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Check out Paper Rad's music video Bubble Puppy (Flash animation, takes a few secs to load--but worth it!). The tune is actually "Hot Smoke and Sassafras" (1968), by the Texas psychedelic band and one-hit-wonder the Bubble Puppy (more info on them below). Mixing '60s hippie mysticism with '70s bad taste, Paper Rad envisions the band riding (and playing) on top of painted vans with names like "Green Shock" and "Midnight at the Oasis" while the Egyptian desert scrolls in the background. The eponymous dog suffers from some sort of magical mystery hydrophobia that causes blue bubbles to hover in front of its mouth and ass. The animation has a nice dirt-style feel with lots of gratuitous gradating and sunburst effects--like van painting come to life. Of course, it's also completely self-aware, recycling all the MTV moves in a hilarious, inept-but-not-really parody style.
Back to the Bubble Puppy itself, here's a cached text from an apparently defunct web page (really takes you back to the days before corporate control clamped down on the music biz, when you could still have spontaneous regional hits):
Memories of Bubble Puppy
by Roy Cox
THE "HOT SMOKE AND SASSAFRAS" BOYS
I instigated the formation of the "Bubble Puppy" in 1968. We were four of the best available musicians the State of Texas had to offer. I had worked with Rod Prince in the Bad Seeds.
In my opinion, we were four of the most talented and dedicated musicians the world had to offer. I have never since and neither will I ever again experience that type of bonding with other human beings. We all wanted the same thing - to be a Rock and Roll player. And for two wonderfully creative years, we did just that. No one on this planet could have been more dedicated to the cause than "The Bubble Puppy".
We wrote "Hot Smoke" one night in the recording studio. We had the place all to ourselves. Todd was ill at the time, so Rod, David, and I went to the studio to jam. Oh, the jams we used to have! Cream was our inspiration. Todd came in a few days later and added his lead part. "Hot Smoke" was then on its way into the history books and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is listed under the category of "One hit wonders". I am proud. Incidentally, "Hot Smoke" was not the intended single, the flip side was.
The Puppy was then on its way. "Hot Smoke" was a huge hit. Staying at the top of the charts for literally months, it was #1 in such places as Houston, Chicago, Miami, San Antonio, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Philly, etc. for two and three months running. We were amazed.
We then managed to have the ultimate experience. The Puppy toured with everyone who was anyone -- Steppenwolf, Spirit, Canned Heat, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Grassroots, MC-5, Ambouy Dukes, Chambers Brothers, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Nice, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, ZZ Top, Moody Blues, BB. King, Grand Funk Railroad, Mother Earth, Rare Earth, The Turtles, Ohio Express, The 1910 Fruitgum Co., The Buckinghams, Sir Douglas Quintet, Blackoak Arkansas, Bob Seger. The list goes on and I just can’t remember all of the wonderful and talented artists who we met while on the road. And if you came to Texas, you played with " The Puppy".
Some of these men and women are still my friends. And they, as well as I, are very excited about this new venture - the "BluesKnights". Many of them are ready to participate in this project and I am extremely happy about that.
I will mention the time I met Hugh Hefner and Buddy Rich in Chicago at a club called the "Kenetic Playground". We were there to perform for the weekend and Friday had been canceled because of a unruly "peace demonstration". However, Mayor Daily of Chicago lifted the curfew the next day, and we performed Saturday night. That night, our booking agency - William Morris, talked us into staying over for Sunday’s performance of Buddy Rich. That Sunday night, I watched Buddy and his band play the complete score of the musical "West Side Story", and he performed a forty-five minute drum solo. Only the way that Buddy could. Later I met both him and Hugh. I could go on about four young men with a hit record. It was merely AWESOME.
And that was then and this is now.
The New Bubble Puppy CD Hot Smoke will be released soon!
Click here to go to the NEW Bubble Puppy UPDATES page!
Ciao . . . Roy
505 San Jacinto, Ste. #101
Austin, Tx 78701
From a Metropolis magazine review, discussing the "French theoretical architecture show" at the Guggenheim Soho a few years back:
The fascination of French artists and architects with surrealism may explain why they're so often charmed by postmodernity in its more kitsch incarnations. Take, for example, one of the artists featured in "Premises," Bertrand Lavier, who contributes a suite of work called "Walt Disney Productions," life-size replicas of the phony abstract paintings and sculptures in a 1947 comic strip in which Mickey Mouse visits a modern art museum. The catalogue is worth quoting for its summary of the show's own delirious critical stance:
"Rather than making a painting that was a copy of a cartoon (as a number of his contemporaries did), and rather than reclaiming some tired abstract painting under the pretext of simulation, Lavier took directly from the cartoon itself. [Meaning he hired a fabricator to turn the drawings into objects. Not that there's anything wrong with that.] Since the cartoon precisely simulated a body of images prevalent in Modernist art, he simultaneously succeeded in resuscitating abstract painting. Although he did so without theoretical effort and--since his short circuit was photographic--without an excessive quantity of turpentine."
It's hard to know which failure of nerve is greater, that of the artist toying with the simulacra of the simulacra to "resuscitate" abstraction by yoking it to an Arp-like lexicon of cartoon shapes, or the too-clever-for-words tone of the catalogue and its dumb disdain for turpentine and technique. Not only is the art dopey--and this is a show about dopey art if ever there was one--the feeble character of its critique is revealed in its slavish replication of the original image. Disney is simply too much loved by all concerned for this kind of work to pose a threat to the battalions of imagineers who blanket the world with what can only be described as the real thing.
Oh, lighten up. Catalog writer, reviewer, you're both wrong. Lavier's installation isn't meant to "resuscitate abstract painting"--who really believes that?--nor to threaten Disney's "battalions of imagineers." It's a meditation on historicization, to use a rather ugly word: refracting capital-A art through the lens of a pop culture artifact to show how taste and vision change from era to era. The images in the comic strip (and by sly implication, the art referenced) are clearly from the '40s, but it takes a few decades to see that conclusively. What things from our own time that we take to be immutable will seem this "period" in 20X3? (Candidate: Matrix "bullet time" effect.) Lavier tackles the subject with wit and polish, and it's depressing to read such a grave debate surrounding this work.
Cats vs Dogs: left, Carl D'Alvia, Ratdog, 1996, carved plaster and rope, 40" X 25" X 23"; right, Sigurd Engerström, The Nightmare Cheetah, 2003, pencil drawing.
A list of permanent links has been added to my faq page (scroll down past the personal bombast). Included are four weblogs that were kind enough to link to me recently, and that I've been enjoying: Hullabaloo (Digby); artnotes (Ariana French); Three River Tech Review (Philip Shropshire); and ukor.org (not really a weblog, an eclectic portal page from Japan). All are recommended. Shropshire has an interesting piece here comparing Ted Kaczynski to Hannibal Lecter (the definitive one, played by Brian Cox, not the other guy), and then likening Kaczynski/Lecter to Francis Fukayama and Leon Kass: the Luddite posse. Good quote: "If I want artificial blood, augmented antioxidants, a Rhino Horn, creepy blood-red infrared eyes and a bio-networked version of a Spidey sense, then that should be my choice, my call. Will I still be human? I don't know. But I should have the right to find out, good or ill. And I shouldn't have to fear the actions of Kass, Fukuyama and especially Kaczynski." To which I would add, provided all that stuff isn't being pushed by corporate body-molders as the Next Big Thing, in a milieu of bought-off regulators, a la Big Pharm and Big Agriculture. Not sure how we're going to get to the post-human phase without some awfully unhappy guinea pigs.