Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hidden Gems: Obscure 45’s No. 2: The Sea Urchins

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Continuing our series of those unjustly long forgotten, ‘should have been massive’, singles from days gone by, this is ‘Pristine Christine’ by The Sea Urchins. Coming on like something from the classic hey-day of post-punk, this was in fact, recorded for the seminal Sarah Records label in 1987 by a bunch of lads from West Bromwich. I suppose it fits that whole ‘shambling band’, ‘jungle jangle’ vibe of the period but, to these ears at least, is superior to almost anything until the Stone Roses upped their game and could still give anything by them a run for their money as well.

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Psychedelic Art Cars

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I’ve owned a few cars so far and I’ve always wanted to have a custom psychedelic paint job added to them. I never had the money, though. A really well-done, custom paint job will set one back at least a couple grand, maybe more, depending on the artist’s reputation.

I suppose one of the cons of having a trippy paint job on a car is that it would, it seems to me, become like fly-paper for cops. It would be interesting to ask owners of vehicles that are painted in such a way, how often they are stopped on the motorway, etc. Maybe it’s just not worth being hassled by the authorities all the time.

I reckon that the inspiration for the psychedelic art on cars derived from the hot rod culture of the 1950s and early 1960s. In California, there was the emergence of the surf scene as well. As the hippie culture bloomed in the late 1960s, there may have been members who were ex-hot-rodders and surfers (such as the late psychedelic artist extraordinaire, Rick Griffin) – who brought their art skills with them.

There was also a separate, but amazing in it’s own way, psychedelic art scene in the UK. Duos and collectives like The Fool, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat and Om Tentacle were painting shop fronts, creating clothing and designing posters to brighten up the dreary streets of London.

The most famous “psychedelic cars” would have to be John Lennon‘s Rolls-Royce, which was painted to look like a gypsy caravan in 1967, John’s band-mate George Harrison had a Mini-Cooper painted with images from a book on tantra – and Janis Joplin‘s Porsche, painted with all manner of trippy graphics on it’s body, by a roadie of Big Brother & The Holding Company, the band she was in at the time.

You can read more about Lennon’s psychedelic Phantom V here. Below is Joplin’s groovy Porsche 356c:

There’s an interesting blog post about a car enthusiast creating a near-exact copy of Joplin’s original. You can read it here – it’s also got the story of Janis buying the car, having it painted and what happened to the car after her untimely death in 1970.

Here’s George Harrison’s psychedelic Mini:

Here’s a blog post, with more pictures of the fab Mini and the one-off 2009 replica, which was auctioned off and the proceeds donated to George’s charity, with his widow Olivia‘s blessing.

Unfortunately, the craze for trippy art on cars seemed to have moved on after the heyday of the 1960s counter-culture. I did manage to find a few newer examples. Robynn Sanders, an artist based in Texas, painted a marvellous hommage to some of the 60s artists, with her creation, called “Psychedelic Surfer Dude”, again, like Joplin’s, on a Porsche 356:

It’s a pretty amazing amalgamation of Victor Moscoso, The Fool, Bonnie MacLean and Hapshash designs, plus some of her own for good measure. You can view more photos of the car at this page on Sanders’s site.

An artist called Laurence Gartel designed an update to the psychedelic look for a Tesla roadster, which you can see below:

There’s more photos and a bit more information at this page. Pretty cool, though I prefer Sanders’s more organic, nod-to-the-greats job. Below is the classic hippie vehicle, the Volkswagen bus, transformed into a trippy delight!

It’s a 1972 VW bus, and the design is by a guy called Samonberry – beautiful stuff! My father bought a VW bus when I was much younger, but just kept the basic boring blue and white paint job on it. He would drive us in it when we all went on family holidays – once he drove it down to Florida and back. He wanted to sell it when I was in my early 20s and I didn’t have the bread to buy it off of him. I was happy to hear that a couple of longhair types did buy it. I hope they painted it up to look like “Amethyst The Magic Bus” above. You can read a bit more about this bus here – there’s also a link to a video, where Samonberry explains about painting it.

There’s a few more examples – a trippy 1956 Bentley, yet another Porsche, a 1961 Citroen and even a Pakistani VW ‘Beetle’. British psychedelic artist Alan Aldridge also had a go at painting a mini, and you can see the result here.

