June 29, 2011


In conjunction with the launch of an official Linda McCartney website and retrospective book by Taschen, photographs by McCartney are now on exhibit at Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York through July 29th. Limited-edition prints are also for sale. Linda McCartney began her photography career in 1966 shooting portraits of rock musicians. By 1968, her portrait of Eric Clapton was on the cover of Rolling Stone and she made history as the first woman photographer to achieve this milestone. Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono visited the exhibit together on June 23, 2011 (photo below from Imagine Peace). More info at the Yoko Ono website here, Bonni Benrubi gallery here, and Paul McCartney website here.

McCartney and Ono met earlier on June 8th with the Beatles community to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Cirque du Soliel's LOVE show in Las Vegas. The anniversary prompted new remix ideas for Spy Vibe's Jason Whiton, who created a short sound collage about friends and lovers, reunions and reconciliation. Hear "Love Peace" on SoundCloud here. Whiton was a winner in The Sun is Down remix competition held by Ono and the Plastic Ono Band last year. His award-winning experimental film for the piece is screening at film festivals, museums, and galleries. Related recent Spy Vibe posts: Paul McCartney's new tape-loop project and 60s experimental here, BBC Radiophonic Workshop here.

June 27, 2011


Spy Vibe is excited to contribute to the upcoming Blu-ray edition of Elio Petri's cult classic, The 10th Victim (1965). The film, based on the 1953 short story Seventh Victim by sci-fi author Robert Sheckley, features Mod fashion, design, architecture, Op Art, Pop Art, cars by Jaguar and Citroen, Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, and a cool soundtrack by Piero Piccioni! Blue Underground will be sending copies of the Blu-ray in August, so keep Spy Vibe on your radar for a chance to win the movie for free! Blue Underground has finalized the disc details below.

Note that some of the following ad copy is from original '60s press releases, which didn't quite get the plot facts right (In the story, Marcello is not on his 10th hunt). Culturally, both Sheckley and Petri are celebrated for their commentary on violence and entertainment in society. Although The 10th Victim offers us a stylish fantasy from 1965, the film also mines Italy's gladiatorial history and predicts the future of "reality" entertainment of the contemporary world. From Blue Underground:

"The Original sexy '60's cult classic is back! It is the 21st Century, and society’s lust for violence is satisfied by “The Big Hunt,” an international game of legalized murder. But when the sport’s two top assassins (Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress) are pitted against each other, they find that love is the most dangerous game of all. As the world watches, the hunt is on. Who will become THE 10th VICTIM?

THE 10th VICTIM is the international cult classic whose wild action and sexy style has influenced a generation of movies, from THE RUNNING MAN to the AUSTIN POWERS series. Now this outrageous satire has been newly remastered from the original negative and is presented here in groovy High Definition!"

Extras: Marcello: A Sweet Life (98 min doc), US & Italian Trailers, movie still & poster gallery, Marcello Mastroianni still gallery.

June 24, 2011


Spy Rewind: Spy Vibe ends the week with our 2009 review of the Bond-inspired episode of Thunderbirds, and a flashback moment to Matt Kindt's SuperSpy. If readers have not explored this classic book from Top Shelf, order it today from Amazon. SuperSpy inspired me to begin writing Spy Vibe stories a while back, which I will send to publishers shortly. The "guest set pick" from Kindt below refers to a series of Spy Vibe posts that invited guest writers/artists to choose their favorite sets from retro spy TV and films. Spy Vibe's intro article, Set For Adventure here. In the meantime, enter agent... Bondson?

The year was 1965 and the world had been thrown into James Bond-mania. Thunderball, the Bond adventure to save the world from two stolen nuclear bombs, was about to debut in theaters. Meanwhile, a group of technicians and plotters were working to unleash their Agent Bondson to UK audiences on the small screen. Agent Bondson?

The rugged spy Bondson, who closely resembled Sean Connery and found his name in tribute to Fleming’s character, appeared in the Thunderbirds episode, The Man From M.I.5 on January 20, 1966 (disc Vol 7 of the original A&E megaset). With a Bond-style score by Barry Gary, the episode had a wonderful tone of danger and international intrigue. Long before viewers were shocked by the likes of Mr. Bill, Team America, or Robot Chicken, Gerry Anderson’s puppets were smoking cigarettes, tying up super models, and carrying out assassinations. If you have only seen the Thunderbirds films and are looking for something with a spy edge from International Rescue, this is one to check out. *spoiler alert.

