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by Mike Deane

26 Feb 2009

Kid Cudi (AKA The Man on the Moon) brings it with a semi-artsy, fairly interesting video to accompany his semi-artsy, fairly interesting first single, Day N Nite. It reminds me of a more advanced and less uplifting version of Junior’s “Mama Used to Say” video from 1982. Overall I would say it’s up there for rap video of 2009. I like the use of animation and feel it adds something; it’s not superfluous psych out CGI. Cudi seems like he could really do something this year, and though the term “lonely stoner” makes me feel a bit embarrassed/weird/old, this song really stands out in the commercial radio realm.


by Christian John Wikane

26 Feb 2009

If you don’t know who Fanny is, you will by the end of this article.

Though debate continues about whether the discourse of “Women in Rock” reinforces gender separatism in popular music, the fact is that female musicians, historically, have endured a plethora of issues completely foreign to their male peers. Women have had to wage combat in the male-dominated medium of rock and roll, fighting sexual objectification and condescending remarks of the “You play good for a girl” variety. Fanny was among the first bands to fight the status quo head on and illustrate to the narrow-minded masses that a group need not the Y chromosome to rock harder than Led Zeppelin.

Signed to Reprise in 1969, Fanny included sisters Jean Millington (bass) and June Millington (guitar), with Alice DeBuhr (drums) and Nickey Barclay (keyboards). June Millington proposed the name “Fanny” to the band members, thinking it represented a female guardian angel watching over the group as they endured the inevitable sexism. Reprise capitalized on the band’s name in a marketing campaign that nearly rendered the music secondary to the obvious double entendre – “Get Behind Fanny” (the slogan was actually a joke suggested by Barclay that management took quite seriously).

Producer and pop marksmen Richard Perry helmed production on their first three albums—Fanny (1970), Charity Ball (1971), and Fanny Hill (1972) – but brought their sizzling stage show down to a simmer in the studio. Matters improved little when Todd Rundgren was enlisted for Mother’s Pride (1973). The albums simply did not accurately convey the true measure of each band member’s musicianship nor did they contain the rawness of their concerts, which were among the most heralded rock and roll events of their time.

Jean Millington recently spoke with me about the tail end of Fanny’s career that culminated with their last album, Rock and Roll Survivors (1974). By then, June Millington and Alice DeBuhr had left the band and were replaced by Patti Quatro and Brie Howard, respectively. With the advent of glam rock, Fanny’s stage show had become more theatrical. Fanny joined a roster of similarly glammed-up and costumed acts like T. Rex, KISS, and Parliament when Rock and Roll Survivors found a home on Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records. Fanny gave the label its second Top 40 hit when “Butter Boy” charted at #29 in February 1975. Unfortunately, Fanny had disintegrated by the time the song reached its chart peak.

Though our conversation focused on the end of Fanny’s career, Millington reflected on some of the group’s earlier work for Reprise, all of which was released on a deluxe four-CD set by Rhino, First Time in a Long Time (2002). In listening to the music four decades later, and hearing Jean’s vivid recollections, let the record show that long before The Runaways, The Slits, Hole, and Sleater-Kinney took the stage, the members of Fanny were blazing trails and emphasizing that there was more to a name than cheeky sloganeering. (Note: additional portions of this interview will appear in PopMatters’ forthcoming retrospective celebrating the 35th anniversary of Casablanca Records.)

Did the band consciously approach Rock and Roll Survivors as a conceptual piece?
Yes. Nickey was always extremely influenced by the English rock and roll scene. I still consider her to be quite a musical genius. At that time, it was the whole glam rock era. With the addition of Patti into the band, who was very theatrical, that was just the direction it was taking. We thought, Why don’t we go ahead and make a cohesive thing and have a direction. It’s really about after all that we’d been through, we had still survived. We were rock and roll survivors. It really was a conscious thought.

Describe your relationship with Vini Poncia. Was he selected by you or management to produce Rock and Roll Survivors?
He was selected by management. We hung out a lot with Vini on a very personal level.  Basically, in retrospect, I understand what had happened. Richard Perry collaborated a lot with Vini. I don’t remember what project Richard was involved with at the time but I kind of get the feeling that we were handed over to Vini because Richard was really busy.  Plus, I don’t think the rock and roll thing was Richard’s forte at that time.  I think he thought that Vini could do a better job for us.

I don’t think he really got who we were. He’s a really great guy, and we had a lot of fun with Vini, but as a producer, I don’t think he was really as strong as what we actually needed.