Of course, I couldn’t end the post without mentioning Ken Kesey & The Merry Pranksters’ converted school bus – the one and only Furthur:

Take one flock of pigeons, apply cat and retreat.

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We have recently witnessed the unedifying spectacle of a famous and fabulous wealthy footballer of some ill-repute being taken to court for allegedly hurling vile racist abuse at another footballer of slightly lesser fame and ill-repute, who is blessed with a relatively thinner bank account: a pretty sad reflection of modern day Britain but also a small storm in a small cup of tea. Should the case have ever come to court? I really don’t think so. Of course, racial abuse is unacceptable and the idiots that indulge in it are beneath contempt but I doubt this was a good use of court time. It did, however, at least ensure the debate about racism in British society is kept high on the agenda, for which we should all be grateful. In the fall-out from all of this, following the collapse of the case against the alleged abuser, we now find that someone has called another footballer who was a witness at the trial, a ‘choc ice’.

There are a lot of things I would want to call this, again fabulously wealthy and publicly lauded, player: ‘choc ice’ isn’t one that would immediately spring to mind but that’s hardly the point. ‘Choc ice’, we have to assume, is a term meant to denote ‘black on the outside and white on the inside’ and is akin to the already commonly used epithet, ‘coconut’. Again, this isn’t a very nice thing to say about someone  but should it be enough for the police to start snooping around? Surely not? Hang on, though, because the Derbyshire Constabulary think differently. A foolish man used Twitter to compare said player to a chocolate covered vanilla treat and the police are called in. Over the years I have lost count of the number of times that I have phoned the police to tell them that gangs of youths are vandalizing our local park, verbally abusing members of the public, dealing in drugs, partaking of underage drinking and just generally making damned nuisances of themselves: what has been the response of our local boys in blue? Not very much. If they do turn up it’s usually hours after the events have come and gone. How many times do we hear of old people being beaten up in their own homes, women attacked on the streets and burglars and thieves just generally doing as they wish? Far too often these days. Now, without wanting to sound like Richard Littlejohn, it has to be said that someone is getting all their priorities wrong here. You just cannot start prosecuting people for saying things you don’t like, even if their views hurt someone’ s feelings. The only way to defeat racism is to hold it up to the light and reveal it for the rank madness that it is. Make these people look like sad losers, fools, nutters or whatever but using the courts to ensure we all think the ‘right way’ has dangers all of its own. Besides, do you really think that calling a rich footballer a ‘choc ice’ on an internet forum is a real crime? Time for a reality check.

Paint The White House Cream

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After weeks of trying, constant delays and rain, I have at last completed the painting of our house exterior. I think this is about the fifth time I have done this job since we moved in about 16 years ago, which may seem a little over the top but we get quite a lashing here from the Welsh winds and weather. I hope I won’t have to take it on again for at least another three years. It’s not as if it’s a straight-forward job: there’s the actual back wall of the house, part of which is very tricky to get to, even with a long ladder, due to the awkward positioning of a satellite dish (thanks, Sky); then there’s the kitchen extension bit, the bathroom (downstairs, I know) and, finally the bloody shed (breeze block) and a large wall that drops down to the (ahem) ‘lower patio’ (don’t that sound posh?). In brief, it takes forever (which is not brief at all). On top of that, what with my dad breaking his collar bone, my mum needing very regular care and the kids, the dog and Uncle Tom Cobbley, it’s dragged on and on this time around. Anyway, I finished that little job this morning. Now for the next twenty million other things.

I bet you really wanted to know this, didn’t you? Okay, it’s not inspired stuff but it’s what we all have to deal with. Now, how do we find a way to turn the mundane into some kind of magic? If we can’t find it there, where can we find it? It must all be in our spiritual/mental attitude, I suppose. My next big DIY task is to entirely redecorate the living room, which is a long, long overdue project. I’d put it off indefinitely if I could but I can’t, so I have to find a way to take it on with the correct mental approach. It’s not just papering and paint, either: there’s a bit of plastering, some skirting needs replacing and the ceiling will need attention – and I don’t even enjoy this kind of work. Okay, some folk love it all but I feel I have better things to do with my time – listen to music, read books, walk the hound etc. I must meditate on all this. If you have any tips, let me know.

