This is a little story that I like to remind myself because I learned that day that one should never be afraid of what he is and what his tastes are because you might realise that life has a way to make you connect with people very strongly, no matter what you think THEIR tastes are. This one also reminds me how much of a cool bunch the guys from Voïvod were, still are and always will be.
I was assisting Claude <> Gregoire the director of Voivod’s video ”Psychic Vacuum” (I’m the weird Pygmy from the Hatröss Dimension you see cloned and dancing during Piggy guitar solo in the Psychic Vaccum clip). It was the second time I was working on a clip for them, having assisted the post prod of their first official clip ”Tribal Conviction” (also directed by Claude Grégoire so of course I got to joke around with them and talk and after the shooting since we lived pretty close to each other, they came by to my place to chill out and talk some more since we really hit it off so well during the while shooting of both clips. I used to live in a place where my room was next to a living room which basically consisted of 3 barber
chairs and a Bronco pinball machine. The other room was where I was sleeping and I had a parachute hanging from the ceiling, hiding the whole room like some kinda tent since there was no door in was all an open space divided in 2, a bed, a dresser and my sound system and all my vinyls. Now, I knew their music was different from Van Halen or Iron Maiden because it was very ”progressive” but I really still thought theat they would mostly listen to stuff like Metallica, Slayer and Black Sabbath and would kinda resent a guy like me who had a very strong connection on my teens to bands like King Crimson, Soft Machine, Gong, Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator!! I would say that at least half of my albums were old prog band (I had every single album of King Crimson, plus most of the solo albums of Robert Fripp!) I hardly never ever was really into heavy metal except for Black Sabbath so I had no album whatsoever that I thought they would like. I was VERY embarrassed that they would discover my collection and afraid that they would think I was not into what they were doing which was false cuz I really liked what they did!! I thought it was so different and of course…
I liked the fact that the structure of their songs was so progressive… I got Blacky (aka Jean-Yves Thériault), Snake (aka Denis Bélanger) and Away (aka Michel Langevin) to sit, all lined up, in the comfy barbershop chairs and I stood prudently in front of my sound system. Away, as you could always expect him to do, sitting in the furthest corner of the room. I thought I was safe since the parachute was hiding my sound system and my albums plus the only other way to get into my room was by a door in the corridor. We were talking and started smoking and I got to relax a little when all of a sudden I noticed Piggy (aka Denis D’Amour) was missing!! 2 seconds later I hear his voice from behind the curtain (parachute) saying hey guys look what this guy has in his record collection!!! ”Oh God I’m so fucked!!” I thought, seeing him exhibiting with a large smile a very old Van der Graaf album called ”Pawn Hearts”. On this album is the track called Plague of the Lighouse Keepers, which was and still is to me an all time classic… He seemed to specifically show it more towards to Away, who was like usual away, sitting in the furthest chair from me and Piggy (remember I was standing right in front of my sound system, guarding it with my life (!). Away kinda woke up from whatever he was in his thoughts and just said ”Right On ! Play It!”. Piggy did and kept digging in my collection, dragging out all my oldest albums from Brian Eno, King Crimson, Soft Machine and even Gong ”Expresso 2”to my amazement they all stood up and suddenly got really interested in my collection and looked at me, kinda acknowledging that I knew my music and that they all thought these were like real good stuff and confirmed why we hit it off so well in the first place. What a relief!!! When ”Pawn Hearts” was finished, Piggy played a very old track by Pink Floyd from the album Umma Gumma called.. ”Astronomy Domine”. They all smiled and listened to it with pure delight. Little did I know that they already had the approval and been granted the permission by Roger Waters himself to do a cover of this song that later appeared on their next album ”Nothingface”, the album that gave them mainstream success which was also the first Voivod album to enter the Billboard 200 charts, peaking at number 114.”Astronomy Domine” was the next clip to appear on MTV. It was shot by Pierre Dalpé. Note that ”Psychic Vacuum” was shot on the roof of the building my childhood friend Dalpé lived in. Soon after that they started touring around the world once more but by then they had gathered a very large public, especially in Europe and much later Jason Newstead from Metallica was to replace Blacky when he left for a short while before they came back with their original formation. Piggy already knew when I first met them that he had a cancer. It never broke his spirit. He was 100% there until the end.
Target Earth, Voïvod last album released in 2013 has a more progressive sound than some of their last few albums, and is a return to a more “classic” Voïvod sound that can be heard on Dimension Hatross and Nothingface. All the music was written by Blacky and Chewy (aka Daniel Mongrain who replaced Piggy), while Snake focused of lyrics, and Away took care of the artwork.
On July 10, 2014, it was reported that Blacky has left Voïvod again. In late January 2015 the band released the new single “We Are Connected” which is the lead track from the upcoming 7″ Split Vinyl disk with the band At The Gates.It is the first music to feature new bassist Dominic “Rocky” Laroche.
Elisa Lam was a 21-year-old Canadian student at the British Columbia University in Vancouver although she was not registeredwhen she left her home in January 2013 for a trip to Southern California. Reported missing since the beginning of the month by her worried parents whom she talked to everyday, her naked body was recovered in a water tank atop the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on February 19th, 2013 after some guests at the hotel had complained about sweetly disgusting tasting water and black water.
At the heart of this case is the increased interest that was triggered, five days prior to her body’s discovery, by the video that was released by the Los Angeles Police Department of the last time she was known to have been seen, on the day of her disappearance, by an elevator security camera. Apart of the fact that the footage shown is very unsettling as you see Lam unable to make the elevator work, pressing all the buttons, trying to make those doors close, going in and out, hiding, talking and making gestures to some unseen person, it was also quite obvious that either it this footage was tampered withand/or that the camera malfunctioned, leaving unexplained holes in the sequence time code of the surveillance camera in the elevator. An attempt to understand her strange behavior was made and the extremely interesting/disturbing conclusion were that ”Ms. Elisa Lam is playing a game of hide and seek (or something similar) in this video and although at times she displays some anxiety, there is no indication of fear. There is definitely an element of play present here. It is of course also possible that narcotics are influencing her behavior. Of particular importance is she is putting herself on sexual display. While what is seen here may have no connection with her demise – if the events in this video occurred just before her disappearance, it strongly suggests that the person to whom she is attracted may have knowledge of, contributed to, or be responsible for her death.” You can view all the details of thorough body language analysis that led to this conclusion and the complete video that was provided by the Los Angeles Police Department here.
No one could even explain how she managed to get on the roof in the first place. Doors and stairs that access the hotel’s roof are locked, with only staff having the passcodes and keys, and any attempt to force them would supposedly have triggered an alarm. Apart from the question of how she got on the roof, others asked if she could have gotten into the tank by herself. All four tanks are 4-by-8-foot (1.2 by 2.4 m) cylinders propped up on concrete blocks; there is no fixed access to them and hotel workers had to use a ladder to look at the water. They are protected by heavy lids that would be difficult or rather impossible to replace from within.
After being removed from the tank, Lam’s body was to be autosied by pathologists, Jason Tovar and Yulai Wang. They spent four hours that afternoon dissecting it and examining her internal organs. On February 21, the coroner’s office reported that they had found her death to be an accidental drowning, with bipolar disorder as a significant factor. Tovar and Wang found no evidence of physical trauma or sexual assault, although they had a rape and fingernail kit done. They found no evidence to suggest that Lam had committed suicide. The autopsy was qualified by many as incomplete and the family denied having any knowledge of Elisa Lam being bi-polar. Also there are many unsawered questions like: “Was she killed before she ended up in the tank?”, “Were her lungs filled with water?”, ”Did she die of hypothermia or did she drown?”. The autopsy report is very incomplete and doesn’t offer many answers that should have been answered easily.
The autospy revealed that no alcohol or recreational were found in her system. Lam’s body was moderately decomposed, bloated and mostly greenish, with some marbling evident on the abdomen and skin separation evident. Tovar and Wang found no evidence of physical trauma or sexual assault.
Since her death, her Tumblr blog was updated, presumably through tumblr’s Queue option which allows posts to automatically publish themselves when the user is away. Her phone was not found either with her body or in her hotel room; it has been assumed to have been stolen at some time around her death. Whether the continued updates to her blog were facilitated by the theft of her phone, the work of a hacker, or through the Queue, is not known; nor is it known whether the updates are related to her death.
After this tragic and unexplainable death, as if wasn’t creepy enough already, an outbreak of tuberculosis happened near the Cecil Hotel in Skid Row and the name of the medical testing kits used in this situation are called, LAM-ELISAor lipoarabinomannan (LAM) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
The Cecil Hotel
The Cecil Hotel (now rebranded as Stay on Main) in Downtown Los Angeles ”Skid Row” (640 S.Main Street) was intended for business travelers but in the 1950s it gained a reputation as a residence for transients. A portion of the hotel was refurbished in 2007 after new owners took over. The 1927 Hotel Cecil is a downtown landmark (and happens to be part of Pantless Alley Skid Row). Now it is branded as “The Premier Choice of Affordable Downtown Los Angeles Hotels.” In addition to offering hotel rooms, it houses the modern Stay on Main hostel and roughly 300 low-income residential units . Now, it is full of convention attendees and tourists from all over the globe. It has also been the site of quite a few commercials and movie filmings this year. But, before the re-gentrification of Downtown Los Angeles, the Hotel Cecil held a dark part.
The horrors started long before for the Cecil. During the 50s and 60s, the hotel was known as a suicide hotspot.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1962, a woman named Pauline Otton, 27, threw herself to her death from a ninth-floor window after arguing with her husband. She landed on pedestrian George Gianinni, 65, on the street below, killing him instantly. She was just one of numerous guests who ended their lives while staying at the run-down hotel.. In an unsolved murder in 1964, the Pershing Square “pigeon lady”, Goldie Osgood, who enjoyed feeding the birds in a nearby square, was raped and killed in her room at the Hotel Cecil. She had been stabbed, strangled and raped – and then had her room ransacked. Her case remains unsolved.
According to LA Observed, the Black Dahlia,Elizabeth Short, is alleged in at least one book to have hung out at the Hotel Cecil and drank at the bar next door before she disappeared in 1947.
In the past, the Cecil Hotel was home to ‘Night Stalker’Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker”, an American serial killer, rapist and burglar during 1984-85. He lived on the Cecil’s top floor in a $14-a-night room as he slaughtered his victims throughout Los Angeles. He was “just dumping his bloody clothes in the dumpster at the end of his evening and going in the back entrance”. The satanist’s crimes terrorised Los Angeles, before he was finally captured and convicted of 13 murders. Ramirez was sentenced to death in a gas chamber in 1989, and on receiving his sentence showed no remorse, stating: “Big deal. Death always went with the territory.See you in Disneyland.”
Austrian Serial Killer Jack Unterweger stayed at the Cecil Hotel for five weeks in 1991 while murdering prositutes. At night, Unterweger welcomed the hookers who climbed up the Cecil Hotel’s fire escape to his room to earn $30. He also picked up streetwalkers on 7th Street, strangled them with their own bra-straps, then dumped their bodies nearby, naked and posed obscenely. Police suspect Unterweger scoped out the sites ahead of time. He committed suicide after being convicted for several murders.
The Hotel Cecil and Downtown’s Historic Core have an equally dark and seedy past stemming from the early 1900s when the area was a mix of those down on their luck hoping to strike it rich in Los Angeles and wealthy businessmen.
Observe elevator interior before entering. Wait until the next elevator if you are uncertain of any occupant. Females riding the elevator alone should always stand near the control panel. If accosted, press ALL buttons. If a suspicious person enters the elevator, exit before the door closes. Before exiting from the elevator, observe the corridor for suspicious activity.
To judge by price at auction and in galleries, and its popularity through museum exhibits, books and photo fairs, fine art photography is now in the lofty realms of well, fine art. Granted these aren’t grandma’s snapshots of birthdays and vacation landscapes, but rather images from classicists like Diane Arbus, Jacques Henri Lartigue and Weegee who capture moments, people and places with both their eyes and techniques; outsiders like Miroslav Tichywho organically created his voyeuristic single print photographs with cameras made from discarded objects he discovered on the Czech streets like cans, boxes and eyeglasses, decorating with doodles the resulting work which originally created was only for himself; and Andreas Gursky who are redefining the genre through use of stitching, pixilation and other digital manipulation. Wayne Martin Belger‘s photographs and intricate, one-of-kind, hand-built cameras — themselves works of art, often set with gemstones and talismans; crafted with human organs and skulls, blood, bones and blood — boldly combine both the ancient and post-modern, using a viewing method that can be traced as far back as China in the 5th century B.C., to Aristotle, Euclid, and later Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) who refined the technique in his the 10th Century Book of Optics, before emerging as in 1850 as photographic device. The process begins with Belger first desiring to explore and relate to a concept and envisioning the photographs, then crafting a camera as the portal into the subject. He collects artifacts, relics and metals, and painstakingly builds the device with parts he carefully machines, the construction itself a form of meditation on and communion with the concepts and images, much like icon painters who first pray and meditate, then carefully prepare the surface, blend the tempera and delicately layer the colors. Using 4×5 film and existing light, Belger can spend anywhere from 10 seconds to 90 minutes with the pinhole aperture open to capture a single shot in the camera designed specifically for a series, with the goal “to be the sacred bridge of a communion offering between myself and the subject. All to witness and be a tool of the horrors of creation and the beauty of decay presented by the author of light and time.” To compare and contrast, 35mm movie film runs 24 frames per second, while high-speed digital still cameras can shoot 60 frames per second. With the emulsion film exposed for extended periods, Belger’s photographs become movies distilled onto a single frame. Photons from the stationary object of focus, as well as moving objects in the field, are absorbed onto the emulsion, creating softened, at times ghost-like, images.
Belger:With pinhole photography, the same air that touches my subject can pass through the pinhole and touch the photo emulsion on the film. There’s no barrier between the two. There are no lenses changing and manipulating light. There are no chips converting light to binary code. With pinhole what you get is an unmanipulated true representation of a segment of light and time, a pure reflection of what is at that moment.
Belger: The tools I create and work with are pinhole cameras. With pinhole photography, the same air that touches my subject can pass through the pinhole and touch the photo emulsion on the film. There’s no barrier between the two. There are no lenses changing and manipulating light. There are no chips converting light to binary code. With pinhole what you get is an unmanipulated true representation of a segment of light and time, a pure reflection of what is at that moment. With some exposure times getting close to 2 hours, it’s an unsegmented movie from a movie camera with only one frame.The creation of a camera comes from my desire to relate to a subject. When I choose a subject I spend time studying it. Then I start visualizing how I would like a photo of the subject to look. When that’s figured out, I start on the camera stage of the project by collecting parts, artifacts and relics that relate to the subject. When I’ve gathered enough parts and feel for the subject, I start the construction of the camera. I create the cameras from Aluminum, Titanium, Copper, Brass, Bronze, Steel, Silver, Gold, Wood, Acrylic, Glass, Horn, Ivory, Bone, Human Bone, Human Skulls, Human Organs, Formaldehyde, HIV+ Blood and relics all designed to be the sacred bridge of a communion offering between myself and the subject. All to witness and be a tool of the horrors of creation and the beauty of decay presented by the author light and time.
The Third Eye Camera:
Astonishing results: Can you see some weird ghostly face formed in the Third Eye Camera ”bright chamber”? Creepy? Maybe. That’s a very narrow minded way to see the whole concept. I bet that this ghostly face alone by itself was worth all the efforts that putting that camera together required. This little girl is going to be able to see images in her own skull again. Maybe it was her way of saying Hello!! and THANK YOU!!! The concept of this camera and the images it produces are to my humble opinion so out of this world!! I bet William Gibson and especially Burroughs would have loved this shit!!!!
Yama (Tibetan Skull Camera)
Designed for the study of exodus and for the research of modern incarnations of historical iconic figures. “Yama,” the Tibetan God of Death. In Tibetan Buddhism, Yama will see all of life and Karma is the “judge” that keeps the balance. The skull was blessed by a Tibetan Lama for its current journey and I’m working with a Tibetan legal organization that is sending me to the refugee cities in India.is carefully crafted from the 500-year-old skull of a Tibetan monk and retro-fitted with copper, aluminum and brass camera pieces machined by Belger, who painstakingly placed the camera’s dual pinholes in the exact position of the pupils. The camera’s internal mechanism is split, producing two exact images that when printed and viewed at a distance become three-dimensional. The skull is set with sterling silver and gems including several large rubies over the pineal gland/third eye, plus sapphires, opals, and turquoise. It rests in a large gilt-edged mirrored box, reminiscent of a memento mori, fittingly as Yama is the Tibetan god of death. The box sits atop a silk prayer cloth on a wooden table; below, a plumb/pendulum of brass filled with artist’s blood and mercury swings over a container of pearls and sand, a stunning installation that unites and transcends the concepts of form and function. This all might sound a bit morbid, but Yama’s countenance smiles knowingly, cheerily from his glass box, eager to be readied for his work. Or simply to be admired. Yama’s eyes are cast from bronze and silver with a brass pinhole in each. A divider runs down the middle of the skull creating two separate cameras. A finished contact print mounted on copper is inserted in to the back of the camera to view what Yama saw in 3D. Yama is made from Aluminium, Titanium, Copper, Brass, Bronze Steel, Silver, Gold, Mercury with 4 Sapphires, 3 Rubies (The one at Yama’s third eye was $5000.00), Asian and American Turquoise, Sand, Blood, and 9 Opals inlayed in the Skull. The film loading system is pneumatic. A 360 psi air tank in the middle of the camera powers 2 pneumatic pistons to move the film holder forward and lock it into place. The switch to open and close the film chamber is located under the jaw. Designed for two photo series. First series is of my interpretation of the modern incarnation of Southeast Asians deities. Second will take place in the Tibetan refugee cities of India, a home-coming through the eyes of a 500-year-old Tibetan. Picture taken:
Untouchable (HIV Camera)
Designed to study and photograph a geographic comparison of people suffering from HIV. For “Blood Works” his exploration and study of HIV/AIDS, Belger created the “Untouchable (HIV),” camera using aluminum, copper, titanium and acrylic. HIV+ blood from one of Belger’s friends-the blood is treated with heparin sulfate to prevent coagulation-pumps through the camera then in front of the pinhole, becoming a #25 red filter. For shooting with “Untouchable,” Belger holds opens calls, and has captured a wide range of HIV+ people across the United States, with plans to photograph HIV+/AIDS subjects throughout Africa this upcoming spring in advance of his participation in a December 2012 group show at the Royal Ontario Museum, which will also include his Third Eye, Yama and Heart cameras and the photos they produce. The show also features works from Joel Peter Witkin, Steven Gregory, Marc Quinn (whose models include Buck Angel and whose sculpture “Alison Lapper Pregnant” was installed in Trafalgar Square), Robert Krasnow, WhiteFeather, Francois Robert, Weiki Somers, Charles LeDray, Rosamond Purcell and Mark Prent. Belger produces a limited number of prints, usually fewer than 10 of each shot. Collectors of the unique, intricate devices receive one of each print along with the camera that created them, with the agreement that Belger can borrow back the camera to continue the series. In exchange they receive a copy of each new print. Other aficionados collect only the ethereal images. 4″x5″ camera made from Aluminium, Copper, Titanium, Acrylic and HIV positive blood. The blood pumps through the camera then in front of the pinhole and becomes my #25 red filter. Designed to shoot a geographic comparison of people suffering from HIV.
Yemaya (Underwater Camera)
Now I am aware that the concept on this one might seem less ”original” and I realise it,s far from being the first underwater camera but I still chose to show that one simply for the love of bold surreal chromed, sorta Captain Nemo look of this camera and reminds me of how great are the capabilities of Wayne Martin Belger not ONLY as an artist, but also as a crafty camera builder technician. This camera is as functional as it is truly magnificent.
Last but not least… This project documents mothers who are at least eight months pregnant. The 4×5 pinhole camera created for the project contains the heart of a child who died at birth. The heart, donated by a gallery owner who found it among a collection of old anatomy equipment, is preserved in a sealed compartment at the rear of the camera. Despite its chilling reminder of the risks of childbirth, Belger says he was surprised by how well the mothers took to the Heart camera. Word about his project spread fast, with expecting mothers now contacting the photographer to set a date. So far Belger has photographed portraits of 30 women so far. He’s even been invited to photograph women giving birth. Belger is able to capture only one frame, about a ten-minute exposure, and begins to expose the film just before his subject gives birth.
Some Photos Taken with The Heart Camera:
Belger’s beautiful machines and the photographs he produces with them are stunning, surreal, yet incredibly grounded and visceral expressions of the artist’s and subjects’ place in time and light, and our brief time and place on earth.
