Category Archives: popular

RIP Forrest J. Ackerman (1916 – 2008)

Famous Monsters Of Filmland by modern_fred

Famous Monsters of Filmland

Forrest J Ackerman (November 24, 1916December 4, 2008) was an American collector of science fiction books and movie memorabilia and a science fiction fan. Ackerman was influential to the wider cultural acceptance of science fiction as a literary, art and film genre. To a general audience, Ackerman is best remembered as the editor-writer of the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, as the producer of Vampirella, and as literary agent.

Vampirella magazine (France, 01/1970), published by Publicness
image sourced here.

Most of us have a passing interest in horror. In his Ways of Hearing book presentation, David Toop revealed that he discovered the Price, Corman and Poe-connection (the connection between 19th century literary horror to 20th century cinematic horror) via Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Introducing Undead Film Critic

Introducing Undead Film Critic.

Country Doc via Undead Film Critic

What is Country Doc?

From its first post[1] to its latest[2], exploitation film posters, big breasts and low culture mouthwatering visuals galore. Similar blogs include Hugo Strikes Back, PCL Linkdump, Groovy Age of Horror and Bxzzines.


“C’est Beau la Bourgeoisie”

And while we’re at it, Georgy sent us this guiltiest of pleasure: Discobitch‘s “C’est Beau la Bourgeoisie” [3]. C’est pour la petty bourgeoisie.

The song is in the vein of “Perfect” by Princess Superstar and “Yeah Yeah” by Bodyrox (who started the “rockist” use of synths in dance tracks).

The bawdy origins of rock and roll

“You probably don’t doubt that the origins of rock and roll are bawdy in nature. You’ve read Gershon Legman and his fellow travelers to take note. You know why Scheherazade was not killed by the king.


Yet you don’t know American record label Federal Records and their 1951Sixty Minute Man[1], on which a male singer boasts of being able to satisfy his girls with fifteen minutes each of “kissin'” “teasin'” and “squeezin'”, before “blowin'” his “top.” The single reached #1[2] on the R&B chart in May 1951 and stayed there for a 14 weeks. “Sixty Minute” defined what was to become rock and roll which has always been about wine, women and song. —The bawdy origins of rock and roll, Sholem Stein, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1998, in a Pleasantville review.”

Note by the editor: “Big Long Slidin’ Thing” is another example in the category “dirty blues,” an often-overlooked category in rock and roll historiography.


Sixty Minute Man,” “Big Long Slidin’ Thing[3] and “Number One” (the Patrice Rushen song, which I managed to sneak in by footnote) are WMC #72, 73 and 74.

Man of a thousand prefaces dies

Francis Lacassin dies, reports De Papieren Man.

Judex by Franju

Edith Scob, at her father’s masked ball in Judex (Franju, 1963), sourced here[2]

Francis Lacassin, (November 18 1931 in Saint-Jean-de-Valériscle (Gard), FranceAugust 12, 2008, Paris), was a French journalist, publisher, writer, screenwriter and essayist.

From 1964 onwards he contributed to the literary magazine Bizarre, published by Jean-Jacques Pauvert. He wrote on fantastic literature and detective fiction for Magazine Littéraire, and contributed to l’Express and Point.

He was also the literary advisor for Christian Bourgois‘s 10/18 series.

Connoisseur of popular culture, he was instrumental in giving comic books (already more respectfully known as bandes dessinées in France), its respectability as the ninth art and was a contributor to the film magazine Midi Minuit Fantastique and a co-screenwriter to Franju‘s Judex.

He prepared and prefaced a great many reference works, author profiles or series, most notably at Éditions Robert Laffont where he supervised the series « Bouquins » since 1982 including Eugène Sue, Gustave Le Rouge, Maurice Leblanc, Fantômas, Lovecraft and Jack London.

He was nicknamed the “man of a thousand prefaces”.

Disney’s self-disneyfication

Does he not remind you of The Tramp?

WALL-E[1] is an American satire of polluted environments, human obesity, and retail corporate domination.

In a future world, people have been Cocacolonized, Disneyficated, McDonaldized and Walmarted. Robots come to their help. Reverse dystopia comes to mind.

The film is very benevolent, it’s Disney after all. But it’s a treat, a real treat. Watch out for the 2001 allusion. Also, hints of Silent Running[2].

Plants in space.

WALL-E is World Cinema Classic #55, Silent Running #56

Staying with corporate domination and consumerism, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction[3] (Devo‘s version here, slightly more danceable) is World Music Classic # 58.

The golden age of television


27 years ago today was the day of the first video clip every broadcast on MTV. The clip was “Video Killed the Radio Star,” directed by Russell Mulcahy, and it marked the debut of the channel on 1 August 1981, at 12:10 A.M. The single, a Trevor Horn (Frankie Goes to Hollywood) production, was already two years old, released in September 1979. The song celebrated the golden days of radio, talking of a singer whose career is cut short by television. Group member Trevor Horn has said that his lyrics were inspired by the J.G. Ballard short story The Sound-Sweep, in which the title character, a mute boy vacuuming up stray music in a world without it, comes upon an opera singer hiding in a sewer.

Up until today, MTV remains my favorite television station, along with Arte.

See Golden Age of Television and Ode to MTV and the contemporary grotesque

One can’t argue with popular

Internet nostalgia.

