THE OLDER STUFF
-- September 16, 2016 --
Don't Get Tanked Around Trees
Readers of my New York blog, This Hidden City, know I'm a bit of a tree hugger - especially after my piece on visiting NYC's oldest living thing, the Alley Pond Giant (read it here).
I enjoy stories
of old trees (like California's 4800-year-old Methuselah), weird trees (such
as Somalian Dragon Blood, or Monkey Breads from Australia), flowering or poisonous
trees (Wisteria and Manchineel), but here I'll share two quick tales where alcohol
played a role in a tree's life.
First up is the Tree of Ténéré, thought to be an Acacia raddiana. It was the only tree for 250 miles (400 Km) in Niger's northeastern section of the Sahara Desert. For years it was the only tree located on maps, simply due to help in positioning oneself in the far expanse of the area. On November 8th of 1973, a Libyan trucker was driving drunk off his ass, when he hit the only thing for miles around. The dead tree is now on display in the capital city's Niger National Museum, and the spot is now marked by a metallic structure which represents the tree.
From sad to silly, we'll now learn that, in 1898, a drunk British officer (James Squid) was walking about a tribal area in Pakistan known as the Khyber Agency, when a he felt as if a certain banyan tree was about to attack him. Perceiving himself to be under threat, Squid ordered the arrest of the tree. A sergeant obeyed the officer's orders, and chained up the offender. Though many then said it was a joke to teach the locals about not obeying the British, today it's seen as a hundred-year-old testament to drunken stupidity, as well as nifty tourist spot.
All that's left
to say is that if you are headed out to the woods any time soon, try to keep
your spirits locked in the bottle, or you might find yourself on the wrong side
of a plant's history.
-- September 05, 2016 --
Words To Battle Dreamless Sleep
I'm joining a handful
of poets on Monday, Sept 19th, for Rendering Unconscious, a reading featuring
automatic poetry inspired by chance, dreams, fantasies and other workings of
I've been asked to read some of my throwaways, as the project appropriately fits the evening's theme. I will be reading ten, with half the batch written before a life-changing event, and the other half after.
It starts at 8pm, and will be held at the Delancey's rooftop (168 Delancey St, Manhattan). Fellow speakers include Katy Bohinc, Katie Abbitt, Jason Haaf, Peter Milne Greiner, Vanessa Sinclair, and Jennifer Smith.
-- August 29, 2016 --
Reaching For the Sky
Mankind has always
been fascinated with the stars, and we've been constructing observatories to
watch them, track them, and worship them, since time immemorial.
The oldest known ground observatories are Goseck Circle in Germany (~5000 BCE), and Stonehenge in UK (~3300 BCE), which were built along to astronomic alignments, possibly for keeping track of dates to help with farming. Within a thousand years, monolithic calendars were to be found throughout Europe (such as Kokino in Macedonia), and Russia (Arkaim in the Urals steppe). By the general period of classical antiquity, they had changed from simple almanacs to laboratories, with record keeping, star catalogs, and instruments of astrometry, which soon helped humans develop geography, meteorology, astronomy, and furthering mathematics. Two notables worth mentioning are Hipparchus' observatory at Rhodes (Greece), and Chankillo in the coastal desert of Peru.
Throughout the Dark Ages, Islam and the East took a bigger interest in our place among those celestial bodies, and constructed some of the most beautiful observatories before the invention of the mega-telescope (Maragheh, Iran; Mahodayapuram in India; and Gaocheng, China). By 1600, Europe caught up, as they first appeared in Denmark, then outward from there.
Of course, holding a strange technological and metallic majesty, we have some beautiful ones today, too, such as ALMA in Chile, Arecibo in Puerto Rico, and Roque de los Muchachos in the Canary Islands.
Still, none compare to India's Jantar Mantar - in size, grand style, and proportion. This little-known location looks like a playground, yet everything looks like art.
Located in the
city of Jaipur, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, the observatory was finished
in 1734, and commissioned by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh. The grounds hold
nineteen huge instruments, which operate in the three main classical celestial
coordinate systems: horizon-zenith local, equatorial, and ecliptic.
Sadly, while the
instruments are all made of brick, marble, stone, and brass, they are set with
Ptolemaic positions (which are not heliocentric), so some of the sights will
forever go slightly askew as time goes on.
Still, one of the most amazing tools there is the Vrihat Samrat Yantra (pictured tallest below). It is the world's largest sundial, and is accurate within 5 seconds or less.
Another real beauty here is the Jai Prakash Yantra (seen near bottom center below), which contains two half-bowl sundials, holding marked marble slabs with inverted images of the sky, allowing observers to move within the instrument; measuring altitude, azimuth, hour angle, and declination.
The name stems
from the colloquial pronunciation of yantra (instrument) and mantar
(calculate), and theories behind the instruments are found in ancient Hindu
Sanskrit texts by Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Varahamihira, Lalla, Sripati, and
Bhaskara (400 - 1000 CE, listed chronologically).
Though rarely known outside of India (it last served as the maze in Tarsem Singh's 2006 fantasy film The Fall), besides being an image chosen for the cover of electro-psych outfit Shpongle's 2008 DVD, Live at the Roundhouse, the west is far from recognizing this wonder of a king wise enough to stare at the stars, and dream big.
-- August 21, 2016 --
The Psychotropic Poetry of the Preternatural
My friend, and psychologist, Vanessa Rawlings Sinclair PsyD, has started a website (along with artist Katelan Foisy) for creative investigations into Dadaist cut-up methods, Surrealism, psychology, Burroughs/Gysin literature, and the occult, called Chaos of the Third Mind.
If her name sounds familiar to my readers, it may be because she wrote the foreword to my unique artpiece/article on the Dada poem (see here), which was reproduced in issue #3 of Abraxas: Journal of Esoteric Studies, as the article "Do Me Dada Style". Fulgur Press, who publish Abraxas, will also release a book by Sinclair this year, so drop by her website often to check up on that.
-- August 16, 2016 --
No Hasenpfeffer From This Hare
Many readers of this blog know I like to post of little-known works of macroscopic and microscopic art; such as Tom Van Sant's "Ryan's Eye", and the Marre Man geoglyph (artist unknown). Strangely, I've never written of my favorite art object of termendous proportions, but that's possibly because of the goofiness of the piece. Well, that was also part of its charm to me, so let me introduce you to Viennese art group Gelitin's 2005 design: Hase. It used to be found on a hilltop in the Piedmont region of Italy, called Colleto Fava. Hase - meaning "hare" in German - was a 200ft (60m) long, 20ft (6m) high, pink rabbit with its guts streaming out.
The work was completely
knitted, and then filled with straw. After leaving it there, the collective
stated the piece was meant to be as huge as it is so visitors feel as if they
were Lilliputians when Gulliver dropped by. The work was meant to be climbed,
and enjoyed as a rest spot or playground.
Now, I mention much in past tense because the design is hardly there anymore. Though the collective said their mountain bibelot should fully disintegrate by 2025, the objet d'art is already almost gone.
I had hoped to hop on by before it looked as it does now, but that's a true case of hare-and-tortoise I truly slept on.
-- August 08, 2016 --
Dig That Crazy Jazz
There is a quick
mention in John Szwed's Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra,
on how much jazz musician, and Prince Hall Freemason, Sun Ra (born Herman Poole
Blount, 1914 - 1993) believed music could heal the mind.
One story Sun Ra would love to tell in example was of back when still playing under the simple name of "Sonny" (late 50s), and Blount's manager got him a gig inside a Chicago mental hospital. The ward brought out some of their toughest cases of schizophrenia and catatonia, as he thrashed his keys, and tickled the ivories throughout the evening. It was said that a woman - who had not spoken in several years - got up in the middle of his set, and stood next to him at the piano. After a few minutes, she leaned over, and spoke into the composer's ear: "Do you call that music?"
In commemoration of the event, Sun Ra later penned "Advice to Medics" on his 1956 LP Super-Sonic Jazz.
Sun Ra's interest in mental health grew, and he later released Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy (recorded 1963, released in '67); an album he believe could bridge the gap between therapy and medication. Predating, and possibly inspiring psychedelia, Julian Cope said was as if "listening to a lost kraut/psych classic inspired by [Syd Barrett and Tangerine Dream]."
Well, what else could anyone expect from someone whose motto was "I use music as a medium to talk to people"? The man may have been from Saturn, but he certainly wasn't nuts.
-- July 28, 2016 --
I used to be part
of the VHS tape trading circuit for a while. It wasn't just having your hands
on something only a handful had seen, as I also loved watching the movies that
were so bad they were forgotten. Films like Blood Freak, Liquid Sky,
Skatetown USA, and Mondo Trasho are all great fun, but some movies
are so terrible it was best they should have been left unmade.
Hollywood has the infamous cases of Ishtar and Gigli, but others out there are bad to the point of exhausting the viewer in a slow-mix blend of perplexity, embarrassment, and boredom. One of the best examples of this is Foodfight!, a 2012 computer animated feature, staring the voices of Charlie Sheen, Wayne Brady and Hilary Duff.
align, and the Universe tells you you're on the wrong path. Foodfight!'s
producer, Larry Kassanoff, had all the signs, and still forged ahead. The idea
came to him in 1999, and he talked backers into lending him a whopping 25 million
dollars. In 2003, the hard drives containing original copies of the film were
supposedly stolen. Years behind schedule, Kassanoff began round two in a haste.
In the middle of the second animation, Larry had the idea to switch graphic
and motion styles, then claimed the finish product was a result of mixed signals
between him and the animators. By the time it finally wrapped editing (2011),
he faulted on a loan, and the insurance company became the copyright owners
of the entire movie. In 2012, it was released in the UK, grossing only 20 grand
on opening weekend, until quietly being released on DVD soon after.
The film itself is amazingly terrible. The animation is awful, but the plot is even worse. Centered in a supermarket after closing, the product's mascots (ala Toy Story) come to life at night, most of whom are at war with a villainous Brand X. Entertainment website The A.V. Club rightly said that "the grotesque ugliness of the animation alone would be a deal-breaker even if the film weren't also glaringly inappropriate in its sexuality, nightmare-inducing in its animation, and filled with Nazi overtones and iconography even more egregiously unfit for children than the script's wall-to-wall gauntlet of crude double entendres and weird intimations of inter-species sex". When asked how Kasanoff could think to get away with such an extreme episode of product placement, he would always reply that no company paid him for the use of their logos.
Well, being the sadistic bastard I am, ladies and gents, grab some popcorn, and enjoy an hour-and-a-half of suffering (and corporate brainwashing).
-- July 18, 2016 --
A Double Shot
I have two new
music articles over at No Echo.
The most recent, "They Hate Us, We Hate Them", is a musical trip into the anger aimed at the early punk movement, with a touch of politics, and some wild tv clips from the 80s.
Earlier, No Echo posted my brief history, "The Dio You Don't Know", on the 1960s musical work of heavy metal hero Ronnie James Dio.
-- July 10, 2016 --
Unidentified Fleecing Objects
As much as I love
a good UFO case, I find great joy in a good UFO hoax. One of my favorites was
the infamous UMMO affair in Spain.
In the early 1960s, the countryside surrounding Madrid had UFO sightings, with many recalling a symbol on the bottom of the craft, like a capital H with an I in the middle of it. In 1965, some physicists, artists and members of the Society of Friends of Space, were mailed highly scientific documents, the covers all carrying the same symbol as on the UFOs. The writer (or writers) claimed to be an alien race from the planet UMMO, and the documents became known as the UMMO Papers. The science in the reports showed to be pretty spot on, but the work also carried a warning message about where we were headed as an Earthly species. A number of UFO researchers felt this was something truly important. Contact, mostly via mail, was kept up until the early 70s, but many studying the case felt it was an elaborate prank by still unknown jokesters (though telecommunication expert, and UFO researcher, José Luis Jordán Peña claims responsibility). A handful in Spain still hold that the UMMO Papers, and the alien contact, are real, and important, while the rest of the world laughs.
Canada has its own version of the UMMO case, and it's called the Carp-Guardian case. In 1989, Canadian UFO Research Network member, Tom Theofanous, began receiving anonymous packages from someone simply calling themselves "Guardian". The first packages contained introduction letters, and documents, with the fourth, and final (in 1991), holding a video tape. On that VHS cassette was a supposed alien craft landing somewhere in Ottawa, from two different vantage points.
The documents were
labeled from the Canadian Department of National Defense, and outlined how the
Chinese were in league with an extraterrestrial lifeform known as The Greys,
and they, together, were to attack the rest of the world sometime in the '90s.
The video tape made the rounds on UFO material of the day, and even aired on networks like Fox. It's thought by a majority of those in the UFO community to be one of their best pieces of evidence. The papers, on the other hand, were quickly found to be forgeries. Some pointed out the near-schizophrenic drawings that were often sent along with the paperwork, not to mention the delivery with the video cryptically contained three playing cards (a King, an Ace, and a Joker).
click on image for larger view
It's thought to
be the work of UFO buff Bobby Charlesbois, who was hounded by UFO society members,
as well as the cops. Private investigators were sent to surreptitiously obtain
his fingerprints, to check against the mailings. Even the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police, and the Canadian Federal Investigations Unit, got in on it over the
forged documents. Government officials reported the video was a model constructed
for an AT&T ad campaign.
Odd cases indeed, but it's strange how, in both of these hoaxes, the accused perpetrator is someone who is heavily involved in his passion, yet attempts to defraud that passion's community.
-- June 27, 2016 --
Up, Up and Away
Father Adelir Antônio
de Carli was a Brazilian Catholic priest, who became politically active in 2006
after - thanks to his protests - seven Municipal Guard agents were arrested
in Paranaguá for human rights violations against beggars.
After a while he thought stunts were the best way to garner an issue attention. In 2008, he attempted to break the 19-hour flight record in "cluster ballooning", and claim a new world record.
On January 13th,
using 600 helium-filled balloons, de Carli reached an altitude of 17,000 ft
(5300 m), floating from Paraná, Brazil, to Misiones, Argentina. While
the stunt was well documented, no one currently remembers what controversy was
supposed to be exposed in the process.
He immediately set up his next adventure: 1000 balloons, with heights of 20,000 ft (6000 m), to help raise money for a Christian rest area for the truckers in the local port. He received survival training beforehand, and packed a parachute, waterproof clothing, a helmet, mobile and satellite phones, a flotation device, plus five days of food and drinking water. On April 20th he launched to much fanfare, but disappeared from radar within hours. By day two, there were thousands of pieces of balloons washing up along the shore.
As the flight took off, Padre Baloeiro (as he was known to the locals) made his last phone call, which asked ground control if they could relay instructions on how to use his GPS equipment, as he had been given instruction on subjects like mountain climbing, but not on how to operate the one item that could save him fastest.
The Brazilian Navy called off their search on the 29th of April, but on July 4th an offshore oilrig vessel found the priest's lower half bobbing in the current.
It seems the Portuguese have a weird connection between a sad death, and an obsession with air-filled flying contraptions. Bartolomeu Lourenço de Gusmão was another Brazilian priest who asked kings and queens to fund his flying airship in the early 1700s. He died ill, being hounded by the Inquisition for his aeronautic investigations. Portugal-born, Cuban resident Matias Perez tried to open a balloon riding business, but disappeared during a promotional trip, and became the first person to go missing in flight. To this day, when someone goes missing, people in Cuba use the expression: "Voló como Matías Pérez" (meaning: "He flew away like Matias Perez").
-- June 17, 2016 --
I Got Your Back
I have a new project at Razorcake Magazine's website: The Backpatches of NYC.
While I've been
collecting pictures of battle jackets at Maryland Deathfest for the last several
years, I rarely took any in my current hometown of New York City. Well, that's
all changed now!
A new image, with nine photos of the art people carry on their backs, will be posted every two weeks. Check back often.
-- June 13, 2016 --
Dead Horses Tell Many Tales
I have been documenting Brooklyn's Dead Horse Bay since 2011, but only recently
had I decided to film the area, and put the footage together into a short documentary.
I hope this
video can help many understand what we are (often unwittingly) doing to our
oceans, and even our own neighborhoods.
Written, filmed and produced by me, with music by Ed Matus and I.
-- June 06, 2016 --
A Short Treatise On Contemporary Crappy Music
I wrote a joke philosophical piece on Postmodernism's influence on today's music, and decided to pick on a dozen tunes I love to hate.
It's posted over at No Echo, and will certainly make you scratch your head - even if you fully understand it.
