Back to Home

Archive for the 'Way Cool Item of the Day' Category

It’s 1959 in San Francisco’s low rent district. At the local beatnik hangout, Walter Paisley busses tables and pines for a comely hipster artist chick named Carla. He’s an outsider the hip kids make fun of and he can never seem to fit in. The place is full of beat poets who recite their self righteous, overly hip poetry to bongo drums. One night Walter is home trying to become a sculptor so he can impress Carla and accidentally kills his neighbor’s cat. He decides to cover the cat in clay and calls it “Dead Cat,” which Carla thinks is genius. This spurs him on to kill other living things and make sculptures out of them. This is the inspired plot of Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, which was shot in its entirety in five days. Corman and writer Charles B. Griffith developed the basic plot and idea for this film in a single day. The sets would later be used for Corman’s next film, The Little Shop of Horrors, in 1960.

Last week Roger Corman received a long overdue honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement from the Academy for his life’s work - 350 movies. He crafted incredible, low budget, lurid B-movie spectaculars starting in the 1950’s and provided career launches for artists like John Sayles, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, James Cameron, Ron Howard and Martin Scorsese. His films featured the nascent talents of Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, William Shatner, Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone and others.

I salute the genius of Roger Corman. And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

Every once in awhile I run across a website that completely sucks me in and before I know it… hours have flown by. Such a site is the Meeker Museum, dedicated to actor Ralph Meeker, who started in musicals in the 1950’s and had roles on both TV and in feature films through the 1970s. He played Mike Hammer in the 1955 Robert Aldrich classic film of Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me Deadly. The Meeker Museum lovingly recounts Meeker’s career as well as other movie stars of yesteryear. It’s stated mission is to be ‘a non-profit, non-existent organization dedicated to the pursuit of inner peace through movie stars.

Other essays on the site include a tribute to Troy Donahue, the films of Conway Twitty, a Sandra Dee retrospective, and a lengthy multi-paged mini-site about the book, movies, and TV series Peyton Place. The site’s creator, Jack Stalnaker, apparently created the site in an early version of Frontpage. But you know what? It kind of works. When you’re poking about in dusty library stacks, you want retro, even if it looks like the web in 1999. It’s cool.

In fact the Meeker Museum is the Way Cool Item of the Day.

Somehow we’ve gotten around to that time of the year again when all of a sudden Halloween gives way to Thanksgiving and then five minutes later it’s Christmas. So if you’re looking around for interesting gift giving ideas why not also give back to the community and support Girl Power at the same time? The Lower Eastside Girls Club Sweet Things Bake Shop can hit both those notes for you. Celebrate autumn with their hand-painted leaf and acorn shaped butter cookies. Order an Autumn in New York Cookie Tin, or a City Winter Tin (which includes an oversized brownstone cookie made of gingerbread among other goodies).

The Girls Club also sponsors number of great free community events and a Fair Trade and Girl Made Gift Shop at the Essex Market. They continue to present programs that build Ethical, Entrepreneurial, and Environmental awareness and leadership among girls from the 4th grade to the 12th grade. They’re doing great work and really deserve your support.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

If you’ve been reading SDJ for awhile you’ll know that occasionally I predict that Amanda Palmer AKA Amanda Fucking Palmer AKA Force of Nature / New Media Goddess will eventually be a name everyone knows due to her most awesome talent as a singer, songwriter, and performer. Well it’s that time again because AFP is about to embark on a short tour of the East Coast which begins tonight in Burlington, VT and ends on November 22 in Knoxville, Tennessee. New York is sold out for the show this weekend, but if you’re in Portland Maine, Northampton MA, Philadelphia, Falls Church VA, Carrboro NC, or Knoxville - do consider spending about $20 for one of the greatest musical experiences of your life. Because she may not be a household name now - but she will be. And someday you’ll say, why the F didn’t I get a ticket to that show when I could?

Just sayin.’

More info here. And here. And here.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

In case you didn’t know (for shame), Joan Jett is one kick-ass, gorgeous, amazing, hard rocking, original riot grrrl beeyotch. To my great surprise and delight today I found out that Mattel (who are, apparently, still swell) will be presenting the Joan Jett Barbie Doll to the world in December, as part of the Ladies of the ’80’s Collection. I can hardly think of a better role model for the Barbie doll-playing-set, hella yeah!

The text description of the doll reads - and no, I did not make this up: Have you ever said (or sung) “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”? If so, you’re gonna love this doll! An acclaimed guitarist and one of the greatest leading ladies of rock, Joan Jett is a legendary singer and songwriter. Featuring her look and rock ‘n’ roll spirit, the Joan Jett Barbie Doll is part of the Ladies of the ’80s collection and a must-have for her many fans! Includes doll and guitar, and stands approximately 11 1/2-inches tall.

The Collection will also feature Cyndi Lauper (in flouncy red skirt) and Blondie’s Debbie Harry. As for Joanie, this is one of those rare items that I think I might have to actually pre-purchase on Amazon. I can’t stand the thought of not being able to have my Joan Jett Barbie. Although I am deducting swell points from Mattel for not including Patti Smith in the collection. Imagine a Patti Smith Barbie dressed in white man’s shirt and loose tie, kind of like the Horses cover shot by Robert Mapplethorpe. I think we could have eschewed Cyndi and made this Joan, Debbie, and Patti. Cyndi’s kind of fluffy next to those other original riot grrls, n’est-ce pas? They could have called it, instead, The Riot Grrl Collection.