Around 2002 I discovered Tom Ewing‘s I Love Music (ILM). The forum featured posts by bloggers and writers such as Simon Reynolds, Philip Sherburne, Mark Fisher, Scott Plagenhoef, Momus, Stevie Nixed and Sasha Frere-Jones. ILM represented the first batch of serious music writing in the blogosphere, and was notable because of its non-rockist approach.

I stayed around for a year or two, lurked more than I contributed and moved on, starting my own domain in that same year.

The reason I go back to these days is a blog I found by Tom Ewing on popular music[1] over at Freaky Trigger, a site/blog he has as a follow-up to NYLPM [2]. Tom means popular music in the literal sense, reviewing every UK number one single since 1952[3]. As of now, he has arrived in 1978.

The reviews are funny and well-informed. Consider this recent entry on Kate Bush‘s Wuthering Heights[4]:

“I’ve never read Wuthering Heights, though I like to imagine its heroine does a pushy-arm dance at some point. Looking it up on Wikipedia, however, I was shocked to realise that Kate Bush is singing this song as a ghost, but really that’s just another oddness on a teetering pile of them: in a really excellent article on Bush for the late Stylus magazine[5], Marcello Carlin (hi dere!) points out that she is “the last musician to be allowed to do what she likes, as and when she likes”, and the precocious, precious “Wuthering Heights” is both evidence and justification for this indulgence.” —Tom Ewing at Freaky Trigger[6]

After viewing the list of 1977 number one hits one must come to the conclusion that a lot of interesting things can be said about what I like to call guilty pleasures[7], and secondly, that one can’t argue with popular.

Nobrow manifestos, #1


Playboy magazine, December 1969 in which Cross the Border — Close the Gap was first published in English.

Cross the Border — Close the Gap (1968) is a nobrow treatise on postmodern tendencies in literature by American literary critic Leslie Fiedler.

The treatise coincides with a trend in which literary critics such as Leslie Fiedler and Susan Sontag started questioning and assessing the notion of the perceived gap between “high art” (or “serious literature“) and “popular art” (in America often referred to as “pulp fiction“), in order to describe the new literature by authors such as John Barth, Leonard Cohen , and Norman Mailer; and at the same time re-assess maligned genres such as science fiction, the western, erotic literature and all the other subgenres that previously had not been considered as “high art”, and their inclusion in the literary canon:

The notion of one art for the ‘cultural,’ i.e., the favored few in any given society and of another subart for the ‘uncultured,’ i.e., an excluded majority as deficient in Gutenberg skills as they are untutored in ‘taste,’ in fact represents the last survival in mass industrial societies (capitalist, socialist, communist — it makes no difference in this regard) of an invidious distinction proper only to a class-structured community. Precisely because it carries on, as it has carried on ever since the middle of the eighteenth century, a war against that anachronistic survival, Pop Art is, whatever its overt politics, subversive: a threat to all hierarchies insofar as it is hostile to order and ordering in its own realm. What the final intrusion of Pop into the citadels of High Art provides, therefore, for the critic is the exhilarating new possibility of making judgments about the ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’ of art quite separated from distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ with their concealed class bias.

In other words, it was now up to the literary critics to devise criteria with which they would then be able to assess any new literature along the lines of “good” or “bad” rather than “high” versus “popular”.


  • A conventionally written and dull novel about, say, a “fallen woman” could be ranked lower than a terrifying vision of the future full of action and suspense.
  • A story about industrial relations in the United Kingdom in the early 20th century — a novel about shocking working conditions, trade unionists, strikers and scabs — need not be more acceptable subject-matter per se than a well-crafted and fast-paced thriller about modern life.

But, according to Fiedler, it was also up to the critics to reassess already existing literature. In the case of U.S. crime fiction, writers that so far had been regarded as the authors of nothing but “pulp fiction” — Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and others — were gradually seen in a new light. Today, Chandler’s creation, private eye Philip Marlowe — who appears, for example, in his novels The Big Sleep (1939) and Farewell, My Lovely (1940) — has achieved cult status and has also been made the topic of literary seminars at universities round the world, whereas on first publication Chandler’s novels were seen as little more than cheap entertainment for the uneducated masses.

Nonetheless, “murder stories” such as Dostoyevsky‘s Crime and Punishment or Shakespeare‘s Macbeth are not dependent on their honorary membership in this genre for their acclaim.

P.S. This article is based on freely available Wikipedia code remixed by myself for the Art and Popular Culture wiki.

World cinema classics #40

Today’s World Cinema Classic is Glen or Glenda Youtube, sorry embedding disabled, a film on transsexuality directed by Ed Wood, Jr. and released in 1953. I only saw this a couple of years ago. Since the arrival of the VCR, the film has been marketed as one of the worst ever. I would have to disagree with that statement, it’s very enjoyable. There is a dream scene in this film (a bit similar to the one shown in the clip) which ranks way up there with “genuine” surrealist films such as Un Chien Andalou. By all means, see it.

The defining sentence is “Pull the stringk!”

Caveat emptor: There is the slightest of chances that I liked the soundtrack (I cannot identify it, does anyone have the details?) so much that it prejudiced me in a favorable way.

Previous “World Cinema Classics” and in the Wiki format here.

Happy birthday Enki


Enki Bilal mix (background music ID anyone?)

Enki Bilal belongs to the French/European graphic novel tradition (brought to the U. S. via Heavy Metal magazine in the late 1970s) which also holds Jean Giraud, Jacques Tardi, Guido Crepax, Georges Pichard, Milo Manara and Tanino Liberatore‘s ultra-violent RanXerox.

Bilal turns 56 today.