To be bad is good.…and to be good is simply boring!

We have repeat­edly men­tioned Mal­colm Mclaren one way or another on pre­vi­ous arti­cles like Chip­tune, Paris is Burn­ing and more recently Alan Moore’s Fash­ion Beast. For us, here at The Remains, every­thing Mal­colm said rings true. Mal­colm was an entre­pre­neur, musi­cian, pro­moter, band man­ager, designer, writer, and much more…but mostly a vision­ary, and it was time we ded­i­cated a post to him.

For the Punk move­ment of the70’s in Lon­don he was a GOD! He was the one who encour­aged Vivi­enne West­wood (his girl­friend at the time) in 1971 to join him and open the cra­dle for his rev­o­lu­tion, their own cloth­ing store in Lon­don called “Let it Rock”  spe­cial­iz­ing in teddy boy clothes. Mal­colm said later that they opened the store for  “the sole pur­pose of smash­ing the Eng­lish cul­ture of deception”.

He lat­ter renamed the shop “Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die” but the new style was not suc­cess­ful and he closed the shop, depressed and dis­il­lu­sioned about the future.

In 1975, McLaren reopened and renamed the shop SEX, sell­ing punk and S&M inspired cloth­ing. In Decem­ber 1976, Sex was renamed “Sedi­tionar­ies”. In 1980 it was reopened under the name “World’s End”.

They were spe­cial­iz­ing in rub­ber and leather fetish gear, sell­ing extra­or­di­nary T-shirts and the famous bondage trousers, all while defin­ing punk fash­ion for a new generation.

Mal­colm ven­tured into music, man­ag­ing the Amer­i­can “New York dolls”  and in 1976 he pulled together a band to go with the clothes in the store, a band that became the wildest punk rock band in his­tory  -  “The sex pistols”!

Accord­ing to McLaren “The sex pis­tols pro­vided the sound — Anar­chic, shrill, garage-like to the clothes. It was more impor­tant the way they dressed and how they looked”. Punk cul­ture took over and a new fash­ion era had begun with Mal­colm McLaren and West­wood lead­ing the way  with cloth­ing that was ripped, safety-pined and dis­tressed in any way pos­si­ble resem­bling the aggres­sion that British youth was look­ing to express! 

Malcolm’s influ­ence was best described by music jour­nal­ist Jon Sav­age, who wrote “With­out Mal­colm McLaren there would not have been any British punk. He’s one of the rare indi­vid­u­als who had a huge impact on the cul­tural and social life of this nation”. 

Over the years Mal­colm was con­tin­u­ously  involved with art (the medium he was
orig­i­nally trained in), movies (made few doc­u­men­taries), music (always seemed to have a new “hot” band), and off course fash­ion, while always see­ing the last two intertwined!

Malcolm’s per­sonal style was a true resem­blance of his per­son­al­ity, eccen­tric, bold  and eclectic.…mixing col­ors, pat­terns and unique cuts and textures.…somewhat Japan­ese inspired.
He lived by his grandmother’s motto:
“To be bad is good.…and to be good is sim­ply bor­ing!”.…..sounds like his grandma was the real vision­ary leader of punk culture!

Watch below a trib­ute to the inspi­ra­tional man­ager and artist who rev­o­lu­tion­ized the music busi­ness in the 1970s with the Sex Pis­tols and punk fash­ion. McLaren died on April 8, 2010.


Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon (Nigel Finch, 1991)

Nigel Finch’s 1991 doc­u­men­tary cov­er­ing many of the sto­ries from Ken­neth Anger’s sor­did Hol­ly­wood gos­sip book of the same name.

An inter­est­ing arti­fact on early Los Ange­les myth, glam­our, and tragedy — regard­less of rel­a­tive verac­ity of the stories.


Taking Off

Famous first Amer­i­can film of Czech direc­tor Milos For­man. It tells the story of a group of par­ents whose chil­dren have run away from home. The par­ents take the oppor­tu­nity to redis­cover their youth.

