February 25, 2012


George Harrison was born today in 1943. In celebration, here is a re-post of our Harrison celebration. In the past year, Martin Scorsese released his documentary film about George, Living in the Material World. A companion book was published by Olivia Harrison. And George's son, Dhani, created an iPad app that offers a multi-media history tour through George's collection of instruments (NY Times review here). Image below by Richard Avedon.

Happy Birthday to George Harrison (1943-2001). George played a large role in bringing Indian music and culture to the radar of 1960s pop culture. Inspired by a sitar player on the set of Help! (1965), George went on to study with master, Ravi Shankar, who became an adopted father to the Beatle. George pursued a life-long study of meditation and spirituality and helped to produce records by Indian musicians and spiritual groups. A wonderful box set came out recently called Collaborations, which includes all of the music George and Ravi recorded together, as well as some video performances. George is also remembered today for the role he played in producing Monty Python and other independent film projects. Through his company, Hand-Made Films, Harrison was the executive producer of Mona Lisa, How to Get a Head in Advertising, Powwow Highway, Withnail & I, Times Bandits, Life of Brian, and others.

Harrison was celebrated in the all-star Concert For George at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002. The program included Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Dhani Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Tom Petty, Monty Python, and others. Fans can see the entire film in a free streaming event today on the George Harrison website. A Blu-ray [was released] on March 22nd.

In connection to our post yesterday about instruments and the James Bond Theme, it's worth noting that Harrison was also a big ukulele fan! The Beatles grew up with the sound and humor of UK stage-sensation, George Formby. During the Beatles Anthology project (1995), George, Paul, and Ringo re-visited one of their first recordings, Ain't She Sweet, on a sunny day with ukuleles. Since Harrison's passing in 2001, Paul McCartney has included a ukulele tribute to George in all of his concerts with a performance of the powerful, Harrison classic, Something (Abbey Road/1969). Here is Paul playing the song during the Concert For George with Eric Clapton below.

Spy Vibers can also visit my YouTube channel to see my experimental film for Yoko Ono (now on the festival circuit), and a 75th anniversary film/sound collage I made for John Lennon.

February 24, 2012


Ready to revamp your secret lair? Check out the Knoll sale at Design Within Reach, where you can pick up classic furniture by Eero Saarinen and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. For more Mid-Century Modern delights, check out our review of the Dieter Rams gadget exhibit at SFMOMA here.

February 21, 2012


Anyone who has been fortunate to see the film, Hugo, has probably been inspired by Scorsese's love letter to early cinema to explore the works of Melies and other imaginative pioneers. The 5-dvd set of Melies work from Flicker Alley is definitely the place to turn. The distributor will also release a remastered Blu-ray edition of a few of his major works, including Trip to the Moon, on March 27th. As my imagination relishes a revisit to Melies's wonderful magic, I can't help but feel a tug back to the incredible mystery/adventure cliffhanger serials that Feuillade made in 1913-1914. Kino released his original Fantomas films on DVD last year, which are thrilling and visually exciting- as this trailer illustrates.

"Based on the phenomenally popular French pulp novellas, Louis Feuillade's outrageous, ambitious FANTÔMAS series became the gold standard of espionage serials in pre-WWI Europe, and laid the foundation for such immortal works as Feuillade's own Les Vampires and Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse films.

René Navarre stars as the criminal lord of Paris, the master of disguise, the creeping assassin in black: Fantômas. Over the course of five feature films (which combined to form a 5 1/2-hour epic), Fantômas, along with his accomplices and mistresses, are pursued by the equally resourceful Inspector Juve (Edmund Bréon) and his friend, journalist Jerôme Fandor (Georges Melchior)."

I love the movie poster that Kino chose as its DVD cover. From what I understand, the image above was originally the cover illustration for one of the novels. The bloody dagger that Fantomas holds in the original image was edited out when made into the film poster below. Despite that sinister detail, I enjoy how he is portrayed with top hat and mask- perhaps a precursor to the eccentric, well-dressed adventure we enjoy from the space age of the 1960s and programs like The Avengers. You can buy the poster image from AllPosters.com.

If you have not seen Hugo, by the way, make sure you see it on the big screen. I'm not usually a fan of 3D, but this is one film where it adds some beautiful (and humorous) elements to the experience. And you will see this Fantomas movie poster in the film!

February 3, 2012


Coming soon from Hermes Press, the complete I Spy comic book run from Gold Key! After publishing many successful comic reprint collections, including Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants, Dark Shadows, The Phantom, Buck Rogers, and other classics, I Spy: The Complete Series will be released on June 19th.

From Hermes Press: "One of the greatest spy shows from the 1960s, I Spy, returns with Hermes Press’ new deluxe reprint of all six Gold Key comics’ issues of the feature. Included in this complete reprint are informative essays about the creative team behind the comic book and loads of never-before seen publicity photographs featuring stars Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. Artwork by Al McWilliams (issues #1-5) and Mike Roy (issue #6); scripts by Western Publishing mainstay Paul S. Newman." Pre-order at Amazon.