I had hoped to entertain you with a clip of Mr. George Clinton at this point but I can’t work out how to embed a video on this here blog site, which is a tad problematic.

Reality-Tunnels and Ideological Dogma

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I was on Twitter yesterday, when a row broke out over a joke that Richard Herring (who, you’ll recall, I saw live recently) made. The joke went something like (directed to a woman): “You’re the only person that a guy would use Rohypnol on and then leave you in the pub.” Now, the joke may seem to be in poor taste to you – but whether or not that “is” the case, a puritanical reaction of “You should NEVER make jokes like that” seems over-the-top hysteria to me.

Herring was immediately chided and scolded for making the joke, with the rationale that “it’s about rape and rape IS NEVER funny”. While I agree with that statement for the most part – why “is” that subject taboo for humour when others like cancer and racism ‘are’? Herring explained that it was about the woman talking too much, not about date-rape – but that didn’t satisfy the witch-hunters. To be fair, on the same day, a story broke about American stand-up Daniel Tosh joking about how it would be funny if some of the male audience members gang-raped a woman for heckling him. I don’t particularly like Tosh and find his comedy a bit lame and unfunny – however, calls for censoring his act and the witch-hunt mentality seem puritanical and moral-mongering of the worst sort.

Yes, the act of rape “is” not funny and the victim endures an astronomical physical and psychological trauma, even if the perpetrator does get convicted and jailed. Psychological authorities have often repeated that rape isn’t really about sex, but power and control. It seems to be about forcing your will (and physical being) onto another without consent.

Unfortunately, in the “dominator cultures”, as Terence McKenna called them (the ‘civilized’ cultures that sprang up thousands of years ago, continuing up to today) – rape has been an aspect. I do not intend that statement as an excuse for such behaviour, merely stating that “rape culture” “is” not a new thing in the U.S. or UK or any of the countries existing now. It didn’t spring up after 1960 or anything. It does inform the reality-tunnels of almost everyone in these societies, on some level.

Getting back to Herring – a fairly well-known UK ‘left-wing’ columnist had joined in on the chiding on Twitter. Another person I follow defended Herring, asking when it started becoming the job of “the left” to act in a censurious manner. I chimed in that most of those calling for jokes they didn’t like to be stopped, didn’t seem to be part of the left at all – but centre-rightists. Herring had quipped, in jest (as least that’s how it appeared to me), that it was O.K. because his wife “is” a feminist and that he himself “is” one as well.

Well, that set it off – the columnist scolded Herring for using “feminism” as a shield, to which Herring replied that it wasn’t. A few of us then got into a debate about some (but not all) feminists having fascistic tendencies. I argued that Andrea Dworkin, Robin Morgan and Catherine MacKinnon have shown misdandrist attitudes in their writing and quotes. The columinst seemed to get risible that I would even suggest that such cornerstones of the feminist movement could even have such thoughts in their brains. After all, they’re “Feminists” – they would never be fascistic in the slightest! They’d never lump all men into the same group of despised brutes. Never!

It seems to me that this person blindly follows ideology, without ever questioning some of their choice’s tenets. If feminism “is” good, to this person, then all of it “is” good, no matter what. It’s that lack of discerning that I can’t understand. I’m a supporter of feminism, but I won’t support androphobes or those who want to blanket-statement entire genders. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not in support of Sun readers who bang on about “the politically-correct brigade” all the time, either. I like some political-correctness – I prefer calling native Americans “Native Americans”, not “Indians”. I think “African-American” just sounds better than ‘negro’ or even ‘black’. However, I don’t care how un-p.c. I sound – Andrea Dworkin and Robin Morgan seem sexist and misandrist to me, so kick me out of your little ideological/p.c. club if you want. I’m not automatically inferior and a brute because I wasn’t born with a vagina.