It fea­tures a num­ber of mem­o­rable set pieces, includ­ing an open-mic record label audi­tion which is weaved through­out the film, fea­tur­ing a num­ber of female singers (includ­ing a young Carly Simon and a haunt­ing acoustic bal­lad by a then-unknown Kathy Bates) per­form­ing old stan­dards, folk bal­lads, and rock songs; a meet­ing in which a group of gen­er­ally middle-class con­ser­v­a­tive par­ents are taught how to smoke mar­i­juana; and a rau­cu­ous but sweet game of strip poker played by the adults.

Whether Tak­ing Off is car­i­ca­ture or dead-on is, pre­sum­ably, all a mat­ter of per­spec­tive and dis­tance. But it’s def­i­nitely hilar­i­ous: A dead­pan Buck Henry effort­lessly dom­i­nates as a mil­que­toast, and the sup­port­ing weirdos are all aces. (In his first on-screen appear­ance, Vin­cent Schi­avelli leads a pot-smoking tuto­r­ial for con­cerned par­ents want­ing to under­stand their run­aways bet­ter: “That’s called ‘bog­a­rt­ing’ the joint, and it’s very rude.”) It’s also a true New York movie.


Ken Russell’s Dance of the Seven Veils

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Ken Russell’s long-suppressed Omnibus film Dance of the Seven Veils (1970), a “comic strip” biog­ra­phy of “Also Sprach Zarathus­tra” com­poser Richard Strauss, has turned up on YouTube in six parts.

If Song of Sum­mer reached for the sub­lime, Dance of the Seven Veils, aims straight for the ridicu­lous — and ridicule was Ken Russell’s inten­tion, as the programme’s sub­ti­tle ‘A comic strip in 7 episodes on the life of Richard Strauss 1864–1949′ makes clear. Com­fort­ably his most extreme tele­vi­sion film, its broad­cast was pre­ceded by a warn­ing about its vio­lent con­tent, though it still caused wide­spread outrage.

Russell’s com­poser biopics were usu­ally labours of love. This was the oppo­site: he regarded Strauss’s music as “bom­bas­tic, sham and hol­low”, and despised the com­poser for claim­ing to be apo­lit­i­cal while cosy­ing up to the Nazi regime. The film depicts Strauss in a vari­ety of grotesquely car­i­ca­tured sit­u­a­tions: attacked by nuns after adopt­ing Nietzsche’s phi­los­o­phy, he fights duels with jeal­ous hus­bands, lit­er­ally bat­ters his crit­ics into sub­mis­sion with his music and glo­ri­fies the women in his life and fantasies.

Later, his asso­ci­a­tion with Hitler leads to a graphically-depicted will­ing­ness to turn a blind eye to Nazi excesses, respond­ing to SS thugs carv­ing a Star of David in an elderly Jew­ish man’s chest by urg­ing his orches­tra to play louder, drown­ing out the screams. Unex­pect­edly, Strauss is cred­ited as co-writer, which was Russell’s way of indi­cat­ing that every word he uttered on screen was sourced directly from real-life statements.

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This faded copy with bleary sound was smug­gled on VHS from the BBC archives and illic­itly uploaded online as an AVI, because the Strauss estate took excep­tion to Russell’s comic strip, which deals, among other things, with the composer’s rela­tion­ship with the Nazi party in the 30s. When Rus­sell looked back on his career in a 1990s TV doc­u­men­tary, the only way he could even show a clip from this film is by chang­ing the music.

Here, before it dis­ap­pears, is a link to Part 1 that should also pro­vide you with links to the other five parts. The print is time­coded and has turned mostly pink, but mind you, it was shown in B&W dur­ing its only BBC broad­cast. Don’t let these minor annoy­ances deter you.


Don’t Deliver Us From Evil

Two Catholic school­girls (with the help of a retarded gar­dener) pledge their lives to Satan and a life of evil. Never released in the United States and “banned” for blasphemy.