-- May 30, 2016 --
The Strange Significance of A Virtual Rape
In 1991, Xerox's research and development company PARC created the online computer game and virtual community LambdaMOO, which is basically a cyberparty. Members met in a computer generated mansion, and could go from room to room, but could also travel outside, within a small surrounding neighborhood. In this text-based online reality system, "players" around the world (using anonymous avatars) could meet, and join in conversations, or go off on their own in search of starting new exchanges.
click on image for larger view
a player going by the name Mr. Bungle developed a "voodoo doll" program,
allowing him to do things that were wrongly credited to others in the community.
For hours, he controlled the actions of players, mostly making one another perform
sexual acts on each other. This caused many players to be outraged, and one
claimed to suffer real life emotional trauma from what later became known as
Three days later, many users met in the LambdaMOO universe to discuss Mr. Bungle's actions. Under the username Dr. Bombay, writer Julian Dibbell was among them, and later penned the article "A Rape In Cyberspace", which was published in The Village Voice. While no conclusion developed as to how to move forward, one of the master programmers terminated Mr. Bungle's account, and creator, Pavel Curtis, set up a petition system using ballots where users vote on subjects requiring administrative powers. In one of the elections, LambdaMOO users voted for a command that temporarily disconnects disruptive users.
Though no one was physically hurt, this nasty episode has since helped raise questions concerning the line between virtual reality and real life. Political activist and attorney, Lawrence Lessig, became interested in the legal ramifications of online activity after reading Diddell's article, and, to this day, college professors ask students to join and participate in LambdaMOO to investigate the implications of online behavior.
-- May 17, 2016 --
All Hail Captain Midnight!
I was up, just past midnight, talking to my friend Franz (the only other kid in my high school - that year - who also liked punk music), on April 27th of 1986. I had the tv on in the background, which was set on HBO, as the movie The Falcon and the Snowman played with little notice. At 12:32am, I suddenly saw bars flash on the screen, and made mention that my system must have gone out. At least that's what I thought until I read the words on the screen.
I bolted upright,
and began shouting into the phone that there was some wild shit happening. It
lasted a full 4 minutes, but those few moments helped shape my life for years
to come. I had just witnessed a rare occurrence few ever get to see: a live
broadcast signal intrusion.
It seems one John R. MacDougall was upset at the price of cable television, and interrupted the company's Hauppauge (Long Island, NY) satellite feed to the entire east coast using a character generator, via a licensed transmitter at his job as a master control operator, at the Central Florida Teleport in Ocala, FL. He would have probably gotten away with it, if some tourist from Wisconsin hadn't overheard him bragging in a Gainesville eatery. The tipster called the FBI, MacDougall was arrested, fined $5000, and served one year of probation.
After this affair, I not only studied up on the case, I began to research other incidents of signal pirating. Some exploits of note include a similar barcode intrusion by a Christian fundamentalist (Thomas Haynie of the Christian Broadcasting Network) against the Playboy Channel in late 1987, and, a month later, the infamous Max Headroom signal hijack against a Chicago independent tv station WGN-TV by still-unidentified prank artists.
While there have been a few more comparable circumstances, before and since, these three events helped spawn my love of pirate radio, which, in the early 90s, led me to help create a short-lived illegal broadcast station, WACK Radio, that garnered me a fair share of harassment from the FCC/FBI.
It was permanently shut down less than three months from start-up, after I was visited at work by two agents (thanks to my ceaseless pamphleteering), and I warned everyone else. For years, I had dreamed of continuing my raid on radio, as well as hoping to one day begin a full-time pirate tv station, but it was not to be, and I opted to stick to fanzines, then switched to the internet - and here we are.
-- May 06, 2016 --
Turning Their Backs On Me
With this year's Maryland Deathfest coming up in a few weeks, I dug through my collection of unused and unseen backpatch photos from the last three years, and No Echo posted my pick of pics.
I'm sad I won't
be attending this time around, especially with the killer line up for 2016,
but I'm certain there will be more chances in the future.
Enjoy gawking at 100 battle jackets here.
-- April 26, 2016 --
A Modern Day Nero
Many identify the
excesses of the Roman emperors to point out tyrannical rule, though there have
been plenty of contemporary rulers whose cruelty and megalomania would put anyone
in the past to shame. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot are the most named, but -
while they were absolute despots - there are some who were even more vile, and,
if left in power longer, could have scarred history for the worse.
One such is Francisco Macías Nguema.
Who? Well, here's
a quick history lesson.
Born in Equatorial Guinea in 1924, Francisco became an orphan - along with ten of his brothers and sisters - at age nine, after his father (a witch doctor) was beaten to death, and mother committed suicide. Under the Spanish colonial government, he became mayor of Mongomo, even though he failed the civil service exams three times. Later, he served as a member of parliament, and was named Deputy Prime Minister for the transitional government, when Spain left the country in 1964. In what was the country's first free election (1968), he ran for president against Prime Minister Bonifacio Ondó Edu, and won.
In May of 1971, President Nguema issued "Decree 415", which abolished most of the 1968 Constitution, granting him "all direct powers of Government and Institutions". Five months later he made it a crime, punishable by death, to threaten him, and a 30-year imprisonment for insulting him. By July of ' 72, he proclaimed himself President for Life, and held a fake election the next July that gave him absolute power, making his political party the only legally permitted.
Around this time, he began to ingest a lot of marijuana, as well as a psychoactive plant called iboga. This led him into paranoid states, declaring anyone who wore glasses to be killed, and banned the word "intellectual". With a third of his country fleeing for their lives, he banned boats, and even fishing. Soon all Western medicine was made illegal, and the only road out of the country was heavily rigged with explosives.
On Christmas Day of 1975 he rounded up almost 200 of his opponents in Malabo's football stadium, having soldiers dressed in Santa costumes execute them, while Mary Hopkin's "Those Were the Days" played on loop. Also, after killing the nation's Central Bank governor, he removed the entire national treasury, and had it brought to his house. After changing his name to Masie Nguema Biyogo Ñegue Ndong, in 1976, the remaining population was forced to change any Hispanic names to something purely African.
By 1979, close to all of the country's educated were either executed or exiled, and two-thirds of the legislature, plus ten of his original ministers, were murdered. That year, Nguema had several members of his own family killed, including his own brother. This made his nephew, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Vice-Minister of the Armed Forces), fear for his life, and lead a coup against his uncle. In August of 1979 he was overthrown, but ran off with loyal forces to fight. Many quickly abandoned him, and he was captured in a forest on the 18th of August.
Macías Nguema, along with six defendants, was sentenced to death on September 29, 1979, and executed the very same day at Black Beach Prison by a hired firing squad from the Moroccan Army.
It is believed Nguema is responsible for the deaths of 80,000 to 400,000 of his own countrymen, which is (according to Penn State professor Randall Fegley) proportionately worse than what the Nazis did to Europe. Nguema is also the cause of a severe human capital flight (aka "brain drain") that his country has yet to recover from.
Sadly, Africa has quite a number of abhorrent rulers (Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, Robert Taylor, Sani Abacha, Sekou Toure, etc), but not many know about them because... well, it's Africa, and - face it - many just don't care about Africa.
-- April 18, 2016 --
In 1948, large trails of huge, three-toed bird tracks appeared all over Clearwater Beach, FL, as well as the banks of the Suwannee River. Within days, a couple claimed they were harassed by a giant creature that came out of the ocean. A little while later, some folks claimed to have spotted a 15 ft (4.5 m) tall penguin, at a distance, along the beach's shore, and Scottish zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson said he had spotted, from a plane, the same bird walking about the Suwannee River.
It wasn't until 1988 that the hoax was revealed in an article by Jan Kirby of St. Petersburg Times. Perpetrated by local pranksters, Tony Signorini and Al Williams, who found inspiration in photographs of fossilized dinosaur tracks. Though Al had passed away in 1969, Tony showed the reporter the iron feet used to make the imprints, but explained that only he and Williams were in on the prank, so the others making claims of sighting the animal were either mistaken, or just wanted to be a part of the growing story.
-- April 08, 2016 --
No Echo premiered the first track, "Kokoro", off the upcoming EP, Memento Mori, by my industrial-noise project, 156.
Read a short interview, about how I created music using only human bones, here.
-- April 01, 2016 --
A Fruitful Hoax
On April Fool's Day, 1957, the BBC tv show Panorama, aired a three-minute clip of a Ticino family yielding heaps of pasta from their crops of "spaghetti trees" in southern Switzerland.
While the segment
was meant as a joke, most of the UK was unfamiliar with how pasta was made,
and the station received a deluge of calls asking how they could import the
trees for their own farming.
The idea came from one of the show's cameramen, Charles de Jaeger, when he recalled one of his teachers in Austria chastising another student as so dumb they would believe spaghetti grew on trees. Editor Michael Peacock loved the concept, and set up the cameraman with a budget of £100 to get it done. The cut seemed credible thanks to a voiceover by Richard Dimbleby, who was a respected broadcaster at the time.
In an April 2009 piece on pranks, CNN reporter Saeed Ahmed called the broadcast "the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled".
Happy April Fool's Day folks! Remember to have fun, but don't be cruel.
-- March 28, 2016 --
All That Jazz
The Ovechkin family
were not the typical poor Russians from Irkutsk Oblast in eastern Siberia. Single
mother, Ninel Ovechkin, once vowed "to have as many children as God allowed",
and, with seven kids, one can say she tried well enough.
Though the government tried to ban jazz music at one time, all the kids in her household formed a Dixieland band. They were the country's first children's jazz band, becoming a huge success, with the state media even producing a documentary about them. They did well, but when the band toured overseas of Russia in 1987, the eldest brother, Dmitry, felt they could probably live better lives outside the Soviet Union, and hatched a plan.
Though their mother usually saw them off at the airport, they scheduled her to come with them on their next concert date. On the orders of Dmitry, the older children packed an upright bass with handguns, sawed-off shotguns, and a homemade explosive, and boarded Aeroflot Flight 3739 on March 8th of 1988. During the flight between Irkutsk and Leningrad, Dmitry handed a note to the crew, announcing the plane was now theirs. It read:
"Proceed to England (London). Do not descend. Otherwise we will blow up the plane. You are under our control."
Once air traffic control in Vologda received word of the hijacking, they alerted a response team, which threw into effect Operacija Nabat (Russian for "Operation Distress Call"). Tricking the family to thinking the plane landed in Kotka, Finland, they actually had it land at a military base in Veshchevo, Russia. When discovering the ruse, Dmitry shot and killed flight attendant Tamara Zharkaya. After threats of killing passengers, the tactical team burst into the plane, and a firefight began between the family and the military group. Alexander Ovechkin detonated the bomb, lighting the plane on fire, and injuring himself before he took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot. The matriarch asked Dmitry to shoot her, and after turning the shotgun on her, also killed himself, followed by other family members Vasily and Oleg. Three passengers were killed in the melee's crossfire, and while many (20+) were hurt when diving out of the plane, fourteen suffered severe gunshot wounds.
The two oldest band members who made it through the terrorist plot, Igor and Olga, were tried, and sentenced to prison. Igor died in prison, and was murder by a boyfriend not long after release. Mikhail, who was only twelve at the time of the conspiracy-gone-wrong, is the only surviving family member, and now resides in Spain.
-- March 21, 2016 --
Stairway to Heaven
In Jerusalem's Christian Quarter of the Old City, just under a window at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, leans an old wooden ladder. In Hebrew, it is called "the status quo ladder", while, in English, it is known as "the Immovable Ladder".
It was mistakenly
left there by a worker, who was doing restoration to the facade of the church,
way back in the early 18th Century. The mason was thought to be hired by the
Armenian Apostolic Church, which constructed the ledge where the steps stand.
The first to publicly point the ladder out was an Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid
I, in an edict of 1757, but the the oldest image of it is an engraving by a
monk from the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, and dates to 1728. Since
its abandonment, it has only been removed twice: in 1997, during a conflict
between leaders of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church,
and when moved under another window to fit scaffolding for the repair of the
bell tower in 2009, though, in 1981, there was an effort to move it due to the
assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, but was stopped by local Israeli
Seeing that the Church is under shared control by several Christian denominations (including Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and a number of others), the wooden rail stands as a symbol of ecumenism. It is to stay where it stands until all the kooky branches of Christianity are united.
-- March 15, 2016 --
Calling All Posers
I wrote a new artcile on how record labels tried to cash in on punk rock in the 1970s and 80s, and it's posted over at No Echo.
You can also see a list of other music-related pieces I've written for NE here.
-- March 01, 2016 --
During the Second World War most U.S. soldiers were fans of the swinging sounds of jazz, and the big band sound from the likes of Glenn Miller, Dizzie Gillespie, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Artie Shaw. The Nazis had a problem with this "schwarzer und juden" music, but they certainly didn't mind trying to warp our G.I.'s minds with it.
Formed in 1940,
Charlie and His Orchestra (also known as Bruno and His Swinging Tigers or Templin's
Band) was actually a German propaganda tool. Around 9pm, every Saturday and
Wednesday, these little ditties were broadcast towards the United States via
shortwave radio, but mostly beamed into Britain, France and other parts of Europe
by the National Socialist Ministry of Propaganda.
Conceived by Joseph Goebbels, and put together by lead gabber Karl Schwedler (who was "Charlie"), and conducted by Lutz Templin, the band - who broadcast their tunes from 1941 to 1943 - would take classic swing and modern jazz of the era, play it as written, but changed the lyrics to suit the Nazi mission, as well as German views on how they were winning the war. Each song would proceed with its rewritten lyrics, until a long bridge where Chuck would then monologue a bit of Hitler's views, or attempts to make the Allies sympathize with their German enemy.
It has been said
that Winston Churchill thought the broadcasts to be rather funny, and enjoyed
After the fall of Herr Hitler and his Cavorting Cavalcade many of the musicians who played in Charlie's band actually went on to more popular acts throughout Europe, with Karl "Charlie" Schwedler supposedly moving to the U.S.
-- February 22, 2016 --
Trans Music Express
I recently wrote a short history of the transgendered in contemporary music, and it's posted over at No Echo.
it out, as you just might learn something. Who knows? Maybe some members
of Whirr will read it, and lighten up.
You can also see a list of other music-related pieces I've written for NE here.
-- February 15, 2016 --
Many are going
to ask, "What's so weird about the corner of Irving Ave and Moffat St?"
and I'm here to answer.
This street junction, in the NYC borough of Queens, happens to be the most radioactive place in the entire state of New York, and would be the northeast's if not for NJ's McGuire Air Force Base in Burlington County (called "the most contaminated base" in 2007 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency).
In 1918, chemical
engineer Alcan Hirsch, and his brother, mining chief Marx Hirsch, opened a chemical
plant where today sits most of the businesses on Irving Ave's north side. In
1920, they christen it Hirsch Laboratories, and later added the mining company
Molybdenum Corporation (aka Molycorp). The Hirsch brothers sold the lab in 1923
to Harry Wolff and Max Alport, who renamed it Wolff-Alport Chemical Company,
but continued their mining operations, and supplied W-A Chemical with the rare-earth
metals needed to produce a huge list of products.
The plant processed Monazite sand, which, when treated with Sulfuric Acid, separates into the rare-earth Sodium Sulfate, but also the radioactive waste known as Thorium Pyrophosphate.
It wasn't till the United States nuclear weapons program in 1942, known as the Manhattan Project, that Thorium became useful. Until 1947, when the Atomic Energy Commission began to purchase the fertile heavy element from Wolff-Alport, and for the full 20-years prior, the Thorium waste was simply dumped into the area's sewers.
In 1974, the Department of Energy created the FUSRAP initiative, which stands for "Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program", in an attempt to clean up environmental contamination, but it wasn't until 1987 that they notified New York City officials about the dangerous pollutants that stemmed from the Wolff-Alport plant. From 1988 to 2006, tests claimed the levels of radiation in the area were below regulatory limits, but broader tests in 2010 proved this was untrue.
The land where
the chemical depot once stood is now Los Primos Auto Repair and Sale (1127 Irving
Ave), and - if you ask nicely - the owner may show you the arches where the
kilns once scorched apart the Monazite sand.
While a single X-ray may subject someone to 10 millirem of radiation, a worker at Los Primos is exposed to about 300 millirem per year (100 per year is deemed the highest "safe" dose).
It is said the site is not a danger to those who visit once or twice, but it's so bad within the auto-body shop, the Environmental Protection Agency has asked that no employee rest on their back within the premises, even though a sandwich of 2 inches (5 cm) of steel, 2 inches of lead, and another 2 inches of steel has been laid down under almost the entire block, by the E.P.A., to prevent further spoliation from gamma radiation.
One can discover more of NYC's odd sights and sites by visiting one of my many other blogs: This Hidden City.
-- February 08, 2016 --
Have You Seen My New Zine?
My new fanzine, titled Exscind, is now out in a limited edition of 100 signed, and numbered, copies.
contains all new, tantalizing material, including writing, art, and photography.