To sum up – yes, what Tosh said seemed pretty vile and, maybe Herring’s joke wasn’t ‘appropriate’, depending on your own sensibilities. I’m for free speech, though and I’m not for censoring or calls for either to clean up their acts. Who gets to decide what “is” taboo for humour? I’m also guessing that none of these people ever chuckled at a “don’t drop the soap“/prison line in a film or comedy show, or chuckled at someone being called another’s ‘bitch’–with all that that line implies. Or chuckled at a priest/altar-boy joke. Of course, of course. They’ll probably say “Oh, well, rape in prison is different than rape in open society.” Really? How so? Still seems to be about power and control to me. Ah, ideological pretzel-twisting.

Anyway – peep this brill column from my teacher, the late Robert Anton Wilson. Says it all far better than I could.

Paul Is Really Dead?

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I was on Twitter last week, when the Guardian Music posted a link to a site that claims (in all seriousness) that The Beatles were actually made up of several different members – all appearing in different countries for different photo-shoots. Yes, you read that correctly. There were a couple of different Johns, a couple of Ringos, etc.

The person who provides the most “evidence” for the site managers, however, is one James Paul McCartney. Yep, the ol’ Paul rumours have been stoked once again.

One of the longest-running, and often the most outrageous conspiracy theories in the music world is that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in November, 1966. He was then replaced with either: a) a look-alike who had many plastic surgeries to look even more like J.P.M. or b) some sort of robotic creation. Now, it does seem much easier to believe a) over b), I admit, though they both sound loopy. The theorists often refer to ‘the impostor’ as “Faul” (‘Fake Paul’, geddit?)

As with any conspiracy, all of the answers to any questions are easily supplied. The reason to keep the band together, after Paul’s untimely demise? Well, it was for the revenue generated by the group, which went to the UK. Why the band would give out clues as to what happened? They were ‘hidden’, so only those in-the-know would decipher them. And on and on…

 Allegedly, if you look  at photos of Paul in 1967, you can “tell” it’s ‘Faul’ because the ears and chin appear different to photos of Paul in 1965/early 1966. The theorists point to a myseterious height difference, too. Some say he grew taller, some that he was suddenly shorter. See, that should maybe put a damper on the theory right there – they can’t even decide on the physical features of ‘Faul’.

The reason they all grew moustaches in early 1967? Well, ‘Faul’ had some lip surgery and needed to cover the scars, of course..so the others made it look as if they had all planned to do it.

There are probably hundreds of internet sites all about the ‘clues’ on the album covers and in some of the songs. The “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover allegedly contains the most. The flower arrangement shaped like a (left-handed – Paul ‘was’ a leftie, remember?) guitar spells out “Paul?”. The doll that says “Welcome The Rolling Stones, Good Guys” has a toy Austin-Healey car on it’s lap, as well as a blood-red driving glove – Macca was driving an Austin-Healey when he ‘died’. The four wax figures of the “old” Beatles are looking mournfully down at Paul’s ‘grave’, which is in front of the drum. Paul is standing in front of the cutout with a hand over his head, which is the sign of death in some Eastern countries. There are other ‘clues’, which you can read about on one of the sites.

Has anyone seen Paul?

There’s one ‘clue’ that does seem fairly creepy, though. If you hold a mirror to the drum head – it spells out “I ONE I X HE DIE” with what looks like a small arrow pointing up to Paul, between the “E” and “D”. The “IX” refers to the 9th of November, supposedly the day Paul died. It doesn’t ‘prove’ anything, of course – but still a bit spooky.

Mirrored Sgt. Pepper drum head

Some of the songs, too. “Fixing A Hole” becomes a tune about the band continuing on with “Faul”. The character “Billy Shears” is a nod to the impostor’s real name. “Lovely Rita” is a meter maid that Paul saw just before the accident. John references the same in the line from “Good Morning, Good Morning“: “Watching a skirt, you start to flirt, now you’re in gear…” There’s also the “he blew his mind out in a car” line from “A Day In The Life” – which John explained was about Tara Browne, the Guinness heir who also died in a car accident – but we all know it’s really about Paul (wink, wink).

Magical Mystery Tour” and The “White Album” contain more clues. The title track with it’s “dying to take you away” line. “Fool On The Hill” describes yet another version of Paul’s death – where he went to France and was pushed (or fell?) from a cliff onto a beach. “I Am The Walrus” – another animal as a symbol of death. In the M.M.T. film, during the “Your Mother Should Know” dance sequence – John, George & Ringo are all wearing red carnations on their tuxedos, Paul is wearing a black carnation. In the fade-out of “I Am The Walrus” – it sounds like a voice is saying “Paul is really dead.”