“…we renounce for­ever Jesus Christ and all his works…”

Influ­enced by their read­ing of for­bid­den books, they decide to explore the world of per­ver­sion and cruelty.

Once they have stepped over the line, they find it impos­si­ble to stop. Soon they are con­tem­plat­ing the ulti­mate evil act.

It’s a film that should be viewed only by those with very open minds.


Even Dwarfs Started Small (Werner Herzog, 1970)

In an unadorned room of a police sta­tion, a dwarf is seated on a chair, hold­ing an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber in his hand. He is pho­tographed and then inter­ro­gated about acts of vio­lence he com­mit­ted dur­ing a revolt.

The story thus turns back in time, to when the dwarfs, detained in a cor­rec­tion facil­ity, took advan­tage of the director’s absence to rebel. Once they take the head­mas­ter hostage – he does noth­ing but laugh and shout dec­la­ra­tions of revenge – the group is free to act as they please.

The set­ting is dis­tress­ing and sin­is­ter, where each event is more sur­real than the last: the dwarfs sink into acts of van­dal­ism and gra­tu­itous cru­elty to things and peo­ple, in a crescendo of frenzy and madness.

Sub­ti­tles in Eng­lish avail­able (CC)

TV Party: The Sublimely Intolerable Show

Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party blew the dust out of New Yorker’s air ducts for four odd years from 1978 to 1982. The hour-long live, unscripted show took advan­tage of New York’s early-ish cable access world — a world man­dated by a deal that cable net­works could have their lit­tle monop­o­lies as long as the pub­lic was granted free access to a cer­tain per­cent­age of air­time. It’s a deal still going on all across Amer­ica today, and after watch­ing a lit­tle TV Party, you’d be a damn fool not to get involved. You see, TV can be fun, and you can make it! As for TV Party — essen­tially a show­case for what O’Brien and friends thought of as cool — it’s not for every­one. But those who like bizarro tele­vi­sion, the down­town New York scene of the day, or cult movies and TV with a cap­i­tal C (Liq­uid Sky or Robin Byrd’s porno talk-show, for instance) will get a seri­ous kick from this exper­i­ment in ‘social­ist TV’ — the TV show that’s a party, but it could also be a polit­i­cal party.

The Sub­limely Intol­er­a­ble Show aired Jan­u­ary 8th 1979, with O’Brien (writer, Warhol-ite and once New Wave gad­about) loosely hold­ing the reins — flog­ging the horse or let­ting it stum­ble down rocky inclines, how­ever he, his guests, audi­ence or callers saw fit. Aired in black and white, the night’s guests included Comp­ton Mad­dox and John Moses play­ing weird gui­tar tunes, Klaus Nomi singing opera, and Andy Sher­noff cov­er­ing the Beach Boys, (backed by Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic fame). Down­town direc­tor Eric Mitchell plays a clip of his movie Kid­napped while plug­ging the New Cin­ema The­ater, direc­tor David Sil­ver and Kate Simon do ‘White Peo­ple Talk About Reg­gae,’ and finally Deb­bie Harry, Chris Stein (also of Blondie and later offi­cial co-host of TV Party) and Richard Sohl help O’Brien with the viewer call-in seg­ment while pass­ing a joint.

Accord­ing to O’Brien’s TV Party web­site, David Let­ter­man once told Paul Scha­ef­fer on air that “TV Party is the great­est TV show any­where, ever,” and for those of us now corn-fed on the GMOs that are Two and a Half Men and their ilk, it’s hard to argue. The show thrives on O’Brien’s heart­felt dif­fi­dence (hard to man­age, true) and an anything-can-happen dan­ger­ous­ness that’s impos­si­ble to fake. It appears effort­less because in many ways it was, semi-professionals aided and abet­ted, and total ama­teurs did lit­tle things like; oper­ate cam­eras and run sound. In fact the first five or ten min­utes of Sub­limely Intol­er­a­ble have no sound at all, noth­ing but ran­dom pops (as peo­ple scurry to fix the prob­lem) and (also accord­ing to the TV Party web­site) Jean-Michel Basquiat typ­ing super-graphics like “Oh no! No sound! Fuck!” Top-notch scen­ester enter­tain­ment makes up for defi­cien­cies O’Brien encour­aged. Mad­dox and Moses’s pre-ironic ironic num­bers bub­ble dan­ger­ously, with O’Brien and Deb­bie Harry et al danc­ing in lab coats. Klaus Nomi’s unearthly soprano aria and equally alien demeanor are stun­ning and bizarre. Sher­noff is cool enough — while point­ing out how even the most insipid Beach Boys song comes with a super-sharp chord pro­gres­sion — and direc­tor Mitchell seems baf­fled and is baffling.