The Man From M.I.5 begins with a shocking puppet murder! A mysterious scuba diver sneaks aboard a yacht and shoots a British agent in the back- five times. He dives back into the water and blows up the boat. Agent Bondson investigates and discovers that his agent contact has been shot (“five times”) and that the stolen plans for a deadly nuclear device are missing. With world survival in the balance, Bondson calls on International Rescue to help recover the plans.

Bondson is called to a secret meeting in the woods by Thunderbirds “London Agent,” Penelope. He feels a pistol jabbing him from behind, announcing her arrival from the shadows. The dangerous tone of the story is pressed as she warns him, “Move a muscle and I’ll blow off your head.” These puppet spies are serious!

Agent Penelope goes undercover to recover the plans in a sting operation. The enemy scuba spy takes her at gunpoint to a remote boathouse. Again, the puppets are threatening; “This gun is loaded and I don’t mind using it. I said move and cut the chatter!”

Penelope manages to open her communicator compact and open a channel to Thunderbirds HQ. A series of coded hand movements and tapping passes between her and HQ, but they are interrupted when the baddie ties her to a chair. His plans? He’s planted a bomb in the room to kill two birds with one stone. “At the right moment, we detonate the bomb. The patrol boat comes in shore to investigate the explosion. You die and we will escape [the radar].” Once he leaves her to her doom, Penelope tips her chair to the floor so she can warn HQ.

The suspense is drawn out to allow the various (and cool) vehicles of International Rescue to search for Penelope and the enemy agent sub. The Thunderbirds aquanaut saves the day by shooting knockout gas into their ship. The detonator switch is not pulled, and the plans are recovered.

In a final meeting, Agent Bondson is lead again into the woods by Penelope- who speaks to him through a microphone. He finds the plans to the nuclear device hidden in a tree (a classic dead drop), and the two exchange the gratitude of their agencies. Bondson is given a final and deadly warning to never try to trace Penelope or attempt to investigate the identities of International Rescue.

As someone who has focused mainly on Anderson’s espionage/sci fi shows (UFO, Captain Scarlet), it was a treat to explore this Thunderbirds “mission.” The story, dialog, score, and camera work all allowed the crew to pay homage to the spy film genre. The Bond connections are clear. Special Effects man Derek Meddings even went on to do the Bond films The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only. As mentioned, Agent Bondson resembles Connery's alter ego in face and in name. Even the scuba action was reminiscent of Goldfinger and Thunderall (which would also include yacht locations and props).

Beyond gadgetry and FX, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson often gave their shows adult-style thrills and spills, which is a main reason they continue to endure. Their puppets killed! The Man From M.I.5 brought a fantastic sense of style and danger to Thunderbirds that Spy Vibers will enjoy.


Superspy author/artist and designer Matt Kindt had one set come immediately to mind when I asked him about his favorite Spy Vibe sets from the 1960s- Thunderbirds! Here’s what Matt had to say:

“The Thunderbirds Tracy Island set would probably be my #1 if you made me choose something right now....that set was fantastic!”

If you have not read Matt’s Superspy, order a copy right away. The book does an excellent job weaving together stories about duplicity and betrayal with a LeCarre kind of edge and human quality. I have some original work of Matt’s that I will share soon.

June 23, 2011


The 50th anniversary celebration of The Avengers will be held this Friday-Sunday, and what a weekend they have planned! Every aspect of the show will be covered in panels, interviews, concerts, and live commentary. Check out the event website for details.

June 22, 2011


The 50th anniversary celebration of The Avengers will be held this Friday-Sunday, and what a weekend they have planned! Every aspect of the show will be covered in panels, interviews, concerts, and live commentary. Check out the event website for details.

June 21, 2011


Happy Birthday to Ray Davies! There are many great clips on Youtube of the Kinks and Davies' solo career. In honor of Ray, the amazing mash-up of his You Really Got Me with Get Back. Love it! Want to learn more about Davies? I recommend that Spy Vibers check out the excellent interview he did on Fresh Air in 2008 during the release of Working Man's Cafe. It's interesting to hear a consummate storyteller talk about studying the people around him and gathering characters and experiences to write about. Concert alert: Ray Davies at Hyde Park on the 25th. Enjoy!