So much has been written about the sixties, sometimes it’s hard to tell myth from reality. Such is the case with the story of Ken Kesey and the Merry Band of Pranksters. In 1964 they took a storied bus trip from California to New York and back. Some see it as the launching point of the psychedelic era. A new documentary opening in the Twin Cities this weekend uses the Pranksters’ own film to reveal the trip’s disappointing reality. “Magic Trip” opens with a question: “When did the sixties begin?” intones the narrator. As an answer, it shows a young man beside a large cherry bomb, striking a match. “In 1964, this man, Ken Kesey lit the fuse for the explosion that started the sixties.” Author Ken Kesey was riding high after the publication of his novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, but he and some friends were restless. They wanted to rediscover America. “We weren’t old enough to be beatniks, and we were a little too old to be hippies,” Kesey says in the film. “Everybody I knew had read “On the Road.” It stirred us up, so we decided to travel across the country. Because there were so many of us we decided to buy a bus.” The self-named Merry Band of Pranksters painted the bus with garish colors, equipped it with a public address system, and set out to drive from California to the Worlds Fair in New York. They were particularly excited to have Neal Cassady as their driver, the real-life model for the “On the Road” character Dean Moriarty.
They also brought a supply of mind-altering drugs, including LSD. Tom Wolfe wrote about the trip in his book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”, and it attained mythic status as a pivotal moment in the cultural changes rocking the United States. “I was interested in the sort of reality from which the myth was created, I mean from a long time all we had was the myth, ‘Magic Trip,’ ” co-director Alex Gibney said.
Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney says the Pranksters filmed and audio taped much of what happened on the bus. “And what is interesting about the film is you can see the more prosaic reality from whence it came,” he said. Gibney got the entire archive which had been found in a barn in Oregon. But he and his co-director Alison Ellwood faced a huge challenge. They had 50 priceless hours of film and 150 hours of audio tapes, captured by very good cameras and microphones. But that thing filmmakers do with the clapperboard at the beginning of a shot to synchronize images and sounds — well, the Pranksters felt that was unnecessary. “They didn’t do the clap. Ever,” Gibney said. “Once!” interjects Ellwood. “Sorry, they did it once,” Gibney corrects himself. “And that was when they brought in a professional soundman for the day, who promptly quit when he saw how disorganized everything was.” They went to great efforts to find places where the sound matched up with the images. “We hired a lip-reader to come in and spent half a day and they gave up,” Ellwood said. They found some synch points, including a wild sequence where Cassady drove the bus while high on speed. Listening to music on huge headphones Cassady raps into the on-board public address system, waving his arms and howling into the microphone, only occasionally looking at the road. Gibney admits it’s quite frightening. “Yeah, and what’s even more terrifying is how comfortable the Pranksters were with him driving. I mean they felt completely safe,” he laughs. “And ironically, he didn’t even legitimate drivers license,” Ellwood adds. Cassady drove for three days straight at one point, stopping only for gas. Others on the trip fared less well as a diet of psychedelic drugs brought them to the edge of madness. There were other strange encounters along the way, with famous people such as Jack Kerouac, and LSD guru Timothy Leary. Neither went terribly well. The World’s Fair disappointed the Pranksters too. Gibney says “Magic Trip” is a window on a moment in history and despite the rough spots, the ideals Kesey espoused which came to inspire a generation still shine through. “Kesey’s ideas about freedom, about play, about magic are still very important and interesting,” he says. In 1964 people were scared after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy, Alison Elwood said. “Ken was about, and the Pranksters were about, ‘Leave the fear behind and explore. You’ve got to get out of the shelter and explore,’ Elwood said. “And I think that that is relevant today. Very much so.” There have been previous attempts to make a movie from the footage. The Pranksters edited a version that was 30 hours long. Only Neal Cassady stayed awake for the whole of it. byEuan Kerr, Complete Original Article HERE
I have read the biography ”Call Me Burroughs‘‘ by Barry Miles and I was delighted from start to end as the book mentions frequently The Ugly Spirit. I have talked about it before it one of my previous post. Just click on this image of Burroughs drawn by Charles Burns:
40 years of fights, Drugs, UFOs and Doing All the Wrong Things…
The Stranglers are infamously known for inciting a riot in Nice, starting a fight with The Clash, exploiting strippers on stage and writing “Golden Brown” about heroin. Taking H was a conscious decision by the band to see what would happen creatively. Two members stopped after one day, while Hugh and Jean-Jacques fell deep inside the rabbit hole. These punks turned pop darlings have had a continuously successful career ever since they began in Guildford, England in 1974. Even though singer Hugh Cornwell quit in 1990, the rest of the band are still going strong without him today.
A Fight with Punk Royalty
Jean-Jacques Burnel (bass): In 1976, we played with the Ramones. In those days, [Clash bassist] Paul Simonon had a nervous tic: he used to spit on the ground. He did this just as we came off stage at Dingwalls in London, so I thumped him and it all kicked off. We were thrown out by the bouncers and it continued in the courtyard. On one side were the Pistols, the Clash, the Ramones and a load of their journalist friends. On the other side was us, a few of our fans and me, nose to nose with Paul. Dave [Greenfield, Stranglers keyboards] had John Lydon up against the ice-cream van.
Jet Black (drums): It polarised opinion against us, but we’ve always been at our best with our backs against the wall.
Burnel: Contrary to what has been written, Hugh [Cornwell, Stranglers singer] and I never had punch-ups. There was one incident in Rome where he tried jumping in the air during Hanging Around and managed to get two inches off the ground. I said something afterwards and he threw a glass against the wall. I pushed him and he just went straight through a paper-thin wall. It was like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, with a silhouette in the wall in the shape of Hugh.
Touring in an Ice-Cream Van
Black: I had an ice-cream business and decided to sell it to start a band, but I kept one of the vans. It was the perfect mode of transport for two years. We had a special way of arranging all the speakers and equipment so they’d all fit in.
Burnel (bass): Jet would drive and the rest of us would lie on top of the gear. After some gigs, we’d pile out and sleep in a field, surrounded by cows.
Black: In Bude, we once slept on a lawn by the sea. The next morning, we were woken by the sound of a lawnmower. We’d slept on a cricket pitch and they were cutting the wicket around us.
Burnel: There were some funny incidents in those early days. We were booked to play a Young Conservatives dance.
Black: At the start of the first song, there were 300 people in the hall. By the end, there were four left watching. But they started following us. It was a similar story all over the country
Gaffer-Taping a Journalist to the Eiffel Tower
Burnel: A guy called Philippe Manoeuvre – who’s now head of the biggest music magazine in France – was always bugging me. One day, he turned up at our hotel demanding an interview, so I agreed – if we could do it at the Eiffel Tower. We took his trousers off, gaffer-taped him to one of the girders and left him there to bephotographed by Japanese tourists. It was only the first floor. Admittedly, that is 400ft off the ground.
Black: He wasn’t best pleased.
Deciding to Take Heroin for a Year
Burnel: It was an artistic decision to see what would happen.
Black: It was crazy.
Burnel: Jet and Dave were sensible and quit after a day. Hugh and I didn’t. We headed into a surreal, dark, necromantic abyss.
Black: We were making an album called The Meninblack, which was based on this phenomenon back then known only to a small coterie of UFO obsessives – that people who saw UFOs were visited by strange people wearing black to shut them up. Anyway, as soon as we started making the album, studios blew up, tour buses broke down and gigs became riots. People working for us dropped dead. We were convinced something occult was going on.
Burnel: One night, I was so blissed out I thought it would be wonderful to die. I wrote a lovely suicide note, took loads of heroin and woke up three days later. The band hadn’t even noticed I hadn’t been in the studio.
Being Escorted Out of Sweden by Armed Police
Burnel: This happened twice. The first time, 200 members of this teddy boygang who hated punk drove up in their big 1950s American cars, beat up our road crew and smashed our equipment. We were locked in our dressing room, but managed to escape by throwing a few Molotovs before the police arrived. The second time was your fault. You destroyed the hotel restaurant!
Black: That’s true. I kicked up a fracas because I couldn’t get served any food and the hotel threatened to call the police, who turned up with machine guns again to escort us on to the next plane. There’s been so many incidents in hotels. We once locked a hotelier in the broom cupboard, where he was found the following morning by the receptionist.
Performing with Strippers in a Park
Burnel: The Battersea Park incident was completely misinterpreted. I was living with my girlfriend, Tracy, who shared her flat with a stripper called Linda. When we became the focus of attention, right-on shops such as Rough Trade banned our records, saying they were sexist and misogynist. So Linda said: “Look, I’ve got some friends who’d love to strip for you – to show we’re in control of our bodies.” So these girls stripped off on stage at Battersea during Nice’n’Sleazy and, of course, everyone thought we were being exploitative.
Black: The police inspector wanted everybody arrested, but he couldn’t find his coppers. They were all in the front row watching the show.
Being Jailed for “Inciting a Riot”
Burnel: We were booked to play Nice University but unknowingly walked into a war between the students and the authorities, who wouldn’t let us use any of the power points on campus. We ended up having to run elevated cables from generators outside the university, because the authorities wouldn’t let them touch the campus grounds. It was ludicrous. Every time we went on stage, the power failed. In the end, we gave up and told the crowd: “We’re really sorry. Just remember it’s not our fault.” All hell broke loose. A full-scale riot ended with us being put in prison, where I shared a cell with two murderers.
Black: We were facing 10 years. In the end, a large fine was split between us and the university, but we laughed all the way to the bank. Before that, we were unknown in France. From then on, we played to packed houses.
Burnel: You might well ask why we are still here. The latest tour is our biggest-selling ever. We’ve done all the wrong things – but they turned out to be right.
BBC Choice documentary presented by jazz singer and art critic, George Melly. Producer/Director: Angus McIntyrethe tells the unusual story of The Stranglers, charting the band’s rise to fame in the 1980s to present day:
He was the son of an East End taxi driver who took over one of the grandest fashion houses of the world. McQueen reinvented the catwalk and created clothes who silenced his audience. Brilliant, offensive, beautiful, outrageous. Always making a statement, constantly pushing everything to the edge, British
Designer of the Year in 1996, 1997, 2001 and in 2003, even receiving as well that year the International Designer of the Year Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. McQueen was an anarchist who’s astonishing rise was made possible by an even more outrageous companion, English magazine editor, Isabella ”Issie” Blow who discovered Alexander in 1993. Fashion history even has McQueen signing a lucrative deal with Gucci in 2000, a deal which was reportedly initiated by Blow.
What neither of them could have guessed was the cost of that journey. Just as everything really seemed perfect on a professional level it all very brutally ended with the suicide first of the women who discovered him and then of McQueen himself. This was the end of a Fable of Fashion, a world that discards its past in an instant and drives its creators relentlessly in search of the next best thing.
One of McQueen’s most celebrated and dramatic catwalk show was his 2001 Spring/Summer collection, named VOSS. The centre piece tableau that dominated the room was an enormous glass box. But because the room outside the box was lit and the inside of the box was unlit, the glass walls appeared as large mirrors, so that the seated audience saw only their own reflection. Finally, after an hour, and when the show began, lights came on in inside the enormous glass case and revealed the interior to be filled with moths and, at the centre, a naked model on a chaise longue with her face obscured by a gas mask. The glass walls then fell away and smashed on the ground.
The model chosen by McQueen to be the centre of the show was the Britishwriter Michelle Olley. McQueen said that the tableau was based on the Joel PeteWitkin image Sanitorium. The British fashion photographer Nick Knight later said of the VOSS show on his SHOWstudio.com blog:
“The girl in the box was Michelle Olley. She modelled for me in a story I did called Sister Honey… She was a writer and I remember she wrote a great piece on being the Butterfly Girl in the middle of that (McQueen) Glass Box show. I was sat on the front row, inbetween Alexandra Schulman and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was is probably one of the best pieces of Fashion Theatre I have ever witnessed.”
Alexander McQueen later described his thoughts on the idea used during VOSS of forcing his audience to stare at their own reflection in the mirrored walls for over an hour:
“Ha! I was really pleased about that. I was looking at it on the monitor, watching everyone trying not to look at themselves. It was a great thing to do in the fashion industry—turn it back on them! God, I’ve had some freaky shows.”
In Spring 2011, Michelle Olley was asked by the New-York Metropolitan Museum of Art to contribute to their Alexander McQueen exhibition, Savage Beauty.She was interviewed by The Met about VOSS for the audio guide to the show. Olley’s detailed diary/journal of modelling for McQueen – written between 18–27 September as the show was being planned and staged – was included in the Met Museum website coverage of the Savage Beauty exhibition. The VOSS diary relates details of the show and encounters with McQueen, ending with how Olley returned home after the show to find:
“…a MASSIVE bouquet of flowers has arrived, with a note [from McQueen] saying, “Thank you for everything – you were beautiful! – Lee xxx”
Presented only 2 months before McQueen’s suicide on the 11th of February 2010, Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2010 (Platos Atlantis Special Edition):
Right before Alexander McQueen’s death, he had an eighty percent unfinished Autumn/Winter collection (Angels and Demons), 16 pieces, presented during Paris Fashion Week on 8 March 2010, to a select handful of fashion editors in a mirrored, gilded salon at the 18th Century Hôtel de Clermont-Tonnerre.
Fashion editors picked his final designs. Editors said the show was hard to watch because it showed how McQueen was obsessed with the afterlife. The clothes had a medieval and religious look. Basic colours that were repetitively used were red, gold and silver with detailed embroidery. His models were accessorized to show his love for theatrical imagery. “Each piece is unique, as was he”, McQueen’s fashion house said in a statement that was released with the collection.
McQueen’s death was announced on the afternoon of 11 February 2010. In the morning, his housekeeper found him hanging at his home on Green Street, London W1. Paramedics were called and they pronounced him dead at the scene.
McQueen died nine days after his mother Joyce had died from cancer at the age of 75. David LaChapelle, a friend of the designer, said that McQueen “was doing a lot of drugs and was very unhappy” at the time of his death. McQueen’s death came just days before London Fashion Week, although he was not scheduled to appear there.
McQueen left a note saying, “Look after my dogs, sorry, I love you, Lee.” The Metropolitan Police stated that the death was not suspicious, but did not confirm that the death was a suicide. On 17 February 2010, Westminster Coroner’s Court was told that a post-mortem examination found that McQueen’s death was due to asphyxiation and hanging. The inquest was adjourned until 28 April 2010, where McQueen’s death was officially recorded as suicide. McQueen, who had been diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder, took an overdose prior to hanging himself. He had taken drug overdoses in May and July 2009.Prior to hanging himself with his “favourite brown belt”, the inquest recorded that he had slashed his wrists with a ceremonial dagger and a meat cleaver. Coroner Dr. Paul Knapman reported finding “a significant level of cocaine, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers in the blood samples taken after the designer’s death.”
On behalf of Lee McQueen’s family, Alexander McQueen [the company] today announces the tragic news that Lee McQueen, the founder and designer of the Alexander McQueen brand, has been found dead at his home. At this stage it is inappropriate to comment on this tragic news beyond saying that we are devastated and are sharing a sense of shock and grief with Lee’s family. Lee’s family has asked for privacy in order to come to terms with this terrible news and we hope the media will respect this.
On 3 February 2010, McQueen wrote on his Twitter page that his mother had died the day before, adding: “RIP mumxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.” Four days later, he wrote that he had had an “awful week” but said “friends have
been great”, adding: “Now I have to some how pull myself together”. His mother’s funeral took place on 12 February 2010. McQueen is survived by his father, three sisters, and two brothers.
After company owner Gucci confirmed that the brand would continue, McQueen’s long-term assistant Sarah Burton was named as the new creative director of Alexander McQueen in May 2010.
McQueen’s funeral took place on 25 February 2010 at St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, West London. His ashes were later scattered on the Isle of Skye.
Here is a playlist I made myself of some more (all!) Alexander McQueen Official Fashions Shows presented by chronological order starting by 1994 . I suggest you check out the clips posted above first and then the ones on this playlist. If you are into fashion you gatta love this little playlist put together especially for you!
Reports have been flooding the internet of a new trend among youth in Europe, Africa, and the Pillipines using hallucinogenic fish to get high.
I love to eat fish.
Fish is by-and-large my favorite dietary source of protein, and living in Hawai`i means that I get to indulge in this adoration for finned flesh perhaps more often than I should. In the islands, there are plentiful, fresh fish of a staggering diversity sold and consumed everywhere you turn; firm and buttery a`u (Pacific blue marlin, Makaira nigricans), rich opah (Lampris regius), ubiquitous mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus) and `ahi (Thunnus), lean and flaky ono (Acanthocybium solandri), and delicate `opakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus) are just a few. There’s also uhu, ulua, aku, uku, mamo, manini, akule, palani, awa, ama`ama, u`u, opelu, nenue, kamanu, omaka, hapu`u, `ula`ula koa`e, moi, ukikiki, kahala, kala, umaumalei, wahanui, and moano too. Introduced species? Hawaii has roi, ta`ape, and to`au. Great, glistening troughs of poke line the deli section of just about every grocery outlet on my island (Safeway, local chains….liquor stores), and upon seeing them, I inevitably have to command my legs to carry me away from a fate involving a plastic container of heaven, chopsticks, and a wallet seven dollars lighter.
There are a number of reasons why avoiding the reduced price special on the limu `ahi at the Liliha Foodland may be a wise decision for just about anyone (temporarily salvaged funds unconsidered). As with any food, there are inherent risks, and fish have a unique repertoire of ways they can make a regretful meal. Perhaps the most readily publicized is the health risk posed by the bioaccumulation of methylmercury in the tissues of a number of fish species typically taken as food by humans. One bite of a particularly metal-saturated swordfish steak isn’t going to promptly send you to tea with Alice and a rabbit, and the accumulation of the poison in humans takes time (and LOTS of contaminated fish consumption). But, there are more acute ways a fish filet can bite back. For one, the fish may be highly endogenously toxic, meaning that the fish embeds poisonous compounds into its own essence, it’s own bodily tissues. Pufferfish are well-known for this approach, and many species have organs loaded with tetrodotoxin (TTX), a naturally-occurring, chemical Angel of Death so potent that it makes cyanide look like fucking ibuprofen. Preparing pufferfish for the passage between human lips takes all the insane, brow-beading, calculated finesse of disarming a bomb, but despite the supreme level of care of highly-trained culinary experts, every so often, people drop dead after ingesting the fish. Really damn dead. There are also the ever-present risks of conventional, bacterial food poisoning and infection with parasites like tapeworms and roundworms, both of which are more likely to occur in the less-than-cooked form of fish (my personal favorite state of fish).
Yes, you potentially need to watch what you eat when it comes to fish, whether you risk the slow march of mercury toxicity or a weekend hovering over the world’s unhappiest toilet. These risks are generally understood and expected.
What isn’t expected from your seafood? That you might get high off of it.
The phenomenon is called “ichthyoallyeinotoxism” or “hallucinogenic fish inebriation”; both are just jargony ways of saying that, somehow, the catch of the day has you hearing colors. Occurrences are uncommon, but there are plenty of baffling records, ancient and modern, of humans coming away from their sea-borne suppers with more to worry about than a bit of lemon wedge-fueled acid reflux. Like how to convince the grumpy, five-headed emu in the corner of the room that you don’t have any millipedes hiding under your fingernails.
“Alright, everybody, time to get weird!”
The actual inebriation scenarios vary greatly, between species of fish, and between intoxication events. Onset of symptoms can occur within minutes, or hours, and can last from a couple of hours to more than a day. Sometimes there is gastrointestinal upset. Sometimes not. Often times, the sufferer endures a loss of coordination and balance, along with muscle weakness and a burning of the throat, but none of this is guaranteed either. Ichthyoallyeinotoxism, as a peculiar clinical feature, is more or less defined by the presence of vivid hallucinations and/or nightmares, and a capacity for intoxication in even cooked fish (suggesting that whatever compounds are responsible are also very heat stable). Typically, symptoms outside of the psychoactive effects tend to be pretty mild, and temporary, contrasting with the peripheral nervous system assault characterized by other forms of fish flesh poisoning (“ichthyosarcotoxism”).
Ichthyoallyeinotoxism has been reported in a diverse array of marine fish, but it has most regularly been associated with one species in particular; the Salema porgy (Sarpa salpa). This species of sea bream is common along the West and South coasts of Africa, as well as throughout the Mediterranean Sea. The Salema porgy is a rather conventionally-molded, petal-shaped fish that grows to about the size of a football, identifiable by glittery golden stripes that run the length of its body. The fish’s occasional ability to get humans hippy flipped has been recognized for ages, and Salema porgy (also referred to as “saupe”) was routinely eaten for recreational purposes across the Roman Empire. If these long-gone citizens were around today, they would likely regard Long John Silver’s as a glorious drug den franchise.