It's 36 pages, collecting all my writing of the last five years (minus my No
Echo music articles), a full color cover and photos within, plus art and
poetry, all protected by an acetate sleeve. Nonfiction articles, and biographical
material, about sex, death, drugs, revenge, youthful stupidity, suicide, utopia,
and the godmother of the American occult movement Anne Hutchinson. Photos, and
art, about PCP, longhaul trucking, prison, solitude, and so much more.
$6 postage paid first class (or $4 sent media mail) in NAFTA territory, $8 rest of WTO. Make contact for copies.
-- February 01, 2016 --
Ezekiel, Connect Them Dry Bones
A new music video has been uploaded for the first track, "Kokoro", off the upcoming Memento Mori EP by industrial-noise outfit 156, which was made using human bones.
Much like 156's
previous releases, the music is in the spirit of the early industrial of Einstürzende
Neubauten, Test Dept., and Z'EV, but this time around all the sounds were created
using only human bones, or the human breath passing through human bones. The
record is supposed to serve as - for those who cannot obtain one - the skull's
replacement in the Chivalric Order/Freemason ritual room where one contemplates
The Memento Mori sessions had been recorded sporadically since 2012, due to the scarcity of the instruments, which include skulls, femurs, and vertebrae, as well as bone whistles (made by the artist himself), and Tibetan thighbone trumpets (kangling). You can also view a short video on one of the practice sessions here.
The soon-to-be released 10" should be out by spring or summer of 2016 on bone-colored vinyl, so keep an ear/eye out for that.
-- January 25, 2016 --
Let's Hear It For Population Control!
Texas House Member Tom Moore, Jr. (who served McLennan County as a Democrat from 1967 to 1973), was tired of those in the Texas House of Representative not thoroughly reading through legislation.
On April 1st of 1971, with the help of Republican Representative Lane Denton, he decided to draw up a rather strange proposal, and submit it to the State House. Without a single word of complaint from any of the other 148 members of the House, the bill passed unanimously. What all were unaware of, was that the act was set to memorialize Albert de Salvo, who is better known as The Boston Strangler.
Some of the charter read:
This compassionate gentleman's dedication and devotion to his work has enabled the weak and the lonely throughout the nation to achieve and maintain a new degree of concern for their future. He has been officially recognized by the state of Massachusetts for his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology.
It was only after
the statute passed that Moore exposed his April Fool's prank, and the measure
was withdrawn. After some publicity, he admitted, "No one reads these bills
or resolutions. If someone gets up and says it's a good proposal, then everybody
votes yes without reading it or even giving it a good second thought."
Moore also made news that year by becoming part of what the Texas media labeled the "Dirty Thirty", which were 30 House Members who stood against the politicans who had been charged with bribery and conspiracy by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission - such as then-Speaker of the House Gus Franklin Mutscher, then-Governor Preston Smith, and then-Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes - in what became known as the Sharpstown Stock-Fraud Scandal.
While he paid a price for taking these stands (most turned their backs on him, and the rest of the "Dirty Thirty"), he is seen by many as a political hero.
-- January 14, 2016 --
The Spooky Sounds of Nothing
I wrote a new piece on "phantom records" that turned into an art project.
Check it out over at the No Echo website, as well as many other wonderful articles, and music lists, by musicians from all styles of music, and all over the globe.
-- January 04, 2016 --
Tomorrow Belongs To Laughter
The musical Cabaret,
which is based on John Van Druten's 1951 play I Am A Camera (itself an
adaptation of Goodbye to Berlin  by Christopher Isherwood), is
about a female cabaret performer, and her relationship with a young American
writer, set at a German nightclub called Kit Kat Klub, during the rise of the
Nazi Party. It debuted in 1966 on Broadway, London in '68, and was turned into
a film in 1972 - starring Liza Minnelli, and Michael York, while directed by
The film omitted all the ditties performed outside the club, except for "Tomorrow Belongs To Me", where a Hitler Youth member proudly sings the song at an outdoor café. Many white supremacists felt the piece was a perfect example of the beauty of German folk music, as well as Nazi anthems, to the point where a handful of racist rock bands covered it, live and on record. The first were Skrewdriver, on their 1984 LP Hail the New Dawn, and many followed after, with some even thinking it was a Skrewdriver original.
What makes this
all extremely funny is that the entire musical, including "Tomorrow Belongs
To Me", was written by two nice Jewish boys: John Kander (music) and Fred
Ebb (lyrics). This subject is made all the more so thanks to a casual search
on the topic that reveals many on racist forums excusing Ian Stuart and the
Skrew-crew by claiming the Cabaret number to be a ripoff of an old folk
ballad, even though there is absolutely no evidence it's based on an original
German tune, rather than admitting Stuart didn't do his research.
No, seek help.
-- December 30, 2015 --
the United States (during most of the 20th century), especially in the south,
was a daring feat for African-Americans of the time. Jim Crow laws had peppered
the country with inhospitable areas for minorities, and many had to know where
it was okay to spend a night, or even just get a bite to eat.
In 1935, Harlem postal worker, Victor Hugo Green, had the idea to publish a book collecting info on safe places across the U.S., and The Negro Motorist Green Book (aka The Green Book) was born.
First published in 1936, The Green Book had Mr. Green himself visiting restaurants, and inns, throughout New York state, with the publication going national not long after, and international in 1949. He printed 15,000 copies every year, with the exception of the war years of 1941 - 1945, where he ceased altogether. Though the book helped black families move across several states without being terrorized, Victor did not live to see the day this country would have no real need for his book, as it was published for six more years after his death in 1960.
If you are curious to flip through an issue, the New York Public Library has digitally archived all Green Book volumes here.
-- December 21, 2015 --
Love and Death, Dolphin-Style
John C. Lily is
known as an early member of S.E.T.I., the inventor of the sensory-deprivation
tank, and for his experiments with consciousness and psychedelics, but he also
highly contributed to our knowledge of dolphin behavior and communication, helping
create the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.
In 1965, NASA sponsored him to head an experiment, based in the Virgin Islands, attempting to teach dolphins to speak English. He was given a male bottlenose dolphin, about age six, which they named Peter. He hired a local as an assistant; a vibrant, and cute 23-year-old, named Margaret Howe. Peter and Margaret were to live together for ten weeks. They would eat, play, and have classes where Peter was given instructions: such as trying to say, "Hello Margaret" (the animal could never get its m's right).
By week four, Peter
would start to get frustrated with the classes, almost always furiously swimming
around Margaret with an erection. The research assistant soon began to masturbate
Peter, so as to relieve him. She claims she saw it as simply a clinical method
to help him focus on their task. She says it was never sexual for her, but admitted
it made her life with him "sensual". In the BBC documentary The
Girl Who Talked to Dolphins (2014), Howe looked back, remembering how she
would seriously miss Peter when he wasn't around, and saying she could never
go back to calling him "a dolphin" (only using his name to reference
After the experiment, Peter was moved to another Lily-run tank in Miami, FL, while Margaret stayed behind. Within weeks the dolphin's health declined, and one day he swam to the bottom of his pool, and held his breath. Brokenhearted, and missing his newfound mate, Peter committed suicide. Though hurt by the news, Margaret married John Lovatt, the project's photographer.
The experiment later inspired the 1967 novel, by French author Robert Merle, Un animal doué de raison (A Sentient Animal). That book was then the basis for the 1973 box office flop The Day of the Dolphin, which starred George C. Scott, but the star dolphin, Alpha, was named "best animal actor" at the 24th Patsy Award, so scales balanced, I guess.
-- December 09, 2015 --
A Blaze of Glory With A Side of Mutiny (In Space)
One of the Nazi
scientists obtained under United States' Project Paperclip, Werner van
Braun, had a dream about life in a space station, sometime in the 1950s. He
presented NASA with the idea, and by 1963 they partnered up with the Department
of Defense to build it. Plans were officially underway in 1969 with an order
placed to McDonnell Douglas Corporation to spruce up some existing rockets.
On May 14th of 1973, NASA launched a modified Saturn V rocket from Florida with - what they originally called "The Orbital Workshop", but rechristened - "Skylab" aboard: the US's first space station. Originally shot up into space unmanned, NASA sent three manned-missions throughout Skylab's operation, each carrying three astronauts.
Sent up with the Apollo Telescope Mount, the crew was to perform quite a number of experiments, including a few on themselves, such as red blood cell metabolism checks, and constant urine analyses. The studies ranged from biological to technological, astronomical and personal. The third crew - (SL-4: consisting of Commander Gerald Carr, William Pogue (pilot), and Edward Gibson (science pilot) - were first time astronauts. Not used to the rigors of having to work in zero gravity, with the added troubles of bizarre sleep schedules, the crew began to complain to Mission Control of the workload. NASA was having none of it, and told the boys to get back to work. Six weeks in, the crew scheduled a one-day strike. All radio communication was cut off from Skylab's end. The crew spent the day sleeping, and long moments of just looking out the window into the majesty of space. The next day, Commander Carr contacted the operation's manager with demands of more free time, which Houston had to compromise on. The crew gave up their mutiny, and finished off their next six weeks with studies of the Sun.
Sadly, the original
mission had damaged Sklylab, and the project was doomed from the start, as they
realized - without full solar panel use - the ship could not collect enough
energy to sustain long-term life. The third, and final crew, returned to Earth
in February of 1974. The station stayed abandoned, as scientists debated as
what to do. Skylab stayed in a parked orbit for years, until reactivation in
1978, after British mathematician Desmond King-Hele foretold of it crash-landing
due to extreme solar flare activity.
This became a huge media event in 1979, as Skylab reentered the atmosphere, and people publicly prayed it wouldn't come crashing down on them, or dust us all with radioactive space germs on passing. While NASA aimed it southeast of Cape Town, South Africa, most of it burned upon reentry, with a large chunk falling in the desert of western Australia. The local government fined the U.S. space organization $400 for littering, which they have yet to pay.
-- December 01, 2015 --
Punks On Film
I recently wrote up a new list - of punk bands making appearances in movies - over at No Echo.
It's a fun read, so check it out.
-- November 23, 2015 --
Your Struggles Are Over
Looking to start
a business? If you are looking into something with little investment, and decent
yield, how about starting a publishing company. You can make quite a name, and
bucks, for yourself by printing books that are in the public domain, and not
have to pay a single author a dime.
This January, one can freely publish an extremely controversial book that sells up to 15,000 copies in the U.S. alone: Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
Originally finished in a jail cell by a seriously confused anti-Semite, and edited by his mentally unstable friend (Rudolf Hess), the book - outlining one man's wacky political ideology - was first published in 1925. It sold poorly, but once Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, he had the book given to every married couple upon their wedding day - with his country's government picking up the tab, as well as paying him royalties. Even though he once said to Hans Frank, "If I had had any idea in 1924 that I would have become Reich chancellor, I never would have written the book," he reaped about a million reichsmark a year from its sale. By 1939, Mein Kampf had sold five million copies in eleven languages.
In 1942, the U.S.
seized copyright of the book under the Trading with the Enemy Act. In 1979,
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing bought the book's license from the U.S.
government under Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and became its
only U.S. publisher.
Copyright laws' Duration of Copyright established the holding term of 70-years after the author's death, if there are no family members to stand for the rights. Unless it's proven that Hitler survived his days in the bunker (heading out for the mountains of Argentina, as some claim), then the book - as well as its unpublished sequel Zweites Buch - goes copyright-free in 2016.
-- November 13, 2015 --
Jr. (1889 - 1944) was a man of many inventions. He also, as "Daddy of the
A-Bomb" Robert Oppenheimer said of himself when quoting the Bhagavad-Gita,
had "become Death, destroyer of worlds".
Innocently enough, Midgley grew up in Columbus, OH, and graduated from Cornell University in 1911 as a mechanical engineer. With encouragement from his father, who was also an inventor, Thomas began to work for General Motors in 1916, and moved on to a subsidiary of GM, Dayton Research Laboratories, a little after. There, he figuratively spread his wings, and flew.
By 1921, Thomas
Midgley Jr. developed a way to make engines stop rumbling, after being shut
down, by adding Tetraethyllead (aka TEL) to gasoline, which earned him the Nichols
Medal in 1923 from the American Chemical Society. After a number of deaths (10+)
at the processing plant, Midgley held a press conference to demonstrate that
it wasn't TEL causing the problem. He poured the additive over parts of his
body, and even inhaled it for about a minute. Without letting many know he became
ill from it, and took a vacation to Florida.
Upon his return, he transferred himself to GM's Frigidaire division. In 1927, he thought to compound fluorine into a hydrocarbon, and his development team believed that the carbonfluorine bond would be stable enough to prevent releasing hydrogen fluoride. They soon created dichlorodifluoromethane, the world's first chlorofluorocarbon (aka CFC), and began to add what they called "Freon 12" to all new refrigerators. The chemical was later used in aerosol spray cans, and asthma inhalers. For all of this, he received the Perkin Medal from the Society of Chemical Industry (1937); awarded the American Chemical Society highest honor the Priestley Medal in 1941; the Willard Gibbs Award, and elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences, both in 1942. In 1944, he became chairman of the American Chemical Society, but was struck down by poliomyelitis, which partially paralyzed him. He put his mechanics engineering degree to work, and set up a system of wires, and pulleys, which would help get him out of bed. On the morning of November 2, 1955, he became tangled up in his contraption, and accidentally strangled himself.
It wasn't until 1956 that measurements of Ozone first began, and though the first worldwide measurements didn't start until 1978 (using the Nimbus-7 satellite), M.J. Molina, and F.S. Rowland, had already published a laboratory study in 1974 that showed CFC's breakdown Ozone.
Though championed in his day, today - this one man - is seen as one of the worst causes of pollution. It is estimated that due to leaded gasoline several million lives were cut short, with another several million's health effected negatively. Environmental historian J. R. McNeill wrote in his 2001 book, Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century World, that Midgley "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth's history."
Thanks for nothing, Tom.
-- November 02, 2015 --
A Bedtime Story
In 1987, Tallahassee
police came upon two men - in suit and ties - watching over a group of two girls
and four boys, aged 2 to 7, at a public park. When questioned, the men said
they were on their way to Mexico, taking the children to a school there. Upon
inspection, the kids looked unbathed, malnourished, and could not tell the officers
any of their mother's names. The two men, Douglas Edward Zimmerman, 27, and
Michael Houlihan, 28, were arrested.
It was soon learned they were members of a hippie cult from the Washington D.C. area, who call themselves "The Finders", founded by retired USAF Master Sgt. Marion David Pettie. The District of Columbia Police Department became involved, with Capt. William White III, acting as spokesman over the case. Both the arrested men were charged with one count of felony child abuse, held for $100,000 bond, and booked into the Leon County Jail. The six children had to be moved from their Florida shelter to an undisclosed location protected by armed guards because officials kept receiving threatening phone calls. D.C. Detective James Bradley had already been suspicions the cult was involved in child porn, and used the arrest to get a search warrant on all five of the Finders' properties, with backing from Ramon Martinez and Lynwood Rountree of the Department of the Treasury. On February 5, 1987, they raided homes, farm land and one warehouse, which contained a library, several kitchens, a sauna, and hot tub, plus a video production room, as well as several jars of urine and feces. The officers seized cabinets full of documents on activities of the organization in different parts of the world, including London, Germany, Japan, the Bahamas, Hong Kong, and Africa. There were intelligence files on private families, where a Finders member would respond to local ads for baby-sitters, and collect as much information as possible about the unsuspecting family. Though there was no proof found that the group was guilty of sexually abusing kids, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was ready to enter the case, believing children were at least being trafficked - against their will - across state lines, as well as internationally.
The story gained local press in Florida and Washington D.C., but was soon picked up by The NY Times.
In April, the State Department told the courts to free everyone, and give back their passports so they could go on their merry way. All the Metropolitan Police Department files on the case were deemed classified by the Central Intelligence Agency, and the F.B.I. Foreign Counterintelligence Division requested the D.C. Police no longer contact them on the matter. The press went quiet about it too. No other article appeared until the case was lightly brushed over in a U.S. News & World Report 1993 exposé of the cult. Luckily, much of the earlier reports are still available, so we can share this odd story with our kids, and let them know that there may actually be bogeymen out there.
By the 90s, cult leader Marion Pettie expanded the organization into dozens of properties throughout the U.S., with real estate holdings estimated to be worth over 2.2 million dollars at the time. Since, several members have left the group, with several complaints lodged, but none involve children.
Some say this story is proof enough the C.I.A. had its hands in some nefarious places, while others think the founder's son and wife, both employees of the Agency, pulled some strings to get the whole thing shut down. Would the C.I.A. stick its neck out for a secretary? Could they, as author of Spies and Provocateurs: An Encyclopedia of Espionage and Covert Action, Wendell Minnick claims, admit to "owning the Finders organization as a front [...] but that it had gone bad"? It all brings up so many more questions, I'm not sure I can sleep.