June 20, 2011


Spy Vibe has been very excited to contribute to the production of the Blu-ray edition of The 10th Victim, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. Elio Petri's cult classic is a near-perfect experience of 1965 space-age fashion, music, art, and design. Like many films of that era, the movie does succumb to the madcap "comedic" rush toward the end. But until those final moments, pure Mod bliss! We've contributed a large archive of images as a special feature, and helped to bring Blue Underground into negotiations with some pals in Italy who produced a great doc film about Petri. More details about the new release and bonus features as they are finalized. In the meantime, Spy Vibers have a rare chance to pick up the rare Japanese 1-sheet poster for the film on eBay with a low starting bid of $99. Listing here. And if anyone is interested in original comic book and comic strip art pages (like, X-Men, 30 Days of Night, Ashley Wood, Flash Gordon), I have a collection listed on eBay that ends soon here.

June 18, 2011


The Beatles community gathered recently for the anniversary of Cirque du Soleil's LOVE show in Las Vegas. The event prompted a new remix for Yoko Ono that is a meditation on friends and lovers everywhere, and is presented today in honor of Paul McCartney's birthday. On the heels of his winning remix and experimental film for Yoko Ono, Spy Vibe creator Jason Whiton composed a new sound collage called "Love Piece" that is a mantra in honor of reunions and reconciliation. Sound file via Jason Whiton on SoundCloud. Image of 2007 LOVE meeting between McCartney and Ono from Life Magazine. See recent Spy Vibe posts about experimental sounds and musique concrete in the 1960s and beyond, including news of Paul McCartney's plans to make a new experimental project with his original Tomorrow Never Knows machines here and a documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Doctor Who here.

June 16, 2011


Spy Vibers looking for this rare French crime/comedy by Lelouch or original X-Men and horror comic book art pages by Ashley Wood, Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, and others, check out my listings this week on eBay here.


Event Alert: James Bond fans gather tomorrow at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood for a double-007-feature with my favorite Bond movie of all time, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (presented by actor George Lazenby- in person!), followed by Diamonds Are Forever. Details here. Fans can see another double feature on Sunday in Santa Monica: Dr. No/From Russia With Love. Details here. Classic Bond on the big screen! Posters available at Movie Goods here.


The special event and tour at the Phillip Johnson Glass House is tonight! Details here.

June 15, 2011


The BBC Radiophonic Workshop began in 1958 to experiment with tape technology, which was first pioneered in the 1940s with support by singer, Bing Crosby. I doubt Der Bingle had musique concrete in mind as an outcome of his efforts (he liked to pre-tape so he could get in more golf), but avant-garde composers, including folks at the BBC, started to explore new ways to approach sound design and music. It was the workshop's creations for the famous Doctor Who television show, starting in 1963, that made their sounds an international phenomenon and an essential ingredient to the experimental scene of the era. Here is a six-part documentary about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop: The Alchemists of Sound. Recent posts this week include other experimental sounds of the 1960s, including The Ipcress File, how to make tape loops and musique concrete, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon. Enjoy & experiment!


We recently announced the release of David Holzman's Diary (1967) on Blu-ray, a film which offers an interesting window into 1960s youth culture grappling with identity, expression, and the medium of filmmaking. This cult classic begins its 6-day screening at MOMA tonight! Schedule here. A convincing mockumentary, akin to William Klein's Polly Maggoo, David Hozman's Diary was paid homage in Roman Coppola's CQ (2001). In Coppola's film, Jeremy Davies (Lost) takes on the Holzman-role of cinema verite filmmaker who struggles to document his life while working on a sci-spy movie cut from the fabric of Barbarella and Danger Diabolik. I think Spy Vibers would enjoy watching CQ, and then following the trail back to Holzman and the other films that provided inspiration. David Holzman's Diary review at New York Times here. CQ review at fellow COBRAS Permission to Kill here. Stills below from David Holzman's Diary and CQ. Check out 60s experimental: BBC Doctor Who here.

June 14, 2011


In our last post, Spy Vibe looked briefly at the experimental nature that is at the heart of what made much of 1960s art & design fresh and cool. Paul McCartney and John Lennon became enthralled with tape loops and experimental music (see last post), and two of McCartney's solo projects, including one that is an electronic New Wave piece, were released today in CD and vinyl editions. I've been watching many documentaries this week about John Cage (thank you Netflix), and thinking about the playful openness to create for the sake of discovering the unexpected. Our spy hero in The Ipcress File (1965), Harry Palmer, followed chance to investigate an abandoned factory, resulting in this nifty tape loop. Is it a Morton Subotnick piece? For those who have not seen this wonderful film, watch and see what unfolds. It's fun to see how musique concrete and sounds coming from the avant-garde and soundtrack labs were incorporated into the plot of the film. The digital noise in the clip below clears up quickly. Check out 60s experimental: BBC Doctor Who here.

