Category Archives: Digressions: Junk

Totally Rad(ley)

Reading David Andrews’s Theorizing Art Cinema — with its frequent references to his previous scholarly work in Softcore studies — put me in the mood to check out some Radley Metzger films, to re-familiarize myself with his “aspirational” art-core porn.  I’d started his 1970 Lickerish Quartet (available on Fandor) mostly to check out the library scene (I’m planning on swiping the decor, if not the wardrobe, for my new office, sometime during the summer), but started watching an earlier, inferior movie (Carmen Baby, 1967) more attentively.  I’m not sure why.  It’s a fairly standard narrative-number formula, mostly boring but spiked by one or two noteworthy scenes.  You might not look at long-necked bottles of Vino the same way again, thanks to one “erotic” dance sequence; there’s another protracted “love-making” scene in which the horizontally grinding couple is shot through multi-color cocktail glasses and brandy snifters (you can tell Metzger thought his tracking shot was pretty cool — he repeats the whole thing a second time for good measure).

I can’t really argue that it’s very good, but it has the virtue of being available on-call (like the film’s titular good-time girl) — and easily watched for free if you’re an Amazon Prime member.  The price is right!  But don’t be too snooty if you don’t like it; you can read all about highbrow disdain for Metzger’s artsy-fartsy aspirations here, in Andrews’s Soft in the Middle: The Contemporary Softcore Feature in Its Contexts, and feel bad about yourself if you are.  On the other hand, if you like to see pouty Italians roll their eyes as they rub up on one another, thrashing around in tight (shoulders-up) close-up reaction shots during acts of simulated oral sex — this one’s for you!

Carmen, Baby trailer — hope you like wine glasses!

Lickerish Quartet trailerwith excellent acclaim pull-quotes from Denby and Warhol (among others)!

  • Update!  You can buy Anna Biller’s Viva directly from her website! [Life of a Star]
  • I think I’m going to spend some time reading through Biller’s blog, too.  Pretty interesting, self-reflective stuff [Anna Biller’s Blog]
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Welk This Way

I’m still wrestling  with Victoria Johnson’s Heartland TV*, but I was most intrigued by (maybe the same as “bored with,” paradoxically, which may be as the author intended) her fascinating(/dull) chapter about Lawrence Welk as avatar of Midwestern Squareness.  I’m no Welkian  (although I watched many an episode alongside my Bubbe during the ’70s), but I do think that the following assessment of his resistance to innovation is overstated, if not untrue: “He is also seen, in the 1960s and 1970s, as the only musical series star to counter the medium’s ‘current kick of exalting teenage beat music and the weirdos who play it'” (79; the internal quote is from a 1970 newspaper review by Pete Rahn of Welk’s “Red, White, and Blue Special”).

Well, maybe.

Submitted for your enjoyment: LW’s fantastic bass singer Larry Hooper teams up with Kenny Trimble and the LW Orchestra to tackle a brand-new rock’n’roll song that tore up the charts in 1963.  As you can tell, Hooper and Trimble double-down on the “weirdo” cred — the former as a fast-scattin’ beatnik, the latter as a what-the-fuck twin of Joe Besser’s Stinky.  Welk wasn’t the only music head who recognized how cool Mr. Bass Man was — the alt-folk/psychedelic/weirdo cult band The Holy Modal Rounders covered it after Larry W did (retitling it as “Mr. Spaceman”).

Who’s the square now?  Dig it, daddy-o, and decide for yourself:

Lawrence Welk & Co, “Mr. Bass Man”

More of LW “not chasing the teen demo” with his version of “Hey, Jude”:

… and here’s Larry Hooper the Hipster again in 1962’s  cover of the Orlons’ smash “White Watusi” (uh, sorry, I guess it’s called “Wah Watusi.”  My mistake):



… like LW says, let’s “Rock Around the Clock” …



… and a real mind-blower: Larry goes hippie, circa 1969 (in which LW “flips his bippy”):

