A lightly fictionalised version of the story of the founding of the micronation was released in December of 2020 with the blessing of Rosa, whom aged ninety-two, passed away in 2017 during production.

Friday, 1 October 2021

this ain’t no sunday school picnic

Having garnered quite a bit of experience and reputation in the Pittsburg market making television commercials, industrials and educational shorts with their production company The Latent Image, George A. Romero (previously) and John Russo resolved to make a full-length feature responding to audience interest in the genre of horror, realising their ambitions on this day in 1968—as our faithful chronicler informs, with the premier of the classic featuring a growing horde of the cannibalistic undead surrounding a group barricaded in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania. Though establishing the rules and conventions for future films of this type, zombies are never mentioned, and like all good monster movies allegorically tracks and critiques contemporary social mores including Cold War paranoia, Western hegemony and domestic apartheid.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

ะทะพะฝะด 5

Despite being taken previously over a communications test conducted in March 1961 with the mannequin Ivan Ivanovich at the helm and despite gaffes and giveaways included in the tape-recording on board the space craft that featured among other mission protocols a military choir performing and a cosmonaut narrating preparing borscht—activities neither suited for the narrow confines of a capsule nor an environment of microgravity intended to signal to any eavesdropping parties that this wasn’t actually a crewed exercise, the Americans once again on this day in 1968 misinterpreted a practical joke by the USSR’s space programme.

While originally slated to carry human members, the Zond 5 mission, authorities fearful of the bad publicity over another accident, carried aloft various biological samples for a lunar flyby, including wildflowers, fruit fly eggs and a pair of tortoises to see if they could survive circling the Moon. As a consolation for the cosmonauts that weren’t able to accompany this living payload, a simple relay was rigged up by the radio engineers to make it appear that they were transmitting from the probe, reading off telemetry and even proposing landing. US intelligence of course intercepted these shenanigans, which caused considerable international consternation and geopolitical turmoil with the Americans afraid that the Soviets would beat them to this final, arbitrary end-goal of the Space Race, to the discount of Russia’s other technical achievements and important firsts—all except the last Apollo missions. Whether meant for a wider audience or not, cosmonauts throwing their voices was characterised as a hoax and may have informed America’s own conspiracy regarding the authenticity of the Moon landing. Concluding after a single orbit, none of the biological specimens were worse off for the trip.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

6x6

slough off old skins: the rise and demise of an Internet Onion—via Kicks Condor  

posture pals: a gallery of awkward, outstanding stances  

gravy boat: kitschy vintage table settings  

a little pick-me-up: the lovely Flowers for Sick People project by Tucker Nichols—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

news at eleven: screen grabs of 1990s reporting captions  

more like a simile: an experiment searching the web with AI contextualised natural language—via Web Curios

Monday, 30 August 2021

take a sad song and make it better

Sharing this anniversary with many other events of great pith and moment, we learn from our faithful chronicler that not only on this day did Albert Niemann first synthesise cocaine at the University of Gรถttingen, also on 30 August 1968, Apple Records released one of the Beatles’ most iconic tunes as a single in the United Kingdom (with Revolution on the B-side) but moreover the song was written as a consolation to the then five-year old Julian Lennon (originally Hey Jules) over the impending break-up of parents’ marriage, Cynthia and John Lennon, delivered by Paul McCartney during a sincere, surprise visit to mother and son to check on their welfare. My Behind the Music backstory assumed it was about cheering up Saint Jude or Jude the Obscure. The featured performance is from early September, two weeks after its premier, the band appearing on Frost on Sunday.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

7x7

wait for the beep: a growing collection of found-sounds in the form of answering machine narratives—via Memo of the Air  

potatopoty: superlative tubers  

yaxety sax: string ensemble performs the 1968 instrumental from Spider Rich and Boots Randolph 

the metz address: Philip K. Dick (previously) speaks to an audience in 1977 at a sci-fi convention in France 

say taliban, move your minivans: November 2001 Saturday Night Live sketch “Kandahar Dance Party” recirculating to mixed responses 

dateline: Merv Griffin’s short-lived 1985 game show Headline Chasers  

dear friends of mine, please write a line in this little wash tubbs book of mine—help me keep you in my mind: a comic scrapbook chronicling the Great Depression, via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see there)

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

d’une figure de proue

Via Fancy Notions, we are introduced to Belgian animator and educator Raoul Servais (*1928) through the lens of his 1968 dystopian short on humanity’s siren song—the totems of exploitation, globalisation over-fishing. His 1979 horror-comedy piece featuring trying to live with another legendary creature, Harpya, which innovatively mixed live-action with cartoons took the Palme d’Or at Cannes that year in that category. The source title refers to a 1964 British horror film by Roger Corman that was part of a series of adaptations of works by Edgar Allen Poe about a widower whose Atheist wife’s soul was purloined by a demonic cat.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

mst3k s10e13

Airing first on this day in 1999, lampooning the 1968 cinematic adaptation of the long-running Italian comic Diabolik, this episode marked the series finale marked the end of a decade-long experiment subjecting the crew of the Satellite of Love to bad movies. The super villain of the film wreaks havoc along with his girlfriend Eva and sidekick Ginko across Europe for his own amusement and financial gain but also fights wrong-doing with wrong-doing, sadistically punishing criminal activity not aligned with his own. Generally panned outside of Italy as the creators assume familiarity with the characters, the direction of Mario Bava with score by Ennio Morricone later was recognised for its cinematography and became regarded as a cult classic, re-evaluated after the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, a year prior scenes featuring in the Beastie Boys music video for Body Movin’.
Over the course of the episode, the satellite is inadvertently deorbited and returned to Earth with the mad scientist and her henchmen in the lair Castle Forrester liquidating assets and lining up new employment.  There is a touching final farewell.  The show was happily rebooted in 2017 though never fully out of production in the interim.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