June 10, 2011


“When I made my first tape loops, man was it a buzz!” McCartney said. “Bringing tape loops into the studio as I did, finding out that John has got a really funky tune called ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ that needed a solo…. Well, what was better than the crazy stuff I was doing? (Wired)." Paul McCartney has dusted off his original tape machines and is planning a new experimental project!

At the heart of "1960s Style in Action" remains the magic cocktail that blended space-age experimentation and artistic flair. It's what I love about the combination of Ken Adam set designs with the larger-than-life adventures of 007. It was an era of invention, like Rabanne molding industrial and sculptural materials into new fashion. For songwriter Paul McCartney, who was a fan of musique concrete, Stockhausen and avant-garde expression, the cultural soil was ripe for the planting of a new hybrid of pop music- one might say that hybrid has blossomed as the mainstay of contemporary, loop-based production.

During the mid-1960s, Paul McCartney became fascinated with tape loops and experimental film. As he described in a recent interview for
Wired, Lennon's song Tomorrow Never Knows provided a perfect opportunity to bring his experimental work into a Beatles production. Lennon himself would catch the loop-buzz and added his Revolution 9 to the 'White Album' and in three experimental records with Yoko Ono. McCartney revisited the approach again electronically in McCartney II (remastered release out this Tuesday), in his three Firemen projects with Youth, and in his collaborations with Sgt. Pepper cover artist Peter Blake on Liverpool Sound Collage (a fave of mine!).

Maybe it is because I have been working more on experimental projects myself lately and my ears are fascinated to hear and to create in that sandbox of 'chance' and playfulness, but I am excited to learn that McCartney has literally dusted off his original tape machines from the
Tomorrow Never Knows sessions and is planning a tape loop project. Read the complete article by Scott Thill at Wired here. You can learn more about McCartney's travels off the pop-path in the books, Many Years From Now and The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and the Avant-Garde. Listen to Tomorrow Never Knows on SoundCloud here. Check out Spy Vibe Jason Whiton's music and remix for Yoko Ono on SoundCloud here. Below is one of my fave documentary clips about how to make analogue tape loops.

Check out 60s experimental: BBC Doctor Who here. Learn about avant-garde composers the Avant-Garde Project here. Readers might also like to check out the series Obscure Tape Music of Japan, which includes Yoko Ono's first husband, composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. Nice overview of the series here, and Julian Copes introduction to Ichiyanagi here. Being a fan of Noh music, I particularly like Vol #1 in the series, which featured Joji Yuasa's Aoi no Ue ("blue above"), and Ichiyanagi's Opera From the Works of Tadanori Yokoo.

June 9, 2011


Blow-Up (1966), the classic film about a mod photographer with David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave, is a wonderful art/mystery film that offers a window into the world of Swinging London, 1960s fashion, and even sports a live nightclub scene with the Yardbirds (with both Jimmy page and Jeff Beck on guitar). A beautifully illustrated book came out in the fall, filled with photographs from the set and with reflections on the film and era. Spy Vibe has been a long-time fan of author Philippe Garner (Sixties Design, Helmet Newton, Avedon Fashion, Eileen Gray), and this is an excellent addition to any Spy Viber's library.

Amazon: "Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blow-Up is a masterfully constructed and paced exploration of the enigmas that challenge our interpretations of both the moving and the still image. Photography plays a key role at the very core of the film, providing the metaphorical site for the director's questioning of the relationship between reality and perceptions. This book provides a fresh and stimulating study of Antonioni's masterpiece. It reassembles and re-tells - through onset stills and the original blow-ups - the film's key narrative and pictorial strands in a focused visual investigation that is complemented by the authors' analytical essays. These texts draw on new research and effectively situate the film in the social and creative contexts that informed Antonioni's screenplay and art direction - on the one hand through an account of the milieu of fashionable photographers and models and the media through which they became so vivid a phenomenon, and on the other hand through the revelation of the artistic and literary reference points that so pervasively enrich the film. " Blow-Up is currently our of print, but Netflix does list it as available for rent on DVD.

June 8, 2011


Happy Birthday to Frank Lloyd Wright, born today in 1867. Perhaps the most celebrated and well-known architect, his works and influence can be seen by movie fans in the set designs of North By Northwest, The International, and others. What might be less well-known about the artist is that Wright was also an avid collector and dealer of Japanese woodblock prints (Ukiyo-e). I was interested to learn that, after he visited Japan in 1905, he helped to mount the first major exhibition of Hiroshige at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1906. Among his many projects, Hiroshige created numerous illustrations of classic adventure tales of revenge and assassination, like Chushingura, so Spy Vibers may find more than elegant designs in this story. Did anyone see the recent film, 13 Assassins?

