Archive for history

cut from the cloth of greatness

Posted in Music, Popular Culture with tags , , , , , , on October 17, 2018 by phanteana

the 90’s were a transitional period in music: glitzy Hair Metal gave way to grimy Grunge, Faith-based singers crossed into Pop territory, Rap artists shed their party-time lyrics in favor of more politically-oriented content & Dinosaurs still roamed the airwaves decades after their big breaks. then, there was Alternative music: a library so vast it encompasses a multitude of genres (and this is only a fraction of it).

among the artists lumped into the Alternative category is Peter Murphy. anyone who has read this blog or knows me IRL is well aware of how devoted i am to him, & that despite forgetting my name (because famous people meet thousands of fans, so i don’t expect him to remember anyone’s name), he recognizes my face whenever he comes through my city and can recall little things here and there (he once complimented my haircut, and on a separate occasion asked me if i was still living in [name of section of city], but i had since moved to another section). his easy-going manner when talking to fans is just part of why i love him. i don’t view him as a celebrity, but rather as a (stunning looking) regular person who just happens to have been blessed with immense talent.

that immense talent landed ex-Bauhaus front man Murphy the honor of a Number 1 hit in 1990, as well as Billboard’s 9th Greatest Alternative Song of All Time (not too shabby), bringing him out of the shadows of Goth Rock & into the dorm rooms of Dr. Martens-wearing art majors (i was one, until i switched to Film Studies). that song, “Cuts You Up“, and its subsequent album Deep, stood apart from other artists receiving radio & MTV play with its moody violin, soul-searching lyrics, and its high-cheek-boned, bleached-blonde singer poised to perfection under the influence of David Bowie (the Godfather of Alternative Music). it was pre-Grunge, post-Glam…whatever you called it, it was a peak point for Modern music in 1990. although Murphy only cracked the US charts a total of 3 times in his 40-year career, “Cuts You Up” still reigns as a prominent piece of his catalog and brings back fond memories for those who remember it well…and considering Murphy is currently touring to mark Bauhaus’ ruby anniversary (and hopefully, that tour will make its way to the States), perhaps his signature song i due for a pop culture boost.

 

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a bearded Peter Murphy and his Bauhaus band-mate David J. Haskins still love their audience 40 years later 

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keeping up with the Stokers

Posted in Library Science stuff, Popular Culture with tags , , , , on October 8, 2018 by phanteana

crazy rumors follow anyone and everyone, whether they’re in the spotlight or just your average citizen. if you happen to be a long-dead author whose most famous novel still leaves a mark (womp womp), then there’s bound to be some wacky secrets waiting to be unearthed.

Dracula is, of course, one of the most critically acclaimed stories ever written. published in 1897, it eventually went onto become required reading for English Lit classes and Goths everywhere. it also spawned tons of movies, television programs, and some very memorable songs (including “the one that started it all“- and this is only a fraction, as the original length is 9 and a 1/2 minutes long). but was it all fiction? not necessarily.

in a new interview with Dacre Stoker, the author’s great-grand-nephew, family history sheds some light on the dark figure that was Bram Stoker. Dacre, now 60, recounts how neighborhood kids would inquire if the Stokers would give them candy or drink their blood on Halloween. if you were a 12-year-old kid during the early 1970’s, there was always something weird about the street you lived on. but this morbid curiosity led the younger Stoker to piece together his heritage, resulting in a new book essentially described as a prequel to Dracula.

as for those pesky rumors about Stoker himself, they range from him being a closeted homosexual to promoting the book as a true story inspired by rampant tuberculosis (remember, this was the 19th century), as well as Stoker himself succumbing to syphilis (nope, kidney ailment). in addition, his son Noel (1879-1961) requested that his ashes be combined with his father’s. Bram also hinted at the possibility that vampires could exist, which is a belief that many people still carry in today’s society.

whatever people thought about Bram Stoker, one thing that’s certain is that his novel is still a bloody good read.

 

 

a changeling of seasons

Posted in Film with tags , , on June 20, 2018 by phanteana

it’s officially summer, but Halloween is already on everyone’s mind. i kicked off my summer season over Memorial Day weekend with a chance to see the newly restored version of The Changeling at my local theater. this is one of my favorite films, and its effectiveness at telling a spooky & semi-true* story without the gore can still be felt in modern releases such as The Conjuring and Winchester. the film has been described as a “slow burn”, which is how a lot of horror should be (at least in my opinion, since i’m not a fan of blood & guts).

for the folks at home, a special 4K blu-ray edition will be released in August complete with an attic full of goodies including a poster, an enamel pin, and a replica of the infamous red rubber ball featured in the movie. several audience members at my theater jumped out of their seats during that scene…works every time!

