If you saw the critically-acclaimed 2004 documentary Dig! about the frenemy neo-psych bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, you'll remember that the real star wasn't either of the bands' frontmen but rather the BJM's inimitable, lovable tambourine player Joel Gion.
Rocking his impressive mutton chops and 60s shades, Joel has spent the last 25 years performing with the BJM and releasing his own excellent music while slinging vinyl to make ends meet in the impossible city of San Francisco. Combine that unconventional life with Joel's skewed sense of adventure, razor wit, and relentless pursuit of laughs, and you end up with some killer yarns. Joel's got stories for ages. And now he's writing a memoir to share the weirdness with the world. I've read bits of what he's been writing and it is far fucking out, a modern Beat's notes from the underground.
Support Joel Gion's Patreon so he can get it all down on paper.
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I’ve just launched a Patreon page for my book focusing on the few run-up years before the documentary-era. Click on the link on my profile page and become a patron to read over 3K words posted right now. I’ll be posting new writing or project related stuff every week. #joelgion #bjm
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Mallwave is a microgenre of bedroom electronic music and smooth jazz meant to evoke nostalgia for the vibrant mall scenes of the 1980s and 1990s that many of the music's composers are too young to have experienced or at least remember.
Think of Mallwave as a hauntological soundtrack for an Orange Julius-fueled consumer culture where Suncoast, Merry-Go-Round, and Spencer Gifts anchored suburban reality. (Or, in the case of some of the moodier tracks, the kind of muzak that might play in your mind as you wander an abandoned mall in a Ballardian trance.)
From Hussein Kesvanio's feature in MEL:
“The nostalgia is so real you can cry and wish you went back in time,” reads one comment underneath the video “Neon Wave Mall (Vapor Mix).” “I feel a certain sense of… familiarity watching this footage. Almost like I myself have set foot in these places,” adds a viewer of “Corp Palm Mall.” Under the same video, another person opines: “Why wasn’t I born in this time? This video makes me realize how much things were not as advanced as we have now but it was better. I could be wrong, but sometimes I feel like living around the ‘90s sounds fun. Lifestyle is different, mindset is different and not as much laziness.”
According to writer Joe Koenig, this kind of feeling — a “nostalgia for a past you’ve never known” — is called anemoia. In his ongoing project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig describes it as “the desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future.”
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Cyberpunk is Marianne Tranche's 1990 documentary about the early cyberpunk scene. It features interviews with the likes of William Gibson, Scott Fisher, and bOING bOING patron saint Timothy Leary. While the brilliant Brenda Laurel appears, the film unfortunately missed many of the other badass female cyberpunks of the day like St. Jude Milhon (Mondo 2000), Lisa Palac (Future Sex), Tiffany Lee Brown (FringeWare Review), Stacy Horn (Echo), and of course bOING bOING co-founder Carla Sinclair!
As Dr. Tim said back then, "Turn on, tune in, boot up!"
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If you came of age in the 1990s, you couldn't help but know the lyrics to at least one James song. Laid is great! Not just the single, but the whole damn record. But here's the thing: It's not the greatest tune that the band has churned out. In fact, since Laid hit the charts back in 1993, James has continued to make absolutely fabulous, soulful music. If you're not familiar with their catalog, there's no better time than the present to fill your ears with their sounds. You'll find their songs on Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.
Once you're caught up, you'll be ready to buy their new album, Living in Extraordinary Times, due to pop on August 3rd. Read the rest
USDish analyzed Google search data for the last 15 years to create this map of the United States showing each state's "favorite" sitcom. The Midwest loves Friends, four states and Washington DC prefer Friends, and (hooray!) California digs The Simpsons.
