The Cultural Gutter

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"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

“Level Up: How PlayStation Infiltrated Youth Culture”

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At The Guardian, Keith Stuart and Steve Boxer look at the history of PlayStation.“Having been part of the late 80s rave and underground-clubbing scene, I recognised how it was influencing the youth market. In the early 90s, club culture started to become more mass market, but the impetus was still coming from the underground, from […]

Christopher Lee’s Christmas Symphonic Metal

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Christopher Lee has released a promotional video for his latest album, Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing.  You should probably watch everything at Charlemagne Productions.

RIP, Bunta Sugawara

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Actor Bunta Sugawara has died. Sugawara is probably best known for his work in Kinji Fukasaku’s The Yakuza Papers/Battles Without Honor And Humanity film series. Sugawara also appeared in Norifumi Suzuki’s Trucker Yaro series, Spirited Away (2001), Tales From Earthsea (2006), Wolf Children (2012) and Kon Ichikawa’s Actress (1987) . The Asahi Shimbun, The Japan […]

“He Wears The Mask Just To Cover The Raw Flesh”

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At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Dr. Doom: “Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are  the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.”

RIP, Ken Takakura

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Actor Ken Takakura has died. Takakura starred in films such as Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965); Red Peony Gambler (1968); Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ichijoji (1955) and Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956); as well as in co-productions like The Yakuza (1974); The Bullet Train (1975); Black Rain (1989) and Riding Alone For Thousands […]

Writers’ “Lowbrow” Influences

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Writers share their “lowbrow” and gutter influences at Electric Lit: “I love Melville but Melville never wrote me a Choose Your Own Adventure book. And I needed that experience first if I was ever going to get to Melville.”

“The Roots of Reactionary Rage”

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At The Daily Beast, Arthur Chu writes about GamerGate, Disco Demolition and Lilith Fair. “The biggest 1970s music bonfire was not done by a church, and the records they destroyed weren’t metal records. And they didn’t use kerosene and a match, they used explosives. And rather than singing hymns and being quietly self-righteous, the event […]

RIP, Jan Hooks

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Actor and comedian Jan Hooks has died. The New Yorker has an appreciation. Kevin Nealon remembers Hooks at People.com. DListed remembers Hooks. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Hollywood Reporter have obituaries. Time collected six of her Saturday Night Live sketches. Hooks talks about life after SNL. Here she is as […]

RIP, Geoffrey Holder

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Actor, dancer, choreographer, director, designer and artist Geoffrey Holder has died. Besides his iconic role as Baron Samedi in Live And Let Die (1973), he directed and designed the costumes for the 1975 stage production of The Wiz, performed as the Metropolitan Opera Ballet’s principal dancer in 1955-6, choreographed pieces for the Holder Dance Company […]

RIP, Polly Bergen

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Actor and singer Polly Bergen has died. Bergen has roles in film and television series as diverse as Desperate Housewives, Commander In Chief, The Sopranos, The Love Boat, Move Over Darling,  Cape Fear (1962), and The Polly Bergen Show.  The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Guardian have obituaries. Here Rex Reed […]

Hail, Vulvatron of GWAR!

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We have been bereft since GWAR lost Oderus Ungerus. But lift up your heads and rejoice, fans of GWAR, there is a new member. She is Vulvatron! (via @saladinahmed)

Interview with Filmmaker Peter Strickland

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The Gutter’s own Carol interviews Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio; The Duke of Burgundy) about his films, sound design, mole crickets, pheromonal perfume and the pressure to put on a persona. Read it at the Toronto International Film Festival’s official Vanguard Program blog.

“Sculptress of Sound: The Lost Works of Composer Delia Derbyshire”

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BBC Radio 4’s Matthew Sweet explores the music and life of composer Delia Derbyshire, probably best known for her work on Doctor Who‘s iconic theme song. “Her realisation of the Doctor Who theme is just one small example of her genius and we’ll demonstrate how the music was originally created as well as hearing individual […]

RIP, James Shigeta

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Actor James Shigeta has died. Shigeta appeared in Die Hard (1988), The Crimson Kimono (1959) The Flower Drum Song (1961),  Bridge To The Sun (1961), Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966), The Yakuza (1974) and many, many television shows.  The AV Club, Den Of Geek and Angry Asian Man have obituaries. Bridge to the Sun is discussed […]