-- October 23, 2015 --
Listen To This Thing Called Luk Thung
I've recently written a brief history, and short guide, to the "Luk Thung" music of Thailand, which is now available at the No Echo music website.
There is so much
more to check out there, and I have other pieces posted at No Echo -
such as a feature on the first gang to lay it down on vinyl, The
Ghetto Brothers. There's also a photo journal of this year's Tompkins
Square Park Riot Show, and my Top
100 backpatches of the 2015 Maryland Deathfest. Also, I have a new
article covering "sex records", and dirty recordings. Plus, an
older piece - that was previously only available in my sold out book Some
Words - titled "Let's Make Some Noise". Check that out here.
The No Echo website was unleashed on the world only last year, holds some great written work on music, and is run by Andrew from Aversionline, and Carlos of Noisecreep.
I hope to keep contributing pieces, so do drop by often.
-- October 12, 2015 --
In 1936, Ernest
Vincent Wright had an idea to write a novel. Not just any novel, but a story
with a blueprint for a better world, as well as a gimmick to sell it.
It took him close to six months of constant typing, but he managed to put together 50,000 words that got him little notice by publishers. Finally tired of hearing "no", Vincent self-published his opus, Gadsby, in 1939.
Written from a narrator's perspective (who throughout the book jokes about how bad his writing is), the story follows 50-year-old John Gadsby, who feels his neighborhood of Branton Hills is in a downturn. He forms a youth organization to build community awareness, and soon becomes mayor. Under his leadership, the town grows from 2000 residents to 60,000 - making Gadsby Wright's version of The Republic.
While Plato he
ain't, Ernest's stunt turned out to be pretty novel, as the entire tale is written
in lipogrammatic form.
A lipogram is a constricted prose word game, where one composes a small literary work omitting a certain letter, normally a vowel. Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a whole book in this style, and the letter he chose to edit out was E.
Very little is
known of Wright's life, though a handful of articles about Gadsby do
shed light on the book's process (such as tying the E key of his typewriter
down). He was quoted in these pieces as saying his biggest obstacle was dodging
words with the past-tense verb suffix "-ed", while complaining he
could not write of any quantities after six and before thirty.
In 1968, the book entered the public domain (read it here), but - seeing as a lot of the first run were lost in a fire - original copies are book-collector favorites, and range up to $4000 each.
-- October 01, 2015 --
This Is Grrreat!
As a philatelist,
I'm big on weird stamp stories, and during World War II, the Office of Strategic
Services (which later became the C.I.A.) performed an odd act of psychological
warfare on the Germans, using stamps, with their Operation Cornflakes.
In this particular PSYOP mission, the department had bombers strike air raids on trains carrying mail, the first of which flew on January 5th, bombing a cargo line headed to Linz. A following plane would then drop thousands of envelopes, in hopes they would be picked up with the rest of the scattered mail, and delivered to unwitting households. Most envelopes contained copies of the Allies' German-language newspaper, Das Neue Deutschland, and all had fake stamps - some bearing the likeness of Hitler turning into a corpse.
Three types of stamps were made by the Office: a counterfeit 6 pf, and 12 pf, of the original, and the 12 pf version with the skull. The first two, like the original German stamps read "Deutsches Reich", meaning "German Empire", but the totenkopf forgeries read "Futsches Reich", threatening to turn them into a "Destroyed Empire."
-- September 21, 2015 --
Taught Tao By A Bird
I recently released
a newsprint fanzine, Auspex, which is Latin for "one who looks at
birds". It's where we get the word auspicious, and I found it so,
since I've been feeding birds on my windowsill for the past few years. Within
the introduction, I dedicated the work to the many breeds of avian that visited
me daily. As it went to print, a species I hadn't listed began to drop by: a
I have a weird history with them. I once saved one from a tangle of fishing line, later I watched as another pair attacked a hawk, and it's the only bird that's ever made me bleed. While I enjoy their calls, it harassed the other birds, and ruled the window space whenever it fed. I had mixed feelings on its stay.
Then something odd happened. One day it showed up with no feathers around its neck, and, in a few more days, the poor bird's entire head looked like a struck match - black and burned.
click on image for larger view
It really hit
me in an bad way. I studied up on molting, and couldn't find out what was wrong.
For a few days, I constantly thought about it, and this nearly dove me into
a depression. In about a week, the feathers began to come back, and the blue
jay looked normal again. He seemed fine, and all was well.
Now, I feed birds various seeds at one window, with peanuts for squirrels on another, and around this time the blue bird switched from the sill with seeds to the one with nuts. That window being closer to the walking path of my apartment, I got to see it quite often, and many times he would look at me, and squawk, before grabbing a nut, and flying off. This led me to say to my girlfriend one morning, "I'm going to tame that bird." I then decided to name him. At first I thought of calling him "Mordecai", after the blue jay on Regular Show, but settled on "Peanut".
After it would stop for its first nut, I would hold out a peanut for its return. I set up my camera to film, and it only took two days of trying 'til it fed from my hand. My gf remarked, "Of course! These things happen with you all the time." I felt elated, and began to take it further. In another two days, I had gotten it to jump on my finger, before it took the food. I had the luck to be taping on the day I first fed him, as well as when I got that blue beauty to hop onto my hand (see video).
Then I took things
too far. One morning, as my lady sat on the couch, streaming shows on the internet,
I got it to land on my finger, and slowly walked over to her to show how tame
it had become. This bird trusted me, and I stood in the middle of my livingroom
proud as punch to have it doing so. I gave it a nut, and instead of flying out
the window with it, he flew up on my ceiling fan. He struck the peanut once
with his beak, but almost immediately felt something was wrong, and began to
fly all over my apartment, calling out. Instead of being calm about it, and
letting it find its way out on its own (which would have taken less than 5 minutes,
I'm sure), I began to chase it thinking I was helping. Professor Reinhold Niebuhr
was quoted as saying "We mean well, and do ill, and justify our ill-doing
by our well-meaning."
It has been two weeks since the incident, and the blue jay has hardly returned, only feeding from my hand once since, and was very sheepish about it. I can't blame the bird, and while I am down I did something so stupid, I do thank it for aiding me to see that, sometimes, I need to heed the Taoist concept of wu wei (non-action, or the harmony to behave in a completely natural way). Sometimes, helping hinders, and one needs to know when to leave well enough alone. I didn't need an ornithologist to know birds don't like to be chased, but still followed a very unnatural path. It took a bird brain in helping this human to remember that "the Universe already works harmoniously according to its own ways; as a person exerts their will upon the world they disrupt the harmony that already exists." I'd swear I didn't need Lao Tzu to point that out, but my actions said differently.
UPDATE: Peanut is okay. All is forgiven, and though I got him to eat out of my hand once, I have decided it best to just go back to leaving him piles of nuts, and watch from a distance like the auspex I am.
-- September 14, 2015 --
My Bed-Stuy photo "The Obvious" from the Art vs Ads project...
...is part of Amnesty International Art For Amnesty's group show RIGHTS: An Art For Activism Exhibition at Forte in Crown Heights.
Opening night is Thursday, October 1st, 6 to 9 pm, and the show runs until October 27th.
-- September 08, 2015 --
That'll Show 'Em
In 1985, France, and everything she stood for, was under attack. The French government were planning a nuclear test on the Polynesian island of Moruroa (aka Aopuni), and word had reached back that a well-known group (who were perceived as terrorists) would attempt to use this event to their advantage. The French intelligence agency Direction-générale de la sécurité extérieure, and Defense Minister Charles Hernu, stepped in with a plan. They would have agents play the part of group sympathizers, and gather as much information on their nefarious workings, as well as the ship to be used in this affair; a 1955 former UK Ministry of Agriculture trawler, originally called "Sir William Hardy", but named "Rainbow Warrior" after its 1977 purchase.
In what they labeled
Opération Satanique ("Operation Satanic") the DGSE agents
were to board the vessel, offer to volunteer to work, and then secretly monitor
communications, collect maps, and investigate their equipment. After a few weeks,
the intelligence officers gathered what they needed, and while docked at at
Marsden Wharf on July 10, 1985, in Auckland, New Zealand, a couple of French
divers attached two limpet mines under the boat's hull. At 11:38pm, the first
bomb was detonated, and blasted a hole 15ft (4.5m) wide in the side of the ship.
Ten minutes later, the frogs pushed the button for bomb number two, causing
the "Rainbow Warrior" to go down in another four minutes.
Though a few were hurt, most of the crew survived, except for Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira, who drowned while trying to film the damage after the first explosion.
With this act of
bravery, the Land of Wine and Cheese would say to that terrorist outfit Greenpeace,
nay, the world: don't mess with France.
For a more detailed account of this courageous operation, and its troublesome aftermath, read up on it here.
-- September 01, 2015 --
I've Become A Paid Shill
About a week ago,
I got an email from a t-shirt company Illuminetwork (A
Bold Revelation) stating that they can tell by my writing that I am "a
member of the Illuminated Ones". After laughing my ass off, I replied that
- if I was - there weren't many benefits, and they in turn told me that would
change if I gave them a plug on this blog.
I checked the mail today, and I've been sent an armful of t-shirts to promote 'em, so here goes.
Created by a group
of anonymous characters in NYC, the company boasts that more designs are coming,
as well as collaborations with underground artists to create new versions of
the Eye of Providence logo. The shirts only come in black (not surprised there),
they have four designs so far, and - I have to admit - are pretty funny.
They're also giving away free shirts to anyone who can prove "membership", so feel free to try your luck.
-- August 24, 2015 --
Real Gangster Music
The recent release of the N.W.A. docudrama, Straight Outta Compton, has many looking back, and wondering where a bunch of thugs got the idea to make a record. Never mind that the movie forgets to script the part where Dr. Dre (Andre Young, a dedicated diver on his school's swim team) and DJ Yella (Antoine Carraby) helped create the World Class Wreckin' Crew, and it didn't showcase Ice Cube's 1986 rap skills, or document his enrollment at Phoenix Institute of Technology the following year for architectural drafting.
Truth is, that they weren't really associated with gangs previous to the rise of N.W.A. Before stardom, Easy E (Eric Wright) may have sold crack to get by, but even that wouldn't get them close to being the first gang members to lay it down on wax. That honor is bestowed upon The Ghetto Brothers.
Starting as a local
street club around the early 60s in New York City's South Bronx, The Ghetto
Brothers later became involved in Puerto Rican nationalism, and an association
with the Puerto Rican Socialist Party was formed.
The gang first consisted of Ray de la Vega, Benjamin Melendez, and Hui Cambrelen (who named the group). They had a rep for being trouble, but also known for having a deeply philosophical side. The gang treated its women members differently than most crews (calling them Ghetto Sisters), and becoming involved in charities. By the late 60s, Benjamin began to notice the power he held, and took the position of neighborhood spokesman. By 1971, he brokered a truce among the gangs of the Bronx and Harlem at the Hoe Avenue peace meeting in December (which inspired the opening scenes of the 1979 gang flick The Warriors), as well as released a full LP, Power - Fuerza, with his rock band, also called The Ghetto Brothers.
to the album, one doesn't get any hint it's a bunch of gang members jamming,
but is instead overwhelmed by the sense that someone just really loved Santana
enough to start a similarly sounding band. The lyrics aren't what you'd come
to expect from gang members, which includes three of the tracks being love songs.
To me, the most powerful song is the funk-dance number "Ghetto
Brothers Power", which isn't much more than a catchy call-and-response
number. Produced by Bobby Marin, the record was released on their own Salsa
Records imprint, and only sold locally. Though leaving The Ghetto Brothers in
1976, after seeing a bit of interest build, Benjamin Melendez re-released
Power - Fuerza on CD in 2008 on Brooklyn's Truth and Soul Records.
In the early 90s, the Ghetto Brothers and the Savage Nomads joined together to form Los Solidos ("The Solid Ones"), currently one of the most powerful Puerto Rican gangs in NY state. Other notable ex-members of GB are former-Hartford, CT mayor, Eddie Perez, and New York Daily News columnist Robert Dominguez. For more info, check out the 2015 documentary, Rubble Kings.
-- August 10, 2015 --
Art That's Out of This World
At a dinner party
in late-1970, American astronaut David Scott met Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck.
Being who they were, their discussion turned mostly to art, and space travel,
with the talk culminating in a collaborative effort to commemorate all those
who died on the paths exploring space, titling the project "Fallen Astronaut".
Though each tells a different tale, basically, Hoeydonck was to make an artistic figurine, which Scott would smuggle aboard his next trip into the cosmos. Awesomely enough, his next scheduled rocket ride happened to be the Apollo 15 lunar mission, and he was to leave the 3.3" (8cm) aluminum statuette, along with a plaque reading 14 names of those lost (eight American astronauts and six Soviet cosmonauts).
click on image for larger view
On August 1st of
1971, Scott placed Hoeydonck's metallic sculpture within the Mons Hadley massif
portion of the Montes Apenninus, a mountain range in the northern hemisphere
of our Moon, and snapped the photo above.
He only revealed his act at a post-mission press conference, while adding "Sadly, two names are missing, those of Valentin Bondarenko and Grigori Nelyubov," (also forgetting the first black astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.). Still, many were stunned, and none were more stunned than NASA, but after Walter Cronkite called it the "first art installation on the Moon" during a broadcast of the following mission, they thought to make it work best in their favor. The National Air and Space Museum asked for a display replica, and another was donated to the Smithsonian Institution on April 17, 1972.
Paul Van Hoeydonck felt he got screwed in all this, as none of the agencies believed in profiting commercially off of space travel and exploration. He was, according to his recounts of the story, to make several replicas after the fact, and sell them. David Scott claims this to be untrue, and says he would never have agreed had he know that. A July 1972 issue of Art in America Magazine published a piece stating Hoeydonck created 950 signed replicas to be sold at New York City's Waddell Gallery, for $750 each. NASA complained, and both the gallery, and the artist, retracted.
In 2007, art journalist Jan Stalmans reached out to Hoeydonck to ask how many of these small statues were actually in existence. He replied by mail, writing a brief note that only about 50 were made, most of them were still in his possession, and unsigned.
-- August 03, 2015 --
What A Big Spliff Up
The track "Smoked
Two Joints" was covered by shitty, ska-wannabes Sublime for one of
their god-awful albums, but what many an idiot began repeating - and who really
knows why? - is that Bob Marley originally wrote it.
The fact is that this song was originally a B-side to a 12" 45 rpm released by Australian DJ Doug Mulray and his band The Rude Band in 1986 on Raw Prawn Records.
sounds similar, I guess.
While the whole record was mostly lost to popular culture, until some now-dead alternaloser covered it, the twelve-inch single was actually for the side A track, "You Are Soul", which is a terrible disco parody poking fun at excess. The sometimes controversial DJ also produced the 7" "I'm A Punk" in 1982, taking a stab at the punk rock movement, discounting its politics, while focusing on the strange fashions, and was released to advertise his, What A Rude Album 12" LP and cassette that same year.
I believe "Smoked Two Joints" pretty clearly makes fun of the Rastafari religion, or at least their use of marijuana, so I don't see how it could have been mistaken for a serious song about the great plant Shiva left for the world, so fuck all this, and - in honor of all the reggae, dub, and ska legends we've lost - I'm gonna go get fuckin' stoned.
-- July 27, 2015 --
I Is Poet of the Week, Cuz Me Write Good
I was made "Poet of the Week", along with Californian poet Woodrow Hightower, for the week of July 27th through August 2nd over at the Poetry Super Highway website.
I'm honored that
my "throwaways" are getting such wonderful notice.
Speaking of which, I recently released a collection of my "throwaway poems".
56 unedited, stream-of-consciousness
doggerels filled with emotional wordplay, and indifferent pleasantries. The
book has been released in a limited quantity of hand-numbered copies, and entirely
produced to recreate the spirit of the original "throwaways
project". Each 6x9" trade paperback comes with 55 printed poems,
and one unique, handwritten "throwaway" penned especially for
that particular copy.
Only $10 per book, with postage paid ($15 overseas). Feel free to contact me for purchase.
-- July 20, 2015 --
All Science, No Fiction
Many scholars once
claimed The Blazing World (1666) by then-Duchess of Newcastle, Margaret
Cavendish, was the first real work of science fiction. British writer, Brian
Aldiss, as well as many others, believed Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
(1818) was, adding Edgar Allan Poe threw his hat into the ring with what we
know today as "real" sci-fi, with a short story about a trip to our
moon (The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall, 1835).
What many are coming to learn is that the earliest written evidence of science fiction was by a Syrian, known as Lucian of Samosata, in the 2nd Century.