White Peo­ple Talk About Reg­gae rides a dan­ger­ous edge; the audi­ence mocks, Simon and Sil­ver seem defen­sive talk­ing about the ‘music of uplift­ment,’ and then a joint starts mak­ing the rounds. The joint stays for the ‘viewer call-in’ seg­ment which always closed the show. It’s emblem­atic of the off-the-rails genius of the show. Sure, the tech­no­log­i­cal aspects are junk, and per­for­mances or inter­views hit-or-miss, but let­ting uncen­sored live callers on the air is pure gold. O’Brien and crew are unas­sum­ing in their great­ness — they’re the cool kids at school who’ll actu­ally accept you (even though you know you’re a total geek) just because they’re self-secure — shin­ing as they wade through call after call ques­tion­ing their sex­ual prac­tices and eth­nic­ity. This stuff is not for the eas­ily offended, but it’s a tes­ta­ment to the power of a slick hand will­ing to let the chips fall wherever.

The first 10% of this show sums up what we don’t get on TV any­more. Tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. TV Party was live and impro­vised, and this meant casual dis­as­ter. This early episode gets off to an artis­ti­cally ago­niz­ing start–the sound per­son is late, over­dos­ing on drugs or both. Or it was the bro­ken down equip­ment. Once the sound kicks in the show gets lively. Comp­ton Mad­dux, a droll singer song­writer, is backed up by Deb­bie Harry and Glenn; the unique futur­ist soprano Klaus Nomi does one of his post-modern arias; Adny Sher­noff, of the Dic­ta­tors, plays the Beach Boys’ “Be True to Your School” backed up by pom pom girls Tish and Snooky, the Manic Panic design­ers. Down­town leg­end direc­tor Eric Mitchell announces the open­ing of the now famous New Cin­ema the­ater and shows a clip from his film “Kid­napped” with Arto Lind­say, Dun­can Smith and Anya Phillips. Brit direc­tor David Sil­ver and pho­tog­ra­pher Kate Simon do the “white peo­ple talk about reg­gae” seg­ment. Blondie’s Chris Stein and Deb­bie Harry and the Patti Smith Group’s Richard Sohl drop in to smoke a reefer and take calls from all the cra­zies in cable land. Chris explains all this isn’t chaos, it’s art.


Simply Divine Cut-Out Doll Book


David Cronenberg’s Videodrome

The pres­i­dent of Civic TV Chan­nel 83, Max Renn, is always look­ing for new cheap and erotic movies for his station.

When his employee, Har­lan, decodes a pirate video broad­cast show­ing tor­ture, mur­der, and muti­la­tion called “Video­drome,” Max becomes obsessed to get this series for his channel.

He con­tacts his sup­plier, Masha, and asks her to find the party respon­si­ble for the transmission.

A cou­ple of days later, Masha tells that “Video­drome” is real snuff movies. Max’s sado-masochistic girl­friend Nicki Brand decides to travel to Pitts­burgh, where the show is based, to audition.

Max inves­ti­gates fur­ther, and through a video by the media prophet Brian O’Blivion, he learns that that TV screens are the retina of the mind’s eye, being part of the brain, and “Video­drome” trans­mis­sions cre­ate a brain tumor in the viewer, chang­ing the real­ity through video hallucination.