 

*a lot of The Changeling‘s events match up, but because this is Hollywood there’s always bound to be revisions. in addition, there has been speculation as to whether Russell Hunter’s account is real or fabricated. regardless of whether or not you believe Hunter’s story, it certainly made for one of the greatest films of the late 20th century.

 

i heard it through the grave-vine

Posted in Library Science stuff, Popular Culture with tags , , , , on June 3, 2018 by phanteana

libraries & cemeteries have a lot in common: both hold significant historical records (the former in print/electronic form and the latter in markers/stones) and they provide a quiet environment for reflection and study. now imagine these two places were combined into one. that’s what happened when New York’s iconic Greenwood Cemetery collaborated with the remains (womp womp) of the Brooklyn-based Morbid Anatomy Museum for a unique pop-up experience: a library inside a cemetery where patrons can read all about the dearly departed. the museum opened in 2014, and catered to family-friendly crowds & more mature audiences with its eccentric series of lectures (ranging from Taxidermy 101 to a visual presentation on 80’s Goth), exhibits, and activities. but despite its appeal, insufficient funding and the high cost of property space (it is New York, after all) caused it to fold last year. but thanks to the staff at Greenwood, the Morbid Anatomy library has been resurrected to the delight of locals and tourists alike…and just like libraries, Greenwood is very vast so be sure not to accidentally get locked in after hours (not to worry, the groundskeepers have been known to rescue stranded visitors in case they get stuck inside post-sundown).

the house that Helen built

Posted in Film, Popular Culture with tags , , on February 1, 2018 by phanteana

everyone loves a good “the following is based on actual events” film (ok, not everyone…but lots of folks do). we’ve seen countless historical dramas & war films, or feel-good inspirational stories of underdogs rising above adversity (ahem, Rudy…which is still a classic). each one has a unique story to share with its audience, whether they are familiar with the events depicted or not. horror is no stranger to taking its cues from real-life, even if some of the moments are embellished for Hollywood’s sake. thanks to these movies, we are now better acquainted with people like the Warrens and places like a certain town in Long Island, NY. the latest in this trope combines both historical drama and spookiness, and hails from San Jose, CA’s most notorious mansion. oh, and did i mention everyone’s favorite dame, Helen Mirren, is portraying the infamous owner of said mansion? let’s see…Helen Mirren + haunted house = ALL IN.

 

 

original sin(ger)

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 22, 2017 by phanteana

Michael was the epitome of the charismatic front man: his voice, physical presence, and personality made him the Mick Jagger of the 80’s. he was special, whether he realized it or not. i never got to see INXS, and it remains one of the biggest regrets i could have. the proposed 20th anniversary tour, which Michael was rehearsing for at the time of his death, would have been my opportunity to see him in his true form. i never got that chance.

when we mourn artists we’ve never met, we don’t cry because we knew them. we cry because they helped us know ourselves.

 

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music to die for: the story of Goth in 33 songs

Posted in Music, Popular Culture with tags , , , , on October 29, 2017 by phanteana

music lists compiled as a “history of [insert genre here]” are always interesting to read. some songs fit perfectly, while others appear to be a square peg in a round hole. the story of Goth has long been up for debate: who really started it, where did it begin, etc. these theories can go on for days in online discussion forums and on social media, and sometimes a resolution is nowhere in sight.

to join in the ongoing debate, Pitchfork put together “The Story Of Goth In 33 Songs” in an attempt to shed some light on the dark side of modern music. in addition, they conducted a phone interview with Peter Murphy, who is often viewed as one of Godfathers of Goth despite never fully aligning himself with the title. Murphy’s solo albums are less brooding than his work with Bauhaus and his two greatest influences were David Bowie and Iggy Pop (who were credited with inventing Glam Rock and Punk, respectively), but he never lost his eerie creative flair (thank goodness).

while i can’t say i’m familiar with the latter entries on the list (other than Fever Ray’s “If I Had A Heart“), the classics i know and love certainly reflect the story of Goth well. my only issue with this list is the lack of inclusion of “Paint In Black“, which is probably one of the best representations of Goth in its infancy (and paved the way for numerous covers by both Goth and non-Goth artists)…a job well done, Mick.