160 CE as a parody of travelogues, and titled True Stories, Lucian wrote
that he and a group of explorers traveled beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Straits
of Gibraltar) to see what lay beyond the ocean. After two months at sea, they
land on an island with a river of red wine, believing Dionysus had once made
the place home. Continuing the trek, they are lifted by a whirlwind for several
days, and then dropped upon the moon. Lucian and his crew soon find themselves
in the middle of a war between the King of the Moon, and the King of the Sun,
over who owns the Morning Star. During this battle, they meet mushroom men,
dog-faced men on winged acorns, and cloud-centaurs. The war is later won by
the Sun King, who casts clouds over the moon. After returning to Earth, the
travelers are swallowed by a 200-mile-long whale in a sea of milk. They are
then deposited on an island of cheese (called the Island of the Blessed), and
meet Herodotus, Homer, and others involved in the Trojan War. By the end of
the tale, they discover a lost continent, but the book ends stating that adventure
will be for another time.
Sorry for the spoilers, but I didn't give everything away, so if you're feeling a bit nerdy, pick up a copy.
-- July 13, 2015 --
A Fanzine For the Birds
Just released 2000 copies of a newsprint fanzine, titled Auspex, which is Latin for "one who watches birds". It's free in NYC specialty, book and record stores, but $5 will get you 25 copies anywhere else in the States, and $8 will do the same outside of North America.
Auspex is a small slice of my work throughout the years (featuring older and newer articles, photography, and poetry), which unfolds to reveal a beautiful 23" by 33" (58.4 x 83.8cm) poster. It's a manifestation of the cyclic nature of one man's soul - from birth to death, and back, like a bird's seasonal migration - with the added bonus that you can hang it on your wall. Make contact for copies.
-- July 08, 2015 --
Practical Jokes For the Masses
The Easter Sunday
Mass of April 9, 1950, started off as any other, as its yearly 10,000+ pack
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, and a live broadcast feeds it to millions
on television. Yet, what was about to happen even shocks me to this day, 65
Michel Mourre appears at the pulpit, after the Credo of the Saints is given, dressed in the garb of a Dominican monk, he begins to read what many thought was that Easter's sermon:
Today, Easter day
of the Holy Year,
Here, under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
I accuse the universal Catholic Church of the lethal diversion of our living strength toward an empty heaven,
I accuse the Catholic Church of swindling,
I accuse the Catholic Church of infecting the world with its funereal morality,
Of being the running sore on the decomposed body of the West.
Verily I say unto you: God is dead.
(translated from French)
At this point,
the organ player realizes what is going on, and begins to churn out tunes to
drown out the pranksters voice.
Mourre begins to shout into the microphone:
We vomit the agonizing
insipidity of your prayers,
For your prayers have been the greasy smoke over the battlefields of our Europe.
Go forth then into the tragic and exalting desert of a world where God is dead,
And till this earth anew with your bare hands,
With your proud hands,
With your unpraying hands.
Today Easter day of the Holy Year,
Here under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
We proclaim the death of the Christ-god, so that Man may live at last.
(translated from French)
At this point the
Vatican Swiss Guard began to unsheathe their swords, and approach Mourre. He
smiles at the congregation, and blesses them with the Sign of the Cross. Mourre
(who was at one time a Dominican monk), and three associates (Serge Berna, Ghislain
Desnoyers de Marbaix, and Jean Rullier, all members of the radical Lettrist
movement) flee the cathedral, being chased by nearly 50 or so parishioners.
The four funnymen ran laughing, and screaming, down the Paris streets until
they we arrested, subsequently saved from the mob that had formed to lynch them.
Mourre was later quietly locked up in an asylum, being they didn't want to press formal charges, and give the prank more publicity, though championed by Surrealist André Breton. The only other time such a stunt was pulled was on March 22nd of 1892, when a young member of the Blanqui movement had interrupted mass by shouting, "Long live the Republic! Long live the Commune! Down with the Church!"
Still, ladies and gentlemen, that is a good practical joke, but, sadly, no known footage exists. The best source for information on what became known as the "Notre-Dame Affair" can be found in Michel Mourre's 1953 biography, In Spite of Blasphemy, by John Lehmann.
-- June 29, 2015 --
Moshing All the Way to the ATM
This past March,
Discogs announced it had facilitated their most expensive sale for a piece of
vinyl yet at $6000+.
Some hardcore collector, dropped hardcore cash on the hardcore record Chung King Can Suck It by New York straight edge crew Judge.
The 12" slab
of wax was released in 1989, in a limited quantity of only 110 copies. The story
goes that fresh off Judge's sold out, Schism-produced 7", the kids headed
into the Chung King studio to record their Bringing It Down album on
Revelation Records. Bigger acts - like Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J -
were also recording there at the time, so the studio gave the guys the least
advanced studio, along with a coked-out engineer inexperienced in heavy music.
The results were audibly terrible to everyone involved, and it would take almost
a year to catch up to where they were at. With pre-orders starting stacking
up, to give a little something to those who sent in their hard-earned dough
so long ago, the folks at Revelation got the bright idea to release an extremely
limited run, with a title letting the world know why they were running behind
on the official record.
Up until this time, the highest selling records on the Discogs website were a mint copy of The Damned's 1977 punk gem Damned, Damned, Damned at $2800, Eve from Japanese acid rockers Speed, Glue & Shinki, from 1971 for $1300, and the 1984 NYC 12" single "Hooked On Your Love" by Gina ($1200).
When asked how he feels about having put out such an expensive collector's item, ex-Judge vocalist Mike Ferraro said, ""I'm bewildered. I don't know why that record is worth anything to anybody when it's not worth anything to the people who created it."
To hear what you are (not) missing, check out Judge's entire mistake here.
-- June 18, 2015 --
If you would like proof there are shadowy forces operating in the established media, the world's most open-doored lodge - The Order of the Occult Hand - is evidence something funny was going on.
NC reporter Joseph Flander's wrote an article late one fall night, in 1965 for
The Charlotte News, on the familicide of a millworker, he didn't intend
the start of a secret society.
By using the line, "It was as if an occult hand had reached down from above and moved the players like pawns upon some giant chessboard," which many writers consider 'purple prose', he received accolades from fellow journalists who met at the local bar. The original members - which included an associate editor, RC Smith, Stewart Spencer, the editorial writer, and city editor Jon Gin - vowed to sneak that expression into any piece possible. The group was to be open to all who could have those words secretly printed within a larger work in a circulated newspaper or magazine. Editors were quick to catch on, but the phrase "It was as if an occult hand had..." kept popping up, and even made it into The New York Times (1974 and 1998), The L.A. Times (1983 - 1999), The Boston Globe (1988 - 2000), and The Washington Post (1997).
In 2004, the Order was publicly unveiled by James Janega, adding the most ironic member into the Order, by writing of it (and the line), for The Chicago Tribune. Two years later, Pulitzer prize-winning page editor of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Paul Greenberg, stated the Order had chosen a new idiom, and resumed its covert affairs.
-- June 10, 2015 --
A New Goodie By Yours Truly
My hardcore punk outfit sound4sound has a limited edition cassette out, Making the Right Ear Jealous.
five song Rat Bastard-recorded EP, as well as six songs off the first two demos,
and one unreleased track; equaling 12 songs of Bad-Brains-meets-The-Damned hardcore
punk rock madness. The tape is only $5 with postage paid in the U.S. ($8 elsewhere),
but - if you prefer digital - the entire release is available in MP3 or FLAC
on the S4S Bandcamp
page, where you can pay what you like.
Feel free to contact me for purchase.
-- June 01, 2015 --
The Central Intelligence
Agency recently released a list of books that were found in an al-Qaeda compound,
aka "Bin Laden's bookshelf", which included David Ray Griffin's conspiracy
classic New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration
and 9/11, some Noam Chomsky, and a copy of the Oxford History of Modern
War by Charles Townsend.
Something they also found plenty of is: porn. However, with over 100 new documents declassified, and even though raiding soldiers have already admitted to seeing it, the government lists none - and, when asked, refuses to name any of the titles.
Still, in the most current release from their archive, there was a golden nugget of the interestingly odd.
In them, the heads
of al-Qaeda would like to know if you would die for them, but, also, what your
That bit of paperwork - gathered during the 2011 sweep of Osama's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan - has been translated for us, complete with copyright retained by the Director of National Intelligence.
click on images for larger view
journalist, Seymour Hersh, alleges that our government hadn't performed the
U.S. Navy Seal assault against said radical Islamist, and is only releasing
these documents as a cover.
Ah - the rabbit hole goes deep with twists, and turns, so carry a torch to find your way about. Some of us will go get the pitchforks.
-- May 26, 2015 --
More Metal Than Ever
I shared my third year collecting backpatches, at Maryland Deathfest, over at the No Echo music website.
This year, it's over 60 photos more than what you loved about the last one.
-- May 18, 2015 --
Still Fashionable Wristwear
The world's oldest piece of stone jewelry was recently dated to 40,000 years ago, and it doesn't even belong to Homo sapiens.
This chlorite bracelet
remained hidden in the Denisova Cave of the Altai region of southwestern Siberia,
until 2008, when a treasure trove of Denisovan remains and relics were discovered
by Michael Shunkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences. The cave was originally
stumbled upon by Russian paleontologist Nikolai Ovodov in the 1970s when looking
for the remains of cave bears, and a later excavation found a hominid finger
bone. After mitochondrial DNA analysis (done in 2010) showed the bone once belonged
to a juvenile Denisovan female, dubbed "X Woman", further excavations
were made, and revealed artifacts showing the cave was in use as far back as
125,000 years ago.
In case you are wondering, Denisovans (Homo altaiensis aka Denisova hominins) are a distinct species separate from Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and modern humans (Homo sapiens). It is believed the species left Africa earlier than modern humans (but later than that of Homo erectus), after branching off from the Neanderthal species 600,000 years ago. Nuclear genome analysis has shown that, while Africans are pure Homo sapiens, and Europeans and Asians are Homo sapiens with a minor introduction of Homo neanderthalensis genes, Aboriginal Australians, the Papuan population of Papua New Guinea, and some Polynesians are Homo sapiens, with a slight mix of Homo neanderthalensis and Homo altaiensis genes.
Anyhow, there are several other very interesting things about the ornament. First, Dr. Anatoly Derevyanko found it has a 0.8 cm drill hole, which is uncharacteristic tool use for the Paleolithic era. Next is the fact that chlorite is not found near the cave, but over 200 km away, showing that the material was highly valued by that culture. Lastly, wear on the item shows it was worn on the right arm.
While this bracelet is seen as the oldest known stone work jewelry, it is not the oldest piece of jewelry yet found, which would be three 90,000-year-old shell beads (two from the Skhul Cave of Mount Carmel in Israel, and one from Oued Djebbana in Algeria) made from the marine mollusk Nassarius.
-- May 08, 2015 --
Rattle Them Bones
Mori sessions, using all human bones, is finally done, and is now in the
editing and mixing stage!
It should hopefully be released, on bone-colored 10" vinyl, sometime in late 2015.
You can view a
short video on the project here,
and to celebrate 156 has a new release out.
It's a collection of rare tracks, music from compilations, and previously unreleased material from 2013 - 2015.
Steel Rarely Stands Alone is 45 minutes of true industrial music, all completely free to download off the 156 Bandcamp page.
-- May 01, 2015 --
Pussy Done Peed Up the Parchment
I'm a cat lover,
but let's face it: cats are dicks. Whimsically enough, it seems they always
In 1420, a transcriber in Deventer, Holland, went to bed, leaving his work on the table, and - to bring us all joy centuries later - his cat used it as its litter box. The clerical scribe begrudgingly stopped his work on that page, but did draw a picture of the feline squatting above the stain it left, as well as scribbling a denunciation against the poor beast:
"Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt."
Translation: Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.
The work was discovered at the Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln, in Cologne, Germany, by senior lecturer in zooarchaeology, Naomi Sykes, of the University of Nottingham's Department of Archaeology, while doing research in 2013 for her book Beastly Questions: Animal Answers to Archaeological Issues.
-- April 24, 2015 --
Oh, My Ears!
Back in February
of 2014, Skinny Puppy released a statement saying they were handing the U.S.
government a bill for using their music, without permission, to torture detainees
at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. While pretty hilarious, the truth of the matter
is that it was more of a publicity stunt, than truth.
On December 9th of 2014, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program (aka "the CIA Torture Report"), which is 6000 pages long, and cost taxpayers $40 million. In the 525-page portion released publicly, there isn't any mention of Skinny Puppy's music, though there is quite a long list of tracks used by the CIA in grilling War on Terror suspects from 2001 through 2006.
Here's a short list of just some of the annoying ditties used to warp the minds of prisoners into confessing, and - if you feel like torturing yourself - feel free to click on the link provided:
Sesame Street theme
David Gray "Babylon"
Neil Diamond "America"
Drowning Pool "Bodies"
Christina Aguilera "Dirrty"
Metallica "Enter Sandman"
The Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive"
Eminem "Real Slim Shady"
Deicide "Fuck Your God"
Dope "Die Mother Fucker Die"
Barney & Friends theme song
Meow Mix commercial jingle
Tupac "All Eyez On Me"
Don McLean "American Pie"
Saliva "Click Click Boom"
(hed)pe "Swan Dive"
Matchbox Twenty "Cold"
If the other 5000+ pages ever become declassified, maybe we'll find the Canadian industrial band's name there, but so far, so funny.
-- April 17, 2015 --
That Is F'ing Fast
I made a new music video montage for Robert Turman's "F-berg", which is off his newest CD, Square Abstractions. The music was recorded in Copenhagen, in August of 2014, while the video footage was filmed throughout Brooklyn and Queens (along the Jackie Robinson Parkway) earlier this year.
-- April 13, 2015 --
Fort Tilden, Queens
Looking for a place to make a great dystopian music video, or film something in what looks like a Nevada nuclear test site? Then look no farther than Fort Tilden in Queens' Rockaway Peninsula.
If you'd like to read up on the history of the area, and see more pics, then check out the latest post on my This Hidden City blog.
-- April 08, 2015 --
It has been recently discovered in the National Archives Online Collection that, in 1974, the US Forest Service produced a chart on how to properly make and mix cocktails.
click on image for larger view
It is a mystery why that government office would make such a graph, which includes rare alcohols that weren't even available at the time (such as Creme Yvette, which hadn't been refined from 1969 until a recreation in 2009). The National Press Officer for the US Forest Service, Larry Chambers, has pointed the finger at Forest Service Region 8 Engineer Cleve "Red" Ketcham, as his signature is on the diagram. Sadly, Red passed away in 2005, so he is unavailable to let us in on whether it's a great joke or not.
-- April 01, 2015 --
April Fooled Again
Every April Fool's
day I like to write about a prank gone wrong. One of my favorites is still the
one pulled by an Alaskan with the unfortunate name of Porky
Bickar, but my 2nd favorite is one that has been paddled a few times - each
with disastrous effects.
Though this prank leads back to 1983, when the Michigan newspaper Durand Express printed it in an April Fool's Day edition, the first known radio event was in April of 2002, when Olathe, Kansas DJs Johnny Dare and Murphy Wells, of KQRC - The Rock 98.9 FM, told its 6am listeners that the city's water supply had "high levels of a naturally occurring substance: dihydrogen monoxide", which could cause "frequent urination, profuse sweating and wrinkling of hands and feet." Being in a state that ranks 11th (of 50) in intelligence didn't help that day, as many did not know it's the chemical name for H2O. This all lead the city's superintendent of water protection, Jerald Robnett (who called the prank a "terrorist act"), to get over 150 complaint calls, and 911 to get 30+ calls for help. Michael Wilkes, the city manager, called it irresponsible, and said the DJs had jeopardized public safety. KQRC program director Neal Mirsky pulled the plug on the joke around 8am, and later suspended the disc jockeys.
They say some never learn, and that seems about right, as the last time this stunt was scandalized on the air was in 2013 by Fort Myers, Florida DJs Val St. John, and Scott Fish, on a WWGR 101.9 FM morning show. General Manager Tony Renda heard the DJs joke that "dihydrogen monoxide" was coming out of Lee County residents' taps around 8:30 in the morning. He knew it would cause a panic, and pulled them off the air, as well as suspending them. The duo also faced felony charges, but were later dropped.
Other similar pranks include a 1994 website by Craig Jackson for the Coalition to Ban DHMO, as well as a member of the Australian Parliament announcing a 1998 campaign to ban dihydrogen monoxide internationally, and - to deter people from using a public fountain as a bathing area - executive director of Louisville, Kentucky's Waterfront Development Corporation, David Karem, posted a sign that read: "DANGER! WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF HYDROGEN KEEP OUT".