In 1912, Wright penned a book, The Japanese Print: An Interpretation. The influence of Japanese Art, which often emphasizes the integration of natural soundings, on his work was explored in Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan by Kevin Nute in 2000, and Frank Lloyd Wright and the Art of Japan by Julia Meech in 2001. Learn more about this influential artist at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation here, at Wright in Japan here, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Japan here.

Feeling crafty? Check out the official LEGO sets to build Wright's Guggenheim Museum and Falling Water. Wright was, in my opinion, the star of The International (above). Movie poster available at Movie Goods here. Read more about Wright's influence on Hitchcock's North By Northwest (1959) on Spy Vibe here. Wright passed away on April 9, 1959, three months before the release of Hitchcock's film.

June 7, 2011


Spy Vibe fans of architecture and design have a chance to meet at the Phillip Johnson glass house this month. The Phillip Johnson estate hosts "Conversations in Context" talks and Design Within Reach is a sponsor for the next event on June 16th. From the Johnson website: "Join a leading mind in architecture, art, landscape, history, design, or preservation and experience the Glass House campus through an entirely new lens. Listen to a personal narrative, interpretation, or inspiration by a special guest while walking the site with an intimate group of visitors. Continue the dialogue during a reception at the Glass House following the tour. Conversations in Context take place Thursday evenings from 5:30-7:30pm."

The glass house is in New Canaan, CT. More information at Design With Reach here, info and tickets on sale at the Phillip Johnson website here.

June 5, 2011


Kino Video and Lorber Films has announced that they will release a Blu-ray edition of Jim McBride's 1967 cult classic, David Holzman's Diary. The film takes the form of a cinema verite project by a young filmmaker, who documents his life and his relationships with the community around him. It's a kind of mockumentary, however believable, that offers an interesting window on art, attitudes, and culture during that era. This is not your Avengers 1967, but an urban tale of the youth generation, first consumers of art house cinema, who struggled to define and understand themselves through the medium. Roman Coppola paid homage to David Holzman's Diary in his sci-spy/drama, CQ (2001), which featured a Holzman-like character (Jeremy Davies/Lost) documenting his life while working on a Barbarella-style genre film. Spy Vibers interested in the art scene of 1967 New York should definitely check it out. The film also features the song A Day in the Life by The Beatles, which was released in June of that year.

June 4, 2011


Happy Birthday to director Alain Resnais, who was born on June 3rd, 1922. Resnais has dedicated his life to making films with artistic vision and, during the 1950s and 1960s, he tackled challenging lessons for humanity by addressing the Holocaust and the Vietnam War. Resnais created many narrative and documentary shorts since the late 1930s, and made his feature debut with Hiroshima Mon Amour in 1959. Associated with the output of the French New Wave of the early 1960s, his films are perhaps more akin to the artistic style of Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, The Mirror), addressing themes of time and memory with formal, lush photography. Spy Vibers will appreciate his movies for their visual style, and for the large role he played in the cultural climate of the cold war era.

He is perhaps best known for the poetic imagery in his masterpiece, Last Year at Marienbad (1961). It is a quintessential art house film, famously slow in pace, that leaves indelible snapshots of exquisite design in one's imagination. The garden scene (below) is the film's most iconic image, and is itself a work of modern art-in-motion. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1961. Synopsis from Criterion:

"Not just a defining work of the French New Wave but one of the great, lasting mysteries of modern art, Alain Resnais’ epochal Last Year at Marienbad (L’année dernière à Marienbad) has been puzzling appreciative viewers for decades. Written by radical master of the New Novel Alain Robbe-Grillet, this surreal fever dream, or nightmare, gorgeously fuses the past with the present in telling its ambiguous tale of a man and a woman (Giorgio Albertazzi and Delphine Seyrig) who may or may not have met a year ago, perhaps at the very same cathedral-like, mirror-filled château they now find themselves wandering. Unforgettable in both its confounding details (gilded ceilings, diabolical parlor games, a loaded gun) and haunting scope, Resnais’ investigation into the nature of memory is disturbing, romantic, and maybe even a ghost story." Essay about the film at Criterion here.

Resnais continues to make movies, including a recent feature with Audrey Tautou (Amelie), called Not on the Lips (2003). His new product is current in post-production. More about Resnais at the Museum of the Moving Image here. Movie posters available at Movie Goods here.