Scene from Seneca’s 36 AD theatrical tragedy, Reef Madness, or alternatively, De Otio Malus, “On Harmful Leisure”
For centuries, the fish (like many other species of ichthyoallyeinotoxic, or “hallucinogenic”, fish) has been called “dream fish” or “dream bream” for its psychedelic effects. The reputation continues until this day, however, since poisoning happens only on occasion, the Salema porgy is far more commonly consumed in the typical way fish are: as a food, not as a drug.
But, every so often, this backfires in spectacular fashion. In 2006,two case reportswere published concerning recent ichthyoallyeinotoxism events caused by Sarpa salpa ingestion, both occurring along the French Riviera. In 1994, one of the unfortunate diners (a 40-year old executive) made the poor decision to partake in some baked Salema porgy while on vacation. Within hours, he was feeling shitty, and during the night, became a veritable puke fountain. Weakness overtook him, and in his ill state, decided to call an end to his vacation and drive home. This effort was brought to an abrupt end due to the onset of hallucinations. These weren’t the oft-depicted whimsical, psilocybin mushroom-driven phantasms full of fairies, talking trees, and a feeling of oneness with the universe. No, this poor son of a bitch was sidelined by a waking nightmare full of visions of “aggressive and screaming animals.” His mellow thoroughly harshed, and now unable to drive on account of seeing giant fucking bugs outside of his car, the man thought it might be a good time to get some medical attention. All his vitals at the hospital seemed kosher, except for the part where he was losing his shit because he was having the worst trip of his life, and after a short stay, he came back to reality…apparently, and thankfully, completely unable to remember the psychological hell his maritime meal had put him through.
The second individual outlined in the publication was a 90-year old man who purchased the Salema porgy from a local fisherman in 2002. Little did he know that his sweet, elderly soul was about to be catapulted through the stratosphere and straight into Never Never-do-I-ever-want-to-be-this-high-again Land.
Fish market? More like Phish market.
Within hours, he was bulldozed by auditory hallucinations consisting of human screaming and “bird squeals.” The retiree was apparently too terrified that the hallucinations were part of the sudden onset of a psychotic episode or mental illness that he told no one for the remaining three days of symptoms, which included frequent nightmares in addition to the general feeling of going bugfuck insane during waking life. It was only afterward that he recalled someone at the fish market saying something along the lines of “oh, just so you know…these fish are tasty but they can sometimes cage you in loop of mirrored realms full of hatred and the shrieking of dying universes” and decided to contact someone at the local poison control center.
Of course, the Salema porgy isn’t the only hallucinogenic fish out there. Sporadic records come from numerous other groups of fish, and one of these are the rabbitfishes. Rabbitfish, or “spinefoots”, are a group of fish native to the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific, and belong to the genus Siganus. The fish have a unique modification of the rear-facing fins; well-developed venom glands attached to spines making up the framework of the fin. These venomous barbs can be used defensively (and if the venom is used against humans, is not deadly, but can inflict excruciating pain), and are the origin of the decidedly more intimidating “spinefoot” common name.
“Do it. Call me Peter Cottontail one more time, buddy, and I’ll send you to the hospital.”
Despite their rather nasty pokey bits, rabbitfish are commonly fished for food by humans who live along the coral-lined shores of tropical coasts and islands. With consumption of these little, herbivorous reef fish comes the risk of hallucinatory poisoning. Residents of the Mascarane Islands (particularly Mauritius and Réunion) in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, have reported regular, occasional instances of fish poisonings with symptoms consistent with the ichthyoallyeinotoxism seen with Salema porgy in the Mediterranean; loss of balance and equilibrium, nightmares, hallucinations, and mental depression, all in an absence of major peripheral neurological distress (usually associated with more typical (and serious) exposures to neurotoxins from food; trouble breathing, sweating, blurred vision, etc.). Apparently, the people of Mauritius and Réunion have been aware of this unique property of Siganus fish for some time now (enough so so that one species, Siganus spinus, is consistently referred to as “the fish that inebriates”), and local fishermen have associated elevated risk with certain times of the year in their archipelago home, and can avoid inadvertently taking a surprise trip to see just how far down the rabbitfish hole goes…
There are alsorecords of hallucinatory poisoning by rabbitfish in the Mediterranean; specifically by the dusky spinefoot (Siganus luridus). This fish is native to the Western Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf, but has been introduced across the Suez Canal in recent decades, although the symptoms were also similar to more “conventional” poisoning by ciguatoxins and maitotoxins (which cause ciguatera; a seafood-borne intoxication derived from ciguatoxins from single-celled marine algae which become aggregated in the flesh of food fish…most commonly associated with big, tropical, carnivorous fish like grouper, barracuda, snapper, and amberjacks).
Over on the other side of the globe, out in the West and Central Pacific, ichthyoallyeinotoxism is also implicated in hallucinatory poisonings, but often with different groups of fish.
Mullets (Mugilidae), odd, flat-headed fish found in warm waters the world over, have been reported to be ichthyoallyeinotoxic here in Hawaii, as well as in the Micronesian islands of Kiribati. The toxins appear to concentrated in the head of the fish, specifically. At least some residents of the Republic of Kiribati, in recent times, would consume mullet heads with the intention of getting really fucking high. The hope was that eating a nice, fishy meal, kicking back on a tropical beach, and, er, “chasing the saltwater dragon” would allow for pleasurable hallucinations and vivid, otherworldly dreams.
Also, particularly in Kiribati, coral groupers (Epinephelus corallicola) and the banded sergeant-major (Abudefduf septemfasciatus) have been reported to occasionally cause hallucinogenic episodes, specifically in older members of the local population (the only age group that eats these species customarily; kind of like butterscotch hard candy and prunes here in the U.S.). Although, since only senior citizens eat these fish, and the high was described as a kind of “forgetfulness”, it’s not clear whether or not the issue is inebriation or run-of-the-mill senility. Then again, if people were accusing my old ass of spending my Golden Years getting toasty off the silly sushi, I might get awfully “forgetful” myself.
“What?! No, grandson, of course I’m not a stoner! That’s just Alzheimer’s.”
Sea chubs of the genus Kyphosus (pictured below), commonly eaten in Hawai`i in historical times (less so recently), have also been reported to induce intense hallucinations in diners.
“HEY MAN, ARE YOU FREAKING OUT YET?!”
Similarly in Hawaii,convict tang (Acanthurus triostegus), a species of surgeonfish found throughout the Indo-Pacific, has been associated with ichthyoallyeinotoxic poisonings. The species (known as “manini” here in the islands) is abundant in nearshore reef habitat, and is readily identifiable by its markings, which resemble the stereotypical stripes of an inmate’s jumpsuit uniform…a criminal sentence most likely endured due to the fish spreading the scourge of drugs across their ecosystem.
Crime doesn’t pay.
So what is behind these hallucinogenic compounds? Why are only a limited group of fish associated with ichthyoallyeinotoxism, and why does it seem to only effect people relatively rarely? Other sources of hallucinogens in nature are, by and large, far more predictable than this. There may be variances in dosage between individuals, but many times, particular, entire species are known to have hallucinogenic qualities. Examples of these abound. Psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms and ergot (from which ergotamine, and eventually LSD, were isolated) are the hallmark psychedelics of the Fungi kingdom. The number of psychedelic plant alkaloids and other compounds, many of which play spiritual and cultural roles in societies around the globe, is incredibly high: mescaline from cactus (including peyote), bizarre and terrifically potent terpenoids like salvinorin A from the famed diviner’s sage, and DMT from dozens of vines and shrubs, are just a few major examples. DMT variants found in the toxic secretions of toads like Bufo alvarius also have consistently extremely psychoactive, hallucinatory properties. If we can identify specific plants, fungi, and animals that produce hallucinogenic effects, then what’s the deal with the weird, wishy-washyness of these hallucinogenic fish?
Since ichthyoallyeinotoxism is not a very common variety of food fish poisoning, and it presents so variably, we don’t really know much about it, or what is actually causing it, specifically. But, given how the phenomenon appears to be temporal, tied to seasonality in some locations, and is so highly variable, it is thought that the source is dietary. The fish are getting the toxins from their food, and much like with the mercury so many of us are familiar with, accumulating the stuff in their tissues. Since so many species that are causing these effects are herbivorous, it is likely the original source is marine algae.
This is strikingly similar to the most common form of poisoning from food fish, ciguatera. Ciguatera is caused by the uptake of a specific group of microscopic algae; dinoflagellates (chiefly the species Gambierdiscus toxicus). It accumulates in the food chain, compounding as one ascends, so that reef predators have the highest concentration of the toxins in their flesh (and are therefore most commonly reported to cause severe poisonings when consumed). Ichthyoallyeinotoxism does have a quite a bit of suspicious overlap with ciguatera, and it’s often hard to tell the two ailments apart from one another. For one, the species of fish that cause hallucinogenic poisonings are also commonly associated with ciguatera records as well. Secondly, the symptoms are incredibly similar, and both impact the nervous system in a myriad of bizarre ways. These similarities, and the lack of a specific source of the much rarer ichthyoallyeinotoxism has led some to believe that ichthyoallyeinotoxism is just one manifestation of ciguatera (which is caused by several known algal toxins).
However, the two maladies have distinct differences as well. Ciguatera is typically accompanied by furious digestive problems, muscle pains, lots of weird disruption of the peripheral nervous system (reversal of hot and cold sensations, electric charge sensations, and numbness) and only mild to occasional instances of hallucinations, whereas ichthyoallyeinotoxism has benign bodily impacts, with most effects on the central nervous system (the brain itself, leading to the hallucinations and nightmares). Also, ciguatera is notorious for long-term, pernicious effects, which can be severe enough to cause disability a decade or more out from the initial poisoning. Ichthyoallyeinotoxism, in contrast, abates completely within a few days with no reported latent effects in weeks, months, or years down the line. Hallucinogenic poisoning also turns up in places not typically associated with the normal range of the algae associated with ciguatera, like the Mediterranean (ciguatera tends to crop up most typically in the Caribbean and Pacific regions).
Others have postulated that the toxins might have their own, separate origins in algae like Caulerpa, which are habitually consumed by many of the more commonly hallucinogenic fish species.
Whatever is causing the occasional flaky, delicious acid trip in tepid seas, it shouldn’t be of huge concern to anyone reading this (or object of recreational interest; good luck successfully being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time). Ichthyoallyeinotoxism remains an uncommon and enigmatic phenomenon, far less so than ciguatera or red tide shellfish poisoning (which are still not all that common, thanks partially to awareness campaigns and harvesting advisories during algal blooms). Mercury toxicity shouldn’t really be high on your list….that is, unless you are pregnant, or insist on eating canned tuna by the flat.
Honestly, the real source of caution seafood lovers such as myself should take is towards regulation of consumption. Many fisheries of popular food fish (Pacific bluefin tuna comes to mind) have been subject to extreme population reductions and are threatened with collapse. The effects not only impact human culinary lives and employment, but inevitably reverberate through entire marine ecosystems. Some stocks are in better shape than others, and are harvested in more sustainable ways than others. If you want to be selective with your seafood choices, your time and effort might be better spent keeping conservation in mind, not the risk of turning your mundane Thursday night into a disorienting, hallucinatory hellscape.
There are at least 15 species of fish that are said to make humans hallucinate. All of the fish listed as being hallucinogenic have one thing in common- they all feast on algae as the main part of their diet. Scientists have not been able to pinpoint the actual toxin that creates hallucinations, but researchers from National Geographic magazine describe that the high creates vivid, science fiction like dreams that can last for days. Hallucinogenic fish have been used as recreational drugs since the Roman Empire, and it seems they are making a comeback for kids looking for a legal way to get high. Here is a list of 15 hallucinogenic fish from around the world.
Ichthyoallyeinotoxism is the technical term used for this method of inebriation, and , there are at least 15 species of fish that are said to make humans hallucinate. All of the fish listed as being hallucinogenic have one thing in common- they all feast on algae as the main part of their diet. Scientists have not been able to pinpoint the actual toxin that creates hallucinations, but researchers from National Geographic magazine describe that the high creates vivid, science fiction like dreams that can last for days. Hallucinogenic fish have been used as recreational drugs since the Roman Empire, and it seems they are making a comeback for kids looking for a legal way to get high.
Here is a list of 15 hallucinogenic fish from around the world:
Also known as the Noir Prophet of the Cyberpunk subgenre, William Gibson is an American Canadian science fiction novelist. In his short story, Burning Chrome (1982), Gibson used for the first time and invented the term cyberspace and later used the concept as a base for his debut novel, Neuromancer (1984). Gibson served as an iconographer for the information age before the wide spread of the Internet in 1990s. William Gibson is also associated with very accurately predicting the rise and upcoming popularity of reality television, video games and the World Wide Web. In 1999, The Guardian stated William Gibson as the most important novelist of the past two decades. His vast array of works includes authoring ten acclaimed novels, above twenty short stories in addition to making contributions to various major publications. Pressing a strong influence on the works of other science fiction authors, academics, technology and cyberculture, Gibson has also extensively collaborated in the fields of performing arts, music and film on different projects.
William Ford Gibson was born on March 17, 1948 in Conway, South Carolina. However, he spent most of his childhood in Wytheville, Virginia where he moved with his mother after the death of his father at an early age. Leading a disturbed childhood in isolation, Gibson wanted nothing more than to become a science fiction writer by the age of 12. An anthology he bought on Beat writing at the age of 13 exposed Gibson to the works of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs creating a profound interest in the genre. Frustrated by his constantly poor academic performance, Gibson’s mother sent him to the Southern Arizona School for Boys in Tucson, Arizona. However, Gibson dropped out of the school before graduation at the age of 18 following the death of his mother. He travelled around and immersed himself in the counterculture. In 1967, Gibson moved to Canada where he spent many weeks of joblessness and homelessness before appearing in a CBC show about the hippie culture in Toronto. Also in Toronto, Gibson met Deborah Jean Thompson. The two travelled together and got married in 1972, settling in Vancouver, British Columbia.In an attempt to qualify for generous student financial aid, Gibson attended the University of British Columbia earning a Bachelor’s degree in English. The exposure to various forms of fiction and literature thoroughly enlightened Gibson, encouraging him to compose his first short story, Fragments of a Hologram Rose. Gibson further strengthened his writing skills following a master’s degree in hard science fiction. At a science fiction convention in Vancouver in 1980, Gibson met punk musician and author John Shirley who not only encouraged Gibson to pursue writing as a full time career but also became his lifelong friend.
Most of Gibson’s early writings are works of near future science fiction with influences of cybernetics and cyberspace. Most famous of these are the short stories ”Burning Chrome” and his first novel, ”Neuromancer’‘. Following the success of Neuromancer, Gibson produced many other interesting works such as ”Count Zero” (1986), ”Mona Lisa Overdrive” (1988), ”The Difference Engine” (1990), ”Virtual Light” (1993), ”All Tomorrow’s Parties” (1999), ”Pattern Recognition” (2003), ”Spook Country” (2007) and ”Zero History” (2010) and ”Idoru” (1996).
No Maps for These Territories
No Maps for These Territories is a brilliant independent documentary film made by Mark Neale focusing on the speculative fiction author William Gibson. It features appearances by Jack Womack, Bruce Sterling, Bono, and The Edge and was released by Docurama. The film had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October 2000.
Science fiction author William Gibson is best known for 1984’s Neuromancer, a novel often credited with jump-starting the cyberpunk genre. Set in a virtual landscape of rapid-fire connections and published long before the World Wide Web extended its tentacles into your home and mine, Neuromancer quickly established Gibson as a visionary in certain circles (though the novel drew on many influences, from Raymond Chandler to William S. Burroughs to Philip K. Dick). Coining the phrase “cyberspace” cemented Gibson’s reputation, and a penchant for being reclusive didn’t hurt either.
In his new documentary on Gibson, No Maps for These Territories, director Mark Neale has loaded a limousine with digital video cameras and strapped his subject into the back seat for a whirlwind ride through millennial America. As Gibson ruminates on his life and work and pontificates about our rapidly changing times, Neale layers pertinent imagery and found footage over the author’s talking head to create a digital collage. He messes with the passing landscapes and street scenes we see through the limo’s windows, often speeding them up or adding pixilated images, presumably as a visual metaphor for the information superhighway or the accelerating pace of modern life. A New Age-y wash of techno music accentuates the road-to-nowhere vibe.
Gibson’s is not the only face we see. For some reason – perhaps because Neale designed the multimedia presentation for their Zoo TV Tour – U2 members Bono and The Edge are on hand to read from the author’s work and offer observations like “Neuromancer is a rock and roll book.” Gibson’s fellow cyberpunk pioneer Bruce Sterling (Crystal Express, Heavy Weather) turns up as well, to offer some slightly more heady analysis.
The meat of the film, however, is Gibson talking about all things Gibson, and if you’re not on his wavelength – if phrases like “posthuman” and “postgeographical” make you go “postal” – you may begin to feel like a cab driver with a chatty passenger you just can’t seem to ditch. But for those interested in the issues he touches upon – everything from the future of technology to the pros and cons of drug use – No Maps for These Territories proves to be a diverting 88 minutes. Some of Gibson’s most interesting musings are autobiographical – describing the arrival of television in the form of an intermittent test pattern he would watch in awe-stricken anticipation of things to come, or telling his draft board that his ultimate ambition in life was to take every mind-altering substance known to man. He often comes off like one of the loopy denizens of Richard Linklater’s Slacker– at one point recalling the moment he heard that Michael Jackson had married Elvis Presley’s daughter and realized that his job of being a science fiction writer had just gotten more difficult.
I always have been a fan of Joy Division for as long as I can remember. Closerwas and still is one of my all time favorite albums. I always thought Ian Curtis is one of the greatest lyricist ever. I saw ”24 Hour Party People”with an immense pleasure and I kinda liked ”Control” but always thought there was something missing still. I needed more. Finally reading Peter Hook autobiography I got to know everything I wanted to know and totally enjoyed the very bold style of Peter Hook. Once I started I could hardly put it down. For the first time I felt that my thirst to know more and more about Joy Division and the tragic death of their legendary frontman was satisfied at last although Joy Division will always have a mysterious aura to it. It is not because a lack of information or a marketing trick but simply because it is within the very essence of Joy Division. You are given a variety of choice to resolve some of the enigmas surrounding JD but most of the answers are totally subjective and depends on the point of view you stand for. Nobody will ever know what truly led Ian Curtis to think that there was no more hope and what could have been done to save him from getting to this point of no return. We feel Hooky is constantly asking himself those questions. It’s as if they were written in the margins of every page. And that just a couple out of many others unanswered question but it’s easy to imagine that they are the ones that haunted Hook for many many oh so many sleepless nights….Ever since that tragic night of May 1980…Precisely on the eve of what could have been the ultimate achievement of his wildest dreams.
Peter Hook tells us the story from his point of view, very boldly, very honestly, not trying to save anyone’s image nor pointing an accusative finger at anyone either, just trying to set the record as straight as possible. Through him, we finally get to know the real story of Joy Division and Ian Curtis. The starting point of it still being a Sex Pistols concert….In fact Ian Curtis wasn’t at the first one but he did was at the second one and Hooky hardly remember him being there. From there, Peter Hook marches us very thoroughly and even if it isn’t always sad, one can still feel the tremendous pain and the disastrous effect of the forever burning hell that he was thrown, that they were all thrown in when Ian decided to put himself out of his misery in a very intimate book in which you get to like the boys from Joy Division and their entourage for what they really where as he recalls their boyish pranks on each other, the lousy venues, the fights and the jealousy and backstabbing that existed at the time between bands, the lack of organisation and knowledge, the overall misunderstanding and deception that would come from your family and your co-workers and their daytime job they had to keep for so long so that they wouldn’t have to make any compromise on their music. There is a lot that they had to put up with but we also realise that the DIY that comes with it has become an inherent trademark of Punk. Peter Hook also does his mea culpa as to the general lack of concern towards what additional mental and physical pressure that Ian had to deal with considering he was married with a first newborn baby, his illness and his affair with Annick Honoré. You get to realise that Ian’s persona and tragic end was far more complex than meets the eye but at the same time it is so very understandable when you always are reminded that they were so young and well, as it is said in the book ”they didn’t have a clue”. Joy Division was a band that started from nothing and had fought hard for every inch of fame and glory they managed to grab ahold of and they were having more and more success, the dream they all had was now becoming a reality and Ian, just like the others, didn’t want his illness to be in the way… They just wanted to keep on going and who can blame them…I think no one in particular is to blame, but maybe at the same time, everyone is, including Ian himself.
