Pop Culture

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sound Advice: Jesco White at the Hi-Tone Cafe and Brooks Museum

Posted By on Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 2:07 PM


This Sunday, June 6th, presents two unique opportunities for local devotees of cult icon Jesco “the Dancing Outlaw” White to delve further into the Appalachian wild-man's bizarre and, at times, comical world.

White, 53, originally achieved notoriety as the subject of the 1991 PBS documentary Dancing Outlaw, which chronicled White's devotion to the dying art of mountain dancing (his father, D. Ray White, is regarded by some as the greatest mountain dancer who ever lived), as well his many criminal exploits, regular drug use, and troubled family life. Yet the film played like a comedy, and took on a life of its own thanks to word of mouth and relentless bootlegging.

In 2009, actor and Jackass creator Johnny Knoxville produced a new film about White and his large and equally rambunctious extended family, titled The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. The film serves as both an update on the life of Jesco White, and a culture study on the depressed, poverty-ridden West Virginia community that helped shape the Whites into a hell-raising bunch of misfits and tap-dancers.

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Faces of Death: Photographer Jonathan Postal opens All the People who Died

Posted By on Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 1:59 PM

I remember drinking a beer with Jonathan Postal last September, shortly after the death of author, poet and occasional recording artist Jim Carroll who recorded "All the People Who Died" knowing it would probably be played at his funeral. Postal, who had recently helped me with a project about would-be wrestlers in West Memphis, was feeling particularly mortal that night. In the 1970's he had photographed the leading lights of both the New York and LA punk scene and his peer group was starting to drop like flies. That's the first time I heard him float the idea of a photo exhibit inspired by Carroll's song. Now that passing notion is an actual exhibit that modern music fans won't want to miss. But don't take my word for it, click the video below to check out some examples of Postal's appropriately gritty punk pics.

"All the People who Died," which opens at the Jack Robinson Gallery on Friday, June 4 and runs through July 19, doesn't just include shots from Postal's punk days. It also includes artists as diverse as Alex Chilton and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Dead Again: Scenes from a Zombie March

Posted By on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 11:15 PM

Once a year people dress up like zombies and take a walk down Main Street for no apparent reason Here's a taste of the Memphis Zombie March 2010.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Profiles in Awesome: Jerry Lawler draws the cover for "WWE Heroes" comic book

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 11:17 AM

And here it is...


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Muck Sticky & the Rock-afire Explosion, Pt. 2

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 12:48 PM


As the Flyer previously reported, Muck Sticky will hit the road this summer backed by “the greatest animatronic rock band of all time,” the Rock-afire Explosion. Formerly known as the house band at the Showbiz Pizza chain, the group will join Mucky Sticky on a nationwide tour known as “the L.I.F.E. Tour.” Muck Sticky spoke to the Memphis Flyer this week via email about this development and more.

The Memphis Flyer: First off, can you tell us what you've been up to since $5 Cover?

Muck Sticky: I spent the winter hibernating and preparing the elements of the L.I.F.E. Tour as well as writing and recording a bunch of new music. I am very blessed to have had my music and message heard by a new audience because of my role on $5 Cover.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Muck Sticky & the Rock-afire Explosion

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 1:17 PM


In what is surely an early frontrunner for the most bizarre local music story of 2010, local comedy rapper Muck Sticky has announced a partnership and tour with the animatronic former house band from the old Showbiz Pizza (a precursor to Chuck E. Cheese's) chain, the Rock-afire Explosion.

“Considered to be the greatest animatronic rock band of all time” (according to the press release posted on Muck Sticky's blog), the Rock-afire Explosion will join Muck Sticky's colorful crew for college, theater and festival dates nationwide this summer and fall on a joint venture called “the L.I.F.E. (Love Is Free Everyday) Tour.” The show will consist of songs from both Muck Sticky and the Explosion's catalog of original songs, along with comedy skits, interactive games, and motivational speaking.

There is no word yet if and when the show will hit Memphis.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Comedian Paul F. Tompkins at the 1884 Lounge

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 12:16 PM


This Saturday night, March 20th, Minglewood Hall brings well-known comedian/writer/actor Paul F. Tompkins back to town for two shows in the intimate 1884 Lounge.

Tompkins is perhaps best known as the former host of VH1's Best Week Ever (canceled by the network in late 2009), but his list of credits includes Mr. Show with Bob and David, where he served as a writer and performer, multiple HBO and Comedy Central stand-up specials, and most recently, MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olberman, where he is an occasional correspondent/contributor. His second stand-up comedy album, Freak Wharf, was also released in late 2009. Tompkins spoke to the Memphis Flyer last week via email.

The Memphis Flyer: Your new album features a lot of improvisation. Is that a regular part of your live show now?

Paul F. Tompkins: Yeah, I definitely improvise a lot more now. It's not so much that the prepared material isn't still fun to do, it's just that I've heard it before! There really is nothing like the tightrope feeling that stream-of-consciousness comedy provides. And when the audience realizes that's what's going on, when they're on the same page, it's just exhilarating.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hello Dalai: The video

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 4:51 PM

Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery has taken quite a razzing for his fist bump of the Dalai Lama. And he probably deserves some of it. But nobody seems to have noticed that the Dalai Lama, after discussing the need to replace fear and violent activity with affection, ended his address by giving Mayor Lowery a fist bump of his own. His Holiness used the classic dap as an example of how a violent action can become an act of affection. It was really kind of beautiful.

"Hello Dalai" may not be the most dignified way to greet a great spiritual leader but the fist bump turned out to be a real winner. Here's the complete unedited video.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Elvis Week: Meet Cousin Edie Hand

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 7:59 PM


See Minnie Mae Hood Presley, above, serving biscuits to her son Vernon and her grandson Elvis?