we’d like to help you learn to help yourself

Among many other events of great pith and moment that share this anniversary, our faithful chronicler informs that on this day in 1968, the Simon and Garfunkel song Mrs. Robinson lands on the top spot of the Billboard 100, adding that originally the draft version of the number was addressed Here’s to you, Mrs. Roosevelt. Approached by the production staff of The Graduate, the duo was willing to adapt the idea to the movie script, with the dee de dee dee de dee dee dee that stuck as stand-in for lyrics not yet written and the coo-coo-ca-choo in deference to the Beatles with the version as we know it established shortly thereafter. The director, Mike Nichols, liked the scat—non-lexical vocables, so they stayed in.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

prestavba

Once again via Waxy as part of a year-long celebration on a half-century of text games (previously) we are directed towards the BASIC narrative distributed on cassette tape from programmer Miroslav Fรญdler commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the suppression of the Prague Spring by Warsaw Pact troops, allowing players to relive events and make different choices for potentially better outcomes. Such subversive software (see also) was of course not tolerated by the government and many risked their livelihoods and lives in creating and sharing such programs.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

situationist international

Though better-known by the later stages of the collective’s existence for developing the principles of dรฉrive and psycho-geography, the burgeoning group of avant-garde artists and social revolutionaries formed in the late 1950s garnered public attention and some herostratic fame on this day in 1964 by decapitating the landmark bronze located on a waterside promenade in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid, the first act in a long line of vandalism towards this poort statue motivated by various reasons. Radically left-leaning and convinced that the capitalism that Karl Marx had sought to redress, the Situationists—especially during this formative political period, was becoming more pervasive and all-encompassing and that the estranging forces of commodity fetishism were fast encroaching on every aspect of life and culture, helping limn and inform the summer of unrest and insurrection of Paris in May of 1968.

Saturday, 27 February 2021

report from vietnam

On this day in 1968, CBS affiliates broadcasted respected television news anchor Walter Cronkite’s scathing assessment of US prospects, having been dispatched to cover the aftermath of the Tet Offensive, privately urging commanding generals to find a dignified way to extricate themselves from this quagmire. Editorialising the closing statement, Cronkite said: 

We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi’s winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that—negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer is almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation—and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster. To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honourable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could. 

Following this addendum, debriefed President Lyndon Baines Johnson announced that, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America,” ultimately contributing to LBJ’s decision not to seek another term in office, announcing his plans at the end of the following month.

Monday, 14 December 2020

location scout oder deckname topas

Hearing that someone might be making a weekend of visiting nearby sites where films had been shot sounded like a fun activity and piqued my curiosity as to whether any might be in reach for me. I was surprised to come across this image from 1968 in the Stars and Stripes photographic archive of the filming of the 1969 release of the Cold War spy-thriller Topaz, the cinematic adaptation of Leon Uris’ novelisation of a real defection, the Sapphire Affair, that took place in 1962 directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  Here is the same building from last summer from a slightly different angle and perspective.
The story follows a French intelligence agent who becomes entangled in a spy ring and the geopolitical situation on the eve of the Cuba Missile Crisis. A high-ranking Soviet officer reveals that nuclear warheads will be placed in Cuba (mirroring the US installation in Turkey) and he and his family are evacuated to Wiesbaden. Filming also takes place in Copenhagen, Washington, DC, Paris, New York with Havana scenes filmed on a studio lot.

Monday, 19 October 2020

font specimen

Boing Boing brings us a nice retrospective appreciation of the life and work of the recently departed typographer Ephram Edward (Ed) Benguiat (*1927), whose expansive family of fonts every one of us has surely encountered and used—Bookman, ITC Avant Garde, Panache, Souvenir—plus his formatting, layout and logotype for periodicals including Esquire, Playboy, Reader’s Digest, the San Diego Tribune newspaper and Sport Illustrated.

Beginning his work in graphic design just after World War II as a so called “cleavage retoucher,” Benguiat was part of a team assigned to airbrush out nudity or otherwise suggestive images in film and magazines to comply with Hays Code impositions, however by the 1970s his signature aesthetic for display typefaces and titles was in the kerning—regarded as “sexy spacing” between letters, flirtatiously not quite touching. Aside from movie posters and corporate campaigns for Super Fly (1972), Planet of the Apes (1968) and Foxy Brown (1974, ITC Caslon, № 224), Benguiat also was responsible for the opening credits sequence for the prestige television series Stranger Things. Learn more at the links above.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

unprocessed cartoons

PRINT magazine contributor Steven Heller has a nice retrospective appearance and remembrance for an underground political cartoonist often overshadowed by his contemporary R. Crumb in R. Cobb. While many might more readily recognise the Cheap Thrills that duly excoriated our modesties of the former, we might not be as familiar with the latter, who recently departed (*1937) after a long bout of dealing with dementia, whose extensively syndicated illustrations laid bare how the governments—most pointedly the US establishment—was eroding civil rights, liberties and the environment.

Cobb turned his talents to raising awareness and championing social justice causes after being dismissed as redundant by Disney studios in 1957 once the animation of Sleeping Beauty was complete—notably the last film to use hand-inked cels. There are an embarrassment of panels from the late-1960s that are very resounding and correspond, appearing in the Freep plus more mainstream outlets, with what we face at present (see a whole gallery at the source up top), but we are choosing to highlight the ecology symbol Cobb created—combining e (environment) and o (organism) into a ฮธ-like glyph that gifted into the public domain and was adopted by the conservation movement. After his career as a cartoonist, Ron Cobb designed conceptual art for science-fiction films such as Star Wars, Alien, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unfinished Dune, The Abyss and Total Recall.