-- March 20, 2015 --
The Long View
What's the longest
movie you've ever sat through? Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac? Béla
Tarr's 1994 drama Sátántangó (aka Satan's Tango)?
While those two have a run time of a little over five, and seven hours, respectively,
they pale in comparison to what is out there; commercially and experimentally.
On the commercial front, the French dominate the scene with their documentaries, as in the Top 5 there are three Frenchmen:
5) Claude Lanzmann's
1985 French documentary on the holocaust Shoah (10 hours, 13 minutes).
4) Evolution of a Filipino Family from Filipino director Lav Diaz in 2004 (10 hours, 45 minutes).
3) How Yukong Moved the Mountains, a 1976 documentary by Joris Ivens on the Chinese Cultural Revolution (12 hours, 43 minutes).
2) 1971's Out 1: Noli Me Tangere, from French New Wave filmmaker Jacques Rivette, which was based on Honoré de Balzac's La Comédie Humaine (12 hours, 53 minutes).
1) English director Peter Watkins produced Resan, aka The Journey (at 14 hours, 33 minutes); filmed from 1983 through 1985, it has only screened in 1987's Toronto Film Festival, the Mexico City International Festival of Contemporary Cinema in 2007, and Filmmuseum in Vienna, Austria, also in 2007.
In the field of
experimental film, time truly marches on, as the lengths decuple. In the Top
25, Andy Warhol appears three times with Sleep (1963), Empire
(1964), and ****, aka Four Stars (1967), but as with the commercial
fare I'll only cover the Top 5:
5) 2006's Matrjoschka
by German artist Karin Hoerler. The film is of a few simple photos, which change
over time, and runs one-hour short of four days.
4) In 2011, New York City artist Josh Azzarella stretched out six minutes of The Wizard of Oz, into Untitled #125 (Hickory) to fill up five days.
3) Chinese artist Ai Weiwei drove around Beijing for 16 days in 2003 to produce Beijing 2003, which runs six days and six hours.
2) French director Gérard Courant worked on his Cinématon from 1978 - 2006, consisting of almost 3000 three-minute vignettes of various celebrities, friends and artists, ending an hour short of eight days.
1) At ten days long, Modern Times Forever is a 2011 production by Danish art collective Superflex, and shows the Stora Enso Building in Helsinki as if it were decaying over 1000 years.
When it comes to
the world's shortest films, there are literally thousands of entries, and range
from the shortest film to ever be nominated for an Oscar (2012's Fresh
Guacamole, by artist PES), to one I made that only had 60 views in three
years - until it went a little viral last month with an added 28,000+ views
- titled Life
In NYC As Expressed By A 1 Second Clip.
-- March 09, 2015 --
The Art Project That Saved Lives
In 1984, the Yugoslavian
art collective Rrose Irwin Sélavy (now known as IRWIN), the Scipion Nasice
theater group, and the industrial band Laibach created an artistic political
movement called Neue Slowenische Kunst (or "New Slovenian Art"), whose
aim was to showcase the complicated relationship between Germans and the Slovenian
people. Being a true collective, artists releasing pieces under the NSK banner
do not sign their work, and instead are stamped with the NSK logo, or have a
certificate indicating the work is of NSK origin.
Besides a few Laibach hits, some of their more popular work includes the winning contest entry for the 1987 Yugoslavian Youth Day Celebration, where the collective replaced the swastika flag and eagle on a Nazi-era propaganda poster, with the Yugoslavian flag and a dove. After winning, the officials caught on, and banned the work, but it was later used as the cover for an issue of the left-wing magazine Mladina, which was then also banned by the government.
In 1991, the year after Slovenia gained independence from the Yugoslavian federation, the NSK claimed themselves to be an independent state, billing it as "the first global state of the universe," and began issuing passports.
With the government's
blessing, the original passports were printed at the Slovenian Ministry of Interior
Affairs' printing house, making the works high quality, and the look authentic.
While the passports are meant to only be an art project, and a handful of unscrupulous assholes have sold them to unsuspecting people thinking they were getting real work visas, the documents from the "State in Time" actually saved lives. During the Bosnian War of 1995, thousands of fleeing Croats' and Bosnians' used these passports when the actual state passports were deemed worthless.
More recently (since 2006), Nigerians have rushed to get NSK passports, and now constitute one-fourth of NSK citizenship. It is unclear why, and - fearing their use in further scams - members of the NSK traveled to the area in 2010 to hold an event, Towards A Double Consciousness: NSK Passport Project, so as to better explain the project to the locals, as well as interview passport applicants on why they are rushing to do so.
In 2012, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City held an exhibit of NSK folk art, as well as opened a temporary "passport office" so New Yorkers could apply for free.
If you are interested in applying for a passport yourself, please visit this link.
-- February 27, 2015 --
Short and Sweet (and Small)
As you can plainly read below, I've been on a kick lately to find the largest, smallest, shortest and longest in art, film and music. While doing some research on the world's longest and shortest films (post coming soon, or just research it yourself), I came across the world's smallest film. You may ask, "Don't you mean shortest?" Nope. Smallest.
In 2012, IBM Research
created a minute-long
movie using the manipulated movements of carbon monoxide molecules. The two-atom
particles were photographed on a scanning tunnel microscope, which captures
images at 1000,000,000x magnification. The folks at IBM's Almaden Research Center
in San Jose, CA, moved the atomic structures slightly per frame, and set them
together as a stop-motion film.
The short is about an atom who comes across a small boy. It dances for him, and the boy joins in. The boy then begins to play with the atom as if it were a ball, until the atom morphs into a trampoline, which the boy soon bounces upon. It ends when the boy happily throws the atom towards the sky, and it flies up into the clouds, forming the word "think".
A new question you might now bring up is: "Except for a cute experimental film, what does all of this mean for science?" Well, IBM has stated that this experiment led to the discovery that technicians can now fit one bit of information onto only 12 atoms, which will help growing issues with data collection, and storage, especially when it comes to Quantum computing.
You can view the entire film here.
-- February 18, 2015 --
Talk Dirty To Me
I have a new article posted on the No Echo website on "sex records".
The NE site
was unleashed on the world only last year, holds some great written work on
music, and is run by Andrew from Aversionline
and Carlos of Noisecreep.
Not unlike my last contribution, the piece I submitted is on rare records, which
I have never written about, but also on sex, which I've written a whole lot
As usual, enjoy the insanity.
-- February 06, 2015 --
and music theorist, John Cage has written many a strange piece, including 1952's
infamous 4'33" (three movements, in four minuets and thirty-three
seconds, consisting entirely of silence).
In 1985, he composed a work for The Friends of the Maryland Summer Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts, titled Organ², otherwise known as ASLSP (or As SLow aS Possible), which debuted in 1987. A typical performance of ASLSP is to last from 20 to 70 minutes, but seeing as Cage omitted how slow the piece should be played, many have been stretching it out, and out, and out, since.
While, in Australia, the piece was played by Stephen Whittington, at the University of Adelaide in 2012, for eight hours, and, earlier (2009), Diane Luchese performed a fourteen-hour version at Harold J. Kaplan Concert Hall at Towson University, Maryland, the longest running performance is ongoing at St. Burchardi Cathedral in Halberstadt, Germany. That work began in 2001, and should continue for 639 years, ending in 2640. The Halberstadt performance length was chosen as the first known organ installation at the church was in 1361 - equaling 639 years when proposed in 2000.
To hear a section of that particular act, as well as see the organ, and church, visit this link.
-- January 26, 2015 --
Size Does Matter
In June of 1998, a charter flight passing over a remote part of southern Australia discovered a giant geoglyph etched into the plateau at Finnis Springs. This huge work, dubbed Marre Man, depicts an Australian native hunting with a boomerang, and is over 4 kilometers (2+ miles) tall, with the outline being 35 meters (115 ft) thick, and 30 cm (1 ft) deep.
Soon after the
discovery, anonymous press releases began to pour in to the Australian media,
claiming the work to be made by a group of Americans. The announcements called
the figure Stuart's Giant, after Scottish explorer of Australia, John
McDouall Stuart. The notices were actually first received before the discovery,
by the William Creek Hotel in Marree, but were dismissed as a hoax. Many of
the communiqués gave instructions on finding a pit nearby, as well as
mentioning Ohio's Great Serpent, and the Branch Dividians in Waco. When
the pit was discovered, it contained a jar with a satellite photo of Marree
Man, and a U.S. flag. Later, more anonymous info lead investigators to a
buried plaque nearby, which had an American flag, Olympic rings, and the inscribed
words: "In honour of the land they once knew. His attainments in these
pursuits are extraordinary; a constant source of wonderment and admiration."
How this amazing art piece was made, when exactly, and by who, is still a mystery, even though it is currently considered the world largest work of art.
-- January 13, 2015 --
Not sure why I had yet to write about these chaps, so I'm finally going to jot down their brand of fun for you, as Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty are two great pranksters.
I'm no fan of their
more popular work, and it was purposely written for someone very different than
those who understand their more esoteric endeavors.
When the two first got together in 1987 (thanks to their shared love of author Robert Anton Wilson), they released the sample-heavy LP, 1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?), under the band name The JAMMs, or Justified Ancients of MuMu. They were quickly sued by a few artists for the samples, and the album was recalled, forever marking it as a wanted item in underground tape trade lists.
Soon after, they we kicking around ideas to write the worst pop song they could imagine, and succeeded as The Timelords, with the single "Doctorin' the Tardis", which contains a sample of the Doctor Who theme, and has been played at almost every sports event since. The only other release under that moniker was the following year, when the duo wrote a book, The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way).
Next came a bunch of ecstasy, and, thus, The KLF was born. With everything they learned, they released acid-house techno with the Wax Trax! Records produced, The White Room, and it brought them a handful of No. 1 singles. With the popularity of the new act, they were recieving calls for public performances, and, at the Brits Awards in 1992, had the death metal band Extreme Noise Terror pretend to be them, and play a heavy version of their hit, "3am Eternal". You can listen to that beautiful performance here.
Soon after, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty both announced their retirement from music.
In 1993, they formed the art collective The K Foundation. Taking a shot at the internationally-renound Turner Prize for Best Artist, the Foundation formed a prize campaign of their own. Releasing a list of that year's best artists for Turner, the K Foundation's was, in fact, for to the "worst artist of the year", but the money was double what Turner was presenting to their winner.
On August 24th of 1994, the K Foundation performed an art action, on the Scottish island of Jura, titled K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, where they did just that: burned one million UK pounds.
Just before that slice of maddness, the duo decided to show how little they were now enjoying music, by releasing the only record under the K Foundation name (actually "K Foundation presents The Red Army Choir"); a militaristic, repititious and lackluster version of the 1956 classic by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)", in an editon of 3000 copies, and made it available for purchase in only Palestine or Israel. The B-side was John Lennon/Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)", and you can punish yourself a bit, by checking out the title track here.
-- January 05, 2015 --
When, at the British
Library in London, a PhD student (Giovanni Varelli) from St Johns College
University of Cambridge was thumbing through a 900 CE manuscript on the life
of bishop Maternianus of Reims, he discovered an interesting note scribed within.
Written in a space left at the end of the work, someone added a musical notation,
which is now known to be the world's oldest example of polyphonic music.
The song is a chant to patron saint of Germany, Saint Bonafice, and, before this accidental discovery, the oldest known work was from a the Winchester Troper collection, which dates to around 1000 CE.
click on image for larger view
The pic above is to the sheet music, while this link will let you hear a rendition performed by Quintin Beer and John Clapham of St Johns College.
-- December 21, 2014 --
Free At Last, I Guess
I posted of this tragic story two years ago, but there's been a development as of late.
Jr was the youngest person executed in the United States, at 14, in South Carolina.
In 1944, Stinney was arrested for the murder of two young girls, tried in a single day, and sent to the electric chair the following.
On December 16, 2014, Judge Carmen Mullins vacated the verdict, saying GS Jr was coerced into confessing.
-- December 16, 2014 --
Dead In the Water
My 2010 photo series from south Brooklyn, titled "Dead Horse Bay", has been posted to Underwater New York, a digital journal of stories, art and music inspired by the waterways that surround New York City, and the objects submerged within them. Check that out here.
-- December 09, 2014 --
A Heavenly Voice
After the breakup of the Beatles in 1970, Paul McCartney began teaching his wife, photographer and animal rights activist Linda McCartney (1941 - 1998), to play keyboards, and added her to the lineup for his new band, Wings. Paul was ridiculed by music critics for her poor singing and playing skills:
Linda McCartney sings "Hey Jude"
The link above
is supposedly of a bootleg recording originating from isolating Linda McCartney's
microphone at a Wings concert taken by a sound engineer, but whether it is genuine
has not been definitively established. The track is taken off the first disc
of the two disc set Celebrities at their Worst, Volume Two.
Other little known facts about her include saving cartoon character Lisa Simpson from a life of eating meat, turning down The Smiths to play on The Queen Is Dead's "Frankly, Mr. Shankly", and penning the profanity-laced "The Light Comes From Within", released on her posthumous 1998 LP, as a stab towards her critics.
-- November 29, 2014 --
The Strange Case of One Crazy Song
Akmal Shaikh was
a 53-year old business owner with untreated bipolar disorder. Born in Pakistan,
his family immigrated to Britain when he was only a child, and he later became
a British citizen. There, he managed a cab company, and later opened a taxi
service, then moving to Poland believing he could start an airline. He was never
checked out by doctors, but his family told stories of erratic behavior. Around
the time he was living in Poland, Shaikh had a vision from God to write music
that would usher in world peace. He penned the song "Come Little Rabbit",
a short children's song, which repeats the lines "Come little rabbit, come
to me. Come little rabbit, let it be. Come little rabbit, come and pray. Only
one world, only one people, only one God." Traveling back to Britain, he
acquired the help of friends Paul Newberry, and Gareth Saunders, to record the
track in Poland. Both men claim they could tell Akmal was suffering from delusions,
and bouts of mania.
In 2007, Akmal Shaikh met up with a man named "Carlos" who said he would help distribute the song, and make him famous. Akmal took a trip to Kyrgyzstan, were he was put in contact with someone named "Okole", who promised him a spot at his nightclub in China. Though married, and a father of five, he was told to travel alone, as the plane was full, and given a suitcase to carry.
Once in China, officials (who were alerted by Shaikh's bizarre behavior) searched him, and found a hidden compartment in the suitcase holding 4 kilos of heroin with a purity of 85%. He was immediately arrested, later sentenced to die, and was executed by lethal injection in the city of Ürümqi on December 29th of 2009, despite appeals from the British government, as well as the human rights organization Reprieve.
This is the song one man lived, and died, for: "Come Little Rabbit".
-- November 15, 2014 --
is foremost known for his surreal films. What many don't know is that he was
also loved to write, and draw, comics.
In 1966, he first collaborated with Manuel Moro on a graphic series, titled Anibal 5. From 1968 through 1973, Jodorowsky published a weekly comic strip series, which he called Fabulas Pánicas, appearing in the Mexican newspaper, El Heraldo de México. The newspaper ran about 120 of them, and all were later released as a series of five books in 1975.
click on images for larger view
In 1972, he wrote
Memor, with artist Velazquez Fraga, and, in 1980, he began a graphic
novel trilogy, The Incal, with Jean Giraud (aka Mbius), which later
inspired Luc Besson's The Fifth Element, as well as another trilogy titled
Metabarons. Since, he has written many more comic books, including Les
Technopères (with artwork by Zoran Janjetov), Bouncer (illustrated
by Francois Boucq), Juan Solo, plus Le Lama blanc (both illustrated
by Georges Bess), the 2001 award-winning Le Cur couronné,
with Jean Giraud, and Borgia in 2006 in collaboration with Milo Manara.
The Fabulas Pánicas are the only known, and released, drawings which Jodorowsky did himself, and a huge collection can be viewed online here.
-- November 06, 2014 --
Possibly Shocking Material
A previously unreleased 156 track, "Playing With the 3rd Rail", is now available on the Death Season IV annual compilation put out by the Minneapolis label Darker Days Ahead.
The 156 track has
me performing solo with simply two microphones, a field recorder, and one live
third rail of the New York City subway system.
The CD comp was released on Halloween, and contains tracks by Praying For Oblivion, Rei Rea, Isolated Existence, Cory Strand and more. It's presented in a beautiful slipcase, with removable transparent cover, along with a disc as black as your soul. For order info, head on over to the Darker Days Ahead website.
Another unreleased 156 track, "Hark!" was set loose upon the world on the Rhythmysticisms digital compilation, put together by Pennsylvania's Network Of Individualized Sonic Extremism, and is available for free on their Bandcamp page.
-- November 03, 2014 --
One of my (and Anthony Mangicapra) Disposable pieces is up for auction at the Brooklyn Art Council's November fundraising event AccessArt.