Did you interact much with the other acts at Casablanca?
Not really. I think that the most that the band stayed together after June and Alice left the band, whatever configurations that we put together, was a year and a half, maybe just a year. The band fell apart. We didn’t have time to build relationships within the context of the record company, like it happened at Reprise Records.

In retrospect, would you have done anything different with Rock and Roll Survivors?
Yes! (laughs) We just really lost the hard-rock edge we had with (the original) Fanny. The original Fanny, there was just so much real, deep musicianship and such a groove that happened with the four of us. As far as the musicianship of it all, June definitely is a heavyweight. Patti, she’s fine and all of that, but she’s just much more about the appearance and the theatricality of it. To me, there just wasn’t enough “meat”, if you will. I listened to it within the last year and I was just kind of appalled of how “non-groove” it sounded to me. For heaven’s sake, cutting “Sally Go ‘Round the Roses” with Brie singing the lead vocal, that should have kicked ass. I cringed when I heard the track. I said, “Jesus I can’t believe we sounded that wimpy!”

Going back to your earlier work, what are your impressions now of the albums you did with Richard Perry? What was it like with him in the studio?
I really was kind of loathe to listen to those tracks because what would happen is that Richard was very much pop-oriented and, frankly, I don’t think he did the band justice on record because we would cut these tracks that were really biting and big and then Richard would “pop-ify” them. Of course, we’d be sent out on the road and he would mix while we were gone. There was nothing we could do. We felt like he took the starch out of a lot of the tracks.

I just have to tell you a quick story about my sister June. We were recording in Apple Studios and Geoff Emerick, who was The Beatles’ engineer, was engineering the tracks. There was this one song – I can’t remember which one it was – and June had her amp turned up to ten. Richard went into the studio, he turned her amp down to three or four, and June was just fit to be tied. Somehow the dialogue came up with Geoff, and June said to Geoff something along the lines of, “How did George (Harrison) get that sound?” and Geoff replied, “Well…he had the amp on eleven” (laughs).

For the most part, I don’t go back and listen to the tracks. Then, when we had the reissue with Rhino Records (First Time in a Long Time 2002), I actually listened to the stuff and I was quite impressed. I really was. I was surprised because we had been so upset by being locked out of the studio.

Tell me about working with Todd Rundgren on Mother’s Pride (1973).
One of the major reasons we went with Todd was because we had these meetings with him and he knew that, with Richard, we had been locked out of the studio. We thought, He’s a musician, he’s hip, he’s cool, he’s one of us. At the end of the day, he locked us out of the studio because he wanted to get it over and done with and go record with his band. We were absolutely pissed.

Do you own the masters to any of the Fanny material?
I have no control over it. Right now, June is really trying to work with a man named Tim McHugh. He’s in L.A. and I think he’s quite a well-known film editor. He’s got quite a bit of heavy credentials. June is working with Tim with getting the rights to different things. Between him and Alice, they were able to get copies of a show we had done in Germany called The Beat Club. It was a whole hour. At the time, we had been on the road. That show was just absolutely slamming. They’re trying to figure out how we can get the rights to it. She’s making inquiries. We’re trying to find out from Warner Bros. what we can do. I think at present time it’s something ridiculous like $150 for every ten seconds of a tune.

You really have such an important legacy.
Not to be egotistical or anything, but I don’t there has been a women’s group since Fanny who played with as much depth, musically, as Fanny did.

Is there a chance that Fanny would re-unite?
It would be an interesting thing to come together and do that. I just don’t know…Nickey is in Australia. From what I understand, she still harbors a hell of a lot of resentment. For the longest time, June was just mad as could be and could never, ever think of working with Nickey but June’s really been working on her emotional issues and I think June has gotten to the point where she’d consider it. I honestly don’t know if Nickey would be able to do that. I’d be up for it. I’m sure Alice would be up for it too. I just don’t know at this point about Nickey because she said some pretty vitriolic things in an article that came out about two years ago.

The April before last, we went to Berklee School of Music and we were presented with a lifetime achievement award. They contacted us. Me, June, and Alice rehearsed for about a week. The three of us performed as a trio at the presentation. I must say, it really rocked. Alice, at that point, had not played in forever. She really just didn’t do music at all whereas of course June has IMA (The Institute for the Musical Arts) and the Rock and Roll Girls Camp. She’s producing and she still plays and I’ve also been playing pretty much once, if not twice a year with June and my son, Lee Madeloni. He’s a great drummer. When June and Lee and I perform, it’s pretty unbelievable I have to say. We still absolutely kick butt.