I didn’t like the movie ”Control” so much because I thought it was more about who Ian wasn’t then about who he was. I also thought it was a very biased vision since the writer was Ian’s unfortunate widow and mother of his daughter Nathalie. Now I do understand that Ian was far from being a good father, we all know that. Of course he should have been more responsable but I think despite the sad fact he wasn’t the father he should have been, we all want to know, more than anything, who he was as an artist. Debbie was the wife at home, abandoned and put aside by Ian who had married her at a very young age so she didn’t get much to know him as an artist. Ian Curtis to me is the singer, the captain of a band called Joy Division and to me that what’s matters the most. I’m not a fan of those gossip magazines and never have been so I have very little concern about people’s private life unless they have a very direct effect on their art. Unfortunately it did have a direct effect on Joy Division, his complex love affair, amongst other things, drove him to kill himself and put a very abrupt end to Joy Division who was bound to leave for a US tour the very next day so it does help me to understand but that is one of many aspects about Ian’s life and Joy Division but ”Control” nevertheless did left me unsatisfied. Now ”24 Hour Party People” did reveal a bit more about the boys and Ian. In the book, Hook says that in his opinion, the Ian they present in ”24 Hour Party People” is much closer to the real Ian than the one that is presented in ”Control” but the bit that is about Joy Division is just a small part of the movie so it did left me very unsatisfied too in this regard. I wanted to know how Ian Curtis was when he was on tour with his lads, how he was when no one was looking, what drove him, how did he write his lyrics, how big was his influence on Joy Division, how did the others saw his illness as it grew more and more important, how was the relation between members of the band, how come no one told him to rest, what the boys felt they should or could have done to help him… It turns out that Peter Hook did all that with a fresh, bold, honest look at it all. It is very well written and gives you a very clear picture about everything you want to know. Now Peter Hook himself is a character that you get to like from the get go… His boldness and honesty, his sensitivity or lack of, at times makes the book very real, funny, sad… You can feel the excitement, the ups and downs of Joy Division. He also gives a very detailed description of how the albums were recorded and a very good description of the larger than life character of their producer and technical engineer, the well-respected Martin Hannett.
If you are a Joy Division fan you absolutely have to read this book. You will fall under the spell of this such unusual band that have at heart everything tiny thing they do and have it at heart to own even their worst mistakes because it is part of who they are. They are not for sale and always have managed to do what they wanted, how they wanted it. They could deal with the shitty venues, sleeping on the floor, the fights but they would never indulge in being a sell out. Here is an extract of the book I have chosen for you. In fact they are 2 separate extracts. It was very hard to choose because it depends on what aspect you want to insist. Hooky talks about them all, I picked this one simply because I thought it told a lot about many aspects and you can really read the word ”honesty” between the lines…
”Ian had responded by trying to kill himself (…) sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t the gigging break that did him in in the end. At least when we were playing we were away, our minds were distracted. With the gigs canceled and us staying close to home. Ian also ended up staying much closer to the source of all his domestic problems.
Not that we were aware of all these troubles, the depth of his problems, at the time, mind you. It’s only recently, since the explosion of interest in Joy Division, you might say, and while I’ve been researching the book, that I’ve really started to get a clear picture of the kind of shit Ian was going through and the very short timescale involved.
At the time he kept mainly to himself. as far as we were concerned he was dead excited about going to America, really looking forward to it. Yet you read about him telling people that he didn’t want to go. According to Genesis P-Orridge (from Throbbing Gristle), Ian said he’d rather ”die” than go on tour, and maybe he did say that, but not to us, he didn’t: no way. With us Ian was bang into the idea maybe if he’d been spent more time with us, and less at home, and less talking to the likes of Genesis, then he’d have been buoyed up by it all. I think he’d have gone to America, where, looking at it, the schedule wouldn’t have been exhausting, and I think he would have loved it.
I’m not saying his problems would have gone away, of course. Just that they wouldn’t have been crowding in on him quite so much. I really think that if he’d made it to America he’d had lived.
Or maybe I’m just talking out my arse again. Barney always said that it was his medication that made him suicidal, and that could have happened anywhere; Macclesfield or New-York.
(…)Our ultimate aim was to be ourselves, to do things the way we wanted them doing, and we’d insist out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Rob was always in our corner. Tony was always on our corner. You might call them mistakes but at least they were mistakes made on our own terms. Mistakes that then became legends.
A few days later we played Birmingham. We didn’t know it then, of course, but it would be our last-ever gig as Joy Division.
It was a good one too. We later released it on the album ”Sill”. Ian had a bit of a wobble during ”Decades” but was fine for ”Digital”. Even so, it was one of those gigs-like all of them were around then-where you were looking at Ian wondering if, or when, it was going to happen, and that was because it was now happening at every show. With hindsight you can look back and say he probably wasn’t going to be right at any gig, whether in America or outer space. Even so, the idea of cancelling or rescheduling America never came up.
We were so excited about going, so wound up about it and desperate to do it. Ian, the fan of the Doors and Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and Burroughs, especially. I don’t care what Genesis P-Orridge says, he was looking forward to going. I mean, we had so much going for us then. The word was getting out that we were a great group to see live. We had ”Love Will Tear Us Apart” up our sleeve. We were on the way up.
That’s what always gets me about what he did. Sometimes you can see just why he did it, and it makes a kind of sense.
Other times, it just makes no fucking sense at all”
These abandoned flying saucer-style holiday homes built for US military officers in Taiwan left to rot are built on burial grounds…
Sanzhi Pod City in Taiwan was designed as a holiday resort for US officers
Space age homes built in 1978 on top of a burial ground for Dutch soldiers
Several deaths during construction including suicides and accidents
Pods were abandoned and demolished to transform site into new resort,
Desolate, shattered, warped and stained, this abandoned series of Smartie-coloured pod homes paints a bleak picture.The flats, known as Sanzhi Pod City, were built in New Taipei City, Taiwan and designed to be part of a holiday resort.They were built in 1978 as a vacation destination for US military officers deployed to the Far East and wealthy Taiwanese. According to locals, a burial ground for Dutch soldiers lies beneath the startling designs. History surrounding the sad structures is even stranger. The buildings were abandoned in 1980 after investment losses by developers Hung Kuo Group and a number of bizarre deaths, including several suicides and car accidents during construction. Gem, a real estate administrator from the Philippines, said: ”As an avid documenter of man-made landscape, I found these pod houses very cool. The colours, the retro futuristic style, whoever designed and built these had a lot of balls.”
”As to their demise, people give me different stories. Apparently, these retro futuristic building styles were popular at that time, but the price was so high that they failed to sell most of the units. I guess the developer went broke and that’s why they lay in absolute ruin for years. Maybe the era was all wrong, the target market was all wrong, and the grand experiment failed, but they were still intriguing to look at.”
All shots were taken in 2008 by photographer Gem Urdaneta, 33, a couple of years before the pods were demolished by the Taipei government.
View original article byINDIA STURGIS FOR MAILONLINE. Thanks to Blue Maggot for bringing this to my attention and for her constant encouragments and loyalty!! There are others UFO houses all around the world, not all are left to rot. Viewprevious poston the matter.
Otaku is often associated with an extremely negative image as it is used to refer to someone who stays at home all the time and doesn’t have significant social or love life. They are seen a someone who pass the time by watching anime, reading mangas, playing videogames, surfing the internet (otaku is also used to refer to a nerd/hacker/programmer), or being a fan of a band, an actress, a singer or anyone who has achieve a certain popularity in one way or another for very various reasons. They are perceived as someone who become very specialized in one domain without making a living out of it. They are also perceived as someone who will be or hasn’t been able of making it to adulthood.
In the Western culture, people confuse otaku to be something positive like “Guru”. If you think about it, it’s not really good to be called a guru if it means you are a total loser who can’t socialize with other people except through the Internet.
Other Japanese words which have been confused by Westerners also include but not limited to: Anime, Manga, etc
otaku no jinsei ha yabai na! (it sucks to live the life of an otaku!)
The word Otaku is very related to one of an idol. A Japanese girl answered when asked ”What is an idol?” answers: ”For a guy it is someone to protect, for a girl it is someone she would like very very much to be friends with”. Hum… Right there it says a lot… I think this young lady tried to make it look like it’s a lot worst to be a male Otaku than a female Otaku. I felt listening to this that she wanted to make it look like male Otaku are much more and in a perverse way, addicted to their idol(s) than a girl who just ”wants to be friend” with her idol(s). If you watch the way the girls react when in presence of one or more of their male idols, I wouldn’t say that this way of describing the matter is accurate….
The term “otaku” seems to have been introduced to anime fans in the US and other countries via Studio Gainax’s “Otaku no Video 1985,” a self-parody film.
Otaku, meaning probably “venerable house,” refers to someone who has a devotion to a subject or hobby (not necessarily anime) to the point of not leaving home. For instance, an otaku fan of a particular movie star could quite possibly know all of the films s/he has been in, their birth date, time of birth, shoe size, favorite toothpaste, etc. Generally speaking, calling someone an otaku in Japan is an insult, implying that their social skills have atrophied or never even developed, due to their manic involvement in their chosen fandom.In America, the term is used to denote a zealous fan, usually of anime and/or manga. Due to its introduction to most people’s vocabulary through its tongue-in-cheek use in Gainax’s film, “otaku” tends to have a much less dire definition overseas.When dealing with Japanese people, however, it may be best to keep in mind the modern Japanese image of an otaku — Someone who only leaves their home to eat or shop, if at all, with an overwhelming and unhealthy obsession about something. It can as easily refer to a stalker or sociopath as it can to a harmless anime buff.
Under a different angle, I have seen many times in various sources that Japanese children are asked to perform a lot, it goes without saying that even more is expected from them in adulthood. The passage to adulthood becomes a terrifying step to take for many. Otaku is seen by many as people who are afreaid to take that step and take refuge in childhood, clinging to childish hobbies that then become perceived as some kind of fetishism. You can easily see now why Otaky is so badly perceived in Japan. It’s sort of a rebellion against the Japanese values and is also seen as a very undignified way of doing so. I am not aking sides here. I am only exposing the way it is perceived in Japan and I am pretty sure any Japanese will say that I am at least 75% right. Of course I am not Japanese so I can barely grasp the magnitude of the unease that the Otaku phenomena has created, putting in question the very foundation of the Japanese traditional values. You might also see it as the result of an exponential growth of the wealth in Japan, a country that was barely making it before WW2 and that is now one of the countries that most if not all consider as a world economical force. Therefore leisure time and industries become very important in a country in which everyone as the means to afford spending money on stuff that is stricly for pleasure. That is one way of putting it but I think explaining the whole otaku social phenomena using only those arguments would be a huge mistake and missing very important considerations. Putting both together would for sure reveal a lot on why otaku became what it is and grew within the social Japanese way of life. I do not know if it is still view with as much disdain now as it was a few years ago. I think otaku are seen at best now as some necessary evil that are tolerated, trying to keep a straight face while your teeth are grinding.
This is a very good documentary made in 1994 called simply ”Otaku” by French director Jean-Jacques Beineix (Betty Blue, Diva) but I could not find it in English. Here it is in French. It is very well made, goes very deep and explores many angles on the subject. You can always order it, it does have English subtitles on the DVD. Here it is in French for those who can understand it. Sorry.. It’s the best I could find.
Is there such a thing as a natural-born pop artist? I don’t really think there is, but the voluminous graphical art of Mark Mothersbaugh, well known as the frontman and co-founder of DEVO, is enough to give me pause.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver on Thursday opened Myopia, a very large exhibition showcasing the art of Mark Mothersbaugh that runs through April. Adam Lerner, director of the museum and curator of the show, takes pains in the book accompanying the show published by Princeton Architectural Press, to emphasize Mothersbaugh’s almost preposterous productivity: “Mark Mothersbaugh is a fountain of creative energy. He creates postcard-size drawings and collages on a daily basis (more than 30,000 of them so far) and uses them as the basis for other works. …”
It’s well known that the spark that led to DEVO’s formation was the tragic shooting at Kent State in May 1970, which Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale witnessed. Mothersbaugh puts it well in the book: “For a lot of reasons, the shootings gave me a focus.” To flip throughMyopia is to wonder just what button that event pushed in Mothersbaugh’s brain—there seems to be no cessation of the combinations of icons and slogan-like textual elements that Mothersbaugh can’t put together in an arresting image. Lerner wants to emphasize that DEVO is merely one channel for Mothersbaugh’s creativity, with the works featured in Myopia representing some of the others, and that’s perfectly true. It may not be “fair” that DEVO overshadows the entirety of Mothersbaugh’s other output, but that’s the nature of showbiz. A less curmudgeonly way of thinking about it is that Mothersbaugh has found success in the opposed worlds of pop culture and high art in ways that reinforce each other.
It kind of goes without saying for anyone who knows his or her DEVO, but Mothersbaugh’s sloganeering impulse is strongly influenced by advertising. Picking almost at random from the images, you can find phrases in Mothersbaugh’s pictures such as “Don’t Bullshit God, Padre!” “Press My Tummy, Buttwipe!” “I’m Keeping Score, You Fiend!” “Soiled Linen Pantaloons, Yakety Pants,” and on and on. The exclamation points aren’t incidental—there’s a hectoring quality that maybe prevents Mothersbaugh’s images from penetrating the upper echelons of art, but he’s awfully adept and they function really well below that threshold. Hell, even the ones without words are almost as emphatic—the man understands his icons. As for originality, obviously Mothersbaugh owes a huge debt to the pop art movement of the 1950s and after: The Ben-Day dots, visible on the cover, are obviously a nod to Roy Lichtenstein and through him to pop art in general.
My guess is that 90% of DEVO’s fans have no idea just how startling and accomplished an artist Mark Mothersbaugh is. If you take DEVO’s output and convert it to a collection of paintings, it would look a lot like the pieces in Myopia—possibly just because of the sheer number of postcard-style paintings and doodles Mothersbaugh has produced, the graphical art ranges a little wider and more freely than DEVO’s catalog, for reasons that should be mostly obvious. Also, the pretense of the Devolution schtick isn’t quite as present—the levels of pessimistic irony are a little flatter in the paintings, so you can apprehend it a little easier. It’s still about showing you the ugliest side of our noisy culture somehow, but you can admire it purely as an aesthetic thing without the oxytocin hit of DEVO’s spastic 4/4 beat.
Riggs’ Class Record No. 101 (No D) (pages 18 and 19), 1971
LuAnn, ca. 1984
Kiss Me, 2004
Untitled (Censor), 2004
Are We Not Men?, 2004
Here’s the first section of a roughly 75-minute interview conducted at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles a month ago:
Andy Warhol’s sphere of influence defined 60’s subculture in New York. Though most remember Andy as an artist, he should be coined as a collector, collecting characters at The Factory who he manufactured and preserved as icons. His taste was impeccable; his instincts dead on. “Anybody who Andy discovered and found and ‘named’ as his ‘superstar’ became his superstar. Andy had the best taste. I mean, he’s my favorite artist…he knew a good thing”, said Betsey Johnson. From 1965-1967 Andy delivered an explosion, giving rise to three of the most memorable icons of the era. The intersection of Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Betsey Johnson, and The Velvet Underground illuminated a generation, culminating in the most influential icons of the 60’s social scene.
Edie met Andy at a party in January of ’65 and she became a regular at Andy’s studio, The Factory, by March. During this time Andy shot footage of Edie getting ready in her apartment, later used in his film Poor Little Rich Girl. Andy and Edie became quite inseparable, and in April of ’65, Andy brought Edie to an art opening of his in Paris. When they got back to New York, Andy said that he wanted to make Edie the ‘Queen of The Factory’. He had a script written for just for her, resulting in a film called Kitchen, shot in the kitchen of a friend’s studio apartment. Around this time Andy also shot Vinyl, which featured Edie in an otherwise all male cast. By the spring, The Factory hosted a “Fifty Most Beautiful People” party where many celebrities, including Judy Garland, came. It was said that at this party, “the stars went out and the superstars came in; that there were more people staring at Edie than at Judy”. By the early summer, Edie starred in her most famous Warhol film, Beauty No.2, which opened in July. The film showcased Edie lying in bed with a male lover while an offscreen voyeur berated her with personal questions. That same month Edie was named the “Newest Superstar” in the New York Times.
Edie became notorious by age 22, frolicking around the city in heavy eye make up with her hair sprayed silver, donning black leotards, tights, and big chandelier earrings. “Edie ran with the wild horses. Edie was not only ‘the look’, she had the head, she had the body, she had the screwed up background, I mean she’s the perfect candidate. Young, gorgeous, the look of the time, on Andy’s arm, and able to really hold her own, falling down, standing up, or whatever. She was a one in a zillion,” said Betsey Johnson. In November, Edie appeared in a LIFEmagazine feature titled “The Girl with The Black Tights”. After hanging out with Bob Dylan for a bit, Edie got the impression that Bob’s manager would offer her a film contract. She then veered astray from Andy in February of ’66 after he filmed her last Factory role in “Lupe”. Betsey reflects, “We were passionate, tormented kids with visions, stuff to do, and things to make. Edie led a sixties acceptance and love and wannabe population of copycats. She was gorgeous.”
Edie dressed like Betsey
Betsey designed the fashion that defined the look of The Factory. Before being introduced to Andy, Betsey was one of the in-house designers for a Manhattan boutique called Paraphernalia. Metallics, plastics, and minis filled the shop, where all clothes retailed for less than $99. “People would walk into the store dressed in their straight clothes. They’d buy something and put it on. Then and there they’d apply an outrageous make-up, before heading directly to a party. They were buying something to wear tonight and more or less throw away tomorrow” said Paraphernalia’s owner, Paul Young. The boutique itself looked like a minimalist art gallery, designed by Architect Ulrich Franzen, and it sat right next to the Vidal Sasson salon. Paraphernalia and Vidal Sassoon provided the essential components for any woman to transform into a mod mistress, an enormously radical shift from the conservative look of the 50’s. After designing for Paraphernalia for about a year, Andy introduced Betsey to Edie who immediately fell in love with Betsey’s designs. Betsey lent Edie a collection of her signature silver clothing, and Edie became Betsey’s fitting model for the following year.
Edie became a regular at Paraphernalia where she simultaneously established and consumed the notorious look of the 60’s. By dressing Edie, Betsey developed an integral role in The Factory which continued to expand. The Factory was the new master of media, manufacturing film, art, and celebrity status. If that wasn’t enough, in ’65 The Factory began to manufacture music when Andy became the manager for a band called The Velvet Underground. The Velvet underground was formed by Lou Reed and John Cale, two talented 23 year olds who bonded over music and heroin. Betsey was dating John Cale at the time, and she readily began to design clothes for the band once Andy had brought them into The Factory. The web was woven; the stage was set. Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Betsey Johnson, and The Velvet Underground became the incubators of an era, producing a radical wave and cult phenomenon that has yet to be rivaled.
The Velvet Underground:
In March of ’66 Betsey hired Andy to stage a party at Paraphernalia. The Velvet Underground played music at the party, ultimately selling a look, a sound, and a scene. Andy suggested that the band feature German singer, Nico, on several of their songs. Nico was a 5’10”, German born, blonde model who’s stoic beauty and deep, soft voice gave the male band a female offset. She famously sang the song, “Femme Fatale”, which Lou Reed had written about Edie at Andy’s request. Between ’66 to ’67 Andy organized a series of multimedia events called the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable”, also referred to as “EPI”. The series featured musical performances by The Velvet Underground and Nico, showcasing notable regulars from The Factory as dancers. The “EPI” officially began in January of ’66 at a dinner for the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry. Edie and another of Andy’s superstars, Gerard Malanga, danced on stage as The Velvet Underground and Nico sang. Establishing its roots in New York City, the “EPI” roadshow continued throughout the United States and Canada until May of ’67. In April of ’66 The Velvet Underground and Nico album was recorded in New York City, featuring Nico on three of the songs. Andy designed the album cover; a yellow banana sticker with “peel slowly and see” printed near the tip, revealing a fleshy, pink banana underneath. Brian Eno is credited with saying, “The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” The album was named the 13th “Greatest Album of All Time” by Rolling Stone in March of 2003.