To view the entire
catalog of artists, along with artist statements, as well as where to buy tickets,
To read more about my Disposable project, click here.
-- October 15, 2014 --
Kiss My Bhutan
The Kingdom of
Bhutan, located between China and India for the geographically ignorant, released
an amazing set of stamps in 1972.
Called Talking Stamps, they were small records you could actually play. It's a pretty amazing thing, especially when you realize Bhutan didn't even have a postal system until 1962.
Designed by Burt
Kerr Todd, these stamps are currently some of the most expensive, non-US, collector's
items in the world of philately.
They are 33 1/3 rpm, and are hard to play on most regular turntables (due to their small size), but those who have gotten to play them say it's a near magical experience.
Have a listen to one here.
-- October 06, 2014 --
A couple of my "throwaway poems" have been published in the newest edition (issue #3) of the poetry / art journal Small Po[r]tions.
Other poets / artists
in this issue include Jeanne Heuving, Rebecca Brown, John McLaughlin, Sarah
Hulyk Maxwell, Jonathan Harper, Nils Michals, Julia Laxer, Satoshi Iwai, Anne
Royston, and Shinjini Bhattacharjee. The journal was edited and curated by Sarah
Baker, Breka Blakeslee, Laura Burgher, Lynarra Featherly, Aimee Harrison, plus
Travis Sharp, and is published by Letter [r] Press. Single issues are $10, with
their back issues gong for only $5, while many of the featured works are also
freely available on their website.
Please visit the Small Po[r]tions site for further info.
-- September 23, 2014 --
There are close
to a thousand artists that use blood in their work, almost a hundred using urine
(such as Andy Warhol, and Andres Serrano), a little over thirty doodling with
semen (including Marcel Duchamp), but less than a handful had the stomach to
use their own feces.
You may have heard of artist Chris Ofili in the early 1990s, thanks to then-mayor, and devout Catholic, Rudy Giuliani getting his underwear in a bunch when the artist used elephant dung to form the breast in his painting The Holy Virgin Mary, but that doesn't count.
To date, there are a few who have used crap in their performances, like the Vienna Actionists Hermann Nitsch and Otto Muehl, plus more recently Fox Bronte (aka Ian Dennis), and Noritoshi Hirakawa. While none have yet to paint with it, there was one artist who made a little stink using his own waste.
Italian avant-garde artist Piero Manzoni canned his bowel movements in May of 1961, and released them in a limited edition of 90, signed and numbered, titled Merda d'artista (or "Artist's Shit").
Each can contained
30 grams of his own turd, and was sold for its weight in gold (then about 40
The most recent tin to come up for auction was in 1991, which sold for $67,000 at Sothebys Fine Art Auction, though the only thing fine about that is the price tag.
-- September 08, 2014 --
This Fool Is Thrilled
My short film, Where Even Fools Often Fear to Tread, will be playing in this year's Experimental Music Festival VI Film and Video Show, which will be held at Spectrum in Manhattan (121 Ludlow Street) on September 29th. Others showcased include Bonnie MacAllister, Bryin Dall, Joshua Carro and Candace Thompson, while the films and video were curated by Jim Tuite. More info on the entire festival is available here.
Where Even Fools Often Fear to Tread is an experimental film created to show how the everyday, and mundane, if seen from the right perspective, can be beautiful, awe-inspiring, or possibly even psychedelic, while also believing the film showcases the fact that many of our hearts lay underground. The rights to the desired score (Angus MacLise's "Invasion of the Thunderbolt Pagoda") were not available to me, so a fitting piece by my industrial act 156 was edited together for this short. Technically, much of what makes up this film is illegal, as a large portion of 156's music involves trespassing, not to mention that one cannot film NYC subway trains, as well as tunnel infrastructure, due to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11th, hence the running time of nine minutes and ten seconds.
-- September 01, 2014 --
Voice Box LP Box Set
Over one year of hard work, and it's finally out! 156's Voice Box album.
click on image for larger view
18 songs, 17 of
which will never be publicly released (except for brief edits on mp3 sites),
collected in a lovely box set.
The music is standard 156 in sound, and style, all the while subtracting the usual percussive set. The LP can be best described by the example of two of the cover songs chosen (Jeanne Lee's "Yeh Come T' Be" and "This Is the Law of the Plague" by Diamanda Galas), as it is a mix of classic and experimental vocalizations, which even include Gregorian chants, and Islamic calls to prayer.
All 18 tracks are set, and properly spaced, over a 45-minute never-before-seen film within a hand-painted VHS tape, which has a handmade cover. The release also comes with a one-of-a-kind fanzine telling the story of the recording, a hand-painted t-shirt, and a hand-painted X-ray of artist's cranium - all inside a hand-painted box. This album is a work of art, as well as a ritual for healing.
This release is made in an edition of only one, and all money collected is being donated to a cancer research center.
UPDATE: This work has sold. Thanks to anyone who expressed interest!
-- August 22, 2014 --
Trial By Amplifier Fire
To many, Billy
Joel is a keyboard-playing douchebag, but the guy did know how to rock.
In 1969, Billy, and drummer, Jon Small, were members of The Hassles, but soon broke away to form their own heavy metal outfit called Attila. The duo released one album, self titled, in 1970 on Columbia Records (later reissued by CBS, Inc. in 1985), which contains no guitars or bass, and is composed of nothing but drums and organ.
Here are two tracks from Joel's first outfit, before he became the "Piano Man".
-- August 12, 2014 --
Both Large and Small
In June of 1980, artist Tom Van Sant, using mirrors that strectched across 1.4 miles of the Shadow Mountain area of the Mojave Desert, "drew" a giant symbol of an eye, later snapping a picture using the LANDSAT satellite. The work of art was titled "Refelections From Earth".
In April of 1982, with the help of Cornell University, he etched an eye symbol on a grain of salt using an electron microscope. He was the first to do so on such a microscopic level, and titled that piece "Ryan's Eye".
Interestingly enough, the desert work is 100,000x larger than the human eye, while the salt piece is 100,000x smaller than the human eye.
-- August 04, 2014 --
Brooklyn's Alright Season Two On the Air
Over the weekend, the newest season of my public access tv show, Brooklyn's Alright If You Like Saxophones, began airing!
Live music, music
videos, and interviews with writer Cassie J. Sneider, Alexis Karl of Ondyne's
Demise, Cinema Cinema's Ev Gold, poet Vincent Baeza, and many more.
Tune in, same time, same channel(s). Saturday mornings @ 1:30am, channels 56 (Time Warner), 69 (Cablevision), 84 (RCN) and 44 (Verizon), or live on the BCAT website on Channel 3.
You can also see select episode uploads on the BAIYLS YouTube page the Monday after show premiere.
-- July 28, 2014 --
A few months back,
I was testing out different types of photo paper. I bought some that I do not
care to use in work for sale, so I thought I'd give it away - one sheet at a
I'm not just giving away the paper, but some photos, too. Check out a list of 40 pics I've taken, here, then email me the description (or number) of the photo, as well as a mailing address, and I'll send it to you.
Completely at my
expense, you will be mailed a frameable 4 x 6" photograph, signed, and
numbered if needed, along with stickers, and other goodies.
Admittedly, I only have about 10 sheets, which are good for 20 photos, so this is limited to the first 20 people who contact me.
UPDATE: All gone! Hope those, who got one, enjoy them.
-- July 23, 2014 --
It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's the Daily Planet!
If you've seen the 1978 big screen version of Superman, you may be familiar with these two sights.
Clark and Lois stroll across the scene as it serves as the lobby of the fictional newspaper The Daily Planet.
Originally, the building was The Daily News' headquarters from when built, in 1929, to 1995.
The globe in the lobby is still the largest indoor globe, and is considered a permanent educational exhibit...
...though its map has not been recently updated to fit world events.
-- July 08, 2014 --
67 years ago, today,
Roswell Army Air Field public information officer Walter Haut sent out a press
release claiming the 509th Operations Group had recovered a "flying disk",
which was picked up by the local press.
Later Commander General Roger Ramey, of the Eighth Air Force of the US's Air Force Global Strike Command, stated it was a weather balloon.
In this link you can hear the original broadcast of what is now known as "the Roswell incident".
It was kind of
forgotten about, until in 1978, when physicist and ufologist Stanton T. Friedman,
and Major Jesse Marcel (stationed in Roswell at the time, and claimed to recover
parts) began to publish works asserting the military covered up a crash by an
The story is now part of American pop culture, and you can view the first published articles of the event by clicking on the images above.
-- June 30, 2014 --
I Wasn't Expecting To Find This
I decided to, both,
quit social media, and start a new online project.
I've had enough of shilling for websites that pretend to give one free speech, while they censor us. Also, please visit this link for proof many are unwittingly being manupulated by these sites. If you have a little over an hour of time, I would add watching the 2009 documentary We Live In Public to catch of glimpse of where many are headed, and some already are.
Now, on a different note, the photos of the oddities I came across tended to be people's favorites on my old social media profiles. Plus, I find quite a number of interesting things I never post of here, so I thought I'd start corralling it altogether in one place.
The new blog, I
Wasn't Expecting To Find This, is a 365 day project, lasting from one
summer solstice to the next, June 2014 - 2015, documenting some of the odd eye
candy I come across. Found items, strange things on the street, and anything
else that inspires a double-take. Captured in photos, image scans, sound samples,
and - sometimes - just a story.
Feel free to bookmark the site, and visit often, as it will not be associated with this blog (unlike my This Hidden City posts).
-- June 23, 2014 --
A Little Slice of Berlin In NYC
Manhattan is a
place to find all things, so why not a piece of the Cold War?
This permanent, outdoor installation is five large sections of the Berlin Wall, tucked near a trendy and expensive eatery in Midtown Manhattan.
Though addressed to 520 Madison Avenue, this relic of Capitalism-vs-Communism is actually located in the courtyard of the Continental Illinois Building, which is on 53rd Street, between Madison and 5th Ave.
The West face of
the wall (which now faces east) holds the work of German artists Thierry Noir
and Kiddy Citny, while the East face is blank.
This section of the Wall was moved here in 1990, when it was sold by the former DMP to Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer, the real estate developer who owns the building.
There are other pieces of the Berlin Wall in NYC, and they are located in the gardens of the United Nations headquarters, another at the marina of the World Financial Center, and a third at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum in Times Square, though I believe this one is the largest.
-- June 13th, 2014 --
A Hole In Your Head
Dutch author Hugo
Bart Huges, as an advocate of trepanation, probably thought the old adage about
a "hole in your head" was propaganda against the act, but that didn't
stop him from trying.
Taken from the Greek word trypanon, which means "to bore", trepanation is the cat of drilling a small hole - usually in the forehead - to release pressure in the head, causing greater blood flow. This is said to have positive effects on the brain, but not many wonder about the damage to the psyche, I guess. Trepanned skulls have been found in France's Neolithic sites, and even in pre-Columbian Mayan tombs.
In 1964 HBH produced a scroll, an article as a work of art, titled "The Mechanism of Brainbloodvolume", and picked up a Black & Decker just as soon as the calendar rolled over. He filmed, as well as photographed, most of the event, and even debuted the healed wound at a hippie happening in Amsterdam. After attempting to get proof from doctors that he actually did it, they locked him in the bin for a bit, claiming he was schizophrenic.
He may have been
the influence for Amanda Feilding, who performed, and filmed (released as Heartbeat
in the Brain), her drilling in December of 1970, but definitely was for
Joey Mellen, a Brit who did the deed and then documented it for his book Bore
In 1972, Hugo released his autobiography, The Book With the Hole, which also contained much of another sought-after work, "Trepanation: A Cure for Psychosis". He passed away at the age of 70, and is buried at Zorgvlied cemetery in the Netherlands.
Some of Huges' tepanation can be seen here.
-- June 2, 2014 --
Out GG-ing GG
I was doing some
research on the infamous case where a guy jumped on stage during a Cure concert
to attempt suicide, and I came across another odd story of stage suicide.
Most often thought to only be a myth among Cure fans, it is indeed true (according to a July 29th Los Angeles Times article), though it wasn't a depressed goth kid, but a lonely middle-aged cowboy. The concert was on July 27, 1986 at Inglewood, CA's Forum Theater.
Seems that 38-year-old Jonathan Mooreland drove across half the country, unannounced, to meet his penpal sweetheart. When the under-aged girl told him to get lost, he wandered the city looking for a spectacle to cause another, and chose to stop into that very Cure gig. He knew that to show the girl how much he cared, as well as to win her over, he'd have to perform a public display of heart-on-your-sleeve buffoonery in front of an audience of a band he had never even heard of. With plan solidified, he jumped on stage during The Cure's set, he slashed away at himself. Finally plunging the knife into his chest, one time, before police could tackle him. He was lead off to UCLA Medical Center, and survived to become a whispered footnote to a bunch of guys in eyeliner.
Now, while looking
into that event, I stumbled across another that is, like my blog entry of May
16, equally tragic, and strange. How it escaped the feeds in my social media
is beyond me, but I don't recall hearing of it.
In the early 90s, GG Allin always threatened he would take himself out on his beloved pulpit: the stage. Instead he died doing what he really loved: heroin. Before, and after, there have been many who threatened they would do it, but it seems there is only one who actually has.
In April of 2011, 19-year-old Kipp Rusty Walker (pictured below) walked into Strictly Organic Coffee Company's open mic, in Bend, OR, and, after finishing up the deliberately titled "Sorry For All the Mess", took out a blade, and repeatedly stabbed himself. Many in the crowd of less than 20 thought it to be part of the act, and applauded. After about a minute of no movement, as well as the amount of blood, the paramedics were called, but Walker expired.
If you ever find yourself in desperate times, and are in need of someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
-- May 23, 2014 --
To Maryland Deathfest Again
Leaving to Baltimore
this weekend for a mix of business, and pleasure, but mostly just to catch the
set by My Dying Bride.
Last year's MDF was a blast, and I even did a little project while I was there.
of heading to MD again this year, I'm posting a link to my Backpatches of
the Maryland Deathfest photo series.
13 pics posted on that page, with a zip file anyone can download containing
the best 50 from the near 100 taken.
I plan to go for Round 2 this year. Here's to hoping I come across as great of a crowd as last time!
UPDATE: Music website No Echo has posted my "top 50" of 2014.
-- May 16, 2014 --
I Ain't Drinkin' That, Homeboy
In 1994, I walked into your typical nondescript $1 store, and saw a single bottle of Homeboy Soda. A bottle with a label, and flavor (Blueberry-Grape Wiz), that left me scratching my head to the point of wanting - no, needing - to buy the damned thing. Not to drink it, or even taste it, but to keep that poorly-named product sample for the sheer fact that it looks like a prop from a comedy skit show.
As someone who
collects odd sundries to the point where, to many, his home is practically a
museum, this one bizarre bottle has begun more conversations than almost any
other piece in my bottle collection. Forget bottles of Crass, Bottom's
Up, and even a bottle of Hi-Brew marijuana beer, the questions were
always about the origins of Homeboy, so I just had to look up the lowdown
on its makers.
Turns out the company's history is just as odd, though much sadder, than the drink.
In the very early 90s, entrepreneur Robert Crowder started Resource Enterprise Collective, and with a partnership with Brooklyn Bottling Co., started the line of drinks, which included flavors such as orange-mango, vanilla-peaches+cream, and passion punch. For every case the drinks sold, Crowder vowed to pay 25¢ (3% of profits) to a fund for local charities.
After only two
years of peddling the drink, and years before hip hop caught the Illuminati
bug, ugly rumors began accusing Homeboy of purposefully causing health
risks to eliminate minority populations.
Even Newsweek photos of Nirvana members holding the drink (though it's certain they did it for the same facetious reasons as this writer), plus over 50 grand donated to good causes, couldn't stop the folks from filing for bankruptcy, and the soda headed to bargain outlets across the U.S., as well as into the realm of obscure curios.
-- May 05, 2014 --
Some Offline Reading
Last Sunday my
form of worship service was to head over to the Brooklyn
Zine Fest before going to work at the studio.
As a fan of fanzines, I set aside a crisp $50 bill for this free event, and was thrilled to take home so much reading material.
The 3rd outing of this yearly event was organized by Matt Carman and Kseniya Yarosh, and was held at Brooklyn's Historical Society Building in Brooklyn Heights, with two floors of tables packed with thought-expanding self-publishing.
I took home a wonderful armful of DIY material that kept me busy all week long.
A few art zines I picked up included the dark, yet some times bright, comic Late Night by Jack Reese (website), Caroline Paquita's trippy Garden of the Womanimal (website), the D&D-inspired A to Z in the Monstrous Manual from the mind of Bill Roundy (website), and, for a few friends and I, multiple copies of Lyra Hill's miniature possession scenes from The Exorcist (website).