When Fanny was in our heyday, what was always wanted of us was to go into that T&A and sell the sex. We resisted for a long time. One of the reasons June left the band was she felt like we were pushed too much into looking like sexual objects. She hated it. The thing is, it did happen to us. At the time, I thought, Okay well we’ll break barriers and we’ll do such and such, and I thought for sure by 2009, things would have changed. They’re worse than they were in the ‘80s, I think. Women are just exploited and it’s not about the talent.  It’s so disrespectful to women what’s come about. A lot of the young girls either have anorexia or are incredibly overweight. There’s this whole thing of where do we fit in? What are we supposed to be? In the arts, music, theater, and in movies, women are still considered that the more sex appeal you have, that’s what’s going to sell.

If me, June, and Alice resurge—we’re all almost 60—there ain’t gonna be a lot of T and A! (laughs) It would be on the merits of who we are, musically.

(For more information about Fanny, visit

by Robert Celli

26 Feb 2009

A recent trip to New York City’s Lower East Side revealed a band that has the neighborhood buzzing. I couldn’t help but notice buildings tagged with the words “Tall Black Girls” in spray painted scrawl. I asked a friend who lives down there what it was all about, he said, “Oh, they ROCK!” I went and checked out their MySpace page and they do in fact, “ROCK!”

The all female punk band from the L.E.S. formed in 2007. They have been barnstorming the city playing clubs all over their neighborhood, as well as some national and international gigs. Intuition tells me they won’t be a secret for much longer. The women in the band are easy on the eyes, full of swagger, and write well-crafted two-three-minute punk rock songs. They all go by the last name Black and are indeed quite tall. They toured last year with the Misfits, Fear, and Dwarves. Their sound harkens back to to ‘80s punk rock . I found very little press on them, so get in on the ground floor. Should be worth watching in the coming year.

by Bill Gibron

25 Feb 2009

Mortality is the last great mystery to man. It’s the final clue as to why we are here, the last link in an ever-present trail of questions, philosophies, and personal lies. We never really consider it until someone we know grows ill, and as we age, we purposefully play at trying to pry away as much of the enigma as possible. We talk tough, staring the fear of nothingness square in its abyss-like vista. But in the secret shivers of the darkest night, we lie awake frozen, cold sweats indicating our actual level of terror. For George Ponso, it’s not a question of how he will die, but when…and he’s not taking the ticking of Father Time lightly. In Giuseppe Andrews’ amazing new motion picture, The Check Out, George is desperate - desperate to connect with people again. Desperate to revisit his past. And desperate to leave his mark on this puny planet before the Grim Reaper makes a fateful trailer park call.

As part of his plan for passing on, George has posted fliers around town. They invite strangers to come around to his humble abode and share experiences with him. George keeps an audio journal of his dreams, said visions usually surrounding an anthropomorphized effigy of his toenails or boogers. He receives one young lady who actually engages him on a philosophical level. An old friend stops by and warns him about diving too deeply into personal history. A big shot Hollywood producer picks George’s dying brain for possible movie ideas and our hero’s supposedly dead dad shows up to give a literary reading. In the end, even George’s doctor doesn’t hold out for a cure. All he can do is swab spicy jelly on his patient’s growth, and hope that his end isn’t painful. George, however, won’t “check out” until he’s ready to…no matter what destiny has in store for him.

As he continues to grow as a filmmaker, as he moves from the certified king of trailer trash to a post-modern auteur with a true and authentic vision, Giuseppe Andrews just keeps getting better and better. The Check Out is his latest magnum opus, and to argue for its greatness is old hat by now. Andrews is the real deal, a maverick movie icon taking digital and homemade cinema into a realm unfathomable by less brave souls. With his typical cast of proto-players, and the consistent discovery of new faces (in this case, a gifted thespian named Nolan Ballin), he brings an unheard of level of authenticity and artistry to his simple, sage like stories. George is supposed to be a bit of a ham. He’s spent 35 years driving a limo in LA, his fondest memory being a meeting with Humphrey Bogart. Everything about him is old school - his façade, his view of the world, his decision to make a statement out of his demise.

But Andrews thwarts such self-indulgence by giving George an air of madness. He calls his tape recorder Davy. He has several dreams/fantasy sequences where his past and present mesh into a kind of comic disarray. As he will throughout most of the movie, our hero views such sequences with a combination of understanding and loss, trying to piece them together while also putting some perspective into the mix. Near the end, after his song and dance with a visiting busker, after the soul to soul with a con man, after the “genius test”, after the cosmic call back with an astronaut (?), George feels content about his passing. He’s done his best to comprehend his current situation, and has decided to go into it with an open mind and a clear heart.

