I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx


by Thomas Michalski
June 26, 2016
To say Jacqueline Susann’s 1966 sensational novel Valley of the Dolls was a bestseller is something of an understatement. By the time of the author’s death from breast cancer in 1974, the Guinness Book of World Records had certified it the best seller, as in “of all time”. The success of the novel, which chronicles the sordid private lives of a trio of pill-popping young starlets, long rumored to be based on real life actresses, was almost instantaneous, and it followed that Hollywood, always looking to cash in, came calling soon after. With a sizable built in audience of bored housewives and other vicarious trashy thrill-seekers awaiting the adaptation, Mark Robson’s 1967 film of the same name was almost guaranteed to do brisk business at the box office, but unsurprisingly, the critics, including Roger Ebert, who later co-wrote the 1970 sequel/parody Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with the breast-obsessed director Russ Meyers, panned it, just like their peers had done the book. They did however, have reason to, the film is a confused, clunky experience, but that didn’t stop a small but devoted audience, especially among the LGBT community, from repeating its endlessly quotable dialogue and keeping the faith at screenings. Put short, it’s a cult classic, but not an unlikely one; in fact, there’s no way this movie couldn’t have become one...
Thomas Michalski is a writer and radio host from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can keep up with his comings and goings over at http://www.voodooinspector.com/

by Blake Lewis
June 22, 2016
The club CBGB’s (which stands for ‘country, bluegrass, blues’ – and its sub-title OMFUG - ‘other music for uplifting gourmandizers’) was opened in late 1973 in the New York. Located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan on The Bowery, it quickly became the place to be for anyone interested in the new music scene of the city. At the time The Bowery was a pretty seedy and dangerous place to be; mainly populated by muggers, pimps, prostitutes, homeless, drunks and derelicts, it was a place no-one really cared about by all accounts and was synonymous with ‘skid row’. However, the rent was cheap, it wasn’t in a residential area and the locals were too out of it to care either way. The founder and owner of the club, Hilly Crystal, originally opened it for country, bluegrass and blues music; however he soon adopted a ‘Rock Only’ policy and began booking new bands. Among these bands were many who went on to later, bigger mainstream success, including; The Patti Smith Group, Talking Heads, The Ramones and Blondie just to name a few....
Blake Lewis

by Chris Martin
June 20, 2016
Some titles are inescapable. The Day the Earth Stood Still, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and Don’t Look Now all carry that spark of burning curiosity that is the basic draw of all genre films. They give you an effect or a demand without revealing the subject of the action. We don’t know why the Earth stood still, or what Alfredo Garcia did, nor do we know what we can’t look at now and why not, but in all these cases the less known about the subject makes the film that much more appetizing. Surf Nazis Must Die may reveal too many of its cards at the forefront, despite the fact that its commanding, declarative tone does raise, arguably unneeded, questions. Its absurd power is too great to hide behind such things as nuance and subtlety. Swastikas on wetsuits and switchblades on surfboards cannot, and should not, be hidden behind a curtain of restraint. Life is too short to keep flamboyantly dressed surfing fascists out of the limelight..
Christopher Martin recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in English and a specialization in Film Studies. Shockingly, he is currently underemployed. In his free time Chris likes to read old science fiction novels, enjoy what little nightlife Western Massachusetts has to offer, and watch as many films as possible. He also spends too much time on Tumblr.

by Chris Sutton
June 19, 2016

During the 1990's I was lucky enough to be employed at an independent music/record store that happened to have a highly progressive video rental section that catered to foreign, cult, and out-of-print movies. It recieved much love and was thoroughly curated with sections dedicated to genres and genius directors of note. Every day when I would restock the returns on to our shelves there was always this one cover in the "J" section that would always stop me for at least a couple seconds and force me to ponder what was inside. The colorful box promised you that "Gross" and "Dirty" acts would be performed by puppets with the tagline "Splatstick Horror". Of course I had to find out what that phrase meant so I checked it out, went home, and got very stoned. What I saw was not just a taboo grossfest perpetuated by grotesquely deformed and maladjusted puppets, but a fully realized ensemble comedy complete with complex emotions, absent ethical boundaries, and gallons upon gallons of various bodily fluids. That movie was called Meet The Feebles, Peter Jacksons facetiously genius homage to The Muppets franchise, and it's simply a work of art...

Chris Sutton is a musician, writer, and artist who currently lives in Portland OR, and grew up in Olympia, WA. He plays or has played with numerous musical acts including Gossip, The Dirtbombs, Dub Narcotic Sound System, Spider & The Webs, Chain & The Gang, & Hornet Leg. Chris has been so obsessed with records over his life that he writes a vinyl collecting memoir/blog called Record Lections on Instagram and he is often seen Djing his new discoveries in local bars or posting mixes on SoundCloud or Mixcloud. He is also a big fan of visual art with a special passion for African American folk art, Impressionism, European New Wave cinema, and most eras of television. Most of the books he reads, whether fact or fiction, usually have drawings in them. Chris's best friends are his faithful rat terriers Juju and Queenie.

by Lindsay Long
June 17, 2016
One of the more enigmatic and unique sounds to emerge from England’s burgeoning 70’s punk scene was the female fronted X-Ray Spex. After witnessing an inspirational Sex Pistols performance, former flower child Marianne Joan Elliot-Said decided to form a punk rock band. In late 1976 with help from her boyfriend/manager Falcon Stuart, she took out ads in Melody Maker and NME seeking “young punx who want to stick it together.” Shedding her real name for that of Poly Styrene, she installed teenage saxophonist Susan Whitby, Paul Dean, Paul B.P. Hurding, and Jack Stafford to hurl her anti-consumerist lyrics into the faces of London’s rebellious youth. The sax lent an atypical approach to the three-chord aesthetic of classic punk rock with slightly funky tinges and a definite new wave angle. Alongside Jak Airport’s soaring guitar and Poly’s (at times abrasive and shrill, rarely melodic and sweet) voice, the band was able to become an overnight sensation. Only their second live appearance was onstage at the Roxy and they even managed to take up a near residency at local Man on the Moon pub. Recording companies were eager to cash in on the punk rock craze, and X-Ray Spex released their first single “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” on Virgin. The song became a proto riot grrrl anthem and is still heralded as one of the finest punk singles released. Although Poly claimed the song actually stressed strong anti-consumerism views rather than remarks on sexism. It is still no mistake that she became widely recognized as an innovative feminist figure in an aggressive scene dominated by nihilistic young men. Born of British Somali descent and unabashedly wearing braces, Poly Styrene was an audacious archetype for rock n’ roll front woman. Denouncing the idea of being conceived as a sex symbol, she in turn became a punk poster child, often receiving more recognition than the actual band itself. Whitby, better known as Lora Logic, was replaced early on by Glyn John then eventually Rudi Thomson, but also must be credited as a crucial role in the early incarnation of X-Ray Spex. Being only fifteen at the time, Logic left the band to pursue her education. She would later go on to form Essential Logic and work with several influential acts throughout her own interesting post-punk career...
Currently holdin’ it down in the dirty south city of Atlanta, Network Awesome contributor Lindsay can be found frequenting house parties, punk rock shows, seedy thrift stores, or glued to her computer screen unearthing the endless gems today's internet offers. A self-proclaimed fan of all things vintage, including the nudie mags of yesteryear, she possesses an insatiable appetite for anything visually mind-blowing or just totally tasteless. Notorious B.I.G. sums her up best with a line from ‘Gimme the Loot': ”Dangerous. Crazier than a bag of f*@#$%g angel dust.”