Thursday, December 9, 2010

Uncle Slam: Logo #325

Originally designed by James Montgomery Flagg in 1917 and appropriated by the inestimable Ellie and Tom Hughes and Mike Seiff in 1988. Uncle Slam were purveyors of that weird '90s hybrid of thrash metal and punk that puzzled and angered a lot of people. In mid-'90s Los Angeles, caught between hair metal and the waning days of punk, not an enviable place to be. Their "Say Uncle" LP, for which this illustration - in which Uncle Sam appears to be gathering up funds to find John Connor - was destined. "Say Uncle...or die!" was the rallying cry that ranks up there with "skate or die" and "Sophie's Choice."

Monday, December 6, 2010

Flux of Pink Indians: Logo #324

This mix of Native American imagery and the peace symbol was designed for Flux of Pink Indians in 1981 by Exitstencil Press, Crass' in-house design firm founded by Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher. I write "Native American" because, by inference and the time in which it was cast, likely "Indian" means "Native American" - although one never knows. So by what signifiers do we infer that these are two Indians? The "head-dresses" could just as easily be mohawks; are the raised knees part of a dance? They could just as easily be climbing the angles of the peace sign - which just as easily could be a teepee. The fringes might be frocks. Mssrs. Rimbaud and Vaucher maintain a stony silence on the matter - smoke signals notwithstanding.

Keep in mind that Derek Birkett, the bassist of Flux of Pink Indians, co-founded One Little Indian, the record label that last year signed Paul McCartney. Long and winding roads that intertwine are what make life worth living, ultimately.

Apropos of something, here's a nice piece on Clinton Riggs, the Tulsa PD captain who created the yield sign in 1950.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NON: Logo #323

1980 was a banner year for logos. Roughly the same time Boyd Rice adapted the wolfsangle for his Industrial noise act NON, the following musicians were also developing, drawing, and detourning symbols that would become their own logos:

45 Grave
Adam and the Ants
Anti-Nowhere League
Bad Manners
Bad Religion
The Beat
Circle Jerks
Circle One
Die Tödliche Doris
The Effigies
Einstürzende Neubauten
Hüsker Dü
Ill Will
Inner City Unit
Iron Maiden
Judas Priest
Men Without Hats
Klaus Nomi
Reagan Youth
Sisters of Mercy
Stray Cats
This Heat
White Spirit

I like lists. Think of all the collective creative brainwaves that energized the world thirty years ago, making it a better and more interesting place - terminal obscurity notwithstanding. "Iconoclast," Larry Wessel's documentary on Rice, premiered this past August to a packed house in L.A. at the New Beverly Cinema. It was overlong - in much the same way that chocoholics sometimes overindulge - and filled with the Boyd Rice legends that have been re-told through the years, entertaining though they always are. There was scant mention of Rice's longtime companion Lisa Carver throughout the film - the overall effect of which is a bit like the Old Testament written without mention of Moses. I'll always have time for Boyd's many different noises; in the '90s, he wasn't replying to many people who wrote to him in his Colorado sanctum sanctorum. He did, however, take the time to send me an impressive nastygram because I'd pissed him off with a postcard the contents of which neither of us can recall now. Now with Peter Christopherson from Throbbing Gristle having passed into the Great and Eminently Deserved Beyond, we should cherish our Industrial forefathers more than we already do (yes, Male Rape Group, too).

God doesn't just make rainbows. He makes spitting cobras, too.

Aerosmith: Logo #322

Designed by Ray Tabano in 1971. "Crazy" Ray was the band's original guitarist, designer of Aerosmith merchandise and cultivator of their fan-base. Fired in 1979 by Aerosmith's managers, he now runs a catering company. One stage of life doesn't necessarily follow the other, but it does sound strikingly familiar to other tales of rock'n'roll excess and egress. For all the comparisons with The Rolling Stones that Aerosmith have endured, however, the Stones' logo - lips - was about personal identity. It represented who they were. The Aerosmith logo - wings - was about personal aspirations. It represented where they wanted to go. A rather illuminating article about where Aerosmith did go is here.

The Song of the Moment is "Alice" by Sisters of Mercy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

White Zombie: Logo #321

This rather handsome fellow, designed by Rob Zombie in 1992, represents everything his kind of garage metal would become and should be: shambolic, snarling, and - somewhat tellingly - single-eared. Zombie, born Bob Cummings - with a name like that, you'd change your name to "Zombie," too - puts on a hell of a Halloween show at Universal Studios and he seems incredibly earnest. Even though money has bought him all the monster movies he could ever want, lately he's like that eccentric relative who over time has crossed over from "That's your uncle?!" to "That's your uncle?!" - at which point you just grit your teeth and bear his increasingly depressing antics and pretend to text someone while he tries to make eye contact at the dinner table. White Zombie's "More Human Than Human" is still a massive, surprisingly mournful-sounding song, though.