Andy, Edie, Betsey and The Velvet Underground had a huge influence on culture during and after their fame in the 60‘s. Each of these icons possessed peculiar characteristics that helped challenge the rigid, societal norms of their time. For instance, Edie suffered from mental illness since she was a child, primarily due to a troubled family life. Though Edie was born into wealth, her affluence only made her more susceptible to dependence on prescription pills and party drugs which ultimately led to an overdose that killed her at age 28. Andy too had his own troubles. He grew up as a hypochondriac and outcast who isolated himself in his room, immersing himself in magazines and radio. Andy was undeniably insecure, and perhaps he surrounded himself amongst his large crew of eccentrics as a way to camouflage his own insecurities. The Velvet Underground frontman, Lou Reed, also suffered from a troubled upbringing. At 17, Lou received 24 electric shock therapy under his parents wishes to “cure” him of his homo-erotic tendencies and mood swings. The dosage of the shock treatment was incredibly high, and it made him feel like a vegetable for the entire following year. Lou was quick to leave home after that.
Many of the regulars at The Factory thought of themselves as misfits, sharing a resentment towards their upbringing and a desire for life anew. The Factory provided an exciting, alternative lifestyle to those young people who had never fit into the box that their parents tried desperately to confine them in. Drugs, particularly heroin and speed, became a common habit amongst The Factory crowd. Though they were popular, the drugs were hardly glamorized due to the drastic consequences they caused. The fame and notoriety of The Factory icons helped publicize the gritty reality of youth that had been banned from media in the 50’s. Andy successfully showed America these beautifully talented and troubled artists as pioneers of a new 60’s generation. These icons broke through the social molds of conservatism, establishing a wave of culture that radically embraced the beauty within the harsh realities of life.
As Iggy Pop and The Stooges are my all time favorite group and the best show I have ever seen I really felt I had to post more about them even if I already did in the one called Your Pretty Face is Going to Helland in A Shaded view on Fashion but I still thought it was unsatisfactory of my appreciation considering how I feel about The Stooges so I thought the best thing I could do was to hook you guys up on this article written by James Marshall in pleasekillme.com that is really complete and interesting. I also included a few clips that I thought you might enjoy as well. It is really important to me to pass the word that punk wasn’t born with the Sex Pistols in the UK as so many people think… Not that it matters so much but it’s always nice to have all the facts… I mostly wanted you to be aware if you are not already, of the immense contribution that Iggy and The Stooges has brought not only to Punk Rock but to music in general… So …just keep in mind to click on images to read the articles I have chosen to be amongst so many I have read and have fun looking through some footage I have chosen as well while we all wait for the movie Sandman by Dario Argento in which Iggy will play the main character… So I hope you enjoy these chosen samples of what Iggy and The Stooges have in store for their fans.
The Shining’s Overlook hotel remains one of the most disturbing locations in horror. Let’s looks over its history, and how it tells Kubrick’s story…
Cinema is full of set designs so beautiful, you almost wish you they were real. Fritz Lang had vast chunks of city built forMetropolis. Joseph Mankiewicz nearly brought 20th Century Fox to its knees, so huge and sumptuous were his sets for 1963’sCleopatra.
Thinking back over the course of movie history, how many films can you think of where the set itself is as big a star as the actors that emote within it? In Alien or Blade Runner, perhaps. The impossibly creepy motel and Victorian house of horrors in Psycho, maybe. The set in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, I’d argue, towers over all these.
In no other film has an interior felt so mundane and yet so palpably evil – Jack Nicholson may rant and rave spectacularly as unhinged writer Jack Torrance, and Shelley Duval may act convincingly exhausted and terrified as his beleaguered wife, but it’s production designer Roy Walker’s set design that constantly dazzles.
Credit must also go, of course, to John Alcott’s prowling cinematography, aided Garrett Brown and his wonder invention, the Steadicam, which allowed Stanley Kubrick, ever the technician, to pull off some of the most striking long takes in all cinema.
Nevertheless, it’s the Overlook Hotel, at the time the biggest indoor set ever built, that bears so much of the film’s dramatic weight. This is partially because The Shining has such a simple story to tell. Pared back even by the standards of Stephen King’s source novel, the movie contains none of the rampaging elephant-shaped hedges or infernos of the original book. Instead, Kubrick’s film presents us with little more than embittered, failed writer, Jack, slowly growing crazy in a remote hotel. His wife Wendy (Duvall) and telepathic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) can do little more than look on in horror.
At first glance, Kubrick and Walker appear to have created the perfect fusion between exterior and interior shots. At the start of the film, the outside of the Overlook we see is actually the Timberline Lodge, located in Oregon. The rest of the film’s exteriors and interiors, meanwhile, were immaculately constructed back at Elstree Studios in the UK.
A world away from the dusty, peeling interiors usually seen in horror movies, the hotel interior envisioned by Kubrick is spacious and modern. The set generates tension not through claustrophobia and dark spaces, but with high ceilings and lonely expanses. Characters are frequently dwarfed by gigantic columns or huge windows. Even the carpets accentuate the how small and vulnerable Danny and his mother are; one shot shows the little boy playing on a carpet whose huge geometric patterns surround him like a cage.
As he did in 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick uses violent contrasts of colour to heighten the feeling of unease. There’s a key moment, where Grady (Philip Stone) ushers Jack into a bathroom and urges him, rather unsubtly, to “correct” his family. The acting in this scene is so intense that it’s easy to miss just how striking the actors’ surroundings are; unlike the warm, boozy golds of the ballroom Jack was drinking in seconds before, the bathroom is bathed in stark artificial light. The pure white ceiling and floor merely accentuate the startling crimson of the walls.
The room is utterly unlike any other in the hotel – it’s as though it’s a direct projection of Jack’s violent mind, which it almost certainly is. It’s but one example of how Kubrick uses colour and design to reflect the mood of his characters.
As an example of how The Shining’s set takes us through those moods, take a look at the manager’s room, where Jack is interviewed at the beginning of the film – it’s a typical 70s office, its ugly salmon-coloured walls festooned with framed pictures. It’s vastly different from the supernatural ballroom or evil-looking bathroom seen in the film’s final act.
When Walker set about designing the film’s rooms, he took inspiration from real hotel rooms from around America, and went all over the country photographing different interiors. On his returm, Kubrick leafed through the pictures, chose the ones he liked, and had his production team construct rooms that looked exactly the same. The director described the process of designing the film’s sets in an interview with writer Michel Ciment.
“We wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel,” Kubrick said. “The hotel’s labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere. This realistic approach was also followed in the lighting, and in every aspect of the decor it seemed to me that the perfect guide for this approach could be found in Kafka’s writing style. His stories are fantastic and allegorical, but his writing is simple and straightforward, almost journalistic.”
Writer Rob Ager made an exhaustive and brilliant examination of The Shining’s set design, and suggested that Kubrick deliberately built anomalies into the hotel’s layout in order to confuse the viewer’s spatial awareness. (It’s a fascinating piece of work, and you can read it, and watch an accompanying video, here.)
From a plan view, as one might see in an architect’s drawing, the Overlook’s layout doesn’t make any sense; hotel rooms open out straight onto balconies; what should be internal windows appear to have light coming from outside; corridors lead to abrupt dead ends.
Not everyone agrees with Ager’s thesis, but I’d argue it’s too plausible to dismiss entirely. While it’s possible that Kubrick and his designers may have cut a few corners to cram their already enormous sets into the space available at Elstree, it’s unlikely that a director as meticulous and obsessed with minor detail as Kubrick would make so many glaring errors.
Besides, Kubrick makes it obvious from the outset that the hotel’s architecture is vital to his story. His use of Steadicam isn’t merely a gimmicky use of new technology – it allows him to lead us around this weird interior landscape, across horrid carpets, polished floors and rugs, through its sprawling kitchen and storage rooms. He wants us to know how gigantic and dehumanising this place is – before the psychological wargames begin, he shows us the battleground on which they’ll take place.
In the Overlook, Kubrick created a hotel that acts as a kind of psychological torture chamber, trapping its victims in a labyrinth of impossible corridors and rooms. Its design mirrors that of the hedge maze outside, cunningly built from a wood and wire mesh frame, with foliage threaded through it. This maze, with its eight-foot high walls, was complex enough for the crew to get lost in.
Kubrick’s daughter Vivian shot a candid documentary of The Shining’s making, and the director and his crew are seen consulting maps of the maze’s layout. It’s been said that, at one point in The Shining’s year-long shoot, Kubrick had the maze walls rearranged, without telling certain members of the crew. When they became lost in its new layout, their cries for help were met with peals of laughter from Kubrick – laughter that, disconcertingly, seemed to becoming from all directions at once.
The Shining is the perfect example of the use of set design to enhance a narrative. Combined with its cinematography, the viewer is left with the impression of a building that isn’t merely haunted, but alive, and actively observing its occupants’ every move. No other set in cinema is quite so oppressive, or so convincingly depicted – we barely notice the spatial anomalies that Ager points out, but it’s likely that on some subconscious level, our brain notices, and shudders.
The Shining’s shoot was long and arduous. In his quest for perfection, Kubrick went through take after take. Scatman Crothers and Shelly Duvall clashed with the director. The latter even collapsed, exhausted, which was caught on camera by Vivian Kubrick.
The film’s extraordinarily realistic lighting also took its toll: the pale sun shining through the vast windows in the main room was achieved with a bank of powerful studio lights – so powerful were these, the set eventually caught fire. Rather than work with the footage he’d already shot, Kubrick, perfectionist to the last, had the set rebuilt from scratch.
Kubrick’s maniacal approach to filmmaking resulted in one of the most unusual entries in the horror canon. Its performances are desperate and sometimes bizarre, its images wavering violently between the starkly real and the surreal. And then there’s the Overlook itself, watching, waiting – it’s entirely unforgettable, and perhaps the most striking haunted house in all cinema.
The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Other than it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.
Just Click on the animated image below for infos about the making of the prequel of ”THE SHINING” called ”OVERLOOK HOTEL”…
So this is what the internets are recently abuzz about– The Mad Men costume designer channeling the essence of Sharon Tate, circaEsquire Magazine1969, by placing the same Vietnam Star T-shirt on Megan Draper. Which, mind you– was probably not for sale at your local Hot Topic, head shop, or Amazon.com back then, so kinda random and creepy. It’s a pretty good ploy to generate some buzz– made me look twice, and I haven’t watched the show in a few years now. Probably exactly what they were going for. I will say, for the record, that the original photography by William Helburn is amazing– downright titillating, even.
But if you find this kind of stuff remotely interesting, the real tingler is how Steve McQueen himself almost ended up a part of the Manson massacre, and could have shared in Sharon Tate and the other’s gruesome fate…
Sharon Tate for Esquire magazine, 1967 –Photo by William Helburn
Sharon Tate for Esquire magazine, 1967 –Photo by William Helburn
1967– Sharon Tate for a spread in Esquire Magazine, 1967, in a t-shirt printed with the Vietnam Star. –Photo by William Helburn
From The Daily Mail, the alleged accounts of McQueen’s infidelities and loathsome ways that put him on the road to creeps-ville, and in the path of Manson’s murderous crew–
”For years, as his [a young Steve McQueen’s] career failed to ignite, he leeched off a successful dancer called Neile Adams — spending her earnings on new cars, drugs and other women.
Eventually marrying her in 1956, he landed a small role soon afterwards in the film of Harold Robbins’s trashy novel, Never Love A Stranger. Within days, he’d embarked on an intensely sexual affair with the film’s leading lady actress Lita Milan — and then proudly told his wife about it. According to Neile: ‘Lita would be the first in a long line of flings that would plague me throughout our married life. OK, I thought, I can handle it — I have to — as long as he doesn’t flaunt it.”
But, as McQueen’s career gathered pace, he never stopped flaunting his affairs — with co-stars including Jacqueline Bisset and Lee Remick, not to mention a host of starlets and fans. Perhaps as a test of his wife’s devotion, he made indiscreet phone calls within her hearing and left lipstick smudges on his shirts (and trousers) and love notes in his pockets.
By 1960, Neile had given up work and given birth to a son and daughter. Still struggling to be the kind of wife he wanted, she’d boil up the high-grade peyote he bought from Navajo Indians, and then disappear while McQueen got stoned with his friends.
He also started going for all-night benders at the Whisky a Go Go club on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, where he met one of his chief partners in crime: a womanising hairdresser called Jay Sebring. The two men, fuelled by alcohol and cocaine, shared the sexual favours of a Bambi-eyed starlet called Sharon Tate, often in the same bed at the same time. And their friendship continued even after she married the director Roman Polanski.
Sharon Tate for Esquire magazine, 1967 –Photo by William Helburn
On the afternoon of August 7, 1969, Sebring went to McQueen’s house to give him a trim and suggested they attend a party that evening at Sharon’s house. McQueen said he’d be there. Before setting out, however, he was called by a young and beautiful blonde he was seeing at the time. Come along to the party, he said — but she told him she had a better idea for just the two of them.
Thus, by a whisker, Steve McQueen avoided being massacred by theManson ‘family’, the hippie followers of the manipulative psychopath Charles Manson, who butchered Tate and three guests — including Sebring, who was shot and stabbed. Ironically, McQueen’s adultery had saved his life.
Two months later, when the killers were arrested, police discovered McQueen’s name on a hit-list of people whom Manson had decided to kill. It turned out that someone at McQueen’s production company had once rejected a screenplay by Manson. From then on, the actor carried a loaded Magnum at all times.
Letter written to McQueen’s attorney, Edward “Eddie” Rubin on Le Mans / Solar Productions letterhead, by Steve McQueen, documenting his concerns about Charles Manson and his murdering crew of misfits. He, as well as, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Tom Jones (good company…) were believed, through an investigation of the murders, to be targeted for assassination by Charles Manson’s crew.
”I WILL GO TO THE OPENING OF ANYTHING, INCLUDING A TOILET SEAT”
I have social disease, I have to go out every night. If I stay home one nigtht spreading rumors to my dogs. Once I stayed home for a week and my dogs had a nervous breakdown. I love going out every night. It’s so exciting. I paint until the last minute and then go home for my first dinner of the night. I always have something simple and nutritious, because I don’t trust food anywhere but home. My favorite dinner is turkey and mashed potatoes-it looks clean.
I usually go out with one kid from my office-the Factory-like Fred Hugues, my business manager, or Bob Colacello, the editor of my magazine Interview. Enployees make the best dates. You don’t have to pick them up and they’re always tax-deductible. I also like the feeling of having several of having several of my employees all around a party-it’s like being at the office.
You really have Social Disease when you make all play work. The only reason to play hard is to work hard, not the other way around like most people think. That’s why I take my tape recorder everywhere I can. I also take my camera everywhere. Having a few rolls of film to develop gives me a good reason to get up in the morning.
I love the new, small, automatic-focus 35mm cameras like Minox and Konica. That’s what I used for the photos in this book. I think anybody can take a good picture. My idea of a good picture is one that’s in focus and a famous person doing something unfamous. It’s being in the right place at the wrong time. That’s why my favorite photographer is Ron Galella.
But back to m,y nightlife. After I’ve filled my plastic shopping bag from Brownie’s Health Food Shop with TDK ninety-minutes tapes, Kodak, TX-36 black-and-white film, and Duracell Alkaline AA batteries, I run out to my first party of the evening. I ususally catch the tail end of a cokctail party, then go to a couple of dinners, stop off at Le Club, Regine’s, or Xenon, and end up at Studio 54. Or I go to a SoHo opening, a Broadway opening, a boutique opening, a restaurant opening-when it opens I go. When it cloeses, I go too. I just go. That’s Social Disease.
The symptoms of Social Disease: You want to go out every night because you’re afraid if you stay home you might miss something. You choose your friends according to wether or not they have a limousine. You prefer exhiliration to conversation unless the subject is gossip. You judge a party by how many celebreties are there-if they serve caviar they don’t have any celebrities. When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is read the society columns. If your name is actually mentionned your day is made. Publicity is the ultimate symptom of Social Disease. But you know it’s fatal when you don’t want to get rid of it. You couldn’t anyway. How do you catch Social Disease? By kissing someone on both cheeks. Kissing people on both cheeks started out in France, like most diseases. It’s the society thing to do. Socialites never shakes hands. It hurts too much.
People say there’s no such thing as Society anymore. I think they’re wrong. There’s a new kind of Society. Now it doesn’t matter if you came over on the Mayflower, so long as you can get in Studio 54. Anyone rich, powerfull, beautiful, or famous can get into Society. If you’re a few of those things you can really get to the top.
This book is about the people at the top, or around the top. But the top’s the bottom. Everyone up there has Social Disease…
Punk, disco, hip hop, the blackout, Son of Sam, Tony Manero, CBGB, Studio 54, Max’s Kansas City, Show World, Paradise Garage, cocaine, polyester and leather—1977 in New York City was exhilarating, a nightmare, fun, dangerous and never boring. It was the year I arrived in downtown Manhattan with a beautiful woman, no money and a rock and roll band. I hit the streets running and never looked back…unless it was to watch my back.
I was living in the decaying Hotel Earle in the West Village when NYC went black. The power failure of July 13, 1977 knocked the city to its knees. I was sitting on the window sill of my room keeping cool or as cool as one could keep during a sweltering summer night in the city. I was drinking a nice cold beer and listening to the music of the streets when at around 9:30 p.m. everything suddenly went completely dark…and I mean dark, dark as Aleister Crowley’s asshole. It was the strangest fucking thing you could imagine. One moment the city was there, then next it was gone. The only illumination came from automobile headlights lacerating the night like ghostly Ginsu knives. My girlfriend and I clutched hands and felt our way down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk. We walked to Bleecker street in spooky darkness. We weren’t alone. The avenues were teeming with the dazed and confused. Not that unusual for the Village, but the confusion was different. Was the world coming to an end?
By midnight the streets were mobbed with people who had figured out that civilization wasn’t ending, it was on vacation. There was a festive vibe in the air. It was like Mardi Gras for the blind. The bars and pubs that stayed open were candlelit and booze was flowing for free. Refrigerators weren’t working and there was no way to keep perishables from spoiling so instead of facing the prospect of throwing food away some joints were feeding people for free. A few cabbies got into the spirit of things and maneuvered their taxis in such a way as to shine their headlights into the cafes providing diners with surreal mood lighting. It was a prison break theme park. And this wild night was bringing out the best in New Yorkers. But it didn’t last. As the blackout continued through the next day and night, things started to change. The novelty of the crisis wore off and it got ugly. What had started out as a party turned into looting and violence. An unexpected payday for the poor and desperate.
The blackout put the whole gamut of what makes New York marvelous and miserable on display: the “I got your back, brother” slamming into the “fuck you!”
These were times when the city was an unseemly beast, a scabrous, moulting fat rat that was exciting to look at but terrifying. Part of the excitement came from the ever present sense that things could go haywire at any minute. I lived intensely in the moment, acutely aware of everything around me, jacked up in a state of heightened consciousness that was both Zen and manic. Being in the here and now of New York City in 1977 wasn’t a hippie thing, it was survival. And when I got inside the safety zone of Max’s or CBGB, among my tribe, I was ready to get fucked up, to get high, to dance and celebrate.
In the city of night, we went to bed at dawn and rose at dusk. We were vampires before vampires became hip.
NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell is a terrific documentary that captures a pivotal moment in the history of a city and its pop culture. Here’s the whole beautiful mess.
BTW check this site I just stumbled on to: GetWildCards I’m trying to get a story up there.
With the discovery and digitalisation of a cache of his personal polaroids, we gained access to Tarkovsky’s luminous world…
Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky is often cited as the greatest cinematic artist of all time. His roster of just seven films – including Andrei Rublev, Ivan’s Children and Solaris – have made him one of the most lauded directors in history, awarded a Golden Lion, the Grand Prix du Jury at Cannes and, posthumously, the Lenin Prize – the highest accolade in the Soviet Union. One of his heroes, Ingmar Bergman, stated, “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”
Veneration for Tarkovsky has not dimmed since his premature death in 1986, making the recent discovery of a cache of his polaroids a thrilling find. Taken between 1979 and 1984, in the years before his death from a cancer supposedly contracted on the set of Stalker, they span his last months in the Soviet Union and the years he spent researching and filming in Italy. Very much in the spirit of his moving image work, they capture nature, individuals and light in images that shine with the singular humanity which imbues his films. He once pronounced that “the director’s task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions, its dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seen…” In these vignettes from his personal world, populated by his dog, his children, his garden and the view from his window, we are left spellbound by a quiet and captivating insight into the world of a man who rendered dreams reality, creating worlds of wonder and truth that have never been equalled despite all the bombast of modern technology.
LOU REED, NICO AND JOHN CALE VELVET UNDERGROUND MINI-REUNION
Posted by Richard Metzger on the PKM website page by Legs’ which is utterly interesting. Pleasekillme.com, make sure you go check on them.
In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Paris venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Lou Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.
Both the videotape and the audio from this show have been heavily bootlegged over the years. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming (if there were any) would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson might have (There is an audio only recording of the rehearsals attributed to Robinson’s tapes already making the rounds on bootleg torrent trackers.)
