Friday, December 31, 2010

"Chillicothe, You Can Go to Hell!," A New Year's Greeting from Gemini Spacecraft

Time, once again, to hit the annual reset button on the olde Gregorian calendar. For a lot of folks, the season is rife with vows of personal reform, those proverbial New Year’s Resolutions. January tends to be a good month for gyms, who typically see a spike in new membership, as do Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. This time of year, many resolve to get in shape, lose the gut, put down the bottle, and be nicer to people on the subway.

Society has even created institutions to assist people with such reform, or, in some cases, with “rehabilitation.” These range from the Betty Ford Clinic, to bible camp, to the fat farm, and more. Another such institution is prison. Prison might not have much to do with the New Year, but it’s got everything to do with TIME.

Johnny Paycheck did his time. Back in 1989 Paycheck began serving a 7-year sentence for a barroom shooting that occurred in Hillsboro, Ohio, in 1985. He was incarcerated in Chillicothe Correctional Institute. The interview above took place while Paycheck was in the slammer. The clip contains some great footage--like how the hell did they get Paycheck’s actual sentencing on camera? But check out the typically condescending tone of the TV journalist douche for A Current Affair. Dig the implied “what a low-life” message. And his remark that Paycheck’s career at the time had  “all but died” is wholly inaccurate. During the three-year appeals process for his case, Paycheck signed a new contract with Mercury Records, and, in 1987, charted again with the single “Old Violin." 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Keef, The Love Rustler, and David Johansen on the Tee Vee!

Take Out Some Insurance

Rocket 88

At Tramps, New York City, 1985.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nashville Radio: The Paintings of Jon Langford

Originally published in Puncture #43

Hank: Nashville Radio by Jon Langford
Shortly before his final exit, Hank Williams stopped to pose for one more publicity shot. Standing in some fairground hay, he smiled over his shoulder at the camera as he shook hands with a grinning fan. The Fan guffawed and reared back, his hand extended in electrified delight while the camera caught the thousandth back-slapping yuk Hank’s career. Not long afterward, both Hank and The Fan departed and faded away, and of that night only a black and white photograph remained.

Forty years later Jon Langford sees the photo and bases a portrait of Hank and The Fan on it. He adds some color, avoiding the gaudy pastels of a Nudie suit, opting instead to fill in the black and white gradations with dull, earth-toned acrylics. Langford’s brush lends a certain depth to the figures’ features, animating their ticks and twitches with finely etched lines. Serpents emblazon The Fan’s western shirt. A third eye opens in his forehead. These words adorn the picture frame: There is no end I can’t pretend that dreams will still come true/ A slave to a heart of stone I can’t escape from you.  The original publicity shot’s suggestion that somewhere there’s a heaven built on the rock of fame gets reversed, and Langford charges it with a sense of mortality as funny as it is grim. The Fan’s grin, the look in Hank’s eye, the secret joke they seem to share: Hank’s made his deal, and The Fan has come to collect his due.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Etta James on the TeeVee!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Joe Coleman: Auto-Portrait

Auto Portrait by Joe Coleman

If you find yourself in New York City sometime before December 22, you can still catch the latest exhibit of paintings by the Breughel of Brooklyn, the Bosch of Bitin’ off Mouse Heads: Joe Coleman. The exhibit, titled “Auto Portrait,” hangs at the swanky Dickinson Gallery at 19 East 66th Street. 
The viewer might not discover too many new surprises here in Coleman’s latest work. Most of the artist's favorite themes—corporeal decay, disease, demons, mommy and daddy, side-show geeks, oedipal hang-ups, serial killers, fire, and violence—remain alive and well in this collection. Coleman’s work is still somewhat autobiographical, as the title “Auto Portrait” suggests. And the eyes at the center of his portraits continue to act as the vortex pulling the viewer into Coleman’s vision of things. However, as the "Auto Portrait" show reveals, his work continues to reach new levels of maturity and mastery.