* There’s lots of stuff I’m not sure about in Heartland TV.  The chapter on MTM shows as “Heartland” irked me, more than once: as a there-the-first-time viewer, I’m not sure I really associated the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” with the “Midwest” or a regionally specific “Heartland,” but rather a near-fictional “not New York” — a place where there was still lots of snow and a cityscape, but not so many African Americans (other than Gordy, of course).  In fact, I’d argue that there was a lot more continuity between the “Dick Van Dyke Show” (and Mary’s white-bread New Rochelle) and “TMTMS” — including a thick vein of Yiddishkeit that ran through both shows (unsurprisingly — to me, anyway — MTM’s creative team of James L. Brooks, Alan Burns, Stan Daniels and Ed. Weinberger are all East-coast Jews.  And, of course: “Rhoda”).  And as for MTM locating its shows (and their sensibilities) in the Heartland — well, what about “Paul Sands in Friends and Lovers” (NYC), “Rhoda” (NYC, duh), “The White Shadow”(LA — although I guess you could argue that the lead was a “Heartlander” who played for the Bulls), “Tony Randall Show” (Philly), “Phyllis” (the character was a SF native who returns to her coastal home), “Lou Grant” (LA again), etc.  I guess I’m also grappling with the distinction between “Heartland,” “Rural,” and “Southern” — at one point Johnson suggests a claim for Jimmy Carter as a “Heartlander” (in a reference to the “emergence of Jimmy Carter as ‘small-town virtued …'” 113), for instance — and the theme of anti-urban agrarianism that runs through the 20th Century starting with “I’ll Take My Stand” which lurks behind a lot of “Heartland-y” programming.  Was “Heartland” a re-location program for nonurban shows when “Southern” became too racially charged a geographical setting (in the post-Civil Rights era)?  By bet is so …




  • Larry’s gone, but you can still party on at one of his resorts! [Welk Resorts]
  • Get Stinky … or I’ll give you such a slap! [YouTube]
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Currying Anger

Maybe it’s because I just flew through Hoberman and Rosenbaum’s Midnight Movies, but I couldn’t help thinking about Kenneth Anger’s Kustom Kar Kommandos when I stumbled upon Tim Curry’s disturbingly 1979ish “Paradise Garage.”  Why shouldn’t the NYC underground of the ’60s have collapsed into the Rocky Horrorified new wave of the ’90s?  I think I remember seeing the video for “Paradise Garage” paired with Curry’s similarly fantastic “I Do the Rock” at the Uniondale Mini-Cinema the first time I saw RHPS, but that was a very long time ago, and I might have dreamed the whole thing (by “whole thing,” of course, I mean 1979).

“Paradise Garage”

Kustom Kar Kommandos (Anger, 1965)


“I Do the Rock”


  • I wish I could have attended this RHPS event at the Mini-Cinema, but I was busy wasting my time as a freshman in college [Rocky Music]
  • Get Institutionalized! (Or cut out this button and tape it to your computer, like I’m doing) [Cinema Treasures]
  • SIX classic Anger films — watch Puce Moment (1949) right now! [Ubu]
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1,000 Points of Red Light, Green Light

Kishore Kumar, “Red Light, No Green Light”



Attention rabble-rousing fashionistas: to avoid the clutches of militaristic cops, dress yourself in the latest taser-equipped, mini-light bejeweled Nudie suits.


  • Meet Nudie Cohn, Country Music’s Sparkle King [Tablet Magazine]
  • Explore the vinyl vaults of DJ Anjali and The Incredible Kid [XRAY.FM]
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Eponymously Unwell

Sick Pleasure, “Sick Pleasure” (1983)


Games People Played: Battleship


Battleship (Photo credit: stevegarfield)

… wherein a hapless kid re-enacts militarized geopolitical conflict by knocking himself off a pier.  In 1967, the retired battleship New Jersey was re-comissioned and set sail for the waters off Vietnam.

In 1986, long-haired Atlantans described the pleasurable pain of being simultaneously constrained and embraced by battleship chains.



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Games People Played: Husker Du


DO YOU REMEMBER?  Pop-punk legends Husker Du warns us about the lonely repercussions of sitting around and reading books about UFOs (1985).



Was it an explosion of the embedded subliminal messaging that jogged my repressed memory of the ’70s commercial and Husker Du?  Or was it the release of Grant Hart’s (Bob Mould’s on again/off again partner in the band Husker Du) newest album, The Argument (2013)?

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“I puke on you, Ron Paul!”

Morton Downey Jr., Congressman Ron Paul, Guardian Angel Lisa Sliwa, Congressman Charles Rangel — ah, the good old days of trash tv …

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Hello Again

I’ve been watching some of the fascinating Warhol Screen Tests–and between films, I’ve been surfing around for other Warhol shorts. I had totally forgotten this mess, Andy’s video for the by-1984-past-their-prime Cars. Enjoy this uncensored version while it’s available; the “official,” painfully phony and “ironic” censored version is available here, if you’re interested enough to do a quick compare/contrast.

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Fake, but not phony

On authenticity and the sublimity of the fake:

Dan Reines, “Letter from LA” (1999)

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