This is a very emotional movie, a true rarity in Andrews’ oeuvre. It’s not for a previous lack of trying - it’s just that we’ve never really gotten to know a character as well as we get to know George. Ballin is brilliant in his performance, taking everything his director has in store for him (including a couple of crazed moments as an ape?!?) and delivering even the dirtiest dialogue with aplomb. He is matched well by old favorites like Vietnam Ron, Walt Patterson, and Sir George Bigfoot. But this is Ballin’s movie all the way. It’s George’s ravings we have to decipher, his pain we have to predetermine. It’s his focus that we fall in love with, and it’s his impending death that brings us closer to clarity than any other individual has in an Andrews movie.

Interpretations are tough, but one can clearly see a continuing maturation of this motion picture provocateur. He is no longer obsessed with feces and fornication. His conversations are not simply poetic performance art regarding the act of carnality (and all the naughty bits in between). Instead, George reaches out to the people he meets, calming a concerned visitor that she cannot catch “death” from him, and leading an old business buddy into a possible Oscar score with a novel revolving around a gang bang. All through The Check Out, George makes it very clear that life is about living, about grabbing opportunities and never regretting the times when you decided not to. He is as erudite as any shaman, as well versed in the ways of the world as a man whose driven around its powerful population can be. But he’s also aging and sad, someone who we see in ourselves - and hope reflects our own sane and sunny outlook.

Yet mortality is a veiled assassin. We don’t necessarily know when it’s coming, but it tends to strike at those moments when even we would sense a window of opportunity. For George, the bizarre growth on his stomach is not the period on his life sentence. Instead, it’s a motivation to evolve, to extend his consciousness and compassion before reality steps in and stops it forever. As he progresses, Giuseppe Andrews also continues to amaze. With a creative canon already overflowing with films (there are at least 20, in various guises, either released or in the vaults, waiting) and a reputation for being as authentic as he is avant-garde, something like The Check Out only secures said mantle. As with the case of his concerned hero, this is one director whose contribution to this world will definitely live on long after he’s left it. And that’s a kind of immortality, isn’t it?

by L.B. Jeffries

25 Feb 2009

About two months ago I made a few loose predictions about the future gaming trends for 2009. One of the things I pointed out was that the most wide-open genre of gaming for the entrepreneur was the forum game. The primary goal of this game would not really be the typical stats and sense of accomplishment that games provide. It would instead use these to encourage clicks on the website to generate ad revenue.

The closest thing I’ve seen really start pushing this agenda was Facebook’s 25 Random Things. Write 25 facts about yourself that no one knows, tag 25 friends who will be notified about it, and encourage them to do the same. The article cited goes into the various reactions to the phenomenon, some found it therapeutic while others decided it was an excuse to protest the existence of the internet. What is interesting about this Facebook note is the notion of calling it a game instead of a chain letter. I tend to change my definition of video games every couple of months because some indie game will challenge it, but for the moment I’ve been relying on Corvus Elrod’s stab at it: A game is a set of rules and/or conditions, established by a community, which serve as a bounded space for play. In that context, I’d say the 25 Random Things fits the bill nicely.

A recent title from the Global Game Jam has taken this concept of a forum game and moved it one step further. Wikipaths is an add-on for your web browser. It starts you out on one page of Wikipedia and then challenges you to use only links to get to another unrelated page. The game is timed rather than count links since presumably everything in Wikipedia links to itself eventually. As Greg Costikyan notes in his review, there is immense room for improvement here. A spider program could count the minimum number of links it actually takes and challenge the player to reach it. There is also the choice of Wikipedia as a website and the aimlessness of randomly selecting another unrelated page to link towards. The application of such a program to any website is going to be generating clicks and ad revenue, but you still need a carrot on the stick to get it working.

Future iterations could simply take this program and apply it to Facebook. Off the top of my head there are already a few games I personally play with the website when bored. How many clicks does it take to get to a blonde? How many clicks to get to someone from high school? Beyond that is applying the concept for more useful applications such as research. Going back to Wikipedia, a spider search could generate a series of documents that are all applicable not based in word content but in their connections to one another. Whether or not this produces a better search remains to be seen. As noted in the article about 2009 predictions, by the time someone nails this concept it’ll be too late to copy them.

//Mixed media

The Hills Are Alive, But Nobody Else Is in 'The Happiness of the Katakuris'

// Short Ends and Leader

"Happiness of the Katakuris is one of Takashi Miike's oddest movies, and that's saying something.

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