RIP, Elaine Stritch

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Actor and singer Elaine Stritch has died. Stritch worked extensively on Broadway, but she also appeared in September (1987), Small Time Crooks (2000), Monster-In-Law (2005), the British television series, Two’s Company,  3rd Rock From The Sun, My Sister Eileen and 30 Rock. The New York Times,  Variety and The Detroit Free Press. Saara Dutton remembers […]

RIP, Bobby Womack

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Singer, songwriter and composer Bobby Womack has died. The stand-alone importance of his music aside, Womack’s songs were used in innumerable film soundtracks and Womack composed the soundtrack for Across 110th Street (1972). The Los Angeles Times, Time and The Telegraph have obituaries. At Ebony, Gary Harris remembers Womack. The New Yorker considers “The Unimpeachable […]

RIP, Meshach Taylor

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Actor Meshach Taylor has died. Taylor had roles in Mannequin (1987), Designing Women, Buffalo Bill, Criminal Minds, Ned’s Classified School Survival Guide, The Urban Gardener with Meshach Taylor and the Broadway production of Beauty And The Beast. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and NPR have obituaries. Here Wendy Williams talks with Meshach […]

RIP, Carla Laemmle

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Actor and dancer Carla Laemmle has died. She appeared in The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Dracula (1931) and The Broadway Melody (1929). Laemmle returned to film with The Vampire Hunters Club (2001).  The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and The Los Angeles Times have obituaries. Here Laemmle is interviewed by her niece. And […]

RIP, Casey Kasem

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Actor and DJ Casey Kasem has died. Kasem hosted American Top 40 and was the original voice of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo, voiced Robin in Batman (1968 cartoon) and Super Friends, and voiced Cliffjumper in Transformers: The Movie (1986) and multiple characters in the 1980s Transformers cartoon. At The Record, Bilal Qureshi remembers Kasem. The Washington […]

RIP, Ruby Dee

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Actor and activist Ruby Dee has died. Dee appeared in many roles in film, television and on stage. She appeared in St. Louis Blues (1958),  A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Guiding Light (1967), Peyton Place (1968-9), Buck and the Preacher (1972), Do The Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991),  American Gangster (2007). Josie Pickens […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The New Yorker has a profile of author Gene Wolfe. “His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.”

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    Remezcla has a gallery of Lourdes Grobet’s portraits of luchadores with their families and a bit of an interview with her. (Yes, the luchadores are in their masks and often wearing suits or casual wear, which is the best thing). (Thanks, Matt!) “Father and warrior, the masked wrestler is the perfect metaphor for the duality that Grobet’s photography wants to depict. Her work is resonant because she doesn’t try to demolish the myths that envelop lucha libre – she simply nurtures and expands them in an offbeat way.”

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    At Autostraddle, Heather Hogan has “a Recap of Jem and the Holograms’ Truly Outrageous Lesbianism.” (Thanks, Sara Century!) “If you are a woman over the age of 30, I have some information that is going to send you cartwheeling back to 1987 to high five your young self and shout “We knew it! We knew it!” right in your own tiny gay face: Stormer and Kimber from Jem are truly, outrageously, canonically queer….This is good news. Great news. But it’s not really news news. Of course Stormer and Kimber are gay. They’ve been in love since 1987!”

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    “Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been binge-watching one of the most innovative series on television. Like many of the gems of the current TV renaissance, it features extended narratives with complex plots, intricate backstories, and layered characters. Its approach to storytelling is remarkably adventurous, shattering television, and even cinematic conventions.

     I’m speaking, of course, of General Hospital.” Noah Berlatsky writes about the influence of soap operas on “prestige television” at Quartz. (And make sure to click through to Akash Nikolas’ “Yes, Mad Men is a Soap Opera and that Shouldn’t be an Insult”).
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    Here’s the first Gutterthon 2015 Geektastic Song–“Fortune Cookie” by Chica Non Grata. Chica Non Grata kindly offered to write 3 songs based on topics offered by 3 lucky backers. So listen up and get down. “A song about pop-up ads and how creepy they are and how they seem to be reading your mind and maybe there is actually an artificial intelligence who is stalking you.”

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    Friend of the Gutter, Nitrate Diva writes about 13 women who helped shape cinema. “Hollywood is, in many ways, a more male-dominated environment today than it was 90 or so years ago. Scary, huh?

    In order to perpetuate a culture where more women make movies now, we need to recognize the women who made movies in the medium’s formative years. Let’s take our editing shears and snip the ‘boys only’ myth right out. It belongs on the cutting room floor.”

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