This is Reed coming off his first solo record (which had not even been released yet) and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” last seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up and took his place. Cale does the lush “Ghost Story” from his then new Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.
I will direct youhere for the full version, but I can’t embed the file.
One thing worth pointing out here is that during “Berlin” you can see Nico’s face as Reed sings a song which he told her was about her. She might even be hearing it for the first time.
Here’s a version (oddly in color, the only one on YouTube, the rest are all B&W) of Reed and Cale performing a languid, stoned and thoroughly unplugged “I’m Waiting For The Man”:
“She was almost proud of the fact that her teeth were rotten, that her hair was grey…her skin was bad, she had needle tracks all over. She liked that. That was her aesthetic.”The above quote, attributed to James Young – Nico’s keyboard player from 1981-86 – summarizes the often harrowing watch that is filmmaker Susanne Ofteringer’s 1995 documentary, Nico Icon.It was Young who penned the fascinating on-the road-with-Nico tell all, Songs They Don’t Play On The Radio, chronicling his days in her ad hoc touring band. But unlike Young’s book, which is frequently injected with (and buoyed by) levity, Ofteringer’s Icon is a meditative, often dark, look at the woman born Christa Päffgen. While hardly wholly representative of Nico the artist/muse/person, the film is an engaging 67 minutes beginning with Nico’s early years modeling in Germany and France, onto to her Zelig-like existence moving through sixties pop culture (Iggy Pop, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Alain Delon, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol…) and beyond. And it’s the beyond, Nico’s “desire for her own annihilation”, and heroin, that looms heavily over the remainder of the film
Check out this subversive fashion video for House Casting in New York City. It is based on the Iggy Pop song ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ and was played at the Center George Pompidou in Paris in September 09, as part of the ‘A Shaded View On Fashion’, during the larger fashion week.. Directed by Leg’s Georgie Greville.
Exploited Teen Models from Russia
It kinda works like either a pimp or a cult…Your pick… At first glance it seem’s all good but after awhile you are like hmmmm…There is definitely something wrong … BTW The Girl on top in the video is now the trainer in the documentary film for those who haven’t noticed…and she speaks quite frankly and honestly.
Friends Recall the Brilliant Montreal Musician Too Few Heard
byCHRIS BARRY Up until his tragic passing at age 39 last December, Alex Soria was the impetus behind one of Montreal’s finest rock ‘n’ roll bands ever, the Nils. One of the first punk bands on the local scene, going all the way back to the ’70s, the Nils were responsible for creating some of the most criminally beautiful music to ever emerge from these parts. And though they never quite made it to the toppermost of the poppermost, like so many feel they deserved, Alex’s musical legacy continues to touch and influence countless musicians around the globe. The following is an all-too-brief accounting of his life and times, as told by his friends, associates and brother Carlos, now 42. CARLOS SORIA In the late ’70s, I was playing in punk bands around town and I’d come home and show Alex songs. Eventually I bought an $80 guitar for him, showed him three chords, and a week later the guy’s playing solos. He was about 13 years old. You’d show him something and then he’d be playing it better than you. He was like that with a lot of things though. He was a killer hockey player, soccer player. As soon as I brought the Pistols and Clash records home, he took them to his little corner and turned their ideas into his own thing. We shared a bedroom in our house in St-Hubert, his bed and my bed faced each other and we’d just sit on our beds writing songs. They weren’t great tunes but, like, a week later he was coming back with better songs and really cool covers of songs he’d figured out. The rest of us had to work pretty hard at it but Alex, it’s like a light shone on the kid, he had a natural God-given talent. And it made no sense either, because just to get a word out of the guy took a week, but dude, when he came onstage and sang it was like, “Wow, how does that come out of that guy?” BILL MOSER [Nils road manager ’87–’89] Alex and Carlos had this twin-like thing. They knew what the other was thinking. I mean, Alex never had to talk, he’d shoot a look to Carlos who would tell people what was going on based on what he’d just read in Alex’s look. I think he must have been so quiet because of the family issue. The mom ran off when they were kids and stuff. CARLOS SORIA The very saddest day of both of our lives was on my 18th birthday when my mother took off. I think it had a lot to do with the sadness Alex carried with him. JIMMY HYNES [friend/roadie] Carlos, Alex and I all went to Macdonald-Cartier on the South Shore together. I used to go over and listen to records in the brothers’ bedroom. Their dad was never around, which probably wasn’t a good thing. So they both kind of ran wild, dropped out of school. Well, maybe Alex finished high school, but no more than that. But they didn’t seem troubled. Man, we used to laugh our heads off together, watching Carlos ride this little girl bicycle up to Grande-Allée Blvd. to go to this bar to buy hash and come back with the stuff on this little bike. All we talked about then was music. CARLOS SORIA In 1979, the Nils started playing out a bit as a four-piece. They did a song “Scratches and Needles” for this BYO compilation, Something to Believe In, and split up shortly afterwards. I convinced them to keep going, joined the band, and that’s when we did “Call of the Wild” for that Primitive Air Raid compilation and recorded the Paisley EP – around ’82 or ’83. What makes no sense is that everyone agreed the Nils had the best song on that BYO compilation but they never contacted us again. All they cared about was SNFU and Junior Gone Wild, and we were, like, “Hey dude, give us a chance, we’ve got killer songs, come on.” We’d gotten a lot of press, people were into the band and all that, but they didn’t care. I’ve always said if the Nils had John Kastner’s business skills we would have succeeded. But everyone looked at us as these crazy little kids, you know. JOHN KASTNER[Asexuals/Doughboys singer] As soon as the Asexuals left the suburbs around ’83, after our first single, we started playing Cargo downtown and the first band we met were the Nils. The Asexuals and the Nils were always close because we were kind of similar – punkish but with a lot of melody. Right away you could tell Alex had something more than everyone else. But there was always something going wrong for the Nils. They could never get out of their own way, those guys. There was always something fucking them over, be it money or people or… And it was frustrating to be around them. I tried to help the Nils in every way possible, but nothing ever panned out. SEAN FRIESEN [Asexuals guitarist] Nobody played an SG like that little fucker, crushing his big nose into the mic and singing a great lyric while playing a great riff. Alex was very underrated in the guitar department.
MONTREAL’S NEXT BIG THING
JOHN KASTNER If the Nils had been from the States, they probably would have been as big and influential as the Replacements were. But they were from Canada, and at that time, nobody was really able to shoot out from there. And worse, they were from Montreal. Montreal is a great city for talent but there’s not a lot of industry, at least there wasn’t then. CARLOS SORIA We never had a proper manager. Nobody ever approached us for anything like that. The Asexuals, 39 Steps, all these bands had people working for them. We always thought, “Fuck, this isn’t fair,” but I guess we had a bad reputation. Around 1985, we became pretty good friends with Ivan from Men Without Hats, who took us to his bank to co-sign a $3,500 loan to record Sell Out Young. We wanted Ivan to produce it because of his pop sensibilities. We wanted to be on the radio, you know? Ultimately he brought in his brother Stefan, and together they were great. At the time we bitched about it, but in hindsight that was a pretty good record. And it helped us a lot. It was voted one of the top 50 records in Canada or something. IVAN DOROSCHUK [musician/producer] I honestly don’t think Alex was capable of writing a bad song. But it was really hard for me to get anyone – even my own label – interested in them. They would’ve rather seen me produce something more like Men Without Hats, something they could bank on. The Nils were a hard sell. People never understood why I was involved with them, including my wife at the time, who didn’t understand what these four kids were doing in my living room every morning, eating all our food and drinking all our beer. But then they got that deal with Rock Hotel/Profile and Chris Spedding, which was a pretty big thing for them. CHRIS SPEDDING [musician/producer] Alex never really said much making that record, he just stood there. Still waters run deep, you know. But as soon as the band started playing it was obvious he was the guy to concentrate on, to bring out. The Nils was a very good record, I was proud of the results. [Rock Hotel CEO] Chris Williamson hired me to do the job, not knowing what would happen. He gave me a small budget but as soon as the record started sounding really, really good, he decided to put his name on it as executive producer. I don’t think I ever got any royalties for it. BILL MOSER Rock Hotel was run by Chris Williamson, a real dickhead. Profile had Run-DMC and were making lots of money. It was a happening label. The Rock Hotel division was actually designed to lose money. So they signed a bunch of rock acts like the Nils and the Cro-Mags. The Nils started out okay with Williamson. He bought them equipment and shit. But when the record came out, they just didn’t get behind it. He said, “I’ll have you opening up for these guys and those guys,” but nothing ever materialized. CARLOS SORIA Everyone told us not to sign the Rock Hotel contract, going, “Wait, you’re going to get better offers.” But dude, we’d been working it for 10 years and this was the only offer we’d ever got. We’re supposed to turn it down? Our lawyer, this big respected character, told us to just sign it as is and send it back, saying, “Look, you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.” So we signed it. We just wanted to make a good record. In the end I think it sold something like 50,000 copies. JIMMY HYNES 1987/88 were great years for the band. There was a big vibe about them, they were hugely popular and we were able to get decent sums of money. They could pull $750 a night when only a year before they’d be lucky to get $200. CARLOS SORIA So the record comes out, everybody’s going nuts, we’re listed in the Rolling Stone charts, it’s going great. Profile paid to get us in on this amazing U.S. tour with the Godfathers, who were happening back then. Those fucking Godfather guys never gave us a sound check the whole tour, but we were still blowing them away every night, and they knew it. After a few weeks, we’re playing Minneapolis with them. I remember Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum, Paul Westerberg, all these guys were there that night. Anyway, the next leg of the tour was the West Coast, where we’d actually sold most of our records, and where the Godfathers had some killer gigs lined up. But that day Profile calls us up and says, “Sorry, you’re going home.” Just like that. We were devastated. We had to drive all the way back to Montreal, and let me tell you, that was the most silent trip anyone has ever been on. The beginning of the end, that day. Profile didn’t want to pay for us to tour anymore. If we could’ve finished that tour I know things would have turned out very different. IVAN DOROSCHUK That was a hot tour, but again, they didn’t have a manager. And they were all nice guys too, you know, up against these cutthroats in the music business.
THINGS TURN TO SHIT
CARLOS SORIA Everything turned to shit once we got home. When Rock Hotel went under, Profile wanted to keep us, but Williamson saw us as his guys and wouldn’t let us out of the deal. We got held up in legal shit for over a year. All these other companies wanted to sign us but without that fucking release form, we couldn’t do fuck all. Shortly afterwards, [Nils member] Chico and I had a little punch-up in the van coming back from some show and he left the band. I lost my girlfriend Tracy, the girl I should have married; Chico, who was one of my best friends, and my record contract all in one week. We tried to keep it going but it was over. The momentum had been killed and it never picked up again. BILL MOSER We were doing a show in Montreal and Williamson shows up. And you know, the Nils actually sold a few records, but they never saw a dime. They were flat broke, but the brothers still had some Marshall gear the label had bought for them. Williamson arrives and decides to take their equipment back. So not only does he completely fuck them over, he reclaims their beloved Marshalls. Alex always took on these menial, shitty jobs, going way the fuck up to Montreal North for six bucks an hour and coming home depressed. He hated those fucking jobs. But there wasn’t one night when we were living together where we wouldn’t pick up the guitars, cop a six-pack and just start playing. I often had to coax him into it, but once he picked up the guitar he’d forget about shit and go for hours. Alex knew enough about the music business not to be delusional about becoming a rock star. He just wanted to make enough money so he didn’t have to go to the factory the next day. I can’t tell you how many times he told me, “Man, I just want to make another record.”But they couldn’t because of the legal problems, and that really depressed him. You know, he was fucked. JIMMY HYNES Carlos and I lived together. One night in 1989 he went out for cigarettes and never came back. He was just freaking out in Montreal. Which left Alex, the world’s worst organizer, to take care of things. CARLOS SORIA I was so down about the Nils that when I got an offer to play with Mike Conley from MIA in California, I just took it. As soon as I left, I began to get wind that Alex and his girlfriend Karen were using [heroin]. I wrote it off that they were just experimenting but when I returned a few years later I discovered they were full-fledged fucking on it. I started hanging out with them, and yeah, I fell into it too. I think it’s important people know the Nils never started messing with heroin until it was, like, very clear everything had gone very bad. JIMMY HYNES Karen’s previous boyfriend had been that junkie guy [Dave Rosenberg] from the Chromosomes, and you know how he ended up. [dead]. She was this older woman who took care of Alex, and Alex always wanted a mommy. He loved to be mothered by women and women loved to mother him. Karen mothered him for 10 years or more. After they split up, things weren’t so easy for him anymore. JOHN CAMPBELL [friend] Alex always had Karen to take care of him, but when Carlos got into dope it became more problematic. Alex felt a kind of responsibility there. At the same time, Carlos felt responsible for Alex, and I think in a way he got in to heroin to be closer to his brother. BILL MOSER Alex, no matter what his situation, would never rip you off – I dunno if I can say the same about Carlos. Alex never hustled people. Drugs were not the primary focus of his life, music was. I had money, but he never asked me for a dime. He was very embarrassed about his drug problems. It’s kind of fucked people started seeing him as just this junkie guy.
TRYING TO COME BACK
CARLOS SORIA When I got back from L.A, we decided to make a Nils comeback with another lineup. We were using, but there were possibilities there. That was one of the best Nils lineups ever, with Alex McSween on drums. There was hope there, but at the same time you’re battling addiction, so people realize that and sure, they want to help you but they’re saying, “They’re not reliable, they can’t tour because of drugs.” Of course, even before we were on drugs they were telling us that. It was bullshit, gossip talk. We were reliable, we never missed one show. On the contrary, if we were told to show up somewhere at 3 p.m., we’d be there at noon. JIMMY HYNES After 1995, there was nothing. That’s when Carlos became a mess, and if Carlos was a mess, not much got done. Other people had to organize things for Alex. If there was nobody to organize things, Alex would have stayed on his couch for the rest of his life. How many shows do you think Alex played in his life outside of Montreal without Carlos? The answer is five. Eventually Alex moved in with one of his friends from St-Hubert, Eric Kearns. He’d been doing nothing for three years and Eric just bugged him relentlessly to start playing music again. So much so that he found Alex a band, found him a guitar because Alex had sold his, bugged him to practice, and borrowed $2,000 to pay for the Chino EP, Mala Leche. CARLOS SORIA By late ’96, Alex had split up with Karen, was pretty clean, and started Chino. By then we had both gotten ourselves together. Well, at least, we both weren’t dependent on it. He put together Chino without me. I knew his reasons. I’d been in Portage rehab clinic for six months anyway. I roadied for them and shit, but yeah, it stung. It was awkward for him as well. BILL MOSER Carlos had done some pretty shitty [junkie-type] things which led to the demise of the Nils. Alex was cautious about letting him around again, but it was his brother, so he’d always let him back into his life. CARLOS SORIA I’m not denying that when I was fucked up on heroin, I did some shitty things, but I wasn’t the only one. Alex was no angel either. It was just a really bad situation. You do things for money when you’re strung out that you regret, you know. It was a lot easier for Alex to just maintain than me. He had Karen looking out for him. JIMMY HYNES Alex never should have let Carlos back in his bands but he always did. It was always the same thing. Alex would have something good going – which he should have kept going – and then he’d stop it to let his brother back in the band. He could never say no to Carlos. Like, Chino were doing pretty well, why didn’t they keep playing? Because Carlos had come around helping out as a roadie. And then he’d be in Alex’s ear saying, “I should be the bass player,” and before you knew it they would be the Nils again. You know, to a lot of people it was kind of a joke that 22 years later, they were still playing around, going, “Look out, the Nils are back!” MARK DONATO [Chino/Nils guitarist] Chino never had any push. The typical story: no tour, poor distribution. You can’t push your record sitting in your apartment in St-Henri. Of course Alex was frustrated with his career, hearing all these nothing bands on the radio when he’s got all these wonderful songs in his head. But he never really vocalized his frustration. It was more ‘Los who was saying, “My brother should be up there, that should be my brother.” Not Alex. WOODY WHELAN [Mag Wheel Records] I’d been a huge Nils fan back when I was growing up in Newfoundland. Alex’s lyrics always moved me; there was something about the way he wrote songs, the way he said things, that got to you instantly. I must have listened to that song “Scratches and Needles” nine times in a row when I first got it. I still can’t believe how good it is. When I reissued their Paisley EP and put together [Nils tribute album] Scratches and Needles, it was mostly a labour of love. I’d no idea if they’d sell or not. Same with their [“hits”] compilation, Green Fields and Daylight. I figured some people would be interested, but primarily I thought it important to get their stuff out. I’m sure they’d talked to other people about releasing their records but at that time they were pretty down, you know? People in Montreal were saying to me, “What, are you crazy? Don’t get involved with these guys, they’ll burn you, they’ll never go anywhere, don’t you know they have problems?” But I decided to just do it and see what happens. And funny, when it came back from the pressing plant, all these people who’d told me I was crazy to get involved with the Nils were thanking me for getting their CD out. They still sell, you know. I still get these strange letters from Nils fans, so happy these records are available. CARLOS SORIA Alex could never understand why somebody would put up money for the old records when he could just give them a bunch of new songs. I’m not ragging on Woody, who I love and who did a lot for the band, but you can understand our frustration. Alex was always about new songs. He didn’t care about the old stuff. It was like, too little, too late. WOODY WHELAN In 1998, Alex was back, straight, had Chino going, and was really happy and energetic. That’s the thing people are heartbroken about now. For that brief time we thought we had him back again, that things were finally going to go right for him. But you know, again, it didn’t work out and by 2001, they’d split up. Basically, they didn’t get their FACTOR grant to make their record. They were only looking to get eight grand and I know it kind of broke Alex’s heart. He felt bad his dreams weren’t coming true, and one thing kind of leads to another and they started getting in to other things again. CARLOS SORIA He got more cynical as time went on. We both did. Especially after Chino went the same way as the Nils. A few years ago, we were working at the same place, Alex was my boss there, and he comes in one day feeling down and says to me, “You know, I’m getting tired of this shit. If this fuckin’ music doesn’t work, I don’t want to be moving boxes around my whole life.” I realize now he was saying, “If this is all there is, I don’t want any part of it,” but I didn’t see it as a red flag at the time. Maybe I should have. His cynicism was really beginning to show.
JOHN CAMPBELL The last year was very difficult for him. Alex liked stability, and he was starting to slip into drugs again. Maybe a month before he died, he went into detox and when he got out he sounded really good. For the first time, it seemed like he was really taking serious steps to combat his drug issues. He’d already signed up to go to Fosters, which is a serious rehab facility. But apparently he was feeling the pressure that his family had become aware of his addiction problems. His girlfriend Debbie had pretty much outed him. She loved him tremendously and it was killing her to watch him slide. CARLOS SORIA I saw him two days before he died. We were jamming, drinking beers, smoking doob, he was starting a new job that Monday, thinking about playing again, everything was looking good. I knew he’d been having a hard time a few weeks earlier, feeling very down, but I really don’t think he was planning a suicide. BILL MOSER The day he died, something snapped in him. It was probably like two hours of psychosis in his life and he just didn’t see any way out – just black. He and Carlos had some job packing kosher products or something, and they went into work one day to discover the place had been shut down. So they not only lose their jobs but they don’t get paid at the same time. I know things started spiralling from there. Alex was definitely not a violent guy, but I know that on the day he died he’d had a big fight with Debbie and one of their neighbours called 911 because of all the commotion. After he left their apartment, he went to some restaurant up the street and apparently spent a bit of time in the bathroom there, doing what, I can’t be sure. But when he comes out of the place, he sees the cops at his door and in a panic, takes off towards the tracks. He just freaked, I guess. JOHN CAMPBELL He might have been high. Whatever the case, he clearly wasn’t in his right mind when he ran down to the train tracks. I dunno what he was thinking. Apparently he gave a half-salute to the conductor, as if to say, “Sorry,” before diving in front of that train. JOHN KASTNER Alex Soria was more rock ‘n’ roll than anybody I’ve ever met. He had a bit of that Kurt thing to him. I can picture Alex wanting to go out in some weird way, where people would go, “Holy fuck, man!” I honestly think he’ll be remembered as one of the great rock ‘n’ roll guys to ever have come from Montreal. I really don’t think he’ll be forgotten. BILL MOSER I’ve worked with a lot of people – John Cale, David Johansen, Lou Reed, all of these clowns – and talent-wise, this kid was right up there. I think if he’d been able to just play music, not have to do all these shitty little jobs, none of this would have happened. CARLOS SORIA When he was with me, even if we weren’t angels, I made sure nothing ever happened to him. When I saw he was freaking out, I’d put him in my arms and wouldn’t let him move until he calmed down. And I worked that guy, I picked him up when he was drunk, sick, I fuckin’ wiped that kid like he was my own little baby, you know. Nothing ever happened to him when he was in my care. If I’d been there that night, no matter how stoned, I would have grabbed him and sat on him until he calmed down. And I know this probably sounds stupid, saying all this, but dude, that’s just how I feel. I dunno, to this day I still don’t understand. It’s almost like it’s not real, like he’s on a trip and is going to come back. A lot of people have come up to me and said, “I never thought it would be him, I always thought it would be you.” Thanks a lot, you know, have a nice fucking day. Nobody loved that guy more than me. Even my mom and sister say, “Carlos has not only lost his brother, he’s lost his best little buddy.” Honestly, everything I ever did was for him, not for me. I always figured that no matter what happened, I’d at least have a job carrying his guitar around. And he always used to say, “‘Los, no matter what happens, I’ll always be with you, man.” And it was the one thing in my life that I always knew was true.