"Can You Guess Your State’s Favorite Sitcom from the ’90s?" Read the rest
Ready to feel really old? In this React video, a group of older teens -- they all seem to have been born right around the year 2000 -- put on headphones to listen to select music from the 1990s. Their task is to guess the song's title and the artist behind it. It surprised me a little that more of them knew Los Del Rio's "Macarena" than Alanis Morissette's "Ironic." (Though, honestly, I didn't recognize all the songs either and I lived through the 90s.) Read the rest
If you had a Windows PC with a CD drive in the mid-1990s, the percentages are pretty good that you lost countless hours of sleep to playing Myst. Full of difficult but rewarding puzzles and featuring a captivating story with an ending that was dictated by your in-game actions, the game was cutting-edge stuff, back in the day. Myst's popularity led to five sequels to the game. Now, a Kickstarter campaign is making it possible for Windows 10 users to replay or discover all six games in the series for the first time.
According to Tech Crunch, Myst's original development house, Cyan Inc., has bought the rights back to all six of the games in the series and will be re-releasing them to run on Windows 10, to celebrate Myst's 25th anniversary. The games will be released as a set, which can be had as a digital download or as a boxed set of DVDs. The Kickstarter campaign for the games, which has already far surpassed what Cyan needed in order to churn the updated version of the games out, also offers investors the option to own replicas of items used in the original games and hand-drawn pieces of concept art.
While I was more of a Warcraft: Orcs & Humans guy, most of my friends back in the day were nuts for Myst. While a couple of the sequels to the original game have been available to play on Windows 10 for some time now, I can only imagine that the ability to play all six games in the series on a modern PC will be attractive to a ton of gamers, both new and old. Read the rest
On the newly relaunched Mondo 2000 website, R.U. Sirius interviewed Wired founder Louis Rossetto about the origins of Wired and about his new novel, Change is Good. I was an editor at Wired from 1993-1998 and I learned a lot about Wired and Louis that I didn't know. One thing was that Louis wanted to base Wired in my hometown, Boulder, CO, but his partner and co-founder Jane Metcalfe thought San Francisco was a better headquarters. Smart choice!
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Any regrets about Wired’s typhoon? (In the first issue, Louis wrote, “The Digital Revolution is whipping through our lives like a Bengali typhoon.”)
LR: Oh jeez. We are evolution’s agents, and we are making and testing mutations on an accelerated basis as we network ourselves and our sensors and our machines together. Some mutations survive, some don’t. The ones that survive may still cause humans (and the universe) problems because they are disruptive. Some are not only disruptive but wildly beneficial — at least they appear that way, at least at first. But can we ever really know what’s good or bad for us in the long run? All we can do is try to shape the flow as best we can with good intention. Regrets about what’s happening? Always. Excited about what’s happening? Immensely. Through it all, I remain a critical optimist. Change is good. Change is hard. Change is good? Change is…
In 1992, Pearl Jam released director Mark Pellington's fantastically dark video above for the song "Jeremy." (Pellington was also the creator of MTV's incredible avant-garde documentary video series Buzz that I've posted about previously.) Actor Trevor Wilson was only 12 years old when he portrayed the troubled student in the "Jeremy" clip. Most of the world last saw Wilson on screen with Pearl Jam at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards before he totally disappeared from the public eye. Turns out, Wilson drowned last August while on vacation in Puerto Rico. Over at Billboard, my pal Gil Kaufman tells the "Untold Story of Video Star Trevor Wilson's Fascinating Life & Tragic Death:"
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Cinematographer Tom Richmond remembers sitting next to Pellington in the director's Los Angeles home and watching endless VHS audition tapes from New York of kids vying to play the (anti-)hero of the "Jeremy" video. It became pretty clear early into the nearly 200 auditions that the kids they were watching were "typecasty," as if they'd read Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder's lyrics about an outcast high schooler -- based on the true story of Dallas 16-year-old Jeremy Delle, who killed himself in front of his classmates in 1991 after years of torment -- and decided they were had the perfect look and attitude for the part.
"In a cliché movie about junior high it would have been the picked-on kid, the outcast who looked funny or strange, and I could tell Mark was dissatisfied with that idea," says Richmond of the parade of odd-looking and over-acting kids they watched, whose performances felt a little too on-the-nose.