The White Album has the famous “turn me on, dead man” backwards bit in Revolution 9. There’s also another bit where Lennon is talking, saying something about a man needing a surgeon, but going to a dentist instead. The link between “I’m So Tired” and “Blackbird” is Lennon mumbling something. When this is played backward, Lennon is heard saying “Paul’s dead, man, miss him, miss him.” “Blackbird”s first lyrics are “Blackbird singing in the dead of night…”

Is this Billy Shears?

On the poster that came with the 2-LP set, there’s a small black-and-white photo of Paul, tucked into a lower corner. The theorists are claiming is “Billy Shears”, or “Faul” or whatever you want to call him. I dunno, it looks like Paul to me, but maybe I’m a part of the conspiracy too????!!!

I don’t really need to go into the Abbey Road LP cover, do I? Y’know – Paul’s barefoot, the rest are wearing shoes. There’s the order of them, John’s the preacher, Ringo’s the mourner, Paul’s the stiff and George, the grave-digger. the Volkswagen ‘beetle’ in the background has a licence plate that reads “LMW 28IF”. “LMW” allegedly means “Linda McCartney Weeps”, which doesn’t really make sense if Macca died in ’66 – he would not have met her at all. The “28IF” means that he would have been 28, if he lived – which isn’t true either, seeing as he was born in 1942 – he would have been 27.

The back cover shows a crack in the wall, that runs through the “S” in Beatles, meaning the group were not whole. I think there’s a few other ones (Something about the indents in the wall – some are in light, one is not). As for the songs, the abrupt ending of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is supposed to represent the abrupt ending of Paul’s life. In “Come Together“, John sings “One and one and one makes three“, meaning the remaining Beatles. The “Maxell” in “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is allegedly about the MI5 agent used by the UK government to keep everything hush-hush about Paul’s demise.

Finally, the Let It Be cover shows bearded Paul’s mouth obscured by a microphone, while the others’ mouths are not covered….and Paul’s in front of a red background, while the others are against a white background. Hmmm….what does this all mean??

To me, nothing. I don’t really believe the conspiracy theory. Ultimately, The Beatles were a great rock band–if the ‘establishment’ were using them, it backfired, as The Fabs became avatars for the psychedelic counter-culture. They used their music for peace, not fomenting militarism. As far as keeping the band going – John seemed to want to leave around 1967 anyway and George was feeling dis-satisfied during the White Album sessions. Even Ringo quit the group in 1968, only to be persuaded to come back. It seems to me that ‘Faul’ would’ve wanted it to end as quickly as possible, so he wouldn’t have to keep acting like Paul McCartney – take the money and run, so to speak.

That doesn’t stop the theorists, though. It seems to be a “Thinker Thinks, Prover Proves” situation. They’re convinced Macca died and was replaced, or there were several different Paul McCartneys, for different occasions. If you dare to brave the murky waters of the “Paul Is Dead” rumours, here’s a couple of links:

This person not only thinks Paul is dead – they think that the same guy who stepped in for Paul, stepped in for Vivian Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band as well!!!???!!! Vivian Stanshall died in ’66, too?????!!!! I’m not even sure how that dual role thing would physically work, seeing as the guy (whom he calls “Phil Ackrill”) had to perform in Beatles sessions and record and sing with the Bonzos. The site is here.

This site is a handy guide to the visual and audio ‘clues’ to the “Paul Is Dead” rumour: Paul Is Dead Hoax

Here’s the site the Guardian linked to – which inspired me to write this post. Ladies and Gents, I give you: The Beatles Never Existed! You just need to read it – it doesn’t even bear me explaining it to you. To me, the title of the site is a misnomer, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

This blog page goes into a bit more detail about Paul ‘dying’ in France in 1966 – allegedly spoken (or written) by George Harrison in 1992: Paul died in France

There’s also P.I.D. stuff on conspiracy-meister David Icke‘s site – but a lot of that is already covered in many other sites. You’re welcome!

“…the man with the foolish grin is talking perfectly loud…”