Watch here the Alex Soria memorial concert with John Kastner, Chris Spedding, Ian Blurton, Mack Mackenzie, Idées Noires, Chris Page, Jerk Appeal, members of the Nils, Chino and Los Patos, and other special guests, at the Main Hall on Friday, March 11, 8:30 p.m., $10. Proceeds go towards the MIMI’s Alex Soria Fountains Award for most promising local songwriter, and to the Portage Program for drug dependencies.
Chris Barry just started a new blog calledlooselips.ca check it out!
Note from Publisher: If you want to know more about Alex Soria I would very strongly advise you to check out Johnny Campbell’s blog who was his closest friend.he made it easy for Alex fans to find all the posts concerning anything related to Alex and/or The Nils, Los Patos or Chino. Lots of very intersting stories on there and related links. Thank you very much Johnny for these precious memories you shared with us. From the Margins/Blog Archives of Johnny Campbell/Archives of Old Posts since 2002
Here is just about everything you need to hear of the music Alex composed and sang with The Nils, Chino and”Next of Kin” his unplugged post-mortem solo album. Give it a good try. It is most definitely worth it. Also post-mortem was an album released called ”The Title Is the Secret Song”.
I suggest you buy the vinyl ”It Must Be Something” (IMBS!). The very best album from The Nils to my taste. There in an insane second release of all The Nils albums on colored split vinyls here in Montreal.
An extract from YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL by Dave Thompson:
Aylesbury Friars would be Bowie‘s final show for a month, before he headed into the studios first and then Mott the Hoople. It was also designed to be Bowie’s introduction to an American press that MainMan had flown in for the occasion, writers and taste makers who had read so much about the new British superstar in the imported papers, but where still waiting to be convinced themselves.
The Spiders’ U.S. tour was now scheduled for September 1972, and if all went according to MainMan’s plan, reviews and reports from the Aylesbury show would see the excitement reaching fever pitch right around the time of the first concert.
On Saturday July 15th,wined and dined at the height of luxury, lodged in the finest hotels, and shepherded every place they needed to go, the American journalists felt like royalty as they were driven into the leafy confines of Aylesbury ushered into the Friars club-and confronted with an audience that was even more rabid than the British press reports had ever warned them. Boisterous though they most have been, and determined to remain aloof, that first rush ofadrenalined shrieking caught them off guard, sending their ears reeling before they’d even found a place to stand. Then their eyes took over, bombarding their senses with the sight of a thousand wide-eyed Bowie clones, Angela doubles,Ronson doppelgangers.
”Ode to Joy” piped throught the PA, Loud enough to shake coherent thought from their heads, but not deafening as to be painful, and then the band appeared, ripping straight into ”Hang Onto Yourself”, and all reservations fell away. The show was stunning, the performances seamless, and when Bowie started throwing his silk scarves into the crowd, the writers were as desparate to catch them as the kids.
The Lou Reed show the previous evening had been a revelation. Taking the stage shortly after midnight and kicking right into a deliciously clunky ”White Night White Heat”, Reed was at his best, a spectral ring-leader, not quite ad-libbing his lyrics but certainly having a wonderful time teasing the Tots with his timing, and if he was the only person in the room who didn’t cringe a little when the band unleashed their backing vocals, that didn’t detract from the sheer thrill of seeing him up there.
”Waiting for my man”, layered with flourishes that the song had never before carried; a resonant ”Ride into the Sun”; a fragile ”New Age”, Reed singing instead of mumbling as expected,; on and on through the best of Lou Reed and the finest of the Velvet Underground, Reed may have been leading the crowd into unchartered territory for much of the set, but the roar that greeted ”Sweet Jane” was as heartfelt as the smile with which Reed repaid the recognition.”I Can’t Stand It” was punchy, ”Going Down” was gentle,”Wild Child” was brittle, ”Berlin” was beautiful, and if ”Rock’n’Roll” picked up more appplause than the eerie, closing ”Heroin”, that just proved how much easier it was to find Loaded in a British record store than any of the records that preceded it.
The Stooges would really need to be on form to top that.Again the show started after midnight, allowing the handful of Bowie fans who’d also hit Aylesbury to race back in time for the Stooge’s, together with all the journalists who accepted MainMan’s offer of a bus back into London. A few of them might have thought they knew what to expect, nursing memories of the shows the band had played back in New-York a couple of years before. But they left their expectations on the dance floor. Mick Jones, four years away from forming the Clash at the birth of the British punk movmement, was there, astonished by the incandescence of the show. ”The full-on quality of the Stooges was great, like flamethrowers!”
Iggy lived up to his outrageous reputation, dressing in silver leather trousers, with matching silver hair, black lipstick and made-up eyes. After lurching and prowling over every inch of the stage in the first two numbers, he decided to wander into audience, followed where possible by spotlight. He stopped occasionally to stare deep into people’s eyes, talking about wanting to find something “interesting” and calling the crowd hippies that didn’t inspire him.Pop was everywhere trailing a mix cord the length of the building as he wandered out into the audience, alternately grabbing and caressing whoever lay in his path. One girl discovered him sitting in her lap, staring into her eyes as he serenaded her; one boy found himself being shaken like a rat as Pop grabbed hold of his head and used it to cath the rythm of the song. At some point, there was a problem with the sound. Pop stood still for a moment, stock-still and scowling, then howled with rage and hurled his mic to the ground. It shattered on impact., so he walked to another one, and treated the silent crowd to ”The Shadow of your smile” a suave accapella that kept everyone entranced while the problems were solved. Then it was back to the programmed set, loud, lewd and brutal. The concert was attended by a group of noisy skinhead types, who voiced their impatience during one of several breaks due to technical problems, which caused Iggy to respond, “What did you say, you piece of shit,” as he advanced threateningly across the stage. The cat-caller’s memory suddenly failed him as he melted back into the crowd. After the microphone was fixed, the Stooges commenced another song but halfway through one of the amplifiers broke down, causing a long delay. Later in the show, the leader of the skinhead gang went down to the front of the stage to shout obscenities. This time, Iggy went berserk, leaping across the stage to aim a boot in the guy’s face. Roadies pounced on the guy and bundled him out of a side exit; the rest of the mob shut up completely.
”We did a bunch of things that were new and we started wearing lots of makeup for one thing.and that was different, Williamson recalled. II think we had rehearsed pretty much by that point. It didn’t seem unique to me. We did a lot of stuff with the crowd at that show, which was bizarre for the Londoner, but it was typical for us. That’s what we were used to doing.”
They took Pop’s activities in stride, ”It was part of the show, but we had to really cover a lot for him because he was very improvisational, as was the whole band. We knew, but if you weren’t used to it, you didn’t know when he was going to start a song or when it was going to stop or what to do in the middle because it wasnt exactly youd recorded it. He was very unpredictable”
In attendance at the King’s Cross Cinema were several aspiring musicians, who would go on to become highly influential in the British punk rock movement which exploded a few years later, including Joe Strummer (the Clash), Johnny Rotten (the Sex Pistols),Brian James (the Damned), and Siouxsie Sioux (Siouxsie and the Banshees). The concert has been called the birth of British punk rock. “That show changed the history of English music, because of who was there,” notes Iggy. “People checked us out and realised we had changed the playing field for what was possible.”
The Stooges drew predominantly positive reviews, although it was obvious that they made the British critics somewhat uneasy. “The total effect was more frightening than all the Alice Coopers and Clockwork Oranges put together, simply because these guys weren’t joking,” said Nick Kent in New Musical Express. Michael Oldfield of Melody Maker felt Iggy and the band were on the verge of the dangerous, “It’s like a flashback 200 years, to the times when the rich paid to go into insane asylums and see madmen go into convulsions.”
Photographer Mick Rock admitted that he felt “distinctly intimidated” as he photographed the show.He never did precisely know what he was preserving. When MainMan called him down to the show, he was told only that the night needed to be captured in all its flaming Glory. It would be another year before one of the shots he took that evening was blown up for the cover of the Stooges’ third album, a close up of the singers torso, leaning on his mic stand, his face set and beautiful, staring into space. Pop later claimed that he hated it.
Pop, Rock said, ”was already in my mind more mythological than human. His appeal was omnisexual; he was physically very beautiful, (and) the silver hair and silver trousers only added to the sense of the mythological. He seemed to have emerged from some bizarre primal hinterland, so much bigger than life, emoting and projecting a tingling menace. He was…a cultural revolutionary, operating well ahead of his time.” The question that nobody dared ask was, was anybody truly ready to take the burden on? …..
14-07-72 (technically this was really 15-07 because Lou did not play till after midnight)
SCALA CINEMA, KING’S CROSS, LONDON, UK
White Light/White Heat – I’m Waiting For The Man – Ride Into The Sun – New Age – Walk And Talk It – Sweet Jane – Going Down – I Can’t Stand It – Berlin – Cool It Down – Wild Child – Rock And Roll – Heroin
David Bowie 15-07
Dubbed The most celebrated gig in Friars history
Friars Aylesbury, Borough Assembly Hall, Market Square, Aylesbury, UK
HANG ON TO YOURSELF; ZIGGY STARDUST; THE SUPERMEN; QUEEN BITCH; SONG FOR BOB DYLAN; CHANGES; STARMAN; FIVE YEARS; SPACE ODDITY; ANDY WARHOL; AMSTERDAM; I FEEL FREE; MOONAGE DAYDREAM; WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT; GOT TO GET A JOB; SUFFRAGETTE CITY; ROCK N ROLL SUICIDE
Iggy Pop and The Stooges:
15-07 (technically this was really 16-07 because they did not play till after midnight)
SCALA CINEMA or King Sound (I guess was the name of King’s Cross Cinema, at least temporarily), KING’S CROSS, LONDON, UK
I got a right, Scene of the Crime, Gimme Some Skin, Im Sick of you, The Shadow of your Smile (Tony Benett cover) , Money That What I Want (Barret Strong Cover), Tight Pants,Fresh Rag, Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Search and Destroy, Penetration
Tara McPherson is an artist based out of New York City. Creating art about people and their odd ways, her characters seem to exude an idealized innocence with a glimpse of hard earned wisdom in their eyes. Recalling myths and legends, issues from childhood and good old life experience, she creates images that are thought provoking and seductive. People and their relationships are a central theme throughout her work.
TO GET TO TARA MCPHERSON WEBSITE, CLICK ON ANY IMAGES ABOVE!
Based on the Tokyo Grand Guignol play Litchi Hikari Club. Litchi Hikari Club revolves around a group of schoolboys who plan to create the ultimate in Artificial Intelligence. As the story progresses, we watch the group gradually fall apart due to internal conflict and as the boys, under corrupt leadership, involve increasingly more twisted and depraved methods to reach their goal.
A group of nine boys (called the Hikari Club) are intent on making the Ultimate AI. The attractive leader of the club, Zera, is a twisted man polluting the minds of the club members to make them do whatever he pleases. Tamiya, the original founder of the club, wants to reclaim the club. Niko, the second in command, is pissed off at Jaibo, the one obsessed with Zera. They kidnap a schoolgirl, but the AI Raichi falls in love with her and she with him, and things get messy.
Furuya Usamaru Also made the action to take place in a world where the Japanese and the Nazis have won the Second World War, even if it doesn’t play a very important role in the action, it always made me thaught how affected the Japanaese were by their defeat and how close their way of thinking is close to the Germans.
Also it was written by the same author who wrote the troubling Suicide Club (Jisatsu Circle) who was later on made a succesfull and equally troubling movie by Sion Sono as young students, subliminally influenced by apparently teen pop artists bands into a trend of comitting group suicide.
A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol Factory is director Esther Robinson’s personal inquiry into the truth behind her Uncle Danny Williams’ mysterious 1966 disappearance. Virtually unknown today, Danny was Andy Warhol’s lover, and a promising young filmmaker.
The discovery of 20 never-before-seen films William’s made during his time at the Factory– and whose many subjects include Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, Paul Morrissey, Brigid Berlin, Billy Name and what may be the earliest known footage of the Velvet Underground— reveals a luminous talent and a stark gap in the historical record. Combined with Robinson’s intimate interviews of surviving Factory members, the film gets beyond the icons and quietly dismantles the Warhol myth-making machine, allowing a deeper examination of the human fragility on which Andy Warhol’s empire was built.
In 1965, Danny Williams was living at a fast pace. He dropped out of Harvard against his family’s wishes and moved to Manhattan to begin a film career. There he edited two films for Albert and David Maysles. He became a fixture at the Warhol Factory, fell in love with Andy Warhol and moved in with Andy and his mother. He also made over 20 films and designed the groundbreaking Velvet Underground/ Exploding Plastic Inevitable (EPI) light show.
1966 proved a more difficult year for Danny. Right before the EPI national tour, Warhol ended their affair. Three months away from New York and a growing dependence on amphetamines increased Danny’s anxiety. After a Variety review called Danny the “mastermind” of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show, Factory members accused him of trying to take credit for Warhol’s work and maneuvered for his ouster.
After the tour ended in July, Danny went home to his family in Massachusetts. He brought with him a wooden box filled with amphetamine-fueled journals, lighting diagrams, personal effects and letters. His only other bag was a shaving kit filled with drugs. After a family meal, he left in his mother’s car. He was never seen again.
Thirty-four years later, just after the turn of the millennium his niece, director Esther Robinson, took a job as Program Director at a foundation funded and housed by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts
One day that summer, her grandmother Nadia paid her a visit at work. On meeting the staff of the Warhol Foundation. Nadia casually mentioned that her son, Danny Williams, had lived with Warhol and his mother and then mysteriously disappeared. A stunned silence filled the room. Esther was urgently told: “You need to speak with Callie Angell right away.”
While archiving the Warhol collection at the Museum of Modern Art, Ms. Angell had stumbled upon a strange set of 20 experimental silent films. Shot on 16 mm black-and-white stock, they featured Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, The Velvet Underground and other well-known Warhol subjects. They were also dramatically different from Warhol’s films; highly stylized, clearly personal, and quite obviously conceived by someone other than Warhol. They were all marked “Danny Williams,” and, according to Ms. Angell, were “extraordinary.”
Believing these films might hold the key to the mystery surrounding her uncle’s abbreviated life, Esther asked MOMA to return them to her family. As she engaged the MOMA bureaucracy, she began researching her uncle’s life in New York City. Frustrated by the scarcity of references to Danny in books about the 60’s Warhol factory, Esther was intrigued when her grandmother gave her Danny’s box of papers and journals. They were filled with clues about art-making and Factory infighting.
Curious about how little was said about Danny both by family and Factory members she began to make a film about her uncle’s last year. In interviews with her family, she started to tease out the story behind his disappearance, his complex relationship to his family and their unspoken fears. When MoMA finally released the films, the footage was every bit as remarkable as promised: luminous, intimate, and revealing. A new question emerged: how was this young talent dropped from the historic record?
Esther then started tracking down and interviewing surviving Warhol Factory members. Surprisingly intimate, these interviews began to dismantle the mythmaking machine and allow a deeper examination of the human fragility on which the Warhol empire was built.
A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and The Warhol Factory is the story of her search to uncover the facts behind her uncle’s disappearance and tragically shortened life. It is the story of an extraordinary talent abandoned by two dysfunctional families; one upright and traditional, the other bohemian and legendary. It is a story of abandonment by history itself. And it is a journey into a sea of family, missing histories, and the failings of memory.
Movie parts shot by Danny Williams. Some of those are not in the documentary.
This one was shot by Warhol himself according to what the credit says.
Two notable recent books from Glitterati Incorporated take readers deep into New York City’s 1970s punk underground. Playground: Growing Up In the New York Underground by Paul Zone, with Jake Austin (of Roctober fame!), features photos and firsthand accounts from a foot soldier in the rock and roll wars waged in the city’s now infamous clubs, including Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. White Trash Uncut, meanwhile, comes out of Andy Warhol’s factory scene and, as you might expect, takes an artier look at the New York scene.
Given that my tastes tend more towards the Ramones/Dead Boys/Dictators and less Warhol/Waters, Playground hits a real sweet spot. Zone’s photos pull back the curtain on that time and place in a way few other books on the ’70s NYC scene have done. Being in a band at the time (The Fast), Zone was in the thick of it from the beginning. Sure, you get plenty of (mediocre) performance photos. But that isn’t why you’re here. Where Playground shines is in its casual photos of friends—famous and not—behind-the-scenes, after hours and off guard, almost 240 pages of them. It also brings Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s awesome oral history of the early New York punk scene,Please Kill Me, to life. It’s a perfect companion.
With the recent passing of Tommy Erdelyi/Ramone, Playground is particularly timely. It’s an exciting visual romp through a unique period in the history of rock and roll. Looking through the photos, it’s hard not to notice how many of the people featured have died, many way before their prime: drugs (too many to list), AIDS (which also took Zone’s brother, Miki), cancer (three of the original Ramones) and weird car crashes (Stiv Bators). How the hell are all the Stones still alive and the Ramones all dead? Here are some samples from that book:
Sylvain Sylvain, Johnny Thunders, and Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls) at Max’s. (August 1973)
Tish and Snooky at Manic Panic on St. Marks Place (1978)
Debbie Harry (Blondie) at Max’s. (1975)
Dee Dee Ramone and Connie Gripp in Max’s kitchen. (1975)
Wayne County at the Coventry, in Queens. (1973)
Crayola at Max’s. (1977)
Originally published in 1977, White Trash Uncut, by Andy Warhol Factory devotee and one time Interview staff photographer Christopher Makos, quickly went out of print and became something of a collector’s item. Finally reprinted, the book consists of a mix of artier photos—close-ups of body parts and portraits of players in the art and music scenes, focusing on that point of intersection between the two in venues like Max’s Kansas City. It leans heavy on photos of the well-known, if not outright famous: Richard Hell, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, the Dead Boys, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Divine, Man Ray, John Waters, Marilyn Chambers and plenty other luminaries of that era. The reprint includes 25 photos not included in the original book. Here’s a sampling:
Punk rock fans, New York City.
David Bowie in Los Angeles.
Divine and John Waters
A hustler, posing. (Jeans by Fiorruci, Milan.)
Earring by Gillette.
The two books go well together, giving a representative look at the intersection of music, art, scene-making, fashion, hustling, and hanging out that made the early New York City punk scene so indelible.
“WHEN YOU BOO the Ramones, you are booing rock’n’roll,” so said Supersuckers’ frontguy Eddie Spaghetti. They could be the truest words ever uttered. Tommy Ramone, who died on Friday (July 11) at the age of 65, was the band’s first official drummer and the cool, streetwise rogue in the shrunken black T-shirt and oversized shades staring out from the cover of that 29-minute-sprint-to-the-finish first album. An original member of the band, Tommy’s tenure in the group would last until 1978. During that time he played on arguably their three greatest records (Ramones, Leave Home and Rocket To Russia), co-producing each and underpinning the songs with a high-energy, no-frills style that combined with Johnny Ramone’s buzzsaw guitar to propel their music to thrillingly unhinged heights. And if proof were needed of the NY punk icons’ foundation status in rock’s edifice, one need only survey the video evidence corralled below. Strap yourself in, and prepare to break the sound barrier with the Ramones Mark I at their very, very best.
CBGBS BLITZKRIEG BOP FEAT. RAMONES , DEBBY HARRY & DEAD BOYS
LONDON SCENE 1978
The Way They Were
Old Punk documentry from Granada TV on Channel 4. Features (in order):- Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Iggy Pop, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Penetration, Blondie, Fall, Jam, Jordan, Devo, Tom Robinson Band, Johnny Thunder, Elvis Costello, XTC, Jonathan Richman, Nick Lowe, Siouxie & the Banshees, Cherry Vanilla & Magazine….. The tape fails there! I have left the adverts in for historical reference – TSB, Once, Cluster, Coke is it, Roger Daltery in American Express, Ulay, Swan, Our Price, Gastrils, Cluster & Prestige. All content remains the copyright of the current holders ~ I claim none.