Andrew Tarusov created these delightful homages to classic films by replacing the original movie characters with superheroes. Read the rest
In this video, former Double Dare game show host Marc Summers reveals what was really in Nickelodeon's famous green slime:
Slime gets identified with "Double Dare" a lot, and then again on "What Would You Do?" But it actually started on a show called "You Can't Do That on Television." What happened was, if you said the words, "I don't know," you would get slimed.
You know, it's weird. Slime is hot again. And there's all these recipes online that have nothing to do with what we used as real slime. It started off as vanilla pudding, apple sauce, green food coloring, and a little oatmeal.
However, in a 2016 interview with A.V. Club, Double Dare's set designer Byron Taylor said that oatmeal was not used:
We didn’t use the recipe from You Can’t Do That On Television [for slime], because the oatmeal would dry and harden under the lights, and you literally couldn’t get rid of it. It would turn into plaster. We used a combination of pudding, and I liked applesauce, because it was translucent. You tinted it.
Maybe oatmeal was used or maybe it wasn't, I don't know...
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Robert Miles, the Italian DJ behind 1990s EDM breakthrough hit Children, is dead at 47. Born Roberto Concina, he popularized a chilled-out form of trance that came to dominate European airwaves in the 1990s.
News of the Swiss-born Italian artist’s death was first reported by DJ Mag Italia, who claim he died of an “unspecified illness” but this has yet to be confirmed. Producer and longtime friend Joe T Vannelli verified the reports to the Press Association, saying: “Yes man, (it) is a tragedy.”
He later posted a tribute to the producer on his Facebook: “The tragic news of the death of a very talented artist of our time, makes me incredulous and upset,” Vannelli said. “I will miss the fights, brawls, criticism, judgements but especially your talent in finding sounds and melodies unparalleled.”
Children cost $150 to produce and hit Number 1 in twelve countries. Read the rest
My wife is a PC person, and I am an Apple person. To my chagrin, Lauren keeps an old Dell desktop in our bedroom, a blight on our otherwise thoughtful decor, and any time she sits down at the thing I launch into a freeform lecture on the numerous merits of Apple. After all, is there anything that Apple can't do? Elegant stores made from glass? Simple white cords that get permanently dirty in four seconds? Cat entertainment? (Yes, it's true, our now-deceased family cat had its very own iPad app when it was alive: an animated koi pond that was permanently stocked with beautiful, digital fish. The good people at Friskies built the cat app, presumably as a marketing effort. Comparatively, the only time a cat has used a Microsoft product was when it was hooked up to a bunch of electrodes, an unwilling participant in some sort of Russian space experiment.)
Jess Kimball Leslie is the author of
I Love My Computer Because My Friends Live in It.
Sometimes, though, as I lurk behind whatever Apple-branded miracle maker I'm using, I look over at Lauren's awful Dell and experience a very particular type of longing because I begin to miss an old friend of mine. I begin to miss Bill Gates.
Unlike Steve Jobs, Bill Gates has never done anything that was simple or elegant. Bill Gates is approximately as artistic as a math teacher who once went on an affordable bus tour through Europe. If there is ever a simple or elegant way to do something, Bill Gates does it the other way. Read the rest
My pals in Creeper Lagoon are reuniting for the 25th anniversary of San Francisco's Noise Pop Music and Arts Festival in February! The indie troupe emerged in the early 1990s from Cincinnati and San Francisco's underground music scene with a stream of influential indie releases and grew to alt.rock fame with their excellent 2001 album "Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday" before disbanding. (Dig the video above for "Wrecking Ball" from that album. It'll be a joy to see Creeper on stage again February 26 at Bottom of the Hill.
Other fine acts performing at Noise Pop include Rogue Wave, Ty Segall, Vince Staples, MSTRKRFT, Cloud Nothings, Dawes, Deafheaven, and dozens more.
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