Well, Minnie Mae's niece, Alice, was the grandmother of Alabama-based actress, advertising executive, and book author Edie Hand.

Got that?

Starting tomorrow, Hand, Joe Meador, and Ronnie McDowell, co-authors of The Genuine Elvis: Photos and Untold Stories about the King, will be signing copies of their new book all over town.

Flyer: What was it like, as a relative of Elvis, to actually visit Graceland when he was alive?

Hand: Well, we were down-home people. I can still hear my grandmother, Alice, and his grandmother, Minnie Mae, dipping snuff and telling stories. Ghost stories were a big thing! They'd be laughing and high on life. When I came to Graceland, I would always bring the black gum toothbrushes for them to dip their snuff in from my grandparents' sawmill farm in Russellville, Alabama. My Aunt Nash Pritchet, Vernon's youngest sister, was an Assembly of God minister who had a daughter my age, Karen. I got to be good friends with [Elvis' scarves-and-water man] Charlie Hodge, and [Elvis' step-brother] Rick Stanley.

What was the reaction on your side of the family when Vernon Presley was arrested and sent to the penitentiary at Parchman?

People were much more tight-lipped back then. You didn’t talk about your problems, you didn’t have Oprah. My grandmother would say things like, "They’re having a bad time," but not a lot was said about it. It was one of those things — you do strange things in bad times, and Vernon did it for survival.

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CNN: Ferguson-Free?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 12:33 PM

TVNewser reported this week that CNN will no longer book talk radio hosts on the news network. Among others whose radio faces might disappear from your boob tube: Memphis' own Ben Ferguson.

From the report: "In his morning editorial meeting today, CNN/U.S. president Jon Klein asked his show producers to avoid booking talk radio hosts. 'Complex issues require world class reporting,' Klein is quoted as saying, adding that talk radio hosts too often add to the noise, and that what they say is 'all too predictable.'

But this means other talk radio hosts who appear regularly on CNN, probably won't in the near future including names like Stephanie Miller, Michael Medved, and Ben Ferguson."

Remember this?

Good times.

And one to grow on:

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pee-wee Herman's Hollywood Comeback

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Has it really been 20 years since Paul Reubens — busted in 1991 after allegedly showing his little pee-wee at a Sarasota, Florida, porno theater — hung up his grey Pee-wee Herman suit?

I was a huge fan back in the 1980s, from the time that Pee-wee appeared on HBO through the debut of his Saturday morning children's show on CBS. I still do the "Tequila" dance and joke about the basement in the Alamo.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Elvis Week: Ronnie McDowell Q&A

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Since Elvis left the building for good in August 1977, tribute artist, painter, and songwriter Ronnie McDowell, a native of Fountain Head, Tennessee, has served up his version of the King's voice in 12 movies and one Twilight Zone episode. This month, McDowell adds a new credit to his resume: The Genuine Elvis: Photos and Untold Stories about the King, a book he co-authored with Edie Hand and Joe Meador. I caught up with McDowell yesterday, as he packed his bags for a series of booksignings, including stops at Graceland on Friday afternoon and at Bookstar on Saturday.

Flyer: How long did it take you to write your first hit record, "The King Is Gone?"

McDowell: At 2:22 in the afternoon on August 16, I was sitting in my Camaro and every station on the air was saying, "Elvis Presley has passed away." Fifteen miles down the road, I had the spoken part of the song written. That was my soul talking. I took it to the radio stations two days later on a big ol' acetate. I had eight acetates made for $2,800 and I wrote a hot check! I took the single to Nashville, and that night I was on the Grand Ole Opry.

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Please Be Cruel

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 10:08 AM

Scandal-inflamed former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is in the news again. Of all things, it's because he was videotaped singing Elvis' "Treat Me Nice" at a Chicago block party last Friday.

Uh, I supposed Elvis Week can officially begin now? I believe he's missed the deadline for this year's Elvis Tribute Artist contest, but he's got an early jump on the class of 2010. Hey Rod, don't quit your day sleaze.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Punk photographer Jonathan Postal releases the Readymades' first LP

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 4:36 PM

3230/1249062799-jpp.jpgIf you're even mildly interested in seeing some fantastic, seldom-seen vintage photos of first generation punks like Blondie, Talking Heads, the Dead Boys, the Ramones, Joan Jett, Iggy Pop, and many others, you'll want to take a peek at this video.

Long before he moved to Memphis, Jonathan Postal shutterbugged for San Francisco-based Punk magazine. He was the original — though short-tenured — bass player for Penelope Houston's seminal group, the Avengers, and a founding member of the Readymades, whose first LP, San Francisco: Mostly Alive, was released this summer on Rave Up Records.

I shot this interview with Postal while we were working together on this week's Memphis Flyer cover story, "School of Slam." Fans of 70s punk who haven't seen his photography or heard the single "415 Music" are in for a treat.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Naked Cybill Shepherd: Your Annual CS Update

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 8:45 AM

c69f/1248897337-cybill.jpg The New York Times has a story up on Cybill Shepherd, a hometowner who's earned favored-celebrity status from Memphians after four decades in the public eye.

Margy Rochlin's story starts, "The first time Cybill Shepherd appeared on a talk show was on The Tonight Show back in 1968. At the time she was a radiant 18-year-old from Memphis with a confrontational gaze who owned the title Model of the Year. 'I could barely say a word,' she said. 'All I could do was say ‘Yes’ and look terrified.'”

Look for more Cybill in the future; as soon as this weekend, in fact, with Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith, which airs on the Hallmark Channel Saturday at 8 p.m.

She'll also have a recurring role on Eastwick, an ABC show based on The Witches of Eastwick — you remember that, right? — that drops in September.

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