The Punk Rock Movie
A revealing look into the bands comprising the 1978 London punk-rock scene, and a peek back-stage at the lives behind the facade. Includes performances by Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Eater, and other concurrent bands.
Most of the bands were filmed at the Roxy club in London, where Don Letts worked as a DJ. Letts filmed the bands very simply with a Super-8 camera, and also filmed on the tour bus and at shows with The Clash and The Slits. The Sex Pistols were filmed at Screen on the Green in London on 3 April 1977, Sid Vicious’s first show with the band.
Originally filmed in 1922, this version was updated in the mid 1960’s to include english narration by William S Burroughs while he was in London. The writer and director Benjamin Christensen discloses a historical view of the witches through the seven parts of this silent movie. First, there is a slide-show alternating inter-titles with drawings and paintings to illustrate the behavior of pagan cultures in the Middle Ages regarding their vision of demons and witches. Then there is a dramatization of the situation of the witches in the Middle Ages, with the witchcraft and the witch-hunts. Finally Benjamin Christensen compares the behavior of hysteria of the modern women of 1921 with the behavior of the witches in the Middle Ages, concluding that they are very similar.
His plots play out like fever dreams, swirling through time and perception, but Charles Burns’ aesthetic style alone is enough to make you queasy. In a class on underground comix, I was assigned Burns’ most popular tome, Black Hole, as an introduction to contemporary comic art. During the second session on Burns, a few of my classmates begged the professor to let us move on. “I just can’t look at this stuff anymore,” one of them said. She was sitting close to the projector screen and a page from Black Hole from superimposed on her hair. I remember it being these panel: My only qualm with Black Hole, though I do love it, is the sinister use of yonic imagery. Some useful information emerges from the vaginal openings Burns draws in his characters’ feet or throats, but mostly it’s just more nightmares. Flipping through Burns’ book, you begin to feel tension building around the image of what most characters call “the slit”. Oh great, another evil vagina, come to absorb you and your agency. What I found most exciting in Black Hole were the repeated images of monstrous teenagers.
They experience bodily changes which mirror “normal” stages of puberty (i.e. new patches of body hair, sensual urges toward others, changes in skin texture), becoming alienated from unchanged teens around them.
The kids in Black Hole are altered and mutated by a sexually transmitted infection (or something, it’s never fully explained.) Although they have a lot in common, they fall into isolation by blaming each other, losing themselves in numbing drug use, or fading into repetitive nightmares which blend into Burns’ depictions of reality. The reader is left questioning what’s real and what isn’t.
As far as monsters, the most engaging depictions in Black Hole are the yearbook-photo style drawings lining the jacket. Readers love these anonymous, twisted, rotting teenagers so much that they’ve even recreated some of the portraits in photos.Burns’ teen faces are made grotesque with the addition of insect parts, or by the omission of recognizable human traits like eyebrows or hair. It’s funny how a teen with vicious acne and greasy hair is considered “normal,” while a teen with larger teeth and a rotting scalp becomes something else, something more disturbing, simply because we don’t recognize these changes. Monsters, again, need to be slightly unfamiliar or surprising.
As far as monsters, the most engaging depictions in Black Hole are the yearbook-photo style drawings lining the jacket. Readers love these anonymous, twisted, rotting teenagers so much that they’ve even recreated some of the portraits in photos.
It would be a disservice to Charles Burns to discuss his flair for monstrous images without discussing his other pieces. So far I’ve found The Hive trilogy more engaging, as its set in a world different than our own. His use of flat color, without depth of focus or gradients, makes his creatures look as if they’ve been drawn for children, and this makes the books more uncomfortable to read.
Interesting in The Hive and X’ed Out, the first two installments of Burns’ most recent collection, is the hierarchy of monsters. Burns doesn’t explicate his monstrous society through character dialogue, but his art suggesst some monsters, though capable of fear and trauma, are just food for the larger, humanoid creatures.
n a sequence that has haunted me since I read it, an unintelligible creature eats an obviously terrified worm-monster. There are a few questions at play here: what separates a monster from an animal? Is this larger creature a cannibal, or is he simply eating the way we eat, popping prey into his mouth? His sneer suggests that he’s aware of the worm’s fear (or worse, he’s into it.) Burns’ narrator, who bears a disturbing resemblance to Tin Tin, looks on in stunned silence.
As for other works: Burn’s Big Baby is interesting, because monstrous humans are difficult to depict in graphic novels. Burns’ protagonist, Big Baby, is both childlike and devious. My issue with Big Baby is the fact that the character resembles old racist cartoons of Asian Americans, depicted with exaggerated facial features to suggest, as I’m always talking about, a monstrous otherness.
Although I was disappointed with Fears of the Dark in general, Burns’ short animated segment had some interesting moments. His creaky insectoids, as they cared for their victim, were pretty unsettling. As usual, I wanted more from the human characters; Burns’ humans tend to appear numb, or only vaguely ruffled despite the atrocities he puts them through.
After taking that class on comix, I started work on my undergraduate thesis, Humane Monsters, Monstrous Humans, and I found a lot of inspiration as I explored Burns’ work.
He certainly has an eye for round, jutting ugliness, and I admire how tension undulates through most of his stories. More uncomfortable than horrifying, Burns is a classic for any monster-lover. I imagine I’ll give his books to a teenage kid one day. At the very least, I think any offspring I’d have would enjoy Uncle Death:
How I Heard the Mothman’s Whispered Words Through the Jungle.
The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.- Lester Bangs
Nicaragua is a strange place. I lived for a long time in Masaya where I could see the top of a volcano bearing the same name ”MASAYA”, still active, some nights we would all be surrounded by smoke and would see the fire at the top of the volcano, or the smoke, and people weren’t bothered by it. They were all smiley, just saying that the volcano is in a bad mood today.. There are around 20 volcanoes in Nicaragua, most of them still active. That is a lot if you consider how small the country is. I am telling you this because we all know that natural catastrophes can be felt by animals and most probably humans too, imagine how it feels to be living in a country that could be wiped out by any of the still active volcanoes… Nicaragua has its own spiritual beliefs and is a very mystical place. Weird things happen there. Everyday. It is a very unstable place. I have learned to acknowledge, respect and if needed fear the things I cannot understand. It took me awhile to gather the courage to tell my story about my encounter with the Mothman . A spirit I had connected with, flying through the jungle of Nicaragua as if I was riding on the back of a giant insect. It’s a little bit like having a map with your destination but one with no roads leading to it. Just a nameless dot. I also was like going in and out of some other dimension, as if someone had pressed the ”pause” button. Hearing numbers and thoughts whispered into my head by voices I didn’t recognize.
That’s how it started at first, I thought they were just crazy dreams that would come back to me during the day. I had been in Nicaragua for a year when it started. I went over there to do some humanitarian work with a worldwide organisation created to help people who have drug problems. I had been in the Canadian part of this program myself awhile so I wanted to give back what I had received and go and help out in Nicaragua. I remembered that when I was at my lowest I often had the thought that if I would have the life as hard as certain people do in other countries that are much more poorer, I would never complain again about those stupid problems that I was creating myself and concentrate helping out others and being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.
Problem is it was a lot harder than I thought. The heat, the poor conditions, the sudden realisation that I had spent more than half of my life being a drug addict and that I was now an adult at 32 years old. It all came back to me and it was like a huge hangover during which you constantly discover the damages. I learned Spanish quite fast. There was this kid who was very nice to me right when I arrived and showing me the words I needed to know. Everyone was telling me to beware of the kid thought but I couldn’t see what I could fear from him besides getting robbed of my clothes or other stuff, which happened anyway. This kid would just create trouble and spread false rumours about others. It wasn’t the first time this little guy was making such allegations that were later proven to be unfounded. I later learned he was doing that so he could leave and go live with his grandmother whom had brought the little guy there in the first place because she just couldn’t take care of him,physically and financially. His parents were both killed during The Nicaraguan Revolution that encompassed the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by theSandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to violently oust the dictatorship in 1978-79, the subsequent efforts of the FSLN to govern Nicaragua from 1979 until 1990 and the Contra War which was waged between the FSLN and the Contras from 1981-1990.
– I think we can assume that these entities are more advanced than us. Why don’t they just come right out and tell us what’s on their minds?
– You’re more advanced than a cockroach, have you ever tried explaining yourself to one of them?
The Social Jungle:
My father then came to visit me and I got to spend 2 weeks of vacations with him. It was a very welcome time off and took away a lot of the stress that I got from living in Nicaragua. We got to stay in a Hotel and I almost immediately hooked up with a very good-looking girl who told me she was in love with me, then she presented me all of her friends and by God they were all pretty and fun to be with. I had a really good time and when my father left the owner told me I could stay and work there. So of course I did. I had made a girlfriend during my vacations and I felt I just didn’t wanna go back to the kind of live that was lived in the organisation which would make having a GF very hard, rather impossible I should say. For some reason my mental stability started to shiver at that moment, realising I was now on my own in a country when you could get killed simply over a Timex watch or a pair of shoes, or just for the fact they thought you were American. I had no real friends except the driver of the hotel, Carlos, who used to be with the rebels during the civil war and who got either very violent or very sad when he was drinking but still was a very good drinking companion. Now the girl who had the most interest in me wasn’t the one I wanted to be with but for some reason I never understood she is the one who seemed to have ”exclusive right” to be my GF, I guess she was the stronguest and threatened the others to stay away from me. Problem is she was turning tricks and I was stupid enough not to notice, I wouldn’t have minded but it would have been fair for her to tell me. Anyways, when I found out I still got to go with the ones I prefered and hung out with who I choose to but it seems all I managed to do is getting in a situation where everything got very complicated and I felt I was in some slapstick love comedy only it wasn’t funny at all but rather really stressful simply because almost everyone there is armed and utterly jealous. Lucky me, since I was also working as night guardian of the Las Palmas Hotel I was armed with a brand new AK-47 Kalashnikovand an old handgun from second world war that had no security latch and was quite dangerous to fall asleep with, having to hold it and be ready to use it at all times. Thieves attacks at night are a common thing in Nicaragua. Even more so if you are the night watch for a ”luxurious” hotel. So yeah, girls and guns go hand in hand. Over there if you happen to get home and your wife is in bed with another man and you kill him or harm him without being unreasonably cruel, you might get off easy.
In fact the very first day I arrived in Nicaragua with this organisation that was called La Fundacion El Patriarca (The Patriarch) stopped at a restaurant and left me waiting in the car, I got out just to walk around little, I had been on the plane for over more than a day because of the transfers, It took no more than 5 minutes to have a beer bottle thrown at me from a passing car that missed me by only a few inches. I bet they thought I was American.
Sitting on a Volcano:
All this to say I was in a fragile state of mind. My father was gone now, I had no money, the job at the hotel wasn’t paying much, it was totally disorganized, I tried to make myself useful but I just didn’t know what to do. Doing the best I could, waiting on the tables and stuff, discovering my so-called girlfriend was a prostitute and was only after my money (which she thought I had just because I was from Canada). One day I simply decided to return to the center and I asked for directions, I then realised I was followed by 2 guys with ”machetes” (sort of very sharp short sword), they were getting closer and closer and I knew if something didn’t happen to save me I would be found dead, I was carrying all my clothes, a CD player and a few CDs which was more than enough to justify a murder in Nicaragua as I said earlier. I was lucky enough that at that precise moment a Jeep from the organisation was passing by coming from the direction I was going and they were heading right where I was supposed to go. In other words, I was shown the opposite direction when I asked and they clearly were out to get me that day and very probably would have killed me if that Jeep wouldn’t have passed by at that very precise moment.
Never before I had been happy to see this rough, edgy, Spanish guy called Pedro who was constantly swearing, and complaining about everything and everyone. He was a good-hearted guy though and saw right away I was in deep shit when he saw me being followed on this rather desert trail in the forest by 2 guys with ”machete”. So I got back into the association but deprived of all my previous privileges that I had. Before I had left from my vacations I was working with the top administrators and answering the telephone and the radio and keeping records and who was in what center and who needed what, where, and so on, and more… In other words, I wasn’t doing the tuff work anymore like working in farms and construction but rather handling files and lists and organizing the logistic of who had to go where using what transportation and so forth. When I got back, they put me in a center I had never been before, a farm, very little, hard work, being the only guy in the center that wasn’t a native.
Now it was back to basics. Because I had gone out, I had to ”assume” and they sent me to this center no one wanted to go near Jinotepe, far in the jungle and the mountains. They called it ”Rivas” and it was run by this crazy guy from Belize who looked like Hulk and was running his center near Jinotepe a bit like some dictator whom everyone truly feared. It was way up in the jungle, nothing around, no roads, there was like 7 portals you had to go through to get there. Barbwire everywhere. I was the only not Nicaraguan guy over there and I truly felt they all hated me. Plus the fact that I had left was interpreted by the guy who thought I had molested this kid as a proof of my guilt and that I had tried to run away. Still that didn’t bother me, I always had felt that when someone is innocent, the truth always comes out. Still, I was feeling very weak partly because when I was out I had been drinking quite a lot and also because this girl I was with who was turning tricks had on various occasions put pills into my drink so that I would fall asleep and she would then have time to go with some other Johns while I was knocked out sleeping. Fuck I wish she would have simply told me!!! These pills were sold legally everywhere so after I learned she had fed me some I had also bought some at the convenience store of the hotel a couple of times. I later learned they were amphetamines and/or benzodizepines and that some people even shot them up!! I didn’t know that at the time so I never took those mysterious pills intravenously thank God!
It was a that time that I felt something really weird was happening. I would get those flashes during the day of flying through the jungle, not quite remembering the whole thing, just a feeling that I was traveling in some other dimension during my sleep, we were 4 roommates in each room and the others started to complain I was talking in my sleep, loud and clear. I started to have some kind of divination powers. I could tel you that this or that person would be in a bad situation in advance without quite knowing why or how I knew that. It was very strange though because I could very clearly see that something had been divulged to me but only me could interpret those signs but sometimes it was loud and clear. Plus I was having ”Déjà Vu” moments non-stop. One day we started to talk about music while listening to the radio when each time I would talk about a song, or a band, it would play on the radio. To give you a precise example that I remember; once we were talking about this movie ”Midnight Cowboy”when all of a sudden themain theme from the movie started to play. Remember that this is happening in Nicaragua, you do not get to hear those songs very much…. So I get those like kinda divination powers which were already unsettling, I think that my mind was pretty much open at this time because I had prayed to God to open my mind and that I wanted to understand everything that was happening around me, I had missed so much already being on drugs that I didn’t want it to happen anymore. More than anything I wanted to be in the here and now and be able to understand each and every implications this present moment had in store for me. Well I think The Mothman heard my prayers. I could now predict things before they happen and people were definitely getting spooked by me now. These people are very superstitious and they firmly believe in spirits and stuff like that, which I did up to a certain point but never as much as I was about to get in myself. I remember saying look if I truly am right about what I’m feeling now send me something about ”Gravediggaz”, that was completely random,I was listening to the ”6 Feet Deep” album when I made that prayer. The next day is visiting time. Don’t forget I never told anyone about that prayer I had made in my head. The very next day, during visiting time, one of the guys received the visit of his family, I thought it was curious cuz they were all wearing baseball or football or some kind of sport team shirt, homemade, like the ones you see in those little friendly leagues. Guess what was the name of the team??? Yes you got it. It was written in white on a black shirt, each with a different number ”Gravediggaz” spelled precisely that way. I freaked. I really started to freak. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. I was stuck in my own mind. I tried to talk about it with one guy who seemed more friendly, just a little, just testing if he would like, just be a little open-minded about it but he went around my back and told everyone I was going berserk. I was digging myself a whole and facing 2 possibilities, talk and become the idiot of the ”town” or shut up and try to deal with it alone. Which I chose to do. I was stuck with The Mothman whispering numbers and thoughts at me at various time of the day and night.
Murder by Numbers
You know sometimes you get those ”Déjà Vu” moments? Well now I was getting them nonstop. Plus there where moments I would become totally unconscious for a couple of moments up to 4 hours. To me it was as if 10 minutes had passed, like I had just left to work in the fields and 10 minutes later it was lunchtime. I wasn’t to bothered by it at first cuz I thought time just went by fast , I know what it is like to feel like time just flew but this was something else. Plus people would be looking at me funny when I would mention how fast time had passed. Finally someone told me that I literally ”FROZE” for all the time I thought had gone by so fast. There was no way they could get me back and it freaked them out AND pissed them off cuz, of course, I did not help them a bit to get the job done. Then I would start to get those numbers I would wake up with in my mind. I would be running like crazy cuz I would get at the same time this sense of emergency, that something terrible was about to happen. I wasn’t brushing my teeth anymore, not taking showers, totally trapped with those numbers and looking for their significance until one day I got my hands on a newspaper and learned that this numbers i have had in my head for like a week was the number of victim for such or such accident or natural catastrophes in different parts of the world. I was getting more and more disorganized, totally incapable of leading a normal life. They transferred me from this center to back where I was before but they immediately realised I was totally out of it. My ancient work mates immediately sensed I was not in my right mind. Ube and this guy from Belgium tried to help me a little but I was very rude to them aimply because I thought that including anyone in my visions might them as crazy and unstable as I was then. Adding to all my being unable to trust anyone, I should have thought that of course this fucking guy from the center used this again to confirm again I was just plagued by guilt and that it was driving me crazy. OMG!! Now I was NOT capable of ignoring those looks I thought some of them were giving me… I needed help and all I was getting was this. Now I was almost hysterical and I thought it made me look even more suspicious which made me feel even more hysterical and defiant. I took everything as a warning from people, thinking they were about to hang me from a tree because they thought I was a pedophile and a homosexual, neither of which I am of course. I just had lost the faith that the Truth always come out and rather now had a very negative and pessimist set of mind.Plus this sense of emergency that I had to get out of this country ASAP!!! I was now getting HUGE numbers… That was terrifying….The numbers I was getting were those of a phenomenal natural catastrophe and the feeling was about to hit close, very close. I finally managed to leave the country and get back to Canada but I was still getting numbers…. I left the Nicaragua in late July on a trip that would require that I change plane 3 times. I got arrested on the second change by the FBI in Florida because I was doing cartwheels in the airport. Thinking I had to do something really crazy in order to save those people who were about to board the plane from an imminent catastrophe. I got stuck in the loony bin for 2 weeks before being put in a plane going DIRECTLY home. Little did I know that 2 month later Nicaragua would be hit by a tsunami earthquake of apocalyptic proportions. I got really lucky.
Earthquake and Tsunami of September 2nd 1992
A major tsunamigenic earthquake occurred off the Pacific coast of Nicaragua at 18.16 local time, (00h 16m GMT) on September 2, 1992 . The initial surface wave magnitude was estimated at 7.2 and its epicenter was at 11.761° N, 87.419 West, about 120 Kms West/Southwest of the city of Managua. The magnitude was later revised to a moment magnitude (Mw 7.6.) The main earthquake was followed by several strong aftershocks. Tsunami waves of up to 10 meters reached the Nicaraguan coast. Over 170 people lost their lives and lot more injured. The Hotel located in what is called ”La Boquita” were I was working was completely and totally destroyed, I never got in touch from no one that knew me over there. I got echoes of people I knew who were there before or after I was there remembering having heard of some fucked up Canadian that was there and had totally lost his mind. That would be me.
Now I never could explain what happened to me there until I saw the movie ”The Mothman Prophecies”. I am a very sensitive person but can also be very logic. I will very seldom act upon this logic because i believe in trusting my feelings and my heart more than logic but when I saw this movie and learned about the Mothman (to me is also the Owlman), both the logic and the feeling that this was what had ”possessed” my soul during the months preceding the catastrophe was overwhelming. I finally had an explanation about what had puzzled so many people, friends, family and professionals alike.
It still took me at least 2 years to manage to get back to normal but if you ask me today what was all this about, I can now answer without missing a beat, that The Mothman saved my life. I cannot know why he did, but he sure did. If it wasn’t him, it was someone watching over me, probably my grandfather, but I know my grandfather would not have done it like that. He would not have torn my soul apart. I did not put a lot of emphasis on that aspect but trust me I was a wreck. When I came back from Nicaragua my mum thought I was gone. She told me that there was nothing behind those eyes. She cried the day I got better, it was then and only then she told me she thought she had lost me forever. That I was condemned to be there physically but totally spiritually gone.
Of course some of you might interpret this in many different ways, I KNOW you will but I was there, I felt it, I KNOW how it felt and I am telling you, there was something really fucked up about it.