When it came to the politics of resistance, I gave a decent bonanza to the anonymous collective Research and Destroy (website), whose news archives Brutal Death Ends A Man's Dreams and Cats Hate Cops were collections of newspaper clippings covering shit that went down between cops, Christmas and cats, respectively - or not, as the folks at RaD may say. Plus, they had Christopher Jordan Dorner's manifesto, with annotated footnotes by the zinesters. A member kindly threw in a postcard featuring a photo of cop-turned-cop-killer Dorner shaking hands with former LAPD Chief William Bratton. Powerful stuff.
On a lighter note, I love reading personal stories, so I had my hands full at those tables. Tales of triumph and failure, strength and weakness, loves and losses, all had me picking up ones such as Woody Leslie's 1" x 2" Tiny Stories (website); Deafula, which is one person's account of hearing loss, and living deaf, where the title is based on a sign-language film from the 1970s (website); the self-explanatory Mallgoth Chronicles by Suzy X (website), and the hilarious Miscellaneous Romance, which is a collection of the many replies to an online dating ad (website). Others included yarns on fandom (website), life in Los Angeles (website), two compilations with dozens of writers, one covering the sun, the other the moon (website), and many more journals.
Lastly, are the scene-specific zines covering music, film, poetry, and even other zines, which I picked up. I Love Bad Movies is... Well, you can read, so you can tell. Many a writer's take on many a bad movie, and there are so many bad flicks out there that they are currently at issue six (website). Vinyl Vagabonds is not just another one whose topic can be figured out by the title, but a fun collection of reviews to records we all may have heard, but never deconstructed. I believe this zine is up to their fifth issue now (website). I also grabbed a study on Soviet youth films put out by NYC's Spectacle Theater (website), as well as the fanzine that reviews fanzines by other fanzine writers: Xerography Debt (website), and a few others.
I came away with tons of pamphlets, pins, stickers, as well as Katie Haegele's book White Elephants (website), and a cassette tape of Sublime Frequencies-esque cut-ups of Indian radio by artist Phoebe Little (website), but, most importantly, coming into contact with many amazing people. Pretty inspirational.
-- May 01, 2014 --
Six Slabs Worth A Tab
A new article of mine, in the style of my old fanzine FHF, debuted today at the music site No Echo.
Only recently created,
the NE site is run by Andrew from Aversionline
and Carlos of Noisecreep,
and the piece I contributed is on music, which I have never really written about,
but also on drugs, which I've written a lot about.
As usual, enjoy the insanity.
-- April 25, 2014 --
Guys, I'm So High Right Now
Not sure how I
stumbled across this one, but it was back on a trip to enjoy the Washington
Heights area, and to see Mother
About 10 short blocks south of The Cloisters, right across the street from the the 181 Street subway stop's 183rd St exit is Bennett Park.
Named after James Gordon Bennett, Sr. who launched The New York Herald in 1835, the park opened in 1929. Bennett Park is a part of Fort Washington, which was part of the Continental Army's stand against the British during our independence.
The park sometimes holds Revolutionary War reenactments, but what the spot is most known for to locals, is being the highest natural point in Manhattan at 265 ft above sea level.
not even the height of skyscrapers New Yorker's are used to, it isn't even the
highest point in the entire city, which is actually Staten Island's Todt Hill
at 390 feet above the waters.
Still, it was such a nice area to visit, and on such a perfect day...
...I decided to cross the George Washington Bridge over into New Jersey, just to say, "Hi!", since I was feeling so mellow.
-- April 12, 2014 --
David Berg was
a wacky prophet, known as Moses David or Father David, who in 1968 founded the
Children of God. In 1978 they changed it to the Family of Love, and shortening
it to just The Family from '82 to '94. Since Berg's death in 1994 they have
stuck with the name of The Family International. The families of River Phoenix
and Rose McGowen were members, but the church still didn't get Scientology infamy.
It may have been due to the controversial Flirty Fishing, which sounds like it would have brought in new members in droves, but its creepiness made them all the more suspect as a cult.
Flirty Fishing was a practice used by the group from 1974 through 1987 where, thanks to a quote in Matthew (4:19) where Christ is the "fisher of men", teen girls in the order are to give themselves to men who were not, so as to "invite them in". They viewed it as evangelical prostitution, labeled the girl's "God's Whores", and put out literature to promote it all.
In the late 80s,
this form of evangelicalism was dropped when several allegation of pedophilia
After the death of the good Father in '94, the Family decided to go completely quite, but never completely went away.
-- April 02, 2014 --
Quiet Mind = Forgetful Mind
Not sure how I
forgot to post this, but my book is out!
6x9 paperback, limited to 333 copies, and there are a little over 200 left. Hardcovers are sold out.
The Least Silent
of Men, a chapbook on the subject of silence and experiences during a 30-day
vow of silence.
$20 + 5 postage in NA for trade paperback ($20 + 10 postage, World).
The book contains a forward by artist George Petros, a lengthy article I wrote on my experience, as well as a transcript of the communication book I carried for that month.
The cover is a play on Barbara Krugers Your Comfort, I redesigned, and was executed by tattoo artist Liorcifer.
Paypal amount, along with mailing address, to: firstname.lastname@example.org - to order via check or money order, please contact me.
-- March 13, 2014 --
Classic Adult Movie Posters (Part IV)
Heres the last of my smut.
School of Hard Knocks (1970)
The Pleasure Machines (1977)
I Feel It Coming (1971)
Trader Hornee (1970)
All Men Are Apes! (1965)
-- March 05, 2014 --
The Tallest of Queens
In the northwest area of Queens, there grows the oldest living being in New York City, called the Queens (aka Alley Pond) Giant.
This Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) is also NYC's tallest tree.
Dated between 350 to 450 years old, it measures about the size of the Statue of Liberty (134 feet).
It is located in an odd spot near I-495, which is the property of Alley Pond Park, though not directly connected to it.
The exact location is difficult to come across. Rightfully so, as the tree needs to be protected, but those savvy enough can find their way there.
I felt it to be worth the time and effort.
-- February 20, 2014 --
Slouching Towards Babylon
I will be part of the art show, New York Babylon, curated by Babylon Projects' Leonardo Casas, who put this together all the way from Chile, South America.
Opening March 5th in Brooklyn (721 Franklin Avenue, on display March 2 - 8 only), along with artists Gea*, Shaun Partridge, Casas himself, and a host of others.
-- February 13, 2014 --
Mother Cabrini's Mummy
On a rainy and foggy Saturday, I went to the Washington Heights area of Manhattan, near Ft. Washington and Ft. Tryon Park, to check out the remains of a Catholic saint.
Located just off
190 Street, is the St. Frances X. Cabrini Chapel, which holds the body of the
first American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (in 1946).
Other than containing a mummified corpse, the building itself is no great feat of architecture, nor much of anything of interest, besides a few statues
and stained glass.
The body of Frances Xavier Cabrini (aka Mother Cabrini) was exhumed in 1933 (she died in 1917), and seeing it to be almost perfect, the congregation felt it to be a miracle, and placed her within a shrine, which was later re-designed by the architectural firm of De Sina & Pellegrino in 1957.
An interesting item of note is that the head of the good Mother isnt there anymore, as, when she was sainted, her skull was kept at the wacky Vatican, just as all the noggins of all other saints are.
-- February 02, 2014 --
Please Don't Yell
I am terribly sorry to announce that the paperback version of my new book, The Least Silent of Men, has been pushed back a few weeks, due to problems at the printer.
Preorders are available,
but the hardcovers are all sold out.
More information is available on the writing page of this website.
-- January 28, 2014 --
From the Heart
I'll have two pieces at a group art show held at the Wooster Street Social Club Gallery, titled From the Heart.
Day, 43 Wooster Street, 5 to 9pm, along with many amazing artists from around
the world (and free booze).
I will also be DJing the event, so bring your dance shoes.
-- January 14, 2014 --
Rhapsody in Green
In 1978, French
label Tchou Livre-Disque released yet another 12" by Roger Roger (real
name), but with a twist. Titled De La Musique & Des Secrets Pour Enchanter
Vos Plantes the album wasn't meant for humans.
Rather than the usual electronic Library Music they churned out, this record was equal parts neo-classical, and electronic music. This may have been due to that most of the music was collaborated with French electro-pioneer Georges Achille Teperino aka Nino Nardini.
If one can read French the liner notes (by Martin Monestier, who came up with the record's concept) explain the music is designed to be played for plants to promote health and growth, as he points out how scientists show rock music kills plants.
Below is a track off this LP in case you have some plants around that need help. I send them my best.
Side A "Effluves" (6.3 Mb @ 64kbps)
-- January 8, 2014 --
Prison Ship Martyr's Monument
Last week, I visited
Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn to see the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument -
which is actually the 3rd one built. In 1808 it was first in Central Park, then
in 1873 was moved to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The city of New York decided it wanted a bigger memorial, and the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument was constructed in 1908.
It was designed by architect Stanford White, who also drew up the plans for the second Madison Square Garden and the Washington Square Monument.
Through the main doors of the crypt, there is a passageway which leads to a three-coffined chamber under the column. In these large coffins are held the remains (bones) of several thousand U.S. prisoners, which were held captive on British war ships.
After walking up the 99 steps, one comes up to the Doric column, which is granite, and measures 149 feet. It has two brass doors on the east and west side, and a plaque on its southern end.
Atop the column is a brass funerary urn, that is 23 feet tall and weighs 8 tons.
The urn was designed by sculptor Adolf Weinman, who also created the four brass eagles which are located on the four corners of the square containing the column.
There isnt much more to see here, besides a plaque donated by Juan Carlos King of Spain, and other sundries.
I do wish one could
enter the crypt, or even the column, but the times (and the powers that be)
dont allow it.
Still, it was an interesting visit to a small slice of the areas history.
-- December 28, 2013 --
Troutman Hanging Gardens
On the 24th, I
took a walk into Bushwick to see something really weird, which I have begun
calling the Troutman Hanging Gardens.
Hey, what do you do on Xmas Eve?
Anyhow, on Troutman Street (between Irving Ave and Knickerbocker Ave) in Brooklyn, there is a line of trees covered with toys, stuffed animals, paintings and other oddities.
As you walk upon them from either direction, it starts off small, where only one or two items hang from the trees.
But soon, youll find the trees covered.
Until you find the Great Tree in the center of the block.
Within this tree are cute items, like stuffed animals, but there are also odd ones, such as a gay Ken doll (complete with disco ball), and even a mask from the movie Scream.
Again, as you move away from the center, the trees get more and more bare, though some of the tschotskes are still eye catching.
No one is sure as to who has been doing this, or - at least - the locals aint saying. When asked, Why? many repeat, To make our neighborhood look nicer.
Im not sure how nice this looks, but any answers to help solve this mystery are appreciated.
-- December 12, 2013 --
Flushing Meadows - Corona Park
I was thinking
of areas Ive been wanting to see, but have yet to visit, and the old Worlds
Fairground in Queens came to mind.
The park area, now called Flushing Meadows - Corona Park, contains a national tennis center, and venue for the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the home of the New York Mets baseball team (Citi Field), New York Hall of Science, Queens Museum of Art, Queens Theatre, Queens Wildlife Center, and the remains of the New York State Pavilion. Until demolished, Shea Stadium was also located in Flushing Meadows.
I, of course, went to see the old pavilions from the 1964 Worlds Fair.
The pavilion was designed by modernist architect Philip Johnson in 1960, and work began in 1962. It was finished in time for the 64 Worlds fair, and parts still remain in use, though much is abandoned. The pavilion was finally listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
After walking the remains of NY State Pavilion, I headed to the rear of the Queens Museum to shoot the Unisphere, a 12-story, stainless steel model of our planet.
Designed by landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, it was to represent mans achievements on a shrinking globe in an expanding Universe.
Afterward, I walked much of the park, and stumbled upon this beautiful Roman column, given to the park as a gift in 1964 by King Hussein of Jordan, which is dated from 120 CE.
I did not traverse
the entire park, so I missed works and sculptures by Jose De Rivera, Donald
De Lue, Eric Fischl and others, not to mention I did not come across the infamous
Fountain of the Planet of the Apes.
This way, I have a reason to return.
-- December 2, 2013 --
Taking A Look At A Moment Lost
The newest 156 EP has been released as a limited edition cassette on Los Angeles label Chondritic Sound.
is the last work before handling nothing but death, where the listener is taken
back to the original tribal style and ritualistic sounds heard on the self-titled
156's Memento Mori sessions, using all human bones, are wrapping up. Sample a clip here. This will be released as 10" vinyl on a private press.
-- November 25, 2013 --
Get Out of Here!
In 1984, artist and friend, George Petros (along with Adam Parfrey) created Exit Magazine, which lasted five issues, though there was a sixth unreleased issue.
The magazine was
one of the most controversial art rags around.
Politically incorrect as it could be, it contained art and articles by Charles Manson, GG Allin, Anton LaVey, Joe Coleman, Richard Kern, H.R. Giger, Lydia Lunch, Richard Ramirez, Genesis P-Orridge, Raymond Pettibon, JG Thirlwell, Nick Zedd, Robert Williams, plus several handfuls of other iconoclasts. One may be able to find copies on eBay for $100 and up.
In 1998, the series was released as a book, The Exit Collection, on Tacit. It has been sold out for years, and copies currently go for about the same as the zines.
Recently, George decided to archive all the issues of Exit to upload, and catalog it on the internet for everyones enjoyment.
Have fun killing an hour or two over at Exit Magazine's archived website here.
-- November 23, 2013 --
Last year, around
this time, Miamis incredible Blowfly made it up to The Knitting Factory,
and I was there, though late.
I had been on a several-day birthday celebration, and what better way to keep it going? However, when a man gets a message like this, he knows hes got to move it.
Listen to 60s funk and parody artist Blowfly put a curse on me for my tardiness: Blowfly chews out A.S. (600 Kb wav file).
I pressed 2 for
Anyhow, if you are unaware as to who Blowfly is, you are so very uncool. You dig?
Blowfly is Miamis original, and worlds first, dirty rapper. Sexist, racist, offensive, but youll love every word of it.
Blowfly was born Clarence Reid in Cochran, Georgia and later moved to Miami, Florida. He soon got his act solid when a relative scolded one of his dirty rhymes with, You is nastier than a blowfly.
He released his first record in 1965, and Rap Dirty was to be the first of the dirty-dance numbers, let alone the first rap album. He followed that sucker up with close to forty more releases and even a documentary film, The Twisted World of Blowfly.
His tracks have been sampled by Puff Daddy, Ice Cube and Jurassic 5, and Reid has also written clean numbers for the likes of Betty Wright and KC and the Sunshine Band.
He was almost forgotten and chances are you would have never heard of him if it wasnt for Miami journalist Tom Bowker (who set up Blowflys band, as well as handles the drums).
That evening was a haze, but Blowfly killed it, as did the legendary Andre Williams, and soulful Barrence Whitfield, but this next one should be even wilder.
This year, Blowfly
is playing an early show at MoMA
PS1 in Brooklyn on Sunday, November 24th.
So drop on by for some nasty raps! Maybe well hang after, and you can run off with some of my birthday cake.
-- November 19, 2013 --
Tompkins Square Hawk
I had decided to
take a stroll throughout the LES and Village to get some photos for a few new
blogs Im creating.
Earlier in the day, a friend had posted how she saw a hawk catch, and eat, a bunny. I thought of the majesty of nature, and all its greatness, but I also thought how I hadnt seen a scene like that since 2008. While trespassing in an abandoned auditorium, I saw a bird of prey fly off after walking in on it, interrupting its lunch, leaving behind the pigeon it had caught.
On this walk, I got to Tompkins Square Park, and thought to take pictures of autumn leaves.
Soon, I feel eyes upon me, and look in their direction.
I felt a connection, and then the beast swooped down right by me, landing only feet away.
I thought he wanted to say hello, until I noticed the tiny snack of a mouse.
After gulping down the rodent (which apparently taste better than the hundreds of squirrels everywhere), it perched right by my side, and I pulled out my phone, because if its not on Instagram, it didnt happen.
After a few moments, that beautiful creature took off, taking a piece of my spirit with it, as I soared for a bit after.
-- November 11, 2013 --
So Very Unsexy
I have a previously-unpublished piece, titled Sex: Its Out of My Hands, in the FILTH issue (#7) of the San Francisco lit/art fanzine Be About It.
The article is
about the hidden layers of nasty, yet sublime, sluttiness you can hunt down
via the internet. It was read at only one FL performance in 2010.
The zine is $4 (postage paid), but you can contact them here for more order info.
WAIT THERE'S MORE!