In other really great Joan Jett news, Kristin Stewart will play the part of JJ in the upcoming Runaways movie to Dakota Fanning’s Cherie Currie.  But who will play Kim Fowley? Inquiring minds want to know!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-CHERRY BOMB! The Joan Jett Barbie doll is my Way Cool Item of the Day.

Today’s item is dedicated to the memory of Norbert Pearlroth, head researcher for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, who sat in the same spot in the research room at the New York Public Library for 52 years - just about every day.

Thank you Robin Finn, who wrote the terrific column Secrets of the Stacks last week for The New York Times. I adore pieces like this one where you learn bizarre and quirky facts about such a place. There’s Norbert of course. And also The Cabinet of Curiosities, which apparently contains the cane that Virginia Woolf left behind on the riverbank before committing suicide - and the original Winnie The Pooh. And the fact that the library contains a collection of 40,000 restaurant menus dating back to the 1850’s. Read the article for other interesting tidbits.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

Very very early on the morning of October 3, 1980, I got into my friend Kim’s little red Datsun in a driveway in Brick, New Jersey. I think there were actually five of us packed into that tiny car. We proceeded to drive from the Jersey shore straight through to Ann Arbor, Michigan, parking the car just in time to see Bruce Springsteen’s tour bus roll in to the parking lot of Crisler Arena. We jumped out of the car (which, after hours of travel, seemed to have gotten smaller) and lined up with other fans to shake hands with Bruce as he went into the venue. It was the opening night of The River Tour. The album itself would not be released for another week.

That night was the first time I ever bought a scalped ticket, and I blindly grabbed the first one that was offered to me at $50. This was a huge expense since the base price was I think $11. It was my third Springsteen concert, the previous two being in 1978 during the traveling medicine show that was the Darkness Tour.

I traveled to Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Chicago that week in Kim’s car seeing shows, for the most part either sleeping in the car, or renting one hotel room for the five of us and sneaking the others in to save money. We were young.

There were many other shows on that tour, many trips out of town, and at the end - a year later - I actually quit my boring soulless job typing art auction catalogs to go to the entire last week of shows. The tour ended almost a year to the day it began: September 14, 1981 in Cincinnati.

There have been many concerts since, and many Springsteen concerts, through the past 17 years. I know it’s a cliché but Bruce Springsteen changed my life in too many ways to count.

All of which is to say that I am thrilled beyond belief that Sunday night November 8 at Madison Square Garden for the first time since the long ago River Tour, and never before in album sequence order, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play the entire River album onstage.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

John Cooper Clarke is an English performance poet from Manchester who came to fame in the punkish late 1970’s, reciting his rapid fire poems whilst opening for such bands as the Buzzcocks, New Order, the Sex Pistols, Joy Division, and the Fall. His sparse, urban, bleak and beautiful “Evidently Chickentown” memorably ended one of the episodes of The Sopranos, launching it forever into the cultural zeitgeist - where it definitely belongs. Excerpt follows:

the bloody pies are bloody old
the bloody chips are bloody cold
the bloody beer is bloody flat
the bloody flats have bloody rats
the bloody clocks are bloody wrong
the bloody days are bloody long
it bloody gets you bloody down
evidently chicken town

LYRICS © JOHN COOPER CLARKE

Thanks to the bloody great blog Stupefaction, who posted this yesterday, I’m making John Cooper Clarke’s poetic genius the Way Cool Item of the Day.

The new media magicians at Sawhorse Media, who brought us the amazing site Muckrack awhile back (which curates twitter feeds by journalists all over the world, sliced and diced and categorized every which way to Sunday…totally addictive) have now unveiled Listorious, a site which curates twitter lists. Talk about falling down the rabbit hole…

Listorious is a site which curates the best lists of Twitter users on any given topic. How about a list of Employers Recruiting? Onion Editorial Staff? Staff at the New York Times? NFL Players? Los Angeles Food Trucks? Angel Investors? Catch my drift? It goes on and on. You can spend hours here.  And after you’ve registered on the site, you can add your own lists, recommend twitter feeds for posted lists, see if you’re on anyone else’s lists, et cetera.  So go. Tweet. List. Curate.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.

A year ago this week, the American people went to the polls to vote in the Presidential Election. And in record numbers, a true democratic majority elected Barack Hussein Obama to be our President. All the mud thrown at him - when push came to shove - did not stick. Even now, I’m still thrilled. When I’m having a bad day, I remember, oh yes, yes we did. Which proves that we can, whenever we have a mind to.

We dodged a really scary bullet that day - the chance, however slim, that Sarah Palin would be riding shotgun to the next President of the United States. Forgive the gun metaphors but it’s actually eerily appropriate for this moose-killin’ mama, the Thrilla from Wasilla.

The Daily Beast has uncovered the speeches Palin longed to make the night of the Election - both her planned concession speech and her planned victory speech. It’s really worth a read. The speeches (and more details) are fully covered in the new book Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar by Scott Conroy and Shusannah Walshe.

And that’s my Way Cool Item of the Day.